Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Writing Project & Bulletin Board

Do you need an educational, but easy-to-use activity to do with your class when you return from the winter break? Do you have a bulletin board that needs updating? I have the perfect solution for you...

{This is a repost from last year, but the timing seemed right for an encore ;) }

This is a favorite New Year's Writing Project that I've now done a few times with my classes. 

This kit was created to be used by teachers in grades K-5. The materials are all differentiated for you and were designed to make modifications easy within your classroom. You can also use it year after year even if you change grade levels.

I recently completed this activity with my third graders in school as well as my first grade son at home. The differentiated pages and templates that are included made it a perfect activity for both.

This is a great activity for the month of January as it focuses on resolutions or as I referred to them with my class...goals.

After editing with the teacher, the students wrote their final copies. I always try to culminate our writing projects with a simple art project. These pages include adorable colored clipart, but I opted to print them in black and white, photocopied them and let the kiddos color them in. We then mounted them onto construction paper and glittered the edges (because I'm fancy like that).

Included in this 15 page kit you will find the following New Year's-themed items:

-a primary brainstorming page to collect ideas
-an intermediate brainstorming page to collect ideas
-a 3 detail web to organize writing
-a single detail web to organize simple paragraph writing
-primary-ruled draft paper
-intermediate-ruled draft paper
-primary-ruled final product paper
-intermediate-ruled final product paper
-a simple sentence activity page with space to illustrate for our -youngest learners

This year I hung them on my classroom door because I had some adorable owl writing to put up on my bulletin board in the hall. I displayed them as is, but the past few years I've done the board shown above using blowers and party hats. I've also taken photos of the students wearing party hats and using the blowers to display with their writing which is super cute too!

Happy New Year Friends!

Are you making any resolutions for 2013?keywords: classroom organization tips classroom organization ideas classroom organization supplies classroom storage classroom management classroom arrangement classroom organization skills organization ideas for the classroom organization ideas for teachers organization ideas for elementary classrooms decluttering a classroom declutter classroom kindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade preschool 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade easy bulletin board ideas projects New Year's back to school

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Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
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Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Pre-Vacation Ditty for Teachers :)

For those of you who jumpstarted the winter break already...I'm jealous. 
For the rest of us who will head into the classroom tomorrow morning for one final, crazy, sugar-plums-dancing-in-their-heads kind of day before the vacation begins, I bring you a catchy little ditty.

Christmas in an Elementary School
( Sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Children scream, they're not listnen'
When they go, we won't miss em',
In all of this pain, we try to stay sane,
Workin' in an elementary school.

Christmas comes they're excited,
Though our nerves they've ignited,
They're off of the walls; they run in the halls,
Workin' in an elementary school.

In the lunchroom we can hear them yellin'
And we know that they are really wound.
Someone hits, the other says, "I'm tellin'!"
And that is when our heads begin to pound.

Pretty soon we'll be restin'
Cause our nerves, they've been testin'
We're happy it's clear,
It just comes once a year
Christmas in an Elementary School!

 A few years ago, I changed the words a bit and took my class "caroling." You could have some fun with that tomorrow...

December in an Elementary School
( Sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Children scream, we're not listening
these crazy days, you won't miss em',
In all of this pain, you try to stay sane,
December in an elementary school.

Christmas comes, we're excited,
Though your nerves, we've ignited,
We're off of the walls; we run in the halls,
December in an elementary school.

In the lunchroom you can hear us yellin'
And you know that we are really wound.
Someone hits, another says, "I'm tellin'!"
And that is when your heads begin to pound.

Pretty soon you'll be restin'
Cause your nerves, we've been testin'
You're happy it's clear,
It just comes once a year
December in an Elementary School!

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Sunday, December 9, 2012


In an ironic twist, this post is about books about cold and snow and it goes up I am enjoying being away from my home climate of cold and snow and am enjoying a couple days of sun and warm temps in the low 80s in Florida. Yesterday I shared how I like to include lots of Gingerbread activities in my classroom in the month of December because it offers non-denominational seasonal fun. The same is true for snowmen. There are so many fabulous crafts and writing ideas that springboard from snowmen. Like the Gingerbread, I'll soon be showing off what's going on in my classroom with a snowman theme, but I wanted to take a minute to share some of my favorite snowman-themed books to gather.

