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Six Ways to Use Seasonal and Holiday Printables

Seasonal and holiday printables are a real time saver! 

Plus, they bring valuable skills practice. 
Oh yes, and the children LOVE them!

Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

Here are 6 ways I have used these in my classroom:
Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

1.  Leave for a substitute teacher.

This is why I originally created seasonal printables. If I know I'm going to be out, I will make packets for my substitute to use for each of the subject areas. It's easy to differentiate both up and down. 
  • For an extra challenge, write in an extra challenge. (Example: in math, you can ask these students to write story problems with 2-digit numbers, then solve them!) 
  • To differentiate for more challenged students: give them fewer pages, or circle only some of the items for them to complete. (This is a trick I use all the time for both classwork and for homework. They know to only do the problems I have circled. If they finish early, they can attempt the other ones, but there's no "have to!" I am strategic when I circle the "have to")
Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

2. Leave for when someone has to cover your class for a meeting.

You know those days: You'll have to leave your classroom with someone else. You don't want to leave complicated directions, especially if you don't even know who will be covering your class. But you want to leave meaningful skills practice that your students will enjoy. 
Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

3. Use on a day you just don't have the time to prepare.

We all know these days as well! Perhaps you were at school late the night before with parent conferences. Perhaps you've put in lots of hours preparing report cards. Maybe your child was up sick last night. Maybe you were up sick last night. There are a million reasons for running out of time to plan ahead. Seasonal printables to the rescue! Kids love them, and they'll make your life so much easier!
Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

4. Use for independent practice.

Sometimes they just need something quiet to work on while you're working with reading or math groups. Seasonal printables will give them extra practice with their literacy and/ or math skills while letting them have a little fun. They really do enjoy the work a bit more if it has an element of fun!

Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

5. Use for guided practice.

Your lower-abled students don't want to miss out on the fun of these seasonal pages! I've been known to use some of these printables during reading and/ or math groups for skills that are just a little beyond the abilities of my cherubs. (It might be the same thing some of the others are working on independently!) With a little bit of help, they'll feel a great sense of pride!
Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

6. Use as partner work.

There are a lot of ways to partner up the students and a lot of good reasons to do this! Sometimes the partners would be relatively equal in abilities. This is a great way to get them talking! Yes, sometimes that's a good thing, isn't it? When they're talking through how they get their answers, that discussion internalizes learning! That's a good thing!

Sometimes it's ok to partner a stronger student with a weaker student, but this must be done very carefully. There is never a reason for a student to feel inferior to another. But with the right combination of students, some great conversations could happen, and they can both could learn from each other!

Here is a collection of Printables that could help you through the whole year: No Prep Activities and Worksheets for the Whole Year

Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

Looking for some Science and Social Studies Printables? Try these! Science and Social Studies Activities for the Year!

Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

What are your ideas for using seasonal and holiday printables?

Six Ways to Use Seasonal Holiday Printables: Those holiday themed printables are fun for the students and helpful for teachers. Here are a few ways they can be used.

Sunflower Learning Fun!

Seriously, sunflowers? 

Well, what makes learning fun in your classroom? 

It's usually something the kiddos are excited about, isn't it?

Well, it's sunflower time right now, and that's what I'm using to keep the enthusiasm going for learning!

Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?

Here in New England, it's harvest time! That means everywhere you look, there are pumpkins, scarecrows, cornstalks, apples, and yes, sunflowers! The biggest country fairs of the year are among us! Since they're excited by their surroundings, let's work with it! After all, you've got to have a gimmick, don't you?

(Flashback to a post I did ages ago, called Gotta Get a Gimmick.)

Gotta Get a Gimmick

Well, my gimmick for this week will be sunflowers, since that's what they're excited about!

Seriously, sunflowers are just the "vessel," but there's some real learning that's going to happen!

Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?


Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?

This is one of my most popular math games! It's an important skill, (mental math with tens and hundreds) it's easy to differentiate, and it's so much fun, they'll want to play it repeatedly!


Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?

Then, of course, there's a fun mini-booklet to read! Although I'm sure you have several books about sunflowers in your classroom, don't they just love to have a book they can hold in their own hands! Plus, these printable mini-booklets are perfect to use in reading groups, since the students can write in them! ("Underline the short a words in yellow." or "How many times can you find the word seeds on page 1?")

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These boom learning cards are a perfect accompaniment to the hands-on booklets! Almost all the questions come from the booklets! Plus, the more they play, the more they'll remember!

Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?

Oh, and did I mention there's a bundle?


I always put a huge discount on my bundles! Enjoy!

I also have other seasonal life cycles!
You can find the autumn bundle HERE.

