Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Collection of New Year Resources

Winter break is *almost* over. If you are anything like me then that means that you have already been planning, prepping, and creating lots of amazing resources, lessons, and activities for the first few weeks back to school.

My district starts school on Tuesday, and a four day week is a great opportunity to start fresh, review routines, and get ready for an amazing second half of the school year. 

There are a ton of great New Year's Resources that I like to use in my classroom. I don't use the same one every year, and educators are always adding more. Here are a few of my favorites(free and paid) resources that I want to share with you! 

(Photo from her blog)

I just love this activity! Lindsey has some great ideas about how to incorporate this New Year hat into  your classroom curriculum! Check out her product in her TPT store here

I am BIG on having students write goals. What I love the most about this awesome freebie from Victoria Moore is that there is a sheet that lets students brainstorm about their goals before adding them to their bracelet! This visual reminder is a great way to help students set and accomplish goals for the new year!

Check out her product in her TPT store here

Mr. Hughes has a great New Year's Resolutions Mobile! These can hang from student desks, classroom ceilings, wall displays, or students can take them home to display. 

You can snag his freebie here

This cute foldable is one that I do use every year! It is quick, simple, and straight to the point. The students love it, and we can include it in our writing notebooks!

Get Rachel's freebie foldable here

Are you looking for a rigorous writing and thinking activity? If so, then this free packet from Tracee Orman is going to be a great addition to your first lesson of the new year.

You can get it yourself here

Do you have other suggestions? I would LOVE to hear them! 

Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Grinch Day at the Cottage

The Christmas holiday may be behind us, but I still have a few holiday posts to add to the blog. I know that it is too late to use them now, but save the photos and ideas for next year. It will be here before we know it! 

This year was my first year celebrating all things "Grinch" with my kiddos. We read the book, wrote about random acts of kindness that we could provide for the Grinch to make him happier, drank some awesome Grinch punch, and finished out the day with my FAVORITE NEW ACTIVITY EVER! 

It is a well known fact that I can't draw. However, that hasn't stopped me from doing it all.the.time-especially now that I am in the classroom! A lot of my students love to draw as well. Their drawing is more than just "doodles". It is art, and it is beautiful. So, when I came across a post on Instagram from Rachel at The Tattooed Teacher that showed a kid's step-by-step video on how to draw the Grinch, I knew I had to check it out. 

Art for Kids Hub's website gives simple, fun, and engaging step-by-step tutorials on how to draw popular characters. I spent over an hour trying out several on my own and knew that this had to be something that I incorporated into the classroom. 

The students had so much fun following along the tutorial in the video. The steps go by pretty quick so we ended up watching the video once before we attempted any drawing. Then, I paused it after each major drawing step to give students time to work on their art. Here are some snapshots of our Grinch drawings! I am so proud! 

 Isn't that impressive? This unique Grinch Day activity was a blast, and I know that it is one that I will use in the future! We can't wait to try out some of the other video tutorials. There is one on penguins that would go perfectly with our penguin unit coming up! 

And, I am thinking that we might try water color on our next drawing. Isn't this grand?!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Do You Have Your Glasses?

My classroom has a simple, yet consistent morning routine. Every morning, I stand at the door with my classroom greeter, and we welcome everyone into the classroom. The students hang up their backpacks, find their seats, and begin their morning work. I tackle lunch count and attendance while the students wrap up their morning activities and responsibilities. 

We have worked very hard to establish our routines and to maintain that consistency. However, even though it is December, there are still little things that I am having to remind the students about. The number one reminder that I seem to give my students on a daily basis is "Where are your glasses?". I either get a smile from a student as he/she heads back to the backpack cart to retrieve the forgotten glasses or a frown because the student didn't remember to bring the glasses to school. 

Finally, I decided that something had to be done. My sweet kiddos NEED their glasses, and I want them to be responsible and learn to get their glasses out without me having to remind them. I won't be with them forever, and I can't promise that someone will always be there to remind them to wear them. 

