Tips to re engage your students after a holiday break

Sunday, December 31, 2017
Christmas break, Spring name it and well ~ let's all be honest here - Teachers LOVE it!  Don't get us wrong we love our students to pieces and pour our heart and soul into them, but we be tired peeps!  Can I hear an amen!?!?!

tips to get kids back on track before or after a holiday break

We love our break and sometimes staying in our PJ's all day...ok that doesn't really happen that often if you are a busy mom but even if for a few hours we can pee when we want, drink coffee in peace and not be on a schedule...yes please!

With that being said, we kinda sorta dread don't eagerly await heading back to school.  Again, it's not because of the kids - we miss them and adore them.  BUT, getting back into a routine, not wearing our pj's till noon, ( ok, I never do that but I've seen pics on Instagram of teachers that do ) LOL and more importantly getting our students back in the groove can be a bit let's say ...rough.
I mean how many times do we say to our students," You couldn't do that back in August and you know you can't do that now."  "We've been in school 5 months you know where to turn that in. "    
" Johnny, we don't eat glue!" 
 This part is not our favorite, it seems like we spend much of January re training our students
Believe me I'm not putting down our precious friends, but again in all honesty this is reality right teacher friends!?!?  So what to do, what to do???
My biggest tip for getting their behavior back on track is to...

behavior management tips for after holiday breaks

I know that sounds kinda counter intuitive right!?!?!  I mean we are all about consistency and a stable environment, etc. etc.  So why in the world would we switch things up?  Well I view it kinda like when you have hit a plateau in a weight loss journey.  I mean wasn't it Albert Einstein that had the quote, " The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result. "  If you have hit a plateau in your weight loss - you change things up, hit the gym or the running trails, hop in the pool, start weight training if you haven't.  It's kinda the same with behavior management sometimes.  
Don't bang your head against a wall - repeating yourself to your students and using the plan you have always used.  

Try something new, and watch the magic happen my friends.  Your students will be more attentive and strive to do better if they are trying to achieve something they haven't 'seen' before.  It will be new and exciting to them and they will strive to hit the mark.

behavior management tips

Every single time I switch things up I get a great return for my investment if that makes sense.  Whether I think of this new 'thing' myself or find another teacher sista from another mista or brother from another motha that has a brilliant idea that I can use I always try something new.  I love watching their sweet faces and seeing their eyes light up and their ears perk up.  They want to hear what they can earn and how... the how is important folks.  The how is very important.  Yes, they can earn table points, yes you can pick a mystery walker...blah, blah, blah.  I'm not putting these things down because they work.  BUT what about buying a puzzle at the dollar store and they earn a piece every time you get a compliment or see the class engaging and working together to solve problems.  Instead of working quietly maybe they earn it by having academic maybe it's a little louder in your room but they are engaged and having great discussions!!! 
 When the puzzle is complete they can earn SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE NEVER OFFERED BEFORE.  Have you had a forts and flashlights day?  ( flashlights can be purchased for a dollar in the camping section of Walmart btw )...pssh - they LOVE this day!  Have you had a bubble blowing day on the playground?  Buy some bubbles and give your students wands and let them...wait for it - PLAY!!!! Yes, I said it - play!  Be creative there are lots of rewards you can give them that don't cost you much.  I recently had a flashlights and fort day in my classroom and asked the kids to bring in flashlights, I had a handful for kids that forgot and others shared.  I heard my students saying, " This is the best day ever!"
Keep your rules and expectations the same, I'm not suggesting you do something crazy.  But, switch up an incentive to get them back on track.  Have you ever spelled out a mystery phrase and they earn letters?  They love trying to solve it Wheel of Fortune style...and it cracks me up.  As they earn more letters it gets easier for them to figure out and if they figure it out before they earn all the letters that's okay because they are still just as excited.  Here's a list of some ideas you can add to your repertoire or re use if you forgot about it or haven't used it in years...

behavior management tips

What are some things you do to switch things up in your classroom when you think your students could use a 'jumpstart'?  As always my friends, happy teaching!


