Happy Saturday everyone. I hope that everyone that was celebrating Thanksgiving this week had a fabulous time with their family and friends.

I wanted to do a quick update to my post on how I use the Elf Task cards. (check out that post for a free copy of the task cards)

In that post I mentioned that I would be giving my students Elf bucks/money for good behavior and that is the money they would use at the class store to buy a gift for their secret elf pal and for themselves. Here is what the Elf money looks like. Click on the image to pick up a copy if you would like to use it in your classroom too.


I photocopied it onto lovely green paper. Each student will have an envelope in their desk to collect their money. I tell my students to put their initials on their money when they get it just in case there is any mix ups.

That's it a quick little update. Hope you have a great weekend. If you are planning to shop the TpT sale on Monday and Tuesday (using the code cyber for additional savings) you may want to check out my Elves' Workshop activities to go with your secret elf pal tasks and money. Click on the picture to check them out.




I am happy to be linking up with Deidre at A Burst of First for her Monday linky...

I wanted to share with you one of my favourite math activities for December. The last week of school before Christmas break we usually have a class party that involves a hot chocolate bar. To make this activity relate to learning before hand we do some hot chocolate math.

I give my students a problem in which they need to find all the possible combinations of hot chocolate that can be made.

For the first problem I let them figure it out how ever they want. I have them work in pairs and share their ideas with other pairs. Then we come together as a whole group. The focus is on the students  articulating their strategy and for them to prove that they have found all the possible combinations. From this discussion we create an anchor chart highlighting our learning. We focus our anchor chart and discussion on evaluating the strategies and I steer them toward a consensus that organized strategies work best.

Then I introduce them to tree diagrams. I show them how to solve a similar problem using a tree diagram strategy. We work through the problem together. We add tree diagrams to our anchor chart.

Later I give them another similar problem and encourage them to use a strategy from our anchor chart that we agreed was organized and led us to finding all the possible combinations.

Before the party I often have my students use the ingredients from the problem to create their ideal cup of hot chocolate. They do a little writing explaining what they think makes the best hot chocolate.

On our party day they create a great cup of hot chocolate using the ingredients provided at the hot chocolate bar. I use my crock pot to keep the hot chocolate at the perfect temperature instead of burn your tongue hot.

If you would like to check out my hot chocolate math problems you can pick up a free copy at my TpT store.

I am also going to link this up with Charity for her Manic Monday freebie-a-thon :)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Happy Saturday everyone. We woke up this morning to snow! It is definitely motivating me to decorate for Christmas or at least watch Christmas movies!! I am going to take a few minutes to link up with the most motivating teacher I know, Joanne, at Head Over Heels for Teaching for....

I want to share an idea with you that I did with my class last December (I am sure I got this idea from a blog or Pinterest but I can not remember where or which blog - I am sorry - I would happily give credit if I knew who it was!!)  and will be doing again this year (my students have already asked about it and are super excited to start). It is Secret Elf Pals.

Here is what we do:

Day 1 - decorate a lunch bag with a Christmas theme. I put their names on the bags in marker so they are easy for me to see.

Pick a name out of an elf hat (one of those lovely dollar store elf hats I am sure we all own). That is your Secret Elf Pal (I record the names - just in case!). Destroy the slip of paper and keep it a secret!

Day 2 - start on the Secret Elf tasks - draw a picture for your person, make a Christmas card, give them a compliment etc. I do not have them do a task everyday because some days in December we are being Secret Elf Pals to others in our school/community. For example one day we secretly delivered Christmas erasers to a younger class, or we left sharpened pencils on all the desks in a class or but candy canes in the staff mailboxes.

Day before class party - set up class store (dollar store items, gently used items, donated items from parents). Students buy their Secret Elf Pal a gift with money class money. In previous years we were running a classroom economy so they already had class money. This year they will be earning Elf Bucks in December for good behaviour - they use it to buy their pal a gift then they can buy for themselves.

Last day of school/school party - students get their stocking/bag - guess who had their name and they reveal themselves.

I also like to read Junie B Jones Jingle Bells Batman Smells - even though they are too old for Junie they still love this story.

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!

I also made a set of Elf Calendar cards. You can pick those up on my FB page under the Fan Freebie tab. I cut the entire black border off so they fit nicely on my calendar.

Be sure to check out all the motivating ideas being shared on Joanne's blog today.

You may also want to check out this elf persuasive writing unit...

Lastly check out my post at The Organized Classroom today - you may find a little motivation there too!

I can not believe I have been blogging for nearly 1 year! It has been a huge growing experience for me as a person and as a teacher. I am so grateful for all the things I have learned from other blogging teachers and I hope that over the last year I have managed to share some ideas that other teachers have found useful too. I am so thankful for the relationships I have developed and the extended support system I now have in place. Speaking of amazing bloggers,  I got together with a truly great group of blogging friends to say thank you to all of you, who take the time to read our blogs and maybe even leave a comment or two along the way. So here is to you!!


Simply fill in the rafflecopter below and you have a chance to win one of 3 prizes. 
(You can fill in the rafflecopter on any of our blogs, it's all the same one.) 

3 lucky winners will win a $25 gift card to TPT.  

Good luck!  

I am happy to be linking up with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper for her linky...

I am sharing two resources I am using this year for my spelling/word study program. I use Words Their Way to group my students and for many of my word lists and activities but I can not say I use the program 100% of the time or the way it should probably be used. I supplement the program with the two resources I want to share with you today.

At the BTS sale on TpT I purchased Spelling Contracts Throughout the Year by Fourth and Ten.

