Happy Holidays!!!

Well if you're like me, today is your last teaching day of 2012.
I thought I'd post up some art from the hallways of my school.
I found these amazing, patterned Santas in front of the Grade 6 classroom, and knew I needed to share them.  Enjoy!


Quick and easy wreath

Here's a super easy and really effective Christmas wreath.
You will need green construction paper in a variety of green colours.

You can die cut them in leaf shapes like I did, but if you don't have access to a die cutter, you can use leaf tracers, or punches, whatever you have around.
Sometimes I get the children to cut holly shaped leaves out of strips of green cardstock.
The you can cut a donut shape out of green cardstock.  I used a dinner plate for the outside ring and a smaller ring on the inside.  I also sometimes use a paper plate and cut out the inside.  It doesn't have to be a perfect circle, the whole thing will be covered up with leaves. 
slowly cover the ring with leaves.  Make sure the children layer them and cover up the green 'donut' shape.  Some of my students decided to pattern the leaves as in the ring below.

Add a bow of red ribbon and some Chrismtas foam shapes and voila!
Here are a few of my favourites.



Silence for Sandy Hook

As I said yesterday...


I am so sad...

I am so sad . . .


I try to be so upbeat in my daily life, especially around my class and my own children.  (That's a photo of my daughter above).  Twenty years ago, I was a student teacher who was desperately trying to establish control over an unruly class, and failing miserably, and my school advisor said to me, “What’s wrong with the sound of children laughing?”  And I stopped, took a breath, and considered what she said.


“What’s wrong with the sound of children laughing?”


There’s nothing wrong with the sound of children laughing.  Children WANT to laugh.  They WANT to have fun and enjoy life.  They are little people, designed to learn and absorb knowledge, and they want to have FUN while they do this.


My personal quote on Teachers Pay Teachers is “There’s nothing more special than the sound of children laughing.”   And I hold this statement close to my heart.


When I’m having a terrible day,  when  I’m exhausted and my class is goofing around when I want to teach, I try to take a big  breath and slow down my thinking.  What’s the point of getting all stressed out about something you can’t control?   So the kids are a bit squirrelly today, go with the flow.  Think of the laughter.  As long as the laughter is not mocking, it must be genuine.  It must be worth something.  It must be precious.


I am so sad because . . . 


Twenty children died yesterday.   


In their school


In their classroom


In the place they feel safe


They DIED!




They will never laugh again.


I know that there are probably  terrible things happening to children all over the world right now.

And I know that more than 20 children probably died today in other countries, all over the world.


But our children are supposed to be safe at school.


I remember school massacre in Dunblaine Scotland.  I was a young teacher, with only a few years of experience, and I was teaching kindergarten in a tough, inner-city area in an isolated portable classroom.  And then I heard about the shootings in Dunblane, and I was shocked.   A gunman went into a kindergarten class in Scotland and killed 15 children and their teacher.  That day I sat, whenever I had a free moment, and I watched my students.  Everything in their lives revolved around learning and laughter.  They wanted to have fun, and innately they were driven to learn.  School was a safe haven in their lives.


We spend so much time planning, and organizing our classrooms to make them safe places for children.  If you work with needy children, like I sometimes do, then you truly understand that school can be the only organized and happy place that they experience in a day.


So when I hear about something like the tragedy yesterday, I need to stop




and cry.


Those children will never laugh again.


For a brief period of time, those souls were on this earth.  It was too brief. . .


Do you remember your own kindergarten?  


When I started teaching kindergarten, I spent a lot of time trying to remember what happened in my own childhood Kindergarten.  Early on in my career I was substituting and got called to my old elementary school, and spent a day in my old Kindergarten classroom.  


My first thought was, “wow, it’s so much smaller than I remember.”


My second thought was more organic.  It was more of a feeling, than a thought.  I remember being thrown back in time and remembering the room from my 5 year old perspective, and got a warm feeling in my belly.  I felt comfort, and I felt safe.


At the school I teach at,  we practice Lockdown drills a few times a year, and during the drill I spend most of the time trying to stop my children from giggling because they just LOVE to laugh.


And why shouldn’t they want to laugh?


