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Polar Express Day


Picture of train set-up for Polar Express party

One of my favorite days at school is Polar Express Day! When I taught first grade we had a whole week dedicated to the story the Polar Express.  We read the story, worked on comprehension questions, and writing prompts about the book.  Then, the special activity was our Polar Express Day.  Each student wore pajamas to school and got their Polar Express ticket!

Picture of Polar Express ticket and bell

After receiving their ticket, students went out into the hall to board the train.  You can see in the last photo how our hallway was set up like a train station. Our amazing school counselor dressed up as the conductor and punched everyone’s ticket as they boarded our classroom train.  Students also got a bell at the end of the day with the Believe tag on it.

Picture of food - candy canes, donuts, hot chocolate

Now it wouldn’t be Polar Express Day if we didn’t have treats! Students were able to enjoy hot chocolate with candy canes and donuts!  This might have been their favorite part of the whole day.

Picture of Polar Express Movie

We watched the movie throughout the day while sitting on our train pictured below.  I had seen this amazing train idea on Pinterest and just had to create it for the classroom! We covered the table in red butcher paper and created the front of the train with cardboard, butcher paper, and duct tape.

Tables set up like Polar Express train

Since our whole grade level participated in Polar Express Day we also decorated the hall to look like a train station. We used black painters tape for the track (while this looked cute – it is a pain to clean up after) and created railroad signs to put up throughout the hallway.

Hallway set up like train station

So as I mentioned it is one of my favorite days – I always love a good theme and room transformation!


Pin for Polar Express Party Ideas

100th Day Birthday Party

100th Day Birthday Party Blog Header

The 100th Day of School is a big deal especially in kindergarten and first grade. Last year when I was starting to plan out our celebration for it in first grade I wanted to do something a little different. I know many times teachers have students dress up like they are 100 years old so I thought – why not throw a birthday party for turning 100 years old! It was a hit! See all of the fun we had below…

Birthday Invite

Birthday party invite for the 100th Day of School

About a week before the 100th day of school, I let students and parents know that students could dress up for the day like they were 100 years old. Then, the day before (Day 99 to be exact) at the end of the day I shared the above birthday party invitation with my kiddos. This way they knew something was coming, but still didn’t know exactly what it meant. This was a great way to build hype and excitement!


Happy 100th Birthday sign with streamers in doorway.
Birthday tablecloths and decorations in classroom.

Most of the decorations that I got for our birthday party were from the Dollar Tree. I got balloon tablecloths and fun party centerpieces. We also made some “Happy Birthday” banners and hung up the door sign with streamers. We also made some balloons to hang around the room too! For some fun party decor – check out my Amazon Storefront – HERE.

Photo Booth

Picture of 100th day photo booth with props

I like to have a photo opportunity with most room transformations and I definitely wanted to take pictures of the kiddos all dressed up like they were 100 years old. I wish I could post some of those pictures, but due to privacy I can’t. But, I can tell you that the kids looked super cute! They were dressed up with suspenders, bow ties, wigs, canes, etc. They went all out, which made the day super fun. I wore an “old lady” jogging suit and tried to put baby powder in my hair (but that didn’t work so well). For the photo booth, I put up birthday wrapping paper that I got from Target and then used birthday photo booth props from Amazon. You can find the photo props and more decor on my Amazon Store front…HERE.

Special Treat

Picture of 100th birthday cake

What would a birthday party be without some birthday cake! I ordered this cake from our local grocery store and the kids loved it!

100th Day Stations

For about an hour-ish or more, students were rotating through 100th day stations with their group.

Station #1 – Pattern Blocks – Students were given 100 pattern blocks and they were able to build any kind of creation with them.

Pattern block creations

Station #2 – Write 100 Words – Students were given a paper with lines numbered from 1 to 100. Their job was to go around the room and try to write down 100 different words.

Station #3 – Unifix Cubes – Students were given 100 unifix cubes and could build any type of tower or creation that they wanted.

Station #4 – 100 Lollipop Licks – Students were each given a Tootsie Roll Pop and had to see how many licks it took them to get to the center. I got this cute recording sheet on TPT from Buckmastery – HERE.

100 Lollipop Licks activity

Station 5 – Cup Challenge – Groups were given 100 Dixie cups and had to build the tallest tower that they could.

Special Snack

100th day of school trail mix snack

Another activity that students worked on during the day was creating their special 100th day snack. For this snack, you need 10 different items. Then, each child will get 10 of each of the 10 items and their trail mix will have 100 items in this. This year I used Cheez-Its, Kix Cereal, Cheerios, Pretzels, Raisins, Marshmallows, Goldfish, Gummy Bears, Chocolate Chips, and M&Ms. This activity is always a class favorite!

