Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Penguin Writing Freebie!

I love vacation!  But I am (almost) looking forward to going back to school simply because we begin one of my favorite themes.  Animals!  And, more specifically, PENGUINS!  I am a huge sucker for these adorable black and white birds.

In their honor I am offering my Penguin Writing Activity Pack free until January 2, 2013.  All you have to do is:

1) Follow my blog by clicking "Join This Site" to the right --->
2) Follow me on Facebook by clicking here and clicking LIKE.
3) Leave me a comment letting me know you did these two things and include your email!

I will email the pack to you.  It includes words and vocabulary for a tree chart for Penguins have/can/are, writing paper,  and a penguin shape craft. 

This offer has expired, but you can find this cute writing pack HERE.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Facebook Page

I just set up a new Facebook page-- Come find me on Facebook!  Like my page and we can chat there, too, about day-to-day teaching stuff...and whatever else we feel like talking about!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wrapping Up 2012 With A Calendar Freebie

Before I get into what we were up to last week, I want to let you know about a project for Sandy Hook.  In case you haven't heard, the CT PTSA is collecting decorated snowflakes from children around the country to decorate the temporary school for the Sandy Hook survivors.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families of the victims and the community as a whole.

Well, we were busy little elves last week.  We wrapped up our gingerbread unit with cookie decorating and our "Gingerbread Man" play.  This is the play by Heidi Butkus of Heidisongs.  If you've never done a play with your class, this is a great one to start with.  It's adorable!

I purposely posted a dark pic so as not to show faces, but it was beyond cute!
We painted pine cone Christmas trees.  I collected the pine cones in Lake Tahoe last summer, but you could certainly do this project with the smaller cones you find at Michael's.  

Just have them paint the cones in a paper bowl and sprinkle with glitter while wet.  Allow to dry overnight.  The way I did the display was put tacky glue in the bottom of the bowl, crumple a half sheet of tissue paper and stick to the bowl.  Coat the top of the tissue paper with more tacky glue and attach the pine cone.  I used Solo red plastic bowls.  Next year,  I will remember to take pictures of all the steps!  

We also made bead pattern candy canes.  I got the kits from Oriental Trading Co. but you could certainly just use pony beads from any craft store.

It was a great final week before the holidays, filled with fun projects, lots of hugs, and a renewed appreciation for the privilege it is to do the job I do.

I had a wonderful holiday with my family and have even created a couple of new items for my TpT Store.

HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Batman is Watching!

Well...this has been the longest week ever an interesting week! 

So our Elf on the Shelf arrived  on Monday.  I have never done this before and was really looking forward to doing something fun that also keeps behavior in check.  However, my class sometimes reacts a little on the extreme side to the introduction of anything "fun."  ie: When we started the spider unit in October I put some webbing across the front door-- you would have thought they'd stepped onto the magic school bus or something!

So needless to say, the first day with the elf was less than stellar. 
Here's where we found him:
Just hanging out on the white board with a good view of the room.

Here's what happened:  It had rained all night and I spent most of the morning recess shooing kids away from a lake-sized puddle that had formed at the edge of the playground.  Now I know playing in a puddle is good healthy fun, but I have many children who would literally soak themselves and who would soak others who may not want to get soaked. Then they will spend the rest of the day complaining about wet shoes, socks, pants, etc and I just don't have that kind of patience anymore.

 So, at the end of our morning recess, I blew my whistle for the kids to line up.  They all did.  We were settling down and getting ready to walk in for Reading groups when suddenly, one of my crazy   energetic boys (I have 18 boys this year, by the way) points toward the puddle and yells, "SQUIRREL!!!"  He takes off to chase the squirrel, through the puddle, around the big tree, and is promptly followed by SEVEN MORE of my little friends!!!  The rest of the children remaining in line are in complete fear of the look on my face!  I quietly usher them in the door while the 8 escapees proceed to return to the playground for an extended recess!  They were unbelievable!  Swinging on their stomachs, running up the slide-- it was like the movie Kindergarten Cop!  I did not call to them.  I watched them.  I watched them become utterly possessed by their own impulsiveness.

