Let it Snow! December Activities for the Classroom



I am so excited to be linking up with Focused on Fifth to bring you some great ideas for December. Each day for the first 12 days of December, there will be a different linkup with lots of ideas. I will be sharing today and again on the 10th. Here's the topic for today:

I have put together a round-up of some great activities to use in your class throughout December, and hopefully they will help spread a little holiday cheer.

1. GIVE THE GRINCH A HEART
This display from Create My Event would be fun to have up during the month of December. She used it as part of a Dr. Seuss party, but it would be great to use in December. Every time an act of service is done, you add a heart to the grinch. A great way to get kids in the spirit of the season.
Photo Source: www.createmyevent.com

2. SNOW SHOOTERS
These cool snow shooters come from Growing a Jeweled Rose and I think this could be fun for any age. You use a styrofoam cup and balloon to make your shooter, and then use cotton balls, pom poms, or crumpled paper to make it snow with your shooter. This could be a just-for-fun activity, or you could write something on the crumpled paper and do a getting-to-know-you activity, math problems, etc. This could be a great time!
3. SNOWBALL TOSS
To play this game, hang a wreath and put a large bowl on the other side. The goal is to get your snowflakes (marshmallows) through the wreath and into the bowl. Whoever gets the most is the winner.
Photo Courtesy of http://zachandcallie.blogspot.com.au/
4. SNOWMAN WRAP RACE
In this game, students race to wrap their classmate in toilet paper and put on a hat and scarf. The fastest team wins.
Found on Dixie Delights

5. DRAW A SNOWMAN
This is a fun activity for when you have a few extra minutes, or for a party. You just need white paper plates and pencils/markers/pens. Each person holds a paper plate on their head. When the caller gives the instructions, the players draw on their plate while it is on their head. At the end, everyone looks at their drawing. You could even vote to see whose is the best. Here are the instructions for the caller:

-Draw a line for the ground.
-Draw a large snowball for the base.
-Draw a medium snowball on top of the base.
-Draw a small snowball for the head.
-Draw a carrot nose.
-Draw two eyes and a mouth of dots.
-Draw a scarf at the neck.
-Draw two stick arms.
-Draw a top hat on the head.

The idea came from Cul-de-sac Cool

Hope you can use some of these fabulous ideas in your classroom this month. What fun activities do you do in your classroom in December? Leave a comment below.

Don't forget to visit the link-up for more ideas!


Books and Beyond: Snow Activities




Welcome back! This month's theme for Books and Beyond is SNOW!! I am in the middle of getting ready to move across the country, so I didn't do a book study to go with this theme. I just thought I would give you ideas for books about snow to read to your students and snow-related classroom activities.

Here are five books that would be fun to read on a snowy day (or a day you wish was snowy).

1. THE SNOW GLOBE FAMILY
Oh, when will it snow again? wonders the little family who lives in the snow globe. They long for a swirling snowstorm—if only someone in the big family would pick up the snow globe and give it a great big shake.
Baby would love to. She alone notices the little family. She gazes longingly at their snowy little world, but the snow globe is up way too high for her to reach. Then, when a real snowstorm sends the big children outside sledding in the moonlight, Baby finds herself alone in the parlor. . . . Will the snow globe family at last get a chance to go sledding too?
Available on Amazon


2. THE STORY OF SNOW
How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered in this visually stunning exploration of the science of snow. Perfect for reading on winter days, the book features photos of real snow crystals in their beautiful diversity. Snowflake-catching instructions are also included.


Find on Amazon



3. BUILDING AN IGLOO
A fascinating book about an Inuit father and son building an igloo. Building an Igloo explains that while the Inuit no longer live in igloos, the father and son in this book build igloos when they go hunting. 

Summary from Delightful Children's Books


4. TOO MANY MITTENS
This tale is about twin boys in the very cold state of Michigan. When one of them loses a red mitten, the whole town begins to bring them the ones they find, despite the real one’s quick reappearance. Dismayed by the amount of so many lost red mittens, the boys concoct a plan to help the mittens find their owners. 


Summary from Three Books a Night

5. SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY
From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist's vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.

Found on Amazon

Now for the round-up of snow activities for the classroom:

1. SNOWFLAKE SYMMETRY
I found this idea on Simply Second Grade. She started by showing her class pictures of real snowflakes and discussing how they have six sides and are symmetrical. They searched for other symmetrical items around the classroom, and practiced drawing lines of symmetry on the real snowflake pictures.

