Saturday, 30 November 2013

Five for Friday! 29/11/13

Hold on to your hats, folks - it's time for Five for Friday!  

1. If you've read my previous two posts (here and here) you'll know that my kidlets and I have been enjoying a whole heap of Christmas fun this past week!  Things got slightly confusing the past few days, though, when we made 2 types of cookie - on edible, one not!  The first was sugar cookies that we decorated to look like a Christmas bauble (i.e. how many lollies can we pile on before they fall off!).

The second was salt dough star shaped tree ornaments!

Turns out holiday themed activities can be dangerous - one of my kidlets tried to eat the peppermint scented playdough the other day as well! Luckily neither the salt dough nor the playdough are toxic, they just don't taste very good. :)

2. What do you get when you combine the Creation Station with extra space and extra glitter? A huge mess and lots of happy kidlets!  I just loved their creative projects and big smiles... the time it took me to clean up - not so much! 

3. Gotta love a freebie!  The pocket chart was well used this week with Crayon and Whimsy's Colorful Gingerbread Men pack.

4. I honestly think the most fun my kidlets have had in their Reading groups this year was with a game that I made to revise sight words.  I called it 'Naughty or Nice' and the idea is simple - draw a card with a sight word (and a gift) on it and you get to read and keep it, draw a lump of coal and everyone says "uh oh!"  Your cards then go back into the playing pile.  Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game wins!  I wish I could show you the HUGE grins on the faces of my kidlets as they played this (in their group time and then again in literally ANY free time they had).  I'm really not sure why they loved it so much - maybe because it was Christmas themed, maybe because the lumps of coal had them in fits of laughter - either way, I'll definitely be bringing it out earlier next year!  I've made this game into a Dolch Pre-Primer, Primer and First Grade versions in my TpT Store. :)

5.  We have our last day of Prep on Tuesday.  One lovely boy brought in an early Christmas gift that made me all teary.  He and his mum chose the words that were stamped into the keyring - I feel so honoured that they choose these three words to represent the year that they have spent with me. :)

That's about all from me today... I'm off to read more of my new book - a real book just waiting for me to go and read it!  I'm so glad that my planning/teaching/reporting is done for this year so I have time to read and relax.   1 day of concert practice and a half day of Christmas partying and I'm all done for 2013. :)


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Maths, Sensory Play and Fine Motor for a Cheap 'n' Cheerful Christmas!

Our week of cheap 'n' cheerful Christmas activities has been super fun so far!  Here's a few quick and very easy ideas that we worked on yesterday and today. 

All you need this first fun holiday game is some themed bowls (or cups) and two baubles.  I labelled the bowls with numbers 0-10, but you could use any numbers.  On their turn, kidlets threw each bauble, aiming to have them land in 2 different bowls.  They either added the 2 numbers and gave the total to earn a point, or were given a target total that they had to reach with their 2 bauble throws (this was trickier!).  Each of my groups loved this game (particularly the boys) and I'm not sure why I haven't used this idea before!  It would be great even for something simple like numeral recognition at the beginning of the year (with different themed containers of course).

(Ignore the ugly towels on the table - some of my kidlets were a little wild with their throws and we needed something to keep the baubles on the table!)

Want to know the best way to make your class excited about learning at Christmas time?  Put the materials they will be using in a gift bag! :) I had a little bag of tinsel ready to go for group work time and my kidlets were absolutely busting out of their skin to find out what that activity was.  They had a tonne of fun measuring tinsel pieces with cubes, popsticks and matchsticks and then choosing their own unit to measure with.  We recorded our results and made lots of comparisons and observations.  Christmas maths made easy!

Everyone loves playdough!  An awesome way to make it Christmas themed?  Add peppermint essence (in our green batch) and glitter (in our red batch).  My kidlets just loved playing with this. (It would be perfect to use with my Rockin' Around the Playdough Tub mats! *shameless plug*)  We whip up at least 2 batches of playdough a week, the kids literally cannot get enough of it and it's a great manipulative for all sorts of activities.

Last, but not least, is this great freebie from Mel From the Pond.  Whoever invented pokey pinning is a genius, and so is Mel for making these awesome pages. I love pokey pinning for strengthening those little hand muscles and developing fine motor skills.  Go grab this page, and then go grab Mel's pack to use all year! A to Z Pinning Pages

Phew! I'm tuckered out after all that festive cheer. I'm off to bake cookies and then get some rest, ready for tomorrow's fun. :)


Monday, 25 November 2013

Two Craft Projects for a Cheap 'n' Cheerful Christmas!

