Monday, July 29, 2019

Back to School Made Easy

I've rounded up a few of my favorite things for Back to School for all of you! All of the physical items you see in this post are from Oriental Trading, which is awesome because they come in large sets/packs so they are basically already ready to be handed out to the whole class!

To start off the school year, I love to have a little something on the students' desks for "meet the teacher" day. You already spend so much on your classroom, so it is always hard to decide what to have for them as a gift. I used to do little snack bags, but it was a lot of prep making the snack mixes and ended up costing a lot more than I would have liked it to. This year, I found an easy and low cost way give a gift to each student to start off the year!

All of the paper gift tags you see below are available FREE to print if you click here :) I hope this makes your life a little easier! I also have linked every item you see in the photos, to make shopping easy for you if you like what you see!

"I can't wait to celebrate all of your success this year" tags with fringe blowouts attached.
You can get the fringe blowouts HERE

"Our class ROCKS! We will have a great year!" gift tags with carabiners that say "Our Class Rocks", which you can purchase HERE

"Mistakes are proof that you are trying" gift tag with erasers.
You can find these striped eraser sticks HERE.

"In this class, I will always help you get a grip on your new skills...but remember, it is okay to make mistakes" gift tags with a pencil gripper and eraser. You can find the pencil grippers and erasers in a combo pack HERE.


Now that you have that little gift idea taken care of, your mind will be on those "first day of school" activities. I always say, it is wayyy better to over-plan for the first day of school than to under-plan!

"Get to Know You" activities can be super repetitive each year for the students. I found a few I had not seen before that leave a lot of room for you to create a game out of them, do a simply "Q&A", or pass out for group conversations! 

This first set of cards goes with a dice game you can also find on their site, but the cards don't "need" the dice game! You can do so much with these cards by just handing them out or randomly choosing one. You can even allow the students to choose them and ask a friend the question. Maybe some interviews of one another? Soooo many ideas! You can find this card set HERE.

Similar to the card set above, but this has a little box where they can go once you use them! They have totally different questions, so having both games would also be great in your classroom! You can find this icebreaker owl set HERE.

Everyone loves conversation cubes! All six sides have different questions and would be great for interview situations you set up with your students! You can find these conversation cubes HERE.

In addition to the straight forward "get to know you" activities, I also ALWAYS want something that allows my students to work in groups, but without needing my help (in case I need a moment to organize papers and things). The first day is alway so hectic. The kids love a group work activity and it helps them get to know each other. They also won't notice that you are getting a few things done while they work ;) which is always a nice little trick of mine! 

Below, I am going to go through a few different activities that can be done in a cooperative setting. For example, if you already have your class desks set up in groups, you can just put one activity at each group. You can then choose to rotate the groups so that everyone tries each activity! The students will have so much fun, all of them have an educational component to them, and you can free up some time to walk around and get to know your students in a different way OR grab a few minutes to organize some of those "first day" things that pile up on your desk. 

Station 1: STEM stick structures
This pack comes with the sticks and the shape/challenge cards. You will need to supply your own Play-doh (or something else like marshmallows or gumdrops). This game lends itself well to group work because different kids can work on different cards at the same time, or they can all work on one together. Groups can use their own methods! You can also bring these cards back out during your geometry unit later in the year!

Station 2: Ladders Balancing Game
This one is so fun! The directions explain how to set up the "start" of the game, and then from there you simply take turns adding a ladder to the structure, trying not to knock it down. Once someone does knock it down, though, you can just start again! Take the competition out of it by having the students work together to simply create the biggest structure they can with the ladders. This way, they aren't competing and can work together for the greater purpose. 

Station 3: STEM Design a Playground Activity
I am not going to lie, when I first received this, I built the playground myself! It was so much fun! The cool part about this is that the cards have you build smaller structures, and then take them apart and build more smaller structures. Through this, the students will learn how the pieces work and attach to one another. They can then go on their own and create a playground of their dreams! There are even little people who can "play" on it! Maybe they can even try to create the playground you all have at your school! 

Station 4: Melissa and Doug Suspend Stacking Game be honest...this one is HARD! Haha! It was sooo fun, but it can get a little frustrating, so make sure your group gets along well before they do any sort of "group work" with it! Hahaha! I can imagine frustrations running a little high with this one. As a competition, it is very similar to the ladder game I already mentioned. But like that one, you can also turn it into a stacking game and take the competition out of it, which might be a good idea here. The directions also give you three different ways to play, which is super fun and great for those kids that move through things quickly and get bored. 

This first day activity is MAYBE...just of my favorites EVER. Sorry for all of the caps...but it truly is making me so happy. The "classified" cards on the right in the photo above have secret "kindness missions" on them. The one on the top tells the student to pick up trash on the playground, for example. You can only read the tasks with the red, "top secret" decoder. 

