A Merry and Bright Classroom: Coworker Gifts and a GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to Day 5 of A Merry and Bright Classroom series! I'm so glad you're here! If you missed any of this week's posts, the links are at the bottom! Today I have something SO exciting in store! Make sure you read to the end of the post!

Do you exchange gifts with the other teachers at your school? Maybe with your grade level team? Or just your teacher besties? Well, I've got you covered with three handmade, special gifts that are sure to bring joy to your teacher friends! 

The first gift I would suggest is one of the pouches from my Etsy shop! All of the items in my shop are handmade by artisans in Tanzania! Some of the creators are independent, others are a part of an organization who teaches them to sew these beautiful bags. My favorite are the large pouches. They fit all of my favorite pens, post-its, and more, and keep them contained in my teacher bag!

I also love these makeup bags, made by The Binti Project. This project rescues women from trafficking and rehabilitates them- teaching them skills like sewing, farming, cooking, etc. I have several fabric options of these in my shop, and some of them even have a wipeable inside, made with tarp!

My second suggestion comes from the Etsy Shop INKChicago. I found this shop thanks to the #teachergram community! I love that they create beautiful handlettered designs on different items! I especially love this mug:
And their STICKERS are my favorite! I currently have the Create lightbulb on my laptop and this one on my Hydroflask!

Okay, now for the GRAND finale! TEACHER SHIRTS!! Oh my goodness, how we love them all! There are SO many awesome shirts out there, but I have to say, when I saw this design, I knew I had to make them a part of this blog post series! I LOVE these sellers, and their shop has some phenomenal designs! They are called WhimsyandWhiteboards!

Isn't that the most perfect tee for the holidays?! I think you and your team would look AMAZING rocking these the last week before winter break!
 And, it goes so well with my blog series, I asked Kelly, one half of WhimsyandWhiteboards, about partnering up for a giveaway! She is so amazing and is giving one of you awesome teachers one of these beautiful shirts! They have red and green shirts available, and their shirts are super high quality.
The giveaway is super easy and super quick, so make sure you get your entries in! It will close Sunday at 6 pm CST. I will then email the winner to get their information sent to WhimsyandWhiteboards so we can get the shirt to you ASAP! We would LOVE your help to get the word out about our giveaway, and you can share it using this image. Don't forget to link back to this page, so your teacher friends can enter too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you've missed any of the blog posts, here are the links:
Introduction to A Merry and Bright Classroom series
Deck the Halls
A Special Keepsake
Classroom Management Strategies
December Book Recommendations

Thank you for an awesome first week of this series! Come back next week for a whole lot more holiday cheer! Happy weekend, friends!

A Merry and Bright Classroom: Creating #BookNerds with Books for December

I am a #BookNerd and I'm proud to say it! I love reading, and love instilling a love of reading in kids. My one-year-old nephew LOVES books, and I will read his favorites to him 1000x because I love that he loves books!

Today I'm sharing some of my FAVORITES with you all for December! And, don't worry, no matter what you're teaching this month, I have a feeling I have some books for you! I've separated my favorites into categories to hopefully help you find some new reads! I also have some read alouds that I found on YouTube, if you'd rather incorporate those into your lesson plans. 53 links, y'all!! I've got something for EVERYONE!

Just so you know, any Amazon links that I provide in this post are affiliate links, but I would never share anything that I don't love. I just want to share my favorites with you, to give you some fresh ideas for read alouds or books to add to your collection. 

Christmas around the World is one of my FAVORITE holiday units!! I'll be sharing more about this next week, but I have a bundle of resources in my TPT Store that I use too! Here are some books to share with your students about the different ways different countries celebrate Christmas:

There are WAYYYY too many amazing Christmas Read Alouds for me to share, but here are eight that I LOVE!! I've tried to give a good mix for you!

My favorite part of Christmas is celebrating Jesus's birth! I recently read The Christmas Cat with my cousins, and OH MY GOODNESS it has become a FAVE! These are all so sweet though...

It's important to teach our students about other holidays people might celebrate too! And it includes EVERYONE in the conversation! Here are some great read alouds to get the convo started in your classroom.

If you have a Gingerbread Day or include some cookie fun into your plans, these are all such great choices for books! I love to make gingerbread playdough for my students to play with after we read these too!

If you don't celebrate these holidays, don't you worry! I've got you covered with some winter-themed books. Sneezy the Snowman is SO cute and great for retelling, as is the Cold Lady book. 

If you're looking for a fun way to incorporate these books into your classroom or household, Becca @ Foxwell Forest has a great blog post of how she does a Countdown to Christmas! Click the link or the picture below for all the details and a freebie!

