Giving Back: Paws 4 People

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the giving spirit all around us. This Sunday, December 14th, a group of Teachers Pay Teachers sellers are linking up to donate to charity. We are each choosing one charity that is close to our heart. I decided that I want to donate 100% of my sales for the day to Paws 4 People.
This amazing organization helps to provide wounded veterans with much needed service dogs. They also work with children with special needs. The dogs are trained to help with everything from mobility issues, seizure detection, to PTSD. I was fortunate enough to attend a Service Dog Graduation and fundraising event last month. I have never seen so many dogs in one place (and all so well behaved)!! Witnessing the difference these dogs have made in the lives of their new families is truly incredible and inspiring. The organization goes above and beyond to take care of the dogs and the families. Now, feeling like the proud God-dog mother that I am....a few pictures of my favorite service dog Sherman and his adventures. I promise....he does a lot more each day than just have photo shoots ;)

 Sherman was such a great helper setting up my classroom this past summer. Of course he had to take time to do some reading and learning!

If you are interested in learning more about Paws 4 People please click here and remember all of my sales for the day will go to this great cause. If you are interested in making a direct donation please consider making it in honor of Sherman. Please help spread the word!

To see all of the other sellers participating in this wonderful Giving Back event please click through the link up below. Happy shopping!

Classroom Kindness Elf Ideas & Freebie

Ok, so I must admit...I was nervous about jumping on the "Elf" bandwagon. After all, do students really need one more reason to lose their minds get excited this time of year? Finally I decided that the answer is YES! My first graders are at an age where magic and mystery fill the season and I wanted to create special memories for them. I decided to add a twist to my visitor's purpose and have been using him to help implement random acts of kindness each day.

******** This post has been updated since the original to include tons of ideas from the last few years of using a classroom kindness elf. Although his name may have changed (last year was Elvin D. Elf), the joy remains and I can now say for sure this is one on MY favorite parts of the year, as well as my students.

Each year I like to plan a special frozen delivery which usually requires the help of a team mate. Last year the speech teacher acted as my special helper by delivering the package. I had placed it in the freezer the night before (next to peppermint ice cream of course!) and then again in the freezer at work. The "frozen" package arrived from the North Pole nice and cold.

Once we opened the package I read a little letter to them from my Elf Inspired Acts of Kindness pack. In order to activate his magic we had to vote on his name. Our winning name was Jack Frost one year and Elvin D. Elf last year. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Acts of Kindness & Elf Antics

My plan is always to leave one note each day with an act of kindness (treat, writing task, cleaning, kind words, etc.). BUT, I usually have waaaaay too much fun and the elf moves around a little extra. My poor co-workers are probably over my obsession with Jack/Elvin D Elf but I just can't help it! The squeals of excitement are SO worth it.


Elf Sized Accessories

Now that I know what a huge hit our classroom elf is I have been on the hunt for some elf sized accessories. I found this adorable mini mailbox as well as some other elf sized treats at Dollar Tree. His adorable elf jacket was a gift from one of my students. Too cute!


Elf Mailbox and Letters to the North Pole

My kiddos are equally obsessed with writing our classroom elf letters.  They seriously BEG me to go to Work on Writing during our Daily 5 time each day. Teacher win right?

The first year I had him I really didn't know what to expect so I had to improvise with our mailbox (Jack-o-lantern).

Last year I upped my game for sure! I found this little mailbox and printed some colorful Christmas paper. I used some to write personalized notes to each child (using a cute elf like font) and left the rest blank for them to send letters back with. You should see the pure joy on their face when a custom note was left praising them for a recent achievement or sending them well wishes when something was challenging. 

I also decided to enter the 21st century by having an email address set up for Elvin. I just created a gmail account and sent notes back and forth to my school email. My class helped me write responses. Like I said...I got a bit obsessed! 

This was an easy way to help reinforce the fact that the elf was watching their great choices (and not so great). It also meant I could come up with something on the fly and not have to worry about elf fonts and printing. 

I hope you enjoyed getting a sneak peak in my classroom and found some new ways to add kindness and excitement in your own classroom. I am looking forward to seeing what antics he comes up with next!

If you want to use your special classroom elf as an extra way to keep kids on the nice list, be sure to download my freebie. I included a letter from the North Pole, notes from the elf with classroom ideas, and a materials list. Enjoy!

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Liebster Award

Wow, first of all can I just apologize for disappearing for awhile? I always seem to forget how hectic the first few months of school are! Now that we had a few teacher workdays I think I am caught up...a bit...for now. Don't worry though, I've been busy snapping pictures and trying new ideas in my room. I can't wait to share soon.

