I know some of you have been buried under snow already, which I can not even imagine! Down here we've had a few really nice chilly days in the 50's and we're loving it! Cool, crisp days like that make it a lot easier to get into the holiday spirit!

I've been into Christmas since before Halloween. I have issues...
One of the things that really got me in the mood was updating my December Printable Pack. I've already updated it a couple of times since I posted it two years ago, but this time it got a major overhaul. I updated the fonts and graphics on all of the pages, adjusted some of the activities slightly, and added a few more as well. There are 26 activities in all, plus answer keys. I love to have these on hand for homework, sub plans, early finishers, or even a quick center. If you have to sent home a practice pack over winter break, this might do it for you! If you already own the original version, be sure to download it again so you've got all the new goodies.

This next one has been rolling around in my brain for a really long time. I had scrap paper "prototypes" spread out all over my dining room table for weeks! I'm calling it the 3D Grammar Tree Craftivity. It's actually easy to put together and just about every part of it is editable, so if you want to modify the parts of speech your kids practice, you totally can!

And while we're on the subject of Craftivities, check out Rudolph! He also comes with lots of options and step by step directions. I've also included a version that the kids can just color, if printing and cutting all the pieces separately isn't your thing.

So I'm sure you've heard, but the big Cyber Monday sale on tpt is this happening now - December 1st and 2nd. Be sure to add the promo code tptcyber at checkout. You would not believe how many times I've forgotten to do that!

After you're all done shopping, be sure to come back to the blog each day between December 2 and 14 for some awesome daily giveaways courtesy of some very generous friends! See ya tomorrow!

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week. I need to go buy my bird. Last year I kind of forgot to take my frozen turkey out of the freezer until the day before Thanksgiving. That really was nothing compared to some of my other holiday disasters. If you want a pretty comprehensive list of what not to do, check out this old post. It's all funny now...kind of.

Ok, so in the midst of all things holiday, I decided to spruce up my November Printable Pack. It was the first of my monthly packs and I originally made it about three years ago. Man, Ive learned a LOT since then! If you own the pack, please, please, please go to your "My Purchases" tab and grab the new version. Besides having updated fonts and graphics, it's also has several new activities and a free sample of my Homework, Seat work, and Class work pack for November.

Here's a peek at the updated pack.

These are just the thing to carry us through the last few days before the holiday break. They definitely add some holiday fun without losing your academic focus.  Enjoy!

It's been almost a year since the Bright Ideas link up started and in that time thousands of great classroom tips and tricks have been shared by some of the best bloggers I know. I joined the party a bit late, but it's quickly become one of my favorite blog posts and I so look forward to it every month.

The month we're all taking time to look back at the ideas we shared since the start in a special Bright Ideas Round-up. What a great way to catch up on any ideas that you might have missed!

Click on any of the pictures below to read more about each idea.

In this post, I shared an idea for quick morning messages I use to greet my kids each day:

I found a way to use up some extra math manipulatives in this post:

This one was my favorite. I blogged about using your current class to welcome you new students:
 And finally, this post has bunches of ideas for task card use and storage:

Below you will find links to the rest of the Bright Idea Crew who are also highlighting their posts for you. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for some inspiration!

I know you're tired of hearing the word rigor. I am too, trust me. But I had a bit of a lightbulb moment in my classroom  the other day and all of a sudden I just kind of "got it".

So far this year my word work rotation has been pretty much what you what you would imagine it to be. Much of it consisted of cards that I had printed, laminated, cut, sorted, and organized for the kids to use. The kids then read, matched, ordered, and grouped those cards and recorded their answers. At first glance it seems like they learned the skill and we moved on. Then I was smacked in the face with the reality that maybe they didn't master it as well as I thought.

What happened? Well, for two months of word work the kids had a contraction activity mixed in with the rotation. In classic center style, they matched up the two cards that made the contraction and wrote the new word. And it seemed like we were pros! Then I gave this assessment. (It's part of this CC Assessment Pack).

I was pretty confident that the assessment would show mastery of the skill. I was wrong. When it came to actually applying the skill in context, they really struggled. One of the main goals of learning contractions is that students will use them in their writing to improve sentence fluency. That's exactly what I was expecting them to be able to do in this assessment and it didn't work out so well. 