Oh, yes, and there are books! Here are a couple of my favorites!



Sunflower House by Eve Bunting

A Sunflower's LIfe Cycle  by Mary R. Dunn

Here's a fun one for your budding artists:
Van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Lawrence Anholt

Not specifically sunflowers, but I'm a huge fan of Gail Gibbons!
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons


Some other ideas for celebrating sunflowers:
  • Roast some sunflower seeds!
  • Plant some sunflower seeds outside your school! (Yes, this needs to be done in the spring, but last year's students are still watching the ones they planted, and this year's students will want to continue this tradition in the spring!
  • Google some other recipes that use sunflower seeds. (There are plenty!)
  • Make a craft with sunflower seeds. (Again, google!)
  • Write a story (fiction or non-fiction) about sunflowers!
  • Estimate a sunflower's seeds. Or just a jar of sunflower seeds.
  • Measure the heads of the sunflowers in your sunflower garden and graph them.
  • I'll bet you can think of plenty more ways to enjoy sunflowers!

Sunflower Learning Fun: Who knew there were so many ways to learn and practice important skills with sunflowers?



Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start!

They say it takes 6 weeks at the beginning of the school year for all the routines to be mastered, and REAL teaching can begin.

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?


There are a whole lot of routines and procedures to be taught between now and then. Plus, there's all that assessment that needs to happen. What about academics?

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

We have a whole lot of teaching to do! 

Yes, we need to get to teaching academics! Reading, language, writing, math, science, social studies... those curriculums won't teach themselves! How do we do it all?

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

We want them to be learning and growing. 

After all, that's what school is for! But that real learning won't start until all the routines are in place. Once they know what to do when they enter the room, and what to do during morning meeting, and what to do during centers, and how to line up for lunch, and what to do during reading and math groups... and so on! Once the classroom is working like a well-oiled machine, then the teaching of academics can begin successfully!

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

Yet, we want them to be confident and happy about school. 

This is what allows learning to happen, isn't it! If they're not sure what to do, that doesn't build confidence. If they feel insecure about the work they're doing, they're not going to be happy in the classroom, are they? And if they're not happy or confident, they won't be learning.
Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

How can we keep them feeling good, yet still growing as learners?


Well, we shouldn't throw too much at them at once! Between all those procedures and routines that have to be taught, giving them more to learn as well is too much!

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

Have plenty of "reviewing of previous skills" to do while learning the new routine.


Studies show teachers should only introduce one new skill at a time. That means, if you're teaching the routine of using devices during centers, they should be using skills they're already familiar with while learning the device routine! 

If you're teaching the routine of independent reading, they should be reading books that are easy for them. 

If you're teaching the routine of coming to reading group, you should have them work on skills they've already learned. 

There's plenty of time to introduce and practice new skills, once they've mastered the routine.

What should we use for review? Here are a few ideas:




Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

Have more "reviewing of previous skills" for them to do while assessing and learning about their learning!

Besides teaching routines, the other "biggie" at the beginning of the school year is figuring out where the children are in their skills. No matter what our curriculum dictates, if they're not ready for a specific skill, we need to teach the previous skills.

Don't forget those things that the students can always do at their own level:
Independent Reading (See these posts HERE and HERE.)
Writer's Workshop (See this post HERE.)
Learning Math Facts (See these posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

But to maintain a positive atmosphere and build confidence, start with "fun and easy" activities.


It's scary for the kiddos to start a new grade. If the work they're doing in that new grade is fairly easy for them, that will really put a damper on their academic mindset! 

Here are a couple more resources that are fun, easy review to start off the year:

or the same resource in for digital version:

Review Basic Concepts and Skills Review Boom Cards Bundle Second Grade


But then, there are those "high flyers!" They need something special, too! These science and social studies Boom Cards are perfect for these kids! The students can work independently, the cards give immediate feedback, and can be used over and over, learning more with each use!






How do you keep the children engaged and practicing skills while learning procedures and routine?



Fun and Easy: A Good Place to Start - How do you keep the students engaged while teaching routines and procedures?

Eight Things to Think About While Long-Term Planning

I never thought of long-term planning as something set in stone. In fact, I would never think about writing long-term plans in permanent ink!
8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


I'll never forget the time I got marked down on my teacher evaluation because I didn't "show evidence of long-term planning." It was pretty frustrating since, had she asked, I'd have directed her to the flap inside my plan book with all my charts!

Yes, I'm a planner, but I do know better than to expect everything in the classroom to go exactly as planned! 