While I was gone my little blog did see a bit of action! K's Classroom Kreations was nominated for a very special award for new bloggers called the Liebster award. And get this...not just once but 4 times! I am so incredibly humbled and grateful for the nominations. It makes me so happy to have others see potential in this little blog. Thank you to Suzy from StudentSavvy, Paige from Paiges of Learning, Hannah from 21st Century Kindergarten, and Mandee from Mrs. Ashline's Rules.
So here's how this works- Bloggers who have less than 200 followers (which I certainly qualify for) and have great potential (yay!) are nominated. It is a great opportunity to connect with other new bloggers. After answering 11 questions that help everyone get to know us even better, we search for 11 other candidates. Can I just say how much fun I had blog hopping for hours (with a valid excuse of research of course!). Now on to the questions-

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging? 
I began blogging this past August after taking the summer to have my blog designed. Blogging is a totally new adventure for me but one I am excited for. I began creating items on Teachers Pay Teachers almost a year ago. I was finding that I had so many ideas to share and some just didn't lend themselves to products. I also wanted to be able to share ideas, pictures, and stories while connecting with other teachers. So, a blog seemed like the next natural step. 
2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why? 
 Sharing. Like my reason "why" explains, I am all about sharing my experiences, ideas, and products. I also hope to learn from many other bloggers as well with all of the great information they share.
3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before? 
I consider myself a newbie to blogging world but I did learn quickly how much more time and effort goes into creating a post than originally expected. Also, it's important to take great pictures that include step by step directions. 
4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging? 
I truly have the heart and mind of a teacher! I love creating new products, hanging out with teacher friends, and pinning new ideas. When my brain needs the occasional break my newest addiction has become Revenge or Scandal on Netflix. Guilty pleasures. It's ok. 
5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?
I usually have to wait until the weekends to do most of my blogging. I am still trying to find the balance and get better about posting more frequently and throughout the week. Baby steps.
6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? 
I love educational blog posts that are full of great pictures. I am also a very crafty person and enjoy DIY sites. Now if only there was enough time in the day to create them all. 
7. Where does your blog inspiration come from? 
Everyday experiences. I always have my camera (phone) with me to snap shots of what's happening in my classroom each day. I keep a list of ideas (again on my phone) with me and add to it when something new pops up.  Don't know what I'd do without technology!
8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of? 
I am still new enough where each post is a major labor of love! One of my favorites however is my Halloween Blog Hop post. I had so much fun learning how to do a raffle, linky, and blog hop for the first time. 
9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have postponing it for a while now?
Math Tip Monday. I started it several weeks ago with great intentions but really want to get the ball rolling with a weekly series. I plan to focus on a different standard each week and share math game/center ideas, freebies, and tips for teaching it. 
10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? 
What I love most is the thought of another teacher learning something from my blog. We have such a challenging job and if I can inspire even just one idea to make someone's day easier I feel proud. 
11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? 
I love the idea of a Sunday Scoop that Mrs. Ashline's Rules takes part in each week. I always have such good intentions with a Five for Friday link up but just don't make it in time.   
I also really like the decorative pumpkins from Student Savvy. I painted pumpkins this year as well and they didn't turn out quite as classy. Great work!
I absolutely love the Franken-Pudding project from Paiges of Learning. How simple! I know my first graders would love it. This year I was at a conference on Halloween and it would have been a biiiiit much for the sub to handle...but next year it is on my to-do list!
21st Century Kindergarten has tons of great advice on how to bring technology and 21st century skills to young learners without losing what's developmentally appropriate. I especially love the way she talks about using a travel theme with Thanksgiving.

Now, here are my nominees: Drum roll please.....

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well!                     (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

1st Grade Halloween Ideas

Happy Friday! Who is in the mood for a few tricks and treats? I have tons of great crafts, recipes, and lesson ideas for you so sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Now I'm going to be honest....Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. I'm a big scaredy baby. I do not like haunted houses, scary movies, or spooky anything really. Maybe I just had to go to too many haunted houses when I was little but the thought of all the blood and gore does not appeal to me. I was definitely the kid that wanted to dress up like a bride (until the monster stole my veil!) or something else cute.

Although I'm not big into the scary side of things, I do enjoy celebrating first grade style with my students. In my classroom this means tons of bat, spider, and pumpkin lessons/projects all month long! This week we focused on bats by reading Stellaluna and a variety of other fiction and nonfiction books. We also welcomed a new (low maintenance) class pet into our family. Students decided to call her Stellaluna, although several boys still insist that her name is Batman.No judgements.

During math time we let loose with our Before & After Bats (number sequencing). My firsties still need some practice ordering numbers so what better way than with bats. They chose one number card to place in the middle of the bat and then wrote the number that came before and after. For my students who needed a challenge I had them find 10 less or 10 more than the number.

 I used some of the leftover bat cards to write simple subtraction facts on. Some of my students loooooove to add even when they see the minus sign so this week we used plastic bats and had them fly away (gently tossed to the side) as we were solving equations or subtraction word problems.

Another math center this week was "Whoooo" has 10? Catch this owl themed freebie to practice ways to make 10 with your own students. Students can play go fish, memory, matching, or use the cards during whole group movement activities.

Next week is going to be spider week (eww). I found some awesomely creepy plastic spiders to use as props during math and writing which I am excited for. My Fun Friday activity during this unit is usually to make spider cracker sandwiches. Students spread peanut butter on two crackers to create a sandwich. They then add pretzel stick legs and M&M eyes (stuck on with peanut butter). This year we have to avoid peanuts like the plague in my room so I am still modifying the plan in my head....maybe chocolate frosting on vanilla cookies?

Last thought of the night....the following equation is true correct? (It's almost Halloween, candy is a they do almost count as fruit right?) These are my two all time favorite candies! Growing up my sister and I used to pour all of our candy on the floor when we got home from Trick-or-Treating and began the long process of bartering and rationing the goods. Ahhhh, the good old days!

I hope you found some new Halloween inspired math ideas. Happy Halloween teacher friends!