To make the symmetrical snowflakes, cut out strips of blue paper and staple or glue together to form the snowflake shape. Then cut out pattern block shapes (a lot of schools have these as die-cuts). Students can put the shapes on their snowflakes in any pattern they want, but they must be symmetrical. I thought this was a really cute idea.



2. SNOWMAN EXPERIMENT
I have seen this on Pinterest, and I think it is a great activity to demonstrate matter. Make an ice snowman by filling balloons with water and then freezing. Then put it in your classroom and watch it melt. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas has lots of details and pictures of what she did with her daughters.








3. SNOW GLOBE WRITING
This activity could be used in a variety of ways. You could use it as an activity to go along with the book Snow Globe Family, and have kids put their family inside the snow globe. Or they could put themselves inside the snow globe (you could even use pictures of them), and write about fun things they like to do in the snow. There are a few different options for how to do your snow globe, too. I like this one from Lessons With Laughter.

This is also a cute idea from First Grade Wow:



4. LIVE PENGUIN CAM
Ok, this is more of a penguin activity, but they are just too darn cute, I had to include them in this list! If you click on the link below, you can watch what the penguins are doing on the live webcam. You could read some penguin books before or while the kids are watching the penguins. You could also use this to go along with a penguin unit and learn all about penguins. Either way, I think your students would love it.

California Academy of Sciences Penguin Cam

5. SNOWMAN ORNAMENT
I love to make ornaments with my students that they can hang on their Christmas tree at home. I found this idea from Ideas by Jivey and I just think it is so cute. You would need clear ornaments, fake snow, pipe cleaners, pom poms, sticky googly eyes, and markers. This activity might be a little tricky to do with a large class, but you might want to just have the students put on the googly eyes, draw the nose and mouth, and pick out their pom poms. Then you can use a glue gun to glue the pom poms and pipe cleaner together.











What other books or activities do you like to use in the winter months? Leave a comment below!

I will be taking a few months off from Books and Beyond while I move and get settled in Illinois, but keep your eye out for future book club link-ups.




Books and Beyond: Turkey Trouble




Time for my second installment of Books and Beyond. This month I thought it would be appropriate to look at a Thanksgiving book. The book I chose is Turkey Trouble, and this is such a fun story about a turkey who is trying to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner. He comes up with an idea to dress up like another animal so he won't get eaten. After many hilarious attempts, he finally comes up with a perfect disguise.

Enter below to win a copy of the book and a copy of my book study.

Here are some my favorites from the book study:

PLACE VALUE CENTER:                                                                                                                 In this activity, each turkey has a number on it, and the feathers have different ways of representing that number. The students need to match the feathers with the correct turkey, and then write their answers on the recording sheet.                                                                             
The numbers are represented in expanded form, word form, and picture form (using place value blocks).                                           
There are 5 different turkeys, and each has 3 feathers. 


FINGER PUPPETS


These are cute finger puppets that you can cut out and make to retell the story. Black and white and color versions are included. Your students will love using these to tell Turkey's story.


FAVORITE PART
This is a quick worksheet for your students to draw their favorite part of the story and then write about it. It's pretty self explanatory, but with the way the turkey dresses up in the story, I think the drawings could get pretty entertaining.
MAKE UP A DISGUISE
On the page, your students can come up with their own disguise for Turkey. They then decorate the turkey. You can either have them color the turkey, or you could provide them with arts and crafts supplies to use.

After they finish decorating, there are descriptive writing pages for them to describe their turkey and why their disguise is a good one.  I have included three options for writing pages, depending on the level of your students. 



Other activities that are included in the book study are:

-Story map with character, setting, problem, and solution
-Answering questions to retell the story
-A Turkey's Perspective (How a turkey would feel, what they would think, what they would say, and what they would want to do)
-Two different predicting pages
-Opinion/persuasive writing (why you shouldn't eat a turkey for Thanksgiving)
-Word search
-Illustrations page (draw a picture from the story and write about how that helps you understand the story better)

If you are interested in this book study or want to see more, click the image below. 



Next month's book club will be a linky, so start thinking about what you want to do! The theme will be snow, and you can link up any post about a book review, book list, snow related activities, or book activities. Please link a blog post, and not just a link to a product.

I am excited to see all of your snow-related ideas!! This linky will begin on December 1st, so be sure to mark it on your calendar!
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Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences


Parent-teacher conferences were always so stressful for me. I was always so nervous about the parents and if they were happy with me as their child's teacher. It also was just a lot of work getting everything ready for conferences. There are a few things I learned that helped me to have successful conferences, and I would like to share these tips with you.

-DON'T SURPRISE THE PARENTS.
You should be in contact with your students' parents enough that if there is a problem, they are aware of it.