Can you believe that as of today it's only one month til Christmas?  My kidlets only have five more full days of school left for the year, so we are spending this week working on a heap of cheap 'n' cheerful holiday themed learning, mixed in with a little art and craft.  It's always great to do some special end of year activities, but it can be really expensive to buy a lot of bits and bobs to prepare them all.  This week, I'm going to share with you some easy ideas that won't break the bank. I had good intentions of posting about the super fun Maths and Literacy activities we did today... but... well... it's Monday night and I'm tired.  So instead, here's two craft projects that my kidlets worked on last Friday and today.

First up, the easiest wreath you will ever make:

All you need is a paper plate with the middle cut out per child.  I bought a pack of 100 plates for a couple of dollars at a discount store.  Then, have your kidlets cut green crepe paper into small squares to collage onto it.  Add some red squares for berries (you could easily punch out some red paper circles - but I like the abstract look because I am lazy), and a paper bow.  Easy peasy!  And they look really great on display in the classroom - although my kidlets are begging me to take them home for their front doors. :)

The next idea is a little bit trickier but so effective.  You'll need a few things ready:

Grab some felt sheets to cut a carrot nose and scarf for each child.  You'll also need black top hats - I guess you could use felt for this as well, but I forgot about the hats until this morning so I used card.  The felt sheets were 90c each, and I only needed 1 orange sheet, and 2 green sheets.  The card was scraps from another project, but I used less than 1/4 of a piece.  The buttons were in a craft pack - I think they were about $5 but the bag is HUGE! There's literally hundreds left.  I'm sure you could buy a smaller pack for much less money, or you might have a stash of buttons in your storeroom. :)  You'll need 3 buttons per child.  They don't all need to be the same colour - in fact it would probably be cuter with a variety of colours.  Stick 'em all onto a jumbo craft stick ($2 for a pack of 25) and you get these cuties:

(Ours still need a little piece of ribbon glued on so you can hang them on a tree.)
*The pin that gave me the inspiration for this led to a site that was blocked for spam... so I'm not sure who originally had this idea.*

I did this step by step, but my Preppies made these by themselves.  Older kids could cut their pieces out themselves, too - it's really very easy.

Hopefully one (or both!) of these ideas might be something that you can use with your kidlets this year. I'll be back tomorrow (or later in the week... or on Saturday!) with some maths and literacy ideas that will fit with the Christmas theme. 

Until then, let's all have a wonderful week! :)


Sunday, 24 November 2013

It's time to celebrate with Mrs Poultney!

Just a quick post to let you know of a fabulous giveaway that the lovely Tania at Mrs Poultney's Ponderings is having to celebrating hitting the '200 Followers' milestone.  She has a heap of bloggers on board who are giving away winner's choice from their TpT stores, and there's a $10 voucher up for grabs, too.

These stores are featured in today's giveaway - and there's another round tomorrow!


P.S. If you haven't already, make sure to read my post from yesterday to grab a Christmas freebie. :)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Five for Friday! With a freebie. :)

I set myself a deadline... no Five for Friday until I had finished my reports AND posted a freebie for you all.  So here I am, sharing my Friday Five at 9:15pm on Saturday night! :)  

1. I've had and itch to SHOP lately!  It seems like every time I go out I end up with something new for my classroom.  This week it was this treasure from Aldi:

Luckily (unluckily?) I've also had the urge to buy some new clothes!  Have you ever bought from Mod Cloth?  It's my new favourite online store... and the boxes are super cute which makes it all the more fun when the postman drops the package off!

2. Speaking of itches... the travel bug has been bothering me lately, too.  I haven't been on a plane in 6 months (I know, I know... poor me!) so I am planning a trip for Chris and I when he gets here in January.  I'd love to go to Spain... but I think somewhere closer to home might be more in our price range since he will be a student.  Maybe New Zealand?  This print has me planning a holiday every time I see it on my bookshelf:

3. We've been all about Christmas in my classroom over the past few weeks!  Our History unit centres around the Christmas theme, but it doesn't help that I am a Christmas nut. :)  We have done some cute crafts and activities, but none better than this freebie from Doodle Bugs:

Grab your freebie here!

