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It is that crazy time of year. The time of year when you are expected to write report cards and STILL teach and keep kids ENGAGED. Of course it is also the time when my own kids lives and schedules go into high gear as well. Plus the weather is so nice I just want to sit outside with a Wildberry cooler. So, of course I think it is the time to go full on theme (just so I can make 15 trips to the dollar store, Michaels and the library).

This week we are all about "Camp Learnalot". Since we are still in school for the entire month I made some new calendar cards. If you are in school or maybe you are doing a summer school or camp program maybe you can use them too. Click here to pick up a free copy.

 


Here is a look at some of the books I picked up to help engage my little learners in our theme this week:


Tomorrow each student will be greeted at the door by their camp counsellor (me with a whistle and a t-shirt!). They will get a name tag (label) and we will move our desks into "cabins". If you want to make labels just click on the picture to save it and insert it into a label file.



I'll be back later this week to share some more of our activities.






I LOVE teaching about Magic E, cause he is magical (duh) and it is a spelling pattern (CVCE) that students "get". When teaching this pattern students find the words everywhere and can not stop themselves from pointing them out. I also like the connection you can make to CVC words and the reading strategy of flipping the vowel sound.

This year we taught this spelling pattern with the Magic E (not sneaky, super, bossy or silent - MAGIC). But I love that there are so many different fun and engaging ways to introduce the pattern - keeps me looking for new ideas, anchor charts and videos (although I say, I will stick with Magic E, I will not change it up....then I see the cutest anchor chart or activity and I waver).

Part of my commitment to Magic E is that I have props. I have a gorgeous top hot I purchased at a costume store, that's right a costume store, not a dollar store. It is silky and durable. I also have a cheap plastic want, but it is fancier than rolled up paper. This year I added this adorable rabbit. It was on clearance at the drug store after Easter and just looked like it belonged in a magic hat. This rabbit can hold magic e words on a string around its neck or sit on a student magician desk when they are spotting loads of magic e words.


My students also become magicians. They make magic wands out of wooden craft sticks and magic e clip art. They also get capes (plastic tablecloth cut in sections). The cape gets a giant letter e taped to it. Once students have their wands and capes we stand and I, as head magician, recite the magic e words they need to repeat to become magicians. It is a mix of magic words and magic e words. Like this:

Alkazam, al a ka bam I am a magic e magician. I turn can to cane and pin to pine. I switch hop to hope and tim to time. Abracadabra, al a shazam when I see a short vowel I make it scram.


 Next (well after we have gone through a few lesson slides and watched a video or two) students walk around the classroom and collect magic e picture cards. I make multiple copies of the cards. They record the word, bring it over to me (the head magician!) to check their magic e magic skills. If the word is correct they get the word card taped to their cape.
I post this anchor chart in the classroom for us to remember our beginning lessons.
 I also print this poster (I just print on multiple pages and cut and paste but it could be professionally printed to use year after year). When we are doing independent or shared reading we record magic e words we find on sticky notes and place on the poster.

There are a number of cute Magic/Sneaky/Bossy/Silent E videos on youtube (this playlist has quite a few good ones) but our hands down favourite is this one by The Bazillions...




If you are looking for a few interactive activities, posters or worksheets to help you teach about the magnificent magic e you can check out the resources I use by clicking here.





Do you have any tips or tricks for teaching with Magic E? What do you call it?






Mo Willems is one of my all-time favourite authors. That's right, I am not even going to qualify that with a "children's author". I love the characters, the illustrations, the humour but most of all I love that every student I have ever introduced to his books has fallen in love with them, clamoured to read them and laughed out loud!!

This year we did some of my favourite activities and  I added a few new things to our Mo Willems author study.

We learned how to draw Pigeon, Duckling, Piggie and Gerald. There are soooo many videos and resources online (click on the characters to go to the resource I use). They are simple and the students feel like super illustrators We use our talents to create "Keith Harring" inspired art using motion lines.



This year when we were writing our persuasive arguments for or against letting Pigeon drive the bus we made ourselves into bus drivers (so we had a deeper understanding of the issues of course!). We used a police officer hat template with a bus driver emblem (used this freebie  - modified to bus driver!!). We also made official badges for each bus driver.....by inserting this picture onto labels and writing their names (feel free to click and save a copy of the picture to do the same).


At the end of the unit we had a "Hot Dog Party"!!


Our cafe was like all the best restaurants and had paper you could draw on covering the tables. We used this paper to draw and write about our favourite books.

Then we used our cafe menu to place orders. Students found their total then represented the amount using class coins. At lunch their orders were filled!!

After lunch we read "Should I Share My Ice Cream?" then students had to try and persuade me to share my ice cream. Click here for a copy of the writing template.


Throughout our unit we solved math problems using the incredible characters in Mo Willems' books. We started the unit by working on some problems together. Then I made each student a "Math with Mo" book. Some of the problems were open ended, you know the ones that use that word "could", the word some students dread because it means there is more than one answer and other students love because it means were are going to get to prove our thinking! But every problem had instant engagement since we love, love, love these characters. Here a few problems we worked out....




If you want to add some math to your Mo Willems author study you can check out the resource here. There are 30 problems, they come in a colour version to project and 2 black and white options (full and half page) to print for students. The resource also includes our Pigeon Cafe menu and an Ice Cream Shoppe menu for an end of the unit celebration!


I would love to hear what you do during a Mo Willems author study!!





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.





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