Are You Ready for Some Football?!?!

Traditionally this time of year we get all worked up over a door decorating contest.  Teachers in older grades don't have the extra assistant to help with the decorations to make it all glitz and glam.  We have tried to put forth effort.  Some grades have disputed that lower grades exhibit the work of the teachers and assistants for most of the work.  And it has been a big deal!  I stand on the fence.  I'm a recovering people pleaser and care toooooo much what people think.  I can see where both parties stand.  I teach third grade and have participated in the door contest each year and once as a fifth grade teacher.  Seven years ago I coordinated our door with the theme, "have a very merry estuary."  Trying to tie in the curriculum on human and environment interactions.  The kids all collected shells and decorated them.  We had a Christmas tree of shells, posters of pollution, fish, animals, nets, turtles, marsh grass.  All encompassing a Christmas theme.  I felt slighted when no one seemed to pay attention.  Nor did we win the contest.  Then to turn around and have to rip it all down for January.  I also don't want to be anti-anything because I don't have the 'extra' help.  It also looks poorly when a grade level or levels don't participate in a school wide initiative, no matter what it is.  We all need to support each other.  It does take more instructional time to have the kids work on 'pretty' activities to go outside our door.  With all that being said.

I am sad we are not doing the contest.  Yes, I griped and said, "I don't have time, don't have help, and we have to prepare kids for the EOGs."  But we have always found a way.  SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO......

I wanted to decorate my door but didn't want to have to rip it down in January..... Thinking wheels went turning.  My idea..... Football doors and a cute poem to help kids to remember their reading, math and learning strategies. 

In third grade we use the runners strategies for reading passages.  For the most part, we see a lot of success when kids apply these strategies.  I am not a sports fan in ANY way.  However, I love people who LOVE one team and root for them.  I don't have a team so to speak of, but I love, love, love the ocean.  So I guess I'm team Ariel.  Hehehe

My Aunts in West Virginia root for three different teams.  My Aunt Angel and her family are die hard Steelers fans.  They have some pretty silly pictures to show for at games too.  My YOUNGER Aunt Sarah is not a football fan but roots for the Ohio Bobcats to defy her husband who loves Marshall.  So, I needed something my kids could relate to, I chose STEELERS.  And they have an old song, "black and yellow" that the kids love.

Yes, Auntie Ang even has a Steeler's Christmas tree! 
You  are thinking... I am some random chick.  Maybe you can't think as fast as me.  No, I am random.

I made a door in which I hope to elaborate different strategies to help us become successful.  I highlighted the door in steelers colors.  I also want to have some playoff energizers where they chant things to help them become successful with football exercises.

The idea is we can take different real jobs each day and quickly brainstorm things they might do to help them be successful.  For example: A doctor wouldn't just start with medicine before checking weight, symptoms, small tests, xrays.  A landscaper wouldn't start planting flowers before outlining where they want to border and plan.  A construction company wouldn't begin building the house without plans, laying the foundation, etc.  I hope the kids see the connection with being successful in life and anything they do. 

I sincerely hope this has inspired you to find a small something your kids like to motivate them in class.  I would love to hear some other sports ideas since, again, I am not a sports follower.  :)

Ps:  And, I am even more excited because my girlfriend teachers are going to do football doors too.  Amy is going to do the New York Giants, but what can I say... she's a Yankees fan too.  My friendy across the hall, Jen, is going to do our NC team, Panthers.  I'll post new pictures when we get them up. 
Pps:  The Comic on the door says, Only you can prevent forest sharks with a great white flying through the forest... lol.  Along with many others.

Christmas Books.... Not your traditional LIST!

My Christmas list of books is not your traditional list of literature used.  Most teachers in elementary school prefer to use very sweet books such as The Polar Express, The Crippled Lamb or Favorites of Jan Brett.  Or maybe you like a little mischief in your Christmas story and enjoy reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas or the Christmas Carol.  Christmas poems and songs... fa-la-la-la----la----laaaaa. 

Here is a list of my favorite must reads before Christmas... I can say with confidence (because I checked) they are not on the top 10 Christmas book lists.  I have yet to figure out why.

Yes!!!!! A List!!!!!
1.  Santa's Twin by Dean Koontz.
First I start with the scary.  Yes, that's right.  Santa's twin locks him in the basement and sets out to ruin Christmas.  More for grades 3-5 that teeter on the line of believing.  This engages the students with one villainous act behind the other.  Toad snot in presents, snail slime in the pie, written in a frolicking poetry prose that rolls off the tongue.  Only when two little girls, Emmy and Lottie,  set out to stop this mad man and restore hope in Christmas.  It takes two to three days to read the story, it is rather long.  Then I have students write a beginning, middle and end with illustrations.  After they have enjoyed the book, there is an eye-spy trick.  They have a hidden snowman on each page.

After posting this I have discovered that there is a sequel to Santa's Twin.  I have yet to read it.  If you have and could clue me in as if this is a good buy or not.  That'd be great.

2.  The Black Snowman by Phil Mendez
In this story two brothers live in the city.  Jacob is very angry at the world and blames everything to his color of skin.  Pewee is very innocent at heart and sees the good in everything.  It is through this fantasy story that a magical kente cloth from their homeland Africa comes alive on their inner-city snowman.  This snowman has lots of lessons in store for Jacob from showing him the greatness of his ancestry to the power of believing in yourself.  There are many lessons online for this story and the strong vocabulary and harshness at the beginning is quickly resolved when the snowman comes in and corrects Jacob's misconceptions about life.

Here is a graphic organizer that accompanies the book.  It focuses on character traits, setting, conflict, resolution and there is a writing activity for the back.

3. Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
This remarkable story is based on true events of the Appalachian Santa Train that has been running for more than 65 years.  In this book a boy named Frankie is eager to receive a doctor's set each year.  To his disappointment as a child, he did not receive a doctor's set, but other needed items and a few small toys.  It was through all these years he realized the wealthy man gave him what he needed.  As he finished medical school he felt the need to return and give back to the community that gave him what he needed.  (I'm a horrible summarizer)  I will work on this summary over Christmas break.  I just wanted to get this out to you guys before you 'wrapped up'  (hahahaha) your Christmas units.

(This sweet story reminds me of the Christmas we stayed at my Aunties in WV.  The big readers they are, they had several Christmas books on the coffee table in the living room.  On a cuddly night, I found myself reading this story and shedding a tear or two. Our memories are our most precious stories we have to share.  I am so thankful for everyone who has time to share all their Christmas stories this season.)

Here is a YouTube video of the Santa Train in 2007.  This video is 9 minutes and summarizes the history of the Santa Train.  Enjoy~ 

Last and totally not least.
4. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojechowski
This is a sweet (yep) tear jerker as a grumpy wood shop man is asked to rebuild a nativity scene for a widow and her son.  As he recreates each animal, the young boy and him have a rough beginning of a friendship.  Towards the end, Jonathan is faced with the difficulty of how to make the mother and baby Jesus look in the manger scene.  In his memory, he carves them in the image of his wife and baby son that died long ago.  This is by a renown author who also authored The Talent Show

And this is my final book as I leave the kids for the Christmas Holiday.  I would love to hear about the unique books you use in your class for the Christmas season.  ~~~~  Tara