Five For Black Friday

I'm linking up on this Black Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching for one of my favorites, Five For Friday!  

We had some fun during this short Thanksgiving week writing persuasive letters.  The students wrote to their families from the perspective of the turkey that was about to be eaten for dinner.  The persuasive task?  Convince your family not to have you for dinner! I wrote about this activity in more detail in my post "Monday Made It-Just in Time for Thanksgiving" if you want to check it out for next year.

I'm so lucky that my mom comes in every week to help me in my classroom!  This week among other things, my mom helped me prepare our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast to have while we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Anyone remember what Charlie served to all his friends?

Toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jellybeans!  What everyone wants on Thanksgiving, right?  I think my students really enjoyed it, the feast and the movie.  They were cracking up at Snoopy and Woodstock's antics, which made me smile.  I don't think kids watch these anymore, and remember how much we looked forward to the one time they were on tv each year?

We started our Happy Holidays behavior incentive this week, because the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter this year (not that I'm complaining!).  It is my favorite way to give gifts to my students and get them to behave during a crazy time of year.  You can read more about it in my post "It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas (and it's giving me a headache!)".  

I've been working all week to put together my Holiday Activities Bundle.  It's not quite done yet, but it's already 34 pages long!  So far it has Holiday Sudoku, coloring pages, Bingo, a word search, a snowflake craft, and gift certificates for kids to do for family gifts.  My goal is to finish it this weekend, along with a million other things!  (I finished it! Yah!)  You can find it at my TPT Store.

Bonny is home from college for a couple days for Thanksgiving, so we got out the Christmas decorations a little early.  It's a tradition that I do the lights and the kids do the ornaments.  I don't know how my husband arranged this deal, but I know it works for him! 

After you are all done shopping out and about this weekend, make sure you hit the big sale at Teachers Pay Teachers starting Monday!  My whole store will be 20% off!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving weekend!  Don't forget to check out Five For Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching once you are home recovering from the Black Friday crowds!

Spark Student Motivation to Clean!

I'm linking up this morning with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturday!  

My motivational idea is about getting your students to clean!  I know, I know, it's not in the common core, but it's an important life skill nonetheless. 

Back when I was a teenager, my mom would never have believed I would grow up to be the neat freak that I am today.  My room was forever a disaster area with piles of clean clothes, piles of dirty clothes, books, papers, and even the occasional leftover food item turned science experiment.  So, all you parents of teenage slobs out there...there is hope for your teenager yet!

I begin on the very first day of school instilling in my students an appreciation for a clean work space.  I ask them if they like the way the classroom looks right now, and tell them how long I worked to get it looking this way.  Then I explain that it is now up to them to help me keep it looking so nice.  At the end of the day I announce, "It's time for Mystery Trash!".  I walk around and write down three things that need to be picked up or straightened.  Of course, you have to be sneaky about it, and not write it down right after you look at it.  That would be too easy.  One or two of the items will be something like a piece of paper on the floor, but the third item must be a stumper that my students would probably never notice, like this...

That Pippi Longstocking book is not straight on the book rack.  We can't have that!  After I write down the three things, I tell my students that if they find one of my three things, they get a piece of gum.  I have to make sure they understand there is no running, pushing, etc. or I honestly think that my students looking for garbage would look like shoppers at Walmart on Black Friday! 

And they're off!  Kids are picking up and straightening like their parents would never believe!  

(Okay, not everyone's motivated to clean, but this guy reads like crazy all the time!  He just finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy!)

If they are missing my Mystery Trash, I will announce, "Still two left!", so they know to keep looking.  I try to keep an eye on my Mystery Trash items, so I see who picks it up or straightens it to avoid arguments about who really did it.  On the first day of school, they never get all three items, because they have no idea the level of OCD they are dealing with!   Then I send everyone back to their seats to hear what the Mystery Trash was.  I announce the first couple and give those students their piece of gum.  Then I tell them the one that didn't get done.  "See this kleenex box?  It should be exactly in the corner of the table!"  Or what's wrong with this picture?

Come on!  The pencil cans and sharpener need to be straight and facing out!  You should hear my students groan on that first day when they hear what the third one was!  But then, they get it!  The next day they are straightening everything!  It's a beautiful sight...

I have other things I do instead of Mystery Trash too like, "When I call your group, you need to find three things to pick up or straighten and then get in line."  During afternoon bathroom break I always give them three options...take a bathroom break, sit at your seat and read, or clean!  I have even occasionally given each student a wet wipe and had a contest to see who could get their wipe the dirtiest by cleaning.

Hope these tips help you get your classroom ship shape!  Check out all the other motivational ideas at Head Over Heels for Teaching!

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas (and it's giving me a headache!)

