Winter Writing Prompts & Craftivity

I have been loving my time off with my family! Staying in my pajamas until the early afternoon is AWESOME! I never get to do that and now I have been doing it for a couple days! It's great! Right now I am listening to the rain pattering on my roof and catching up with my blogging and emails. I have a smile on my face because my house is so quiet and everyone else is asleep still. I am sure that will change in just a moment though.

During my break, I have been working on revamping, improving and inspiring my writing lessons in my classroom. I have said it before and I will say it again-writing is one of the hardest things to teach! I love to teach it, but it is so subjective, that you never know what the outcome is going to be. I love structure, organization and a smooth path to follow. Writing doesn't always fall into those categories, but I am sure going to try.

I have spent the last week working on my latest writing item- Winter Writing Prompts and Craftivity. I am so excited to get back into the classroom and use it with my students.

This packet is Common Core aligned for grades K-4 and comes with a hot cocoa craftivity!

It includes writing prompts for opinion, narrative and informative writing as well as graphic organizers to help generate ideas for each prompt. I have included CC standards posters for each grade level to post next to student work. 
In my classroom, I am going to choose one writing prompt to focus on and display them with the hot cocoa craftivity that is included in the packet.

Then, I am going to take the other writings we complete from the packet and bind them together in individual  student books. This helps me to stay organized (their writing is all in one place) and it shows growth over time.  This helps me with grading, report cards, conferences and I can add it to their student portfolios. Rubrics, and checklists are included in the packet, as well as individual and class book covers. I hope you can find it useful in your classroom too!

If you haven't already entered my 200+ follower giveaway, click on the picture below to enter. There are some fun prizes that you can hopefully use in your classroom.

As I finish writing this post, the hubby and kids have woken up and want some breakfast! My oldest wants to play a family game of Phase 10, so off I go! Enjoy your day everyone!

My Blogging Best and Brightest of 2012

I am linking up with Christina at Bunting, Books and Bainbridge to share my best blogging moments of 2012! Linky parties are my core to "meeting" all those amazing bloggers out there. When I started my blog in May, I was very timid about the blogging world and now it has become an extension of who I am. It has been an amazing journey so far. I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring. Here I some of the highlights for me this year:

PNTEREST and TPT: If my girlfriend hadn't introduced me to Pinterest in February, I would never have found TpT! Finding out about TpT has been the most amazing thing EVER! I had no idea it existed until I started seeing people pin things on Pinterest that lead me to the TpT sight. After stalking the sight for awhile and buying a few products, I thought I would share my ideas and open my own TpT shop right before the summer started. I am SO glad I did. It has changed me as an educator and I am so grateful to be a part of the TpT family.

I would have to say it was my How Do You Plan? post at the beginning of the school year. I shared my planning binder that has everything I need at my fingertips. It includes my CC Checklists, calendar, weekly planner etc. I couldn't do my job as efficiently without it!

With most of us switching to the Common Core Standards this year, my best selling item has been my CC checklists for Language Arts and Math. They help keep my planning on track and I can see where I need to change my plans to cover some of the new standards. They are a life saver for me. This is the cover of my second grade checklists, but they are available for grades K-5.

My best FREEBIE was just recently posted for the holidays and seemed to be a HUGE success with my students, as well as many of my TpT followers. It was my Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell Freebie.

I have also met some AMAZING blogging friends all around the country. It warms my heart to know there is so much support and friendship out there. I couldn't have done it with out Erin from Tales of Room 112, Tania at My Second Sense and so many others. 

 Don't forget to enter my 200+ follower giveaway going on now! There are some great prizes you could win for your classroom!

Thank you for making 2012 an incredibly amazing year!

200+ Follower Giveaway

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their friends and family yesterday. It is hard to believe that 2012 is quickly coming to an end, but what an amazing year it has been.This is my 100th blog post since I started blogging in the middle of this year!  I am in awe every time I see the love from all my blogging teacher friends. I would never have imagined when I started this blog last summer that I would have so many followers who want to read about my teaching ramblings! I am a better, more reflective and creative teacher because of my blogging. Thank you to each and everyone of you for following me and reading about my adventures and ideas.

To celebrate reaching this 200+ follower milestone I am hosting a giveaway! 

To help ring in the New Year, one person will win my New Year's Resolution Craftivity.

 I am also giving away my Let It Snow! Snowman Glyph to help bring some winter cheer to a lucky winner's classroom.

