Elf in the Classroom Linky Party

For the first time ever I am doing an elf in my classroom.  I am looking for absolutely ANYTHING to help me with behavior.  This year has been a doozy and I have been waiting for December to arrive so I could dangle the Santa carrot for a few weeks.  So, I am very thankful to be linking up with Mel D from Seusstastic and Michelle from Apples & ABC's because I am in need of some great ideas! 

Day #1
Our elf, Fred, arrived in a frozen box straight from the North Pole!  The kids were soooo excited to see what was inside.  I actually turned it into a questioning activity too.  I let them ask away for awhile.  It really built up the suspense.  I slowly cut open the box and they could hardly handle it!  I actually got teary eyed in the process.  There is something so magical about believing.  There are times that I really truly wish the big guy was real.  So.... I just will have to work really hard to live vicariously through my kids and students.

Inside the box was a mailbox.  I found it at Menard's for $4.99.  I couldn't pass it up!  At the time I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but you just never know...  There was also some red and green pieces of card stock and envelopes and a note from Fred.  He was already named because he was Mel D's elf and I have some of her former student's siblings.

The note was from Fred introducing himself and he also called out one of my more challenging kiddos for behaving better the last few days.  Again I was teary eyed.

I pulled the mailbox and opened the door and there was Fred... face down. I said, "Wow, he must have had a rough trip!"  I wasn't sure what to do, so I went and got my gloves out of my coat and sat him upright.  Then I had to go into the whole thing about I am not taking his magic away because I am an adult and using gloves.  Hopefully I didn't upset any parents with that one!

They were mesmerized!!!  All day they would go up to the mailbox and stare.  Then I heard them making up things like I saw his eyes move.  Oh, if only that were true. :(

They all decided to write him notes with the paper that he brought with him.  A lot of the notes were lists of what they wanted, but others were telling him he was the best elf and they loved him so much.  Heart melting!

During the staring the kids noticed a pin in his leg (leftover from last year's shenanigans).  They were extremely worried.  I told them that the costume maker must have left it in his costume.  That seemed to appease them... until the next day.

Day #2
Fred appeared on our projector WAY up high!  They were so worried he was going to fall and wanted me to move him.  I had to reassure him that he had magic and wouldn't fall.  Then they noticed the pin!  They kept saying he needed to go to the "Elf Hospital"  and they were so worried!  It really was cute.

One of my struggling readers decided she was going to read to him during "Read to Self".  The moment was absolutely priceless.

Day #3
I messed up!  I forgot to take their wishlists they made the day before.  Luckily, they have quite the imagination.  Due to the "Elf Hospital"  comment I decided to put a band aid where the pin was and they him on a pile of tissues.  They were so sad and when they noticed he hadn't taken the lists they said he must have fallen from the projector and had a really bad night.  Too precious!  I of course played along.

A short while later one of my precious little ones decided he was going to touch him.  Well... the magic was gone!  The kids were so disappointed.

While they were at recess I took him away and left a note from Santa (I forgot to take a picture), but this is what it said...

Dear Boys and Girls,
I came to take Fred back to the North Pole.  I am going to try and give him his magic back.  I am very sad at the bad choices that were made today.  I will be watching you!

I am not joking when I tell you this.  There were TEARS!!!  I could NOT believe it!  You better believe I played into it.  The mood of the classroom was so somber!  I even mustered up a few tears of my own. Haha!

When they were getting ready to go to Library they asked me not to stay in the room.  I ended up telling them I had work to do because I wanted to make my precious one think about it over the weekend.

I think he will reappear on Monday in a VERY safe spot!

I have also been doing the elf at my own home.  Here are a few pictures of Joe and my friend's elf JoJo Pinocchio.  My friend is VERY creative and her daughter feeds into it BIG time!

I hope you are all having as much fun as I am having!


Cyber Monday & Tuesday Sale

It's ALMOST here!  The Cyber Monday & Tuesday is a great day to shop at TPT.  I will be offering 20% off EVERYTHING in my STORE PLUS if you enter the code CYBER at checkout you can save up to 28% (an additional 8%) off your order.
Here are some must haves from that I simply could NOT live without!

I did this project with my own son and daughter for Christmas gifts.  They LOVED doing it!

We had a little fun after we were done!

