Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh, We Need a Little Christmas {Vacation}

The time has come. The last week of school until Holiday Break! I can hardly believe it!  The time from Thanksgiving until now has gone by so fast, I've hardly had any time to display all our cute Christmas Craftivities we've done for the past two weeks!  We may be extending our Christmas goodness into January.  Yet another perk of being at the very end of the hallway…#Christmasallyearlong

We've got to do some fun little goodness with common and proper nouns last week as a nice little review--I've found in isolation my little ones can correct the proper nouns, but still have difficulty doing it in their writing.  No bueno para mi.  To help with this, we wrote about one of our favorite people this time of year….our classroom elf, Elfie!  Students wrote to INFORM about our little guy sent from the North Pole!  They used a lot of proper nouns in their writing, which was a great opportunity for them to practice using it in a "real" way.
{Grab yours HERE!}

Our little elf dude was caught encouraging paragraph writing at the writing center last week --

He also brought us a new indoor recess game…

...and maybe had some fun later playing it with our Reading Buddies…It's ok-we like to share :)

PS. I found this little gem at Pottery Barn Kids after Thanksgiving.  I bought it for my niece, but it seems to have made it's ways into our classroom, and I don't think it's leaving anytime soon…

Great little resource to go along with your Elf on the Shelf :)

Proud Teacher Moment: 

Kiddo: "Mrs. Perchinsky, he shouldn't have put a capital letter on 'hope.' I think he needs to edit his writing."
Me:"Hmmmmm….grammar must be different at the North Pole elf schools."#finallytheyaregettingit

Anyway, if you'd like to take a look at our Common and Proper Noun Practice goodies:  Click HERE to check out these resources.

Last week also gave us the opportunity to practice with main idea and details.  I don't know why, but for some reason I love this comprehension skill.  We usually do some sort of research whenever learning about MI & D, but I wanted to hold off until January when we do our arctic animal research.  {We will be using THIS RESEARCH pack to conduct and publish our research.  You can check out how it we've used this pack in the past HERE}.  

Soooooooo….to keep it Christmas crafty, we did some various "Christmas Themed" activities to align with this skill.

1. I'm Headed to the North Pole! writing: Students packed a suitcase with three items they would like to take with them to the North Pole.  We read the story, "The Littlest Elf," which is an OLD SCHOOL Golden Book {published when I was 2 years old…}, but oh so, so, so, sweet. The kids loved it and they even clapped for this one when I was done reading it--now THAT says something!  

Check out their sweet little suitcases :)

**Side Note: For our chapter book read aloud for the remainder of 2013, I'm reading Magic Tree House-Merlin Mission #32, "Winter of the Ice Wizard," and is it good! I'm even into it!  I was out sick on Friday and I can't wait to get back to see what I missed!  #nerdalert #ithinkineedtocheckmylexilelevel

2. Stocking Match Up: This was a part of our Fun Friday Centers.  Students matched the top of a Christmas Stocking to it's {correct} bottom.  They then wrote the answers on the corresponding answer sheet.  This week we will taking these stockings and doing paragraph writing practice to help reinforce the concept and to also practice transforming topics into COMPLETE SENTENCES.  "This is…" topic sentence starters are not going to fly anymore.

3. One of our culminating activities for Friday was a Main Idea Scavenger Hunt!  I swear, if you put "Scavenger Hunt" on anything and give them a clipboard,  I pasted these cards all around the room {hence the "scavenger hunt" title}. These cards were a mixture of writing a main idea given a set of details and visa versa.  Students wondered, read, and wrote for a total of 12 cards.  It didn't matter if they got all of the cards finished, being that the tasks were intermixed (they alternated between writing the MI & the D on just about every other card, so no matter how far along they got, they were getting practice with BOTH skills--great for those higher level thinkers though!)  

Not only were this activities easy to prepare meaningful, they were engaging as well.  And Santa knows that can be quite challenging for this time of year.  

If you're interested in any of the above activities, check them out on my TPT Store HERE!  They will be great to get you though the remainder of 2013!

