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Just popping in for a quick second to share some calendar cards that are perfect for March with the cutest spring animal clipart I have seen!! I may be spending way too much time thinking of ways I can use this clipart cause saying I bought it just cause it's so stinking cute seems like I have a bit of a problem. So, use number one: calendar cards.




Click here  or on the pictures to pick up a copy of these cards. When I cut just inside the black line they fit nicely on my standard calendar.

I also made a new March calendar header, click on the picture to save and insert into your own document to print (if you want, not being bossy over here)

When I figure out more ways to use these cute animals I will be back to share with you!




This is a true life description of what happened in my classroom Friday morning. Students ran into the room with looks of glee and happiness on their faces. They ran from one spot to another noticing some of the changes in the room, new decorations and activities....but they did not stop to admire them for long because they were looking for....the Elf on the Shelf!!!  Only I DO NOT do elf on the shelf, not at home, not at school, not here or there, I do not do it anywhere.

So I had to break their little hearts and explain that we will not have an Elf on the Shelf in our classroom...we will have a "Kind Deer", a deer that helps us to have a "kinde-er" Christmas season (read more about it here). This is very similar to the Kindness Elves (check out this great freebie) many people use but I did not have a cute elf at the ready but I did have a cute reindeer stuffy at my disposal. 

Not having a classroom Elf on the Shelf is a huge load off my plate....but it does not get that little guy out of my life, no no, not at all. From a quick class survey it seems that 80% of my students have an elf at home....but from the stories I hear it feels like 150% of my students have one tricky elf. Already on Friday we spend at least 10 minutes sharing stories about what these crazy elves were up to....and that was just day one. I can not, and I mean I will not be able to listen to these stories every morning with any level of believable attention and enthusiasm. But the little ones, they want to share. Soooo, my solution: you can write all about it!! 

In our writing center, I am putting Elf on the Shelf writing paper that students can use during their free time or during literacy rotations to write all about their elf's adventures. 


If you want a free copy of the writing paper click here.

If you are looking for more elf ideas that do not include having a class elf you can check out this blog post or take a look at these resources:

If you want a copy of the Secret Elf Pal task cards I have made you can click here. Here is a sample of the cards - there are a few blank frames to add your own tasks too!

elf task card freebie



I have also used Elf Money in conjunction with our Elf Tasks and classroom behaviour management. Click on the picture for a copy.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9fzit32oc6z4uqz/elfbucks.pdf


We have also done Elf and Reindeer Applications...






If you want to check out these resources they are in my TPT store along with all of my Christmas products just in case people need something for the last few days.

elf applications


If you need a movie to go with your elf activities I recommend Prep and Landing....


If you are looking for some books I recommend these:



I also made a set of Elf Calendar cards - they can also be used for math activities, picking an elf pal, picking partners etc. You can pick those up here.

elf calendar cards
So if you are like me and are resisting the Elf on the Shelf I hope you found some ideas you can use instead.





I don't know about you, but where I teach there has been a very strong focus on developing a growth mindset in our students (I have a very strong feeling that it is the same for you!)

Yes, there is a lot of buzz around this topic right now...books to read and share, videos to watch and posters to post. I believe (I really do) in the importance of growth mindset, honest I do, but sometimes I wonder if the books and the videos and the posters are having an impact on my students. We all know what it means to have a growth mindset....but when it comes to the actual struggle with a challenging task...well sometimes all that we learned from the books and videos and posters does not come in to play.

Recently, I came across this quote and I thought hmmm....



This quote seemed a little different to me. It seemed to put a little bit more of an emphasis on the student, a little more accountability, more focus on action and could be taught and used daily...not just when faced with challenging tasks but for all tasks.

So, now this is posted in our classroom...and we talk about what it means to be proud, what we need to do in order to be proud of our effort and work. It does not mean it is perfect, or it is the best, or better than anyone else's. It means we gave our very best effort, we tried our hardest, we used classroom tools, we asked for help, we did not give up!

And....it also works to keep me motivated to do my best and to not stop until I am proud AND it reminds me of one of my very favourite MJ songs....








It is easy in this job to lose your mojo now and then (and then again after you've managed to get it back). There are the never ending to-do lists. The racing brain late at night. The feeling that you are not enough (not engaging enough, not in enough control, not letting go of control enough, not Pinteresty enough, not together enough, not on top of the pile of papers enough).

But trust me, you have got mojo and you don't even know and you are enough, in fact you are more than enough, you are amazing. After watching this video I have started to self-affirmations with my class each day...



We listen to this song (but the lyric only version)



then we put our hand over our heart, close our eyes and repeat some positive affirmations:

I'm amazing.
I can work hard.
I am kind.
I am a good friend.
I can do hard things.
I am smart.
I can persevere.
I am important.
I am amazing.
I am amazing.
I am amazing.

Try it, close your eyes and tell yourself that YOU ARE AMAZING!!

