Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Tag Freebies!

Ohh last week before winter break...how incredibly crazy you are! This week I have been working to get together and distribute staff, volunteer, and student gifts. 

I will grace you with some photos of my student gifts once I deliver them to them on Friday...but I thought I would share some of the quick and easy items I have put together for my staff and volunteers now and some freebie tags I stuck on em all!

First, I stuck these cute little puppies in each of my colleagues mailboxes. 

Cheap, easy, and cute, I think! Just a York Peppermint Patty and this happy little tag. I have seen this phrase a variety of places used with mints before, and just added my own little twist specific to teachers. You can grab a copy of these tags by clicking here
Font compliments of Hello Literacy.

I also baked up some cookies for my parent volunteers. This is another cheap way for me to provide something yummy and say thank you as my family bakes mountains of cookies each year anyway!

To grab a copy of the "Thank you for helping us to be "smart cookies"!" tag from me (I pulled off my name and Spanish section to make it a little more user friendly for all), go ahead and click here.
Graphics and fonts by Ashley Hughes and dafont.com.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Characters!

This week we have been focusing on character traits like it is nobody's business! To make it a little more relevant and exciting we have been tying it in with some good ole' winter reads! Here are the three titles we focused on this week:

We started the week with !Me gusta el invierno! After reading, we worked together as a class to brainstorm words to describe our furry, red friend. Here are some that the kiddos came up with:

We took the trait writing a step further the next day after reading the text "El Mitón" by Jan Brett. 
I put the students into groups of two and three and gave them a large notecard with a character name on the back. They had to work in their small group to draw a picture of the character and describe it in a sentence with at least two descriptive words similar to how we would introduce characters in an effective story summary. 

Here are some of their examples:

"The Mitten" is about a large, brown bear.

"The Mitten" is about a boy named Nicki that lost his mitten.

And our finished "mitten" with all of our characters and their descriptions...

Then this morning, we bridged our learning into English and read the classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" by Dr. Seuss.

After reading, the kids worked in small groups to select character traits that described the three main characters in the story. To add a little Christmas pizzaz to the activity, we created "character wreathes", by jotting down the traits on scraps of green paper and gluing them to a plate all around the character which was being described.

Here is one from a "Grinch" group:

And a few others who described his faithful dog and Miss Cindy Lou-Who:

I shall be hanging these tomorrow...gotta love free classroom decorations!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

December is one of my favorite months in my classroom. I love the holidays, the decorations, and the BREAK! ;). Each December we embark on a "Winter Celebrations Around the World" unit, which is always just so much fun! 

At the beginning of last week, I introduced my students to the unit by giving them the opportunity to share some of their winter traditions and memories. Each child wrote down a favorite winter past time on a post-it, then we sat in a circle and shared them as a class. We then created the following anchor chart to display our ideas.

Their homework that night was then to go home and select a photo (or I gave some of my kiddos paper to create a drawing if they shared with me that they did not have one) which portayed them either participating in this winter activity and/or another that they enjoyed during this season.

We shared these the next day as a class and the kids had the opportunity to ask questions about one another's photos. Then I create a border with all of our photos around our anchor chart to keep them on display throughout December. (Yes, it's on my door...I have to use any open space I can!)

After building our background knowledge and sharing our winter schema, we began taking a look at our first winter celebration- a familiar one for most of my kiddos- Christmas!

After reading a good ole' non-fiction text about the holiday and gaining some new knowledge, we set about participating in a acclaimed Christmas tradition- decorating the tree!

We took all of the students pictures next to the lit up (partially decorated tree) the day before. Then I printed them off, and had them glue them to their ornaments. I create the ornament with some simple glitter filled cardstock, and a ribbon and cut them out with my Cricut in no time. On the back, all of the students added "Merry Christmas, their name, and the year". It seriously took about 5 minutes, but gave them that experience of decorating the tree...and gave our tree a definite lift that it needed! Here is the finished product:

Finally to conclude our week, we discussed how during this holiday season, many take the time to give back to their communities and others who may not be as fortunate. We worked to brainstorm a variety of ways that we as superkids could work to exude this "giving spirit" and then the kiddos each created a light to add to our newest bulletin board entitled "The Superkids Can Light up the World!".  I got this original idea from Fun in First Grade. Click on the blog title to see Jodi's inspiring example!

Here are some examples of their ideas for how they could make the world a brighter place this winter season:

And here they are as a collective unit...

The kiddos were quite excited to share their ideas for giving back with their parents and I encouraged them to work to do some of them over their winter breaks to give back!

This week we are focusing on Hannukkah and Kwanzaa....photos to come later :)!