Thursday, May 20, 2021

Jumping on the Desk Pet Bandwagon... Here' s Why!

Honestly, I'd love to know your thoughts.  But, sit back and take a read first.

Thanks to Covid-19, I have spent the school year doing fully remote instruction with my 1st graders.  I have learned A LOT.  Like a LOT LOT.  One of the things that has been really eye-opening to me is how my "traditional" classroom management system just can't continue.

You know... points on the screen for following basic school norms that we have to follow anyway.  There's nothing inherently wrong with that system, but remote teaching has really shown me how THAT isn't what matters for maintaining a safe, loving, and productive classroom.  So, now that I've been "in" their homes for a year, I can't just go back and do business as usual.  I've learned too many lessons abou thow I can truly give up control of certain things and students will still achieve!

So, I am making a shift.

Gone are the days of publicly giving and taking away points, clipping up and down, and visible displays showing who's naughty and who's nice.  At least for me anyway.  Instead, let's focus on responsibility.  Let's make character building, kindness, and hard work the center of what we do.  Tie it in with "Quote of the Week", and it's a character-building match in paradise!

So, THAT is why I will be doing something different.  And, that is DESK PETS!  Students will get one to start and can earn dollars to enhance the living space of their critter.  My hope is that having a desk pet to care for will increase empathy.  It will make the classroom not about who is "on pink" or who has the most points.  And, more importantly, takes away the who's on red and who had the least points!  It will give us something to rally around together as our pets interact with friends and will be a point of pride for students too.  Not to mention all the ways it can impact academics through writing projects, having a pet to read to, endless possibilities!

I've been working away for days on how this is going to look and work in my classroom, as well as making something special for TpT too!

Do you use Desk Pets?  Do you have tips?  What about re-vamping your behavior management system?  And, why do we call it that... let's teach students to manage their own behavior by giving them something to be proud of!

I'm excited so start... so stay tuned for updates!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Classroom Games Virtually (An Easy How-to!)

I LOVE playing games in the classroom.  We play games every week in my classroom and I have had to find a way to do that virtually, as we've been remote teaching since spring 2020 (thanks, Covid).

Google Slides is my best friend for playing games with my kids virtually.

Here's what you do.

1- save the gameboard that you want to use as an image.  I am using the editable board template file that is available on TpT.  Everything opens in Google Slides and you can easily type in the words you want to use.  To save the file as an image, click "file", "download", "PNG image".

Click to check it out!  There's a link to a FREEBIE in the product listing.

2- make a new Google Slide file by typing

3- add the image that you saved as the background.  This makes it so kids can't accidentally move it!  (Click "background" and choose the file that you saved.")

4- add circles or other clipart for your counters.

5- add a video clip for dice.  I love this one.  Click to roll, click to stop.

6- change the permissions so everyone has access, share the link your kiddos in the chat if you want them to be able to interact (or just share your screen and interact for them if that works better!), and BOOM!  I also make multiple slides and tell the kids which one they are to play on. 

I teach 1st grade and they CAN DO THIS!

Here is another one we played this week.  So easy and SO fun!

I hope that helps you add some partner play to your classroom!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Free Groundhog Day Digital Activities!

That's right!  FREE FREE FREE!

I'm still in the throws of remote teaching.  I haven't taught a child in my classroom since March 12, 2020.  I still get to see 22 friendly faces every day, but it isn't the same.  

Remote teaching has helped me re-think a lot of things about what I'll do in my classroom when we return, but that's another blog post.

For today, I want to share a FREE digital slide deck for Groundhog Day.  Making learning interactive while trying to cram lessons into a 70-minute time frame is tough.  I walk away some days feeling like I did a lot of "talking at them".  I know I'm animated enough.  I know I work to make my visuals "fun" enough.  But, I also want to make sure my kiddos get to move, learn, and interact too!

Making room for fun has never been more important in education.  Kids miss school too.  They miss laughing with friends.  They miss class celebrations.  And, remote holiday parties... they are TOUGH!

So, I have a fun, interactive slide deck for Groundhog Day that you can share with your kiddos!  If you use PearDeck, it's all set up for you to use that way!  (If you haven't downloaded the PearDeck extension for Google Slides, do it!!!)  Otherwise, you can use the 2nd file in the download to make interactive in your own way.