I hope you enjoyed Day 4 of my A Merry and Bright Classroom series!! If you want to pin this post to come back to later and share with your Pinterest besties, here's the image! And make sure you pop by tomorrow, because you DON'T want to miss out on an awesome giveaway happening!!!


A Merry and Bright Classroom: Management Strategies

I know these last couple of weeks before winter break can be a trying time for us, as the students get excited for the break and stir-crazy (especially if you throw indoor recess in the mix too!). I always try to bring something new into my Classroom Management system to make things new and interesting. I've got three easy ideas for you today!

I just recently went to Target and snagged these adorable wooden figures from Bullseye's Playground. They are $3 for this set of 6, and I just love the colors! You can use these into January too.

The idea I had for these comes from Simply Kinder. I absolutely LOVE Jennifer's blog, and got so much from it as a Kindergarten teacher, but this is one idea you can use for all grades. She calls this strategy Passing on the Positive. Basically, whenever you see a student meeting/exceeding your standards, you call them out and give them the figure (I would be using these wood figures from Target!). For example, "I love how James got to work right away on his morning work" and then I would go and put the figure for the day on his desk. Then, maybe 10 minutes later, "Lindsay helped our friend who was absent yesterday find all of his work! Pass the penguin to Lindsay," etc. The figure is passed on all day, and whoever's hands it is in at the end of the day, that person gets a reward! 

Jennifer has all the details on her blog (linked above), but I love this because you're focusing on the positive. Everyone wants the figure, and if they hear that someone else was doing something well, they want to do it too! Depending on the age of your students, the penguin or gingerbread kid could jump from desk to desk, or if your seating is more fluid/flexible, they could keep it next to them or in their hands. 

What reward should they get? Well, my first thought is that you buy enough of these figure sets so you have the same amount of figures as days in December! Whoever ends up with the figure at the end of the day gets to take it home! Another option is Free Choice Time, or anything else that works best for you. 

Idea number two also comes from Target! Well, it can actually come from your home too, if you like to hoard flavored lip balms! Sweet Spots are one of my FAVORITE tools for the littles - PreK through 2nd grade is probably what this is best suited towards. 

I picked up these holiday Lip Smackers (again, anytime you can refresh something that you've done before but with THEMED items, DO IT!) from the beauty section in Target. The candy cane was $3, so $1 per lip balm. Again, very inexpensive but has a big impact. 

If you've never heard of Sweet Spots, all you do is carry around a lip balm as you're going through your day, and whenever you see someone going above and beyond, or transitioning really quickly, etc. they get a little "Sweet Spot" on their hand! It's literally just a stamp or a rub of lip balm! They EAT THIS UP.

Jorge showed perfect line behavior even when his friends didn't? Sweet Spot. 
Julia asked if her friend was okay when he tripped and fell and she helped him up? Sweet Spot.
Max didn't get upset when he made a mistake in his math? Sweet Spot. 
Lily made it the whole morning without tattling? Sweet Spot. 

And these lip balms last FOREVER. Easiest system ever!

As you can probably tell by now, I am a FIRM believer in not reinventing the wheel, and sharing things that have worked for me that I've got from other teachers!! #sharingiscaring #wearebettertogether So this last strategy comes from the Peppy Zesty Teacherista! It is called Code Word of the Day. And you can read about this on her blog, as well as get a FREEBIE to get you started. 

However, my twist on this for December is using a holiday word as your code word. For example, MENORAH, FATHER CHRISTMAS, or POINSETTIA would be great words!! 

I hope this breathed some fresh energy into your Classroom Management strategies and gave you something new to try! I'd love to hear how it works out for you, or see it in action on Instagram! Tag me @alliethegypsyteacher! Thanks for stopping by!! 

If you've missed the other posts from this series, click on the links below! Want to get these posts sent directly to your email? Sign up in the intro post! 


A Merry and Bright Classroom: A Special Keepsake

Happy Day 2 of the A Merry and Bright Classroom series! I hope you got some ideas to help you spruce up your classroom yesterday. If you missed that post, click here to read it! Today I have a fun art idea for you!

It's always fun to add arts and crafts into our schedules during this time of year. Not only does it enhance our students' creativity, but it gives some special keepsakes and gifts to take home. This idea is inexpensive, but is a fun project for this time of year. Use 4x6 Stretched Canvases from the Dollar Tree to have students draw and paint a picture on! Watch the video for all of the details:

I love using directed drawings for this because it makes it an independent activity that your students can complete at a center or as an early finisher activity. Here are some of my favorite Directed Drawing resources for this time of year:

This is a simple concept, that we've done before, but when I found those mini canvases I thought they would be PERFECT gifts! Draw, Sharpie, Paint, and Sharpie again! 

