How to Catch Santa

So, how do you catch Santa? :-)
     I had a lot of fun reading the book How to Catch Santa to my son's kindergarten class. It's written by Jean Reagan. I thought I would share the lesson in case you want to use it.  
How to Catch Santa Activity
 I started off by having a Christmas bag filled with goodies.  In the bag was a picture of a period and a question mark. I also had a gift box, a small Santa, and some garland.  As a preview to the book, I pulled items out of my bag one at a time.  I first told them we were going to read a book about how to catch Santa, and that's when I pulled Santa out of the bag.  He got to sit by me while I read.  I then pulled the picture of the period out and we reviewed what it was and where it goes in a sentence. I explained that while I was reading, they needed to think about something they would like to tell Santa. I pulled the question mark out and we discussed when and where we use a question mark.  I told them they would be coming up with a question they would like to ask Santa.  A gift box came out next and we talked about how Santa gives us gifts, but what if we gave him a gift, what might we like to give him?  Last, I pulled out my garland and we discussed the name of the book being How to Catch Santa, and would garland work to catch him? By this time, they were eager to hear the story.
How to Catch Santa Activity
The story covers all of those topics above.  It focuses on being prepared if you do catch Santa.  Being prepared means you aren't going to have much time once you catch him, so you need to know one question to ask him, one thing to tell him, a gift you would give him, and of course you need to know what your plan is to catch him.  It's a fun story that sparks the kids' imagination.
If you choose to do this activity with your class, here is a follow up activity where students can write down their answers to the topics mentioned above.  You can get the activity by clicking the link below.
How to Catch Santa Activity-Click HERE

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Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -

Merit Pay for Teachers

Merit pay is the big topic of conversation here in Georgia. I am totally against the proposal of merit pay, so my blood starts boiling every time I read about the possibility of my state (or any states) moving toward that kind of teacher pay system.  After reading a few recent articles on the topic, I was inspired to write this post. Click HERE for one of the articles. If you are interested in sharing this post on facebook or other social media, scroll down for an image version. Thank you for taking the time to read.  I do realize that there are differing views on this topic.  I would love to hear yours in the comments section below.


What is merit?
By definition, it is the quality of being particularly good.
Or, the quality of being worthy,
Especially so as to deserve praise or reward.
In the case of school teachers, their merit could soon determine their pay.
But, how do you determine a teacher’s merit?
Who gets to determine the value of a teacher?
Who gets to decide their individual worth?
The reality is, no one in particular will determine the teacher’s worth.
The truth is, circumstances will govern their merit.
Circumstances that change from year to year will decide if a teacher is valuable.
Whose circumstances affect the teacher’s pay?
The students that are placed in that teacher’s classroom.
Every year it’s a new set of circumstances.
That’s right. I guess the teacher could be valuable one year and worth significantly less the next.
It really depends on the circumstances.
A teacher’s merit won’t be determined by the hours she works.
It won’t be determined by her degrees.
It won’t be determined by the extra tutoring sessions after school.
It won’t be determined by the supplies she purchased with her own money.
It won’t be determined by the trainings she attended twice a week after school.
It won’t be determined by the hours spent re-teaching a concept to the same child day after day.
It won’t be determined by the phone calls home and conferences she tried to schedule.
It won’t be determined by her sleepless nights wondering how to help a child.
It won’t be determined by the highly focused lessons she planned and taught each day.
It won’t be determined by her twenty years of successful teaching.
It won’t be determined by winning Teacher of the Year two times in those twenty years.
Really?.....not even Teacher of the Year?
Titles mean nothing when it comes to Merit Pay.
She has a new set of challenges this year. The village she needs in order to help the students is nowhere to be found.
Her students are well below grade level.
Some are abused.
Some are hungry.
Some spend their evenings babysitting younger siblings. They fall asleep to the TV at midnight.
Some sleep in hotels.  Others sleep in cars.
Remember that word…. Circumstances.
No food, no parental involvement, no home.
No love, no dedication, no care.
No doctors, No dentists.
 Their clothing is too small and their hair isn’t brushed.
These circumstances will determine the teacher’s pay.
Politicians say her students should leave her class reading on grade level.
The reality is… they came to her not reading at all.  Some have never had a story read to them at home.
The politicians say her students should leave her class writing a two page story.
The reality is… they came to her not writing their name. One child didn’t even know his name.
Circumstances are no way to determine value.

