Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Technology Resources for the New Year

Happy New Year! I love this time of year in the classroom-- kids are into the routine, you can really start digging into the good stuff, and the ideas of resolutions and goal-setting are a perfect segue into the rest of the year!

I am excited to be sharing some technology resources you can use with your students this New Year:


This is a great video put together by BrainPOP because it describes how other countries around the world celebrate their new year. Other religions and cultures are described (including Chinese New Year) and BrainPOP always does a great job with follow-up quizzes and worksheets. As of this writing, it wasn't free, but they will often offer it for free as the holiday gets closer, so keep your eyes peeled if you don't have a subscription.

Check it out HERE.

Crayola Fireworks Spectacular

This is a fun site by Crayola that allows kids to create their own fireworks show! There are fireworks to preview, then they can drag them along the timer on the bottom to wherever they would like them to appear in the show. At the end, they can Start the Show and enjoy their own New Year's celebration!

To design a show, click HERE.

YouTube: Squirrel's New Year's Resolution

This is a great read-aloud (similar to Reading Rainbow style) about how Squirrel learns to create a New Year's resolution. Watching this is an easy and engaging way to start the conversation in your class.

New Year's Crossword

This activity can be done on the computer or printed off. I love the computer version, though, since it will highlight any incorrect letter in red (see image above). There are also fireworks that go off when you get a word correct. This is a great activity to practice some of the vocabulary words from my Word Work Centers, too!

To play this crossword, click HERE.

If you are looking for some engaging and high-quality literacy activities for this first week back, be sure to check out my New Year's-themed Word Work Centers and Writing Prompts.

Happy New Year!!

Be sure to check out all of my other Holiday Technology Resources below:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Technology Resources for Christmas

There are so many fun and interactive online resources for kids for the Christmas holiday season, so I have compiled some of my favorites to offer to you and your students to play at school and/or at home!

Interactive Sites for Eduction: Christmas

This is a *HUGE* compilation of Christmas-themed activities that would be a fantastic resource for at-home learning or indoor recess! I love how this site is organized: there are covers for each of the games and they take kids to various sites that practice math, strategy, patterns, and more. It's also ad-free on this first page, so it's not as visually distracting as others.

To access this great collection, click HERE.

The Kidz Page: Christmas

This site offers five pages of Christmas-themed games for your students. This also includes strategy games and challenges, math, crosswords, and more. While it's a bit more visually cluttered than the site above, the games are different and my third graders can still easily navigate to the different choices-- you may just want to point out the different page number links at the top. I also love how this is not full of pop-up ads or video commercials everywhere.

Find this Christmas collection HERE.

Sugar, Sugar

For *years*, my third graders have loved this game! They were so excited to find it in a holiday theme, as was I! The premise is so simple-- drop the sugar into the cup for points-- and kids can add shelves to make the stream more accurate. Scenes change on each level, as does the amount of cups and their location.

For the Christmas-themed Sugar, Sugar, click HERE.

Primary Games: Christmas

While this is the most ad-filled of all of the collections, they do offer new choices that are very kid-friendly, so you can decide if it's worth the extra distractions. You can also weed through the choices yourself to choose the activity or activities that work best for your class. There are more strategy-based games included here, so kids will need to problem-solve more than some of the above links with easier, more straight-forward games.

To view this collection, click HERE.

I hope these technology resources are able to keep your kids in the holiday spirit and engaged in some Christmas fun both at school and at home!

If you're looking for some equally-engaging Christmas-themed class activities, be sure to check out my Christmas Word Work, Christmas Writing Prompts, and Christmas QR Critters for Math!

Have a wonderful week before Christmas! Find more Holiday Technology Resources here:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Are you a Soda Kid or a Water Kid? {Noticing our Reactions}

Because our school is Leader In Me-focused, we have lots of discussions about being proactive and thinking win-win.

One of the ways I like to make these ideas relatable, especially to some kids who struggle with these concepts the most, is to use analogies that they are all familiar with and can easily relate to.

My favorite question to ask these days is not, "Are your being proactive or reactive?" but is instead, "Is this a Soda Kid choice or Water Kid choice?"

Let me help explain by using the Anchor Chart we made in class:

All kids know what happens when you shake a can or bottle of soda: it explodes! All over the floor, your clothes, your hands.... everywhere! It's a mess and takes a long time to clean up.

But what happens when you shake a bottle of water and then open it? Nothing! The water is just water- ready to drink and enjoy (and as one of my thirdsters pointed out, it's much healthier for your body than soda is, too!).

