Our family grew by one this year! Capri will be a month old this Christmas and i'm beyond excited about starting new Christmas traditions as a family of three! (well, four with Buddy)

 I asked you guys to share some of the unique traditions in your family and you all had so many good ideas. I know many mommas are out there brainstorming ways to make the holidays extra special for their littles. I've complied a list of 15 holiday traditions that will make Christmas time extra magical for your family. 


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1. Twelve Days of Christmas Books

Wrap up twelve books and place them under the Christmas tree. Each night leading up to Christmas (starting December 13th), unwrap a book and read it by the tree or fireplace!

Here are some of my favorite Christmas themed books:
(Click the image to checkout the books + descriptions!)

2. Memorable Ornament

Each year, gift your kids an ornament to represent their year. It can represent a hobby, family vacation, favorite food, milestone, etc!


You can also grab a clear plastic ornament and fill it with something special from that year. (EX: hospital bracelets to symbolize baby's birth)


3. Christmas PJs + Movie the Night Before Christmas

Wear matching PJs the night before Christmas. Curl up on the couch with some hot chocolate and watch a holiday classic.

4. Santa's Breakfast

Surprise your kiddos one morning in December with a decorated breakfast table filled with Santa's favorite breakfast items. 

Here are some ideas:

- Gingerbread Waffles

- Santa Pancakes

-Snowman Hot Chocolate

-Reindeer Donuts

>>> Check out these fun Christmas breakfast ideas kids will love

5. Spread Joy to those in Need

Gather as many family members as you can and prepare lunch bags filled with homemade sandwiches, chips, water bottles, and a mini hand sanitizer. Drive around town handing out bags to those in need during the holiday season.

6. Holiday Charcuterie Board

Host an annual holiday charcuterie board night! Stock up on holiday snacks and sweets (Trader Joes has a great selection of themed treats!) Each child is in charge of designing a mini charcuterie board.
Here are some inspo pics:

7. Handprint Ornament

Create an ornament with your child's handprint each year and engrave the year on the back. Compare the handprint sizes each year to watch how much they're grown!

8. Donuts & Christmas Lights

Put on your family PJs, jump in the car, stop at your local Dunkin' Donuts to grab some hot chocolate & donuts, and drive around your neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights.

9. Show your Appreciation

Show your appreciation for delivery workers during the holiday season by setting up a 'Thank You' station in your front porch. Fill up goody bags with snacks and add some water bottles.

The sign is a freebie designed by @TheAmyGroesbeck 
(Check out her Instagram to get access to the link!)

10. Winter Bucket List

Create a winter bucket list with your kids. Jot down each idea on a slip of paper and place them inside of a jar. Each day (or weekend!), take out a slip and enjoy the activity with your family! 

11. Carrots for Santa's Reindeer

Leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas eve? Don't forget about his helpers! Add some carrots to your plate for Santa's Reindeer.

12. A Day at the Christmas Tree Farm

Spend the day at the Christmas tree farm. Pack some lunch, set up a picnic, and pick out your family Christmas tree.

13. Light it Up Bicycle Ride

Add some garland and string lights to your bicyles and take a ride around the neighborhood. Want to make it an extra special ride? Bring a small speaker and play Christmas music as you tour the neighborhood with your family.

14. Hot Chocolate Bar + Decorating

Surprise your kiddos with a hot cocoa bar stocked with Christmas mugs, marshmallows, gingerbread cookies, sprinkles, peppermint sticks, and anything else you can find to fit the theme! Decorate your home while sipping on some warm chocolate. 


>>> Read more on how to set up a hot chocolate bar

15. Pizza Night

A nontraditional spin to Christmas dinner-- homemade pizzas on Christmas day!

16. Cookie Decorating Contest


Host an annual Christmas decorting contest with your family and friends. Pick a theme each year and set up all the decorating goodies! You'll need cookie cutters, icing, sprinkles, candy, etc. Have some boxes ready so that your guests can take some cookies home. 

 Here are some cookie theme ideas: 

 + Gingerbread Men

+ Christmas Trees

+ Santa 

+ Snowmen 

 + Ornaments

     + Reindeer

17. Pack Shoeboxes for Kids

Tis' the season for giving. Pack a shoebox filled with toys and goodies for kids in need. Learn more about packing a shoebox here.

