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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tips for a Spooktacularly Easy School Halloween Party

It's that time of year! Classroom parties and sugar crashes have just begun. How does an elementary teacher survive? Well, until you can get home to that bottle of wine, here are some tips to calm the chaos.

Tip #1: Set the mood early. I like to put up my Halloween decorations at the beginning of the month. It saves a lot of stress getting everything ready the day-of. In our school district, parent/teacher conferences fall during the last week of October, as does Nevada Day, so decorating early keeps me from getting overwhelmed. It also sets a festive mood for the entire month!

Tip #2: Delegate! I ask my 5th-graders for volunteers to plan our party. This year 2 boys took it upon themselves to put everything together. They polled the class on treats and activities. They set all this up on clipboards, so their classmates could look it over and make choices during their free time. No class time was lost. The boys even typed up a family letter explaining the event and what everyone needed to bring.

You don't have to teach older grades to take the weight off your shoulders. When I taught first grade, I asked for a parent to plan the party. I simply gave them a list of other parents who offered to help and let them take the reigns. On the day of the party, all I had to do was sit back and watch!

Tip #3: It's all about the kids. Remember, this party isn't an extravaganza to show what a marvelous teacher you are. Let your students set the tone. You know your classroom dynamics better than anyone...and you know how much that changes from year to year. One group of students might be able to handle a craft, while another can only handle a fun story or holiday movie. Some years you have oodles of parent "helpers" while other years you're completely on your own. Take cues from your students before planning something that may be overwhelming for them and you.

Tip #4: Keep it simple! Sometimes less truly is more. I've done parties where I set up centers for students to rotate around with a fun, creative holiday activity at each one...anything from decorating sugar cookies to turning each other into mummies. While definitely memorable, they can be a bit much. Remember, most of your students are going trick-or-treating or to Halloween parties after school, and all of them will come back the next day crashing from the sugar overload. Your party just needs to get them started. A light snack (preferably sugar-free) and single activity, whether that's a costume parade, movie, or craft, are plenty.

So take a deep breath, get ready, and still have that glass of wine waiting for you at home!

Here are a couple of fun activities to get you started:

Halloween Making WordsDem Bones Graphing Activity

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October Show and Tell

It's once again time for some show and tell! It has been an exciting fall, and I have so much to's hard to limit it to just four :)

Our area of Nevada is known for brush fires. We had a dry-lightning storm during the first week of school that started this beauty right across from my home. This is the view from my front porch. Thankfully, the wind drifted away from all the homes, and our wonderful firefighters kept the damage to only about 300 acres.

When we're not enduring wildfires, we're enjoying the amazing mountains. My brother and I took our girls on a nature walk adventure where we found a multitude of interesting sticks, leaves, and snow...and yes, we did have a snowball fight.
I have a student-teacher this year who is planning some great activities for our class. Here are her milk carton totem poles to emphasize the culture of the American Indians of the Northwest Coast.
And, finally, one of my favorite activities from my days as a first grade teacher...making words. I'm offering my Halloween edition as a freebie. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back to School Ready!

This summer flew by! I think most summers do :)
Earlier this month, I came to my classroom and found this:
 Then the race began!
So much to do, but this year I had some help. I get to work with a student teacher, and I'm so excited! Between the 2 of us (and meetings, training on a new reading program, Leader in Me training, and more meetings, multiple changes to our class list, and did I mention the meetings?), we have put together the perfect country classroom, inspired by small-town Nevada, for our 5th-graders. Enjoy!
a few paper lanterns for the computer center
the 10 most popular books checked out of my library last school year
job chart

adorable map sticky wall art I found
small group table
class pet at our writing table
view from my desk
view from the front corner
view from the back corner
Open house was a success, and we're all set for school to start on Monday. Have a wonderful year!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday

Welcome back to school! I am so excited to get this year started, and happy to be participating in Show and Tell Tuesday for August.
To start with, I want to share one of our school's end of the year traditions. On the last day of school, once we've seen all the kiddos onto the buses, we all run to the back of the schoolyard and wave goodbye as they leave.
This summer my 3 sisters came to visit with all their children. Together we had 12 kids running around! When they got tired of my yard, we took them up to the mountains to wade in the stream at our favorite park. This picture is my son, Jaden making a face behind my nieces, Kaitlyn and Fae.
Number 3 is another summer picture. After my wonderful family left, we visited more family in Montana. You can't go to Montana without visiting the beautiful Glacier National favorite place in the world!

And finally, a preview of posts to come. Once again the time has come to set up my classroom. I'm going for a shabby country theme this year. More pictures will follow in the next 2 weeks as I get ready for Back-to-School Night on August 24. But for now...

Welcome back to school with this fun activity pack!
Back to School Packet

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back to School Nightmares

I don't know about you, but I always begin having first-day-of-school nightmares around the end of July. I had my first last night! They're always pretty much the same...I have no lesson plans, my students aren't listening, my classroom isn't prepared. My coworkers and I like to share our nightmare stories. Each is more ridiculous than the last! Share your first-day-of-school dreams in the comments below.

I'm always a little nervous about the first day of school. But the more predominant emotion is excitement! I can't wait to get back and meet my new kiddos, catch up with my colleagues, and get the ball rolling again. It's not that I don't love my summer off (who wouldn't?), but just that I really love my job!

We really have the best job in the world! We get to play with and inspire children. Of course, there are challenges...that child you just can't get through to, the uncooperative parents, the constantly changing regulations...but the benefits far outweigh the hardships.

Stores are already starting their back-to-school sales, and I thought I'd offer a treat of my own: my back-to-school mini-packet is marked down right now.
Back to School Packet

It offers these fun activities:

  • Guess Who?
  • Beginning of year and end of year letters to self
  • goal bunting
  • top-10 lists
  • flexible partner lists
  • Technology lists
I can't wait to try this one out on my own students! Enjoy the rest of your quickly passing summer vacation!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Show and Tell

I'm joining Forever in 5th Grade once again for her monthly show-and-tell post. I missed September, so I'm catching up for 2 months.
To start off, we spent the end of summer, and the first part of fall remodeling both our bathrooms. This was a bigger project than we anticipated! But, after 3 months, we are all but finished. We just have a bit of trim-work to do. Below is a picture of the master vanity.
Halloween is my favorite holiday! I think it's because Halloween is the start of the holiday season. I start decorating for fall on September 1, and continue to the end of December. Yesterday, I attended a craft class and made a few new goodies to add to my collection. Now where, oh where, to store it all?
Hard to tell from this pic, but my boo sign is about 18 inches tall.

I did the spider wall just to terrify my mom :)

Made the wreath at a craft fair last year.

This little guy is is a snowman on the other side.

My daughter's blingy pumpkin

Right now, this is my favorite spot in the house!

Now, on to my classroom. Our district is focusing on science right now to familiarize everyone with the Next Generation Science Standards. I get to be our school's facilitator, though I'm not exactly sure yet what that means. I love teaching science, so here are a few of our latest projects:

 In September we made mold terrariums to study the effects of decomposers on dead tissue.
This week we built a working model circulatory system. The bottles have pipes connected to the hoses with one-way valves. By squeezing the bottles, "blood" flows from the ventricles to the lungs and body and back in a constant circle. Students worked in groups to figure out how to build their model based on what we learned about the circulatory system before I showed them this working model. Great STEM activity!

Finally, our school put on a Parent Pep Rally as part of our Leader in Me process. 5th grade's display showcased the 5th Habit: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. So we made big-ear boxes and wrote poems to show how being a good listener helps us avoid conflicts.
Link back to the original post by clicking on the Show and Tell button at the top of the page. See you all next month!