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What Am I Teaching This Christmas?

Merry Christmas Friends!

It's the season of rushing and crafts and presents and buying and lines and planning and parties... and through all that busyness...I want to teach my kids how other countries celebrate this season (I'm using this from Rockin Resources as a research project for my kids and this for fun from Rachelle Smith).  I am also doing some close reading activities about reindeer using  this from A Grace Filled Classroom.

But even more important than that, I want to teach my kids what Christmas is REALLY all about.

But how do you do that when there are toy catalogs full of unfinished circles that surround each toy they "have to have"? Unfinished circles.  Like these kids just zipped through the toy catalogs not being able to circle fast enough to fill their wish lists. On one page, my littlest little even drew a large greedy circle around the whole page. THE. WHOLE. PAGE. Greedy? Well, she's not greedy. She shares well and will do anything for you. But really, what do we expect when we live in a society of "Your Way Right Away" and "Bigger is Better"? Oh and the Christmas guilt is the WORST! "All of (blank)'s  friends are getting this so I will feel bad if they don't have it" or whatever. I am SO guilty of this.

BUT Christmas is far from guilt. or buying. or rushing. It really is all about the waiting. Advent. Waiting for the birth of Jesus.

So in this crazy time, we are attempting (because we will fail sometimes) to s.l.o.w. down and enjoy the coming of the birth of our Savior.

Here's how our family is doing it.

My hubby and I are reading through this AMAZING book from AnnVoskamp called the Greatest Gift. It's a short devotional everyday that begins on December 1st and has a link for special ornaments to download for each day. This book takes you through the journey of Adam to the birth of Jesus and how the events in history all point to His birth. It all culminates on Christmas Day, when we finally get to experience the birth of the anticipated Savior.

The beautiful ornaments..

For this kids, we are using this book from Ann Voskamp. She has a children's version of the Advent book called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift that we are reading everyday with the kids as we cuddle on the couch.  Each day the kids take turns and go to our "Advent" calendar and unwrap the next ornament. We read and they put the ornament up on our tree. Again, the book goes from the creation of the world and culminates on Christmas Day, where they get to unwrap the Greatest Gift.

For our "homemade" advent calendar, I got this EASY idea from my sweet friend Kathy. It's just a plastic shoe organizer from Wal-Mart. I wrapped each ornament in Christmas wrapping paper and used scrapbooking paper for the dates and clipped it to the outside of the pocket with clothespins. Because there are only 24 pockets, I doubled up on the 23rd and 24th. You can also put a little sweet treat in each pocket with the ornaments so that the kids can enjoy something sweet while they listen to the story. :)

These colored ornaments are the older versions. She has all white ones now (pic above) that I haven't put together yet, so we just used the ones I had for this year.

I'm hoping to refocus our family on what this season is REALLY about. After all, we ARE celebrating Jesus' birth. He deserves the gift that our hearts can give.

Blessings this Christmas,

Aligning Houghton Mifflin to Common Core

Hi Friends.

I know that it's Christmas time and the last thing that you're thinking of is teaching the curriculum. You want to teach something FUN... something Christmas-y. I get it. But for some of you, you have to keep trucking along the pacing guide for the next week or so. This post is for you. OR you come back Christmas break and don't want to think about anything and want it to be EASY, no prep, BUT rigorous. Is that even possible? Yes. This post is also for you.

I just completed a new product that will help you during this busy season. Introducing my 1st Grade Houghton Mifflin Unit for Theme 7.  It is over 260 pages of Common Core aligned work. It's PACKED with Thinking Maps, comprehension skills, Depth and Complexity icons, text dependent questions, and MUCH more!

You're colleagues will be so impressed that you are STILL teaching rigor to your students during this crazy time of year and wonder how you did it. Shhhh... I won't tell.

Here is a snapshot of your easy, no prep, BUT rigorous lessons...

Here is an overview. Scroll down for some close ups.

Can't see the worksheets? Here are some close ups....

One of my classroom favorites was the Skip and Scan. They have to work with partner to look through their anthology and find the answers to the questions. Level 1 has page numbers for those who need the extra help. Level 2 has no page numbers, but the students have to write what page they found the answers on.  This is a GREAT skill to practice and teaches students HOW to look in a piece of text to find their answers.

These vocabulary word and picture cards are great for not only Language Learners, but for ALL learners.

There are other themes available, just check out my store. I also have a Themes 1-5 bundled for extra savings!

So really. If you can just crawl yourself to the copy machine and push copy, I will take care of the rest. I got you covered, friend.


All I Want For Black Friday Linky

Hello friends.

