If you have been teaching any time at all, you have multiple Christmas ornaments and other assorted Christmas trinkets from your precious little ones, who are so proud to bring you a wrinkly, wrapped Christmas package. One particular year a student brought me the yellow, glass ball pictured above which beckons the memories of one particular student–Christopher. His sandy, blond hair nearly dangled into his brown eyes. Christopher was intelligent, however he was one of those students when called upon who says, “oh, huh?”. I constantly had to redirect his attention to class discussions and to complete his work. During class one April day after testing I inquired of the class how many feet were in a mile. I must have called on at least 10 students letting them at least have a guess, but none of them coming anywhere close. When I called on Christopher, he said, “5,280″.
I asked, “Wow, Chris, how did you know that?”
He explained, “That chart you used to have there, “ pointing underneath the white board.
The chart Chris was speaking of was one that had been taken down because of testing. I had not put the chart back up, and the writing was very small for him to see from where he was sitting.
I tell this story over and over to teachers to let them know the power of anchor charts on their walls. Students must look somewhere when they are bored and tired of listening to the drone of the teacher’s voice, so they might as well absorb learning from their walled environment. Christopher’s ornament reminds me of this powerful lesson he taught me every time I pull it from the wrinkled tissue it’s wrapped in.
You can easily find a string of Christmas lights at this time of year. One year my mentor gave me the idea to put a string of lights around a bulletin board with this clever title: See Your Name in Lights. Post any type of student work and ta-da…a stellar bulletin board. The great thing about this title is that you can leave the bulletin board up after Christmas since it doesn’t actually refer to the season or to a holiday. It always makes me sad to put so much work into a bulletin board for Christmas, and then the holiday is over since we are only in school about two weeks out of December. At this particular school we didn’t have any actual bulletin boards, so this isn’t as artsy as one I have made in the past. We had to staple/push pin things into the drywall (shhh don’t tell), and the drywall doesn’t hold much. For example, you could staple little sunglasses into the wall to resemble Hollywood stars and use metallic silver border to make the lights reflect like a real sign.
Well, I have just dirtied up just about every dish in the kitchen and had fun doing so…thanks to an image I saw on pinterest! I found this recipe at Christie’s blog for making teepee cone cupcakes, and decided to try it. I am bringing it over to my friend’s dinner tomorrow. I am hoping the kids will love them. I didn’t do this for anything school related, however, if you are studying Indians and pilgrims, you could have the cupcake cones ready made for the students to decorate. The only things I did differently than the recipe at Christie’s blog is I used a large foil roaster pan instead, and I iced the bottom of the cones in addition to using the chocolate. I couldn’t find leaf sprinkles at Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby, so I sifted through some colored ones I had and took out the pink and blue (I know ridiculous!). Sadly, the stocker at Wal-mart told me that they had replaced the leaf sprinkles with Christmas sprinkles–and to think Thanksgiving isn’t even officially here!
This is too cute not to try!!! I learned that peppermints grow from a very talented kindergarten teacher. Every Christmas season, she has her students plant peppermints in a cup of dirt. Students put glitter in the dirt for fertilizer and then just wait. In a few days, a small candy cane has emerged “growing in the cup”. In another few days, a candy cane of larger stature has “grown”. Children are oh so excited that their peppermint grew to such a large stature! Of course behind the scenes, their teacher is placing a small candy cane in the cup when the children have gone for the day, and then replacing the small candy cane with a larger candy cane. This all for the amazement and wonder in children’s eyes that comes from the magic of Christmas.
In my post yesterday, I placed a picture of my neighbor’s door at school. So many teachers admired the door that they wanted their door decorated too! With some persuasion he decorated some other teachers’ doors as well (pictured below). These photos may give you some ideas if you are feeling festive this Christmas season!
My colleague next door felt that I had given him a little competition with my Grapes of Math door earlier this year , so he has festively decorated his door for each season this year. This colleague exudes artistic talent and can construct just about anything with some colored bulletin board paper and cardboard. This is his “gift” to everyone in the hall. I just love it–and all out of bulletin board paper too!
To practice math facts, spelling words, or any other quick answer type learning, you can play Squat. To play Squat, two students from two different teams approach the board. The teacher calls out a fact or a spelling word. The two students at the board race to answer the question correctly and then they squat when they think they have the correct answer. If they are correct they earn a point for their team.
When I have played this, I usually split my class into two teams. Different students on the teams take turns to be at the board to earn their team points. Team points can be taken away from students who aren’t waiting quietly or who blurt out an answer when it isn’t their turn. Students love this game and will beg to play it after you have played once. If you have some extra time (heh, heh, who has that?!) during a spot in your day, this is a fun way to reinforce skills or fill time.
Does this sound familiar? You are surprised when you look up to see the clock shows that you only have 9 minutes to pass out end of the day papers, close your lesson, to have children to clean their desks, to have children get their backpacks, and line up in an orderly fashion. You look at the floor and think the custodian will groan will he comes to your room. You think you don’t have any time to have the children clean the classroom floor, but that’s because you have never played “I Spy” the trash version! I learned this antic from a P.E. teacher.
The teacher says, “The person who gets the piece of trash I spy gets_______ (you fill in the blank–a treat or prize?). You have 30 (etc.) seconds. Go!”
Students then frantically look for pieces of trash and try to figure out what piece of trash you see. Don’t stop the game until the classroom floor looks as clean as you desire. Students will ask you if they found the piece of trash you spied, but don’t stop the game until you get the floor clean. Sometimes I tell students that I spied another piece of trash if I want to spur on more meticulous trash gathering. If you have a group of children that aren’t well managed this game can become rambunctious, but I have found that if you have high expectations and procedures with the rest of your day students will stay focused on trash finding. This game is fun for both the students and the teacher.