Holly Blogger Exchange + More!

First up, a nod to Relfy, who hopefully made it back home to the North Pole safely. On his 2nd to last day he left us a message of love which the kids were quite excited about:

However, I'm not quite sure his elf magic was up to the task of flying with all the extra weight he put on after sneaking into all of our party goodies:

My students absolutely loved looking for Relfy each day. He got many notes written to him, and stories written about him. I am definitely going to keep this tradition going next year too!

Next up - the Genre Parade went off with only a few hitches. It was an incredibly noisy display, and although we got some nice press coverage, I'm not convinced that it was a great use of instructional time (the science fiction genre is definitely not in my CCSS), but the kids had fun and the intermediate teachers were very enthusiastic about it, so I guess its all good :) Here are a few pictures:

We had 4 posters, then the remaining kiddos either had antennas made from headbands, chenille stems and pompoms or spaceships on strings -two paper plates glued to on top of each other with a piece of yarn hot glued to the middle. We also had face paint - some kiddos just had black cheeks with silver sparkles to signify a starry sky, and others had stars or planets.

Here's what the parade looked like when other classes were coming down the hall:
 My son's class did poetry and had these cute Santa hats and wrote two poems that they carried down the hallway:

Our last day of school was lots of fun, in the morning we had a visit with Santa, then we mixed up a batch of slat dough and made ornaments - we popped them in the cafeteria's oven for 2 hours and they were ready to be painted right before our Christmas party! The Christmas party consisted of cupcakes, juice boxes, chips and 2 pieces of candy each. I used to go all out and get pizza and ask parents to send stuff, but then I inevitably got either the entire family of 6 adults that came to "help" but ended up scarfing down all the pizza, or so many bags of chips and cookies or bottles of sugary drinks that there was no way we could eat it all and the kids went into a sugar-fueled daze that left me wiped out and the classroom a train wreck. Now we just have a nice snack, I play a Christmas movie on the Smart board and everyone has a good time just hanging out. For those that finish early there are even coloring sheets!

Finally, up, I'm a day late posting about my Holly Blogger gift exchange! Here's what I sent (after much agonizing) to Rikki of The Hive:

My gift to Rikki was a set of my favorite Bath & Body Works holiday fragrances: Vanilla Bean Noel, some fuzzy socks because they are so comfy, some festive smelly markers and a little pack of chocolates.

Rikki's gift to me was:

The exact same BBW fragrance lotion! How funny is that?! And I was worried she might not like it lol! She also sent an infinity scarf - which caused much hilarity in my household Christmas morning as my husband and children tried to figure out how it was supposed to be worn. I had to google it to figure it out (I know, I'm so behind the times!),  but now I love it, so versatile! And finally, she sent Some Dude's Fry Sauce which is apparently a Utah favorite and which caused me to have to break out the fryer at 11am Christmas morning so we could all sample it! Everyone liked it, and my husband can't wait to try it on hamburgers too - yummy!

 Thank you Rikki! You made the Exchange way fun this year! Please go over and check out Rikki's blog too and give her some love!

Oh! One more thing! I totally forgot to choose a winner for my Kohl's giftcard giveaway! Due to recent sad events, the giveaway just slipped my mind. So, drumroll please, the winner is:

Irene Leeby of  Learning with Mrs Leeby! Congrats Irene! I'll be emailing you shortly to get your giftcard to you!

Relfy Update, Genre Parade and Pete!

I know that the whole nation is still reeling in shock, but rather than dwell on the horror, I have chosen to make this week as special and magical as I can for my students. I feel very badly for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, and their families. However, I feel that we need to let them get on with their grieving process. I cannot imagine having every detail of my child's funeral splashed across every television and newspaper. Personally, I would want the world to go away while I grieved, so, out of respect to the Sandy Hook families, I am getting back on with my life while sending them the warmest thoughts and prayers.

My students, perhaps because we live so far away, were remarkably untouched by the news coverage. I dealt with questions and comments on a one-on-one basis and no one seemed nervous or worried about our safety. Perhaps this is because they don't know that we don't have keys to lock our classroom doors (budget cuts). That issue kept me awake many hours over the weekend, but thankfully we were told today that work orders were being put in for keys, and we'd figure out how to pay for them later.

I read a comment on an online article where a reader said she couldn't stop crying and that Christmas was ruined. I read other reports that said people were taking down Christmas decorations. That shocked me. How can we make a senseless tragedy even worse? By letting it affect us long-term, by becoming so depressed by one horrible incident that it blinds us to the wonderful moments of our every day lives. By letting it ruin a glorious holiday season that is supposed to be about love, forgiveness and blessings.

In light of this, my students and I are going to be singing, dancing, laughing and crafting this week. I feel that the best memorial for those young victims is to make sure that my students are secure and happy in my classroom. That each day they come to school is a day of learning and joy, so that, if something horrible was to happen, I would have no regrets about what I did or didn't say, did or didn't do.

In light of that, I preordered the new Pete the Cat early readers! I know my students will be thrilled with their favorite character, and hopefully it will encourage some of my reluctant readers to see their old friend in easy-to-read new books! They will be out in February and May, so its a little bit of a wait, but it is something to look forward to!


