Burlap Christmas Trees

Sunday, December 14, 2014

This week my students will be making a couple Christmas gifts for their families! One of my favorites is the burlap Christmas trees! I got this idea from a fabulous 1st grade teacher who was one of my mentor teachers and I've done it every year since!

- Burlap 
(length depends on the number of students!)
- Masking tape
- Large needles 
(the ones are use are actually knitting needles... they have large eyes and blunt ends)
- Tree pattern to trace
- Permanent Marker
- Green yarn
- Star foam stickers
- Gems/sequins
- Markers
- Glue bottles 

I used to do the prep for this on my own, but the last couple years I've been lucky to have a parent volunteer to take it home and do it for me! I just send home the burlap, masking tape, tree pattern to trace, and permanent marker. 

The burlap is cut into large squares, and then taped on the edges so it doesn't fray.

Next, the Christmas tree can be traced on the burlap. I cut out a tree pattern on construction paper and then just save it to use every year. It is large and fairly simple. It's nice to trace it in green marker so that it blends in more with the green yarn!
I also prep the yarn and needles for them. I estimate how much yarn students will need, and cut that length. Then I tie a knot at one end, and insert the other end through the needle. You can even start it off by pulling the needle up through the burlap. I always have them start at the bottom corner of the stump. This makes it easier when it is time to hand out all the materials!

After showing my students what they will be doing, I pass out the burlap squares and needles with thread. I like to show them how to do it keeping the burlap flat on their desk the entire time and simply leaving a finger tip space and then threading the needle under one strand of burlap.

I've done this in both 1st and 4th grades and every year my students have loved it! It's also great for working on those fine motor skills!

After they are done sewing, I help them tie off the end underneath and then they cut off the extra yarn! Then they can color it with yarn and decorate their tree! I give each table a plate or bowl with gems and sequins. Also, each student gets a sparkly foam star to glue on top of their tree!

Some students even like to draw in some presents under their tree!

If you can't do Christmas trees at your school, you could do something else, like a snowman! Or heck, you could really sew anything, at any time of year for this project!

Hope you all have a great last week before Christmas break!

An Hour of Code

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When I attended the Fall Cue Conference, I went to a session on coding. I thought it sounded really interesting and was something that my students would absolutely love. Just thinking about "coding" can be intimidating though. I am not very familiar with writing code myself, let alone teaching it to my students.

Well, this week is Computer Science Education Week and there is no better time or way to learn about coding than with Hour of Code!

Hour of Code is a website that helps teach coding beginning with the very basics. On their website, they say that "the Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics."

Now that my admin classes are finished for the semester, I had some spare time to explore the website last night and see if this was something I could do with my students. I was surprised to discover how simplified they made the coding process so that I (and my students!) could understand!

We started off today watching this video that is a great introduction for Hour of Code.

After showing my students the video, they got to practice coding!
We used our class iPads and my students just typed in www.hourofcode.com. We don't have quite enough iPads for each student to have their own, so some students worked together. 

After clicking on "go" under Code with Anna and Elsa, students watched another short video about Blockly programing, which uses visual blocks that you can drag and drop to write programs.  The video also explained basic information that they needed to get started.

When they began coding, the screen was divided into three parts. The left side shows the pattern that they need to make, the middle shows the blocks they can choose from, and the right side is where they assemble the blocks to write to code. 

Students can click on "Show Code" in the top right corner to see what code they are writing. There is also an option to see the code after students complete each level!

Hour of Code also has a great resources page with materials to show and distribute to your students and parents! I printed a couple posters that I am going to hang up outside my classroom to help spread the word to other students in our school!

Even if you don't have technology, you can still teach your students about coding! There are some great ideas for "unplugged" coding that you can do with your students! Check out these two ideas to get you started!
The Drawing Machine
My Robotic Friends
I can't say enough about how great Hour of Code was today for my students! We will definitely be doing more coding in our classroom! If you have a couple spare minutes after reading this post (and if you haven't already!) go check out the Hour of Code website and try coding yourself! 

Will you be doing Hour of Code in your classroom this week?

Beaded Candy Canes

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas is fast approaching and with only 2 weeks left of school before the break, we have a lot to fit in! I love bringing in several crafty projects for my students to make as we are celebrating the season! I have purchased several wonderful close reading passages from sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers, some of which include passages on the creation and meaning behind candy canes!

