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How You Can Inspire Thankfulness in Your Kids Part 2

Recently, I wrote a post about thankfulness and how to inspire it in your students.  You can see this post here.  I called this their “Thankfulness Project”.   Students were to write down three things they were thankful for each day.  After that they were to write down one act of kindness they did each day.  After about a month, I took up their journals and read what they had written.  This was not for a grade, but I rewarded the students who had done most or all of the work.  The parents were aware of the project as well.  One of the journals that I read really touched my  heart.  It is pictured below.  Make sure to read the very bottom sentence.

I pulled this child aside after I read her journal and asked her what she meant when she wrote, “This totally made me rethink my whole life”.  She explained, “Because I didn’t realize I had so much to be thankful for.”  WOW!  This  speaks volumes.

Need a Cheap and Easy Book Character Costume?

In case you are needing a quick costume for book character day or for Halloween, you can try this.  Now this is a bit of a stretch on the definition of “character” but everyone was impressed with the creativity.   All you need is:

*a few pipe cleaners

*purple balloons

*green pipe cleaners

*purple masking tape or hot glue if you don’t care about ruining your sweatshirt


Now, I could have filled up my sweatshirt with way more balloons, but the balloons make it a bit hard to maneuver, so I didn’t fill the sweatshirt up completely.  I put the sweatshirt on after I arrived at school so that I had a shirt underneath.  This way I could move during the rest of the day.  As you can imagine, the younger kids especially enjoyed touching the balloons as we had our school parade!   I hope this sparks an idea for your last minute costume! 🙂

How You Can Inspire Thankfulness in Your Students!

This year I wanted to spur my kids on to be more thankful, so I did this…  I really didn’t do this just because it was Thanksgiving time but because I wanted them to appreciate what they have all the time.

First, I read my students a true story about kids living in Africa who were orphaned and lived in a garbage dump.  They ran after a garbage truck to get scraps of food for survival.  One of the kids living in the dump had their baby sister killed by wild jackals.  They had no one to help them–no parents or guardians of any sort.  I read this story from a newsletter I receive from a Christian missionary.  You can read more about him if you click the link above.  I of course had to leave the Christian stuff out because I work in  a public school, but the story still is impactful for kids to appreciate what we have.

Second, I showed my students a video about a man who was about to die because he had ALS.  His mission was to spread as much kindness as he could before he died.  I really made them think about how they wanted to be remembered.  Did they want to be remembered for how kind they were or for how badly they treated others.  This video is here.  The video really touched the kids hearts.

After we discussed both of these things, I told them they would be getting a little journal.  For the next four weeks the kids mission was to write down things they were thankful for each day and one kind thing that they did each day.  The students were really excited to get their journals, but I made them wait one class period before I gave them the journals.  I also informed parents before they received them so that parents knew what was expected of their children.

I bought these journals for 88 cents in a 3 pack at Wal-mart which makes them about 29 cents each.  The notebooks are about 3 x 4 inches. You can also get some at the Dollar Tree for… guessed it!….  a dollar, which makes them about 33 cents each.  In my opinion the ones at Wal-Mart are better looking because they are solid colored.

So here are the rules I gave the kids:

  • You must write three things you are thankful for each day.
  • The items you are thankful for cannot repeat.
  • For example, if today you say I am thankful for my momma, my daddy, and my dog, on another day you can’t say I’m thankful for my momma, my bicycle, and my brother because momma repeats.
  • If you lose it, you buy yourself another one.  I will not replace your journal.
  • Underneath the line you are to write one kind thing you did that day.
  • This can be anything kind.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant.  Their act of kindness can be just picking up a scrap of trash or giving someone a compliment.
  • The act of kindness cannot repeat on a different day either.

Some kids ask what happens if they miss a day.  I tell them not to worry but that they can go back and add something if they miss a day.  They must continue with their thankfulness project (notebook) even on weekends and vacations.  There will be a little incentive for them if they complete the project–namely Dollar Tree Christmas prizes.

I hope this idea inspires you to instill thankfulness in your own students!  Happy Thanksgiving season!

Valentines Idea for Teachers!

