Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry & Bright

From my little family to yours...
We  hope your Christmas was Merry & Bright!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Caught" Being Good & Peek At Our Week

We moved {FINALLY} into our new house this week!! I'll share more on that soon :) But we have been without internet since we moved. Some wonderful people are scheduled to come over tomorrow and get us back online...PTL!!!  I'm hoping to make up for the lack of blogging this week with a double duty post - a holiday survival management tip & visual plans for the week all rolled into one!!

Bless their hearts, I know they just needed to run out their wiggles out!! But the weather this past week has left my class with one indoor recess after another. Pair that with the knowledge that Christmas is just around the corners and well, we need a little *EXTRA* motivation to keep it together this time of year. To try and ease their jumpin' jingle bells I ended up kicking one of my favorite classroom management tricks from this year into high gear!!

Basically anytime I "catch" my kids being super ON POINT , I try and snap a picture of them on my iPhone. (I use that thing all day at school...if I don't set alarms for guided reading it's over-!!) My favorite time of the day to do this is during center rotations, when they're supposed to be working hard independently. Once I've collected 4-5 pictures I will e-mail them to myself and call the kids to the carpet so that we can  shout out our most recent batch of kiddos "caught" doing the right thing!

The first time I complied all the pictures into one using  Insta Collage app. They thought this was THE coolest thing!!
"How did you DO that!?" they asked as they tried to find themselves on the screen. :)

I can't tell you how much they LOVE when we sit down to see who has been "caught". When they see themselves the smile on their face is just priceless!!! I typically do this about 1-2 times a week, but like I said, I kicked it up a notch last week. We were checking in daily!! Ha! This week I started handing out these little seasonal notes to accompany this gig. I told my class that our elf, Snowball, made them for me to pass out. Isn't he sweet!?

And this week, Snowball will be getting in on the action too!!Elf or no elf, you can download both versions of the tags here.But remember - this can work all year!!  And I love that it doesn't cost me a DIME! :)

Ok, switching gears for a moment. I'm trying my hand at my first ever visual plans...eek!! I'm not committing to these on any kind of regular basis. Just getting my feet wet over here today. Thanks to the ever fabulous Kelley Dolling for sharing her template with me!!

You can click any of these images below to go to the Google doc with direct links to everything you see.   

A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Who says teaching those standards can't be sprinkled with loads FUN?! I loved Tracy's Thanksgiving e-book, so I'm very excited to read Elf in Training this week. Alisha's Merry & Bright pack reviews all kinds of skills. I'm going with contractions & retell this week. And Friday is ALL about Polar Express in 1st & 2nd grade. You can read all about our magical day last year HERE
 Lots of seasonal writing to help decorate the walls this week.

We started with Kelley's Math pack on Friday. The kids gave this one two big thumbs way up. 
 I used Katie's math centers last year, they tie right in with out Polar Express shenanigans!

Truth be told I'm SAD to be wrapping this one up!! We've had a blast traveling around the globe!!!

 But I'm already hard at work on our January Science/SS Common Core travel plans! 
Arctic Adventures is coming early January!! Stay tuned. :)

I know that I really like looking at other people's visual plans, so every once and awhile I'll try to see what I can piece together over here. But for this week I just wanted to show you what will be happening in our room in case you're looking for a few more ideas on how exactly to survive make it to THIS point in the week....
Who's with me!? ;)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ornament Idea & Holly Jolly Giveaway

I'm going out shopping right now to grab the bulbs I will need for my annual Hand print ornament gift to families. If you wait until the week before Christmas (like I did last year) they're trickier to find, so I figured today was a great day to re-blog about this one. A little Saturday Throw Back if you will. Right now the ornaments are cheap and highly available at places like Walmart & Hobby Lobby!!

Each year I think, maybe I'll try something different this year. But, I can't stop being in love with these little kid created snowmen. So I'm looking forward to starting them again this week!! I blogged about this last year too, so you can read here for more details.

The tag has been updated for 2013! You can download the new tags HERE.

Now how about some gifts for you?

This is my second weekend in a row with a fun Holiday giveaway for ya.

Each of these ladies is offering up a little present from their store! One grand prize winner is going to get them all but five people will also win one of these great gifts!!. 

Scroll down to see what is wrapped and waiting...

Katie's Santa's Surprise Centers - they'll be hot off the press this weekend!!

Quick & Easy Raffelcopter below will get you entered.

We wanted you to have these goodies sooner than later so you can start using them.

So hurry, the giveaway will end Monday at midnight!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dear Santa...We Want an Elf!

Today we wrote letters to Santa. Not to tell him what's on our wish lista!! We wanted to let him know that we REALLY want an elf. Yes, I'm talking about *that* elf.

But he's not here. Yet. 

I told my class that last year we had an elf in December. I'm a 1/2 combo teacher and a few of my firsties looped up with me to 2nd this year, so they were quick to confirm. I explained how last year only a few teachers asked for elves but this year, thousands of teacher were asking for them. I told them Santa doesn't have enough elves to spare (he needs to keep a few hundred working at the North Pole of course) for every classroom, and that I was worried a letter from me might not do the trick this year. BUT - I bet we would catch his attention if our entire class wrote letters persuading him to let our class host an elf!!

 YES-!! We agreed. Everyone would write Santa and let him know all the reasons he should consider sending us an elf again this year. We began to write a letter on behalf of the class together to start. 

