Wednesday, July 5, 2017

10 Must Have Teaching Tools For the Classroom

It's time to take the plunge! Back To School is right around the corner and I know all you teachers out there have started stalking the Target school supply aisles and dollar bin items. You've probably been logging on to Amazon serveral times each day too. Don't worry. You are not alone. You have tons of company! I'm right there by your side.

I want to share with you 10 of my favorite teaching tools I think every teacher must have!


This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By puchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

1. Bright Colored Paper
I use Astrobrights Paper for just about everything! A bit of color makes everything better in my opinion. I made my Back To School parent informational packets with it and I simply love how they turned out. I also printed my Back To School quick reference guide on Astrobrights so parents could easily find the information they need at their fingertips. 



2. Personal Laminator & Lamination Pouches
The thought of owning my own laminator didn't cross my mind until about 5 years ago. I had always used the laminator at our school. We had access to it all the time and it never was an issue. Then the unthinkable happened. The machine broke. It literally died. It sat and sat in the workroom and no one came to fix it. I was fed up! I was driving all over town and spending crazy amounts of money to laminate things for my classroom. What's a teacher to do? Get your own laminator of course! Now I have TWO! One for my classroom and one for my house. I can laminate anytime of day or night at my leisure! It's pure teacher heaven!

I have tried all different brands of laminators. I have already gone through a few. But my most favorite, reliable, and affordable laminator is this Scotch laminator. It's amazing!

As for the pouches, I prefer the Scotch or Apache brand, however, I will purchase generic some of the time to save money. The quality is pretty much the same and it gets the job done!

3. Command Hooks
I LOVE Command hooks! I use them for everything! They are easy to put on the wall and super easy to remove, as well. I have very limited bulletin board space in my classroom. I decided to use some wall space to display my students' brag tags. The hooks are durable and I have had them up for 2 years now without any issues. 



4. Markers
No teacher can ever have enough markers! My favorite markers for making anchor charts are Mr. Sketch. The best part? They smell great! I keep these markers just to myself. No students allowed. I am super particular about the points of my markers and like them to last as long as possible. These markers get the job done and make my teacher heart happy.


Also a must have: EXPO markers! These dry erase markers are the best! They write smoothly. They erase without leaving a shadow on my white board. AND... they come in fabulous fun colors! Who doesn't love writing in pink or turquoise? There are tons of different brands out there, but nothing compares to the Expo markers in my opinion.


5. Magnetic Hooks
Remember that limited bulletin board space I told you about? This is why I love these magnetic hooks. I use them on the side of my file cabinets to hook task card sets we are working on. I also use them on the metal frame of my window blinds to hold a clipboard with our classroom hall pass attached to it. 


6. Magnetic Adhesive Tape
I have tried all different types of magnetic tape. Some are stronger than others, so you need to be careful what you purchase online. I've purchase this magnetic tape before and it works well on my white board. I like the option of making the magnetic adhesive any size I need. I usually use it for anchor posters I have printed out and laminated. When I am teaching, I slap the poster up on the white board for student reference. When we work in small groups, I can easily move it around, as well.

7. Individual Student White Boards
This teaching item is a game changer in the classroom. Every teacher needs a class set of personal white boards for their students. I use these for everything! My students answer questions on their boards. They use them for partner work when finding evidence in text. They answer task card questions on them. They use them as a writing surface when we play I Spy. The possibilities are endless. If your school won't purchase a class set for you, I HIGHLY recommend you invest in a set for yourself. Once you make the investment, they last forever if they are cleaned and taken care of properly. 



8. Label Maker
Bet you never thought of a label maker as a must have teacher tool, right? This is another game changer in my classroom. I use the Brother label maker to mark all the spines of my teacher binders. I don't like creating fancy binder spines and trying to shove them into the plastic sleeve. I always seem to spell something wrong and need to change the spine out and it is a pain! All I do now is take out my label maker. Type what I want the spine to say and hit print. Prest-o! The label maker is great for labeling folders you use all the time too. The possibilities are endless.



9. Water Bottle
I don't know about you, but I never drink, enough water when I am teaching. I also don't keep track of how much water I DO drink. I was so happy when I was introduced to Hydro Flask! My water stays cold ALL day. I fill it up in the morning with ice and water. By the end of the day, I still have ice in the container and my water is cold. I can refill it as needed. You can also switch out the caps for different colors and functionality that work best for you. 


10. HP Insta Ink Printer
I am going to be very honest.... I was on the fence about getting a new color printer for several months! There was nothing wrong with the one I had. My biggest pet peeve about it was that I never had enough ink! If I had something I was making for my classroom, I couldn't print it at home. I always had to send it to get printed. Also, I felt like I was always out of ink! I finally decided to pull the trigger one night when my teenage son needed to print a paper for school the next day and guess what? Yep, we were out of ink! I had to email his paper to my neighbor to print it out! How embarassing! 
I did a little research and pulled the trigger. I purchased the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978! This has been a complete game changer for me. I can print in color until my little heart is content. I am NEVER out of ink. And I don't have to run out to the store to get it if I do run out. The ink gets sent to me before I even need it! I choose the printing plan that works best for my needs and I can change it at any time. Want to learn more about HP Insta Ink printers? Click HERE. If you decide to join, let me know so I can help save you more on ink with an extra free month of printing!

