Do you participate in Secret Santa with your coworkers? I always love exchanging little surprises with my teacher friends to help get through the crazy month of December.  Whether you exchange gifts at work or not, I am excited to share with you that my Elementary Entourage friends and I have some special Secret Santa gifts for all of you and you don't even need to leave your couch to grab them!

I wanted to share some really great FREE resources I have to help with your plans for next week or when you come back in January.

First I have this Christmas Graphing Sampler that has 3 engaging activities to make math fun and festive for your students.

Next, if you need winter themed printables, this Snowy Snapshot Sample has 4 printables that are perfect to use if you have a few days left before break, or anytime after you get back as well.

And last, I LOVE picture books. I seriously have a problem with buying WAY too many. Scholastic and Amazon Prime just make it way to easy, right? So here are 2 fun winter themed freebies for comprehension with Dream Snow by Eric Carle and Nat Geo Kids: Penguins.

I hope you find something you can use and don't forget to hop along and check out all of the other Secret Santa surprises from the Elementary Entourage, Happy Holidays!

I know it's not even Christmas yet and many of you are probably just trying to hold on to your sanity until break, but when you have the time my blogging friends and I are here to help you check some January planning off your list. These 12 books are perfect for January so come check out all the awesome lesson ideas, activities and more!

I try to incorporate nonfiction all year, but we really up our nonfiction reading in January when my little kindergartners comprehension skills are starting to take off. So this month my favorite book is a nonfiction reader about Penguins.

National Geographic Kids readers are so perfect for the primary classroom because they always include fantastic photos alongside easy to understand information. I love that they usually include tons of text features to help my students learn about the topic a well. 
In January I really dive into student led inquiry learning with my students and one of my favorite projects is our Antarctica research.  While students are looking for information, one of the things I really try to emphasize is just how much we can learn from pictures in non fiction books. 

Here are a few examples of how students can use the pictures in non fiction books to gain information even if they cannot yet read the words.

I created these 3 leveled response sheets to go with this book for kindergarten-2nd grade.

You can grab them for FREE here:
And if you are looking for more response sheets sign up for FREEBIES here:

FREE Reading Response Pages!

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Don't forget, each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win.

This time of year is so crazy busy, but I'm happy to report that we had a great Gingerbread themed week of tot school last week. And we have all sorts of Christmasy Tot School fun going on for the next 2 weeks so stay tuned for that!
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Gingerbread Week:

And here is what we actually did:

Our favorite gingerbread books for the week were:
The Gingerbread Man by Karen Schmidt
The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires

Gingerbread Stamping:
Painting with cookie cutters is a super easy low prep activity.  Pour red and brown paint onto paper plates then use a cookie cutter to dip and stamp.
 Cut Paper Gingerbread:

We are trying to incorporate scissors more and more each week, so this week I printed a gingerbread outline and had Madelynn cut small pieces of paper to fill and decorate her little guy.
 Gingerbread Play Dough:
We spiced up our play dough routine with these little gingerbread guys to decorate.

 Catch and Sort Gingerbread:
For this gross motor game, we started with the same gingerbread cut outs that we used for play dough all in a pile on the floor. At the other end of the room I placed 3 different sized baskets for sorting: large, medium and small.  Then we chanted "Run, run as fast as you can, you cant catch me I'm the gingerbread man!" and Madelynn raced back and forth to grab a gingerbread man and sort it into the correct basket. She even did a few extra laps around the house just for fun pretending that her gingerbread guys were running away.
 Gingerbread Hokey Pokey:
This was probably my favorite activity of the week because Madelynn was just cracking me up with her silliness. I printed some buttons and cut out gumdrops from colored cardstock and taped them on Madelynn's hands, feet and tummy. Then I played the hokey pokey and instead of saying "right hand, left hand, etc." I said "orange hand, yellow hand, etc." Much easier for a toddler that doesn't know left and right!
 Gingerbread Snacks:
I kept out snacks simple this week, although we did also so one of those store bought gingerbread houses for a little family fun after dinner one night too.  First we made mini gingerbread cheese cutouts to top our crackers.  Madelynn is pretty good at helping make these since its just like cutting out play dough shapes.  Next we made gingerbread house/man peanut butter toast.  After toasting the bread I cut out the shapes, then Madelynn spread them with peanut butter. And last I made a snack mix with pretzel sticks, marshmallows, m&ms and cheerios.  I showed Madelynn how to make a gingerbread house, then she played and built her own.
 Gingerbread Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Rice, gingerbread men cutouts, pom poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, bells.
  Gingerbread Sorting Bin:
In this sensory bin: Rice, gingerbread men cutouts, pom poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, bells and sorting trays.