-BE PREPARED.
When I did conferences, I made a folder for each student in the class. Each folder had a checklist to go over each item that would be on the report card and how they were doing so far. I also included samples of students' work for the parents to look at.

About a week before conferences, I would send home a survey for the parents to fill out with questions about how they were feeling about different aspects of their child's education, and if there were any concerns they wanted to discuss. This was so helpful, because then I knew how to best prepare for each conference. Of course, not all parents would turn them in, and sometimes they didn't write everything down, but in general it really helped me to be better prepared. You can get a copy of the form here.

It is also a good idea to have handouts on different subjects that could be helpful. Some ideas for handouts I have done in the past are:

Strategies parents can use when they read with their child at home
Book lists for different reading levels
Ideas for practicing spelling words

Think about your students and what types of things might be helpful for their parents.

-HAVE A COMFORTABLE PLACE TO MEET.
This is good not only for the parents, but for you as well. Taking some time to straighten up your classroom will help parents feel welcomed and get the conference off to a good start. I love using lamps instead of the harsh fluorescent lights. It makes it a lot more cozy. I also make sure to have enough space for the parents to look at their child's work, and set up two chairs in case both parents show up. I also like to provide something for them to write with in case they want to make notes.

Be sure to keep breath mints and a water bottle handy. You will be doing a lot of talking, and you will be glad you have them.


-BE POSITIVE ABOUT YOUR STUDENTS.
Always start and end the conference with something positive about the student. It shows the parents that even if their child is having a hard time in school, you recognize their positive attributes and care about their child.

Hopefully conferences will go well for you! Click here to see another article with some great advice for parent teacher conferences.

Do you have any other good tips for conferences? Leave a comment below!!!



Books and Beyond: Creepy Carrots

Welcome! I am so excited, this is the first installment of my Books and Beyond monthly book club. Each month I will feature one book with a summary, review, book study, and book giveaway! You will definitely want to follow along.

Since Halloween is coming up, I decided to focus on a book that would be great to read during this time. I chose Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. Have you read this book? I just heard about it not too long ago, and it is awesome. It is about a rabbit who loves carrots. He pulls carrots from Crackenhopper Field on his way to school, from school, to baseball practice, and any other time he gets a chance. But then one day he thinks he sees creepy carrots following him. He starts seeing them everywhere he goes! What will he do to solve this problem?? You better get the book to find out. Or you could enter to win a copy of the book at the bottom of this post!

This is a great book to read to your class, because it isn't specifically a Halloween book, so if you have kids who don't celebrate Halloween, you could still read this. It's also not too scary, because the creepy part of the book are carrots. So it's kind of a mix between creepy and silly. The illustrations are probably the creepiest part of the book. I love them. Everything is in gray tones, but then the carrots and other objects are orange. It won the Caldecott Medal for the illustrations.

My book study has a lot of different activities to do with your students. Here are a few I decided to spotlight:
CHARACTER TRAITS

In this activity, students think about how the main character in the story looks and they draw a picture and write the outside traits. They then think about the story and write the inside traits of the main character. Your students will love making the window to peek in at the inside traits.























SHADES OF MEANING


This activity focuses on three words from the book. Each word has two synonyms, and students put the words in order from weakest to strongest. For example, one set of words is creepy, terrifying, and frightening. I would put creepy on the bottom, then frightening, then terrifying, because terrifying is the strongest form of the word.







SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS

There are two versions of this activity. In the first, students cut out words and then decide if they are synonyms or antonyms for the word Creepy. Then they glue them in the correct spot.









The other version is nice if you don't have as much time, or if you don't want to deal with the cutting and gluing. In this activity, students come up with their own synonyms and antonyms for the word, then they write a sentence using one of their words.

Click here to download this page for free!






ADJECTIVES



In this activity, students come up with an adjective to replace creepy. They then decorate the carrots depending on the adjective. For example, I chose crazy carrots.











Other activities in this book study include:

A centers activity for sorting synonyms and antonyms
Nonstandard measuring with paperclips and counting cubes
Making connections
Retell the story with beginning, middle, and end
Problem and solution
Comprehension questions
Opinion writing
*Two versions of all activities are included: one with the gray border shown and one with a simple line border.

If you would like to win this book study, enter  below! If you don't win, you can always find it in my TpT store, and right now it is on sale for 20% off.

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Don't forget to enter to win your own copy of Creepy Carrots

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Next month's Books and Beyond post will feature a Thanksgiving picture book. What book would you like to see me spotlight?

