I’d love to share one of my favorite holiday traditions: Book Advent.
My 2 girls each open one book every night leading up to Christmas. We cuddle and read them before bed, and add them to our ever-growing home library.
I select and save them all year round, gathering from Scholastic book fairs, Books4Schools, Amazon, conferences or workshops, a local bookstore, or wherever life takes me. Last year, our Book Advent was filled with board books, this year with paperback picture books, and next year we will start to see chapter books – I love to reflect on how our family reading life evolves.
If you have a fun family tradition like this, I’d love to hear about it!
Christmas 2015 was especially exciting for me, because it was our first Christmas as a family of 3. I was so looking forward to it because I knew it would be a much needed break from work and a time to reconnect with my daughter, husband, and dogs. So, I did my part to build up excitement and anticipation at school!
I got my hands on these adorable elves, which I placed on my front board alongside a small Christmas tree and a Holiday Break countdown. Every day, I changed up the jokes on the board. Let me tell you a little something about 7th graders. They really made fun of my jokes, saying they were cheesy and dorky and lame. However, they were equal parts excited when they came in the room every day to read them. That’s the thing – to be cool, you gotta pretend things are lame, even if you really like it. Right? After a while, kids even came up to me suggesting new jokes to add. They secretly loooooved it. Enjoy!
We wrapped up our 2015 school year with an all school assembly including a student-staff volleyball game and a blue-slip raffle (blue slips are given to students who exhibit exceptional responsibility, respect, and safety). I received so many wonderful, delicious, and handmade gifts from my students! I was completely overwhelmed at their generosity. So many treats!
I go back to work tomorrow, but I can say I feel thoroughly rested and recharged. I didn’t get any of the work done I planned to, but maybe that’s ok. I got in a lot of snuggles and naps, and a lot of cooking and eating 🙂 That’s what life is all about, right? Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!
What’s that? You’re already thinking about Christmas? So am I! I usually start planning in September. ESPECIALLY for crafts. You may remember a few of my favorite Christmas projects of the past, such as these paw print ornaments and this advent calendar. I love giving handmade Christmas gifts from the heart 🙂
This year, we are making Baby Footprint Ornaments! They are super simple, cheap, and quick – so what’s not to love?
The entire project cost me only $17.43, and I purchased all of the materials at Michael’s. Here is what I used:
The ornaments themselves were only $1.49 each, on sale for 40% off! I also purchased some acrylic paint for $0.79, a Sharpie paint pen (get oil based so it’s permanent), some metallic cord, and an embellishment (by the sticker aisle).
Other materials you’ll want handy:
* a paper plate for spreading the paint and dipping baby’s foot
* baby wipes for cleaning baby’s foot
* paper towel
* scissors for trimming the cord
First, I laid out all of the materials on the table so they were within arms reach. Once you start, you aren’t going to want to get up to retrieve anything you forgot.
Next, I laid paper towel under my baby’s foot. She’s pretty squirmy, but we managed to keep the paint contained. I kept a hand on her painted foot at all times. You may want to use a drop cloth or old towel/sheet.
Then, I spread the paint on the paper plate. A dime sized amount is perfect. You don’t want it too thick, just enough to dampen baby’s foot. Too much paint makes everything squishy and messy and you don’t get the neat details of baby’s foot.
Dip baby’s foot in the paint (blot off any excess with a paper towel), then roll the wooden ornament up her foot from heel to toe. If you make a mistake (or if baby squishes her toes, because paint feels so cool!), just quickly grab a baby wipe and erase the mistake. The final products above represent at least 3 tries on each ornament. I would wipe, let it dry, and try again. No problem!
Once you have the final look that you like, let it dry for about an hour (depending on paint thickness) before adding your text and/or embellishments.
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this easy, quick, and cheap project!
I’m so embarrassed that it has taken me so long to put up this post! I have been very excited to share with you all of this year’s homemade Christmas presents. I start working on them right away in January/February because it means so much to me to be able to give from the heart. It’s a trait I’m sure I inherited from my grandmother, who loved to make things to give to others. As each of her 5 children went off to college, she knitted us a special afghan that I treasure (and can’t even bring myself to take out of the drawer!).
