Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bring on the Snow...

Hello Friends!

Well, last week we had a teacher workday on Monday for President's Day. Then, Tuesday & Wednesday there was no school because we had ice. So, on Thursday & Friday we had 2 hour delays because it was cold!

Needless to say, the kiddos REALLY wanted to get a little of the white stuff. Sadly, they were left with!

My own personal 4 year old was SUPER excited when his 14 year old sister PROMISED him that snow was on the way...only to be sadly disappointed. :(

What's a mom to do???

Pinterest to the rescue!!

We made our own snow & it was a huge hit! 
 I was actually pleasantly surprised that this worked. Lately, I've had a lot of flops from these homemade concoctions!

This one was great! It actually packs together so you can make stuff, it's cool to the touch so it feels a lot like real snow, it smells nice, & it's an easy clean up.

We call that a win!  

Here's what I used: 
foil pan
2 boxes of baking soda
2 trial sized conditioners (try to get white so the snow will be white)

I spent a whopping $3 for this! That's my kind of fun! 

He was entertained for about an hour & 1/2 on this- too cold to go outside, going stir crazy, come on warm weather day! 


This is probably the only snowman that we will be making in NC this year! 

If you are going to use this in a sensory table, this would be enough for 2 kiddos to play together. You could also add plastic spoons, lite brite pegs (that's what you see here), sand molds, etc...the possibilities are endless. 

I stored mine in a whipped topping container..I'll let you know whether or not it stays good. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Hello friends!
So, some of you will recall that my school has begun using Conscious Discipline as of January. I will admit that while I do like the program, it has NOT been easy to transition myself & my kiddos to this new way of thinking. We are certainly on the right path, but the path is VERY long! 

Here are some of the things that I really like so far:

  1. Everyone is beginning to feel like they are a part of our "school family". The premise behind CD is that everyone should feel safe at school. With feelings of being safe children can learn & not feel threatened in their environment. 
  2. I am seeing & hearing so many more kind things. Remember how I mentioned before that my kiddos are just plain mean? Well, not so much anymore. There actually are some sweet little hearts under that tough exterior.
  3. I see my kiddos starting to turn into little problem solvers. I have been teaching them the words to use to help them talk through situations. They are transitioning from flying off the handle with one another to actually having conversations that are productive & respectful.
Here are some issues that we are working through:

  1. CD is VERY time consuming. I have to stop frequently to talk with a student or students about how to solve problems, make smarter choices, and how to talk to people without hurting their feelings, etc.
  2. Some days I feel really defeated because CD takes so much out of you. I am 1 teacher in a room of 20 kiddos that are constantly a challenge. Sometimes I think this is just not working. 
  3. It is hard sometimes to find the right words to say to a kiddo to get through to them. Sometimes it is hard to think of the natural consequence for a behavior. Sometimes I just don't feel like talking to the SAME kid about the SAME thing for the 10th time that day!

I do know this:

  1. I will not give up.
  2. I will remain calm & breathe.
  3. I will do my best for my kiddos! They are the reason I am there in the first place!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Math Fun!

Let's talk math...

Math in my classroom looks like this:

First, we do a whole class mini-lesson. It takes 15-20 minutes or so.
Next, we complete an exit ticket based on that day's mini-lesson skill. It takes 4-5 minutes tops.
Then, I briefly (like 5 minutes) explain the math centers. I do not have to do a lot of explaining this time of year because the centers are all familiar. I just change the skill/ difficulty, but the activities are always the same. 
After that, they work in centers for about 12 minutes.
Finally, we finish up & meet back on the carpet for a quick closing. 

We don't have as much time this year for math, but we make every minute count!! 

Here is a peek at this week's fun!

My kiddos have been having a blast with these math centers....
Snowy Fun ~Ink Saving Math Centers!
(click the pic to see more)

Here are a few pics of our fun! 
Mitten 3 digit Addition
I decided to make the 3 digit addition mitten game into an add the kiddos needed to move around this week!

This is one of the Mitten dice games that my kiddos LOVE to play!

This is a roll & dot...another of their faves! :)

There are more math centers in this packet, but we can't use all of them in one week. It usually takes 2 weeks for us to use all of them! 

My school uses IXL math.
My kiddos LOVE it & it makes it really easy for me to have a pre-planned center where I choose the activity for them to focus on! 

If you got this far you may want to snag this little freebie!! 

Click the pic to get the freebie! 
Leave me some comment love, please! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Shout Outs...Holla

Hello friends!
Today was exceptionally sweet! Here's why...

So~ we have been talking about being safe, showing kindness, making good choices, etc...

Today I introduced the SHOUT OUT! 

This went over like gang busters...

Here's how it works:

Step 1- Notice someone showing kindness, helping out others, making good choices, being responsible, being respectful, and so forth. 
Step 2- Fill out a shout out form & place it in the shout out container.
Step 3- Mrs. Elliott chooses random shout out's at the end of the day & reads them in front of the.entire.class!! 

My container was FULL today! 

My sweet friend, Kim made these shout out forms & they worked like a charm.

Here is a shout out for a student that was reading & being quiet. Doesn't seem like a big deal but for this student it was HUGE.

 Here is a sweet one where a student noticed another student helping to pick up crayons that someone else had dropped. 

