So, apparently, my last week before break was sooooo jam packed that I forgot to publish my Five for Friday blog on....FRIDAY!

In the words of Charlie Brown...good grief!

Earlier this week, I blogged about the content packed fun Christmas activities we did, but this little blog is devoted to all of those classroom celebrations for Christmas! :)

1. Parent Gifts
I love these gifts that the first graders make at my new school!  It's my first year for these and they turned out adorably!  One of my teammates got the 6 inch tiles donated from a local tile store so they were very little cost too!

And since one of my sweeties' moms is a first grade teacher at our school, he chose to do a different design to surprise her!

Didn't they wrap up so nicely? (One small group at a time.... *wink, wink*)

2. Cards for Parents
We made cards to go with our gifts this year and I love how fun they turned out.  I've done the Christmas trees before, but I wanted to give my kids a few more options this year.  I cut small strips of scrapbook paper.  I piled them by color on our back counter.  The kids grabbed the colors they needed and went to work.  I had my examples for them to copy, which most did....

But a few went off on their own.  One made a candy cane (which I didn't get a picture of) and another one made this present!

3. First Grade Gifts
So here's the teacher fail moment of the year....

I always get my kiddos the dollar book from Scholastic's December magazine issue as their main Christmas gift.  This year....no dollar book to be found.  And let's face it, my teacher salary can't afford $2.00 books for 25 kiddos every year!

So, I had to get a little crafty.  Since we were finishing our Fables Unit and had been reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas, I decided to make some Grinch-Doh...you know, green play-doh with a little glitter added in.

First of all, I'm in love with how they wrapped up!  We played pass the present {on the word "Grinch"} while reading the story again, and the kids were super excited about their gift!
You can grab the gift tags HERE.

Besides the fact that I *failed* to get my kids a book for Christmas this year, my play-doh gift *failed* too.  Oh, it looked super cute.  But my kids begged to play with it.

And it was messy.

Like super bad messy.

Like the kind of messy where play doh sticks all over 25 kid's hands and they can't wash it off.

And the carpet.  OOOOHHHH, the carpet had play doh all in it!

So, yeah, it was pretty much a bust, but hopefully I can make it up to them at the end of the year! :)

And, actually, looking back on it, it was really a great gift idea...but maybe I'll try buying the play-doh next time and adding the glitter into that to keep it from being so messy!

4. Christmas Phonics
The week before Christmas Break, we took a break from phonics and just did review.  So, I supplemented with some Christmas poems from my Year Long Poetry Pack.  We focused on ordinal number words and quotation marks with this one!
5.  Class Giving Project
I saved the best for last!  I am SUPER proud of my class this year.  As part of our Fables Unit, we read the Giving Tree (read about those activities HERE) and decided on a class service project.  We set a goal of giving 34 cans of food to our local food bank through our school's food drive.  We ended up giving over 75 cans of food--more than double our goal! (The picture was taken before our final cans came in!)



It's the last week before Christmas break.

And it'd be super easy to cash it in this week and print off some Christmas color by number and busy worksheets and call it teaching.

But fluff stuff for the sake of fluff stuff is just not how I roll!  It's a waste of my kids' time, a waste of paper, and just flat out boring to this teacher!

So, we kept plugging away on our fables unit!  One of our last fables of this unit was Town Mouse, Country Mouse.  Even though this story isn't terribly "Christmas-y," I love doing it around Christmas time because it's so easy to talk about wants and needs with this book!

We started off reading the book and retelling the story, just as we did with the other fables.

Then, we reread the story and talked about wants and needs.  We charted what wants and needs mean and then after we read the story, discussed what wants and needs the mice had in the story. (I did not add any of the wants and needs picture cards until later...)

Students worked with partners or alone depending on preference to sort the wants and needs of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

Then, we checked them together (notice the checkmarks and stars on this kiddo's work!) and I added the correct picture cards to our chart.

The next day, we extended this activity by writing about students' own wants and needs for Christmas....

I love activities like this that are Christmas friendly and fun, but still substantial in content!


My kiddos are in love with our fables and economics unit on life lessons right now!  Since each table group is named after a fable from our unit, the kids are on the edge of their seats waiting for us to read *their table's* fable!

The first part of this week, we read The Giving Tree.  Here's a look at all of the economics and life lessons we packed into this 3 day series...

Day 1:
We read The Giving Tree.  We talked about the life lesson and posted it at the table group.

And then my firsties worked in partners to sequence the story with our sequencing cards during Readers' Workshop.