It didn't hit me right away where things went wrong and then shortly after,  I was sitting with my small group working on the Fall See-it Centers. I realized that this type of activity really bumped up the level of rigor. I know that word has been way over-used and no one wants to hear it, but I'm coming to the conclusion that there might be something to it.

In these activities the kids aren't just sorting cards with words into categories, but they're actually searching the picture for words that satisfy the criteria. For example, my kids actually have a hard time with rhyming words for some reason. However, in a center with matching cards they almost always get it right. Why? Because they can easily match up the spellings for words like rake and cake, sing and ring. Of course, not all rhyming words are spelled the same, but most are and matching them up isn't so hard. But in the See-it Center, they have to go into the picture and find the rhyming word. So as they were looking for a word to rhyme with "flake", they were searching the picture and saying two words together until they found a match (or two!). To me, it really showed a deeper level of mastery and one where they can't accidentally get it right. 

Just for good measure, each See-it Center has a math page as well. Again, the kids have to use what they see and work on a higher level than just sorting and matching.
Now, don't get me wrong. There is value in the traditional sorting and matching center activities. It's a great way to introduce a skill and practice it for the first time. But I think we need to bring it up a level and try it in context before we can feel that the kids have mastered the skill. All of the team leaders met the other day and the same conversation creeped up again - each grade level is frustrated that they're re-teaching skills they expected the kids to learn in the grade before. Of course we all taught the skills and the kids learned them, but I started to think that maybe the level of mastery wasn't we thought. I'm thinking that more authentic practice might be the key to deeper understanding. Just my two cents...

If the See-it Centers look interesting to you, I've linked them all up so you can check them out. The first one is a freebie!

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Just popping in to share an idea I posed over on Owl-ways Be Inspired.

My fellow owls and I blog about fun ideas for first, second, and third grade. Today I posed about the project below including helpful links and a freebie.  Pop over and see what we've got goin on for you over there!

This idea has been rolling around in my brain for a couple of years. There are probably a billion unfinished ideas rolling around up there, for real. I finally sat down and brought this one to reality and it feels so good! This circle turkey book doubles as a great reading activity and a super cute hallway display or bulletin board. You can choose just a page or two or all six to make the activity book. The book then attaches to half a paper plate that the kids color to look like turkey feathers. Staple the book to the plate, add some feet and you're done!

You can find it in my tpt shop here.  Gobble Gobble!

Halloween on a Friday? Yes, Please! Can we arrange the calendar so that happens forever? k, thanks.

We have a lot of fun on Halloween. I kind of give in on this day. I mean, how much are we going to learn when we're draped in Christmas lights and superhero capes? 

One of the cutest traditions is when the pre-k kids come trick-or-treating. Seriously, cuteness overload! My kids were so excited to be the ones handing out the candy. Adorable.

Every year, my team dresses up together. We're now up to 12 teachers, so choosing a theme that all of us can get on board with and find costumes for gets a little challenging. We went with hippies this year. Easy and fun. I made those little Tic-Tac gifts for them. Cute free printable for those can be found here.  And I treated myself to the cutest coffee cozy ever! It's handmade by the one and only Squirrels. Who also sells them at her Etsy store.

The highlight of the day is classroom trick-or-treating!  I ask each parent to send in 18 treats and then I put them out in different buckets and baskets and the kids trick-or-treat around the classroom. Isn't that what Halloween is all about as a kid? Getting a big bag of goodies to hoard?!

 This idea was from another teacher on my team. I thought it was genius! She had each kid come dressed as a vocabulary word. They came through and had to tell how that word related to their costume. If you have kids who don't celebrate Halloween, this might be a fun way that they can participate in the fun of the day by dressing up because it's an academic activity. Maybe? Depends on the parents for sure...

So that was Halloween in our room. And afterward I was exhausted. I fell asleep for 2 hours when I came home! Woke up in time for the few trick-or-treaters we had. I got a little nervous because we don't usually have many kids come knocking, so a few days ago we started picking at the candy we bought. I scoured the pantry to see what I had in case we ran out of candy. I came up with packs of gum, Jif singles, microwave popcorn, and Keurig K cups (something for mom?) Luckily, it didn't come down to that.

Hope your Halloween was happy! Bring on the turkeys!
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