Elf Craftivity - it was free!

Hey everyone! I wanted to share a few pics from our Elf Craftivity. They came out great. We used Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten's free product here, then I created my own Elf Application to better suit my second graders.
Fun and Free Elf Craftivity
They look so cute hanging up!
Excuse the terrible purple wall that I have to hang them on. Oh well!
Fun and Free Elf Craftivity
I love some of  the reasons. This guy would make a good elf "because I can package stuff fast". That would be a plus!
Fun and Free Elf Craftivity
And she can make a toy that not even the Hulk can destroy and she would make candy canes in different flavors. How cute!

Thanks to Nicole Ricca for the fun and pretty easy activity for the last few days before Christmas!

Currently December 2015

Better late than never? This has been one heck of a month but here is my currently! 

Listening: I am behind in The Voice but really loving it! It is a positive thing to watch when life can be stressful!

Loving: I do love all the decorations at this time of year! Everything is so pretty, sparkly, and glowing.

Thinking: It has been in the 50s most of the month. It is SO weird here in New England to have Christmas lights and trees and carols, and sometimes not having to wear a coat!

Wanting: Just go away, headache!!!

Needing: People are so tense, stressed, and I guess its not just kids who are having trouble handling the build up to Christmas. It would be perfect if everyone had a little more patience and a bit more kindness. 

Real or Faux: I am technically allergic, but could handle a real tree, but I decided to go fake a few years ago because its economical. However, it's time for a new one since one of the legs broke and it's tilted now!

Happy holidays everyone!

Please stop by Farley's blog and see who else has linked up!

Unique Toys and Games from Uncommon Goods

Do you get the Uncommon Goods catalog like I do? I have gotten it in the mail for a few years now and I always pore over it, making a mental wishlist for myself but also picking out Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Uncommon Goods is pretty cool. Check out their mission here.  They believe in sustainability not just as being green, but also being respectful to all employees, offering health care and a living wage. None of their products harms humans or animals and they are committed to handmade, recycled, and  organic products. And one more neat thing: they believe strongly in charity and at checkout allow you to choose a charity and they will donate $1 each time you buy from them.

I don't know why but I had not been on their website since last year and went to have a look last week and found all kinds of unique gifts for children and teachers! Their children's products could have a home in any school, homeschooling environment or home. They also might be great to have at Grandma's house for when the grandkids come to visit. They also have a lot of personalized gifts too which would be great for just about anyone.

Check out the ideas below which I thought really stood out as the most educational, fun, and delightful ideas!

Of course, being a teacher, this jumped right out at me. With This Storymatic Kids! game, for children ages 5 and up,  children draw one yellow and one blue card and create a story based on what they say. The Storymatic Kids! game would be great for the classroom but also road trips and a neat twist on game night!
 This isn't Whatchamacallit, It's WhatchamaDRAWit! It is fun and imaginative and will help children explore their creativity without a screen. 
 Check out this Edible Chemistry Set! In class, I usually have to go over with my students that they should not be putting any science materials in their mouth and definitely not eating anything, but that is not the case here. I might even want this for myself! The kit will help your kiddos learn the basics of chemistry.
I grew up playing the violin and saxophone so I am partial to music instruments. If you don't want a full on drum set in the family room, check these out! I think these Musical Pat Bells would be great in a classroom too. 
And how fun is this? Do you have a little scientist, doctor-in-the-making, or a kids who just loves to learn? Where else can you get Plush Organs? Your kiddo could fall asleep with his head on a gall bladder or snuggle up with a brain!

Here are a few other things I noticed but could not find images for. 
Kids Responsibility Board:  Looks handy for managing chores and responsibility at home 
Super Nerdy ABC Blocks: Instead of a is for apple, how about G is for gravity and J is for Jurassic?
Construction Plate and Utensils: Have a child who loves construction, trucks, and equipment? They'd probably like this super fun plate and utensils!

Let me know if you've ever tried Uncommon Goods or have a favorite item on your wishlist!

Read my blog disclosure.

Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway

Happy December everyone! I have been so excited about amping up my holiday style with some fun Jamberry Nail Wraps! I have been a consultant for about a year and half so I also got to have fun with it last year in November and December. This year, my students are also pretty interested in what I put on so I am really looking forward to my first jamicure for December. If you're a Jamberry newbie, Jamberry nail wraps are high quality, vinyl, heat activated and pressure sealed nail wraps that last for weeks, at a fraction of the cost of a salon visit! They do not have any harsh chemicals, you won't have to deal with chipped polish, or damage to your natural nail. There are over 350 adorable style options! One sheet of nail wraps will give you up to 2 manis and 2 pedis!

I decided to share some of my favorite winter styles with you and for those who are new to Jamberry (or those who already know and love them) could win a sheet of accent nail wraps. Accent nail sheets come with five different wrap styles and  gals usually try one one with a coordinating lacquer on the other nails, and then they can see how well the wraps last! I love to share about Jamberry because guess how I got involved? I requested a sample from someone's teacher blog! You can request your own sample by filling out the form in the Rafflecopter below, clicking here, or on the image in the sidebar.

