Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Party Recap

Hi, friends! I had a few questions on IG about my fall and winter parties, so I'm here today to share some simple tips on how I make our holiday parties fun and exciting BUT enjoyable and calm for their teacher as well. :) 

I try to keep things simple when it comes to parties.  I've learned that just works best.  I have set up parties every way you could think of. I've had parents plan the entire party, I've had parents plan games and crafts, I've done activities as a whole class, and I've done activities in smaller groups.  I've had parties where the games where the activities took so long that we didn't get to even touch the food the kids brought it.  I've also had parties where we revert to playing tic tac toe or hangman because the games/activities didn't take up enough time. 

Over time, I learned that things work best when I'm in charge.  Parents naturally flock to you during parties to ask questions about activities, games, or crafts.  Even if you announce a fellow parent was in charge of the party planning.   For me, nothing is more stressful than shrugging my shoulders and saying "I don't know," to a parent during a party. 

So a few years ago, I just started planning it all.  I reuse many of the same activities from year to year, so it takes literally minutes to put everything into place. :) 

We rock our parties out in rotations.  I have six tables.  We have six stations/rotations.  They move from station to station with their table.  When it's time to switch, I just move the name names to their new station. So easy.  The rotations allow my kids to have fun in a very controlled way.  This allows me to have fun too and many of my classroom parents have remarked at how it allows them to enjoy the experience of volunteering more as well.

I have my students take "party bags" from rotation to rotation.  They put the put any papers, activities, or snacks from each station in them during the party.  It's a great way to keep everything together and to keep the party rolling. :) 

One of the stations always involves a fun snack.  For our winter/Christmas party, we decorated graham crackers.  I am usually in charge of this station. 

Each student had a graham cracker, that they broke in half, a knife with a dollop of icing on it, and sprinkles that they used to make little graham cracker sandwiches with. 

Three of the stations involve a game of some kind.  At our winter party we played Don't Eat Rudolph, a variation of Don't Eat Pete,  Holiday Bingo, and a Holiday Hedbanz/Guessing Game.  My parent volunteers are each assigned one of these stations and run the same station throughout the entire party. 

A few of my kids had never played Hedbanz before, so we made sure to play it during brain breaks the week of the party.

Two of the stations are a bit calmer and can run without any help, which is great if you don't have a lot of extra help at your party.  

My kids LOVE word searches and we never ever get to do them, so we always have a word search.  

We also do a simple craft. For this party, my students decorated Christmas Tree Magic Scratch Ornaments. I got them from Oriental Trading

The rotations take about thirty minutes, give or take, and then we end things with some snacks and a movie. 

The parents typically man a little buffet for our snacks at our back table and allow students to go table by table.  I don't go crazy on the snacks because for many years, the kids were throwing SO much food away.  I let the kids pick what they want and there is usually very little food left at the end of the party.  I typically have a least one student with a peanut allergy, so we usually stick to Oreos, Rice Krispie Treats, pretzels, and fruit snacks.  This year I have a student with an egg/diary allergy and he just brings his own snack pack to the party and keeps his own game boards/coutners for any games involving food in his party bag.

While my students eat their snacks and enjoy the movie, the parents and I clean up the stations.  I also send home the leftover cookies, fruit snacks, pretzels, etc. with the students who sent them in to avoid cluttering up my cabinets/counters. The movie gives my students a chance to calm down and we can go to the buses safely and calmly. 

To keep things even less stressful on party day, I put the items needed for each station in plastic tubs as they come in.  I have a tub for each station and this allows us to begin our party as soon as our parent helpers show up. 

I use Signup Genius  for our party donations and volunteers.  It takes minutes to create a sign up and I love how I don't have to coordinate who is sending in items, the website does it for me.  I send the link out to my homeroom parents in an email and usually within a DAY, everything is taken care off.  The website also sends parents an email about their donation/volunteer time a few days before.  

Even though our Christmas/Winter Parties are over, hopefully you found something helpful/useful for your future class parties.  We use the same set up at every party and it always works out great, even with my most challenging classes!

I also just wanted to let you know that my store will be on sale today and tomorrow to celebrate the New Year! You can check out Fourth and Ten on TpT {here}.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Homemade Christmas Gifts for Coworkers, Students, Neighbors and Friends {2014 edition} Freebies

Hi friends! :)  I just printed and prepped the last of our 2014 Christmas gifts and finally have some time to relax and unwind. It's a Wonderful Life is on the TV and I have two sweet pups curled up next to me on the couch. It's my own little piece of heaven. 

I wanted to take some time today to share some of the gift tags from Christmas gifts that I shared on my IG account.  A lot of people asked and I'm excited to share them with you as a special holiday gift today! 

Our Christmas gifts were Pinspired this year and I have had a lot of fun putting everything together! A recap of our holiday gifts, for school and home, is below.  Even if you can't use them this year, you might find something to Pin away for next year!

