Classroom Cornucopia

Do you celebrate Friendsgiving? This year I am having a virtual Thanksgiving Potluck with some of my teacher besties! We have so much to be thankful for, and we wanted share our blessings with you!
We created a FREE Classroom Cornucopia of our best selling resources! These are some of our favorite classroom creations that can be used throughout the year. Here's a taste of everything we shared in our Cornucopia...

I shared my new Tooth Word Bank that can be used for writing folders, anchor charts, or a creative writing center. There are pictures to match every word so little writers feel inspired and supported! (This is a BONUS word bank that is not included in the original set!)

Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins shared Winter Main Idea Passages. These main idea passages are designed for the winter months and help your students understand and practice telling the main idea and supporting details from a short passage. They are consistent, easy to use, and require no prep!

Jessica from Mrs. Stanford's Class shared Post It Note Reminders! These easy to use sticky note reminders are a great way to keep notes home consistent in your classroom. All you need to do is print the template, stick the post its, and print again. Have them stocked up in your drawer for your next writing checklist! Parents and students will love the consistency these checklists can bring to your classroom! Teachers will love the convenience! 

Katie from Simply Creative Teaching shared Place Value Exit Slips from her Math Exit Slips for every Common Core math standard! You can grab exit slips for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade! They are designed to be completed in 5 minutes or less and there are 4 to a page for quick and easy printing. 
Kelly from Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten shared Kindergarten Reading Comprehension Stories that are so much fun for emergent readers! Students read a text with CVC words and sight words while using the tracking dots to point to the words as they read. Students color a star or symbol at the top of the page each time they read. Four comprehension questions are included (multiple choice and fill in the blank). Additional practice is included on the bottom of the page with CVC words or seasonal vocabulary.

Diane from One Giggle At a Time shared her best selling Joke of the Day Set! It's her favorite part of every school day, and it has been rated by her firsties on the Top Ten List of Bests in her classroom for years! Every day of the school year, her class starts the day with a joke, a fact, and a question to ponder together. It is a great way to join together to share some giggles, some deep thinking, and a little each other. Joke of The Day set includes daily cards that can be printed out or a Smartboard version that can be displayed on the screen each morning as the students come in. 

Amber from A Smiling Teacher shared Editable Sight Word Lists! 
They make it easy for teachers to differentiate sight word and spelling practice while giving your students choice! The pack includes 15 word work activities that require little to no prep and can be used with any spelling or sight word list! Students loves the variety of choices and teachers love that students are working on words that are just right for them! EDITABLE word lists are included and make it easy to personalize learning! 

Elyse from A is for Apples shared differentiated reading logs! They are the perfect way to hold students and parents accountable for reading at home while also making it fun! Students color in a picture every time they read a book, and you can choose from over 20 recording pages to meet the needs of all your learners!

Gina from Teaching with Heart shared Work on Writing. You can easily create ENGAGING and MEANINGFUL writing center activities for your kindergarteners or first graders! The pack includes lots of activities so you and differentiate and scaffold to meet the needs of your students!

We are so thankful this year and happy to share our Classroom Cornucopia with you! You can download the whole 43 page pack here or click on the picture below! Happy Thanksgiving Friends!


Ideas for Teacher Stamps & Giveaway

I am so excited to be teaming up with to bring you an awesome giveaway and share some ideas for using teacher stamps in your classroom! If you don't have a personalized teacher stamp yet, trust me- you need one! So here are some of my favorite ways to use teacher stamps...

Avoid the Copy Room Black Hole!
When you are trying to eat lunch and check your email while making copies, it's so easy to leave your original paper in the copy machine. If you stamp the back of your paper, it's more likely to get returned to you! This also helps if you have some support staff who make copies for lots of teachers at the same time!

Keep your Library!
Creating a library in your classroom is a huge investment! Teachers are always borrrowing books from each other or sending books home with little ones for practice, but we never want our books to get lost! Stamp the inside of your books and teacher binders so other teachers and parents knows they should be returned to your classroom.

Prevent Carpal Tunnel!
This may be dramatic, but it does make your hand tired to write the same message on papers 25 times! #teacherproblems One quick stamp is so much easier, and kids love them!

Make Kids Happy!
I ordered my son a personalized stamp, which he LOVES!  After about 5 minutes, I had to hide it to keep my entire office from staying "Property of Rusty," but it did remind how much kids love to stamp things.

You could put a "Please sign and return" stamp at your mailboxes. After kids get their papers, they could stamp a form that needs signed and returned. I'm sure no one would forget to grab their paper on that day!

These self-inking stamps would also be great at a school play center because there is not a messy ink pad and a wet stamp to clean up and store! Just stamp and it's done with no mess!

Thanks to, we are giving away personalized stamps to 3 lucky teachers! Winners even get to choose their favorite stamp so check out all of the awesome design choices!

