Saturday, December 31, 2011

Try Something New in 2012

I know, I know . . .  I've been MIA for a while now.  (Literally and figuratively!  In Miami AND away from the blog!)  I'm back now and am really excited to share a great opportunity with you!

A few months ago I made a couple of posts encouraging everyone to take a risk and apply for a grant.  Until last year I had never put forth the effort to apply for any grant of any kind simply out of fear - fear of what kind of work it would take to apply, fear of inadequately wording my application, fear of wasting my time . . . fear of quite a bit!  To my pleasant surprise I was awarded money for each of the 3 grants I applied for!

Recently someone brought a new grant sponsored by the Worth Ave. Group to my attention and encouraged me to take a look at it.  Now I'm encouraging all of you to do the same because this grant isn't like most other grants I've taken a look at.  It's more like a "Best Teacher in America" nomination contest, so instead of writing a grant and explaining in detail how you will use the money and what effects the awarded money will have you will be nominating a worthy teacher to receive recognition AND some pretty sweet prizes!

Interested now?

Let's get straight to it.  The first thing anyone would want to know is what's at stake here?  What do you win?

Well the winning teacher (determined by the greatest total votes) will win an iPad 2 (16GB) and 30 iPod touch (8GB) units for the classroom.  The winning teacher's school also gets a prize . . . $25,000 for technology use in the school!  There are other prizes for the runner up, but there are also iPad2 prizes for people who vote!  Seriously . . . click here to see what you or the nominated teacher could win.  Click here for the official terms of the giveaway.

(Ooooh how I would LOVE to win that prize!)

Parents, teachers and students over the age of 13 can vote/nominate. 
All you do is go to and fill out a quick entry form that just took me literally less than a minute to fill out.  (I knew immediately who I wanted to nominate and I bet you already had an outstanding teacher's name pop up in your head as soon as you realized what this is all about!)  You can go back and vote daily and encourage others to join you. The contest started on December 1st and continues through March 31 (2012), so there's still plenty of time to get those votes in.

Can you imagine what a blessing it would be to the teacher who got nominated . . . and won?!?!

So c'mon!  What have you got to lose?  1 minute each day?  Get the word out to your school and community.  Nominate a teacher and keep voting. 

New Year One Day Sale

What better way to start the New Year than with a sale?

Tomorrow (January 1, 2012) only everything on my TPT and Teachers Notebook stores will be 20% off! Don't miss it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vacation got the best of me

I've been on vacation, so I totally forgot to tell you that I'm having a sale on both TPT and Teachers Notebook!  If you're doing a little holiday shopping for your classroom, stop by and see if there's something you could use!

The sale runs from today (Christmas Eve) through the 26th.  Hopefully you'll be spending Chrsitmas with your loved ones so you can stop by the day after for the after Christmas sale!  =)

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Parent Winter Gift Addendum . . .

One thing that I meant to mention when I posted about the Winter gifts we made for the parents is this:
as teachers we see a lot.  We see a lot of good parenting and poor parenting, and we focus on the effect is has on the kids.  I think sometimes we forget that we are also in a position where we can help not just our students but their parents as well.  There's so much more behind the scenes that we don't realize and sometimes we need to remember to try to minister to the parent as well . . . be it in small ways or large.

When I explained to my kids that with this Winter gift we would be essentially complimenting our parents in telling them what makes them so special and unique one of my very intuitive and bright students raised her hands and said, "Mrs. Wilcox - I think this is a very good idea because mommy thinks she is just terrible."  If you know this child, you know that she is raised very well.  I literally had to quickly make a statement to agree with her on the importance of what they write to mom and dad in this activity and move on because I was tearing up.  To imagine . . . mommy thinks she is just terrible.  These gifts may be just a small gesture, but I pray that the words my kids wrote to mom and dad truly touch their hearts and put a smile on their faces because no mom or dad who loves their child should think they are "just terrible."

(Click here to go to the actual Winter Gift for Parents post.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Gift to Warm the Parent Heart

Every year I try to work with the kids to make a gift for their parents. This year I intended to take this last week of school before vacation to have the kids work on them. Unfortunately my daughter got sick and I missed a couple of days with them so that combined with other programs scheduled during writing meant I had to rush to finish the gifts last minute on the last day!!! Regardless-I love the results!

We started by reading Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon. Then we watched the Brainpop video about snowflakes. I asked them to think hard and find something these 2 things had in common. How were Molly Lou Melon and snowflakes alike? Of course what I was getting at is that Molly Lou Melon wasn't like anyone else. She was different and unique. It's what made her special. So we, like Molly Lou Melon and snowflakes are (in the kids' words) different, special and unique.

This was their gift to their parents. They would write and tell their parents what they loved about them that made them so no one else. It took some coaching but once they understood that this was essentially "complimenting" their parents, the students wrote done truly heart-warming and touching things.

