2023 - Amber from TGIF (Third Grade is Fun)

Survival Teaching Strategies You Need In December


Every teacher knows how amazing, yet exhausting teaching in December feels.  Between the excitement and fun activities, to all the crazy schedules and responsibilities during December, keeping your students engaged during this time can be WILD!  I have teamed up with an amazing group of educators to bring you a round up of some of our tried and true activities to keep your students on task and excited about learning (while having a lot of fun in the classroom too).

Check out these 7 amazing ways to keep your students engaged this December!


December....fun, yet totally exhausting for teachers. Math crafts have been such a SANITY SAVER for me over the years. Here why I love them during the holidays....
  • Students love math crafts and enjoy working on the math and then coloring.
  • Students are invested in giving their best math work since it will go on display.
  • Students show their work with the models and strategies included on the crafts.
  • Teachers love the no prep crafts. Just copy and go!
  • Teachers appreciate the printable picture directions - perfect for sub days.
  • Teachers like students practicing math standards in a meaningful way.
  • Admin loves seeing that math standards are being met.
  • Everyone loves how the math crafts decorate the hallway or classroom.
Math crafts can be handmade by teachers by providing a template for students to trace and cut or teachers can copy them on the copy machine. Students can add their math to the inside of the craft and color it for display.

If you are short on time, these premade winter math crafts provide no prep practice on missing factors, beginning fractions, division strategies, place value, two digit addition strategies, two digit subtraction strategies and missing addends.


When a break is coming up, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to start the next thing on your curriculum map. Of course, you still want to keep things educational in a way that continues to help your students grow and retain the knowledge they’ve acquired so far this year. Tiffany from The Learning Effect likes using hands-on activities and collaborative learning to keep students engaged and learning. One way she does this is by having students create their own board games. Create Your Own Board Game is the perfect pre-break project for your students. It can be used with any subject and for review or as a way for students to show what they know. There are many different ways to use this project - as a final project after finishing a class novel, as enrichment for a specific math skill or science topic, or at the end of a unit of study to practice what was learned. The best part of the project is having a game playing day! After students create their games, they play each other’s and make their final tweaks based on their peer’s feedback. A project like this is fun, and students become fully invested in their work. It’s a great way for students to show what they know through writing questions and answers for their game and when playing others’ games. Plus, who doesn’t love a time filler that is educational but has complete student buy-in?


Keeping a schedule during December can be a challenge too. It seems there's always something on the daily schedule that interrupts your normal lesson routine such as assemblies and class parties. Carla from Comprehension Connection has had success with themed teaching. Even upper elementary students love themed weeks. She uses themes like reindeer week to introduce animal research, close reading about caribou, partner plays she's written, and of course, fiction and nonfiction literature. The themes are festive, yet inclusive too for those who may not celebrate Christmas.


Teaching upper elementary students in December can be an exciting but challenging endeavor. With all of the excitement that the holidays bring, it can be difficult to keep the kids focused and engaged. To help with this, Marissa from Creative Classroom Core likes to incorporate the holiday spirit into her ELA lessons be using short stories with themes related to December holidays or winter. With classic stories like "The Gift of the Magi" by O.Henry or "The Christmas Present" by Richmal Crompton, it is easy to find holiday themed stories that fit seemlessly into your existing curriculum. After reading, Marissa likes to encourage students to write about the characters, plot, or their own holiday experiences. This not only makes learning more enjoyable but also connects their personal experiences to the curriculum. Read more about incorporating holiday themed stories into your upper elementary curriculum on the Creative Classroom Core blog!


As the holiday season approaches, elementary school teachers are faced with the challenge of maintaining focus and engagement amidst the excitement in the air. Ronnie from A Teacher's Wonderland has some ideas for your December lesson plans and some tips to help you navigate this festive time of year. First and foremost, embrace the holiday spirit by incorporating themed activities into your lessons. Whether it's working on math centers (with winter themed games) , or helping a snowman escape from an awesome escape room, or exploring different cultural celebrations, infusing the season into your curriculum can excite your students and keep them motivated. Don't forget to prioritize self-care during this busy time. It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind, but remember to carve out moments for relaxation and rejuvenation. After all, a well-rested and happy teacher is a happy teacher. So gear up, embrace the chaos, and enjoy the wild ride of teaching in December!


