September 2016 | Teaching in the Tongass

Friday, September 30, 2016

halloween in the classroom

It's the time of year that everything "pumpkin spice" turns up. Like it or not, it's here! So, I thought I'd get a head start and share some of my favorite Halloween read-alouds, Halloween activities and some tips and tricks I've learned over the last few years that might help the day go a little smoother! If you don't celebrate holidays in the classroom for whatever reason (hey, I've been there myself!), feel free to skip this post and I promise not to have hard feelings ;)

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
halloween classroom activities

Like most teachers, I begin a month/holiday/theme by pulling out my collection of favorite read-alouds.  My October tub happens to be pretty large (not as large as Christmas/Winter...but that's another post coming soon...). I am a book hoarder and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I peruse the used book store children's section on a regular basis, make good use of my Amazon Prime account on the regular and use Scholastic book points to grow my collection. These titles are the select few that I absolutely love, and a few are new to me this year and will be in the read-aloud rotation from now on! 
halloween books read-alouds

I usually only have time for 1 "just for fun" (i.e. not part of our reading program) read-aloud per day, and it's my absolute favorite part of my day when I really do love the book. If a child has never heard that particular story before, I feel so honored and privileged to be the one reading it to them for the first time! I have such wonderful memories of my own teachers reading books that I now love as an adult, and it just reiterates the important part that we should remember to teach children to love books.  It's hard to remember sometimes when you're focusing on teaching students how to read that I often forget that there isn't always an innate love of reading in every child. So, here's my reminder (and yours if you need it!).

One of my favorite things to do when I celebrate Halloween in the classroom is to use "spooky" music whenever I can. Whether it's a cue to start cleaning up, during an activity or just to play quietly in the background while we read Halloween books with reading buddies, it's nice to change things up a bit and add some FUN to our routine!  I LOVE to use Kidz Bop Halloween because I know there won't be any language I have to worry about (if you have Prime, you can stream it FREE). 
I'm going to start with my most loved activity. We make these guys and hang them in the hall for a couple of weeks and they are just so darn CUTE. I have done Q-tip skeletons since my first year teaching and after using a Sharpie-drawn skull template for all of those years, I decided to make it a little more presentable and share it with you! 

You can grab the FREE template by clicking below.
halloween classroom activities
And a super easy and quick art project is oil pastel and watercolor pumpkins! I like to cut up the watercolor paper into quarters so kids have a few pieces to draw on. You can really use any color oil pastel, but I love to use the white one!
halloween art activities
Another fun activity I LOVE to do actually comes after the big day, but you'll need to prepare for it by sending a note home ahead of time so it's good to be ready for it. I've included a parent letter in this freebie, so that's one less thing to worry about. Basically, kids save their candy until the next day of school (alternatively you can just get some candy to do this) and then collect data on the type of candy they got while trick-or-treating.  Lots of parents have no problem making sure the candy isn't all eaten on Halloween, but I always keep a bag of surplus candy all year  for this occasion in case someone doesn't remember or just doesn't have any. 

Grab the FREE parent letter and sorting and graphing printables below.
halloween classroom activities
I also have these EDITABLE Strip Puzzles that you can use for words or numbers...whatever you're class is working on! I've pulled one of the Halloween pages from the main set for you to try out...I'd love to hear how it goes when you try it! Download the PREVIEW to grab this freebie.
halloween activities
Candy corn footprints are such an easy and ADORABLE craft that any age can do! Really! The trick to doing these with anyone that's not a baby is to use a fist and not the actual foot :) A fun little keepsake that's quick and easy! Just brush paint on as seen below and "stamp" onto paper. 

Grab the little printable tag to attach to the footprints below.
halloween classroom activities
These have been a class hit for many years and parents are even sending them in now! It has to be because they are so easy to make!  Just draw a bunch of different jack-o-lantern faces on fruit cups and you're done!
halloween activities

And I made these fun little Halloween treat bag printable tags that are really easy to put together (we're making them for my son's preschool class this year) and they are perfect for a fun little snack to send home with your kiddos. I bought ghost "Peeps" to make a s'mores treat bag and a few other snacks to make a "Witch Brew" (gummy worms-rat tail, boston baked beans-rat eyes, chocolate covered raisins-shriveled lizard feet, chocolate eyeballs-crow eyes, candy corn-old witch nails). If you're a food-free school, see my post about treat alternatives here. Click below to grab the tag printable.
halloween treat tags
So that's it! What do you do to celebrate Halloween in the classroom? 

Monday, September 5, 2016

powerpoint tips and tricks

I have a love/hate relationship with Powerpoint. Personally, I can't stand a presentation when someone reads the Powerpoint slides. It's not engaging and I hate it. So, for a long time I had an aversion to Powerpoint and cringed at the thought of it. Now, I use it every. single. day. So, this question gets asked a lot. Why do TpT authors use Powerpoint? If you're just getting started on TpT and you use Microsoft Word, this tutorial is for YOU. There are a couple of other software choices out there, but this is by far the most popular one so that's why this tutorial will be with Powerpoint. I am using a Mac, so if you have options that look a little different, that could be why. 
powerpoint tutorial

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