Sunday, December 27, 2015

Starwars Yoga

All things are Starwars lately with the latest release of whatever Starwars movie just came out (I was supposed to see it but I messed up on the dates I was busy and so I didn't see it.. I'm not too disappointed except that it was apparently important to John and mine relationship that I did see it).


A couple weeks ago I was in a grade 2 classroom (I was lucky and had a student teacher that day and apparently I can’t stop talking about it).  Anyways, we started the day off with a 20 minute yoga video.  The kids all went and got a foam square to sit and exercise on (and to let them know where their space was).  I was not at all into the story or the yoga but the kids were!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Looking for some classroom decor that can also lend itself to learning?  How about putting up a timeline around the border of your room?

The Social Studies curriculum where I teach would work perfect for this (at least in grades 5 and 6)... the curriculum goes over things that happened in Canada over a span of time (starting with the ice age and ending at anything current).  
All the grade 5/6 classrooms at my school last year came with this timeline already put up around the room (I'm assuming previous teachers did them) but not a lot else was done with the timelines (I'm also guilty of not doing much with the timeline in my room).  In my room the timeline included pictures of all the prime ministers and students would often check who was leading the country during a certain time OR if we were talking about one of them they would find them on the timeline to see what they looked like.  

If I ever teach in a grade 5 or 6 class again I would put my timeline to better use though.


Before I do anything with the timeline I think I would have students create their own personal timelines.  We did this last year and students struggled with it a bit... BUT I'm not sure you can fully understand how a timeline works if you don't understand how to make one yourself.  If I did this again I think I would make the basic timeline for them (sectioning off the years of their lives for them and photocopying it).  I had my students put in 10 life events on their timelines.. it could have been anything:  the birth of a sibling, a trip they went on, first day of kindergarten, losing first tooth... whatever they wanted to include I was fine with because I mostly just wanted them to familiarize themselves with timelines.

Over the course of the year whenever we talk about a major event I would put it up on the timeline... perhaps with a picture and a sentence or two to summarize what happened.  I think it would be good for students to help write this summary... I'm starting to think of making up some kind of  Interactive Social Studies Journal where this would be part of what they do (because it is similar to what we did last year for our math journals).

Whenever students did some kind of project that could fit on the timeline I would select one project and put it up on the timeline where it belonged... of course not all projects will fit up there so in that case I would take a picture of the project and put it up.  

I think that even just by doing these couple of things students will glance up at the timeline more often and have it be a more useful part of the classroom.

What do you think?
Do you have a timeline in your classroom?
How do you use the timeline?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This Week At School

I go into sub for one teacher regularly and he had me help set up their classroom Christmas tree!  Well, the tree was already set up the kids just put on ornaments.

And boy do they have a talented teacher in their classroom!
I was told the teacher coloured this (it was on chart paper)

He had me do some Christmas art... this was my example

A picture one of the students drew for me.  At first I thought it was of me (because in the morning she was having difficulty thinking up something to draw for the word "pretty" so I had her list some things that she thought were pretty.  She said myself, her and the Christmas tree... so I suggested she draw us standing beside the tree... I never saw that final product).

Then I spent not 1, not 2, but 3 days in nursery/kindergarten.
Still not loving those younger grades!

But I walked out with 2 paper bracelets and a ring... so one can't really complain can they?

And tomorrow there is no school!

Hope we all enjoy our Christmas break!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Classroom Christmas Party

Welcome here!  Today I'm linking up with my other blog:  Confessions of a Modern Day Mennonite to talk about Classroom Christmas Parties for Blogmas.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Because.. tomorrow is the last day of school before Christmas break (oh how it's flown by... or not)

For those of us that are throwing together a Christmas Party for our students last minute have no fear!... I'm here to help!

Kids are easy to please... all they want is to eat and to hang out (most of the time)


Make a sign up sheet for what kids can bring to the party (baking, drinks, veggies, fruit, chips, and whatever else you want to show up at the party!)  I've never had problems with kids not being willing to sign up... in fact last year I made them sign up for one party each (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Spring Break, and end of the year) so that we wouldn't have an abundance of food and all go home feeling sick.

One year I looked up a bunch of Minute to Win it games on Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are tons that are free and the supplies are super easy to get your hands on.  We formed teams and battled each other in them.

