Father's Day Awards - Writing Template and Gift

Father's Day is coming up and if you're still in school right now, you may be starting to think about Father's Day projects that your students can do for their dads. I've been selling a Mother's Day writing activity (it also doubles as a gift!) for years, but I never had anything for Father's Day and a few of our Facebook followers mentioned that they'd love an option for Father's Day too. So here is my new resource: Father's Day Awards. It's part writing project, part gift! 
A win-win!

This cute trophy and gold medal design is something your students' fathers will treasure! First students write about their dads, then they can color and personalize it. 

I realize that not all children have fathers to recognize on Father’s Day, so I’ve included multiple pages that include Grandpa, Uncle, and Step Dad. I’ve also provided blank pages in case there are any other special circumstances to consider.

You can choose to use the trophy page or the gold medal page. I've provided both as fun options. (You could choose to let each student to do one for their dads and one for their grandfathers if you have extra time.)

You can see it in my TPT Store: HERE! 

I hope this is helpful for those of you in year-round school, or those of you who get out later. Good luck as you finish out this school year!

We Appreciate YOU!!! {TPT Gift Card Giveaway!}

Hey teachers! We appreciate you!  

Here's a little peek at what's been going on over here for Teacher Appreciation Week. Read until the end and enter to win some TPT gift cards!!
(This post contains affiliate links.)

I decorated the door for my son's teacher in this cute emoji theme. I gave all the kids a yellow circle cut out and had them decorate it like an emoji. It turned out super cute.

For my son's teacher gift I really wanted to give her something special to know how much I appreciate her and the help, patience, and love she's given my child all year. I filled this basket with things teachers love: 2 teacher tee's (from Jane.com), a Rae Dunn mug, flair pens, bath bomb, Godiva chocolate, and a cute notebook

These little gifts were for all the specialty teachers. I wanted to remember them for teacher appreciation week too! (I was the computer specialty teacher for 3 years and I know that not a lot of people remember specialty teachers on occasions like this.)

Rachelle made these super cute bath bomb gifts to give to all her co-workers. Such a cute idea! Grab the free tags in this post.

Here's a picture of the cute breakfast the PTA did at Rachelle's school. Donuts and bagels - YUM!

TPT wants to celebrate teachers too and they are having a SALE Tuesday and Wednesday. Use code THANKYOU17 to save 28% off of all our products!

Here are some of our favorite end of year resources you might need to help you get through these next few weeks.




Also, if you have changed grade levels or are new to teaching, you will probably want to purchase your copy of our Common Core Checklists! They are a great way to stay organized and on top of the Common Core standards!


We are SUPER excited to be able to give away TWO gift certificates to TeachersPayTeachers. Entering is easy, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below. We'll choose a winner Wednesday afternoon so you'll have time to spend your $$ before the sale ends. 

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Using Fancy Nancy to Teach Fancy Words

In the Language Standard of the Common Core (specifically the vocabulary and acquisition use), our students should be expanding their vocabulary!

  My students this year just love Fancy Nancy and so I thought why not incorporate synonyms into it!  They've been using their fancy words SO much lately. I'm almost sick of hearing the words humungous, spectacular, fantastic, and superb.  :)  Almost.

Of course, we start off reading Fancy Nancy to introduce Fancy Words (and we continue reading different Fancy Nancy books all week).  I even have some princes in there to get the boys engaged. Here are some fun things we did all week to work on our vocabulary acquisition (that's a fancy word for learning big words).

 We read Fancy Nancy and my students help me make an anchor chart with synonyms:

After the book, we did a little craftivity.  We took the words that we learned and made wands with them (of course I called them wizard wands for the boys and princess wands for the boys).  They wrote their favorite fancy word on the star and drew a picture of the meaning of the word.

This is our Fancy Word Wall (also included in the packet).  My students came up with *most* of those fancy words up there!

To make sure my students are applying what they've learned, I challenge them to use fancy words in their journals. And when they come up to conference with me after journal, if I see any fancy words used correctly, they get to circle them with MY "magic marker". SO precious!!!

Check out my Fancy Word Activities pack {here}!

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Next week is teacher appreciation week and I wanted to let some special teachers at my school know that I love them! I bought individually wrapped bath bombs, but you can buy the pack of them, put them in a cupcake liner and wrap in clear wrap. So cute!