The Hawaii Snowman by definitely has a Christmas theme so if you are opting to include snowmen in your classroom in place of Christmas then this would not be the best choice. But, if you are OK with a little ho-ho-ho in the classroom or if you are looking to gift a book to a child, this is an option that should not be overlooked. The illustrations are breathtaking and the storyline is a springboard for great discussions on character and selflessness. This is an image from inside the book. Click on the book cover on the left to view additional glimpses into the book.

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll should win a "Too Cute Award." It's about mice who enter a snowman contest. The book lends itself to writing and math extensions.

The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg would complement a study of snowmen or mittens quite nicely. It's a delightful story about a little girls who makes a snowman and loses her mitten in the process. It takes us through her imagination of what could have happened to it and ends in a sweet way.

Have you met Sneezy the Snowman ? He's hysterical. This is one of those fun books with a refrain that has all the little listeners joining in during a read aloud. Sneezy is very cold and his attempts to warm up result in a puddle. But children rally around him and lend a friend a hand. 

 All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle is a great book to add to your collection if you plan to have your kiddos do any process writing about how to build a snowman. It's a simple, easy read, but will be helpful in building schema for those friends who may have never built a snowman.

Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buechner is a follow-up to the other books in the series (Snowmen at WorkSnowmen at Christmas and Snowmen at Night), but this one is my favorite. It's about a snowman that doesn't melt and the adventures he goes on with his human friend. I'll definitely be having my students write their own stories inspired by this book. I see a bulletin board in my future.

Speaking of bulletin you want to make a gorgeous and creative one? Snowballs by Lois Ehlert will deliver just the inspiration you need to get your little friends making collage masterpieces out of found objects.  

And of course writing about their work. Because that's how we roll.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012


I'm getting ready to launch perhaps favorite unit of the year...GINGERBREAD!! 

Students are so excited about the holidays at this time of year. I needed a way to use that excitement as motivation to fuel great learning, but it's important to be sensitive to the fact that not all students celebrate in the same way (or at all). Holidays can be a sensitive subject for kids. Also, because I teach 3rd grade many students believe whole-heartedly that the jolly old elf will be coming down their chimney while others (esp. those with older siblings) are on the cusp of not buying into that anymore. So I do everything I can to keep Santa from being a topic of conversation.

Therefore, Gingerbread is the perfect solution.

It feels seasonal. It feels Holiday-ish. But, really it's just a baked good and is non-denominational and doesn't spark conversations about beliefs because, well it's a cookie. Best of all, it uses their December giddiness as fuel for some amazing learning and projects.

We spend a lot of time reading and comparing different versions of the Gingerbread Man. I use the different books to springboard into map skills and cultures. I use it for teaching about area and perimeter. And their most favorite part of the unit is a science/engineering where they build a bridge to get the gingerbread man safely across the river! So. much. fun. 

I'll surely be sharing all of these with you as they play out in real time in my classroom. In the meantime, I wanted to share my favorite books that I include in the unit.


 The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires take the traditional story and gives it a country touch. The Cowboy runs from a rancher, dash past the javelinas, and giddyup past the cattle grazing in the field. I like the new vocabulary that this book allows me to introduce to the students.

My kiddos (especially the ladies) always enjoy
The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. It's nice to have a female lead thrown in the mix. This book does include the words "dumber" and "airhead." Some teachers opt to omit it when doing a reading to the class. You could also use it as a teachable moment and discuss the word choices the author made and why they think they were included. Honestly, I've read this to my class for at least 4-5 years as well as to my son at home and it has always been a non-issue.

And since we're talking about inappropriate words in texts...I now present The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. I'm a huge fan of fractured fairy tales and these get kids laughing. I only read the one story aloud, but the book becomes highly coveted afterwards. They can't wait to read through the rest of the stories.  And then they read them again.  It's silly, but really funny...especially if you are 8.

The Musubi Man: Hawai'i's Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama was a surprisingly good book. Plus, I live in New England and always teach my Gingerbread Unit in December so I can't help but love a book that takes me to Hawaii at that time of year.

I hesitated to order
Stop That Pickle!, but I'm so glad I did. Last year my class voted it as their favorite. It's fun and different.

A gingerbread study would not be complete without Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. I actually read this book last because I then transition into a short Jan Brett author study. So many of her books are perfect for the winter season. We read Gingerbread Friends (although I personally don't include it in the comparisons because the format is different). 

I probably should have started with The Gingerbread Man  by Karen Schmidt because it is the book that I start the unit with. It's a very simple read. I actually bought 6 copies so I could use them for guided reading and group/partner work because they are at a level that all of my friends can read and contains all of the elements of the basic story.

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