Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year...a sale and some resolutions!

Happy New Year, everyone - and happy bloggiversary to me! I realized the other day that I began this blog on January 1, 2012. Spedventures will be 1 year old in just two days! This past year has been wonderful - I have met friends (Michigan ladies, when is our next meetup?!), blogged about some fun things in my classroom, even sold a few products in my store...and most importantly, I've grown so much as a teacher - so many wonderful ideas and resources from all of you. I am still feeling newly energized and inspired in my teaching, and I owe that to teacher blogs...So, thank you all! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To say both Happy New Year and Happy Bloggiversary to Me, I'm having a sale! Click the image below to get 20% off at my TPT store from the 31st through Jan. 3:

I'm also linking up The Teacher's Cauldron's New Years Linky. I'm not big on a lot of New Years resolutions, so I really like this idea of just a couple:

My personal resolution is to work out at least 3 times per week. I have not been working out regularly at all over the past several months and I can tell! I have tried more strict "working out" resolutions in the past (5 or 6 days per week, etc.) and it hasn't happened. 3 days is doable for me, and bonus - I will feel great if I surpass that goal on a given week! I am looking forward to being healthier in the new year, and at the same time not stressing too much about getting there.

My blogging resolution is to comment more on blogs! I used to do this a lot more. I do always read my blog roll...and I tend to bookmark posts to go back and comment on, but never do...I just need to comment "in the moment" rather than saving it. I get such joy out of receiving comments on my blog; I would love to be better at leaving comments myself.

Link up by clicking the image below to share your own resolutions!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holly Bloggy Christmas Exchange!

Merry Christmas, bloggy friends! I am scheduling this post out, so I hope by now you are enjoying your Christmas Day!

I had fun participating in the Holly Bloggy Christmas 2012 over at Teacher Blogger Exchange!

My partner for the exchange was Jennifer from The First Grade Dream. Go check out her cute blog!
The exchange's theme was "My Favorite Things," (a la Oprah or Maria VonTrapp...though no, I'm not providing anyone with a LEXXXX-USSSSSS or Girls in White Dresses with Blue Satin Sashes - sorry!). I had fun picking out a few of my favorite things to send to Jennifer! Here's what I sent:

-a jar of my favorite homemade Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix - so yummy! I love making this for stocking stuffers every year. (When I made this one for Jennifer you'd better believe I made one for myself, too!)
-Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate and Caramel chocolates...I saw on Jennifer's blog that she loves chocolate and caramel, and I definitely do, too!
-"You Are Here" bookmarks and "Just Sayin'" post-it notes...I have always loved these sticky notes, list notepads, etc. from Knock Knock Stuff - they're so snarky and cheeky and just plain fun. I give them to all my teacher friends - my best friend who teaches 7th grade uses one version of them (can't remember which one...there are a lot!) for notes on her kids' papers, even!
-Burt's Bees lip shimmer lip gloss - I use this stuff every day; love it!
I hope you enjoyed your surprises, Jennifer! Merry Christmas!

And here is what I received in the exchange...yes, I cheated a little bit and opened the package two days before Christmas...because I was going out of town and not bringing the computer...yeah, we'll go with that reason and not that I just couldn't wait any longer :) I received an adorable package from Mrs. Santana at The Learning Tree - check out her blog if you're not already a follower!

I wish I would have thought to get a photo of the package itself - let's just say Kimberly sent me a true "brown paper package tied up with string" - how adorable! I was all giddy just at the packaging! Here's what was inside:
Four super-cute mason jars filled with goodies - jumbo binder clips, a plant (so excited!), apple post-its, and colorful pens! I love absolutely everything! These are some of my favorite things, too!

Take a look at the tops of the jars, too - I can't wait to display these on my desk! Thank you, Kimberly, for such a fun, thoughtful surprise!

Merry Christmas, bloggy friends!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday celebrations and "The Mitten"

Happy winter break, everyone!

Our December unit was all about winter holidays, and we learned about and celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Las Posadas. I was a bad picture-taker this month, but here are a few things we did:

-Made sweet potato pie for Kwanzaa! We used this recipe (rather than the one in our curriculum), and it was absolutely amazing. My new favorite holiday dessert! Several of the kids enjoyed it, too. We also made latkes for Hanukkah. Also a big hit - we served with ketchup, not the traditional applesauce, though. Kids ate the applesauce separately - couldn't quite get them to buy into the applesauce-on-potatoes thing.

-Played the dreidel game. My one kiddo was quite the dreidel shark! I mean really, he just kept winning. Every. Single. Game. Told him he needed to give us numbers and we'd play the lottery and probably win! We used the Dreidel Game Rules from Chapel Hill Snippets and I found a set of 4 dreidels for something like $1.99 at Party City. I was impressed when a couple of my guys could even spin the dreidel correctly! (The rest, who could not spin due to fine motor difficulties, rolled dice-style.) Great fine motor activity, and of course doubles as a counting activity including the concept of "half." It was a big hit!

-We had a holiday party with the two other classrooms at our same age level. We decorated cookies and had a $1 gift exchange. Fun!

-We made gifts for parents - file this one away in the "try before attempting at school" bin! We attempted to make Cinnamon Stick Candles...all the directions online/Pinterest/Martha-Freaking-Stewart, even - which say to use hot glue or even just regular glue were wrong. I'm here to tell you any sort of glue that we could find did not affix cinnamon sticks to waxy candles. We ended up finding one set of directions that said to soften the wax of the candles in the microwave little by little, pushing the sticks into the wax bit by bit. It worked, and the gifts ended up looking very nice, but it was time consuming and the kids ended up not being able to do much themselves. Too bad I didn't get any photos during this process - it was probably pretty funny!

