Thursday, December 25, 2014

Eddie's Exciting Escapades [a.k.a. The Elf on the Shelf]

I just have to post some of the escapades that Eddie encountered in my classroom this year. Eddie passed out polished rocks which were given to them by a dear friend who has adopted my class. The first day, the students each got a bag with their name on it, and then on consecutive days, they found little rocks on their desks. Each day the information about the rocks-of-the-day was posted on the board so they could learn about each kind. If I forgot to have the information showing before they walked through the door, they instantly reminded me. I also had the information about where their particular rocks came from which went really nicely with "Christmas around the world."

You can see that Eddie just had to try out his surfing on our surfing board. I have a beach theme in the classroom, so I wanted to make sure that Eddie did something to go with the theme. One side of the room is the ocean and the other side is the shore. I use this set up instead of Partners A & B for partner sharing time.

Eddie was really into the holidays, so he provided a tree and decorations for the kids to decorate the tree. The big hit of the day was actually the skateboard that Eddie had for his own personal enjoyment. I purchased the skateboard at the dollar store. 

We studied about the planets this month, so we had to make snowflakes when we got to Pluto.
To make the snowflakes I use my own product

Crystal Snowflake Ornament

Pluto has an atmosphere when it is closest to the sun. As the planet moves away from the sun the atmosphere is expected to fall (like snow) and freeze into the ground.

Meanwhile... Back on Earth

My ELD students visit the polar regions of the Earth:

Although the book is quite easy for 5th graders, there is still so much language, social studies, and science that can be had from this book. Of course the artwork is just beautiful. I use this with my ELD class. I do have to confess that I found a color page of a train for the kids beacause they had just a tough time trying to pain the train that the original pictures did not turn out so goo. With the train their the students could focus on the tree in the background, the house, the bushes, and the shading and tinting that goes along with this artwork. I also use a game that I found in a book years ago about the north and south pole. Because of the copyright and can't share it until I have permission, but it makes a fantastic close reading game activity. The students read the article, and then play the game. As they get a card they have to locate the answer in the text, show their opponents, who all highlight it, and then the player can move the appropriate steps on the gameboard. The students end up reading the article several times while looking for the answers, but have fun doing it at the same time.

I found this little beauty on TpT. Click HERE for the Peppermint Challenge. Besides being a STEM activity, it is a great teambuilding project.

I have done this project for several years now. I use regular printer paper, water colors, paint brushes, and a video that tells the kids exactly what to do and can be purchased at Art with Joy

The last day of school my students came into find they were being challenged to read by Eddie. The students were given a cocoa cup with a page of paper marshmallows that challenged them to read under the tree, to a pet etc. I found the Winter Break Marshmallow Reading Challenge at TpT as a FREE item, so go and grab it for next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sand Artist: Heidi McGrew

In my quest for learning about, and collecting sand; I have met some very knowledgeable people. I met Heidi at a sand convention. Heidi is an artist who uses sand in a very unique way.

On Heidi's website, you can find information on the kinds of sand she uses, and the process. At the conference, Heidi not only demonstrated how to do sand painting, but she walked us through the process which allowed all in attendance to learn how to create this artwork. It gave us all a real appreciation for the work that goes into one of these projects while getting to work with very beautiful sand.

Heidi finds her sand by going out and looking for it. She also has a network of people she trades sand with, as well as accepting sand from people who want her to use sand from places that are special to them. Before using the sand, Heidi cleans and dries it.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces of her work.

These little gift tags/ornaments are just too cute to pass up. Click HERE to see more.

Scince Christmas is my favorite time of year and it is around the corner, I had to share this larger version of Christmas. Click here to see more.

I think her Great Wall of China is amazing!

I couldn't pass up the Summer at the Lavendar Farm as I believe she uses Pfeiffer Beach sand, which I collected and traded for some very special sands.

I couldn't resist the cosmos. Click HERE for details.

If you would like to purchase some of Heidi's art, visit her on Etsy: Natural Earth Craft Etsy Shop  
Heidi also shared a really cool sand website that I had not visited before. More on that later.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Around the World

I want my students to learn about the the world around them. My sand collection promotes the learning because the sand is so beautiful that kids (and the teacher) yearn to know more about where it came from. I begin the year with student passports and suitcases, which of course is on my school computer, so I will have to share that on another day.

I have a section on my webpage devoted to continents and countries around the world, so students can research and learn more about each location at 

Click here to see my webpage

Another really great site that I have discovered is Phillip Martin's website where he displays his murals. Now the really cool part is that he adds a really great Kid Section for each country that he paints a mural, so the students can learn about the culture and customs of the country. You really need to check these out.

Mural Man

If you end up loving his art work and want to use it for your classroom, you will be able to. Phillip Martin also sells some of his art work on "Teachers Pay Teachers" if you want to create something to sell on TpT. To See his store on TpT, just Click Here

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Really Good Christmas Deals ~ Freebies

I just love looking on Pinterest to find some really good deals, so I thought I would share some of the ones I really like.