I could've posted so many more! They were super into noticing positivity. It changed the whole mood in my classroom & they were so happy to write the shout outs. 

It was too cute! 

You definitely do NOT have to be a Conscious Discipline classroom to implement this. If you want to add some positive reinforcement and compassion to your class this would do the trick! 

Just because you stuck around this long here is a freebie from my sweet friend Kim of the shout out forms that you are more than welcome to use in your class!


Thursday, January 8, 2015


Hello friends!
As you know, I have been implementing Conscious Discipline this week. Like any new program, it will take time to get everyone on board & in the routine. It is a new way of thinking for the me & for the kiddos. Here are some things that I am noticing...

  1. My kiddos had no idea how to shake hands & maintain eye contact until we practiced it a bazillion times in our morning meetings this week. :)
  2. I have had to adjust the way that I speak & respond to students...I am definitely more aware of the things that I say to them. No more, "I like the way Bob is sitting on the carpet"...
  3. My kiddos are more aware of the way that they speak to each other. I hear MUCH more courteous language. Instead of "Get out of my way" it's more like "Can you move, please?" (baby steps)
  4. I am thrilled to NOT have a clip chart or card system to mess with. I thought that this would be a difficult transition, but it has been much easier than I thought.
  5. I have more kiddos buying into the program than I initially thought I would. Yay! 
That being said, here is one of my new favorite things that I have implemented in my classroom this week.

Remember these?

Well, I introduced them to the kiddos by telling them that I had a special treasure that I have to protect. I asked them if they would help me protect the treasure that is in my bucket. I went around the circle & had them make a commitment to protect the treasure inside. After everyone committed, I opened the bucket & showed them & gave them their own special heart. 
To begin our morning meeting I have them hold their hearts in their hands, give it a hug, & warm it up by holding it against their own heart. After that, they come to me one by one. I say to them "NAME, I am going to keep your heart safe today" & they respond "Thank you, Mrs. Elliott. I am going to help you keep my heart safe today." Then we high five & they take their seat around the meeting circle. 
There are some that think that it is silly, but I make them do it & reiterate that it is my job to keep them safe. 

**I know that it is helping us to build a tighter classroom family & I like the fact that I know I have touched base with each student in a positive way to start our day.**

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Keeping Safe!

Hello friends!

Today was day 2 of Conscious Discipline for me & the kiddos. Today the morning meeting went a little smoother...that progress, right?! 

Anyway~ let's get to it...

So, yesterday the kiddos & I made this anchor chart by having them brainstorm ways that we can be safe. 
We read & re-read the chart at several points throughout the day.

Today, after reviewing the chart, cutie girl student raises her hand and says, "Mrs. Elliott, you DO know that there are more ways than that to stay safe, right?" 
Of course, that jump started a big discussion of other ideas to stay safe. 
BUT, we had NOWHERE to write them on our chart. 
  What ever shall we do??? 

I had them talk to their partners of ways that we could add the new ideas to our chart.

Here is what they came up with...
Ick...sorry for the blur! :(

They cut out hearts...yes I threw in a little symmetry lesson. Ha! 
Then they wrote their ideas on the hearts.

Did I mention that they are brilliant?! :)

After they had all of their ideas ready each student took a turn reading & explaining their heart idea. 

Then, and this is a biggie, I let them pull the tape off of the dispenser & hang them

Who knew that using the tape would be such a major bonus?!?!

Here is a close up of some of their hearts...
"Do not be selfish"

"Be kind to friends" & "Do your best"

I was pretty impressed with how invested they were in this heart/ safety activity. 
They even asked if they could take some of the hearts home to hang around their house....whoa!

 Here is one of the brain breaks that we did today.
It tied in perfectly with our "learning to greet each other" activity that we do during morning meeting. 
They were so funny doing these silly handshakes! 

In other news...some of you have been emailing me asking what my daily schedule looks like so I snapped this pic on my way out of the door this afternoon. 
Social Studies changes to Science every other week. 

Have a great Tuesday!! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day One of Conscious Discipline

Hello friends!
Well, today was day 1 of implementing Conscious Discipline for me & my kiddos. 
I started the day with the morning meeting where I taught them that my job is to keep them safe & their job is to help me. 
We learned how to greet each other with a handshake, eye contact, & kind words. I was surprised at how self conscious this made some of them. They looked visibly uncomfortable making eye contact & greeting their friends. I think this is a good thing as I work to make them feel safe & secure with themselves, their friends, & the environment. 
After the greeting time, I taught them a destressing, breathing technique that they could do if they start to feel stressed. They LOVED this. I still need to figure out how to teach them how to know when they need to use this. 
At the end of the meeting we reviewed all the new information & did a class cheer.
I am hoping that this ritual will allow them to have a smooth, positive jump start to their day.

Later in the day...we revisited what it means to be safe & ways that we can be safe at school. We made this anchor chart to support our ideas. 

After reading & re-reading the chart a bajillion times, we watched this on BrainpopJr.

We talked about what to do in different bullying-type scenarios. 
They really got into this...

I won't say that today was perfect, but it was a start. I still had a couple of students that have behavior challenges that just didn't get on board with the rest of us today. I am just going to keep plugging along & see what happens. 

How was your first day back?!