Parent Gift bags made easy

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Happy Wednesday this ( short ) edition of 

I wanted to talk to you about parents gifts and the presentation 
( i.e. gift bag/ wrapping etc. )
So, years ago I would have the kids sponge paint the lunch bags with cute holiday themed stamps that I had....

homemade christmas gift bag
Now let's just take a minute and be honest....I've taught first grade for 14 years and 2nd for 5 and now I'm in 3rd again after teaching it 10 years ago for a couple years.  The first graders would, God bless them, somehow make the angels or stars look like I right?!?!  I know... I have kids - I get's cute and adorable and everyone can get a nice laugh out of it but I still think the 2nd picture is cute too.  So, take your pic or switch it off each year but the way to create the bag with the hole punches and the fabric bow always stays the same.  I've been making these bags like this for 20 years now.

Now, I know some of you are all about 'team let the kids' do it...that's fine.  I'm just saying I like the 2nd way better.  I've done my fair share of the messy kid done bags and now I have the kids make them this way.  They still have the homemade gift inside it so I don't feel bad about it.  
Also just fold the bag over and hole punch, then add the bow.  I use fabric and just rip it against the grain to make these thinner strips.  Then I weave them through the hole punches and create the's super easy and always looks nice.  You can use any fabric you have on hand or purchase a holiday themed fabric too.
It's also cute to use the sponges on brown packing paper and then you can help the kids wrap the gift but honestly I've never done it that way.  I've had other teacher friends do it, it just to me would take to long.  The drop and go gift bag is just so easy!  #aintnobodygottimeforhardstuffindecember

Anywho... if you've never made the parent gift bags like this before you need to give it a try!
See you next week!


Keeping it real with Elf on the Shelf

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hello, hello, hello welcome to another edition of ...

I'm here to talk to you about December and things that go along with it.  If you go to my search bar ( to the right ) and type elf on the shelf I think I have at least 6 posts on that to give you ideas.  What is going down in my room this year however is saving my sanity!!

This year our elf - Snowflake - who I may or may not have a love/hate relationship with...well we have shall you say come to an agreement....
She arrived in my classroom on Dec. 1st this year.  By Monday the 4th she had a very large note for us to read that stated this:

elf on the shelf ideas

So, my students learned quickly that Snowflake's magic 'kicks' in only on Wednesdays.  It's kinda like a caffeine high. LOL  They fell for it hook, line and sinker.  They didn't even question it.  Seriously!?!? #teacherwin 
So, she used her magic and moved Tuesday night ( tonight ) so Wednesday she will be in her new spot.  I can't wait to see what they think and am so thankful she doesn't have to 'use' her magic until next Wednesday.  I can now go about my business ~ like get them ready for the district writing assessment, talk to my friends in the morning without panicking about her moving, get to am duty without stressing, etc.
Ahh, the elf on the shelf isn't so bad guys really.  You need to give it a try. LOL

OR use this excuse...

Happy December sweet teacher friends!!


Santa Key

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Little memories and traditions for your kids can make a big imprint on their hearts.

Welcome to another edition of...

During the holidays as I was growing up we did several things that stuck out in my mind as a kid and most of them I've carried on as traditions with my own kids. 

We took turns putting the angel on top of the tree.  I have 3 big brothers and we had an ancient, falling apart, sweet angel that topped it.  I loved getting on my big brothers or dad's shoulders to put it up.  My mom would write the year and the name on the outside of the box so when we took the decorations out we knew whose turn it was to put the angel up.  I wanted it to be my turn every year as you can imagine.   She did the same with the nativity or creche set.  We always knew whose turn it was for that as well and when it was my turn I very carefully placed the animals, wise men, baby Jesus etc. just how I imagined it looked thousands of years ago.

One tradition that my mom brought into my family as a young mother of 2 myself was the Santa Key.  We have always lived in a house since having kids and they had chimneys - but my mom saw the key and thought it would be so cute to give to my kids.  She told them that if the toy bag was too big Santa could just use the key and go in our front door.  My kids enjoyed finding a place to hang the key that Santa could easily find.  

Traditions are special memories that can be recreated from families passing them down to generations.  Looking at Christmas lights of course and singing Christmas carols have been favorites too.

As a teacher I thought how special it would be to have my students make a Santa key that they could use every year and always remember when they made it.  So, this idea came to mind and I knew it needed a special poem to go with it which I wrote myself.  Even if your student lives in a house and Santa can slide down the chimney it can still come in handy.  If their family uses the fireplace or as mentioned previously if Santa's toy sack is too big...well the Santa key will come to the rescue.  If you want to make your very own Santa key with your child or your students - you can grab it here and watch the magic as they smile proudly at their finished creation and hang it ever so carefully in the perfect spot.  Grab it here!

