Thursday, December 6, 2012

If I Lived in a Snow Globe...

Here it is!  My favorite writing activity of the year!  I love all things winter, add in some glitter and you have a project that is sure to be a hit!  I did this project with my students last year, and the haunted houses I did this year was a play on this snow globe writing activity.  They write about what they would see, feel and do if they lived in a snow globe.

I began by building some background knowledge.  Living in Central Florida, a vast majority of my students have never seen real snow.  We talked about what they knew about snow and winter.  They said that it was cold and wet.  I then had them describe what they had seen or heard that lead them to believe that snow was cold.  They made connections to movies or TV shows they had seen that had people wearing coats, gloves, etc.  They talked about it getting so cold that you can see your breath.  They also talked about Christmas lights shining on the sparkly snow.  (Some of them even captured that in their snow globes!)

To enrich this introduction lesson, I read them a couple of short books that were set in snowy settings.  (I admit, these were pretty easy books, but the point wasn't to challenge them, it was to get them fully immersed in all things frosty and frigid!)

This is a wonderful classic!  I was even able to find a claymation
version of this on YouTube to show my class!

This book is beautifully illustrated.  It was a wonderful read.

The best part about this book... The four super elated gators on the
cover are all school PRINCIPALS!!
 LoL  Funny twist for the kids!
I told them that EVERYBODY loves a snow day!
 After reading these books and brainstorming some great descriptive phrases and words, we spent day 2 writing rough drafts.  We then wrote our final copies on the layered booklets, cut out the globes and bases and let the fun begin!  After drawing and coloring, they outlined their pictures with extra fine point black Sharpie markers.  Then... GLITTER!!!  I managed to control the chaos and keep the glitter on the tiles.  Glitter just seems to make everything better.  Normal snow scenes are transformed into magical fantasy lands!
Glitter station.  3-4 kiddos at a time = minimal mess!

A snow globe base.  Nothing fancy, just need to
be sure that the flip book the kids write on will fit.

Final copy of the flip book placed on the base.  

To get just the right size "globe" I used an Easter bucket I bought
from Target a couple of years ago.  I actually used it for a game at the
Spring Carnival during my first year teaching.  I love reusing things!
Here are a couple of close-ups of my students' amazing work.  They were so into this project and couldn't wait to show me what they wrote and how they illustrated it.  They have added some much needed sparkle and shine to the 4th grade hallway!  Hope you love them as much as I do!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Geez!  Where did November go?  I didn't get a chance to do a single post the whole month.  I am fortunate to work in a county that gives us a full week off for Thanksgiving so I was able to spend the whole time with my family back home.  At the beginning of November, one of my student's dad, who is a fire fighter, came to speak to both of my classes about fire safety.  The kids loved getting to hold all the gear and learned a lot of helpful tips to get out and get safe!  The Friday before Thanksgiving, my writing classes made "I am thankful for..." pumpkin pies out of paper plates, construction paper and brads.  I had each student share what they are thankful for this year.  They had a lot of fun and were very insightful.  We had a Veteran's Day parade at school shortly before and some of the students said that they are thankful for our rights as Americans.

Our visit with some fire fighters.  The kids LOVED it!

The beautiful Veteran's Day parade!  One of the county High School's band and color guard came to perform and many  relatives of our students who are veterans came out to be honored.  I work at a great school!

One of our "I am thankful for..." pumpkin pies.  I enjoyed hearing about all of the important people and things in my students' lives.  
My classroom is now all decorated for Christmas.  This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year!  (Confession- I decorated my apartment for Christmas on November 1st!)  I bought all of the supplies for my class Christmas ornament project in mid-November and have already gotten the ornament balls prepped!  We are going to be making snowman heads with earmuffs.  I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought it was just too cute to pass up.  Last year we made melted snowmen with glue and those turned out so cute, but I want to do something that sparkles this year!  This past week we completed what is probably my favorite Writing project of the entire year.  I did it last year and had to do it again this year.  It's my "If I Lived in a Snow Globe" project.  The students write what they would see, feel and do if they lived in a Snow Globe.  I had to let the finished projects dry so I don't have my bulletin board completed yet, but I will get the details on the whole project posted this week!  It is the absolute best!  (Bonus: It involves lots of GLITTER!)  You can find pictures of it from last year on my Pinterest board titled "My Classroom".

Melted snowman ornament I made with my students last year.

My Christmas tree at home!  It makes me SO happy!

Look at all of the fun sparkles and shine I added to my Christmas stash this year!  I love that jewel tones are so big, these perfectly match my tree that I've had for 3 years now!  These won't be on my tree though...

My new sparkle and shine ended up on a new deco mesh wreath I made!  (Another Pin-spired project!)  This is my first ever mesh wreath and I think it turned out pretty well.  It took me 3 attempts to get the ribbon the way I wanted it.

I showed my students 2 options for their snowman ornaments.  Half of them wanted glitter, and half wanted garland so I got those ready because the 2 1/2 days that I plan on doing Christmas gifts and activities do not leave much time to work on things because the staff always puts on a Christmas show and lunch and specials cut into my time with them.

Itty Bitty Christmas tree above the computers.

The Christmas tree I had in my bedroom as a kid.  I don't have room for it in my apartment,
so it has a new life as a school tree!  

Giant plastic snowflakes from Dollar Tree.  Making it snow in sunny Florida!
I hope you found something you like in this post.  Stay logged on this coming week to see my fantastic Christmas and winter writing project.  Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Night in a Haunted House

Halloween is coming up, and in an attempt to add some fun to our Writing lessons, I decided to have the kids practice elaboration and word choice to describe what they would see, hear, feel and do if they had to spend the night in a haunted house.  I let them make paper houses and each of the sections is where they wrote about the different parts of the story.  I had them complete a rough draft first and then they made changes to spelling, grammar or parts that just didn't make sense.  Then they folded the paper houses and re-wrote and designed their house.  I hope you like it!