 Gingerbread Sensory Bin:
Warning this bin gets super messy, but is lots of fun! 
In this sensory bin: 5lb flour, 1 carton salt, 3T each all spice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sorting trays, gingerbread cut outs, measuring cups and spoons.

That's it for this week, here is what we are currently working on for our 2 week Christmas theme:

And the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:





We finally finished up our transportation tot school activities this week and are ready for a little break for Madelynn's dance recital, birthday party, and Thanksgiving.
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Transportation Week:
And here is what we actually did:
Our favorite transportation books for the week were:
I’m Your Bus by Marilyn Singer
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
Down by the Station by Jennifer Riggs Vetter
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Deborah Pearson 
Shape Roads:
We don't have too many cars laying around our house with 2 little girls, so I decided to pick up this set of wooden vehicles and signs from Melissa & Doug.They were perfect for Madelynn to use to trace each of the shape roads that I made for her. You can grab a set of these shape roads here.
Alphabet Fishing:
To go with our boat theme activities, I decided to incorporate "fishing" as a fine motor activity.  I didn't have Madelynn use actual fishing poles, instead I let her use any of our fine motor tools to grab as many letter "fish" as she could.
Airplane Craft:
This craft started out with sponge painting a white paper blue for the sky. After the paint dried, I gave Madelynn paper shapes to make a plane and clouds and she glued them together.
Transportation Reusable Stickers:
Melissa & Doug are genius I tell you. They have the best toys for my girls and their reusable sticker pads do not disappoint.  They remind me of the original Colorform sets I used to play with as a kid.  They are more of a window cling than a sticker, so they truly are reusable and won't end up stuck all over your floor and walls. This Vehicle Reusable Sticker Pad was perfect to pull out this week.
Stoplight Bean Bag Toss:
This game is part gross motor, part color matching. I cut out 3 circles from red, yellow, and green colored cardstock to make a stoplight.  Then I grabbed beanbags in the same color. Madelynn and I took turns tossing the beanbags trying to get them to land on the matching color.  They slid around a bit so I probably could have taped them down to make it a little better.
Goldfish Song:
This was a bit of a stretch to go along with our theme, but the goldfish does ride a bicycle in the song, haha.  Either way we LOVE Laurie Berkner and pull up her songs on You Tube all the time for a little dance party.  This song has lots of opportunity for movement and is great for getting the wiggles out.
Airplane Song:
Another Laurie Berkner song that we love that incorporates lots of creative movement.  If you haven't introduced Laurie Bernkner's music to your toddler yet, you have to check out her you tube channel, SOOO many fun songs to get your little ones up and moving!
Transportation Snacks:
We had time for 3 different snacks this week.  The stoplight snack was a huge hit and has been a daily request ever since.  To make the stop light I started with graham crackers broken into 4 rectangles. Then I spread peanut butter on top and squished colored m&ms in to finish the stoplights.  Next for our airplane snack I started with a banana sliced in half the long way so it wouldn't roll around on the plate.  Then I added smaller banana slices for wings and an apple wedge for the tail.  Cheerios made perfect windows and marshmallows for clouds. Last our boat snack was a pretty easy one.  I cut up a few apple wedges, added a toothpick and cheese triangles for the sail. 
Road Theme Sensory Bin:
I kind of love how this bin turned out, although we turned it into a tray more than a bin. On our tray I spread out black beans, added a few cut up yellow straws for the lanes and then let Madelynn explore with her Melissa & Doug vehicles & signs.
Harbor Theme Sensory Bin:
This bin was easy peasy, just water with a little blue food coloring and these Magnetic Boats that link up with each other.
In the Air Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Blue aquarium rocks, cotton ball clouds, and airplanes from the In The Sky TOOB.
In the Air Sensory Bin:
Okay one more Melissa and Doug Toy I love is this Magnetic towing game. (I swear I'm not being paid to promote them I just really love their stuff!) It's basically magnet fishing and a puzzle all in one and requires lots of concentration, a great toy for building focus and the cars have numbers on them too for added number recognition practice.

That's it for this week, remember we are skipping turkeys since we fell behind on our schedule so we will be back at it after Thanksgiving. Here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:





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