The top winner will be able to choose any item from my TpT store as well as receive the previous two items! Check out the giveaway below and make sure to follow all the entry requirements. Good luck everyone! I will announce the winners on January 2nd! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome Winter Sale

Happy winter everyone! We survived the world coming to an end! To celebrate, I am linking up with Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac for a Welcome Winter SALE! Everything in my TpT store will be 20% off December 21st-23rd! What a great way to grab some of those items that have been on your wishlist!

Would you like an adorable craftivity to share with your students when you get back from the holidays? Check out my New Year's Resolution Writing Activity and Class book. Your students can write about their New Year's Resolutions and make these cutie pies:

All templates, graphic organizers, writing pages and directions are included. I can't wait to make these with my students when we get back.

If you would like to bring winter inside your classroom, these Let It Snow, Snowman Glyphs will surely do the trick.
Writing paper, glyph directions and questions, data collection sheets and all templates are included to complete this project.
Join in the fun and link up for this incredible Welcome Winter Blog Hop SALE! 

Poppin' with Descriptive Writing

I have been wanting to post about descriptive writing in my classroom for awhile now. However, so many things seemed to be happening in my class with the holidays and then the events of the past few days in CT.  It was put on the back burner. But now seems a good time as any to write about it. This year I have done a few mini lessons on descriptive sentences with my second graders. They seem to understand the concept during the lessons, but have difficulty applying the idea during our unit writings. A couple weeks ago, I read my kids the book If You Take A Mouse To the Movies. I wanted to use the book as a spring board into descriptive writing again. I decided to break the idea of descriptive words and writing into a week of mini lessons with my students. On the first day, I brought in a wrapped box which looked like this:
My students asked a TON of questions about it. Who brought it? What is it for? Can we open it? They went on and on. I love seeing their eyes light up in wonder. I told them we would be working all week on descriptive writing and making our sentences more interesting to read. We created a whole class chart with adjectives and descriptive phrases about what the "present" looked like. Then the students completed their response sheet.
The next day we opened our class "present" and saw that there was a box of POPCORN inside! The kids were not sure what to think at first. But when I put the popcorn in the microwave and turned off the lights, they got very quiet. I told them we would be using our five senses to describe our experience with our popcorn. I wanted them to focus on what they could hear and smell while the popcorn was cooking. We created a class chart again and began writing words that came to their minds which described their experience. After, they each got a cup of popcorn. They touched it, looked at it and tasted it. We added more descriptive words to our chart and they choose a few words to write on their response sheet.
Next, I introduced the concept of similes to my students. We made a whole class chart describing what the popcorn felt like in our mouths and compared it to other experiences in their lives.
Then my students wrote their own similes and drew pictures to go with them. To finish out our week of mini lessons, the kids used all our class charts to write descriptive sentences about their popcorn experience. Here is an example from one student:
After they wrote their sentences they each made a popcorn box to go with it and wrote different descriptive words on each kernel to describe their experience. Many of my students wrote their own sentences and I had a few of my students who were struggling with ideas so they used this template.
My students really seemed to embrace these lessons. I think focusing on all five senses and making the experience hands on really hit home with them. The whole class charts were also great visuals and references for the kids during their writing time.If you would like to grab a copy of these week long lessons, just click on the image below and you can grab it from my TpT shop. Each day has a description of the lesson, example pictures and variety of student response sheets to meet your classroom needs.
I hope you and your students will enjoy learning about descriptive writing and how to make sentences more interesting to read with these activities. 

Now more than ever, I realize how blessed I am to be a teacher. To be able to touch the lives of my students and their families and embrace each child for who they are is not something everyone gets to experience. It is our job as educators to protect and nurture each child and treat them as the gift that they are.

FREEBIE Holiday Gift Idea and ONE WEEK LEFT!

And yet another week just flew by! There are just not enough hours in each day to get everything done. This week we started a ton of projects. Some were completed and some we are still working on. One of my students favorite projects were these cute little guys:
I read my kids If You Take A Mouse To the Movies. And we used some of the adorable ideas from Nancy at First Grade Wow's unit. She has this amazing freebie with tons of ideas. Click here to take you to her unit.

The kids wrote about what they would want if you took them to the movies.

