January Bright Ideas for the Classroom

Hello sweet blog readers! Welcome and Happy New Year! I have decided to try something new this year and share monthly ideas with you in hopes of making your planning each month a bit easier. I hope you can take a few ideas, use them, and feel relieved that some of your planning is complete.

Let's get started! Don't forget: When you see ideas you love, pin them so you don't forget them!

I am all about integrating the curriculum across different subject areas whenever possible. This is why I love this snowman glyph project so much. This super simple project integrates art, data collection, writing AND makes an awesome bulletin board! 

Each student creates their snowman based on how they answer certain questions about winter. Then they can write a poem or story to go with their art project. BAM! Your bulletin board for January is complete!

You can grab this versatile winter resource HERE.

snowman glyph writing ideas and bulletin board for January

I also love to start the new year off with goals. My students make personal goals throughout the year, but I love this craft as a bulletin board in January. Each student makes a boy or girl on New Year's Eve and writes about their resolution or goals for the coming year.

You can take a closer look at this goal writing resource HERE.

January is a time to reflect, set goals, and make a fresh start. When school starts I am going to have my students make these New Year resolution books. It's a great way to get students focused and ready to learn after a few weeks off.

New Year Resolution book

You can grab this freebie HERE.

New Year Resolution

Teaching my students about Martin Luther King Jr. is something I look forward to each January. I also love it because I can carry the activities into February for Black History Month if I don't get to all the activities I have planned. Hehe.

I love sharing facts and info with a Getting To Know Martin Luther King Jr book. Then we create an interactive paper bag book with fun facts about his life. The kids LOVE making these books.

True and false questions are a great way for kids to test their knowledge of all the new learning they are doing. This is a fun center to put out or use as a whole group review.

Integrating writing and crafts is always and fun and easy way to assess student learning. These I Have A Dream kids make a great bulletin board too.

You can find all these activities and MUCH more in my Martin Luther King Jr. pack. Click here to see it on TpT.

Click the picture or HERE to grab this freebie.

I hope you found a few ideas you can use. Stay tuned for next month's February Bright Ideas. 


How To Use Student Numbers In The Classroom

How many times have I called on Monica today?

Did Tyler participate in language arts? 

Did everyone get a chance to share their ideas?

Who are my helpers?

How am I going to group my students for this activity?

Do any of these questions ever run through your head? As a classroom teacher, we are always trying to be fair to our students. However, sometimes without realizing it, we end up calling on the same students ALL. THE. TIME. Or we group students together the same way without realizing it. The answer to all these questions is just around the corner....

classroom student number sticks
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Since the first day I stepped into my very own classroom, I have used a stick system of some sort. My first year teaching started with writing each student's name on a Popsicle stick with a black Sharpie marker.

Then, it evolved into writing names on tongue depressors because I could write the names larger! HA!

However, now I think I have mastered the number sticks so I don't have to a make a new set every year. I finally decided to make number sticks I could use over and over. This is when I came up with the idea to use some cute clip art and label them with numbers to reuse each year.

One of the most important keys to using the number system in your classroom is BALANCE.  On the first day of school, each of my students is assigned a number. This is their number for the entire year! It's printed on their supply box so they are able to refer to it often.

Now, before you throw rocks at me for assigning kids a number....hear me out. I use the number system purely as an organization tool. My students DO NOT write their numbers on their papers or on any assignment that is turned in to me. All my students are individuals who need to be validated. They are not numbers. However, because I value my students as individuals SO much, the number system helps me to make sure I am checking in on them regularly. It also helps me to mix up groups for collaborative learning time.

There are so many ways to use the number system in your classroom. Here are a few ways I have used the numbers:

  • student cubbies
  • backpack hooks
  • supply bins
  • folders
  • class sets of books

Want to give the number system a try in your classroom?

Here is what you need to get started:

classroom student number sticks

Cordless Glue Gun (Yes, it's cordless and you will LOVE it! Another game changer.)

1. Print out the version on numbers you prefer. I have included boys and girls together (as seen above), as well as boys and girls separate. 

2. Laminate the numbers and cut them out.

3. Using a glue gun, adhere each number to a tongue depressor. 

TA-DAH! You are all set and ready to go! Enjoy!


Managing Student Learning Goals

As educators, our job is to help our students reach their highest potential. However, not all students are created equal. They all have different needs. Some need to grow academically more than others. Some students need to grow their personal independence. Some just need to get through a period of time on task. And many of MY little sweeties need to learn to tie their shoes on their own!


As educators, we need to help our students work towards achieving goals that are meaningful to THEM! 

How do we tackle this task?

FREE student goal cards

I have always struggled with helping my students set and follow through with individual learning goals. I would usually start off strong and then as the year progressed, it would fizzle out. I would forget to follow through with them and before I knew it the next reporting period had come and gone. 

UNTIL NOW.... I saw this great idea, first, on Instagram from @misswestbest. She has her student goals on their name plates. I LOVED the idea but wanted to change it a bit to meet the needs of my second graders. My students have their names on their supply boxes already. I wanted their goal cards to stay at their desks and be a constant reminder for them.

learning goal cards

I know what you are thinking....This is all great, BUT how do I get my students to buy into this? 


