Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hodgepodge of Valentine Freebies

Need a valentine idea?  Have you tried the melted crayon hearts?  Check out these FREE and EDITABLE printable Valentine’s Day cards that go perfect with this DIY craft.

I've been wanting to make the melted crayon heart valentines for  a couple of years now and finally got around to it!   My daughter only just turned one, so she can't make her own this year anyway and I figure at least the crayons are something her friends can actually use.

I followed this tutorial from The Nerd's Wife (she has a free printable card there as well) and I ordered the pan above from Amazon.  I didn't take any pictures (bad!) but I do have some tips...

-Sort the colors carefully.  I just put all the dark crayon pieces together but it resulted in a lot of black looking hearts.  I think if I had put the blues/greens together, etc. then they might have looked better.  Or just use the brighter colors if you have enough crayons.

-Put your heart pan on a cookie sheet before putting it into the oven.  My first batch was thinner because lots of the wax spilled out when I tried removing the pan from the oven.  Since the pan is silicone, it's super flexible.

-Put them in the freezer and they will set in a couple of minutes after baking.  Another reason to have your heart pan on a cookie sheet.

-Somewhere I saw to stick the hearts on the card with a dab of hot glue but that didn't work for me because it just melted the crayon.  I used masking tape instead.
Need a valentine idea?  Have you tried the melted crayon hearts?  Check out these FREE and EDITABLE printable Valentine’s Day cards that go perfect with this DIY craft.
Need a valentine idea?  Have you tried the melted crayon hearts?  Check out these FREE and EDITABLE printable Valentine’s Day cards that go perfect with this DIY craft.

I made some valentine cards that you can use if you'd like!  The pages are editable so you can insert your name before printing if desired.  One page uses a child looking font and one page uses a script font. Just open the PDF in Adobe Pro or Reader and you will be able to type in the box.  You can download them here.
Need a valentine idea for your students or classmates?  Check out these FREE printable Valentine’s Day bookmarks.  These are the perfect non candy treat!  Just print and add ribbon.
I also posted some bookmarks that I have printed and give to my students as gifts before.  They are free, not candy, and encourage reading!  Just print, cut, punch a hole, and add some ribbon to spice them up a bit.  

Need a valentine idea for your students or classmates?  Check out these FREE printable Valentine’s Day bookmarks.  These are the perfect non candy treat!  Just print and add ribbon.
You can download them here or by clicking the image above.
Looking for Valentine’s Day ideas?  Check out this post of freebies including printable cards, bookmarks, and Valentine’s Day lesson activities.  The perfect treat for both teachers and their students!
I have two favorite Valentine's Day themed books that I read aloud every year, one fiction and one nonfiction. 
The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting is the cutest ever.  Mrs. Bear wakes up early from hibernating in order to surprise Mr. Bear for Valentine's Day, since they usually miss the holiday.  She plans all sorts of surprises for him, but at the end he has one for her too! 
Looking for Valentine’s Day ideas?  Check out this post of freebies including printable cards, bookmarks, and Valentine’s Day lesson activities.  The perfect treat for both teachers and their students!

I made a smallish unit for the book last year and here is a Venn Diagram from it that my blog readers can download for free.  Just click here or the image above.  You can find the entire unit in my store here.  A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting is similarly adorable if you haven't read it.
I also love all Gail Gibbons books because it seems like she has a nonfiction text about everything.  They are simple enough for primary aged students but also offer good content.  This one is gives some history of Valentine's Day that even I wasn't aware of, as well as the typical information about how we celebrate it.   (It doesn't seem available on Amazon right now for some reason, but you could probably find it in a library.)
Looking for Valentine’s Day ideas?  Check out this post of freebies including printable cards, bookmarks, and Valentine’s Day lesson activities.  The perfect treat for both teachers and their students!

I have a pack of ten literacy centers and one of them is matching supporting details to the main idea  It would be perfect to use after reading this book and discussing the traditions and history of Valentine's Day.  You can download it by clicking here or the image above for free as a blog reader and you can find the pack with nine additional centers here.

If you are looking for some additional valentine themed activities, check out my TpT products here or visit my Valentine's Day Pinterest board below.  
Follow Literacy Spark's board Valentine's Day on Pinterest.
Thanks for stopping by!  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Magical Word Work {a watercolor trick}

Looking for engaging word work activities for kindergarten and first grade?  Check out this idea using watercolor paints and a white crayon.
I've got a fun word work idea for you for younger kids.  Sometimes you want kids to write their sight words or spelling words over and over so they can memorize them.  Admit it, you do.  But, telling kids to write their words 5X each is sort of old school and not the most fun.  So everyone does rainbow writing and things like that to spice it up but still get in the practice.  Well, here's another fun one to add to your toolbox.  First graders love it, I know kinder kids would too.

I googled this to see if it was commonly used and I really just saw it on art blogs...apparently it is called crayon resist.  

Your students will need a large sheet of white construction paper and a white crayon, along with water and watercolor paints.

Usually I fold up the paper so that they can see columns and spaces for writing to make it a little neater.  Remember that they will need a bigger space since they are writing with crayon.