My husband is a general manager for a nationwide bakery cafe chain and wanted to do something special for his assistant managers this year to let them know how much he appreciates their hard work.  

I picked up a few movie themed snacks at The Dollar Tree, some buttered popcorn from Aldi, and printed off some giftcards from Redbox to make a fun movie night box.  The tubs and tissue paper are from The Dollar Tree as well. 

He also has 25+ associates that he wanted to do something special for.  My first thought was a $5 gift card to Starbucks but my husband hates giving gift cards.  We went round and round with ideas for a few weeks and come up with this gift. 

I forgot to take a picture of these gifts before he took them to work, and my hubs was sweet enough to text me one.  I bought a variety of the candy cane treat containers above, they are also on Amazon, and my husband let his employees choose the one the wanted.  They were $2 each at Walmart and his employees loved them! I also made his staff my cake batter cookies.  I use this recipe.  The cookie bags were from Hobby Lobby.  

My teaching team also exchanges gifts with one another.  We meet up for dinner at the beginning of break and have a lot of fun exchanging the fun little gifts we found for each other.  For these gifts, I start stalking my app/emails in early November. Last year, I got everyone Burlap ornaments.  This year, everyone got chapstick keychains! I ordered one for myself too and I LOVE it! They came from this Etsy seller in case you want one for yourself!

 I put a Candy Cane Chap Stick in each. :) Isn't it the BEST flavor?  I need to stock up on it, so I have enough for the rest of the year. 

I nicknamed Christmas 2014, "A Very Dollar Tree Christmas" because I was seemingly there every day after work. I also gave the girls a pair of cozy socks from the DT as well. 

Here's what everything looked like in their gift bags.  :)

I am very blessed to have a dedicated group of educational assistants who work with my students. They provide interventions, classroom support, and they are such a help to me.  I bought several passion fruit EOS and made these adorable EOS Rudolphs. You can find the printable {here} from The Tried and True Blog.  This was such a practical and cute gift! Everyone loved them! I got the EOS from a variety of different places. The ones below are from Walmart and I liked them best because how they were packaged.  The bags were from Hobby Lobby. 

My kids made handprint snowmen ornaments for their parents again this year. I originally blogged about them {here}.  

This was my fourth year doing these ornaments.  I always say "that's too much work" or "I'm never doing them again" but I always end up doing them.  My kids always enjoy making them and they are always make a great keepsake for their parents.  

This year my teaching partner, painted the canvases with our kids one day and a few days later, I had them do the snow people paintings.  
This helped me out tremendously! Thanks, Amy!

This year we used these artist trading cards. I got mine at Hobby Lobby but they are on Amazon too! The best deal I found on the acrylic paint was at Walmart, they were 2 for $1. 

My teaching partner and I have 50+ students. That's a lot of bonus points and I just never saw any $1 books that they would love, except Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing but we read that during book clubs later in the year.  So we bought some cute holiday sandwich bags from The Dollar Tree and filled them with goodies. 

We filled the bag with cherry candy canes (WalMart), a pencil and eraser (Dollar Tree), and homework passes.  I used the homework passes from my Editable Homework Pass/Thank You note pack that you can find on TpT {here}.  It made prepping their gifts a snap and easily to implement, as my partner teacher and I got to customize our homework passes! 

The DIY/Pinspiration trend carried over into our friends' gifts as well.  

Several of our friends now have babies and so I got several copies of Sneezy the Snowman for them from Scholastic.  They were only a $1 each and it is such a cute little book!

We put the copies of Sneezy in a gift bag with the following treats. 

 I got these cute little Keurig Gingerbread Houses from Meijer for $5! You can also find them on Amazon
We are really lucky that some of our best friends are our neighbors, so we wanted to add a little something to their coffee and book bag. They all love my homemade pumpkin bread.  I bought these mini bread loaf tins and was able to get six mini loaves from my recipe! 

For the other neighbors on our street, we gave them a roll of cute wrapping paper and tape because we didn't know if they had any food allergies at their house.  

The gift wrap and tape were purchased at Dollar Tree. :) I PROMISE they didn't sponsor this post, I just love DT this time of the year!

We also have the sweetest mailman in the world. He's always smiling and always shows great care with the many packages we receive.  We left this bag of donuts in our mailbox with a Panera gift card for some coffee for him.  

These donuts were two for $4 at Meijer this week and I picked up a few more for our garbage men.  It might seem overboard but it's a joy to bless the people who serve our family every single day/week.  The tag I plan on using is for our garbage men are in the freebie included at the end of the post! 

If you are interested in the tags for the movie night tub, coffee, bread, wrapping paper, or donuts, they are in available {here}.  