They should feel safe.


School should be a safe place.


Why do these tragedies happen?


And how can we prevent them from happening again, and again, and again?


I’ll think about this in the next while, when I hear my students laugh.

I’ll try to remember those who will never laugh again. . .

Post Card from Santa Freebie

 I'm super excited to share this new creation of mine with you.  After having so much success with my Falling Leaves little books, I have decided to start a new series called SUCCESS AT THEIR OWN LEVEL.  It's my approach to differentiated learning. 
This is a letter to Santa activity which is good for children of many levels of development from K to 2.  I've broken it up into 3 levels.  The beginning level is good for Kindergarten, Level 2 for grade one, and level 3 for grade 2.  But of course we always have those struggling readers who need a bit of extra support and those more advanced readers who could use an extra challenge. This program would allow a primary class to all write a post card to Santa at their own ability level. 

If you'd like your own copy, hop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, or click on the link below to get your own copy.  Remember that I love feedback and would love to hear from you.
And after all of that, I have finally found the time to link up with Farley's Currently over at Oh Boy 4th grade.  Click here to check out the other links.  Don't get me started on how C-R-A-Z-Y this week will be for me.  I'll fill you all in later. 
Thanks for stopping by.

Christmas Angels

Well December is almost here.  It's time to start the Christmas Art.
I don't ususally teach anything religious for Christmas, but these angels are really easy and effective.

Where I work, there are a number of christians, but there are also a lot of children whose families practice other religions.  I feel, that we are not supposed to teach religious doctrine in public schools, there's no harm in introducing the kids to the story of Christmas and where all the vocabulary comes from.
The kids will see nativity scenes and angels in the mall, and on people's lawn's, so I feel, as an educator, I need to teach the children all the vocabulary associated with Christmas.  I also teach Santa, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman etc.

Anyway, I had all these styrofoam balls, so we painted them with peach coloured paint.  Then the kids cut out half circles of scrapbook paper to make the skirt.
The arms were strips of other scrapbook paper with a pipe cleaner for sturdiness.   I cut up some older music, and folded it to make a choir book.

The hair and halo's were in my stash, and I attached them with a glue gun.
And the wings were made from cupcake papers from the big box stores.


Currently for November

A little late, but I actually did remember to hook up with Farley's Currently.  I have to chuckle, because I wrote that WANTING comment above a little tongue in cheek and found out that Farley wants one to.  Well, she called it a Personal Assistant, but let's call a spade, a spade.  I need a wife.
Anyway, I hope all you Americans out there have a fabulous Thanksgiving next weekend.

Fall Leaves Art and Poem and a FREEBIE!

Here's a cute Art / Language Arts project for Fall that we did last week.
I need to apologize again for the terrible photos, please bear with me.
This is how we made the painting.
First we painted the background.  We used pucks of tempra paint.  I showed the children how to mix blue and black to make a stormy sky.
Next we painted black streaks on brown construction paper.  When the paint dried I gave the children a tracer to trace and cut out the tree shape.

Then we also painted with red, yellow and orange on watercolour paper.  When the paper was dry, we punched out the leaves with the Petal Punch from Stampin Up.  Any leaf punch will do.  The small maple leaves were a punch from the dollar bin at Michaels.  We also used some old scrapbook paper in fall colours that I had lying around.

Next we wrote the fall poems using a frame. (Scroll down for a free lesson prinable!!!)  The kids then typed them in the computer as best they could (with a little editing from me) and I printed them out.  I attached them to some purple construction paper and the kids cut them out using fancy scissors.

This was a very simple activity, but the kids got to experiment with colour mixing, watercolouring, composition, and paper collage.   Adding the language art component added the children's understanding of not only Language Arts and Fine Arts but also of Science.

Here's my latest FREEBIE over at Teacher's Pay Teachers.
We used this lesson to generate the poems and put a copy in their Songs and Poems books, then the typed version was added to this art project and hung up for display. This FREEBIE includes the blackline master, a coloured version if you want it for display purposes, a step-by-step guide to the lesson and a 'cheat sheet' to help explain the lesson form.
to download.