Here are the results along with some of my favorites!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Gifts for Students

This year's Winter Gifts have been brought to you by . . . .Pinterest!  You know . . . that addictive new kingdom that sucks you in and all you now know how to do is "repin", "repin", "repin"!

I've been pinning away and then tucking ideas away for later.  Now's when I dig them out!

This year I decided to make new gifts for my kids.  I used to always make gifts for my students like decorated journals and writing notebooks.  I get these big ideas and set off to do them and then find myself up to my eyeballs in a project that I simply must finish because it's too late to turn back!  This year was . . . slightly different but slightly the same?

I made 2 things for my kids.

The Winter Pinterest Treat Bag!

Rice Crispy Treat (store bought), homemade Gingerbread Man rainbow crayon, and homemade ribbon bookmark!)

What's inside!

Each student got a fun rainbow Gingerbread Man crayon.

This is the one where you chop up the crayons and melt them in a silicone mold in the oven.  All I did was use a mini Gingerbread Man mold instead of the heart used in the Pinterest post.

Voila!  Simple!

Each student also got a ribbon book mark.

You sew a elastic hair tie to one end of the ribbon and sew a button to the other end of the ribbon.  Now it can wrap around the section of book you already read and TADA!  Page saved!  It's even drop proof!  (You know . . . when you drop your book and the bookmark falls out and you lose your page.)

As much as I complain and whine about what happens on a day to day basis, I do love my kids and am grateful for them.  So yeah, it's worth the time and effort.  (I think.)  I mean, maybe they won't realize all that went into the gifts, but I know I put my heart into it just for them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Motivation of Winter Break

In past years I have made a packet of books and worksheets for my students to practice over Winter Break.  When I first started teaching 10 years ago there were only a couple of students who would not read/practice over break.  Over the years, however, less and less students utilized the packages I made for them and some failed to return them.  To be quite honest . . . it was a lot of work getting those packets together and sometimes even more work getting the books back from students!

This year I've decided to save myself the headache.  I will not be sending home an optional packet.  Instead I plan on sending home a list of recommended websites and suggestions for practice at home such as Parent-Child Journals (the children and parents write back and forth within the same notebook), personal journals, letter writing, grocery lists, etc.  I also plan on encouraging my students to read the books they have at home and to visit their local library. 

For those students who do this and can produce evidence, I will reward them with a special treat (popsicle or something to that effect).  I'm including this bookmark freebie for any of you who would like to do the same.  The boomark has space for the child to record 5 books they have read and get their mom, dad, or caretaker to sign off on the bookmark confirming that these books were indeed read.  Click the link below to get the bookmarks!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Writing Prompts

I love to write . . . when I have the time, that is!  That's why I love to teach my kids Writing.  I teach them in the hopes that they too will come to love this form of expression. 

I've noticed over the years that some students are just bursting at the seems with ideas of things to write about.  Sometimes when we make our list of writing ideas in the back of our Writing Notebooks, some students have difficulty getting started on a writing piece because they have so many ideas they want to add to their lists!  I've also noticed, however, that there are some students who can't seem to come up with an idea on their own . . . they need a little help getting started.  Give them a prompt and watch them go!

Here are some Winter themed writing prompts I came up with to help some of them get going.  I like to use these prompts in my Writing center during Guided Reading centers.  I just print out enough copies and let the students cut out a prompt and glue it in their own notebooks.  Less work and less copies for me (and y'all know how important it is to save on copies!).

These are free to you . . . so click and download away!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Heart this Site!

A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband started bringing me home magazines from the pediatrics office where he works.  They were a great mix of pregnancy, parenting, and kids magazines.  I love looking through these magazines because articles and features are quick reads so they fit in well with our busy lifestyle.  One day my husband brought me home a new magazine I hadn't seen before and that was it . . . I wanted my own subscription because I didn't want to miss out on any of the good stuff!  If you have seen the Disney Family Fun magazine, you may know what I'm taking about!

Games, DIY, crafts, recipes, etc.  Each issue was jam packed full of wonderful stuff!  That's where I got the idea for my daughter's cupcake owl cake for her 1st birthday!  There are so many cute ideas in it that I can't do with her yet since she's only 16 months, but I'm keeping these magazines on file for later use when she can enjoy the activities.

Anyhow some years in my classroom I'm really blessed with a great PTA room mom to help with events such as the Winter and Summer (End of Year) parties.  I can just hand it over to them and they plan an prepare all the goodies, games, crafts, and snacks.  This year . . . no such luck.  That's why I need to find some really quick, easy, and inexpensive activities for my kids for our Winter Party.  A quick Google search brought me to the Disney Family fun website!  So many great ideas!

If you were in my positions . . . looking for something to do with the kids that wouldn't take to much prep (or money) but still packed lots of fun, you may want to check it out.  The website url is  Check it out for your students or for your own little ones!  I plan on doing the Winter Wonderland snow globe ornament, igloo cup game, and am contemplating a few others.  The more I look the more I want to do!

This is the Winter Wonderland ornament from Family Fun 
(picture taken from the Family Fun website)

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