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Manage your Class with Just 6 Words!

Do you have lots of environmental print hanging in your classroom? Do you post anchor charts for units you are studying? Why do you do that?

As teachers, we hang lots of visuals for our little ones. We know that seeing words or images will help them remember something they are learning. We know they can use those resources as they work to gain mastery of new skills. We should be doing the same thing for ourselves!

I found a picture from my first classroom of the library corner where I did a lot of whole group instruction. On the window, there are three little simple hand-written signs on generic cut-outs. (Don't judge--this was before I had a computer at school or ever dreamed about Teachers Pay Teachers.) The signs were simple, but the 6 words printed on them shaped how I managed my classroom.

Show Me.

Tell Me.

Remind Me.

I used those 6 words again and again as I managed my first class. Instead of raising my voice with students, I would try to remember to say, "Show me how first graders sit at the rug." "Who can show me a safe way to walk to line?" "Tyra is showing me a quiet way to carry a pencil box without the shaking the crayons."

Please remember, it is vital that you explicitly teach and practice your classroom expectations first. When you ask children to show you how a procedure should be done, they need to already know how it should look and sound in your classroom.

Instead of complaining to my class about their behavior, I would say "Tell me what I should see when I look at your center." "Tell me what we do when we come back from recess." "Tell me two things you can do when you finish reading at read to self."

Instead of always targeting negative behaviors, I would say "Remind me what our line should look like in the hall." "Who can remind me how we put away our art supplies?" "Chris is reminding me what first graders should do if they have a question."

I used these phrases again and again, because I could always see them as I looked over the heads  of my first graders. A few years ago, I started watching videos online to learn about Whole Brain Teaching. I knew I wanted to try it in my own classroom. I hung signs on the back wall of my classroom to help me remember to use the different cues until they became automatic.

If you are looking to try a new classroom management technique, it may help to create some classroom posters or charts that are just for you! Hang them in a place where you can easily see them. As teachers we are always learning so we need to make sure we give ourselves the resources we need to be successful!

You can try my new Show Me. Tell Me. Remind Me. posters for FREE. Just click on the image to download them. You get two different sizes so you can pick what fits your classroom.

I also have other posters in my classroom to help me as I manage and teach. You can check them out too by clicking on the pictures!

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Back to School...from Home

Tuesday was the first official work day for teachers in my district. For the first time in ten years, I did not set up my room. My name is no longer posted outside of my classroom door. This year I am devoting my whole heart to my own little ones!

Two weeks ago, we welcomed baby Cooper to the family. With three kids under 5 at home, our hearts are full and our hands are busy! It is truly a blessing to be able to spend these precious months with the little ones who need me the most.

When I decided to stay home for an entire year, I was both excited and worried. I absolutely love teaching, and my passion is creating lessons and resources for my first graders. As a creative outlet, I will continue to design resources for teachers. Instead of setting up a classroom this year, I redesigned my "easy office." It's is really a corner of our living room, but I affectionately call it my office and try to keep it clear of trains and dolls as much as possible. My sweet husband has even started humoring me and reminding the kids not to touch things in "Mommy's Office."

The whole space was designed on a very limited budget and fits in a 5 foot space. This set up would also be great for a teacher's area in a classroom! For Christmas last year, I wanted a desk for my teaching and crafting projects. I knew I needed a large surface for creating so I decided to order a dining table rather than a traditional desk.

There is not room for shelving  in our living room so I slid a bookcase under the desk. This bookcase was in my classroom last year, but it's perfect for home too. I ordered some cube baskets to keep my supplies a bit more organized. The large basket from TJ Maxx is perfect for my papercutter and other bigger office tools. I printed some simple burlap labels and laminated them. Each one is hung with a binder ring and accented with ribbon from Michael's craft store.

I got a matching ribbon garland from Michaels craft store to hang above my desk. To personalize the space a bit more, I printed round family pictures and hung them using clear thread. It was a simple project that I love to see when I sit down to squeeze in 5 minutes of work. The storage boxes and spinning craft caddy are also from Michael's craft store.

One of the first projects I created in my "office" was a set of family name puzzles for Lanie. She loves photographs and puzzles so I thought this would be a perfect way to squeeze in a little letter recognition practice. These would also be great for your classroom as children learn the names of their classmates. You could stick a magnet on the back of each piece for an easy center on the side of a filing cabinet or stick them on your fridge at home.

I have gotten a lot questions about how to make the puzzles so I whipped up a little free tutorial and template to share. Just download the template here and open it with PowerPoint. You can choose to make puzzles for any name with 3-8 letters. I cut our puzzles into long strips with a letter at the bottom of each piece.

Have a great school year teacher friends! I am excited to continue sharing my projects that I created in my "office" with you!


