Monday, December 30, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside: Centers for January, Freebies, and a Winner

Maybe I should say, "Baby it's wet outside."  we have had rain every weekend for at least the last month.  But, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a little cold air to hang around long enough for some snow.

Speaking of snow, there's plenty of snow inspired learning going on in my math and literacy centers for January.
Hot off the press is Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Math Centers for January}.  This common core aligned packet includes work with addition, subtraction, number comparisons, number order, nonstandard measurement, time to the half hour, missing addends, and more.  You can get a closer look by clicking on the picture.

Below is a FREE center from this packet, Snowman Comparisons.  With this center students will practice comparing numbers with the greater than and less than signs.  Click on the picture for your own FREE copy.


Also hot off the press is Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Literacy Centers for January}.  This packet includes work with rhyming words, long and short a discrimination, sentence sorting, contractions, synonyms, antonyms, compound words, sight words, and more.  You can check it out by clicking on the picture.

You can have a FREE center from this packet by clicking on the pictures below.  Hot Chocolate Blends provides your students practice with initial blends.  After matching all the initial blend picture cards with the word cards, students will write their answers on the recording sheet.


If you have any questions about these activities, please email.  I'll be more than glad to answer any questions.  Hopefully these packets and freebies can lighten your load a bit as you prepare to return to school after Christmas break.

Finally, we have a winner for School Is a Happy Place's first anniversary giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card.  

Thanks to all of you that stopped by and entered.  Carrie, I'll get you your prize ASAP.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.  I hope you have a special time with your loved ones.

P.S.  School Is a Happy Place's 1st Anniversary Giveaway goes through December 29th.  You can enter once for a $50 Amazon gift card.  You can enter additional times if you join School Is a Happy Place as a new follower and/or as a new follower on Bloglovin.
Good Luck.
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Mentor Text and Two Free Activities for the New Year (Plus a Giveaway)

There's only two more days on our Advent calendar until the big day.  With a six year old at the house, the excitement is off the chart.
Although, we're not to Christmas yet, I'm thinking ahead the first few days back after the break.  One book I'll be using is Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport.

This book follows Shante as she visits neighbors to borrow some black-eyed peas for her family's New Year's meal.  She learns about different ways other cultures celebrate the New Year from her neighbors.  The text is rhyming and the illustrations are bright and lively.  If you do not have this book in your library, you really should check it out.  It is informative and a great way to start the New Year in your classroom.

To go along with this book, I thought it would be fun to do a nonstandard measurement activity with black-eyed peas. So I created New Year's Measurement.  This free packet includes New Year's themed picture cards for measuring and a recording sheet.
 Students will estimate how many black-eyed peas it will take to measure each picture.  Then students will use black-eyed peas to measure.

There are color and blackline master options for the picture cards for this activity.  If you would like a FREE copy of this packet, click on the picture below.

We will also be working a bit with word problems.  I've updated my New Year's themed math mini book for 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 through 2025 and I plan on using it .  If you would like a FREE copy of it, just click on the picture below.

There are all sorts of fun classroom activities to go along with the celebration of the New Year.  I hope the suggestions above can make your planning a little easier.

Oh, and one last thing . . . To mark School Is a Happy Place's first anniversary, I'm having a little giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card.  Anyone can enter the giveaway once.  For additional chances to win, join School is a Happy Place as a new follower and/or become a new follower on Bloglovin.

Good luck.  The winner will be announced on December 30th.  (Sorry-the giveaway was in 2013)

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

First Anniversary Giveaway

TGICB.  I am totally ready for a little break.  We have been so busy.  I'm not complaining.  Most of the business is pretty fun.  But oh my gosh, I'm needing more time.  Embarrassingly enough we just decorated our Christmas tree last night and sent out cards today.  Finally, done and done.
This week was also the first anniversary for School is a Happy Place.  I am so happy to have the first year of this project under my belt.  I have learned so many new things and "met" so many new people blogging.  It has been a great experience.  I have logged many, many hours on my computer.  After my daughter goes to bed, I'm usually perched at our kitchen island working on something to do with my blog, school, and now teachers pay teachers.

To mark School Is a Happy Place's first anniversary, I'm having a little giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card.  Anyone can enter the giveaway once.  For additional chances to win, join School is a Happy Place as a new follower and/or become a new follower on Bloglovin.