I was sitting in the middle of my fiancé's high school swim meet this last week and realized that we needed a classroom glasses sign. The annual TPT sale had just finished, and I snagged some adorable clipart from Melonheadz that I was dying to use. We use signs for tons of things in the classroom so why not use one to help the students remember their glasses?

Here is the finished product. There is a sign hanging over our classroom sink, one that is attached to our backpack cart that is literally RIGHT there in front of them as they walk in the classroom, and the students who wear glasses have one taped onto their desk. 

I am happy to say that we went 6 days without me having to remind my students to wear their glasses. I have one kiddo who constantly forgets to even bring the glasses to school. Because of this, I didn't tape a sign to his desk area, and he asked me why he didn't get one. My response was "Oh, you wear glasses? I forgot because you never bring them". He just smiled. He proceeded to wear his glasses for the next two days so I gave him a sign on his desk. #whateverittakes #littlebattles #theywanttosucceedtoo

Do you think that these posters could be a good classroom management resource for you as well? Then, head to my TPT store to grab yourself a free copy or click on the picture below! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Spreading Christmas Cheer...with a Giveaway!

 LAST FALL, my adorable soon-to-be-aunt made me a pencil scarf. I fell in love with it and wore it everywhere. I begged her to make me one to give away on my blog and then life kinda got in the way. 'Cause that happens. Life happens. Stuff happens. 

Ya know?

So..the good news is that THE TIME IS HERE for me to give away this adorable gem to one of you just in time for the holidays! Think of this as a sweet little teacher-y Christmas present from me to you. 

Because I love you, and you DESERVE a cute scarf! 

The length is perfect to wear in so many ways. 

It is long enough to be wrapped, too! You will seriously be the coolest teacher out there when you wear this. We can be twins, now. 

Obviously, you more stylish folks will want to wear it with something more than my awesome testing  t-shirt, but I literally wear t-shirts and yoga pants all day..every day so what better way to model the scarf than in "real life"!?! #keepinitreal 

I totally wish I could be Oprah right now and do the whole "You get a scarf, and you get a scarf...Hey! Everyone gets a scarf!", but that would take a lot of yarn and my dear aunt may not like me anymore. 

So....make sure you enter the Raffelcopter below. I will pick a winner December 7th and get this cute winter accessory in the mail to you pronto!

Monday, December 1, 2014


I am SOOO excited that it is December! This is suppose to be the most wonderful, most magical, and straight fantastical time of the year! So let's make the most of it!

It is an honor to link up with Mrs. Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her Currently Linky. Here we go!

Listening- For the first time ever, I MAY have had Christmas music playing since last Monday and I just. can't. stop. Oh the horrors of having access to Sirius XM radio!

Loving- I am loving the warm East TN weather that we are experiencing right now. It was down right chilly during November, but the 50/60 degree weather on the forecast for this week looks nice! Recess outside!!!!!

Thinking- I have a few last minute touches that I need to put on my lesson plans before school starts this morning. It is fraction time in the Learning Cottage! Woot!

Wanting- I want to continue to fill up my Cyber TPT sale cart! Any more suggestions before I check out?! My store is on sale, too!

Needing- I need to finish cleaning my house. I bought an awesome rug during a Black Friday sale, and I can't wait to add it to my home office!

Giving- Starting tomorrow, I will have a giveaway on my blog. You could get this adorable pencil scarf! Isn't is just the cutest thing...EVER?!?

Happy December to all of my blogger/educator friends. We are going to have an awesome month!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Holiday Book Classroom Countdown

For the last couple of years, my students have enjoyed visits from Duende', our Elf on the Shelf. The whole holiday elf tradition is a blast, and I have really enjoyed the thrill of getting our elf ready each morning. However, I have come to believe that the elf tradition may not be the best fit for every class so I began to search for something different to prepare for the holidays in our Learning Cottage this year. I am very fortunate to have a group of students who are big time readers this school year, and I really wanted to do something holiday themed around their love for such an important skill. 
My aunt sent me a link about a book advent activity, and I knew that I had to do something like this in my classroom. 