Have them write their words 5X each or whatever in the boxes with the white crayon.  They won't really be able to see what they wrote very well.
When they are finished, have them take a paintbrush and watercolor paint and brush over their writing.  Viola!  The words appear like magic!    FUN!

Get in some extra practice by having the kids spell the words aloud while they paint over the letters or have them do the vowels in one color, consonants in another.  Sometimes they might even discover they spelled the word wrong when they wrote it, oops!  PreK kids could probably do this just writing their names or letters.

Have you ever tried this before?  Got any other fun ideas to use this method?

Friday, January 15, 2016

MLK Jr. Freebie over at Adventures in Literacy Land

Just stopping in to share that this year I will be a blogger over at Adventures in Literacy Land!  Today is my first post and I am introducing myself and sharing the freebie below.  Hop on over to pick it up!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Compliment Circle & Tear Offs Freebie

Check out these free tear off flyers that encourage your students to compliment one another in a fun way!  The printable freebies are perfect for encouraging kindness.
During my first year of teaching, we had inservice about teaching students to give each other compliments.  Well, truthfully, the inservice was probably about developing a sense of community or working with English Language Learners but the compliment thing is what we were required to implement and the part I remember ten years later!

I came across this Valentine's Day Class Compliments post from Blair Turner (which has a great traits poster so check it out!) and the compliment circle popped into my head.  I was teaching first grade with many students who were learning English as a second language.  The compliment circle really turned out to be a favorite for both me and my students for several years.

Here's how it worked:  Students would sit in a circle on the rug. The teacher went around the circle first giving each student a compliment.  Because the kids were so young and also learning English, we used the sentence stem, "I like the way..." followed by the compliment.  This also encouraged kids to note things other than physical characteristics of each other.  So I would say, "Jessica, I like the way you helped Avery get on the swing at recess today."  The student would respond with thank you and I would follow with your welcome and continue all the way around the circle.  Then it would be the students' turns.  One at a time they would choose a student to compliment using the same format.  If they really did not want to, they could always say pass.  But once this became routine, that hardly happened.  

Yes, looking back this must have taken a loooooong time, especially at the beginning of the year.    I don't think we used to be as time crunched to fit so much in.  But, as time went on it sped up.  The modeling is really important for the younger kids so they learn the format, feel comfortable talking to one another, and learn to focus on actions and not appearance. Once they do, it's so cute!

We always did our compliments after lunch/recess so it was sort of a way to settle back in and get a fresh start for the second half of the day, but morning would work too.    Although, in the afternoon we were always able to draw attention to things that happened earlier in the day.

Once I moved to Texas and started teaching second grade, this wasn't something I continued with, probably because of the time.  It's still such an important skill for students to learn though!  So I was thinking about how it could quickly and easily be integrated into the day without taking a bunch of time and came up with these tear off sheets.  

Simply post one or a few of them around your room.  Students can pull one off and use it to compliment another student.  The sentence stem will help them focus on important characteristics (other than I like your shoes...) and the variety will keep them from constantly saying the same thing.  Of course the thank you and your welcome mannerisms will still need to be taught too!


You can download these sheets for free from my TpT store (in B/W too) and I hope they brighten your students' days (and yours)!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Currently January 2016

Happy 2016!
Listening:  Football is on for background noise, not because I am watching it!  If I turn it to something I actually want to watch, it would distract me.  

Loving:  We have lived in Texas for about 5 years now but our families still live in Massachusetts.  So, we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas without them.  We used to go home for at least one of the holidays but traveling with my then nine month old over the summer wasn't very much fun so we decided to just stay home for the holidays.  But, my grandmother is coming to stay with us in a week for a couple of weeks and then my parents are coming in February.  So, I'm excited to see them and have some company during the day.
Thinking:  This is how New Year's Eve started in the afternoon but then by dinner we had a vomiting one year old!  Why!?!?!?  I knew there had to be reason she was so quiet all day.  Thankfully she only threw up a couple of times and I got her to bed again for the night at about 9, but then I went to bed having no clue how many times we would be up during the night.  I had every intention of watching How to Make a Murderer on Netflix and just relaxing but not so lucky.  There's always next year!
Wanting:  Every month all I ever want is cooked food...and a chance to eat it, ha!  We actually went out to an early dinner yesterday but Gracie refused to eat or sit still so we had to take it to go.  And then when we got home she was sick...guess that's why she wouldn't eat.  Leftovers aren't really the same.
Needing:  I really need Gracie to feel better!  Thankfully she hasn't thrown up today but she still isn't herself and I haven't let her eat much.  (Last time she had the stomach bug I thought she was better a few times, but she still threw up after 24 hours of being totally fine...so I am not optimistic that we are out of the woods yet!)  Not only do I obviously not want her feeling badly, but I don't want to be stuck inside all weekend either.  But, we went through this a couple of months ago (on  her birthday ironically) so at least this time I was more prepared with extra pajamas, extra sheets, pedialyte, and I know what not to let her eat for a couple of days.

One Little Word:  ME!  I have been talking to my husband a lot lately about giving ME time...so that I can get back to blogging and TpT and just have some time for myself and you know, maybe eat once and a while.  Of course this weekend she's sick and only wants me, so it's not starting off so well, but hopefully soon.

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