To show you that I think you are amazing I am spreading some TPT love. I am giving away 3 $10 Gift Certificates to 3 amazing teachers.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Need a little more affirmation, TPT thinks you are amazing too and they are throwing a sale to spread some more love your way.







I LOVE using videos in math class, I love catchy songs that I catch my kiddos singing all day long (and that I sing at home while doing dishes!). I often use them as an introduction to a concept or as a review before sending my students off to work. BUT a new way I am using them this year is during transitions.

You see I have a few students who struggle to move quickly, or lets be honest, at a speed that does not make me want to pull my hair out with frustration. Nothing seems to work, they just move like molasses UNLESS there is a math video on. Soooo....once we have watched a video for learning, you know as a whole class, with intention and discussion, I use the same videos to motivate my students.

Once we finish one part of math, like daily math journal, and we are coming to the carpet for a number talk or whole group lesson, I throw on a video and my kids MOVE!!! So, super bonus, the kids are learning and moving the speed of real humans!!


Here are some of my current favourites:



The song is contagious, contagious I tell you! Plus we made an anchor chart in our class to match the video upon the request/demand of my students.

We do a lot of work with addition and less with subtraction (I feel) so I was very excited to find this video to keep us focused on both.



The next two are pretty simple but my kids love the silly aspects of them so they still rush so they can sing along (What comes next, I don't know what to do....)





Speaking of shapes, here is link to the Storybot videos for each shape!

Here is a link to the counting videos by Scratch Garden, a great practice and gets my kiddos moving even though we have been watching since the first week of school!

Hopefully one or two of these videos are new to you! I would love to hear about any videos that you are loving for teaching math!


I am solidly in the denial stage of going back to school on Monday. So to help me work through this stage I am using the strategy of avoidance, seems like a sound strategy. So take a minute and avoid whatever it is you need to be doing and look back at my week as I link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching....

http://doodlebugsteaching.blogspot.ca/2015/05/five-for-friday-linky-party-may-8th.html




I am doing it, I made a pledge and I am staying strong!! I have blogged here and here and here!! And hopefully if I keep blogging people will keep reading (or skimming at least!!)



I went to IKEA to buy a shelving unit and picked up these three cuties.....


...for our 3 Little Pig/Fairy Tale/Structures unit in April and May. But they were so cute now and my big yellow bag was so sad with just some tea lights and napkins in it, had to be done.




I have found out there is a use for teenagers, besides sucking money out of our bank account and giving us some great memories, building IKEA furniture. I am at the stage of my life that I am almost too old to be buying furniture that needs an allen key to be put together, but my children, they are just entering their prime IKEA building year and it is my duty to prepare them.











 

We did buy furniture that did not require a key to be put together, it came assembled, from heavy wood!! I switched our décor over to winter from Christmas. I also found these cute little runners at the dollar store, I may have bought one for each season, come on, the dollar store!! So I have real furniture mixed in with the assembled furniture mixed in with décor from the dollar store!








Also as part of my work towards acceptance of the end of the holidays I began to laminate.....




So next week.....I may have real school stuff to share!! Have a great weekend!






So this is a personal edition of WWW (What's Working Wednesday). I wanted to share my experience with weight loss and Weight Watchers over the last 12 months. So, if you were here for teaching ideas, sorry, but if you are thinking about making some healthy changes this year maybe stick around for a little while longer.

Here is a bit of my journey. To start with, I was an adorable (IMO and IMYMOM'SO) baby, but I was chubby.




I was a healthy, SOLID (the WORST word) and at times chubby child.



When I look back at pictures I can say "Wow, you were actually a really good size." I can only say that now. Rarely in my life did I feel like I was a good size. Compared (yes, comparison, the thief of joy) to my friends I was always big.

Here I am before and during:





So last January, Oprah had a series of commercials on for Weight Watchers. I am not a rapid Oprah fan, I do not follow everything she says or have a subscription to her magazine, I watch Super Soul Sunday when I catch it while flipping through channels. BUT something about those commercials spoke to me. There were in the "if not now, then when" vein. She said every thing in your life has been leading to this moment, all your experiences/failures have prepared you for where you are now and now is the time. And....I thought, meh, maybe she is right, maybe now is the time.

So, I joined Weight Watchers (this is NOT an affiliate blog post, no links earn me any money or credit or anything, this is just me sharing). Weight Watchers works on a point system, it is called the Smart Program, I will not go on and on about the program since you can easily read all about it on their website.

Some people may not like the idea of counting points and tracking but when I first started 1 year ago it was just what I needed. It really helped me get a grip on my eating. I learned a lot about portion sizes, how to make better choices, how to indulge in moderation and how to keep going with what works for me. I do not track points daily right now. I like that I can still eat "normal food" - like bread and coffee and bread and coffee and once in a while cheesecake. I have become comfortable with knowing what I can eat and in what proportions. I have more of a mental calculation. I know that if I hit a rough patch that I will need to get back to the serious tracking but right now it is more like knowing and making good choices.

