12 Activities You Can Do with Your Class in December

It's the end of November! How did that happen? I have been thinking about what fun things I will be doing with my class this year during the month of December. I thought I would share some of the ideas with you since I bet you will be planning too! Most of the ideas are not Christmas-specific since I know some teachers are not allowed to celebrate Christmas in the classroom. I also try to spend a lot of time in December focusing on activities that emphasize generosity and kindness Read on to see what I am looking forward to doing with my class!
1. Secret Snowpal
This is an activity my colleague came up with so I don't have anything formal to share with you, but what I do is have the kids draw names and then send home instructions and write their snowpal's names on it. The students design a special one of a kind card for their snowpal, bring it back to school (sneaking it in by having it wrapped and in a plastic or paper bag for anonymity). Then on a specific day, we exchange them. Students open the cards, read them, and try and guess who gave them a card. It is a lot of fun and really sweet! Here is a brief video of a class who did the same!
2. Collect Toys for Tots
I send home a letter to my students' parents and respectfully request they don't give me a Christmas gift (but they often do anyway, which is always okay) and instead ask they consider picking out a toy for a tot with their child and bring it in.
3. Holiday Party
If your school allows, it is fun to have a holiday party with your class. Mine are usually low key, and I have cookie decorating, Mad Libs and more!
4. Make cards for the elderly
My town has a council for the aging and they love to get birthday cards and get well cards  from the kids. I think they also would enjoy getting holiday cards.

5. Send Christmas cards/New Years cards to military serving overseas
In the same vein as the cards for senior citizens, your students could make cards for military personnel serving overseas. You may want to do this one on the first day of December though, to give your cards time to reach them before Christmas.
6. Run a coat/mitten/hat drive
This is great in places that have cold falls and winters. I have heard some schools have mitten trees which they place in the lobby and kids bring in mitten donations. My school has also collected coats, hats, and scarves.
7. Collect food for a local food pantry
We like to get a few volunteers to help bring the food to the local pantry when the drive is over. Otherwise, it can sit around too long.
8.  Random Acts of Kindness Challenge
 Have students do one random act of kindness a day for each day until Christmas vacation starts. Try searching random acts of kindness on TPT for ideas. You can also brainstorm with your class and download my freebie from TPT to have your students list their ideas. Click here to grab it.
9. Nursing Home Visit
Is there a nursing home nearby? Plan a nursing home visit. Your class could sing songs, read poems and/or put on a short performance. It is amazing the wonderful feelings that would bring during and after for both the nursing home residents and your students! Your class could also collect spare change and, after consulting with the nursing home, buy a small gift for one or two residents who staff knows would not otherwise receive a gift from anyone.

Your class could also create decorations that the nursing home might hang in common areas or give to residents to decorate their personal space!

10. Giving a Class Donation to Charity
Instead of you, the teacher giving each child a Christmas gift, consider donating just $1 per student to a charity. You could also have the class involved in the decision. For example, many of my students love cats and could really be excited about donating to a rescue organization or shelter. This would also be an interesting opportunity to discuss how to "vet" a charity, or evaluate it to make sure it is honest, and if it would be the best place to donate. For example, WWF is a terrific charity that donates huge amounts to important causes. They are transparent about the fact that if you donate, say, $100, $15 will go to fundraising and marketing. For example, you might get a cute stuffed polar bear or calendar but the cost of that comes out of your donations. Students and you could also use websites that review charities to help you make decisions. It could become a lesson in awareness, economics, decision makings, and even business! And the best part, at the end, you and the students have contributed money to a worthy cause.
11. Play Winter and Christmas Tunes
If you are allowed to play them, there are so many fun songs! And some are relaxing, and winter-themed, like Winter Wonderland. Check out my blog post here for specific suggestions! It's titled 10 Christmas Songs to Play at Your School Holiday Party.
12. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas
My all time favorite! Click here to see details on Amazon!

What is your favorite December activity to do with your students?

Surviving November - Blog Hop, Giveaway, Tips, and Resources to Help




Happy November everyone! Can you believe it is here already?

To celebrate, a few things are going on: First, the bloggers of I Teach K-2 are getting together to share ideas, resources, and bring you a fun giveaway of 5 $25 TPT gift cards! Read on to see how to enter and how to hop to the next blog in line! Second, any of my November themed resources will be on sale at TPT.  And I also have a bunch of FREEBIES, by the way- plus if you follow the link up, everyone involved has a freebie for you! Finally, I have a few tips on how you might be able to survive November!
Let's start with some tips for you, the teacher!
TIP #1: Layer
Seriously. No matter where you are, the temperatures probably vary a lot in a 24 hour period. Some of you have air conditioning still on in schools, and if you're like me, you have heat blasting at you all day, sometimes full force, but sometimes, it does not work well and you are freezing in your classroom. So layer up! Short sleeves or long sleeves, sweaters and jackets are your friends, as are scarves to keep your neck warm when it's chilly and then you can ditch them when it heats up. 

