Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

To be totally honest, I am always nervous about making New Year's Resolutions because I don't want to make commitments that I won't keep.  However, I couldn't resist joining up with The Teacher's Cauldron's Linky Party.  Besides, what better accountability for New Year's resolutions than the entire blogging world?  

Personal Resolutions

1. Find Balance:  It's amazing how much has changed in my life in a year.  Last year, I had lived in New Jersey for just a few months and was still on my new legs as a teacher.  I spent pretty much every spare moment of my life lesson planning and every weekend was spent with me, myself, and I.  One year later, I am finding that God has blessed me so abundantly with a great church, new and old friends, a wonderful boyfriend, Compassion activities etc.  I love everything that is going on, but I sometimes feel like I have too many plates spinning in the air at once.  I need to find a way to enjoy and participate in everything, while still making time for myself to rest and rejuvenate.  I think getting mono was the wake up call that I needed to tell me that I need more rest.


2. Give Up Control/Perfectionism: This may be a long, long, long-term goal because I know that I will not achieve it easily.  However, I want to work on it.  I have been discovering more and more lately that my perfectionism is not necessarily a good thing.  It's okay to try to do my best at everything I do, but I cannot expect myself to be perfect.  In fact, I never can be perfect this side of heaven.  It is not healthy to beat myself up about failing when I don't achieve an unattainable goal.  I need to realize that even my most  "righteous acts are filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6), and that all that I have comes from God's grace.  I need to stop controlling everything and trying to make everything and everyone perfect, and just rest and live in God's grace day by day.

Blogging Resolutions

1. Blog Makeover: This should probably be more Josh's goal than mine because he is the one helping me plan out and create my new blog layout, but I still thought I would put it up here.  I hope to give this page a nice makeover, so that I have a button and a cohesive theme.

2. Build Followers: I would love to build a bigger group of followers.  Blogging is not just about numbers for me, but I think it would be super exciting to have a decent-sized group of followers, especially ones that aren't related to me :-)

3. More Freebies: I would love to get better at creating and sharing my own resources and ideas, so that I can pass them out to fellow teachers.  I beg, borrow, and steal a lot, so now it's time to give back.

Well, those are my goals.  Let's see how I do with them.  Here's to a great 2013!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Break Highlights and TpT Purchases

It's hard for me to believe, but break is coming to an end.  I know it's not over quite yet, but I am leaving Ohio tomorrow to spend New Years in PA with Josh's family, so I kind of feel like the end is drawing near.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like break is never long enough?  I always come home with so many projects and ideas of things I want to do, but never seem to get them all accomplished.  It was especially hard to get stuff done this break because I was in a Benadryl-induce stupor for the first few days and then I just didn't have my full energy to do much due to the mono.  I still got a lot done and had a great time with my family and friends.

Here are some highlights:

Decorating Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies have always been a big deal in my family.  My mom and I usually work together to make TONS of different delicious varieties.  We are always amazed at how many we have once we make them, but we can't leave out any of the traditional favorites.  There is no chance that we will exclude these traditional molasses gingerbread cut-outs.  They are a family tradition that goes back several generations.  Decorating them is a very important part of Christmas.  Christmas isn't Christmas until the cookies are covered in crazy-colored sugary goodness!  The cookies are a tradition, but the decorations are definitely not traditional.  :-)
A tray ready to be devoured on Christmas eve
Christmas- Stockings, Breakfast, and Gifts
The order of events Christmas morning is also a very important part of my family's holiday.  We always wake up, open stockings, have a big breakfast, and then spend several hours opening the gifts under the tree.



Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
This Christmas break I got to have an extra special time with one of my best and oldest friends.  We went bridesmaid dress shopping!  She's getting married next October and asked me to be a part of her special day, so break was the time to get dresses!  The dress shopping entourage included the bride, the mother of the bride, the future mother-in-law, and all 5 bridesmaids.  That could have been a recipe for drama worthy of an episode of Say Yes to the Dress.  However, we shocked the David's Bridal consultant by all agreeing and loving the first dress we tried on!  We even all picked out shoes we loved!  It was a total success.  I don't know if she wants me to reveal her dresses or not, so I will just show the samples and her bouquet to give you an idea.

