December Fun

Surprise! I'm writing a blog post! December has to be the busiest, but best month of the year! I love to make my classroom a special place for my kids to spend the month. Here is what has been going on in my classroom this month... : )

Holiday card writing has been a huge hit in my Work on Writing Center! I just sent a quick note to my parents asking for holidays cards, leftover or new. I probably received hundreds of cards! Dollar Tree has packs of 20 cards for $1! We created this anchor chart together!

It reminded my students how to write a friendly letter and how to "address" it.

The little letters they wrote were so sweet!

And this one is just to die for! He says something sweet to everyone in his family, including his dog Bandit! And look how he spelled including...enqulouding : ) He even called his mom a rock star, and she is!

Last year I bought these stockings way on sale after Christmas. Like 10 cents a piece on sale! : ) I just painted each child's name on their stocking and this served as their "mailbox" to receive holiday cards from their friends. My first graders have LOVED them! I am hoping that I will be able to pick up more (cheap) stockings this year for next year! 

I've said it before and I will say it again, children love, love, LOVE learning about animals! Especially reindeer! I am always amazed at how much their writing improves when they write about something they are interested in and when they are able to recall facts. I always start my reindeer unit with telling students their are two different types of reindeer. We have Santa's reindeer and reindeer that live in the wild. Santa's reindeer have magic and they can do great things like fly. Reindeer in the wild just aren't as lucky. As soon as we have this little talk, we can  begin our non-fiction writing! ; )

This is one of my favorite anchor charts we have made all year long. The pink vocabulary cards are part of an academic vocabulary program my school is using with ESL students. I try to use the cards on anchor charts when I can so students can read the definition we created and connect it to the content. 

We read this non-fiction book about reindeer and then I physically took pictures of the pages to go on our anchor chart. The only non-fiction text feature it didn't have that I needed was a caption, but that was easy to add. I love this book because it is PERFECT for K and 1 and it has different information then some of the other books I have found. 

All week we worked on our reindeer writing and finally on Friday we were ready to create our final draft. Of course we added this precious craft too! 

Look at those great labels! : )

No reindeer unit is complete with out some reindeer food. Now this my friends is for those magic reindeer mentioned above! ; ) However, we do remember that reindeer are herbivores and like oats. 

My students wrote their own recipe of how we made the reindeer food.

Find the Reindeer Food Recipe Writing for free HERE. 

I didn't stress about parent gifts this year because our PTA puts on this fabulous event called Elf Alley where students can make their gifts. It's so great! This year I just stuck with my favorite cinnamon applesauce ornaments. They smell so good and last forever...well at least four years and counting. I just mixed equal parts of cinnamon and applesauce, probably a cup of each and squeezed in some good 'ole Elmer's glue. The kids rolled out the dough and used a gingerbread cookie cutter to make their ornament.  

I just let them air dry for a few days flipping them back and forth, but I'm sure you could stick them in the oven too. I gave the kids puffy paint and let them go to town. It's so interesting to see what they do when their are no boundaries given! 

And of course no December is complete without Elf on the Shelf! My classroom elf, Ellie made it back for her fourth year! Santa actually had to mail her this year since I had moved to a new city, new school, new classroom and new grade!; ) Bless her heart, she was lost!

She has definitely kept us entertained!

A new classroom tradition I started this year was wrapping up holiday books. If you are like me, you have WAY too many great Christmas books. I never have a chance to read them all! This year I wrapped 19 different books (one for each child) and placed them under the Christmas tree. Each day I choose a different child to unwrap a book for me to read aloud. The kids LOVED it! They look forward to the last 10 minutes of each day because they know it will be someone's turn to unwrap a surprise book. After I read the book aloud, it is added to our classroom library! : )


These Santa hats were also purchased super cheap after Christmas last year! : ) 

I am planning to pop back in later this week with some more Christmas fun, but for now I am off to cuddle with my little elf.