Here are 8 things to think about while you're long-term planning"

1. Break the year into manageable chunks.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

I typically do short-term planning by the week, but my longer plans are split into months. I know a lot of teachers like to use online planners, but I like to use old-fashioned paper. I start with a big grid labeled with each month. 

2. Start with the big picture.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

It's a good idea to start by plotting the big chunks of curriculum into smaller chunks. For example, I'll take a look at the writing curriculum, and break it into smaller parts such as writing narratives, creating a hook, word choice, fiction writing, informational writing, opinion writing, using dialogue, writing poetry, developing voice, and sentence fluency. Here's a rough draft of my writing long-term plans.
8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

Even though you've plotted out the parts, we all know things will change. But if you teach the same grade next year, a lot of the work will be already done!

3. Establish routines.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


We all know that the first few weeks of the year are dedicated to establishing routines that will be in place for the rest of the school year. If these routines are well taught, they will make your life easier in the long run. One example is starting each math lesson with 5 minutes of fact fluency practice. 
8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!   8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


These are the systems I use. They are easy to differentate and keep organized, and the students love them. (Much like a video game, it's a great accomplishment to "move up a level!") The students can practice alone, with a partner, with a small group, or even on ipads or laptops. Once the routine is set, that frees up the teacher to prepare the classroom for the rest of the daily math lessons, or to "listen in" to assess.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead! 8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


I also start my reading groups with a warm-up. These phrase cards are perfect for this purpose.  (See more about reading warm-ups HERE.)

Here are some other resources that can help you establish valuable routines: 
8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

4. Consider seasonal themes.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

Certain things are very appropriate for teaching at certain times of the year. For example, when I created the list of writing chunks above, I immediately put poetry into the April category, as April is poetry month. Clearly, teaching writing procedures comes at the beginning of the school year. (late August here) January is a great time to teach writing thank you notes, as they have a lot to write from the holidays! (Writing Thank You Notes) I teach writing friendly letters near the beginning of the year, because once they've learned the "routine," it goes straight into the Sub Tub! (See HERE for this routine!) I try to get most of the "nitty gritty" writing, (editing, proofreading, punctuation, and parts of speech) near the beginning, then go back to these as I see they need review.

When teaching about life cycles, I'll probably teach certain life cycles around December, like pine trees and reindeer. (See Winter LIfe Cycle Bundle) Some life cycles are more appropriate for springtime, like robins, butterflies, or dandelions. (See Spring Life Cycle Bundle)

5 Collaborate with colleagues.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

We all have our strengths as well as weaknesses. We all have different experiences and different ideas. We all have our own styles. And thank goodness for this! As we chat with our colleagues and teammates, we can use these differences to benefit our students. Which teacher on your team is best at organization? Which teacher on your team is best at modeling writing behaviors? Which teacher on your team is best at finding the right books that model the skills you're working on? Most of the teaching for your own students goes with you, but it doesn't hurt to branch out, does it? 

6. Integrate subjects when you can.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!

We all know there is never enough time in the classroom to do all that is needed to be done, as teachers all wear plenty of hats! When you are able, do "double duty!" What does that mean? Well, you can teach reading and writing skills while teaching social studies as well! You can teach science while integrating important math skills such as graphing and measuring! The resources below are perfect for combining subjects to save class time.

7. Don't forget sub plans!

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


It's a good idea to put aside plenty of activities that are valuable tasks that can be done any time of year, need minimal directions, and aren't dependent on previous lessons. This is a great time for review! 

As mentioned above, I have my friendly letters all set to go in my sub tub. It's an activity that can be done over and over again, and their writing skills will grow each time. (Plus, they love it!)


These "no-prep" activities are perfect for such occasions! I keep several pages of my Camping No-Prep in the sub tub, as these can be done any time of year. But if you know you're going to be out, try one of these seasonal sets. (They do love when you integrate something seasonal with learning, don't they?) Seasonal No Prep Activities, Worksheets, and Printables for the Whole Year.

8. Be flexible.

8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


Honestly, when it all comes down to it, the students should take the lead when it comes to planning. Yes, we have a curriculum to follow. But if you're about to teach multiplication and you realize there are several who can't remember how to add, you might need to change your plans. If you're teaching the long o patterns, and you realize your students don't remember the short o sound, change your plans. It's really all about the kids!


Here's a hint: when you see something you think will help you plan for a whole year, put it in your wishlist! Then, when a sale comes up, you can easily move it to your cart at a discounted price!

Happy teaching! May this year be the one filled with joy, excitement, wonder, and endless possibilities!
8 Things to think about while long-term planning:  Long term plans need to be flexible, but here are 8 things you can do to get ahead!


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