Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fun with the Elf who sits on a Shelf!

I have a tough class this year.  The type of class where I swear my blood pressure is rising by the minute.  I knew the kids were going to get crazy with the upcoming break and Christmas, so I did something I SWORE I would never do.

I bought an Elf.

On a Shelf.


Well, I bought a cute plush version that didn't cost $30.  Yeah, I'm cheap.  And the other one is CREEPY.  But I was desperate, and truth be told, I like creating Christmas magic. :-) 

Our elf came to our classroom the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I hid her up on the top shelf behind my table, in with the Reading Buddies I use to teach reading strategies.  None of the students noticed all morning! :-)

After lunch our secretary came down to our classroom with an urgent package.  It was red, sparkly, and addressed to Ms. Butler's Class from Santa at the North Pole.  (Somehow, I don't have a picture of this!  Sorry!)  The kids were so excited that they got a really cool package in the middle of the day!

Inside was... a letter.  It was from Santa, and it explained that he was giving us an Elf to help watch over our classroom for the next few weeks.  The students were so excited- they couldn't believe that they were getting an Elf for our classroom!  They finally found her- complete with "The Care of an Elf Manual" that explained how to care for her.

It also came with a suggested list of Elf names that we could name her.  I have heard some truly horrible names for the Elves, so I decided to give my students some help in determining a name without making the process open-ended.  No Super Dog in my classroom!  I felt like the Elf should already have a name (I mean, who lives without a name?!) but I couldn't decide on one!  So I let the kids vote.  Some of the choices the students had were Jingle, Twinkle, Sparkle, Gumdrop, Snowflake, Peppermint, and Candy Cane.  We had a tie, so her name is Twinkle Snowflake.

I have had some fun leaving Twinkle in places in the classroom that were kind of difficult to find her.  The second day, she was up on top of the curtain rod.  I made a big production of getting down the letter she brought us so that they wouldn't think I put her there.  Day 3, she was in the fake plant by the TV, with another letter from Santa.

I used some glittery washi tape that I found in the dollar bin at Target to seal each letter from Santa.  The kids LOVE it!

I have used this Elf as sort of a learning experience for my students as well.  I know a lot of other teachers have their Elf do things in their classroom like toilet papering trees and stuff, but I wanted my Elf to be a positive role model.  No marshmallow baths in my classroom!

The students were so surprised to find Twinkle in the book nook one day, reading to the reading buddies that the students use during buddy reading.  This was the day after a snow day, so I told the kids she must have been lonely without us. :-) 

She not only delivers letters from Santa, she also writes us notes.  One day, she left us a note that explained how much she liked being in our class because she doesn't get to go to school at the North Pole.  How sad!  I am such a nerd- when I was reading it, I started to get all teary, thinking of the poor little Elf who doesn't get to go to school!  (You know, the stuffed Elf who can't see or hear or have feelings.)

I decided I wasn't bringing in my Christmas tree this year, due to students who think it's ok to knock things over or throw them when they're angry.  :-(  Sad, right?  It was driving me a little crazy that I couldn't be festive!

So Twinkle brought us in a small tree and some plastic ornaments ($3 for the tree, and $1 for the ornaments last Christmas), and hung some snowflakes from the ceiling to decorate!  How sweet of her!

On Friday, the students came in and found that Twinkle was sick!  Poor Twinkle!  Any time they would get too loud, one of the students or I would remind the kids that she was sleeping!  Too funny!  They were so concerned about poor sick Twinkle.  They loved her medicine.  (water and red paint, because I didn't have any glitter!)

I have a few more ideas for next week.  Tomorrow (Monday), she is going to bring us some elf games to play!  How sweet of her!
There are 4 games in here.  I'm going to group my students into 4 groups of 5 and allow them to cycle through these activities- one per day.  I did something similar last year, and they LOVED it!  It's like going to word work, except every day! 

She was also going to bring us little stockings with a candy cane in them, but I CAN'T FIND THEM ANYWHERE!  I had them last week, and now I can't find them.  I looked through my Christmas stuff like 3 times! :-(  So I don't know what she's going to do now! :-(

Do you have an elf in your classroom?  What kinds of things does your elf do?  Is it naughty or nice?  If you have a blog post about your elf, I'd love to read it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting to Know You: Christmas Questionaire!