18. Design Ugly Sweaters

Design your own ugly Christmas sweaters. Grab some white sweatshirts, craft paint, gemstones, patches and see which family member can come up with the most creative design.

19. Holiday Campout

If the weather permits, camp out in your backyard. Wear Christmas PJs, read Christmas stories, and munch on holiday snacks.

20. Surprise your Neighbors

Fill small stockings with treats and hang them on your neighbors' doorknobs.

21. Kindness Advent Calendar

Instead of an advent calendar containing treats inside, how about a calendar filled with kindness acts? Fill each date with a slip of paper containing a random act of kindness. 


Here are some ideas: 

 + Pay for someone's coffee 

 + Spread kindness post-it notes around the grocery store 

+ Write a letter to the mail carrier thanking them 

 + Shovel snow for a neighbor

 + Donate food to a food bank 

 + Drop donuts off at the local fire station 

 + Take coloring books to the children's hospital


22. Christmas Tree in Every Room

Set up a themed Christmas tree in every room of the house. Let your kiddos choose the theme for their bedroom tree every year and help DIY ornaments to match.

23. Santa's Magic

Leave a trail of 'Santa's Magic' (glitter) and footprints around the house on Christmas day. 


23. Set up an Animal Toy Drive

Many animals are in need during the holiday season and the local animal shelter is always accepting donations! Design flyers to place around the neighborhood letting your neighbors know that you'll be collecting items to drop off at the shelter. 

Here are some items that are usually needed: 

 (Check with your local animal shelter for a more specific list) 

 + Dog & Cat Food

 + Snacks 

 + Toys 

 + Blankets


24. Twenty-Five Days of Gratitude Tree

Have each family member share something they are grateful for each day in December. Write down each response on a cutout ornament and place it on the 'Gratitude Tree'. 


25. Christmas Memory Book

Include special memories, traditions, and photos to represent the holidays throughout the years.


Shop the Post

Click below to shop the items mentioned throughout the post!


I hope these traditions make the holidays extra special for your family and little ones!



xoxo,

Yari


Teaching the four main types of sentences is essential when developing young writers. If you're working with lower elementary students, you might be reviewing command, statement, exclamation, and question. Upper elementary students might be diving into the fancier terms: interrogative, declarative, exclamatory, imperative.

Regardless of which wording you choose to review, having students understand the difference amongst these four sentences is KEY. Students will develop an understanding of sentence purpose--- does this sentence give an order? Does it ask a question or express excitement? Once students have developed that understanding of sentence types, they'll become more fluent readers and writers.

Looking to dive into the four sentence types with your elementary students, but don't know where to start? I've created these engaging printables that can be used with any first, second, or third grade students. These activities are hands-on activities designed to be used during whole-group OR small-group time. All the resources below are part of the Types of Sentences Activity Pack.

Types of Sentences Task Cards & Board Game

This game can be used during an ELA center or during your small group station. Students will read each card and decide what kind of sentence it is, come up with their own sentence, or determine the correct punctuation mark. If they answer correctly, they roll the die and move down the game board. 

Punctuation Mark Sort

Students can work with a partner or small group to decide which type of sentence is written on each strip. Then, they'll sort them based on which punctuation mark belongs at the end of each sentence. This can be done by having students glue the strips onto an anchor chart paper or simply sorting them underneath the correct header.

    Interactive Notebook Printables for Grammar Notebook

The resource includes several interactive notebook pages and flap books that students can reference throughout the school year whenever they need to refresh on their types of sentences. Students will fill in each page using their own examples and definitions. 

You can grab the pages above as a freebie by clicking the button below! 

Types of Sentences Popcorn Craft

This activity can be used as a fun way to review the four types of sentences- (commands, statements, exclamations, and questions) right before assessment. This can also be glued into students' grammar notebooks for future reference.


Assessment Printable Worksheets

The resource also includes printable worksheets to review the sentence types and punctuation marks. These can be used as independent activities or assessments.
Click here to check out a preview of the resource and see all of the other goodies included inside! 

Paperless Ideas to Review the Four Types of Sentences

Here are some other fun ideas to review sentence types that involve zero printables!

