First 2 Days!!

Happy Friday everyone (and happy back to school week for those who started like me)!!! Oh my goodness, I love my new class! The past 2 days with kids has been crazy and chaotic but just because of the housekeeping that had to be done. My class was amazing with listening, and following directions on what needed to be done. It’s only been my 3rd official first day but this was by far the most well behaved my classes have been with the crazy.

The first day was filled with a few get to know you activities and A LOT of organizing and housekeeping. Our school does this fun thing right away where the entire building meets in our gym before anyone goes to any classrooms. We get to see all of the kiddos, all staff introduces themselves, and then the principal gives everyone a welcome back message! I’ve really enjoyed the kick off.

When we came back to our room, before we got anything out and organized, we sat in our morning meeting circle and I did one of my favorite get to know you activities. I found this on Pinterest a few years ago and have used it ever since. I show the students a roll of toilet paper. (Cue the laughter!) I don’t tell them what they need it for but I do tell them they are going to take off 1, 2, or 3 squares from the roll and then will pass it on to the next student. Most class clowns will pick the 3 (one year I let them choose 1-5 and most of my crazy clowns picked 5) because they think it’s funny. I then tell them that the number of squares they have will represent the number of things they will share with the class about themselves. Super fun and a big hit!

Of course I had to read 1st Day Jitters by Jane Danneberg because what teacher doesn’t read that fun book the first day back? We then did a silly activity where they worked together to draw a silly face. It was a perfect team building activity to break the ice and a way for us to talk about how everyone is different.

The rest of the day was mainly full of getting things put where they were supposed to go and explanations given on all of the little things around my room, like jobs and lunch, and how I do them. Overall, it was an easy first day.

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Classic first day of school pic!

Today was still crazy but we got to do a lot more fun stuff. I always have a morning message on the board explaining morning jobs that need to be completed. I tested them this morning by just seeing if they could follow the directions without me prompting them. (Just so I can see who can and cannot follow those directions.) Most of my kids knew what to do! It was amazing!!

Our morning meeting game was a get to know you Bingo. We also used this as a way to talk about how it’s okay if you don’t win, it’s just fun to learn about your new classmates. Again, they did awesome.

I then read a fun new book by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos Jr. called, When Pencil met Eraser. The main purpose of the book was to focus on friendship and team work. That lead into a discussion on what we look for in a friend. They each got a sheet that had them brainstorm what they want in a friend and what friendship looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We talked about it together and then they started our first writing activity of the year.

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I wanted them to write a letter/wanted ad to explain what they were looking for in a friend. I gave them strict directions on writing the letter/ad, where to put it when they were done, and to read to self when they were finished all in silence. I honestly said this one time and they did it! Without me having to ask more than once or redirecting anyone. Seriously, my jaw is dropping just thinking about it now. They displayed their ads on our awesome work wall so everyone in the class could read them.

We then took some time to talk about rules and consequences. I’m big on having them come up with their own rules and their own consequences for the classroom. That way they have ownership in how our room runs and ownership in the consequences for not following their own rules.

We spent some time brainstorming rules and consequences they have had in the past and decided on 6 main rules and 6 main consequences for our class. I created 2 posters and then had them sign both saying they agree to the consequences and rules they created. (If you saw on of my original posts, you’ll know that I also do this when we come back from Christmas break to kickstart the second part of the year.)

Finally, the last activity we did today was a fun time capsule activity. Each student got a packet full of different things they write about now and will see if they changed by the year. The packet had some fun things like, your hand size and foot size that they loved!! It was so fun watching them. I also had them take an empty map of the US and fill in as many states as they could (in 4th grade they learn all the states and capitals) so they can compare it to what they know the last day of school. They then wrote a letter to their last day of 4th grade self that they get to read when they get their time capsules back.

Overall, it was a fun couple of days. Don’t get me wrong I am EXHAUSTED but it was fun! I am so excited for the year. These are great kids and I know great things will happen! The first 2 days are done! Year 3, here we go!!
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This is me.

I’ve officially been on summer break for 5 days now and I’m finally getting caught up on my sleep! That has been the one thing I have been looking forward to the most that is for sure!! I figured since I haven’t had anything school related going on, I should write a little about myself to fully and finally share with all of you who I am. Whether it’s 100 people who read this or 0, I thought it would be good to share with you my story.