TpT Purchases!!
A natural part of being more involved in the blogging world is being more involved in the TpT world.  I have always taken advantage of the free downloads, but am now realizing how many great products there are available for really affordable prices, especially when the sellers are having after Christmas sales!

Here's what I purchased today:

From Sheree Peterson from Peterson's Pad:







I am really excited to use all of these great new products in my classroom!

I promise to start putting up more things of my own creation once I get back to school and am not spontaneously falling asleep every day!

One last thing, Romelyn is still in need of a loving sponsor.  Her packet expires January 11th, which means she will be put back in the pool of all the children in need of sponsorship.  Please contact me before then if you are interested in changing her life.  What a great Christmas/New Years gift it would be for you and for her!

For more info, check out my previous post: Meet Romelyn

Wishing everyone an enjoyable last few days of break and a great New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Peanut Gallery Giveaway!!

As I was making my rounds through the bloggy world this morning, I came across The Peanut Gallery.  I always love discovering new blogs, especially when they are as cute as this one.

Another super exciting thing is that The Peanut Gallery is having an awesome 2013 Gift Card Giveaway!  You should check it out by clicking the link below.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Character Education Skits

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

I hope that you all are having a fun and festive holiday.

Before I share my thoughts and freebies on character education, here is a quick health update.  The verdict is that I have...MONO!!  Yep.  I never had a sinus infection.  I had mono.  The reaction I had to the antibiotic was because apparently mono and amoxicillin don't play well together.  Actually, that is a MAJOR understatement.  For the last 4 days, I have been taking a double dose of Benadryl every 4 hours and my skin is still not fully back to it's normal paleness.

The upside to having mono is that I do not have to permanently avoid amoxycillin in case I need it in the future.  The downside is that I have mono and the antibiotic did nothing to help, so I will still have it for awhile.  My best guess is that I've had it for a little over three weeks now since that is how long I have not felt well.  That means it could be another several weeks before I have my full energy back.  I am thankful that it is break so I can rest up a lot.  However, it's Christmas and I don't want to be lame and miss out on things because I am zonked out on the couch all the time, so it has been hard for me to really feel like resting.

Anyways, that's my status.  Now, on to more educational things.

I thought I would talk a little about character education since my class just performed their character education skit for the whole school last Friday.

My school addresses character education by having monthly assemblies.  At each assembly, one kindergarten, one first grade, and one second grade class perform something about a specific character trait.  Classes usually either recite a poem/reading of some kind or perform a skit.  At the end of the assembly, all three classes sing a song.  These are the character traits for the year:

  1. Cooperation
  2. Attitude
  3. Respect
  4. Effort
  5. Sharing
  6. Communication
  7. Responsibility
  8. Empathy
Although the assemblies are a lot of work and can be quite stressful, I enjoy them and think they do a decent job of introducing students to character traits and providing them with examples of how to act out the traits.  Ideally, students are learning these things at home, but we all know that unfortunately, not all children have positive role models at home.  

As a first year teacher last year, I was nervous about preparing for the assembly, but quickly became excited about getting to be theatrical.  I was in theater all through high school and miss it a lot, so when I got the chance to perform a play with my class, I jumped at.

My class was assigned to the Sharing assembly.  I found an AWESOME readers' theater for the book, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Psister.  I downloaded it FREE from within Dorothea Conte's paper, "Readers' Theatre Developmental and Corrective Reading Processes."  I only had to adapt it a bit to suit my class and to emphasize sharing a bit more, but it worked great.  

My kids learned their lines by reading through the script every day and by practicing at home.  We worked with the art teacher to make some AWESOME costumes.  The kids did all the painting!




For the rainbow scales, we used shiny metallic paper cut into circles.  The scales were taped on, so that when it came time for the Rainbow Fish to share them, he could take them off and stick them on the other fish.  I wish I had a better picture, but this gives you the idea of how they looked.


