Happy December!

I'm so sad that we're halfway through the month and I'm JUST now finding the time to sit down and update this sweet little blog.  Because...well...LIFE.  It kinda gets in the way, right?!  I kid...sort of...but in all seriousness, here's a little peek at what the last few weeks have entailed...

I spent the first week of December prepping for the MI Kindergarten conference and getting my house ready for my soon-to-be SIL's bridal shower.  Terrible planning on my part.  I always over commit, gosh darnit.  In between all that prepping and planning, I also chaperoned Landon's field trip to the zoo. 

The shower was on the 6th...

Then I flew out on the 7th.  I started my day of travel around 10 that morning and finally ended up in my hotel room about 11 that night thanks to a couple of delays and a layover.

Did I mention that I was crying in the Chicago airport as all of my sweet friends from school kept sending me pics of this silly little elf?!  My sweet Grant was in our small town Christmas parade riding the float for our campus. The theme was Elf on the Shelf and judging from the pictures, it was amazing.  I was delirious, tired, and not dramatic at all ;)  Ha!

I woke up on the 8th and spent the day presenting to some of the kindest, sweetest teachers in Livonia.  4 sessions back-to-back and i can promise NO ONE wants to hear me talk that long...especially me. 

I ended that night having dinner with Maria from Kinder Craze.  I just adore her.  She is seriously the sweetest and it was so much fun to sit down and just TALK.  We're pretty good at that ;)

I woke up on the 9th and did it all again.  4 more sessions.  More amazing teachers with the most FABULOUS ideas.  I absolutely LOVE being in a room full of educators.  Let me tell you...if you haven't figured it out by now...that I clearly don't have the most groundbreaking ideas.  It's so much fun to listen to other teachers talk about what they're doing in their classrooms...I feel like I learn SO much from them!!!!  

At the end of the day, my sister-in-law picked me up from the hotel and I was able to spend the night with my MI family....the absolute PERFECT ending to my stay up north!!!!  

I flew back to Houston on the 10th and **barely** made my connecting flight from Chicago back home.  Literally running through the airport Home Alone style to board before they closed the gate...no lie...2 minutes later. #STRESSED

I woke up on the 11th and knew I had a full day ahead of me unpacking, catching up on laundry, and **trying** to finish a few projects for January.   I finished the day with the girls enjoying a fabulous dinner party/earring exchange.  #latenight

The 12th was spent at my old campus helping my old team prep one of the rooms for Traditions Around the World.  If you don't know about that, you can check out my post from last year.  Truly one of the best Kindergarten traditions of the year!!!  Here's what it looked like when I left that afternoon...

We scurried home to get ready for basketball practice then spent another hour up at school for that.  We immediately left there, changed into our jammies, and headed to a friend's house to meet Santa!  I was BEAT!!!!!!!!  We barely made it through milk and cookies before I was the lame mom leaving early to put her kids...and herself...to bed :)

We hosted an Ugly Sweater Party here at the house on the 13th, so I spent the day cooking and cleaning...and then Landon had a basketball scrimmage an hour before the party started.  Hello.  He's 7.  Can we tap the brakes on holiday practices?!?!  PLEASE?!!??!

I spent the 14th with my mom and dad in Houston because the boys ended up staying the night at their house the night before.  When I finally got back home, I fell asleep.  At 7.  SEVEN!!!!!!  That hasn't happened since, well...I'm not sure that's EVER happened!!!  HA!

I woke up on the 15th and headed back to school to get the rest of the room ready for Tradtions Around the World.  Here's what we ended up with when the day was done....

