Santa Key

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Little memories and traditions for your kids can make a big imprint on their hearts.

Welcome to another edition of...

During the holidays as I was growing up we did several things that stuck out in my mind as a kid and most of them I've carried on as traditions with my own kids. 

We took turns putting the angel on top of the tree.  I have 3 big brothers and we had an ancient, falling apart, sweet angel that topped it.  I loved getting on my big brothers or dad's shoulders to put it up.  My mom would write the year and the name on the outside of the box so when we took the decorations out we knew whose turn it was to put the angel up.  I wanted it to be my turn every year as you can imagine.   She did the same with the nativity or creche set.  We always knew whose turn it was for that as well and when it was my turn I very carefully placed the animals, wise men, baby Jesus etc. just how I imagined it looked thousands of years ago.

One tradition that my mom brought into my family as a young mother of 2 myself was the Santa Key.  We have always lived in a house since having kids and they had chimneys - but my mom saw the key and thought it would be so cute to give to my kids.  She told them that if the toy bag was too big Santa could just use the key and go in our front door.  My kids enjoyed finding a place to hang the key that Santa could easily find.  

Traditions are special memories that can be recreated from families passing them down to generations.  Looking at Christmas lights of course and singing Christmas carols have been favorites too.

As a teacher I thought how special it would be to have my students make a Santa key that they could use every year and always remember when they made it.  So, this idea came to mind and I knew it needed a special poem to go with it which I wrote myself.  Even if your student lives in a house and Santa can slide down the chimney it can still come in handy.  If their family uses the fireplace or as mentioned previously if Santa's toy sack is too big...well the Santa key will come to the rescue.  If you want to make your very own Santa key with your child or your students - you can grab it here and watch the magic as they smile proudly at their finished creation and hang it ever so carefully in the perfect spot.  Grab it here!

Make a Santa Key with your child or students and help to create a fun tradition in their home.


Taking the time to teach social skills in the classroom

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We have A LOT to teach...I get it.  I mean there are days I just put an arrow in my lesson plan book to the following day for a skill I just didn't get to...can I hear an amen?!?  
One thing that I will not neglect though is basic social skills.  That will never go out the door for me.

teaching social skills to kids

This has been bothering me for a while and I'm glad to tackle it today on my newest edition of...

Social skills ~ I have heard some teachers talking in the lounge complaining that kids don't have social skills but yet I rarely hear solutions.  I'm a big - if you are going to complain about it, you should also either be open to solutions or have one in mind to at least talk about with someone.  I've heard teachers complaining and blaming the parents for the student's lack of social skills, I've heard them complain and blame technology (I've done both by the way).  I've been teaching for 23 years so I can tell you that I've seen LOTS of changes over the years.  When I first taught we didn't have cell phones or ipads, or mini gaming systems.  I am definitely a tech immigrant and I've seen some effects of technology that I truly don't like at all.
So back to social skills and how important I think they are...if you follow me you know how big I am on classroom community.  I see my classroom as a 'family' and do my very best to make my room a loving, risk free, caring, safe place for kids to come each day.  Mutual respect and no put downs are extremely important to me.  I talk a lot about how we are all talented in some way and good at different things.  There are several ways that I try to build classroom community and social skills among my students.


I greet each child at the door and smile, hug or 'knuckle' them as they come in.  This lets them know I'm happy to see them and it gives them a chance to look me in the eye and greet me in the same way.  No joke when my kids were little, I had a babysitter walk out the door with her HAND OUT to take the money while she was looking at her phone.  I was horrified and never asked her back.  Seriously!?!?!  That lack of respect really bothered me as a mom and it does as a teacher as well.

morning greetings in the classroom


When kids are involved in a conflict, I walk them through the steps to figure it out.  I teach third grade and they should probably already have a sense of this by now, but many don't.  I usually pull the kids aside and talk quietly to them.  I tell them to tell the other person how they feel and say, "look them in the eye as you say it."  If they don't I tell them to do it again...uncomfortable maybe a bit.  However, I think teaching kids to look people in the eye is very important.  ALSO don't even get me started on how I feel technology has RUINED this for kids.  When I started teaching like I said earlier there weren't phones, etc and kids actually asked kids to play by looking at their FACE.