Merit Pay for Teachers

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Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -

"My Personal Side" Link Up: Favorite Cup or Mug

I love teacher blogs.  I love reading about teachers' classrooms and all of the great ideas teachers have. With that said though, I also LOVE getting a glimpse inside their personal lives.  You know, it doesn't have to be much..... maybe their favorite food, an activity they did with their own kids, that hot new car they just bought, or whatever!  It's just fun to see the person behind the blog. It makes things real for me.  It's a human connection and not just a teacher connection.

And, because I love gaining insight into people's lives.... no, not the stalking kind of insight :-), just fun little tidbits of info, this link-up has been born.  It's called "My Personal Side", and it will allow teachers to share a little about themselves based on the topic given. I am not quite sure about the schedule of things yet, but there will be lots of upcoming topics.


So, here we go!
This first link up is sharing something we all use every day... a cup, a mug, a favorite drink! I have a favorite mug that has a positive message, and it's one that goes hand in hand with my TpT.  It has a quote from Steve Jobs on it that says, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." I love designing classroom materials so much that it simply doesn't seem like work at all.  When I read this message, it reminds me that life is short, so find and do something that you love. It's a daily reminder.
What will you find me drinking in my mug?  I like to drink coffee in the mornings, typically it is Krispy Creme brand and I can find it at Kroger.  I add milk and Splenda.  It's a perfect way to start my day. During the day, I love Diet Coke. Is it bad that I stop at Sonic almost every day for a large Diet Coke.  Happy Hour is my favorite because it's half price...  Cheers!


How about you?

Join the fun by posting your favorite mug or cup. Tell us what you like to drink. Link back to this post, and we can all get to know each other, the people behind the blogs.
Feel free to use the top image when you post. It can be pinned too from your blog.

When you link up, please title the image with "your name and  blog name" and then link directly to the post.  Try to use a picture of your cup/mug. Can't wait to read these!

St. Patrick's Day for Kindergarten

Looking for a fun and easy St. Patrick's Day activity?  Here are two I made for primary grades. One is a basic St. Patrick's themed trace and color activity, and the other focuses on the when, why, and how of the holiday; when is St. Patrick's Day celebrated, why is it celebrated, and how is it celebrated. These have many uses, such as a center activity, a whole group activity as a follow up to a read aloud, or use them however you would like.

St. Patrick's Day When, Why, and How Activity -HERE

St. Patrick's Day Trace and Color Activity - HERE

Hope you have a lucky day! :-)

Thank you for sharing on facebook, pinning, and leaving comments.  I really appreciate all!

Motivational Poem About People

Sometimes life offers an opportunity to be inspired, just like it did for me the other day.
Through that inspiration came this poem about people. While writing it, I was motivated to think about me as a person.  I hope it can motivate you to do the same. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Thank you for sharing  with your friends.  
I appreciate facebook likes, pinning to pinterest, and even tweets. :-) 

Decorating Valentine Bags

Today I had fun decorating a Valentine bag with my four year old son. It was actually an assigned activity for his preschool class.  Things like this become huge projects with a preschooler! In addition to the bag, we put together some Valentine cards with heart shaped ring suckers. I made him write his own name on all of the 15 cards, which he didn't like.  I got a lot of the, "My hand is soooo tired!"   LOL.... I even let him do 4-5 at a time with a pretty long break,  but I still got a few complaints.  He did have fun decorating the bag though.  We used  a white gift bag and painted it with colored glitter paint.  He then added some sparkly glitter dragons to the front and back.  I cut out some felt heart stickers that he also added to the front and back, and then he put all kinds of other Valentine themed stickers on the sides.  He added his name to the top.  Yeah, I know the 'h' is lower case, but oh well.... there wasn't a capital one in the pack. :-)
Decorating Valentine Bags