I needed to keep the price low so I began searching for winter/holiday themed books at our local used book stores. I also grabbed a few books through Scholastic using their dollar deals and my book club points.  I was able to get 25 books for around $40. 

Here is a quick glance at some of the books my students will be unwrapping during our countdown.

Thank goodness for Hobby Lobby. I got two rolls of wrapping paper, tape(because I always seem to misplace my tape dispensers), and ribbon for under $10. I created some labels which you can grab by clicking here or the picture below and went to work.

 I planned which days we would be reading each book and wrote a list for myself so I knew which book would fall on each day. Many of our books will match a CCSS skill in our classroom for the day/week. We also have Grinch, Polar Express, and ornament days so those books will be opened on those themed days to help with the flow of the classroom schedule. 

So..exactly how is this going to work? We will be in school for 15 school days before our Christmas Break. That means that I needed 15 books for students to open each day. Here is a list of some of the books we will be opening:

Where Did I Hide My Christmas Presents?

Every morning during our morning meeting time, the students will get to open the book that matches our countdown number. We will either read the book during morning meeting, during our Reading block, or at the end of the day before dismissal. On the 15th day, each student will receive their own book to unwrap. They won't know this until the morning of. This book will be their gift from me for Christmas. This year, the book is a $1 deal from Scholastic called A-Z Mysteries December Dog. 

I really can't wait to see the look on the students' faces as we explore each new book together. There are some really great reads in this selection, and I hope that this is an adventure that becomes a tradition for my class for many years to come. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Math Checklists

Last year, I created simple close reading checklists for my students to use in the classroom. The goal was to help students slow down and think about the process of reading through a passage or text that was new to them.

The process of going through "steps" really worked well for them. We only had to use the checklists for a few lessons before the students could mentally go through the process in their heads. The students could verbally talk be through the steps, and it was evident that they were applying the strategy when they looked at a text.

A few weeks ago, we began our double-digit subtraction and addition units. The kiddos worked so hard, and really made me proud with their willingness to persevere through the math problems. However, I found that as we began to work on mixed problems(addition and subtraction together) that they would become confused. They were not looking at the math symbols nor thinking about if they should regroup/borrow or just solve.

So, I went back to my checklist idea from Reading last year and made one for double digit subtraction. We used it in class today, and one of my kiddos said, "Hey!This helps!".

Hopefully, it will help your students as well. Students can pick them up from their math tubs and use them or they can be taped down on the desk beside the name tag. I laminated them and students use a dry erase marker so they can be used over and over again.

You can download the double-digit subtraction version here for FREE in my TPT store. I will be adding more math checklists soon so make sure to check back.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Field Trip to the Arboretum

Can I just tell you how amazing our field trip was last week? 

It was epic. Seriously.

Here is how it happened:

My team this year is just fabulous. We literally come up with last minute ideas during lunch and then we do everything in our power to make it happen. This field trip is the dream of one of those lunch talks. 

As I mentioned here, I have made it one of my missions this year to really "beef up" the amount of social studies and science in the classroom. In college, I made a leaf collection book after we did a unit on how to incorporate plant life cycles into science in the classroom. This made me want to do the same thing with my students as we finished up our unit on plants. My students are so hands on this year, and they LOVE science. 

A local college near our school has an arboretum. I mentioned to my team that it would be awesome to be able to take a field trip there so the students who look at the different trees, their leaves, and learn about the scientific names and classifications. I didn't feel like I could do it justice by just walking around our school campus. My teammates were 100% into the idea so I reached out to one of my amazing college professors, and she helped us set up a fabulous, extremely educational, and FREE field trip. 