So how does this relate to our class and our personal reactions when life happens, situations are out of our control, or it feels like we're getting shaken and thrown around in all different directions? When your reaction comes out, is it one of soda or water?

Soda choices are made spur-of-the-moment, usually pure reaction, and are often filled with anger. They are messy and it usually takes a while to "clean up" and repair the harm. Water choices, however, are calm and in-control, even despite the hardest shaking. We spoke about how our bodies even feel like soda or water on the inside, especially in the heat of the moment, and talked about some of our Brain Break and cool-down strategies to get our body to water when it feels like exploding soda.

I set up this chart like I usually do when I compare two things, in a T-Chart. This was ready to go when we began our discussion and we brainstormed as a class how one type of person would react versus the other.

It was a very concrete and helpful way for kids to see proactive versus reactive thinking and, now that it's hanging in our classroom, we can refer back to it throughout the weeks ahead and simply notice where their reaction is falling: Soda or Water?

Have a great week ahead!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Our Growth Mindset Class-Created Anchor Chart

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Growth Mindset-thinking, and I try to incorporate it throughout our day whenever I can.

If you haven't seen my previous posts about Growth Mindset and goal setting, be sure to check them out below, including a great resource round-up to help get you started.

To begin our year, I love to reference this fantastic anchor chart by Stephanie Skelton:

I chose to make this activity a bit more interactive since it was the beginning of the year and I wanted to keep my students up and moving as much as possible. I also had these phrases (along with a few others I added) typed up and ready to go, mostly because the kids weren't yet familiar with the new language associated with Growth Mindset.

Our final result looked like this and I cannot be happier, especially since it's the first thing you see on our wall as you enter our classroom:

Creating Your Own Anchor Chart as a Class:

To help us introduce these ideas, we read these two fantastic picture books:

After a class discussion about these characters, we were ready to dive into the two mindsets.

I set this activity up by passing out each of these slips of paper and having students walk to the end of the classroom they thought their phrase belonged in: Fixed or Growth.

After they were on either end of the classroom, I had someone from the "Fixed" side read their slip and someone on the "Growth" side would share their slip if they thought it was a better way to frame that problem. While there are no hard and fast pairings, some do fit better with others, and we enjoyed referring to the books (and even our own experiences) for evidence and examples.

I then glued these down onto large sheets of butcher paper (each color is 24" across, so 4 ft. wide altogether!), and hung it front and center in our classroom, so it's the first thing you see as you come in the door.

Tip: You could also copy these responses on green and red paper and use white butcher or chart paper to display them.

If you're interested in these slips, they are available as a freebie on Google Docs HERE. I also recommend checking out the links below and I hope you enjoy this activity with your students!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creating Easy Number Magnets

A common question I'm asked is how to make the number magnets I use in my Classroom Jobs post HERE. I number my students for so many reasons throughout the year (read more HERE) and this is such a space-saver on my job board! I originally bought these magnets on Etsy, but this year presented a unique challenge....

I was faced with a dilemma as my class size grew and I realized I didn't have enough number magnets to support all of the kids in my class. A trip to Hobby Lobby in desperation actually yielded a great alternative that I really love!

The supplies are easy to come by and there are a lot of alternatives to really make these your own!

Supplies List

1. 1" Number Stickers: You can purchase these (if you could find them, I had trouble) or you can make your own if you have a Cameo (which I did). You could use regular number stickers or even a Sharpie or paint pen to write your own! This is the part that you can make as simple or creative as you'd like! In fact, you could even glue in student pictures if you don't use student numbers.... so many possibilities!

2. E6000: If you haven't used this glue, it's *intense* but holds everything, which is important since you'll need a strong bond with these materials

3. Flattened Bottlecaps: These are in the craft embellishment aisle and come as actual bottlecaps or flattened. I recommend the flattened and they come in white and black, although you could always spray paint them to match any decor!

4. Heavy-Duty Magnets: There were 50 in a pack and are amazingly strong! They will need to stay put but also move a lot all year, so for $8 (plus a 40% off coupon), these were well-worth the money!

5. Resin Covers: I thought I would need these, but they didn't stick as well as I would have liked, so I returned them. You may need them to protect your numbers from heavy use, but they weren't necessary for my needs.


I don't even have any pictures of the assembly since it went so quickly! Magnets glued to one side and numbers stuck to the other. I let the glue dry overnight and they were good to go!

Final Product

I am thrilled with how these turned out, especially since they were so easy to make! They are clear, strong, and durable, so I couldn't ask for much more.

I hope this helped if you use my Chevron Classroom Jobs or if you number your students in your class for any reason.

