Currently, January

There is something so peaceful about baby snores.  Sometimes just watching your baby's chest rise and fall with a little snoring sound can bring your whole world to a stop, but warmth to your heart.

We did it...again.  We traveled to two sets of grandparents homes to celebrate Christmas.  We say we'll never do it again, but it continues to happen.  This year we did dig our heels in a bit and allowed our kids to be home on Christmas morning.  Either way, the drive home yesterday was filled with freezing temps (20 degrees or lower), but sun rays for the entire drive.  Today is just as wonderful as I'm stuck inside catching up on laundry.  A girl can at least daydream out the window, right?

I only get to see my side of the family two times a year unless someone heads over our way to visit us.  The time together is never long enough, but it's nice to just veg out with family.

Our house is a DISASTER.  It's a combination of a toddler, infant, two dogs that shed, a hubby who works super long hours, and a mommy who just doesn't have the time or energy to clean.  However, I have the itch to clean and purge.  It never lasts long, so it will be nice to dig into the closets and dressers and get things out while I still have the motivation to do so!

Over break I started reading a book that was a last minute pick because all of the other books on the waiting list weren't available.  I started My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni.  It has all of the ingredients I need for a book: murder, mystery, suspense, twists & turns, etc.  It also takes place in Washington.  I'm almost to the end and I need to finish!

Yes - Maybe - I Wish
Yes - Acceptance
I knew losing baby weight was hard.  I already had to do it once.  I am beginning to accept that it will take even longer than planned after baby #2.  I am beginning to accept that I need to start with baby steps and mini changes now until we have a working schedule for our family.  I am beginning to accept the new me....not improved, just different.  Change is hard, but I'm learning to accept it a little more each day.  Acceptance is my yes for 2015!

Maybe - Forgiveness
I'm not sure if forgiveness is the right word or maybe I need to channel my inner Elsa and belt out, "Let it Go!"  I need to quit dwelling in the past and forgive myself for the things I cannot change.  This one is a work in progress.  Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't.   

I Wish - Adventure
Starting new projects and adventures is always exciting, but also nerve wracking.  We have a lot of exciting changes happening for our family in 2015.  I can only wish and hope these changes live up to our dreams and expectations!

Happy New Year to you all!  Don't forget that there's only a couple of days left to enter my giveaway:

A Little After Christmas Giveaway

In case you missed it....

Yep, that giveaway is happening right now.  We're halfway through the celebration, so I thought it was time for a little giveaway fun.

If you can guess which of the following items my daughter did NOT receive for Christmas, you can choose a FREE product from my store ($5 or less).

 Pancake Pile-Up Game:

 Toy Golf Clubs:

Disney Princesses:

Dora and Alana:

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Pals:

To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject heading Christmas Gifts 2014.  In the message, leave me your answer AND the product you would pick (click here to shop my TpT store).  Do NOT leave your answer in the comments.  Please have your answer submitted no later than Thurs. Jan 1st at 9 a.m. PST.  Only one entry per person.  I will announce the winners here on Thurs., but I will send the prizes via e-mail.  Good luck!  

Oh, and if you're still reading, you can click here to grab a little freebie.

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! first official TpT milestone was reached and I'm ready to celebrate.  I'm hosting a little giveaway and I'd love for you to enter.  There will be little giveaways here and there throughout the week, but for the GRAND PRIZE, I'm offering up a $25 TpT gift certificate to the lucky winner. Just use the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck! 

Warming Up to Winter (Even MORE Ideas for January)

I know some of you are already dreaming of your perfect Christmas....or at least counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until you are on break, right?  Don't forget to get some last minute things ready so you aren't scrambling when January arrives.  Here are some of my favorite January resources and a few new alternatives I have found, too.  I hope you can find something great!

Most people are familiar with making snowflakes during January, but I love to add a pop of color to the tradition and create a rainbow blizzard.  You will need coffee filters, food coloring, scissors, water (optional), gloves (optional), and drying space.  Students fold and cut the coffee filters.  While still folded, drop food coloring around the snowflake, making sure to get both sides and sometimes pressing down on the flake so it goes through the center sections (hence the reason for the gloves).  You can also spray some water to help.  I will tell you that limiting the kids to 2 colors really helps to get the WOW effect.  Oh, and since coffee filters are so cheap, I often let the kids make 2 snowflakes so they can experiment with different colors.