How to Make Border Bookmarks!

Each year at Meet the Teacher Night, I try to give my kids a little gift they can take home with them from the event. I just created some new Smart Reader bookmarks so I knew they would be perfect!

I was planning on cutting out my smart reader bookmarks and then mounting them on strips of scrapbook paper. Of course, I was going to have to buy some more scrapbook paper and cut it all, but they would look so cute when they were done!

As I was cutting out my bookmarks, I glanced over at a little stack of borders I bought at the Dollar Spot. I was thinking about how well they matched, and then the lightbulb turned on! I didn't need to buy or cut scrapbook paper- I could just use border! It's colorful, strong, and it comes in the perfect dimensions!

So I printed my bookmarks a little bit smaller (I used an 85% ratio for this job). Then I gathered up a few more supplies, and I was ready to go! In just 3 simple steps, I made durable and adorable bookmarks that are perfect for home and school!

Easy, peasy! For a little bonus idea, you could add a label to the back with your contact information. This is a simple way for families to keep your contacts at home.

You can grab these Smart Reader bookmarks and the matching posters by clicking on the picture below.


Fuss Free Homework

Homework can be a hot topic for debate, but surveys have shown that teachers and families see the benefit of meaningful homework. As a teacher, it is important to establish a homework routine and find homework activities that are mearningful for families. I have always found that parents want to help their first graders. They may not know the best way to help or always have the best resources, but parents love their kids! Here are my Top Five Tips for creating Fuss Free and Family Friendly Homework.

1. Allow flexibility for families
"Homework" is designed for kids to do at home so you have to create something that works for different types of homes. I send our homework home on Monday, and it is due on Friday. This gives families a whole school week to decide when and how to work on activities. (I know some teachers send it home and Friday and give families a complete week to turn it in.)

2. Start a homework routine
Our homework looks almost exactly the same all year. It is a collection of activities that focus on the literacy and math skills we are learning each week. The order of activities is the same and the directions for the activities remains consistent. The high frequency words, phonics skills, and math concepts are what change.

At the beginning of the year, I send home a homework guide so families know what we are practicing and why. I attach the same sheet for a couple of weeks, because it's so easy to lose papers at home! I also model and teach my first graders how to complete their homework. I show them how to do each page so they can develop their independence!

There is no surprise or mystery when first graders grab new homework from their mailboxes. Some people may love the novelty of new assignments, but I found that consistency works best! Families and children know what to expect. It helps build confidence and independence.  First graders who may not be able to read a full set of directions can still easily navigate their practice.

There is an optional activity included in each assignment. This works great for families who may call and ask "what else can we do to practice?" I also send home books each day most of my guided reading groups.

3. Explain what you are teaching
Parents appreciate seeing homework when it helps them understand what their kids are learning about at school. I include information about what children are learning and what they are expected to be able to do. It's a great way to communicate with every family each week!

4. Motivate everyone
I have found that kids and families work best through positive motivation! I reward children who complete all of their homework each month with an invitation to a "lunch party"...more on that in a bit. I will often write little notes or draw little pictures on the pages of a kiddo's homework to surprise her and keep her motivated if homework seems like a challenge.

I love to send home thank you notes to families- like brag tags for parents! I created designs for each month of the year, and I send them home our test sign-off sheet each month. Parents really appreciate this little note that recognizing their efforts!

You can get all of the thank you note designs for FREE by clicking on the picture below!

Although there were a couple late assignments, I had 100% homework completion for every child in my class last year. I teach a very socioeconomically diverse population with a lot of need so this was a huge accomplishment for my kids! To  reward their hard work, we had a monthly "lunch party."

I love calling the reward a party, because it automatically gets kids excited....but here's a little secret- it's not really a party! I just make a big deal about it! I let the students who completed their homework eat lunch in the classroom. They eat the regular cafeteria lunch or they lunch they packed so there isn't a special menu to organize. We don't typically ever watch movies at our school so while they are eating, I put on a movie for them to watch. They may only get to see 27 minutes of the movie, but they LOVE it! (It also eliminates any chaos that kids might have thought would happen at the "party.")

If you are feeling super adventurous, you may want to add a snack to the party plans. I created a list of movies and snacks that match the parent homework notes! Check out all of the ideas here!

You can also follow my Lunch Parties Please board on Pinterest to find more ideas for simple ways to make your lunch parties awesome!

5. Send Support
I try to send home all of the materials that children may need to be successful. If I want my kids to keep their sight words, I send home a bag to keep them. Putting supplies in these bags helps ensure that no one says they don't have what they need to complete. Just outline a ziploc bag with some duct tape to keep the endges strong. I also send home pencils or crayons if needed.

I am currently working on updating all of my homework to align with our district's new English Language Arts curriculum, but you can already grab the short vowel practice pages now!

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