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.