Make a Santa Key with your child or students and help to create a fun tradition in their home.


Taking the time to teach social skills in the classroom

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We have A LOT to teach...I get it.  I mean there are days I just put an arrow in my lesson plan book to the following day for a skill I just didn't get to...can I hear an amen?!?  
One thing that I will not neglect though is basic social skills.  That will never go out the door for me.

teaching social skills to kids

This has been bothering me for a while and I'm glad to tackle it today on my newest edition of...

Social skills ~ I have heard some teachers talking in the lounge complaining that kids don't have social skills but yet I rarely hear solutions.  I'm a big - if you are going to complain about it, you should also either be open to solutions or have one in mind to at least talk about with someone.  I've heard teachers complaining and blaming the parents for the student's lack of social skills, I've heard them complain and blame technology (I've done both by the way).  I've been teaching for 23 years so I can tell you that I've seen LOTS of changes over the years.  When I first taught we didn't have cell phones or ipads, or mini gaming systems.  I am definitely a tech immigrant and I've seen some effects of technology that I truly don't like at all.
So back to social skills and how important I think they are...if you follow me you know how big I am on classroom community.  I see my classroom as a 'family' and do my very best to make my room a loving, risk free, caring, safe place for kids to come each day.  Mutual respect and no put downs are extremely important to me.  I talk a lot about how we are all talented in some way and good at different things.  There are several ways that I try to build classroom community and social skills among my students.


I greet each child at the door and smile, hug or 'knuckle' them as they come in.  This lets them know I'm happy to see them and it gives them a chance to look me in the eye and greet me in the same way.  No joke when my kids were little, I had a babysitter walk out the door with her HAND OUT to take the money while she was looking at her phone.  I was horrified and never asked her back.  Seriously!?!?!  That lack of respect really bothered me as a mom and it does as a teacher as well.

morning greetings in the classroom


When kids are involved in a conflict, I walk them through the steps to figure it out.  I teach third grade and they should probably already have a sense of this by now, but many don't.  I usually pull the kids aside and talk quietly to them.  I tell them to tell the other person how they feel and say, "look them in the eye as you say it."  If they don't I tell them to do it again...uncomfortable maybe a bit.  However, I think teaching kids to look people in the eye is very important.  ALSO don't even get me started on how I feel technology has RUINED this for kids.  When I started teaching like I said earlier there weren't phones, etc and kids actually asked kids to play by looking at their FACE.


Class meetings are another great way to build community.  Often when kids ( younger ones mostly ) have something on their mind they will have a difficult time concentrating anyway on school work.  Class meetings allow a quick share among students to do just that.  Also it encourages listening skills and listening to listen and not just to talk again.  There are a variety of resources on the web to help you out with this if you want more information.


Unfortunately one of the down falls of technology is the want it now, instant gratification, never bored syndrome kids have nowadays.  This also includes the #alwayslookingdownatyourdevice problem ~  I legit should make that a hashtag cuz that is #reallife peeps!
Kids NEED to be bored parents...PLEASE let your kids be bored.  As a young mom I loved watching my toddler turn a box into a spaceship or train.  I enjoyed watching my son create and recreate new tracks for his Thomas and friends mini trains.  I saw them pick up books again and again just to look at the pictures and 'read a story' in their mind to their stuffed animals.  These things make me sad because I don't see enough young parents doing this anymore.  I see 2 year olds on their devices at dinner and parents on theirs or talking to each other but not engaging with the toddler.  For those young parents that aren't doing this I applaud you, I get it that it's a different time BUT that doesn't mean you have to feed into it.  Kids still want boundaries, still need boundaries and still desire expectations placed on them
I make it a very big deal in my room to be respectful and I let them know they have to WAIT!  Wait for directions, wait in line patiently, wait for me to finish what I'm saying and look at me the entire time I'm talking.  These are skills that are extremely important to me.  In fact, this skill is so lacking in my room that I had to make up a QUESTIONS behavioral sign.  Basically, because my students are so impatient they blurt out questions before I'm done giving instructions, they ask questions AFTER I've given instructions, they ask redundant questions that they already know but are too lazy to remember.  It's unfortunate and I love them dearly but these are skills that a boss isn't going to want to deal with when they are adults.

