Sunday, November 27, 2016

Using Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

For the past five years or so, I've brought the Elf on the Shelf into my classroom each December. My students absolutely love it each year and it brings a little holiday magic into our room! They love looking for the elf each morning and it's a great behavior incentive as well. They never want the elf to  see them doing anything "naughty"! But here's the thing - it may seem like a big chore to implement a few elf activities into your day, but it doesn't have to be anything time consuming for you unless you choose to do it that way!

On the first day the elf arrives at our classroom, I usually wrap the box up and cover it with super gaudy, sparkly bows and ribbons. I then put it somewhere in the classroom and don't say anything about it until someone notices! I then, of course, act completely surprised that there is even a gift in our classroom.

We open it, the students are excited (understatement of the year), and then we read the book. After reading, we brainstorm potential names for our elf and vote on them to choose.

The winner last year was Snowflake! Every year, my students end up picking a different name. Sometimes the name doesn't even have anything to do with Christmas or winter, as evidenced by the list pictured above.

I don't usually do anything too huge in regards to the elf. I move him every day so the kids can find him.


He can also be a little bit mischievous... going on joyrides while we're not at school!

And sometimes he brings us special treats... like candy canes!

Then we have a mini-candy cane day! We observe them and describe them using our 5 senses and create a web of all the adjectives we came up with.

Using an elf in the classroom is also a great opportunity for students to write in a variety of ways. My students always love to write their own notes and letters to our elf telling him their Christmas lists, how much they love him, and any other little sweet things they want to "tell" him.

One of my favorite writing activities to do with my students is a persuasive writing project. Students write a letter to their elf to try and convince him to tell Santa why they've been good this year. 

The stuff they come up with is always so funny! They come up with reasons you wouldn't even think of as to how they've been nice all year. If your students need help coming up with ideas, you can create a group thinking map together to brainstorm ways they've been kind to others, followed directions, or worked hard all year.

After they write their letter, they create a craftivity of our elf and pair it next to the letter. They always turn out absolutely adorable.

You can find the elf in the classroom persuasive writing activity by clicking on the picture below! It has differentiated writing paper options for you to choose from to best fit your students' needs.

Once Christmas break begins, our elf returns back to the North Pole. Sometimes I like to get a gift from the "elf" for the kids to find when we return back to school in January. In years past, I've gotten supplies for our kitchen/home living center, a holiday book, or a stuffed animal like the Grinch. The kids are always sad to see our elf go, but finding a special gift from him is a great way for them to say goodbye. Having an elf in the classroom can be such a special, magical experience for your students!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Veterans Day Activities

November has arrived... and I think we all can agree that this is the first official start of the holiday season! From now until December, teachers everywhere will be attempting to fit holiday themes into their teaching including Thanksgiving, Winter, and holidays around the world... and it's tough to fit it all in! However, I will be kicking off the month of November by teaching about a holiday that is often overlooked amidst all the hubbub of the last two months of the year: Veterans Day!

I usually don't have more than a day or two to devote to teaching my students about Veterans Day, so in the past, I've tried to find quick, low-prep activities that are still engaging for my students to learn about this important day.

The easiest place to start is by finding some great books that tell the history of Veterans Day in kid-friendly language. Here are some fantastic books to start your collection:

My two favorites pictured above are H is for Honor and the Rookie Read About Holidays: Veterans Day

Videos are also a great way to get students interested in new topics. I found this great little video on Youtube that tells about Veterans Day in a way that young students will understand. I'll definitely be showing this one to my first graders this year!

I also love implementing fun little songs and creating movements to go along with them. My students love them and end up singing them all day long! I sang this adorable song last year, courtesy of this freebie from First Grade Wow! I wanted my students to have access to a version that they would be able to use and read themselves, so I added a little Melonheadz clipart and turned it into a poster that the kids could refer to. Love it! 

After researching facts about Veterans Day together, we usually do a fun little activity together. I used this coloring sheet with my kindergarten kiddos last year and had a sentence for them to trace and tell about the meaning of the holiday.

We also made a Veterans Day hat with three badges on it to tell about the importance of the day.

You can download the hat for FREE by clicking on the picture below!

 photo veterans day link pic_zpsn3hcfdoa.png