Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's been a couple weeks....

Hi there!

I promise I have good reason for my absence.  Of course the last week of school before Christmas Break is all sorts of WONDERFUL and BUSY, but my break has been spent away from home, creating amazing family memories and soaking up a little much-needed SUNSHINE!  It has been BLISS!  We head home tomorrow, and today is a rainy, gloomy day here in Orlando, so we're being completely lazy inside.  The boys are watching sports, my daughter is enjoying her latest favorite app "Stack the States", and I am doing a little blogging and blog-reading.  I even took a nap!  I know that my to-do list will be looooooong when I get home, so I am making the most of this relaxing day today.  

Here are a few highlights from our trip.

Christmas morning in sunny SW Florida!

Early-morning seashell collecting.  Definitely one of my favorite parts of this vacay!
Airboat ride -- it was overcast, but we still got up close to some gators!
 Sea World!  My favorite day of all!  Magic!
 Perfect weather and so many smiles!!

 I'm hoping to be back this weekend to wrap up December (a bit late....) and look toward the new year!  I hope your break has been restful and wonderful!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Random Randomness

I have a long list of things that I have been meaning to post about, but December is just flying by and when in the world am I supposed to find time to write blog posts??!?  But, I miss sharing with my bloggy friends, so here is a super random post full of all sorts of things from the past couple weeks!

Have you seen these little guys?  
Are they not just downright adorable???  I found these little monsters in the Target Dollar Spot (where else?!?) and knew that they would be perfect for guided reading.  I'll be pulling these out after we return to school in January to provide a little fresh motivation for my budding readers!  Not sure if they're still there, but if you're in Target anytime soon, you may want to check for them!

I love love love this Christmas book.  Every year, it's the first one I read in December.  This year, I pulled it out on December 1st.  Right away in the morning.  We have read it several times because my students love love love it too!  The story is silly and sweet and the illustrations are so fun!
Sadly, it's REALLY expensive on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.  But, maybe you can find it at a library?  Or maybe you already have it?  Such a great one.

 To say that Jingle Joy has been a hit with my students would be the understatement of the year.  They. love. him. so. much.  They can't wait to find him every morning and read the notes that he writes us.  And they love writing him notes during Choice Time too.  It's been so much fun and a wonderful way for us to talk about kindness and love every single day.  
I even made this special stationary because my kids were so nuts over writing letters to Jingle Joy every day!  The other day, Jingle Joy asked the class to write him notes about how they could be kind at home.  

These directed drawings are sooooo cute.  You might know that I love doing directed drawings with my students.  These elves have gotten so many comments from teachers and parents that come into my classroom.  They are simply adorable!!
 Head over here to find the directed drawing instructions from Mrs. Parker!

Look what I got in the mail yesterday!!  
On Thursday morning, I happened to click into an e-mail I had received from Amazon....which I normally would have just deleted, but it must have been meant to be because this laminator was on sale for $16.99!!  I have secretly had this on my mental wish list for a long time but kept talking myself out of getting it.  After I saw it, I quickly posted something on Instagram asking for input because I knew my IG friends wouldn't steer me wrong!  The reviews were awesome (I knew they would be), so I had this all ordered before school began!  And, yesterday, I heard that magical knock at the door and knew it was here!  
Only my teacher friends could understand such excitement over having a laminator of my very own!  I'm way too excited about it, and I kind-of want to laminate everything in sight. ;)

 We're close to being done with the reindeer ornaments we make for dads and moms each year.  I love these simple and sweet parent gifts.  The last step this week is to add eyes and a red nose.  Then, we'll be able to get them wrapped up and sent home to put under the tree.
I'll be sure to share when we finish them!

Five more days of festive holiday classroom fun.  I love this time of year in the classroom!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas gift tags freebie!

Oh my goodness gracious!  Where have I been all December??!?  December is just busy.  It's all wonderful, fun, and so good....but it is very busy!

Two nights ago, my son came down with a fever, so I made the trip to school for some unexpected sub plans and spent the day with him yesterday at home.  I used the morning to finish up all the wrapping I hadn't gotten done yet.  Including all our gifts for the "extras" that work with my kids at school.  Specials teachers, classroom para-pros, bus driver, before-school care teachers.....so many people that we appreciate.  I love gifting all these people that are sometimes overlooked.

I happened to find an awesome deal on Bath and Body Works lotions near Thanksgiving.  I got these full-size lotions for $2.00 each!  I love how festive and cute the bottles are.  Not to mention that they all smell so yummy!
I created this gift tag to attach to each one...and thought you might have some last-minute gifts that could use this tag too.  
 I wrote the names of who they are for on the back of the card.  
 I always like to get these to school on the last Monday before Christmas Break.  That way, my kids can just deliver them as they see the teachers throughout the week and their teachers don't have to deal wth rushed deliveries on Friday....which is already such a busy day.

CLICK HERE to grab the tags from Google Drive!  Print onto card stock and you'll be all set!

