Monday, December 26, 2016


  1. Turn off the alarm and sleep in!
  2. Have a pajama day!  Those aren’t just for students you know.  You can even spend the day in pajamas without watching the Polar Express!
  3. Remove the glitter still lingering from all the classroom Christmas crafts.  It’s kind of like Christmas tree needles.  Long after the projects are gone, you’re still finding glitter.
  4. Find a place to store this year’s “Best Teacher” ornaments and coffee mugs!  You can never have too many, or can you?  Hmm…
  5. Sit down and eat your lunch.  You can take as long as you’d like!
  6. Read a book without thinking about what standards you can teach with it.
  7. Shop the after Christmas sales and end up buying things for your classroom instead of a new outfit.
  8. Spend some special time with your own children.  It’s easier to appreciate the time with them when there aren’t 20 other kiddos to think about!
  9. Smile!  You know parents are now appreciating you more than ever!  After a few days of being home with their children, they are realizing you were right all along.
  10. Try to convince yourself that you don’t enjoy sleeping in and having lazy days!
Then, realize that there is a part of you that misses your students’ warm hugs and smiling faces.  After all, who else could possibly work as hard as you and love them as much as you do?  With that realization, you are ready to get back to your classroom, but before you go to bed on that last day of Winter Break, you’ll note how many days of school there are until Spring Break.  Not because you’re counting down or anything!

                                                            Loving Our Learning

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sock Snowman: The Perfect Parent Gift Idea

If you are in search of the perfect Christmas or wintertime craft to do with your class...then look no further.  Sock snowmen are super easy to make and have proven to be a big hit with students and parents alike, year after year.  Seriously, whoever came up with this idea is a genius!

Step one:

Step two:

Step three:

Step four:

Step five:

This is where the fun begins! I like to glue a pompom to the top of the hat to create a tassel.   An idea to create the carrot nose, is to color a toothpick orange then stick it right through the sock.  Then we used a black sharpie to draw on pieces of coal for the mouth. Don't forget fabric scraps or strips of felt for the scarf.  

The best part for me, is to watch my students use their imaginations to bring their sock snowmen to life.  As a result, each snowman becomes just as unique as the child who created it.  

An added bonus to this project, is that you can easily tie in content area standards such as measurement.  Your students could also write an informational piece explaining "How To" build a sock snowman, or create a narrative piece describing an adventure their sock snowman went on.  

Each year, I look forward to this craft.  It's a great opportunity to include parent volunteers (highly recommended), and to take a break from the rigor and assessment that has become our norm.  

This is such a quick and easy activity that your students and parents will rave about for years to come!  

Snips, Snails, & Teacher Tales

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Refreshing Your Classroom

There are times during the school year I glance up from my table and realize, we need some reminders on rituals and routines in our classroom. We need organizing. We need some extra love in our classroom. The center bins are disorganized and Im pretty sure half my class forgot how to transition from word work to their seats. During the holiday season I use this time to refresh my classroom. So while I am working on crafts and gifts for our parents, I review these important things in my classroom. We come back from New Years fresh and ready to go. Here are 3 items that are on my refresh list this year:

1 - Routines and Transitions -  The phrase...“I’m Done!” It has started making its way back into my student’s vocabulary. We need a new lesson on things we can do when we think we are done. I use seat sack books and word work centers to help my students stay on task when they complete their work. These routines were started from the first day of school. My students use a rotating chart to determine what they can do when finishing their work. This gives me time to finish the small group I am with and check in on the students while they are working. Just one quick refresher lesson will do the trick with getting us back on track!                                                                                                     

2 - Behavior Expectations - This is a refresher really for me. I am going to spend the week giving more praise for positive behaviors. “Wow, look how Christopher is working so hard in his center. Great job!” “I love how Lucas is walking in line” It won’t take long for the others to catch on how much I am loving those positive behaviors. Their busy bodies are excited... and mine too... for our break from school. During these exciting and busy times of the year I use our class goal jar a lot more than normal. Every time I notice most of the class on task or making good choices I will add a star to the jar. Once we earn all the stars we celebrate. The best celebrations are no shoes for the day and bring a stuffed animal to school - because they are fun and FREE! If I do a better job praising them for the positive behaviors then all the focus is off all the other stuff. Stars in the jar this week! 

3 - Book Baskets - Oh boy. This is a job for the kids! My book baskets are all kinds of crazy right now. We even had a week of lessons on how to use our classroom library and taking care of our things. Time to take those lessons back out and refresh the classroom library. Students also love to help get everything back in its place and they feel a sense of ownership when they are apart of the cleaning up process.

We work so hard to teach all these rituals and routines with our students at the start of the year. Use the seasonal breaks as a time to restart those important routines. What things do you refresh in your classroom around this time of year? Would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dear Class, There Will Not Be An Elf In Our Classroom

No elf in your classroom? I know, you are probably thinking what on earth is wrong with this teacher? She is just as bad as the GRINCH. But no, I do not have an elf in my classroom. I never have. I probably never will. I just can't. I do LOVE Christmas and ALL of its MAGIC and WONDER. But for me, having an elf is something that I want to leave up to parents. As a Mom, I could never forgive myself if somehow I managed to say or do something that stole the wonder and magic or put doubt into one of my student's minds. They do ask me, will we have an elf in our classroom? They ask because they have one at home or Mrs. Smith's Kindergarten class down the hall has one. But, I simply look at them and say; I'm sorry, we will not have an elf in our classroom this year. The elf stories are great. I love hearing about them from my students. Those elves are funny and very clever. Some of those photos (oh my word) are a priceless! The whole elf thing is a VERY fun thing home. For me as teacher, it seems all consuming just managing my 19 students, let alone an elf TOO! Moving it each day. Thinking of different scenarios to put the elf in. Making the time to move it. Remembering to do it. Not touching it.  Making sure all the students do not touch it. These thoughts alone give me anxiety! But, I can not tell my students ALL of that. So they ask, why not Mrs. Harrington? Why do we not have an elf in OUR classroom? So, I have to tell them SOMETHING. And I might have to tell them it is because of a little girl in Texas. I might have to tell them she needed the elf more. I might have to tell them I got a letter from Santa:
Well, it's true. I do love boys and girls as much as Santa does. Heck, I love Santa just as much as boys and girls do. So of course, I would want to help him out. And so...I just might. And well, that might just be why - there will not be an elf in our classroom. 

(Teachers: Feel free to use this letter if you struggle with the whole elf thing like me.)
And if you do have an elf in your classroom, enjoy the magic and the wonder those little elves bring.