Snowman, Snowman What Do You See? {PLUS a giveaway!}

I am gearing up for January!

I wanted a simple emergent reader this year. Something to ease the kiddos back in to the swing of things slowly... but still hit on all those standards....and have a "winter-y" flare to it!

So I decided to create a little "Snowman, Snowman What Do You See?" book.

And then next you know... I have made a whole lot more than just the reader.

How did that happen?

That wasn't my plan.... but these activities just evolved and some were things I already have been doing in my classroom, they just needed a little refresh action....

And so I am happy to present my first new product of 2014 - okay... I'm 2 days early... but close enough!
And keep reading.... because I am going to tell you how you can win this little unit, too!

It is 4 language arts and 4 math activities rolled into one little unit!
Language Arts:
*The Snowman Emergent Reader
*Winter Word Practice
*Winter Stories
*Brrr! Sight Word Game

*Winter Counting {practicing teen numbers}
*Button Sorting
*Button Equations {addition to 10}
*Snowman Subtraction

Here is a glimpse at the reader:
It is 14 pages long and covers 11 colors. You can use all 14 pages or just a few. I like to make these types of books different lengths for different groups of kids.

This book will be something that they color and "be a word detective" {searching for sight words} independently. I have no problem differentiating when the little ones are at the reading table with me... or even when working with other adults. I find it is hardest to differentiate their independent time and the length will help me out with this.

I won't show you can click HERE to see the whole preview, but I want to share just a few more things from this unit.... and stick with me... there's some giveaway action at the end....

Button Sorting mats in color or black and white...with 2 categories or 3..... Some are ever pre-programmed and tell the student what to sort by:

The snowman subtraction game is one of my favorites. Students draw a snowman like these two:
Count his buttons and record the number on the first line. Then they roll a dice and record that number on the next line. Using a dry erase marker they can "X" out the number of buttons on the snowman {make sure he is laminated!} to match the die and find the difference.

These little snowman can double as some extra counting practice and I provided a recording sheet for that too!

Last thing to share from the Snowman Unit....hmm, what should I pick?

I think I will go with the Brr! Sight Word Game! This is an old favorite in my room... and am so happy to have a revamped one for 2014!

There are 2 versions of the game - each with 18 words. The words are numbers 11-46  on the Fry Top 100 Word List.

My favorite part of this game is when a little one has to shiver and give us their best "Brrr!!!" and I don't allow a boring "brr".... we need some acting skills as if we are freezing in the arctic.... I want a "BRRRR!!!"

I am so excited for this new little ditty that I want to share the fun and give 2 copies of it away!! Not only that, but BOTH winners will get the unit emailed AND one hard copy of all the COLOR activity pages! {Unit is 119 pages long- you will get 46 pages mailed to you!} 

No need to mail those black and white ones.... those aren't the ones eating up all your color ink {plus there are too many choices!} I will send every single color page straight to your mailbox!

In case you missed it above... right HERE is the link to see more of this unit on Teachers Pay Teachers!

You have until the end of 2013 to enter!  Ok no, we need a bit more time..... how about you have until the clock strikes midnight on January 2nd 2014!

No cute giveaway button for this one people... not enough time... just a Rafflecopter! Get set...GO!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and Happy New Year!

Wrapping Paper Recycle

Yesterday as the wrapping paper was flying all over the place I had the same thought I do every year... This is so wasteful.... but yes, oh so fun!

And I am not one of those people who opens a present so carefully that I will be able to use the paper again.... I'm too reckless in my approach.

BUT I still think some of the wrapping paper could be used again.... in our classrooms!!

And what about the wrapping left on the roll that I say I'll use next year... but sure enough I always seem to buy more because who knows what the latest trend will be.. so why not use that paper now? Or save it to use in my classroom next December.

Plus, this idea can work for birthday wrapping... any of it!

My little ones LOVE sticker stories.... so I thought, why not wrapping paper stories?

 Or even a little math action can work... especially because so many wrapping papers are individual pictures of things:

You can grab your copy of these writing pages for FREE if you just click on the image below:

And then I had another idea.... have you noticed that on the back of wrapping paper they have been making it a grid.. which is super useful when cutting and wrapping!