Since I have a rather large affinity for Valentines Day, I wanted to do something special for the teachers I work with.  A teacher friend and I decided to make some homemade goodies, but probably not the kind you are thinking of…

We made every teacher a peppermint lip balm with a cute Valentine label.

These are easy to make, but it is quite a messy project.  To begin you need beeswax (I like pellets), coconut oil, shea butter, and Young Living peppermint essential oil.

1.Place equal parts shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax pellets in a glass jar.  I start with a tablespoon of each.

I like to use an old glass jar to melt the ingredients so that I don’t have to worry about cleaning wax off of my dishes.

2. I boil water in a  small pot, reduce the heat to low, and then place the glass jar in the water like a double boiler.

3. After all of the ingredients have been completely melted, I take the jar off of the heat and wait about a minute.

4.  Then I put peppermint oil in the mixture.  I use 15-20 drops of oil.  Mix the ingredients.  I just slosh the mixture around a bit in the jar to mix the oil.

5. Now, you must act fast.  Have your lip balm containers already standing upright with the lids off before your mixture is melted so that way you can just pour the mixture straight into the containers from the jar.

Now a list of where I purchased my ingredients:

beeswax pellets–

Shea butter–

Coconut oil–Kroger (Wal-Mart sells this too)

Peppermint essential oil–Young Living (I use Young Living because it is safe for internal use.) (My Young Living sponsor and enroller number are 2600343.)

By the way if you need to do any cleanup, realize that you will do better by using a dry towel to wipe off excess wax.  Water and the wax repel one another and do not help the cleaning process.  I go through many paper towels in the clean up process.

We also made everyone cute little homemade peppermint mints in a small tin (sorry no pictures).  I got the tins from Amazon.  These were easier to make than I expected.  I just bought a bag of xylitol from Whole Foods.  All you do is melt it down (no water at all).  You just put it in a small pot and stir on low temperature as it melts.  Then you take it off of the heat and let it cool down just a bit for a few minutes before it turns back to a solid.  Stir in the peppermint essential oil.  I used 15-20 drops for a cup of xylitol.  Then you place parchment paper on a baking sheet and pour the mixture onto the paper.  Let it dry overnight.  Then when it has hardened and is dry,  just break it with your fingers into small pieces.  I followed the recipe here.

Something Fun and Magical for Your Kinders at Christmas! (Giveaway)

This is too cute not to try!!!  I learned that peppermints grow from a very talented kindergarten teacher.  Every Christmas season, she has her students plant peppermints in a cup of dirt.  Students put glitter in the dirt for fertilizer and then just wait.  In a few days, a small candy cane has emerged “growing in the cup”.  In another few days, a candy cane of larger stature has “grown”.  Children are oh so excited that their peppermint grew to such a large stature!  Of course behind the scenes, their teacher is placing a small candy cane in the cup when the children have gone for the day, and then replacing the small candy cane with a larger candy cane.  This all for the amazement and wonder in children’s eyes that comes from the magic of Christmas.
Prize:  $75 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher).
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 12/13/16 and is open worldwide.

And don’t forget to enter our weekly $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card giveaway as well!

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Happy Thanksgiving!


How Can You Help Your Students Focus During Instruction

I am going to share a little secret with you about something I have been using for myself and plan on using this year at school.  I have started using essential oils in a diffuser when I am working at my home computer.  I have found that using two drops of peppermint, two drops of lavender, and two drops of lemon in my ultra sonic bamboo diffuser with these oils helps me focus, helps me stay alert if I’m working late at night, and helps lift my spirits.  In other words when I diffuse these three, I just feel happier :D.  See my happy face!

I am planning on taking it to school this year to diffuse in my room.  I have even been thinking of buying another one so I can have one at work and at home.  Not only that, but I have a close friend who took hers to school last year and diffused lemon on a daily basis to help her students focus during instruction.  Another great benefit of using a diffuser at school….if you use the Thieves blend of essential oils, it promotes cleaner air, which is especially needed during those winter months.  As if, ALL teachers haven’t already spent a small fortune on using hand-sani!  This would be another way to support the prevention of germy surfaces!

Here is my diffuser in action with my favorite three oils.  As you can see it sits in my office in front of my gargantuan printer.  This model is my favorite that Young Living sells because it has a one or four hour timer so you can choose how long to diffuse.