Clip Art: One of my goals is to learn how to make my own clip art,  but I just have not had the time, so here are some Clip Art artisits that you might want to check out:

Creative Clips:

FREE Creative Clips Fan Sticker {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}

I am going to have to post several options, because this artist has so many creative freebies, that you simply must check out!

 Unwrap your FREEBIE Number 7 {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}
Unwrap #7

Operation E.L.F Freebie #1 {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}

FREEBIE! My Favorite Things #1 {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}


One of my favorite ideas that Krista does is keep her followers guessing and she has lots of surprises for them. Here is one that many many people have purchased, including myself.

Christmas Morning Surprise: Limited Edition Set {Creative
 Pretty cool idea- eh? If you are interested, this item can be purchased at Christmas Morning Surprise!


Premium Christmas Characters Clip Art & Digital Papers Set

I am trying out a new Clip art artist & thought you might want to as well.


Educlips is another artist on my "Favorites" list. I have purchased quite a things from this TpT store.

FREE Christmas Gifts Clip Art Bundle

Educlips has many top-not clip art packages for purchase. Since I am highlighting a freebie, I thought I would highlight one of my "wish-list" items.

Christmas Clip Art Mega Bundle

Well, I am off to do some more web surfing for great holiday finds. I will post anything I find on my Pinterest Board at:

Borders, Clip Art, Fonts & More

Leader Board Superb

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kids Online

Whew! That was a busy week before Christmas vacation! This morning I took my first vacation breath and discovered my new favorite website!

Kids Online

Being a teacher and sand collector, I am always on the lookout for a way to bring my sand into the classroom to share with my students. Kids Online is another link, where kids share what life is like in their country, and find out what life is like in other countries. This is not a "high graphics" website, but just good plain sharing of information. I have a student from one of the countries not yet talked about, so I am very excited that she will be able to share her perspective while classmates get to learn in a new format. If you have never seen this site, then you MUST check it out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Social Studies Website: All in One Place

101 Social Studies websites for teachers including MissionUS, iCivics, QuickMaps and more!

Click Here

I just found this amazing site for History. It gives many Internet resources for teachers, so I had to share it. Networking is what a blog is all about. I love sharing what I am learning about and if I find a good site, I just have to pass it on. I think this one is a keeper.

I am getting ready to begin my Colonial Unit and then move on to the American Revolution. These are two of my favorite Social Studies units, so I am really looking forward to it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sand & Science in the Classroom

Students look at sand from all over the world under a microscope.

It is really easy. To prepare, I cut 1 x 3 inch construction paper science slides. I pass out tape and hole punches for students to share. I actually have a FREE
powerpoint that I use to give directions.

Just Click Here for the FREE PowerPoint

The PowerPoint walks you through the process of making a paper slide set by step. All you have to do is collect some sand samples. You will be amazed by what you see under the microscope.

I use the little microscopes shown in the picture. You can actually use most microscopes, 
but these little units are quite affordable and cost under $10. They can be purchased at 

Delta Education.

I have had mine for 30 years and most of them are still working.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sand Calendar

The 2015 Sand Calendar is here, and it looks fantastic! The amazing thing about the calendar, is that the people who put it together do research on each sand sample and where it comes from. The calendar reads like a good book. Looking at the sand, will definitely make you want to visit these locations. My husband and I donated the sand from Brazil which is located on the August page of the calendar. As we are friends with the people who created the calendars, my husband sells them on ebay at

Click HERE for Sand Calendar.

The cover is Balok Beach, Kuantan, Pahand Malaysia
The calendar explain what many of the items in the picture are.

This sand sample came from a Tributary to Rock Creek, Rock Creek, Oregon. 
These clear, orange, and red grains
of sand are predominately agate and jasper.

Tripoli, Libya

After students make a slide with sand and label it, they look at it under a microscope. 
(More on that in a minute.)
They also locate where the sand came from on a map, and they organize their sand samples based on the continent it came from as well the the color of the sand.

If you like the maps, you must check out 

Dancing Crayons ~ Just click Here

Back to the Calendar Sand:

This beautiful sample of sand came from a mine near La Sal, Utah. 
The color alone makes me want to travel there. 
I don't have this sand yet, but I will. 
This colorful sand comes from blue azurite and green malachite, and both are copper-bearing minerals. 
To find out more information about this sand, you will have to purchase the calendar, or go and visit this area. If you visit the area, scoop up a cup for me!!!

What a dazzling sample of sand! It came from Shark's Tooth Ridge, New Mexico.
This is now another "Must See" location for me.

This Brazilian sand came from my husband and I. We haven't been to Brazil yet, but it is another
location that is on our "To Do" list. This sand came from Caroco Beach, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We traded sand with a Brazilian Sand Collector who sent us several beautiful sands from his country. 
In fact, his sand inspired my 

Close Reading: Brazil 

which was featured a few months ago when I first started my blog.

What do I do with my sand? How do I use it in the classroom?
These questions will be answered in my next blog posting.
Stay tuned!