My name is Lisa, I’m 24 years old, and I am from Minnesota, born and raised. (I know I have made many references and posts about that before but just in case it wasn’t that obvious…) I grew up the next town over from where I am currently teaching. I had the opportunity to attend elementary school at the same place my mom worked at. At the time, she was a 3rd grade teacher as well. When I was in 3rd grade, I got to have my mom as my math and spelling teacher. I loved it! As I’ve said before, my mom is the main reason I wanted to become a teacher. Growing up she was also my track and field coach and my cross country coach. She was, and still is, my idol. Because of spending so much time together, we became super close.

With my mom, I grew up with my dad and my sister Lea all in the same house. We were a close small family of 4. I had the best childhood growing up. Family was always number 1 for my parents so we spent a lot of time together. My dad was an activities coordinator at the local jail for the next county over. Growing up all I knew was that he worked in a jail, it took years for me to actually understand what he did. When I was 13 he had an accident that shook our whole world. From the accident we discovered that he had a disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG) which shuts down his immune system and deteriorates his muscles. Because of his diagnosis, he was put on disability leave from his job. This summer will be 11 years he has been out of work and “retired.” That was hard for us to handle but in the long run it made us stronger.

My little sister Lea is 20 years old. She has had her own struggles as well. I’ve posted about this before in my National Eating Disorder Awareness post, but when she was 15 she was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. She has struggled with this for almost 6 years now. As a family we had our own ups and downs understanding her struggle and adjusting to get her the help she needed. She is a HUGE part of my life, I love her more than anything else in the world. She is my best friend and in a weird way, I’ve always considered her to be my own child.

Between my dad and my sister, my life has been shaken up many times. I’ve had to understand that even in the most stable and loving households, terrible things can still happen. I’ve struggled understanding this, however. I have gone through my own rounds of depression. I struggled for most of my college years understanding my family while also trying to find myself. It was the hardest 4 years of my life.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have had issues with mental health and ideas of self harm. Through everything that has happened, I have also dealt with the loss of family members, friendships, and relationships. All of those had an impact on my struggle. When I was a junior in college the second boy who had ever shown an interest in me, ended things and I was not okay. I got very upset and tried to do things to myself that I wish I wouldn’t have tried. But I realized my struggle and sought the help I needed. After many MANY discussions with friends and family I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have been on antidepressants ever since.

I did okay for a few years and then my world became a mess and I went through the same cycle again. I had many highs around the time I turned 22. I graduated from college and gotten my dream job. I also found someone who I thought I had a big connection with and lost my virginity to him. It was a big deal. A few short weeks later though, I found out that boy didn’t feel the same way about me and I was not strong enough to handle that. I made the choice to be intimate with a person I adored and then I found out it wasn’t a mutual feeling. I struggled that summer with dealing with that event on top of getting ready for my first year of teaching. I was so thrown off by a boy that I couldn’t even enjoy my first few months of teaching ever. It got to the point that I threatened to end it all. I’m not proud of myself for those dark days and moments but they did happen and got me to the point I am at now. I did and said things I never should have said and almost lost the best friend I ever had by doing it. The boy was my best friend and I almost ruined that relationship by trying to manipulate him into wanting to be with me. It took many months but we worked through it and he helped me get the help I needed.

Besides that, my first year teaching was amazing but stressful (as all of you teachers know.) This also took a tole on my body. Summer 2018 came and I knew I needed to make a change in myself because I was tired of feeling so stressed, anxious, depressed, and tired all the time. This was when I discovered therapy. My doctor originally had advised going to talk to someone when I was first diagnosed but I was too afraid and ashamed. I finally took the step 3 years later and it has been a life saver.

I have been going to therapy for one whole year now to work on my anxiety and depressive tendencies. It has helped me accept who I am and has taught me how to cope when things get to be too much for me. It has also gotten me to start writing on here and to find joy in my life. I still struggle from time to time when things at home or at school are over the top but now I have ways to work through it.

