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Save Christmas - An Engaging Holiday Mission

Hi friends,

I'm so excited to share this new resource with you. It has truly been a labor of love and I'm so proud of it! My friend Nicole, from Today in Second Grade, and I collaborated on this project together and we're so happy with our design. Let me show you what we created together.

This resource is meant to be presented to our students as a mission. The first thing they will receive is a letter from Mrs. Claus. She will explain to the class that the North Pole is in a state of emergency and she needs our help to save Christmas. Santa's sleigh is broken and it can only be fixed with a secret code.
**Mrs. Claus' letter comes in both a paper version and a video version.**

Students are sent on mission to compete six educational and engaging challenges. Every time they complete a challenge, they will be rewarded with a secret code. Once they complete all six challenges, they will have collected the words needed to make a secret message. This secret message will be entered in Santa's computer (a PDF file) that will lead them to a fun video of Santa thanking them for their hard work.
**Santa letter comes in both a paper version and a video version.**

This resource is complete with letters from Mrs. Claus and Santa, six challenging activities, three brain break videos, and a student folder with "mission tracker".

Take a look at three of the six challenges:

At the bakery, Mrs. Claus needs help to bake the best tasting gingerbread house in the North Pole. Students will create their own gingerbread house and fill it with random acts of kindness.

At the candy shop, George the elf made a big mess and dropped candy bags all over the shop floor. Students will work on a number sense match in order to sort the candies and place them in the correct bag.
**The candy shop challenge is differentiated TWO ways: numbers 1-20 and numbers 1-100.**

At the reindeer stable, the reindeer are in all mixed up and need help finding their proper line order. Students will work on math problems to help the reindeer line up correctly. They will then make a fun hat with the reindeer order.
**The reindeer stable challenge is differentiated TWO ways: numbers 1-20 and numbers 1-100.**

In this resource, you will also get three brain break videos. We suggest that you use these when you feel is most appropriate for your class. Saving Christmas is hard work, y'all! When your students need a break from saving the Christmas magic, play the videos on your interactive board and let them get their groove on! Students will dance to fun Christmas music and will call out vocabulary words as they appear on the screen. The three videos are "Build a Snowman", "Trim the Tree", and "Wrap Presents".

Head over to Nicole's blog to read about the other three challenges and to learn about how students will end their super secret mission!

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Morning Tubs in the Elementary Classroom

This year, I decided to implement a few NEW things in my daily classroom routine. Morning tubs was at the top of this list and I'm glad I did it! My students are really loving it and so am I!

Morning tubs can be done in so many different ways, with a variety of rules and procedures. What I do in my split 1/2 classroom may not work for you. However, I hope you get a little inspired by some ideas in this post. The goal is to start slow and grow from there. Get a feel for what your students love and add new activities/tubs gradually.

My morning tub routine is fairly simple. We have a flexible seating arrangement in our room so the first thing students do when they walk through the door is hand in their agendas, note from parents, and money (lunch, field trips etc.). They open their agenda and set it on the table and place their notes and money in our messenger basket. Once they have completed their morning job, the can then choose a morning tub to work at.
The only rules for choosing a tub are the following:
- Students can only sit at a table that has an available seat.
- They can't choose the same tub two days in a row.

Students work as a team to collaborate, plan, create, build, and problem solve. I always ask them to try to build/create one structure TOGETHER. My goal is to encourage children to learn how to work with a team. I also encourage them to share materials with their peers. Sharing is a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again, no matter what grade the are in!

How long do they get to "play"?
Our homeroom time is ten minutes. I set out the tubs (one per table) and students start working on them as soon as they arrive. Students who arrive on time get 10 minutes and late students get less time, depending on how long it takes them to make their way into the classroom.

How many kids work at the same tub?
My tables are set up with 4 seats each so I never have more than 4 students at a tub at a time.

How do you solve disagreements?
Easy! We use "rock, paper, scissors" in my classroom to solve all disagreements. It works so well because they can solve problems on their own without any adult intervention. Giving students responsibility for their learning goes a long way!

How do they clean up?
When the ten minute timer is over, I ask my students to put all their materials back in the tub and we place the tubs on a shelf that is accessible to students.  Choosing shelves that are accessible to students allows them to take responsibility for the organization of our classroom. It's important that we work together to keep our learning space clean and organized!

My friend Nicole, from Today in Second Grade, gives a great idea for clean up time on her blog. It will help you avoid disappointment when children see others "breaking their creations".

What happens if students don't play fair?
I usually give one warning only during morning tubs. With only ten minutes to plan, create, and problem solve with their team, I expect their behaviour to be acceptable as they do not have enough time to get off track. If a student isn't following the rules, he/she is removed from the group.

What do you put in your morning tubs?
I have a variety of games that I rotate every week. Here is a list of what i have so far:
  • Linking tubes
  • Magnetic shapes 
  • Lego
  • Tinker toys
  • Math pattern blocks
  • Tangram shapes 
  • Snap cubes
  • Snap flakes 
  • Magnet sticks and balls 
  • Solo cups 
  • Dominoes 
  • Pick up sticks 
  • Uno cards
  • Cards (I usually let them know which game I want them to play that week)
  • White boards with sight words 
  • K’nex 
  • Geoboards 
I got most of the items above from the dollar store and Amazon.

Ready to give morning tubs a try? Start small. Ask parents for donations, apply for grants, ask your principal for help. Some of the items above can be found for cheap at the dollar store. Start with those and add more when you can. The goal is not to have to "coolest" items in your tubs, it is to teach your students to collaborate, communicate, and problem solve with their peers.

Want to save this blog post for later? 
Pin the image above to your Pinterest boards!

Want more ideas and inspiration? 
Go check out Nicole's blog post at Today in Second Grade. She writes all about why she calls morning tubs "play time" and shows what she puts in her tubs, too!

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All Students Can SHINE {K-2 Teacher Community}

Are you a k-2 teacher looking to get inspired for the new school year? Do you like to collaborate with other educators? Would you like to have a safe place to connectshare ideas, and discuss classroom happenings with other k-2 teachers?

I'm SO excited to connect with all of you wonderful teachers!

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Digital Flashcards

I'm always looking for new ways to integrate technology into my daily classroom routines. Brainstorming ways to revamp "blah" activities into new and improved ones has become something I love to do. This time, I decided to switch out my old paper flashcards for digital ones. Why print, laminate, and cut flashcards when you can simply flash them on any device??

What I love most about this resource is that it can be used on ANY device (iPads, tablets, computers, and interactive whiteboards) since it is a PDF file. PDF readers can be downloaded for FREE on so many devices so this format makes it EASY for everyone!

This resource is completely PAPERLESS and DIGITAL! I'm so excited about this because I love using technology in the classroom and this resource is SUPER EASY to use. Students simply choose the phonics sounds that they are working on and read the words on each slide. The best part of these flashcards is that they are SELF-CHECKING! Once the student reads the word, he/she can swipe (or click on a computer) to reveal the picture that goes with the word. This helps students check their reading independently!

In this set of flashcards, there are word lists for:
- CVC words
- Beginning digraphs
- Ending digraphs
- Long vowel teams
- Blends
- Silent e

Each word list has approximately 30 words (long a, i, and o have a few less). There are 345 words in all!!

Take a look at this short video to see how this resource works:

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