A New Year, A New Beginning!

New Year New BeginningAs we start preparing to return to our classrooms, we fully understand that in some ways this is a completely fresh start.  Once we get back to our classrooms, we need to start delineating our rules, our objectives and also our expectations.  Granted most students have not forgotten completely what our classroom expectations are but still need to be reminded by clear communication.  At the beginning of the year, we suggested that students have personal learning goals set.  Check out our TeachHub article on setting goals, we provided a lesson plan along with a strategy and student forms where students can set up and work for their goals.  If you have done this throughout the year thus far, then this would be a great time to assess what new strategies are needed to obtain that goal or identify a new one.  If you have not, then a new year can mean a new beginning.  Harness that spirit of renewal and help students focus on their goals once again.  Make time for this in your first week back as it will help students re-connect with their own learning goals and help re-focus students on their academics!

Homework Over the Holidays? What Are Your Thoughts?

(I had this entry ready last week, but couldn’t post it due to some technical difficulties. So while you are reading, please pretend that it is December 21st! Thanks!)

Today is our last day before Christmas and it’s hard to contain the excitement (both me and my students)! Our day is filled with movies, treats, a classroom party, and caroling and a liturgy with the whole school. It is a fun-filled and energetic day and there is lots to do! At the end of the day, students will clean out and empty their desks, so that we can all start fresh in January. Many of my students have asked with some fear and apprehension if they will be getting homework over the holidays. My students have just a couple of short homework assignments that were assigned yesterday and should take no more than one hour to complete. In fact, some students have already submitted their assignments to me via edmodo.com (aside: Do you use edmodo? I started using it about a month ago and really like it…I will post a full review in a few weeks).

I have heard from friends, family, and acquaintances that over the years, their children have received tons of homework and projects that had to be completed during Christmas break and were due on the first day back. These assignments ranged from simple homework review to full projects that required days of preparation. This got me thinking: what is the purpose of homework over the holidays?
The purpose of homework on any given day is to review the materials covered during the day’s lesson. It is a way for students to practice, apply, and review what they have learned, so that they are then able to ask the teacher for extra assistance if needed. Projects are culminating activities that allow students to integrate a variety of concepts and ideas in a creative way. There are some projects that I love to assign my students simply because the final result is awesome–they are able to apply their learning while allowing their personality to shine through. I’m always so impressed with the amount of creativity and effort some students are able to put into their projects. I have several of these types of projects slated for various times throughout this year.

That being said, I don’t think that Christmas vacation is the appropriate time for students to be completing tons of homework and intensive projects. During these next two weeks, I will be doing some marking and planning, but I will also be spending time with family and friends. I hope that my students enjoy their holidays and come back refreshed to begin again in January.

What are your thoughts? Do you assign homework and projects during holidays? Let us know in the comments!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Merry and Magical Christmas Movies to Watch with your Students!

12 christmas movies

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’re looking at 12 merry and magical Christmas movies to share with your students!

1.  Elf (2003)

Buddy the Elf is one of my all-time favourite Christmas characters! What’s not to love?!

2. Frosty the Snowman (1969)

One of my favourites from childhood! A great way to remind students about the magic of Christmas.

3. The Polar Express (2004)

I love Chris Van Allsburg and this charming movie is at the top of any Christmas viewing list!

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

We just watched this today! I always tear up a little when Linus recites from the Gospel of Luke.

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I hope that our students are able to appreciate this classic Christmas tale.

6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The classic puppet and stop-motion animation may seem out of date to our students in this age of digital animation, but I hope they can still find the value in this classic.

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A great take on Dickens’ classic Ebenezer Scrooge story starring the lovable Muppets (and Michael Caine)!

8. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Scrooge McDuck is a great way to introduce A Christmas Carol to your young students.  A touching and heart-warming version that is sure to be a hit with your students!

9. Home Alone (1990)

A hilarious look at how Kevin defends his home against would-be Christmas burglars! A laugh from beginning to end!

10. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

I prefer this original Grinch movie to the one starring Jim Carrey.  A great way for kids to discover that Christmas cheer cannot be stolen.

11. The Santa Clause (1994)

Who doesn’t love to watch Tim Allen slowly morph into the man in the red suit?

12. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

In this fantasy, Jack Skellington wants to take over Christmas and redo it in his own Halloweentown way! May be a bit scary for younger kids, so preview to make sure it is okay for your students.

The Tuesday 12: 12 Fun, Festive, and {FREE} Christmas Activities from TPT!

12 free christmas tpt activities

On this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we have rounded up 12 festively fantastic Christmas activities from TeachersPayTeachers.com.  The best part?  All the resources are FREE! Enjoy!  I’ve included the product overview from the description for each resource to help you determine which products suit your students best. Also, don’t forget to check out the other awesome products these teachers have in their TPT stores!

1. Gingerbread Fact Family by Tina’s Teaching Treasures (for grades 2 and 3)

“A FREE product to help your students learn about fact families and the inverse properties of addition and subtraction!
Great for Related Facts, Fact Families, and Addition and Subtraction! Perfect for a winter center, Christmas center, or gingerbread unit!
2 Posters to explain fact families and leave up for student reference
2 sheets (1 sheet if you double side) for student practice
3 pages for “Craftivity”
Pictures of Craftivity
1 Page of flashcard templates”

2. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas-I Have Who Has by MrHughes (for grades 3-7)

“Who hasn’t heard the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore?
This fun and interactive activity will have your students begging to play again and again as they try to beat their best time by reading fluently and more quickly each time.
The poem has been divided into 28 cards in a “I have, Who Has” fashion. Students will have to listen carefully as they only get the 3 or 4 words in poem ahead of their lines.”

