Weekend Warriors {December Deliciousness}

My fellow Weekend Warriors and I are back for the month of December!  This month, we are bringing you some of our most delicious recipes.  'Tis the season, right?


We thought it would be fun to take a break from "shop talk" since we are all on break right now.  The recipes we are sharing are perfect for celebrations involving family and friends, and this time of year, we do lots of celebrating!  

With the hectic nature of the season, I thought I would share my favorite fudge recipe, Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.


If you ask me, there is no sweeter combination than chocolate and peanut butter. And, you can never go wrong with fudge!  It's lip smacking delicious and so easy to make.  Check it out!




Cook's Tip: To make your fudge even more peanut buttery, add a spoonful of peanut butter to the mixture in the saucepan.  Your fudge will be a tad bit chewier, but also yummy, yum, yum!

Click on either image to grab this recipe for FREE!

Be sure to visit these lovely warriors and see what kinds of goodness they have in store for you!



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Week in Review

Happy, Happy Friday!  Do you know why it's happy?  One, we survived the week before winter break.  Two, my blog just got a major makeover!  Isn't she purdy?  I can't wait to celebrate the new design (but, more on that to come, my friends).

I haven't done a weekly recap in a while, so I thought it would be nice to share a few highlights from the week. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a bit of randomness from my week.

Most of you would agree, I think, that this week was all about surviving, but we still had some learning to do, like perfect our close reading skills.  Over the past few weeks, we've been using these winter close reads.




Can I just say that my kiddos are rockin' the close reading skills?  Sometimes we do the reads as a whole group, and other times, the students complete them independently.  Either way, they are doing an amazing job as close readers!

We also wrote some wintry narratives about what we would like to do on a snowy day.  We don't get many snowy days in the desert, but the students certainly had some great ideas about what they would like to do if given the chance!  Some have visited the snow before and decided to write about their experiences.  They had fun publishing their mitten shaped books.


Like most teachers, I've spent my week planning and preparing for our return in January.  I can't wait to get into some of the material I have planned, but I'm most excited about our upcoming unit on time.  It might have something to do with the fact that up until this point we have been working on one and two-digit addition and subtraction and we need a change of pace.  Once the students have been formally introduced to telling time, I like to use these Time Check slips to continually practice our time telling skills.


I tape them to the students desks and call out "Time Check!" randomly throughout the day.  The students stop what they're doing, check the time, and write it down. Easy peasy.  Click the image below to grab this freebie from TpT.


This was also the week of gift giving.  I gave the students their holiday gift and they were so excited! I always give my gifts out on Thursday, rather than Friday.  This way, students who leave early for vacation still get their gift.  I used my Scholastic Bonus points to purchase multiple sets of books.  Each set included a variety of books within various reading levels so I was able to give the students a book at their reading level.  I wrapped the books up and attached these adorable bookmarks from First Class in Fourth Grade.


Finally, our pen pals sent us a new batch of letters.  It's always an exciting day when these letters arrive.  The kids loooove to read the letters from their friends in California.  Not only do we get letters, but treats too!  Stickers for the kids, and a Hello Kitty notepad for me.


I hope you had a fun and productive week too!  Happy Holidays!


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Holiday Survival Guide {Surviving the Week Before Winter Break}

The week before winter break can be rough.  It's rough because the students are amped up at the sheer thought of all things holiday related, family vacations, and two weeks of no school. I mean, a part of me can't blame them, I get pretty amped up over the same things. Buuuuuut, there is still a week of school left.  And during this particular week, I go into survival mode.

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Survival mode, for me, simply means do whatever it takes to make it to Friday.  More specifically, do whatever it takes to keep the kids happy, focused, and engaged.  What follows are a few ideas to help you survive the week leading up to winter break.

Set up a Gift Table
My first step to surviving the week before winter break is staying on top of behavior.  One fun way to do that is by setting up a gift table.

My gift table is just an extra desk in my classroom that I basically use to hold random things throughout the week. The week before break, I place a bunch of wrapped gifts at this table. I promise you, what's wrapped inside didn't cost me much (and in some cases, cost me nothing).


Oh how the students wonder what's inside each package. I can usually hear them guessing and predicting what's inside each wrapped package. Like, every day.  As if this task never gets old.  I can also hear them declaring which package they hope to get.  But the thing of it is, you don't just "get" a gift from the gift table.  You earn it!

In order to earn a gift, the students need to fill these behavior punch cards.  When the students are working quietly, or get to right to work, or exhibit some other kind of desired behavior, they earn a punch (or sticker, if you prefer). Fill the card, pick a gift!

You can grab a set of these punch cards for FREE by clicking {here}.

What kinds of gifts am I offering?  Easy, cheap stuff like markers, crayons, books purchased with bonus points from Scholastic, etc.  Raid your supply closet at school, or find extra supplies you have on hand and wrap them up.


Make Something Beautiful
Another way to survive the week before break is to break out the art supplies and make something special like this adorable directed drawing from ARTventurous.  There are lot of directed drawings out there, but this is my go to each year.  It is always a hit with the kids, and their parents.


Directed drawings are a student favorite in my classroom. They love them. Let's not forget that directed drawings require students to focus, pay attention, apply spatial reasoning skills, and so much more!

I like to use watercolors and pastels to complete this project (the Sharpies are for tracing their drawings).


Art projects are magical. The students quiet down and get lost in their creations.  I love that!

Don't have time to do a drawing and get it colored in in one sitting? No worries! I have been there.  You could have your students draw their reindeer, and then, throughout the rest of the week make some time to color and/or paint them.