In December, it's crucial to maintain kids' enthusiasm for reading, and one way Vanessa from Longwing Learning does this is by challenging kids to read different types of books or genres and writing them down. Here's how she incorporates it during December in her classroom: First, she creates a bingo card with holiday-themed books using the Monthly Genre Book Logs. She challenges the kids to read these books during the month. As the month passes, she and her students read aloud the various holiday-themed books. When they finish reading a book from the bingo card, they get to mark a square on it. The goal is to complete a row, column, or diagonal, just like in the traditional bingo game. By incorporating these challenges in December, she keeps the joy of reading alive throughout the festive season.


The holidays are a busy time of the year and teaching isn't any easier during this time. The children are excited for all that's coming up, including their extended winter break. How could you possibly get through this tiring time while trying to educate the students even a little? Tammy from The Owl Teacher likes to add a little twist to December by exploring the science related to the holidays. By making science fun and seasonal, students will be engaged and likely to learn a thing or two! In Tammy's blog post Engage with Holiday Science, she walks you through all the different science activities you can do and provides you with a freebie to get started.



Sharing our Blessings with Teachers: A Thank You Giveaway

As I am nearing that "half-way to 100" milestone in my life, I have come to realize that we can focus on our hardships or find the blessings amongst them. 

Even though that "milestone birthday" has slowed my body a bit, I am so incredibly thankful to be reaching it.  As my children are in the young adult and teenager phase, they have needed me less and less, but it has allowed me time with my aging parents.  My husband retired this year after 31 years of factory labor, and it allowed my family and I TIME to take an extended camping trip out to the Black Hills National Forest and Yellowstone National Park.  

Sharing the Blessings with Teachers FREEBIE

I am so incredibly blessed, and I want to share some blessings with teachers.  TIME is something we cannot make more of and so today I am sharing the gift of time by sharing this craft for free to save you so time in the classroom since it is print and go!  Getting home to relax in the evening and enjoy life is a blessing all teachers deserve.  

While in the classroom, I so enjoyed creating math crafts with my students.  Not only do my students get critical math review, they have so much fun coloring the crafts and making them uniquely their own.  The bonus I get as teacher is that the math crafts not only showcase the standards that we are mastering, but they also decorate our classroom or hallway.   


Sharing the Blessings with Teachers GIFT CARD

I am also giving away a $25 TpT gift card.  Enter below!  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I have 15 other friends who are ALSO giving away free resources and $25 TpT gift cards.  Visit each one below by clicking on their logos!  You can enter ALL of the giveaways and pick up loads of freebies!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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5 Easy Thanksgiving Ideas and Activities in the Classroom

The school year always seems so rushed each year and by November we are ALL ready for some down time. Thanksgiving should not only be a time of giving and being grateful, but also a time just to slow down, relax a bit, and look for the blessings, including the classroom.

Giving thanks for our students and their hard work can look like:


    Many students have never tried eating pumpkin, so this is great opportunity for them to try! (Of course, make sure that your students have no allergy issues first.) Buying a bag of salted and roasted pumpkin seeds is super simple and easy to give each student a few to try. Or add some math skills by making Pumpkin Pie in a Bag. Check out this free recipe that is a great way to get some real life math measuring skills in!


    This doesn't have to be fancy! Show students how to trace their hand and let them color their own unique turkey. Or go outside and pick out some leaves to do some color rubbings. If you would like to incorporate some math and need some print and go resources, check out these cute 3-D turkeys!


I absolutely LOVE playing nature "fly-over" videos with calm relaxing music in the background while we complete tasks! The video I have linked below comes from Tim Janis' YouTube channel. It is so relaxing and helps my students focus!

I played these often while students were working on completing a worksheet, reading a book of their choosing or on those days where we needed it, COLORING! These November Multiplication Coloring Sheets are the perfect combination of practicing multiplication strategies and just relaxing and coloring. Bonus: They are differentiated!


    Some days we just need that (teachers and the students). We get so busy making sure the kids are educated, differentiated, accommodated, and all, that we forget that we ALL NEED SOME DOWN TIME! The day before a holiday break, a movie and popcorn was my go to! I used the time to connect with the kids a bit, straighten up the room, lay out some materials for after the break and if I could sneak it in, do a bit of lesson planning or grading.