Check out some of the prettiest, cutest, and holiday and winter-ready nail wraps! Scroll down to enter the giveaway and good luck!
Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
These are some of my favorites! All of the photos are courtesy of Jamberry. I am not talented enough to take such terrific photos! Some of the wraps are combined with lacquer or Jamberry's TruShine Gel Enamel.
The wraps pictured are (click on any to learn more):
Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
This one is so fun and cute! It didn't make it into a collage but I just could not skip it! 

  Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
Jamberry also has juniors wraps which are sized smaller and perfect for girls age 8 or so and younger. Some of them also have coordinating regular wraps so you can do a fun Mommy & Me jamicure! What a fun way to spend time together! Pictured are two of those juniors styles and two beautiful wraps for Hannukah! The one on the top right reminds me (and a lot of little girls) of Frozen!

Wraps shown:
                                Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
These are so pretty and that puppy is just adorable! Think Santa could bring him to me? They are a few more winter wraps and Christmas styles. Shown are:
Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
Also Jamberry just released these fun glow in the dark wraps! They look cool in the dark and as you can see in the top picture, just beautiful in the light! There is a limited amount available so grab them if you want, but soon!
The adult ones are (there is also a juniors version):

Jamberry Holiday Style AND a Giveaway
Finally check out the gorgeous holiday sets! I actually already grabbed Snow Angels for myself. It is a juniors wrap but I have small nail beds and the large juniors wraps fit me, then I have leftover for my niece and friends' daughter! The sets come with one or two exclusive wraps and an exclusive lacquer. All sets come with application tools and the non-juniors come with a small container of Jamberry's Nourish hand lotion! 
Take a look:

Also, do you know if you love Jamberry or want to buy but short on cash, you can host a free Facebook party and earn hostess rewards? Jamberry has a really generous hostess rewards program! I have so much fun doing them! We learn a little about jams, play games and your friends win prizes! Click here for more information or email me

Now for the giveaway! There are three ways to enter. I am excited to hear what your favorite winter/holiday wrap is, or just any styles you like from the website!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A+ Images Blogger T-Shirt Promotion

Hey everyone! I was so excited this fall to come across a wonderful promotion for teacher-bloggers! from the company A+ Images!

Check out the fun t-shirt they printed for me with my blog button on the front and back.

They are a company based out of Indianapolis, and do tons of great custom t-shirts, individually or if you need multiples. They do embroidery and even can add rhinestones to your shirt!

Their website is very detailed and you can research what you are interested  right there by navigating through the tabs. There is even an option to request samples which is pretty cool.

Here's a quick screenshot of their home page. I happened to snap it as their gif was cycling through and landed on images for their teacher tee shirts. (See "Second Grade Rocks"? Yes, it does!! )

If you want more information click here or on the image to check them out and thanks guys, for helping me with my blogger tee! 

10 Christmas Songs to Play at your School Holiday Party

Reading and Writing Redhead- 10 Christmas Songs to Play at Your School Holiday Party
I was listening to Christmas Music in the car and wondered which songs I might play if I played music at my class holiday party ( I teach second grade)... then I thought if I came up with some ideas, other teachers might benefit from a list and it could save someone time listening to holiday songs and deciding themselves! 

Now, I know not every school allows holiday parties or holiday music anymore. At my school, we still have a party the day before vacation and I know a lot of you do too. Some of you teach in Catholic Schools, some private schools and some are public school teachers like me and there is a huge variety of what is allowed. This post is not a commentary on any of that, it's just to share ideas. 

Here's the rationale behind the songs I chose:
  1. They had to be kid friendly songs (ie no iffy language etc., which would be weird on a Christmas song but Baby It's Cold Outside didn't make the cut... )
  2. These are more secular songs and not traditional Christmas Carols. I figured that would help some of you in public schools with stricter rules about what you could do regarding Christmas. 
  3. And of course, an important consideration-I had to love them! Haha!

Here we go! The list is in order from 1-10, in order of what I think would be best for an elementary school party but I suppose you could play them at a staff party too ( I included video links below, but I am NOT recommending any of the videos - just the songs themselves)!

1) Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version

2) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry Version

3) Frosty the Snowman - Gene Autry Version (there are other good ones, but I just love his versions)

4) Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
By the way if you show kids the Hall and Oates video version of this, be prepared for confused facial expressions and laughter!

5) Rockin' around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

6) White Christmas -  Bing Crosby

7) Sleigh Ride - I couldn't decide - I love both the Boston Pops Orchestra version (no lyrics) and the Ronnettes so here is a link to both; however a version with words might be better for younger kids.
Boston Pops Orchestra

8) Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives 
9) The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole of course!

10) Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra (had to get him on this list!)

Honorable Mentions: Didn't Make it because they are a bit focused on love instead of Christmas but might work for upper elementary parties. I LOVE these by the way!

All I Want for Christmas - Mariah Carey

Last Christmas - Wham! But I also love the Taylor Swift version and it might be a bigger hit with the kids

What holiday music do you play at school? Or what did I miss that you'd recommend? Please comment and let us know!

Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop

The temperature is colder and some of you have had snow! It's time for a winter-themed blog hop. I am excited to be joining up with some talented teachers and bloggers for a Mentor Text themed freebie hop! 
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
To enter the giveaway raffle, you need to track a special blue word each blogger will post on their page. Look for those blue words!
We also will be donating copies of each book to two lucky winners- one  for each hop- primary and upper elementary! Check out these great books for the K-2 hop! Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
And here are the books for the 3-5 hop!
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
Let's get to it!
What are Mentor Texts?
Mentor Texts are texts that can be used for a wide variety of reading and writing activities and must importantly, are used as an example of terrific writing for students. students can use what they learn to improve their own writing. I also find mentor texts, since they are such high-quality literature, to be terrific tools for working on reading skills such as comprehension, in addition to learning about the grammar and mechanics of writing.
How do I use Mentor Texts to help my students improve their reading and writing skills?
In my freebie, I include a page with suggestions on how to plan out your lessons.  However, you're the expert and with any concepts or skills, and you should use what you know about your students to determine which activities are appropriate for your class. You may need to supplement with some more whole class instruction or small group work.
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Burton
Here's some advice on how to use Katy and the Big Snow and my freebie. I give you some good information here but for all the details you want to download the freebie by clicking here!
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
This is a beautifully illustrated book set in the town of Geopolis. Katy, a red crawler tractor is the main character and she is described as "very big and very strong". She is very helpful to the town but most of the winter she is too strong for the small amounts of snow and stays inside a garage. One day, a blizzard arrives! The illustrations give a clear picture of how much snow there and  you can almost hear the stillness that comes after a huge storm and feel the cold winter air. In the version I own, sparkles on the book actually make some of the illustrations sparkle and glisten. Townfolk call for help as every road gets blocks and every service gets shut down. Katy goes to work and the illustrations and text show her clearing a path through the towns, CHUG CHUGGING away until the hard work is done and she can rest.
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
 When getting into a book like this, you always want to find out what kind of  background knowledge your students have. Have they experienced a blizzard? Or are they from Florida and have never seen snow? 
Also, since part of the way I suggest you use the book is by looking at word choice, there is a snowball themed "Word Splash" type activity in the packet. 
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
The day you read the text, I recommend you help guide your students by thinking through the text. The guide included will help you! I even provided an answer key of sorts to help you determine how to discuss the points.
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
I like to call this kind of activity being a "word detective" and send the students back in the text to find examples of dialogue. You also can incorporate some teaching about the use of quotation marks. A lot of young students (I teach second grade) will have a narrative writing piece or fiction story but with no dialogue at all. They benefit from guidance that a balance of dialogue and narrative sentences can make their writing much more interesting and engaging!
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
After you work through some of the other activities, I recommend your students start to brainstorm what they could write about. I like to also ask students, after they choose their final topic, to explain why the topic they chose would be best for them (in writing or verbally). Sometimes, if they don't have any reason, I look at their brainstorm list and talk about their other ideas and we find out one of them would be better. Then it is time to make a story map to plan their writing!

Now that you have learned about Mentor Texts and how to use Katy and the Big Snow,  you can download my freebie by clicking here or on the image below!
Reading in a Winter Wonderland Freebie Hop: Grab mentor text information and resources, freebies, and enter to win copies of all of the books featured!
Over on Pinterest, if you are looking for other teaching ideas for ELA, you may want to follow my board, "Bex's Teaching Ideas". It has a little of everything!
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My mystery word: BLIZZARD

November Resources

I was redoing some of my fall product covers and realized that  it might be helpful to have all of my products relevant to November in one place! So let me share with you what is available for you and your class, and yes, I have a bunch of freebies! For any item, click on any image to see it at Teachers Pay Teachers.

First up is a free product that has compound word practice with a Thanksgiving theme! Thanksgiving Compound Words Practice has a cut and glue activity and a compound word game too!

Next is a turkey themed place value practice pack for your students to practice working with ones, tens, hundreds, place value blocks (base ten blocks) and more to get them comfortable with all things place value!
Thanksgiving Themed Place Value Practice includes print and go NO PREP pages you can do in class, as bell ringers/morning work or for home. 

It also  includes fun cut and glue activities for children to practice different CCSS place value standards.

 Click here to get the FREEBIE sample of the Place Value Practice pack and see if it will work for you and your class!
The Thanksgiving Story Problem Pack FREEBIE is a sample of story problem practice pages you will find in the Thanksgiving Math and Literacy Pack.
It has a cut and glue format where kids match up the story problems with their answers and glue on a record sheet.
Try my FREE Thanksgiving Thankful Turkey craft! Pretty self explanatory from the image below. Click here to take a closer look!
My Thanksgiving Math and Literacy Pack has tons of great activities for November. It contains odd/even Riddles, compound word practice, place value practice, addition and subtraction story problems, math task cards, Thanksgiving themed morning work, and ABC order practice.
Here are just a few samples!
 Finally,  Fall Frames and Arrows is a fun fall themed practice for students who need to work on those Everyday Math frames and arrows problems a little more! This bargain priced product allows kids to work on one rule frames and arrows problems.

Thanks so much and let me know if you have tried any of these fun fall products or have your own favorite!