This post contains affiliate links:

Download the tag here and some bath bombs here!

For more Teacher Appreciation ideas, click here.

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Top 10 Ways to Be Kind - A Bulletin Board Display

Teaching our students to be kind is an important life lesson and a skill that students need to learn and practice. Character education often times comes after we get our reading, math, and science lessons in, but we need to make it more of a priority if we want to create students who are kind members of the community. 

We have created this fun bulletin board display that you can add to your classroom to help encourage students to treat each other with kindness. Use this at the beginning of the year to set up a classroom community based on kindness or use it later in the year to help emphasize treating each other nicely. Either way, this a great way to increase the kindness levels in your classroom - and it works for any classroom grade!

Option 1: Just use the posters to create a kindness bulletin board in your classroom or hallway. This will help motivate students to be more kind. 

Option 2: Add "Kindness Catchers" and catch students when they show kind behavior and reward them with this little ticket. You can add these to your bulletin to make it an interactive board. 

Option 3: Add the student writing piece. We have included multiple versions so you can choose the template that works best for your students. 

Want to download this bulletin board for FREE? It's an exclusive freebie just for our newsletter subscribers. We'd love to add you to our list and we'll send you info about new blog posts, sales, and more great teaching ideas. Sign up by filling in the box below. 

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Spring Math Tubs

I've got some math tubs ready for next week so that I can pull my guided math groups. Also so I can keep my sanity before a very late spring break. We just finished with our time to the hour and half-hour unit and I want to meet with some groups to re-teach and enrich. I also want to throw some review of ALL THE THINGS because, spiral review. ;)

My kiddos love memory/matching games for place value and this one is from my

I feel like time is so fun to teach! It's awesome to see the kiddos telling you what time lunch starts {only if they raise their hand, of course!}. They are loving this game, "Rock Around the Clock" from my Telling Time Packet:

You play music and the kiddos dance around the classroom, when the music stops, they find a different desk and write any time {whatever time you are working on} they want {digital}. Then, I start the music again {they dance} and when the music stops, they find a different seat and draw the analog clock time to match the digital time. I check them off, they erase their boards, and we play again. :)
The mats are laminated and we use dry-erase markers on them.

This one is also from my Telling Time Packet. Why are kids so obsessed with spinners?  They spin the spinner and make that time on their analog {Judy clock} clock. If you don't have a set of Judy Clocks, you can use the DIY cardstock clock that I provide in the packet.

Here's one of the most popular games that my kiddos loooovvvee to practice time!

Here is a game for teaching/practicing time! I have left the clocks blank so that all grade levels can insert the times that they are working on. In partners, each player takes a turn drawing a card. Then, they write down the digital time on their recording sheet.  Watch out for that fly in that pile! If you pick one, you lose a turn!  The first player to fill up their sheet is the winner!

Click {here} for the game!

P.S. We are working on something exciting - a new What the Teacher Wants newsletter - and we have some FREEBIES we are getting ready to send out to all our subscribers. Sign up here so you can be the first to know when our newsletter is released!

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Making Homework OPTIONAL Is the Way to Go!

Homework. It's a cringe-worthy word. The problem most parents complain of is TOO much homework (which I agree).  And the complaint from most teachers is that it's a lot of prep (I agree) and that much of the work is done by the parents. Students begin to hate homework starting early in their elementary years (yikes).  Here's how we make it work for parents, students AND teachers!

This year my teammates and I made our 1st grade homework OPTIONAL. Yes, you heard it. We don't REQUIRE our students to do homework.  We do ask that they read 20 minutes per day, but there are no math worksheets, no book reports, no reading calendars, no homework folders.
BUT- they do have a chance to do homework if they'd like! Many parents in our community are heavily involved and really would like their children to do homework each night to teach them things like time management, responsibility and to practice the skills we are learning in class. I agree that these things are important, but RESEARCH (John Hattie's research is great to look at) shows that homework does not really help in the success and growth in our students. 

What do I do INSTEAD?
Present homework as a choice.
Each week we have a newsletter that lists our optional homework. For each item the student completes and the parent initials, he/she gets a Homework High-Five (a raffle ticket). If they do 5 parts, they get 5 tickets!  I do not need any other "evidence" other than a parent initial. This keeps the work on my end limited, but students are able to bring in any work they'd like me to see. For instance, a student made an elaborate leprechaun trap last week as a weekly challenge and took a picture to show me! :) The students turn their newsletter note on Friday, regardless of how many tasks they've completed (even if it's zero) because at the bottom the parent signs off that their child did their reading each night...which is the only requirement.  NO READING CALENDARS. :) I do feel the need for at least that much accountability (signing a note)...especially when a majority of my students prefer video games over books. 