Here's the poem we use:
We were tired of winter weather,
so cold and wet and gray.
We talked to Winter's Wizard.
He made it snow a Rainbow Blizzard!

inspired by Cara Carroll and this book:

Second graders and torn paper are not always best friends.  Some get along great and others can't seem to get along with the idea of imperfect edges.  It's still a fun project, though!  One of the best management tips I can give for this one is when you are ready to begin, give your students a small Ziploc baggie to hold the torn pieces.  This way, the project can be pulled out for unfinished work throughout the day with little to no mess.

If you're looking for something just a little different, here are some great options:
Here are two crafts you can make (both free).  Courtesy of Amy Lemons & Funky Fresh Firsties.  Click on the images to grab them.

I found these quick & easy slips that students could add to their artwork to provide handwriting lines & encourage neatness (courtesy of Jen Must).

Just now I found this gem from Coconut Cuties.  It has a snowman craft, a bulletin board header, and writing papers.   WIN!!

This project inspired by Mrs. Jump's Class

It all starts with a book:

Then we brainstorm and come up with ideas of our own which I type up on labels:

This year I came across this post from The Picture Book Teacher.  You can bet I'll use this!
Compare and Contrast FREEBIE inspired by Snow Globe Family

I also noticed that Jivey did a mentor sentences pack for this book:

This pack has some pages you can use for pre-writing and summarizing, as well as a template to add to the base of a snow globe.  Thank you Anita Bremer!

Finally, I know you've seen some people use clear plastic bowls to create a snow globe, right?  I just found this freebie where the kids make a cute little storybook using the bowl inside!  The kids would LOVE to make these books (made by ProjectGals).

Another fun topic in January is penguins.  I already mentioned one penguin chapter book in the last post, but here's another activity I use:

This one started with a picture book:

I typed it up into a poem which we glued into our composition books.  We highlighted rhyming words and used the poem to practice fluency.  On a different day we did a directed penguin drawing.
  You can find these resources here and here.

Do you want to create some cute penguins, but not put yourself through the torture task of a directed drawing lesson?  Check out this penguin craft from Brinca into Bilingual Mrs Nicolau:

One of my favorite science units is introducing students to scientific experiments.  This is a very high interest unit that I begin in January.  I found this amazing pack on TpT from Kristen Smith. It's filled with a lot of great ideas for experiments where students can make predictions.

You can read more about her unit here (and other science units, too):

I know there are so many more things you could be teaching, but this covers all of the big topics I teach in January (with the exception of MLK, Jr. - he deserves a post all on his own).  Enjoy your holiday break - YOU HAVE EARNED IT!!!!

The Data Collectors

I hope you enjoyed the winter resources & freebies from my last post.  I'm still working on the second half of that one and I hope to have it posted later this week.  In the meantime, I wanted to share my newest graphing pack:

This pack is HUGE!

I included some Common Core Posters for those of you who have to post the standards you're working on: 

Here are more visuals.  Thank you Ashley Hughes for creating such a bright set of graphs!  There are two sets of each poster (one with a description at the top and one without).  The posters include tally chart, vertical bar graph, horizontal bar graph, pictograph, data table, chart, line graph, line plot, circle graph, and pie chart.  Some of the visuals are the same (data table/chart, circle graph/pie chart) so you can pick the wording you prefer. 

I included 30 survey cards.  These are great for when you want students to practice conducting a survey.  I included four different graphing & data collection sheets for students to present their findings.  One last thing is another poster that reminds students on the steps they can follow when conducting a survey. 

Next is one of my favorites: Spin, Tally, & Graph.  I love these because I can put them in sheet protectors to be re-used over and over.  I can also use them as worksheets with small groups OR in a math center. You can get different results each time they are used, too!

Another fun section for students is Count, Tally, & Graph.  This one already has the data ready to go on a bright colorful page that you can place at the math center OR project onto the screen in a whole group setting.  Students will collect and graph the data and then answer questions about the results.

We know games and centers are fun and learning is taking place, but sometimes you need a little something extra.  I added 14 worksheets.  Students read and interpret graphs OR take the data given and create a graph for the information.  There are worksheets for bar graphs, pictographs, line graphs, line plots, and circle graphs. 

