Christmas ornament crafts with Oriental Trading Company!

Oriental Trading Company is your go-to place for FUN inspiration!  They are the nation's largest direct merchant of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toys and novelties, and a leading provider of school supplies and affordable home décor and gift ware.  They serve tons of customers through colorful catalogs and the Internet and offer more than 40,000 products to meet the needs of all kinds of businesses, not-for-profit organizations, individuals, schools, churches and teachers.

Oriental Trading Company has so many awesome and affordable Christmas related products!  They have everything you could possibly need to celebrate the holidays- decorations, crafts, candy, toys and stocking stuffers, party supplies, ornaments, and advent calendars.  I said everything and I really meant it!  I regularly shop at Oriental Trading Company for so many different things that I use at school from treats for the treasure chest to fun crafts and classroom decor.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to review a couple of the ornament crafts from Oriental Trading Company.  Pretty much every year I use at least one ornament craft with my students during our winter holiday party.  This year I chose for them to make Blue Snowflake Layered Christmas Ornament Craft Kit and the Peace, Hope, & Joy Ornament Craft.

These ornaments were prefect for my 2nd graders!  They had a blast making these during our holiday party centers.  Each ornament crafts comes individually packaged with all of the supplies needed to make the ornament and directions.  This is great for class projects or even for girl scout crafts or to do as a little party craft with your kids and their friends.

The layered felt snowflake ornaments were gorgeous and perfect for a winter themed party if you aren't celebrating a specific Christmas theme.  My students were able to make these completely on their own with just a little help folding the pipe cleaner in the beginning and tying the string on at the end.

These were bigger than I expected (about 8") and turned out beautifully.  The kids absolutely loved them!

The Hope, Peace, & Joy ornament crafts were also a hit! 

Each piece on this foam ornament is self- adhesive- including the jewels.  As a teacher I love this because that means there's no messy glue to deal with and every piece will actually stick when the kids put these together and not fall off 30 minutes later.   My students made these their own by deciding exactly where they were going to put each jewel.  I did hot glue the hanging string to each of their ornaments when they were finished to make sure the string would stick.

Right now is the perfect time to pick up some ornament crafts for next year since a lot of them are up to 65% off!  You can connect with Oriental Trading Company by liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter or Pinterest.

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Disclaimer:  I received these ornament crafts for free in exchange for a review of my honest opinion.

Christmas Questionnaire

Today, I'm linking up with Fabulous in First for a fun Christmas Questionnaire.  I thought it would be a fun way for you all to know a little bit more about me.

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog? 
I like both, but I do love to indulge in the Eggnog flavored coffee creamers this time of year.  It’s a little better on the calorie count than regular eggnog.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree? 
Oh, Santa definitely wrapped presents when I was growing up unless it was too big to wrap.  I did find out about the “real” Santa by finding the wrapping paper in the trunk of my mom’s car, so I thought about just having a Santa sack for presents for my little guy.  But, my hubby and I decided to stick with wrapping them since it’s fun to watch them unwrap the presents!

Colored lights or white? 
Colored.  Always colored.

When do you decorate? 
Never before Thanksgiving and usually I feel like I find us out and about getting a tree sometime around December 9th.  I don’t know why that date sticks with me, but it does.

Real or Fake Tree? 

What Tops Your Tree?
A star always sits atop our tree now and in childhood.

Favorite Christmas Memories or Traditions?
When I was little, my grandparents always came up for Christmas with at our house.  Christmas Eve is my little sister’s birthday so we would always go to church and then come home and eat a Santa cake that my grandparents brought for her every year.  Then, we always got to open one present of our choice on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas morning, I remember hating having to wait for them to wake up so we could open presents thinking it was sooo late!  (In reality, it may have been 7 or 7:30 a.m.)  We used to site by their bedroom and stick our fingers under their door saying “Grandma, Grandpa are you awake yet?”

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child? 
One gift that sticks out in my head was a doll called Little Miss Make-Up that I was dying to have and I got it on Christmas morning one year from Santa. 

Do prefer giving or receiving? 
Let’s be honest- I love both.  I always tend to over shop for my family and I do like receiving gifts too.

What is your favorite Christmas song? 
Have Yourself  A Merry Little Christmas

Candy Canes. Yuck or Yum? 
I’m indifferent.  I don’t love them or hate them.

