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Friday, December 18, 2015

Excitement When Santa Writes Back!

Remember when I posted about what I do with my Santa Letters? Click here to refresh your memory. 

Today the students at my school received their letters from Santa's sleigh. It apparently flew by and dropped off our letters FROM Santa. They were really cold, so we knew they came from the North Pole (or maybe the freezer in the teacher's lounge!)

Here's a video that shows just what goes on in the room when the letters arrive. . . Sorry for the fuzziness of the video. . . It's hard to not be shaking when we are all so excited!

Posted by Wenzel Elementary on Friday, December 18, 2015
The second video shows them reading their letters with each other or other adults.

Posted by Wenzel Elementary on Friday, December 18, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No Prep or Low Prep Linky! Come and SEE!

While you're home on break next week or whenever, I thought you'd like to know about some easy peasy things you can buy or grab. These things will require "NO PREP" or "LOW PREP."

click the picture to go to the linky party

Heather over at Ho Jo's Teaching Adventures is hosting a special linky about All I Want for Christmas is. . . .  Click the words in red to go to this linky. I sure hope you find some goodies that you can prepare during the break so you're ready to start 2016 fresh and refreshed!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Returning Santa Letters to Your Kids

I love seeing all the fun that goes along with letters to Santa. I'd like to share what I did with my Santa letters. 

My second graders wrote their letters to Santa in early December. I used this as part of a letter writing lesson. They had to tell Santa at least 3 things about them and also ask 3 questions about him. I didn't want their letters to be just "gimme gimme gimme!"

Some of the letters had 2 or 3 pages!

The kids think I sent them to the North Pole, but I really sent them to a high school class that was called Marriage and Parenting. (You could also send them to a creative writing or English class if you can work it out with a high school teacher.) The high school students were taught how to respond to the 2nd grade letters.  They did not to tell the 2nd graders that they were going to get things they had asked for. They'd say things like, "I'll try to bring you something from your list," or "Many boys and girls want that same gift!"

Before I sent the letters off, I also had the students fill out an Author's Page (I told them we would use it when we wrote books, which we did.) This Author's page was sent along (secretly) to the high school students. This way the high school students would have more information to respond with, that the 2nd graders hadn't told them.

When the letters came back to us, our secretary and librarian would run in shouting that Santa had just dropped something out of the sleigh. These ladies would run to the window shouting and squealing! That made all the kids also run to the windows. Many were sure they saw Santa, or a shadow, or the sleigh or a cloud that looked like Santa! Oh how they believed! It was just precious to watch. Then we would read the letters from Santa. Any adult who walked in was asked to "READ MINE!"

The high school teacher would later send me back the original Santa letters. I didn't tell the class that I had them. But I tucked them away in a folder along with a list of their parent's names and addresses. I also stuck a copy of the yearbook from that year in this folder. 

Fast forward to 10 years later when these same 2nd graders are now seniors in high school. I contact the secretary at the high school to see if she can find the addresses of the students that were in my class. I realize that some may have moved but that's where Facebook is a very handy tool. I'm usually able to find a few that have moved away. 

I write a letter to this group and in it I mention some of the things they are asking for Santa to bring them. It's a bit of a history lesson as many of these gifts are no longer popular. I mention how their handwriting looks or how they spelled the words and hope that those are better now. I tell them that I have kept my eyes on them, watching for them in the local papers or in school news on the website. I hope that they believe in themselves now as much as they believed in Santa ten years ago. Along with my letter, I enclose their original letter that they wrote to Santa.  I also include a copy of the yearbook page with all of their pictures on it from 2nd grade.

I send these letters to their homes around the week before Christmas. I want them to have a gift from me that makes them reflect on their own childhood and how I still care about them. 

Sometimes I run into the moms of these kids and they are so thankful that I have held on to these letters for so long and found their child to return it to.  Many families move from home to home and they lose things like this during so many moves. I'm happy to give them this gift!

So if you're writing letters to Santa, before you mail them out, make a copy of them. Either send the copy to Santa, or keep the copy for yourself so that you have something to send them in 10 years. (Or whenever they are a senior!)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Updating Your Blog List

When I first look at my blog, I look at my blog list to see who has posted 
something new and interesting for me to read.
 So I click on someone's list then I read their blog. 
I try to leave a comment because that's the nice thing to do.
 But I'm human and I don't always do that!