I'm linking up with Michelle from Fabulous in First for her Christmas Questionnaire linky party!  

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog? 
Hot chocolate!  I love hot chocolate.  I've never had eggnog, but I think I'm ok with that.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree? 
Growing up, Santa would just sit the presents underneath the tree.  He always arranged them, of course, so we could see what gifts we got.  Mom and Dad would go downstairs first and get the camera set up, and we would wait at the top of the steps.  Then we would go downstairs to see what Santa brought!  Mom and dad wrapped presents.  I am sure that when I have children, Santa will just lay the presents underneath the tree.  No use in wasting all that paper!
The picture to the left is the smaller Christmas tree (it's about 6 feet tall and lives in the kitchen) and decorations in my dining room.  The top picture is my "credenza" (what my mom calls it!) and my dining room table.  I went simple this year.
Colored lights or white? 
I love traditional white lights.  Both of my Christmas trees have white lights. 

When do you decorate? 
I like to celebrate one holiday at a time, so my Christmas tree goes up after Thanksgiving.  It usually takes me about a week to get my house completely decorated.

Real or Fake Tree? 
FAKE.  I am too cheap for a real tree (not spending $50 or more on a tree each year!), I don't have any way to haul it home, and I don't want to deal with dying trees and recycling it when the season is over.  I had a cheap-o $25 Christmas tree that I bought back when I lived in my first apartment and needed a tree.  It looked ridiculous with my 9ft ceilings, so last year, I bought a 7 1/2 foot tall tree from Target.  I almost bought a slim tree, but I changed my mind!  Maybe I should have bought the slim tree, because the only place my tree fits is in front of my front door!  (Good thing I never use it, right?!)
The picture is of the decorations in my living room.  The tree is my new tree.  The mantle is the top photo, the second photo is above the TV, and the third photo is of my bookshelf.

What Tops Your Tree?
A star on both trees.  I like the simplicity of a star.

Favorite Christmas Memories or Traditions?
We used to go to my Grandparents house on Christmas day, a tradition that I always HATED.  We would get up, see our gifts from Santa, eat breakfast, open our gifts from mom and dad, then get ready to leave and take a 3 hour car ride.  One year, we went to visit my Grandparents before Christmas, and I remember being so worried that Santa wouldn't be able to find us.  My parents packed the back of the van with all our gifts from Santa, and we still got our gifts.  But the best part- Santa brought me a bike, and I got it when we got home!  :-)

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child? 
I loved this doll that I got one year.  I named her Amanda.  She had eyes that opened if it was cold, and closed if it was warm.  I thought her open/close magic eyes were sooooooo cool!  

Do prefer giving or receiving? 
I love both.  Not gonna lie, who doesn't love receiving gifts?  But I also love finding the perfect gift for someone, wrapping it up with pretty paper and a bow, and seeing the recipient's face when they open it!  

What is your favorite Christmas song? 
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  Yep.  I'm a Christmas music Grinch.

Candy Canes. Yuck or Yum? 
Yum!  I love them!  Classic peppermint or even the sweet flavored ones they have now, like Smarties!

Favorite Christmas Movie? 
Holly and Ivy!  Nobody is going to know what I am talking about, but back in 1992 or so, this Christmas cartoon played on one of the TV stations before Christmas.  My dad taped it onto a videotape, and I insist on watching it EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.  Even though I watch it by myself.  I love it!  I can't even remember the real name of the cartoon right now.  But I love it, and I just call it Holly and Ivy!

I also love the classic Grinch Who Stole Christmas. :-) 

Do you shop online or at stores?
Mostly online.  I hate shopping.  Most of my Christmas shopping has been online this year.  Thank goodness for my Amazon Prime account!

