Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Kindness Elves

I have to tell you what a blessing it has been to have the Kindness Elves visit my classroom this year!
I first got the idea for the Kindness Elves to from The Imagination Tree blog. I follow Anna on Instagram and instantly fell in love with these adorable elves. I know that many teachers use the infamous Elf on the Shelf in their classroom and I have thought of it as well but I can't. Or I should say I don't feel like it would be a good fit for my students. 
My students don't all believe in Santa. 
Half of my students aren't Christian and don't celebrate Christmas. 
Some of my students might not get gifts on Christmas.
Last, I just don't like the idea of behaving good just to get presents. 
Can you imagine what it would feel like if you behaved so good only to find nothing on Christmas morning? That is the reality for some of my students. 
When I found The Imagination Tree's Kindness Elves I was intrigued and very curious. This year my district adopted PBiS and I though "kindness" that's a perfect fit. So I order my elves and I waited. When they finally arrived (They came from London people) I was so excited. 

Here is our first week with our special Kindness Elves.

Day 1: Starting Small
For the first day with our Kindness Elves I decided to ask my students to smile and/ or wave to someone new at school. It could be a student in their class or a teacher. I shared that it feels good when someone greets us and that when another person smiles at us it is hard not to smile back. We practiced and we noticed that it made us all feel good to smile. The elves also brought us our newest center, Read It, Make It, Write It Word Work
I have to admit, my students were a little underwhelmed. I quickly found out who does the Elf at home because he went on and on about how you can't touch them. Something which I am now grateful for. LOL One of them even told me that they weren't special because they are just toys. Yes people that is the world in which I live. There is very little magic in some of these kids lives. I was not deterred though. 

Day 2: Books and a Hiccup
On the second day I decided I wanted to give my students some books, so I asked them to take their new book and read it together with a friend. Easy right?
Here was the hiccup. I have 4 groups a day, 2 First grade and 2 Kinder. My first grade groups are first in my class in the morning. I like a dummy put all the books for all the groups in the bag. When I pulled out the book for the first group they demanded, that is right demanded, that I unwrap the other gifts too. I was appalled. Seriously this was about sharing and these kids felt so entitled that they wanted to open gifts meant for others. Now I was disheartened but I didn't give up. I did talk, more like lecture, my students about how they were not being kind, how their behavior was selfish and how the elves would not be pleased. I even caught a few saying "I'm sorry" to the elves later that hour. 

Day 3: Magic Pencils
On day 3 we had a writing assessment. I wanted my students to get pumped for it and do their best. I thought some new pencils would help with that. These would be "classroom" pencils and so they had to SHARE. 
This went great, the kids worked hard on their writing and didn't fight over the pencils. They thought it was wonderful to have some "magic pencils" to have in the room.

Day 4: Picking up our trash
On day 4 the elves came and picked up all of our trash! That was so kind of them. We talked about how the custodians job is to help keep our space clean, but how it is our job to clean up after ourselves. I found a tiny solo cup and picked up some actual trash from our floor to crumble up and put in the bin. 
On this day the kids were really excited, and came in the room looking all over for the elves. I was so happy they were excited. Lately my students have been leaving quite a mess on the floor. Part of it is my fault, packing too much into each hour and rushing my students. I wanted to take a step back and remind my students that is it kind to take care of our space and pick up after ourselves. So I am making time on my end, just a minute or two and reminding my students to pick up trash when I see it on the floor. They are doing a great job of cleaning up after themselves now.

Day 5: The tale of two visits

For day five, a.k.a. Friday, the elves visited my room twice. The first time was for my Firsties. He brought us pencils to deliver to other classes in our school. It made us feel so great to give something away.
The second time they visited was for my Kinder Kids. They brought a friend to visit but like the note said he ran away, which set us on our journey around the school looking for the Gingerbread Man. Great way to end my 2 week long GBM unit. :)
With the exception of one little friend, that is afraid of the "tricky" GBM this was a hit.