Tip #2: Take Care of Yourself
Try to get some sleep and stay active outside of school so  you can beat germs and stay healthy if possible (sometimes it's just not, right?)!

Tip #3: Consider those Kiddos
For some children, (and let's face it, adults), the holidays are very stressful, and Thanksgiving is the start of an extremely difficult period. Things at home may be challenging, or maybe they fear not being able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas at all. School might be the stable place they count on, and they face 5 days or more of no school at the end of the month of November and a week to two weeks off in December. It might be tough for some children and they might show anxiety or stress in the classroom. Consider keeping things as normal as you can in November and December, despite the unending possibilities of holiday classroom fun, and thinking about keeping as many of your routines as you can the same to help support them.

Tip #4: Pace Yourself
I mean, it is still early in the year and December looms large. Pace yourself. Set realistic expectations for your and your class. I know at the end of November  I have to do report cards, and sometimes I get discouraged until I remember it is still VERY early in the year. Be kind to yourself and your kiddos.

Now, let's talk about what you can use in your room this month.  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.

Click here to get the FREEBIE sample of the Place Value Practice pack and see if it will work for you and your class!
Here's a closer look at the cover:

And here is another 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!
Try this FREE Thanksgiving Thankful Turkey craft! Pretty self explanatory from the image below. Click here to take a closer look!
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!

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.
The 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!
  
Have you tried any of these fall products? Or do you have a favorite from somewhere else you'd recommend?

Thanks for joining me for the Blog Hop, the tips, resources and more! Look for the rafflecopter just below so you can enter the giveaway!
Now it's time for the giveaway and below, you can see who else linked up and is participating in the giveaway! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Bouncy Bands: How they are Working in My Classroom

Have you heard of Bouncy Bands? When I first did I was so excited to add them to my flexible seating classroom and couldn't wait to try out two of them and write a review. I have extremely active students this year. We move a lot anyway using brain breaks like GoNoodle but that is not enough. Sometimes they do need to sit down and get some things done with paper and pencil but still need to move. That's why I thought Bouncy Bands might be great.

If you like video reviews, be sure to keep reading until  you see my video review below!
Brain research has shown that movement helps the brain process learning better and as teachers, we all know if students get plenty of opportunities to move, they will be able to concentrate better and maintain focus longer as well as feel better about school. (We don't need research to tell us that!) Hence the well-deserved explosion in the last year of brain breaks, movement breaks and the push in many places to add back recesses and PE classes that have been cut over the years. As teachers we do what we can in our own classroom and during our time with the students and simple things we can build into the structure of our classroom are often the best. That's why something like a Bouncy Band is such a big deal in a small package!

Check out what they look like when they are attached to a desk and a chair! 
 
So I tried one chair Bouncy Band and one desk Bouncy Band. They were very easy to set up and took less than 10 minutes to attach both. The bands are very strong but flexible which I love. They are not going to break or tear for a long time, unlike my exercise band I have at home for myself.  Here is one of my little cherubs trying out the chair version.
Now to be honest, I didn't think this child was very active, but when given the opportunity to move with a Bouncy Band, she took advantage and used it for some wiggles and sensory input.
                                       
If you prefer video reviews, check out my brief, one minute, video review here with some more footage!

Now, the bouncy band on the desk has stayed on without a hitch. The chair bouncy band I was trying out did come off twice. Students fiddle with everything in my classroom and I think that might be why, but they are so easy to put on the chairs it took me maybe 60 seconds to put it back on the first time (I waited until the kids were at lunch) and  the second time the band only came off one leg of the chair and it took me maybe 10 seconds to fix it. Easy peasy! And I love that it gives really good resistance and is made of a firm material. It will not tear or break for a long time, which is important in a classroom with very busy feet!

So to find out even more details, head over to the Bouncy Bands website here. Also, many educators use websites and funding sources like Donor's Choose, GofundMe and Adopt-a-Classroom to get them for their classrooms so I have included some links below for you. These links either include suggestions on how to get your projects funded or send you to the website to get started.


Here are some tips and suggestions on how to get funded by these amazing organizations. 

Want to see more? Here is a short introductory video to see how Bouncy Bands work.
          
And finally, check out these national survey results for how Bouncy Bands impact students. 92% of teachers reported that students enjoy using them. 92% of student said they help them "relax" so they can learn better. 84% of students say Bouncy Bands make it easier to do their work. See the full survey results here.

So do you use Bouncy Bands in your room? Would you consider it? Let us know!

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