The trip started off by the students meeting with one of the college biology professors. She talked to the students about what an arboretum is, discussed that there were different types of trees, and gave students a reference sheet of some of the leaves they were going to be seeking out on our tour. The students were blown away with getting to sit in a real auditorium with "tables" and comfy chairs. 

Then, our fabulous biologist told the students they were going on a tree scavenger hunt. The kiddos 
were given a bag and their reference sheets and went for a walk. 

We had the best time ever. The students saved their leaves so that we could go back to school and make a leaf book. 

The next day, we took out all of our leaves and went to work. We identified the leaves, wrote down leaf characteristics, and put together our leaf books. 

It was messy. It was a little time consuming. But, it was worth every minute. Students referenced back and forth to their sheet, our pictures, and the internet to make sure that their leaf information was correct. 

Just look at the smile. He was tickled because his leaf was too big to fit on his page. We had to get a little creative with the placement of his leaf. 

We had such a blast with this that I wanted to share the book template we used with you. Hope you can use this in your classroom with your kiddos. 

Just click on any of the pictures above or click here to take you to the TPT link. 

Happy Fall Y'all! Stay tuned for a giveaway! My awesome "aunt to be" made me something to share with you, and I can't wait! You are going to LOVE it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Little Bit of Geography

Greetings! We had a packed week of learning in the cottage this week. Everything from QR codes and math word problems to geography and the continents on which we live. 

Shew. This teacher was TIRED when Friday night rolled around, but we had so much fun! Here is a little recap of what we did.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are really stepping it up and adding a lot of science and social studies into our reading curriculum this year. That means making the curriculums blend into one another as often as possible. I am really excited with how well everything has been going, and the students are learning so much in the process. 

This week, we began our two week unit on Geography. We talked about the continents, map keys, compass rose, equator, and hemispheres. On Monday, the students spent time exploring the names and important facts of each of the seven continents.We started the entire unit off by creating a KWL chart on continents. We had one fact for the K section, and the students struggled to list any questions or comments that they had for the W section of our poster. I was totally okay with that because it meant that most of this unit would be entirely brand new to the students. 

We learned a song on the continents. You can view a snippet of it here. I cut out life size posters of each continent and placed them around the room. I also used fact sheets from Lucky to be in First's awesome unit on the continents to help students build a foundation of knowledge for each continent. 

Next up was our ThingLink activity. Students spent two days exploring different Thinglink tasks centered around the continents. Our reading comprehension skills this week were problem/solution and making predictions with fables. Students used the Thinglink to explore different fables from around the world. 

Midway through the week, one of my students wanted to add a new question to our KWL chart. She asked me what the continents looked like from space. I was floored at how awesome of a question that was, and I told her that I would somehow show her the answer to her question. The next day, I walked in with a ThingLink for students to explore in our continent centers. This might be one of my favorite ThingLinks that I have created so far. The students could click on the "hot spot" hovering over each continent to see a direct view of what the continent looks like from space. I also had a hot spot embedded in the upper left corner of the image. This hot spot would send students to a general page where they could move the globe all around and look at the globe in 3D. Students noticed that some continents had different colors on them so we discussed that white represented ice, blue was water, green was area with dense vegetation, and brown meant desert or extremely dry areas. Students would also find a continent and then refer to our life size world map to try to figure out which continent they were looking at. 

 We wrapped up the week by reading some rigorous informational text from TN Core. I knew that the passage on oceans would be challenging so students read it in groups. The passage covered everything from the names of the five world oceans and their locations to the water cycle. I had a proud teacher moment when students left for the afternoon. It was raining and a student exclaimed, "Look! It is raining water from the ocean!". It just goes to show how very important it is to expose our students to text. They DO apply the information to real life!

Students also applied their understanding of the 7 continents and 5 oceans, the equator, and the 4 hemispheres by making a paper plate replica of the world. Here are two cuties showing off their work! 

We have another exciting week ahead! Students will be writing their first informational paper about Christopher Columbus.