{Main Idea Mini  Pack Info HERE }

We've also been learning about different holidays around the world as part of our Christmas Around the Globe festivities!  The kiddos are so into discovering new information about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and how children and families celebrate in Russia, Africa, and Japan!  We are adding a page of facts each day to our Around the World booklet.  Easy, quick, and no copying needed. :)

We of course are web-questing this week!  I created the answer sheet in the form of a pamphlet to keep with the traveling theme and they are so into it (maybe not as much as me, but no one usually ever is)…#okafewcopiesneeded

Please feel free to use this web quest with your kiddos to supplement your Christmas Around the World  Festivities!
{The pamphlet can be downloaded on the Web Quest page}

Here's to 16 sweet days of pure goodness!  I will be sure to savor every last moment of this winter break!  2014--Out with the old, and in with the new--and with 16 days of no school that allows for plenty of opportunity for "new" to show up in my house. :) Hehehe…

*~*Merry Christmas *~*

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Time is HERE!!!

Finally December--a time when I can listen to Christmas music without being judged as a crazy person!  With Thanksgiving being SUPER late this year, this only allows for 14 1/2 school days for me to get my Christmas Crazy on with my kiddos.  Operation Jingle Bells IGNITE!
…and the stockings were hung by the Smartboard with care :)
The classroom Christmas tree is up (as pitiful as it is, but what do you expect for a $20 tree from Target?), along with the obnoxious tree topper (which I LOVE by the way).  My pink tree broke on the last classroom move :(  I'm very sad to have a somewhat traditional looking tree this year.

Every year, I have my students bring in an ornament from home that best represents them, or one that has special meaning/ story behind it to "trim our tree" with. Students will write to inform about their special ornament during work on writing this week.  Friday, we will read and present our writings {along with our ornaments} to the class {speaking and listening standards covered-extra added bonus}.  I had one of my little ones say to me today, "It's like this is our classroom family tree!"  #love

Snag yourself a copy of my December Themed Work on Writing Writing Prompts FREEBIE HERE.  Prompts on glitter tags--How could you not want need them!? ;) 

Elfie also made his first appearance on Monday, and of course everyone just adores him! 

During lunch we watched, "An Elf's Story," DVD {this is the same one they show around this time on ABC--it was worth it to buy the video since it does a super cute job of explaining the story of the "Elf on the Shelf" and how his magic works}.  Order it here!

"Good Behavior Stockings" also started this week!  This is a very popular ticket with my friends every year, not to mention it doubles as my Christmas gift to them as well--two turtle doves with one stone :)

My stocking sent to me by one of my dearest friends :)  The kids get a kick out of this one!

How to assemble:

Making these bad boys was easy!  I thought ahead last year and bought the stockings in January when everything was 75% off!  I believe I paid 25 cents per stocking {compared to the $1 they are during the holiday season}.  Use printable fabric adhesive sheets for student names, print, cut, follow directions on how to iron them on, and BADA-BING, BADA-BOOM!  My friends are always very excited to see their name written on their very own stocking.  Not to mention they can have one at home to use for years to come.

How the stockings work:

Each day students exhibit "good behavior" {from our classroom behavior chart} they earn a small trinket for their stocking!  You can choose to empty their stockings at the end of each week {I do this to build incentive for the next week}, or have them take their stocking full of goodies home before they leave for Christmas break.  If students are above green {going above and beyond}, they earn a little something extra for going that extra mile during the day. ;) 

 I try to buy in bulk as much as possible from the glorious dollar stores {I'm pretty sure teachers are the ones keeping dollar stores alive, just sayin'…}.  Trust me, they are happy with whatever you give them for that day!  Today's treat was a packet of hot chocolate and they couldn't have been happier!  For the something extra, I've been giving out Christmas candy my mom pawned off on me over Thanksgiving. Tomorrow's goodie is a free homework pass, while Thursday will be some delicious reindeer food to leave out on Christmas Eve {download the tags here}!

As the weeks move along and it becomes closer to Christmas {which is usually when the crazies REALLY start to come out}, I up the anti for the prizes a bit to keep it interesting and to also keep the little ones on their game {example: 20 minute FREE iPad coupon!  You can download those here}.

These are so much fun and you can do SO much with them!  I love promoting the positives in my little ones, especially during the time of year when we are to show love and kindness towards others.

Enter CYBER at checkout to receive 20% every item in my store :)  Now is the time to get ahead on after Christmas planning!

21 Days Until the FAT MAN arrives!  #Ihopehebringssnow #justnotwhileimdriving

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Little Fall Never Hurt Anyone...

10 days until I get to see my family for THANKSGIVING!!! I don't know what I'm more excited for: Eating until I enter a turkey and mashed potatoes induced coma, or enduring the hot mess of Black Friday shopping…it's going to be a tight race.

We had an extremely short week this week: No School on Monday in honor of my hubby Veteran's Day, and an early release day Friday for staff development.  Sooooo….we had to make a little bit go a long way this week!

