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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is almost here!

I love spending a few days on this tradition. It's such a fun holiday teach, filled with tons of rich culture. 

Typically, for our non-fiction reading/research, I like to use Scholastic News (and yes, I keep all of the year's sets so I have the theme when I need them to fit a theme or subject), ReadWorks.org, PebbleGo, and Reading A-Z. 

Here are a few activities we get to throughout the week. 


We make a dragon puppet - using popsicle sticks. It's great as a stand-alone activity, or I actually like to glue it to the top of the compare/contrast writing activity for a little added flare. 



Another fun activity we do - write about the Chinese New Year and glue it to a flap book with the dragon attached to the ends. You could also use the page without a title to do a Sam and the Lucky Money summary (or any book) 



Sam and the Lucky Money is one of my go-to books. It actually used to be a 2nd Grade story in the Reading series. I don't teach from the reading series, but it was one of the stories I actually did.



There's a really cute directed draw from Art Hub for Kids, too - a lantern. My kids always love doing those drawings. I'll post the link in our Google Classroom and it can be a center activity, the drawing to a writing response, OR maybe it's an option for morning "tubs" if they're finished with all their work. 



You can grab these activities (and some more!) in my Chinese New Year Mini-Unit





Another cute activity we do is with the book, The Panda Problem...just because. It's SUCH a cute book! It was a Florida Sunshine State book and I read it during this week and I fell in love with it! 


We did a directed draw from - yep, you guessed it - Art for Kids Hub, 


Then we did a little writing to go with it. You can download the free writing page HERE


Have a great Wednesday!


Valentine's Writing Ideas

Every year - I change up what kind of Valentine's Day writing I do. I think it really just depends on the class I have, maybe??

Anyway - I wanted to put all of my past ideas in one post for you - so here you go! 

One of the things I do is to have them write about things they love about themselves! I really love doing this. You'd be amazed at how hard this is for them. 


I use the heart scrapbook punch to cut out various size hearts on various paper for a cute pop of color. 


I do make it a writing lesson too, of course. 


Another idea I've done is to have them create a Google Slide with a speech bubble. I take their picture, remove the background (thank you, PicsArt for doing all the work for me!) and then insert it into a google slide. I print them up and they can put it on the inside of a card for whoever they want to give it to. Parents, grandparents, whoever they live with. 







One of my favorite cards we make is this one - I let them watercolor paint whatever they want.  I take their picture and remove the background, print them up and glue them to the front of the card. I love using that heart hole puncher to make quick hearts! 


If they don't feel like blowing kisses, no biggie - they can pose however they want. I have a few other props they can use too. 


They can write a simple letter to glue on the inside of the card - 




I have some freebie letter templates - click the picture to download!






Here are a few other Valentine activities we love to do! 

Candy heart math is one of our favorites





And our Class Books - such a fun writing and they always want to read them throughout the year. 



And ELA and Math Centers - for Grade 1 and Grade 2




One of the best centers - Label it and write about it!


And these Monthly Family projects are always fun to hang up in the room! 








December Adult Book Review




December was a BUSY month. A LOT happened in December, more than usual. So my book list isn't so "grand" for December. BUT Thanks to audiobooks, I did get to finish a few!! 



I read these back in college, and I just felt like I needed to read them again. It's funny how when you read the same books at different times in you life, you get different messages from them, or you connect to them in a different way. 





This one was really good. It was about a rich family, who's parents were murdered. The three kids are prime suspects since they stand to inherit millions. It's told through the eyes of the three kids (who are adults and have their own problems in life). In the end, there's a little twist, which is the kind of ending I like. BUT, I didn't really see the clues leading up to it, either. So not QUITE the psychological thriller I usually get to read. 


And last, but not least....


I have always loved Michael J. Fox.  And ever since he has come public with his disease and I see how he doesn't give up on life, it makes me really respect him. This books just showed me even more how much determination he has in life. Such an inspiration.



Ok - so those are my December Books - Hope you find one or two that you might want to read! 



Planning for January

Happy First of January!!  

Can't believe it's time to start planning for January already, can you??!!

Here are some of my favorite themes, lessons, and ideas I like to do for January. 






First I start with New Year's and Snowmen....


The first few days we get back, we talked about our goals for the new year. 


I like reading THIS book as our lesson starter.



We just wrote them on our "quick writes" paper.


I also have them do an old Scholastic News article and this cute little craft - which perfect for taking up time! lol. I just have them trace the hat, I will write the year in the middle, and then they have the freedom to decorate their hats however they want. 

And since we were going to have Monday off for Martin Luther King Day, we talked about how it's okay to be different. I really like to focus on accepting everyone, not just people of other colors.  Todd Parr's book is one of my favorites to talk about this.  




The book class book we wrote comes from my January Class Books Set. My class loves writing class books. Take a look at this post to see more ideas for class books.


Another favorite activity we did comes from Christina, HERE.  We read the book Snow Dream, and we focused on using clues... a lot of inferencing with this activity!


We also used the Snowmen Books to help us with our writing that week. After we read a few of the books, we brainstormed ideas on what they could do with their snowman. Then, we did the planning page and wrote it out as a paragraph. 


I really want them to start focusing on topic, details, and closing, so I had them use a crayon to underline their topic (green), details (highlighting the transition words in yellow), and closing (red). 


After they finished their writing and illustrating, they did the snowman craft to go along with it. It's a non-tracer craft. They are getting so good with those! 



That was the first week. 

Our 2nd week back, we move on to Penguins... We reviewed prepositions (with my stellar chart anchor chart that I forgot to take a picture of, but it was something like my Turkey Preposition chart HERE),


 then they did their Penguin Adventure book







It's a freebie! :) 

Grab it HERE

Also - every theme we always start with making our folder for it. We make a header for the folder and then they do a directed drawing for the cover. I always love how different they turn out!


They really make it their own!

The first week, we focus on Tacky!

We did some summarizing. The kids said that they thought "Then" worked better, the way we were wording the summary, so we changed it on the form. Sure! Why not? Right?


They took the planning page and turned it into a paragraph writing.


We also compared Tacky to his friends and did a cute craft to go with it!


After reading a few of the books, we did a little character analyzing....



Next week, we'll still be doing penguins, but we're moving to nonfiction!

The kids will be doing their own research on PebbleGo and creating their own book!


I always love watching their first research book come together! 





Here's a preview of what's included in the Learning with Penguins unit.



Sometimes, depending on where we're at in our technology skills, I have them do a Google Slide on their penguin research. 



Check out this video


And finally, if we have time in our month - or at least an extra week, we do a unit on Predator and Prey in the arctic. I use an OLD Scholastic News for this and some ReadWorks articles - and the kids LOVE it. 

In addition to my PENGUIN packs - here are a few other things I have planned for January! 










Hope you have a wonderful rest of your break! 





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