The Substitute Challenge!

Sometimes when I have to get a substitute in my class, I leave a challenge for my students to complete while he/she is there.  It keeps them motivated and is a constant reminder to follow the expectations. The very first time I'm absent in the school year, I send my students this video to watch right when they come in!

The video isn't mandatory, but it adds an element of excitement! I email the video to the substitute  and leave her a laptop from our laptop cart (when we request for a sub, it gives us an option of contacting them via email), but you could also burn it on a DVD or have another teacher quickly show it for you. I made this video in iMovie, but if you don't have an iPhone or a Mac, you can use the app InShot. It's free and simple!

So, here's the challenge! If the students follow the expectations, the sub can open up an envelope and get a clue out! As the day goes on, the substitute can keep opening up the envelopes. I have my clues spell out iPad, so I only needed 4 envelopes. I feel like in my classroom that was just enough. The last clue is unlocked at the very end of the day!

You'll leave the envelopes hanging on the board so that your students can see them! I leave the substitute direction sheet on my desk with my sub plans so she can fully understand it as well. This freebie comes blank, in case you want to change it up each time you have a sub (different reward).

Click here for this freebie!

Back to School Part 2 {Bulletin Boards}

I have to don't hate me here.... I love bulletin boards.  Do I change them out every month? HECK NO. It's maybe every 3 or 4. ;). But, I do love creating them and sharing them with my students.

Here are some of the back-to-school bulletin boards I've created over the years. You can see the quality gets better over the years. Don't judge my oldies.

Most of these bulletin boards are just made by me putting the letters in PowerPoint (tying one letter per page), printing and cutting them out. Then, I'll find clipart that goes with it and print them off and stick a label with my students' names on it!

First Grade is our Jam

Donut Worry 1st Grade is Sweet!

A Minion Reasons to Love 1st Grade!

Picture Perfect Class


Under 'kid"struction 

"Ant"icipating a Great Year!

A New Twist on a New Year

Back to School Part 1

I wanted to throw it back (to school) and re-post some of my favorite back-to-school ideas!

I have a few random pictures of what I've been doing in my classroom to get ready! I love the energy of my school during back-to-school time! Everyone's excited, but slightly bummed that summer is over.  That feeling goes away once we all start working in our classrooms and prepping for our new students (ok, well that bummed feeling *mostly* goes away).

I LOVE to think of fun ways to welcome my students to my classroom with my back-to-school bulletin board. Check out *some* past bulletin boards HERE.
 This year, I took some inspiration from my husband who LOVES Minions (he's a little kid at heart). We watch Despicable me with our niece and nephews and my husband laughs louder than they do. ;) Sure do love that man!  Anyway, I found a piñata at Walmart that just CALLED MY NAME and then I found these cute Minions on TpT. Off I went to decorate!

 I cut the headers for this board on my Silhouette Cameo (best crafting tool, ever!).
The names on the Minions are just Avery mailing labels. Easy-peasy.


Each year I do a Donation Door for our Back-to-School Night. Parents can come by and grab a sticky note off of our door that says the name of a school supply. They can send in the donated school supplies with their child to school the next day! It's an awesome way to get a variety of supplies for your classroom and not just getting 3,934 boxes of tissues. ;) {You can check out another donation door I've done, here}

I did print on SUPER sticky notes (found at Target) and I used a tutorial from this cute blog.
Arrows are vinyl and made with my Silhouette Cameo with KG Arrows font.


A few years ago I found this CUUUUUTE behavior mangament idea from Growing Kinders.  I've always done Brownie Points as a whole-class incentive, but this year I'm doing Mr. Potato Head.  I'll pull off all of his parts (hehe) and if the students are working quietly, I will add one part at a time until he is all put together.  Once he's all back together, there will be a MYSTERY prize that the whole class will win (lunch with teacher, extra recess, or maybe popcorn party).

With pretty much everything, I got mine on Amazon. Praise all that is holy for Amazon Prime. ;)

End of Year Emoji Fun!

This year it's all about emojis! I can't wait to start this end-of-year memory book with my students. It's got everything you need to end your year with ALL THE FEELS! There are 3 versions (kinder, 1st, 2nd/3rd). 

We've got to have a fun bulletin board to end the year with! This is a interactive writing activity for the end of the year that your students will love...and you'll love how easy it is to create a cute/meaningful bulletin board. 

Each year we have a class awards ceremony. I've made these emoji themed awards (30 different awards)! They come in color and black/white, with an editable option so you can type your students' names and your name (and you only have to type your name once- it will autofill your name to all other pages)!

Math Manipulative Organization and Management

Organizing and managing (passing out) math manipulatives can be a PAIN! It takes extra time during the lesson to get them out, pass them out and then to put them away at the end. I like to save time with this tip that my team at my last school used.

My most used manipulatives are stored in little tupperware boxes that each of my students have inside of their desks!

They keep these boxes right inside of their desks. The tupperware/Gladware boxes are the kind that are "disposable" and found near the Ziploc bags. These boxes have lasted 7 years! Whenever we use a certain manipulative, my students can quickly grab it out and be ready for our lesson. 

Inside of their boxes I put the most used math manipulatives that we have. It took me a few years to accumulate all of the manipulatives that I wanted in their boxes.


If you'd like the number cards, you can click here. (Tip: copy the number cards on various colors of card stock to keep them from mixing up their cards with other students at their table)

America, Presidents, and Symbols

We'll be learning all about Washington, Lincoln and Obama, and President Trump!  This is by far one of my favorite thematic units to teach! We will also learn about 10 of the most famous U.S. Symbols and we'll it all while integrating social studies with reading, writing, and math. There are REAL pictures in this unit, as well as clipart pictures. :)

President's Day and U.S. Symbols Unit

*UPDATED January 20th, 2017 

(Now includes President Trump)
This President's Day and U.S. Symbols unit is a great unit to celebrate America {available in color and black/white}!  
This unit includes:

*President Lincoln Poster

*President Washington Poster
*President Obama Poster 
*President Trump Poster
*Tree Map
*Graphic Organizers
*President Application
*President Picture {___ for President}
*If I Were the President Writing
*Dear President Trump
*U.S. Symbols book {includes 10 U.S. Symbols}
*U.S. Symbols Student Book
*Asking/Telling Literacy Center
*Hot Seat Vocabulary Game
*The Presidential Race {Graphing Math Center}
*Count Them Up! {Money Math Center}
*Class President {Tallying Math Center}
*Abe's Hat {Could be used as a writing center or whole group}
*President Washington Craft and Writing Activity
*President Lincoln Craft and Writing Activity
*President's Day Word Search

There's lots in this unit! So click [here] to check it out! 

* * * * *

Do you teach the upper grades and want to make teaching about President's Day more meaningful?

Try using some of the pages in this American History Graphic Organizer.

There are pages that teach about:
American Symbols
The US Constitution
Branches of Government
Recent Presidents
and MORE!

Read more about it: HERE

Dear Infertile Teacher

Dear Infertile Teacher,

I-N-F-E-R-T-I-L-E adjective
1.   not fertile; unproductive; sterile; barren:

Maybe you felt like your doctor needed to spell it out to you, much like you spell out tricky words for your students. You couldn’t be infertile. That’s not you. You’re meant to be a mom. But, yes. Our doctors told us that we have PCOS or Endometriosis or “Unexplained Infertility” or any other name for it. But those names don’t matter… what we heard was “broken.”

a is for alligator
b is for ball
i is for infertile

Maybe you had plans, too. College, career, marriage and then maybe children. But the years passed and the more time that went on, the more we yearned for children of our own. We’ve got kids, sure. We’ve got 26 first graders who accidentally call us mom on the daily and if we’re really lucky they might even call us grandma. We’ve got students who ask us how many kids we have and without hesitation we say “I’ve got all of you, and right now that feels perfect”. What we really want to say is, “We want kids of our own, but we’re broken.” It seems like our students’ parents are so much younger than we are. They have 4 children. We should have at least 2.  We’ll be the parents that teachers think are the grandparents. Time is not our friend.

Maybe you find it painful when the innocent substitute teacher down the hall asks you how long you’ve been married and you cringe because you know what question is coming next. It’s even more painful when they ask us WHEN we plan on having kids. “One day,” we say, or maybe we make up something like, “We just aren’t ready to have kids yet.” Because lying is easier. It saves our pain from flowing out.  What we really want to say, “Well, I’m broken and there’s a lot of money we need to come up with for us to have children…care to pitch in?”

Maybe you find it difficult being on timed medications as a teacher. Oh, inject this shot into my stomach at 9:05am? Sure! That’s right during small group reading instruction so I’ll just leave those 6 year olds to themselves for 10 minutes (it takes us 9 minutes to muster up the courage, 1 minute to actually administer the shot) and they can teach themselves to read. Remember when we thought we had the flu, but it was really the Clomid?  Oh yeah, it was sure a blast to teach double-digit addition while periodically heaving into the garbage can in the hallway. "Keep your lunch down! Keep your lunch down! Keep your lunch down!..." was our new call to attention in room 104. We are hot, then cold, then hot again. Hot flashes in our 30's? Thanks a lot, Clomid... you a**hole.

Maybe you had a hard time managing all of your appointments to get your blood drawn, temperature taken, uterus scanned. The last appointment of the day…3:30pm?!? Really? Guess we’ll be finding someone to take our class for the last 30 minutes, or the first 30 minutes, or maybe we could make my appointment during my lunch break? No? Well, I guess we could get a half-day substitute. We love writing sub plans! Sometimes we wonder why we don’t just have a desk job that allows us to leave for 2 hours during the day without batting an eye.

Maybe you wonder where the money will come from, but you haven’t let that stop you. We as teachers make SOOOO much money and IVF is so affordable (BTW insurance gets a giant middle finger right here). Our sarcasm is at an all-time high on this topic.

Maybe you are still happy for your friends and family having babies, but you can also be completely devastated and confused at the same time.  These happen for us simultaneously, don’t they? Oh, you didn’t have to track you periods and ovulation for 2 years and you just had a baby…by just…wait for it…. "doing it?” It stings a little to think this happens for other people and not us, but you go Glen Cocoa! No period trackers, ovulation trackers, and temperature taking at all? We want to give you an award and snuggle your baby and cry - all at the same time! Let's not even talk about baby showers for our friends and family.

Maybe we've planned out how we will tell our students when we get pregnant. Of course we've planned out how we'll announce it to our spouse and family. our students...that is something very special to teachers. There will be voting on boy or girl and confetti and glitter and balloons. Oh yes- the bar graph...because #standards. We'll make a bar graph of whether they think it's a boy or a girl. We'll look at the data we collected. We'll celebrate. But instead we won't. Because their teacher is broken. 

Maybe we haven’t told anyone about our infertility struggle over these painful years because we don’t want pity or awkwardness or worry. Maybe we are scared to talk about it because we don't want to share bad news, only the good. Maybe 2019 is about telling our truth. What do we want from this? We just want a listening ear and a high-five or a hug.

We are the 1 in 8. When we teach fractions we see the odds of 1/8, but we do not understand it in this capacity. Guess it’s that dang Common Core.

I see you. I am you. Continue to fight, teacher warrior.  


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