I'm spending my Thanksgiving up I'm Northern California with family but I wanted to stop by and link up with this Black Friday Linky Party by the Primary Pack. I'm excited to be a part of this because I love seeing what's on other  teacher's wish lists..inside and outside of the classroom. I'm always looking for new teaching resources... and hey, if there's  a purse/watch/jacket/shoes/whatever on your personal wishlist that you love, I just may add it to my wishlist because I love it, too. :)  

So let's begin...shall we? 

Perfect. Let's  start with my personal wishlist.

1. Cameo - I see so many things in Pinterest that are so adorable and know that I can make them if I had my own Cameo. 
2. Disneyland pass - Our family had Disney passes a few years back....before it got REALLY expensive. Now,  for our family of 5 to have passes... it would be over $2000! Although we can't spend that type of money right now, I still would love to be "gifted" a pass so that our family can enjoy Disneyland again. I just need to find a sugar daddy....but my hubby wouldn't agree with that. Lol 
3. Pottery Barn Flameless candles - Just look at these!! Aren't they adorable?? I would love these flameless candles for our house. Not only is it safer since I love to light candles year round , but they would last longer.
4. Oh Holy Night chalkboard print - AHHH!!!  I would love this piece for Christmas above my fireplace! It's so beautiful!!!

Now, onto teaching wishlist...

1. Chalkboard Clipart - I've been looking at some chalkboard art to make some inspirational signs. These would be perfect. One is from Lilmade Designs and the other from Pink Pueblo. 
2. Whimsy Clips - I love my Whimsy Clips collection! I love that they come in black and white and color. There are so many cute cliparts here. 
3. Creative clips- I'm starting to use Creative Clips more. I have always liked the look of them but always used Whimsy Clips. I am looking for more variety now and so these would be perfect. Again, love that it comes with black and white and color!

Last, my best selling resources from my store that maybe can make it on YOUR wishlist...

1. The Write Stuff - I love this unit. It had everything you need to prepare your students for your writing block. When I was in the classroom last year, my  students used the word list and word books all the time!

2. Thinking Maps - I used this A LOT in my classroom and STILL use it in when homeschooling. This is one of my top selling resources and I can see why. Thinking Maps are just AWESOME! They help students organize their thoughts and are so versatile! You can use them for comprehension skills, grammar, phonics, math, science, and every other subject! I also include samples of how to use them for different subjects/skills.

3. Houghton Mifflin units: 1st and 2nd grade - Now this. These are my BEST selling items for those who still use the Houghton Mifflin series that are not common core aligned. A couple years ago, I began creating these units for my own need to aligned Houghton Mifflin to Common Core. I have 2nd grade completely done and have 2 more themes (theme 9 and 10) to finish 1st grade (Hallelujah!!). The bundles are the best deals but they also come per theme. Each theme is over 270 pages and packed with comprehension skills, grammar, phonics, and much more. I also integrated Thinking Maps and Depth and Complexity icons into these worksheets. I've has so many great responses from teachers who use them. 

Plus, Primary Pack is giving away these amazing items! All you have to do is go to their collaborative blog to enter to win! It's like Black Friday AND Christmas all wrapped in one big package!!!

Only a couple more days until Black Friday. I think I'm going to skip the stores this year and shop online in my warm jammies with coffee in hand. How about you?

Happy Thanksgiving Friends! There is SO much to be thankful for!!


Flip Flop Your Sit Spots!

Hello Friends!

Thanks for hopping over from our blog hop! So glad that you're stopping by.

I am so excited to be teaming up with 6 amazing teacher bloggers to share with you some fun and creative ways to use SitSpots.

I've seen so many great ideas so far with these SitSpots....using them to line up, sitting in a special spot, learning sight words, etc. These are all fantastic in a classroom setting (and I wish I would have found SitSpots last year when I was in the classroom), BUT this year, I am homeschooling and have a class size of....2. Juuuust two. I don't need a special spot for my boys to sit or for them to know where to line up, so I wanted to come up with an idea that would fit our needs.

Then it hit me! I came up with a REALLY fun (says my kids) idea that would not only work for us but for ANY classroom.

Yup! I flipped them!

Let me explain.

My boys love to throw things and so as I sat there looking at these cute little spots, I flipped them around and felt the prickly velcro and loved the idea of them sticking to a material. Wait. Velcro sticks. Then, in a moment of genius (VERY few and far between), I said proudly in my head, "I will make something to throw at these little dots so it can stick.....because VELCRO STICKS!!!!" (Pretty sure the voice even echoed).  I know. Genius, right?. Ha!

Then just as quick as my "moment of genius" came, my "moment of reality" set in when I realized that I don't have time to create a ball light enough to stick but heavy enough to fly through the air, and THEN sew it.  It's the same feeling I have when I pin all these cute and creative things on Pinterest then realize that I would never have the time nor the talent to actually follow through with all my wonderful beautiful virtual crafts and decor. Preaching to the choir here?

So, I came up with this.....




Isn't she beautiful? Or maybe I just need to get out more.