The idea: hand out the "top secret" handheld notebooks and pencils to each student. Now they are ready for their mission! Each student gets a kindness task card, as well. They can share the red decoder to secretly decode their mission for the day or week (however long you'd like to do this activity). So, now that each student has a kindness task they need to try to do throughout the day or week, you let them record it in their journal and then leave them be to try to execute their mission when the opportunity arises. To continue with our example from above, they pick up trash while they are on the playground. It doesn't have to be the whole time, but maybe just some trash that they see when walking to lunch or when running around outside. 

While each student is trying to execute their mission, they also are trying to find out what each other student is up to! Isn't that fun!? So maybe Jimmy is picking up trash at recess and Joanna sees him! She can log it in her TOP SECRET notebook, because she has a hunch that picking up trash is his kindness mission. At the end of the day or week, see how many students were caught doing their act! This time, being "caught" is a good thing....don't tell them this from the start, but they WIN if they were caught! That means they did their kindness task and others noticed! This is awesome! You can have a prize for them, but I usually just send home happy notes for things like this! 

Click on the link for the Kindness Mission Items:


What comes later, after "meet the teacher" and first day activities are all done and over? 

This is always a huge stress of mine each year. There is so much to go over with parents, but you also want to show them something their child has learned in their time with you so far. These little, blank puzzles and baggies are super cute for this purpose! 

The Idea: 
Have the students decorate/illustrate something that they have learned so far this school year on their puzzle. You can have a big group discussion about ideas for this in class so that the kids don't all end up drawing the same few things. Then, have them rip it up and put it in their puzzle bag, which they can write their name on so their parents know it is theirs. 
When the parents come in for open house, they can work on their child's puzzle to see what their child has learned so far this year! Leave a post-it note and a pen on each desk so the parent can write a note about the puzzle to their child, also! The children can come in the next day to a completed puzzle and a note from their parent on their desk! How fun!? 

These baggies can then be tossed in a larger bin and kids can play them as a game throughout the year when they finish their work early or when you have indoor recess! 

Grab these blank puzzles HERE and the baggies HERE

I am an affiliate of Oriental Trading, so the links seen above are affiliate links. At this time, this is actually the only store I affiliate myself with. I truly trust this store and everything I have ever received or ordered from them has been perfect and exactly as advertised. Things come in high quantities, which is great for teachers or parties, and I have never been disappointed. All of these items were chosen by me for the purpose of back to school. I chose these specifically because of the ideas I had for them and they were not chosen for me.  I really hope you find everything useful! Let me know if you have any questions about anything!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Spring Bulletin Board and Craftivity

Springtime is the BEST time! 
Except for one thing...I am new to this thing I used to always here people talking about...I think they call them "allergies" and they're awful! I never used to have them, and then after living in Alabama and South Carolina for a total of 8 years, I developed some sort of outdoor allergy in Florida! The state I grew up in now gives me the sneezies for about two whole months!

Other than that one, minor issue we won't discuss anymore...I love spring! My husband and I are spring birthdays, and so is my two year old daughter! Our son, due in September, will be the "odd man out" in this family! 

This time of year is especially great for teachers. It can be rough...getting close to the end of the year but not quite close enough...test start pushing your buttons you didn't know you had...all of the "end of year" teacher stuff we have to do with paperwork, advancement, etc.... in other words...why do I love spring?

For the FLOWERS and the SUNSHINE and the WEATHER!

This bulletin board makes it SO simple to bring SPRINGTIME in your classroom or the halls of your school. You can choose one subject to focus on, or showcase the many different subjects in which your students have progressed. I like to showcase different subjects because I use this as a form of "test prep" without my students knowing that we are actually test prepping...

You can easily create this project using the item below, found in my TpT store HERE, or click the cover image below. This product comes with everything you need to create this craftivity easily in your classroom, as well as three different ready-made content activities: 
Math: factoring (factor flowers)
Social Studies: Important Event
ELA (or any subject vocab): Word Study

You can see below in the boomerang videos that I created them so that you can flip up the flower pot to see the student's work, which is also displayed neatly on the flower petals and leaves themselves. 

I want to make this as easy as possible for you all, since this IS such a crazy time of the year. Below you can find the lettering I used for the bulletin board you saw in the first image as a FREEBIE with this blog post. I used colored copy paper / Astrobrights to create them easily with black and white ink only! This gives you the leeway to print them on whichever colors you choose! 

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hashtags Around Your Room

A super easy way to make a bulletin board cute AND meaningful is to add a little hashtag message in the corner! It can be at the top or bottom of a bulletin board, in a doorway, etc! Anywhere your kids may look, where you otherwise wouldn't normally have a decoration. Use your key classroom phrases or vocabulary around your room to keep your messages meaningful! But also...HOW CUTE?!