Favorite Christmas Movie? 

Do you shop online or at stores?
Both.  I try to find things wherever they’re the best deal.

Photo Cards, Letter or Store Bought Card? 
Usually photo cards.   
Here’s our this year:

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Edible Christmas Trees

Every year my school has a Polar Express Day the day before winter break where everybody gets to wear their pajamas and sometime during the day we make hot chocolate and watch Polar Express.  Along with this, my co-teacher and I like to do some fun holiday centers.  (We like to do fun stuff every once in awhile since the majority of the time it's work, work, work, learn, learn, learn.)  This year in my class we have 38 kids,  so we had to think of a few more centers than we have had in the past.  So, we added edible Christmas trees to the holiday center repertoire.  It's fun and only needs minor supervision if you're a third grader.

Here's what you'll need to make your edible trees:

  • Sugar cookies
  • Icing
  • Green food coloring
  • Sugar cones (You can use waffle cones, but they have a curved bottom which is hard to lay flat on the sugar cookie.  Sugar cones are tree shaped, but have completely flat bottoms.
  • Small candies for decorating (M&M's, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, spice drops, whatever your little heart desires...)

1. Dye the icing green using food coloring and mix it up really well.   

2.  Use the frosting as glue and frost the sugar cookie for a base and put the cone on top upside down.

3.  Frost the whole cone with icing.

4.  Decorate any way you wish.

5.  Eat and enjoy!

Warning:  This can get pretty messy!  Here's the proof:
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Christmas & Aaarrghh! Pirate Measurement {Giveaway}

Only 3 more days! (But who's counting...)  This week I'll be working on theme, story structure, and character traits using some of my favorite holiday books.  These include Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant, Merry UnChristmas  by Mike Reiss, Olive, the Other Reindeer by J.Otto Siebold, and Mooseltoe by Margie Palaini just to name a few.  

We are also going to be reviewing main idea in one of our centers using this awesome freebie from Tracy at Creekside Teacher Tales.  We have Polar Express Day each year at my school too, so we'll be reading that and watching the movie with some hot cocoa wearing our pj's.

Every year, I also like to give my kiddos a book as a Christmas gift.  I usually stock up through the year on the Scholastic $1 books and let them pick out the book they want.  This year, I'm doing things a little differently because Scholastic had one of my FAVORITE read aloud books for $1 in October, The BFG by Roald Dahl.  

I bought enough for all of my students and they will each get one.  We just started reading this in class and I know they will love all being able to read along while I read aloud.

Okay, so now onto my newest product! 

Aaarrgghh!  Measurement:  A Pirate Measurement Adventure

This file features 5 measurement activities that would be an excellent supplement to your curriculum!  You can find it here on TpT.

Pirate Ship Measurement: Laminate and cut out the 10 pirate ships.  Tape around the room for students to find.  Students will estimate the height of each pirate ship and record their estimate.  Then they will measure how tall each pirate ship is and record their measurement.

Buccaneer Inches: This is a great fun activity or center!  Cut out and laminate (for durability) each pirate picture.  Students will measure the height of each picture and record their measurement on the recording sheet.  There is also a questioning worksheet on comparing the lengths of the pictures included.  

Inches, Feet, or Yards?: Cut out the different objects (12) and sort them according to what unit you would use to measure them.

Heave Ho!  Pirates on the Move: Measure each line from one pirate to another using centimeters.  Record each measurement on your recording sheet.

Centimeters or Meters?: Cut out the different objects (12) and sort them according to what unit you would use to measure them.

 So, now you have a chance to win the pack for yourself!  Just enter using the Rafflecopter below!  I also have a second contest going on on my Facebook page, so go like my page and enter there for another chance to win!.

  Giveaway ends on 12/18 at 11:59 p.m.

Get ready for the TpT CYBER sale- Monday & Tuesday!

Just in time for the big TpT sale, I've posted a few new products for the holidays!  My store will be 20% off and TpT is giving another 10% off if you use the code CYBER.

My first newly posted product is my Wintry Holiday Math Centers.
I'll be starting some of these this week in my classroom!