    I'm not going to lie, this can be a bit bananas, but OH the MEMORIES you will make!!! I usually would have some of my games be educational games that we were already playing in class anyway (because I wouldn't have to review the rules), some card games (like Multiplication War - free directions or UNO) and some easy games like Candyland (it may seem babyish, but I guarantee they will still love it).

These are the moments your students will remember in your classroom. Slow down this Thanksgiving and allow the magic of memories to be created in your classroom.
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What tip was your favorite?  Comment below using the SPEECH BUBBLE.

Making Math Meaningful and Engaging with Crafts

In upper elementary classrooms, math becomes more challenging and worksheets are necessary at times, but boring. To mix things up, math crafts can provide a fun and engaging way for teachers to explore math concepts with their students while making the lesson more meaningful for students. 

Why should teachers use math crafts?

  • Hands-on learning: Math crafts provide a great opportunity for students to get hands-on and really engage with the material. By exploring concepts like fractions, geometry, and measurement in a concrete way, students are more likely to retain information and make connections with the real world.
  • Creativity: Who says math can't be creative? By incorporating art into math lessons, students can express their creativity while learning. Math crafts can be used to create geometric shapes, symmetry, and patterns, which can help students develop their spatial reasoning skills and enhance their problem-solving abilities.
  • Collaboration: Math crafts are a fantastic way to promote teamwork and collaboration in the classroom. When students work together on a math craft project, they can communicate their ideas and work towards a common goal. This can help build a sense of community in the classroom and improve social skills.

By promoting hands-on learning, creativity, and collaboration, math crafts can help students develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and enhance their problem-solving abilities. 



Tips on Teaching ROUNDING to the Nearest 10 and 100

Teaching rounding.  Gulp.  This is one of those concepts that some kids just magically gravitate toward and others S T R U G G L E!  So, how can we support those that struggle to learn rounding to the nearest 10 and 100 while keeping the others who "get it" engaged?  I am sharing some easy, peasy tips with you!

Teaching rounding to the nearest 10 and 100 can be challenging for third graders, but with the right approach and tips, it can be made easier. Here are some practical tips for teaching rounding to the nearest 10 and 100 to 3rd graders:

Tip # 1 Start with a visual approach: Use manipulatives such as base-10 blocks to help students visualize the concept of rounding.

Tip #2 Use real-life examples to introduce the concept: Use money as an example.  "If something cost $2.99, what is that closest to in whole dollars?"  

Tip #3 Break it down: Teach students to round to the nearest 10 first, then move on to rounding to the nearest 100. Practicing in math centers or during intervention time allow students to practice each concept of rounding the the nearest 10 and rounding to the nearest 100 individually and then when they are ready, they can move on to mixed rounding concepts.  These Rounding Triangle Sorts allow individual rounding and mixed rounding practice.  They even include a rounding to the thousands place for those students who need a challenge.  

Tip #4 Use a number line: Use a number line to help students visualize the concept of rounding. A hands on number such as the FREE number line I have available below, helps students get a better understanding of midline numbers (350 is halfway between 300 and 400) and getting a visual of if number 28 is closer to 20 or 30 by physically placing the numbers on the line.  

Tip #5 Make it fun: Use games and math crafts to engage students and make the concept of rounding more enjoyable.  Math crafts are double duty because not only do they allow for differentiated practice, but they also are just so much fun for the students AND they double as an amazing math display to show off the standards you have been working on.  This "Donut you Think: Rounding is Sweet" math craft is perfect on a bulletin board.

You can differentiate by supporting students who need it with numbers "in order" (above) like on a number line or students who are ready for a challenge with mixed numbers (above) which takes a considerable amount of concentration.

Tip #6 Repeat and reinforce: Repeat the concept several times and reinforce it through practice problems.  These place value and rounding math fact tents allow students to practice with a partner and repeat the practice again and again until they master the concept.  

Tip # 7 Use technology: Use technology such as interactive whiteboards or online games to help teach rounding.  Have students make their own number line in Google Slides or even using the good old, faithful whiteboard and dry erase marker.  

Tip #8 Be patient: Rounding can be difficult for some students, so be patient and provide extra support to those who need it.  When most students have mastered the concept, don't be afraid to move on.  Just continue reinforcing rounding through a quick daily review or in your intervention time to continue reaching out to those students who struggle.  

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