I know it is past Thanksgiving, but I think this needs to be in every teacher's back pocket for next year. I used this pack for my 3 day week and my kids LOVE it, plus I got evaluated while using it and my principal gave me great marks!

I love EVERYTHING from Farrah Shipley and this is on my Cyber Monday wishlist.  You should check her out!  Plus she has changed my life by introducing me to Whole Brain Teaching.  It is magic!

Here are some of my favorites from my store:

I blogged about our Groovy Cat book here!  My students seriously CAN NOT stop talking about their creations!  Score!

Happy shopping everyone!


Early Bird Sale!

Early Bird Sale!

Have you heard about the Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale at TPT? I have been waiting for this since the Back to School sale!  I can't wait to do some shopping and I am thinking maybe you can't either. I plan on doing some shopping on Black Friday for the things I need for next week.  So, if you are a planner this is the sale for you!


In honor of Black Friday, I am joining a whole bunch of my blogging buddies, and putting my entire TPT store on sale on Friday, November 29!

On Friday only, you can save 20% off

 of every single product!

If you choose to wait for Cyber Monday and Tuesday you'll receive an additional 10% off with the code CYBER, this is just an option for those of you who want to shop early so you can get it prepped for next week!

Join us for a Black Friday Sale for 20% off all the items you need to get prepped this weekend!

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

6 Random Things!

Whew!  I have not technically blogged in about a month.  Why not?!  I have been UNBELIEVABLY busy!! So I am going to break this down into 6 random parts?  Greatness has been happening in my classroom.  I am officially in <3 with 1st grade!!!  So here it goes....

1. "I love my costume.  I love my costume.  I love my costume.  I love my costume."  Why am I singing that?  Only because my firsties are!  They are in LOVE with one groovy blue cat with a name that rhymes with feet!  I honestly hear at least one version of the totally awesome books 5 times a day!  They said to me one day, "hey, why don't we write our own book!"  Ummmm are you kidding me?!  Did they just throw a golden opportunity into my lap!  Yes, they did!  I went home and got to work.  I purchased the Kitty Cat Line Art bundle from Melonheadz.  Have I mentioned how A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E it is?  I created a slew of writing papers and several different book covers to go with some of the different holidays.  Grab them HERE.  

My kiddos could NOT contain their excitement when I showed them what I did over the weekend.  So we started by reading 3 of the books and naming some of the similarities between the 3 books.  Can I just say why can't my principal walk in and do an evaluation on a day like this?!  I am not kidding you when I say they were 100% ENGAGED!  When does that happen?  I only read a few pages from each book.  When I started they were all sitting in their seats.  The next thing I know they are all surrounding me, reading along, and dancing to my singing howling.  (On second thought maybe it was a good idea he didn't pop in.)  We sat back down and they were all naming the common themes in the books. OMG!  I was in teacher heaven!  We later moved on to brainstorming what adventures Groovy Cat could go on during Halloween.  Then we started plotting out what could happen at the beginning, middle, and end.  I was typing everything, but they were doing all of the thinking.  Everyday they were so ecstatic to work on their stories. 

I am still dumbfounded by their engagement!  The end result was truly priceless.  They ask every person who walks in the room if they can share.  Even my strugglers are getting in on the action and reading fluently!  Best teaching moment ever!

2.  We have been busily packing at my school.  Our BRAND NEW SCHOOL will be completed in a few weeks.  We got a sneak peek of A classroom a few weeks ago.  

They honestly took us through the end wing doors, so we couldn't see anything else.  I am sure it is a safety thing, but I am sure I can dig up a hard hat somewhere.  Our movers are coming the first week of December.  EEKK!  I can NOT stop obsessing about how I am going to get it all done, where I am going to put things, or how I am going to decorate. I have been purging old things like a mad women.  Thank you TPT for making that an easy decision to make! Not a bad place to be, but it is just too much!  Stay tuned for updates on my progress.

3.  Yesterday I attended a Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop.  I am so happy that I went.  I am a pretty good writer (at least back in my elementary days I was), but I really have a hard time teaching my kids how to write.  I learned a lot of great skills that I was already able to implement into my day today.  It was pretty cool.  The teachers who went are going to pilot the program, so again stayed tuned for some more info.

