Alternative to Treasure Chest

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Let's talk treasure chests....rewards are great but can become a headache if not managed properly.  In my position I don't have a lot of time to devote to treasure chest Friday.  So, I came up with a quick, clever idea that has proven to be both effective and fun for my students.

Welcome to another edition of...

I have 30 minutes with each goes by way too fast as it is so I don't want to waste valuable time having kids dig through a treasure chest.  This time saver has come in clutch this year and my students have fallen in love with this new take on treasure chest Friday.

It's pretty simple....I give them three choices, that's it.  No more digging through a huge treasure chest and digging, and digging.  A large treasure chest can quickly become overwhelming to kids and when you are short on time ( hello, all of us ) can become more of a burden than a fun incentive.

So, what did I do you ask...I'm so glad you asked.  I purchased a little crate with 2 openings, laid velcro across the top and attached fabric with velcro to each opening.  I call it DOOR #1, DOOR #2 and a MYSTERY BAG.  There you have it 3 yep 3 choices.  Not overwhelming, no digging or spilling over - whew, so much easier!

I lift the flap of each 'door' so they can see those prizes and then show them the brown mystery bag ( without opening it ).  They decide which one they want and we move on ~ it's as simple as that!  You know what?!?  So far every child each Friday has chosen the MYSTERY BAG!!!!  How funny is that!?!? 
** If you are interested in grabbing these mini bags you can grab them here on amazon.... #affiliatelink

 If you have one class ( which I would guess would be most of you ) it will be very simple to refill the mystery bags or's little trickier for me since I have 8 groups and have to change it out before each group.  But guess what - it still saves me valuable TIME.  

I always say ~ reading groups create urgency - no time to waste, so I want to devote almost every minute of my 30 minutes to literacy.  This helps quite a bit on Fridays believe it or not.

Try it out and let me know how it goes, it has completely transformed my Friday Treasure Chest time.

As always ~~~ 

Happy Teaching my friends,


Book Study Packs for end of the year or Emergency Sub Plans

Monday, May 24, 2021
We've all had those moments....we need an emergency sub and we need something fast that is both meaningful and engaging OR we are end of the year teacher tired and need fun, engaging activities to keep them busy engrossed which then frees us to wrap up end of the year tasks or I right?!?!

End of the year or sub plans activities

Well, I've come to the rescue ~~~  The end of the year there's always SO MUCH to do...we have report cards, finishing up assessments, packing up our classroom, cum folders, etc. etc.

So - why not have fun, engaging activities for your students that go along with their favorite stories?!?!  I have tons of book study packs in my store that are perfect for this kind of thing:  some are meant to go along with a theme like growth mindset, or friendship, others go along with their core lit for the year and some are just for fun to go along with some of their all time favorite read alouds.

These activities are perfect for the end of the year or sub love read alouds and these packs will have them interacting with their favorite beloved characters from these books in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Here are some of my book study packs:

end of the year and sub plan activities

Click here to find out  more about the Rainbow Fish.

Click here to find out more about Swimmy.
if you give a mouse bundled

Click here to find out more about his bundled pack.

Jabari Jumps  The Giving tree

Click here to find out more about Jabari Jumps.

Click here to find out more about The Giving Tree.

Giraffes Can't Dance  Elmer the Elephant

Click here to find out more about Elmer the Elephant.

Click here to find out more about Giraffes Can't Dance.

Picture Book read aloud ideas

Find out more about The True Story of the Three Little Pigs here.  It's one of my most popular book packs!

Click here to find out more about Ira Sleeps Over.

I have several more book study packs in my store click here to get right to that category.

These always come in handy for either love read alouds and there's always great activities that can be done to supplement these fun stories.

Hang in there's almost June!

Happy Teaching xoxo,

End of the Year Fun

Sunday, May 9, 2021
Ahhh, the end of the've worked hard all year and you and your students deserve some fun and celebrating!!  I have several ways you can do this that I'd love to share with you!!

end of the year school ideas

I have several packs that you can use to 'ring' in the end of the school year.  I also have a parent letter in one of those packs that gives you a week full of fun activities with response pages...practically done for you!  What more would you want when you already have report cards, meetings, cum folders etc to work on.

End of year Ideas

Crazy Sock Day last week of school

This pack includes a week worth of ideas and response pages that will keep your kiddos busy so you are free to do a little packing up on the side.  #multitaskingforthewin

Autograph shirt day/ Crazy Sock Day/ Read a thon fort day/ Game board day/ Field day

I have other packs that are more grade level focused as well if you want to focus more on the grade level they just wrapped up....

grab this one here

third grade end of the year pack

grab the 2nd grade one here

second grade end of the year pack

grab the first grade one here

first grade end of the year pack

I also have a hollywood, red carpet themed one you might enjoy as well... grab it here

End of the year pack

I hope I've given you some fun ideas you can implement for that last week.  Also if you purchase bubbles in bulk, it's fun to take it outside and have bubble wars - provide your students with several different wand choices.  It will keep them busy for a while along with sidewalk chalk, they love to decorate the playground.