At the end of the assembly, we sang "The Sharing Song" by Jack Johnson.

For this year's assembly, we had to focus on Respect.  I was happy to be assigned that trait because my three classroom rules are: Respect Yourself, Respect Others, and Respect the School.  On the very first day of school, we go over the rules and think of examples of how to show respect.  Then, we sing the "Respect Song" from Have Fun Teaching.

For the assembly, I scoured the internet to find a skit or readers' theater about respect, but surprisingly had no luck, so I decided try to write a skit myself using "The Respect Song" as a basis.  

The skit is a game show called "Respect or Not?" hosted by Rita and Ricky Respect.  There are 4 contestants who must watch various classroom scenarios being acted out and then decide if the students were being respectful or not.  There is also an audience participation component because the hosts ask the audience if they think the students were respectful or not too.  My students and the audience really got a kick out of the scenes where the students were being disrespectful because they were based off of common classroom scenarios. 

If you would like to check out the skit, you can download it FREE here: "Respect or Not?"

One note about the script: I used my students' names for the contestants and students, which made them feel special and helped them respond to their cue lines better.

After my class performed, we joined with the kindergartners and second graders to sing a different "Respect Song" from Have Fun Teaching.


With both skits, I learned that I can't expect Tony award winning performances from first graders, but that as long as the kids have fun and everyone learns more about the character trait, then it's all good.

Before, I go take a Benadryl-induced nap, I want to ask you all about what your schools do for character education.  Do you have assemblies?  Do teachers just do their own thing or is there as specific curriculum?  What traits do you teach about?

I would love it if you would comment to share your thoughts.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hives and Happy Holidays!

Hello Everyone!

Let me start this post by saying that I am currently on a lot of medicine and have a horrible headache, so if anything I write does not make sense, I blame the pills.

That sounded kind of sketchy, so let me explain.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a really bad cold, which was finally diagnosed as a sinus infection (or was it....).  I got some antibiotics and felt much better for a few days.  I actually had some energy over the weekend, which was great cause we had our staff holiday party and Josh's Bible Study Christmas party. Both were so fun!!  I felt like I was back to my normal self after 2 weeks of being sick.

That whole feeling better thing didn't last too long.  Come Sunday night, I was EXHAUSTED.  I went to bed at 9:15 p.m.!!!  That NEVER happens.  I usually end up doing work until at least 10:00, if not 11:00.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I had TERRIBLE headaches all day.  I was so confused as to why the antibiotics were not helping.  I thought my sinus infection was returning with a vengeance.

Then, Thursday came.  Bum, bum, bum.... (that was supposed to sound ominous).  I woke up and felt awful again, but did not think much of it because I had felt awful every other day of the week.  I made it through the morning in a haze with my mind thinking ahead to the holiday party in the afternoon.

My awareness of how I felt changed drastically when I went into the teachers' lunch room and was greeted with: "Are you okay?  Your face is all puffy!  Are you allergic to something?"

I experienced momentary panic as an image from Hitch flashed across my mind!


Thankfully when I looked in the mirror I discovered that I did not look that bad, but my face definitely was puffy and I was covered in a bright red rash.

Here is a summary of the next events: I went into the school, nurse, played phone tag with my doctor, talked to my dad (he's a doctor), and was told that I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic and should stop taking it and start taking Zyrtec immediately!

That plan sounded all well and good until later that night, I felt like I was run over by a truck!  My face was tight and swollen.  My head and ears hurt like crazy.  My entire body was covered in bright red hives that made my skin super hot.

Let's just say I was miserable.  So miserable, I could barely talk without breaking into tears.

When I called my dad again, he ordered me to go the ER or at least an urgent care place.

So, I called up a friend, we lost driving to the urgent care, I annoyed the receptionist by getting there 10 minutes before they closed, talked to a doctor, and left.

And the verdict is...

