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!


211 comments

  1. I am very excited to start a new year in 3rd grade trying out WBT. I've learned a lot from your blog, and I am a believer in allowing kids to move and talk as they learn.

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  2. I definitely think the brain break posters would be great to hang in my class this year. It would be a good idea for the kids to be able to see them on the wall.

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  3. Love the Reading Response Menus!

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  4. For brain breaks, I use go noodle. It definitely gets the kids up and moving. I love following your blog where I'm able to get many different ideas and resources. Teach on!!!

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  5. Love Go Noodle to give them break throughout the day! I will also OVER plan the first few days until we can get into a routine and I know what they can and cannot do.

    Christina Marie
    Apples, Books, and Crayons
    applesbooksandcrayons@gmail.com

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  6. I love using brain breaks. We use many different avenues for brain breaks.

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  7. I really love all of your products. (So many on my wish list!) I would say the brain breaks and morning meeting pack are what I am looking forward to using.

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  8. I love so many of your products. The products I'm wanting to use this year are the writing prompts and morning meeting pack.

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  9. I love the different ideas you have about back-to-school activities that use movement. I may have to try several of those on our first half day back! I also love the calming ideas. I have tried brain breaks in the past but felt like they amped up some of my kids instead. I may have to try a combination or pairing them together. Thanks for the ideas!

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  10. I am very interested in brain breaks! My afternoon schedule is long 3 and 1/2 hours straight teaching!! These will help keep them motivated!!!

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  11. I like your brain breaks products! I love using Brain Breaks. Currently I use Go Noodle 99% of the time, but I'd like to have some on task cards or something that I could quickly pull out when I don't have time to go to the go noodle site, log in, find a video, etc.

    ~ Claire

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  12. I like Word Work Centers: Back to School. I think this activity would be a great ice breaker and an intro into how we would do word work throughout the rest of the year. chief9937@Yahoo.com

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  13. Great reminders for beginning the new year.

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  14. After the group that I had last year, I'm thinking that those Brain Breaks may be a life saver! I also love the Reading Response Menus...decisions, decisions...lol

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  15. The Math Rotations Sins would help me set up my centers!

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  16. Brain breaks would be great for my kinders!

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  17. I like your ideas for brain breaks!

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  18. I enjoy your brain break ideas, I've never used the lateral earlobe one, I'll be sure to try it!

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  19. I have your brain breaks, and they are fabulous. I also use your class job cards.

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  20. I definitely want to incorporate more brain breaks this year.

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  21. I think your Back to School Writing prompts will help.

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  22. I absolutely love your blog. I've been teaching 3rd grade for two years after moving from 5th and it has been a lifesaver! Thank you!

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  23. The Morning Meeting looks like a great way to start the year!

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  24. I love your reading response menus!

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  25. love, love, love your brain breaks for the different times of the year!

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  26. Love the Brain Breaks and how you incorporate math into them! Perfect as I implement WBT this year!

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  27. I love all of your stuff! I utilize math rotations in my classroom so I would love to have all of your math centers!!

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  28. I am teaching reading, writing, and math for the first time this coming year in a "workshop" format ( thanks to a new principal who sees its merit!), and your tips and resources about running workshops are so helpful to spur on my thinking. Thank you for sharing!

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  29. I use your class jobs and morning meeting pack, and LOVE them. Your products are wonderful.

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  30. The Reading Response Menus would be a fantastic addition to keeping my students accountable for their reading!

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  31. Love the idea of a class cheer & sign of silence that the class helps come up with. Thanks!

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  32. I love your brain break files as well as our packet that helps with community meetings! Thanks!

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  33. I think your Brain Breaks will be a big help this year. I have been to a conference this summer about doing more movement in the classroom, and I think these will be a HUGE help in the idea department. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas!!

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  34. I already own SO much of your stuff! :) I have your Back to School Word Work on my wish list because I think that it would be a great way to launch Word Work at the beginning of the year.

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  35. I love your word work centers! Not only will they work in nicely with my Daily 5 in the beginning of the year, but throughout the entire year!

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  37. I like your ideas about brain breaks.

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  38. Love the back to school word work centers!


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  39. I tried to correct spelling above and somehow LOST the post! SO,here we go again! I really like the Non-Fiction Text Features resource, and would use it to improve my students use and reading of informational text.These are great TIPS for the beginning of a new year! I and my classes personally LOVE the Brain Breaks! They have become an incentive...first desk cleared chooses, etc!

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  40. I love that you encourage both movement as well as breathing...both are so important! Your materials are fabulous.

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  41. I love your Writing Prompts for Back to School - clever ideas!