You can totally do this on your own to make it match your room; however, if you'd like the one pictured above, I have linked it below! You can either print out ready-made circles OR save paper by typing directly onto the editable circles I have in the pack, also. Whichever works best for you! 

Hope you love it :) 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Nothing is Better than Mountain Air

I have never been more serious about a statement than the title of this blog post. 

Nothing is Better than Mountain Air

I slept better, felt better, ate better...everything! 

I should explain...the eating better part is mostly because my mom is amazing and cooked perfect meals for all of us while we were there.
The sleeping part is definitely because Flynn slept SO well there, in the closet of our bedroom, so Will and I had some of the best sleeps ever! We slept in until almost TEN every single day! What?!?!

Each year my family spends a week together in the mountains, at my parents' summer home. It is always such a special week because we are all together, all in one house, all day! The kids have so much fun and it is truly amazing to watch the little cousins all growing up together! Flynn is not yet part of the "big kid" group, but I was so excited that she was walking around so well by the time of this trip. 

So that's the group! We are getting bigger and bigger in size each year. 2018 alone will bring us THREE new babies! We are so so lucky. I love that I grew up to be close with my sisters, have been able to become close with my brother-in-laws, and now I get to watch Flynn grow up close with her cousins! There is nothing more special than family. 

My favorite thing we did while we were in the mountains was take two boats out (yes, we had to take two since we are a big group). The older kids got to ride on Big Mable (if you're a lake lover, you definitely know her....haha! If you aren't familiar, she is the blow up couch you can pull behind a boat) and they had so much fun! We weren't sure what Flynn would think of her first boat ride, but she loved it! She said "weeee" the entire time, while her hair blew in the wind! This is exactly what she does at Disney anytime a ride is fast, or in the grocery store when I push the cart quickly, haha! She amazes me every day! Will and I dream of living on a lake, with a boat, one we are so happy Flynn liked it! 

We also celebrated July 4th with everyone! Flynn got her first balloon creation from a balloon fairy, and loved it! Her outfit is from one of my favorite shops, Cecil and Lou! 

Flynn is in that stage where she is so happy she can walk everywhere she wants to, and I LOVE IT! So many people told me I would want to rewind and have her sitting on the floor in one place...that I would miss the day I could put her down and not worry about her getting into things...
I LOVE her walking!!!!! She is so fun! I am getting to see so much more of her personality!

(Another one of my favorite new outfits for Flynn is made by Claire and Charlie, but I shopped it at Oodles and Maggie in the Biltmore Village in Asheville. Click here to see their shop)

So I know this wasn't teaching related...but we all need a summer break! I wish I could still be in the mountains, but I'll settle for south Florida with my huge family for now ;) !! 

Thanks for catching up with me! Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and taking advantage of extra time with your family!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Elapsed Time Pack

What time is it?
Time for your students to learn how to tell ELAPSED time!

Below you'll see everything included in this pack! I am going to take you through a little explanation of what exactly all of that is that you see below.

On the left, the tan/blue/pink pages, you'll see the practice pages I included. I usually use these to practice the use of the analog clock before we start this unit. If they aren't great at reading the time on an analog clock, then they will struggle with the whole unit. It's great to address this at the beginning. I slide these into sheet protectors so that my students can use dry erase markers on them. This allows me to reuse these same pages year after year without recopying. Environmentally friendly for the WIN!

The four small decks of cards on the right are four different styles of practice questions. You can use these at a center, as cards in a game with a gameboard, up on your projector screen as a whole group, and in so many more ways! They can even be task cards! 
The reason there are four different decks is because I worded the questioning in four different ways. There are many different ways we see these elapsed time questions in the testing setting. The kids may be totally awesome at solving elapsed time questions, but if the test asks the question in a way they are unfamiliar with, then they will most likely get it incorrect. This allows you to present it to them in four different ways, making them even more fluent at reading/answering these questions than they were before!

In the middle of the photo you see the three white sheets of paper. There is a study and two forms of tests for this pack. I like to use one form of test and then if needed, I have the other form as a re-test. You can use one of them as a pre-test if you think some of your kids maybe don't really need to go through this whole pack (your advanced kids). You can also use them both simultaneously if you think your kids may feel tempted to look at their neighbor's paper for answers ;)

Click here to see different photos and read more about this pack!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Compliment in a Jar - End of the Year Gift to Students

You've been with your class for a whole year now! You've had some pretty amazing ups, and some really frustrating downs, but you've made it! Like they say in one of the cheesiest, but best, movies ever, "We're all in this together!" (If you haven't seen it...High School Musical is the movie I am referencing.) 

At the end of the year you have so many things going through your head: 
Thank goodness for summer break!
I can't wait to sleep!
What will I pack for the beach?
Time to pack up my classroom!
I am so ready to get new ideas going for next year!

but also...
Who will love on these kids every day?
Will they remember the life lessons I tried to teach them, outside of just the math and science?
I hope they hang out with the right people over the summer...
I hope they remember me!
I hope they visit me next year!