Still out.  The doctor didn't know for sure what was going on.  He said it could be that I am allergic to penicillin or that I have....MONO!!!!  Apparently, if you have mono and take the antibiotic they gave me, you can have a severe allergic reaction.  Fun stuff...not.

I don't know which is better, having mono and getting over it or being unable to take penicillin products for the rest of my life?

After forcing myself to go to school this morning to facilitate my class's performance in the character education assembly (more details and freebies to come), I went to get the mono labwork done and then went home.  Everyone who saw me ordered me to get a sub and leave because frankly, I look terrible.  My kids asked if I had chicken pox.  

So, that's what is up with me and part of the reason why I haven't blogged much this week.  I am so looking forward to getting home to Ohio for break.  Unfortunately, I still have to drive to PA to get Josh and then make it through the 9 hour drive to Columbus tomorrow.  If ever I wished I could teleport somewhere, today is the day.  The first priority when I get to Ohio is to hug everyone and then STOP....IT'S BENADRYL TIME!!!!


I can't take it yet because I don't want to fall asleep and have my car make "friends" with a tree or another car while driving.  That would not be a good thing.

I hope to feel better and get some blogging done over break.  We'll see what happens though.

Wishing everyone a happy and HEALTHY holiday!!!

-Becky

P.S. This clip from Hitch where he is drinking Benadryl cracks me up!  I hope I won't get like that when I take it!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teacher to the Core Giveaway!!!

Attention Teachers!   Katie at Teacher to the Core is having an AWESOME celebration giveaway.  If you win, you get to choose one item from each of tons of awesome TPT stores.  Did you catch that?  You get to CHOOSE your prizes.  How awesome is that?  Plus, there is a winner for K-2 and 3-6.



Head on over to Teacher to the Core right away!  Today is the last day to enter!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook and Schema Anchor Chart

Today was an emotional day for me and I am sure it was for all of you as well, whether you are teachers or not.  I don't know how to express the sorrow I feel over the loss of these sweet children and their brave caretakers.  However, some of my fellow bloggers shared beautiful thoughts.  I was very encouraged by the words of HeatherJodi, Susan, and Erica.

Going back to school today was hard.  I (foolishly) watched the news before going to work and ended up crying the whole time I walked to school.  At school, we had a somber teacher's meeting to discuss how to help our little ones through this crisis.  Being that we are a K-2 school, the decision was that we should not bring the topic up unless the children did, and then we should comfort, but quickly re-direct them because children this young need the routine to help them cope.  I was fully supportive of this plan, especially because some parents had e-mailed me and told me their children did not know anything at all about the tragedy.  They were concerned that their children would be overly exposed to news at school.  I am guessing that this is the reason why 5 of my students were absent today too.

Anyway, I was thankful not to have any of my students bring up the topic at all today.  It was easier for me to stay composed not having to talk about it.  However, the conversation buzzed all through the teachers.  There was a range of topics and sentiments from grief to anger, which was expressed in rants about how our school needs to crack down on security.  I agree that some things could be tightened up, but at the same time, anger solves nothing, and there is only so much we can do.  Schools already have so many more systems in place than they used to.  I remember that my elementary school was not even locked during the day!  How things have changed.

I don't want to dwell on anything for too long, so I will move on.  

I wanted to quickly share an anchor chart that I made recently.  I have been making a concerted effort to make and use anchor charts more effectively this year.  I get a lot of ideas from Pinterest and my colleague Heather who makes AWESOME charts.  I am always taking pictures in her room and attempting to copy her artistic creations.

The one I want to share with you though is my own creation.  I needed something to help teach students about schema, which is a tricky word and a tricky concept.  I knew people used the idea of a ladder to talk about how using prior knowledge helps you learn new knowledge, so I made a chart to represent this idea.


The visual and the accompanying list really helped the students understand the concept.  It helped them know what kinds of things to think about before they read.  