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  42. your back to school writing prompts :)

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  43. One of my goals is to do more brain breaks this year! Thanks for a great post!

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  44. Can't wait to use your morning meeting pack!

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  45. I like the word work with sign language and place value. How fun!!!

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  46. I'm excited to use your Reading Response Menus this year!

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  47. I am excited to have my own classroom this year and be able to use your brain breaks!

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  48. I really want to try your reading response menus this year!

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  49. I enjoy your blog so much!! Love your ideas!

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  50. I am revamping my word work station a little this year, so I was drawn to your products around that. I especially like "How much is your word worth".

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  51. I love the scavenger hunt idea! Thanks!

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  52. I think the Back to School Writing Prompts would be an awesome addition to my first few weeks.

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  53. I love the many different and fun brain breaks! I am excited to include them this year!

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  54. I love brain breaks and I am always looking for new ones. I think I would also use the word work centers.

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  55. definitely, brain breaks for the classroom.
    THANKS

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  56. I LOVE brain breaks and am moving from Kinder to Fourth Grade so yours would be much more helpful for the upper grades!

    Stephanie Ann
    I feel inadequate to share my ideas after all these blogs wonderful ideas! I make labels for every folder/spiral/composition notebook and then I give each student a full label sheet with their names yet set the expectation about where it's appropriate to put the extra labels that are not on their binders/spiral/notebooks/etc... I learned that the hard way my first few years and there I was with Goo Be Gone trying to unstick these labels everywhere :)

    Stephanie Ann
    Sparkling in Fourth Grade

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  57. I love brain breaks and learned some quick new ones this summer!

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  58. I love the idea of using compass directions for playing games.

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  59. I think your Brain Breaks Posters would be super helpful in the classroom this year. I'm a new teacher and I don't have anything like this. I think the kids would love it!

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  60. I think the MOST useful would be your brain breaks and your morning meeting pack. I would love to purchase them both with this gift card!! :) Have been wanting them both for awhile now and look forward to incorporating them this year!

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  61. Hi Have been looking at implementing Brain Breaks this year:) After viewing your set...it would be a great way to start out! Thanks for the chance!

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  62. This will be my first year in 2nd grade after 14 years in 2nd grade. Your Back-to-School Writing Prompts are what I am most interested in. They will help get my writing program off to a solid start! I used your Morning Meeting Packet and Brain Breaks last year--LOVED THEM!

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  63. I would love your Guided Reading Level Book & Bin Labels: Chevron

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  64. I use your brain breaks already with my 5's. This year I teach a combined 4/5 class and will look to use these brain breaks with them too!

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  65. Thanks! This was great advice on getting kids up and moving! I also really like your math stations for each season. Great idea!

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  66. Why did I not find your blog before now!!! I LOVE so much of it! I am going to not try to overkill and do too much this year, but I am definitely trying WBT and your reading groups.

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  67. I would love to do more brain breaks!!

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  68. I plan to have classroom jobs next year, so I think your Class Jobs: Chevron would really help me organize this. It's so cute!

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  69. I am going to use brain breaks more often in my classroom. I think it is a great way to get the kids up and moving in between what we are doing in class. :)

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  70. I am moving from first to third this year and your blog has been so helpful! :)

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  71. Brain Breaks for sure! I love them. I am always looking for some new ideas.

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  72. I love your word work centers since I use daily five in my classroom - nice to have everything there. I am also going to use your fidget bin idea and have pool noodles and dryer balls already. I shared this with a few other teachers in my school. Thanks!

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  73. I love the brain breaks, but after reading some of these posts I need to check out your daily five centers. I am looking to start daily 5 this year and looking for resources! Awesome!

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  74. Thank you for giving me so many great ideas to use in my classroom since this will be my first year in Third Grade. I will definitely be using Brain Breaks in my classroom!

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  75. Multiplication Monsters because this is an area all our students need help with in 4th grade. I use GoNoodle for brain breaks.

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  76. I could definitely use more Morning Meeting help (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Morning-Meeting-253589)

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  77. I think your Brain Break cards would be very helpful because it is something that I want to incorporate in my classroom but seem to forget about during the day.

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  78. Are you going to have anything new before school starts?! I love so much of what you do! Especially the writing activities!

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  79. I would benefit from any of your awesome math centers. I teach 4th grade, but am struggling to start using math centers in my classroom! I could use a lot of help!

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  80. Those brain breaks in your store would for SURE come in handy this year! Thanks for the great tips!

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  81. I teach high schools but the back to school writing prompts work for all grades. Those are definitely helpful!