Have a great week and happy crafting!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Etsy Store Launch: Teacher-Specific Lesson Planner Stickers

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have seen a "Coming Soon" teaser of my newest project that I am *beyond* excited to bring to you:

I will be launching my brand new Etsy Store and bringing you Teacher-Specific Lesson Planner Stickers!

These are meant to go into *any* planner, although I have color-coordinated them with my favorite, Erin Condren Teacher Planner, to help you streamline and organize your year in a fun, meaningful, and visually-appealing way!

Each sheet contains 130 stickers-- 10 gray and then 12 rows that match the Erin Condren Teacher Planner Monthly layouts. You can use these to coordinate or not, they are beautiful colors no matter how you choose to incorporate them!

Each round sticker is 1/2" in diameter and is printed over the cut marks, ensuring your stickers are full of color all around. I use high-quality matte sticker paper and ink, so you can rest assured they will not smudge or smear. Plus, you can write overtop with a pen or Sharpie!

There are currently around fifty designs to choose, with even more coming out throughout the year. I also have weekly numbers and single-color sheets as well!

To find out more, I've made a video below that includes a monthly layout as well as how I plan my weekly layouts using these. You'll see I layer the stickers with the ones included with the Erin Condren Teacher Planner and they turn out great!

Because these are only 1/2" in size, they only take up two lines in the lesson planner pages, so you can leave space for notes or additional details.

Take a look at the video below and mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 11th at 5pm EST. I will be launching my store then!

Because the store is just made up of me, I may need to close it from time to time to get caught up on orders. Thank you for your understanding and I can't wait for you to get these in your hands and into your planners!

For more information on my love of Erin Condren Teacher Planners, click HERE.

For a $10 off your first Erin Condren order coupon, sign up HERE.

Let me know any questions or requests you have below! I can't wait to hear what your favorite icons are! Happy organizing!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Back to School Survival Tip: Get Them Moving from Day One

It's Back to School time! Nerves and energy are high and the to-do list seems endless. There is always so much to do the first week of school that it often seems like you'll never get to it all! One of the best survivor tips I can offer you this week is to incorporate movement intentionally whenever and wherever you can. When you make this a priority from Day One, you can ensure that your sanity will be saved and your kids will be engaged from the get-go.

Here are five ways you can incorporate movement and Brain Breaks into your Back to School to-do list.

Tip #1:

One of the most important things to do at the beginning of the year is to set up rules and routines in your classroom. While we all know the importance of having your class help create the rules, incorporating movement will help channel your students' energy and encourage buy-in even more!

When you create rules, have your kids come up with gestures to accompany these rules. Practice them together and ensure that kids know not only the rule, but the gesture as well. You can even have them practice the rule gestures only, without words. For more on class rules and gestures, you can see some of my posts HERE.

Another way to channel energy during this back-to-school time is to create a Class Cheer and a Sign of Silence. These can be any movement, but should be class-developed and practiced regularly throughout the day. Cheers can be as simple as a fist pump and "Oh yeah!" or get even more complex, as mentioned HERE. A Sign of Silence could be a hand making a zero and held in the air to signal quiet, or even something a bit louder like Ready, Set, Learn (read more HERE). Anything that will pair both movement with a verbal cue will help get every student on board during these important times.

Tip #2:

We all have fun ways to get to know our students at the beginning of the year, but including movement can be a very engaging way to encourage even more smiles and laughs during this time.

One of my most favorite activities is similar to Four Corners, although I will use compass directions (mentioned HERE) to sneak in some geography skills. I will call out a variety of choices and have kids run to different walls that coincide with their choices. Some of my questions include:

  • Favorite subject
  • Favorite specials
  • How you get to school
  • Teacher last year
  • Favorite sport/hobby
  • Favorite recess activity
  • ...and more!
I love throwing in these questions throughout the first few days as I get to know the kids and they get to know each other a bit more.

Tip #3:

As they complete the activity above, they begin to see some fellow classmates with similar interests and likes as themselves. I try to have kids partner up with as much variety as possible at the beginning of the year, so Find a Friend is a great way to do that! Before an activity, I will announce they will need to Find a Friend who.... and they will need to find a new partner each time. Some choices include someone with same/different:

  • hair color
  • eye color
  • shirt color
  • class as last year
  • number of siblings
  • birth month
  • ... and more!

If kids can't find a partner who has the same/different criteria, they need to find a way they are similar or different and be able to tell me what that is... I actually love it when this happens, as they usually find some wonderful connection that we often use the next time I call out to Find a Friend!