This past year, I began working on my sister’s Christmas present just a few days after last year’s Christmas. It took a looooong time, but it is totally worth it to have a family treasure that can be passed down and enjoyed for many years. I made this advent calendar by combining ideas from several different blogs (like here and here) as well as etsy (like this). Jenn just LOVED it! I made one for myself at the same time 🙂
Another project I finished over the summer was a book of my grandmother’s recipes. When she passed away, I asked for her recipe box and books. I spent countless hours pouring over the recipes, cherry-picking her favorites, separating them into categories, and typing them up. I spent the rest of the summer cooking many of the favorites to have pictures to include in the book. I also wrote a forward that attempts to capture what made her, and her cooking, so special. The final product was printed for brothers and sisters, each of her children, and grandchildren. I wrapped each book with love and hand delivered them on Christmas, and there were many, many tears.
It wouldn’t be Christmas if it weren’t for our lovingly handmade treats, as well. My mother, sister, and I spent an afternoon making Krumkake. The plate of cookies below were made by yours truly, including chocolate-dipped shortbread, chocolate cakeballs, and peanut-butter cup cookies (are you sensing that I LOVE chocolate?). The final result is the gorgeous display of our family’s cookie haul. YUM!
Last, but not least, I got a wonderful handmade surprise from my aunt on Christmas. She had found the pattern for my grandmother’s famous House Slippers. When you visited Grandma’s house, she always wanted to make sure you were warm enough. She insisted that you put on a pair of hand-knitted house slippers. I used to fight her on this and think they were big, clunky, and hideous. Then, over time, I grew to love them. I’d remind her if she forgot to have me put them on. When she passed away and we cleaned out her home, we all imagined we’d find a pair hidden in every nook and cranny of the house. Unfortunately, for unexplained reasons, we couldn’t find a single pair in the house. Had they walked off on their own? Well my aunt surprised us (all grand- and great-grand children) all by knitting us a personalized pair for Christmas – over 9 pair in total. More tears, for certain.
I’m already hard at work on Christmas presents for next year. No, I will not give away my secrets and tell you what I’m up to! I guess you’ll just have to wait….
I know, I know – It’s supposed to be “High Five for Friday,” but our last day of 2014 this year is on a Tuesday! We go right up to the 23rd. Hey, some people complain, but I like it for several reasons. It gets us out earlier in the summer, it keeps us busy, it forces me to be more prepared and organized for the holidays, and I know some kiddos are getting the warmth and food they need as close to the holidays as possible. So I don’t mind a bit!
Here are some highlights from our last week(s) of school:
1. Reading Turning Into Fun!– One of my 8 intervention students decided to make this game – ALL BY HERSELF! She asked if we could play it during our intervention class. I got everyone a game piece and one die for the group. Then, we read a Newsela article. After we finished each section, I asked the students a reading comprehension question (ranging from simple recall to inference and analysis). They enjoyed this, and I will definitely bring it out again.
2. Grammar Posters – I just made up a few random sentences and hung them on my bulletin board. We’ll see if they help!
3. Paper Wig Fashion Show – In art class, my students made a series of paper wigs. They look phenomenal, in my opinion! They asked the teachers to each model a wig and do a ‘runway fashion show’ for the school. I had such a blast! I really wish I could keep the wig, too – it’s really neat!
4. Krumkake – My mother, sister, and I got together for an afternoon to make Norwegian Krumkake. They are made on a hot press and then rolled onto a wooden dowel until they cool into this conical shape. You can eat them as is, or fill them with whipped cream. YUM.
5. Ready for Christmas! Here is Ruffy (one of my two dogs) in his Christmas best! Such a sweetie. We have all our gifts purchased, wrapped, packed, and ready to go! I just love Christmas 🙂
How were your last few days of school before Winter Break? I hope they were filled with good memories to last you until the New Year!
Happy End to Week 10! We’ve survived the start of Daylight Savings AND the end of First Quarter. It’s been a rough ride, people are tired and crabby, but High Five for Fridays is all about celebrating the silver linings 🙂 I hope you had a great week, and I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
1. Charles – This week, we read “Charles,” a short story by Shirley Jackson. It’s an adorable, humorous story that any student can appreciate. I love the twists and turns in Shirley Jackson’s work, and I find them very appealing to middle school students. If you haven’t read “The Lottery,” it’s definitely a must read. We have such great conversations after reading that story!
