Hello and welcome to the second annual Reading in a Winter Wonderland link up!  Once again, we are bringing you reading and writing ideas and freebies to use with your favorite picture books! There is a "map" of the participating bloggers at the bottom of each post, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs. Be sure to pin your ideas for later!

On each blog, we will be sharing a mentor text lesson using the book we've chosen. The lesson will be modeling a reading skill such as comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, figurative language, or word building. The materials that are shared may be forever freebies or may be free for a limited time, depending on the blogger. Please take note of this as you visit the blogs. 
Again, we welcome you to our blogs and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Enjoy!
The book Memoirs of an Elf is written by Devin Scillian. You may know him as the author of Memoirs of Goldfish and Memoirs of a Hamster. If you have a class elf that visits your classroom, it would be fun to have your elf bring this book as a gift from the North Pole for your students!
I adore this book! The story is told through the eyes of one of the elves, and it details Santa's delivery of presents around the world on Christmas Eve. Santa returns home to the North Pole on time, but one of the elves discovers that a family's beloved dog accidentally jumped into Santa's toy bag! The problem in the story is how to return the puppy to its worried owners without being spotted, since by now it's daytime. Momma Claus saves the day with her idea, and Tugboat is delivered to his grateful owners.  
Not only is this an adorable holiday story, it's full of teachable moments. It's the perfect mentor text! I can't think of any other picture book that has more literacy skills embedded in it than Memoirs of an Elf. Through this book, I am able to teach or review compound words, sequence of events, story structure, problem/solution, fact and opinion, cause and effect, and figurative language such as simile, metaphor, idioms. This is also a perfect mentor to introduce personal narrative. This year I also plan to add some geography by giving students a map and having them track the different locations mentioned while Santa delivers the presents. I also love the "Little Known Facts" about Santa. It would be fun for students to keep a list of facts about Santa, and lead into a discussion of fact and opinion. 
I have trained my students to be constantly on the lookout for what they notice while reading. We discuss the special techniques authors use that appeal to us, and my students are encouraged to "borrow' the techniques to improve their own writing. Simile and metaphor can be challenging to teach, because students must be able to understand them in context. Providing students with practice will help them to recognize their meanings as well as differentiate between the two forms of figurative language. Hopefully my students will add them to improve their writing after practicing them. 

I begin teaching simile and metaphor by going over each form of figurative language using the posters I've included in my freebie above. I post an anchor chart with an example of each, and we continue our discussion of them. I ask students to become "detectives" and search for similes and metaphors in Memoirs of an Elf. We post the sentences on the anchor chart, and refer to it during our study.  
Next, I have students use the simile and metaphor sheet the girl is holding in the graphic above. Students are assigned a simile or metaphor from the set of task cards, and draw a picture to represent it, and what they think the meaning is.  After students have completed all of their simile and metaphor sheets, I bring them together and they present their findings. We discuss each one, what the meaning of the simile or metaphor is, and the clues that led us to believe that. We sort each card under the correct category in a pocket chart. After this discussion, students are ready to write their own similes and metaphors to practice. I have them trade with a classmate to determine whether they are similes or metaphors, as well as their meanings. You could use the same printable they used in the activity above. 
The activities I've shared are part of this larger pack: Holiday Reading and Writing Graphic Organizers Pack. It includes many Memoirs of an Elf activities such as sequencing, story structure, and vocabulary graphic organizers, compound word activities, idioms, and a variety of other printables and graphic organizers that can be used with any book. The graphic organizers are easy to prep and great to just grab and go. They really help my students to dig in deeper during our read alouds. They are also perfect for extra practice and/or assessment!
You can grab my freebie HERE. I hope you and your kiddos find it helpful! :)

I'm Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner, and I'm so excited and honored to be chosen to be a part of the talented and amazing Cassandra's 30 Amazing Teachers guest blogging series! Thank you, Cassandra, for including me! :)
I found Cassandra on Instagram a while back. I could tell from her posts that she was as crazy about teaching as I am! I loved how kind, positive, and enthusiastic she was about teaching and life. She quickly became one of my favorite people to follow. I just love her energy! I also love our little teacher bloggy world and all of the creativity and inspiration that flows from it!
Since December is my favorite month, and Christmas is my favorite holiday, I decided to share a few ideas I use
to create the magic of the holidays in my classroom. 
Two years ago, an elf visited my classroom for the month of December. Last year, we had another elf visit us for the month. The kids were so excited! And they HAD to be well behaved since our elf was watching over them! (Luckily, all of my students were able to participate in Christmas activities!)
We created a paper bag scrapbook to document our elf's antics. We wrote about our elf and added photos to our class scrapbook. 
Each day the students were excited to look for Jingles. Sometimes he was hard to find, and they thought he left for good!
One day our elf "elfed" us and brought us treats too! We ended up elfing our school after that! (Click on the picture to see this freebie).
Having our class elf added to the magic of our holidays. As my own children are getting older and that magic isn't the same, I am able to relive the magic through the eyes of my students. I love helping to create that for them. These are the moments they will always remember!
I also wanted to share a wonderful website I found a few years ago. Have you heard of the Portable North Pole? It's a website where you can create free personalized messages from Santa. They are just precious! I made videos a few years ago when my children were younger, and they loved them. You personalize the videos by adding pictures and information about your child. They now offer a paid video or phone call, but I have always done the free video. You can click on the picture below to check out the site and watch sample videos.  
Last year I created this freebie incentive to help with the December craziness. One day our elf brought a stuffed deer and a letter, incentive charts, and passes from the North Pole. The letter stated that the group with the most stickers on their group incentive charts would get to keep the stuffed reindeer at their table group the next day. They weren't allowed to touch the elf, but the reindeer could be touched. This was a huge incentive for my students to stay on task and focused during class! 
Every year on the last day of school before break, the students rotate through holiday centers instead of a party. The students create art projects, an ornament, we have cookie decorating, and they make magic reindeer food. I have included directions and printables in my freebie Magic Reindeer Food pack. Students throw the reindeer food in their yards to help the reindeer find their way. Click on the photo below to see it. 
We also make the adorable reindeer below. They are made with scrapbook paper and one-inch graph paper. It's always interesting to see which students are able to color the squares in the correct pattern. They always turn out adorable whether they follow the pattern or not! Click on the photo below to grab this freebie.
I hope you have found a few ideas that will help add to the magic in your classroom! We would love to hear your ideas for making the holidays magical!

