Currently December

Currently December

 

Geez…I really have been meaning to write here more often, but I keep thinking that I will “do it tomorrow” – don’t we all know how that goes. 🙂

I do have much to write about, but it will have to wait for another day. My kiddos are SO excited about our RACK-ing and I love seeing their excitement! More about that later!

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Sweet Heart Writing

Last week on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do a fun writing activity with my kiddos. After a bit [ahem, an hour] of searching on Pinterest, I tweaked some ideas I saw and came up with Sweetheart Writing!

Each student was given 6-8 Sweetheart candies…you know, the ones with the sayings on them like “hug me” or “sweetie pie”…as well as a piece of red cardstock and a glue bottle. The goal of this assignment was to write a letter to someone using all of your conversation hearts. Some kids wrote serious letters to their parents; others wrote silly letters to imaginary characters. One student wrote a break-up letter, another wrote a real love letter to a “stranger”!

The kids had a blast completing this assignment and kept asking for more hearts – not to eat, but to fit into their letter! I loved writing their finished copies and they enjoyed sharing them with the class. Here are some for your enjoyment:

 

*Sorry that some of them are hard to read – without the flash they were too dark!*

So as you can see, they did a great job and were quite creative with how they used the hearts.

One of my favorite things about Valentines Day in 5th grade is our service project. Rather than purchasing store-bought Valentines for everyone in the class, we had parents send in supplies to make Valentines to send to the kids at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh! We spent one afternoon spread out on our carpet using pink and red card stock, sequins, ribbons, and LOTS of stickers to create cards for the kiddos who might not otherwise receive them. We really tried to focus on loving those who might not feel God’s love and I hope my students understand how much their cards will mean to the kids who received them!

What do you do with your 5th graders for Valentines Day? I find that as they get older, it is harder to do the crafts and games that are so popular in the younger grades. Do you have any fun ideas??

Groundhog Day Fun

Fifth grade is a difficult year to find fun activities to do for holidays that aren’t too juvenile but still worthwhile. After some searching and combining ideas, I came up with this!

I gave the kids a page of facts about Groundhog Day to read for morning work. They had to highlight three or more facts that they learned or found interesting. Lots of kiddos thought it was cool that Punxatawney Phil actually lives in a library during the year! Many of them also didn’t know that Punxatawney is really not too far from our hometown of Pittsburgh.

Later in the day, after discussing the interesting facts that they found, I wanted to do a quick, fun, yet still educational Groundhog Day craft. So I pulled together several ideas that I had seen on Pinterest and on various blogs. We created the head of a groundhog by using lots of different hearts – an upside down large brown heart for the head, a medium brown heart cut in half for the ears, a medium white heart upside down for the teeth, and some used a small pink heart for the nose. They had fun adding eyes, whiskers, and other features to the face!

After decorating the face, the students cut out two brown “paws” and glue the groundhog head and paws to the top of a piece of pink paper. On the paper, they wrote a paragraph from the perspective of Punxatawney Phil describing what they like/don’t like about their important job. These turned out great! Some of them were so creative 🙂 Here in PA, we have a groundhog who advertises for the Pennsylvania Lottery named Gus, “the 2nd most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania”. Several of the students referenced Gus in their paragraphs, talking about how Gus is jealous of them or they wish they had lots of money like Gus! So funny!

 

Anyways, I was really pleased with this activity. It didn’t take up too much time and included several important academic skills as well, such as following directions, writing in first person, and sharing with the class. They had a blast creating their groundhogs and I loved seeing how different they all were!

Did you do anything fun on Groundhog Day??

Christmas Time is Here…

I can’t believe there are only 2 weekends left until Christmas! Ahhh! There is so much left to do. Normally the hubs and I would bake cookies this weekend, but we have so much going on that there just isn’t time!

But I don’t want to complain because everything we are doing is so fun and I am so blessed by the friends we will be spending time with! Tomorrow is our Franksgiving (aka Friend Thanksgiving) – we are having a few couples over from our Small Group and enjoying a delicious turkey dinner with side dishes prepared by different people in the group. It will be a great way for us to reflect on everything we are thankful for and look forward to the joy of Christmas and the coming of our Savior!

Here in my classroom, we *FINALLY* finished our American Revolution unit – phew! It is definitely a favorite, but is so incredibly long. My kiddos took their 100 point unit test yesterday and ROCKED it! I am so proud of them. This is one of the hardest tests they will take all year, and most got an A or a B! Yahoo! One of the mini essays was the question “Why was the Battle of Saratoga the turning point of the war?” Easy question, as this was one of the most emphasized things in class – it caused the French to see that the Americans could actually win this thing, and they began to provide us with money, weapons, military men, ships, etc. One of my students ended this essay by saying, “Go French!” I thought that was funny considering we were talking about the American Revolution 🙂

My goal of this unit was for them to see how everything worked together to lead to American independence, and without the Lord’s help, we would not have made it through. Looking at the miracles that happened, such as Washington’s horse getting shot out from under him and he survived, or the foggy night that allowed Washington and his troops to safely retreat from New York after a battle, we can see God’s hand in all of it. Pretty amazing!

Wanna see how much you know about the Revolution? Check out my unit test – you’ll be amazed at the knowledge these kids come away with!

A.R. Unit Test

So now we can finally focus on Christmas, right? WRONG! It’s time to spend a week learning about the Constitution and the foundation of our country’s government. Blah. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important thing to discuss, but at this point I am simply ready to put aside the heavy duty information and focus on advent! We will have a week of instruction before Christmas and finish the rest of the information after returning in January.

But in the midst of learning about our government, we will also be talking about holidays around the world. Each month, the students at our school complete a project that ties into the topic of that month. In November, my kiddos did their wax museum presentation. In December, we learn about holidays around the world, so each student picks a country and researches its holiday traditions.

*BUT* instead of presenting in regular, report format, they create what’s called a “Box Report”. They take the information they learn and put it on the 6 sides of the box! This is a low-key, non-stressful project that allows them to have a little bit of creative fun with it! I allow them to use any size box, though I do provide them with a pattern for a box they can make, and they can decorate their box however they would like to. I’ve had some come in with large cardboard boxes, and others with itty bitty ones – but as long as the information is there, I don’t care how it is presented 🙂 The students then teach the rest of the class about their country’s holiday traditions.

Holiday Box Report – Check out the guidelines that I created.

This is my tree and bulletin board from last year. I hung their boxes on the board after they presented, using either masking tape or push pins.

We also take time to study Hanukkah and its traditions, hence why there are pictures of menorahs on the board. One of the students’ favorite things to do is play the dreidel game ! After playing it once, they always ask to play again. I have a few dreidels here that we use, but I also have a pattern that I found for the kids to make their own.

Here are some of last year’s students playing the dreidel game after talking about the symbols on the dreidel and how to play. [Yes, one boy is in a kilt – he did his box report on Scotland and chose to wear a kilt for his presentation!]

This year we have several Christmas crafts that we will be completing, and I have some new ideas I can’t wait to implement! Thank you, Pinterest 🙂

What does your classroom look like for the holidays? Busy busy busy? Or do you take it easy and just have fun?