Well, I need to get off to bed, but before I go, I want to say once again that my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  I pray that the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1) will comfort you and bring you peace in these troubling times.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook


My thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by this tragedy.  Through it all, I know that God is in control.  He loved and held each precious child.  I am trusting Him even though my heart is broken for Sandy Hook.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tis the Season to Shop!


I am happy to be joining up with Michelle (Fabulous in First) and Erica's (Erica Bohrer's First Grade) Linky Party.

This year, I have taken a different approach to Christmas gifts.  Most years, I hope to get everyone such meaningful gifts that fit their interests and personality perfectly, but I end up waiting until the last minute to shop and settle for generic things like notepads, lotion, and socks.  Having received plenty of notepads, lotion, and socks myself over the years, I realize that people only appreciate such items so much.

So, instead of going with my usual approach, I decided to change things up a bit.  I discovered some great opportunities to give gifts that are meaningful to the giver, the recipient, and people in need!  That's a win, win, win situation in my book.

Check them out:
Compassion Christmas Gift Catalog

I know I highlighted this in a previous post, so I will be brief.  Check out Christmas Gift Idea or comment for more details.

This catalog is easy to use and packed full of awesome ways to give to the needy around the world on behalf of the people you care about in your lives.  Gifts range in price, but start at just $4!!!!  However, you can give more or less if you so choose.  Once you give a gift, you can choose one or more of the gift certificates to e-mail or print to give to person who you gave on behalf of. 

E & Company Necklaces


One year ago my good friend Emily took a huge leap of faith by quitting her job and starting her own business.  She knew God wanted her to do it, but was scared to step out of her comfort zone. 

Now, her business is official and awesome.  Why is it awesome you ask?  Well, because she is selling handcrafted necklaces made by street vendors in India!!  The best part is that part of the proceeds from the necklaces go back to the women street vendors!! 

By giving a gift from E&Company you are giving an very unique and special necklace to someone you care about, and helping women living in poverty in India.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

Here are some other more traditional gift ideas.

DVDs

These are two of the best movies I saw this year.  They would make great gifts for people who like action.

Children's Books


I got these two books from the Scholastic book fair and they are now two of my all time favorites.  Pig Kahuna is super cute and fun.  The character's names are Fergus and Dink!  Goldilocks and the Three Dinsoaurs is a humorous and sarcastic spin on the traditional tale.  I was laughing the whole time I read it.


I hope these gift ideas help you out and that your holiday season is not too stressful.  Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

End of the Day Reflection

I don't know about you, but I feel like dismissal is always the most hectic time of the day!  Despite all my procedures, there is only so much I can manage the chaos of students packing up and getting lined up.

However, I do have some routines that I love and want to share.

What I Learned Today!

Closure, closure, closure!  That seems to be a buzzword when it comes to observation lessons.  It's always, "Be sure to close your lesson,"  "Make sure to have a summarizer," etc. etc.  That's probably because it is so hard to make time to really close a lesson effectively, especially when there are materials to clean up, bells ringing for recess etc.

I used to ask myself, "why is closure so important?"  

I pondered for a bit and considered the wise words of professors and supervisors and realized that yes, indeed, closure is an important and necessary reinforcement of concepts.  During independent work, kids go to the bathroom, chat with their neighbor, and get otherwise distracted from the main concepts that they are supposed to be learning and practicing.  They need to be reminded at the end of a lesson what they actually learned, so that they can retain it for at least a millisecond after the lesson.  

Then, out of the blue, my principal at the time told me I should start having a whole day closure/reflection.

My initial reaction was "What?  Another thing to do!  There is already so much going on!"

However, then I tried it.  I started taking a minute or two at the end of the day to have the students share with each other and the class what they learned that day.  I discovered that many of the students did not remember things at first, but were quickly reminded when they heard the ideas and recollections of others.  They actually got very excited to remember all that they had done and learned that day.  I also enjoyed the mood boost I got when I realized all that I had taught.

Now, I have use a recording sheet for students to use to write down what they learned each day.  They keep this sheet in their Homework Folders, so that they can share it with their parents at night when the inevitable "What did you learn in school today?" question is asked.

