Classroom Management for After The Break

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Hey y'all. The countdown to vacation is on! As we're getting ready to head out for winter break, it's time to start prepping things for when we get back.

Each January, we review our classroom behavior expectations so we can start off the second semester right, and with the whole class on the same page.


We use this little book to write out and illustrate what the proper behavior looks like, feels like, and sounds like in our classroom. 


We can review these expectations at any time and each students' book stays in the classroom…just in case we need reminders.


We go over expectations for each of the situations we find ourselves in during the school day. There's even a blank page at the end of the book for any special situations specific to a particular school.


I've used this little booklet with kids from kindergarten to third grade and they've all enjoyed showing what they know by filling in the expectations in their own words. The kids are amazingly thorough, too! You can pick up your own copy of this little tool here.

How do you review behavior expectations in your classroom? If you have any exciting rituals, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderfully smooth start to the spring semester.

Stay sweet,

Science Notebook FREEBIE!

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Hey y'all! I know you are just as excited about STEAM centers as I am! The kids are learning, they are gaining independence, they are following directions, and you are able to scaffold all of your little learners.

What would make it any better? TABS!


Teach organization skills and refer back to different units with ease by using these FREE tab dividers for each unit.


Make it even easier to locate units by printing each one on different colored card stock. Telling them to turn to "the green plants tab" is much easier than having them find the unit on their own.

You can grab this freebie by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more science resources coming soon!

Stay sweet,

The Holiday Gift Guide for Your Students

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Happy Holidays! Last week I shared a gift guide for teachers, showcasing what teachers really want for Christmas. That crayon wreath on Pinterest is pretty cute, but teachers like other things, too. If you missed it, you can catch it here.

This week, I'm sharing a gift guide for students from their teachers. Many of the ideas below are inexpensive or even free. Most are experiences rather than things. During the holiday season, people tend to lose track of the reason for giving—to show someone you care—and get caught up in the "stuff" of holidays—presents, presents, presents.

Don't worry. Many of your students will get plenty of candy, fidget spinners, and video games this season. Show them you care and love them in other ways (besides feeding into the fidget spinner craze).


1. Books


Scholastic has a fantastic selection of books for your students. Many are only $1-2 and there are options for all reading levels and interests. When I taught 3rd grade last year, I picked out books for each one of my students based on their interests. This year, my 2nd grade class loves the Old Lady Who Swallowed a… books so much that I bought them each their own copy of There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow. Simple, easy, and, if you have enough points, pretty cheap (or free!).


2. Read-ins 



Fun days full of pajamas, slippers, feel-good books, and a roaring (youtube) fireplace can be and excellent way to show your students how much they are loved. Nothing says "you're special" like a feel good story.


3. Create classroom decorations together


During your holidays around the world unit, you could easily have each student create an ornament from each place and hang it in the room. It doesn't have to be on a tree. Hang it from the ceiling and make the room look like a holiday wonderland. Or create a display for each of the different cultures. Not sure how to begin? Ask your students. They're FULL of great ideas.

Want to take them back in time? Teach them how to string popcorn and hang it around the room. Just be sure to warn them about the pokey end of the sewing needle.

Just before winter break, have them help you un-decorate the room and send ornaments home with them to hang on their own trees.


4. Enjoy the first snowfall


If snow doesn't cancel school where you live, have a game plan ready for the first snow fall. Read a book about snow. Make snowflakes and hang them around the room. Have a "snowball fight" by writing questions on paper, crumpling them up into a ball, throwing them at each other, then opening them up and answering them. No snow where you live? Make your own by mixing flour and baby oil. The room will smell amazing and your students will love the "moon sand" like effect.


5. Have a hot chocolate day


Spend the day with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. Need to warm up the water? Bring in a coffee pot and pour the hot water and chocolate mix in the cups. No microwave or stove needed. Play games with a chocolate or wintery theme. Make marshmallow shooters to get the marshmallows in the cup (without the hot chocolate in them!).


6. Share words of encouragement


I am sure you already tell your students how amazing they are. But taking the time to write it down and giving each student a card telling them how special they are is an incredible gift. Younger students may or may not really appreciate this gesture, but your older students will. And they'll remember you forever for it, too.


7. Teach them how to give to others


One of the best gifts you can give a child is to teach them how to give themselves. In our classroom, we do the Twelve Days of Giving, right up to winter break. Everyday the kids are excited to see how they can give to others that day. It's an exciting, humbling, and empowering lesson for students of all ages to learn how they can be a part of the giving, and not just the receiving. A valuable lesson to learn at any age.

I hope you found some valuable ways to show your students you care about them. Children need so much more than toys and junk food this time of year. Teaching them that there are other ways to show love and how they can do it as well is a wonderful gift to give them.

Have a wonderful holiday and stay sweet.

The REAL Teacher Gift Guide

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Happy Holidays! We are officially in the gift buying zone. With all the hustle and bustle, please remember to think of your child's teacher. He or she works constantly to provide an education for your child. While teachers don't expect to get anything from their students for the holidays, it is a nice gesture. 

