Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Classroom Elf Adventures- Part 3 of 3

We have reached the final week of our classroom elf adventures!

Dot was a very busy elf this week!

I had planned to switch my table groups for the last week of December, but then I had an idea...

The kids were so surprised when they came in and saw that Dot had wrapped our desks (and even more surprised when they unwrapped their desk to find that it wasn't theirs anymore!)

Monday was also the day that we read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We got to write about how we would make the Grinch grin, which resulted in answers like: I would invite him to dinner at my house.

Unfortunately, we were also quite loud/chatty (which may have had something to do with the excitement of unwrapping desks this morning... oops!) When we came in the next morning, we found that the Grinch had shown up and captured Dot!

He had also started everyone on red! Oh dear!

We opened up Dot's mailbox to find that there was no letter from Dot, but there was a letter from the Grinch! He told us that he was able to catch Dot because we were so loud yesterday and the only way to free her from his trap was to work quietly today. He also bet us that we couldn't do it! Well, we were ready for the challenge!

The kids did their very best to work quietly and stay on task (which was still not quite as good as they usually are, but I took into account the excitement of the upcoming winter break). When we came back from lunch we found...

that not only had Dot freed herself, but she had caught the Grinch!

At the end of the day, we always pick a few compliments from our compliment jar to read before we line up to leave. I just happened to pull a compliment for Dot this afternoon- "Dot, you're funny and nice!" so I thought I would use that for the next day.

The little boy who wrote the compliment was thrilled to see that Dot was reading it to Sylvie the flamingo the next day! The rest of the kids LOVED Dot's new dress and were talking about it all day!

Thursday was field day, and in all of the excitement I forgot to get a picture of Dot wrapped up in the Christmas lights that hang around the board. Oops!

On Friday, Dot decided to go out with a bang... she toilet papered our classroom! I had hung a strip down the window in the front door so that the kids wouldn't see in, and I made sure to warn them that Dot had made a huge mess before they came in. They could not believe their eyes!

They were quick to find the culprit!

Dot was kind enough to send all of the kids off to winter break with a little stuffed elf of their very own. We ended up borrowing the elf on a shelf movie from my pod-mate and watching it at the end of the day, all of the kids brought their little elf to the rug to watch with them. It was adorable!

And so ends our elf adventures for this year!

Click here for Part 1 or Part 2!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Classroom Elf Adventures- Part 2 of 3

Welcome to the second week of our classroom elf adventures!

Last week we planted these magic seeds from the North Pole (see the full blog post here).

When the kids came in on Monday, they were so excited so see that our seeds had grown into candy canes!

Dot had decided to get in on the candy cane fun with a trip across the room on a candy cane zip line!

On Tuesday, we found Dot relaxing in her robe and slippers. We also discovered that she had sent us some pictures of her weekend hanging out with my pot-mate's elf, Tinsel!

I had come to school over the weekend and taken pictures of the two all around the school and put them into a photo album. It is the current favorite book in our classroom library! The kids have pointed out that there are a lot of blank pages, they are hoping that Dot will send us some more!

On Wednesday, Dot was hanging out in our READ sign in the library. The kids were more excited about her new boots though, they couldn't stop talking about them!

She also left us some special brag tags in her mailbox, the kids were so thrilled with the new brag tags that a lot of them brought their brag tags to show their 5th grade reading buddy on Friday!

Unfortunately, we were pretty loud and crazy on Wednesday. In fact, we were so wild that I found myself checking the calendar to see if it was a full moon! Poor Dot doesn't like a lot of noise, so she was in bed with a headache when we came in on Thursday. She told us in her letter that she stopped by the clinic on the way back from the North Pole to pick up an ice pack!

Our technology teacher is a good friend of mine and she agreed to help me out with our elf adventures this week. I took this picture of Dot-

and sent it to her. While the kids were working on their technology assignment on Thursday, she sent the picture out to their computers! They were so surprised and had to tell me all about it when I came to pick them up! Needless to say, Thursday was a much better day than Wednesday! :)

On Friday, Dot told us that she was practicing her ballet because she was going to be a sugarplum fairy in the North Pole's production of the Nutcracker. I have a little girl who is going to be in the Nutcracker, so she was very excited to see that she and Dot had something in common!

That was it for our adventures this week. Stay tuned for the final installment in my elf adventures series, coming next weekend! Dot and I have some serious elf mischief planned!

Click here for Part 1 or Part 3!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Classroom Elf Adventures- Part 1 of 3

For the next three weeks, I will be sharing our adventures with our classroom elf!
I started using Elf on the Shelf in my classroom last year and it was a huge success! I had a challenging time with behavior in my class last year and I figured it was worth a shot. I am so glad that I tried it and have been working on new ways to incorporate the elf into our routines during the month of December.
Let me start by introducing our elf- meet Dot!

I started our elf adventures this year by having a mysterious box delivered to our classroom on the day before Thanksgiving break. Inside the box was Dot's mailbox and a letter saying that she would be visiting us when we got back from break. There were lots of guesses as to who Dot might be ("Is Dot your sister?").

The first time that Dot visits, I made sure to put her somewhere up high just in case someone sees her before we read the story and decides to touch her.

Naturally, it took them about 60 seconds to notice her!

We read the story and talked about the rules for our elf. I showed them the papers that Dot had given us to write to her and they were SO excited!

After the kids left, I eagerly opened her mailbox to see it was stuffed full of letters!!!

My little friends were full of questions! So, Dot wrote to tell them that her favorite colors are red and green, the North Pole is magical, she flies using her special scout elf magic, etc. She also made sure to mention how impressed she was with a few students for working hard and a few others for showing kindness.

When the kids came in the next day, they were shocked to see that Dot had put her name all over the classroom!

We have incorporated Dot into our morning routine in two ways: we have an elf adventures journal that the kids take out and write in during the morning news, and we spend the first few minutes of our morning meeting reading Dot's letters and talking about them.

When we read her letter their faces just lit up! I have never seen them so excited before!

Dot must have been tired from her hard work labeling the classroom, because we found her in a bubble bath the next day.

When we opened Dot's mailbox on Wednesday, we found a small, green box with the instructions not to open it!

Thursday brought a lot of hilarity as the kids discovered Dot working on a listening center with Skippyjon Jones in our library.

On Friday, I filled a pot with crystal fill (found in the floral section of most craft stores) and had Dot's letter say that it was time to open the box!

Inside the box was a mini watering can, tic-tacs with candy canes printed on then, and a tiny set of instructions. The instructions told us to place the magic seeds on top of the North Pole soil (crystal fill) and put them in a safe place so that Dot could take care of them over the weekend.

Here is a close-up of the magic seeds-

The kids are so excited to see what has grown when they come back on Monday!

Now the elf is always a lot of fun, but it has also had a HUGE impact on behavior this week. One of my students earned a pink (the highest color on our classroom behavior chart) for the first time this week. When my pod-mate asked him how he did that, his response was: "You know, Dot reports back to Santa about our behavior..." :)

That's it for this week, but I have a lot more planned for Dot! Stay tuned for the next installment in our classroom elf adventures!

Are you using an elf in your classroom? I'd love to know how!

Click here for Part 2 or Part 3!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Vocabulary Hat Parade!

Can you believe that October is almost over?! Where is this year going??
Before I talk about my absolute FAVORITE event of the school year, I wanted to mention my newest classroom purchase. I have always wanted one of those shelved for displaying seasonal books, but was only able to find large ones that were expensive and too big for my classroom. I came across this one on amazon for less than $18 and snatched it up!
It is only made of cardboard, so not super sturdy, but I covered it with duck tape and I think it will hold up pretty well with the added support. The kids LOVE it and are constantly picking books from it. :)
Now, on to the vocabulary hat parade!
Every year our school does a vocabulary hat parade on the Friday before Halloween. Each grade level is assigned a topic (Kinder has letters, first grade has nouns, etc.) and each student creates a hat to match their word. All of the students and staff (and parents!) come out and we get to parade around the school with our hats.
The kids always have a lot of fun... but probably not as much as I do!
I LOVE the vocabulary hat parade, because there is almost nothing I love more than making something for a theme!
My first vocabulary hat was a flamingo (naturally!). I made it by covering a pink foam hat and paper towel roll with felt and feathers. The kids really got a kick out of it!
The following year, I decided to draw on my background in floral design to make a rather large (and as it turned out, very difficult to balance!) garden hat!
It had a lighted garland around the fence and a working solar light in the middle.