Take-Home Reading Folders (20 min. each night) or just reading any book before bed! I want them to LOVE reading and if they prefer their own books to read, they just need to let me know that. 

Spelling Practice (depending on the difficulty, they can earn up to 3 tickets for doing this 3 nights)
Math Website (i-ready for 30 minutes per week and I can easily log in to track progress)
Weekly Challenge (see below)
First Grade Goal (learn address, write birthday, write phone number, etc.)

Stapled to newsletter each week is always the spelling list. For math practice, my students all have accounts on i-ready math (paid subscription from our school) which is a differentiated, computer math program. It teaches the students lessons on their level and assesses them using animated games and activities. Our kids love it. 

Each week there is also one "weekly challenge" and we like to really mix it up with these challenges. They earn a ticket for completing it. Here are some ideas:

*play outside for 20 minutes each night
*check out a book at the public library
*help make dinner
*do the dishes
*listen to a song and make up a dance
*build a leprechaun trap
*play a board game with your family
*read a book in the dark with a flashlight
*read to a sibling or stuffed animal
*write a letter to a friend
*visit a nursing home
*Practice jump roping
*build a snowman
*teach your parents how to do the "Milk Shake"
*draw a map of your house
*with your family, take a walk around the neighborhood and count the stop signs
*Play four corners
*Draw a picture for a neighbor and deliver it (with the help of an adult)
*preform a science experiment from sciencekids.co
*with help from an adult, research online about emperor penguins and write three facts about them

After students bring in their note, a parent volunteer calls them into the hall to fill out their Homework High-Fives. I like my students to sign their own tickets so they can feel excited about it! This motivates the students to do the homework, even though they don't have to, because they want to win a prize. W

I draw 5 names each week. The "extra names" get dumped into a larger tub and I draw one grand-prize winner each month. So, I have a huge tub of all of the tickets they've ever signed. 
There's always a chance to win!

What do my students win if their name is called?  COUPONS!  I love Proud to be Primary's Class Reward Coupons (and so do my students). They are obsessed with picking the coupon that allows them to switch seats and sit by a friend. Ugh. ;)

Everything you need to know about these awesome coupons can be found {here}.

Parents were SHOCKED when we said we have "optional" homework. There were some who jumped for joy and some who just could not believe we would encourage this craziness! We had to get them on board with it. HA! Before we started, we sent home this important note. The parents who "hated" the idea of getting rid of it were still pleased to see they could still make their kids do homework with this optional method.

 What have I noticed since doing this for the first time this year? I have noticed that parents are less stressed, families are more happy, and I have not seen a decrease in academic success! Who even knows who was actually doing that math worksheet I used to send home, right?

If you'd like to see examples of what I send home, click HERE
What are your questions? 
Comment Below. 

What about students who NEVER have help at home and then are never able to earn a ticket?
You can allow those students to take a few minutes of their class time to complete parts of their homework. These might be your students you're already holding interventions for, so why not give them a few minutes and work on their homework as well. 

What if a student does not practice their spelling and does horrible on their test each week?
I just sit down and talk with the parents about the importance of practicing at home at least once or twice. We practice a lot at school. We have a new phonics rule each week and we read books with that phonics rule, read poems and practice reading and writing those words each day in word work. 

How do you hand student who do not have access to a computer for your online math option?
We are lucky enough to have a class set of laptops for out grade-level and so I allow students to do i-ready math as a fast finisher in the morning. Before that, I'd let that student use my laptop when they finish their journal in the morning so that they can get the i-ready signed off. The students all know how to log in to their own i-ready account so it's very independent. 

If you don't do reading calendars, how do you know the students are reading?
Because I do take-home reading folders, I keep track of what books I send them and the dates they return them. If they are reading 20 minutes each night, they should be returning their books about 2 or 3 times a week (depending on their reading level). I also send reminders home if I haven't seen their folder in 1 week. ALSO, a big indicator if they are reading at home is their progress in guided reading groups. :)

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