Remembrance Day Freebie

So this week, for vetrans' day and Remembrance Day, I'd like to mention that I have a little freebie over at Teachers' Pay Teachers

Currently October

Currently going insane????
I need to vent a bit - but I'll wait to the end of this post. 
Yesterday my son wasn't feeling well, so I took a sick day and stayed home with him, and actually he's not feeling bad today so we've had a great day together. We enjoyed singing to the ipod.  I just introduced him to the Backstreet Boys.
I really am going to try to update this blog more often
The problem is, I'm exhausted.
totally, and completely exhausted at the end of the day.
Well, I have been teaching for 20 years now, and this class is really testing my knowledge and patience with teaching.  
But enough of the complaining
I've decided to redirect my energy to this blog. 

Why not share with all of you about life in the Jungle?  That's what I secretly call my class this year.
I actually got a poster that says "welcome to our jungle" and put it up by my classroom door.
Everytime I pass it, I think to myself, "Yup!!  Jungle it is!!"


Is it really mid October???

Yeah, it's really mid-October.  I can't really believe it.  The past month and a half has whizzed by.
Like I've mentioned recently, I have an "active" class this year.  It's really taxing my teaching knowledge,  I can't simply go back to my usual routines and activities with this group. 
So I'm trying something new.
I'm taking this whole weekend to redo my planning so that I can start doing some effective teaching.
I'll update you as I go along. 
This is going to be an interesting journey so stay tuned...
On another topic, I wanted to let you in on a bit of a secret.
One of my co-workers, Rozana,  has a teaching blog and she's been a bit secretive about it.
I walk past her room every day and I'm always inspired by the artwork she does with her grade one class.  Click here to view one of my previous posts about her work.

Well Halloween is approaching, and so I've been getting more activity on my blog around this Halloween art idea.  Click Here to go to Rozana's blog - ARTventurous.

Thanksgiving Fun!!!

Well, this weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada.
If you want to prep for your own Thanksgiving Study, this is the packet for you.

This unit is ideal for a Grade One of Two class.
This unit plan includes two big books, a shape book, a pattern book, and a finger play poem with language and art activities. This unit is language based, and includes lesson on reading, writing, singing, fingerplays and art. There are basic vocabulary lessons for Fall, Thanksgiving, and colours. There’s 35 pages of instructions and blackline masters.
You can get it at my Teacher's Pay Teachers store.


Fall Tree Silhouettes

 Wow - I can't believe that September is almost over.  It's been one of the craziest September's ever.
With my youngest starting Kindergarten, and one of the most challenging classes I've taught in 20 years, I'm constantly exhausted, and ready for a nap.

But this week I felt like there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

So imagine, if you will, a typical grade 2 classroom.  The walls are nicely decorated with posters and artwork, the room is bright, with lots of toys, and learning tools to be had.  Each desk is neatly labelled with a child's name.  All is peaceful, and organized, and... good.
Y'know,  just right.

Add one experienced teacher, and a lot of excited children, and all should be set for the year right?

yeah, not so fast.

For some reason, the combination of the chidlren in my class, and the needs that they have made for complete chaos.  Here's a typical moment in my room this past month.

Imagine, that the children are cleaning up seatwork, and gathering on the carpet for a lesson.  The child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is humming and buzzing to himself on the carpet and flailing around, completely self absorbed and not paying attention to the teacher.

The hearing impaired child has taken off his hearing aid and is whipping it around his head by the cord which is usually pinned to his shirt so he won't loose it.

The autistic child is arguing with his aide in the corner of the room in a very loud and extremely high pitched voice.

The child whose brother is autistic (thus she doesn't get enough of her own emotional needs met at home) and is attention seeking, is sticking her tongue out at one kid, and trying to trip another as he heads to the carpet.

And amongst all this chaos, I am attempting to collect their work, when another child trips and bangs her head on the floor.

I climb pass the mass of children on the carpet, and attempt to calm the poor injured child.  I talk to her for a few moments, only to notice that there is a slowly growing chant emerging from the carpet area.  I hear "Michael, Michael, Michael,   MI-CHAEL, MI - CHAEL, MI - CHAEL.".  I look up and see two of my brightest, wonderful, lovely  students lying on the carpet, thumb wrestling, as the rest of the class eggs them on!