Sentence Charades: 
Students can work in small groups to plan and act out any scene they'd like without talking. The audience members must provide four sentences to describe the scene.

For example:
Small Group: 
Students act out decorating a Christmas tree and drinking hot chocolate. 
Audience
Statement: "I am decorating the Christmas tree"
Command: "Bring me the Christmas lights."
Question: "Where are the ornaments?"
Exclamation: "I just love Christmas!"

Four Sentences, Four Corners: 
Place four corners around the room using the signs 'Statement', 'Command', 'Exclamation', 'Question'. Call out random sentences and have students walk to the correct corner to represent the sentence.

Alternate idea: Once students are in the corner, pick on a corner and ask them to give you a sentence about a specific topic.

For Example:
"Question corner, give me an interrogative sentence about Christmas."

Hope these ideas were helpful! If you do decide to use any of them with your students, feel free to share on Social Media and tag me! @SweetToothTeaching 





Struggling with Student Loans?

Student loans can be a pain, especially when you feel like the payments you're making are just going towards the interest rather than the principal. In August of 2020, I shared with ya'll that I had stumbled across Chipper, a student loan automation company that specializes in helping student loan borrowers qualify for income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs. 


You guys, Jessica from Chipper was a LIFE SAVER. She explained the different repayment options that fit my specific situation. She also introduced me to Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness-- two options that I didn't even know existed! After taking a look at my student loan scenario, she encouraged me to apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Since I owed less than $30,000 in loans at the time and had been making payments throughout the last five years while working for a Title 1 school, this was the perfect choice for me. 


Applying was so easy with Jessica's help. She told me exactly what form I needed to print, sign, and send in. I sent my application straight through my loan service provider’s website. A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail indicating that they had received my request. I kept in constant communication with Chipper throughout the process just to ensure that I wasn't skipping any steps or missing out on any important details. Unfortunately, 99% of people that apply for student loan forgiveness are denied because they fill out the application incorrectly and/or miss a step along the way. Chipper helps their members be part of that 1% who do get approved!3

I got forgiven $5,000 off my student loans!

About a month after I applied, I received a letter in the mail from my loan service company. I had been approved for $5,000 off of my student loan debt! I checked my student loan account and the $5,000 had been applied toward my outstanding balance. I am beyond thrilled! 


As many of you all know, our family is growing by one tiny human in November of 2020. This is $5,000 that our family doesn't have to worry about paying off! This is definitely a motivation to continue making payments toward paying off the little debt that is left.


If you're looking to learn more about your student loan repayment options or are interested in applying for student loan forgiveness, Chipper is there to help! Discover your student loan repayment and forgiveness options through Chipper's FREE services.



 

If you know me, you know I love all things organization! Whether that be investing in a good planner, organizing the pantry, or color-coding our closets. I just received two 1THRIVE command centers for our house and I am head over heels in love. If you're an organizational freak like me, you're going to swoon over this!

 

The 1THRIVE command centers are designed to help keep everything organized and in one spot, while still managing to be aesthetically pleasing. They have so many different pre-designed command centers to choose from! It was definitely difficult to decide which one to get! I ended up deciding on two — The Susan for my home office and The Rachel for our kitchen area.

 

Okay, let me tell you that setting up my command centers was the easiest and most satisfying thing EVER. I usually have my husband build all the things around the house. I assumed he would need to help me ‘build’ these. 

 

Nope.

 

All of the components include metal hooks and can be placed anywhere on the command center. You can customize the look of your command center to fit your needs. The little buckets on the side are perfect for storing materials and adding a cute decor/statement piece, such as a succulent or flowers. A set of two liquid chalk markers are included with each command center, too!

The Susan is more of a horizontal look which worked best in my home office. I use the calendar for all things business! It helps me keep track of blog deadlines, plan out weekly content, and create weekly to-do lists. I love that my command center is right in front of my desk, which allows me to see what needs to get done as I'm working. 