Some years, you might find that one drawing is enough to get you through the week.  Other years, you may need to do two or three.  Remember, it's all about surviving the week. ;)

Silent Reading
Are you laughing at the idea of silent reading the week before break?  It's possible, I promise.  Just bring out some flashlights!

During the week before break, I give each student a finger flashlight and we have some daily (silent) flashlight reading.


I have  a set of finger flashlights that I purchased on Amazon, but you can also find these at Target (check the Dollar Spot and the party favor sections).

The flashlights are amazing, and tons of fun!  The kids love using them.  Best of all, it makes for a quiet time and the kids are reading.



Surviving the week before break is crucial to your sanity, and it can be fun for everyone.  I hope you can take a few ideas away from this post! :)

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Winter Card Exchange {A Holiday Activity for Primary Students}

One of my favorite wintertime activities is to facilitate a classroom card exchange.  It's always a hit with the students, and it makes for a great take home project.  More importantly, it's a fun way to build classroom community.


I like to host the card exchange close to winter break, when my students are most antsy and have the holidays on their mind.  In place of our regular homework, I task the students with creating a card to exchange with another student in class.

I always send home a note explaining the card exchange.  I also send home a blank card (construction paper folded in half).  The students are tasked with making a non-holiday specific card at home and returning it to school on the specified date for the exchange.

You can grab a copy of the letter {here}.

Before I send the materials home, we talk (a lot) about the expected quality of the cards.  I emphasize that their card will be like a gift for their classmate and that they should create something they would like to receive.  I show them this card as a sample.


Having that conversation and sharing the sample above is worth the effort (see below).  


How cute is this mug of cocoa with real marshmallows glued to it?  Love!



Love this one too!  I forgot to snap a pic of the inside, but the message urged the recipient not to let their light shine too closely to the snowmen and included a picture of melted snowmen.  Haha!


In years past I have let students facilitate their own exchange, that is, they get to decide who they exchange cards with.  But, in more recent years, I have assigned partners.  I do not tell them who they will exchange cards with until the day of the exchange. This is because seven year olds are terrible at keeping secrets.  Hehe.

After the exchanges are complete, I have the students give each other a compliment and say thank you.  Then, I let them mingle about the classroom and show off their newly acquired treasure to the rest of their friends.  

The exchange is always a low key event, but the kids love it.  You can see their eyes light up and they can barely wipe the smiles from their faces. 

Have you ever hosted a card exchange in your classroom?

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Unwrap a Gift from Me to You!

The holiday season is upon us, and there is no better way to celebrate than with a brand new seasonal freebie!  I'm linking up with The Primary Gal to share my newest freebie with all of you.


I love to change out my bulletin boards each month, and I'll be honest, sometimes time is not on my side. When that's the case, I turn to a quick and easy craft and pair it with a poem.  It's a win-win because I end up with a cute display that the kids take great pride in, and it gets done in a short period of time.  I typically hang up their writing (poem) with the craft next to it.

Knowing how busy December is, I created a quick and simple craftivity pack that includes the templates needed to make the cuties shown below, and two different poetry templates.


Each of these kiddos only require 3 pieces of colored construction paper. Or, you could print everything on white and have your students color them in.  This saves you even more time when it comes to prep!


Simply print out the poetry templates and let your students create a fun poem about winter.  I usually lead my students in a whole group brainstorming session after reading a book about the topic, but feel free to use it as you see fit.  You could even use this freebie in January!


I hope you can use this freebie. Click {HERE} to download it from TpT.  

Enjoy!

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Weekend Warriors: November Necessities {Sunday's List}

Welcome back to another installment of Weekend Warriors! This weekend, my gal pals and I are sharing our necessities.


I hope you're ready for today's list!  Here we go!

Stickers.  Love them or hate them, they are a necessity in my classroom.  I have a drawer full of them.  As in, an entire desk drawer.  Full of stickers.  I may have a slight addiction.  There are so many cute ones out there, and they're usually cheap.  Can you blame me?   Below is just a sampling of what I have and use.  


So, what do I use them for?  Whenever a student earns 100% on an assignment or test, they get a sticker next to their score.  When the students read to me during assessments they get a sticker. Sometimes I just give them out randomly to kids who are making good choices, and I put them in the students' agendas each day that they return their homework.    

Another necessity is my EZ Grader.  It is so much easier that using a calculator to figure out percentages when grading. Hence, the name EZ Grader.  There have been times that I left this tool at school when I've taken things home to grade.  And, when that happens, I don't grade at home. Yep, I love this tool that much.


New student bags are also a must.  I know I've already shared them before (in this post), but really, they are a genuine necessity.

There is nothing worse than getting that little slip of paper in your box 30 minutes before school starts informing you that a new student will arrive that day.  No one has time to dig out all the materials needed for that!  So, I keep a bag of materials at the ready.  I can quickly stock the new student's desk and send home my second grade information without much effort at all.  


Typically, my new student bags include:
  • my welcome letter and handbook for parents to reference
  • notebooks/journals
  • folders (homework folder, unfinished work folder, and writing folder)
  • a name stick, a clothespin for the clip chart, a cubby label, and a job card (I just quickly write their names on these items and place them in their designated spaces around the room)
  • a nameplate for the students' desk
Finally, I could not live without my grade book from Creative Teaching Press. This is actually the first year that I have used a paper and pencil version, but I couldn't live without it.  We recently switched online grading programs. The new system is very time consuming and it wouldn't be fair of me to hold onto the students papers for long periods of time, so this way, I can write down their scores and enter the grades when I have the time.  Thank goodness these still exist!


Don't forget to visit these lovelies to read all about their November Necessities!



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