Countdown to Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day will be here before we know it!  My fellow Weekend Warriors and I thought it might be fun to share some fun Valentine ideas with you this month.  Hopefully, you'll find a few ideas to use in your classroom this year!

Sit back and relax, because I've got a few favorites to share with you.  If you read all the way through, there might be a surprise waiting for you.  ;)

Every year, I let the kids exchange Valentines. It is not mandatory, but usually everyone participates because it's loads of fun!  To accommodate the piles of cards, candies, and trinkets they bring in, I always have my kids make some sort of pouch, bag, or box to hold all their cards.  This year, we are going to make these cute envelope pouches.

They are easy peasy to make.  Simply take a 12x18 inch piece of construction paper and fold it in half, hamburger style (match up the shorter sides).  Then, show the students how to draw the lines shown below.  I drew the top two lines first, and then added the ones at the bottom.

After that, add some dashed lines (if you want, of course), and attach a cute heart!  I cut these ones out on my Cricut (yep, I still have one of those ancient machines), but I will show my students how to cut out a heart when we make them in class.

During our party, I usually serve a snack, instead of asking the students to bring in oodles of food that never gets eaten.  I love making strawberry floats with licorice straws (and so do the kids).  Simply scoop some vanilla ice cream into a cup, pour in some strawberry soda, and add a piece of licorice.  They are fun and tasty!


The month of February wouldn't be complete without a Valentine related bulletin board!  My favorite bulletin board project is from my Love Bots Craftivity pack.  The robots always turn out so cute!  They make me smile!!!

The kids also wrote about someone who makes their heart go "Beep! Beep!"  It was a fun project and our bulletin board looks amazing!

Finally, I always give my students a little gift.  I like to do different things each year.  This year, I will be giving them a small container of bubbles.

I found these bubbles in the new (super small) party favor section at Michael's. It was a pack of 24 bubbles for super cheap.  I love super cheap (just a few dollars with my coupon).

The containers are super small, which means the labels are super small too, but if you'd like to use them, you can grab them {HERE} for free!  See, I told there might be a surprise waiting for you!


Be sure to visit these lovelies to see what great ideas they have in store for you!

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Organization = Happiness

I'm really excited to be participating in a super fun blog hop brought to you by Primary Powers!

Teachers have stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Therefore, we have a never ending need/desire/nagging feeling to be as organized as possible.  Organization looks like different things to different people. To me, organization means that everything has a place.  It also means that things are easily accessible and tidy. So, hopefully today's organizational tips are helpful in making sure everything in your classroom has a place (fingers crossed), thereby keeping your space tidy.

Do you use crayons in your classroom?  Chances are, if you teach primary, well then, yes, you do.  Don't you just love it when there are random crayons scattered about the classroom floor at the end of each day? Rather than attempt to locate the owner of these unmarked, abandoned crayons, we add them to our crayon tub.  This tub is where all the poor, little lost crayons go to live.

NOTE: it's extra full right now because all of the students got new crayons recently and we dumped the old ones into this tub.  The students are free to use the crayons in this tub as needed.  It's so much nicer than hearing random blurts of, "I don't have a blue!"  They know they can just get up and get a blue, or whatever.

I love note cards!  I keep several sets on hand at school because you never know when you might need to tell someone thank you, or decide that you want to write a special note to a student.  Rather thank have 5 different packs of cards floating around inside my desk, I keep my cards organized in these mini expanding files from The Dollar Spot at Target.  They are perfect for holding all the cards and envelopes, and I can easily grab a card when needed!

It's no secret.  I'm a huge fan of brag tags!  And, so are my students!  These necklaces are only worn once a week, which means they have to be stored somewhere for safe keeping.  So, where do I store them?  On the wall behind our classroom door, of course!

That section of wall is totally and completely useless as far as posting resources or student work, but it is perfect for storing our necklaces!  Each hook (push pin) is labeled with students numbers, rather than names.

The numbers are actually calendar cards from my Polka Dots and Zebra Stripes Classroom Decor Pack. Using numbers is a huge time saver because I don't have to remake them year after year.  But, what I love best is that the kids can easily get to and return their necklaces without any issues of the necklaces getting lost or damaged.

Think you could use these calendar numbers to help keep you organized?  Then, go ahead and grab them {HERE} for free!

The next stop in the blog hop is the super talented Molly from Lucky to Be in First!  Be sure to visit her blog for more great ideas.  You won't be disappointed!

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Penguin Palooza

It's been a penguin fest in my classroom the past few weeks!  We have been reading about penguins, learning key vocabulary, classifying information, gathering fun facts, and more!  I love seeing the kids get excited about these goofy little birds. And, I was super excited to bust out lots of fun activities from my Penguins unit!

Last week, we kicked off our unit by reading The Emperor's Egg. This story is part of our reading series, so the students all had access to their own copy of the text.  The students then used the book to create this adorable fact hat.  It was so fun seeing them parade onto the playground at the end of the day.  They looked like a line of penguins waddling out to sea.  Hehe.
That same day, I read another book to them that gave lots of penguin facts.  Then, the students used the information in the read aloud to complete a can/have/are organizer.  I usually task them with writing more information than shown, but by the time they were able to sit down and do this assignment, we only had 10 minutes left in the day! Our late afternoon "period" can be a very tricky time block to work with sometimes.