behavior management tip for the classroom

I was so tired of all the questions that I made this up last week.  I told the students if someone asked me an inappropriate question  for instance ( one that I already explained, or where to turn something in ( seriously?!? ) It's November folks. ) you get it, I take down a letter.  The first day I only took down 2 letters but they were both within 5 minutes of walking into class.  It was a great visual for the kids to see how many questions they ask.  I have kids raise their hands and then pull their hand down and say never mind because they either looked around the room for the answer, or just realized how they could solve that problem on their own.  For instance, it's not okay to ask what are we doing next in my room, I post a schedule every single day.  The answer is right in front of them.


Manners 101...manners are a big deal too.  We say please, thank you, bless you , etc. in my class.  We say I'm sorry and we help each other.  Part of social skills is basic manners and I want my students to come out as better human beings than when they arrived.  Some teachers think it should be left to the parents but I disagree...again, yes we have a lot to teach but you can fit in what's really important to you.

I love this because it's so true in all aspects of life.  How are you teaching these skills or reinforcing what you want to see in your classroom?  I'd love to have a discussion below in the comments.  Just like with growth  mindset, we can 'retrain' the brain to do these things that kids did more freely before technology came into their lives.  Just something to think always ~ ~ ~
Happy Teaching! 


5 ways to use paint chips in the classroom

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Welcome to another edition of...

So it's a short week and I didn't even realize it until Monday ...seriously?!?! SMH Usually stuff like this doesn't get by me LOL but trust me I'm in need of a day off so I'm happy to embrace a short week.  I wanted to share some easy paint chip ideas that you can use in your classroom.

The first one is a Christmas cute would it be to attach these cute trees to a paper bag gift from your students to their parents!?!  

Having these on hand for early finishers or centers is a great option for kids too!  Use them for words of meaning or fact families - they are the perfect size for little hands for ELA or math.


This one is probably my favorite...those 3 windowed paint chips are perfect for this....they chose the correct 'operation' for the three numbers given.  I can't wait to use this in a math center.

The last way to use paint chips in the classroom is for word work...this window is perfect for word family practice with your reluctant readers.

Well guys ~ I'm exhausted, #teachertruth I just want
my bed right now.  Enjoy the rest of your week and thanks for tuning always
Happy teaching! xoxo,


Halloween treats for kids

Sunday, October 29, 2017
I don't know about you but our district allows us 3 'parties' a year.  They mean organized parties that revolve around holidays etc.  So, that's Christmas, Valentine's Day and the end of the year.  We can have class reward parties but these parties are the kind that parents come in and there's usually food, etc.  So with that being said we don't have a Halloween party per say have to do something I mean otherwise it's like a big elephant in the room right?!?  Let's be honest, full moons and Halloween are our least favorite days of the year.  So, how to handle it....well hopefully I have some ideas that you can use to help you through the day.

Welcome to my Halloween edition of...

( on SUNDAY this week )

Halloween is a like a 4 letter word for teachers...ugh!  I would honestly rather have the district take a day from my Christmas break and let me have the day of or the day after Halloween off.  Can I hear an amen!?!

So what to do?!?!

Well I always want to be sure my students have something to take home from me and we can't have candy in the classroom so, I thought I could make mini pinatas for them.  I let them decorate a tube with paper and other craft items and then I turned it into a pinata by adding candy ( the horror ) and other fun non editable treats.  That way they can feel like they had something special at school.  ( they are doing a craft ) and then they take something from me home so I see it as a win win.

Easy Halloween treats for kids

The mini pinatas were so easy to's your how to:

Halloween party treats for kids

In my district we have a healthy policy so no cupcakes and treats like that...however we can send those types of things home, so this would be given to the kids on the way out the door.  
The other ideas are a healthy alternative:
Here are some fun healthy treats you can use in your classroom:

easy, healthy Halloween treats for kids

The banana is wrapped in gauze from the first aid aisle, I did pull it apart so it looked tattered and holey too.  The others I just drew faces on...easy peasy!  I hope you can use some of these ideas now or pin them for next year, have a glass of wine for me after school on Halloween or the day after...not sure which is worse. LOL
As always happy teaching!


