Saturday, December 29, 2012

NYE fun for kids {and kids at heart}

As far back as I can remember, our family did New Year's Eve together.  We might've been at home or at grandma's house, but the elements were the same...board games, snack foods, silly hats, making our own mock TV broadcast and lots and lots of laughing.  As we got older and started going on dates or out to parties for NYE, it always felt foreign not to be at home.  And now that my sister and I both have families of our own it's rare for us to all be together for NYE.

But this year...we are.  :)

Here are some fun ideas for your family to do together or to keep your kids entertained if you're headed out on the town.  Either way, be sure to kiss someone you love at midnight and drive safely!

{keep 'em busy til midnight}
This is especially great if you're leaving your kids with a babysitter because it gives them plenty to do for each hour until the ball drops.  You could put a movie, a fun snack or noise blowers inside.
{from Hoosier Homemade}
For a few moments of quiet, see who can complete this scavenger hunt first!  If you're missing some things around your home, turn on the Rockin New Year's Eve broadcast and you'll be sure to spot the rest.
{by Hewlett Packard}
New Year's Eve BINGO is another good game that will last for a while.
If your kids need to get some energy out after playing a few quiet games, roll out the left over bubble wrap from your holiday packages and let them go wild!
{from Martha}
Every kid loves bowling but it can be noisy and expensive.  This toilet paper snowman bowling game is perfect for kids of any age and is soft enough that nothing will get broken while you're rolling those strikes.
{video footage courtesy of The Today Show}

{decorative bling}
Never underestimate the power of good old balloons.  As champagne bubbles, a room filler, to add table height or to hold your confetti until midnight.  Balloons are cheap, come in any color scheme and can be used as another child-occupier once their duty as decoration is finished.

And what's New Year's Eve {or any party really} without confetti??  Make your own by punching circles from various types of paper and use it as decoration on your tables or keep it up in little bags ready to be thrown when the ball drops.  Don't worry so much about the mess...enter your next game for kids.  Whoever picks up the most pieces gets a prize!  ;)

For more glitzy decorations, use sequins or little mirrors to make your own personal disco balls!  Styrofoam balls are cheap in any floral section or you can use that old Christmas ornament that nobody really likes anymore anyway!

{festive foods}
Whatever you choose to serve {it's always finger foods in our house} if you're having people over, Chickabug has made a great guide for how much to buy.  I pinned this immediately for future reference!

{what to wear}
It's a little {only a little} too bad that we're not going out on the town this year because the sequin dresses that are super on trend are RIGHT up my alley!!  Super classy with high necklines, sleeves and varying lengths, I want to get one just to wear around the house.

 {dresses by: Ralph Lauren, Badgley Mischka & TFNC}

And party hats.  Obviously.  A party supply store or basic paper hat is your best bet but if you don't have time to go out and get them, a make-shift base will do.  Add feathers, glitter, sequins, tinsel, stickers or anything else you can find that will make you feel fancy.

When in doubt, throw some glitter on for pizzaz and no one will notice anything else.  ;)

Happy New Year friends!  Here's to making a difference in 2013!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I Want for Christmas is...


I love that song!  :)  Every time it pops up in my classroom {because we love to listen to Pandora while we're working} I let my kids get up and dance around until it's over.  As soon as it's done, they hop right back in their seats and continue with their work.  It's a much needed fun break around Christmastime.

Ok, so there are a few other things I'd like for Christmas on my list below.  Plus - major bonus - for each purchase made, all of these TpT sellers will make a donation to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut as a way to help make the Christmas of those teachers and students a little brighter this year.

{my wish list}

Hadar from Miss Kindergarten has the most adorable craftivities.  This winter buddies pack will be perfect for going back to school in January!

Ashley from Kindergarten Garden has a cute "There was an old lady who swallowed a..." that would go with ANY of those sequencing stories.

Kara from Sped-ventures has a super cute math & literacy pack for Jan Brett's The Mitten.  Look at these adorable graphics to use for retell, sequencing or finger puppets!

Debbie Clement from Rainbows Within Reach has an incredible talent that I just don't posses...she can sing!  Her song packets come complete with an mp3 recording, words and activity.  Some of them even have sign language directions and books.  Check out "You're Wonderful" for a fun EOY celebration song.

Third Grade Jen has some fabulous graphic organizers for you upper grade teachers.  She is also having a sale in effort to raise even more money for Sandy Hook.  Check her out!!