The last section I added was intended for small group practice, but could easily be used in a math center or daily warm-up.  There are 16 graphs (4 to a page).  There is also a recording sheet where students must identify the graph type and interpret the information given.

This pack will be on sale for the first few days.  Grab it while you can still get a great deal.  

Warming Up to Winter (Resources & Freebies for January), Part 1

You're in the home stretch week left of teaching until a glorious break is upon you.  If you're anything like me, you want to have January resources ready and at your fingertips BEFORE you leave for break.  At the same time (if you're anything like me), there's always something you forget to do and it's hard to shut down the school brain over break. For the past couple of months I have been collecting some of my favorite monthly resources.  I'm thinking that if it helps me to have it all in one little blog post, it might help someone else, too.  So, here we go:

I think most of us know that January is the PERFECT opportunity to re-train behaviors and routines.  After all, it seems that anytime students have more than 3-4 school days off, they fall into their old habits.  They also need to build some stamina again, which means they need a few more small breaks.  It seems fitting to incorporate a quick brain break.  I know many of you use videos and other tech sites for yours, but sometimes technology isn't working correctly.  I made these a few years ago, but just recently gave the cover a little face lift (content intact):

Now, as adults we often set goals (aka resolutions) that we have great intentions of keeping, but seem to let fall by the wayside (and by wayside I mean we're over it by February).  Either way, let's get some momentum and excitement in the classroom with a little student goal setting.  Here's a quick and easy way to share resolutions with your students:
There are two versions of both images you see above.  The one on the left lends itself to younger students who may draw and label their resolutions, but I have also included one with lines for students who want to write out their resolution.  On the right, you can see a writing page with primary writing lines.  I have also included a set with standard lines.  Click here to grab this pack.

 One of our BIGGEST units of study we begin in January is nonfiction.  My absolute favorite resource for this unit was created by Hope King:

We start with an anchor chart where we sort the different features of fiction and nonfiction text:

Then we start to study each nonfiction text feature up close and add them to our anchor chart along the way.  The photos along the side of the chart are the visual "photos" we glue into our scrapbooks so the students see a connection and reminder each time they refer to our anchor chart.

Here are a few pics of our scrapbook pages from Hope's pack.  Normally I photocopy the scrapbook pages onto colored paper (as seen on the chart above), but when we need to highlight a feature, I copy on white and we use yellow crayon to draw our focus:

After we have learned several text features, my students LOVE to go on scavenger hunts, find examples, and share with the class (we use Time for Kids):
You can read more in depth about how I teach nonfiction in the classroom by clicking here.

Here are some of my favorite chapter books to read with students in small groups during the winter months.  These are all fiction, but most of them have factual information tossed into the story which helps us tie the books into our nonfiction unit.

Most of the titles are self-explanatory for the content.  I should mention that Sunset of the Sabertooth focuses on the ice age and Horrible Harry Goes Cuckoo is a great story about when the class goes stir crazy due to indoor recess.  Note - if you can't relate to indoor recess and all the craziness that follows, count your blessings!

January can also be great timing for studying Geometry.  When our district used Everyday Math, the topic always seemed to pop up in the winter.  I used this with my students.  It has a sorting activity, posters, and several options for practice pages, too:

Keeping in the spirit of Geometry, this pack has some great 2-D and 3-D shape booklets that my kids loved making.  It really helped them solidify the vocabulary for sides vs. edges, corners vs. vertices, etc.

These are my FAVORITE 3-D shapes.  It was a box I inherited and I hope it still has my name on it when I return next fall:

I also created this pack last winter and the kids loved it.  It's a freebie for practice with 3-addends:

I also use activities from this pack for both math and literacy that the kids enjoy.  The pics only show a few of the activities included, but if you click on the cover page you can take a more in-depth look at what's included:

I have one last little freebie for you.  It's a new pack I created just for my blog followers (aka - not found on TpT).  It has 12 different winter-themed writing prompts and a few different paper options.

Click here to grab your own copy.

There's SO much more that I cannot fit it all in one post without overwhelming you beyond belief.  I'll be back soon with some more great resources, ideas, & freebies, of course!  Oh, and if you liked any of the resources from my store mentioned above, you'll be happy to know that I'll keep them on sale for the next week.  Stay warm!

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