Finally, after nearly 5 whole minutes of this, they notice everyone has gone inside.  They come to the line and look at me like nothing has happened.  They did not even get what a crazy thing they had just done!  Well, I read them the riot act in the most serious, stern teacher voice I can ever remember using.  I've been teaching K for 13 years now.  I'm no newbie.  This was insanity.  Oh, did I mention this was my  BIRTHDAY?  Yep.  Fun.

These 8 friends got notes home, I conferenced with as many of the parents as I could that afternoon, and our elf left for the North Pole before day's end to have a big meeting with Santa.  This resulted in Santa installing a secret camera so he could help our elf monitor certain children.  I don't know that Santa has ever had to go to such lengths for one Kindergarten classroom, but he did what he had to do.  And our elf took the next day off deciding if he wanted to come back or not.  The children who followed the rules and stayed in line were rewarded with a trip to the prize box.

Another lesson I learned: when you have 18 boys in a class, do not make selecting the elf's name open-ended.  Here is what they came up with:

Yes.  Batman the Elf.

I could not fathom telling them every day that "Batman" was watching them (LOL!), so in one of Santa's notes (the one regarding the squirrel fiasco) he referred to our elf as "Batty."  A little easier to live with!

Since then, things have improved and we've had a little fun with Batty.  When he returned, he wanted the kids to focus on Rule #4:

We "Elfed" Ourselves: I bought this pattern on TpT RIGHT HERE.

Today, Batty was found on Rule #5 with a  slight change:
and he brought some special stickers for well-behaved friends.
For tomorrow, Friday, he has changed our letter of the week:

and left us a special project to do:

I found the elf parts on Pinterest. Click here for the pin.

You can download the scrambled sentence by clicking here.

If you made it through this long post, you are a trooper!

Leave me a comment if you like the elf download and please follow me!

Cheers!  (Literally!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Freebie

Are you doing Elf on the Shelf with your class?  I am trying it for the first time this year!  I'll post pics when I start it next week, but I wanted to share my free unit with you in case you need it!

It's really good for focusing on desired behaviors.  I don't know about you, 
but I need all the sanity help I can get! 

Please let me know if you like it!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Just Wow!

I am so excited  to announce that my new little blog was nominated for A Liebster Award!

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

Thank you so much to Kimberly Ann over at Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten for the nomination!

The rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

Random facts about ME:
1. I am going to be 40 next week!!!
2. I have 3 kids and they have all gone to my school. :)
3. I love coffee.
4. When I was a kid I was a great tap dancer!
5. I love penguins.
6. I have always wanted to be a teacher.
7.  In school I was always very quiet and almost never raised my hand to answer questions.
8.  I don't like seafood.
9. I have taught at the same school since I started teaching 13 years ago-- 12 of those in Kindergarten!
10. I love the holidays and Christmas music.
11. I am a night owl and NOT a morning person!

 Questions asked by Kimberly Ann:
1.  If you didn't teach the grade you do now, which grade would you want to teach?  
Probably 1st grade-- I would love to see how far they can go in just one more year!
2.  What is your favorite holiday?     Christmas!
3.  Where would you want live if you didn't live where you currently live?  I currently live in Northern CA.  I would love to live in New York City!
4.  What is your favorite hobby, besides blogging?   I love to do crafty things-- Michael's is my favorite!
5.  What is your favorite sports team?  The SF Giants
6.  Are you a risk taker? life, yes.  But as far as activities, no.  I won't do anything where I might physically get hurt, like bungee jumping or sky diving!
7.  Are you a Black Friday shopper?  YES-- but every year I swear I will never do it again!
8.  Favorite place to visit?  Lake Tahoe
9.  Favorite season and why?  I love Fall because where I live it's still a little warm but not sweltering hot.  I love "sweater weather!"
10.  What was your first ever job?  I worked in a grocery store bakery when I was 16 years old.
11.  What is your favorite teaching memory?  The first year I taught Kindergarten I was lesson planning with my new teaching partner.  We were both new teachers and we thought we would try and do "me dolls"-- life size tracings of the students-- the first weeks of school!  haha  After school started and we saw what the first weeks of kinder are really like-- we quickly changed our plans!!!  (Incidentally, I have NEVER done "me dolls" with my class! )

Questions for my nominees:
1. What grade do you currently teach?
2. Where did you grow up?
3. What is your favorite color?
4. What is your dream vacation?
5. What is your favorite school break?
6. Who is someone you look up to?
7. What did you do before you started teaching?
8. What do you like to do in your "spare" time?
9. Where is your favorite place to shop?
10. Do you drink coffee?
11. Are you a morning person or night owl? 