 If you want to order an ultra sonic diffuser and oils like mine, the best value is to buy a starter kit here.  If you decide to buy some be sure to use my enroller and sponsor number 2600343.  I would really appreciate it!  Happy calm school year!

Highlights from Math Night

I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about Family Math Night. So here they are…

I saw this idea on Pinterest, admittedly, but I really wanted a LARGE 100 sign that parents and children had to walk through that had 100 on it.  The wonderful art teacher helped me out tremendously by making a huge sign with 100 on it.  She made the numbers separately because we obviously didn’t have paper large enough to write the whole 100 on.  She made one of the 0’s a bit larger so that people could easily pass through it into the cafeteria and gym where our event was held.



We had a 100th day of school photo booth.  One of our teachers had some already made up props with little lips, mustaches, and beards.  Our kind art teacher helped me with the signage for the booth.  Because we didn’t have the man power to take pictures and distribute them the same night, we just allowed parents or whoever to take pictures with their smart phones as they passed by.


After the fact, I wish I had put some colored paper behind the sign.  That way there would have been a prettier background for short children!


The two girls in the picture above were some of the cutest dressed for the 100th day.  One had on 100 hearts and the other had 100 kisses neatly done with lipstick!

Next, because Reflex Math is now on computer and iPad, we had a booth to showcase the ease of using this to learn math facts.  Anytime we have technology set up, this tends to be a popular table.

This was my favorite game of the evening, the +10, -10, +1, -1 life sized 100’s chart game.  Students stand on this and a large foamy die is rolled.  Students stand on the numbers and move according to the number which the die lands on.  If students bump into each other then the one who is bumped into is out.MathNight2015-2

The chart is made from duct tape and a large tarp.  You can make cards on the computer for the chart, too, that will fit perfectly in the squares.  However, we didn’t want children walking on these for the game with their shoes on, so index cards and packing tape were used to attach the cards for this game.


Finally, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this die which I found at Mardel (one of our educational stores).  The dice has clear plastic pockets so you could change out whatever you wanted to put on the die. It could be used for literacy, for normal numbers, dots, math facts, you name it!!


Here is a game similar to this on TPT with a bubble gum theme, which kids absolutely love!

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You may also like to read about past years’ math nights:

MathNight2014Blog-22 copy


My Pi Day Shirt!

So I am wearing my Pi Day shirt at school!  I really hadn’t thought of needing a Pi Day shirt and this sweet teacher made me one!  Along with the shirt she gave me a sweet note.  She knew testing weeks are stressful, so she thought of me.  I am wearing it tomorrow to celebrate!  Here is the sweet note she wrote me…


and the shirt (in my favorite color too!)…


Tomorrow, I am having this informational video for kids broadcast so at least the kids have some idea about Pi Day even at the elementary age…

Family Math Night Fun!

Well, I have been scurrying around like a squirrel hiding nuts (and maybe going nuts) these last few days getting ready for our Family Math Night.  I usually plan this as close as I can to our 100th day of school, which happens to be this Thursday!  While getting ready for this event, I have thought about a game I recently made, which first grade really enjoyed!  This game is called Bubble Gum Pop and is centered around adding and subtracting 10’s and 1’s on the hundreds chart.  The game is already differentiated and would be wonderful as a take home game for parents to enjoy with their children!  There is very little prep to this game other than gathering some game pawns and deciding which way you want to use to make a spinner.  There is even an extra engagement factor if you decide to use real bubble gum (flat pieces) for game pawns!

Here is the fun spinner!  Kids place five pawns on the board to start with (scroll farther to see the board).  Then they move those pawns down one square if they land on +10, up one square if they land on -10, to the right one square if they land on +1, and to the left one square if they land on -1.  If students land on the wild space they can move their pawn anywhere on the board.

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If students bump into one another, then they  automatically knock the other pawn out.  Also, if students land outside the perimeter of the chart, their opponent is out.  The object of the game is to knock your opponent’s game pawns off of the board.  Below you can see a sample game in action.

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Here is a look at the game board.

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I will be posting pictures of our Family Math Night soon if you are still needing ideas to help plan yours.




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