Saturday, January 5, 2013

My 100th Blog Post...and FREEBIES!

A little birdie at school informed me that my blog and dedicated blog followers have been neglected.  I know, I know!  I am so sorry!  Trust me, I have missed blogging.  I had every intention on writing and sharing a whole bunch during my winter break, but my dear son demanded much of my attention.  Anyway, it feels good to be back!  (Thank you to the sweet follower who made me realize that there are people out there who actually read my blog.  You know who you are.)  One of my (many) New Years resolutions is to blog LEAST once a month (hey - it is better than once a season).  :)  By the way, my blogging resolution was #1 on my list.  Is that wrong?  Hehe.
I cannot believe this is my 100th blog post!  100!?  Wow...  Okay - on to the fun stuff!
Well - it is that time of year again.  As you are taking down your Christmas tree and packing away your holiday decorations, think twice before you throw away all of your greeting cards.  This is an idea that I got from The Mailbox a couple of years ago:
1 - Cut off the front flap of your greeting cards.
2 - Save them for next year (and remember where you placed them - I know, that is the hard part).
3 - When the holiday season rolls around again, have each student choose a picture and write about it.  There are SO many ways you can use these greeting cards as writing prompts.  For example, your students could do a free write OR you could require them to write 5 sentences that include a prepositional phrase OR you could tell them to include at least 10 adjectives in their writing... the ideas are endless!
Here are my greeting cards from this year:

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I wanted to write about something I have been doing once a month with my ELL 1st grade students - and it is also a great activity for Kindergarten... probably even 2nd grade, depending on their needs.  I am talking about...

I know - this is totally NOT a new idea.  However, I really like the way Shari Sloane incorporates student art into her calendars and so I have taken her approach and also added a writing piece.
(Before I continue, I have to ask a question:  Are you familiar with Shari Sloane?  If you are not, do yourself a favor and visit her website!  Kids Count: Shari Sloane  She is a-ma-zing!!  AND...her music CDs are so awesome.  I own "Singing with Shari: Get Ready!"  It is worth every penny.  If you want to read more about the calendars I am about to write about, click on her link - left hand side - that says "Monthly Calendars.")
So there are 3 parts to our calendars:
1 - The Artwork:  In the daily rush of things and with the pressure teachers regularly face to meet standards, it is so easy to overlook the importance of allowing children to demonstrate their artistic abilities.  And, in the case of many young students, it is important for them to practice simple cutting and pasting / fine motor skills.  What I like about Shari Sloane's artwork ideas is that they are EASY and can be done in a short amount of time.
The artwork changes from month to month.  Here is what my kiddos did in September:

This artwork was from October.  They colored a tree, then used their finger to paint the leaves:

My students are currently working on their calendars for the month of January.  The artwork is a snowman.  Here is what Shari Sloane's idea looks like:
I am going to give my kiddos some fun scrapbooking paper to use for the scarf, mittens, and hat.  For the snow, they will use white chalk OR white crayon OR glue and glitter (I know, I am crazy)... I have not yet decided.
Shari Sloane includes a traditional poem about a snowman on her calendar.  I think it is super cute, so I typed it up for you!  If you would like a FREE copy, stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE!

I printed off Shari Sloane's ideas and I write myself little notes about what I will do differently, so I remember for next year.

2 - The Writing and Illustration:  My students always respond orally, then in writing to the following prompt:  "What can we do this month?"  So, for example, my students and I were just talking today about what types of activities we can do during the month of January.  Some of their ideas were... build a snowman, have a snowball fight (and, of course, I stressed that that can only be done at home!), build a snow fort, drink hot cocoa, go ice skating, go sledding, and make snow angels.
If you would like to grab your own FREE copy of the simple writing template I use in my classroom, stop by my TPT store by clicking HERE!


This was my example for September.  We talked about how the weather is nice, so we can take walks... so here is me walking my baby in his stroller.  I know, I am such an artist!!  Haha!  By the way, this was before I added the writing piece.
"In October, we can watch scary movies."
3 - The Calendar:  I feel strongly that students should understand how to read and use a calendar.  And I believe primary teachers should take the time to teach it, especially those who have ELL students in their classrooms.  (Yeah, yeah - I know calendar is not even in the CCS - Common Core Standards - for Kindergarten and I had a daily calendar block in my Kindergarten room, but sometimes I think we teachers just need to use our own CS - Common Sense.)  If nothing else, the kiddos are practicing number writing and I do not think anyone is going to argue that THAT is not important!
Click HERE to snag a FREE copy of the very basic and blank calendar template that I use in my classroom.
TIP:  If you use a yellow highlighter to put a large slash through the center of your paper or a little "M" (for "Master") in the corner, you will always know which is your master copy.  And the yellow highlighter does not show up when you make photocopies.  Too often I would accidentally give my master copy away to a student.  But then an awesome Kinder teacher at my school gave me this idea and it has not happened since!  Yippee!
We also highlight special days on our calendars, such as birthdays, holidays, and important events that are going on at our school.
The students glue their calendars and their writing on a long sheet of construction paper, which gets folded in half (the artwork goes on the front flap).

Wow!  It is - however you want to look at it.  I hope you are able to use these FREEBIES in your classroom.  As always, thank you for stopping by!  :)


  1. Very awesome ideas here!! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

    1. Janaye - Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read them! I so love your blog!! :)

  2. Replies
    1. You are so welcome. Please come back soon! :)

  3. love your website, your freebies and your humor...

    1. Well, thank you, Cynthia! You definitely put a smile on my face this evening. :D


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