I never wanted to share my personal life on here before because I don’t like talking about myself and I wanted to keep my page light but I thought it was about time for me to open up to anyone who decides to read what I write. I also wanted to share my story so anyone who has struggled with the same things can see that there is hope and ways to work through it. I would love to hear any other stories from those of you who have found peace and joy and who have advice for someone like me who still needs reminders every now and then. Struggling with mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that needs to be shared and talked about to help others.

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So that’s me. I know this is not a normal post but I think it is fair to anyone who reads my blog to know the true me. Thank you for keeping up with me these past 6 months. I hope to continue to share about my life inside and outside of the classroom. I have some new blog ideas that I want to share this summer. They may or may not be school related but I think it’s time to add a bit more flavor to my topics.

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER

I am pumped! Today has been an emotional day for sure. I was so excited for this day to come but when I was sitting in my room with my kiddos the last 5 minutes of the day, I realized I didn’t want them to leave. It has been such a great and amazing year.

We started the day off by moving all of our tables into one giant table. I wanted us to be together as a group for our last day instead of separated by 5 different tables. They came in and it was very chaotic (just as expected.) I had a mini word search for them to work on as something to do but most of them didn’t find that to be as exciting as laughing and talking with the rest of their friends, which is understandable. By the time they settled down we came to make a circle at the front of the classroom for our last morning meeting together.

During the meeting we did an activity that we did on the first day of school. The activity is one of my favorites that involves toilet paper (which they find to be hilarious!) I pass around rolls of toilet paper and they are told to take 1-3 pieces. (Some versions of this activity say to have them take as many as they want without telling them what it’s for but I found with 3rd graders, that was too much to handle.) On the first day of school they had to then tell myself and the class that many things about themselves, today they had to share that many memories/favorite things about 3rd grade. It was super sweet. Most of them took it pretty seriously and had some really good answers. We had some funny moments that came back up as well. It was nice for me to get a flashback of the year to remember what all happened.

I then had them go back to their spots and take out something to write with. I gave them each a blank piece of printer paper and told them to write their name in the middle and circle it. We then spent the next 15 minutes passing each sheet around the table so each student could write something nice on everyone’s piece of paper. It could be something they liked about that person, a nice memory, or a kind word. Again, most of them took this seriously and loved it. (Yes a few tried to be “funny” or “too cool” for the activity but the nice thing was that the rest of the class didn’t feed into any of that.)

Once we finished I read the great book Last Day Blues by Julia Danneberg and then we went to play outside. They went straight to specials and I took out their end of the year gifts to put at their spots. I found a pack of 24 “80’s style” sunglasses on amazon for $16.47 (prime) and  24 jump ropes for $39.75 (prime) and put together a little message to go with it. Props to Pinterest’s help on this one. I wrote each of them their own personalized card and put in the message “you shined so bright this year, now it’s time to jump into summer” into each one. (Hence the sunglasses and the jump ropes….not original, I know but easy!) Because they are sweet 8 and 9 year olds, they LOVED it!

To end the day I had put together a slideshow/video of our year together. I love taking pictures of everything we do throughout the year because I love looking back at the memories and how much they’ve grown. I also love putting it together into one movie to share with all of the families. We watched our slideshow and then took some final end of the year class pictures.

I am going to miss my class so much! We’ve had our struggles, oh yes, but they were all sweet and kindhearted and that is something I will truly miss. They have been such an incredible group of kids who cared so much about everyone else. My one goal when the year starts is to make them all love to be at school and today I got to see that I accomplished that. One of my boys who has never been afraid to tell me he hates school told me today he was very sad that school was over and that he would really miss me. He followed that up with a hug and I almost started to cry. It was everything I had worked so hard for. It’s those moments that make it all worth it.

That being said, I am very happy it is summer! I am EXHAUSTED and ready to sleep, read, swim, eat, and do whatever else I want to do when I want to do it. Tonight I plan on binging on pizza and having a nice cold one as my reward for making it through! Happy summer to my fellow teachers who are on their breaks and to all of my friends still in school, keep plugging through, you are AMAZING!!

As for me, peace out to year 2! I am so excited for year 3!!