Math Birthday Party

Place value birthday cake

During this time of year we had been learning all about place value, so Amy Lemon’s Place Value Party fit in perfectly. Students made a cake using place value with a 2-digit number and played Pin the Nose on the Clown with place value type questions. You can find these activities… HERE.

Pin the nose on the clown

100th Day Scavenger Hunt

100th Day Scavenger Hunt

For our special scavenger hunt, students need special glasses to help them see. I make these 100 glasses using the school die cut machine and craft sticks and then students get to decorate them. They can see through the two zeroes and use it to help them with our scavenger hunt. For the scavenger hunt I hide 100 numbers around the room. This year I used stars and numbered them from 1-100. I color coordinated even and odd numbers. Students then use their special glasses to help them find all of the numbers. Then we put them in the correct order in a pocket chart.

For some more ideas for the 100th Day of School – check out my blog post from a few years ago >>> HERE. If you are interested in seeing what items I recommend from Amazon for this transformation >>> click HERE.

100th Day Birthday Party Long Pin

Kindness Cards FREEBIE


The holiday season is quickly upon us! Years ago I used to do Elf on the Shelf in the classroom, but had been looking for a way to promote kindness during the holiday season! In comes…Kindness Cards!

I use Kindness Cards during the month of December in my classroom. . Each day I will post a new card on the board and we will focus on that act of kindness for the day. 

Kindness Cards include writing letters to school staff, helping others, saying “Good Morning,” and more.  It’s a great way to promote being kind to others during the holiday season.

If you would like to grab your own set of Kindness Cards for FREE >>> click HERE.

Five Fun Valentine’s Day Books


Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I love reading different books around the different holidays.  Here are my Five Fun books to read with your class for Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff – You can never go wrong with a book by Laura Numeroff….

Cover for Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse Book

Love Monster  by Rachel Bright – Super cute story with many craft options on Pinterest.
Cover for Love Monster Book

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose by Lucille Collandro – I love the Old Lady series and love how they have them for different holidays!
Cover for There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose Book

A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger – My class loved the original Crankenstein and they now also have a cute valentine book too!
Cover for A Crankenstein Valentine Book

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane deGroat – A cute Valentine’s Day book that also can remind students about the importance of being kind.
Cover for Roses are Pink Book

Holiday Activities for the Classroom

Holidays, Math, Reading, Science, Writing

I know how crazy the last few days/week before winter break can be. We are entering crazy times teachers and we need to have as many fun, educational activities in our back pocket ready to go as we can.

So, here are a few things I will be using with my class this week….

Christmas Writing Prompts – This is a FREEBIE in my TPT Store.  It includes two writing prompts that are focused on personal narratives.  Great way to incorporate writing into the holiday excitement.

Candy Cane Science Lab – I did this activity with my class last year and will be starting it this week. We’ve been learning about lab reports during Writing Workshop and this is a fun science experiment to do this time of year. Check out my blog post on it….here

Olive, the Other Reindeer Book Study – This is a cute story and my students love hearing it every year.  This book study is now in my TPT Store. It includes comprehension questions and four different writing prompts. This could be used whole group or as a small group activity.

Christmas Story Problems – We will be starting these today.  I love using holiday story problems as one of my rotations during our daily math time.  The kids love that they are themed and fitting of the season.  The Christmas Story Problems include addition and subtraction problems with and without regrouping.

Winter Story Problems – I will actually be using these when we return to school in January, but if your school focuses on winter instead of the specific holidays – these story problems would be great. These can be used whole group, small group, or at a math center.  These winter themed problems focus on ice skating, hot chocolate, snowmen, etc.  Includes addition and subtraction problems.

Hope these activities and ideas help with the last bit of school before break. I’m down to 7.5 days left with students. We can do it teachers!

Five Fun Christmas Books


Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I love the holidays. In my class, all of my students celebrate Christmas while some celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.  So, we read a lot of Christmas and Hanukkah books during read aloud time during the month of December.  Here are Five Fun Christmas Books to use with your class…

The Polar Express – Yes, I know this is a predictable choice, but it’s such a great book. We read it and also watch the movie at our party each year.
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Olive the Other Reindeer – Olive is a dog who decides she must be a reindeer based on the lyrics in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This book goes through how she tries to join Santa’s team. Super cute!
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How Santa Got His Job – A fun story about how Santa realized his true calling…

The Jolly Christmas Postman – I love the Jolly Postman story for teaching about letter writing and the Christmas version revisits many of the same characters. Kids love how it has the letters and things you can pull out from inside.
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How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Another popular choice that had to make the list! Can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss!
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What are your favorite holiday books to read in class?

Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

For the past few years, we’ve had an elf visit our 2nd grade classroom during the month of December.  Each time my class has come up with a different name for our little friend. We’ve had Sparky, Buddy, Snowy, and this year they decided to name him Gold. The elf always does something funny or naughty, and also always writes a note to our class. In our note, the elf always reminds us of the good choices we should be making.
Below are some of my favorite elf adventures from the past few years…
Our little elf friend came back from the North Pole with a cold or flu.  He had to rest all day, but still had a good spot to keep an eye on everyone’s behavior.

Snowy the Elf decided he wanted to be part of the decorations.  On our tree, we had ornaments with each student’s face on them. Snowy decided to take over.  

Here we have Snowy again. He decided to call no math homework for the night and even cut up all of the homework. The kids couldn’t believe it!

Our elf Sparky loved his name. He loved his name so much that he decided to decorate our room with it.

Here is Buddy the Elf. Poor Buddy was climbing a tower of unifix cubes the day before and fell when he tried to get down.  He had to rest and keep his leg elevated for the day.

Here we have Buddy again. Buddy decided his own behavior was outstanding and brought his own clip for the clip chart. He challenged the whole class to try to clip up that day.

Each week I have a different student who is star student and they fill in and share the poster above. Buddy didn’t want to be left out so he created his own star student poster to share with the class.

Here we have Sparky leaving us some friendly reminders…
I love having the elf visit our classroom. Do you have an elf in your classroom? If so, comment below!

Five Fun Thanksgiving Books


This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Here are a few fun Thanksgiving books to throw in during read aloud time!  My students love holiday books and these are five kid-approved picture books!

Turkey Trouble – This one is funny because the turkey tries out many disguises to avoid being eaten!
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There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey – I love the There Was An Old Lady series and this one is a a great one too!!
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10 Fat Turkeys – This is a fun counting and rhyming book.
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Pete the Cat – The First Thanksgiving – Pete the Cat has many fun books and my students love that there is also a Thanksgiving version.
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A Plump and Perky Turkey – In this book, the townspeople try to trick the turkeys into making it easier to catch them for Thanksgiving dinner.
A Plump And Perky Turkey by [Bateman, Teresa]

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving books? Comment below…

Five for Friday – February 17

Holidays, Reading, Writing

Yay for a 3 day weekend!! These weeks have been crazy and Spring Break is still far away, but a 3 day weekend will help for now! I’m linking up with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching for another week of Five for Friday

I’m loving how hard my kids are working on their book study for the book – I Survived The Great Chicago Fire.  The partnership working on this book are really into it and have had some great insightful answers.  This book study can be found in my TPT store…here
Oh…editing…such a tough skill for second graders. This week to help reinforce the editing skills we’ve been working on (spelling, complete sentences, end marks, capitals, etc) I had my small groups work on editing a story. It’s funny how it’s so much easier for them to edit someone else’s work than catch mistakes in their own…but I guess that’s how it is for everyone!  So…we’ll keep at it…keep practicing and hopefully it’ll start to stick and they’ll be able to apply it soon!
We had a great time at our Valentine’s Party on Tuesday. Check out what we did in my blog post – Valentine’s Day Recap.

Oh conferences…. This coming Tuesday we have our next round of student-led/ parent-teacher conferences! At this conference, we go over each student’s three goals on their Personal Learning Plan (PLP) that are tailored to that child’s specific needs.  I also decided to whip up this little Reading Update sheet as another way to give more info at the conferences.  Some of the kids goals are reading-focused, but some aren’t, so I thought this would be a great way to quickly update parents on all reading areas.

I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Got some fun and yummy goodies from my students and beautiful flowers from my husband! Hope everyone else had a great Valentine’s Day too!
Enjoy the 3 day weekend!!

Valentine’s Party Recap


I wanted to share our Valentine’s Party with the blogging world. I’ve done the same Minute to Win It Games the last few years and it’s gone amazing! The kids always have fun!

Here are my super cute Valentine’s for the kiddos. I got the tag from Glitter and Glue K-2 on TPT.  They turned out super cute!

My students did the traditional Valentine’s passing of the cards. Here are two of the cutest boxes.  How cute is that mailbox!! So creative!
I found the Minute to Win It Games on Makoodle.  You can find more info…here

I split my students up into 4 teams.  The winning team gets to pick our brain breaks on GoNoodle for the next week. They were very excited to hear the prize! They also came up with some very interesting team names which you’ll see below…

Heart Stack – the students had to create the tallest stack of hearts in one minute.
Candy Corn Stick Up – see who could stand up the most candy corns in one minute
Marshmallow Toss – Who can toss the most marshmallows into the bowl in one minute – this one gets quite messy!
Candy Pick Up – using the chopsticks – kids had to move as much candy as they could from one plate to the other…
Heart Relay – Relay race with conversation hearts
As I mentioned above, the kids were quite creative in coming up with their team names.  Fluffy Pickles ended up winning and will get to pick brain breaks for the next week!
What activities do you do at your Valentine’s Party? Comment below….