Thanksgiving always seems to come and go so quickly.  I find it hard to focus my time on plans with it being sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. I always use the same "fall themed" books in November.  Below are some of my go to's:

The Little Yellow Leaf was a book that was recommend to me by my sister in law who loved it.  After checking it out on amazon, I knew I had to have it for the illustrations alone.  The story is about a little, yellow leaf who isn't ready to let go of his tree in the fall!  Super cute, and teaches a great lesson about the importance of friendship, too. :)

The book entails some rather tricky vocabulary for second grade, so I thought about ways to get them more involved in the text while I read it to them.  Determining unknown {vocabulary words} is a skill we practice constantly, but it's an extremely important one for them to really learn, understand, and use in their day to day reading!

I gave each child a vocabulary chart listed with 8 words from the story.  I chose these 8 because I thought these words would be meaningful enough that they would want to use them in their writing (we're having the "let's not use those boring words anymore" conversation daily).  Each child chose a book nook in which to record their thoughts on what each word meant.  If they had NO CLUE what the word might mean, I had them place a ? in the box.

After everyone had recorded their thoughts,  I showed the children picture cards of each word.  After seeing the picture under the word gave them a huge clue as to what the word might mean.  I had a list of the definitions hanging on the wall to help students determine the meaning of each word.

Before reading, I had the students listen for the word that was coming up {located in order on their student chart, and on our large class chart as well}.  When they heard the word, they gave me a THUMBS UP alerting me, we needed to stop, backup, and reread to determine the meaning. After determining which definition matched the word, we reread the sentence omitting the vocabulary word, and replacing it with the definition to check for understanding.  Students then recorded the definition on their chart, along with the CLUE of how they were able to determine the meaning {picture, reading on, schema}. They loved saying, "SCHEMA" all day long after this.  In the past, we've called it prior knowledge, but I figured after the 60th day of school, they were ready for the real deal. :)

It was great for each learner to compare what they knew at the beginning of the lesson to the end--they love competing against themselves!

For independent practice, students wrote a persuasive note using their new vocabulary words PERSUADING the Little Yellow Leaf that it was time to let go!  Their notes were really sweet and I even had a few kiddos write  poems!

Download the resources above HERE!

Later in the week, we read the story, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  This is another great story for fall!  The Leaf Man travels to different places after getting blown away by the wind.  As he blows away, he transforms into various creatures/ objects associated with fall.

 My first idea was to have my friends create their own Leaf "Creature" and write to tell about his/her adventures.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted something…just something more.  Then I realized,  this book is very similar to inkblots….I'm not sure if any of my kiddos would know what an inkblot was…why not have the kids make their own inkblots….and write to persuade others to see what they see!?

My inkblot thought: Transformers Suit
So of course we did just that.  I started with a simple smart board file of some random inkblots I found online and modeled my think aloud of what they looked like to me and WHY {persuasion example}.  Then they kids split up and wrote their own thoughts on several other inkblot examples.

Students then did a "Hand Up, Pair Up," and compared their thoughts with a friend.  They gave feedback to each other while discussing as to whether or not they saw what their friend saw.  It was so interesting to see their thoughts and ideas!  Was great for all levels of learners since there was no "right or wrong" answer.

We made our inkblots using black washable paint, white paper, and a skinny paintbrush.  I shared with them the goal was "not to make a picture on purpose" but to make random designs and brush strokes, which then would make a totally awesome looking inkblot.  After they were happy with their design, we folded them in half, pressed down firmly so the paint would copy to the other side {making a somewhat symmetrical picture}.  I must say, they really were cool looking!  B even said they looked like the ones he had to take for his own psyche test!  #missionaccomplished

I saved the accompanying persuasive writing prompt for next week.  Students will choose a random inkblot and write what they see.  They will have to persuade us to see what they see by drawing on their friend's inkblot to finish the picture.  I can't wait to see their creativity take action next week!

You can download this activity HERE for FREE!  

Our Turkey Disguises are due next week, when we will present them to the class along with our stories of how they got away.  {FREEBIE here} I'm wondering if any of them will be dressed up as one of the Robertson boys due to our Duck Commander Theme last week.  Only time will tell I suppose!

Try it Out!

Try using magazine holders to house all of your materials for the week!  I used inexpensive magazine holders, school themed scrapbook paper, and the all amazing Mod Podge to create these little beauties.

38 days until Christmas…but who's counting???? ;)