If you are looking for a Valentine bag idea for upper elementary, I made this fun bag activity, and it can be found in my TpT store.  It lets students share a little about themselves, and it also has a book report sheet the kids fill out and glue to the back.  They get to share about a book they LOVE.  After they bring it to school and present to the class, they get to fill it with all of the Valentine cards their friends brought them.  Even big kids love Valentine's Day activities.  It's one of my favorite days of the school year. :-)

Find the Printable activity in my TpT store.

Thank you for sharing these activities with your friends.  
We appreciate facebook likes, pinning to pinterest, and even tweets. :-)  

21 Sayings Elementary Teachers Can Relate To

Got a little creative today in my thinking.  Can you relate to any?

Thank you for sharing on facebook, tweeting, and pinning to Pinterest.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Activity for Kindergarten

If you are looking for a basic Martin Luther King, Jr. activity for your kindergarten kiddos, then this "Trace, Color, and Write" activity might be perfect. It has some basic facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. for kids to read and trace, an MLK image for kids to trace around, and printed lines for them to share their own dream for the world. 

It would make a great literacy center activity or even use it for morning work.  It would also work as a follow-up activity after you read a book on Martin Luther King, Jr.  Use it in your classroom however you would like, and please do pin the image below.  
Click the link below to download. Enjoy!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Activity

Thank you for sharing on facebook, pinning to Pinterest, and Tweeting about this activity.

Goal Setting for Teachers

Goal Setting for Teachers
If you are anything like me,  then you set goals for yourself.  When it comes to my goals though, I tend to set lofty goals, and I often times set too many goals.  I end up being hard on myself when I don’t meet them, and I am sometimes left feeling defeated, almost like I haven’t really accomplished much at all.  This can apply to goals in teaching, fitness, family, whatever.  Sometimes with my goal setting, I aim high, usually looking too far into the future, which can be a real problem. It can cause me to skip over the present, making me lose sight of all of the “baby-step goals” that I need to accomplish in order to meet the ultimate long-term goal. 

Think of baby-step goals as the step by step plan for reaching the “big-picture goal”.  My big-picture goal may be to lose 20 pounds, but my baby-step goal for today may be that I just need to make sure I walk for 30 minutes.  Another big-picture goal may be to have all students in my class reading on grade level by the end of the year, but my baby-step goal for today may be to implement a strategy to help Johnny learn the few basic sight words he has been struggling with. 

When I think of goal setting in education, I can’t help but think about the lofty long-term goals and how much stress they cause teachers.  As I reflect on my goal setting as a teacher, I think about all of the grand goals I have set over the years. The reality of it is, someone else usually set those lofty goals for me, which is why I always felt so stressed. It was up to me though to figure out how to meet those goals. 

When I say goals were set for me, they really were.  Goals like...... all of my kids will be reading on grade level by the end of the year. Another goal was 100% of my students will score on-grade-level in math. Those goals are fine and dandy, but they are so long term, so ‘big picture’. They seem so out of reach, especially if you are a 4th grade teacher and you have kids reading on a first grade level. Because of that, I struggled for years to even see the baby-step goals that I was accomplishing each day.

Having baby-step goals can give you a sense of accomplishment, especially as a teacher.  Teaching can be overwhelming, stressful, and many days we can leave feeling like we worked our tails off, and we barely feel one step closer to meeting the big-picture goal. The problem is, you can’t see and appreciate the present because you are so focused on the future. You know that saying, "just stop and smell the roses", well.. sometimes we need to do that. 

And that's where sticky notes come in. 
It's a bright idea that helps me focus on the present. 

Sticky notes for goal setting? Yep! It's so easy and worth while.