Photo Cards, Letter or Store Bought Card? 
I don't send out Christmas cards, because... why.  Nobody wants a picture of my dog.  I like getting cards, though, and I prefer photo cards!  If I send out cards, I don't send out many, and sometimes they are handmade. :-)

The unconventional Christmas decorations are in the other bedroom.  It has a simple mantle, so I decorate it every year with peacock colors and glittery stuff.  It looks great in that room though- traditional green and red wouldn't look right!

Now it is your turn!  Link up with Michelle at Fabulous in First to share your Christmas traditions!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Hug for the Holidays Fundraiser

As many of you know, I recently finished my Masters Degree this past August.  While I was working on my degree, I had classes with many wonderful professors and many wonderful classmates.  One of those classmates is my friend Amanda.  She is a fellow teacher at another school in my district.  She and I started out having one class together, our Assessment class, and she and a few of her friends allowed me to work with them on a group project that we had to do for the class.  In total, we had 3 classes together, and by the end of it all, we were cheering each other to the finish line as we completed our Research projects and got our degrees!

When I met Amanda, she was always a very happy person to be around.  I didn't realize that she had an incredibly sick mother until I had known her for several months.  Her mother, Michaelle, had been fighting colon cancer for 2 years.  Originally, the doctors thought she had ovarian cancer, but they found out that she actually had stage 4 colon cancer, and the cancer had probably already been in her body for 10 years at this point.  Michaelle began to fight the cancer diagnosis, and spent numerous months in and out of hospitals in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Cleveland, Ohio.  She had multiple surgeries and endless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.  During this time, Michaelle continued to fight the cancer and advocate for her children.  Michaelle had 4 children:  my friend Amanda (27); 2 daughters, Kyerra (21) and Sierra (passed away at birth); and 1 son, Cody (17).  Kyerra was born with cerebral palsy, and Michaelle quit her job to care for her after her birth.  She was always advocating for Kyerra to receive the best education, therapy, or other needed services.  She always showed up for her children's academic activities and sports.  She lit up whenever she got to spend time with her grandson, Emerson, who is now 1 year old.

Over the past several months, my friend Amanda would pack up her son Emerson almost every weekend and drive the almost 5 hours to Cleveland, Ohio, to see her mother, who was being treated at the Cleveland Clinic.  In August of 2013, Michaelle had a tumor removed from her body that was the size of a man's head, and the doctors thought that she was cancer free.  Unfortunately, a few days after the surgery, Michaelle was placed on life support after getting an infection in her blood stream.  She lost use of both feet and her left hand.  Her fingers and toes turned black from the lack of blood flow.  She was no longer able to walk or sit up on her own.  She gained back control of her right hand, but her incisions were not healing.  She was lethargic and in a lot of pain.  She was unable to go home.  Her grandson, Emerson, turned one in October, and Michaelle was still fighting for her life in Cleveland.  She was unable to attend her grandson's first birthday party due to her illness.  But she continued to fight.

On Thursday, November 14, the family was informed that the lumps that had been forming all over Michaelle's body were cancer that had spread throughout her entire body.  The decision was made that Michaelle would go home.  On Tuesday, November 19th, Michaelle made her final trip home to spend her remaining days in hospice in the comfort of her own home.  My friend Amanda took a leave of absence from work in order to spend her mother's final days with her.  On Tuesday, November 26th, Michaelle passed away in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her loved ones.

I couldn't even imagine going through something like this if it were my own mother, and I wished there were something I could do to help.  So I began to plan for a way to help raise some money to help Amanda and her family pay for her mother's astronomical medical bills.  I have some really great friends who were willing to pitch in and help right away!  I came up with this fundraiser to raise money to help out Amanda and her family.

There are 29 amazing items in this bundle.  The value is approximately $120.  Each item in this bundle is a "tried and true" from the classroom item that can be used throughout the year.  And every penny raised from the sale of this bundle will go directly to the family of Michaelle Drake.  By purchasing, you are not only receiving some amazing resources for your classroom, but you are also benefiting a family who has recently lost a loved one around the holidays.

(and here)

Thank you to Danielle Westvang of Crayonbox Learning for the awesome promo image, and Lidia Barbosa Clip Art for the image of the little girl.

If you are interested in checking out this awesome bundle, you can find it here!  

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