Marlana from Lil Country Kindergarten has tons of 100s board activities to use.  Next up on my list is the ABC packet.  How's that for math & literacy integration?!

Marlana is also the one who took my Teachers Supporting Teachers logo and turned it into a button you can post on your websites.  Thanks for going above and beyond to help out Marlana!!  :)

Deedee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten
awesome literacy center packs for writing, word work or independent practice.  Her packets include vocabulary cards, easy to follow instructions and writing paper!  This makes planning writing next week a no-brainer!

Susan from T.G.I.F.
To push your students past 100 {what?  there are numbers after that?!} use Susan's Numbers to 120 pack!  There are games, activities and assessments all included.

Rhonda Baldacchino is a seller helping out all the way from Australia!!  How special is she to help out a crisis that didn't even take place in her own country?!

You have to look at her sight word activities...she has a few of them!  I'm getting this CVC flip book and writing packet next.  The kids practice reading and blending then take those words and write them in sentences.  This would be perfect for writing, word work or additional practice for your RTI friends who need more support with reading or writing!

Kyp McLaren from Mrs. McLaren's Little Superheroes has a cute winter animal packet to help teach that tricky skill of inferring.  That will fit into any January curriculum whether you're teaching it for the first time or reviewing!

April Larremore from Chalk Talk has awesome units that already in my go-to curriculum.  The next one I have my eye on is her Zoo unit.  It's a perfect way to cover any animals you have missed in other lessons!

Lisa from Kindergarten Kingdom has another gingerbread activity for January.  Am I the only one who can never squeeze gingerbread men in before the holidays?!  This packet is for telling time...maybe so he knows when to run away!  ;)

Lori from Rainbows Reading and Rascals has some easy reading sheets that use picture sentences for even your earliest readers to help build their confidence that they can read too!

Ashley from Me & Marie Learning has a fabulous Pre-K assessment packet.  If you're looking for forms for letter ID, cutting, tracing, colors, shapes, you name's in here.  Such a great resource for Pre-K teachers!!

Be sure you don't miss out on the other teachers who are donating their products.  Check this list for everyone involved and for more details on the Sandy Hook fundraiser: Teachers Supporting Teachers.  Anyone who wants to help out is welcome to join in and link up!  You can also share the button on your blogs, websites and Facebook pages!

Anyone who shares the Teachers Supporting Teachers button and links back to the original post will be entered to win a $20 gift card to Target.  Just leave a comment on the original post with a link back to where you shared it on your blog or website!!  :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teachers Supporting Teachers {fundraising campaign for CT}

As I looked through my blogroll on Sunday all I saw were hearts.  Symbols of our day of silence for Sandy Hook.  Symbols of love for the families there.  Symbols of support for the teachers who were lost and those who are still there who will enter the building today or tomorrow or in the new year, trying to start again and rebuild.  Trying to feel safe in their classrooms.  Trying to heal.

If you ask me why I started a teaching blog I'll say it's because I had good ideas to share and I wanted to help other teachers.  If you ask me why I stayed - through all the copyright battles, the negative feedback and frustrations from the technology we love to hate - I'll say it's because of the network.  This network of amazing educators that opened their blog worlds and their classrooms for anyone who cared to take a peek.  This community of educators all across the country that have sent encouraging messages, helped answer technical questions and been a shoulder, an ear and a friend I could turn to on the good, the tough and the not so great school days.  These teacher bloggers that I've met online yet may never actually be lucky enough to hug in person.  You are the reason I've stayed.  You are my community and support.

And I'm challenging us to take the next step in encouraging our friends, sisters and brothers in Newtown, Connecticut.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the horrible tragedy that happened there on December 14th and I've been up at night trying to figure out what I could do.  Because the support and love I've witnessed and seen myself in this blogging community tells me that we can do more than cry and think and pray.

Together, we can do something big - in a major way - to support our friends at Sandy Hook.