Enjoy and happy { almost } summer!


Struggling Readers - I got you

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Struggling readers....what do they need more of, what is the best bang for my buck in the limited time I have with them?  How can I best reach all my readers and the wide range of deficits I'm seeing in my students?

helping struggling readers

All great questions that good teachers should be asking themselves...

Welcome to another edition of 

We've all been there....looking at your limited time for small group reading instruction and trying to meet all of your students' needs with the time you have ~ it's tricky for sure! 

First, I'd like to walk you through a typical reading group in my class to get started.  

sample small group reading plan

Now, I need to quantify this a a literacy specialist I have 30 minute groups typically.  If you have a larger class your groups can't take up that much time to fit them all in.  I had 20-22  minute groups when I taught second grade a few years ago.  If you have a smaller class size you absolutely can have longer groups and you should in my opinion especially if you teach 1st or 2nd.  

The reading program we use is Fountas & Pinnell and we have our encoding piece every other lesson.  So, on the days we don't have the writing about text our book is a little longer and or we can devote more time to comprehension or word work.  I like to squeeze in an engaging game to make it fun for them.

Having been a first grade teacher for over a decade I know the importance of explicit systematic instruction in the area of phonics.  Phonics is an essential component of your daily reading instruction as is phonemic awareness.

Remember:  Phonemic awareness drills can be done in the dark.  That just means you are not introducing or working with print/symbols when you are working on these drills.  They are all related to sounds in spoken words.  

If you can make this instruction multi sensory even better.  I pull from my bag of tricks often to get this in.  

Examples of this:  tapping your arm for each sound and sliding down your arm to blend.  

arm tapping for segmenting words

Pressing down on playdoh in elkonin boxes to say each sound with or without the letters displayed.  

ideas for reading groups

Building words with wikki stix or playdoh and even pool noodles (while saying each sound) .  Using shaving cream or gel food colored bags to spell words and write letters helps as well.

reading manipulatives

reading group tips

Here are a few more fun things you can incorporate into your reading group time that incorporates tactile learning for your littles.

hands on reading group ideas

hands on reading group ideas

There are so many ways to make learning to read fun!  I hope some of these ideas are helpful!

Happy Teaching!


The Importance of Crossing the Midline

Thursday, April 15, 2021
My mom was an educator - I always thought she was before her time.  There were so many strategies and ideas that she embedded into her teaching that were new, innovative and greatly successful in her classrooms and enrichment centers she ran.

One of the things she talked about quite a bit with me was 'crossing the midline', she not only had us at a young age growing up involved in many fine motor activities but made sure we were crossing our midlines often. 

I can remember she let us bang pots and pans with wooden spoons.  Can you imagine the noise level in my home?!?  4 kids - 3 boys and I was the youngest...they finally got their girl. 💟💕

My house was wild growing up, lots of commotion and friends over, lots of fun but most importantly lots of love.

Back to the pots and pans - that is actually a GREAT way to get a little one to cross their midline.  Place the pots strategically so they have no choice but to cross their midline as they hit them.

Crossing the midline

I can also remember weaving pipe cleaners through metal strainers - yeah I'm a product of the 70's so we used those. 😂  Another great skill to build fine motor skills and again cross the midline.  

Other great ways to implement this is:

* a game of TWISTER

* playing patty cake and crossing while clapping someone else's hands.

* playing tennis

* playing piano

* playing SIMON SAYS

* stretching

* finger puppets - have them pull them off their hand by crossing over and using their opposite hand.

* tracing an infiniti loop

* kicking a ball ( soccer drills )

There are so many great ways to practice this all important skill....why is this so important- I thought you'd never ask!!

So, first let me explain what this even means:  

The midline is an imaginary line ( think equator ) although it is vertical not horizontal that divides the body between left and right.  Crossing the midline is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs.  


This isn't the best example as I'm not standing straight but you get the idea.

Crossing the Midline Advantages:

Crossing the midline helps the brain build pathways that are extremely important for various skills.  Crossing the midline builds bilateral coordination, the ability to use two hands together.  We use bilateral coordination for skills such as dressing, tying shoes, buttoning, handwriting, cutting and coloring to name a few.  

Crossing the Midline

This is needed for printing/handwriting, copying from the board in school, early tracking - left to right.  It also develops gross motor skills such as coordination and balance.  

Neurologically, the lack of crossing the midline could result in poor communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  Although the hemispheres work in tandem , we typically have dominant traits that labels us as right brained or left brained based on the tasks we are good at accomplishing.  Any activity that involves the movement of crossing the midline actively engages your brain.  If not skilled in this children can have mental fatigue that's why doctors and educators feel it's so important.  Some studies have shown that children expend so much mental energy focusing on gross motor skills ( due to a lack of crossing the midline ) that it negatively impacts their attention and working memory.  

Sadly, this is a crucial skill to have in their repertoire so that later they can be successful with tasks in learning that require a strong working memory.