4. Speaking of Christmas freebies, I just posted a letter matching pack in my TpT store!

Go grab Letters for Santa if it will be helpful for you. :)

5. I've only got 6 and a half more days left with this year's kidlets.  I say this every year... but I am really going to miss them.  What a privilege to spend every day at work with precious children!

Happiest of weekends to you all!  I'm off to enjoy the sounds of a thunderstorm as I read everyone's Five for Friday posts. :)


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Who's a Lucky Duck? (With a giveaway winner!)

Who's a Lucky Duck?  Me!  While feeling sorry for myself on Sunday - trapped indoors writing report cards - I heard from the lovely Brooke at Teachable Moments that I was the winner of a giveaway she ran last week on her blog!  Yay!  While I was checking my email for the pack she had sent me (more info about that below!) there was another one waiting for me from Greg of Smedley's Smorgasbord to say that I had won the box set of the Draw Write Now! books that he was giving away!  Double yay!  I was so thrilled to be a winner, if you couldn't tell from all the exclamation marks in this paragraph. :)

The pack that Brooke sent me was her Find It and Clip It Medial Vowel Sounds Identification pack.  I was excited to put this to good use in my reading groups this week, because those tricky medial vowels were something that a few of my Preppies needed some extra practise with.  I got these printed and laminated ready for Monday morning and I'm so glad I did - after completing the clipping and recording (worksheets are included in the pack) in their groups a lot of my kidlets chose to 'play' with the cards during fast finisher's time.  :)

(You can just see the little yellow dot sticker on the back of one of the cards - I pop these on so they become self-correcting. Handy for when the kidlets are using them independently.)

I knew that these clip it cards would be a hit, we used Brooke's Initial and Final Sounds cards earlier in the year and her Word Family Racers were our revision activity in reading groups this week, too!

Finally, congratulations to 'M' (how mysterious!) who is the winner of my 3 Christmas packs from my giveaway earlier this week -  I hope you love using them with your kidlets!

Halfway through the week already, can you believe it?  I'm set for a looooong night of report card writing.  How's your day going?


Sunday, 17 November 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas! (with a giveaway!)

Hi y'all!  I have been a bad blogger. :( My excuses are many and varied, involving a busy birthday weekend, horrible sickness, exhaustion and the general end of school year frantic workload.  I heard a quote at our Year 12 graduation assembly on Friday that really hit home this week: "A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself in order to light the way for others."  So true, especially at this time of the year.  So, what's to be done when there's so much school work it's almost overwhelming?  Procrastinate, of course!!

Yesterday I enjoyed a stormy Saturday watching Love Actually and setting up my Christmas decorations.  I pretended that it was snowing outside and I was wearing cozy winter clothes - as much as I love being back in Australia I do miss the Canadian snow.  And if there's one thing North Americans do well - it's Christmas!  I'll still enjoy my Christmas by the beach, though. :)

Because we finish school such a long time before Christmas Day (my Preppies have their last day of school on the 3rd December) we have to get our Christmassy vibe on early in the term.  We've enjoyed a few weeks of seasonal activities so far (our History unit is based on Christmas celebrations) and I am so looking forward to more fun in the 2 weeks we have left.  I've got a few products in my TpT store that I'm planning to use - they might be helpful if you are also getting resources ready for the Christmas season. :)

Rockin' Around the Playdough Tub! Christmas Themed Playdough Mats, Numbers 1-10.  
Help Santa and his elves get ready for Christmas by making the matching number of items.  Each mat has a picture clue, so your kidlets don't need to be readers to successfully complete this activity! So much fun... with a little number recognition, counting practice and fine motor development thrown in.

Deck the Halls with number lines!  Simply print and slice the number line cards to use as a hands-on manipulative (perfect for pocket charts, too!). Count in skips of 1, 2, 5 and 10.  Worksheets provided include missing number lines - forward and backward; and numbers before/after.  They are in full colour to use as write'n'wipe resources, or blackline to use as individual student worksheets.

Tis the Season to Roll and Cover! Roll and recognise, roll and add, roll and subtract to either cover (on the full colour mats) or colour (on the blackline copies).  A very quick and easy way to add some Christmas cheer to your maths work this December!

As everybody knows, the best way of spreading Christmas cheer is by having a giveaway.  Leave me a comment and I'll choose a winner Tuesday evening who can have all 3 of these products as an early Christmas present. :)


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tasty Treats as Teaching Tools!

