If you lack creative, artistic skills like me, you might be wondering what you can do with your kids this time of year. I don't want a lot of prep work, mess, or energy that I personally have to put into a craft for my kids. They have, however, been asking for something fun to do for the holiday season. As I searched online, I found an adorable penguin craft for the kids. It's simple enough, and the kids had so much fun doing it (about half of my kiddos have finished as I have been doing the penguin with them in small groups). Here are the steps (you will need a sheet of blue paper per child, and cut up or ripped up small pieces of white and black paper, and orange paper for a beak):

1) Take a blue paper and trace the outline of a penguin (see above).

2) Have students glue the white papers into the middle of the penguin.

3) Have student glue the black papers around the white of the penguin.

4) Draw on the eye with a sharpie.

5) Cut out a beak from the orange paper and have students glue onto the penguin.

    As you can see from the image above, students can also add snow into the picture. It adds a nice touch. Some of my kids wanted to personalize their penguins and make hats, bows, etc.

I found the original penguin here.

If you do this craft, I would love to hear how your kids liked it.

     This week my kids will be working on patterns. Since I love math games for math centers, I thought I would create a game that incorporated a "Hundreds Race" I had seen online, but with a twist. In the hundreds game, two students roll a die and color that many spaces in their hundreds chart. The first student to complete their hundreds chart is the winner. My new game is exactly the same, but the students must use two colors to make an ABAB pattern (patterns can be modified to increase the level of difficulty and I'm using a diamond pattern this week instead of the hundred's chart). You can find the pattern I am using this week here. You may also find a blank hundreds chart here. To get a copy of the game's instruction, click here. Please let me know if you use this in your class. I would love to hear how your kids like it. Mine have been having  blast with it this week.

    Next week my class and I will be focusing on maps and globes and how they are useful (this story is often used for discussing citizenship as well). I always tie social studies into language arts, and  next week we will read "Miss Rumphius" to talk about how we could use maps. This is a great book that can be used not only as a launching point on maps (how would Miss Rumphius use a map? What would she look for? How would it help her?), but to work on sequencing, making inferences and connections. This story could be used to compare life in the past to life now as well. It's so versatile because it covers so many standards at once. Art can also be integrated into this book. After reading the book, students can draw how they think Miss Rumphius' lupines look up close. I am a huge fan of integrating as many subjects as possible, so I was excited to share this lesson with you all. I would love to hear what you have used this story in your own classroom.

Additional activities:

*Where would you like to go? Create a postcard and write a message to your best friend describing the place (make sure your kids know what post kids are; I would even show them some and see what experiences they have with them).

*How can you make the world beautiful? Draw and write how you would make the world beautiful.

*Study the parts of flowers; study a plants' lifecycle.

      Just as I do guided reading, I do guided math as well. This is the best way to help struggling kids, challenge those who are advanced, or fit in a math activity you might not otherwise have had time for. This week my assistant will be guiding a snowman glyph in her guided math group as I work in small groups doing number bonds. I love glyphs because they help students to focus on details, visually represent data, and the kids have a lot of fun with it (shouldn't learning be fun, anyway?). This one particularly is perfect for the Christmas season! This would be even a nice independent activity you could throw in for math centers (if your students are old enough to read). I personally balance out the independent games and independent activities during my math center time. The glyph I am using I found online here. If you don't have an account with ABC teach you might not be able to access the glyph. You could, however, do your own internet search to find a different one, or create your own. I would love to hear what glyphs you do with your kids for the holidays.

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