But also, can be useful in class. The upper grade teacher in my started to go crazy thinking of perimeter and area problems.... but the kinder and first grade teacher in me thought.... a 100s chart!

We will be at the 100th day of school in no time and to prepare we need to do some number writing which will be way more exciting on wrapping paper {plus keep my photo copy number lower!}

I will quickly cut out 10x10 grids and have them write using a ball point pen....which is another special treat.... but markers would smear and pencils will poke through too easily.

Then we may color in all the numbers with zero in them to practice counting by tens. And perhaps outline or color the numbers for counting by fives. You know... just all those neat things you can do with a 100s chart.... but on wrapping paper.

Hope you are enjoying your holiday... before you throw all that wrapping paper away... think about re-using it again!

Bob Humbug the Christmas Grump: Holiday Play

Merry Christmas Eve!

OK so today's post has two messages:

1. Don't judge a book by its cover {literally!}

2. How doing a play is so great for your class in so many ways!

I just wrapped up the 2013 edition of the play, "Bob Humbug the Christmas Grump!" This was year 5 of this little baby.

Our performance was last Wednesday and if you saw me on Monday or Tuesday I would have been saying.... "Why do I do this to myself?" Right??? It's Christmas time... I've got report cards to do, presents to buy and oh yeah... let's not forget... the kids are off their rocker.

And then if you talk to me on Wednesday night I say... "Now I remember why I do it!" The kids always rise to the occasion and are just so darn proud to show their families what a STAR they are!

And actually, the kids are a bit crazy in Decmeber, but since being in a play and having rehearsal is a novel thing for them to be doing and they get to move around and all that... it actually works out well....

Whether it is at the holidays or any time of year I think doing a play is important. First of all, those are the experiences the kids remember! At the end of the year they aren't talking about that circle map you made for the letter "C" are they? hits several of those Common Core Standards... looking at kindergarten, Speaking and Listening K.6....and then all the writing opportunities, story telling and more.

And for the record.... I can direct musicals, but I am NOT a music teacher AT ALL! I just can press play on the CD player. So don't let that scare you away!

So that answers message #2.... I'm working my way backwards today!

#1 was Don't judge a book by its cover... and take a look at this:
I mean those kids on the cover are probably older than me now.... I think? Anyway, I wasn't too sure about this particular play when seeing this cover.... but man, do I love it now. {I have done it 5 times!} This is a hard one to find {not that surprising} and no, you don't have to get it on a record.... click HERE to view it.

Quick summary:
Bob is an elf... he's grumpy and grouchy because his job is to take care of the Toy Dump. One day the machines stop working and everyone's in a panic to have all the toys ready for Christmas day... Bob has an idea... and voila! Christmas is saved!

It is a total of 20 minutes... perfect for kindergarten!

How do we practice?

The day we get back from Thanksgiving break I announce we are doing a play. The CD came with 2 versions of the songs {one set with vocals and one a cappella} I start playing the songs with the vocals ALL day long. All day! Within a week, we've learned the songs without spending any time to do so.

There are 8 songs total {and I add a few old fashioned carols at the end... as the writer of the play suggests}

The roles are: Bob Humbug, a chief helper, the rest of Santa's helpers, a mouse, a cat and narrators.

The story is just given to you in that lovely book shown above- and you can break it up for however many narrators you would like to have. In kinder, I opt for 10 or more.... why? Because most of them can't actually read it....this means they need to memorize it and therefore I don't want it too long. With 1st grade I have assigned less narrators.

I send the narrators' lines home and ask them to practice. My note is HERE if you would like to use it.

We had fancy costumes this year. My room mom is amazing and went crazy at Oriental Trading Company to outfit my class. {Santa's Helpers are shown in the first picture above. The narrators wore the same apron and a different hat}
You don't need all that though. In the past I have bought the cheap t-shirt and ironed on some stuff. I used red and green for the helpers and it just said "Santa's Helper" and the narrators had black t-shirts with a clip art Christmas tree ironed on. The cat had an orange t-shirt with "Carter Cat" ironed on and same for the mouse, but in pink. Everyone wore Santa hats.