I'm linking up today with the folks over at Blog Hoppin for their We Are Thankful linky party.  

My pile of papers to grade must be growing because this is my third post in five days!  I just couldn't resist getting in on the topic for Tuesday...Helpful Hints, what we do to get through the day without losing it!

I don't believe I am exaggerating when I say that there have been days between Thanksgiving and Christmas when I look like that poor cat by 3:30 (maybe even by 10:30)!  A few years ago I started an incentive specifically for those days counting down to Christmas break, and I am not kidding when I say that it works like a charm!  I honestly believe...It's the most wonderful time of the year!  

So, you're thinking what could possibly calm kids down when all they are thinking about is the gifts to come in the holiday season, right?  Well, that is the!  

This is how it works:

1. Count how many school days you have between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Come up with that many gifts you can give to your entire class.  They can be items you purchase like gum, candy canes, etc.  I always get my entire class mechanical pencils, erasers, things like that.  But most of them can be things that don't cost much if anything like 15 minutes to play a game (Quiet Ball is my class favorite), watching a movie, having a holiday read-in, an extra recess, a homework pass, etc.  Get the idea?

2. Number the gifts in terms of which ones you want them to earn first.  Maybe you want to start with all the freebies first.  I do some gifts that go together.  For instance, I always have "Watch a Holiday Movie".  Another gift is "Have popcorn during the movie", and a third is "Have pop during the movie".  Obviously, I don't want them to get the popcorn or pop before the movie, since that would spoil the surprise.  So, the movie would be before the popcorn and pop on my list.

3. Write each class gift on a small notecard, put it in a box, and wrap it in holiday paper.  Very important!!!  Write the number of the gift on the bottom of the wrapped box, so you will know in which order they should be earned and opened.  Now keep the presents hidden until your class earns them.  Here's how they do it.

4. Every day write HAPPY HOLIDAYS on the board.  Anytime the class is noisy or not following directions (or doing whatever you don't want them to be doing!) erase one letter.  I created a set of letters with magnets on them, because I just can't stand it if it's not cute!  So, I just remove one from the board each time.  The class must have at least one letter remaining at the end of the day.  If they do, they earn a class gift!  Hurray!  Place the gift (remember to start with gift #1) under a tree or in a special spot where all the kids can see it.  (Helpful tip within this helpful tip...I never put letters back up once they are erased.  I think that teaches kids that they can goof off, but if they are quiet for five minutes, they'll get it back.  No way, Jose!)

5. Your class will love to see this pile of presents grow day by day!  And if they don't earn one, that's ok.  I bet they will be extra good the next day.  A couple of days before Christmas break, open the gifts as a class.  I always draw name sticks to choose kids to unwrap a present, and remember to start with gift marked #1.  The student who opens the gift reads it out loud to the class.  I have had years where my whole class cheered after each gift was read!  It's so fun!

6. The last couple of days before break, schedule all the gifts that take class time like your movie, read in, extra recess, etc., and now it's a gift for you too!  Remember you can still do gifts for those last two days before break, just make them something that doesn't take time you need to schedule like a piece of candy.

If you would like to use my letters, gift ideas, mini posters, etc., you can find them at my TPT Store.

Don't forget to hop on over to Blog Hoppin' for all the other helpful hints!

Monday Made It-Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

I'm excited to be linking up again with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It, and my project is in honor of Thanksgiving!

I have to say that Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday!  I know many of you out there have to spends hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving starting at the crack of dawn.  I have thus far in my life been very spoiled on Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad carry the heavy load of providing a wonderful dinner for our family.  

In years past, it was only my parents, my husband and I, and our two kids, but now that my brother has moved back home from the Air Force, our brood has expanded to eleven, still a small number compared to the huge family feasts that I hear about from my friends.  

If I could have someone else cook it and still fit into my jeans, I would eat a Thanksgiving meal every Sunday!  One of my favorite foods in the world is stuffing, but since I discovered my allergy to wheat (and many other things), I rarely have it.  But on Thanksgiving my dad always makes gluten-free stuffing and a gluten-free pecan pie.  Yum! I'm not saying I contribute nothing to the Thanksgiving meal, but my cheesy potatoes and my gluten-free version of Famous Dave's cornbread muffins (ever had em? so good!) are easy compared to the daunting task of preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.

This week I have been working on a Thanksgiving Bundle, and I finally finished it today in between running back and forth to watch the Lions score a big win over the Bears!  How appropriate since the Lions are the originators of the Thanksgiving Day football game.

This post may contain affiliate links to products I recommend.

In my school district we are lucky enough to get a half day of school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  So, I have loved dedicating this morning to fun Thanksgiving activities.  I tweaked some of my oldies but goodies and can't wait to try them out myself this year!  I will have to come back and share some pictures with you guys later, but I can give you a heads-up on some of my favorites.

