A Gift that Keeps on Giving

I am so excited about this!

I came up with the idea and tested it out on my own little family.

It has been such an awesome, amazing, wonderful addition to our mealtimes. I truly love how it has changed the dynamic at our table and how it has connected our
Every December I would struggle to come up with an idea for holiday gifts that my students could make for their families. Some of the obstacles I faced included time, cost, and level of difficulty. Many of my students came from non-traditional homes and would therefore need to produce more than one gift. Also, not all of my students celebrate the same holiday so I needed to come up with something that was versatile.

I did my fair share of snow, snowman, gingerbread, and other winter-themed projects. Knowing that my mother had saved each and every gift I brought home added additional pressure. However, as a parent myself I knew that people don’t necessarily want to see some oversized, glittery object presented to them to be displayed and cherished for all eternity. I really wanted to come up with an idea that was practical, personal, and useful.

To quote the Grinch, I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore and then I thought of something I hadn’t before...something perhaps that meant a little bit more.

I am so excited about my latest creation and hope you, your students, and their families will love it too. While it was designed as a holiday present, it could certainly be used at any time of year. They would also make wonderful and affordable gifts for your parent volunteers.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Can you hear me now?

I wrote this post just shy of a month ago and realized that I never published it. Hope y'all are doing well.
As a first year teacher I lost my voice 4 times. FOUR!

I've lost it annually since then. The good news is that it's Saturday and I don't have to teach on mute.

The better news is that I didn't lose my voice on the day of our field trip. THAT would have been a challenge.

Oh, that's right. I haven't told you about our field trip yet. On a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 30. My jaw is still on the floor from the amazingness that was my class on the road. They truly impressed me with their behavior, their level of respect, their inquiry, and what they took away from the day. They really took advantage of the opportunity and used the world as their classroom.

It makes me want to go all Mrs. Frizzle and spend the rest of the year teaching them on a brightly colored bus as we travel around seeking knowledge.

It also inspired me to finally complete the Field Trip Organization Kit that I started last spring and to create a "How to Plan, Organize, and Execute a Flawless Field Trip" blog series to go along with it. The series will debut after the New Year.

There is a learning curve with field trips. I still get hives when I think about my first outing. For those of you are new, I began my teaching career in Florida. I actually headed south for grad school. The classes were designed for teachers and therefore didn't begin until 4 PM. I decided that I should sub or try to get a job as a classroom aide since my days were free. It was then that I discovered that unlike the northeast, teaching jobs were plentiful down there (at the time) and was immediately offered my choice of teaching assignments. I accepted a second grade classroom at a neighborhood school and started in October.

And was then told that all of the second grade classes would be going on a field trip.

The following week!!!!

If that wasn't overwhelming enough, the destination was Sea World.

I was a brand new teacher trying to muddle my way through the learning curve of classroom management within the confines of my portable, and suddenly I was forced to take 25 seven year olds that I had known for less than two weeks to a super-crowded theme park.

Let's just analyze the highlights of what went wrong:

I wasn't organized in collecting the money. The day of the trip came and I was missing payment from four students. Since I had no way of knowing which students hadn't paid, I paid. Trips to Sea World aren't cheap and I was already sustaining myself of Kraft Mac and Cheese and Raman Noodles. I certainly didn't have any extra money lying around to sponsor students seeing Shamu.

Not everyone had cell phones at the time. Not that it mattered because, let's face it, it wouldn't have crossed my mind to ask them for their cell number anyhow. But since I didn't think to type up an organized itinerary and make my expectations clear, I ended up with a rogue chaperone who made our departure so late that we didn't get back to school until well after dismissal.

I assumed that the students would be bringing their own. I found out after the kids went home the day before the trip that was not the case. We were supposed to submit a form to the cafeteria for bagged lunches. It was too late to do so at that point. And so I created an assembly line of PB and Js in my small apartment kitchen. You read that right. I packed 25 brown bag lunches. These days you can't even give kids peanut butter, much less an entire lunch, but back in the day this newbie had no choice. Lesson learned.

I could go on and on, but I'll save the dramatic tales of chasing kids around in soaking wet clothes (Shamu splash zone anyone?), forgetting sunblock (I forgot lunches, what makes you think I would remember to coat myself in spf 50?) and getting lost (who needs a park map?).

But now, I am oh-so-experienced and I rock a field trip like a pro!

And you can too. :) Stay tuned for my Field Trip Series in January. In the meantime, check out my new Field Trip Planning Guide and Printables in my TPT Store.


Up Close & Personal With Our Turkeys

Click to Access this Resource

This week we completed our Turkey in Disguise Writing and Craftivities in class.

I typically send it home and the students make them as "family projects," but since I had just finished the Pumpkin Projects I wanted to give the families a break. I'm so glad I did because my friends shined doing them on their own.

I'm talking Move-over-Martha-Stewart-and-Take-Your-Gluegun-With-You-Shined!

Oh my crafty goodness. I was so impressed with their paper-piecing skills.

I always try to design my kits so that they can be used with all developmental levels and abilities. I also try to include a variety of activities to pick from for the written components. My friends enjoyed this project so much that we actually rocked several of the writing projects.

They each used a speech bubble to publish their descriptive writing and also wrote a persuasive piece convincing people to eat something other than turkey. Some elected to write a story with their disguised turkey as the main character. Oh how motivated they are when there is construction paper and glue involved.

I hung some of them on the board in the hall paired with our Favorite Thanksgiving Food projects.


The kit includes a template of the turkey and a template of the naked turkey sans feathers.

You could easily print the first and simply have your students color the turkey's disguise.

I opted to copy them onto brown paper and and provide the students with construction paper to make layered pieces. I instructed them to cut the turkeys out so that the bold black line was showing and to outline their pieces in black marker to "make them pop!"

We've done some paper piecing in the past with the Haunted House for Sale Project and also the paper plates of Thanksgiving Food. They are becoming pros. It's just a bit fun and different.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.

Back to Top