We decided to get a second command center for our family and it has been a game changer! Although it's just Curt and I (for now!), sometimes it's hard to keep track of appointments and family events. The Rachel is a vertical command center that fit perfectly in our kitchen area, and I opted for the add-on of the Medium Weekly Blackboard. (It also compliments our rustic/boho decor.) We use the calendar to write down important dates, events, etc. This time around we won't miss bulk trash day! #winning

Every Monday we plan out our weekly meals using the days-of-the-week board. It's so nice to not have to brainstorm what to make for dinner every day. It helps with grocery shopping too! Once we know what we're making, we can grab what we need for the week.

 

If you're looking for a command center that will help everyone in the family stay organized, I definitely recommend getting a 1THRIVE like I did! They also have Family Packs for those looking to set up a command center for the family and a second (or third!) for kids.

 

You can get 10% off any command center or family pack using the code 'SWEETTOOTHTEACHING10' at checkout!

 

Click here to check out all of the different command centers and pick the one that works best for you.

 

Partnered with 1THRIVE.

Happy Fall Ya'll!
It's officially the most wonderful time of the year. Give me all the fall colors, pumpkins, and sweaters. Today i'm sharing 10 FREE Fall resources you can use with your students this season!

1. Free Halloween Themed Telling Time to the Quarter Hour Digital Task Cards (Boom Cards) by Sweet Tooth Teaching

Engage your students during distance learning with these Free Halloween themed Boom Cards. The set includes 20 digital task cards to review telling time to the quarter hour. Digital task cards can also be used during whole group lessons or technology centers.


2. Fall Shades of Meaning Vocabulary Activities by Around the Kampfire
This cut & paste activity helps students understand shades of meaning by using fall-themed vocabulary. This is the perfect hands-on resource for 2nd-3rd grade students.

3. Fall Place Value Game by Sara J Creations

This fun and low-prep activity is great for a fall-themed math center. Add some fall leaves and pumpkins to your station to spice it up! (Dollar Tree has great finds during this time of year)

4. ELA Fall-Themed Morning Slides by Sweet Tooth Teaching
Engage your students during virtual learning with these ELA morning work slides. They can also be projected on the Smart Board to review 3rd-4th grade skills before starting a reading lesson.


5. Witch Themed Noun & Adjective Sorting Activity by The Clutter Free Classroom
Looking to review adjectives and nouns with your students? This sorting activity can be used during an ELA  Halloween center or as an independent activity. Add some witch hats to your center and make the magic come to life!

Hands-on cut & paste activities to help older students review multi-digit multiplication. A perfect fall activity for 4th and 5th grade math centers.

7. Halloween Brain Break Cards by Second Story Window
We all know how important brain breaks are for kids and adults. These interactive brain break cards can be picked up at any moment during virtual or in-person teaching to help kiddos recharge & refocus!

Five engaging printable that can be used during any Halloween themed center! Includes book companion activities for 'The Spider and the Fly' and 'Creepy Carrots'. These activities target upper elementary students (3rd-5th) and review inferencing, summarizing, writing skills, point-of-view, and much more!


10. Fall Reading & Grammar Morning Work by Sweet Tooth Teaching
Grab these free fall morning work printables targeting 3rd-4th grade ELA standards. Includes fall-themed review activities for figurative language, abbreviations, subjects and predicates, and collective nouns.



10. Candy Corn Math & STEM Activities- by Teaching with Jennifer Findley
Find FREE number comparison printables for older students and fun hands-on candy corn STEM activities!

+ Bonus Freebie: Spider Irregular Plural Matching Game by Sweet Tooth Teaching

Hope these resources are useful during this fall season!


Curt and I are expecting our first baby! We are beyond excited to welcome our baby girl into the world. There are so many thoughts and feelings running through our heads though. What will the world be like once she's here? Should we start saving for her college as soon as she's born? How can we accommodate our finances or eliminate any debt before our baby girl arrives?


As soon as we found out we were pregnant, we decided we should make a financial plan to help us save money now and for our future. One of the main debts that has been a burden for us has been my student loans. I graduated with my Masters in reading education back in 2015. I've been making monthly payments toward my loans ever since. But it just feels like the majority of my payments are going straight toward the interest and the principal is just hanging in there waving at me! Student loans can be confusing and extremely overwhelming. Anyone else on the student loan struggle bus? 