Finally, at the end of the month, students can reflect even more as they realize how much they learned using the prompts at the bottom of the page.

So, not only do I close my lessons, but I close my days out.

Behavior Charts

I originally got this idea from Linda on Proteacher and from one of my practicum teachers in college.  I cannot remember where I found the chart, so I apologize if this is stealing someone's idea.  I did adapt it and make it my own though, so it is not an exact copy cat.

The idea behind my behavior chart is that I wanted to have some kind of individual accountability/incentive for my students.  Students keep this chart in their Homework Folders.  At the end of each day, I call them up for dismissal by group (bussers, walkers etc.) and give each student either a sticker or a note explaining their misbehavior.  If you don't want to go into debt buying stickers, you could do a smiley face or a star.

Even though the stickers are small, the students are highly motivated to earn them.  They love getting all kinds of themed stickers and are so proud of themselves when they complete a week or a month of stickers.  The students who misbehave and get notes are always disappointed in themselves and vow to do better.  

Besides motivating the students, the chart is an AMAZING tool for parental communication.  I have parents gush to me at conferences about how much they appreciate getting daily feedback about their child's behavior.  The feedback enables them to support and enforce classroom rules at home through additional incentives or consequences based on whether or not their children earn stickers.

While the chart itself is an external motivator, I have found that it helps build internal motivation because students realize that their behavior can have positive or negative results and they begin to strive to do their best.  This is the case even for my super well-behaved students who earn stickers nearly 100% of the time. 

Also, at the end of the month, I can copy the charts and keep them in my student records.  This allows me to note trends in behavior and to easily communicate about issues with support staff and parents.

Download a copy of my chart for January: Behavior Chart.  Feel free to adapt it to meet your needs!

Hope these two ideas are helpful.  Time to go to bed.  I found out I officially have a sinus infection, so I am starting antibiotics, but I still need my sleep! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Meet Romelyn

Hello Everyone!

I would like to introduce you all to beautiful Romelyn
Romelyn Sabrido

Romelyn is only 5 years old.  She lives in the Philippines with her father, mother, and sibling.  She loves playing hose, playing with dolls, and walking.  She attends kindergarten, but lives in an area with limited resources and opportunities, and many diseases including fevers, flu, coughs, dengue, and malnutrition.

Romelyn is in need of a loving sponsor whose love and support will help them grow, develop, and have many new opportunities.  

You could be the one to change her life this holiday season.  Your sponsorship would be the best Christmas gift she have every gotten, and possibly the best one you could ever give.

Please contact me immediately if you are interested in sponsoring or would like more information.  Either comment below or e-mail me at hoffman.rebecca@att.net.

Update: Koami (previously posted on here) is now sponsored!!!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

12 in 12!

I am linking up with the 12 in 12 Linky Party hosted by Miss Kindergarten and A Teeny Tiny Teacher.



12. Favorite Movie: The Amazing Spider Man- I was skeptical about this movie because I loved the Toby Maguire trilogy, but I actually LOVED it.  There was great action, humor, romance, and some fun awkwardness.  


11. Favorite TV Series: Revolution- As a fan of Lost, I was naturally excited for the new JJ Abrams show.  I was not disappointed.  The plot is very intriguing and there is plenty of action, but not all fist fights.

10. Favorite Restaurant: Coda Kitchen- This place has a really unique menu of sophisticated, but not over-priced food.  I've loved everything I've tried there. 


9. Favorite New Thing You Tried: Hip Hop Dancing-  I know I am a white girl with no rhythm, but I have ALWAYS wanted to learn to dance, especially hip hop.  I finally got up the courage to sign up for a class this year, and I LOVE it.  It's a great workout, and even though it might take me a bit to catch on to the moves, I am not a total failure.  

8. Favorite Gift You Got: New TV- My boyfriend thought my old TV was an abomination (it had been my grandmother's), so he surprised me with a brand new one, which is much better.  I no longer have to pretend that there are not red and green stripes across the top and bottom of the screen.  Thanks Josh!