After reading the passages, we do this quick and easy project where students can create their own (long-lasting) candy canes using a white pipe cleaner, and red and white pony beads!

A couple of my favorite candy cane passages are: 
Little Red's Christmas Close Reading Informational Passages and Questions
Kristine Nannini's Christmas Close Reading Passages, Text-Dependent Questions & More


This project is super simple. Students simply take a white (or red) pipe cleaner and string on the beads, alternating between red and white. At each end of the candy cane students fold over the pipe cleaner so that the beads do not fall off. Then they can bend and shape their candy cane however they like!

I have my students put a piece of tape on the end of their candy cane with their initials so that we know which one bellows to who.

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! I went out shopping today to buy the supplies that we need for some more Christmas crafts in the next couple weeks! I'll be sharing those on the blog soon!

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 5!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Today is day 5 of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah's 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!
I'm teaming up with her and some fabulous other teacher bloggers to bring a lucky winner some great prizes! 

Enter using the Rafflecopter below to win a $20 Target gift card and TPT credits to our stores!

Links to TPT Shops:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Numbering Student Mailboxes

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I have had student mailboxes ever since I started teaching and I can't imagine not having them! They make passing out papers and other notes from the office so easy! The last 4 years I would write student names on labels at the beginning of each year to put on the mailboxes. The labels never really stuck very well though, and it took a lot of time away from classroom prep at the beginning of the year to get them ready! Plus, I'd always wait until last minute in case I had any new students enroll! 
I number a lot of things in my classroom, and decided to try numbering my mailboxes as well! That way my mailboxes are set and I don't have to redo them every year! This summer I posted a picture on Instagram of the numbers I was working on for mailbox clips, and I am finally getting around to sharing them with all of you!
After printing out the labels, I cut them out, making sure not to leave any white space around the edges.
Then I put a layer of Mod Podge on the clip with a foam brush and affixed the number label.
I added another layer of Mod Podge on top to make sure the number label was secure. I knew there would be a lot of little hands reaching in and out of the mailboxes and I want these clips to last!
After I finished each clip I laid it around the outside edge of a paper plate to dry. They dried surprisingly quick!
I've learned over the years to always make extras of EVERYTHING because it seems like I always get a couple new students throughout the year. Even though I only have 22 students this year, I made extra clips so I have them just in case!

I am lucky to have gotten my student mailboxes from another teacher who didn't need them anymore because they are pretty expensive. If you are looking for something similar, you can find one (here) or (here). Mine is old and well loved. There were old labels that have been stuck on their for years. I tried to peal off as much as I could, but there was still label parts remaining. To cover them up, I took a black sharpie and drew over the white (off-white) labels. From the pictures, you can tell where the sharpie was drawn on, but in person you can hardly tell! The binder clips went on easily after that!
If you are in need of an update for your student mailboxes, you can pick these up in my TPT store by clicking the image below!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! I am looking forward to seeing my students tomorrow after a week off! I miss their sweet little faces!

Thankful Printable + 9 Day Break

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving is coming up in 5 days, which means the Christmas season is right around the corner! I already put up some of our Christmas decorations and have held off on the tree for as long as I can, however with this fabulous 9 day break (so excited that we have all of Thanksgiving week off!) I am really wanting to cozy up our place with more Christmas decorations! I'm thinking that may be happening tonight...

I am so incredibly thankful for all of you and for the time you take to comment and read my blog! Thank you so much for your continued support! I love having this fabulous space to connect with other teachers and bloggers all over the world, who I never would have "met" if it hadn't been for blogging!

I made a Thankful printable to put up for our family Thanksgiving feast... Click on the picture to get it for free! I am thankful for all of you!!

I know that many of you still have to go back to school for a few days next week, so I have a couple things you may want to stop by my shop to pick up!

This first one is a freebie that will get your kids thinking of all the things they are thankful for from A-Z! I tell my kids they get double points if they think of something with multiple beginning letters... like Kit Kats or Mary's Meals (an awesome non-profit my students are raising money for this year).

I also have Thanksgiving Math Centers that review capacity, subtracting across zero, missing factor problems, and adding and subtracting decimals. It is 20% off through this Tuesday 11/25!

Are you off all week or do you go back for a couple days?


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