Halloween costume ideas

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Happy almost Halloween guys!   The least favorite holiday of teachers everywhere right?!?  I do love Halloween and dressing up but I'm definitely not a fan of the hyped up kids the day of and the day after that's for sure.  Halloween should always be on a Saturday night! #justsayin
I wanted to share a couple of costume ideas with you that I did last year and this year.  Last year my team partner wanted us to dress up as Charlotte and Fern for Character dress up day.  Since we are 3rd grade teachers it was perfect.  Here we are:

Halloween costume ideas for teacher team

My outfit was easy to make.  I used white felt and my first thought was to hot glue black yarn down to create a I laid the yarn down I realized this job was going to be tricky.  So, I went to Party City and purchased a spider web decoration that can be put on your house and literally cut the middle and placed it on top of the white felt.  Then I carefully placed it and hot glued it in several places.  THIS made my life so much easier!  Guys, the trick really is to pre purchase the web and glue it down.  Lastly, I added a spider from Party City, glued that down and glued the words down which I spelled out with black yarn.  
You can wear leggins, printed tights, whatever you want.  I just wore a black skirt and striped legging tights to make it fun!  Oh, and I did grab a spider headband at Party City too to wear on my head.
If you want one of your teammates to be Fern...all you need is a plaid shirt, overalls or jeans and some freckles put on my an eyebrow pencil.  My friend added pig tails and carried a stuffed pig - HOWEVER, this year we have a third teammate so she will be Wilbur.
For Wilbur - just grad a pig headband and nose, pink shirt and pink leggings or tutu and you are all set.

Another fun costume I did which was this year is a giraffe.  If you know me you know I LOVE giraffes!  I have my whole life so this was perfect.  Here's how the look turned out:

Easy giraffe halloween costume, giraffe halloween

Giraffe halloween costume

Giraffe Halloween Costume

giraffe halloween costume

If you needed to tie this look into a character from a book you could always use the book Giraffe's Can't Dance.  Hope these ideas were helpful, I'd love for you to share your looks on my facebook page.
I hope you survive Halloween week, as always :
happy teaching! 


Associative property of Multiplication

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Happy 'hump' day friends...I'm here to share some tips on teaching the associative property of multiplication...sounds kinda dry huh?!?!  Well if you know me I try  ( very hard ) not to make things dry for my students so here's what we were up to today!
Welcome to another edition of :

If you aren't familiar with the video series on you tube by: Math & learning videos for kids you need to check them out.   Here is the link to this particular one:  
They are always engaging and a 'go to' for me.  This video placed a crown on the parenthesis to remind the kids that the parenthesis is 'king' and always goes first.  So....what was I to do of course...make a crown.  I'll be honest...first, I casually frantically asked every teacher on my wing if they had a crown ( preferably a nice solid metal or plastic one ).  No of course I headed straight to who else but kindergarten.  I mean hello...c'mon of course they would have crowns.  No I made my own cheesy worked fine.  I knew that I needed one and I had to have my parenthesis kids ( for our skit ) wear one as well.

This is what we came up with... ( oh P.S. no judging it happened to be Red Ribbon Week and a spirit up against drugs ) that's the reason for the jersey and black paint on my face.

associative property of multiplication tips

As you can see above, I rocked wore the crown during the entire lesson and then I called kids up to hold numbers, multiplication signs and of course hold the all important parenthesis.  As you can see the students holding the parenthesis were wearing the crowns to show that that part needed to be done first.  Then we moved the parenthesis' ( not sure how to make that plural ) LOL around different numbers to get our point across.
So, something like this:
3 x ( 4 x 2 ) =
( 3 x 4 ) x 2 =

It worked like a charm...even my struggling students were able to pick up on the concept.  I love when I teach something like this and it sticks with everyone...that makes my teacher heart so very happy!
So, if you want to try this in your class all you need is:

associative property of multiplication

It was super fun, memorable and easy to do, if you are teaching on it and finding your students having some trouble with it then you need to definitely get all 'royal' on your students and give this lesson a try!  I've included a freebie just for you - you can grab it 
{ here }

Associative property of multiplication freebie

I hope this was helpful to always,
 happy teaching!