Just as education has changed over the years, so have teachers. Our styles have moved away from the scenic sweater vests and jumpers from the 80's to a more trendy look and feel. With all the new trends in education, our personal preferences have changed as well. So to get your child's teacher something they really would love to have, keep on reading.

The ideas in this post are a guide for gift giving. Individual preferences will vary. The point of this post is not to promote specific brands or products, but to provide ways for showing appreciation. It is the spirit of the gift that counts, not the actual brand or product. 

1. Rae Dunn coffe mugs


Most teachers have excessive amounts of coffee mugs, many of which we politely thank the giver for then shove in the back of the cabinet. If you really want to give your child's teacher a coffee mug, get a Rae Dunn one.


2. Flair Pens

Teachers love pens. We can never have too many pens or too many color choices. They are cheap, pretty, and always a hit. Go for the Flair pens!


3. A Manicure or Pedicure


Teachers work hard. Sometimes we like to be pampered. I, myself, am not one to pay for manicures or pedicures for me because I usually end up spending my money on my own children and supplies for the children in my classroom. I know I am not alone in this and many teachers just want an excuse to pamper themselves. On the same lines, a spa treatment isn't a bad option either.


4. Bath and Body Works 


Anything that smells like home or from the Aromatherapy line is a great choice. Teachers are stressed. And after a long, busy day, a little comfort and joy goes a long way.


5. Alex and Ani, Nickel and Suede, or any other jewelry to let her know she's special



Teachers give so much of themselves. Let her know she's special by sending her a little love that's just for her. Alex and Ani has many bracelet and necklace options for all kinds of personalities. Nickel and Suede has amazing earrings and bracelets that are inexpensive but sophisticated.

And for male and female teachers…

6. Gift cards


Because, let's face it, teachers need caffeine. You can't go wrong with a Starbucks gift card. Even if he or she isn't a coffee drinker, they can find something they like at Starbucks.

Gamestop, Chili's, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon, Chick-fil-a, Target, Walmart, grocery stores, local eateries or shops…teachers never balk at gift cards to their favorite places. Even the smallest gestures are very much appreciated.

I hope you gained some ideas for you child's teacher. Save yourself time and stress and forget the crayon wreath from Pinterest. Use these ideas to really make your child's teacher feel special. She or he will really thank you for it.

Have a sweet holiday.

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Winter STEAM Centers

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Hey y'all! I don't know about you, but my students are LOVING science centers. They get to be independent and I have almost NO students off task during stations. It's a teacher's dream.

I know many school districts don't allow holiday celebrations in December, so I put together a little non-holiday winter fun. This can also be used in January when we head back to school after winter break.

We start off on Monday making winter scene artwork. Tuesday through Thursday, students go to different centers to explore all things winter.


Students build an igloo out of marshmallows and read all about winter.


They learn about opacity by making a sun catcher and symmetry by making a snowflake.



They also learn about keeping warm in winter by examining the effects of warm clothing like mittens and animals' blubber (not pictured).


On Friday, we come together for a whole class science experiment on the effects of different substances in melting ice. Which will melt it the quickest, salt, sugar, or baking soda?


For more information, you can check out the whole unit here. Thank you for stopping by and be sure to follow me for the latest resources and freebies.

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Holiday STEAM Centers (and a FREEBIE)!

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Hey y'all! The countdown to Christmas is ON! I'm so excited. I had my first peppermint mocha of the season not long ago and it was every bit as magical as I remember.

Over here at SSP headquarters, I've been working hard on getting things ready for the holidays. My class is so ready for the Gingerbread, Christmas, and Winter STEAM centers that are coming up.







If you're not sure how science centers could work in your classroom, check out how I set them up in mine here.

One of my favorite experiments this time of year is making Borax crystal ornaments with my students. The beauty of this is that it doesn't have to be just Christmas ornaments. Students can make just about anything with the pipe cleaners, no matter what holiday they do or don't celebrate.

It also works great in January when the snow is falling. Or even in February when you're finally caught up from all the holiday/testing/report card chaos from December and January. The kids love making heart shaped crystals for Valentines.



Grab the FREE instructions and recording sheets here

To get some exclusive freebies in addition to the one above, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I like to share some SWEET freebies with you as often as I can. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy. Stay tuned for more science centers soon and have a wonderful weekend.



Gingerbread STEAM Centers

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Hey y'all! Halloween is officially over and the holiday season has begun! Cue the jingle bells! I love this time of year so much that I put together a little Gingerbread STEAM unit

If you're not familiar with these how science centers are set up, you can check out the original post here

We start off on Monday by reading The Gingerbread Man and finding out which liquid dissolves a gingerbread cookie the fastest.


Tuesday through Thursday, we go to six different science stations. 


Students explore gingerbread with their five senses and measure things in the room using non-standard measurement.


They build a hideout for the gingerbread man, a raft to get him across the river, and a catapult to sail him flying over the river.




On Friday, we make gingerbread play dough and decorate our gingerbread people. 


It's a simple and fun way to keep the kids learning and engaged during the craziness of the holidays. You can check out the whole unit here.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more science units coming soon. Have a wonderful day!


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