After a rocky start with our Kindness Elves I can honestly say that it is now a hit! I have heard students thanking the Kindness Elves when I am not looking, and even talking to them in whispers. I have one week left with them and they are already set up and ready to go for this coming Monday. One of the best parts is watching my students learn compassion, kindness and generosity. It is exactly what I want to teach and instill in my students.

Here are a few resources I have used this week.
The Kindness Elves
25 ideas for the Kindness Elves
Kindness Elves Clipart Freebie
A note from the Kindness Elves Freebie
Kindness Elves in the Classroom Freebie
Holiday Acts of Kindness Class Project Freebie
The Kindness Helpers: Bringing Kindness into your Classroom
Oh! I have also purchased the cutest little Fairy door for our Kindness Elves to make their exit with. I hinted at it on Friday and just can't wait to it to make it's debut next week. If you want to see the pictures before I can post on here follow my Instagram account by clicking below.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Read it, Make it, Write it: A Word Work activity.

Hello folks!
Today I am going to share one of my newest centers/ workstations. It was very easy and inexpensive to create.
I have been in my new class for almost 5 months now, but I am still working finding a "good" and permanent home for all my centers/ workstations. If you have ever moved rooms, you know not everything works the same way in every room. The room I am in, while the perfect size for me, it is smaller, and so I am having to find new homes for a lot of my independent work stations.

This is true for my magnetic word work station, previously on the side of a file cabinet.
and then...
but now...
Consequently this year we haven't done much with our magnet letter and our independent word work. Sad I know. Over Thanksgiving break I really worked finding a solution, so I went to my sight word Pinterest board for some inspiration. I found a few...
I wanted something portable and small.

I picked up two cookie sheets and visited a co-worker. Sometimes you just need to ask someone else for help to get some clarity. Then I came up with my new magnetic word work station.
Materials are...
Cookie sheet, washi tape, sharpies, notecards, magnetic letters and Post-It notes. 
Sorry for the lack of pictures, I am so out of blogging practice.
I just taped off the cookie sheet in 3 sections, and added a little flair with multiple colors and sizes of tape. I used an extra strip to add the directions. I took the backing off of the Post-It note pad (1 pad worked for both cookie sheets, just split it in half) so it stuck itself on to the cookie sheet. 
Kids will pick a note card with their sight word, then make it with magnetic letters, and finally write it on the Post-It 
I made two, my students work in pairs at their workstations. I plan to have my First-ies (blue words)  write multiple words on one post it, but am not sure I will do that for my Kinder Kids (pink/red words). That is a whole lot of Post-It's so I might find a way to make it write and wipe 
And now to sit and write all my sight words, color coded by grade level of course. :)
As my students would say, easy peesy, lemon squeezy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November Currently

I can't believe it is already time for a currently!
Even worse I can't believe I missed the October Currently. *sad face*
However, I am not going to miss this month. :)
Well to be honest, that movie is over now, but basically I had the tv on in the background while I was working away, so I guess I should really say I was listening to the clicking of the keys on my MacAir.
I have been a seriously bad blogger as of late. I do want to turn this around and I hope to keep up the momentum I've had this week. If you missed it, last Monday, Oct. 27, was my birthday AND my blog's birthday too. So I celebrated the whole week by posting giveaways and freebies from some of my favorite bloggers. Not going to lie, it was hard making the time to write a post each day. However, I have some ideas and pictures that I think will help keep this blog current.
I have some one near and dear to me that is suffering from depression and well I can't say that this is on my mind a lot, not just her struggle but how I deal with it too. It is hard, not just for those who are depressed but for those who have to deal with the fall out. I know that I am not going through what she is, but I am human too, my feeling get hurt, and I get angry, but when she is depressed it is like what I feel doesn't matter anymore because her need is greater than mine. :/ Anyway, that is just a bit of it, we have talked about it before, and I hope she won't be too mad at me for posting it. It is just on my mind... a lot.
So I know that it is not any where near Winter temps, but is it too much to ask for some more 60 degree, fair weather days? I mean just another week or two? I hear we had some lows in the 30's this weekend. I am glad to wear my scarves and Ugg boots, but I would't be too mad if I had to put them away for a little bit longer. Just sayin'. :)
Ok so I have really tall ceilings in my living room, and I am pretty short. There is this spider directly above my head on the celling, and I can't reach it. I just know it will drop down on my head when I fall asleep in this chair later.
I am currently taking way too long to read Cold Days, a book in the Harry Dresden series form Jim Butcher. The books are awesome, about a wizard detective in Chicago. They are purely for pleasure, and a wonderful escape from the world, when I do manage to find some time to read.
Don't forget to stop by Farley's blog to read the other Currently's

