Five for Friday-December 18

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I'm linking up today with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

I love having window boxes, but I wasn't sure what I could put in them for the holidays.  Thank goodness the in-laws have plenty of evergreens!  I sent Jake over to cut off a bunch of branches and then just tucked some lights in with them, cheap and easy!

I don't know what I was thinking last weekend, but I completely redid my Christmas tree!  I went shopping with a friend and fell in love with ornaments at Restoration Hardware.  They were on sale, and I couldn't resist!  Later, Timm and I went out and got a little tree for the ornaments that the kids made when they were little and put that on top of the entertainment center.

I was so excited to get started on a project last week that I have wanted to do with my kids for a few years. I was inspired by one of my grade mates, who makes beautiful sequined ornaments with her class every year.  Last year I was out and about the day after Christmas and saw styrofoam ornaments for half off at Walmart.  I grabbed a basket full and vowed I would make them with my kids the following year!

I arranged all the sequins, seed beads, and pins in this handy organizer.

You also need some rubber bands to get started.  If you want to make the ornament with the horizontal stripes, then you place a rubber band around the middle (like the Equator) of the ornament. Use the rubber band as a guide to keep your row straight.  Don't put the sequins over top of it.  You can pull the rubber band off when the first row is done.  The next row will just overlap the row that's already finished.  Do at least two rows of each color of sequins.  

If you want to make your ornament with four sections, like the one on the right above, you start with a rubber band vertically around the ornament.  

You place a seed bead on your pin (3/4 inch) first and then the sequins.  After you do the first vertical line around, you wrap the rubber band around the ornament on the opposite side.  This divides the ornament into four equal sections which you can then fill in with different colors.  The trick is to make sure you overlap the sequins so no white is showing.  I drew a diagram on the board to show the kids that they should overlap, almost looking like fish scales.  

I couldn't believe how quickly the students progressed on their project!  We took one 45 minute class period to get everyone started.  Then I told the students that they would have to work on their ornament whenever they finished other work.  We kept the ornaments and materials they were using on plates which they stored on the counter.  When they finished work, they would go get their plate and get back to work!  I kept the organizer with the supplies on a separate counter, and the kids would come and replenish their supplies whenever they needed to. 


By the end of the week, about half of the class was already finishing up!

On Friday I let the kids who were finished take their special gifts home in gift bags I had picked up at JoAnn's the day after Thanksgiving. 

I'm sure they will make beautiful additions to the family Christmas trees at home!

If you want to try this project with your kids, here's a few helpful pieces of information.  Use 10mm sequins; anything smaller will take too long.  Use 3/4 inch sequin pins.  The best deal I found for pins was on Etsy.  Each ornament took about 300 sequins, seed beads, and pins.  I bought a couple packages of seed beads, but haven't had to crack open the second one yet.  Unfortunately, it doesn't tell you how many beads are in a package.  The best deal I found for sequins was at Hobby Lobby. Now that I know this, I'm going to buy them throughout the year using the online coupon each time. 

I don't know if anyone else out there is in the same sorry boat as we are in my school district, but today wasn't our last day of school before break!  We still have to go to school on Monday and Tuesday next week.  Believe the kids are done....actually, the teachers are too!  Today in Social Studies I showed a great National Geographic movie about Jamestown.  Boy, did it have their attention!  The video includes realistic reenactments in addition to footage of archaeologists examining the actual bones of Jamestown colonists.  It's fascinating!

I bought the video at Amazon.  You can find it there by clicking on the picture below.

We ended our day today by opening all the gifts the kids had earned from me.  You can read more about that here.  It's so fun to see how each group reacts when the gifts are opened.  The kids this year quietly clapped after each gift was announced.  They are so good!

Does anyone else have to go to school next week?  I'd love to hear from you!  Misery loves company! Don't forget to check out all the other Five for Fridays at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

'Tis the Season for Giving

I'm linking up again today for Unwrapping Classroom Holiday Ideas with Focused on Fifth!