Blogs I am Nominating:
5. You and I 

I can't wait to see what these bloggers write about themselves! 

AND tomorrow is the start of TpT's big 

Cyber Monday and Bonus Tuesday Sale!
 It's also back to work for me after a whole week off!  And conferences to boot!  I will post more on that later.....

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! (& a Holiday Freebie)

Thanks for stopping by!  I would love to have you follow me-- just scroll down to the right and click on "Join This Site."  See you soon!

Wow-- Thanksgiving is almost here already!  As it is, the holiday is early this year.  On top of that, my district has the WHOLE WEEK OFF so that means I had to wrap up this holiday at warp speed this year!  (No, this is NOT a complaint!!!)

We celebrated with several mini lessons on Pilgrims and Native Americans and, of course, turkeys.  My kids loved drawing the Turkey in Disguise by Deanna Jump to go with the book Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano.

Here are some of their cute disguises:

 Turkey disguised as an apple!

 Turkeys disguised as rock stars!

 Turkey disguised as a jack-o-lantern!

More jack-o-lantern turkeys.

We also did a fun and colorful turkey craft.  I just love how engaged the kids are when they work on things like this.  I feel it is so good for them, developmentally, to cut out and put shapes together to create something!  And it makes us all SO HAPPY!

They turned out really cute!

We wrapped up our week with a Thanksgiving feast.  I had parents sign up to bring popcorn, applesauce cups, plates, spoons, napkins, and juice and I provided a pumpkin pie.  The kids loved sharing their feast together!  

I have a few Thanksgiving Freebies in my TpT Store if you want to grab them:

And to kick off the Holiday Season you can grab  my
There are several options for color, b&w, 1-10, 11-20, count by 2's or 5's.  Print the ones you need!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Welcome Fall (Finally!) and a Turkey Freebie

I love November!  Here in Northern CA it's when it finally starts to cool off.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Summer weather as much as anyone, but there is something so cozy about working in the classroom when it's chilly and cloudy outside.  (Notice I said "cloudy" and not "rainy"!-- that's a whole different ball of wax, right?)

We have kicked off November with some Fall crafts and stories about Thanksgiving.  I've done this cute wreath from  Lakeshore for a few years now.  I pre-cut the paper plates and have the kids color it before they get started cutting out the leaves.  We did this yesterday-- I forgot to take a pic of all the finished products, but you get the idea!  When they finish, punch a hole in the top and tie a piece of yarn for hanging.  You could also do this with colored paper plates.

You can get the leaf template free at Lakeshore right here.

All this zig-zag cutting is great for strengthening those little 
hand muscles for developing those crucial fine motor skills!

Prior to doing this project ,we read  Fall Changes.
This is an excellent little non-fiction book about the changes Fall brings. 
 The photos are beautiful and engaging.

When they were finished, they worked on their 

This one is FREE for you this week!

We are making take-home books like mad so we can fill up their November literacy bags to take home over the Thanksgiving break.  We get the whole week off this year and I want them to have lots of books to read while they're away!

Please follow me and leave a comment if you decide to gobble it up!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Good-bye October and a Turkey Freebie

We wrapped up October with the end of our spider unit and a yummy spider snack!  The kids never thought they would enjoy eating a spider!

This is "Harry."  He is a Goliath tarantula specimen! 

The kids absolutely loved getting up close to see every detail.

 We used a magnifying glass to really check out the spider's parts.  Harry even has a purple tint to him when viewed up close in the right light.
 Then, my little scientists drew Harry themselves.

For our spider snack, I put a sign up sheet on the door about a week ahead of time.  Parents provided mini chocolate doughnuts for the body, stick pretzels for the legs, some frosting for "glue" for the eyes, which were M&Ms.


This was a great ending to a really fun unit.  The kids learned so much!

Now it's on to all things Thanksgiving.  Here's a little turkey freebie!  Enjoy!

I would be oh-so-thankful if you would follow my site and leave me a note!