And the set.... well, about 3 years ago I had a parent create that little ditty for me and each year I carefully role it up so it will be in pristine condition for the next year. But again, before I had that, the kids would make their stockings {still featured} and I would have them paint lines on red butcher paper to look like bricks and create a fireplace. Then  I would have them make a sign. Simple is good...right?

Don't mind that Santa's reindeer {made by the kids} are missing in this picture:
And another touch I added this year is I had them draw themselves on the computer {using Smart Notebook} as an elf and title it their name plus the word elf. Also, {not shown} I added an actual photograph of them with a Santa hat right next to their drawing.
I usually do this play in my own classroom. This year we have an empty classroom so I decided to do it in there, but I only mention this to say... it can be simple... you don't need to use the auditorium {unless you want to!}

If you are thinking....hmm, maybe I will do a play.... or if you are bored of the one you currently do and don't want to wait until next December then two others by the same company that I have really liked are Little Red Hen and Three Piggy Opera.

Another company to check out is Bad Wolf Press.  Their musicals are always good and some funny lines are guaranteed.... plus they hit some curricular areas. The Friendly Nieghborhood Helpers is an easy and simple one.  When I taught 5th grade I LOVED the Incredible Westward Movement! And another teacher at my school does Character Matters which is always a big hit.

So, moral of this post... plays are fun, a good learning experience and one of those special memories the kiddos will take with them when they leave your classroom.

My Thirteen in Thirteen!

Dear 2013, Please don't end! I would like a little more time before 2014 starts!

This has been a good year and although I am sure 2014 has some goodness in store... I want a little more time. I was skeptical of this year with the whole "13" unlucky... but it has been a good one!

I am linking up with Hadar from Miss Kindergarten, Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Traci from Dragonflies in First for their "Thirteen in 13" Linky party.
Starting with an easy one.... good. Work out clothes. I just {heart} buying workout clothes and it was at an all time high in 2013. 

In fact, this is a picture I took a few days ago... I want one of those wristband-y things on the left to hold my iPhone:
Oh wait.... you mean you actually have to put them on and work out for anything to happen? Oh okay... that is a goal then for 2014.

Yikes! I don't think I have a favorite movie of 2013! I will say that there are several that come out on Christmas Day that I am hoping I will love...Walter Mitty, Leo's little Wall Street ditty and well, we will just have to hope one of them fills the bill. 

Otherwise,  I will say that Iron Man 3 was a disappointment. And well, I haven't seen the latest Hunger Games movie yet!

My hubby votes for World War Z... but this isn't his blog!

I may be late to the party. But it was early 2013 that I learned about Downton Abbey. I am so excited it will be back on January 5!
My ramen addiction hit an all time high. My hubby and I LOVE ramen. No, not Top Ramen, although I will eat that too. I am talking about the real deal ramen. I {heart} it and we seem to eat it at least once a week.

I even Instagram about it... holy obsessed!

I have made a few stops to Little Tokyo, but our local ramen hot spot is Shin Sen Gumi!

You should try it.... I especially like Shin Sen because you create your own bowl. You choose how you want the noodles, the broth and indicate which toppings you want. So fun!

Hmm, not sure if this counts... but I am going with washi tape. I am OBSESSED! How did we not have this sooner?
I use it on classroom supplies, presents.... my keys to tell them apart... just about anything I can think of! Please share what you use washi tape on, too!
I have gotten some awesome gifts... especially the last few days from my little ones. Some thoughtful, creative and generous stuff... but I can't pick just one! I can't!!!! 

So.... instead I am changing this to Favorite gift I GAVE... and to be honest, this would fit the question if anyone were to give it to me... just no one has given it to it isn't really cheating.

Birchbox.... have you heard of it?

Well, I got it for my metro hubby who will love it {I hope!}. Good thing he doesn't read my blog or it may ruin the surprise.... wait, does he read it? Guess this is a good test.

Anyway, I got him {and a few other people} a subscription where each month he will get a package of  samples of various things {skin care,  grooming stuff... etc} You get to personalize your Birchbox by filling in your preferences and things like skin type, etc...