Happy gifting!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gingerbread Man Write the Room {Giveaway!}

Hi hi!!  I posted a new Write the Room activity to my TPT store last night....just in time to use it in December!  
I LOVE reading all the different variations of The Gingerbread Man with my class in December.  It's one of my favorite stories of the entire school year -- probably because my students always love it so much too!
This activity would be a perfect addition to your December literacy stations...or maybe for a word work or vocabulary center.
Head on over to my Facebook page for a chance to win!  I'll choose a winner this afternoon, so act quickly! :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

RAKs -- Random Acts of Kindness...for Christmas

What better thing to do on the day after Thanksgiving than begin to put some finishing touches on our RAKs project for December?!?  I dove head first into a RAKs project last December after being inspired by a fellow Kindie teacher.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I asked for some advice, scoured Pinterest and blogs, and developed a plan.  I kept it all very hush-hush because it was a top-secret mission and I didn't want anyone in my school finding out about it.

As soon as we completed our first RAK, I knew that this was something I would want to do again and again.  The excitement my kids felt about our TOP-SECRET missions each day was so contagious!  Sure, it added to an already busy month, but what better time of year to talk about KINDNESS, JOY, and the true spirit of GIVING than at Christmas??  

I kept things mostly the same for this year, but tweaked a few things based on what I learned last year.  There is definitely still time if you want to do something like this with your class this year.  Hopefully these ideas can help get you started if it's something you want to try.

I send this note home mid-way through November explaining to parents what we'll be doing and asking for them to help if they are willing and/or able.  Over half of my class sent back forms this year.  I just divide what we'll need between the students who offer to help, and I take care of whatever doesn't get covered.   

After the due date has passed, I review the forms and send these home...with specific items for each student to send in.

I went into school for a bit today to get things organized and got so excited by this pile of LOVE!  Pencils for every student in the school, hot chocolate packets for our awesome para-professionals and recess aides, and fun Sharpie markers for teachers.  And Hershey's kisses for all!!

A friend of mine who teaches in my district is doing RAKs with her class this year too and she wrote this letter to share with her students on the first day of December.  She has an elf that she'll be using to reveal the missions to her class each day.  I didn't do this last year, but I LOVE the idea.  I don't have an elf, so I'll be using a polar bear.  This is the letter that she wrote -- I just tweaked it a bit for my class.  And my son fancied it up for me... :)

 I use this calendar that I made in PowerPoint.  I'll change it each year to match the correct dates.  I keep track of which classrooms/teachers/staff members we will surprise each day so that I don't miss anyone.

I'll keep posting throughout the month as we complete our RAKs.  I'm so excited to get started!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to you!!  

That warm and fuzzy grateful feeling??  Yup, I have it today!!  This awesome bloggy community is something I am very thankful for!  

Feeling thankful today in countless ways.....here are a few of the biggest reasons why I am THANKFUL!! 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful day filled with love and gratitude.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gratitude List FREEBIE

I love Thanksgiving.  I always feel warm and fuzzy inside all day long.  Anyone else like that???  I am so grateful for so many things.  God has blessed me far beyond what I deserve....and, especially on Thanksgiving, I just can't contain my overwhelming feelings of gratitude!

I so want to instill a sense of deep gratitude in my children.  We always do something special throughout the month of November, or during the week of Thanksgiving, to remain mindful of all that we have to be thankful for.  This year, I created a "Gratitude List" for each member of my family to fill out.  We'll share them on Thanksgiving morning.
 My daughter filled hers out over the weekend.
 All sound-spelling and Kindergarten-handwriting perfection.
 I LOVE that she wrote that something that makes her laugh is her brother.  She sure loves him to pieces!!

 She fancied it up a bit when she was finished.  Of course.

Maybe you're looking for something like this to use with your family too?  
CLICK HERE to grab it!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Five for Friday {November 21}

Well, hi!  Hope your week has been great!

1. My week started off awesome and so productive at school!  
On Monday we spent some time partner reading from our book bags...
Anytime we make a student reader together as a class, I have my students keep them at school in their book bags.  That way, we all have the same books and can use them to partner read.

We also completed our first personal narratives.  We wrote this one, about trick-or-treating, together as a class.  They are ready to dive into the next one on their own!  

2. Monday's end-of-day recess was super cold.  The wind chill was 6 degrees and boy was is WINDY!  So glad I had my awesome recess partners to brave it with me!!
I posted this pic on Instagram.... you can follow me HERE.

3. The snow and wind didn't let up and Tuesday was our first snow day of the school year.  In November!  Before Thanksgiving!  So crazy.  Crossing my fingers that this isn't a sign of what our winter will be like!  Missing my sunshine already!!
BUT....we made the most of our winter-like day and put up our Christmas tree!  I had two happy little helpers!

4. Wednesday we were back at school and busy!  I re-discovered my "whisper phones" after forgetting about them for several years, and I've started "Whisper Phone Wednesday" with my morning reading group.  They LOVE these things!!

5. Thursday was another snow day!  SO much blowing and drifting snow.  I can't even believe it.  The local meteorologists announced yesterday that this is the snowiest November ever in my area.  Lucky us!  
BUT...we made the most of another snow day and went out to get groceries.  On a weekday!  It was bliss!  No weekend crowds or lines or empty shelves.  And of course having my sweet helper along made it even better.
Two more days until Thanksgiving Break for me!  Happy weekend!!!