Welcome to the North Pole!

It’s Christmas! Welcome to the North Pole!
Santa's workshop

I love how Christmas slowly creeps into a school during the first week of December and then, WHAM, it’s Christmas! There’s no avoiding it!

Every year I say to myself that I will begin my Christmas lessons earlier so I can do everything in my “fantastic, have to do this next year” file. I never get through that file, but everyone still has a great time and there are always smiles and plenty of glitter all around.

My school does Christmas in a big way, kicking it off with the annual tradition of Deck the Halls. The whole school decorates their halls and classrooms with decorations made by students for a whole afternoon. We play Christmas music throughout the school and Santa and Mrs. Claus visit to hand out candy canes. I had a great time walking with the VIPs and seeing the kids freak out, especially the Kindies!

Our primary wing decided to do a Santa’s workshop theme. We have so many creative teachers. Here are some photos of our Santa’s workshop hall and then some of the highlights of the rest of the school.

I decided to have our Firsties be elf applicants. We took photos of the kids’ faces and glued them to paper elf costumes that they made. We then displayed their elf application forms as well.


(sorry about the masked faces, I can’t post photos of my students)

I have never done this before, and always have wanted to (yes, it was in my fantastic file!), I just love how they are all so personalized.

Here are the printable templates for you.

For the bodies of the elf I just folded a piece of construction paper into fours and made house shapes. For the legs, feet, and hands, I asked the kids to draw and cut them out on their own.

On the day that we worked on the elves, I had to read my favouritest favouritest Christmas book, Auntie Claus. It’s about the most important elf, Santa’s sister. I love reading it because it takes place in Manhattan and the writing is filled with the word “darling”, which, I of course have to read as “dawwwwwling” I want to be Auntie Claus when I grow up!

We also made gingerbread men and women and houses for our display.

One of our Kindergarten teachers thought up of this idea!

Display gingerbread men on a tin foil cookie sheet!

Here’s is my favourite gingerbread man, I love how this little boy just went to town with every craft material he could get his hands on!

During this time my class were ambushed by gingerbread books too! Here are my favourites.

Well, just a few more days of teaching and I will be able to rest and enjoy the holiday season with my family. I can’t wait to actually do Christmasy things with my own children.

Happy Teaching,
Iram

Owls!

Squee! I love being a teacher at Christmas! Although Christmas is in full swing in my classroom, I had to pull out the brakes for this week’s blog post. Sorry, folks, I just HAVE to talk about my most favourite unit of the year –

Owls!

I love teaching about owls, mostly because we have access to a speaker from a wildlife shelter who comes into classes to talk about them and… brings real breathing owls who hoot and fly and poop! This year, though, I had to be in the office for two weeks to take over the big principal job while my principal was away, so I didn’t get to really teach the unit. I did get to introduce it and see some of the presentation, though. As well, I made sure I took some pics of the wonderful work that my firsties did with the teachers on call.

I always begin my unit with a KW lesson (Know, Wonder). Here is what my class knew about owls and what my class wondered about owls.

Next we pull up our sleeves and do research. Yes, research in grade one! Using our wonder questions as a guide, we work in small groups and look through nonfiction owl books for answers and other interesting facts about owls. Warning, this gets VERY noisy, but the kids get so excited and want to share everything. I make it a rule that they can share with their group mates and put their hands up for me to come to them, but their bums are to be glued to their chairs!

We then gather at the carpet to discuss what we learned. I hand out recording sheets, and the students are to draw and write four fact about owls that they discovered while they were researching.

Shoot! I don’t have a pic of what they came up with, but here’s a printable template of the recording sheet.

The next day we cut out our facts and sort them into groups. Every year the exact categories can change, depending on the types of facts that the students decided to record, but usually I have space for facts about habitat, food, habits, characteristics, and misc.. I get the students to come up and glue their facts in the appropriate categories.

Hmmm… Now isn’t this how we organize research for writing an essay?! If your class can handle it, this may be a good time to write one together. Amaze all your parents and colleagues, “My student are doing research AND I just taught them how to write an essay!”

Through the unit I also cover owl body parts, the needs of owls, types of owls, and owl habits. Here are some examples and printables of all my templates:

Here is a printable of the Owls Have booklet:

Here is a printable of the Owls Need page:

Here is a printable of the Owl Types class book:

Ha ha ha ha, owls probably can drink slurpies, but I guess they shouldn’t!
Here is a printable of What Owls Can Do booklet:

With the help of a wonderful SEA at my school we put together this cute owl display in the hall. We painted owlets using cosmetic pads and white paint, some of the fibres from the pads rubbed off on the paper and made the owlets look fuzzy (you could probably use cotton balls instead). For the mama owls (yes, these mama owls were the same size as the owlets, if not smaller… oops) we did a directed draw on cardstock, painted the whole thing dark brown, cut it out, used a paint brush with a lighter brown paint to paint feathers, and then cut out and glued eyes, beaks and talons out of construction paper. I think I’m going to save these for this year’s art show, the kids did such a good job!


Aren’t they so darn cute?!!!

Here is a printable of the poem you can use for your song and poem books:

As the grand finale, we call in our amazing speaker and get to meet Barney the Barn Owl! I’m sure the kids will be talking about her visit the whole year, especially since we were lucky enough to see Barney poop right in the middle of our classroom floor!

If you have never taught owls before, you absolutely have to!

Here are some additional resources that can help you put together your unit. You’ll have a hoot!

Owl Songs and Poems
CanTeach Owl Links

Happy Teaching!
Iram