Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Door Decorating Idea and Freebie!

Last year, my very first post on my blog was about a door decorating contest we had at our school during the month of December.  Now Pinterest was around, but I was being stubborn.  I wanted to win the competition, and I thought the only way to win was to tie it into my instruction and to make it unique.  Come to find out...everyone was a winner!  Lame if you ask me, but we still had a lot of fun!

With Elf on a Shelf becoming a hot item, I thought it would be a great way to pull student interest into the activity.  Now remember, it was my very first post, so I was not all camera crazy while the kids were hard at work!  Wah wah!  Anyway, we created a little elves shop, got out some supplies, and students started working on their elves for the door.  They could pick their colors and their theme, but the trick?  They were going to have to write about it, too!

My precious little elves got to work, and started creating their own friends.  We had a green monster, a pink princess, a few Colts elves, Christmas elves, Santa elves, and my favorite (the one on top with the red and white striped pants), an IU Hoosier elf!

Yes, I am aware that the quality of this pic is bad horrible!  
Remember...first post ever photo from 12 mos. ago! 

I'm sure you all can make this look SOOOO much better, but because of my stubbornness in creating something unique, I was a little late getting it up.  I used crumbled brown paper and rolled it to create the shelves.  

After they created their elf, they had to name their elf and then use descriptive words to see if others could guess which elf was theirs.  You could make the descriptive writing portion as detailed and intensive as you wish.  I put their descriptive writing on the other side of the doorway.  It would be great on a bulletin board if you could put the elves and the writing on the same board.  The students absolutely LOVED figuring out whose elf was whose based on the writing.  I had a really simple writing sheet last year, but here are some cuter ones you can use for your little elves!  Click here to download these writing sheet *FrEeBiEs* and pick the one that best fits your crew!

Also, wondering about the Elf template to help your students?  Use this link to find the templates I used from DLT-kids!  I made templates on card stock (sans the candy cane) for each table group and then let them trace them onto the colors they actually wanted.  The brads took the longest, so a parent helper would be great for putting helping to put them together! :)

I'd love to see what all of you can create with this.  Happy elfing!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Freebie Nonfiction Conventions Game, I Have...Who Has? games, and Cyber Monday!

My most-loved free item in my TpT store is my Nonfiction Conventions I have...Who Has? Game that reviews all of the conventions.  After a recent request to add more terms, I have revised the first one and added an "advanced" version!  The primary version (labeled PV on the cards) includes 14 cards.  The advanced version (labeled AV on the cards) includes 27 conventions.

Oh, and the best part?!  Both games are FREE!!  Yes. Free!!  

Here are few reasons why I love I have...Who has? games:
1. Every student is involved!
2. It's a game, so students love them, even if they are learning along the way.
3. They are perfect for a Sub Tub since all of my games come with a directions card that is the same size as the other cards.
4. Give groups of students a full set and have them work together to put the cards in the correct order.  Groups can race against each other, or just use it as practice.
5.  Leave it at a station or center for individual students to work through independently.
6. Students love to play beat the clock, so play as a class and try to beat your time each time you play.

Oh, and don't forget the Cyber Sale on TpT!!  I know, I know...it would be hard to miss it with all of these great sellers!  Enjoy 20% off of my store, plus the extra % off from TpT just by using the code: CMT12!  Happy, happy shopping!

Have a great week...I need to go shop!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving, Black Friday (or Thursday), TpT Sale!

Well, I hope you have all been able to enjoy your Thanksgiving Break!  I can't believe it's already Sunday..wah wah!  Looking back, though, it's been a pretty great break!

Girl's Night, eating, shopping, and new games on TpT! Read on to hear about it all!

So, as many of you know, I switched jobs and schools this school year, but was pretty close with some of the great people I left at my old school.  We hadn't been able to all get together in a while, so we had a girls night on Tuesday!  It was A-W-E-SOME!! (you can hear the cheer in our head, can't you?  I hope so!)  We got a hotel room about 20 minutes away by some restaurants.  7 of us crammed into one room (we're cheap), talked, snacked, played games, and may have indulged in a few beverages.  It was so much fun to get together, just the girls, and hang out.  I would recommend it to everyone!