10 Must-Read Halloween Picture Books




Even though it's over a month away, it's not too early to start reading Halloween books to your class. There are some really fantastic books out there, so you want to make sure you have enough time to fit them all in! I have put together a list of some of my favorite books to read this time of year. I have included a summary, link to purchase the book, and ideas for activities to go along with them. Hopefully you will find it helpful!

Room on the Broom


A witch and her cat are flying through the sky when the wind blows away some of her belongings. A dog, a bird, and a frog help her retrieve her items, and ask for a ride on her broomstick in return. But the broom can barely fit everyone! When a fire-breathing dragon appears, the animals join together to save her. 

This story would be great for practicing retelling and sequencing.

Find it here on Amazon.


Bone Soup

This is a Halloween version of the classic book, Stone Soup.

Known across the land for his infamous appetite, Finnigin is never seen without his eating stool, his eating spoon, and his gigantic eating mouth. When Finnigin finds himself in a new town on Halloween, he hopes to join a great feast with the creatures who live there. But no one will share any of their food with Finnigin. So what's a hungry skeleton to do? Armed with only his wits and a special ingredient, will Finnigin be able to stir up a cauldron's worth of Halloween magic?
                                   -Summary by Cambria Evans on Good Reads

You can use Stone Soup and Bone Soup to make text-to-text connections and compare/contrast different versions of the same story. 

Find it here on Amazon.

Stellaluna

Stellaluna is a baby bat that is separated from her mother when they are attacked by an owl. She finds herself in a bird's nest, and her adventure of believing she is a bird, learning she is a bat, and being reunited with her mother follows. Stellaluna attempts to reunite her adopted bird family with her rediscovered bat community. The differences between them prove too difficult to surpass, yet she and her bird "siblings" vow to stay friends. Also has notes at the end of the story with factual information about bats. 
-Summary by Alyssa Prater on Good Reads

This story has a few different problems and many characters, so you can use it to discuss the main problem and main character. It also can be used to help compare and contrast bats and birds.

Find it here on Amazon.


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat

This spooky twist on the wildly popular There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is perfect for fun Halloween reading! 

What won't this old lady swallow? This time around, a bat, an owl, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, some bones, and a wizard are all on the menu! This Halloween-themed twist on the classic will delight and entertain all brave readers who dare to read it!

This story is full of rhymes for your students to practice rhyming words. It would also be great for retelling and sequencing events.

Find it here on Amazon.




Click, Clack, Boo!

Farmer Brown does not like Halloween, so he draws the shades, puts on his footy pajamas, and climbs into bed. But for the barnyard animals, the Halloween party has just begun. What will they do to poor Farmer Brown this time?

You can use this story for predicting (before reading you can predict what might happen, and throughout the stories there are various places for children to predict. Also, listing character traits for Farmer Brown would be a wonderful learning activity for your class.

Find it here on Amazon






The Hallo-Wiener

Oscar is short, like all dachshunds, and all the other dogs make fun of him. On Halloween he takes more ridicule than ever in his hot-dog costume, but one brave act makes him a Grade-A hero. 

Throughout the story, the other dogs make fun of Oscar. This would be a great story for character education to teach your class about bullying.

Find it here on Amazon.







Creepy Carrots

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots--especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. he eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League. He eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him...or are they?

Use this story for predicting and for teaching about the central message/author's purpose.

Find it here on Amazon.







Even Monsters Need Haircuts

Just before midnight, on the night of a full moon, a young barber stays out past his bedtime to go to work. Although his customers are mostly regulars, they are anything but normal-after all, even monsters need haircuts. Business is steady all night, and this barber is prepared for anything with his scissors, rotting tonic, horn polish, and stink wax. It's a tough job, but someone's got to help these creatures maintain their ghoulish good looks. 

As you read, you can have the children predict what is going to happen next. This is also set up perfectly for kids to retell using beginning, middle, and end.

Find it here on Amazon.



The Pumpkin Book

When you are reading aloud to your class, don't forget to include nonfiction books! This is a great book with information about pumpkins: how they grow, their traditional uses and cultural significance.

Use this book for making text-to-self or text-to-world connections, and nonfiction text features.

Find it here on Amazon









The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Desmond the field mouse wants to carve the biggest jack-o'-lantern in the neighborhood with his pumpkin. Clayton the house mouse wants to win the Biggest Pumpkin contest with his. But when they discover that their choice pumpkins are actually the same one, Desmond and Clayton decide to work together to grow the biggest pumpkin ever!

I grew up reading this book, and it is still one of my favorites! Some activities that would be good to do with this book are measuring/weighing pumpkins, growing pumpkins, and making connections.

Find it here on Amazon.




What Halloween books do you love to read to your children or students? Leave a comment below!