-We made cards for parents and for our buddies at our sister school. We used the printable below - which one of you on my blog roll had mentioned - can't remember who, but if it was you, thank you!
(Click the image to go to the blog post.) Instead of using do-a-dot markers, my students used their thumbprints...I wish I would have gotten photos of these, because they turned out SO adorable!

-On our last day of school (Friday) we made snowflakes for the students at Sandy Hook Elementary, to help them decorate their new school building after the break. This was a nice tangible way to "do" something after the tragedies in Connecticut. Here is the article I originally read about the project; you may have seen a post on Facebook about it, too. I am going to have my extended family make more snowflakes over Christmas to add to our class' and then send them on their way. Here are some of my students' snowflakes:
(Yes, many were staff-assisted - we are still working on our cutting skills. All the glitter decor was independent student work, though!)

This afternoon I'm heading off to my parents' for Christmas. Before I do, though, I'm already thinking about school starting up again and some of the fun winter projects we'll be doing in our classroom. The Mitten by Jan Brett is one of my favorite winter stories to share in the classroom. Last night I just finished a bundle of math and literacy activities to go with this great book!
Click the image to check it out on TPT...If you purchase it (or any of my other products) between now and January 14, all my proceeds will go to the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A very merry Christmas to all of you! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teachers Supporting Teachers

Like for many of you, it felt different going back to school today. I had to take a half day for personal reasons on Friday, and found out about the Sandy Hook tragedy on the radio as I was driving away from school around noon. I am not exaggerating when I say it took all my willpower to not turn the car around and go back to school to see my kids. I had been rushing to get everything set so I could leave on time...did I smile at each one of them before I left? Did I address each one by name as I said goodbye? Did I remind my student who was having major behavior issues that day that Monday we would start fresh and that I still love him even when we're having a tough day?

I have never thought a horror like this could happen at my school. We are an all-special ed school, servicing the most severely cognitively and physically impaired students in the county. The possibility of one of our students being physically or cognitively able to commit a massacre the likes of Columbine, etc. has always been slim to none. And Sandy Hook has taken this possibility and turned it on its head. A person only remotely connected to this school entered the building and killed these innocent children and teachers. For the first time, I am very realistically aware: it could happen here. And that is terrifying. My students, though they are teens and pre-teens, are just as - if not more - vulnerable and unable to protect themselves as those precious kindergartners were.

We have lockdown drills at our school. I make them into a game for my students - kind of like the "quiet game." We have to be very quiet. We have to keep the lights off. We have to stay away from the windows. Who can do that for me? Let's see how quiet we all can be! Who can be the quietest?  I have never seriously entertained the possibility of needing to put the drills into practice. Now, I do.

I hope I would be as courageous and heroic as the Sandy Hook teachers. I hope I would hide my kids well. Barricade them in. Protect them. Lie for them. Hold them if they were scared, encourage them to be quiet. Ask them to show me their smiles. I think we can all only hope to respond just as well as they did. They are heroes, all of them, every single one. My heart breaks, many times over. And I am also so fiercely proud to be a teacher right now, to call these heroes colleagues.

Even driving home on Friday, hearing the news for the first time, I wanted to do something. That's a normal response to tragedy, I think. My blog roll was filled with hearts yesterday as we all observed the day of silence. I wore green for Sandy Hook today. And now, I'm so glad to be able to respond in a more tangible way, thanks to Teachers Supporting Teachers hosted by Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten.

From today until January 14 (one month past the shootings), all proceeds from my TPT store will go to Sandy Hook Elementary. I am linking up with Little Miss Glamour and joining her fundraising campaign. If you have anything from my store on your wishlist, now is a great time to buy - not only will you get that product you've been eyeing, but your money will go to the students and teachers at Sandy Hook.

-If you are looking to buy, click the "Teachers Supporting Teachers" banner above to shop at all the participating stores who are donating all or portions of their proceeds to Sandy Hook.
-If you are a TPT or TN seller, consider donating proceeds until January 14 to Sandy Hook, and make sure you link up @ Little Miss Glamour's post via the banner above.

Friday, December 14, 2012


My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Newton, Connecticut and especially those at Sandy Hook Elementary School. What heartbreaking, tragic news...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December Currently and a freebie

December already...I'm linking up with Farley's December Currently (better late than never, huh?), and also hoping I'll be blogging a bit more regularly this month!

Loving - I'm doing Fatmumslim's Photo a Day challenge this month, and I'm loving it! Taking a photo each day for the prompts is fun, and looking through others' photos is even more fun!

Thinking - My sister-in-law's brother is going to finish my basement for me this winter! I'm so excited, since it's going to become a space for lesson planning/creating/laminating/ well as working out. I still need to figure out how I want it to look and function.

RAK - I always think the Salvation Army bell ringers have such a cold job...They are often positioned in doorways/entrances of stores and they are essentially outside whenever a customer enters. Brrr....This weekend I will be doing a little Christmas shopping, and I'm planning on buying hot chocolates for those I see.

Now for the freebie...I picked up this holiday chess set at Walmart for 97 cents earlier this week. Even better than the Dollar Spot! (gasp)
(How it's considered a "chess game" is beyond seems more like checkers to me...)

Anyway, so many things we can do with this...sorting by color, counting, patterning, use for partner game markers, use the included game board for one-to-one correspondence...For my higher math group, I made up a super-simple little "grab and add" activity - we'll put all the pieces in a bag, kids grab out a handful, sort by color, and add the red and green pieces to find the sum. If you got the same set from Walmart, or have some other random red and green manipulatives laying around and want to grab the sorting mat and recording sheet, I uploaded it to scribd here:
Walmart Chess Set

Super simple, little to no setup...Perfect for a quick 'filler' activity or center during our busy holiday season!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover