Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Talk Thursday: Silver Packages


My sweet friend, Andrea, does Book Talk Thursday every week, and I have found some great new books from it. During the holidays, she has opened it up for us to also link our favorite books. I meant to link up last week, but I forgot. So this time I posted ahead and scheduled it to make sure it was done.


I mentioned this book Monday, but it truly deserves a post all to itself. It's that amazing of a book. I will say that it is out of print, so sometimes it gets a little expensive on Amazon. Last year when I looked, there was a time when it was going for $100. I waited until the summer and bought it dirt cheap, but it looks like Amazon now carries their own copies of it.

Anyway, the story is based in West Virginia (no surprise, it's Cynthia Rylant) and is based on the true story of a "Santa Train" that would come around and bring presents to children who were less fortunate. It follows one particular little boy who dreams of getting a doctor kit every year.

The vocabulary is amazing, and the book sets you up for some great questions and conversations. Plus the pictures are just beautiful. I honestly don't know why this book didn't win any awards. And if you want to have some pre-made activities so you don't have to put too much thought into it ahead of time, Carla from Comprehension Connection has a GREAT package to go along with the book. I ended up just discussing it this year, but I did use some of her questions and vocabulary words to guide my instruction. If I had more time with each class, I would have done all of these activities.

Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant Guided Reading Unit

One piece of advice: read through the story on your own first. Especially if you are prone to crying. It's a super sweet story, no sad endings, but I don't want anyone getting mad because they cried in front of the class and I didn't warn them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Questionairre


I had a surprise day at home with the little one today because our babysitter has two sick kids, so I'm enjoying extra time with my little sweetie and getting the house clean and ready for us to go out of town. While he's taking a nap, I thought I would join Fabulous in First for this fun little linky!

1. When do you decorate? 
We usually decorate right after Halloween (yes, we're "those" people). This year was a little later, but we still managed to have everything up but our tree (we get a real one) before the week of Thanksgiving!

2. Elf or no elf? 
No elf, although I kind of want one. Not to push Keagan to be good (we will do that on our own), but I think I'd have a ton of fun setting it up every night. Steven thinks it would give him a ton of headaches and is adamantly against it. Oh well! I will live vicariously through your pictures!

3. Christmas Cookies or No Baking for You? 
We LOVE making Christmas Cookies! I don't know when we'll get around to it this year, but I hope we still do it! Keagan got to help for the first time last year, and it was so much fun.


4. Favorite Holiday Tradition? 
This is tough because I love everything about the Christmas season, but I guess my favorite may be Christmas Eve. We usually attend a church service and then come home to eat a nice dinner. Before bed, we read "The Irish Night Before Christmas" and each open one gift (usually pajamas). Then we put Keagan to bed while getting everything ready for Christmas morning!

5. Favorite Christmas Movie? 
I love Christmas movies, so it's a hard choice. I would have to say Elf is my favorite, but A Charlie Brown Christmas is a close second. I just love when Linus lays out the true meaning of Christmas!

6. Snow or No Snow? 
If it has to be cold, it might as well snow. 


I saw this shirt on Etsy, and it's totally me. I actually can only handle snow for a little while still. Last year, it was SO miserably cold and yucky every time we got snow, and I was completely over it.

7. Favorite Christmas Song? 
I have to agree with Michelle. "Mary Did You Know" has been a favorite of mine for years. I have been teaching Keagan some Christmas songs this year, though, and Frosty is his favorite!

8. Favorite Gifts to Give and Get? 
Usually I love to get clothes, but it's a little more difficult this year with me being pregnant. I've found some great oversized sweaters that I could actually wear next year. When it comes to giving, I love to find unique or special gifts. This year, I scored a set of Ghostbusters that I was able to split between Keagan and Steven (he's been missing all but Winston for his set, and Keagan always wants to play with his). It's okay. Steven already knows!

8 Inches Retro Action Ghostbusters Lot of 5 Peter Ray Egon Winston Janine


Monday, December 15, 2014

Deck the Classroom


We have been in full-fledged Christmas mode at work and home, and I'm loving every minute of it! I'm in the second trimester and have my energy back, but we have barely been home enough for me to even think about blogging. Christmas is my favorite time of year despite the fact that it is so busy, and this year has been the best so far with Keagan old enough to really start understanding more of it. Last night we went to look at lights in downtown Richmond and were surprised to find Santa sitting under the big tree! Keagan wouldn't go on his own, so Papa (and his little cousin) had to come with him. Still, he was a big boy and told Santa what he wanted (apparently so did Papa!) and then sat near him for a quick picture. First picture without tears, so I'd call it a success!


But that's not what I originally started this post for. Amy (you know, THE Amy Lemons who I just adore?) from Step into Second Grade has a cute little linky going on over at her blog that I've been meaning to join for at least a week. Then again, I just finished decorating my classroom this morning. 


I dug my tree out of school storage, where it had been since the year I had Keagan...so three years of cobwebs...and put it up last week, but I'd been meaning to bring the extra string of lights to put around my Promethean. Today I finally remembered, and it makes everything so much cheerier! I know there's only one week left, but if it brings a smile to my face, I don't care. Plus watching Rudolph like this is WAY cooler!



Last week, I went the serious route with my fourth and fifth graders. We read Silver Packages, which I will have to do a separate post on later this week, but it's a must read. And then I also did an infographic with my 5th grade students on childhood poverty in the United States. I want these kids to realize that it's not all about the presents and that some kids, even in our own country, don't experience the pleasures that they have. They really did a great job, but I figured it was time to change pace for the week before break.

This week, I'm doing some review of plot with 5th grade, so we're watching Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and then making a plot tree. Then I kind of copied that for 3rd, and we're watching Frosty the Snowman while finding the problem, solution, and events leading up to it. Of course, I have Erin from Lovin' Lit to thank for both of those things! The problem/solution activity is part of her Interactive Notebook, and we'll finish it later this week. And the Rudolph activity is just one of many in this amazing pack!

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ~ Common Core Literary Anal     Grades 2-3 ~ Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks *Ele

Fourth grade is having fun with one of my mysteries. My first class had so much fun with it that they actually started making suggestions for New Year's mysteries. We'll see if I find time to actually make one, but I'm definitely interested in trying!

The Case of the Cookie Thief - an activity for drawing con

My small groups are also looking at the lyrics to You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch to practice some context clues and have some fun with it. Plus I make a deal with them that we can watch the song if they are good listeners and work hard. I'm never opposed to Christmas music!

We get out Friday, but I have the day off tomorrow to celebrate my little boy's birthday. Can you believe he turns 3? I guess it IS time for another ;-)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Currently December

My favorite month (well, maybe after the summer months) is finally here, and I'm SO excited!! I love pulling out all of my Christmas books and activities and have had the entire month planned out for a few weeks already. Last night, I spent about an hour cutting out my adorable new advent calendar to start with Keagan. I bought it from a friend's etsy shop here! She has some amazing products!


I swear, Christmas just gets more and more fun as he gets older. This is the first year he really understands the concept of Santa and presents. He already told me that Santa was bringing him ninja turtles. Good thing I already know my child pretty well because we're almost done shopping!


Listening: I'm in between students and already have all my lessons done for the month. And copies are ready for the week. It's nice actually being on top of things! I'm not usually like this...

Loving: You may or may not have seen my announcement, but the Dalton family is adding a new little member!


Keagan is so excited and has started talking to my belly. It's precious! Anyway, we're due June 7, so it's perfect timing for me to have all of summer without using up all of my sick leave.

Thinking: Honestly, this year has been fine, but Thanksgiving is always such a teaser. Plus I LOVE Christmas! I am excited about the activities I have planned, but I will be just as excited, if not more, to walk out that door on the 19th and enjoy my two weeks of Christmas break!

