Celebrating New Year's (or Noon Year's) in the Classroom

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Happy New Year, y'all! Time to start fresh, set new goals, and get ready to finish the school year strong! I love to make a big deal about goal setting in January because it's the perfect time to review self-monitoring and make adjustments as needed. 

In this new New Year's unit, we'll be setting goals and resolutions for the coming year and having our own little "noon year's" celebration in the classroom. It's a great way to get kids back in the school mindset. 

You can spread this unit out over the week or do it all on the first day (or Friday) back. We'll be using it over three days so we have enough time to do the things well.

On Monday, we read Squirrel's New Year's Resolution (affiliate link) and make our own resolutions for the year. 

For stations, we make our goal setting banner that we hang up in the classroom. We'll also make a noise maker out of paper bowls and dry beans, a cootie catcher, a countdown "ball," and a hat. The book that's included teaches students all about different traditions people use to celebrate the new year.

At noon, we'll count down to the "noon year" and have our own little celebration. It's always a favorite in our classroom.

And on Friday (or the last day), we'll make New Year's slime (which my kiddos have been begging for all year) and finish off our celebration.

I hope you got some great new ideas for your New Year's celebration with your students. You can get the complete unit here. Have a wonderful week and a Happy New Year.

Stay sweet,

January Read Alouds

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Hey y'all! I just love January. It's time for a fresh start, new outlooks, and time to watch your students grow exponentially. There are so many holidays and activities at the beginning of the year and plenty of great read alouds to go with them. What are your favorite books to read aloud in January? Here are a few of my favorites:
This post contains affiliate links. 

1. Squirrel's New Year's Resolution
In this book, Squirrel can't figure out what his resolution should be. But by helping others, he figures it out. This book is the perfect intro to getting students to write their own resolutions.

2. The Jelly Donut Difference
This brother and sister pair learn the value of paying it forward in this sweet, wintery story. I read this story when we need a reminder on what it means to be kind to others after the holidays.

3. The Snowy Day
A classic by Ezra Jack Keats. We read this story on snowy days in the classroom and create wintery art to go with it. Simple and sweet, this story has captivated my classes for years.

4. I Have A Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech is illustrated in this beautiful picture book. This book is an amazing addition to your collection when learning about MLK and the civil rights movement. It will open the door for all kinds of discussions in your classroom.

5. Martin's Big Words
This story of Martin Luther King's childhood is beautifully illustrated and told in a way that speaks to young children. Add this story to your collection of civil rights books, and you are sure to hear some thoughtful and honest questions and discussions from your students.

6. Snowmen At Night
I love this book for teaching perspective. The illustrations show the snowmen from above, giving a different dimension to the story. From there, students can create their own winter scenes showing their perspective from above. All kinds of skills are assessed with this one and students love it!

7. Tacky the Penguin
This is an amazing book to start off your penguin or winter animals unit. Our kindergarten classes teach this book every year and, at the end of the unit, have a "tacky clothes" day where students wear their most "interesting" outfits. This book is great for teaching students to be themselves as well.

This sweet story reminds students about how to be a friend. When inside recess creates tensions and the class has had a little too much togetherness, this book is sure to get your littles back on track. 

This story helps remind students to appreciate the little things. Each little snowflake adds up to transform the city into a winter wonderland. The illustrations are beautiful as well. 

The beautiful descriptions of snow by Cynthia Rylant are the perfect beginning to a winter descriptive  writing unit and excellent for calming down an excited classroom. 

11. Over and Under the Snow
This simple book illustrates the life that you see above the ground in the winter time as well as all of the animals sleeping quietly under the snow. This book is a great addition to your winter animals unit.

What are your favorite read alouds in January? Let me know in the comments. And I hope you found a new favorite or two as well.

Stay sweet,

Hygge for Teachers

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Hey y'all. Winter break is fast approaching and it's time to regain our sanity and practice a little self-care. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is the Danish word for comfort, warmth, and coziness. Here's a few ways I like to hygge over break:
Includes some affiliate links.

1. Light a fire in the fireplace.
To make it even more relaxing, use those ungraded papers as kindling to get that fire really going. At this point in the school year, you should have plenty of them handy.

2. Curl up with a good book.
If you're not familiar with hygge, try The Little Book of Hygge, or Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life.  Find a book you love that is not teaching related and enjoy every minute of it.


3. Bake or snack on your favorite treats.
It's winter break and you'll be rocking your leggings the whole time so go ahead and snack it up. I have a recipe for peanut butter cookies that I just love. I only make them a couple of times a year because I'll eat them all. This is the time to enjoy your favorite sweet treats. And bonus points if you make them yourself.

4. Enjoy a warm beverage.
Got a Starbucks gift card from a student? Use it while you can enjoy your coffee or tea while it's still hot. Bonus points for enjoying those beverages while eating your sweet treats and reading a good book.

5. Spend time with your favorite people.
It's YOUR break. If you don't want to hang out with that ONE relative, don't. Don't want to talk politics with THAT person? Don't. Surround yourself with the people you love and enjoy their company. You can't get your sanity back if you hang out with the people that make you lose it.

6. Play games.
I don't mean the dating kinds of games. Ain't nobody got time for that. I mean board games or card games. I bought The Hygge Game to play at our house. I really thought my kids (all teenagers) would turn up their noses to it and not play, but THEY DIDN'T. In fact, THEY ask ME to play! And they even make their boyfriends play with us. It's great for keeping the conversations going and creating a feeling of togetherness.

7. Create a mood.
Light some candles and curl up with a comfy blanket. Soft lighting is a cornerstone of hygge and Danish people are the number one consumers of candles in the world. Take the cue from them and light up a few candles and just breathe for an evening. Your sanity will thank you. 

Whether it's reading or writing, crafting or Pinterest-ing, cooking or ordering take-out, do something that brings you peace and joy. Hygge is all about the feelings of comfort and togetherness. Have a wonderful break and stay sweet. 

Even and Odd Numbers

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Hey y'all! Teaching even and odd numbers is one of the simplest concepts we teach all year. But how do we "increase the rigor?"

One way is by using math stations. Stations allow students to think through problems on their own or with their group. By making students accountable for their thinking, you have less students just along for the ride in whole group lessons and not doing any thinking.

With math stations, we have a whole group lesson on Monday, then students go through a series of stations Tuesday through Thursday, and we have another whole group lesson or activity on Friday.

Each unit includes interactive notebook pages, recording sheets, games, task cards, student directions, and lesson plans.

In this unit's whole group lesson, we build even and odd numbers using counters (this is a perfect reason to stock up on Target mini erasers!). Station activities include sorting answers into even and odd sums, sorting by the number of letters in each classmates' name, a dice game, and a card sort. Then on Friday, students color by sum on the mandala below.

To find out more about how math stations work, click here. There are several more 2nd grade math stations available to last the whole year. For more information about this unit, click here.

Stay tuned for more great resources coming soon. Have a wonderful week and stay sweet.

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