New Year's Resolutions

Can you believe how fast this year went by?  It seems like only weeks ago that I decided to start this blog, and was writing my first post.  And speaking of writing blog posts, here is one of my first New Year's Resolutions: to write more often!  I am so inspired by those of you who are posting new ideas and pictures and TPT products several times a week!  You amaze me.  When do you sleep?!? 

Another of my New Year's Resolutions isn't really a resolution, but rather something that I started two months ago, and want to continue: piano lessons!  I've wanted to learn how to play the piano since I was a kid, and I just recently realized that I'm a grown up now, and can take piano lessons if I want!  So I've begun taking lessons once a week from the organist at church, and as it turns out, I LOVE it!  I practice at the piano in the school's music room after school (or occasionally at recess or lunch if I need to clear my head), and I'm already making a lot of progress.   

(Yes, my piano books are in Korean!  They were originally German books that were then translated into Korean, but they have not been published in English.  I really only need to read the musical notes in the books anyway though, and according to my piano teacher these books are the best for beginners, so that's what I use!)

Of course, there's the usual, "get in shape & drink more water" resolution that I (along with the rest of the world) make each year as well.  I'm not going to make this a formal New Year's Resolution though, because I always set these outrageous, unrealistic goals for myself that I never keep.  (For example: work out at least four times a week, and drink at least 2 liters of water every single day.  I'd make it a week and a half.  Maybe.)  Instead, I'm going to encourage myself to go to Pilates at least once a week, and bring a water bottle to work to make it easier to drink more water (versus coffee - see the picture of Starbucks on the piano above).  

So, what are your New Year's Resolutions??  How are you going to keep them??

Elf on the Shelf, Part 2

So, yesterday morning our usual elf, Bernard, was gone!  The kids just have NOT been listening or following directions, and they needed a little something to shake them up and get them back on track.  In Bernard's place was a girl elf, Bernice, with a letter for the class posted on the SMART board.  (I'm shocked no one asked how the letter got there, or worse, asked me how the letter got on my iPad which was connected to the SMART board.)

{You can see a copy of the letter I wrote for the class in my previous post.}

When I was finished reading the letter to the class, they were SILENT.  I've never seen them so fixated and quiet.  You could have heard a pin drop in that classroom.

I was initially planning on having Bernard show up in music class later that morning, but the class still had a rough morning (behavior-wise) after the initial shock of the elf's letter wore off.  (That only took about four minutes.)  Instead, when the class returned from music (where Bernard did not make an appearance), Bernice was gone too!  I told the class she must have only come to deliver the letter, and then had to go back to the North Pole.  That was what the class needed to start paying attention to directions and focus on their work.   Realizing they now had NO elf, not even a new messenger elf, they were doing everything they could to make their elf come back!

So, this morning I gave them back their elf, Bernard, plus, Bernice came back too!

The students were SO relieved to see both of them back, together!  One of the kiddos asked me if they were boyfriend and girlfriend.  I told them that elves didn't have boyfriends and girlfriends - they're just friends.  :)  (In hindsight I wonder if I should have made them brother and sister?)

It was a bit more work moving all these elves around (boy do I like to exaggerate - "all these elves"! Ha!), but I think I've finally got my class (mostly) under control and back to a place where we can try to get at least some work done this last week and a half!

Next week is going to be a DOOZY of a wild schedule: it's supposed to rain several days next week in southern California (which means indoor recess, which means crazy, cooped up kids), we have a special music schedule to rehearse for the Christmas program in the church, we've having a birthday celebration for all the kids with December birthdays, and we're decorating gingerbread houses (just to name a few!)

We teachers need to pray for each other these last few days before Christmas break!  

Elf on the Shelf

One of my favorite parts of teaching first grade during Christmas is Elf on the Shelf!  My kiddos love, love, love our elf. His name is Bernard, and he arrived in first grade on Tuesday last week. (He would have arrived on Monday, but I couldn't get organized in time! Oops!). I even had a student ask me on Monday, "Don't all the elves come beginning in December?"  Thinking on my feet, I replied, "I wrote Santa a letter asking him not to send our elf until tomorrow, so we could make sure we were on our best behavior when he got here."  Luckily the kids all nodded in agreement at that, probably because they know the class as a whole has not been on their best behavior!

I love the conversations I overhear once our elf arrives. I heard one little boy saying to another boy in an impassioned voice, "He's not a toy, he's a real live elf!!"

Here's where Bernard has shown up each morning so far:


Unfortunately, Bernard's presence has not contributed as much as I had hoped to my classroom management, however. There are still a few kiddos who are frequently forgetting that the elf is watching!  So, I've decided to step up my Elf on the Shelf game a bit. 

On Tuesday, our regular elf, Bernard, will not be there.  In his place will be a girl elf, Bernice, with a letter for the class (I spent a good portion of today writing this letter in rhyming verse!):

I don't want the kids to be completely devastated when they hear that their elf has gone back to the North Pole (I'm hoping that having a substitute elf in Bernard's place will prevent actual tears), so I'm only going to make them wait until after recess to get Bernard back.  (I don't want to crush them, just give them a little wake up call to be more focused and attentive these last two weeks of school.)  We have music class right after recess on Tuesday, so Bernard will be on the piano in the music room when they come in. (I hope our music teacher will forgive me for the (hopefully only several) minutes of excited exclamations that will ensue when they see him!  

On Wednesday, then, both Bernard and Bernice will be in the classroom, and going forward they'll both be somewhere in the school until Christmas vacation. And now I can have the two elves interacting with each other in the classroom when I stage them at night, or, one of them can be in the classroom, and the other somewhere else on campus (either in the science lab, computer lab, or music room, if I think that my students need to be more attentive in any of those classes on a particular day)!  

I'm very excited about how I'm modifying my Elf on the Shelf routine!  I've never introduced more than one elf to a class, so I can't wait to see how the kids will react!  Stay tuned for another post next week on how it all turns out!