Everyone jotted at least one reason (the "because" part of our persuasion) on a sticky note. Then we did a shared letter writing, sharing our sticky notes when we got to the reasoning sentences. We also labeled each part and circled all of the commas so we wouldn't forget to add them in our own letters.

Then off they went to work on their own letters. 

I shared this one on my Instagram this morning. He has so many great reasons!! I can't tell you how many kids promised they would "clean" the elf...!?

But this little guy's letter made me giggle the most when he read it to me.

"Dear Santa, I want a good looking elf. 
Please with a gum drop on top. We will take care of him."

We mailed our letters to the North Pole.
So now all we can do is wait. And hope he shows up again.


While this makes a GREAT lesson in persuasive writing, it also buys me just a little more time. I struggle to remember to move that elf. Setting alarms on my phone is a necessity. And even then, there is about an 80% chance I am moving him minutes before the bell rings the next morning once I realize I haven't moved him. Two weeks is my max!! So our Elf won't be making any appearances until Monday. But, I'm a total sucker for the magic of Christmas in these little one's hearts. I love watching them BELIEVE!! I think it's good for the heart. 

Theirs and mine. :)

When he does arrive he will deliver this response letter. 

I shared it last year as a freebie on this post. Feel free to grab it here too. 

Speaking of writing. Apparently the December writing center wasn't going to prep itself this month over Thanksgiving break. Who knew? So I got called out today by my class today. 

"Mrs. Stewart, when do we get to write about December stuff??" 

Umm...just as soon as I lamination that's been sitting here all weekend long.

Happy to report that things are officially all systems go for the morning thought!!

#wekeepitrealatfallingintofirst ;) 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Deck the halls it's now December...!!! Fa la la la la la la la la.

Here's a (SUPER QUICK) giveaway you should enter...!!

It's been an wonderful few days off but now it's time for the 15 day haul to the finish line!! My my sweet friend, Katie, suggested sneaking in a QUICK giveaway to kick off the holiday sale & season! So I hopped on board. Here is look at what you can win today. 

 There will be SIX winners - one for each goodie above!

 Entering is easy, just use the Raffelcopter below. 

And everyone is WINNING this Monday & Tuesday during the big TPT Sale!!!

I uploaded these two just in time for the event.

{Winter Flash Fluency - the follow up to my Fall Flash Fluency! Read a post on these HERE.}
{December Common Core Writing Galore - check out ALL previous months HERE}

 My entire TPT shop is 20% off  Mon & Tues!! 
Use TPT's Code: CYBER at checkout to score an additional discount!

It's the perfect time to tackle that wish list, so so don't forget to check yours- twice!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Early Birds

I've never been one of those people lined up at midnight waiting for the doors to open so I can snag all the door buster deals. I'm more of sleep in then head out around 10 AM to snag some new towels at 40% off  and then I just kind of wander around all my favorite places to see what deals I might find. But that doesn't mean I don't wish I could still snag some of those early bird specials! So today I thought I'd have a little fun. I'm throwing a special Black Friday sale with a few timely discounts that I've never offered before. But you didn't have to be up before the sunrise to grab them, because I represent that portion of the population that like to wake up SLOW! Bonus, you can grab these from the comfort of your own living room while rocking your favorite PJ's!!

My whole store is 20% until midnight tonight for those of you that want to get a head start on the Holiday planning prep. Check out some of my seasonal favorites: Winter Flash Fluency, Christmas Around The World, and Polar Express!!

ALL of my  For The Common Core Classroom Units for 30% off until 1:00 {MST} including the BUNDLED pack!

And ALL of my CCS Writing Packs are marked down to just $2.00 until 2:00 {MST} so it's a great time to go back and grab any months you don't currently have yet in your collection. Sorry December is not yet posted. It will be posted this weekend!! :)

And since I was off the blogosphere yesterday enjoying some time with my family...

I hope you all had a Merry & Blessed Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Around The World

I'm packing our bags- 17 of them to be exact!! ;)
 Because this December, my class is taking a trip around the world!

 {Students get to add a new stamp to their suitcase as we visit each country!}

What started out as a few fun activities the week before Christmas Break has over the years turned into a full fledged Christmas Around The World unit. It made its first appearance on TPT last December, but I find I added a little more to this one every year that I teach it. Depending on how my countries you choose to focus on this unit can last you the full month of December or just a few days. It's really up to you and how you plan to pilot the trip in your classroom! I've included resources for seven countries: America/Canada, England, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Spain and Mexico.

Here's a look at some of what you will find in the updated version of this unit. 

VOCABULARY: I've added a 20 page Power Point to introduce each country and really highlight some key vocabulary, paired with an image. My goal with this is to help my students build background and make connections to their own lives as we compare each country and prepare to learn more about them.
{Sample Slide from Germany}

I also printed the PowerPoint and turned it into a book my students can read anytime!

TEXT PASSAGES: The journey to build reading detectives continues, even when we're out of the country. ;) 
Shorter passages to focus on fluency.

Longer passages to focus on close reading & text based evidence.

PRINTABLES: We spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting throughout this unit.

TRAVEL JOURNAL: After we visit each country, we write about it in our Travel Journal. I have gotten tons of sweet compliments from parents who really enjoy reading these keepsakes when they come home at the end of the unit. 

SOUVENIRS: For each country there is mini souvenir craft for the children to make and add to their suitcases.

You can check out the complete preview HERE. For those of you who purchased it last year, make sure you go back and download the newest version so you can get ALL the new additions!

I will send this unit to the first two people to comment on this post!! :)
Congrats Laura & Polly!!!