One year I made my students sugar cookies in the shape of gingerbread men and we decorated them (this likely wouldn't take very long... but it could take up part of the time AND you could even get students to practice measurement by getting them to make the cookies (and icing).

Movies.  All mine ever wanted to do was to watch a movie.  And so, we often did that.

One year I had a karaoke machine show up to a classroom party (you can find a number of karaoke songs on Youtube)

A little while ago I posted about Just Dance.  I think students could still be into Just Dance even without the actual game... you can find it on Youtube too.

Get students to bring in any games they want to play.

When I was teaching grade 8 one year I wrapped a pencil up again and again so that it was in a box that a bunch of plates came in eventually.  I had students sit in a circle on the floor and roll a dice.  Anytime a certain number was called (like 1 for example) they had to put on a pair of oven mitts and try to unwrap the present... only using their hands.  They really liked it.  The pencil ended up breaking at some point in the madness though.

Print off some Christmas colouring pages and there you have it... you sir (or ma'am) have yourself a great party that took you no time at all to plan.

Are you having a Christmas Party in your classroom?
What are you doing for your Party?

Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Classroom Set Up

With it getting closer to the Christmas break you may be getting tired of the look of how your current classroom set up is.  So what better time to shuffle things around then right before the break so that it is all ready for you when you come back!?!  I mean… you’ll probably be switching up your seating plan anyways.

Here is something for you to consider when coming up with your classroom set up.

Things that I learned about how I set up my classroom last year:

-  I had it set up for group discussions and demonstrations (I LOVE this)
-  my colour choices led to a relaxing and comfortable classroom (perfect!)
-  I had clutter and not enough wall space with nothing on it... so student focus and engagement may have been lowered (but in my defense... I was using someone else's room for the year... I wouldn't have enough stuff to fill a room).
-  I needed to remember to open the blinds more often
No one expects you to change everything (if you class is way far off from any of these suggestions)… technically you don’t have to change anything at all.  But it’s something to consider… that’s all.

Based on this I think I would keep most of my classroom the same as it was last year...
-  I love my colour choices
-  I really like having students sitting with at least one other "elbow partner" (sometimes 2 and sometimes 3... depending on how groups are set up - last year we used the U set up for the majority of the year)
-  If I had my own classroom that was empty when I got it I know I wouldn't have clutter... but I would be missing some stuff too 
-  If I had my dream room it would include some kind of library area... maybe a couch and some end tables and a couple different kids of chairs.  I like comfortable... and I want my students to be comfortable in the classroom (although not too comfortable probably).  I would also want lamps of some kind... then during some reading times we could turn off the classroom lights and just use the lamps.  
If you've seen a classroom like this you should probably leave a link to a picture of it below... I would like to see it!
-  I think I would wait to REALLY hone my skills at technology and all that.  Let me teach the same grade for a few years in a row and have my classroom running like a well oiled machine... and then I can start tinkering with some of this other stuff.

Is there anything you would change about your classroom?
What does your dream classroom look like?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Classroom Christmas Decor

Once again I'm linking up with my other blog:  Confessions of a Modern Day Mennonite for Blogmas!  If you've found your way here from there... welcome!

I'm also linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another Five for Friday post (only I'm posting mine early - because it is currently Monday)

No matter what grade level you teach (I would like to think) your students are going to get excited come Christmas time.  It may be because they get a break from school (where I live we get 2 weeks) or because they know Santa is coming, or perhaps they are excited about presents.... Whatever it is, one thing is for sure, they are going to get excited.  Just imagine how happy you'll make them when one day you come in announce that you need help setting up a Christmas tree in the corner or decorating the classroom door?  I think they'll be pretty excited.

So here are five ideas for ways that you can decorate your classroom for Christmas

Get a Christmas tree

Here is a tree that was in one of the classrooms I subbed in this past week.  The kids made some ornaments to put on it and the teacher left some that he bought at the dollar store to add on as well.  Unfortunately, the lights weren't all working... but no one was complaining about that!

If I was doing this (and I had a newer fake Christmas tree at home) I would just bring in my current tree.  I'm thinking of getting new lights at the end of this Christmas season so the ones that are currently on there could be used for my Classroom tree AND I have a bunch of extra ornaments from when I made an Ornament Wreath. 

Do some Christmas art...
to put up on the walls.  
This art project was super easy and the teacher loved the variety of things the students did for theirs!