Here are a couple of close-ups of the houses that the kids completed.  You can see that after they wrote, they were able to go back and decorate the houses. The front left of the house is what they see, right across from that is what they hear.  On the inside, the left is what they would feel (physical or emotional) and across from that is what they would do.

Here are step-by-step, photo instructions on how to fold the paper houses.  You can also skew the "towers" by having them off-center when folding.  I also traced the outline of the towers on the front so the kids knew where to write on the inside.  

Begin with legal size paper and fold in half (hamburger fold). Then with the crease on the top, fold over the sides until they meet but do not overlap in the center.  Meeting in the center will make both towers equal in size.  If you want one short and one tall, have  them meet off-center.  


After both sides are folded inward, open one of the side flaps and push your finger up to the point and pop it out.  Then pull down the "roof" so it meets the crease line of the now formed "tower".

Repeat this action to the other side of the house.  At this point, I trace the top of the "roof" line and draw a line down the middle so the students know where to write.  I also have them draw a line across the roof line so they can decorate the "attic".

I hope this gave you some ideas for a fun, student created Halloween Bulletin Board!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Fall

Do you decorate your classroom for the different seasons and holidays?  I sure do!  Living in Florida, the trees don't change and I really miss the different seasons.  I try to incorporate the change in season into my classroom decor.  I added some fake fall leaves over my essential question board.  I use to go along the whole length of my white board, but I just don't seem to have time to go staple crazy these days!  

I have put cobwebs around my apartment, draped around my art and spiders over my doors for years, this time I decided to put them up in my room.  The kids got a kick out of it, and asked me when was the last time the classroom was cleaned!  Haha!  (I did not cover the fire escape window!)

Dollar Tree has these cheap foam pumpkins right now.  I was going to do an elaborate project with them, but I came up with a more focused writing activity to do than the vocabulary activity I was going to do with these!  I decided to cover them in glitter instead and use them to decorate the classroom.

 I have seen variations of these "Where Are We?" displays all over Pinterest.  I decided to create one that goes along with my classroom color scheme and added a little monster holding a sign that identifies our current location.  I put magnets on the black strip.  SPA is what we call Recess.  I joke with my students the first few days that I think that's when they are suppose to let me relax while they do my hair and nails.  Surprisingly, a couple of them always agree that it would be fun!

This are "Common Core Talking Stems" that I found on Pinterest.  There are tons of conversation starters and questions that get the kids thinking about why they answered a question the way they did.  I put them on a ring and placed a set at each table group in their supply tubs.  A big focus at my school this year is Collaborative Pairing.  I incorporate it into as many lessons as I can.  It is very easy to have them answer a question independently and then turn to a neighbor and talk about it, or have them complete work together.

Last year, I made small versions of this math problem solving pencil that I pass out to my students when they take a math test.  I recently decided to make a bigger, poster sized version to hang up in the classroom.  This way, they can reference it during class and also when we take clicker tests on the computer.

Well, these are some of my more recent projects.  This week we will finish our Haunted House writing project.  I am so excited to share that one!! It is a version of a Snow Globe writing project I came up with last year.  It's on my Pinterest because this was long before I created this blog, but I will share it on here at the beginning of December!  Happy Fall, Y'all!! :o)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

 The time span from September 1st to about January 8th is my favorite stretch of the year!  I simply adore everything about fall, it's probably what I miss most from up north.  (Aside from my family, obviously!)  Winter is my favorite Florida time of the year.  I laugh at my family who have to shovel driveways, scrape windows and need to get all bundled up to go outside.  Right smack dab in the middle of the best month of the year is my BIRTHDAY!!!  October 15th just sounds like a great day.  I'll post a classroom update another day, this one is for me!

To celebrate, my best friends and I went to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights.  We had such a fun time!  The next day we hung out around Orlando, drove through Celebration and went to Downtown Disney.  We went on the 6th to avoid the rush of people closer to actual Halloween.  My brother and I made the mistake of going right before Halloween last year and had to wait in very long lines and only got into about half of the houses.  We made it into all of them this year and didn't wait in too many lines!

A picture I took of my calendar today!  Even though it was a work day and we didn't have kids, I HAD to change the date!  Like I said, best day EVER! 

My 4th grade team gave me a balloon!  It was a great surprise when I came back from a meeting at a different school!  Thanks ladies
The holidays are more magical at Disney World!  I would love to own one of these Mickey O Lanterns.  Any idea where I can get one?? Wait until I post pictures of Christmas at Disney!  Magical!  

The day after going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, my friends and I drove through Celebration, Florida.  They were having Oktoberfest.  Look at this amazing house decoration we found!  Phenomenal!  
 This year, since I have 44 kids and not the usual 22, I have decided not to make or buy cupcakes... Too much work and a waste of money.  Instead, I have opted to make them cake balls!  (None of my children have food allergies, so don't worry about that!)  I first baked a funfetti cake in a 13" x 9" pan.  Once it cooled a bit, I mixed it all up with half a can of frosting.  Then, I rolled it up into about 1" balls.  I let them set in the refrigerator overnight and tonight I dipped them in white almond bark.  They are a little messy looking, but I'm sure they will taste just fine!


I hope everybody is having as great of an October as I am!  Only a month to go until the House of Mouse deems it appropriate to decorate for Christmas, and I follow right along!!