Do you have a classroom tool you think every teacher needs? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Reading List 2017

I am so excited to sit down, put my feet up and FINALLY catch up on my laundry list of "free reading" I have been wanting to do. Summer is the time where I make time to escape and let myself get lost in a good book without any guilt!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By puchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.


I have to say, I definitely have more WANT to read books for this summer. I never seem to quite find the time or balance during the school year to get any free reading done. Between teaching, filling my wifely obligations, my boys' baseball practices and games, lending my chauffeur services to my two children (and others, of course) my days fill up quickly. Please tell me you can relate and that I am not alone!!!! Now that summer is here, I am ready to find the time to sit down and read a few good books.


The Pact is a heart wrenching love story between two teenagers that ends in tragedy. Get the tissue box ready because you are going to need it!

The Other Boleyn Girl is a fantastic historical fiction book about Mary and Anne Boleyn and their rise to power with their love Henry VIII. I couldn't put this book down!


The Identicals Several friends have mentioned this book, so it is at the top of my reading list this summer. 

Grit Genius v Grit which will win out? I think grit will get anyone on the path to success. I can't wait to read and find out.

The Teenage Brain As a mom of a teenager, I have to get started on this book. Talking to my teenager gets me shaking my head on a daily basis. I need to understand his ridiculous comments, vegetative state and horrible communication skills so I don't lose my mind so easily! I hope this helps make me a better mom.

The Salt House Anything that is Jody Picoult-esque is right up my ally. This is a book that I know is going to tug at my heart strings. Bring it on!

Do you have any great books you want to share? What are your MUST reads? Leave the titles in the comments section and I will make sure to check them out. 

Now it's your turn. Link up with Lucky To Be In First and share them with all of us. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring Ideas For Your Classroom


Open House is on the horizon and quickly approaching.... and so is Spring Break! I saw these cute pop art bunnies all over Instagram and Pinterest and knew I had to squeeze them in before Open House.


The original bunny template can be found at this website. I simply made a copy for each student on white paper. Next, I modeled how to make the vertical lines in each section of the bunny.


When the vertical lines were completed, the students cut around the bunny and glued it onto Astrobright cardstock. 


For the glasses, I used clip art I already had and copied it on bright colored paper. You can also find a pattern for free if you Google "eyeglasses" or "sunglasses".


One of my favorite activities to do with my class are these cuties with sunglasses. I gives the students an opportunity to reflect on all the learning they have accomplished throughout the year. AND it makes for an adorable bulletin board that is a great conversation piece. Click HERE for the templates.


To continue the theme, I give each student a pair of their own sunglasses with this tag attached. It is placed on their desk as a surprise when they walk into the room with their parents. You can grab these free tags from Molly at Lessons With Laughter.


We also are finishing up our unit on time, and I wanted a way for my students to show off their skills. The kids created these sun clocks. Thanks to Smitten In First for sharing the idea.


We also wrote autobiographies to share with our parents at Open House. The kids loved Amy Lemons Write On Unit and felt like movie stars without a doubt.

I hope you were able to get some new ideas for Spring that you can use in your classroom.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Scholastic Printables Membership GIVEAWAY

Have you ever been in a jam and needed a quick skills assessment to give your students OR realized you had 102 degree fever and needed to create sub plans so you could stay home and rest? We have all been in those situations at one time or another.


I LOVE creating materials to use in my classroom, but there are those times when I have used my own self-created resources and those of my colleagues and I need MORE. That's when I turn to Scholastic Printables! I love everything Scholastic and these resources are no different!


Just last week, I was reviewing cause and effect with my second graders. I had used my cause and effect task cards in a game of Scoot, created flap books, played a matching game of cause and effect. BUT I needed more. I wanted to assess their knowledge during morning warm up. I didn't have much time, so I turned to Scholastic Printables. I quickly typed in the topic I needed, the grade level range and up popped this fabulous page. I printed it out and used it to assess my kiddos. What a time saver!


Later in the same week, I wanted to go over contractions with my students. Once again, I used Scholastic Printables. They read this adorable story about Humpty Dumpty and needed to put the underlined words into contraction form. The kids loved the story and easily completed the printable. Win-win!

Whenever possible, I like to give things a try before I jump in with both feet. Here are few samples resources for you to look out and download so you can get an idea of what Scholastic Printables is all about.

Have your students make a rain gauge to measure daily rainfall with this template and easy-to-follow instructions.

This fun-to-make paper project is a creative addition to a unit on American arts and crafts or a great way to target early learning concepts of patterns and symmetry.

Are you interested in trying Scholastic Printables? Now is your chance.