They may look a little different but this way you can sign your name with a regular pen/maker, since the ones in the pictures are chalkboard and would require white.  If you aren't able to use the tags this year, you can alway pin any of the images for next year. :)  Before I go, I get asked often what printer I use often. I have an Epson Workforce Pro. You can find mine {here}

Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

2+1 Cyber Sale Link Up

Hello, friends! So sorry that it's been more than a hot minute since I last posted.  I've been battling a lingering cold for the past month and we had lots of out of town family in for Thanksgiving.  Hosting Thanksgiving is such much fun but boy is it a lot of work! :)  

Perhaps by now you have heard that TpT is having their annual Cyber Sale on Monday and Tuesday! 

Since I'm not a fan of crowds and lines, I rock the online shopping at Christmas time! I check and Amazon daily during the weeks leading up to Christmas to find gifts for my friends and family.  Luckily, I've always been able to find some really unique and special gifts. 

TpT's Cyber Sale is a perfect time to stock up on goodies for class to use during the winter months.  We often go days, even weeks at time, cooped up indoors during the winter, so I love using items from TpT to keep things fresh and exciting! 

I'm excited to link up with Jivey today to share the two most wish listed items from my store and one item I can't wait to buy during the big sale!

You can check out the entire link up {here}.
My store's most wish listed item is my Place Value Block Craftivity. 

I always love seeing how creative my students are with their final products of this activity and it's a great way to assess your students' knowledge of standard, expanded and word form.  Many of my store's customers have shared they use them in interactive notebooks or make a place value block town as a bulletin board, which I think is a darling idea! You can check out Place Value Block {here}

The second most wish listed item in my store is my Types of Sentences Activity Pack. 

I use this interactive unit during the first few weeks of school to review the types of sentences/punctuation types and I'm always so thankful for the time we spent review with it! However, you could use the activities all year long! :)  You can check out my Types of Sentences Activity Pack {here}

There are a lot of items on my wish list that I can't wait to buy but the one I'm looking forward to buying first thing on Monday is Catherine's Winter Break Challenge!

We are off for about 2.5 weeks every winter break, which is AMAZING.  However, my students really struggle with their reading stamina when they come back to school.  My students this year also LOVE reading and I can tell they would love this pack! Catherine's pack looks like a great and FUN way to keep my students motivated with their independent reading over our very long holiday break! You can check out Catherine's Winter Break Challenge {here}

I do have several Christmas goodies in my store, which you can check out {here}!  My store will be 20% during the sale and you can save an additional 10% off the sale prices using the code TPTCYBER. Happy Shopping!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trick or Treat Sale and Halloween fun for the Bigger Kids

Happy Sunday, Friends! I just wanted to stop by the ole blog and little you know I'm having a Trick or Treat sale today and tomorrow!  It's the perfect time to pick up some Halloween fun for the bigger kids. :) 

You can visit my TpT store by clicking {here}!

I have been asked a few times lately to share what Halloween looks like in my fourth grade classroom.  So I dug into the blog archives to share some of the Halloween activities I typically do with my students. :) 

One of things that I always do is make extra copies of my Halloween Graphic Organizers to use throughout the month during their independent reading. 

I keep the extra copies in a binder and tab the first copy of each. 
 Then I put the binder in the tub I keep my seasonal books in for easy access.  My kiddos having been loving the extra practice with various comprehension strategies and story elements, and I have too. :)

On the actual day of Halloween, I allow my students to read a Halloween/Fall picture book with a partner and complete an accompanying Halloween graphic organizer.  You'd be surprised by how excited big kids still get when there is a cute piece of clip art on their graphic organizer. 

Of course, I use them throughout the month during small groups too. In fact, I used the summary graphic organizer just last week!

Several teachers who have purchased my seasonal graphic organizers mentioned that they use my graphic organizers in their listening centers, which I think is a GREAT idea! :) 

My teaching partner teaches math, so she gets to use one of my favorite TpT products this week, my BooHaHa Math Centers pack!

My teaching partner uses math workshop to organize her math block and she already has the BooHaHa recording sheets copied and ready to go this week. She uses centers for the hands on portion of her math rotations. :)  

She also has a math facts rotation and she is sweet enough to use my multiplication roll and covers in this center.  This month she has been using my Halloween Multiplication Roll and Cover set. 

The kids love them and they are so easy to implement. I always put them in a page protector and my students used dry erase markers or math counters as markers.  I got my twelve sided dice from Amazon {here}.  

Fluency is something I always work on with my struggling readers.  I've been working with my IEP students on mastering their third, fourth, and fifth one hundred set of sight words.  They LOVE to play my Trick or Treat Sigh Word Game

We have been starting our teacher time guided reading rotation with this game and it's been a great way to get their minds warmed up for reading and have some fun too!

I hope this post helps with your Halloween planning! Have a great week!

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