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

It’s crazy to believe that April is already half way over…??? Ummmmm, how did that happen? With testing and crazy weather patterns, I once again feel like the amount of actual teaching I’ve done is down to a minimum. (In case you didn’t hear, the midwest got yet another storm this past week, so Thursday school was cancelled again because of “blizzard like conditions.”) I think my students are starting to hit that spring slide because it’s getting harder and harder to motivate them everyday.

Because of that, I wanted to look into ways to keep them motivated and positive through the end of the year. I also am having many students who are becoming very emotional lately and I wanted to continue to remind them how to be positive and believe in themselves even if something doesn’t go as planned. I did a quick amazon search for growth mindset books and found The Growth Mindset Playbook; A Teacher’s Guide to Promoting Student Success, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.

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I’m only a few chapters in right now but I wanted to reflect on some of the concepts I’ve come across already that I’ve found to be quite interesting.

The book begins by explaining the difference between growth and fixed mindset. Simply put, growth mindset individuals always see a way and are open to failure because they can learn from it, whereas fixed mindset individuals believe if they fail they fail and are completely defeated. I’ve tried all year to create growth mindset students but some are still struggling with effort because they don’t believe in themselves.

To help teach what growth mindset thinkers believe, the authors included a mini lesson to do as a whole class. The teacher writes out a series of scenarios on notecards. The scenarios range between how a fixed mindset person would react to a situation and how a growth mindset person would react to a situation. They work as a team to sort each notecard into a fixed or growth mindset category. The scenarios in this book are middle/high school age situations so before I try this out, I have to think of situations an 8 year old could relate to. I want to try this once our testing if over to hopefully spark some interest and motivation for the last month of school.

The second main idea I found interesting so far in this book is the concept that even if a teacher teaches growth mindset, their students might not be successful in grasping the concept. The authors found that a teacher can talk about having a growth mindset until they’re blue in the face but it won’t make a difference unless they model having a growth mindset themselves for their students. I think this was a pretty powerful idea. It shows how much of an impact a teacher has on their students. You can teach your students to believe in anything but if you don’t believe in it yourself, they’re never going to catch on.

I think I model this pretty well for my kiddos. Everyday we talk about the importance of effort and how we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. I stress that I don’t care if someone got 100% on a test or 50% on a test as long as they put in effort and strive to learn from their errors the next time around. I talk a lot about my mistakes and how I learn from them to do and be better at my job. I’m also a HUGE Harry Potter fan and have instilled that love with my class. I’ve shared with them the story of J.K. Rowling and how she got her start. I’ve told them about how she was rejected by 12 different companies before someone told her they would publish her story. This has always been a huge motivator for me and I love to share it with my students because the story is so inspirational.

I have not gotten very far into the book but I plan to continue reading to learn more about having a growth mindset and how to use that information to help my students and to help our class have a great end of the year. As I keep reading, I hope to continue to share little tips and tricks that I learn to help any of you who are also having a hard time getting your students to believe in themselves.

Valentine’s Day Craziness

Hello fellow readers, and if you’re still awake after Valentine’s Day week, teachers! This was a super fun week (but yes, very exhausting.) On Valentine’s Day we went all out all day long while still incorporating our daily curriculum. I had the best day but I am tired!!

We started the day off with a Valentine’s Day surprise. I put a donut on each student’s desk for them to see and eat when they walked in. We also were celebrating our great behavior in the past few weeks by having a pajama day! They walked in and were so excited it made my day!!

To calm the craziness and chaos, they started the morning laying in a cozy spot with a book and their donut. It calmed them down from the excitement of what was to come that day and they thought it was so cool because they were wearing cozy clothes, had their blankets, and were eating donuts on the ground while reading.

For reading we did a fun creative writing project. My mom is a teacher and I got the best activity from her (I actually did the activity with her and her class 3 years ago while I was volunteering one day so the example below is mine! Haha sorry for the lame writing.) They each got a box of conversation hearts and a piece of pink paper. They had to come up with their own creative story using the conversation hearts as they wrote. They found it so silly because they had to use hearts that said “I love you” and “kiss me.” They had so much fun and I loved watching them and reading what they wrote.

