Fourteen in '14

We're linking up with a few of our favorite friends for their Fourteen in '14 Linky Party!

We're what we call a "work in progress"...
Attending the Southern California Kindergarten Conference and spending some much needed, rejuvenating face time with our teacher blogging buddies was by far our favorite 2014 memory.These women have truly touched our lives in so many ways and we are so blessed to call them our friends. We're excited to head back there again this year as presenters!
Definitely our selfie from the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference!

 And definitely this picture with all of the presenters...

About a year ago this week, we received an email telling us we would be presenting at the first ever Teachers Pay Teachers conference. We literally dropped our cell phones on the living room floor and walked out the front door. We then picked them up, and just walked out of our own houses around our blocks about a dozen times, chatting on the phone and trying to soak in the news...It was a dream come true. What followed were months and months of anticipation, planning, and planning, and planning, and planning. It all came together in Las Vegas last July, and we feel beyond blessed to have been a part of such an amazing experience.

We loved sharing this super secret blog post with you...

This Rudolph EOS lip balm gift idea has already saved our antlers more than once this holiday season...
This is an absolute Christmas 2014 DIY gift favorite!

After the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference, we decided to gift each other with Alex and Ani bangles! We wanted to commemorate our time in Vegas and according to our husbands, find an excuse to buy jewelry. We prefer our rationale, but whatever the case, we bought 3...Each. :)

And, we just added this one to our arm candy collection too. We love Alex and Ani...and our husbands. ;)
If you have an iPad, you need an Osmo. We had the privilege of snagging one of these on pre-sale before they even hit the market last summer. Since then, we've acquired 3 more, are gifting some to a few nieces and nephews this Christmas, and convinced our school to grab some too. They are now available in the Apple Store and online too. The Osmo basically brings hands on play and plugged in play together for an amazing interactive experience.  

For quick and snappy lunches, we always choose Snapper Jack's Taco Shack. Yum!

For long and lazy lunches, we always choose The Lazy Dog Cafe.

We've been Survivor fans since Season 1...It still remains a weekly family favorite in both our homes. 

It's sort of sad when the only movie you remember watching was Elf...the other day...Neither of us are huge movie goers, but we're BIG movie sleepers. If we ever have time to sit and watch movies, we'll likely just fall asleep...Mostly during the opening credits...Before the movie even starts.  But, we made it through Elf the other day no problem...So, it's our favorite! Smiling's our favorite too. ;)

Infinity scarves to infinity and beyond. Love, love, love. We wear them in the dark and in the park...On boats and with goats...We wear them here, there and everywhere!

As we walk down our personal 2014 Memory Lane, we realize what an amazing year it has been for us. We are so grateful to our friends and family, readers and customers for fluttering along this journey with us. May you have a wonderful holiday season!

Be sure to head over to Miss Kindergarten, A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Dragonflies in First to read more Fourteen in '14 memories.

Visual Reminders for Listening

Teaching our young learners how to listen is a true teaching passion for us. For years, we have felt that for whatever reason, our students have become more and more disengaged from their own learning. Yet, the deeper we dug into our concerns, the more we realized that for whatever reason, many of them truly didn't know how to listen. So, we made it a point to start purposefully teaching kids the who, how and what of truly good listening skills both in and out of the classroom. 

But, let's be real...It's not always Unicorn, Fairy Dust, Rainbows Land...We all know the reality is, this isn't always so easy when teaching little learners. They just talk. A lot. A lot a lot.

We've had a lot of success with our Listen Up Activities when we use them consistently, and lately our students have been responding really well to visual reminders. With winter break coming, we kind of need all the reminders we can get right about now!

So, we've created a few more visual reminders for the classroom to help them put their best foot ear forward.
The long poster works great for a bold, quick whole body response reminder to get them prepared for learning and listening. We have this hanging permanently in our classroom

We simply point to the parts of our own bodies to match the poster, say the word followed by "listening" and then begin. "Eyes listening. Ears listening. Hands listening"...You get the picture. The LISTEN poster works well with older students too. We've also included a smaller sized (4 per page) printable option,which we sometimes use if we need to get up close and personal...AKA at individual desks when they should be listening. 

Or sometimes (if all else fails), we sing this song because it's amazing how putting what you want to say to a tune catches their attention immediately...
We've packaged these visual reminders for listening in a free download for you. Enjoy!
We use our visual reminders for listening throughout our school day, but purposeful instruction with them happens during our quick daily Listen Up time. 
Our kids love these lessons and strive to be the best listeners they can be. We love these lessons because they are no prep (just copy), grab and go activities. We use them all school year long! They only need crayons, a pencil and a worksheet. You just need the oral directions. There are two differentiated instruction levels, beginning and intermediate for class differentiation and extension. We usually use the beginning, then go back and use the intermediate ~ 2 activities in 1. You can try a few for yourself. Just follow our TpT Store and download yourself a copy for free.  

Crazy for Hot Cocoa!

Nothing says loco quite like cocoa! It's amazing the work our class will do for the stuff! They are crazy for hot cocoa! 
We create this Loco for Cocoa bulletin board each year and leave it up past the holidays because, well, people drink hot cocoa in January too...And maybe even February...But, you didn't hear that from us. :)

We spend the weeks leading up to winter break bringing a lot of special activities into our classroom, but our Hot Cocoa Party is one of our favorites. Mostly because it's an easy party to throw!

Last year, we were either incredibly smart, terribly tired, or a little of both when we decided to ditch the crock pot cocoa and use a Keurig coffee maker instead! 
No children were harmed in the touching of this Keurig.
They used 1 finger and an adult stood with them the entire time.
Like the movie Jackass...Kids, do not try this at home.
We had no idea the power of allowing the kids to touch the Keurig, but Ohmiword they were as excited as Tammy finding a gold glitter accordion under the tree on Christmas morning! 
Obviously making hot cocoa 1 cup at a time would take forever in the classroom, so we usually run small groups on the last day before winter break and pair our hot cocoa station with our 
You can see all of the activities included in our Polar Express Booktivities and download a sample page from the preview in our TpT Shop.
We also let the kids wear pajamas (mostly so we can too) and watch The Polar Express to end our day.

Set up is super easy, and clean up is a snap! No more crock pots to clean before Winter Break!
We'll be posting a request for our class Hot Cocoa Party donations outside our classroom tomorrow for parents to sign up. 

We've created one for the crock pot (bring boxes of hot cocoa mix) and one for the Keurig (bring K-Cups). 
Is your class crazy for cocoa too? 
You can grab your own sign up sheets below. 
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