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A Few of My Favorite Things

I'm teaming up with some of my bloggy friends again!
Last year we blogged about our favorite non-school related things, this year we have decided that we will share with you some of our favorite school things!
So here we go:

SpellingCity is my absolute favorite website and app for so many reasons!
  1. Effective & the kids LOVE it!
  2. May be used on the web or as an app
  3. Paperless practice
  4. Paperless Testing with instant results!
  5. Differentiation Potential:
  • You can create individual spelling lists for different students
  • You are able to assign different activities to different students
Be sure to check out SpellingCity.

I love tubs and file folders for organizing my teaching resources.  

I tried the binders - for years I struggled with those binders!   (grr!)
Once something came out of a binder, it was probably never going to find its way back again.
So I went back to file folders - but not tucked away in a drawer - in a tub.  
Easy to find!
Easy to refile!
Here are my paragraph resources - all organized and ready at my fingertips!
No more impromptu writing opportunities missed because I didn't have the resources!

Our all-time favorite Christmas Tradition is making gingerbread cookies with the grandkids!
It looks like they love it too!
We have used the same recipe for years.
Just click on the picture below if you would like the recipe.

Come and visit my other teacher friends' blogs for their favorite websites, organization tips and much more!


'Tis the Season of Giving

This is the perfect time to launch the Season of Giving in our classrooms and homes.
We want to make this a season 
of GIVING - not 'grabbing'.  
Here is a plan to help our students look beyond what the media is telling them they need to be happy -  
to look beyond themselves - 
beyond these safe borders - 
warm homes - 
full plates - 
full closets - 
full toy chests - 
~ beyond wanting - to seeing others ~
their needs
their poverty
their hunger
their hope for safety
their need for our help

First, set the stage with a story.
This is a precious story of a little girl's life that was changed because someone far away cared and gave.

Next, discuss with your kids how their lives are different than Beatrice,
and how they are similar.
A Venn diagram is perfect for collecting their ideas.

The goal of this activity is to develop empathy for people living in far away places that have great needs in their lives.  
Once the needs are seen, the kids usually want to do something to help.

Here are 3 great places to partner with to give to the less fortunate.

I have used World Vision in the past.  I call them in November and ask them to send me a dozen catalogs.  I partnered the students up and they looked through the catalogs together, marking with a Sharpie the gifts they would like to give.
It was such a joy to see them so concerned with the needs and excited to be able to help!
We brainstormed how we could help - how we could earn money to purchase some of these items.
Kids come up with some great ideas!

I had a parent letter prepared to send home to the parents, explaining what we were doing and encouraging them to find ways for their kids to earn money - not just get it from mom and dad.  I also let the kids 'check out' the catalogs and take them home.  Most families become involved when they see those pictures!  The kids bring the catalogs back, so after we have collected all our 'hard earned' money, we can go through them again.  I kept them on the library table and many would read them during silent reading time.
I just put a Christmas can on my desk, and we would put our money in.  On the last day before Christmas break, we count the money!  This is our party activity - we do not do gift exchange - we give to those in need.
The first year I did this, I thought their might be a little grumbling - was I wrong!  They were super joyous!  on a much deeper level than any party I had ever had at school!

This turned out to be a great math opportunity.  Each table counted part of our 'stash', then the table captains wrote the totals on the white board- then we had adding with regrouping - and even a little mention of that decimal point needing to be lined up ;).

Now, we know what the budget is, so we partner up and go through the catalogs one more time.

1)  Find 1-3 things to give that did not go over our budget.
2)  Cut the items out of catalog.
3)  Prepare to share why you think those things are important
(I have had some passionate and persuasive second graders!)

You can see some of the choice on the magnet board.  Needless to say, there were more suggestions than we had money for.  But as we looked at all the pictures we saw there were similar categories:
Animals (a favorite)
Fresh water

This is such a transforming project!
The students learn such empathy for others.
They become givers - not 'grabbers'.
and they help transform someone's life in a distant place on this planet - like Beatrice.

Do you like to give gifts to your students?  
 My favorite gift to give is a goat!  
That's right... a goat!
and my kids were not disappointed that they didn't get a bag of stuff - they were totally delighted that their gift was to a little 'Beatrice' whose life would be made better by that little goat-
because their hearts had grown in empathy!

I have a Season of Giving Pinterest board with more links if you want more ideas for your 'Season of Giving'.

What will you be doing in your classroom to help make it a 'Season of Giving'?