Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Go-To" Student-Made Holiday Gifts for Parents!

Now you can cross at one more thing off of your December "to-do" list... finding the perfect holiday gifts for students to make for their parents (or class volunteers, secretaries, custodians, etc...!)

Those who follow my my RED DIAMOND Pinterest Boards know that I LOVE (a.k.a. "am addicted to") searching for the best free teaching finds online. But as time is short this holiday season, I thought I would save you a trip to Pinterest and compile the cutest (and easiest!) student-made gift ideas right here, along with a FREE download for the SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader—Like a Snowball, to help keep those guided groups on-track over the next week! (And don't forget to download all of the other freebies listed in the product description!)
SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader— Download it FREE!!
Spotting SECRETS— ER, MOMMY E™, TH, OW, AY, and ING 
SECRET STORIES® Outlaw Words— there, to, do

Okay, first up...
Photo Ornaments from I've never seen anything like this before, but it looks so simple that I'm definitely making these with my girls for their grandparents this year!
Sliced-Photo Ornaments by Joyzz
These next two ideas for easy and adorable Holiday Angels I'd actually found on a teaching site that is not in English, but it had lots of great pictures. I've only included a few of them here, but if you click on the links below the pictures, the 'angel-creation' process is shown step-by-step!
Hand Print Angels
Glittered Angel Rolls

This Hanging-Around Ornament is from Mrs. Goff's PreK Tales, and if you visit her site, she has posted lots more pictures showing different (but equally adorable!) variations on this theme! 
Hanging-Around Ornaments from Mrs. Goff's PreK Tales  
These next two are both tied for my favorites! I saw the first one on Pinterest, and then upon going to the website, Art Projects for Kids, I found the second one. I especially like these because they both allow for easy incorporation of simple math concepts, which the directions mention, as well!
Abstract Winter Trees by Art Projects for Kids

I love this next one—Watercolor Pine Ornamentsmainly because I adore watercolors! The addition of real pine branches in contrast to the watercolor ornaments on black makes it the perfect piece of "kid-art" to frame and keep forever!!  

There was no link to this one, but the directions included with the pin were as follows:
-Have kids paint on thick paper with watercolor paint in desired colors and cut out in circle shapes. Glue circles on black paper. 
-Use a bit of gold glitter to make the ornament clasp.
-Place ornament hook around a thin pine branch and glue as shown (Kids can also make water colored frames for this, or you can purchase cheap plastic ones in black from the Dollar Store :)
Watercolor Pine Ornaments

And my personal favorite.... this beautiful Christmas Tree Window, from Kathy's Angelnik Blogspot.
It's just so gorgeous, and Kathy provides easy-to-follow directions for kids to make it on her blog—Thank you, Kathy!

And these cute little Helping Hands Holiday Mitts are super easy.... no directions required! 
Helping Hands Holiday Mitts
I also wanted to share these beautiful Pine Cone Paper Flowers from That Artist Woman as a nice alternative to the traditional wintertime gift! Believe it or not, they are easy to make by just stuffing colored tissue paper into pine cone groves! Step-by-step directions for the whole thing, including the pots, are shown with pictures on the website!

And last but not least, add some extra "sparkle and shine" to your holiday gift ideas with this easy recipe for Glossy Sparkle by Pixie Pumps! This glittery-glaze provides the finishing touch for student gifts! 

Glossy Sparkle by Pixie Pumps

I hope that these "go-to" gift ideas make your holiday just a little bit easier, and that you and your students enjoy reading (and finding SECRETS!) in Like a Snowball!

Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday!

PS Be on the lookout for another post coming soon over holiday break....and another chance to win the new SECRET STORIES® Book (and posters!) for your classroom! For notification of new posts, just follow using the "Follow" button in the upper right corner.

SECRET STORIES® Cracking the Reading Code with the Brain-in-Mind!


Visit Katie Garner- Educational Author/ Speaker's profile on Pinterest.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The New SECRET STORIES® Book— Version 2.0!

Sharing phonics secrets just got a whole lot easier! Teachers' favorite secret weapon for teaching all (and I mean ALL!) those tricky letter and phonics sounds just got a face-lift!

Introducing the new SECRET STORIES® book, just released this fall! If you've been waiting for the right time to update your existing SECRET STORIES® set, or if you've always wanted to let your students in on the "secrets" of the letters that explain the crazy sounds they make when they get together, now is the time!

And for those who might be wondering how to still make use of your existing book and/or poster set, here's the best tip ever... and one that may even convince your principal to purchase it for you! Ideally, every classroom using the SECRET STORIES® should have a 'loaner' book available to that parents to check-out to remediate or accelerate at home. Your old book makes the perfect parent resource to share in conference, and is an easy way to satisfy most School Improvement Plan Requirements to foster a strong home-school connection. A similar (but much more fun!) use for your extra set of posters is to make a class 'big book' of SECRET STORIES®! Simply staple or hole-punch/bind posters together. (You can cut them so as to fit on large pieces of construction paper or just leave them as-is, but just be sure to laminate them!) Students will beg to take it home on a rotating basis, and it's the perfect way to let your parents in on the SECRETS® and how they're used to read and spell words in the classroom.
The SECRET STORIES® Phonics "Secrets!"
The new book layout and design makes it even easier to share the SECRETS™! With instructional icons, in-line text box teaching tools and new, jam-packed sections for digging deeper into the affective learning domain for accelerated reading and writing (phonics) skill acquisition!

To celebrate the fall release, I'm doing a special giveaway of the new book, along with choice of poster-styles (Fun & Funky, Space-Saver/Dual-Use Placards or Original) and the CD. For entry details, see the Rafflecopter information, below!

I'm so excited about the new book that I wanted to share a "sneak-peek" inside here on my blog...


But you don't have to win to get started sharing SECRETS™, as you can download your free mini-anchor pack here, or by clicking on the link, below!
Download the FREE mini-anchor posters!
And I have one more freebie-surprise! The SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader "In the Fall" is currently in the Free Download Window, so be sure to grab it now before the window closes!
Finally, I want to share this adorable video just posted on the SECRET STORIES YouTube Channel of some first grade kiddos a couple of weeks into the school year, sharing amazing discoveries that they've made about their own names! (For background on Mrs. Mac's class, read herehere and here!) 

"Spotting SECRETS™ in my name!"  

To enter the Raffelcopter Drawing (which begins at midnight on Thursday, Nov. 3rd) post a comment below...and for extra entries, you can follow on Face book and Twitter (or if you're already following, just let me know :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you don't want to wait, you can order yours now at

Happy Fall!!!
I hope to have the chance to meet many of you during my conference travels this year!

Katie Garner
PS I have lots more to share, but didn't want to overwhelm this post, so look for more super cool teaching tools to come your way (and more Rafflecopters, too!) throughout this month!