Today's topic is...

You can look at this topic in two ways, the gifts you give your students and the gifts they give each other.  I give my students gifts that they earn based on a classroom behavior incentive that starts right after Thanksgiving.  You can read all about that in a previous post by clicking here.  

So, in this post I'm going to talk about an idea for how your students can exchange gifts with each other.  Many, many moons ago when I first started teaching, I did a traditional gift exchange where each student brought a small gift for another student.  This never really worked out well as some students were inevitably disappointed by what they ended up with.  For many years I didn't do a student gift exchange at all.  Then my buddy across the hall shared a great idea that I did for the first time last year.  

Here's how it works...Somewhere in your classroom, hang a stocking for each of your students.  My friend has each student bring in a stocking from home.  The thought of thirty completely different, mismatched stockings hanging up for weeks makes my palms sweat so a couple years ago I ventured out the day after Christmas and bought thirty matching stockings for half off at Walmart.  I put the names on with large sticky labels so that I can reuse them year after year.

Then I send a note home with the kids telling parents that if they would like they can send in a small gift for each student such as a piece of candy, a sticker, a pencil, etc.  The students can start bringing them in at any time.  When they do, I have them stay with me when the rest of the class goes off to lunch and we secretly fill the stockings!

The students get to empty out their stocking as one of the stations at the holiday party!  They seemed to have a lot fun with this last year, and as you can see, we've already begun filling our stockings this year!  

Be sure to check out all the other holiday gift ideas for the classroom!

Catching the Holiday Spirit!

I'm linking up once again today with Focused on Fifth for Unwrapping Classroom Holiday Ideas!

Today's topic is...

Normally the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can wear on the nerves of the most patient of teachers, but I love this time of year in my classroom!  A number of years ago I started a special holiday behavior incentive with my class, and it works every year, even with the most difficult of groups.  

Every day I put HAPPY HOLIDAYS on the board.  If the class is not following directions, not working quietly, not lining up without talking, whatever...I remove a letter.  Once letters have been removed, they can not be earned back.  If the class has at least one letter left at the end of the day, they earn a present for the class which goes under the tree.  

In each gift is something written on a card that the whole class receives.  Some of the gifts are special privileges, some are activities, some are things I have bought (I'd rather not be specific in case any of my kids read this!).  The gifts are opened a day or two before the last day of school before holiday break.  This allows me to plan all of the special activities they have earned those last couple days. I'm sure all of you can think of things you and your kids would rather be doing the last day or two before school is out besides the regular curriculum!  Especially years like this one where we go back to school for Monday and Tuesday of Christmas week.  Ugh!  But the gifts they earn end up being gifts for me too as I don't have to do too much regular teaching (if any!) those couple days.  

The kids love to see the presents begin to pile up under the tree, and they are quick to get after each other about being quiet and following directions.  Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing!  Have I ever had a class that lost all their letters in a day?  Absolutely!  I make sure my kids know that gift is no longer able to be earned.  The class is always much better behaved the next day.  That is why I don't allow them to earn letters back once they are gone.  I don't believe in giving them back just because they choose to be good at the end of the day.  

It is so much fun when the class finally gets to open the presents!  I draw name sticks to decide who gets to open them.  The student I draw comes up to get the next gift, opens it, and reads the card to the class.  Usually the kids cheer when they hear what the gift is!

This is such an easy plan to implement!  Just come up with gifts for the number of days you have until the winter break, write them on cards and put them in gift bags or boxes, and write Happy Holidays on the board.  I do have a bundle I put together with 5 mini posters, Happy Holidays letter set, Merry Christmas letter set, 21 gift cards, blank gift cards, holiday bookmarks, homework passes, and 3 coloring sheets as well as a complete set of directions in my TPT Store.  

I hope the days you have left until your winter break fly by!  Be sure to check out all the other management tips to keep your students on track!

