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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.