Wednesday, December 28, 2016

#JanPicADay Challenge

Happy {almost} New Year!

So our goal for 2017 is pretty similar to 2016....2015....2014....

Do better with blogging and Social Media! We both especially want to take more pictures throughout the day in our classrooms.

We don't know about you all but we do better with a schedule. That is why we love Instagram Challenges. They help us stay on track!

We created a #JanPicADay Challenge and would love for you to join us!

Here is the schedule. Download it, share it, use it!
Here is a blank template if you want to use it for each day. (Not necessary, but kind of fun!)
We can't wait to see what everyone shares! Don't forget to use the hashtag #JanPicADay!

Click {HERE} to go to the Instagram Post!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December Survival Tips Linky

You are a teacher.
It is December.

Santa, lights, cookies, elves, songs, programs, decorations, presents. Did I mention Santa?

December is fun and exciting.  But lets be honest. 
It is exhausting.


Even for veteran teachers, super teachers, and even those teachers who have the "golden" class. {gasp}

We have decided to share a few of our survival tips and hope you join the linky below to share some of your tips!   

1. Yes, I said it.......Fibs and Bribes!
I am not ashamed to admit it. They work!
My entire team uses Elf on the Shelf.

Here is the picture of his arrival this week.
We incorporate the elf into our curriculum whenever we can. He leaves us a letter each day. This week he will ask about one of our social studies topics we are currently studying. We also get some good writing topics out of it! This year I am excited to incorporate Growth Mindset into some of his letters.

Our elf is mainly for behavior and he has lots of fun! If you want to see how we introduce him and some of his shenanigans from last year, check out our blog post about it by clicking the picture below. 

This year I also have a cell phone case that looks like Santa's suit. I might have mentioned that if I push a button, Santa can see us. 

Like I said, fibs are okay! 😏
FYI, I got the case on Amazon for a very reasonable price!

2. Routines and Procedures
Keep them.
Review them.
Practice them.
Review them again.
Practice them again.

We use CHAMPS in our school. We have not been CHAMPing out some of our routines and activities that we are really good at. This month I am CHAMPing out almost everything! 
We are also sticking to our schedule as much as possible. 

I use Warm and Fuzzies in my classroom. We put a warm and fuzzy in a bucket every time we get a compliment. When the bucket is full we get a reward! In December I pull out the Red, White and Green Warm and Fuzzies. Easy little switch, but a total motivator!

3. Make it Fun
Do those craftivities and other fun activities. Just keep them educational! Find a way to incorporate them into your standards. 

I have at least one ELA craftivity planned for every week in December. To "get away" with this I have the pieces already cut for them. They are just gluing them together. This cuts our craftivity time down by more than half!

4. Think Outside the Box
Incorporate the holidays into your lessons. 

And I mean more than just Holidays Around the World. Don't get me wrong, Holidays Around the World is great, I just mean find other ways, in all content areas!

Last year I had my formal observation the week before Winter Break. It was scheduled during Social Studies when I was supposed to be teaching water safety according to the curriculum map. (We live in Florida, water safety is an important standard!) 

Here is the lesson I did.
Our Elf on the Shelf wrote us this letter. 

 The students worked in cooperative groups to share water safety rules. Some made a poster while others used technology like ChatterPix or Shadow Puppet. It was a good evaluation. 😊

This year we have to incorporate Social Studies into other content areas because of a whole group reading program we are using. It takes a lot of creativity and we are stretching sometimes. 

This week we decided to teach weather and climate. We did it by comparing the weather and climate at the North Pole to our weather and climate in Florida. The firsties loved it. (And got it!) 

5. Embrace the Crazy

Just have fun! Live it up, make it memorable. 

Take more brain breaks (Go Noodle)
Play holiday music (Hello Pandora's Holidays for Kids channel!)
Let them talk about Christmas!