During math I had my observation (of course on Valentine’s Day) with my principal so I needed to find a quality lesson but also something fun because it was V-Day and they weren’t going to focus on anything serious lesson. We are currently learning fractions (and struggling) so I went on the trusty Teachers Pay Teachers and found another conversational heart activity that related to fractions. They had a blast with this as well! I found the activity on Miss B and Grade 3‘s store. I actually did this exact same activity last year with my 4th graders but my 3rd graders did just as well with it.

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They each got another box of hearts and then had to sort out 10 hearts into their colors. They had to then create fractions of a color out of the 10 total pieces they had. They did well! (Better than my 4th graders actually!) Luckily for me as well, they were on their BEST behavior! When the principal walked in my students were talking and one of my boys, WHO ALWAYS IS TALKING, goes “shhhhhhhhhhhh guys, Mr. G**** is here.” Man, kids are so weird and unpredictable during observations. Overall, it went super well.

After lunch we braved our “party.” (Which consisted of opening boxes and listening to music for 20 minutes.) With not having school for almost 2 weeks total, we never had time to make any boxes, so they had to create their own at home. Holy cow, I want to do this next year again because they were SO CREATIVE!!! I attached my favorites below but I was impressed. When I was in school, we NEVER had boxes as cute as the ones they made.

To end the day, I turned on the Berenstain Bear’s Valentine’s Day episode (free on Youtube) and enjoyed the silence of my student’s as they intently watched this cute 25 minute video.

It was a crazy day, and a fun day, but I’m glad it’s over and that it’s officially the weekend because I’m tired! My mom said something to me yesterday that really stuck. She told me that she believes Valentine’s Day is probably most students’ favorite day of the year. That really hit me because after seeing their excitement and happiness opening their Valentine’s and doing all of our activities throughout the day, I think she might be right. Watching them and all of their reactions had to have been my favorite part of the whole thing!

I hope you had a good Valentine’s Day!  I hope that if you’re a teacher, you had fun and aren’t too exhausted from the craziness. In my personal life, Valentine’s Day is just another day, but seeing Valentine’s Day through their eyes made me see how great the holiday can be when you’re surrounded by those who love and care about you.

To see more of my day to day experiences and the live activities we do in class, go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

January Student Slump

The past few days have honestly been a blur. Thursday afternoon and Friday at school were hard days for my kids. They have been at each other’s necks like crazy lately. It’s that time of the year that they are so used to one another that they are fighting like siblings and I don’t know what to do!

Thursday afternoon I had to have a class intervention on how to be nice to each other. We watched the Class Dojo Empathy videos where Mojo gets so anxious he takes his emotions out on his friends. He learns that everyone is going through something and that when you are upset or frustrated with another person, you need to take a deep breath and walk in that person’s shoes.

After we watched the 3 different videos, we had a long class discussion on what we learned and how it relates to us. During the lesson, they were all super attentive and understanding. I had some brave kiddos who shared some personal examples on when they’ve had bad days and took it out on someone else. I honestly thought it was a success!

Friday, however they came in to the room and I heard 3 different arguments in 10 minutes. One of my pet peeves is whining and snapping at others. I don’t know what happened but they came in and got very annoyed with each other very quick and I heard a lot of whining and a lot of snapping. We had to start our Friday morning meeting with a reflection on our discussion the day before and brainstormed ways to make the day better.

For the most part this worked but when they came in from recess, I heard many stories about how “so and so pushed me,” or “so and so looked at me funny and then ran away from me.” I needed them all to stay away from each other so we did some independent work and reading during the afternoon. I tried a team bonding activity where they met with other classmates to share facts about themselves but that didn’t work either.

I had to pull the class together again to talk about how we’re a big family and like any family, we won’t always get along. We talked about how no matter if you like someone or not, we’re stuck together for another 5 months and we need to learn to get along like we have to with our siblings.

To say the least, I was glad when the bell rang and the long weekend began. We have school off tomorrow and I’m really hoping that having 3 days off will be a good refresher so we can come back on Tuesday and focus more on school and not little arguments about funny looks and who sat by who at the lunch table.

If anyone has any ideas on how to get through this January slump, I’m open to any and all suggestions!

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Welcome Back!!!

