Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Crafts

We are officially on winter break and it feels SO NICE to relax and sleep in! I wanted to share some of the fun activities we worked into the last week of school. We had a lot of testing the last two weeks of school, so after reviewing, and testing, we let the kids relax and have fun! Here are some of the crafts I did in my class:

One day we made these snowman I found on TPT (for free!) and put on Frosty the Snowman (which I found on YouTube). Granted, it's intended for K-2, but it kept them busy, was simple enough to do without a lot of instructions, and was something fun while watching a movie. Here's how some turned out!
Too cute, right?

Love the creative eyes

This student added eyes
The next day, we did another craft. This time we made Reindeer Food in little white paper bags. I found this freebie label on TPT as well and printed enough copies for every student to have one. They glued them onto the bags and then decorated the bags with colored pencils. Then I worked with one table at a time to scoop sunflower seeds, oatmeal, and glitter into their bags. My only regret is not having more "ingredients" in the reindeer food and not taking advantage of the learning opportunity to use fractions with measuring cups. Oh well! Still turned out cute. I told the kids to sprinkle it on their lawn on Christmas Eve so the reindeer can have a snack while Santa delivers presents!

Finally, the little treat I made for the kids this year was something I found on Pinterest. It was simple and cheap, which, as a first year teacher, is a must! Just bought a GIANT bag of Jolly Ranchers, little baggies, ribbons, and printed out the tags. I put about 5 jolly ranchers in each bag, tied them up with ribbon, added the tag and voila! Done.
So pretty! And so simple!
So those are a handful of crafts I used this season. I love that teaching gives me the chance to really enjoy holidays all day everyday! You better believe the Christmas Pandora station was playing everyday the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and winter break! Overall, I'm just so relieved to be halfway through my first year. Time for a break and some sunshine =]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How I did Elf on the Shelf

* UPDATE: I put the last 5 pictures of Elfie at the end of this post. *

Every once in awhile I get a little pang of sadness when I see all the fun and cute ideas there are for lower elementary. K-2 is all about read-alouds and writing on fun cut-outs, and singing songs with matching dances, and hugs and cuteness. I admit. I get jealous.


I remember that K-2 is NOT all smiles and rainbows after spending about 5 minutes in one of my friend's kindergarten classes and I am suddenly grateful for children that give me attitude and mean-mug me, but will also not run around my room screaming (most of the time).

One of the things I really wanted to steal from K-2, though, was Elf on the Shelf. But would my "too cool for school" fourth graders be above this???

Well here's how I used him in my classroom:

1) I kept the activities basic:
The only thing I gave the students was this elf journal I found on TPT. I stapled some together and they got to draw a picture and write a couple sentences each morning about what Elfie did. We haven't done too much with the elf with all the other activities you see all over Pinterest because I don't want to overdo it. We play it cool in fourth grade.
Day 1: gets delivered along with one elf journal per student!
2) I had him delivered by someone else:
It's gotten to the point that if a teacher says something, it's lame, but if THE PRINCIPAL OR DEAN says something, oh baby. So I had my dean deliver our elf and journals (after keeping them in the freezer all morning) so that I could be skeptical along with the kids. I read the letter I found here and gave the kids journals (oohs and ahhhhs at how cold they were) and we all agreed that we would just see what happens with this so-called "magical" elf.
This was never seen by the kids bc the janitor cleaned it up.
Haha fourth grade teachers decided we couldn't eat all that candy again
to get wrappers so this one would have to wait to be revisited!
3) I'm amazed with the students:
Every morning when they come in, I tell them "I came in this morning and look where I found Elfie!" They quiz me about where he was when I left, did I lock the door, who has access to the room, etc. Haha but I always laugh with them and say things like "I can't believe that little guy got into my tickets!" and deny deny deny that I did anything!

Finally, here are some more pics of Elfie and how he's been doing in our classroom. The kids are so funny with their suspicions. They will look through the class window every time they walk by trying to catch him, while others thinks it's me and others have blamed our poor maintenance man. Others have told Mr. E (the 4th grade science teacher) that my room is haunted. Eeek!
Day 2: doing our morning work

Day 3: taking tickets the kids get for good behavior
Day 4: swinging/hanging out in one of our pom-poms 
Day 5: reading fairy tales in the reading corner
Day 6: working on a puzzle (one choice for indoor recess)
Day 7: doing homework (one student handed it to him when posed doing the puzzle
and said "who knows? maybe he will do it!" so Elfie also wrote a "PS: thanks <student name>!!" haha)
Day 8: holding hands with my scarecrow. BFFs!
There are 8 days from the last two weeks because he didn't come to us until Tuesday after Thanksgiving (Monday's are overwhelming and he got left in the freezer-oops), and we had a snow/ice day that Friday. But there are five more days before break so that gives us 13 days with Elfie!!

*Last week with Elfie:
Found Elfie on when we came in! haha

Took a personal day to take my certification exam.
Elfie watched the kids for me

The day I was out, Elfie fell and some kids played with him.
A student called to tell me "It was a bad day for Elfie" so he was sick the next day.

Once Elfie felt better, he brought candy canes for everyone!
"A treat for you from the big guy. Almost Christmas! <3 Elfie"

Goodbye Elfie! Stole the poem from Jake that graduated with me
"Dear 4th grade, Today is the day I must say goodbye, I know it's sad but please don't cry,
for I will be back this time next year, to fill more lives with joy and cheer! Love always, Elfie"
The kids were surprisingly upset Elfie wouldn't be back in January. I love this age because they still allow themselves to believe in magic! So sweet!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Where Did the Last Four Months Go?

Oh hey guys. Haven't seen you since AUGUST. My bad. I've been slowly and painfully suffering from this thing called "being a first-year teacher". With two weeks until winter break, which also marks half of the school year, I FINALLY feel like I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off so here I am! I know the blogging community has practically ceased to exist without me, right? ;)
2/3 of the Fourth Grade team.
Feels like such a small school after last year (with a 7 teacher team)
I'm not even going to try and catch you up on how my first semester was, because many of you have heard my stories/tears/victories and I'm sure it will all be a blur in a year or so anyway. I will tell you that I am LOVING Memphis, LOVING my friends here, and LOVING our new schedule for departmentalization. Now I only teach math with one hour of remediation reading and a half hour homeroom. With a 90 minute math block and a set of laptops, I'm able to do a blended learning model class. Here's the schedule:

15 minutes: Do-Now and then check answers and go over homework
30 minutes: Half the class is on laptops doing iReady (a remediation program) while the other half spends 15 minutes at a game center and 15 minutes with me at a teacher center
30 minutes: Switch- students on laptops go to centers and vice-versa
15 minutes: Exit ticket, pass out homework, sign behavior logs, and pack up

With about 16 students in a class, I LOVE teaching 4 students at a time! And 4 students playing a game together is so manageable. Should've done this earlier.

No school yesterday, thanks to freezing rain for 48 hours

Not in Florida anymore...
The ice storm outside reminds me that it is in fact December. To stay festive this year, I have the christmas station playing CONSTANTLY in my room and we also have our Elf on the Shelf ("Elfie") getting into all sorts of trouble. Here is the little guy:

More on him another time! Happy Saturday!