I hop you and your students will enjoy this fun activity next Tuesday!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Free Predicting Escape Room for Google Classroom!

It's been a while!  I had been doing so well keeping up... and then COVID happened and, even though I found myself at home like most of you, I just couldn't commit to blogging.

The spring was a whirlwind of trying to create engaging ways to reach my 2nd grade kiddos through distance learning.  We Zoomed three times a week for 30 minute lessons and I fell in love with Google Classroom to house assignments and activities.

One thing my students enjoyed doing was participating in digital escape rooms!  I made some with random topics for them (cotton candy, rainforests, jelly fish, storms) and they had so much fun! 

Knowing that there is a likelihood of returning to distance learning for the upcoming year, I have become absolutely obsessed with this fun way to engage my kiddos in learning!  I have created escape rooms for grammar skills and reading comprehension, with a math list a mile long to start working on next!

I've decided to share a "Making Predictions" escape room for you!  Simply click the link to head to TpT to snag it!  It is specifically designed for Google Slides, so it will save to your Google Drive and you'll access it from there.  I'd love to know what you think after you check it out too!

I hope you'll check it out!

Can you think of any topics that I should add to my "to do list" for escape rooms?  They are so much fun to make!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

An Exciting Announcement!

I am so excited to share with you that...

I have opened an ETSY SHOP!!!!!!

I got a Cricut over the summer and have slowly filled my house with creations... now that I'm almost out of wall space but WAY not ready to stop creating, I decided to branch out and give Etsy a whirl.  I'm making bows, earrings, and signs for home and school.  Several of the signs can be personalized too!

I hope you'll come and check me out over there, favorite my shop and, if you see anything you like, take advantage of this coupon code... I'm offering blog friends 20% off with code BLOG20 during the first two weeks my shop is open!

Here's a sneak peek at just a few of the items you can find over there...

Do you have a side hustle for crafts?  I'd love to see what you're making!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Student Christmas Ornaments {I'm OBSESSED!}

I am obsessed with the student ornaments I am giving my kiddos this year...

Take a look- I made this one for my little nephew to show you the finished product!

I bought the round, flat-ish ornaments (similar to these on Amazon) at Michael's and used my Cricut to cut each students' name with the year... and, of course, a heart!  I placed this on each ornament.

I have tons of small pom-poms and I'm going to let my students choose about 20 to put inside of their ornaments, which I think they will absolutely LOVE!

Did you see my post over the weekend with my favorite easy parent gift ornaments?  Click the link below to find out more!

I've been out sick the last two days, so I'm looking forward to heading back in to see my cherubs tomorrow!  Hope all are hanging in there on these last few weeks until the holidays!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Easiest, Cutest Student Made Ornaments!

You read that right... you have stumbled upon the easiest and CUTEST student made ornaments!

These are so simple.  No cutting, no painting, no days to dry, no gobs of money to spend... in fact, you only need five items to make these and I guarantee that you have FOUR of them in your classroom right now.

You need:

*popsicle sticks
*permanent markers
*pipe cleaners

Those are the four things you already have.

The only things you need to buy are holiday cupcake wrappers.


Students take 3-4 cupcake wrappers.  My kiddos used three big ones and one little one.

Flatten them.

Rub glue on the back of each one, fold in half, rub glue on the half, and fold over again.

Then, arrange on top of each other like a tree.

Teacher adds a stick on the back with hot glue, students write their name and the year, punch a hole in the top, and twist on a pipe cleaner!  I got mine at the Dollar Tree!

I loved seeing my students' faces light up when they saw the finished product... the best part... it only took 30 minutes to do this entire project with my class of 26 second graders!

Of course, if you want a more ambitious project, you can check out what we'll be doing this coming week.  We're making another ornament using pre-cut wood slices.  I got these from Amazon for around $18.00 for 30 of them.   (Click either pic to check them out on Amazon- affiliate link!)

We'll be starting these in the upcoming week.  Here's the sample I made... I just painted three of my fingers white, pressed on the wood slice, and decorated with Sharpies when the paint was dry!  I know my kiddos will LOVE making these for their families and they'll have a pair of ornaments to take home for the holidays!