These are very similar to my Thanksgiving Math Centers.  It includes 6 Holiday and Winter themed Math Centers:

Snowflake Line Up (2.NBT.A.4)
Ordering Numbers with 2 & 3 digit options
Evergreen Tens & Hundreds (2.NB.T.B.8)
+/- 10 or 100
Elfilicious Place Value (2.NB.T.A.1 & 3)
Showing numbers in word form, expanded form, and models
Cupcakes Tens Go Fish (2.OA.B.2)
Combinations of 10
Double It Up Graphing (2.OA.B.2)
Doubles facts
Gingerbread Addition & Subtraction (2.NBT.B.5)
One, Two, or Three-Digit Addition & Subtraction

Also included in this Math Centers Pack are Wintry Holiday Themed Number Cards that are used with 5 of the 6 centers. The great thing about using the number cards is that your students can visit these centers multiple times and each time they will work with different numbers!

I've also posted Whooo's Ready for the Holidays?  This is 4 Literacy Centers or activities.

This file has 4 different Literacy activities that could be used as centers, small group activities and even as whole class activities.  It includes:
Ornament Compound Word Match Up (L.2.4.d)
Make Me Plural
Holiday ABC Order
Santa’s Prefix Sort (L.2.4.b)

You can get them both together as a Holiday Center Bundle here for a little savings!

Also, be sure to download my Christmas Addition & Subtraction Story Problem Cards FREEBIE while you're visiting my store!  Please leave me some feedback if you enjoy the product. :)

Have fun shopping!


Winter & Holiday Products Pinterest Party!

Here's how it works:
 Each Pinterest Party has a theme.  This party's theme is Winter!
So, get YOUR product pinned on Pinterest by leaving your link below to your favorite Winter or Holiday Product (you can leave your pinterest link or your TpT link)!  This is just in time for TpT's Cyber Monday (& Tuesday) Sale!

Then, pin a few other projects in turn!
 This is just like any other linky party with the added BONUS that you get your link-up automatically pinned by me and others!
I'm even looking to feature some of my favorites on the blog!

You can help spread the word by pinning the button, sharing the party on your Facebook page, or featuring it with your product on your blog.  Just right click and "save as" or copy the image and put it in your post.

Don't forget to come back and check out the linky regularly for new fun ideas!

So, to sum it up:
1.  Add your link.
2.  Pin the product before you (and more if you like)!
3.  Share about the party. 

If you see something you love- grab it during TpT's Cyber Monday Sale!
Thanks so much!  Have fun!
The linky will remain open until 12/15!

A little of this (persuasive writing) and a little of that (time)!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Unfortunately, I've been a bit sick (especially today).  Luckily, my hubster had today off too and was home to help take care of the little guy while I was in bed most of the day.  Good news is I used my down time I finished a new little project I've been working on, but more on that later.  I know this is a little late, but I wanted to share a little bit of what we finished up during this short two day week in my classroom earlier.

We have been using The Applicious Teacher's No Turkey For Thanksgiving Persuasive Writing Craftivity while we work on persuasive writing. 
No Turkey For Thanksgiving Persuasive Writing Craftivity

The kids finished their writing and I could not be happier with how they turned out!  Adorable!

A lot of my kids really got into the topic and really tried to convince their parents to have something else for Thanksgiving this year.  I even got a hilarious email from one of my parents about how hard their child tried to persuade them and that they were really disappointed that they couldn't be convinced.  (As this mom said, "He said he really didn't want to kill a turkey and I told him, "Our turkey is already dead in the freezer." Ha!)  I definitely recommend this unit if you are working on persuasive writing around Thanksgiving next year!

We also worked a bit on timelines and distinguishing a.m & p.m.  We used one of the activities from my Telling Time Unit where you have to determine whether the daily activities take place during a.m. hours or p.m. hours.  You can take a look at that unit here.

So, that was just a little of what we did...

Now, here's a little teaser for what's coming up later this week over on my Facebook page!
(Be sure to like my page so you don't miss anything!)


Great Garbage Mystery { An Inferencing Lesson}

One of my favorite books ever for teaching comprehension strategies in reading is Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor.  She has some wonderful lessons that allow students to use the comprehension strategies in real life and really set the stage for using them while reading!  

Each strategy has an anchor lesson to start with that you can use it to create a really concrete experience for your students.   It really makes the connection to reading so much easier for some kids.  In addition to these anchor lessons, Tanny goes on to provide ideas for lessons using art, music and wordless book- all to get your students ready to use these comprehension strategies in reading!  I don't always have time each year for each lesson before jumping into the strategy use in reading, but I almost always use this lesson when teaching inferring.

