Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Rewind: How to Accept a Gift

This is a rewind of a post I did last December (2011).  It is one of my favorite lessons to teach this time of year.

  How to Accept a Gift.   

I first saw a version of this lesson taught by an awesome counselor a few years ago and have since modified it (a little) to work with my teaching style.  Here it is:
1.  I open a previously wrapped present in front of my class (I wrap up an ugly sock).  I tear the wrapping paper off without looking to see who it's from, I say mean things about it once it's open and then I go throw it away.  Reactions to this are priceless...some stare at me in shock and some laugh like crazy...that alone will tell you a lot. 
2.  Next comes the discussion.  I ask the kids, "What do you think was wrong with the way Mrs. Rist opened that package?"   Hopefully I will get a few clever kids who come up with the words "rude" and "mean."
3.  Then I open another previously wrapped package (it's the other ugly sock).  This time I model the "correct" way by using the High Five Rules:

 #1 Check to see who it's from (I say it's from one of my students and ask them to play along.)
#2 Show gratitude  (Thank you SO much for buying me a gift.  It was so kind of you to think of me!)
  #3 Open it nicely!
#4 Say thank you and mean it!  (I model again a "thank you" that looks like I mean it and a "thank you" that looks like I'm just saying it because I have to!)
  #5 Tell the person why you like it or how you will use it. (I think up all the fun ways I can use 1 sock: puppet, dusting mitt, etc.)

 4.  After my demonstration I will let a few kids try it also (I put random things into a Christmas bag b/c I just don't have time to wrap 24 fake presents!)  I'll use paperclips, scraps of paper, a single pencil, etc. and the kids have to use the "High Five" method to accept the present.

5.  Then we each get a "High Five" paper to color and take home so Moms and Dads can help their child practice.

6.  Each day I'll pick a few more kids to model for us so we keep it fresh in our minds right up to Christmas.

7.  If any of my kids bring me a Christmas  present I make sure I do all 5 steps b/c they will watch and check!  We also exchange coloring books at our Christmas party and we walk through the 5 steps when opening our presents.

That's it.  Hope you find it useful.  The handout is not cute but it gets the job done!  Click on the picture if you'd like a copy.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has every teacher and parent around the word heartbroken and silent in their grief.

Explaining the events to my own children was, to say the least, heart wrenching.
I struggled with whether or not I should tell them but they saw me crying constantly so how could I not?

My first grader took it as most 6 year olds would   asking the question, "Do bad people like that live here too?"  My husband answered best (because I was too choked up to) and said, "Good and bad people live everywhere but the good out number the bad."

My fourth grader covered her ears.  Too much to take in for a 9 year old.  We kept the conversation simple and said that someone had gone in to a school to hurt kids and that some did not make it.  She wanted to know if he'd been arrested.  She covered her ears when we told her he'd killed himself.  Grief and horror, even for him.

They both wanted to know if the school did lockdown drills like ours does.  I was finally able to talk and told her yes and the lockdown saved hundreds of little lives.  

It makes me sad to live in a world where we have to train our teachers to hide the children and to train our children to hide.

It makes me angry that funding for education is a low priority and bonus pay is dangled in our faces.  

Sadness and anger aside, I am proud to be a teacher.  When my husband said the good out number the bad he was right.  In that building 100% of the staff protected and cherished those children, some at the cost of their own lives.

I know my coworkers would do the same.  Without hesitation, without regret.  We are not motivated by bonus pay or summers off but something much more priceless. . . the children.

Thank you Erica Bohrer for sharing this with all of us!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pete loves Christmas

The kids listened to Pete the Cat Saves Christmas and they have been singing the song all week!  It is catchy!  If you haven't listened to author's sing it click here.  

Big Pete and all his little buddies are hanging out in our hallway.

Sorry. . . I don't have a pattern for project.  I just give them rectangles (1 half sheet of blue for face, 2 small blue for paws and 2 small yellow for eyes) and they "get rid of all the sharp pieces" and make ovals.  They are TLC  art experts so this is a piece of cake for them!  The Santa hat was a pattern from an old project that fit perfectly.
I do have the writing page to share (and a few other pages like the one below) you can get by clicking HERE.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December This and That

Countdown Chains:
Might as well count it down. . . all they can think about is CHRISTMAS!

Trying to get SOMETHING academic in:
Notice how many of things we "know" about reindeer has to do with CHRISTMAS!

After a week of explaining that wild reindeer are different than Santa's reindeer we finally understand the difference (I think):

Wish I could take credit for these cuties.  I just draw them how my coworker Jill tells me to!

And still trying to get something academic in:
I got the shape posters FREE from the blog Guided Math.  Lots of great math stuff!  Check it out HERE!

More updates soon. . . if I survive CHRISTMAS!