I lose it!!!

What next??  I think.
I can't take it any more.

You know those little times you get to sit at your desk??  Those five minutes here and there when you can collect field trip money, organize all the collected forms and sort them as to where you need to drop them off, do your attendance, and check that all your papers are ready for the next lesson????
You know those five minutes??
Well, this year, I have NOT had a minute to do this.  I'm constantly putting out fires because of all the neediness in my room.   The autistic child was having his support time reduced and I was having none of it!   Sometimes he takes off into the playground screaming as I'm trying to teach a lesson.    And sometimes this happens when his aide is on his coffee break.  So I find myself running out into the classroom to make sure he doesn't get hit by a car or something as my school is on a very busy street.

And then, something happens.

Well, last week I took Friday off.  I was injured from whiplash, which is another story completely.
Monday was a professional day, so I didn't see my children again until Tuesday. 

The kids line up outside before the bell.  So after the bell had rung on Tuesday, I went out to hold the door open and let the kids in. 

Remember Michael above (MI - CHAEL???)

Well he walks up to me in a calm manner and says, " you were away on Friday, Mrs. Farrell"

"Yes, I was,"  I reply.

" Were you sick?", he asks.

"Yes,", I reply.

"Well," says Michael, "We missed you."

"Thank you," I say.

"It's nice to have you back, Mrs. Farrell"

I almost broke into tears at this point.

He missed me, they are glad to have me back???  Maybe I might actually be getting through to these kids.  Maybe, just maybe, this year will get  a little bit better.

Well, this week was better than last, and today was really great.  So maybe things are turing around in my class??


Maybe, I might survive thie year after all.

- - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anyhoo,, I thought you would all like to see some of my kids work.
So here are many, many, many examples of how we made these fall trees.
We drew with Sharpies, and then watercoloured in the sunset and got ready for the rest. 


Falling Leaves Freebie Once Again!

Well it's been a cr-aaaa-zy start to the year.
Let's just say that not only do I have a very large class, I also have a very needy group.
Although I teach Grade 2, I've had to think back to when I taught
kindergarten and try and pull out some of my old tricks.
needless to say, this poor little blog has been
sadly neglected.
But I digress...
So I'm pulling out an oldie, but a goodie.
This little puppy has had over 15,000 dowloads so far
so you might already have it,
but if you don't it's FREE
(my favourite four letter word)
You can click on the photo above to access it,
or click below.
Here's what I wrote when I originally posted this puppy!
"This little download has 4 mini books about falling leaves and signs of fall. It's perfect for your 4 levels of guided reading in a grade 1 class. The skills and objectives range from fine motor and tracing, to comprehension and higher level thinking skills. I hope you enjoy this little "puppy". Please, please, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think. I've been busy working on a few other units which I hope to post up tomorrow."
So click below for your own FREE copy

Back to School??? not yet, really?

OK, yeah, I've been remiss.  I've been busy.
It's been a fun summer.
I had plans to make tons of great new lessons, but...

I'm resting and crafting.

Check out my papercrafting blog to see what I've been doing.

Anyway, seeing as some of you in the USA are heading back to school soon, I've decided to offer you this free printable to make your own Back to School Banner.
Scroll down for the link.

Nope, it's not time yet.  (at least not here in Canada).    We've got 3 1/2 weeks left of summer holidays thank goodness. 
Hard to see??
Well here's a closer look.
I know, I know, the photos are not great.
Below are some jpegs I made with My Digital Studio 2.
Have I told you how much I LOVE MDS 2???
Would you like to make your own banner???
Click on the link below to get your own FREE copy.

Yup, FREE - my favourite 4 letter word.
Super, super, super easy.  Just print it out, mount it on cardstock.  (I used Island Indigo), cut it out once again and string up on ribbon.  I used tombo glue and glued it to retired grosgrain ribbon as I have a TON of it left over.  You can also punch holes to string it through, or sew it to the ribbon.
Please let me know what you think and if you enjoy this freebie.
Thanks for stopping by.

Below you will find the supply list too.