Management Monday-Positive Postcards

About once a month I choose a student to receive the "positive postcard".  I actually mail a postcard to their house!  They love receiving mail from their teacher. Their parents especially love's sure nice to know that their child is succeeding.

{click the picture for the downloads of front of postcard}

{Click the picture below to download the back of the postcard} 

A fellow follower of our blog (Priscilla) shared a great way to buy postcards too (designed by you) on! I actually printed my own wedding thank you's (with the help of Air) and sent them out!  A lot of things are FREE and you just pay really overpriced shipping. :)

I always keep record anytime I send a postcard. I actually keep record of any behavioral problems AND successes that I have in my classroom. I keep them in a binder like this:

You can download the cover of this binder by clicking {HERE}

The binder has tabs with each students name on it.  I keep this sheet in their tab, along with an informational sheet (parents contact info, student allergy info, etc).

{click the picture for the download}

Get movin' with MATH!

Last night my school had a community math night.  My 1st grade team had to come up with 2 activities to do for the "numbers and operations" standard in math that could be differentiated for ALL elementary grade levels and abilities. 
We incorporated math with movement!
We did math hopscotch and beach ball math.

Math Hopscotch
  • Masking tape
  • Paper numbers (or you can use tape)
  • 2 markers (we used puff balls)
According to grade level or ability, the student can add the 2 numbers, subtract, multiply, identify the numbers, find the mean of the 2 numbers, etc.  

Beach Ball Math
  • Any ball 
  • Sharpie 
Toss the ball to another player in the circle. That player looks at the numbers that their thumbs landed on.  According to grade or ability, they can add, subtract, multiply, {etc.} those 2 numbers!

Click {here} for complete directions to download!

Management Monday!

This is a management tip brought to you by the one, the only........

Ok, well not really! It's from me, but Dr. Seuss was a big influence!

During my Dr. Seuss unit (yes, I do a unit- and yes, I'm going to share it with you later today), I use a Cat in the Hat stuffed animal for a management tool.

I tell the kiddos that if they work quietly during independent work time, then Cat in the Hat might be put on their desk! They can read to him, sit him on their lap while they work...but they can't disrupt anyone with him.  If you lay out clear expectations before, they will do just fine. {You don't have to use a Cat in the Hat...any stuffed animal will do the same thing}

I promise you, your class will be SILENT all week.  Almost a little too silent. :)

I bought this Cat in the Hat at Kohl's

Waiting for Superman

Sorry, no downloads in this post.

I'm just watching Waiting for Superman.

Making me think about what I can do to be better, how I can make a difference.

Have you seen it?

What were your thoughts?

How are you making a difference?

What can we do together? 

President's Day Research and Writing

Sorry that this idea is SOOOO last minute! I literally put this whole lesson together on my prep today. I had the idea in my head for the past week, but couldn't ever find the time to put it together. If you still need a way to honor our presidents, you can still do this activity next week.

In this upper grade President's Day activity, students research 3 different presidents (I wanted to make sure everyone didn't choose Washington and Lincoln), decide who they think is the most influential, then type an essay about the president they chose.

Links to websites about presidents:, Social Studies for Kids, Miller Center

I gave my students an hour and 10 minutes for this activity. (If I had more time, I would have separated the assignment into two days: day one - research, day two - writing.) What I liked best about this activity is that it wasn't about the final product, it was more about the learning my students did along the way. 

P.S. Someone asked about good ideas for Black History Month... Here is the same template switched so that students are researching famous black Americans. 

Links to websites about famous black Americans: Fact Monster, Encyclopedia Britannica, Social Studies for Kids

Squiggle Stories!

When I did my student teaching in 1st grade, my mentor teacher (who was fabulous!) had this as a fun little writing project. I have used it every year in 5th grade and my students love it.

The 1st thing the students do is turn their squiggle into a picture. Then, they write a story about their picture. Simple!

Rachelle and I thought it would be fun to try this out on both our 1st and 5th graders and see how they turned out!

1st grade example from Mrs. Smith's class:
She called this a Pegasus!  How creative!
A cute Kangaroo
The snake in the backyard! Sounds like a book title

Here's some examples from my 5th grade class:

This snake is looks almost exactly like Rachelle's example.
 This one is all about bunnies.
Look at the detail in this submarine picture!
This is about 2 penguins.

UPDATE: This product has been updated and has a nice and new look! Please check it out in my TeachersPayTeachers Store {HERE}!

This pack includes 4 different squiggle designs plus 1 blank template. I have provided both a younger grades version with writing lines and an upper grades version with plain lines. (10 pages total.) Use the squiggle lines provided, or draw your own squiggle on the template before you makes copies, or let students draw their own squiggles. Either way, they will have a fun time doing this writing activity.

This is great to have on hand for substitutes (perfect for emergency sub plans!), to use as fast finishers, or add it as an option for your writer's workshop. 

Divine tasting spelling practice

It's that time weekly guest post on ABC and 123!