A. you get fun mail...always a bonus
B. You find new things you like

How can any person choose one pin? I am going with this recipe by Iowa Girl Eats. It is SUPER easy, not too unhealthy, not too expensive and so yummy. I love Iowa Girl Eats because all her recipes fit this criteria.

{click on the image to get the recipe}
Click HERE to go to Pinterest!

Hmm, I am not sure. I think I am going to go with my one about Teaching Abroad. I liked this one because I got to reminisce about a life I lived long ago..... and more importantly I had some great feedback of inspiring others to just look into the idea of trying it!

Although I have not perfected this in any way... I am happy with the progress I have made in finding balance in my life.

I still need to work on it and definitely my good friend exercise needs a little more time... but overall, I think 2013 was a much more balanced year for me than 2012 or 2011.

Since I will be boring you with pics of the hubby and me in #3 I think my favorite pic would have to be from Vegas in July.
A. I love Vegas.... all the time!
B. It was the kindergarten conference
C. It was the Vegas Blogger Meet Up!!
It was so fun to meet up with so many bloggers... ah-mazing fun!

And you can see more pics from my post about it HERE but I am choosing to share a picture that didn't make it on that initial post... but I hate that a few people I fell in love with aren't featured... go HERE to see them too:
From left to right: That is ME, Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory, Hadar from Miss Kindergarten and Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher!

I spent 29 glorious days in Europe over the summer. The best part was my hubby and I visiting the vineyard we were married in on our 4 year anniversary. But the other 28 days were fan-tabulous too! We visited Spain, Italy, France {where we were married} and England and although none of those countries were new to us, we tried to throw in some new cities!

 Me: Being a true tourist... such a novel idea too..... hey, when in Pisa...

Cinque Terre.... my first time... awesome {my hubby is taking this picture from our balcony...honestly, if you are even considering going there... GO!}

At a wedding in England for my husband's, how Downton, are we? I just told you in #11 about my Downton love...
 Last one.... seriously, I was looking for the Earl of Grantham to appear!
Don't you hate when people go on and on and on and you really don't care that much to see 800 pictures of their vacay? I know... I a little bit almost did that.... caught myself though! {or sorta did}
As mentioned above I have a ton of workout clothes and actually almost bought more today...seriously. My goal {as it has been in previous years!} is to make a commitment to exercise.

Yes, I am one of those people in the gym in January. I know you hate us "New Years Resolution-ers" crowding up the place.... and I know, you just give it a few weeks and we are all gone and things are back to normal. I hope I am still in that gym.

Here I am with my sweet friend Danielle in January 2013.... as usual, off to a good start:

This is hard.... but after a lot of thought I am going with perseverance!
And thank you.... for "persevering" with this long post!

Here's to a happy 2014!

Santa Mouse {Easy Ornament Idea}

Have you heard of Santa's Littlest Helper? No! Not the elves.... I am talking about Santa Mouse!

Each year I read this rhyming story to my little ones and we make the matching mouse craft.... a very cute ornament!

It really is a sweet story of a generous little mouse who doesn't have a name and Santa comes along to the rescue.  In fact, here is a little YouTube version for you to see if you click HERE!

And do you know I found this book for $2.00 in Barnes and Noble one year?  It is a true story. About 2 or 3 years ago on the day after Christmas this beautiful hardback book was sitting in the after Christmas clearance!!

I tell my little ones that if they hang this sweet mouse ornament on their tree then Santa and his tiny helper will know that they know the story of Santa Mouse! In the story it also says to leave a piece of cheese out for him, but we just stick with leaving him hanging on the tree.

And on the back I put a little sticker that reads "We read the story of Santa Mouse" with the date and their name:
All you need is a candy cane, felt, mini pink pom-poms for noses and googly eyes {super tiny ones!}

I precut the felt like this  {The template to trace Santa Mouse on felt is HERE}
And this year I even had a volunteer add the eyes and nose ahead of time. So yes, the kids didn't do as much, but this way we could stick them on there with hot glue. Is that cheating? Maybe.....

The kids had to weave in the ears, candy cane and stick on their sticker:
Here is the template for the sticker... but since it is a Word Document...well, you'll have to use your own cute fonts... sorry about that. Click HERE!

Maybe this can become a fun little tradition for you and your little ones!