3. Christmas Elf Application by Kindergarten Squared (for pre-K to gr 2)

“This cute freebie has your little elves applying for 1 of 3 jobs in the: Elf Toy Workshop, Elf Bakery, or Elf Gift Wrapping. This is a great activity that ties in with the Common Core opinion/persuasion writing standard!”

4. New Year’s Resolution Friendly Letter by Primary Paradise (for K to gr 3)

“What a better way to talk about the New Year than to let your students make their own New Year’s Resolution, or goal!
Student will practice their friendly letter writing skills and will make New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. They can write to a friend, parent, or even to themselves!
This packet includes:
Directions on how to Use
A New Year’s Resolution Poster
Sample New Year’s Resolution Letter
Kindergarten Letter Formats in which students can draw first
First Grade Letter Formats
Second & Third Grade Letter Formats”

5. Snow Day Snowman Writing Mini-Pack by TeacherMomof3 (for K to gr 2)

“Students will have snow much fun with this little writing pack! Use in your writing center, for homework, or in small groups!
~Page 3- Have students write a description or a story for the picture.
~Page 4– Extra stationery page
~Page 5- Finish the writing stem
~Page 6- students write what they think the snowman is saying in the speech cloud.”

6. Free Packet: We Are Kind Kids {Random Acts of Kindness} by A Year of Many First (for K to gr 8)

“Have your students learn all about the importance of paying it forward with this packet!”

7. Christmas Puns: Puns from the North—Santa Takes the Pole Position by Margaret Whisnant (for gr 4 to 8)

“PUNS FROM THE NORTH–SANTA TAKES THE POLE POSITION is a giggle-powered collection of riddle puns about Santa and his life at the North Pole. Youngsters will enjoy revving up their punnybones to go searching for each riddle’s pun-filled answer from a choice of four possible responses.
This activity has two parts with twenty items each.
Full answer keys included. Eight pages including the cover and links to other items.”

8. Christmas Holiday Logic Puzzle by Lindsay Perro (for gr 3 to 8)

“This fun activity will keep your students thinking as they try to figure out which gift each child received!”

9. Christmas and Winter Themed Word Problems by Runde’s Room (for gr 5 to 7)

“This file contains 14 Christmas and winter themed math word problems that cover a variety of concepts and skills. Each word problem is displayed on beautiful festive background. These problems can be projected from the computer or placed under the document camera for all students to see during bell work or in a lesson. They could also be laminated and used in a math center. Answers are also included.”

10. Christmas Freebie: 12 Point of View Improv Cards for Christmas by Krystal Mills (for gr 5 to 7)

“This download contains 12 point of view improv cards, each with a Christmas theme, to engage your students.
Students will love speaking from unique points of view with this fun improv activity. Through completing this activity, they’ll develop more of an understanding of what it means to write from different points of view. Hopefully they will then take this back into their own writing! It’s a fun, interactive activity to do closer to Christmas time.”

11. What’s Your Favorite Christmas Song? by Cooperative Learning 365 (for gr 3 to 8)

“Students decide on their favorite Christmas song and as a class graph the results. Students can then create their own graph and answer questions.”

12. Winter Holiday Write Away Writing Prompts by LittleRed (for gr 3 to 8)

“Winter Holiday Write Away! writing prompts. This set contains 25 different writing prompts, all related to winter holidays (e.g. Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, as well as general ‘holiday’ prompts).”

Enjoy! Tune in next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

Christmas Activities on Bitstrips!

During Halloween, we discussed Bitstrips – one of many great programs that you can engage in online with your students. This site allows you and your students to create fun, personalized characters which you can then further create a comic strip for. Aside from fun activities for Halloween, Bitstrips also has some really interesting activities for Christmas that you may definitely want to consider introducing to and engaging in with your students. Anywhere from creating a holiday scene to creating your own greeting card and more. Plus they continue to include and add more, new props to add to your favorite holiday scene and greeting card! You can find it all on Bitstrips!

Yet another fun thing to do with your students during the Christmas season! While you are there, I am sure you will find many other great uses for this program, especially once you see just how much your students enjoy it! Have fun!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Fun and Festive Christmas Crafts!

12 christmas crafts

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be looking at 12 Fun and Festive Christmas Crafts!  As usual, click on the image to be brought to the image source and instructions!

1. I love the yarn wreaths for front doors, so now there’s a mini version for the Christmas tree!

2. A quick and simple Christmas craft for any age group!

Christmas Crew

3. This would be great with a clear plastic plate glued to the front for a 3-dimensional effect!

4. Such a great idea! I love the different paper designs used!


5. We usually paint Christmas scenes on glass ornaments using acrylic paint, but this is a neat idea—swirling paint around on the inside of the ornament!

6. Simple and pretty!

7. Trim a tree with some popsicle sticks, paint, and stickers!

Trim a Tree

8. So many uses for toilet paper rolls!

toilet roll reindeer

9. So pretty!

10. A great gift for parents!

11. And my two favourite ones: the Rudolph wreath…

12. …and the Santa Claus wreath!

Check back next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!