Day 2:
We reread The Giving Tree and focused on whether or not the story was a fable or not.  We used our fable anchor chart to record whether or not we saw the elements...

(You can find this anchor chart template here.)

Then, we talked about the life lesson again and made a list of the things the Giving Tree gave to the boy {apples, branches, trunk} and I reinforced that the giving made him happy.  Then, we talked about the fact that the tree gave things she already had....giving doesn't have to mean buying things.

We brainstormed a list of things we can give that we already have...without spending money...

We chose two of those ideas {because we couldn't agree on just one!!} to work on as a class giving project: cards for a nursing home and participating in our school's canned food drive.  We will be working on cards later this week, but we started collecting cans on Wednesday!

To help my firsties understand how good it feels to give to others in need, we set a class goal for collecting canned foods!

Day 3:
We reread The Giving Tree.  We reviewed our economic terms goods, services, and resources from our Little Red Hen series.  Then, I introduced the terms scarcity and opportunity cost.  We talked about the connections. {When resources are scarce, we have to make choices...which means we have an opportunity cost.}

We charted the scarce resources the tree gave {which we listed on Day 2} and then discussed the choice the boy made with that resource and the opportunity cost he gave up because of his choice...

Finally, during Writers' Workshop, my firsties wrote about whether or not they agreed with the boy's choices and why.

I love love LOVE this story during the Christmas season.  Even though it's not a "Christmassy" story, it's the perfect addition to our Life Lessons Unit during the holidays!  I love how it really brings out the true giving spirit in my firsties...and I'm quite sure they will meet their goal of 34 cans before Christmas Break!

Grab The Giving Tree mini-unit 

or get the full 200+ page Life Lessons Unit with this plus many more fables and activities!


We've been tackling ~FRACTIONS~ the last two weeks in first grade!  I used to dread teaching fractions to 6 year old littles, but thanks to some extra CGI training on fractions...I love it!  

The biggest ah-ha I've learned over the years is that fractions and shapes go together.  They are all under the umbrella of "geometry."  Having math talks about shapes bleeds over into conversations about fractions and vice versa!

We spent the first week talking about the difference between "whole" and "half."  

The first day, I posed a CGI problem...

"Mrs. Shaddock has 1 cookie to give to 2 first graders.  How much cookie can each friend have to get a fair share?"

I love starting with this problem because it sets kids up for a problem....what are they going to call that part of the cookie?  In my experience, most firsties can tell, show or act out the fact that it's a half of a cookie...but not as many know how to label it.   I got a wide variety of answers once again this year...

*1
*1 piece
*1 cookie
*2 cookies
*half

We shared many of these and talked about the fact that if I just say "1" or "1 piece" I don't know how much that is.  When I just say "1" I'm assuming a whole cookie...If I told you I would give you one cookie, but I only gave you one small piece, you would be upset because you assumed I would give you the WHOLE cookie! 

Then, we start our whole/part anchor chart...
Of course, we didn't add the fourths until the second week.  Also, notice the emphasis on this anchor chart on "whole" and "part."  We worked on fraction CGI problems these weeks, but also some part part whole CGI problems and we were able to make some really great connections between these problems and fractions during our share time that made fractions easier to understand!

The next day, we did a few math talks about which shapes were divided in half using the math talk slides from my geometry packet...Then, the next morning, the kids did this sort for morning work (halves/not halves the first week and fourths/not fourths the next week)....

On the last "math skill" day of the week, we played "Pass the Pen," which happens to be the simplest game and one of my first graders' favorites....

Get this:
*Share the paper between your table group and choose a "pen" (or pencil or crayon) to share between your table group.
*One person starts and divides a shape in half/fourth.
*Then, they....wait for it...pass the pen...to the next person at the table who has to divide another shape in half/fourths a different or new way.
*They keep passing the pen until they cannot think of any more new ways.

It's definitely not rocket science, but they love it!  And this game is so good to use in pretty much any subject area!

If a kid doesn't know what to do, they other friends at the table can help him/her and tell her what to do, but can't do it for him....

We did one round of the squares and then shared pictures and talked about if they were halves/fourths and why or why not.  We talked a lot about being precise and how that affects the partitioning.  And for whatever reason, squiggly lines were quite popular this year, so we had to talk about that too!

Once we discussed the squares they flipped their paper to the other side and played the same game with circles.

At the end of the activity, I had them pass the pen to assess the squares together and then self-assess the circles as a group.  Love these smiley face grades! :)

Fractions came after all of our 2D and 3D shape exploration in geometry, and our next step will be symmetry...but that will probably be after Christmas break!  We are about to be in full on assessment mode in my world! #keepinitreal

Grab these activities and more in my complete geometry packet!