Another thing we are looking forward to is Relfy's continuing antics. Here are a few pictures of what he's been up to:

This week we will also be making salt-dough ornaments, a reindeer craftivity and our gingerbread fact family craftivity. Our section of the hallway should be particularly festive!

We are also going to be having a Genre Parade on Wednesday. I was assigned "science fiction" because I like doing science experiments with my class. Umm, what? What does the science fiction genre have to do with first grade science experiments? After consulting with our librarian and combing through book lists online, I was able to find one science fiction book on our level:

The original idea was to make a class poster about the genre and then maybe one other poster about the specific book. It has evolved, however, into costumes/music/dioramas/posters etc. I will share our genre parade pictures Wednesday night! I hope you all have a joyous week leading into the Winter Break!

Pete the Cat Early Readers!

I was just doing some last minute Christmas shopping, and found out that James Dean has some new Pete the Cat easy readers coming out! They are in the "I Can Read" series and are listed under "My First" so I assume they will be on level for Kinders or even Firsties! I am very excited to see these, as Pete is still a big hit in my class!

These first two are available for preorder now and will come out February 26th:

This next one is also available for preorder but won't be released until May 21st:


I will be back later to update you on Relfy and what we're doing this week, but I couldn't wait to share about these goodies!


In light of this tragedy, may we all remember that the young lives we lead are precious - and that each one is special and unique. May this tragedy remind us to curb our tongues, expand our patience and love our students with all our hearts.

12-12-12 linky! (Includes a Relfy Update!)

I am linking up with Stacy over at Simpson's Superstars to commemorate 12-12-12 with 12 random pictures from today!

First up, look how we found Relfy this morning! What an artist!

Next up, this little angel is one of my absolute faves (I know we're not supposed to have them, but I can't help it, she is too precious!) She has been working sooo hard to get her first 20 sight words down and today she mastered the list and got her first certificate! So proud of her!!

This little guy blew me away with his creativity - a reminder that there are hidden talents in every child!
During indoor recess this little potato head family came to life, put together by three students who usually wouldn't have gotten along so well, but they came together in imaginative play!

I got a new student on Monday. Today he made black butterflies and the word "is" in play dough. I have a feeling he is going to be fun to know!

Our puppet theater is always a favorite! Our doctor puppet is now named "Dr. Lopez"!

We went to the computer lab and I just happened to glance over as this picture was being revealed - looks just like my beagle Max!

Our reading center looks so festive with its gingerbread man table cloth and all the holiday books! The kids love coming to read here!

As we were walking the hallways I came across this timely reminder that the "Genre Fair" is next week, and I haven't done anything for it yet! In my defense, our genre is science fiction and so far pickings are slim for genuine science fiction books that are age-appropriate! And, no, I refuse to believe that "Magic School Bus" counts as science fiction, regardless of how many times people tell me it is!

I have a walk through scheduled tomorrow and our 5 card is missing! Where oh where can it be? Do points get taken off for incomplete displays?!

A super creative bulletin board display from my neighbor across the hall! Love it! Inside each present is a quote from a student, listing the present they will give their families. I have two favorites: "I will leave the room when you ask." and "I promise not to fuss or cry for an hour."

Finally, the picture that I am amazed that I captured. Our school won a grant for healthy snacks, so each Tuesday-Friday we get a fruit or veggie in the afternoon. Today's snack were these tiny little yellow apples that were so sweet and juicy. My kiddos loved them! At one point I realized that this little guy had eaten his down to the core and I snapped a quick picture of his hands. I love the way the light is playing in this picture, and the fact that his sweatshirt has a small rip. This epitomizes my students and I think I am going to have this blown up to place in my office at home. My kiddos are starving - not for food, but for new experiences and knowledge. This apple is symbolic of the education I want to give my students!

Head on over to the linky to see how other bloggers spent the day in pictures!
And, don't forget to enter my giveaway for the $50 Kohl's gift card! Just click here to go to that post to enter!

12 Days of Christams Blog Hop! (Freebie!)

I'm linking up for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop! It's 12 days of freebies from some great bloggers!

Here's my freebie! It's a fun little Snowman Time game with analog and digital time to the hour and half hour. You can play it as a pocket chart matching game or as a memory game! Click the image to grab it on Google Docs!

Now go enjoy the rest of the blog hop! Today you can visit:

Color Me Kinder
Tomorrow's blogs are:

And, to go back to the beginning go check out:

Oh! and if you haven't entered yet, click here to go enter my giveaway for a $50 Kohls' gift card!

Here are all of the blogs that participated in this freebie blog hop! Go check each out to grab their freebie!

12 in 12 Linky!

Ok, so today Relfy was still in the rice. Darn that elf, he just laid there all weekend and didn't move at all! The kiddos were very puzzled about this, and conspiracies theories abound! There was glitter on some tables, certain items in the class seemed to have been moved around, what is that elf up to?! I have no idea, because I have a dilemma. You see I have 2 little boys of my own who believe in Relfy's magic. Thus Relfy has only a very small window of opportunity to be moving around, since those boys come into work with me every day and generally stay in my room until the bell rings and then hang out in my room after school as well. Relfy was going to get up to some antics during recess, but it has finally gotten chilly here in OK, so we had inside recess. Might just have to enlist a helper who can do some behind the scenes magic before we get to school each morning lol!

