Tag Archives: Elementary

It Feels Like Christmas in our Classroom!

It Feels Like Christmas in our Classroom!

Christmas season is here! And while so much is happening in our classroom… lessons to teach, classwork to complete, reevaluations to schedule, strategies to implement, data to record, etc., etc., etc…. there is always time to join in the holiday fun and make memories while we deck the [walls] 🙂

So here is a collection of some of the things we do in our classroom during Christmas time. Many ideas have been taken from Pinterest, while others have been a compilation of ideas that Ms. Crystal (my wonderful paraprofessional) and I have put together over the years (whether individually or collectively).

Ornament Making

We have our students create their own ornaments to decorate the classroom tree. There is nothing better than bragging about how my students made their own ornaments 😉 Plus, for our Family Christmas Activity, these go home with our kiddos so that they can be displayed in their own home. {More info on the ornaments we’ve made coming soon…}

Christmas Artwork Displays

Creating Christmas art is the best! Better than lights and red + green pre-made decorations, is student-made work. These help to create the Christmas atmosphere in the classroom while displaying colorful student-made artwork. (Notice the ‘light it up blue’ light bulbs had to make an entrance in December!) {More info on the artwork we’ve made coming soon…}

Christmas Group Effort Decorations

Every year there are special Christmas displays that require group effort. This year, we created student mistletoe[s] which hang from the ceiling above each corresponding child, a wreath using student hand-print cutouts, and stockings made out of paper which students had to lace with yarn (displayed above from left to right, respectively). {More info on the collective decorations coming soon…}

Teacher-Made Displays

I am absolutely in love with this chimney made completely from paper that Ms. Crystal made years ago. She has kept it for many years and it has adorned our classroom the last two years. Last year, it was displayed on the wall under the “Student Work” board. This year, for lack of space, we were ‘forced’ to think outside the box and placed it on our big book furniture. What an excellent idea it was! It gives this paper display more dimension and adds character to our small classroom. Of course the Christmas lights hidden behind the chimney fire also help to give it life 🙂

Christmas Pictures

Utilizing the our Christmas tree and chimney, we created our very own Christmas photo shoot display! This is new this year. We plan to print these out and gift them to the parents. Aren’t they adorable?!

There is always something due or things that MUST be done. However, we should never forget to take the time and create with out students and children. Their [unique] artwork and [super cute] pictures are memories that you can turn to year after year. Years pass, children grow, seasons change, but the memories you create with your little ones will last a lifetime! 🙂


Gradeschool Brains’ “Brand Spankin’ New” Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Gradeschool Brains’ “Brand Spankin’ New” Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Get to Know Me Cover Pic

So I’ve joined the new movement! A few years back I went and created my pinterest account (www.pinterest.com/SchoolBrains) for which I am EXTREMELY grateful since I have been able to share resources with so many! Not too long after that, I started PreschoolBrains as a classroom website for my preschool parents. Once I started teaching first grade, I revamped it and created the great, the magnificent, the incomparable… and totally-in-need-of-work-since-I-am-still-new-to-this-blogging-scene Gradeschool Brains! I would venture to say I’ve come a long way considering how not-very-techie I am. But that is about to change! And so I am very excited for the new networks that I have joined and the many doors that continued to open throughout this past few years.

I have been creating things for my own classroom for a few years now. Last year, I came across Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) and found some awesome resources. I told myself how great it would be to share my own creations with other teachers and set my heart out to do it… p r e t t y  s o o n. Soon came and went and nothing ever came of it- until this week when I finally made the time.

With the back to school craze taking over me (and many teachers… and parents!) I set out to look for resources as I do every year. Of course, I landed on a fellow teacher’s Teachers Pay Teachers account. The thought came back that I should probably start working on my own account. And lo and behold, here I am! For the past week, I have slept fewer hours than usual with excitement. I have many ideas for great units and products to post on my brand spankin’ new TPT store. It’ll also work as a great way to share my classroom visuals with parents (FREE of course 🙂 ).

Currently I am working on my own seasonal and back-to-school cliparts. (Yes! I made the little apple with the worm hanging out of it on the picture above… completely digital and from scratch. Whoever thought I had it in me 😉 ). I am very excited for the months ahead and truly look forward to sharing some of my new work with you guys. Let the new school year begin!!!

PS. Would you like to take a peek? I have posted my first free product! Go to https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Gradeschool-Brains. Tell me what you think 😉

Starabella Trailer

Starabella Trailer

Here’s a great resource to add to your library!

This video provides a preview to the Starabella series. Starabella is a series of books for children between the preschool years and second grade. It is a series about autism and acceptance. This is a great addition to your library as you search to explain Autism Spectrum Disorders to your child or teach her about accepting others who may be different.

Also, these series are based on the real life of a young girl growing up with autism who used music to overcome her anxieties and fears. The series were created by a family involved in caring for the girl who is now a successful woman.

I’m looking forward to reading these myself and adding them to our classroom library! If you would like to know more about the family who put this series together here is a link to aid you in your quest.

Meet the Fialco family

Autism Awareness for the Gradeschool Brain?


unnamedLaughter, smiles and rushing feet; maybe some hopping and skipping. Not many words. My students were excited to walk into the playground just as we do every day after lunch. Following bubbles from the bubble machine, going up the tunnel and down the slide (over and over and over again), and getting tickled are some of their favorite activities to do in the playground. However, something happened today. Something that helped me realize I need to do more outside of my classroom.

As one of my students flapped his hands towards the trees—as he typically does since he enjoys the sensory input he receives from watching the branches move with the wind—a Kindergartener of typical development saw him, pointed at him, and laughed as he showed his friends. My first reaction was to become upset, very upset. My students don’t understand what it is to be bullied or to be made fun of because they’re different. They don’t understand social situations, whether positive or negative. My students have Autism…

I do not take situations like this lightly; if I don’t interfere, who else will? The anger I felt was quickly replaced by understanding. Many of our general population students have not had an opportunity to interact with our students with Autism. They have not been explained what it is to have a disability or what it is to ‘behave’ different. And this was a Kindergartener for goodness sake! As I walked toward the kid, I wanted to sit him by me and explain all I know about Autism. I wanted to talk to him about the big responsibility he has of showing respect, empathy and understanding. I wanted to let him know that he can make a difference by simply showing kindness and acceptance. So I did. I walked to him and was overtaken by a great desire to teach. My words were simple and quick. Enough to let him know I noticed him. Although he was a little scared to see me coming toward him- my demeanor might have been a bit scary- I could see I sparked some interest in him. That’s all I wanted; to plant a seed of curiosity so that they may continue to be haunted by the thought that everyone is different and that different is okay.

My students didn’t notice; but I did. It’s about time I make a difference outside of my classroom. It’s time to teach awareness and kindness to the little ones I pass by every day and ignore because I am so busy supervising my students with disabilities. Perhaps I can make a difference one student at a time, just as I did today. Or perhaps, I will get together with other Special Education teachers in the Autism Academy at my school, we’ll plan a simple informative session we can teach to grade-school students about how to treat students with disabilities; perhaps this will change their lives and they’ll grow up to be thoughtful, caring, kind and accepting people who treat everyone fairly… One can only dream.. and take action! Today was an excellent day!