The Little Christmas Tree and TONS of glitter!

Glitter!  Lots and lots of glitter!  I know my custodian walked into my room tonight and rolled his eyes.  I tried to clean it up....I really tried! 

We did the "easiest" little project today in our trip around the world.  Today we studied traditions in America, including Kwanza and Hanukkah.  It was a very glittery day! 

First project was decorating our Little Christmas Tree.  My mom and dad went on vacation last summer in California and brought home a TON of these little pinecones.  Actually huge pinecones. 
My mom and dad are some of my biggest supporters.  When my mom sees something she knows I can use in my classroom she grabs it up.  They brought home 65 of these babies! 

We read The Little Christmas Tree which is one of my favorite Christmas stories.  It also links back to all of our discussions about evergreens (in our science unit in October) and also the life cycle of a plant.  We did some science investigations with the pinecones a month or so ago but now it was time for some art! 
The kiddos painted them with glue and then I sprinkled them with glitter.  I tried to keep it clean.  I even had a plan....
I took a paper box from the teacher's work room and did all the "glittering" inside the box.  It worked really well until, know what happens with glitter.  When we packed up to go home they carried their adorable little "trees" all over the classroom (and common area) and got glitter everywhere!  Ugh! 

I will not be discouraged by this though.  I have some treats for my custodian so he won't be totally mad at me tomorrow.

Next up on our list was Hanukkah.  I have one little friend who was excited to share his traditions with the class.  He taught us the dreidel game and the kiddos loved playing it (and eating the chocolate!) 
Tomorrow is a a half day (cue angels singing here).  Yes, a glorious half day and then we get to start Winter break.  Can I get an amen? Being back in Kinder this year has made me appreciate breaks so much more.  I will miss my sweet kiddos over break (their daily hugs.....seriously I forgot how much Kinders like to hug) and all their constant Kinderisms.  I know that's not a word, but if you teach Kinder you know what I mean.  

Have a great break friends!  I will be relaxing (some) and also enjoying time with my family (a lot) AND working on some products for my store.  If you are waiting for Morning work, homework, or centers I hope to get them all caught up over break!  Fingers crossed! 

Have a wonderful Friday...enjoy those joyous moments with your students!

It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS! Ornament freebie :)

2 more days.....ok, really just one and a half.  I can do this! 

Are you swimming in Christmas projects?  We are too here in Kinderland and with 2 groups of half day kiddos it feels like the projects are just multiplying.  I actually get the easy part here, I'm teaching Christmas Around the World and my aide who runs the extension program (where the kids are when they are not with me) is handling all the crafts.  We have some really cute ones to share! 

A mom (not a class mom, but a super mom who always helps us out in Kindergarten) planned our family craft.  (Look away parents....I know you read these, don't ruin the surprise) 

They were actually pretty easy to do.  If you are short on time these can be done in an afternoon.  They are not quite done yet....that will still be a surprise!

They also had the 5th graders come help with gingerbread houses today. So much sugar!  I was completely impressed with what great helpers the 5th graders were. 

This was a great connection to our gingerbread man exchange through the Simply Kinder Facebook page.  We sent our gingerbread men to Texas and got some back in return.  So fun!
 I just got ours from Mrs. Irwin in Texas so we will hand them out tomorrow and take some more pictures.  I hope she got ours ok! 

All this last minute talk reminded me of a project I did last year that was easy peasy.  You can grab it here for free if you need an ornament to send home! Just click on the picture:
Yes...I changed it to say 2014 :) 

All you have to do is print it on red construction paper and cut them out.  Cut a bunch of different strips of paper (I used a bunch of old scraps from my scrapbooking days) in the 4 sizes and I had the little star punch for the top but you could cut those out too.  I put it all in a bag so they didn't have to go grab anything....

I put a school picture on the back and that was that!  It was my stress free ornament last year and they turned out really cute!

 So tomorrow we finish up our journey around the world. Click on the picture to see Simply Kinders store.  
Brazil Fireworks....
To finish this up tomorrow we have one little friend who celebrates Hanukkah and he has agreed to teach us the dreidel game.  It has been a great lesson on tolerance for all our kiddos to learn about traditions all over the world.  We have talked a lot about "same" and "different" including the weather in each country we have visited.  I can't wait for them to take their books home tomorrow and read them with their families.

I can't believe how fast the week has flown by.  I hope it slows down when break starts so it feels extra long!  Happy Holidays friends!

Christmas Around the World

What a fun day!  Who said the week before Christmas break had to be totally crazy?  
(I have this odd feeling I just jinxed myself!)

I got a great unit from Simply Kinder earlier this year and was so excited to get it started this week.  
I started the day with  Santa is Coming to Arizona.  It was a fun way to "take off" around the world.  We were able to color the covers today and travel to our first country....Germany.  We discussed Advent and traditional Christmas markets.  Later this week the kiddos are making gingerbread houses in our extension program (the part of the day when they are with an aide) so this was also a good introduction to where that tradition comes from.
Their little pages of advent wreaths were so cute! 

Tomorrow we get to go to Australia and I'm hoping to get to a couple of other countries.  It's been fun to take a break from our hectic schedule and have a little fun.  I'm going to enjoy reading books, doing some fun crafts, and spending quality time together this week! 