I'm excited to take part in this amazing giveaway! Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom is hosting a birthday celebration! 
She is giving away a pair of Hunter rain boots! Read all about them and how much she loves them here! Be sure to enter this giveaway below!
Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here! The holiday season will be a whirlwind again this year, I'm sure! Do you ever feel like you just want to freeze time and slow it down? I am constantly feeling that way lately! 

I wanted to share a few freebies that might be useful to you. The first one is my volunteer gifts that I give at Thanksgiving. I have so many wonderful volunteers that not only help me in so many ways, but they help my students too! (I have a blog post on how I use my volunteers in the classroom here!) I love to spoil my volunteers, so I stocked up on some Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Latte Hand Soap, and I attached one of my thanksgiving tags to it. I also give my parents a small Starbucks gift card attached to the printable cards. Both card sets are included in the freebie file you can find HERE.
Next, I wanted to share the placemats I made for our Thanksgiving Feast. I couldn't find any that I loved, so I decided to make my own. I am going to have the students color them, then I will back them on either construction paper or scrapbook paper, and laminate them. I thought the kiddos could draw their favorite Thanksgiving foods on the plate in the  bottom picture. They will be a nice keepsake for the kiddos! 
I hope you are able to use one or both of these ideas and they help to make your holidays a little easier!

My sweet friend Kayla from Kayla in the Classroom is celebrating the redesign of her blog with a HUGE giveaway! She and several of her bloggy buddies have teamed up to give you the chance to win some great prizes! Check out the prizes you could win and be sure to enter the giveaway below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's included:
A Scotch Thermal Laminator
•65 Count Thermal Laminating Pouches
•A 20 oz. YETI Rambler
•Kendra Scott Sophee Earrings in Rose Gold

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 

Welcome to November Pick 3! Lisa and I are excited to have a new co-host join us for our monthly Pinterest Pick 3 Linky Party! Ashley from Just Reed will be co-hosting with us beginning this month! Stop by her blog and say hi!

I will be honest...November isn't one of my favorite months! I'm not sure exactly why, but maybe I want to skip to the excitement of December and Christmas? Pinterest is definitely helping me to get excited about this month, and I found some great inspiration! There are so many fun ideas for November and Thanksgiving! 
 Click on Image to View Original Pin
First up are these candy corn catapults. When I first saw them, I immediately thought "STEM project"! My kiddos would love the challenge of trying to make one of these catapults from common household items. I have tons of candy corn left, and I don't know what I'm going to do with it, so this would be a fun educational November project! I also found a wonderful STEM journal freebie that you can download here! I think it would be great to add a measurement component to this project. Students could measure how many inches, feet, and yards their candy corns flew!
Click on Image to View Original Pin
I thought these corn wreaths painted using bubble wrap were adorable! They would make such a cute decoration for our Thanksgiving feast! They look simple to make, but I might need a few parent helpers to hot glue the corn cobs to the cardboard center. They would be cute to decorate the classroom or students' homes.  
Click on Image to View Original Pin
This last pin is my favorite! I would love to make these popcorn filled turkeys for each table group at our Thanksgiving feast. They would make cute centerpieces at home, too. The kids would go crazy once they realized there is popcorn inside! Just so cute!

Come follow me on Pinterest!
Visit Marissa's profile on Pinterest.
Now it's your turn! We would love for you to link up and share your top three Pinterest finds for September! This linky is hosted on the third of each month- so come join in on the fun!
1.  Save the Pick 3 images to your desktop.
2.  Create a blog post using these images to share you 3    
     Pinterst Picks for the month.
3.  Share a link to your full Pinterest page if you would like.
4.  Link up by clicking the "add your link" button below.
5.  Be sure to check out the other Pinterest finds that have 
     been shared and leave a comments on the ones you love!

Lisa from PAWSitively Teaching is once again hosting her Gingerbread Man Exchange! My students had fun decorating their gingerbread men last year and receiving gingerbread men from all over the country. Be sure to read about it and sign up here!

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