Happy New Year everyone!! I am officially back at school and I feel so refreshed and very much restored. I woke up 30 minutes early this morning because I was so excited to be back in the swing of things and start this next half of the year off right!

I wanted to treat today like the first day of school again. 11 days of no school and crazy routines will throw anyone off especially 23 8 year olds. They all came in and found that I have a whole new seating arrangement. I needed a fresh look and this way, they are around new people! When the day started, we had our morning meeting which ran a little differently than normal. Because they were all so excited to share about their breaks, I set aside 20 minutes just for them to share. They loved listening to everyone’s stories and it was a way to help them get all of their chatter out before we got into our day.

We then spent our “activity” time of our morning meeting talking about our class expectations. I’m a big person on creating these expectations as a team/group instead of me just telling them my rules. I like to have them be apart of that process, so they can take responsibility and ownership of our room. We made a list of 6 “main” rules and 6 consequences at the beginning of the year. I took both lists down and we discussed them and talked about how we can make them better or stick to the expectations in a new way. I found a great (free!!) resource on teachers pay teachers that was all about rules and expectations. I found this on the shop Teach Create Collaborate. They took this back to their own desks and filled out 3 of the most important expectations/rules we have in our room on their own.

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Once they finished, I had them talk with their groups (groups of 8) to discuss what they came up with to be their top 3 rules/expectations we have and why. From there, they also discussed what some consequences might be if one of the rules were to be broken. While they discussed I put the two words on the board and we got to work brainstorming together!

It definitely looks like a big jumbled mess (and some of the rules and consequences might not make much sense) but these were what they came up with, all on their own. I had no input on what they decided because I wanted them to take pride in creating our new set of rules and consequences. I then transferred these onto two different posters to hang in our room. I had each student sign both before hanging them up to show they approved of what was created.

Once that was completed we did a mini lesson on resolutions. I’m not the biggest fan on having one specific new year’s resolution but I am big on setting a goal for yourself that you work hard on everyday. For example, last year my resolution (goal) was to focus on myself, this year I have dedicated this to be the year of adventure. I shared this with my students but also told them some normal resolutions they might hear (workout more, get better grades, learn how to do a cartwheel, etc.) I showed them 2 awesome Youtube videos that explained resolutions and gave kid friendly examples. The first video was published by Syracuse entitled Kids share adorable New Year’s resolutions. The second video was a class Kid President video entitled Kid President AWESOME Year Challenge.

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My kids loved both and got awesome ideas on what their resolutions should be. I found another free and awesome resource on Teachers Pay Teachers that was a cute writing template for them to write down what their resolutions would be. I found this on Amanda Garcia’s TPT store. It was the perfect mini writing activity for the day and to get back in the swing of things.

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My math time was all review to get them back thinking math and so I knew they didn’t forget anything we really focused on right before they left. We played addition/subtraction scoot for the first half and then they worked on independent work the second half. The rest of the day was pretty calm and relaxing. My kids were back to their “normal” selves so my fingers are crossed we will have another successful half of the year!

Sidenote: I started Harry Potter as my read aloud today and my class is already in love with it! I could not be any happier!!!!

2 Days to Go…

I feel like this week is turning into a marathon. The past two days seemed like they were a whole week in themselves. In order to get myself in the mood to get me through the next few days (and my kids through the next few days without totally losing it) I have a handful of activities that keep them busy (and quiet) and is little work for me.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve read a Christmas book a day. Some days we do something with it, some days we don’t. This week I decided I wasn’t going to start a new reading unit so I needed something to fill in my long hour and a half reading block each morning.

Monday we spent our whole morning making parent gifts so I could easily check that off the list and had one less day to plan. Yesterday I decided to read the book, Mooseltoe, by Margie Palatini.

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It’s such a cute book. I had to come up with some sort of lesson to do with it so I searched the trusted TPT store for something cheap and easy. I found a simple story features activity on Savvy Second Graders site that had them think of characters, the setting, and a problem and solution in the story. They then had to write me a 5 sentence summary on the book. This was the perfect review since we hit all of these topics over the past 4 months. SUPER easy and very little prep for me (and free)! 🙂 It kept them working and busy for most of the morning!

The rest of the day was spent reviewing for a math test and working on catching up on different projects and assignments. VERY calm and quiet work (which really helps get through this week!)