What are your tips? Link up below or share on Social Media. Use the pictures below on your Social Media or Blog if you would like. The second one has room to add your tip!

Be sure to tag Sunshine, Sand and Scissors in your posts and link back to here! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Elves are Coming!

The Elves are Coming!

It's that time of year again. The elves are finding their way back to our classrooms and into the hearts of our kiddos.

We are introducing our elves this week. Cue the planning and preparation!

Our elves arrive to our classrooms via a bag straight from Santa. The elf is even cold from the North Pole! He spends the morning chilling (literally) in the refrigerator before arriving in our rooms. The kids love that he is cold!

Our elf comes with a letter from Santa. In the note Santa explains that the elf will be watching them and reporting to him each night.

He also brings with him sheets of paper where the students can pick a name for him. But only Santa can pick his name, so the letters go back with him that night. We have no say in picking the name!

This year we found these super cute envelopes for the elf to take the name sheets back in. It will be arriving with him too this year. We found it at Target in the Dollar Section! (Of course we did!)

Remember when I said planning and preparation? Before the elf arrives, we make a schedule of what the elves will be doing each day. That way it is easy for us to keep up (and also to plan ahead if we need to!)

Each day the elf brings a letter with him. The letters are pre-made, however, we sometimes have to switch them up. For instance, one day the elf might notice that some of the students were not listening. Or the big secret, (which he lets the students know pretty early on) that Santa REALLY loves teachers! The kids love that one! They even sit up straighter!

One challenge that we both had last year was where to put our elves each day. We both had students that liked to touch. EVERYTHING. So our elves had to go up. High. This actually produced some of the cutest ideas though!

Here are a few:

Flying in a hot air balloon

Zip Line

Swinging from the ceiling

The kids were convinced that he loved heights!

Our rooms are connected this year. We are planning snowball fights with our elves through our hallway. We can do so much using both of them together!

How do you introduce your elves? What are some ways you have him "watch" each day? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back to School Assessment Freebie

Hey there!

I am busy preparing to head back to school this week. Are you?
Wait....if the answer is no, don't tell me!

I have a new assessment FREEBIE to share with you to use the first week.

Click the picture to grab it!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Controlling Craftivity Pieces

We love doing Craftivities. 

We understand that not everyone feels this way. 
Kind of like glitter.
We get it!

If the thought of doing craftivities overwhelms you, keep reading!

We have some tips, hints and suggestions for you to do craftivities with your little ones without losing your sanity!

We admit the seemingly endless number of the pieces that go with each craftivity drive us crazy! We both like to have our kids trace and cut out as many pieces as realistically possible. That being said, cutting with the little ones can be a challenge.

We typically have the small pieces cut and ready for them. (Hair, noses, etc.)

Here are a few tips on how we keep the pieces organized and make a craftivity manageable.


Most Important: Make it academic.
We always do the writing or math part first. Getting to make the craftivity is an incentive for the kiddos to get the "academic part" done!

It doesn't hurt to leave the academic piece out and very visible. You know, just in case an administrator walks through when your kids are cutting and gluing!
Just sayin' 😁

Hint: Do all of your tracing first. Make a BIG deal that you should not see any scissors out!

Hint: Make enough sets of the tracers so there is not much wait time. 
For example, I have five tables this year so I will make five sets of tracers. Last year I had six!

Hint: Use file folders to make your tracers. They seem to hold up well and are not too pricey.

Hint: Color code the pieces.

Hint: Put each set in a large Ziploc bag.

Hint: Assign a table helper to be in charge of the bag and pieces.

Hint: Have the construction paper pieces needed cut to size and ready to hand out. This saves time and paper!

Hint: Store all of the bags and an example in a large Ziploc bag, label it, put in an example and you are ready to go for next year!

The Lacey Walker craftivity in the pictures is from Michelle Oakes Back to School Behavior Mini Unit!  Grab it HERE!

We would love to see and hear how you keep your sanity during Craftivities! Tag us in your social media.

