Christmas in our Classroom

It's only December 2nd, but I'm not wasting any time getting in all our Christmas activities!
Check out what we've been up to, and what we still have planned!
Today I had a parent volunteer come and help finish our Snowmen Ornaments.  These ornaments hang on our classroom Christmas tree until the end of December.  On the day before the break, I send them home with a note as a gift for their parents.  I LOVE the way they turn out.  They are quick, easy, and very cheap!  I always buy the blue ornaments after Christmas when they are on sale, and save them for the next year.  You can grab the FREE instructions and notes here.
We are hard at work on our Handprint Calendars.  My goal is to finish all the handprints this week, so we can bind and decorate!  I love these so much.  I've done them with my class every year for the past 10 years.  I only missed the year when I was transitioning from a new state/grade.  That was WAY too much stress to even go there.  You can grab my Handprint Calendars here.
Our High School has a goal to send 10,000 snowflakes to soldiers overseas for the holiday.  I thought this was an amazing opportunity for my kiddos to show some appreciation and give some service.  They loved it!  Our 25 are finished, turned in, and on their way!  Only 9,975 left to go!  :) 
We typed up our Gingerbread notes to send home on Friday!  On the day before our winter break, we invite parents to come in and build gingerbread houses with their child.  This is one of their favorite activities in all of 2nd grade.  On the first day of school, they all talk about how they can't wait to make the gingerbread houses!  It's always such a special event!  I'll do a more detailed post about those soon, but here's a sample note for you to get started, if it's something you want to do.  We make our gingerbread houses around milk cartons.  We collect them from the lunch room to use.  Parents bring in all the other supplies, so it's cheap and easy for the teacher!  :) 
 Today was day 2 of our time with Elfie.  We are having a great time with him!  My class definitely calmed down from all the excitement of his arrival yesterday.  You can grab my Elf in the Classroom packet here.   
This week we are working on persuasive writing.  We are writing letters to Santa, convincing his to hire us as an Elf. We are still in the planning stages, but well on our way!
 We are using this packet
When they finish their good copy, they get to "Elf Themselves".  I love that Corinna has the templates all ready.  So simple!  (And free!)  :)
Next week we will begin learning about Holidays Around the World.  This is another one of my favorite units to teach.  I use a combination of Rachelle and Stephanie's packets.

They are both excellent!  My students learn a ton, and have a great time doing it! 
Only a few more hours left in the big TPT Cyber Monday/Tuesday Sale!  I'll be back later this week to post about what I bought!

December Currently!

Hello, December! 
I'm linking up with Farley again for another round of currently.
Listening Ok, when I started this post I was watching The Walking Dead, but that only lasted about two minutes!  I won't give any spoilers away, but OH MY WORD!!! 
Loving  Our Elf on the Shelf came today!  Introducing...
After narrowing the list down and voting on our favorites, Elfie was the winner!  (Thank heavens, because one sweet boy suggested the name, Expurt Thift!  What?!?  He said it was the name of a game he likes to play.  After I wrote it up on the board, he corrected my spelling for me.  Yikes!!)
You can check out my Elf in the Classroom Packet here. 
Thinking  My tree is down from the shelf in the garage and waiting eagerly in the hallway to be put up.  But man, I do not have the time or energy for that!  I really might just keep walking around it until my parents come this week... 
Wanting  Even though my tree isn't put up, I did take down all the rest of my Christmas decorations and started decorating.  That made me realize I really want some new decorations!  You really can't ever have too many, right??? 
Needing  The end of the quarter is getting close to an end, and I have yet to grade any writing... Everything else was graded, entered, and filed in a timely manner.  But writing is my nemesis! 
Giving  My parents are snowbirds from Canada, and are coming down this week to bask in the glory that is Arizona!  (Not to brag, but we had record high temperatures on Thanksgiving - a balmy 87!)  My mom and I decided we are going to do the 12 Days of Christmas for some families we know who can use a little bit of Christmas Cheer! 
I can't wait!  :)