If you are just catching up with my Sunday Open House Series, then here are the links for the other posts:
1. Kitchen
2. Curb Appeal & Landscaping
3. Dining Room
4. Fireworks (4th of July)
5. Blueprints
6. Back-To-School Decor
7. Cooper's Bedroom
8. Football Season Decor
9. Fall Decor

It's after Thanksgiving and I can finally decorate for Christmas!  I love decorating for the holidays, but I'm a stickler about waiting until after Thanksgiving!  Here's a tour of most of our new decorations for the season...


Two years ago, I started changing up Christmas...I had a very "glitzy" tree which my dad called a "Dr. Seuss" tree (for good reason).  And I loved it.  Until, I didn't love it anymore and it was just too shiny for me.  So I started going a little more "natural" looking.

Last year, we had Christmas in the apartment so it was much MUCH different!

This year, I pulled out all of my Christmas stuff and still just wanted more of that natural look....so I started selling the rest of my glitz, and this is what we ended up with!

I love the look and think it's a good compromise so far for our farmhouse look!
Ribbon: Walmart, current
Burlap Ribbon: Hobby Lobby, current
Berry picks: Hobby Lobby, 2 years ago
Tree Topper: floral bunches from Hobby Lobby, 2 years ago
Red Snowflake: Walmart, many moons ago

The stick garland was left over from Justin's old tree so his mom gave me that!  I love it!!



I sure hate that my mom bought this sign above my fireplace for her house and ended up unhappy with it.... *wink*

The stockings are from Ballard Designs and we've had those for the 10 years we've been married!

I bought nice garland at Hobby Lobby and added it to some cheap Walmart garland to tie ornaments and ribbon to...added lights and I love this garland!!



Isn't Rudolph the cutest???  This is from my husband's family...his grandfather made it and my mother in law found it stored away and so graciously let us have it this year!  A new bow and he's just adorable!

Cooper's tree is basically the same this year...and I still love it!
 I mod podged fabric on a wooden letter C for the topper and we made yarn ornaments by wrapping glue drenched yarn around a balloon!  They seemed feeble at the time--and still are--but they've lasted 3 Christmases and going so far!

And I'm still in love with the wooden block ornaments we made from vintage blocks! I also love all of his "home made" ornaments on this tree...
 Look at that teeny tiny handprint!

New to the tree this year is the wooden train.  Cooper has been begging for a train to go around his tree so we grabbed this one from his play room.  It's a tight fit, but he loves it and I think it matches perfectly!

This isn't new either, but I love that he found the perfect spot to "hang" this tree this year (in Daddy's office!)  He loves decorating the tree and then stepping back to make sure everything looks right...just like Mommy does!

On to the kitchen!  Here's are table box....

Nothing new bought here...just repurposed some pine floral stems and put some "unused" ornaments and pine cones in the box too!

I wanted to use the same "Merry Christmas" ribbon from my other trees and garland that I got from Walmart, but I ran out!  And late last night when I was finishing, I didn't want to go back to Walmart to get more....so I found some of this ribbon left over from a while back that I used for 4th of July and I think it looks great and still goes for now!


I used the same materials in the lantern and topped it off with a  burlap ribbon!




Love this piece from Hobby Lobby and cute tree for $3 {!!!!!!} at Walmart! And I love how they look on my kitchen  counter!

This candle ring from Hobby Lobby made the perfect "wreath" for above my stove!

And, finally, my favorite new item: the kitchen tree....
So, I have a kitchen tree already that was a 5 foot pencil tree.  And I loved it.  But one day in early November I saw this $30 flocked 6 foot tree at Walmart and I just fell in love.  Like love at first sight.  I knew I had to have it for my farmhouse kitchen.  The tree is decorated very similar (with new ribbon), but it just changes it so much to be on a flocked tree!

Have I mentioned how much I love this new ribbon I found??  It looks perfect with the wooden spoons and gingerbread toppers (from Hobby Lobby many years ago...but I've seen them currently too!)

This year, since the flocked tree was a little bigger, I decided to mix the gingerbread and mint ornaments with some of mine and Justin's old ornaments.  We didn't use all of them, but I think this tree will be the perfect place for some of Cooper's future "hand made" ornaments as well!  I'm loving the mix of all of this!

Check out the sandpaper gingerbread man I made when I was in first grade...circa 1990!  How perfect is he???

You can find the recipe for the yummy smelling gingerbread ornaments HERE

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


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