Good luck.  The winner will be announced on December 30th.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas: Literacy and Math Freebies

Hi friends.  Hope you are doing well.  We started our first round of family parties today with a brunch.  We had a great time.  My daughter is the perfect age for so much holiday fun, just old enough and still young enough.
Speaking of fun, what character is more fun than Pete the Cat?  Yesterday, our class read Pete the Cat Saves Christmas and did some work with this book.
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas follows Pete as he overcomes his fears about being too small to take over for Santa, since he is sick.  Of course the illustrations are fabulous.  The text is rhythmic and rhyming and like White Shoes, Four Groovy Buttons, and School Shoes, has a theme song that student love to sing.

After reading, we made these really cute Santa Pete the Cats to put up in class for the last few days before break.

We also did a little comprehension lesson on problem and solution.  As a class we discussed the problems and the solutions in this story and then the students completed a graphic organizer.  If you would like a copy of this handout, you can click on the picture.  The clip art is from Melonheadz.

In math we are working on comparing numbers with the greater than and less than signs.  I made a Santa Pete themed math center for the kids to complete during part of our math time.  I printed nine copies of this center and partnered the kids to work on this activity.
If you would like a free copy of this center and recording sheet.  Click on one of the pictures below.  The clip art is (again) from Melonheadz and the fonts are by Cara Carroll.

My firsties enjoyed this book and really liked having activities to extend it a bit.  Pete is very popular and anything having to do with him seems to spark my students' interests.
I'll leave you with a pic from earlier this week.  Pete even got in on our elf fun.  Groovy.

If you would like to check out some additional classroom activities to go along with Pete the Cat Saves Christmas (including a link to a free pattern for the craftivity),  click here.
Have a great week.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Just a Little Nutty: The Nutcracker for Young Learners

The couple of weeks leading up to Christmas break, is there anything better???  We are down to about a week and a half in counting.  The are so many fun learning opportunities during this time of the year. With Thanksgiving falling so late, it will be a real challenge to fit them all in.
Some of the work we did this week focused on the story The Nutcracker.  We read Mary Engelbreit's version of this classic story.  There are certainly other versions of this story, but I've always enjoyed her illustrations.

After reading the story we discussed the basic story elements and then a couple of days later we went to see a performance of The Nutcracker.  

After seeing the ballet, we compared and contrasted the book with the performance.  I was really impressed with the ideas and observations my kiddos came up with.  Reading and discussing the story before seeing the performance really helped them understand what they saw.
If you would like a free copy of the Venn diagram that we used in class, click on the picture below.  The clip art is from My Clip Art Store (etsy).

Students also made a little art project to spruce up the room.  Their nutcrackers turned out pretty cute.

Our family is going to the public performance next week.  Last year was the first year we took  A.   She loved it.  After it was over she asked if she could touch one of the ballerinas.  I told her no, they were just for watching.  But as we exited, there they were.  It was so sweet.

Thanks so much for reading.  I hope you have a great week.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Elf on the Shelf: A Must Read Mentor Text and An Elftastic Freebie

Hi friends.  I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving break.  Yesterday we went to the movies and saw Frozen.  Then we did a tiny bit of shopping so that  A  could pick her ornament out for the year.  She found an Elf on the Shelf ornament and was super happy with her find.
Last night our Elf, Ms. Joy arrived.   A  popped out of bed extra early to mark the occasion.  Ms. Joy was greeted with an envelope of money and a note to bring to Santa that read, "I very, very much want a sister."  Good luck Santa!

Keeping in the spirit of the season, my must read mentor text is The Elf on the Shelf by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.  I will be reading it Monday in class, since it will be our class elf's first day.
This book tells all about Santa's scout elves.  How they come each December and report nightly back to Santa which children have been naughty or nice.  The illustrations are charming and the story captures children's imaginations.

Since this story is written in a rhyming format, it is the perfect jumping off point for a little work with rhyming words.  It always amazes me how much students struggle with rhyming words.  More practice is almost always needed. 
Below is a rhyming word sort that I created to use on the day we read The Elf on the Shelf.  The clip art is by Melonheadz and I made the fonts.  If you would like a copy of this sort, you can click on the picture below.

If your class has an Elf, hopefully he/she will make classroom management a snap (he he he).  You can also put Elf to work in your curriculum. has free resources available for teachers and of course a visit to Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration.