And yes, we do have matching Christmas pajamas. Just call me the crazy dog lady! : )


Thankful Alphabet Freebie

I am so thankful for YOU! Thanks for visiting my poor and somewhat neglected blog. Are you counting down the days until Thanksgiving Break? Me too! I am so excited to have a whole entire week off for the first time in my teaching career. Wahoo!

I wanted to stop in and share this little Thanksgiving freebie with you! Challenge your students to complete the Thankful Alphabet! Students will try to think of something they are thankful for using each letter of the alphabet. This would be a great addition to a writing center or a timed activity for extra fun. Read this or this to go with it!

Click HERE to download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store! : )

Gobble, Gobble! 


October Recap...

I just love October, but it FLEW by! I'm having to recap the entire month!
Stellaluna is always a favorite read aloud and it's an easy story for students to retell. First we used interactive writing to create a flow map of the story. A few friends added the illustrations. It's always a special treat to be a "chosen" illustrator. 

We created these bats to sequence the story. 

Everything you need for these bats and additional writing activities  can be found HERE. 

We have been also working hard to master nouns, verbs and adjectives. We came up with lots of adjective to describe spiders and created this little craft to coordinate. 

It was super easy and really helped my kids to get the hang of using adjectives to describe a noun. We also read some non-fiction spider books too! Kids love to learn about creepy things!

I added this Noun and Verb Sort to our word work center after introducing it whole group. The kids loved it! It could also be added to your writing centers for students to use the words in a spooky sentence. Download it HERE for free!

And of course no October is complete without some pumpkin investigation activities! I created this simple investigation page and students brought their own pumpkin to complete the different activities.

Our favorite was definitely learning that a pumpkin floats. 

I am always looking for books that encourage text to text connections. We compared the characters in Spookley the Square Pumpkin and The Haloweiner using a Double Bubble Map. 

Of course we had to make Spookley too!

This October I also marked Pumpkin Village at the Dallas Arboretum off my bucket list! It was like pumpkin heaven! If you are in Texas, you must check it out!

Hope you had a great October! : )


Apple and Five Senses Fun

It certainly doesn't feel like Fall here in Texas, but I am definitely in the mood. I love incorporating apples into our Fall learning! This week we were learning about how scientists use their five senses to make observations. My apple activities tied in perfectly! 

We kicked off our Five Senses Unit with a scavenger hunt around the school. We recorded what objects we saw that could be observed by one of our five senses. It was fun to get out of our classroom for a little bit!

This scavenger hunt is available HERE. 

We also wrote poetry about apples using our five senses. Bubble maps helped us think about each sense and descriptive words. 

We then created poems:
Apples look...
Apples sound...
Apples feel...
Apples smell...
Apples taste...

We also used our five senses to observe the ever popular apple eruption! This activity was definitely a keeper! The kids LOVED it and were absolutely devastated when it was time to clean up and move on. We will have to find something else to erupt soon.

This wonderful apple eruption recording page came from my friend, Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies. 

Look at those excited faces! ; )

Our math tubs also had some Apple Addition activities. I created these activities with first graders in mind. 

I think these apple word problems were my favorite. I think we will solve these problems whole group too! Building word problems with manipulatives is HUGE. 

These centers really reinforce anchoring to 10. 

I always add two sided counters and have my students build the problem again. 

We can match addition problems to addition sentences too.

Finally Friday was applesauce day! 
I have used this machine

for the past few years to peel and core the apples. It has been great, but this year my world was rocked! Meet your new applesauce best friend:

I am still amazed by this machine! One of my classroom moms brought it in and it was so great! She picked up the apples earlier in the day and cooked them. Then you just stick them in the machine and it separates the seeds and skin from the pulp. The kids can help crank and push the apples through the strainer.

 The kids mixed their own cinnamon and sugar in their applesauce bowl and ate it all up! YUM!

More (simple) apple activities can be found in my Apple Unit BASICS or in these apple blog posts.