Today we spent our reading block reading another one of my favorite books, Christmas Trolls, by Jan Brett. I LOVE her books! My mom used to read them to my sister and me all the time growing up, so they hold a special place in my heart. I used this book to work on story features and comparing and contrasting with another one of her books we read last week, Trouble with Trolls.

Again, I searched TPT and found another FREE activity pack that relates with these two books! At All About Elementary’s store I downloaded a Jan Brett activity pack that had them compare and contrast these two different stories.

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They got a kick out of how the same character is in both books and has 2 different encounters with trolls. They worked hard. They were more chatty today but I knew it was coming.

Tomorrow we are going to have a Grinch themed day!! I found a readers theater version of the Grinch on Christy Hard’s TPT shop that we will do during reading time. We will then obviously have to watch the original Grinch movie to compare and contrast the movie to the play right!? I’m using this as a motivation tool for my kiddos to get through the next few days! We will also use the song to talk about similes and metaphors and draw our own version of a simile or metaphor in the song.

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Friday we’re watching a movie all morning to keep things as calm as possible and to help my sanity. They think they are working towards earning it but I will make them earn it if it’s the last thing I do!

ALMOST THERE!!!

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Parent Gifts

As the break gets closer and closer the one thing I ALWAYS forget about is making parent gifts with the kiddos. The other thing I forget about is how long it takes to make them (and my lack of patience during the whole process!)

Last year, my team told me about making snowman mason jars (a project they found on Pinterest.) It was a very cute idea but it involved paint, crafty supplies, and a glue gun. 3 things that make for a long day and a BIG mess! I decided this year I was going to keep it as simple as possible.

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I had them make a class collaboration list on everything they are thankful for that their parents do for them. We took that list and they each wrote a letter to their parents saying how much they loved them and what they are thankful for when it comes to their families.

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Most of my kiddos took this pretty seriously. We talked about how the most meaningful thing you can give to another person comes from the heart and there are very few things more from the heart than your words. We took the letters and mounted them on construction paper to create a thick card.

As we let the letters dry we made very simple and easy ornaments using craft foam. I traced out yellow lights and blue mittens that they could pick to cut out. They then got to decorate them and put their school picture on it with the year. (They are super simple and pretty cheap but I’m a new teacher with hardly any money so this was the best I could do!)

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This was all we got done today. I overestimated our abilities to get it all done and wrapped in one solid day.

Tomorrow I plan to have them hole punch the top of their ornaments to add a string at the top. We will then take their letters and fold them into cards. Last week I bought some Christmas photo booth props from Target and took pictures of each of them in front of a tree with their props. (They look so cute!)

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I ordered them to have them put on the cover of their cards. After that we have the whole wrapping process, which I’m going to keep as simple as possible because my patience level is slowly declining. We’ll just put the ornament in the card and make a paper envelope to put the card in. Simple. Easy. DONE.

What are some ideas for parent’s gifts you make?

ONLY 4 MORE DAYS!! I just have to keep telling myself that. I. CAN. DO THIS.

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Blogmas – Day 8 Gift Exchange

Ok so pretty short and sweet post here and lots of ways to take the topic of gift exchange at Christmas.

My immediate family is very small (only 4 of us) so we all get each other about 3ish gifts. My parents usually have more for my sister an I. For us, it’s more a time to bond together. A lot of our gifts are “gag gifts” so it’s a fun occasion.

A tradition my friends and I have is a secret Santa dice game gift exchange. We started it in high school. We each bring a gift that matches where we all are in our lives (this year I plan on buying coffee and wine for my gift because we’re all exhausted 23 year olds who like a good drink) and then we play the traditional dice game together. We’ve recently started to break out a few drinks along the way, so it gets a bit more exciting!

When I think of gift exchanging at Christmas I think more about wanting to make my friends and family feel loved rather than thinking about receiving gifts from them. I love picking out just the right thing for the special people in my life. I love using Etsy for this. I can spend hours searching for the perfect gift for just one person. I take pride in being able to find something meaningful and special for the ones I love.

Looking back, I feel like this was a very random post but I take the idea of gift exchange in many ways.