Teachers Supporting Teachers
{use the code below to add this button to your blog or FB page to direct others to this post}

From now through January 14th, I encourage you to set aside a portion of your proceeds to be sent to Sandy Hook Elementary.  To help them rebuild, regroup and heal.  Decide on a percentage {be it 5, 50 or 100%} and promote the campaign.  Use the image above on your blog, in your Teachers Pay Teachers stores, in your Teacher's Notebook stores, via Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Pinterest.  Send an email to all of your followers and ask them to clear out their wishlists.  I can't think of anything more motivating than knowing that not only do I get to finally get that fabulous unit I've had my eye on, but that in spending those few dollars, I'll also be contributing to the students in Connecticut.
Link up your blog or TpT store to the linky party below then send your friends and family members to this post, where a master list of all participants will be kept.  Encourage non-teacher friends to buy a literacy or math unit from any one of the participating bloggers to send to their child's teacher for Christmas or a "Just because we appreciate you" gift.  How many of us would not be thrilled to receive a new unit from TpT or TN in our inbox?!

{{This giveaway has expired.}}

After collecting for a month, participating teachers will transfer their donations to my PayPal account and I'll send one large transfer to Sandy Hook, with the names of all teachers, sellers and bloggers who are behind them.  {I'll take a screen shot of my account and keep you informed every step of the way with our final donation.}

Let's show the teachers of Sandy Hook that we, too, feel a personal hurt for what happened because we know that any one of us could've been in the same situation and we would've done the exact same thing to protect our students at any cost.  Let's show them that we're proud of their strength and hold them high as heroes.

Thank you for linking up.  I know already that this is going to be amazing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Polar Express {math & literacy}

Just in time to raise more money for Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, my Christmas Train Unit is finished!
Here are a few other fun a freebie for you at the end.  ;)

I mean, obviously.  You can't go on the Polar Express without wearing your pajamas...and you have to be asleep before the train will come...
Once the train comes {that would be me...wearing a conductor hat...making chugga chugga noises...} they all jump up and get on the train - the chairs pre set-up in 2 lines.
Afterward, have your students decorate the little boy's pajamas to look like their own then they can list adjectives to describe them.
{hot chocolate}
Hot chocolate, hot cocoa, whatever you call's delicious and a MUST for Polar Express day.
I take out all of the marshmallows and put them in a separate cup because some kids don't want them.  When they bring out the hot chocolate in the movie, I pass it out, dancing to the hot-hot-hot-hot chocolate song {because how could you not?!} then go back through with the marshmallow cup for anyone who wants some "Christmas Magic" in their cocoa.
You may not want them to count their marshmallows while they're drinking their cocoa {he got more than me!} but you'll love for them to do some counting with these hot chocolate pages.

Of course, you have to have a ticket to ride the Polar Express or you're kicked off the train.  When the conductor comes through to punch them, I grab my trusty hole punch and go through the train asking for tickets.  There is always slight panic when the kids realize they don't have them but it doesn't take long for one or two quick ones to start looking...and they find them under their chairs.  I definitely don't punch fancy letters in their tickets but throw in a little flair and your kids will think you're just as good as Tom Hanks.  ;)

I've passed out the bells differently in different years.  Sometimes I hang them outside so they're nice and cold "from the North Pole."  Sometimes I hide them in the room and once the kids are asleep {ie giggling and fake snoring on the carpet} I bring them out and start ringing them, exclaiming with joy that they must believe because they can hear them ringing.  ;)  I think my favorite way is to hide them around the room before school starts and let them go on a hunt after the movie is over.

Work on short vowels and the -ing sound with these bells once they're all found.
{snow paint}
For a fun train follow-up, have your students write about whether or not they'd ride the Polar Express.  They can use their reasoning skills to explain their choice.
Then display their writing with a night train project.  Using Crayola construction paper crayons {a must-have} let your students draw a train driving through the night on black construction paper.

While they're coloring, mix shaving cream with elmer's glue to get snow paint.  Cheap barbasol shaving cream works the best.  Just put some in the cup, drop in a little glue and stir.  If it's not sticky enough you can add more glue, but you want it to stay nice and fluffy so don't pour in too much.  And a little snow paint goes a long way!

They put it on their paper wherever they want snow and when it dries, it stays fluffy!

Here's your freebie!  Your kids can make up their own secret ingredient then have fun decorating their mug creatively.

Remember, from now through the end of the year, 100% of my proceeds from my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be going to Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut to help them heal after what they've been through.  And just in case you've seen pictures being passed around to wear the Sandy Hook school colors on Monday in remembrance, their school colors are green and white.  Somehow it's being passed around as yellow & blue but their school website shows their colors as green and white in case you want to participate!

*The Sandy Hook donation has now ended* 
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