Luckily and coincidentally, I stumbled across Chipper, a student loan automation company that specializes in helping student loan borrowers qualify for income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs. 
They have done an outstanding job at helping me understand and manage my student loan options. I've learned so much about the different repayment plans and forgiveness programs I didn't even know I qualified for! After chatting with Jessica from Chipper, I discovered I’m eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness AND Teacher Loan Forgiveness! Ya'll, this means I can actually have my loans forgiven! That's a huge weight off our shoulders, especially during this big transition in our lives.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness 

Since I qualify for both forgiveness programs, I needed to pick the best option for me. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is best for my loan situation since I owe less than $30,000 and have already made the required 5 years of consecutive payments. This program indicates that if you are a full-time teacher at a Title 1 school, you may be eligible for $5,000 or $17,500 off of your student loans.

Public Loan Forgiveness 

However, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program may be best for you if you owe more than $30,000. While pursuing this forgiveness program you can also cap your required monthly payments in proportion to your monthly income. After 120 qualifying payments you can be eligible for complete student loan forgiveness! This program is available to teachers and public service employees.

Discover Which Program is Best for You

99% of people that apply for student loan forgiveness are rejected. Chipper helps their members be a part of that 1% that gets approved! Discover your student loan repayment and forgiveness options through Chipper's FREE services!

Finding a way to encourage our reluctant readers to become excited about reading isn't always the easiest task. Unfortunately when students feel frustrated with reading, they tend to avoid any activity related to it. 

Luckily, Dreamscape is an online reading game that 2nd-8th grade students actually love using. The engaging video game navigates students through a series of challenges in order to build up a dwell and defend themselves from other characters. As students answer comprehension questions, they are able to unlock several rewards, build dwells, battle other characters, and much more! Students are so immersed in the gamification platform that they seem to forget that they're actually practicing reading skills along the way. The better students perform on the actual comprehension questions, the further they will advance in the game. This encourages kiddos to try their best since it affects their overall gaming results. 

Why Teachers Love Dreamscape:

+ It's completely FREE for both students and teachers.
+ Students can access Dreamscape from home or school.
+ The curriculum is aligned to State Standards.
+ Reluctant readers LOVE the game.
+ The platform includes assignment tools, diagnostic testing, and several reporting features.
+ It can be played on a desktop or on the Dreamscape app.
+ The dashboard access is open to parents and administrators. 

Why Students Love Dreamscape:

+ Students can send friend requests or join a class to play with other classmates and friends.
+ Students can challenge and compete against their best friends!
+ They gain rewards as they complete challenges and/or question streaks.
Avatars can be customized and upgraded as they advance in the game.
+ It's competitive, interactive, and similar to video games they've been exposed to before.

 Dreamscape Dashboard:

The Dreamscape dashboard includes a number of performance reporting and assignment tools that are perfect for customizing lessons and tailoring to the needs of individual students.
 
Placement Test: Differentiation is KEY. Their new placement test feature allows teachers to see what level each student is reading on, their areas for growth, and strengths at the beginning of the school year. Teachers are able to use this feature to assign specific skills on the platform or reinforce standards.

Skill Comprehension: See how students are progressing in each skill and design lessons to focus on specific ones. This feature allows you to customize the lessons by choosing the genre and how many questions you want to assign per skill.

Real-Time Dashboard: Monitor your students' data in real-time as they play the game. This is perfect for in-class use during a technology hour and/or center. Teachers can ensure that students are on-task, pull students for conferencing, and track students that need the most help.

How Can Dreamscape Be Used During Distance and In-Person Learning?

There are many uncertainties about this upcoming school year. Some districts have opted for distance learning (virtual learning), while others are continuing instruction in person. Regardless of your current teaching situation, Dreamscape is a great tool to keep kiddos excited about reading! 
 
Here are some ways Dreamscape can be used Virtually:
+ Assign as homework during distance learning 
+ Dreamscape 'Break'-- 15-20 minute virtual learning break where students can compete against their classmates. Teachers can monitor progress using the real-time dashboard feature. 
+ Create a Dreamscape Club at your school- students can meet virtually once a week to discuss the game, strategies, progress, and more! 

I hope you find Dreamscape to be as useful as I have! I'm beyond excited about exposing my students to the game and seeing them engaged in reading instruction. 

Check out the Dreamscape website and create your FREE account!




Post sponsored by Dreamscape

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