2. QRI-5 – This week, I ran a professional development workshop for our language arts department on how to administer and score the QRI. I’ve been using it for years to identify struggling readers and develop intervention plans, and I’ve come up with several tips and shortcuts. I think it’s an important tool to provide us with qualitative information – beyond just numbers and test scores – on how our students are reading and what we can do to help them progress.
3. SLO – I did it. I submitted my SLO and my PPG this year. Death by acronyms, right? SLO (Student Learning Objective), PPG (Professional Practice Goals), EEP (Educator Effectiveness Plan), and whatever else they can think up for us. This submit screen was pretty scary. All year we’ve been told, “For the love of pete, don’t hit submit!” Then the admins said, “For the love of humanity, hit submit, now!” So much tension. But it’s done for now!
4. Daylight Savings– I’m not a fan of Daylight Savings. It really messes with my brain and my sense of well-being. However, I have enjoyed seeing the sun in the mornings on my way to work. It reminds me that I am truly a morning person. It’s so beautiful and peaceful and quiet.
5. It’s Coming…. I went to Target and the Mall this week, and they are both already set up for Christmas. I know that sends some people into a homicidal rage, but this year I am choosing to embrace it (what can ya do?). I even bought some wrapping paper at Target and wrapped my first couple of presents. I’ve been making and planning for this Christmas since last Christmas. Second only to Thanksgiving, I think it’s the best holiday! I love giving gifts – it completes me 🙂
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you all had a most wonderful day yesterday. I had a great time celebrating Christmas 3 times! We began the morning at my husband’s mother’s house, the afternoon with my immediate family at my sister’s house, and the evening with my extended family at my aunt’s house. Festivities from morning ’til night – that’s how I roll!
As cliche as it is, I find that the joy of Christmas comes from giving, not receiving. For weeks or even months, I look forward to watching someone open a gift I carefully selected or handmade. It brings me such joy! Here are some of the gifts I made this year that I couldn’t wait to give:
Paw print ornaments for my mother and sister of our 3 dogs: Tyger, Ruffy, & Rocket. If you want to make your own, these are the wonderful ornament directions I followed (I added nail polish for flair).
My sister and I ordered a canvas print for my mother of a family photo session we had done this fall. She plans to hang it over her fireplace. She was SO excited! We ordered from CanvasonDemand.com
I made coloring books for all of my nieces and nephews for Christmas. They were a hit! (P.S. If you want to purchase a copy for yourself, you can click here).
I really wanted to give back this year, and I thought I had picked the perfect way to do so. I am O negative, which is the universal blood donor. I went in to the Wisconsin Blood Center the day before Christmas and donated a pint of blood. The problem was that when I went to leave, I blacked out. I came to with a team hovering over me, covering me in icepacks, palpating my feet and legs, and holding a fan on my face. What?! Woops.
It’s December – YAY! I am officially ready to hear Christmas music and get in the holiday spirit. Bring on the red Starbuck’s cups, tinsel, and all the other Holly Jolly.
So we have 3 full weeks until Winter Break – a long haul for the students, especially since we are working on our Argument Unit and there is a lot of work yet to do. I used a countdown clipboard last year, and this seemed to help. I would refer to it whenever students seemed to have zoned out – “Guys, we still have X days left.” They understood the visual reminder that we aren’t there yet. It’s not time to check out, people!
It is a very simple project to create this Countdown Clipboard. The backing is just wrapping paper that I cut to fit, then laminated. I did this so I could change out the backing to match any other time of year (ex: Countdown to Summer). The numbers are index cards, also laminated.
I like to put a student in charge of changing the numbers. In 8th grade, this is a fun project for students – they often fight over who gets to make the switch each morning.
As long as we’re talking about getting into the holiday spirit, why not show you a picture of my tree? Yes, we do own a bigger tree, but we felt it was best to put up the little tree this year since we are still house-training our new dog, Ruffy. From a dog’s perspective, I imagine it’s pretty confusing to have a tree indoors that you aren’t allowed to pee on, amiright? Both my husband and I are allergic to pine, so we’ve always had a synthetic tree. One of my favorite holiday stories involves 2 special, identical ornaments on our tree. We both received the same ornament the year we were born, and we’ve been hanging on to them ever since. I put them side-by-side on the tree and love seeing that we were meant for each other from the start. We also have a pickle hiding in our tree – a Scandinavian tradition (you’ll never spot it in this photo!).
Have you begin getting ready for the holiday season?