I am linking up with A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Miss Kindergarten for my 12 in 12!

12. Favorite Movie you watched:

Ok, I'm a big dork and I don't go to many movies. I also have incredibly poor memory and had to actually google movies that came out this year to figure out which ones I had actually been to! But I do remember going to see The Lorax  which was wonderful and I remember that my kids and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

11. Favorite TV series:

The Walking Dead (followed closely by The Talking Dead because I just cannot get enough of the zombie apocalypse!) I have loved this season so far, so bummed out that the mid-season break is upon us. I can't wait for the marathon on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day - if you have not watched the series yet, you definitely should  catch up during the marathon because it is the best! although, I have to admit to having a few questions: a) how in the heck did that screaming chick that died last week manage to survive almost a year in the zombie apocalypse?! You'd think that after the first month or two all the screamers would've been eaten already. b) Where is Malcolm and his kid? Will they ever meet up with Rick's group? c) Why do they feed Judith 8 ounces of formula at a time when they are low on formula?! What newborn eats 8 ounces?! Just think of how much they have to be wasting considering they have no refrigeration!

10. Favorite Restuarant: Ummm. Hmmm. I like them all. Really, if I don't have to cook it, or clean up after it, I am all for eating it! But, if I had to pick one I'd say Atlanta Bread Company just because Tuesday is Kid's Night and they have a balloon guy. And I get a cookie for dessert.

9.  Favorite New Thing you tried: Sadly, I can't think of anything new I tried this year. My astrological sign is Cancer, and I am a homebody who loves to snuggle up in bed and read. My idea of adventure is stopping at Hobby Lobby on the way home and trying to get out in under 30 minutes. When I feel really daring I pick up a book by an author I'm not familiar with, run a yellow light or break out the glitter at school....

8. Favorite Gift You Received: well it was my super comfy, electric blanky but those darn beagles chewed it up :(

7. Favorite Thing You Pinned: I am the world's worst pinner. I pin like crazy, I have multiple boards, and I've even attempted to organize them somewhat! But, I rarely go back to see what I pinned! It's like I have to pin all the new stuff before I can go back and actually use any of it! But, this one is one of the coolest and I'm thinking of sending out a call for milk jugs so I can do this in January....

Source: squidoo.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

6. Favorite Blog Post: One of the best things about having a horrible memory is that I can go back and reread old blog posts and have no recollection of actually writing it, so I always find little gems when I look back. One of my favorite posts was The Underwear Bandit Strikes Again. A close second was my 100th Day post since we had so much fun that day and I loved our projects!

5. Favorite Accomplishment: I'm the PTA president for our school and pretty much the only active member :( But, I managed to put together a Fall Carnival with only the help of 3 pre-teens! The pre-teens and I set up all the games, made the signage, prepared the nachos and chili, put all the drinks on ice, and briefed all the teachers on running their games when they showed up 2 minutes before the doors opened. I even ran the face painting booth and some very sweet children allowed me to draw on their faces and didn't even cry afterwards! We made a whopping $250 after expenses which is going to buy some paper and lamination!

4. Favorite Picture: 
Okay, this picture actually ran on my guest blog over at PreK + K Sharing, but I love it anyways. The colors just turned out so pretty and I love seeing them all together in the windowsill! 

3. Favorite Memory: Ok, this linky is seriously hard on those of us with bad memories! I have to take tons of pictures of everything I do to remember it, so its hard to think of favorite memories without looking through a photo album. I will share one from our trip to California this year. We went to Seal Beach and when we left I insisted on bringing 2 buckets of sand with us so I could use them in my sand & water table so my kiddos could experience real California sand lol. Well those 2 buckets managed to get knocked over and spilled about a dozen times on the trip back to Oklahoma, it was absolutely hilarious trying to keep those buckets upright while avoiding the "I told you so" looks from ym husband who thought I was completely nutty! I still have sand in my van from it! But, the kids loved seeing the sand and shells I brought back, so it was worth it in the end!

2. Goal for 2013: Go back to school for my Masters. I really want to, but worry about finding the time and adding to my already huge student loan bill!

1. One Little Word: Presence. As in, be present in the moment instead of thinking about work when I'm with my family. There are lots of times when my husband will get disgruntled because I'm not paying 100% attention to what he's saying because I'm trying to think of a new strategy to reach one of my kiddos or thinking about a project I'm working on etc. I want to be able to savor the time I spend with my family, my eldest will be off to college in just 5 short years! Of course, at work I need to be present in the moment to - sometimes I'm so busy thinking about the next thing we need to learn, or the next project, that I forget to enjoy the now and acknowledge the perfection of the moment.

Whew! That was harder than I thought it would be! If you made it through to the end, you are a rock star in my world! Remember to go and enter my giveaway for the $50 Kohls' gift card too!

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