I also read Penguin Chick to the class.  During the reading, I stopped to discuss key vocabulary terms as they were encountered in the text. Then, we made these fun vocabulary mini books.  I love how they turned out!

We also made these cute art projects!  The whole project was directed, but the penguin was created separately from the background.  We simply cut the penguins out and glued them to the painted backgrounds.

My students love mini books, and so do I! So, of course, we had to read this little interactive mini book about how an Emperor Penguin cares for its egg and chick.  Each page of the book prompted the students to do something related to the text.

By the end of the week, the students were experts in caring for a penguin egg.  After all, we read The Emperor's Egg in our basal about 4 times, and we read the mini book shown above, so the students were well equipped to write some how to directions explaining how to care for a penguin egg.  I encouraged them to pretend they were a penguin writing to another penguin.  They did great!

We also practiced our fact and opinion skills by making this adorable flap book after reading a book about our flightless friends.

I love, and completely agree with, the second opinion below.  Everyone should have a penguin as a pet.  Hehe.

Once the students had acquired lots of penguin knowledge, we played a game of True/False I Spy.  They read the statement on each card and determined if it was true or false.  I Spy is such a great way to promote individual engagement within a whole group setting, and the kids love it!

Finally, we did some penguin research.  This was extremely guided for two reasons.  First, it was our first official research project and second, all of the penguin books were checked out of the library (school and public).  I found some information on the internet, but the printout was a bit much for the students to handle in this capacity on an independent level.

I let the students complete the last page of their reports independently because at that point, they just had to locate anything that stood out to them.  I love how they turned out!

That was it, our Penguin Palooza 2015!  We had a blast learning about these little guys.  There were lots of other activities I would have loved to do, but there is only so much time (and we were in the midst of report cards and assessments)!  If you're interested in these activities, be sure to check out my Penguins unit on TpT.


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Activities to Practice Telling Time

Hey everyone!  Do you teach time?  If so, you know just how tricky this skill can be, and that it needs to be reviewed frequently.  So, how do you keep your practice and review fresh, fun, and engaging?  That is the topic of today's post.

The following is a collection of some of my favorite activities to pull out when we review our time telling skills.  I'm not sharing these in any particular order.  They are all meant to be used for the purpose of review, so pick and choose what you like!

Clock Crowns
Hats are kind of a big deal in my classroom.  We make them often.  I mean, you get to wear and show off what you know. How cool is that?  These clock crowns (hats) are a fun project that let kids do just that-show off their time telling skills.
The crown has a large clock in the front and four smaller clocks around the back.  Students draw clock hands on each clock.  For the smaller ones, they drew hands to show the time that the specified activity takes place each day (lunch, bedtime, etc). For the large clock, they picked their favorite time of day (sports practice, dinner, the time their favorite show comes on, etc.) and wrote that activity down and then drew clock hands to show when that event takes place.  They loved this project!

I was out of sentence strips when we made this, so we pieced strips of construction paper together to make the hat.  Click HERE to grab this freebie.

Structured Whole Group Engagement Activities
Scoot is such a fun game! It get the kids moving and they forget that they are even learning.  To play, set some task cards with clocks on them at each of the desks in your room.  On your cue, your students will scoot from desk to desk, writing down the time shown on each desk.  You can read more about Scoot here.

Flap Book (Sorting the Time)
Let your students play the role of the teacher as they complete a sort where they identify correct times from incorrect times.

What I love about Bingo is that it is a game that can be played over and over again.  I like to have my students make their own game boards. Then, I laminate them for reuse.  We can then play a few rounds of Bingo when we have a bit of extra time on our hands, or as a Fun Friday activity.

I Have, Who Has
This is another activity that is great for review when you have a few minutes, or when you are conducting your daily math warm up.  It doesn't take very long to play, but it makes for great practice.

Telling Time Mingle
Let your students make their own watches and then mingle around the room to read the time shown on each others watches.  The kids love this because they get to move around and talk to their peers, and you will love it because the kids are practicing an important skill.  It's a win-win.

You can find these activities, and more in my What Time Is It? pack.

I Spy
This Super Time Tellers I Spy activity is a great way to get your students moving around the room as they practice telling time.

Place the cards around your room and give your students a recording page.  You can tape the cards to your walls, place them on the floor, or both.  Students go from one card to the next and record the time shown on each.  You can read more about I Spy here.

And, you can grab this free I Spy activity here.

Sadly, it can't all be fun and games.  I have to assess here and there as well.  I like to use quick and easy assessments, like this one from my assessment pack.  

Time Check
Finally, time checks are a quick and easy way to make sure your students practice telling time daily. Simply print some time check slips, cut them out, and tape them to your students' desks.  Whenever you have time, call out "Time Check!"  That's your cue that the kids need to stop whatever they are doing, check the time, and write it down.  My kids looooove it when I call out, "Time Check!" randomly.  You can grab this freebie HERE.

I hope you can use an idea or two.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by today!

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