December Pick 3

It's time once again for Pick 3, the best way to get a head start on finding the best ideas on Pinterest!

My first pin is from Tawny's Tid Bits, and it's something I've wanted to do with my kids for years!

Click on pic to go to original pin

One of my grademates has been making beautiful ornaments like these with her class for a long time, and I was bound and determined to do them this year!  Be sure to check back later in December and I will share how they turn out!

My next pin is from Martha Stewart.  I love these ornaments that you make with a balloon, string, craft glue, and glitter!  

Click on pic to go to original pin

My last pin is from A Beautiful Vibrant Life...

Click on pic to go to original pin

This post has many great ideas for Minute to Win It games for your holiday party, and many of them, like the Snowball Toss, could be fun additions to a classroom party!

I hope you find tons of great ideas in this month's Pick 3, and be sure to link up three of your own!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I'm linking up today with Focused on Fifth for Unwrapping Classroom Holiday Ideas!

Today's topic is...

My favorite craft to make this time of year is snowflakes!  I hang them up in the room and don't take them down until the first day of spring (though in Michigan we sometimes still have snow after that!).  But by then we are all sick of the sight of snow.  

There are two different types of snowflakes I have made with my students, and they both turn out great.  The last few years I have made snowflakes like this...

I found a great tutorial that gives step by step instructions that you can watch below.  

The kids really enjoy making these and they don't take very long to put together.

Last year, we added a little color to our snowflakes.  Sorry about the bad was the only one I could find.  But you get the idea.

The other snowflakes I like to make are from Martha Stewart.  Click on the picture below to see Martha's step by step instructions on how to make this beautiful snowflake.

It's been a few years since I have done this type of snowflake with my students, so I don't have any pictures.  But I am planning on making these with my kids this year.  In fact, I just went to Gordon's Food Service today and bought the white paper bags.  They come in packages of 500 there!  Be sure to stop by later in December.  I'll be posting pics of our snowflakes when we get them done!

Check out all the other great holiday art projects!

Five for Friday

I'm linking up on this Black Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

We have been visited almost every day lately by our three sandhill crane friends.  It's really cool if you happen to catch them flying in.  Their wing span is huge!

There's nothing like the first big snow fall of the season to get you in the holiday spirit!

The day before Thanksgiving we did some writing about all the things we are thankful for and used them to create this art project.  My kids did a really nice job!

This project is a freebie you can grab in my TPT Store!

We also enjoyed a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast, one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions!  Bonny was kind enough to come in this year and help me prepare the goodies!

We started reading Wonder about a week ago, and I just happened to get my copy of R.J. Palacio's new book Auggie & Me from our book order about the same time.  In with the order was information about the Certified Kind Classroom Challenge.  This sounded like a great thing to do to accompany our Wonder unit.  The idea is to challenge your students to do kind things for others.  Each time they do, you put a marble in a jar.  When the jar is full, you take a picture of it, send it in, and become part of the Certified Kind Classroom Registry.  

I knew the perfect place to introduce this project to my students...on Auggie's first day of school right after the chapter where Mr. Browne introduces his first precept to the class, "When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind".  I just had to figure out how I was going to handle the logistics of the challenge and get everything ready by the next day when I would be reading that chapter to the class!  A quick trip to the dollar store and I had everything I needed!

I decided to have my students record all their acts of kindness in small notebooks.  

Whenever they wrote something in their notebook, they were to place them in the basket.  

I chose a student to be my Kindness Ambassador (a job almost everyone wanted!).  Throughout the day, she reads what students have written in their notebooks and stamps them with a blue stamp to make sure they don't get counted twice.  She keeps a tally sheet of all the acts of kindness that have been done and gives me the total at the end of they day.  Then I put the marbles in the jar...

On our first day we had 51 marbles, representing 51 acts of kindness!  You can find all the information about the challenge here.  

Be sure the check out all the other Five for Fridays at Doodle Bugs Teaching!