I'd love to hear what you have your students make for their families for the holidays! Leave a comment below! 

A Merry and Bright Classroom: Deck the Halls

There are two things sure to get me in the holiday spirit: music and decorations!! Today I'm going to share with you some tips, inspiration, and ideas to decorate your classroom for the holidays!

My favorite way to decorate for the holidays is to let the students lead. When the decorations are made by them, they feel a sense of pride and joy! Here are some ideas I've found to get you started:

O Christmas Tree
PLEASE excuse the picture...this was my first year of teaching and first year of blogging. But I do LOVE this idea! You can click the pic to go back to my blog post for more ideas, or click HERE for the original tree idea. Basically, you give each student a green triangle or, if you're like me and don't have green paper, give them white triangles to paint first! Also, before you begin, you will want to make sure all of the triangles work together to make a tree, like seen here. I had some students make two triangles, so that we would make a full tree! Then, everyone gets to decorate their triangle(s) however they'd like! You can set out all kinds of materials, or specific ones you'd like them to use. Once the triangles are finished and dry, put them up on the wall, and add a tree trunk and a star on top! I love this because it doesn't take up space, but shows that when we all work together we can make something beautiful!
Kindness Lights
This activity works great for any holiday, and you could use any color papers! Click the pic to go to Amber's blog post. I love this because not only are the students making a fun decoration for our classroom, but they're also focusing on kindness!

Giant Coloring Pages
This original idea comes from Friends Art Lab on Instagram, but I found out about it through Katy at PreK Wolf Pack on IG. Katy's IG is #GOALS. She has AMAZING ideas for her PreK friends! She creates themed coloring pages on butcher paper for her class to collaboratively color together during morning centers. You can see her Hanukkah-themed page above. You could use this for any holiday you're celebrating - perfect for centers or even your holiday party! 

I love how beautiful these stained glass-looking silhouettes look! I think they would brighten up any gloomy looking day! Tina has free templates on her blog (click the pic to go to the blog post) or you could make your own for any holiday you'd like! So much fun!!

I'm loving this book fireplace from The Sassy Librarian! You could also make a fireplace out of butcher paper for the wall. But I think it cozies up your space and is a fun place for your students to sit by and read during the holidays!

I love adding white Christmas lights around the room too, as it adds a beautiful glow to the scene. Maddie (@fairchildin5th) did this in her fifth grade classroom, and just look at how beautiful it looks!!

I hope this gave you some ideas to deck your hallways and classrooms with fun decorations for the holidays!! I love having these projects ready for my students to do as early finisher activities during the first weeks of December to do something that adds more merriness to our room!

If you don't know, I'm sharing all things Merry and Bright each weekday between now and Dec. 21! You can see yesterday's post by clicking HERE!

A Merry and Bright Classroom

Hey teacher friends!! Happy Holiday Season and welcome to the blog series, A Merry and Bright Classroom! Each weekday over the next THREE WEEKS (December 3-21) I will be sharing a blog post with you that gives you tips, inspiration, encouragement, resources, and even GIVEAWAYS to help make your classroom merrier and brighter this holiday season!

I LOVE Christmastime: it is the most magical time of the year! But I know that it can sometimes be a little hectic in our classrooms. The weather is cooling down (or heating up, if you're in Tanzania!), the kids are feeling the excitement of the approaching holidays, and we're counting down the days to break! I want to make this holiday season easier for you, and hone that student excitement to make every day count!

I'm excited to kick this blog series off tomorrow, but before we get started, I wanted to bring up an important point: everyone celebrates differently! You can probably tell that I'm all about the Christmas spirit, but you may not be, and that's great! You may have students your class that celebrate Hanukkah or maybe nothing at all. I love this online teacher community, because we get to learn from other teachers who help us do better. MoNique (@itsmoniquesworld) and Asmahan (@teachingwithsugarandspice) have created an amazing and FREE Family Holiday Communication Survey for you to send home to your students' families to respect their values and traditions! Click the picture below to go download it! And then also click on these ladies' names and IG handles to follow their TpT stores and Instagrams! They are AMAZING!

So set your alarms for tomorrow! Each blog post will be posted at 8 am CST each day Monday through Friday! Also, Fridays will be EXTRA special...but that's all I'm going to say right now. Just make sure you come on back for that! ;) OR even BETTER: sign up below to get these posts sent right to your email! Then you don't have to remember to read each day's post, it will automatically show up in your inbox! Don't worry, I won't spam you, and once this series is done, I won't send any more emails!

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I'm SO excited for this month of fun!! Merry EVERYTHING and Happy ALWAYS!