Cue: the 
End of the Year 
Gift EVER!

Click HERE to get this for your class!

It is pretty self-explanatory from the photos you'll see below; but just to make sure I don't leave anything confusing on here, I will explain it in more detail below! 

I will also give you links to two types of jars I recommend trying for this activity. If you create this for parents, neighbors, friends, or relatives - I suggest using glass mason jars. If you create this for students, I suggest using the plastic "slime" jars, so that you don't have to worry about the breakable glass once it is in their possession. You know how kids will throw those backpacks around, especially at the end of the year!

The steps are all included in the PDF, but quickly...
You just print out the pages with the phrases on colored paper of your choice, cut them up, fold them, and place them in the jar. Then print out the labels with poems on white cardstock, hole punch, and string a ribbon through to make it cute :) 

The directions, which come in color and black/white versions:

The slips you'll cut up (print on any color you'd like. There is an editable PowerPoint file included, also, so that you can type up your own phrases/sayings/notes, as well:

Print the poems (in color and black/white versions) to string around your jars for your students. This explains to them in a "cute and rhyming" way exactly what this jar is for. Hole punch them and string a ribbon through them around each jar.

This gift is great because it gives you the chance to inspire your students all summer long, every time they read a piece of paper from their jar. Also, it shows a lot of love and effort from you, as their teacher, because you can make it super personal if you add in some of your own phrases they are familiar with you saying, as well! The document comes with many phrases already typed out; however, it also comes with an editable PowerPoint file for you to type right into if you want to create your own slips of sayings to put in your students' jars. You can even handwrite a few!

These are not affiliate links; just regular links I pulled from Amazon

The plastic slime jar, 6 oz, 12 pack, with metal/silver lids:

The plastic slime jar, 7 oz, 12 pack, with a white plastic lid:

Glass Mason Jars, Ball, 16 oz:

Thanks everyone! I hope you love these gifts as much as I do! I especially love how versatile they are! You can make them for literally ANYONE and it's so special and personal! 
Share your wisdom with a high school grad? YEP!
Inspire your student all summer? YEP!
Thank your room mom by sharing your favorite quotes? YEP!
Tell your neighbor everything you love about them? YEP!
Remind your family member of great memories you have with them? YEP!

And so many more ideas! 

Three Step Learning Process

New free item on Teachers Pay Teachers today! 

These learning process posters are one of the smallest, yet most important, pieces in my classroom. I refer to them daily (mostly during math lessons when kids start to get frustrated that they aren't "getting it" as quickly as others). 

When you explain these posters to the students, you'd need to go slowly through each step. Once you've explained it to them once, then you can just refer to them quickly when you need to throughout the year.

How I explain these:
Input: "When information is going into your ears and you let it settle in your brain before it goes out the other ear. Whether I am reading out loud to you, when you are watching a movie, when you are listening to me teach a lesson, or when you are reading a book or set of directions, you are using this step of the learning process. You have to let it enter your mind and think about it so it doesn't leave out the other ear...otherwise, you'll never be able to enter the next step."
Process: "When you start to understand the topic or skill you are learning about. Even if it just that the first step of the math problem makes sense, then you are in this stage. If you understand what is going on in a story, then you are in this step. You are in this step for a long time sometimes. You may think you 'get it' but sometimes have trouble doing it on your own. That is OK!"
Output: "When you 'get it' and could even maybe teach someone else how to do it! If you can tell someone about a story you read or a movie you saw, remembering all of the important events or details. When you can teach someone or help someone with their math work. You will work hard to get to this stage, but once you are here, you are here forever with that skill!"


It is important for students to know that it is OK to be in "limbo" with their learning sometimes. Sometimes they are stuck in the process stage a lot longer than they want to be, and they start to doubt themselves. It is important you remind them they are on step 2 and only have one step to go!

It is also important for you as a teacher to understand which step the student is on. You may think they know what they are reading and get frustrated with them for not being able to answer questions you ask with details or evidence...however, maybe they do not even know what they are reading about? Maybe you think they are in the process stage, but they are really in the input stage!

There are also little versions of the posters included. These are for those times when you decide you want the kids to have copies of these in their journals or on their desk for personal reference. Or maybe you want them to take them home so they can be reminded while they work on homework. Whatever your reason, they're here if you need them!

Click on the link above to see this product on TpT

Also....gotta tell ya...I turned 30 last weekend and it feels great!
I feel so lucky to have my little family (dog and cat not pictured...haha) and it makes getting older feel so amazing actually! I feel like each year makes me luckier to be healthy and have the family I have around me!

My niece helped me blow out the candles! :)