3D snowflakes  
If I had table groups in my room that were numbered I think I would hang a snowflake above each table grouping.  

Find the instructions for how to make these here

I also found these stars (that light up!) at Ikea that I think are great.  But paper is much, MUCH cheaper (and likely free from the school) so I would likely go with that option.

Decorate the classroom door.

Christmas handprint tree.  
When I was teaching kindergarten I traced all my students hands (and then cut them all out) and made a bulletin board of a Christmas Tree using them.  In one of the craft centers that I would have up in my classroom we used as a Christmas ornament making center and anything they made there we stuck on the tree.  It all happened a number of years ago so I don't have a picture... but this is the same idea of the tree that I made.

Did you decorate your classroom for Christmas this year? 

Use the comment section below and leave a link back to any photos you have.  I would love to see them!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

This Week At School

In all my years of teaching (and substitute teaching) this has never happened to me and let me tell you when I read about it in the sub plan I was pretty excited. For the first time ever, I had a STUDENT TEACHER! Want to know the best part? He was in his final year and basically ran the show. Did I sit there all day with my feet up? Not quite… it was grade 2 and there is always something to do or someone to help in that grade. But it was a nice way to start off the week (yes, I was lucky enough to score such a day on a Monday). It was a good day.

At the end of the day the student teacher gave the students the option of writing, drawing, or reading and one of the students wasn’t sure what to do… what was my suggestion? I suggested she write a book about her favourite substitute. It’s always a risk doing this because they could tell you all about another one of their favourite substitutes (yes, this has also happened before… apparently I can’t top a substitute that does magic tricks). She started to show me her book at the end of the day… I didn’t get a picture of it but she showed me a page that said “my substitute teacher is beautiful” *insert a hair flip picture here* no big deal.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five Games to Play in the Classroom

Need to fill 5 minutes of extra time?  Or maybe 20 minutes?  Here are 5 ideas for games you can play in your classroom!

Today I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another Five for Friday post


Great for grades K-4.  Any students that I've used it with in these grades have LOVED it!


It will keep them quiet and they get to throw around a little and soft ball in the classroom!


They get to draw (and write) and laugh about the progression that it all takes!


The kids will practice math facts with this game!


For whatever reason kids LOVE this game.  Warning: it will get loud and you will always have at least one student that never wants to go out.  But they love it!  I've used it where you add the dice and multiply the dice.

Know any other really great and easy games to play in the classroom? 
Post about them below!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Christmas in the Math Classroom

Once again, some of you may have found your way here from my other blog: Confessions of a Modern Day Mennonite where we are celebrating Blogmas (a countdown to Christmas on a blog… obviously). If you found your way here from there (is that confusing?) Welcome! If you found your way here because you come here looking for my lovely insight, activities, and classroom procedures on substitute and regular classroom teaching then I’m glad you’ve stuck around.

Last week I gave you some (free) ideas for things to use in your English classroom and this week we are talking about Christmas in the math classroom. I’ve broken all the activities into grade groupings again but as I’ve said in the past… depending on the ability levels of your students you may want to look at one of the other categories for some ideas.

As per usual I’m starting with the grade groupings of kindergarten to grade 3

Christmas dice roll cover up games of a Christmas tree and snowman

Christmas addition math games

Here is an adding and subtracting worksheet where you colour the different colours of lights either red or green (depending on if they are even or odd)

colour by number (addition)

Here is another colouring activity where students will practice addition.

colour by by number (addition and subtraction)

more dice roll games

connect the dots

connect the dots skip counting by 2’s

what comes next patterns 

You can use glyphs as a way of representing things about each of your students.  After your students make their glyphs you can even graph some of the results by looking at them.  
Here is a gingerbread man template and here is the glyph information to go with it.

Now, onto the grade 4-6 catagory!

Here are some games that only require a printout and a dice (and a friend).  It works on doubling.

My grade 5/6 students could not get enough of coordinate pairs last year!  Here is a santa claus coordinate pairs activity!

Here is a fraction activity that involves drawing a snowman.  The end result isn't anything spectacular but your students have practiced their fractions in the process of making it!

An elf related number patterns worksheet

upper grades

I used these cards (ally year) last year with my more advanced students to get them to practice their improper fractions and mixed numbers.