Each week when you are making your lesson plans, take a minute to think of one "baby-step goal" for that day.  For example, on Monday, maybe you want to make sure you meet with your low readers for 30 minutes.  You are going to take a sticky note, write the goal, and stick it with the plans for that day.  On Tuesday, maybe you want to set a baby-step goal to pull 5 kids in math to review multiplication. 

Keep in mind that those baby-step goals mentioned above are both factors in helping you meet the "big-picture" goals.  Like the goal you set for yourself to pull low readers. That  baby-step goal is going to help you meet the big- picture goal of helping you have all kids on grade level by the end of the year.  Likewise, when you pull 5 kids to review multiplication, that is also helping you work toward the big-picture goal of getting  100% of your kids on grade level.

Once you accomplish your daily baby-step goal, you can either throw the sticky note away, leave it in place in our plans, or you can keep a running journal of all your accomplishments, which would mean removing the sticky note from your plans and adding it to a journal composition notebook.  By the end of the week you will have met 5 great goals.  By at the end of the month, you will have met about 25 goals. At the end of the year, you will have met 180 goals. That's a lot of sticky notes to reflect on! It's something to be proud of.

Why just one goal a day?  I know I can do more than that.

You are not just accomplishing one thing each day.  You may actually accomplish ten things in a day or more. That’s great, fine, and dandy!  The idea behind this little sticky note goal-setting plan is to start each day with one goal, one thing you want to make sure you accomplish, and then walk out each day having met that goal.  It's a way for you to feel accomplished.  It's a way for you to leave work each day knowing that you achieved what you set out to do. That's a good feeling! 

So, what are you waiting for?  Take a look at your lesson plans, grab some sticky notes, and start setting a daily goal.

OH!  and here is something else wonderful about this little goal setting activity.  If you get to then end of the year and you don't have 100% of your kids on grade level (after all, you knew they set an unrealistic goal for you to begin with)..... you will be able to see 180 goals you did accomplish.  Don't feel defeated.  Feel proud!!

Please do check out other bright ideas by visiting the links below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my TpT store for great lesson ideas.
Elementary Lesson Plans TpT Store

Teachers Pay Teachers App

I can not tell you how many times I have used my Teachers Pay Teachers app. Being a seller, I started using it on my IPhone when it was released, which means I must have used it for a couple of years.  I get on the app many times a day to check my feedback, respond to questions, check sales, etc.  So, the big question is... WHY HAVE I NEVER NOTICED?  Noticed what,  you may ask.  Why have I never noticed that the little arrow thingy at the top actually does something!!! That's right!  The little arrow image (I never really looked at it as an arrow, but I guess that is what it is supposed to be) between the freebie and sale items .... well, it will actually pull up a list of random sellers if you swipe your finger across it from top to bottom. Honestly, I always thought it was just a decoration.  And get this.... once the page of sellers comes up, swipe your finger from right to left across the screen, and an entire new page of sellers comes up.  Crazy!  But here is the deal, unless you can tell it actually does something and you aren't even aware those are little arrows, why would you swipe your finger across it from top to bottom!  So, it makes perfect sense.  

And, you might be wondering why I finally swiped it after a couple of years.  Well, I got an IPhone 6 plus for Christmas, and it got my attention now that my screen was huge :-)

Now, some of you might have realized this information about the Teachers Pay Teachers app, and if you did, well then I guess you are not as clueless as me....LOL!!  Okay, maybe not clueless, but after I realized it, I had to ask some of my top seller friends who have been around as long as me on TpT to see if they knew it actually performed an action.  THANK GOODNESS I was not the only one!!!  Many sellers were not aware. In fact, most everyone I asked had no clue. Even my good friend Deanna Jump, TpT's #1 seller,  didn't know.  Lordy, that made me feel so much better :-)  So, what about you?  Did you know, or are you in the 'clueless' category? 

If you don't have the app, you can download it for free in the iTunes store.


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You can check out my Elementary Lesson Plans TpT store HERE.


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