I hope your week is stress free and you get to enjoy your kiddos.  
Don't stress, break is almost here!

Peek at my Week December 8

I need to head into the classroom today to get some stuff done....I bolted Friday afternoon and now I am regretting it :( 

Here is a quick peek at my week! Click on the pic to see them up close via Google docs.

Here are the products I am using this week to keep everything going!

Math tubs:  STILL using Fall Friends centers.  I never got to tubs last week so we are leaving them be just in case we need them for those fast finishers! I'm hoping to get to journals a little more consistently this week too :( Last week was nuts!
For homework:
I had a couple of questions about what I do for homework.  I've been using these pages all year long.  So far I have absolutely loved them.  They are easy enough that they kiddos can complete them independently and they are a good review of what we are working on in class.  Easy peasy, and everyone is happy :) You can click on the pic to see them in my store.

Have a fantastic week!  Now it's your turn to link up with Deedee at Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten !

Half day to keep it organized!

I am in my first year of 1/2 day is a lot to take on!  I've taught Kindegarten before but only full day.  I think after a few months in 1/2 day land I have a few tricks to share!

1/2 day creates a couple of unique problems. 
Kids share seats...
Kids share materials...
Kids share everything...
(even germs)
It was a real struggle to figure all this out at the beginning of the year. 

First of all.....where do they keep all their stuff?

I found these little cups at IKEA this year and I keep 6 of them at each table.  Both groups use these crayons so they do get a little....well....used.  I switch them out quarterly which seems to be just the perfect time to start over. 

Scissors and Glue: 
I keep a caddy in the middle of the table with scissors and glue sticks.  They always have these materials ready to go so when they are working independently they don't have to ask me :) 

I was keeping pencils in the caddy too and all 46 kids were using them throughout the day.  Let me tell was a mess!  First off they really don't take care of materials when there is no accountability.  Chew on a pencil?  Sure....I'll grab a different one tomorrow!  Well, this fixed that....
I printed out regular labels and attached them to a Ticonderoga pencil (I never use anything else!)  To keep them attached I wrapped a little bit of scotch tape around the label and they stay attached for 9 weeks.  They are SO MUCH MORE CAREFUL with their pencils and their erasers when they get the same pencil every day.  I am currently on week 6 of the same pencils and I haven't had to replace one!  Not one!  Of course some of them look awful....but that's just life when you choose to chew on the top of your pencil. 

I sharpen these myself every other pencil sharpener loves me and my kiddos are always prepared.  Plus I never have to hear that awful sound during the middle of instruction or independent work! 

I collect the pencils at the end of each session.  When the new group comes in I just hand them out when we are ready to get to work (this gives me a chance to give directions before they start randomly writing whatever they want on their morning work!)  This also helps me take a quick attendance so I can get a handle on who is there and who is not.  This solved a big problem for me with two groups! 

I keep each groups math journals in a bin (of course I had to choose 2 that matched) so when I am ready to hand them out I just have to grab the bin! 
I keep their writing journals in a dishpan....same idea.....different bin. 
See them hiding under the easel?  2 sets of journals for 2 sets of kids.  I teach Writer's Workshop at the easel so I don't have to walk anywhere to grab the journals.  As soon as my mini lesson is done they are ready to grab their journal and go! 

Small Group Materials: 
Small group can happen anywhere....and I need materials for my high, middle, and low group all in one easy spot.  Don't forget the assessment materials!  This year I found this shower caddy (in the dorm room stuff) at Walmart for $1.50.  It was my best find of the year! 
Now I keep all of our small group instruction books in it and it sits pretty much in the middle of the room.  I can grab any set of books I need and teach on the go!

EXTRA Storage: 
Did I say EXTRA?  Yes, extra storage for all those boxes of kleenex.  I use the ever popular crate seats for my small group instruction table.  I can store all kinds of stuff in these crates and they are perfect for the kiddos to sit on.  Because who ever sits in a chair in Kindergarten anyway?  Right?

Book Boxes: 
Reading the Daily 5 Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser saved my life in primary land!  I love the Daily 5 model and book boxes are a huge part of our reading routine.  I got these at IKEA and they hold up all year long.  It was difficult to find a spot to put them (because 46 book boxes take up a lot of room!) but the tops of book shelves work just fine.  They have all their books, decodables, and fluency pages inside their book boxes so they can grab it and go anywhere they need to during Read to Self time.  Our "cubbies" (where we keep our papers, backpacks, personal stuff) are not in our classroom so keeping them there was out of the question, this has been our best option so far.  

 (The book boxes are on top of the shelves.  The book shelves are full of our classroom books)

Ok...last but not least....
So frustrating!
No one makes a two-name nametag.  Well....I haven't really looked but it seems kind of weird.  I created this one so I can have both kiddos names on the table when they go to sit down. 

You can grab this one for free.  It has two lines in a "Handwriting Without Tears" style.  I don't have the time tonight to make it editable....but you are welcome to grab the blank copy and write the names in.  I have a "red" group (am) and a "blue" group (pm)so I put their names in according to colors.
 Just click on the pic to get it in Google Docs. 

That's it!  When I figure the rest of it out I will let you know! :)