As I looked back over the photos I'd taken in my classroom over the past months, I noticed that in a few of our activities there was a common theme... FOOD!  I'm not sure about you, but I know that when I need my kidlets to practise something they are finding tricky, or I need to 'hook' them into a new topic, one of the most effective teaching tools is food.  They get so excited at the thought of a tasty treat, no matter how small, and they will talk about an activity involving food long after some other lessons have been forgotten.

This week the kidlets made tuna and cucumber sushi, gobbled it up and then asked for more.  I know, I know... using food to teach about healthy eating isn't anything new! But I'm always amazed at the variety of new foods that my class will try when they have grown it or made it themselves.  One of my boys who refused to eat vegetables for his mum now loves them after a positive encounter with a green quiche at school.  Lots of children don't get the education they need about healthy eating at home, so why not take the opportunity when we can to teach them in the classroom?

While working with me in Maths Time recently, each group got a chance to count and eat some tiny teddy cookies as part of our work on subtraction concepts.  They wrote a number story (I had ___ tiny teddies.  I ate ___. I have ___ left.) and subtraction sentence and then got to eat the teddies they had left.  

Sometimes food is just a treat! After doing lots of reading and writing activities based on Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (I shared some photos of our cute crafts here) we spent some time Friday afternoon watching the movie.  As a reward for a week of wonderful work, I gave my kidlets some popcorn and juice while they relaxed.

Making a tasty treat is also a perfect activity to add to your phonics teaching!  It's now November, and there are often nostalgic conversations about 'that time we made Bears in Bubble Baths' or 'remember when we ate Worms in Mud?' - we did those activities at the beginning of the year! :)

'Worms in Mud' (gummy worms and chocolate yoghurt) for the week we learnt 'w' and 'm'.

'Bears in Bubble Baths' (a chocolate and teddy cookie with mini marshmallows) for 'b' week.

Fruit Loops lend themselves to sorting and patterning work in Maths.  This pin links here - with a freebie recording sheet.  I've also seen ideas to thread them on string to make a pattern bracelet.

When we studied the Seasons, we drank hot chocolate in gloves, scarves and beanies (with the air con turned down super low, it doesn't get that cold here in Queensland!).  That was a great way to get their little minds thinking about all they knew about Winter.  We made an anchor chart as we sipped our drinks. (No photos of that, sorry!)

All this talk of food has made me hungry!  I guess that must mean it's time for dinner.  I hope you found one or two new ideas in this post, or maybe were reminded of an old one.  Have fun using food in your classroom! :)


Saturday, 2 November 2013

It's Currently November!

Let's ignore the fact that it's NOVEMBER already, and this year is clearly racing past at warp speed, and get straight to Farley's Currently!

Listening - I have Peasant Vision (a.k.a no cable) so Saturday night is sometimes a TV wasteland.  Luckily, Channel 11 plays back to back Sex and the City repeats!

Loving - My cousin Emma is 3 weeks younger than me (our Mums are the 2 youngest sisters of 6) and we spent most of our childhood together. On Thursday night she had her first baby, a 6 pound 3 ounce boy they named Tennyson James.  I met him this afternoon and he is absolutely perfect.  Beautiful soft skin, loooooooong fingers and a gorgeous, wise little face. Perfection.

Thinking - On Friday I'll celebrate the first anniversary of my 30th birthday!  I love birthdays!!! Last year we went to Vegas and had a super fun weekend.  This year I'll be with my kidlets at school.  Not quite the same, but just as special.

Wanting - I ordered this dress from ModCloth and I am just dying to wear it! 

Needing - Fairly self-explanatory I'd say. :)

A Yummy Pin - I really did find it hard to pick just one yummy pin.  I frequently pin recipes, and more often than not I try them out.  Follow my Meal Planning board for lots of delicious treats.  Today I'm sharing a meal that is honestly the easiest thing you could ever cook.  All you need to do is throw some chicken thighs (skin on), pieces of chorizo and some potato and onion quarters in a baking dish.  Drizzle on some olive oil, add orange zest and oregano and bake.  Try it - you will come back to thank me, I promise! (Just don't over cook it - I usually cover mine with foil to avoid drying the chorizo out.)

This is a recipe from Nigella Lawson.

Happy November everyone!  I hope you are currently happy and healthy. :)