 Last year, I decided to simplify a little, and went for an aardvark poking out of its burrow.
I used Styrofoam to build the structure of the burrow, covered it with batting and a suede-like material, and added the plants, longs and clay ants.
When I was planning out my hat for this year, I decided to pick a noun that would allow me to use a few different animals and some lights. I decided on the Arctic ocean because there was something about the walrus that I found irresistible!
I made the ocean with blue mesh ribbon that I filled with tulle and some blue LED lights. I added some chunks of Styrofoam as floating ice as well as a beluga whale plush and a clay narwhal. Underneath the walrus is a mini sound machine that plays ocean wave sounds!
This hat was by far the easiest for me to balance! I think I must be getting the hang of making hats!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Classroom Reveal 2015!

It's my favorite kind of post... the annual classroom reveal!
I'm linking up with the awesome teacher authors over at blog hoppin' for classroom tour Wednesday!
The last couple of years my classroom has looked pretty much the same. The layout has been very similar, the colors were the same, etc. This year I updated my colors, added some new things, and moved some things around!
Before I start the tour, here are a few of the before shots:

We had to take everything down for painting, so it was a big undertaking this year!
Well, without further ado, let the tour begin!
Here is the inside of the front door. The crates hold the books for when the kids are waiting outside in the morning as well as the bins for them to put their guided reading books in when they get unpacked. Above the bubbies I have the compliment jar and the classroom community frame where I post pictures from around the classroom. The kids LOVE to show their parents the pictures when they come in!
Moving further along the back wall, we have my student work display and student cubbies. The student work displays are made with fadeless paper and corkboard circles that I painted green. I use the green tubs for task cards, sorts, puzzles, etc.
 Here is where I store regularly used supplies and paper. The pocket chart serves double duty as a poetry center and a phonics sorting center.
This is the listening center with the crate seats my mom and I made a few years ago. They have held up really well!
This is my absolute favorite spot! I love my library!

I got the marquee letters on clearance at Joann's and added the pom-poms and quotes to make it feel more homey.

I use the tall bookshelf to store leveled readers, magazines, dictionaries, and chapter books.

 The canvases on the far left are some of our favorite characters. I plan on making an Elephant and Piggie one to add to the collection this year!

Here is the other side of the library. Books are numbered and kept in these bins. I also have little rugs the kids can take for a reading spot, whisper phones, fluency strips, and some nonfiction books that I wrote.
Just on the other side of the library is the door to the pod I share with the best pod-mate ever, Jen!
On the door is my birthday display. Student birthdays go on gift tags that I attach to the month presents.

On the wall is my comprehension challenge board. The kids can earn points for completing reading comprehension activities. This is the first year that I have done this, so I'm not 100% sure on the details yet, but I think they will enjoy the challenge!
I rescued this unclaimed glider on the last day of school last year and my mom was kind enough to recover it for me. I don't use it all the time (mainly for read-alouds), but I love it all the same!

Behind my chair is the basket where we keep the scoop rockers. I picked them up at Walmart over the summer for less than $5 each and the kids LOVE them! I figured that they would always be secondary to the library seating, but they seem to be the favorite spot to read so far!
This is the front of the room. The black rug is new and I got the blue and green spots from Sit Spots. I love that they are functional and look like polka dots!
Just in front of the rug is the bulletin board where I keep the center chart and calendar. The share chair got a bit of a makeover this year!
I store supplies for quick phonemic awareness and math activities on this black table. I also have the jar I use for calling on students (the star jar, each student's cubby number is on a star) :)
This is my teacher corner, complete with flamingo desk skirt and collection!
This is my guided reading area. I made the bucket seats this year. They were pretty short, so I had to lower the table quite a bit. It makes me feel very short when I sit there!
Here is my bulletin board for classroom rules and school expectations.
This is the word work center-
-all supplies they may need for word work are kept here. I wanted to try to reduce the amount of time it took for students to transition between centers, so I keep crayons, pencils, etc. here.
I added lanterns this year as table signs.

 Each table has a bookshelf for supplies that we use a lot. They have really reduced transition times!

 Well, that's it for my tour this year! I hope you have enjoyed the peek into my classroom. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!