4.  I hate rubber bands!  Do you?  I can remember being in middle school and one of the boys continuously snapping a rubber band against my cheek.  I can't look at a rubber band without flinching anymore.  

Well I finally found a use for them that doesn't make me flinch.  I was working on writing a sentence this morning with one of my bright boys, but he has some autistic tendencies.  He was fighting me about writing a sentence.  I told him we really needed to work on writing some good 1st grade sentences.  We needed to S-T-R-E-T-C-H them out like a rubber band.  He said, "maybe you should get a real rubber band."  You know what I did.  I marched straight over to my desk and grabbed one.  As he wrote a word I stretched the rubber band a little further.  He kept writing and I kept stretching.  I think he wanted to see it break!  Before we knew it he had a great sentence.  I am beginning to wonder if my students are smarter than me.  They sure have some great ideas!

5.  Have you heard of Whole Brain Teaching.  All I can say is I AM HOOKED!  I started the year by having them do the Class, Yes call and answer.  It worked ok.  Then I watched some of Farrah Shipley's videos on YouTube and I realized I was NOT giving it the good college go.  

So I recently tried again.  My dear firsties are turning into some little angels.  Today my homework assignment from Farrah was to create a scoreboard.  One side had a happy face and the other a sad face.  I gave them a point if I like what I saw.  
Picture Courtesy of Mrs. Shipley's Fabulous Firsties

I put a point on the sad face if I was not pleased.  I explained my expectations after a very curious boy asked what it was when I added a couple of points.  They worked so hard all day just to say they are smarter than second graders!  GENIUS!! I am going to be involved in a book study and I seriously can't wait to begin!

6.  Halloween was ages ago, but I thought I would share a picture of my family.  Funny story about my son's costume.  Months ago Gavin told us he was going to be a banana for Halloween.  I really have no clue where that came from.  Maybe because he eats a banana every morning?  Anyway, he did not budge from this at all.  He also told us Norah (his sister) was going to be a pickle.  This did not dawn on me then, but he HATES pickles with a passion.  We tease him all the time about it.  The other night I put one on top of his burger and he yelled out, EWWWW!  It was hysterical!  So it makes me wonder how he feels about his sister.  So we went shopping for the banana and the one we found just did not fit him right.  His head kept going down and all you could see was his hair.  It just wasn't happening.  We came across Darth Vader and it was like he never wanted to be a banana.  He was set!  There just happened to be a Yoda costume too.  My husband was in NERD heaven when he saw what we came home with.  My husband and I joined in on the action too. 

 It was a fabulous Halloween!  

We had a costume fashion show.
I think I was meant to work the runway!

Thank you for reading all the way to the end of this.  I will give away 2 copies of my Groovy Cat Writing Pack to the first 2 people to comment on this post!  (Please keep in mind in my photos I used the real name of groovy cat, but for copyright purposes I needed to change it to Groovy Cat.)



Happy Bloggy Birthday to Me!

Wow!  One year!  This last year has been so much fun and so rewarding.  I have met so many fantastic new people through blogging and I truly have stepped up my teaching game because of them.   Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to follow me.  It really truly means so much!  I can only hope that I can continue to share exciting happenings in my classroom and life.

As a thank you I want to give you my whole store!  Yes, you heard that right!  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Closer Look at Daily 5!

This week was pretty awesome for me!  I felt like a pioneer of sorts.  I am of course not going to tell you things that haven't been or aren't being done at this moment.  I am not the idea maker here, but regardless I would like to share with you exactly how my Daily 5 rotations run.  The reason I am doing this?  My old 2nd grade team is ready to move to their next step in Daily 5 and they were asking me for advice.  So I thought others would like to hear about it too.  This can get a little confusing, so I will try to be a VERY clear (at least clearer than mud).  It is so much easier than I will probably make it sound.  So here is a peek at my Daily 5 day...

My students arrive around 8 and straggle in until about 8:10.  During this time they are unpacking, turning in notes, signing up for lunch, sharpening pencils, and doing Morning Work.  Morning Work lately has been Word of the Day papers, but in the past I have had students do sentence editing or a few problems from the Mountain Math board.  I don't give them much because I want to be able to start AT 8:30 on the dot.  When they have completed their Morning Work they grab a Daily 5 Rotation Stick and choose which order they would like to do rotations in.  The only 2 rotations I have pre-determined are Listening Center (because I can only have 4 there at a time) and Meet with the Teacher.  I have included Meet with the Teacher instead of Work on Writing for now.  When I add Work on Writing I am going to take out Read to Self. Why?  I am ok with this because each student goes into Read to Self as soon as they are done making their Daily 5 choices on their sticks.  I do have a few kiddos that are still doing Morning Work at 8:30, so they don't get to go to Read to Self, but those are the ones who struggle reading by themselves anyway.