Wanting: I guess with this being the second pregnancy (even though I've really behaved and am not overdoing it on food like I did with Keagan), they were right that the belly pops out a little earlier. I've only gained about 3 pounds, but most of my pants already don't fit. I have some maternity stuff from last time around and plan to treat myself to cuter things with some of my TPT funds, but I really don't want to buy a lot of sweaters. I've bought a few loose-fitting ones that I can wear next year, too, and I'm going to try to avoid "maternity" sweaters. By spring, I can stock up on comfy dresses and make it through!

As for the phone, mine stinks. I told Steven that's what I want for Christmas (but before), and we found the one I'm probably going to get. We aren't under contract anymore and want to stay that way because our plan is amazing and no longer exists, so that means no iPhone for me. Still, I found the Motorola Moto X and Moto G that are both really well-made. I think we're going with the G. Now I just can't wait to get it!

Needing: Why is it that when I'm pregnant, I want even more sodas? I crave coke. It's bad. So far, I've been sticking to just one a day (although that "one" may be a large from Chick-fil-a). I have been better about drinking more water, too, though. So that's not as bad, right?

Giving: My brain isn't working, except in the form of shopping, which I have been killing it at! I'm down to just 3 people to buy for! So I want to make sure you know that you can get free shipping on ANY item at Target right now, with or without a red card. Although if you don't have a red card, you might want to consider it. And you DEFINITELY should download the cartwheel app on your phone for shopping in stores. I may need a Target intervention, but I do know how to shop there!



Sunday, November 30, 2014

TPT Cyber Sale

So I kind of dropped the ball at the end of the week and never got to the rest of my thanks. Honestly, I got hung up on K and then just stopped. We'll go with Kind parents (of my kids) and Sales (I LOVE Black Friday shopping)!

Speaking of sales, I'm sure you've heard:


I've got my store set and ready to go! Many store, including mine will be 28% off as long as you enter the code TPTCYBER at checkout. And don't forget to leave feedback tonight so you have some extra credit to shop with! We all love a good deal, right?

Go fill up your cart and get ready to shop!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Week of Giving Thanks: Day 4

It's day 4 of Blog Hoppin's Week of Giving Thanks, and today is the letter N. This one's my favorite, and it worked out perfectly that it happens to be on Thanksgiving Day


I'm SUPER thankful to announce that our little family is growing!


It's true! Keagan will be a big brother (actually in early June, but possibly May), and our family will be blessed with one more little cutie! I've been chomping at the bit to share this since early October, but I wanted to wait until I had another good check-up. I'm 12 1/2 weeks along now and doing just fine. Keagan has been cute. He's starting to talk to the baby and wants to know its name. Now I'm just anxiously awaiting when I can find out the gender to really start preparing for this baby.

And this may have been part of the reason that I've been so MIA here recently. Between just being exhausted and not being able to share my most exciting news, I just couldn't come up with anything else to write. Hopefully now that the cat's out of the bag, I'll be able to share a little better!


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Week of Giving Thanks: Day 3

It's day 3 of Blog Hoppin's Week of Giving Thanks, and today is the letter A.

When I first moved to Richmond almost 9 years ago, it wasn't so amazing for me. Moving hours away from all of my family and friends was difficult because I had so many strong relationships. Steven's family is awesome and immediately made me feel like I was a part of them (to the point that we joke who they like more), but friendships were tough. I wasn't surrounded by many people my age that I felt like I could share common interests with. Honestly, it took me about 5 or 6 years just to start feeling like I fit in.

Now that we've started going to Remnant (our church) and gotten plugged into a community group there, I can truly say that they are awesome people. I could call them up to hang out whenever, and we genuinely enjoy getting together to talk, eat, or just do whatever. Monday night was our Thanksgiving dinner, which I almost missed because I had Title I night. When I got there late, I was immediately calm and relaxed. I've missed that.