Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Week Recap

 We made it to Christmas break!!! I cannot believe how fast this year is flying by. It's hard to believe we are already halfway through the year.

Last week was a whirlwind of activities in our classroom. After three days of testing, we ended the week with a little bit of holiday fun! 

I have to start off by saying how much I appreciate the blog world and Pinterest. It was around Thanksgiving last year when I first discovered both and my world was completely expanded by all the wonderful and creative ideas floating around. I appreciate the teachers who are willing to share their ideas with everyone else via the web. I have many people to thank for our holiday activities! 

The Grinch visited our classroom Wednesday afternoon and stirred up some trouble from the very beginning. (Please ignore the drawn-on feet. I couldn't find them, so I had to draw them on!) He mixed up some of our words! The kids had to work to unscramble words that we frequently use. They loved it! Some of those words were really tricky! 

Once the kiddos restored order in our room by figuring out the words, we read the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It doesn't matter how many times they have heard it before, it is always a hit. Of course, now that they are in third grade, we focused on how the Grinch changed and grew as a character. Gotta fit in those character traits! We made a chart with adjectives that described him at the beginning of the story and the end. We discussed the turning point of the story and why the Grinch changed. Thanks to Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for the idea!

The kids then made their own little organizer of how the Grinch changed. On the left side of the paper, they described the Grinch at the beginning of the story, on the right they described him at the end, and at the bottom they wrote a sentence explaining why his heart grew three sizes. The bottom is cut off in the picture below, but the student wrote "The Grinch's heart grew three sizes because he learned that Christmas is not all about gifts and all, but it is about being with your family and friends." Perfect! 


We then talked about how all of us sometimes get in a "grinchy" mood. The kids wrote ideas of how to make a Grinch grin. I got the idea from Deanna Jump's Grinch unit, but I ended up drawing my own face, which is why it looks the way it does! Ha! This is why I am a teacher and not an artist! The kiddos drew their own hats and cut them out. Too cute! 

On Thursday it was all about gingerbread! I LOVE gingerbread stories and I love reading to my kiddos, so gingerbread day is my absolute favorite! 

To begin our day, I introduced the class to Gingy, our gingerbread friend who was visiting our classroom. The kids loved him immediately and he became an exciting conversation starter. 

We started by reading three different versions of gingerbread stories, The Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Cowboy, and The Gingerbread Girl. After reading each version, we filled in a chart that compared the characters, the settings, the refrains, and the endings. I had one large chart on the board and the kids had their own chart to fill in as well. Another thank you to Deanna Jump for this idea! 

After reading all of the stories, we took a restroom break. When we returned, Gingy was gone! He had disappeared and left a clue in his place. He explained that he didn't want to be a treat, so he left! The kids immediately decided we had to go out and search for him. So, we followed the clues he left for us around the school, and we ended up back in the classroom where Gingy had decided he belonged. He had also left us some yummy treats! A big thank you to Jodi at Fun in First for the scavenger hunt clues and to my wonderful instructional coach, Mrs. Carroll, who helped make this wonderful surprise happen!! 

After the kids enjoyed their treats, they interviewed each other to see which of the gingerbread stories was the class favorite. It was no surprise that the wise Gingerbread Girl was the winner! 

To wrap up the day, the kids designed their own ginger person and wrote a descriptive paragraph describing them just in case they decided to run away! 

I had so much fun watching the kids during these activities. It was a nice break from the usual hustle and bustle of hard work and testing! 

Another special element in our classroom this year was our holiday village. My amazing mother collected these beautiful pieces throughout her career as a special education teacher, and when she retired she passed her collection down to me. Together we set up the village after school one day and the kids were so surprised when they walked in and saw it! 

The village is made up of several ceramic buildings that were designed for kids to enjoy. The pieces are a part of Department 56's North Pole Collection and include a Play Doh house, a Barbie house, a Crayola house, and several other pieces with child-like themes. The pieces are beautiful and they all light up. Several have moving parts which the kids were fascinated by! Seeing the expressions on the kids' faces when they saw the village for the first time was priceless! I let them oooh and awww to their heart's content. Thank you, mom, for allowing me to continue this magical tradition with my kiddos! It is sure to be a favorite for years to come! 

Our party on Friday was a huge success. Of course, being the absent-minded person I am, I didn't take a single picture! It was a flurry of ornament-making, gift-giving, and pizza-eating! 

Now to enjoy a nice long break and rejuvenate before the hectic spring semester! 

I hope everyone has a truly relaxing break, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!!!! 

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