I wanted to share this pic of my dogs, Addie, a white German Shepherd, and Scout, a chocolate lab, at a local park.  There wasn't anyone in sight, so we let them off their leashes, and they just ran, and ran, and ran!  I loved how even though they had all the space they could possibly want, they still ran around together.

Then came Thanksgiving.  We start ours off at 8:30am with my husband's family for breakfast.  It's delicious, but you completely throw out the idea of "trying" to eat healthy.  Then, we're to my family (all 70 of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids!!) lunch at a local church, because we don't fit in anyone's house anymore.  My mammaw is 92 and she just loves to see all of us together.  It reminds us all of the work THANKFUL!  After that, we head to my husband's extended family for a late lunch.  So by 3pm, we've had 3 full on meals...yep, call me the fat kid!

Meanwhile, I am in a food coma, but our washer had broken last weekend and we wanted to hit up a Doorbuster sale.  I've never waited in line to get into a store or woken up at 2am to start my shopping, and my husband does not like despises the whole idea of browsing.  He walks in, buys the item, and goes home.  He is not a browser.  So I did my research, caught him on a good day, and we stood in line at HH Gregg (I think it's a midwestern electronics chain) for an hour and a half for the doors to open at 10pm.  It's like Willy Wonka, meets crazy people, meets electronics!  The store employees came out at about 9:30pm to hand out Golden Tickets (yes, they are gold in color).  For someone who has never done this, I was out of my mind excited to get the 2 golden tickets for our washer and dryer!  We went from a Speed Queen circa 1980 to high efficiency with loads of options.  I have never been more pumped to do laundry.  Our old dryer took about 4-5 hours to dry a load, so a "day" of laundry meant maybe 2 loads.  I've already done 3 today...and it's only 1pm.

I headed to Kroger, exchanged my regular unused detergent for High Efficiency, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited (okay, you get the point) until the delivery people came to set them up! :) I was a happy camper!  Oh, and did I mention we got them for 50% off!  We saved $800!! I'd say my first Black Friday experience was a success.

Now that I've divulged my fat-kid tendencies and black Friday madness, here is a new Math game that I have added to TpT.  In my store, I have several I have...Who has? games posted for addition and subtraction.  I've had many requests for multiplication and division games, so I've started with 2 games of basic facts.

My whole store is 20% starting TODAY, and will be up to 28% off with the TPT sale on Monday and Tuesday.  Stop by my store to pick out some things for your Shopping Cart!


I hope you all have a great week back, enjoy Cyber Monday, and think that in just a few short weeks we'll be back on break! Yay!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Boston! Engineering! Clam Chowder!

 It was an exciting week for me as I got to head to Boston for the first time ever!  Although the Nor'easter was coming, the trip was still a good time!  Way back in April I blogged about winning a grant from Raytheon to attend a workshop at the Museum of Science in Boston.  I was awarded $3,000 to pay for the training, my travel expenses, and to buy some of the products I would learn about.

Okay, so I was by myself...maybe not the most fun, but still a very worthwhile experience.  Below is a picture from a window in our training room.  Remember, I'm from Indiana and drive by cornfields to get to work, so to see this view for 2 days was A-mazing!  Can you say beautiful or what?  This is the Charles River.  The people at the Museum of Science said that in the warmer weather people are rowing and the water is busy.  How cool to see this on a daily basis!?

The one bad thing about Boston in November is that it gets dark REALLY quickly...as in 4:45 or 5:00.  Traveling by myself, I didn't really want to be out and about in the dark but I had to see Harvard.  It was beautiful, as imagined, and I felt smarter just walking on campus!  Hmm...how do I create this feel in my school?  How do I make my kids feel like they are walking into Harvard everyday?

Okay, so onto my teaching and learning adventures in Boston.  The program is called Engineering is Elementary.  They have 20 units ranging in content areas from rocks and minerals to solids and liquids. They aren't just science units, though, they involve engineering, a design process, and collaboration among classmates.

To begin, we discussed what technology is...anything that helps us solve a problem...and then we had to create a technology that would help us solve the problem of a dog statue (bean animal) needing a 24 inch pedestal.  The materials we could use?  One pack of notecards and 12 inches of tape.  Oh, and 18 minutes.  I have to say that the friends I met at the training were awesome...I do believe we created the best tower!  I know, I know, there is no right way to make it as long as it supports the statue.  Not all groups were successful in the height requirement, and not all designs could support the weight of the animal.  The last part of the engineering design process is to improve what we created.  This reflection piece is crucial, and when I've done this with students, it's the source of some really great conversations!