Are you teaching inferencing in your reading classroom? The Great Garbage Mystery is an excellent anchor lesson for making inferences! Introduce your students to making inferences in real life and see how they can incorporate it into reading. Grab the freebie recording sheet to go along with your lesson too!

I start with collecting a strategic bag of trash from around my house a few days before I plan to do the lesson.  Keep in mind that you have to have an idea of the "family" that this trash is going to belong too, so your trash, or evidence,  is going to have to match that family.  You can see from my chart that I collected trash that I knew would help my students to hopefully infer that this family consisted of a mom, dad, and baby.  So, I had things like store reciepts, old magazines, baby wipes containers, diapers, certain old food containers, etc.

Are you teaching inferencing in your reading classroom? The Great Garbage Mystery is an excellent anchor lesson for making inferences! Introduce your students to making inferences in real life and see how they can incorporate it into reading. Grab the freebie recording sheet to go along with your lesson too!

The day of my lesson, I bring in the bag of trash and tell my students that I have a new neighbor.  I explain to them that I know they moved in because I've seen their cars and saw the moving van, but I never really seem to see them out and about- I've even tried stopping by their house, but they're never home.  I tell them that I really wanted to find out more about them, so I stole their trash hoping it will give me some clues about who lives there.  At this point, the kids are usually looking at me like I'm crazy, but they (usually) completely go with it.  (I often wonder how many of them go home that afternoon and tell their parents that I was digging in my neighbor's garbage!) I tell them that I really need their help using my neighbors garbage as clues to figure out who more about the family.  Then, I take out one piece of trash (my evidence) at a time and my students tell me what they think that this can tell me about the family (their inference).  I chart this as we go and at the end of the lesson we sum it all up and figure out what all this evidence tells us about the family that lives next door.  They then go back to their seat and draw a picture of the family that lives there on their recording sheet and tell me about 2 inferences they made based on the evidence.  Let me tell you- this really sticks with my students! 

  I can't take credit for this cute heading or recording sheet- the idea comes from Simply Sweet Teaching.  Although I've done this lesson in the past, I've never used any kind of recording sheet and I really loved using it with my class this year.  It really helped me gauge who "got it" and who didn't get it so much right away and i was able to hone in on working with those students.  Beth & Karen no longer have the recording sheet up in their TpT store, but I remade it and you grab it here (for free) if you'd like to use it in your classroom.

How do you teach inferring in your class?


Non-Fiction File Folder Project

Today I'm linking up with Hope from Second Grade Shenanigans for Take Me Back Tuesday!  Now, you may be thinking, "She just started her blog what can she be taking me back too?"  Well, it's true that I just started my first blog dedicated entirely to teaching, but about a year ago while I was staying at home with my new baby boy, I started a blog where I post about all kinds of things including teaching, crafting, baking, cooking and reviews and giveaways.  So, this post goes along with my previous post all about non-fiction.


So, I been missing teaching lately and thought I'd get back to my teaching roots and share one of the ideas I liked to use in my 3rd grade classroom.

One of my favorite units to teach for Reading is all about non-fiction.  When I was in elementary school I never remember being explicitly taught how to read non-fiction.  I don’t know why.  Reading non-fiction text is sooo different than reading fiction and some kids can really benefit from learning how to do it. 

Part of the unit included teaching all of the text features of non-fiction.  I would teach one or two a day during my mini lesson.  During these mini lessons I always included showing 3-5 examples in different types of non-fiction texts (books, magazines, newspaper, online, etc.) and going over what the feature was and its purpose in the text.  We would talk about the purpose in general and then the purpose of the feature specific to the text.  Along with this, I would add the feature to our text features chart and my students would add it to a section in their Reading/Thinking Journal.  In the end, they ended up creating a kind of reference guide to all the non-fiction text features we discussed in class. 

I usually included these text features in the unit (in no particular order): photos & captions, glossary, index, titles, headings & subheadings, table of contents, bold print, maps, charts & graphs, diagrams, and text/fact box.

 At the end of our non-fiction study I had my students complete a File Folder Non-Fiction Text Features Project, which is what I’m sharing with you today.  I saw this idea here and tweaked it to fit my 3rd grade students.

