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 I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

I know I did.  I got to spend time with {almost all} of my wonderful family.  It was a day full of laughter, food and good times.

This year, Santa brought me a Silhouette Cameo! 

It wasn't exactly a surprise.  I kept talking about how cool it was and how I really wanted one.  Apparently I talked about it a lot because my husband finally said, "just buy it and I'll wrap it for you!"  I purchased their Cyber Monday bundle and it arrived on Christmas Eve.  

I have been busily searching for ideas on how to use it and created a Cameo Creations Pinterest board.  I have to say that I am super excited to use it, but also a tad nervous.  The box has yet to be opened!  Any advice for this beginner?  Any project ideas that you want to share??  I'd love to see them all!

Before you go, head on over to 1...2...3...Teach With Me to enter her HUGE giveaway!

My students made some pretty awesome Christmas decorations this week, thanks to my fifth grade team!  These are projects that they do every year, but it was brand new to me.  The first was a stained glass ornament.  

To make these, the students traced a printed design onto an overheard transparency (does anyone use those anymore??).  They then colored it in with permanent marker.  We encouraged them to color in each section to make it truly look like stained glass.  I cut out the inside of a small plain paper plate.  The students taped their design onto the back of the plate.  Last, we punched a hole in the top and added a string.  Some students chose to decorate the plate as well.  They came out great!

We also made snowflakes.  I think these are so beautiful!  I also thought they were super complicated to make.  But they are not!

Here are the directions from my Resource teacher:

Here is a link to more in-depth directions.  The directions are not in English, but the pictures make it very easy to follow!  The kids had a great time making these on Wednesday and proceeded to make many more every chance they got for the rest of the week!

I know, I sound like a scrooge right?  My students bring me wonderful gifts every year, but I don't open them until I get home.  Let me explain.

It was my first full year of teaching and Christmas rolled around.  All morning my desk filled up with bags and boxes from my students.  A few of my students were asking me to open my gifts.  They were just so excited!   I wasn't so sure about opening presents in front of my students, so I went to a colleague for advice.  She told me, "Of course, I always opens my gifts in front of the students!"

Ok, I thought, if she does it then it must be okay.  As I sat down in my chair, with my students all crowded around me on the rug, I had this gut feeling that what I was doing wasn't right.  Ignoring this slightly sickening feeling, I started opening the presents as the students oohed and aahed.  As I was untying a ribbon, I noticed one of my students sneak back to his desk, returning to the rug with something in his hands.

I finished up the gifts and my students returned to their seats to work on a holiday activity.  At that moment, the student whom  I mentioned earlier, came up to me.  He handed me 2 highlighters from his desk and said, "Here, I got you a Christmas present."  My heart dropped.  Tears sprung to my eyes.  His family couldn't afford to get me a gift.  He felt left left out of my public display of present opening and ashamed that he wasn't a part of it.  He wanted to feel special in my eyes.

I pulled myself together and genuinely thanked him for his wonderful gift.  After the students went to lunch, I snuck the highlighters back into his desk.  And I vowed, from that day forward, that I would never open gifts in front of my whole class again.  This was my worst teacher moment.  Ever.

I do have years where a student is a student is so proud and excited about what they got me, that they will beg for me to open their gift in front of them.  I will take this student aside at recess or hold them back from their special for a few minutes and open it just in front of them.  It's a special moment just between the two of us and no feelings are hurt.

I think back to this moment every year when Christmas rolls around.  It makes me appreciate all the little things that my students do for me.  Every candy cane and homemade card is a sentiment from them showing me how much they care and appreciate what I do for them.  I am touched by everything that they give me and save it all.  On those particularly hard days, I open up this box and am reminded of why I do what I do.
I'm super excited about my holiday gifts for my students this year!  No, they aren't anything fancy.  They are, however, cheap, easy and cute!  Oh, and the presents are {kinda} for me as well!  I'm sharing my gift idea as part of 3rd Grade Thoughts' linky party: 

I bought each of my students 3 pencils and a candy cane.  So simple, right??  Practical for the classroom as well, since I hear "I don't have a pencilll..." at least 72 times a day.  

 It cost me less than $10 for a class of 24 students.  I bought a large box of pencils and used elastic bands to keep them together with the candy cane.  Then I covered up the elastic band with ribbon and added my cutesy {ok, maybe corny} tags.  I love them!

While I was in the creative mood, I whipped up some thank you cards as well!  The truth is that I went to purchase some Christmas/thank you cards at Target and, man, they are expensive!  I figured it would be a lot cheaper to just make some cards to print that fit in envelopes that I already had.  Ta-da!

Now, I just need to write the actual notes!  My kids have already given me some wonderful gifts so I need to get going!

Looking to spread holiday cheer in your classroom this year?  I've created a set to get your students thinking about others this holiday season.  I call it The Giving Garland.  There are so many ways to use it and it's a great decoration for your classroom!  This is what it looks like set up over my living room fireplace:

At school, I would hang it over a bulletin board or my white board.  Here are some ways that you can use it in your classroom!

Students can write compliments for their peers.

Have your students choose a gift they would buy for a friend, family member or teacher for the holidays.

They could choose a teacher who they appreciate and write them a letter of thanks.  Then deliver to that teacher!

Spread cheer throughout your classroom by having students perform good deeds for each other and record them on an ornament.

Our school also used a version of these to write special holiday notes to the senior citizens at the nursing homes in our town.  The students really enjoyed making them and, although I didn't drop them off, I know they made a huge impact on those who received them.  (We did need to take out the ones that said "I hope you make it to Christmas" - eek!)

There's a bonus to this set as well!  Also included are some writing prompts and pages to get your students thinking about the giving season.

Also included is a gift template.  Students color in the gift then attach the writing box, in which they describe a gift that they would purchase for someone who is special to them.

 All of the pages are in black and white.  This way you don't spend a fortune on ink and students can decorate to their heart's content!  And it is free until tomorrow morning!  Click here or on the picture to grab it from my store.

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School. We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children. We honor their memory with our service. Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Good Morning!  Are you ready for the TpT Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale??  I sure am!  Why wake up early and face the crazy crowds on Friday morning when I can go shopping from my computer?  I will definitely be stocking up for the next few months in my classroom.

I'm joining Bunting, Books and Bainbridge to Deck the Halls with TpT.  We are bringing you some of the best hits from our TpT stores!

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Reading with my Winter Retelling Bundle!  This product is a few simple stories to practice retelling with your students.  Each story comes with activities of different levels for students to become more proficient in understanding the main parts of a story.

I Saw Mommy with Science and Social Studies Resources such as my Celebrate America pack!  In this newly updated set you will find  a student booklet, memory match game and writing prompt to supplement your study on American symbols or the presidents. The booklet is chock-full of information and includes pictures for students to color. 

Oh Management, Oh Management can be a challenge this time of year, but not with my set of Morning Routine Posters!  They will allow you to establish a routine with your students as they enter your classroom each day.  It keeps reminders to a minimum and each poster comes with a picture reminder.

I think I am in the mood to do some shopping now and listen to some Christmas music!  My whole TpT store will be up to 28% off for Cyber Monday (and Tuesday).  Don't forget to use the promo code: cyber!

Happy Shopping!

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