Sunday, December 29, 2013

FREE New Year's Eve Printables!

Ok, so this is not really a teacher-related post but thought I would post here because I do plan to have a New Year's Bundle on TpT soon for my students focusing on new year's resolutions, goals, writing prompts etc. so check back after the new year for those!

So, we decided super last minute to have a New Year's Eve game night. We arranged for my in-laws to watch the kids and invited, via text, some of our friends over. It looked like we would have a good 10-12 people, perfect for a game night BUT unfortunately they are now dropping like flies…can't find a sitter,  coming down with a cold, or they already had other plans. In the meantime, however, I was scavenging thru Pinterest to find some free NYE printables to use as party decor. I found a really fun pop culture game to play but all the free printables I found, I didn't quite like and I wasn't about to pay $ for something that I could make myself. So I did.


Here is a banner. Not the greatest picture but it has turquoise stripes on the "pennants". And if you know me at all, you know about my slight obsession with turquoise. I know NYE is typically gold and silver but I couldn't steer away. ;)

Simply print out the banner pennants and hole punch 2 holes at the top….

First, lay out your pennant pieces and decide which "string" to use. I had some of that Natural Sisal twine left over from another project that I used but you could use any ribbon.

Once you have your holes punched, I would suggest measuring out your twine or ribbon leaving at least 6 inches on the ends to tie on to wherever you plan to hang. Once you have your twine cut, simply weave it through the holes. I liked to thread it thru where the twine would be in the back of the pennant but you could do it either way. 

Just keep pulling through until you have come through all the pennants. You can tie a little knot on the end pennants so they don't slide off while you are trying to hang. 

I would have put this up over the mantle but we still have Christmas stuff up! So I just put it up over my mirror in the entry way. You could add colored ribbon to the ends to make it look cuter. This literally took me less than 30 minutes once I printed it out.


Here are some fun "photo booth" props I made. I have "photo booth" in quotations because, well, I don't own a photo booth so it will just be fun to take pics of our guests, whoever shows up??? If not, the kids and I will have a blast! I'm thinking about taking the glasses to school to take pics of my students! Ha ha

You could use craft sticks, popsicle sticks or cake pop sticks for these! I found these lollipop sticks at Wal-Mart for $3.

Ok, so I am not the best cutter…I actually hate cutting stuff out. When I cut out the mustaches I couldn't quite cute perfectly straight so I just used a brown and a black marker to fill in so it looked a little better!

See, can't tell at all, right?!

Once you have your props cut out, use a hot glue gun to attach your sticks.

I think they turned out pretty cute. It only took me 30 minutes to get these printed, cut out, and glued!


GIFT TAGS for Party Favors

I also made some gift tags for party favors. Not sure if I will be doing them this year but thought about putting Hershey's kisses in a gift bag (get it? new year's kisses?) and then just attach the tag with twine or curling ribbon. 

I couldn't decide which tags I liked better so I included them both.


It really wouldn't be a party without cupcakes so I thought I could make some cupcake toppers too!

Hope you can use them! It's kinda last minute for this year, I know, so I will be changing these to say 2015 soon and have them ready for next year!! Click on the link below to access the free printables.

**Oh, and since they are free I would really appreciate if you would first join this site by clicking on the right side over there….--------> Pretty, please. Oh and also, if you could repin on Pinterest and tell your friends that would be great too! I absolutely LOVE creating things like this and sharing with others. :)**

Get the FREE printables HERE!

Stay tuned, I plan to take some pics of the kids with the props later!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The best feedback so far...

This made my day. I received this feedback on my Letters to Santa: A Wish for Others lesson and activity.  So sweet!

It makes me happy to see that others find my creations helpful and meaningful. I love contributing to TpT and having a way to share. Thank you, Cynthia!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear Santa…A Wish for Others

It's that time of the year when kiddos all over are making their wish lists and sending them on to Santa. In our classes this week, we had the kids step outside of themselves for a minute and think about others.  It is one of my favorite activities we do all year.

Each year, it begins the same…I gather them all to the floor and excitedly tell them they will be writing a letter to SANTA! BUT…they are not writing about their wants and desires for Christmas. (Their gleeful faces suddenly fade and confusion sets in) I go on to explain….They needed to think about others. A family member, a friend, a group of strangers, it didn't matter, just not themselves and write Santa a letter including a wish for others.

We brainstormed a little and I shared a few from my list below.

This year I showed Kid President's video- Holiday Gift Guide…the kids love this little guy! It's great because he talks about the perfect gift is one that makes the world better.

This got them thinking a little bit more. And THEN, I played Kelly Clarkson's video version of "My Grown-up Christmas List."

This really set the tone for their letter. In the song, the lyrics say "no more lives torn apart, that wars would never start…" Kinda deep for 2nd graders but I was going for depth in these letters as opposed to "I wish my friend gets the toy he wants."