7. Favorite Thing You Pinned: Oreo Chocolate Cake- This is a tough one to answer because I have pinned so many awesome things.  This cake takes the cake (hehe) because it was so much fun to make with Josh and his family loved it when we brought it for Thanksgiving.  It is SO rich and amazing.


6. Favorite Blog Post: No David! I'm a Peacemaker- Although I haven't actually tried this with my class yet, I plan to ASAP because I think it is such a cute and practical idea.  Thanks to Mrs. Carroll at First Grade Parade.


5. Best Accomplishment: Completing my first year of teaching- I made it!  After a whirlwind move to New Jersey and a crazy first few weeks of school, I settled in to the routine of teaching and made it out of my first year feeling good.  I give God all the glory for blessing me with a great first year.

4. Favorite Picture: Me and My Boyfriend- This was my first picture with Josh. 

3. Favorite Memory: Thanksgiving Break- I spent the break with Josh and his family and had a great time bonding with his sister, making yummy food, and just enjoying the holiday.
2. Goal for 2013: Rely on God- My goal is to depend more and more on God each day.  I want/need to rely on His strength alone.  He has more than enough peace and joy and patience for me, if only I ask Him for it.  I want to stop being so perfectionistic on my own, and rather surrender to God's will and to care most about what He thinks of me, rather than worrying so much about other's opinions.


1. One Little Word: Balance- I want/need to find balance in my life with God's help.  This has been a great year of new friends and new adventures with Compassion and other things, but it is also a tougher year of teaching and I need to find a way to balance all the good things.  I hope to spend more time being still before God in the midst of the business of life.

Here's to a great end of the year and a happy 2013!!

December Bulletin Boards

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am home sick today because I have a cold that refuses to quit.  I really should buy stock in Kleenex because I am going through them like it's my job.

The up-side to being home is that I can rest, lesson plan, and BLOG!!

I thought I would share some of my December Bulletin Boards with you today.

We Are Sweet on Place Value!!

This idea came from The Mailbox December/January 2011-2012 First Grade.  I absolutely LOVE Mailbox's magazines, books, and resources.  I have SO much of their stuff and I use it regularly.  

When I saw this bulletin board, I couldn't resist trying it.  It looked like such a cute idea and it turned out great!  If you are a Mailbox subscriber you should be able to get the house and candy templates here.  

I just gave the kids each a brown die cut square and a brown die cut triangle, which conveniently fit right in with our math unit on plane shapes.  I had pre-written the numbers on the roofs of the houses in black marker.  I chose numbers between 10 and 50.

The kids had to color the number of tens (peppermint sticks) and ones (gum drops) they needed.  Then, they glued them down and were free to decorate their houses, which they LOVED doing.  They were all super engaged, worked really hard, and got very creative by adding Santa's, chimney's etc.  I was very happy with their work effort and the results.

















For the letters, I used pink die cuts this year, but I am not sure if I like the pink with the red and green or not, so I made a sign.  


We Can Light the World with Kindness!

I got this idea from a discussion on Proteacher.net  I chose two writing paper templates, one with a menorah and one with Christmas lights.  If you have students that celebrate Kwanza, you could have one with a kinara.  
Have Fun Teaching (I had to add the lines)
I had the students write about ways to be kind to people.  It was a great way to facilitate a needed conversation about using kind words and being nice to others.  I added a string of die cut Christmas lights for some extra color and holiday cheer.

Needs Vs. Wants Presents

This board fit with our social studies unit and the holiday season.  As a class, we discussed the difference between needs and wants, and brainstormed some examples.  Then, I divided the class into two groups: Needs and Wants.  The students chose die cut package, bows, and gift tags, and then drew a picture and labeled either a need or a want on their packages.  Plus, the kids started to think differently about their holiday wish lists when they realized that they did not really need Legos and American Girl Dolls.

If you don't have access to die cuts, you could use a present coloring page like the one below from Super Coloring.

So, those are my boards.  I hope that they bring you some holiday cheer!