If you feel your child or student has issues with fine/gross motor skills and you notice they are not well versed in crossing their midline...trouble with buttons, using 2 hands at once, printing, etc.  you may want to contact your school's OT for further assistance and screening.

Hope this helps you identify the needs of your students ~~ 
happy teaching!


Party Ideas, Fun Friday Tips ~ Let's Have some Fun

Monday, April 12, 2021
Y'all know we LIVE for Fridays but guess what?!?!  Kids aren't that sad about them either. 🤣

I know I loved having early finisher projects HANDY for when I threw a class party.  For one, there are usually a ton of parent helpers and they were busy.  That last thing I wanted was for kids to go talk to a parent helper when they finished up a rotation early and take the focus away from what the parent is doing.. helping a group of kids.

So, for every party I host I always have a little something something on the kids desks just in case they finish a rotation early.  Sometimes a rotation doesn't take as  long as another....other times a rotation requires 1 on 1 help and the kids have to wait patiently for their turn.

So, out comes my handy dandy fun friday fill ins.  It might be pin art, a self-paced directed draw or even a word search with all their classmates names in it.  

These fill ins are also perfect for FUN FRIDAY.  Let's face it ~~ with all the rigor in schools today we all deserve a little down time about 40 minutes before the bell rings on Friday afternoon....

Many of the teams I've been on have had Fun Friday rotations:  chrome book room for fun apps, outside extra playtime and then usually an  art project or game of good ol' fashioned Heads up 7 Up.

My Pin art packs or Fun Friday packs are PERFECT for these situations.  They are easy to print out and have ready for those early finishers at parties or a Fun Friday rotation.  You can't go wrong.  My pin art packs are thematic :  seasonal, emojis, letters 

If you are interested in grabbing the PIN ART BUNDLE - you can grab it here.  
It includes: 

pin art bundle - fun friday and parties

I also have pin art for each letter of the alphabet as well which you can find here.

My Fun Friday packs are monthly: both seasonal and thematic  ( still working on finishing them all ) - they include both pin art and self paced directed draws.  Click here for the National Symbol pack.

National Symbols fun pack

National Symbols fun pack

You can find my other fun friday packs in my store:

Fun Friday Packs

I just finished the APRIL fun friday pack which you can find here.

Pin art and directed draws April

As you can see these are EASY, no prep things you can do with your students to celebrate the end of the week.

Other fun ideas:

Go Noodle Dance Party
Head up 7 up
4 corners
outside free play
tear art
STEM activity
PBL activity
Flashlight Friday 
Handball against the teacher

I get it some weeks are L - O - N - G and it's nice to have a no brainer activity to round up the Friday, I hope these are helpful to you.  I know many times I was stuffing Friday folders and multi tasking while the kids were working on pin art...our work never ends.

Take care and happy teaching!


Teaching Ideas for April

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Springtime, the weather is warmer....and the kids are well... a bit crazy aren't they?!?!  Spring Fever is real y'all and if you didn't know that you must not be in education!

Welcome to another edition of...

I love Spring and the warmer weather, I love the longer days too!  But, spring time in the classroom can be a bit challenging at times.  They too are feeling the Spring break vibes ( just like you are )  But they are dreaming of long bike rides, fortnight and sleepovers...not mimosas. 😂😂

Here are some fun, engaging things you can do with your littles and their Spring Fever feels.

First off, if you are virtual or F2F this game is super fun and engaging for your kiddos!  They will ask to play this again and again!

digital phonics game

My close reading packs are super EASY to pop right into Seesaw for a meaningful aysnchonous activity.  Here is one of my Spring packs.

Close reading Spring
Grab it here.

I also have them for each month... here's the one for April.

April Close Reading use with Seesaw  
as well as one on insects... click picture to see more.

Close reading insects - use in Seesaw

These packs I have for every month - What I'm teaching for....
lots of seasonal goodies to work on all kinds of skills.

April printables

...and so much more.  Grab it here.

Did you know that APRIL is National Poetry month ?!?!  I have a TON of poetry packs in my store, in fact many of them are bundled because I have so many.

Poems for a year with Sight Words

These are PERFECT for all year long.  They are all written by me and mostly seasonal.  There is a focus on sight word practice and either inferencing or a reading comprehension question included.

I have several packs as well as some of them are bundled - you can find them  here.

Insects, frogs and farms are also fun to teach on in the Spring... here are some fun packs with crafts. ( perfect to display at  Open House ) Click images to review farm unit.

farm unit for primary

farm unit for primary

farm unit for primary

farm unit for primary

Pond life/frogs are perfect for Spring too.  Click the pictures to see more.

frogs unit

frog unit

frog unit

Another Spring time favorite is I right?!?  Click picture to check it out.

Butterfly unit

Clearly, there's lots to teach in the Springtime.  Lots of fun themes to incorporate into Open House too. 

Also, if you made it this far....I'm impressed.  Just wanted to add a  fun idea for behavior a.k.a. spring fever feels.

april behavior tips for elementary

These are editable and you can add your own goals on the jellybeans. Happy Spring friends!!