I'm only assuming that students love 4 quadrant coordinate graphing as much as coordinate graphing (just scroll through to find the Christmas ones)

Santa’s route questions – how far does he have to travel between cities

and some Christmas word problems

And.... if you still need more ideas for what to do with your students this Christmas season check out Mama's Learning Corner for a bunch more ideas!

What are you going to do in your math classroom this Christmas?  Leave a comment below telling us what it is to add to the list!

Here is a list of ideas of things you can do in your ELA classroom.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Christmas in the LA Classroom

Some of you may have found your way here from my other blog: Confessions of a Modern Day Mennonite where we are celebrating Blogmas (a countdown to Christmas on a blog… obviously). If you found your way here from there (is that confusing?) Welcome! If you found your way here because you come here looking for my lovely insight, activities, and classroom procedures on substitute and regular classroom teaching then I’m glad you’ve stuck around.

Remember a little over a month ago when it was Halloween and I gave you a looong list of free downloads for a Halloween activity book or games to play or crafts to do or art projects to accomplish? Well here I go again breaking it all down by grade level once again… but this time it is for Christmas and this time it is just a bunch of writing activities (okay, some include more than just writing). Everything is free (or it was free when I found it).


Much like with the Halloween one the early years grades have a ton of things that you can print off! Here are a few thought I thought were particularly great for kindergarten through grade 3.

1) A list of Christmas writing prompts from Snippets by Sarah

2) You NEED to visit Hand Me Down Mom Genes – she has a bunch of Christmas themed books up and a bunch of links and activities to do with them (they include art, writing, word searches, and math activities)… she has it all. Do one book/week leading up to Christmas break (if you want… I know I would!)

3) Have your students apply to be an elf with this Elf Application by The First Grade Parade. When they have filled out the application they can do the art activity to build their own elf.

4) I found a couple of Christmas books your students can make!

First, a Book of Christmas words and this second one on Christmas vocabulary (both pretty similar) and both found on Teachers Pay Teachers

5) Here is a bunch of activities that involve reindeer (including parts of a reindeer for vocabulary)  found on Teachers Pay Teachers

6) Get your students to write a how to with this How to Writing Pack

7) I thought this Christmas Sentence Flip Book was a neat idea. Students that have trouble forming sentences could use this to help them come up with a couple

Next up we have the grades 4-6 range. This one was still pretty easy to find stuff for (maybe because I was teaching it last year)… you can probably use some stuff from above for these guys too… just use your judgement for how easy it might be.

1) Last year when I was teaching grade 5/6 I read them the book “Snowmen at Night” and we did an art project on it. This year I found this Snowmen at Night graphic organizer… maybe we could have written our own versions of the story to go along with our pictures. Ps.  Here is the link to the art project we did.

My Classroom Museum of Language Arts
2) Writing Letters for Santa may be a little too young for grade 6’s but one could stress that the point is for them to practice their letter writing. Last year when I was teaching grade 5/6 we picked names for Christmas and bought each other gifts… we could always use these letters to let the person who has our name know what we want for Christmas. Then, as we get them done we could post them on the wall and the person who has the name could sneak it off the wall (or just read it and take notes). I think I would have put them in our MOLA.

3)  These Christmas Analogies aren't too exciting (in my opinion) but if you had 15 minutes to kill you could ask students some of them.. laugh about the silly ones and go "hmm" about the serious ones.

4) Last year we made How to Videos (and did some writing beforehand of how to do different things). Here is a how to writing activity for How To Decorate A Christmas Tree… maybe after students do this we could decorate a classroom Christmas tree.

And... just like with the Halloween activities the upper grades were the hardest to find things for.  The list is short (my apologies)

1)  Worksheet Place has a list of 34 Christmas Writing Prompts

2)  If you teach drama or are looking for something different to do for your classroom Christmas party I found these Christmas Improv Cards on Teachers Pay Teachers

3) This is just a regular how to write a persuasive essay page BUT you could alter it to be Christmas themed based on the topic… one off the top of my head are

Is Santa Real? (get them to write a persuasive essay that he IS real… because by high school everyone will likely believe that he is not).

I'm sure there are tons of other great ideas out there (that are also free) for things that you do in your ELA class around Christmas time.  If you are willing to share I would love to hear about them!  Tell me in the comments below what you do for Christmas in your classroom!
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