A New Improved Santa Activities & Crafts


A New Improved Santa is a story about staying true to yourself and makes a great read aloud near Christmas. Today I'm here to share some ideas for using this book in your classroom!

If you aren't familiar, here's a blurb about A New Improved Santa:


This story goes into detail about the changes Santa makes each month of the year. I thought it would be fun to capitalize on this with a sequencing cut and paste activity.

I have also included a variety of comprehension activities to choose from.  There are comprehension question cards and matching written response pages. There are graphic organizers for both a retell and summary. My students always love to spin and retell the story elements because it feels more like a game!

Since my students are very familiar with writing friendly letters at this point of the year, I thought it would be fun to keep things fresh and exciting. We pretend we are the reindeer and elves and brainstorm all of the things we love about Santa. Then we compare how Santa was acting in the story. After writing a letter, students can add either an elf craft or reindeer craft to their letters.


For vocabulary practice, I like to print up the cards and put them in a jar. We play a game called Santa Charades. After we've studied and practiced the words, I let students come to the front of the room. They can either act out the word or give clues and the other students have to guess the word.

You can find all of these activities here:

Happy Teaching!

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Teachers That Give


I'm so thankful you have chosen to stop by today. I'm teaming up with some fabulous bloggers for this Teachers That Give blog hop! I'm so thankful for the teaching community and am thrilled to have an opportunity to give back. Today I have a new reading craft to share with you and a chance to win a $25 TpT gift card!

As your students are reading and responding to literature this month, you can use this gift craft to keep things fresh and exciting.

When opened, these little gifts reveals five spaces where students can respond to their text. I have included lined templates and blank templates which students can mix-and-match.

Here's a look at how I fold each flap in to create the final product.

And the final product:
Because this is a gift craft, I have also included printable gift tags. These can be printed on colored paper to keep things festive.
(P.S. If you use Scholastic book points to buy books for your students, these could easily be added to your gifts!)

Each of these gifts can be made using 9x12 construction paper and the printable templates. You can also grab 12x12 scrapbook paper and cut them down to size. I used the excess strips of scrapbook paper to create a decorative wrapping to the outside of the gifts.

You can find the templates, directions, and reading response ideas for this FREE reading craft in my TpT shop.

Now that you've grabbed your freebie, you can also enter to win a $25 TpT gift card! This one will end on Friday, December 2nd.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out these blogs for seasonal ideas, freebies, and even more chances to win gift cards!
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Happy Teaching!

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Turkey Trios (Freebie for 3-Addends)


 Are your students working on finding the sum of 3-addends this month? Here's a great way to get your students up and moving during math time!

If you are a Common Core classroom, 3-addends is a first grade standard: 
CCSS 1.0A.A.2: Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem. 

However, my 2nd grade students still saw 3-addends in their daily work when using our curriculum materials. We focused on strategies for solving (look for tens partners, doubles, number neighbors, etc.). Most of my students were able to tackle these problems, but some still needed more practice so I put together these Turkey Trios.

There are three ways I have used this product in my own classroom in order to meet the needs of my students: whole group, small group, and independent work.

 When the whole class needed practice, I printed the cards onto colored cardstock, cut them, and placed them around the classroom. Students carried their recording sheets on a clipboard and completed the task cards at their own pace. When students finished, I could quickly check their work using the answer key and send them back to make corrections, as needed.


When I only had a handful of students that needed practice, I could work with them at the back table. Instead of having the students walk around the room to work, I had the cards on a ring. We could tackle each card together and focus on which strategies to use. This was a perfect time to offer tools like number lines and 20-frames.


I have also used these cards for independent practice. When printing, I select to print 4 per page. This way the students have all of the cards and the recording sheet in one place while they work. I had students color in the turkey feathers used and then record the numbers on the recording sheet form.


You can grab this freebie here:

Happy Teaching!

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5 Tips for Successful Conferences


Conferences are a great time to connect with families, but they can be stressful! Here are some tips I keep in mind every time I'm getting ready for conference week.


It can be very frustrating to put time and effort into preparing for a conference where the family doesn't even show up! One of the best ways to ensure your families make it to their conference is to send out more than one reminder. 