I wanted to help out with Traditions Around the World today, but I had already committed to chaperoning yet another field trip for Landon.  This time we went to Moody Gardens in Galveston to enjoy the amazing ice sculptures.  It must be said that I have MAD respect for those of you living where the temps fall...and stay...below 30 for a big part of your winter.  The ice sculpture tent was set to a whopping 9 degrees and if I'm being totally honest, I wanted to walk out as soon as I walked in.  I don't know HOW y'all do it.  My face hurt.  My fingers hurt.  My nose hairs were frozen.  #truth

All that to be said, this month has been a whirlwind.  I'll be spending the day tomorrow catching up and putting the final details on a few projects I've been trying to finish for the last few weeks.  Then it's back to school for holiday parties and Christmas festivities.  

If you're waiting for my January Work on Writing to be posted, look for it to be in the shop no later than Friday.  Yes...I know it was supposed to be posted on the 15th...as in yesterday...but I'm still finishing up.  I had such good intentions when I created that schedule and didn't take into account any of my presenting obligations at the time I set those dates.  #FAIL

I'll also be posting my January Print & Practice Problem Solving as well as the Math & Literacy Printables for 1st & K (by request).  

I'm SO happy to be home.  And settled.  And ready to ENJOY the holidays with my sweet little family of 4.  

If you're not following me on facebook, come on by and press that little blue button.  I'll be giving away a little something every night for the next week, so come on over and get entered to win!  

In the meantime, it's back to work for me!  Have a BLESSED night, friends!!!!

Christmas for the Classroom Giveaway!

It's the season for giving and I've teamed up with several fabulous bloggers to giveaway this AMAZING gift!!!! 

A laser printer!!!  Amazing, right?!?!?!  I mean, can I enter?!?!  PLEASE?!?!

Anyway, in addition to the laser printer, I'm giving away my most favorite math tool...dice in dice!  I LOVE these things!!!!  Great for comparing quantities, determining greater/less, addition/subtraction/mixed operations, counting, and more!!!!  I use these for EVERYTHING!!!!  

Wanna win one...or both...of these for your classroom?!?  Just follow the directions below and enter to win!  

Giveaway ends on Friday, December 12th, at midnight, so don't forget to add your name to the drawing!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elfis is BACK & a HUGE Sale!

Our family elf, Elfabet, is back at our house and visiting us from the North Pole.  He is one of my favorite family traditions because his silly hijinks always make my boys laugh.  There is just no sweeter sound to wake up to in the morning, I swear.  Not only are the elves flying back to homes everywhere across the country, but according to my calendar, they're flying back to classrooms everywhere, too.  
Last year I posted all about our classroom elf and I wanted to share that post again in case you could use this fun freebie in your class, too!  Click on the picture below to read all about it.

You can grab the freebie HERE.

And if you're in search of some elf ideas, I posted a few on my domestic blog last week.  You can check those out here...

And have you heard the news yet?!  

Best time of the year!  This is when I like to stock up!!  If you're in need of a few more seasonal resources, here's what I have available...

I have lots of phonics and alphabet resources....math activities and content...and MORE!  You can visit my little store and click on the custom tabs on the left hand side of the screen to find exactly what you're looking for!  Until next time, happy cyber shopping!!!!

Talk Turkey To Me!

How many of y'all are in scramble mode right now?! Scrambling to get things planned and prepped for your Thanksgiving festivities...and I don't mean your homebound celebrations.  I thought I'd throwback to some old things I've done in my classroom for Thanksgiving and share a couple of new things with you as well.  If you're still not done planning and prepping, maybe these ideas will help!

First up, here are my favorite Thanksgiving books!

Before I throwback, here's a little something new for this year.  I created this supplemental math & literacy resource full of printables and writing craftivities to get you through the week.  There's a fun little non-fiction reader all about the very first Thanksgiving, too.  I love any chance I can get to incorporate non-fiction elements into my instruction.  

Here's a peek at the writing craftivities...

Now let's throwback, shall we?!

These little whimsical turkeys are from last year and they turned out SO great!  This was one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda activities that I came up with as I was reading to my kids.  As they were completing their writing, I was cutting out all the parts.  I know I'm not the only one who's done this before ;)

If you wanna snatch this craftivity up and use it in your own classroom this week, just click on the pic below.