I did have 2 kids write that wars would come to an end or never start. :)

Then it was time for a little prewriting and to brainstorm our ideas. 

This pic shows the brainstorming and rough draft of one of my students. 

The kids also filled out their Letter to Santa plan. 

Before we wrote our letters, we had to review the 5 parts of a friendly letter. 

 After the kids completed their drafts, they turned them in for editing and then it was time to write their final copy.  (different letter paper choices below!) The kids were cute saying that Santa is getting old and may not be able to read their handwriting if it's sloppy. Of course, I agreed.  

Overall they really did stretch their thinking and I was proud of how they turned out.

Here are a few!

After completing their final copy, they were not done yet! I gave each student a letter checklist and self-reflection page. 

Then we put them all out on our bulletin board!

The question I get asked every year…So, are you really going to send them to Santa?? How can you send them if they are already on the bulletin board?

I reminded them of when I was taking the pictures of their letters (for their portfolios) that what I was really doing was emailing them to Santa! This is the 21st century after all!

Get the complete Letters to Santa unit HERE!

Here is a PREVIEW of what is included!

 Again, one of my most favorite activities. Just to get the kids, who are naturally egocentric at this age, thinking of someone else is priceless. :)

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

MAGNETS + 2nd Graders = FUN!

What an awesome week we had! Quite a few blog-worthy moments so I'll start with what we did in Science. We have been discussing Forces (pushes and pulls, gravity---> Remember, the spider who just happened to drop in while we were discussing gravity!?).

We then moved on to MAGNETS. 2nd graders come to us already knowing some basic background knowledge about magnets but to find out exactly how much they already knew, we did a KWL chart…
Don't laugh at my puny magnet…found something like this on Pinterest about 5 minutes before the kids came back from recess…so I was rushing a little. ;)

 To introduce our magnet lesson, I asked the kids to think of different forces in our world that are useful. They came up with some great ideas ("Gravity, so we don't float off the Earth) but I had to give them a few more clues until one little guy guessed magnets. 

I had two bar magnets with the poles marked and demonstrated how they attract and repel. 
Then, I gave each student a post it for them to write one thing they already know. After discussing what we know, I was excited to  move on because we needed to expand our knowledge a little bit. So, I wanted them to ask some questions they have about magnets (What We Want to Know). I then had them take another post-it and write down at least one question. Then we added them to the poster.

Then it was time to learn. 

So,we watched the Magnet BrainPopJr video and a couple of other short magnet clips. The kids completed a Circle Map on Magnets while they watched so they could record what they were learning.

Lastly, I had the kids do what they love best…EXPLORE. They were each given a magnet to go explore around the classroom. They had to find at least 3 things that were magnetic and 3 that were not.  They added what they learned to their circle maps.


I had the kids get out their Science notebooks to review what we learned AND we had to fill out that space on our class poster too. We picked the coolest things we learned and added them…
Again, don't judge the sloppy handwriting. Wish I could say the sweet kiddos wrote that part but no, that is all me trying to be efficient and write quickly. Ha! (Any other teachers out there dislike writing on your anchor charts in front of the kids??)

Then it was time for MAGNET PATHS….

We did an activity where we took a paper plate and drew a path and labeled a starting point and an ending point. I gave the kids paper clips and one magnet. The objective was to move the paper clip, which sat on top of the plate, with the magnet, which was under the plate, along the path. 

Here is a video of a couple of my kids with their magnet path…

They thought this was so cool! Magic. 

And a couple of pics….

After paperclips, I gave the kids mini binder clips, since it was 1/2 plastic. This was much more challenging to move but it still worked. Lastly, I gave them another small round magnet to move on their paths. They had to figure out which side (pole) would move the magnet.

Then the kids did a reflection in their science notebook. They had to draw their paths, describe the materials used and write which item was easiest to move along the path and why, and which was the most challenging to move.

Results by one student…

Everyone agreed that the round magnet was easiest to move since the magnets had a north and south pole and once they had the opposites sides facing each other, moving it was a breeze! 
The most challenging to move was the binder clip because of the plastic. We also discussed how the shape of the items made a difference too. 

I do plan to do a kinesthetic magnet activity next week. Totally forgot about it this week, but, in short, give each student a label to wear on their shirt that says either "North" or "South". They will roam around the classroom until either I say stop or the music stops (?) and then turn to the nearest student, read their labels and either "Attract" if they are opposites or "Repel" if their poles are the same. They hold hands if they attract or they hold their arms away from each other to indicate a push if they repel.

Hmmm…wonder if I can play Paula Abdul's song, "Opposites Attract." ha ha! I'm kidding, kinda. 

I will definitely have to post a video of that activity! 

Until next time…