Before we wrote our first goals, we had a class discussion about what a realistic goal would be. Many students wanted to write: "I will get 4s on all my tests." While that is a great goal, it's not realistic. We discussed picking a specific test they wanted to do well on. This narrows their focus and gives them something specific to work towards.

free student learning goal cards


I had to guide and help my students understand this concept. I had students who wanted to write, "I want to do well on my math test." What is "do well?" This little guy wanted to get all his IXL math problems correct. While this is a great goal, I wanted him to feel successful. We talked and decided 85% accuracy was a realistic goal he could achieve. AND...it's measurable.

student goal cards


When my students reach one of their goals, they earn a brag tag to celebrate their accomplishment. They hand me their Post-It note with their goal and the date they met the goal. I put the Post-It on a sheet of paper in their portfolio folder. Everyone claps and cheers for the student! It's an amazing site! Students beaming with pride!

student learning goal cards

Note: After a few weeks of setting and achieving goals, my students were able to manage their goals themselves. They write their goal on their individual white board and put it on top of their desk. This let's me know they need their goal checked by me. If the goal is appropriate, I hand them a Post-It and they write their goal on it and place it on their goal card. I usually adjust or guide my students into a goal that I want them to focus on improving without them realizing it.

There is no pressure to achieve a goal by a certain date. However, if I see a student hasn't met a goal in a few weeks, I ask them to rewrite it or make it more realistic and measurable. I want them all to feel success within a reasonable amount of time.

Ready to get started? Grab your FREE set of learning goal cards by clicking: HERE.
*Please note: You must have PowerPoint to open and use this file.

I love to hear from my readers. Leave a comment and share how you help your students manage and set their learning goals too.


How To Stop The Classroom Chatter

Teaching kids can be challenging. There are only so many hours in the day and the list of things that need to get taught and completed each day can be daunting. As directors of chaos (aka: classroom teachers) we need our students to be focused and on task as much as possible. Transitions need to be quick and smooth. We've a lot to get done, people!

This school year, I have an incredible group of students. But there is one BIG problem. They are WAY too social!!! They talk ALL. THE. TIME! I was about to lose my mind! Then, the heavens above looked down on me. A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling through my IG feed, all my prayers were answered! 

classroom voice level chart with lights
This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing 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.

My blogging bestie Aimee from Primarily Speaking wrote this great blog post show casing some great Back To School books and shared this book and a free voice chart to go with it. I didn't think much about it at the time because I had never used a voice level chart in my classroom. Well, after about 2 weeks of school, I knew I NEEDED the book and a voice chart! HA!

I immediately logged onto my Amazon account and bought this book and a few other items in my cart (click on pictures for link).

Next, I gathered all the materials I was going to need to put together my voice chart. I wanted to change a few things on the voice chart to make it work best in my classroom. I took off "outside voice" because my students rarely have the opportunity to use that voice in my room! I ended up tweaking and creating my own chart. 

I also wanted a different, easy, eye catching way for my students to know which voice level to use and when. These tap lights were the answer. I purchased 2 packs of the lights and adhesive magnetic strips so they could stick to my white board. 

voice level chart with lights

classroom voice level chart with tap lights

HONESTLY??? This has been a blessing. The kids are more aware of expectations. They remind each other what level voice to use by pointing at the chart. They LOVE being the student to turn the lights on or off. It's a little miracle!

Are you ready to make your own voice level chart too? You can get started by grabbing this {FREE} template HERE.

I hope you love using this in your classroom. Please leave a comment with your success stories or any questions you make have. I love hearing from my readers.


My Favorite Management Tool

There is one easy to implement tool that has helped make my students time in specials meaningful, productive, and reduce behavior problems so that the maximum amount of learning happens in the short time they are in specials.

These editable student name tags are great to use during special classes.

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing 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.


When I first started teaching, I had NO CLUE what other teachers were talking about when they kept referring to "specials." Come to find out, it is any class your students go to when you are not the direct teacher. At my school, that would be PE time, library time, music, art, dance class etc. Every school has a different way of referring to these classes, but "specials" seems to be the most common term when referring to them as a whole. 


Hands down the best way for your students and their "specials" teacher to get the most out of their short time together is to reduce behavior problems by helping them make a personal connection with one another. What better way to do this but with a NAME! Yes, that is correct! Other teachers need to know my students by name, so that personal connection can start immediately. Think about how many students are rotating through that teacher's classroom and in a very short period of time. They can't remember everyone's name without a little bit of help. 

The most effective tool I have found to work immediately is the gift of a NAME TAG. Yep! Simple as that. A name tag. My students know when it is time to go to "specials" they must have a name tag. I have monitors that pass them out to each of the students. They get in line and off we go.

I have tried many different types of name tags. Sticky tags/labels are too expensive and time consuming to make and pass out. I have used clip on tags, but my little second graders always need help putting them on or getting them clipped so their name actually shows. 

The easiest, cheapest, and most effective name tags I have found are these lanyard name tags. They are AMAZING! They come in a pack of 50 so you can split the cost with a colleague. The plastic holder can be used horizontally or vertically. It is incredibly thick and durable, so you will be able to use them year after year. You can find the ones I purchased by clicking HERE

These editable student name tags are a great tool to use throughout the school year.

The only thing I suggest is washing the lanyards at the end of the year so your next group of kiddos get a fresh start.


If you would like to make these for your students, you can download the name tag template for FREE here or click on the picture above. 

***As a reminder, this file is editable. Therefore, you MUST have PowerPoint in order to open and edit the file.

I hope you find these to be an effective tool in your classroom too. Let me know your favorite management tool in the comments. I'm always looking for new ways to make specials effective.


These name tags are a great tool to use throughout the year.

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!

My favorite 10 resources I use in my classroom

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing 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. 

I love using this editable back to school forms all year long

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 am laminating all my Benchmark Reading vocabulary cards

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. 

My students love receiving brag tags

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. 

Task cards are easy to use for differentiation when teaching

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. 

Task cards are great for independent practice, small groups and roam the room activities

Task cards are great for independent practice, small groups and roam the room activities

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! 
My teaching heart loves unlimited printing in color with my HP Printer
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!


this is a list of top 10 must have classroom tools I can't live without