Then I look at their blog list to see who they follow and maybe
 there is someone else that I want to look at. 

However, sometimes I can tell that their blog lists aren't up to date. 
I can tell this because it will say that so and so last posted this 3 weeks ago, 
or 2 months ago, or even last year!

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, 
but I bet those same people follow others who have posted more recently. 
They just haven't updated their list. 

Then it occurred to me, that maybe they don't know how to update 
or didn't know that they EVEN could update such a list.
 So that's my reason for posting today. 
I even added pictures to help with this process. 

Here are the steps:

Go to your Layout page in the design portion of blogger.

Find the gadget that says My Blog List and click edit.

It will say Configure Blog list at the top. 
You can see that I have 466 blogs I follow at this point. 

Click on the link that says Add to List

Then click on Blogs I'm Following then choose to either add all or you can individually check the boxes of the ones you want to have showing on your blog. 

I had 15 new blogs that I recently started following.
 I could choose to show all or just a few of them. 

Select All, Add, then Save. 
You can see that the number of blogs I follow now is 481
 (466 + 15 = 481).
 Now click save again. 

Now when I look at my blog list it will show the updated list
 of those that I am following. 

If you noticed, during this process, this is the same place where
 you can stop following a blog that you no longer want to follow.
 I don't have many that I quit following, but there have been a couple 
that I had to say, "What was I thinking when I started following this blog?"

That's it! Now when you look at your blog anyone who has a new post
 (that you follow) will have their link show up. 
This is a great way to share your friends with other friends. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I'm a Guest Host!

I'm so glad you stopped by to see me, but you can't see me here today! I'm guest blogging over at Mandy's Tips 4 Teachers. 

I hope you'll come by and read about a tip I wrote about a math center for my second graders. However, I am sure you are clever enough to adapt it to your classroom, no matter what grade or subject you want to use it with. 

Here's a snip-it of what's in store when you visit her blog!

And maybe you'll decide to follow Mandy if you haven't followed her before!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Kinder Center for Counting

Yes, I know my blog name is 2nd in Line. . . but since I retired I have worked in some kindergarten classrooms and both my daughter and daughter-in-law teach kindergarten. So once in awhile you will see that I make things and show you things for grades other than 2nd grade.

On Black Friday as I was wondering around JoAnn Fabrics (waiting in a 2 and a half hour line, just to get fabric cut!) I came up with this idea below. I purchased the buttons, and the button holder at JoAnn's. 

 The foam trees and gingerbread men were from Michael's
They weren't on sale, but I did have a coupon that helped
 cut the cost a bit. 

I thought this button box was just the cutest!
 And the lid snaps down tightly too!

This Santa box is about 2 x 2 inches and the 
colored buttons fit perfectly in there. 

I wrote a number on each tree. There are 32 trees in a pack. So you can number them from 1-18 and then you'll have extras left over to make another center with just the numbers 4-18.

 Students can decorate the tree with the correct number of buttons. 

The same applies for the gingerbread men. You have enough to do the numbers 1-18 or you can make two sets of 3-18. 

With the gingerbread, they can even make a face to go with the buttons down their tummies.

I just love these and I hope some of you will try this with your kids too. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Top Pinterest Picks for December

I'd like to share some of my favorite things I do in December. There are so many, but I've narrowed it down to just 3. I am all for quick and easy when our time is so precious. So take a peek and see if there's something here that can become a tradition with your family too. 

Click the picture to go to the Pinterest Page.

This is one fun treat to make and even better to eat! They are a nice cross between salty and sweet. It's time consuming to open all of the little hugs, but it's a great way to involve the family in baking!

Click on the picture to know more about this activity.
My grandchildren have made handprint designs for me before and I just love them. What a nice keepsake!

Click on the picture to find out more about this.

I have made this ornament with my students before and it's a favorite of mine and the parents too. They aren't hard to make, but I'd start in the beginning of December just to be sure you get them done with all the other things that you could have going on during December!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015