From here, we read a story book that introduced a character who fell in the woods and hurt his knee.  They needed to create a knee brace to help him get out of the woods.  Learning from a biomedical engineer, we looked at the range of motion of a healthy knee, and then created a knee brace out of different materials to limit the motion of an injured" knee.  Each unit starts with a storybook that states a problem, introduces a specific field of engineering (mechanical, green, biomedical, environmental, etc.), gives them background knowledge, and then presents them with materials to solve the problem with their group.  Below are some of the books from the units.

I can not wait to get our units to school so that we can begin engineering!  The best part, as you can see from the pic above, is that the characters from the books are a mix between boys and girls, ethnicities, continents, etc.  They really stress that engineers can be anyone!  If want to see the grant I wrote to be able to do all of this, click here to go to TPT and get them for free.

Oh, and the next best part of my trip?  The food! Clam Chowder!  I was told that Legal Sea Foods was a good place to go, so I walked from my hotel to the location on Long Wharf where you can see the boats and the coast, and all the pretty things I don't see in Indiana.  I had to get the New England Clam Chowder, and I'm glad I did.  Of course, it's accompanied by a class of wine, but it was a Friday night!

And now, I'm safely home with the hubs and the pups getting ready for the week.  Oh, and did I tell you I get to go back to Boston in 3 weeks for a different conference?!  

Giveaway Alert!
Oh, and one last thing...Lisa Mattes at Growing Firsties is having a Pete the Cat giveaway that also supports Hurricane Sandy!  She'll donate different amounts of money depending on how many followers she gets!  Not only will you get Pete the Cat and a gift card, you'll also boost her followers, which will boost her donation!  Thanks Lisa for a great giveaway.  
Growing Firsties


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reading Incentive Chart and November Currently

As the ESL teacher in my building, I have always felt that my time is limited with these kids and I'm never able to do everything I want to do with them in just 30 minutes a day.  One large thing I have noticed is that many of my students are not reading at home.  The reason?  Many of their parents can't help them decode words or talk about their understanding.  I have wanted a way to encourage my students (grades 1-4) to read more.  More than the minimum requirement of their classroom.

As I've stepped into this role, there have been many things that I've wanted to go back and change in my previous classrooms, such as minimum reading requirements.  Why would I limit my readers to just 15 or 20 minutes a night if they would have read 30?  Why wouldn't I encourage my reluctant readers through high-interest text selection and work on finding good books for them rather than counting minutes?  So...I've taken one day during the week to talk about books we've read, do a book talk, and go to the library to find good fit books with high-interest levels.  Yes, this is an entire 30 minutes where the mini-lesson is directed toward determining the central message or theme, finding rhythm and rhyme in words, or responding to our reading through writing.

 To encourage reading, I of course, headed to Pinterest and blogs to see what other people had created for reading incentives.  I came across The Teacher Wife's reading incentive chart and liked the concept, but wasn't sure my 3rd and 4th grade boys would want necklaces.  From this, I started thinking what I could do that would visually encourage reading.  I made a tag for each of my ESL kiddos, bought some ribbon, and went to town.  The title of our board?  Real.Hard.Reading.Work.

First of all, they just love to see their name, and they all get their own ribbon.  I lined all of them up on the wall, and each time they get to another 100, they get a new card to put on their ribbon, but they also get a ticket in our school-wide positive behavior system.  Those tickets are like gold, so the kids are really excited!

Can you tell that I ran out of the wide ribbon?  Apparently when you get excited about the wide and thin grosgrain ribbon being the same price, you don't actually get the same length of it. Haha.  Since this picture, I have returned to Hobby Lobby (only of course when their ribbon is 50% off) to get more of the pink and orange.  The title above it looks much better in person, but the laminate doesn't help!

Lastly is my November Currently!  I can't believe it's already November, but then again, I think I say this every month. I hope you all will join Farley's Currently and enjoy the fun.  I love to see what other people are doing!  Click the link above or the image below to link up!

Happy Fall, and enjoy your extra hour of sleep tonight with Daylight Savings Time!