A New Year's Goal Project

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your vacation. I certainly am, so much so that I forgot to come and share some thoughts with you yesterday. Ooops! My personal blog has also been neglected this last month due to fun and excitement that comes with this wonderful holiday season.I guess it is a good thing we are all getting set to make goals for the new year.

I always make personal goals for myself each year, but I also have my little firsties make goals as well. I have them write one goal and then they have to write one thing that will help them reach that goal. I want them to make the connection between setting a goal and making a change to reach that goal. We write these on a cute sheet of paper that goes along with a craft and we write them in our journals so that we can look back on them throughout the remainder of the year. The cute paper we use comes from a really simple craftivity from The Lesson Plan Diva. It is a really fun craftivity to do the first week back and it is always fun to see what they say. I have included some images from the file I use as well as a link to the packet on TpT. Have a wonderful rest of your vacation and enjoy your fist week back with your students!

My New Year's Resolution

SMART Goal Setting for the New Year

Help your students write S.M.A.R.T. goals for the new year.

The new year is here!  It's the perfect time to help your kids set goals. I know we've all set New Year's Resolutions and they've probably lasted just a few days. That's probably because the resolution wasn't S.M.A.R.T. In order for goal setting to be effective you need to show your kids how to write S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Realistic and Timely.

As you have a discussion about S.M.A.R.T. goals, go over these questions.
Specific:  What exactly do you want to accomplish?
Measurable:  How will you know when you’ve reached this goal?
Action:  What will you need to do in order to reach your goal?
Realistic: Is this goal reachable? Can I really do this?
Timely:  When will you reach this goal?  What is your deadline? 

You can download these pages to help your students set up their S.M.A.R.T. goals for the new year.

Freebie!  Goal setting for students.

Freebie!  goals setting for kids.

Do you set New Year's goals or resolutions with your students? We'd love to see your ideas.  If you have a freebie or a blog post about setting goals with students please link up your ideas below.

Polar Express Experience

Polar Express Day is a magical time for my second graders to feel the magic of the Christmas season.    I love celebrating our holiday party by using this favorite Christmas story that I remember reading with my Mom years ago.

I organize my day with everything Polar Express. The day begins with the students arriving and listening to me read aloud the story. They receive their ticket to board our classroom train and I punch it as they go to their desk that is arranged in a long rectangle like a train. We do a story graphic organizer for the book as a class and then begin watching the movie. I like stopping the movie at different points and doing an activity. That way it keeps the excitement going all day long. Below you will see my schedule for the day and activities I do. All the activities can be found in my All Aboard Polar Express pack found in my TPT Store. Merry Christmas and remember the bell rings for those that truly believe!

Gingerbread Fun!

There are so many great teaching themes to use during the month of December. One of my favorites to do every year is a gingerbread theme! There are some really wonderful read aloud books that can be used in a variety of ways in all subject areas.

One story I read to my students every year is Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. In this twist on the original tale, the gingerbread baby runs away and is lured back to the house when the boy who created him traps him by creating a gingerbread house.

For a fun activity, read the story to your students and, once the story ends, tell your students that you brought them some gingerbread cookies to eat. Then, grab a fancy Christmas bag, bring it over to your kids, and look inside. Newsflash: There's nothing inside! Then play it up BIG TIME: Looking inside the bag, looking confused, looking under your chair, around the classroom... and tell your students that, shockingly, the cookies are no longer in the bag! They always gasp and offer their suggestions on what happened to the gingerbread men. Of course, eventually, at least one student predicts that they must have run away! To relate it to the story, ask your students to recall how the boy got the gingerbread man to come back at the end of the book. The boy creates a fancy gingerbread house in order to entice the gingerbread cookie to come back; so your students will do the same thing to try and get their own cookies to return.

Give each student a gingerbread house traced onto construction paper with an open door cut into it. You can have them decorate it with any supplies you wish, but I usually take the quick route and just have them decorate it by coloring, cutting out, and gluing pictures of candy to the front of the house. I then glue it to a piece of red construction paper to add a little more stability.

I always plan this activity right before my students are about to leave the classroom, such as during specials or lunch time. This way, it gives me an opportunity to leave a gingerbread cookie on each of their houses when they least expect it!

Then your students will return to a surprise - a gingerbread man in the door! It always warms my heart when they come back in and exclaim, "It really worked!!!".

I also love to integrate the theme into our centers as well, such as with this Bakin' Up Sight Words activity from my Deck the Halls {Math and Literacy Centers} pack. Students choose a cookie and write the sight word on the matching space in the recording sheet.

A gingerbread theme is also a great little way to teach adjectives and descriptive writing. I picked up a foam sticker gingerbread decorating kit from Michael's (they have 24 to a pack!) that came with foam gingerbread men and all the components to decorate the front of it. Each student decorated their own.

Then, each student described their gingerbread man by creating a tree map to organize their thinking.

...Which they then used to write a story to describe their gingerbread creation. The tree map really helped them create coherent compound sentences and their writing turned out wonderful!

We always culminate our gingerbread unit with a big class gingerbread house building party. The day before the party, we have little elves (aka parent helpers) come in and build real houses out of graham crackers and royal icing. No milk cartons here! Then, the next day, each student gets to decorate their own gingerbread house. They absolutely love it!

What is your favorite gingerbread story to read during the month of December? Leave a comment telling us which one you love reading to your students and why!

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