Hanukkah starts Saturday night, so we read a few Hanukkah stories this week and did a little taste testing of latkes. The kids were so excited to try these:
 My sweet teaching assistant made all these latkes for the kids to try. We gave each student a potato pancake, applesauce and sour cream. I asked the kids to try them plain, and with each of the toppings. Then we graphed our favorite ways to eat them. Here is our graph:
To my surprise most of the kids liked them with applesauce AND sour cream! Next, we analyzed our data and tallied our results. We also completed a few math problems about our data. They kids loved the activity!

The kids were most excited to complete their holiday gift for their parents. We made this adorable project that we called Watch Me Grow. Each student got a plastic (frosting tub size) container. I bought them from the 99 cent Store. We taped  the Watch Me Grow label to it.
Then we added beans.
Next, each student cut out "flowers" for each grade level (kinder-5th) and taped a tongue depressor to each one.
I taped their second grade school picture to the the second grade circle. Once the parents receive their gift, they can add pictures to the other grade levels. We wrapped them in decorated lunch bags and taped them closed. There you have it folks-the simplest, most adorable parent gift around! Grab your template for this project by clicking here. I hope you can use this idea in your class. It would also make a great Mother's Day gift. Enjoy!

RAK and Reindeer, Say What?

I wanted to share my RAK that I posted about on my December Currently. I decided I wanted to leave a little love in one or two people's boxes at school each day until winter break. I, of course, found my idea on Pinterest. Here is what I have slyly put into people's boxes the last 2 days:
I've seen people holding them, but no one has asked any questions yet.....I'll just have to wait and see. I hope it warms people's hearts to know someone is appreciating them. Click on the link below if you would like to grab the free printable too.

On a different note, I am so excited to say that I have FINALLY put up some of our holiday activities in our classroom. Today, we finished up our reindeer craftivty and writing from my Baby, It's Cold Outside literacy pack. I read the kids Olive, The Other Reindeer. Then I gave the kids two prompts they could write about. The first prompt was "Pretend you are Olive and write a letter to Santa explaining why you think you should be chosen to guide his sleigh for Christmas." The kids had to use events from the story to back up their reasons. The second prompt was "Pretend you are one Santa's reindeer. Explain what kinds of food you would like people to leave you as a snack on Christmas and why." Here is what one of my little darlings wrote. It made me laugh.
After they wrote, each student made a little reindeer to go with it.The kids really got into their roles and did a great job backing up their ideas and thoughts. I was really proud of them!

How many of you would like a FREE NOOK Color HD style???? Well I know I would! A bunch of amazing teaching bloggers at Tips For Top Teachers have gotten together for a mind blowing giveaway. They are giving away a new NOOK and a ton of great printable resources.Check out the link below. You have until Dec.15th to enter.

December Currently- OH MY!

The last month of the year-REALLY???? Unbelievable! Where has the time gone? I am linking up with Farley for this month's Currently.
Thinking about people and showing appreciation for them when they least expect it is the best form of flattery sometimes. There is a teacher at my school who anonymously leaves sweet gifts in people's boxes for no reason every once in awhile throughout the school year. When she "hits" me, I always know its her and quietly thank her. She never says anything-just a big smile. I love that! I want to do the same thing for different staff members too. Just a little something to lift the spirits. So many crazy things are happening in our school district. Morale is in the toilet to put it mildly. I think letting my colleagues know they are appreciated will help put a spring in their step even if it is just for a brief moment in time. 

Link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and share your Random Acts of Kindness. I can't wait to read all of them!

Two Freebies and Some Snowmen

I don't know about you- but I am so glad it is the weekend! This past week was nutty and I need to wrap my brain around the idea that today is the first day of December. We wrapped up our extremely over scheduled week with a few fun activities. We read the story There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell by Lucille Colandro. After we read the story, the kids sequenced the story events.

Then, they made the old lady and wrote about one of their favorite parts of the story.

And we put them up for display in our classroom.

You can grab your FREEBIE copy of this activity by clicking on the picture below.

I also just finished my Hanukkah Literacy Activities unit. I love teaching the kids about all different holidays and cultures. I wanted to share a little FREEBIE worksheet that you could use to review Hanukkah terms with your kiddos. Just click on the picture to grab your copy.
If you would like some more ideas to teach Hanukkah, check out my Hanukkah packet I just posted.

I know some of us are not allowed to use specific holiday activities, so I created these adorable snowman glyphs that you could make with your class. I am going to make these will my kids when we return from winter break but I know some of you would like them now.

The glyph packet includes all the templates, writing pages and data collection sheets you need to complete the project. You can grab your copy at my TpT store. Just click on the picture below.
Enjoy your weekend everyone!