Christmas Linky

Thought that I would link up with Michelle at Fabulous In First to do a super cute Christmas Questionnaire.  So here goes...

Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog?
I love both!!!! My favorite is making a big crock pot full of hot chocolate for Polar Express Day.  I hope that we make memories for the kids to last a lifetime.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I have seen him do both.  It seems as though he wants an immediate "awww" and then some delayed surprise.

Colored Lights or White?
I can certainly appreciate both.  I love a colorful Christmas though!

When do you decorate?
Well... we have an understanding in my family.  There will be one holiday a year that we go ALL out for.  We will decorate our hearts out and then take it easy for the remainder of the year.  This year it happened to be Halloween.  It will be Christmas next year I promise.  We put up a tree and some decorations this year the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Real or Fake?
Fake, fake, fake! It fits our budget and it is somewhat environmentally responsible.  

Favorite Christmas Holiday or Tradition?
I have a couple.  First and foremost, it is a tradition that we participate in our church's Christmas pageant.  It keeps the focus on the reason for the season.  We also pick one service project a year that my girls and I can do together.  It's never anything huge or time consuming.  Just something that helps us to give back to the community.  Last year, we collected towels to take to the animal shelter.  That's how we came back with our boy Hurley.  Not doing that service project again any time soon!!! This year the girls are helping sell soda and snacks every week to teachers to earn money for our Relay For Life team.

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child? 
Nope.  We didn't get a lot of Christmas presents.  We did get the whole family together and have my grandmother's amazing cooking though!

Do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving for sure!!!

Favorite Christmas Movie?
It might be a tie between The Grinch and Polar Express.  Both are staples in my class and home.

Do you shop on line or in the store?
I love shopping in stores during most of the year.  For the holidays though, I only shop on line.  I'm not a fan of crowds.  I was able to get all of my shopping done this year from the comfort of my bed.  Even happier that I got some amazing deals too.  

Photo card, letter or store bought card?
This year I had Sarah from EduClips turn my family into avatars and made a cool card.  You can check it out here on the blog.  Our Family Christmas Card

Thoughtful Gift Giving That Doesn't Break The Bank

Inexpensive Gifts

Have you heard of avatars yet? They are digital clipart that can be created to look like you!!! The best part is that the kids think that they are awesome.  So what can you do with these avatars? I bought them for my family for Christmas presents.  The top left image is a screen saver  that I made with the avatar.  The kids can upload the avatar and use it as a screen saver on their digital devices.  Yes, my kids all under the age of 12 can do that on their own.  The next pictures are of clipboards that I made with scrapbook paper and mod podge.  The last picture is our family Christmas card.  I also made binders and pictures for their rooms.  You can print any of these avatars to create the clipboards with no additional software.  The screen saver and Christmas card can be created with powerpoint or acrobat.

My friend Sarah from Educlips is a wonderful artist who creates clipart.  She also creates custom avatars. Each custom avatar is under $20.  What a steal!  I was able to create 4 gifts for each of my girls for under $25.  Each gift is unique, custom and from my heart.  The best part is that purchasing the avatars puts money back into small business.  Sarah is a teacher and mom of three girls just like me.  She does a great job and is very pleasant to work with.  On top of all of that, she is super talented.  To visit Sarah's blog, click the button below.


Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win your own avatar and clipboard!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Penguins, Polar Bears, and Reindeer

The students always love a great non fiction unit of study.  Much like our bats, owls and spiders unit I like to give the students choices.  The students get to choose which animal to apply their learning of the standard with:  penguins, polar bears or reindeers.  During shared reading, I make sure to focus on the standard that they are learning and use texts from all of the topics to show them how to use the standard.  I have these cute fact sheets pictured below that they can write 3 facts on.  Once they have their facts in place we extend the learning over to their writing.  They can then write an informational piece.  They love it and it feels like a two for one special for me!
Penguins, Polar Bears and Reindeer

It's beginning to feel a lot like the holidays!

The Polar Express

One of my favorite units every year is "The Polar Express".  The students are so engaged that they just eat up everything that I teach them that week.  It doesn't hurt that we wear our pajamas and get to try all the delicious hot cocoa that we can handle.  We start the week by reading the text focusing on retelling and central message. After we read the text, we compare the movie to the book.  For writing the students work on what their first gift of Christmas would be.  It's a lot of fun!!!

Interns and Student Teachers

Interns can certainly make for an amazing few months or... not so much.  Jessica, my current intern taught me that they feel the same way about us.  That was very humbling.  I'm not sure who learns more when they are in the classroom, the students, the intern or the mentor.  My favorite part of having them in the classroom is that they remind you why you went into teaching in the first place.  They remind you of the energy and love that you had for the profession when you first began.  Next week my class and I have to say goodbye to Jessica.  This is going to be especially difficult for us because she has been amazing, unlike any other.  I'm honored that I was able to take part in a collaboration with her before she goes off into the wide world of education to make her own mark.

Leaf Man- Narrative Writing

Leaf Man Writing with Leaves

The students had a great time this week starting narrative writing.  We began the week by reading "We Are Going On A Leaf Hunt".  After engaging the kids with the text, we spent our recess time hunting for leaves.  To be a kid again!  I supplemented the leaves that we found with leaves that our favorite grandma had sent from up north.  We live in Florida and don't see a lot of color variation.  For our read aloud I chose, "Leaf Man".  The first day the kids were super excited and spent careful time planning for their character.  They created the character that they were going to write about out of leaves.  The second day they added a setting.  After careful planning, the students started writing.  We won't finish until the end of next week.  The kids are so very creative with them!
Narrative Writing

A Month of Thankfulness

 I will be giving away lots of prizes in November to show just how thankful I am for all of you! Follow me on TPT, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and of course this blog.  You never know where the next giveaway will pop up.

Congratulations to Melia Nilson!
Congratulations Christine Saulter!!!

Halloween Fun

We had a wonderful visit from our class grandma today! The kids love her. She read "The Big Pumpkin"and had the kids act out the retelling of the story. Talk about engagement. They could all retell the key details within minutes.

Bats, Owls and Spiders Oh My!

Student Interest and Engagement
The last couple of weeks have been all about student choice for us. I figured out a while ago that if I let the students have a controlled choice they are much more engaged. As the year progresses, I give them more freedom of choice. I gave a very informal poll. What spooky creatures do you want to learn about this month? They voted on bats, spiders and owls. So of course I chose texts with these themes for shared reading. It's pretty easy to match common core standards to these topics. For writing I told them they could research any of the three and then write an informational paper on it.  Every day when writing was over someone said, "Do we have to stop?" Music to a teacher's ears. I encourage you to give your students choices. Instead of deciding between two topics yourself, throw the choice out to the class for a vote. I bet you that they will be more interested than if you always choose.


One of the first lesson's that I give my new students every year is a lesson on pronouncing my name.  It's a tough one. I'm sure that you just have to know.  So here goes: La-bra-she-on-o.  We can make it simple and you can just call me Amy.  Stay tuned for my latest class updates, lessons and freebies from my TPT store!