After reading The Great Turkey Race a couple of years ago, my kids extended their thinking by writing about the beginning/middle/end of the story and then we displayed their writing on these darling little turkeys.  And they made me laugh every time I looked at them.  I would LOVE to share a template with y'all, but I don't have one that I can find.  I mean, I know I have one, but heck if I know where it is!!  Shoved in a box at the bottom of a pile in storage, I'm sure.  SO sorry!!!!

Let's go back to 2011 for this one.  We created these little old lady's after reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.  Again, no template....SADSVILLE...but these would be pretty simple to recreate.  I just cut out a face...then some hair...and a big black mouth...we used googly eyes and then had the kids draw glasses around them.  The writing prompt was "If I were the little old lady, I would swallow....." and then they had to write about a Thanksgiving food they would eat.  Then they drew the picture of that food item, cut it out, and glued it in the old lady's mouth.  TOO funny!!!

Here's a little share from 2011.  We were working on character traits/details at the time and this little follow-up activity was the perfect way to reinforce that skill.  We read "The Littlest Pilgrim" (one of my favorites!!!) and then the kids made their own and wrote complete sentences describing the main character.  When I displayed their work, I included the anchor chart we created to keep as a learning visual/reminder.

These were always a favorite to hang up in the room during November.  My kids loved showing off their work when their families visited the room for VIP day the Friday before our long week off.  

This giant class graph was so much fun, too!!!  A perfect little activity from Deanna Jump's Thanksgiving packet.
This is usually how my room looked in November, too.  Excessive.  And fantastically exciting for the kids.  

And can you spot First Grade Blue Skies pilgrims in the back there?!?!?  LOVE THOSE!!!

We'll go back all the way to 2010 for this one.  These are the little Mayflowers you see sitting on the desks above.  We made these out of grocery sacks.  I'd share the template with you, but they're not my idea and I don't want to share someone else's creation :)  However, they were super simple to create!  We attached a pencil to the back of the sack to hold up the sail and then filled the inside with facts about the Mayflower.

Of course, before we could write about the Mayflower, we had to read as many non-fiction stories about it as we could.  And then we kept up an anchor chart to which we continually added facts.  

And if you're going on the Mayflower, you have to pack for it, too.  Here are our suitcases filled with all the things we would take if we were pilgrims.

Speaking of pilgrims, this was my most FAVORITE project EVER!!!  I absolutely LOVED the way each of these turned out.  First we created a Venn diagram comparing Pilgrim boys and girls to boys and girls today.  Then I had the kids write about something they would do if they were a pilgrim boy/girl.  They used their computer time to draw a picture of themselves as a pilgrim boy/girl on KidPix.  I absolutely ADORED the way they all looked!!!  SO cute!!!

We also made little pilgrims to hang up with a little writing that compared what the kids can do today (or have today) that the pilgrim boys and girls couldn't do (didn't have) back then.  

Now let's stay in 2010 and talk about another one of my favorite projects.  My little symmetrical turkeys.  I absolutely LOVED how different and unique each one turned out.  I cut out a simple peanut shape for the turkey body and then had the kids cut their own beak, wattle, and feet.  They had the option to cut out or draw on their eyes.  I cut out the pattern block shapes on our school die cut machine, but I'm pretty sure you can donwload pattern block templates online (free), too!  I had the kids start with their pattern first...building onto the yellow octagon...and then going out from there.  Then they glued the little turkey bodies to the top of that.  These were always a class favorite!

While we're talking about turkeys, let's talk about these little placemats we made.  The turkey body was created from tracing their feet and the feathers, of course, their handprints.  Then we read the poem together and used this as a handwriting activity...letting the kids print the poem onto a piece of writing paper then gluing it next to the turkey on a large piece of construction paper.  We laminated these and used them at our Thanksgiving feast then sent them home with the kids as a keepsake. So sweet.

If you're working on fact families, this might be a fun little something to squeeze in this week, too!  I don't have a template, but this can easily be recreated.  You can read more about this HERE.