Be sure to follow us while you are here by using the tabs at the top of our page!

The WINNER is......

Congratulations Sara! You are the winner of our Anchors Away Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to everyone who entered!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Anchors Away Giveaway

It is our last week of Summer School.
We have a few days before Preplanning starts so we decided to take a cruise to the Bahamas!

{Living an hour away from Port Canaveral is 
fabulous, by the way!}

We have been counting down the days until our cruise since the end of the school year.
Did you know Carnival has an App for that?!??!!?!
Really, they do!

To kick off the final days of our countdown we are hosting an Anchors Away Giveaway!

Included in the fabulous prize basket are two extra fabulous prizes!

1. A coffee sleeve made by the lovely Miss Squirrels.
2.  A wine glass made just for teachers by Jen at Twelve Grapes.
Go visit both of their Etsy shops by clicking on their buttons!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Social Media in the Elementary Classroom

I have been blogging and using social media for a few years. As a teacher I use it to collaborate with other teachers, share ideas and learn new things for my classroom!

All of this collaborating and sharing was done at home and outside of school hours.
Basically "on my own time".
As is the case for most teachers I know!

Side Note: I don't know about you all, but Pinterest and Blogger are blocked at my school.
I really, really wish they were not!  
How did I ever plan without Pinterest and Social Media??
I truly feel social media has been a game changer in my teaching. I am a better teacher because of social media. Now I am not just talking about all of the "cute" ideas floating around out there. 
Don't get me wrong, I like those too! I am talking about the genuine collaboration, the sharing of ideas, and the connecting with other teachers! Twitter is a fabulous PLN.

I have been toying with the idea of using social media in my classroom for several months.
I read articles, blogs and watched videos.
Then I reread articles and blogs and watched more videos. 

stalked looked at Kayla Delzer's classroom Twitter account.

I bought her Digital Citizenship unit on TPT!

I even had my principal onboard with using Social Media!

Here was my problem..
I teach FIRST graders! 
5 and 6 year olds! 

This summer I was a summer school academic coach. I got to spend each day visiting classrooms. (When the million things on my To Do List were done, of course!)

Last week I was visiting an ESOL classroom. They were learning about volcanoes. Of course they got to make one erupt. I was taking a video. One of the first graders asked if we could put it on YouTube. His friend said, "Hey! Maybe it will go viral!"  

This was my sign. A six year old knows what it means for a video on YouTube to go viral. 

A lot of kids, even young ones, are on some form of social media or they are at least exposed to it. 

The scary thing is that kids are not scared of social media. Even scarier is that they don't know how to use social media responsibly or safely. 

That brings me to my first reason for deciding to take the plunge into using social media in my classroom.
I want to create Digital Citizens! 

I mentioned Kayla Delzer before. She is a master at creating digital citizens. I will be using her unit at the beginning of the school year. Click the picture below to purchase it.

My second reason goes back to why I love using social media. I want my students to be able to connect with, collaborate with and learn from others around the world. Just like I do!

This summer I stumbled across a children's book I wanted to use in my classroom. Of course I wanted to create a companion product to go along with it. We all know how some authors feel about teacherpreneurs using their literature.
To be safe I decided to contact the author to ask for her permission. I emailed her. Within minutes she emailed me back. Minutes I tell you!!! Not only did she give me permission, she gave me her blessing and is now working with me to finalize the product.
This was an amazing opportunity for me. I was beyond excited. I got to "chat" with a real author. I am an adult and was over the moon about it.

Can you imagine how excited students would be to hear from an author? 
A scientist?
An explorer? 
They could even connect with and collaborate with students around the world!!! 

So there you have it. I'm taking the plunge into social media in the classroom. I know it won't be perfect and I am sure we will hit some bumps along the way but I'm excited and ready for the challenge. 

Do you use social media in your classroom? Please give me pointers or share your stories with me!