Five for Friday

{On a Saturday}
I'm linking up with Kacey for another round of Five for Friday!
We are learning about Economics in Social Studies, and I just discovered the book Striker Jones
It's an excellent chapter book that helps teach students basic economic principles.  It has a Teacher's Companion that lays out every lesson for you with objectives, questions, and activities.  We are part way through the book and loving it!  They get so excited to hear the next chapter.  The first chapter/lesson was all about trading.  One of the activities was to give each child one piece of candy, so they each get something different.  Then, they spent a few minutes trading.  At the end, we had a lot of great discussion on the pros and cons of trading.  Some children ended up happy, but there were still a few unhappy with their trades.  It was an awesome activity!
This week we did a little Jigsaw Activity with our Science Unit.  We are learning all about the states of matter, so each group was assigned a few pages from our science book.  They had questions to answer in order to become experts on their section.  Then, they shared what they learned with the class.  They loved it and learned a lot more about matter!  :)
To go along with our solids, liquids, and gases unit, we read the book by Dr. Seuss, Bartholomew and the Oobleck and then we made our own Oobleck!  This was such a cool activity for them to discover the properties of solids and liquids.  It was even cooler to find out that Oobleck is actually both a solid AND a liquid.  They couldn't get enough of the stuff! 
I used the basic recipe of two parts cornstarch, one part flour.  I ended up putting about 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of water, and one drop of green food coloring in their cups.  They mixed and played for quite a while.  We discussed the properties Oobleck had, filled out a quick observation sheet, and then I passed out a writing activity.  They had to write about what would happen in Oobleck started coming down in our classroom! 
 My classroom aide/friend got a little handsy with the corn starch... 

Click here to get this writing freebie.

Thanksgiving Skit
 The Second Grade performed a skit at our Student of the Month Assembly yesterday.  Being so close to Thanksgiving, we decided to stick to that theme.  We had a few children give some history of Thanksgiving, recited a poem, and sang this awesome song. 

*Warning:  This song will get stuck in your head until the end of time.  Listen at your own risk.  :)
We found awesome little boy pilgrim hats in the Target Dollar Spot and ended up making some bonnets for the girls.  They looked darling!
Sweet little pilgrim children...
Silly faces!

Gobble, Gobble!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Mockingjay Part 1
On a non-teaching related note...
On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to go to an early screening of the new Hunger Games movie.  It was awesome!  Definitely worth staying up WAY past my bedtime on a school night...  If you're a fan of the books/movies, go see it and let me know what you think! 
Have a great weekend!  :)

What the November???

How on earth did it suddenly become November!?  Let alone, the end of November!  But, I'm really glad it's here, because that means December is just around the corner.  Some of my most favorite classroom activities happen during this special month.
I've got the calendars copied, the cardstock purchased, and the paint ready to go.  We are starting this adorable Christmas Gift tomorrow!  I can't wait!  I started making these calendars during my first year of teaching.  But I took a break from them the last two years, as I adjusted to the new state, district, grade level, and school.  Now I am ready and raring to go! 
Last year was the first year my classroom ever had a little Christmas Elf.  It was more fun than I could have ever imagined!  I really hope we get another one this year.  ;) 
In case we do, I prepared a little Christmas Elf in the Classroom packet. 
It is FULL of activities and ideas to use with your classroom Elf. 
Included in this packet are:
-Two Calendars to fill in for the daily Elf Activities
-Worksheet for students to decide on the Elf’s Name
-Tally Chart and Bar Graph for choosing the Elf’s Name
-30 Suggested Activities (with original matching poems) for your Elf to do
-Two Versions of A Daily Elf Journal
-A Weekly Elf Reflection Page
-A note to leave if your class is too naughty
-A note to leave on your Elf’s last day
Lucky for you, it is ON SALE today and tomorrow. 
Click here to check it out! 
Gingerbread Houses
I LOVE the tradition of having parents come make gingerbread houses with their children.  At first I thought it would be too chaotic, but it was definitely a controlled chaos.  :) 
Pretty soon we will be sending a note inviting parents/families to this special event.  When we do, I will upload a copy of the note here for you to use. 
Have a great week!  :)