Hope your week is as full of fun as possible!!!  You will definitely earn your break!!!  

Celebrating Veteran's Day (Freebies, Too!)

If you're anything like me, you are always looking for more ideas and resources to add to your ever growing collection.  I do this for EVERYTHING.  Constantly looking for new ideas...more resources...and more time.  If anybody can tell me where I can find more time, I'd really appreciate it ;)  

That to be said, I want to share with you a few ideas to help you get ready for Veterans Day {next week...ALREADY!!!! Gah!!!}  

I absolutely LOVE teaching my kids about veterans and the sacrifices they make for our freedom.  At my old school, veterans related to the students were invited to an assembly and honored with speeches and songs and we finished it all off with a parade around the school.  It was so cool.   The assembly was streamed in all the classrooms so that everyone could watch. At my current school, we celebrate by inviting veterans to lunch...tables are decorated and the walls in the cafeteria and the hallways are, too.  It's such a sweet day.

We read several books leading up to and on Veterans Day to help teach the kids about this holiday.
These are some of my personal favorites...

I keep these books in our library center through the month of November.  My kids read them during their read to self/someone block of time and they also use these books to write some pretty great stories.  "Hero Dad" is such a sweet book and "The Wall" always makes me cry.  Make sure your tissues are nearby if you read that one aloud.

After reading a few of  our nonfiction books, we create anchor charts to display.  These are a few examples of anchor charts I created with my class the last few years.

I like to display the kids' Veterans Day writing around the anchor charts to tie everything together. 

Last year we read the book, "My Hero", and I had the kids write a text to self connection with this little writing activity...
I mean, seriously.
"My hero is my mom because she takes care of me."  
Can my boys please write something like this for me?! I MELT!!!!

In addition to our text to self writing, we also wrote what we LEARNED about Veterans and Veterans Day.  I loved displaying this in the hallways!  
I included the writing & craftivity templates in my Veterans Day mini pack.

This year I'm adding something new to the mix with this writing craftivity.  It's a great way to incorporate our theme based vocabulary, too!  

I love adding poetry and music to every theme/unit.  I made up this one and my boys are already humming the tune to themselves.  I can't get it out of my head, either!  HA!!! 
We always add a printable version of our songs and poems to our poetry folders.  I like to write the words on sentence strips, too...then I add them to my pocket chart center and encourage the kids to assemble them in sequential order, practice one-to-one matching, etc.  We use the printable version for highlighting sight words, spelling patterns, etc.  The printable version of this song is in my Veterans Day mini pack.

My boys always get excited when I create new things for my teacher friends.  I was printing a few things out the other day and they insisted on trying it all out.  It sparked a really great discussion about Veterans Day, too.  I promised them I'd pull out my Veterans Day books for bedtime stories this week.  Their favorite activity was this little Roll and Color Word Family printable.  They, of course, turn everything into a race so they were determined to see who could color the soldier first and fastest!  When I told them the prize was a kiss from mommy, they seemed less than excited to finish the race first...hahahaha!  They begged for candy kisses instead.  Oh, BOYS!!!

They also loved these little math booklets.  I included two different versions in my Veterans Day mini pack to target differing ability levels.  Landon zipped through the Armed Forces Addition...very sloppily {little toot!!!}, my poor lefty...and Grant loved his "jutht-right-for-me-book, right-mom?!?!" version.  They boys are enamored with soldiers so these were right up their alley.

You can check out my "Patriotic Holidays" board on Pinterest for some more GREAT ideas and links to some really neat resources {videos, online stories, freebies, craft ideas, etc.}.

Here are a few FREE printables for you to add to your ever growing collection of "stuff".    Hopefully they'll help you out when you're planning for your Veterans Day festivities, too!

Now it's your turn.  What do you do to help your kids learn about Veterans Day?  Does your school do anything special to celebrate?!  I'd love to hear more!