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  82. Oh my goodness, you have so many wonderful products! I can never get enough brain breaks, but I'd have to say the item that really has my attention is The Morning Meeting set!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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  83. oooo-The 4th grade reading response menus!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

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  84. I loved your tip to "take a break from the action". You are so right- we step on that treadmill on day 1 and don't stop running through all the "to dos" of the day.

    I will definitely need to remember that- especially since I am moving down to third grade this September (from 5th).

    Thanks!
    Damien

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  85. I can't wait to use the morning meeting activities on your TPT!

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  86. The Reading Response menus across the year would definitely be a help in my classroom!

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  87. I'd love to have your Morning Meeting pack!

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  88. Thanks for the tips! As an first year teacher I certainly can use all the help I can get being organized.

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  89. Any of the non-fiction materials!

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  90. I downloaded your 3D Shape Freebie and it is so perfect for my class. I love it!

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  91. I would love the QR Critters Back to School Edition. I own a lot of your goodies already ;)

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  92. I'm moving to 3rd grade this year. As soon as I found out, I immediately came here for ideas!! Thank you for that!

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  93. I'm moving to 3rd grade this year. As soon as I found out, I immediately came here for ideas!! Thank you for that!

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  94. Brain breaks and getting the kids moving is so important throughout the day. Great tips!

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  95. I love brain breaks to get my students moving!

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  96. Brain breaks would be so helpful!!!!

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  97. I love the idea of the Reading Menus!

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  98. Word work and reading responses

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  99. Word work and reading responses

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  100. The brain breaks would be an awesome way to keep the students engaged and learning!

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  101. Excellent post. Thanks for these awesome ideas!

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  102. Love your ideas and your blog! Thank you!!!

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  103. Love your ideas and your blog! Thank you!!!

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  104. I do love your QR critters!!

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  105. I always love new brain break ideas! Your blog is one of my new favorites... Also, using your code for Erin Condren!!!

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  106. Brain Breaks seems really great!

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  107. QR Critters BUNDLE {Back to School} My students in years past have loved QR codes!
    Emily

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  108. Your reading response menus would be a huge help with back to school!

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  109. I have learned so much from your blog! We are starting the Daily 5 and you blogs and Tpt products have been a lifesaver!!!
    Rebecca Sweeney
    rebeccasweeney81@yahoo.com

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  110. Brain breaks are a definite must...in my cart!

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  111. I love your math vocabulary cards!

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  112. I love the "Did You Know" products!

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  113. I teach Kindergarten so a lot of what you create for your store is a little more advanced than I can use with my students. However, the tips you have are universal and I will definitely use them this year. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  114. I'm introducing Procedures for the first time this year, so your information on procedures was very helpful - thanks!

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  115. I have both your Nonfiction Text Features and Reading Response menus and love them both. They will definitely come in handy as I start the new year off! Thanks for sharing your Blog and your great ideas!

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  116. Vocabulary cards are a must! :)

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  117. Your writing prompts are gonna be a must have of mine this year. I just read through your writing posts and you have so many good ideas. I was just talking to my co-teacher about trying writing groups this year. You have so many great ideas all around. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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  118. Your brain break resources would be most helpful.

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  119. I love the academic testing vocabulary posters!! Could really see them helping my kiddos in 5th grade!!

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  120. Totally love your movement based activities! I, too, use movement in any and every situation I can in the classroom to boost memory retention and connection! Thanks for the great tips!

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  121. The brain breaks look great. I would love to incorporate these into some of our mindfulness and movement times.

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  122. your brain break bundle looks fantastic!

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  123. I love the Four Corners idea. I'm always looking for new First Day activities.

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  124. The brain breaks will be very helpful with back to school!

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  125. I love the reading response menus!

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  126. I love the use of compass directions in the activities. Thanks.

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  127. Brain Breaks would be soooo helpful!

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  128. This will be my first year teaching. I would love to have to have your Brain- Breaks! What a wonderful resource!

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  129. This would be perfect- https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brain-Breaks-229497

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  130. Thank you for your helpful tips.

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  131. I can't wait to get my kids moving with your brain breaks pack!

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  132. Reading Response Menus and How Much is Your Word Worth?
    Such great additions to my classroom!

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  133. This school year I will be student teaching in a Kindergarten classroom. I think that the brain break resources will be the most helpful to me as I begin my teaching journey. This is something I definitely want to implement. On a side note, I am fascinated by Whole Brain Teaching and will be reading more of your posts to learn more about how you have implemented it.

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  134. The brain breaks will be a great addition to my classroom routine! I have them move, but it will be great to have ideas already planned.

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  135. I would love your Nonfiction Text Features we start out teaching nonfiction in our small groups.