For me no Thanksgiving would ever be complete with watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!  Remember looking forward to all these shows as a kid, only being able to watch them the one time a year they were on?  The good ol' days...  Anyway some of the activities I created for my Thanksgiving Extravaganza are inspired by the feast served by Chef Snoopy in that classic video.

The first thing I do is read aloud The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola.

This tells the history of popcorn including how colonists learned to love it from the Native Americans they encountered in the New World.  Then my students and I would do the Popcorn Olympics!  I'm so excited to try out my new and improved version this year with my kids!  I think they will love it!  

Then as a grand finale to our morning we will watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and I am going to serve up a Chef Snoopy feast, including toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks, and jelly beans.  How fun is that?!  

I'm also looking forward to trying out a couple of other fun activities that I have added to my Thanksgiving repertoire for this year.  One is a persuasive writing activity.  One of my favorite picture books to read to my kids around Thanksgiving is Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson.

This humorously written story is about Sarah Hale who wrote persuasive letters to five different presidents trying to convince them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Don't you think this is a great book to show students the power of persuasive writing?  (Me too!)

We have already done some persuasive writing with close reading activities, but I wanted to introduce the idea to them of alternative views and refuting them.  Google saved me once again!  I found the books I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff.  

Both of these books are written as a series of letters from adorable Alex to his parents requesting (you guessed it!) an iguana and a new room and the letters from his parents in response.  They are the perfect way to show all of Alex's reasons he uses to try to convince his parents, their reasons for opposing his requests, and the way he refutes their evidence.  I just read these books for the first time this weekend, and I laughed out loud! I know my kids will too!

So, what I am having my students do is write a letter to their family from the point of view of a turkey, and their task is to convince them not to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. They must provide reasons of their own and then consider alternate views and refute them.  I can't wait to see what they come up with!

At Halloween my students had so much fun with the Boodoku puzzles I created I decided to make a Thanksgiving version.  These are available separately or as a part of my bundle. The only problem was I just couldn't come up with another catchy name...bummer.  Any ideas?

Well, those are just a few of the things in my Thanksgiving Bundle.  Here's a preview of some of the other goodies you can find in it.

If you would like to check it out, you can find it at my TPT Store.  

Have a great week, and make sure you stop by 4th Grade Frolics to see what everyone else has been up to in Monday Made It!

Five for (Thank goodness it's) Friday!

Is it a bad sign if I feel like every week was a long, tiring week?  Last week Halloween...this week conferences!  But that does mean no school tomorrow! I know one of my students was feeling the same way when he said, "I like to think of today as TGITH (Thank goodness it's Thursday)!"

I'm feeling a bit crazy blogging after a full day of school and an evening of conferences, but I hate not to make my goal of one blog post a week.  So, I'm linking up with one of my favorites, Five for Friday by Doodle Bugs Teaching.

This is the table right outside of my door.  For some reason I came in Wednesday morning and felt the need to hurry up and make some cute signs for it.  Why do I do that to myself when I have a million other things to do?!

I decided to become a picture taking fool this year and create an ever-changing scrapbook page on the window right outside of my classroom.  At conferences parents were able to take a look at the pictures from our Halloween festivities of last week.

Once I have new scrapbook pages to put on the window display, I take the old ones down and add them to this scrapbook.  Normally I keep it in the classroom on the marker board ledge where students can take a look at it.  For conferences, I set it on the table outside my room so waiting parents had something fun to look at.  I was thinking at the end of the year I would make sure all students get to take home at least one of the pages to keep.  

All of my students have a goal of reading 32 books this year, something I tried for the first time last year after reading the inspiring The Book Whisperer.  At conferences this week I communicated to parents how many books their child had completed so far towards the 32 book goal.  

My free set includes a progress report for the midpoint and end of each marking period along with a certificate of completion for reaching their goal.  Check it out at my TPT Store!

Don't you love it when you cross things off your to-do list?  This week I finally got these anchor charts finished and hung up.  

Whenever we finish a read-aloud book, I have my students complete a "The Books We've Shared" Response Sheet.  The students come up with a theme and author's message for the book and give it either a thumbs up or thumbs down rating.  

You can grab this response sheet for free at my TPT Store.  It also comes with the cute bookworm (love him!) and thumbs up/down graphics for your anchor chart.  

Then I have my students work in pairs or small groups to write a summary of the book.  I tell them that I will choose the best summary to write on our class anchor chart.  This really motivates them to do their best, and they can't wait to hear which group's summary has been chosen!  

You can find my Character Trait, Theme, Author's Message, and Summary Graphic Organizers Set at my TPT Store.

Start your great weekend by checking out Five For Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching!