home home meet the teacher classroom shop freebie library

A Reflective Writing Task for the New Year

Looking for something for your class to do right after the Christmas break?  Do you want something with easy prep?  Should it be not too challenging for the kids, but still ask them to be reflective?  This is just what you need!

This booklet has been very popular, with lots of encouraging feedback.   If you purchased this last year, you are in luck!  Go to "My Purchases" on TpT and you should be able to redownload the new copy.  If you haven't purchased this yet, what are you waiting for?  Click on any of the images to go to TpT now!

Not quite sure?  Here's some feedback from previous buyers:




post signature

Elf Adventures Week 2

The week started out slow for Elfis.  He was feeling under the weather on Monday.  It took most students quite a while to find him as he was hiding on my document camera cart taking a nap.  Elfis was sick, the poor elf.  My class was VERY respectful of this and they were crazy quiet all day.  It was a dream.

This Classroom Elf Setup Package includes all you need to introduce your elf at home or at school!
 By Tuesday Elfis was recovered.  He brought us in a class Christmas tree!  I hadn't really gotten around to decorating yet, and I guess he felt it just wasn't festive enough for him.  He also generously left us the first ornament for the tree.  It was an elf (of course!) with the year on it to remember him by.  How sweet!

The classroom decorating continued on Wednesday.  Elfis hung these pretty wooden snowflakes from our ceiling and caught a ride on one for the day.  

Our class was supposed to go Thursday afternoon.  Elfis was ready to go!  He must have spent the evening skating on a whiteboard.  His little skates and scarf are adorable!!  Sadly, we had freezing rain Wednesday, and a huge dump of snow overnight so the buses were cancelled and we couldn't go skating.  My students actually took the news really well.  We're rescheduled for March.

On Friday, Elfis noticed I had "Letters to Santa" in my dayplan.  He left us all brand new pencils (decorated with elves of course) to write them with.  I forgot to take a picture of this.

This Classroom Elf Setup Package includes all you need to introduce your elf at home or at school!

Helping to inspire,

post signature

Meet Elfis

On Monday, December 1, my class received a very special delivery!  The package was delivered by our vice-principal.  He said it had just appeared in the office!  He wasn't sure who delivered it, but it sure looked important.  It was labeled Santa's Workshop, North Pole after all!

100s Chart Hidden Picture

Merry Christmas!

Naughty or nice, here's a little treat to fill your stocking today!

It's a great activity for many grade levels - challenging for the little ones, and something for free time for those in grades 4/5.  One day in the summer, I gave the file a bit of a facelift.  So, you might have this already.... I didn't change the actual worksheet, just the cover/credits pages.  But, if you don't - head to my store and get it now.  It's FREE! 

post signature

Christmas Concert Songs

This year, my class will be performing two Christmas songs with Mrs. Dutchak's class!
The lyrics will be going home with students to practice this week.  However, if you're after some music to practice with, you can find it here!

Our first song is called "Pack the Sleigh".  We will be singing this song with music.  We're practicing with a version with the lyrics, but we will be using the version without words for our performance.  You can download both versions below:

With lyrics


When you click on the links above, there is blue text reading "Download File" partway down the page.  Click there to download.  All of the rest sends you elsewhere.  It was the best way I could find to get the files out.  Sorry folks!

Our second song is "Little Drummer Boy".  You can find a link to the lyrics we sent home by clicking here.  We will be singing this song a Capella for the performance.   However, we'll be practicing using the video below.


We hope to see you at our performance at the end of the month.  Merry Christmas!

post signature

Brainology: Teaching Students About Growth Mindset and the Zones of Regulation

Recently, our hallway brain board got a bit of a facelift.  We went from this....

to this...

I have to admit, I was a bit sad to take down the fixed and growth mindset self-talk.  We referred to them often with a lot of students.  They were really powerful.  But, alas, we must move on.

Crystal asked her students to draw what is inside their brain.  She didn't give them too many requirements.  Some chose to have their page oriented landscape, though most chose portrait.  Some chose to use one colour, while others had many.  If you know her children, they are actually very accurate and quite insightful!
At our school, we teach the Zones of Regulation school wide. 

Being that my students are in fourth grade, they have a fairly good understanding of the four Zones already.  To refresh their memories, we read the book "The Way I Feel."

Everyone folded a paper into 8 spaces.  The book showcases 13 emotions, so we had more than enough room to work with the front and back combined.  I read each emotion, but I didn't reveal the actual emotion.  My students had to guess.

Once they had guessed correctly, I projected the emotion on the SmartBoard with a corresponding Zones images.  This really helped a few of my low students with spelling.  Their job was to write the emotion and guess the Zone that emotion belongs in.  At the end of the book, we discussed each one.

Next, I assigned students a Zone.  They met with the other students of the same Zone to discuss all the emotions that would belong there.  They then returned to their desks where a poster was waiting for them.  The task was to write in their assigned Zone and fill in the face with an expression that properly represented the Zone.  Around the edges, they had to write a variety of emotions for the Zone.

I'm not thrilled with these photos.  I really need to bring my proper camera to school.  The iPhone just isn't cutting it.

I hope that these posters will be helpful to others as they pass by!  I know I've referred to them a few times.

Do you use the Zones of Regulation in your classroom or school?

Are you interested in even more bulletin board ideas? Do you want to save time by finding them all in one place? Follow the image or button below to grab your copy of my free bulletin board inspiration guide. 

Take me to the guide!

Pin this post.

post signature

Holiday Giveaway

I cannot believe we are nearly in December!  With all the snow we have had this week, it certainly feels wintery outside.  It doesn't really feel very Christmas-y yet though.  We always put our tree up on or around December 1st.  We plan on doing that this weekend.  Maybe that will help with my Christmas mood.  I have bought a decent amount of presents, so I'm feeling decently prepared.

To help get you in the Christmas spirit, I've teamed up with some friends to offer you a TpT Holiday Giveaway!

All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!  You could win one of two TpT gift cards!  If you win, use it for a Christmas lesson for your class, or anything else your heart desires!  $30 can go a long way on TpT!

Just in case you don't win, I don't want you going away empty handed!  Here's a link to my free 100s chart Christmas themed hidden picture activity!  It can be used in any elementary classroom as an early finisher activity or centre activity. This file contains a 100s chart with colouring instructions to reveal a hidden Christmas tree!

While we are on the topic of Christmas spirit, here's something that always gets me in the festive mood!  My classroom has had an Elf on the Shelf visit the last two years.  I sure hope one arrives this year too!  This package includes all you need to introduce your elf at home or at school!


Package includes:
♥ Instructions to unwrap your package
♥ Special letter from Santa introducing the elf
♥ Magic Gloves tag
♥ Letter and label for Magical Recovery Dust
♥ Certificate of health

There is a boy and girl version of each file and black and white files for most pieces.

post signature

Classroom Elf on the Shelf!

It's that time of year again!  For the last two years my classroom has been graced with the presence of an elf during the first week of December.  I wonder if we'll get one again this year?

If you're organized like me, then you like to be ready.  This Classroom Elf Setup Package includes all you need to introduce your elf at home or at school!

Package includes:
♥ Magic gloves tag
♥ Unwrapping instructions
♥ Letter from Santa
♥ Recovery dust label and letter
♥ Certificate of health
♥ Elf surveillance poster
♥ Writing paper (lined and interlined)
♥ Elf setup ideas
♥ Naughty or Nice graphing activity

There is a boy and girl version of each file and black and white files for most pieces.  This package was updated this year for a fresh look.

You can check out these posts to see what the last two elves got up to:

Or, head on over to my TpT store to pick up your copy of this jam packed file.

Helping to inspire,
post signature

Brainology: Teaching Students The Power of Positive Self Talk

These last few weeks have been a blur.  I don't know where they've gone... honestly.  A quick recap:
1) Thanksgiving
2) Smart Conference.  What a treat this was, and I will blog about it sometime, but it was a week of planning and a week of conference-ing. (That's a word, right?)
3) Meetings.  IEP, Book Studies, Harassment Seminar, Staff Meeting.  Just lots of meetings.
4) Sickness.  Why do I always get a cold at this time of year?
5) Report Cards.  Currently procrastinating on those by writing this blog post.  You're welcome.  :)

In the midst of this craziness, Crystal and I decided to whip out another bulletin board.  'Cause, you know? Why not?

First stop, Dollar Store plastic table cloth section.  You can never have too many plastic table cloths on hand. 

Our inspiration for this board was our Growth Mindset lessons we've been doing.  The lessons are inspired by these two books:

We created the brain on this board with above mentioned plastic table cloths.  They are twisted together and bunched up.  Some are full length and some are trimmed down.  Just twist, fluff and staple every few inches.  The white side has black tissue paper inside, just to give it a bit of dimension in the colour.

I am not sure why we took this photo.  I think someone texted "What are you doing" and I sent this back.  It's hilarious anyhow.

Here's the final product.  The "STOP" piece up top is just layered paper plates.  I had to sort a lot of letters to spell all those words.  Some how I had all the pieces.  I still can't really believe it, actually.

Our kids provided the self talk pieces for growth and fixed.  It was really interesting to see this process.  The task was to write one thought, whether growth or fixed.  For fixed, they had so many thoughts on their cards!  I read somewhere that the average human thinks 5 times more negative things than positive ones.  I believe it after seeing this task.

And some positive self talk.... my favourite growth mindset piece: "It's not over until the fat lady sings".  Too funny.

If you're after more ideas for teaching growth mindset, follow my Pinterest board.

Are you interested in even more bulletin board ideas? Do you want to save time by finding them all in one place? Follow the image or button below to grab your copy of my free bulletin board inspiration guide. 

Take me to the guide!

Pin this post.

post signature

Calm, Alert and Learning: Chapter 2

I'm slowly working my way through a second read of Stuart Shanker's book, "Calm, Alert and Learning".  A team of us at my school are reading this book and will be meeting in a few days to discuss Chapter 2.

If you'd like to read my previous posts, click here and here.

I'm really enjoying re-reading this book, as I'm more focused on ideas like "Zones of Regulation",  "MindUp" and "Mindset".  When working on my year plan, I actually put in a section called "Brainology".  (Side note: I love that term!  I read it on another blog somewhere, but don't remember where.....)  My hope is to do a minimum of one lesson a month from one of these programs.

If you really sit down and look at each of these, you'll start to see a lot of overlap.  Though "Calm, Alert, and Learning" is different from Zones and MindUp in that it doesn't contain a series of lesson plans,  the philosophy is very similar.  I'm attempting to weave these together into a cohesive flow applicable to grade 4 and the specific needs of my classroom.  Wish me luck on such a big task!!

Anyhow, on to Chapter 2 thoughts....

This chapter starts out by recognizing that we are seeing increasingly large numbers of children who are angry or sad and even some who seem to be completely devoid of emotion.  Shanker notes that it's difficult to say how or why this is happening, but states that urbanization, changing family patterns and a lack of exercise and impromptu play could be to blame.

I would agree that as our children become more "plugged in" they are becoming less aware of their surroundings, both in a physical and emotional state.

This quote really struck a cord with me.  I agree completely with this!  And, I think it's important that parents and the public are aware of this challenge.  Our day as teachers is about so much more than just teaching reading and math.  I am constantly checking the emotional state of each of my students and doing my best to up or down shift with brain breaks, effort based praise, proximity, etc.

This chapter provides some excellent examples and strategies that I think will help me become more successful in monitoring those many emotional states.

There is a case study of a teacher named "Kyle" that looks at his grade 6 classroom and their emotions.  Kyle found that his students weren't really even aware of what emotion was and how to recognize it in others.  Through deep thinking discussions, looking at emotions in animals (which I think children can connect to much easier than their own emotions, I wonder why that is?), ranking and creating gradations of emotion, yoga and deep breathing, he was able to create an emotionally aware classroom.  There are so many excellent ideas here that I think tie in wonderfully to the Zones lesson "The Zones in Me".

This quote bothered me.  It bothered me because I know this, but struggle with it.  I know the process is important, for sure.  But, the final product should look good too!  Shanker argues that we should be placing value on students individual skills and strategies.  Again, I agree with this.  What I think he fails to mention is that the finished product is a summary of the process.  If a student scribbles in their colouring, or misspells words as they rush to complete, to me that says they put little value on the process.  Those who present a neat, well laid out project clearly spent more time considering the finer details.

I am totally aware that a science project is not meant to be an art project, and that some students have better fine motor skills than others.  I do take into account varying ability levels.  What I ask for is a students "best work" and we talk about how that may look different for different people.

The second point to consider is that students are constantly comparing. They may not do it vocally, but they are.  There's nothing worse that posting an art project on the wall and that one glaringly obvious messy job is staring back at you.  Everyone sees it.  The child who created it sees it.  For some, this can be a huge hit to their emotional state.  For others, they could care less.  I guess the key is to be aware of your students and their emotional needs.
Here are two self-regulation based products from two lovely ladies I know:

1) Hall Stars: This is a management system for younger students and is meant to be used while they walk down the hall.  The goal is to have them become self aware of their hallway behaviour over time.

2) What Zone are You In: Similar to my Zone Check-in I posted about briefly in Chapter 1, these bookmarks are meant to be kept personal.  Being able to identify the zone they are in will help them to take actions to regulate their behavior. Being able to regulate behavior will lead to positive experiences and successful learning.

post signature