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  136. I love your brain breaks and the morning meeting product would also be helpful. I'm a first year teacher and hope to incorporate both!

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  137. I would love your brain breaks bundle!

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  138. I use Go Noodle for brain breaks too!

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  139. Brain breaks are amazing for the older kids at my school because they don't get as many recesses as the younger kids. I'm excited to try out your brain break packs.

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  140. I love, love, love your Brain Breaks!

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  141. What brain friendly hints! I love getting kids moving and engaged in learning and you have some wonderful back-to-school suggestions.

    If I could choose a product from your store, it would be some of your word word centers (like maybe the COMPLETE BUNDLE?) I'm an ESL teacher so my kids always need practice exploring words.

    My Bright Blue House

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  142. Your Nonfiction Text Features: Posters & Scavenger Hunt would be great for BTS!

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  143. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  144. I'd love the brain breaks!

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  145. I really like your School Supply Labels. This would be great to help organize supplies around the room.

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  146. I love your reading response menus!

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  147. I think the https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/QR-Critters-BUNDLE-Back-to-School-1270710 will be most helpful. Great way to evaluate students to determine where everyone is

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  148. I liked the reading menus and the morning message package, but I'll probably start with the back to school word work. It looks like a fun way to start the school year.

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  149. I really like the how much my word is worth. My kids are really low spellers and this will help them practice two things at one time!

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  150. I like your word work bundle! I'd also like to fit brain breaks into my day more often,

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  151. The nonfiction text features would be great for my third graders!

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  152. I love the idea of a silent signal that the class creates. I just heard a talk at the SDE Differentiation Conference about saving our voices and not letting our teacher talk rule the classroom.

    Love it! This morning I heard a Periscope by Schroeder Shenanigans talking raving about your organization skills specifically with Erin Condren planners. Can't wait to explore your blog!

    All the best,
    Laura
    Ms. Pretzel's 2nd Grade Bugs

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  153. Your Brain Break resources are my favorite ways to get my students up and moving! I use them every day. :)

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  154. Gotta have the Brain Breaks in my class! The kids go crazy without them!!
    Love your blog and just started following you!
    Tiffany
    fitandfuninthird.blogspot.com

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  155. Currently I am a teaching assistant and going to school so that I can be the classroom teacher. I love these ideas and can't wait to implement them in my future classroom. Thans for sharing.

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  156. Came to your blog for the EC teacher planner, stayed for all the great ideas! I'm moving to Second this year from Kinder, thanks for all the sharing!

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  157. I love your blog. I'm a first year teacher and could use a ton of your resources. I'm definitely going to use brain breaks! Thanks for all of the great ideas.

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  158. I love your blog!!! I would definitely use the Brain Breaks. Thanks for all the great ideas and resources.

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  159. I would love to use the Brain Breaks.

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  160. I love all your amazing ideas!

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  161. I love the Reading Response Menus! I've added them to my cart! I'm new to 3rd grade this year, so I'm sure I'll be visiting your store often! Thanks for such a great post!

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  162. I like either the writing prompts or the brain breaks. I am new to 3rd writing and need some inspiration to get me going or the brain breaks, which is something I currently do not do and think maybe I should.

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  163. Your brain break resources look amazing!

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  164. you can never have enough brain break options...no matter the grade!

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  165. I'd love to use Word Work: Complete Set {Place Value Trio, Letter Tiles & Word Worth Trio} in my centers.

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  166. Too many things I want...maybe your Reading Response Menus Across the Year !



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  167. So many great resources! I love the Morning Meeting

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  168. Brain Breaks would help a whole lot, especially the first several weeks.

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  169. I definitely want to try to incorporate Brain Breaks!

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  170. I like your Morning Meeting resources. It's something I want to focus on improving this year.

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  171. I would love your nonfiction text features posters and scavenger hunts.

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  172. Thanks for the brain break suggestions. I felt like I used the same thing everyday last year and am excited to have more "teacher approved" resources to pull from!

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  174. I was new to grade three last year and learned so much from reading your blog. I love your "Did you know?--Fun Facts".

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  175. I'm moving to third this year and have learned so much from your blog! I have tons of your TpT items saved in my wishlist waiting for the next sale!

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  176. I'd pick your Reading Response Menus Across the Year {4th Grade CCSS-Aligned}.

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  177. I would definitely LOVE your Reading Response Menus Across the Year {2nd Grade CCSS-Aligned}!!! Wishlisted already :)

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  178. Reading Response Menus would be helpful, or your Brain Breaks. If they're anything like last year's class, they need a break every few minutes! lol

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Thank you so much for your comments! :)
~Stephanie

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