This week I wrote about fun and YUMMY ways to practice spelling!  I'm hungry just thinking about this post.  I also included 3 *free* printables! Just head over to ABC and 123 and snag those downloads and take a look around {you'll love all of their great ideas}.  Leave me a comment there so I know you stopped by!

Management Monday!

I've been asked about organization in my classroom.  Here are some tips that I have for you.

1.  No one is truly/perfectly "organized".  What might be organized to you, might seem messy to someone else.

2.  Take 5 minutes each day to put away items that you used that day and no longer need.  If you wait until the end of the week, it can seem overwhelming.

3.  Teach your students to take care of items that they use in the classroom (ex: centers, classroom books, papers in desk, etc).

4. Plan book- EVERY teacher needs a plan book of some sort.  I love the DJ Inkers plan book found {here}.

5.  Weekly organizer- It is essential in organizing your worksheets, activities, and books for the week. Sarah has a great idea on her blog First Grader At Last.  I use this one and love it (from Lakeshore):
6.  Storage tubs are also important to organizing your craft supplies, centers, games, manipulatives, etc. I probably have 30 or more in my classroom! I love the clear ones with colored lids, but they can get pricey. I also organize my decorations for each season/theme above my cupboards in storage tubs.

7.  Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. I live by this little saying. Your classroom supplies should be easily accessible by a sub or teammate.

8. Take about once a month and clean your classroom.  I know that you have custodians who come and clean each day, but they can only do so much in that little amount of time.  I like to clean my desk, cupboard tops, and dust a little (nothing crazy).  Then, before we go off track each time, my students clean the tops and insides of their desks.  

9.  If you are like me, grading and passing back papers are quite time consuming. This little gadget here that I got at has been a LIFE SAVER (I could not find a link for you, but I did find one at the Container Store and as a teacher you can get 15% off).  I have the students turn their work into their folder (class number).  Then, when I correct papers, they are already in alphabetical order and I can just slip them into their take-home cubbies.

10.  Label, label, and LABEL.  Not only is it really cute to label everything and it helps your students' vocabulary, but it helps you as a teacher locate items quickly.

I have included my organizational tags for you.

{Click the picture for the download}

 {Click the picture below for the download}

Here are a couple blogs that have great organization ideas!

Head over to Ladybug Teacher Files for a linky party on storage


New and Improved!

AHHH!!! Look how absolutely beautiful our new site is!! Thanks so so so much to Ladybug Resources who did it all for us! 
(I won her blog makeover giveaway a couple weeks ago!! Lucky me!!)
(Haha. Look it's me with red hair and Rachelle with brown. LOVE IT!!)

Did she do a FAB job or what?  She also has a teacher blog that we love 
{Ladybug Teacher Files}.

Repeating Patterns

I know many of you have already done patterns (we do them at the beginning of the year), but I just made a guest post for ABC and 123 about patterns!  Oh, and of course I've included 2 printables for free.  So, go over to ABC and 123 and show your support for What the Teacher Wants!

Check out my Pattern Fish lesson {here}.

Writing Fun w/ Hearts

If you have some extra conversation hearts left over from all of Rachelle's cute Valentine's Day activities, here's a fun writing project you can do.

Print off this sheet (black & white or colored) on to white card stock.
Pass out a handful of hearts to each student.

Have fun writing!! 
It will be hilarious because the hearts say funny things like 'text me', 'LOL', and 'BFF'. 
My kids laughed and talked about it all day!

Here's how one turned out!

(Tip - Use a small amount of glue. Glue makes the hearts soggy and bleed.)

Science Experiments for Elementary

Experiment #1

 What will happen when I put raisins in a cup of sprite?  
After you do the experiment, you will find out that the raisins DANCE!  My students L.O.V.E this experiment and think that it is hilarious that the raisins dance up and down in the Sprite!

Click {here} for the raisin experiment

Experiment #2

What does our heart do for us?
We talked about the heart and it's purpose! Then, we observed our own pulse using a marshmallow and toothpick. What a great time to learn about the heart (Valentine's Day)!
 Click {here} for the heart experiment 

Experiment #3

Which object lets the most light through from our flashlight?

Using a flashlight, we determined which objects (dollar, black paper, net, plastic wrap, and tin foil) let through the most light.

 Click {here} for the light experiment

clipart and/or fonts by DJ Inkers.

Is your school heading to the land of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or STEAM (Same, but add art)? Last year, our school committed to becoming a STEM+A (plus Art) school. So far- I'm loving it!!! It has really got me thinking outside of the box for sure. I'm excited to share with you some ideas that I have with STEM in the future. For now, I've got some posters that I made for our 1st grade STEM+A Intro Day!

For our STEM+A Intro Day, we rotated all of the first graders (split into 5 groups) through our classrooms. Each teacher took on one of the letters and taught the students about the meaning of that letter and how we use it in every day life. We want our students to know that STEM is everywhere! Then, we did an activity based on the letter we had. I had Math and we played Pokemon Go Addition (totally made the game up...haha). 

These posters are great for my students to refer back to.

Click {here} to check these posters out!
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