Class meetings are another great way to build community.  Often when kids ( younger ones mostly ) have something on their mind they will have a difficult time concentrating anyway on school work.  Class meetings allow a quick share among students to do just that.  Also it encourages listening skills and listening to listen and not just to talk again.  There are a variety of resources on the web to help you out with this if you want more information.


Unfortunately one of the down falls of technology is the want it now, instant gratification, never bored syndrome kids have nowadays.  This also includes the #alwayslookingdownatyourdevice problem ~  I legit should make that a hashtag cuz that is #reallife peeps!
Kids NEED to be bored parents...PLEASE let your kids be bored.  As a young mom I loved watching my toddler turn a box into a spaceship or train.  I enjoyed watching my son create and recreate new tracks for his Thomas and friends mini trains.  I saw them pick up books again and again just to look at the pictures and 'read a story' in their mind to their stuffed animals.  These things make me sad because I don't see enough young parents doing this anymore.  I see 2 year olds on their devices at dinner and parents on theirs or talking to each other but not engaging with the toddler.  For those young parents that aren't doing this I applaud you, I get it that it's a different time BUT that doesn't mean you have to feed into it.  Kids still want boundaries, still need boundaries and still desire expectations placed on them
I make it a very big deal in my room to be respectful and I let them know they have to WAIT!  Wait for directions, wait in line patiently, wait for me to finish what I'm saying and look at me the entire time I'm talking.  These are skills that are extremely important to me.  In fact, this skill is so lacking in my room that I had to make up a QUESTIONS behavioral sign.  Basically, because my students are so impatient they blurt out questions before I'm done giving instructions, they ask questions AFTER I've given instructions, they ask redundant questions that they already know but are too lazy to remember.  It's unfortunate and I love them dearly but these are skills that a boss isn't going to want to deal with when they are adults.

behavior management tip for the classroom

I was so tired of all the questions that I made this up last week.  I told the students if someone asked me an inappropriate question  for instance ( one that I already explained, or where to turn something in ( seriously?!? ) It's November folks. ) you get it, I take down a letter.  The first day I only took down 2 letters but they were both within 5 minutes of walking into class.  It was a great visual for the kids to see how many questions they ask.  I have kids raise their hands and then pull their hand down and say never mind because they either looked around the room for the answer, or just realized how they could solve that problem on their own.  For instance, it's not okay to ask what are we doing next in my room, I post a schedule every single day.  The answer is right in front of them.


Manners 101...manners are a big deal too.  We say please, thank you, bless you , etc. in my class.  We say I'm sorry and we help each other.  Part of social skills is basic manners and I want my students to come out as better human beings than when they arrived.  Some teachers think it should be left to the parents but I disagree...again, yes we have a lot to teach but you can fit in what's really important to you.

I love this because it's so true in all aspects of life.  How are you teaching these skills or reinforcing what you want to see in your classroom?  I'd love to have a discussion below in the comments.  Just like with growth  mindset, we can 'retrain' the brain to do these things that kids did more freely before technology came into their lives.  Just something to think always ~ ~ ~
Happy Teaching! 


5 ways to use paint chips in the classroom

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Welcome to another edition of...

So it's a short week and I didn't even realize it until Monday ...seriously?!?! SMH Usually stuff like this doesn't get by me LOL but trust me I'm in need of a day off so I'm happy to embrace a short week.  I wanted to share some easy paint chip ideas that you can use in your classroom.

The first one is a Christmas cute would it be to attach these cute trees to a paper bag gift from your students to their parents!?!  

Having these on hand for early finishers or centers is a great option for kids too!  Use them for words of meaning or fact families - they are the perfect size for little hands for ELA or math.


This one is probably my favorite...those 3 windowed paint chips are perfect for this....they chose the correct 'operation' for the three numbers given.  I can't wait to use this in a math center.

The last way to use paint chips in the classroom is for word work...this window is perfect for word family practice with your reluctant readers.

Well guys ~ I'm exhausted, #teachertruth I just want
my bed right now.  Enjoy the rest of your week and thanks for tuning always
Happy teaching! xoxo,