My students get their words on Monday, record them in their agendas and write them out 3x.
On Tuesday they get their contract. They glue it in along the side of the page where they wrote their words (so that it flaps and they do not waste the paper underneath) and get started on earning points. I set my points at 20 to 25 points so that they can almost complete it during class time if they are working and only need to finish one or two activities at home. I love that there is a version that includes Spelling City because....

I also got a paid membership to Spelling City. I love having my lists online and easy to access. I love the activities that the students can choose from. I love the online tests and I have not even used any of the Vocabulary parts of the site yet!!

Parents are loving both of these programs. I received a lot of positive feedback from parents for both of these programs at Parent-Teacher conferences. Parents love the consistency of the Spelling Contract activities and point system. They told me again and again how their children are totally buying into it. They also love Spelling City and how easy it is to use. Sorry for the short post - but I really do recommend trying these resources, now it is time for me to read what every one else has been trying : )

Check back tomorrow for an exciting new giveaway you won't want to miss!!

It is Sunday and that can mean only one thing, it is time.....to panic since I did not accomplish anything on my to do list yesterday but laundry!! Actually what it means is that it is time to find some amazing mentor texts through Amanda and Stacia's fantastic(ally expensive : )  ) linky....

The book I want to highlight this week is...

1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions by David La Rochelle. I use this book as part of my addition and subtraction unit. This year we are really working hard on knowing what an equation is and working with a wide variety of equations. This book has some great illustrations and the equation is on one page and you have to flip the page to reveal how they got the equation.

This makes for some great inferencing/guessing on the part of the students.

I used this book as an intro to a problem solving lesson where my students had to solve for symbols. They needed to use a guess and check strategy and their addition knowledge to work through these problems.

 This is the first year that my students did not stress out when trying to deal with these symbol equations. This year I am really focusing on providing them with multiple experiences with balancing equations since it has typically been a weak area for us on testing.

I created a unit that will help me address equations throughout the year, through posters, worksheets, activities and models for their notebooks. Click here if you would like to check it out.

Here is a link to the teacher's guide for the book.  This is another activity you could do with the book from School is a Happy Place.

I am so thankful it is the weekend!! Now I just need to motivate myself to make the most of these two days so I do not head back to school with a to-do list a mile long!

I thought I would take a minute to share some ideas for Anti-bullying week (November 18th-November 22nd) just in case there are people out there looking for a few resources/ideas.


Our focus this year will be on motivating our students to take action - so I thought while I was sharing I would link up with my motivating mentor, Joanne, at Head Over Heels for teaching for....

Here is some of our plans.

This first video was a real inspiration for our planning team:

This really hit home for us the idea that when teaching students about the bystander effect we did not need to focus so much on them standing up to the bully in the moment but we could focus on encouraging them to be kind to the students in other ways.

We also loved this graphic focusing on what students will do, it is from Not So Wimpy Book Reviews and inspired by the book The Juice Box Bully...

We will be showing our students this video...

We have put together a PPT showing the students our past messages and what we have done (we have pictures of all of them holding up signs about what Love is Louder than and what they Stand Up For/Against, wearing their pink t-shirts etc.) and then there are slides with the sentences of what they will do and pictures of our students demonstrating the skill. We took the statements from the juice box graphic and added I will to each line. Each student will be challenged to complete a slip of paper with what they will do to make a difference.

Then on Tuesday we are going to gather them together again and let them know we are not convinced that people are taking action. We are going to do a school wide Pass it On activity. We will start with one person giving two people a compliment. When you give some a compliment you give them a sticker to wear. They go to one of the leaders and get two stickers to hand out. We will continue until everyone has a sticker and we will see how long it takes us to pass on a good feeling to everyone and remind students that taking action can be that simple. Students will leave with a new slip of paper that says I did... They need to take action by Friday.

On Thursday classes are challenged to decorate their classroom door incorporating the word ACT and a variety of other words we chose. The inspiration for this activity comes from this picture from
Teaching is Forever.

On Friday students will wear blue and come to an assembly with their slip of paper. Each student will walk down the red carpet holding their slip of paper as we celebrate their action. We will take each students picture with their slip and a school photo. We will turn the photos into a slideshow for our next spirit assembly. I am still trying to figure out a song to go with it - but I have one more week!

I hope some of these ideas motivated you to think about what your school is doing for anti-bullying week. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to collecting anti-bullying resources if you want to check it out for more ideas.

Today I wanted to share our new "Word Nerd" bulletin board with you and I thought it would be a great idea to link up with Erin at I'm Lovin Lit for her linky...

As I mentioned on Sunday we are working on word choice in writing right now. After we worked through our initial text we started working on collecting interesting words and using resources in the classroom to help make our writing more engaging for the reader. We are working on becoming "Word Nerds". When I first tell my students we are going to become word nerds a few of them don't want to be nerds but I talk them into loving the idea.

We each make our own word nerd for our bulletin board. They are based on the Big Eye kid clipart from Scrappin Doodles. See their huge heads that hold their huge brains! And their eyes are so big from reading so many amazing words!

I made really basic templates for these word nerds that you can pick up here if you are interested.

Next I give my students a recording sheet to record any interesting words they come across in their writing. You can pick up a copy here. I used the adorable letters from Megan.

My students select one word that they want to add to the board from their list. I put extra slips in a basket near the board so that they can add to the board whenever they find more words.

It works out great because this board full of awesome words is right next to our Bump it Up board.
 We also are using our synonym rings. I listed the words across a board that they should not be using because they are in their synonym ring and they can find a better more interesting word to replace it.

Lastly just want to say I am in love with the colour posters from Rachel Lamb.

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