Whether you are discussing student behaviors, work habits, or academic progress, make sure you have student work samples and assessment data to back it up! You might even grab a copy of the previous report card just in case.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to start and end with a positive.  Families need to know that you care about their child and see them in a positive light.

Everyone's time is valuable! Keep a checklist of all of the items you need to discuss during each conference and use this checklist to keep yourself on track. Save time at the end for questions or concerns. If a family shows up late or there are more concerns than you originally thought, offer to schedule another conference on a different day. If you let one conference run over, it will have a domino effect on the rest of your day!

Take notes on any questions or concerns brought up during the conference. When families offer tips or suggestions that have worked in previous years, write them down! You will thank yourself later when some of the conversations begin to fade and your notes will remind you of all of the items you promised you would follow-up on.


One last thing to keep in mind as you approach any conference:

Have a great day!

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The Very Stuffed Turkey (Turkey Craft & Book Companion)


Are you still looking for a great read aloud before Thanksgiving? You should grab a copy of The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah!  

If you aren't familiar, here's a little more about this story:


Picture books are an amazing resource to introduce vocabulary words and to check for comprehension. The amount of text and content is manageable and the pictures support your struggling readers. You will find vocabulary word cards as well as a match-up page in this pack. You'll also find comprehension questions that can be used for group discussion or for students to respond to in writing. I also like to review story elements of picture books. Often I will give each table group a spinner and have the students work together to identify the elements.

After reading I like to deepen our connections with the text using writing prompts that get my students thinking about and beyond the text. I have the students glue their prompts into their notebooks. By the end of the year, these notebooks become a wonderful way for students to see how much they have grown as readers during the school year.

This book is jam packed with verbs! I love using this sorting activity to make sure my students can identify and distinguish the verbs from familiar nouns used in the text.

If you're looking for that something extra, you'll have to check out this turkey craft that doubles as a reading or writing response booklet!  There are three writing templates included: full sheet of lines, half a sheet of lines, and a blank template. You can pick and choose which template will work best for your readers!




You can find all of these resources here:

Happy Reading!

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The Littlest Pilgrim (Book Companion Freebie)


The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty is a sweet little story about friendship that I love to read before Thanksgiving. Here are some resources you can use in your classroom, too!

If you aren't familiar with the story, Mini is the littlest Pilgrim in her village. She is too little to sew, too little to bake, and too little to fish. But she's not too little to make a friend!


Because this story is short, it is the perfect opportunity for my students to practice summarizing. We use the frame Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then to guide us:
There is a student printable for this included in the pack.


I often use comprehension questions to check for understanding and writing prompts to have my students respond to the text. These cards are perfect because I can pick and choose the questions or prompts I want and students glue them into their black and white notebooks: 

You can find all of these resources in this mini book companion
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Happy Reading!


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Substitute Creacher Book Activities


It's October and Halloween is probably on the minds of most of your students. Your students are starting to get comfortable and their true personalities are emerging. Combine these two and it's time to grab your copy of Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall and share it with your students! Here are some of my favorite activities to use with this story.

If you aren't familiar with this story, here's the blurb:
The trouble making students of Ms. Jenkins' class arrive at school one day to discover a substitute has come to put a stop to their monkey business! He regales them with mind-boggling stories about his former students who didn't follow the rules: Keith the glue-eater, Zach the daydreamer, and Hank the prankster, to name a few. But even this multi-tentacled, yellow-spotted, one-eyed monster's cautionary tales about the consequences of mischief-making can't seem to change the students' wicked ways until he reveals the spookiest and most surprising story of all: his own.

I always like to start by giving my students a preview of our vocabulary words and discuss predictions my students have for the text.

After reading, we revisit the vocabulary words and discuss their meaning. We also review the story elements together and I like to check their listening comprehension by asking questions.

During our second reading, our main focus is on the characters in the story. Mr. Creacher shares tales about the problems his former students had in class. We use these student problems to complete a cause and effect chart together as a class.

To extend this study of characters, I have my students create WANTED posters. As a group we discuss common behaviors and problems at school (without names, of course). Eventually, students identify these fictional characters with a name, age, and reason the student is wanted.

I also like to give my students a chance to draw Mr. Creacher in their response journals:

Then I let them choose one of four writing prompts to complete in their response journals:

You can find all of these resources and more here:

Happy Reading!

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