Before I go I wanted to remind you that you still have a few hours to enter the last giveaway from my week long birthday bash.
Click here
 Also the Alisha Daily lesson plan template and BB's Guided Reading template also debuted today over on A Teacher's Plan.

If you are interested they will be on sale for the first 48 hours.
That is all folks.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Birthday Bash Day 7

Wow, we have finally reached the end of my week long birthday blogger bash. 
It is day 7
and today I have brought you some fabulousness from Alisha, The Bubbly Blonde.
Little fun fact, Alisha and I are both NE bloggers and share the same birthday month! I keep trying to get her to teach in the same city and well, she isn't biting. LOL Maybe one day. :)
Ok here is the thing, I wanted to offer you something you could use now, but as I was looking through The Bubbly Blonde's TPT shop I fell in love with one of her December units. Alisha is so generous she is letting me give 3 of her products away!
I chose these next two units because I am totally still in pumpkin mode. 
As a matter a fact I have the All about Pumpkin Pack and it is one of my faves. If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen several of it's elements.

Ok, so this next unit I totally fell in love with.
I thought it would give you a heads up on the upcoming season.
For your freebies, I choose 2 of my favorite freebies from The Bubbly Blonde's TPT shop. No I realize most of you all have done apples already, but you can totally file these away for next year. They are really so dang adorable.
(My students love this as a center)
So normally this is the part where I tell you to go and show Alisha some love.
The Bubbly Blonde
Then I post a fabulous cake.
Then wish you a great day, but I have just a little bit more...
about a month or so ago I worked on two custom templates for The Bubbly Blonde, and I am reveling them today!
This is a sample of Alisha's Daly plan template. Can you guess what I will call it?
The Alisha
Then I also worked on a Guided Reading template for her. Not sure on the name for this one yet but here it is.
Guided Reading for the Blonde? Maybe.
So what do you think?
Keep an eye out on both my and The Bubbly Blonde's Face Book pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts for a chance to win yourself a copy.
Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Birthday Bash Day 6

So it is Nov 1, Halloween has come and gone but my week long Birthday bash has just a couple of days left.
For day 6 I got some help from an adorable teacher blogger, Maria from Kinder Craze.
If you've never read Maria's blog, she has some really adorable ideas and creations. Oh and her room is just beyond cute!
Today Maria has graciously agreed to give one of my readers a copy of one of her best sellers,

It is easy to see why it is a best seller and a perfect resource for the 100th day of school which is fast approaching.

For today's freebies, I couldn't pick just one. Maria has several pages of freebies in her TPT's shop. So I picked several number freebies to share today.
This freebie is so simple, bold and cute. You can use these numbers in so many way.
If your students are ready for a bit more of a challenge try these easy to make flash cards.
Another great interactive way to teach counting by 10's. Dare you to tell me your students wouldn't love this. I even bet they would copy and play during recess.
Make sure you show Maria some love on her blog too.
Enjoy your Halloween everyone.
I will be back tomorrow with the last day of my birthday giveaway, day 7!