First, I gave everyone a file folder that was divided into 8 sections, a instructions sheet, and a non-fiction book.  Everyone got a different book.  The Scholastic Vocabulary Readers are great for this since they all include several text features.  The Vocab Readers are usually level J/K, so for my more advanced readers I did choose more difficult books, although my focus wasn’t on the reading level for this project.  The great thing about this is that you can really differentiate it based on each student (different books, vary the amount of text features, etc.)  I modeled exactly what I expected from the kids first and then gave them all about a week to complete it at home.  Obviously, you could also make this an in school project or even a partners projects.

I had the students tell me the purpose of the text feature along with what it was and an example from their book.  You can download a copy of the directions I used here.

Hope you can use this in your classroom!


Getting Ready for the Holidays & Telling Time

I just put two new products in my TpT store that I wanted to share with you all :)

Next week in math we are going to be wrapping up our first addition and subtraction story problems unit and moving into telling time.  I created this Telling Time Unit to help us out with that.

Before Thanksgiving we are just going to be discussing a.m. and p.m. and using a timeline.  This little unit has worksheets to for practicing telling time to the hour, half hour, and every five minutes.  It also has a couple practice sheets for matching the time to the words (Ex: quarter after 5 and 5:15)  There is a cut and paste a.m./p.m. activity, as well as a Time Match game or center.  I think this would be great for some 3rd grade practice as well.

If you're already gearing up for the holidays, then you might like my Christmas Math Worksheet Pack.

This is for 11 Christmas themed math worksheets that cover:
Working with Hundreds Models (Place Value)
Expanded Form (Place Value)
+/- 100
Addition & Subtraction Story Problems
Counting by 2's, 5’s
Addition & Subtraction Facts
2 digit Addition w/o regrouping
2 digit Subtraction w/o regrouping
Telling Time to the Half Hour

The following 2nd Grade Common Core Standards are addressed in this bundle:

Of course, these worksheets could also be used in 1st or 3rd grade depending on your students. :)

This week I'm going to be using The Applicious Teacher's No Turkey For Thanksgiving Persuasive Writing Craftivity while we work on persuasive writing.  I can't wait to see how it turn's out! 
No Turkey For Thanksgiving Persuasive Writing Craftivity

Hang in there!  Next week it's Thanksgiving Break!


Non-Fiction Text Features Study {plus a few freebies}!

The past 2 weeks or so we have studying non-fiction text features in our classroom.  I love doing this in my class!  I usually start with a review of non-fiction and fiction.  We talk about each genre and do a venn diagram as a class.  Then we learn 1 or 2 new text features a day.  I introduce the text feature and we take a look at many different examples in different kinds of non-fiction text (books, magazines, papers, etc.)  I try to focus on the purpose of the particular text feature and how it will help them better understand the text they are reading.  Then, I add it to our anchor chart and add my own example.

The beginning of my anchor chart.  (Not the best camera phone pictures-sorry!)
During independent reading, the kids read their non-fiction books and write down an example they found during their own reading in their Text Feature Chart.  We share about the text features and how they helped us while reading during share chair.

In the past, I've subscribed to Scholastic News or Time for Kids, which really helps a lot in ensuring that all of my students have access to finding the features that we have discussed that day.  This year, we didn't order them (no funding) and I really missed having that resource.  (I actually ended up ordering Scholastic News for half off that I'll start getting in December because I just think they are a great resources.)  After we've learned all the text features, the kids work with their partners and do a scavenger hunt using their Social Studies or Science books.  

This year we made these FREEBIE flip books from Amy's Smart Designs and that is what they used to help them during their scavenger hunt and recorded where they found the text feature.  They will keep these in their reading journals now to refer to for the remainder of the year.

When I taught third grade, I had my students do a Non-Fiction File Folder Project after we had finished all of study.  (Click HERE to go to the post where I wrote about it on my other blog.  There's also a freebie!) I loved doing these and I think the kids did too.  I usually did it as a homework project.  This could easily be tweaked to work in 2nd grade as well.  I haven't decided yet if we are going to do this project this year.  We just seem to have sooo much going on right now I'm just not sure we have the time.  It may be something we revisit later this year.

Well, that's about it. ;)  How do you all teach non-fiction text features?

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