That's it!  Two cute, easy ornaments that are perfect for my kiddos and yours this holiday!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

My FAVORITE First Week Tradition

I'm recycling an old picture from my first year teaching 3rd grade... which was in 2012!, to show you one of my favorite first week project traditions...

During the first day of school I always have my students do this:

1.)  I print each students' name in a bubble font.
2.)  They color their names, cut them out, and glue them on construction paper... which they then cut aroud.
3.)  I laminate them and hang them up so they are there on the 2nd day (usually!).
4.)  They stay there all year long!

I love having this outside of our classroom!  It's an easy way to showcase your classroom family!

I go back on Tuesday and am so excited!  Enjoy the long weekend and, those of you heading back for the first day on Tuesday with me... happy last weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sharing About Summer {A Back to School Must Read}

I remember back to school shopping as a kid.  An entire day out with my mom and my sister, knowing we'd be going tout to lunch, trying on outfits, new shoes, a new backpack and a pencil box full of supplies.

I would organize and re-organize that pencil box each night in the days leading up to the first day of school, making sure that the crayons, scissors, glue, and pencils fit just right.  Putting it into my backpack with the folders, notebooks, and ruler... getting everything perfect so I'd be ready for school.

This is a fond memory for me, what can I say, I enjoy organizing stuff!  But, sometimes I will see something so small and realize how fortunate I am for the things I have in my life.

Once, for example, years ago when I taught third grade, we were talking about our hopes and dreams for our futures.  Lots of my students wrote about career goals or experiences they wanted to have.

One of my little girls wrote that her dream was to eat at Red Lobster.  She had never been there, you see, and to her, this was the height of fine dining and the biggest thing atop her 9-year-old bucket list.

I can go to Red Lobster on any random Tuesday, but this little girl, she had only ever left our little rural community a handful of times in her life so to go to the "big city" 30 minutes away and to even think about eating at Red Lobster, well, that was a big deal.

It's things like this that make me go, "Wow."  I had a good childhood.  Two parents who loved me, a sister to play with, dogs, trips, family memories.  And I'm so thankful for those good times! 

But, this leads me to summer vacation.

We're all getting ready to go back to school.

The bulletin boards are hung.  The name tags are ready.  Books are organized, copies are made, and soon, kids will be heading back to school!

Some of them haven't gone on trips, made memories with their parents, or even known where their dinner was going to come from that night.  Some have had to entertain themselves all day, walk to school where, thankfully, there's a free breakfast and lunch program running each day.  Some are coming in with clothing from last year because they didn't get to do that big "back to school shopping trip" that I always so looked forward to as a kid.

They didn't get new supplies.  They didn't get new shoes.  They don't have a backpack.

And, on the first day, when it's time to do that project where everyone writes and shares about their summer... they don't have those stories to tell about the family trip to the beach, the bonfire on the 4th of July, going shopping... even eating at Red Lobster.

When thinking about inclusivity in our classrooms, making everyone feel valued and loved... how can we re-frame that traditional "tell about your summer" so that those kids who don't have stories to tell can still feel valued and included?

This is just my two cents, but I hope that it will give our teaching community something to think about as it's almost time for that bell to ring!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Because Who Doesn't Love a Sticker Book?!

Where my 80s babies at?  Collecting those Lisa Frank and Mrs. Grossman stickers... lovingly placing them in our sticker books and sitting back to enjoy that collection!

Who doesn't love a sticker book?!

That's why my students will be collecting stickers this year and I KNOW they are going to love it!

Last year, I tied my individual student behavior system (Class Dojo) to a class store and students could cash in their points at the end of each week.  Sometimes they would save them, not spend them all, or just take a looooong time deciding what they wanted from the store.  Long story short, it became a lot for me to manage and took up too much time to have them shop.  So, it started happening every other week... and then only monthly.

This year, I'm going to give a sticker to students who earn 5 or more Dojo points in a day and, when they have five stickers, they can choose something from the prize box.

Easy peasy.

I posted it on TpT in a fully editable format so you can set your own goals and use it for students who master math facts, behavior goals, any thing you can think of!  Or tie it to your behavior system you already have in place like I did!

Check it out!
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