Tip #4:

We spend so much time setting up our classrooms, but often forget that kids join us and have no clue where to find the dictionaries, the class supplies, or the tissues! One of the best ways to solve this problem is a Classroom Scavenger Hunt!

I will use the compass direction signs for this activity as well, and create a simple checklist of all of the necessities in our class. I share this with them before we begin and they grab a clipboard and walk around the room looking for each item. When they find it, they record their answer using the compass direction of the wall it is found along. Of course, working with a partner is encouraged and helping each other is great!

Using Scavenger Hunts is also a great way for kids to get to know each other and the school as a whole. You can use a similar checklist-style or create something more fancy, but encouraging getting up and moving around will help them to get their wiggles out and discover these important places and spaces themselves.

Tip #5:

Something so important to remember during these first few weeks of school what a huge change it is for our kids to come back to the school environment after the summer. In all of the hullaballoo of our to-do lists and the hustle to get things launched, it is essential to incorporate some calming breaks for our students throughout the day.

Controlling the breath is a simple and no-impact break that will help everybody. I love throwing in some math when we breathe. For example, counting by 2/5/10s and encouraging an exhale that is twice as long as the inhale. You can also have kids put their hands on their bellies to feel it expanding as they inhale and contracting as they exhale. During this time, have kids practice breathing in through their nose and out through their mouths for even more calming effects.

Another easy break is having students close their eyes and rub their ear lobes with opposite hands. The cross-lateral movement is subtle, but important, and this can be done at their desks, in the meeting area, or even in line before you leave the classroom.

No matter how you choose to do it, incorporating movement from Day One will help establish even more class buy-in to routines and procedures and reduce many of the behavior management issues that can arise during these first few weeks. When you include movement and Brain Breaks from the beginning, you make them a part of your classroom culture and establish them as a "normal" part of your day. What a wonderful gift to give to yourself and your students from the very beginning!

Brain Break Resources

If you are a fan of these ideas and looking for more to last you throughout the rest of the school year, be sure to check out all of my Brain Break resources HERE on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are resources for each major holiday, Word Work & Spelling, general classroom use, and more!
These Brain Breaks are also available in a variety of formats: circles on popsicle sticks, posters, and PowerPoint slides that you can incorporate into your presentations and use on your projector! Each set comes with the full description of how to complete each break, so you can rest assured that you, your students, a substitute, or even your admin. can call a Brain Break at any time and know what to do.

Find all Brain Break activities HERE on TpT and have fun with your students all year long!

Back to School Survival Guide

I am excited to be a part of an incredible group of bloggers who are sharing even more amazing Back to School Survival Tips!

Keep reading by clicking the links below and you'll find more helpful hints and giveaways!

Have a great Back to School season!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Erin Condren Teacher Planner {Part 2: Review}

If you haven't had the chance to watch me unbox this year's Erin Condren Teacher Planner, be sure you get started HERE. This video will help explain some of the pieces and parts that are a part of my planner bundle!

I am so excited to be walking through the 2015 Erin Condren Teacher Planner with you, sharing some of my favorite tips and tricks, and showing you some tweaks to personalize it even more!

Walk-Through Video

Here's a video to get you started. It walks through each of the sections more in-depth and includes how I adjust certain parts:

Inspiration & Parent Contact Freebie

I hope these headers can help you rethink the sections of your planner you may not use as much! Here is a close-up of the before and afters of each of the pages:

Ooops! The "Before" pic was taken after I had covered up the months with the stickers. Sorry about that!
You can grab the freebie containing both of these files HERE on Google Docs.

Using Stickers & Pens

There will be *tons* more posts about these great stickers and pens as the school year approaches and plans get filled in. Here are some of my initial ideas, though. If you're interested in how I number my students, click HERE. Below is a sampling of their pens in my Life Planner :)

Subject Headers, Washi Tape & Notes Pages

I mentioned the subject headers, washi tape, and more from last year's planner tips. Because those haven't changed, be sure to head to the original post HERE to see them in action and to pick up your feeebies!

Look Book, Sales & Coupons

For an even more in-depth look at the full line of school products from Erin Condren, be sure to view the Look Book HERE.

I'm excited to let you know that there is currently a 25% off sale for these Teacher Planners! Use the code TEACH25 until July 19th!

Would you also like $10 off your first order? For a coupon, be sure to sign up through my affiliate link HERE:

I'll be back throughout the year as more things begin to take shape. Keep you eyes on my Instagram account for updates as I fill in the blanks. Have fun with these freebies and I can't wait to see how you make this planner your own!

Disclaimer: gave me this planner to review, but all opinions are my own. I only promote what I use and love!