Scholastic Printables provides you with instant, unlimited access to thousands of skills sheets, activities and lesson plans. To start your own free trial, please click here.

You can also win a one-year subscription of your own! Simply use the rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer: This post contains information about products that were given to me by Scholastic for review. However, all opinions and ideas for use are my own.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Valentine's Day Ideas for the Classroom

It's hard to believe Valentine's Day is just around the corner! As teachers it is difficult, at times, to find the academic link to spread help spread the love. I am here to share a few ways to integrate Valentine's Day and academics in your classroom.
My students and I LOVE task cards! What better way to integrate Valentine's Day but with math? We just finished learning about adding and subtracting three digit numbers. And word problems always seem to be a challenge for my kiddos. Now they can be engaged in their learning with these word problem task cards! I use these cards at an early finisher activity, whole class game of Scoot or as partner work. The best part... they will be reviewing their math skills all while getting extra word problem practice with some Valentine's Day flair!


click the picture to grab your set
I also love to challenge my students with multiple choice task cards problems. These Valentine task cards force my students to show their work before choosing their answers. This allows me to see their thinking and help them to correct their errors when regrouping. You can grab this set of task cards for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.



This craft is full of hearts, love, and academic fun! I love to use it because it is so adaptable for any academic area. I used it with my students to review their math skills but it can be used for compound word practice in language arts, grammar practice and much more. All you have to do is provide your students with different colored hearts of various sizes and the sky is the limit. 


I just love these adorable bookmarks to give to each of my students for Valentine's Day. I printed and laminated them. Then I hole punched each one and tied a ribbon to the top. These are from Primarily Speaking and are part of her Love Bot Writing Prompt Packet. This packet is full of great ideas!


What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn't love emojis? Well, I know I do and so do my own children. I fell in love with this idea as soon as I saw it! I ordered plush emoji key chains at Amazon and had them shipped to me the next day (gotta love Amazon Prime). Then I printed out these adorable tags from Molly at Lucky To Be In First and had my son signed his name. Ready to make your own set? You can grab these tags for FREE by clicking HERE.


This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By puchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

The clock is ticking. Time is running out. What in the world am I going to get for everyone on my list? I don't have time to scour Pinterest. Amazon won't ship my items in time. What's a girl to do?


Have no fear! Here are a few quick and easy ideas you can throw together in no time!

STUDENT GIFT IDEAS TO GIVE TO THEIR FAMILY


Salt Dough Snowman Ornaments: These are always a HUGE hit with families. You need a couple days to complete this project. I suggest making the salt and flour dough at home. I worked with small groups of 2-3 students to make the ornament shape. Then, I took them home to bake them and painted them the next day. 

SALT & FLOUR DOUGH RECIPE
2 cups of flour
1 c of salt
1/2 c water
*This recipe make 8-10 ornaments depending on how large and thick you make them.



Paint Stick Snowman Ornament: You need: Paint sticks (free at your local home improvement store such as Home Depot), white, black, and orange paint, google eyes, and scrap material for the scarf.



SUPER Easy Snowman Ornament: This year time was of the essence. I was on a budget and needed a quick gift idea. I was at Michael's for what seemed like the 100th time in a week, and I looked over to find these plastic ornaments on sale! I think they were 70% off! I grabbed a class set before they disappeared! A few shelves over were bags of mini snowball fill and ...TADA! My mom came into class to help fill the ornaments and tie ribbon to the top. Then, I had each child draw the nose, eyes, and mouth on with permanent markers. Wrap them in pre-printed bags. Add a tag, And you are done! This was all completed in one school day!


If you want to get a bit fancier with the wrapping, you can always use festive clear wrapping paper and tie it with a pretty bow.

STUDENT GIFT IDEAS FROM A TEACHER


This year I thought ahead and picked out books from Scholastic for each of my students for the holidays. Even if you haven't planned ahead, you can use bonus points and at the books shipped to you in about 2 days!


I ran out of red and green tissue paper. And no other teacher had any for me to borrow.... I had used all my cute Santa plastic bags to wrap their parent gifts in.... SO... I decided to go out of the box and use brown lunch bags as my wrapping. I created personalized bookmarks for each student. I laminated them and used them as the tag on the outside of each bag. Now when they open their present they will have a special bookmark to go with their brand new book! 

STAFF GIFTS
1.Treat Caddie: I saw this idea on Instagram and/or Pinterest. These crates are from the Target Dollar Spot. Fill it with a few special treats and add a tag with ribbon and you have an instant awesome gift to give!

2. Lottery Ticket: This might not seem like much but it could be worth thousands of dollars! Give each colleague a scratch off lottery ticket as a gift. Add a tag that says. "I won the LOTTERY with you at our school" or "I wish you a LOTTO happiness this holiday season". Everyone loves to play the lottery, but may not buy a ticket for themselves. This gift will surely be a hit.

I would love to hear what you give as gifts to parents and colleagues. Please share your ideas in the comments. Happy Holidays!