If you are looking for more mentor text recommendations and activity ideas, be sure to stop by Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Must Read Mentor Text Linkup. 
Thanks so much for reading and have a great week.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Getting My Red and Green On and Two Free Centers for December

Snow before Thanksgiving!  I live in the south and I never ever remember snow before Thanksgiving.  There was just enough to cover the branches and make a few snowballs.  It was also enough to get me geared up for all the festivities coming during the next few weeks.
I have an endless to do list between now and Christmas.  But one thing I can check off is literacy and math centers for December.  On our last day before Thanksgiving break, I stayed late and put away all of the November centers and got out the December ones.  We only have two and a half weeks before winter break, so we need to hit the ground running on Monday.
For math centers we will be using my To Be Jolly {10 Math Centers for December} packet.  
Skills included in this packet are:  number order, place value, addition, subtraction, missing addends, time to the half hour, nonstandard measurement, fact families, and more.  Click on the picture above for more information.

Below is a free center from this packet, Silver Bells Measurement.  This nonstandard measurement activity features adorable Polar Express clip art.  Click on the picture for your own free copy.

During our literacy center time we will be working out of To Be Jolly {10 Literacy Centers for December}.  This packet includes work with parts of speech, sight words, vowel discrimination, contractions, antonyms, syllables, digraphs, blends, and more.  Click on the picture below for more info.

You can also have one center from this packet for free by clicking on the picture below.  In Naughty or Nice Noun students will sort words according to if they are people, places, or things.  

December is such an exciting (and distracting) time for kids.  Learning activities that incorporate holiday fun are a perfect way to keep progress moving forward with your dear students.
Speaking of holiday fun, don't forget Sunday is December 1st.  If your class has an elf, he or she will be reporting for duty.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Five for Friday: The Turkey Edition (Plus a FREE Math Mini Book Just in Time for Thanksgiving)

Let me start by saying, I love Thanksgiving.  This time of the year gives be such a warm feeling.  The weather, the food, family parties, really focusing on gratitude, and fun activities with my firsties are just some of the reasons Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year.  It's only fitting that my Five for Friday are all related to Thanksgiving.

Number 1
On Friday my students made these really cute wooden spool turkeys.  We used spools, feathers, craft foam, pipe cleaners, felt, and a sharpie marker.  These turkeys aways turn out adorable and the kids enjoy making them.

Number 2
This week my daughter's kindergarten class worked on a turkey in disguise for their homework.  She made her turkey into pigeon.  Yes I help cut out the pigeon body.  She took care of all the gluing and coloring.  It was a fun project.  The fat pigeon cracks me up.

Number 3
I just finished up a math mini book freebie that we will use next week.  We are in school for a couple of days before going on Thanksgiving break.  It's Turkey Time will be math on Monday.  If you would like a free copy of this mini book, click on the picture below.

Number 4
My love of Thanksgiving is on display in our house.  Among some of our decoration is a vintage turkey collection.  I'm always on the look out for new turkeys to add to the flock.  I love getting these out each year.

Number 5
Next week my students will, of course, complete a project about things they are thankful for.  Top on my list is my family.  My sweet husband is such a wonderful dad and my daughter . . . well there are no words.  I am so blessed to have them in my life.

Thank you for stopping by and thanks again to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting Five for Friday.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In November: A Mentor Text and a FREE Graphic Organizer

Hi All.
It has been an eventful week in our household and in particularly for my daughter.  On Wednesday A's dear kindergarten teacher did what I could not bring myself to do, she pulled one of A's very loose front teeth.  Bless her heart.  We were finally able to have a meal with no tears that evening.
On Friday A's class had pajama day.  I know, huge thrill, right?  Even better, A was given a Key Award at a school wide assembly.  Her award was for speaking with good purpose.  We are very proud of her.
By Saturday her other top tooth was super loose and this time she got it out on her own.  An award, pajama day, and two visits from the Tooth Fairy in one week, big news for a 6 year old.

Moving on . . .
I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Must Read Mentor Text Linky.  This week's topic is science.  My must read recommendation is by one of my favorite authors and is perfect for this time of year.  It is In November by Cynthia Rylant.

This book is a wonderful jumping off point for all sorts of science topics.  Changing seasons, migration, hibernation, weather, and more.  The illustrations are lovely and capture the feel of this time of year.  

In addition to science topics, there are many skills you can hit on with this book, such as inferencing and adjectives.  Below is a graphic organizer I created to use with this story to combine our science with writing.
After listening to In November, my students will complete the bubble map and eventually use it to write their first paragraphs.  Of course if you have older students, each bubble can be its own paragraph to create an essay.
If you would like a free copy of this graphic organizer, click on the picture below.

In November is a great addition to any elementary classroom library.  This book establishes the mood of November that your students will identify with and enjoy.

For more must read science recommendations, be sure to visit the Collaboration Cuties.  Thanks so much for reading and have a great week.