Some months were easy, some days were joy-filled, some hours were tough, some minutes were excruciatingly painful. That being said, since joining Weight Watchers 12 months ago I have lost 68lbs and I have 20 more to go to reach my goal.

Here are some of the things that have been working for me.

#1. The Weight Watchers app


The Weight Watchers app allows you to track points online, get recipes, connect with other members and track fitness points. All good things. But my favourite features are the scanner and the restaurant info. The scanner allows you to scan any food item barcode and get point information - super helpful when grocery shopping I tell you - helps you put items back on the shelf pronto!! Also the information on restaurants helped me make better choices when going out. I also learned that I could have a piece of cheesecake at that restaurant....if I did not want to eat anything else for a day and a half or have that thick ice cream drink but it needed to last me 2 days!! It really opened my eyes to what I had thought were okay choices for years but were really costing me a lot!!

#2. Weight Watchers weigh in/meeting/recipe/tips


I love the weekly weigh-in (even when I hate it). I love that I can only weigh in once a week. I like the concrete record of my success and difficulties. It helps me to reflect and refine. I like hearing from other people, what they are doing, what they are struggling with, what they are eating, what they are not eating...people, who knew, are a wealth of information and inspiration! I like the little pamphlet they give you each week, with tips and recipes and prompts to set goals or just think....

#3. Food Products I Love



Weight Watchers Multigrain with Quinoa bread. I love this bread, it is tasty and it is thin, so you know it is the right portion size. I have 2 slices for breakfast with peanut butter and sliced banana and brown sugar. I am a sugar addict for breakfast, I need to eat sweet, so instead of coffee and donuts picked up on the way to work, I eat this and I LOVE it. My youngest daughter and my lean friend also love this bread, like they eat it just because they like it, not for weight loss/management.


These tasty little rolls are a perfect choice for lunch. I enjoy them with turkey, swiss cheese and veggies or with tuna cheddar and tomato. Again they are the perfect size.

Below are my go to sweet snacks, as well as needing to start the day with some sweet, I find a need a little pick me up during the work day. I combine the snack with some fresh veggies or fruit but these hit the spot. The only problem, they are so yummy my family eats them constantly and we run out all the time!





#4. Skinnytaste


I am not a fabulous cook and I often find recipe books daunting. But through this journey I have found a fabulous resource. It is all things Skinnytaste!! I love her recipes, they are simple and delicious and healthy and good for the whole family and can be done in the slow cooker or quickly put together and she gives you serving sizes and Smart Points and the ingredients are not crazy and hard to find and... well that is enough gushing for now. Oh no wait, I love how she shares so much for free on her FB page. Our first and favourite recipe is Santa Fe Chicken.

While she shares sooooo much on her social media sites I did purchase her cookbooks and I like having a hard copy, I just do, so if you like things old school some times like I do, I recommend her books.




#5. Trackingisthenewblack


Since I am on social media now and then (okay more that I should be) I like to have a few inspirational posts pop up to keep me motivated and inspired. On Instagram I follow Weight Watchers and Trackingisthenewblack (and Oprah!) and find them to be like a little support group.

#6. Walking


Yes, I re-discovered this revolutionary concept....walking!! Ha! Seriously, what I have learned is that weight loss is 80% what you eat and only 20% what you do....but moving more is good for body and soul. I feel better after I have been walking, walking is easier the more weight I lose, the more I walk the easier it is, the better I feel and so on and so on. Two things that have worked for me: finding an indoor track, this takes away the excuse of weather and something that was shared in a meeting, there is no bad weather for walking, just inappropriate clothing. Again taking the excuse of weather out of the occasion - winter gear, rain gear etc. make walking doable!!

#7 Just Dance


Again, an earth shattering activity that I discovered.....or every has heard of and uses already! I do not do the real Just Dance - that would mean going into the basement, the realm of my teenage daughters, the laundry room, the storage room and a bunny rabbit....not unless I have to, thank you very much. I do it the civilized way. Using the laptop hooked up to the t.v. in our living room and youtube. My daughters and I have made a playlist of multiplayer videos so we can all dance like crazy people together. This is the perfect exercise for the days you do not want to venture out of the house and to make memories with people (looking like a fool does that without fail!). I also have a playlist of videos if it is just me.....or if my daughters need a good laugh!!

Here are a few of our favourites (one from each of us!):









As I said, I still have 20 lbs to go (according to the BMI) and I hope to get there by the end of June (if not before, but I am giving myself to the end of June). I know this is a journey and all about the choices I make each day but I do feel stronger - not physically but mentally - more able to make the choices that are best for my health and happiness. I have learned a lot in the last 12 months and hope that sharing my experiences here with you will maybe give you the support you need to make the changes you need to make in your own life. I am not an expert by any means but if you have any questions or want to share about your journey I would love to hear from you!!


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