Here is what I used....

Can I tell you the hair bun donut thingy was another moment of genius for me??? Good thing too, because I was really overdue with these special moments.

The masking tape idea was birthed out of how do I say "can't spend any more money"  .....cheapness frugalness <----  that's much better.  There are some SitSpots that I will be using a Sharpie on, but I wanted to reuse some of these SitSpots for those skills that I didn't need to review all the time. Frugalness is next to godliness, right? Or was that cleanliness?? Whatever.

Next was to test this review games with my boys. It was truly a match made in heaven. They like to throw things and competition motivates them.

First game.... Memory Work Review (science, math, history, geography, and grammar)

I laid the cards out

Each subject card was represented by a number. They spun....Science it is!
Isaac answers correctly and now throws to see how many points he will get...

He gets 100 points and celebrates!

It's now Joshua's turn...

He missed 100 points and got 5 points instead.

If you don't want to use a spinner, here is another variation of the review game with different subjects. Kids throw to see which subject card they will answer for a point.

This game was seriously a hit! They had so much fun and so I thought of other review games that can be played with this.

Here, we were working on reviewing our x6 math facts. Pick a flashcard (6x8) and throw it at the answer.

Child picks a card with a word and needs to figure out what part of speech it is.

So... we gotta talk about how to stick these SitSpots on the wall. I originally used packaging tape. I think my tape was old because it wasn't sticking very well so I ended up using tacks.... which I kept moving around due to my poor planning, which left lots of little holes, which my hubby was sure to love. It's all for the kids anyways, right?? :/

Packaging tape or masking tape would work just fine on the wall or even your white board. If you have a bulletin board that you can use for the game, I would totally use the tacks. :)

Here is a little peak into our game. I love how excited my boys are!

This is Isaac, my oldest, my 5th grader, my fierce competitor.

Next up is Joshua, my middle child, my 3rd grader, my quiet leader (but not so quiet here).

Now for the good.... GREAT news!!

We could not share about the fun ways to use SitSpots without sharing some of the love with you all!!! THAT would be unkind, almost rude. So Joyce from SitSpots (God bless her BIG heart) has agreed to generously donate a $50 gift card to EACH of us 6 bloggers here to giveaway. That means we are giving away 6...SIX $50 gift cards!!!

Oh, Friend. Your odds are good.

All you have to do is enter our giveaway by clicking the Rafflecopter button at the bottom of the page.

**If you just can't wait until the raffle, we have a deal for you!  You can head on over to SitSpots and enter "sitspots6" during checkout and get 15% off your purchase! Offer expires November 8.

BUT before you do that, I have another real treat for you. My friend Sandy from Soaring Through Second  is full of amazing ideas! Check out how she uses her SitSpots as she travels from classroom to classroom.

Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift card here at our  Rafflecopter Giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Have a great day, Friends!


Houghton Mifflin Bundle

Hello Friends.

Today is Tuesday!!! Yay!! Why do I love Tuesdays? Tuesdays are my catch up/work day while my kids go to a drop off program for 6 hours. SIX.WHOLE.HOURS. Y'ALL!!! Since I began homeschooling, these "rest" days for me have been so crucial... to the survival of my kids students. Waaaitttahhhh miiiinute! Catch/up work days = rest days???  Well, it didn't used to.  It used to be MOMMYNEEDSTOFINISHHERWORKSODONTTALKTOME!! day.

"But MOMMMMMYYYY, I'm hungry!" they would say.

"What???!!! You just ate!"  

"That was breakfast. It's dark outside now, soooo I think we're suppose to eat dinner or something???"

Spoiled kids.

(whispering to each other how mommy *might* have made them skip a meal)

(GEEESH! Eyes rolling....)

You get the picture.

Now that I have Tuesdays carved out (did I mention SIX HOURS??!!! Oh happy day!) to create all my Teachers pay Teachers units, blog, and to keep up with all my other social media stuff for work, I don't feel like I NEED to finish everything when my kids are finally down for the night. I yell less, we enjoy each other more, AND they get to eat (at least) 3 times a day. I know. Lucky them.

Today I want to share with you one of my top selling resources all bundled up in a cute little package. I've had such great responses with my first grade Houghton Mifflin resources that I thought I would bundle themes 1-5 at a discounted price. It's a savings of $12 if you purchase the bundle.  I will also be bundling themes 6-10 when they are all completed.  But for now, here she is!

Since all the themes are pretty consistent, I won't bore you with a preview of EVERY theme. Here is a sneak peak of Theme 1.  You can click on the links if you would like a closer look of what's inside each theme.

Theme 1

Theme 2:

 Theme 3:

 Theme 4

 Theme 5

If you know anyone who is having a hard time aligning Houghton Mifflin with Common Core, please send them my way!

 Hope you enjoy your day today!!!