OK so it is 8:30 and my 2 aides have arrived.  I mentioned this in another post, but one is my normal classroom aide.  She is in my room for 45 minutes.  The other one is there to assist my 2 IEP kids, but she is so flexible and willing to take on an extra kiddo in her group.  My classroom aide takes my 3 kiddos that need an extra eye.

At 8:30 I have everyone transition back to their desks.  Transitions are SUPER DUPER important to practice a ton!  They need to hear your cue and move immediately.  I begin with a mini lesson.  How do I choose which mini lesson?  We just adopted Journey's and they provide a focus wall. 

I generally use only this to choose from.  I have pretty much eliminated all other use of the teacher's manual.  So at the beginning of the week I take a look at the focus wall and I decide what I am going to cover  and how many times I should do it.  So for example, yesterday our first mini lesson was on editing sentences.  So I did a QUICK blurb on editing marks and did an example on ELMO.  Then we broke out to Daily 5 Rotation #1.  I say, "Rotation #1".  They grab their sticks and look where they are going first in Daily 5.  While the other kids are doing Daily 5, I have 3 small groups going.  My classroom aide, my special education aide, and myself are all working on the same activities plus I have a 2nd activity because I am meeting with all other groups.  This particular one yesterday we were all using Farrah Shipley's AMAZING AMAZING new unit called, Fall Fun Sentence Editing Unit

Each of the adults has a large bin where I throw everything that we will need for the day.  I put 3 of Farrah's incorrect sentences, her editing marks cards, and dry erase sleeves in each bin.  In my group I gave everyone a sleeve with a sentence inside.  They had to work independently to find the mistakes.  In the other two groups they worked together to find the mistakes.  I could not believe how well they did.  They were so proud when they found everything.  I even had several of them asking to do it again!  So I had them switch sleeves and give it another go.  The excitement over these editing sentences created a buzz in my room.  They were having fun AND learning at the same time.  I LOVED it!  Honestly, it could not have been better.  You seriously need to head over to TPT right now and check it out!

Now it is about 8:55 or 9:00 and I bring the kids back together for our 2nd mini lesson.  Yesterday, I reviewed r blends and -ip family words.  This mini lesson was really quick because it was the 2nd or 3rd time we had talked about it this week.  I sent them back for Daily 5 Rotation #2.  This time I had a new group, but my aides had the same kids.  (These kiddos need constant attention).  We read the decodable reader together that comes with our series.  After we read it I had the students use highlighters to find all of the r blend words and -ip family words.  They go ga-ga over highlighters!    My group not only did the decodable readers, but the Fall Fun Sentence Editing stuff too.

9:15 my aides leave and I have the students come together for one more mini-lesson.  We were working on Main Idea and Details this week, so I used the Journey's projectable web.  We talked about our weekly story and worked together to find the Main Idea and Details of the story.  They did an incredible job!!!  I love being able to see so much growth with them so quickly!  I sent them off to 3rd rotation.  I met with my 3rd small group.  Again I worked on sentence editing and decodable readers.  My two groups that worked with my aides are now doing normal Daily 5 activities.  We work until about 9:30 ish then stop for a restroom break.

When we come back we are done with Daily 5 for now.

We start up again at 10:15 because this is when RTI begins.  I send EIGHT kids out of the room to meet with reading specialists.  That leaves 12 kids.  I don't do mini-lessons during RTI.  They go straight to 4th rotation.  I meet with my last group.  Again I am doing sentence editing and the decodable reader.  At about 10:30  I send them all to rotation #5.  I do not have a group.  I need to start progress monitoring students, so I may use this time to fit one in a day OR I can meet with individuals to reinforce something they may be having difficulty on.

I hope this gives you an idea on how my classroom looks and as always I am more than happy to answer questions.  It helps me reevaluate and make changes to better suit my students.


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