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Reading Raffle


Looking for an easy way to celebrate reading? I use a "Reading Raffle" in my room! Here is how it works: 

1. Print off the Reading Raffle FREEBIE from my tpt store. Choose which style of slip you like most and copy using bright/colorful paper (I love using Astrobrights!)
2. Find a box, bucket, or container and attach a "Reading Raffle" label
3.  Decide on the rules to enter your raffle. Here are some ideas: Turning in a nightly reading log; Finishing a chapter or picture book; Passing an AR quiz; Passing a Reading Counts quiz; Answering questions correctly during Reading class (there are many possibilities-- you just need to decide what's going to work best for you and your students)

4. Decide how often you will hold the raffle (and how many names you will draw). I have mine every Friday afternoon-- the kids ask all day long because they are looking forward to it!

5. Lastly, decide what to use as a prize. Some teachers collect odds and ends from home (like old toys, books, etc.) to give away. Maybe you let the reader choose a $1 Scholastic book? I let my students choose a prize from our Dojo Rewards. Here is a post I wrote about some reward ideas-- feel free to browse! 
I hope this helps to stir up some reading excitement in your classroom-- I know it's been great in mine! Have a fabulous day! 

Setting Up Classroom Rules & Expectations

If you are a teacher you NEED to have your classroom management plan in mind (make it THE priority at the beginning of the year) In order for any learning to take place in any classroom-- there has to be rules and expectations. I like to make a list of the behaviors I value-- and think about the things that bother me. 

A well run classroom will always have a firm classroom management plan. You can create your rules ahead of time, or work with your students to write them (this can also help with student buy in). Ownership = more happiness!

I like to begin the first day of school with these activities (which I have linked below): 
Also, it's important to display your classroom rules for students (and guest teachers) to see. I go over my rules every day for the first few weeks-- and then at least once a week as a quick reminder. 
Once we establish our classroom rules and have those on display-- we move on to what type of classroom environment we want-- so we work on creating a classroom pledge! 
Your pledge doesn't have to be long-- but you should definitely include the behaviors most important to you and your students. 

Here's an example of a few pledge sentences:
Work with your students to set up the type of classroom you've always dreamed of having! Then, and this is important, stick to your rules and pledge. Hold them accountable. Practice, practice, practice. Be consistent and fair. And watch your classroom flourish!

Click HERE (or on the picture below) to access this resource for FREE in my free resource library! 

Click HERE (or on the picture below) to access the editable hipster dog rules: 

Glitter Ornament DIY

Happy holiday season! If you are looking for a quick, easy, and inexpensive ornament to make at school or home-- I am going to share one of my favorites! You can find another ornament idea (a wood slice photo ornament) HERE. (Please note this post contains some affiliate links)

Glitter Ornament DIY

Supplies: Set of clear glass ornament balls, bottle of liquid floor wax, glitter of various colors, small paper funnel (or plastic funnel if you own one), ribbon, letter stickers (or vinyl lettering if you own a cutting machine like a Cricut), paint pen or metallic sharpies
Step 1: Take the topper off the ornament and squirt in floor cleaner. Use thumb to stopper the ornament and shake/swirl the cleaner all over the inside (you want it coated)

Step 2: Dump excess floor cleaner out-- I have the kids dump it back into a cup and afterwards I pour it back into the bottle-- no need to waste any! I've been using the same bottle of floor cleaner for 3 years now! 

Step 3: Use a funnel (I make a paper one) to pour in glitter of choice.

Step 4: Use thumb to stopper the ornament and shake/roll the glitter all over the inside of the ornament. If there are bare spots you can always add more glitter. Do this until the inside is coated with glitter. 

Step 5: Put topper back on the ornament. 

Step 6: (Skip this step if you don't own a Cricut) The night before I use my Cricut machine to cut the first initial of all my students. I cut the letter at about 1 inch tall and use the font "Watermelon Script"-- as soon as the student is done with their ornament I apply the letter. I always use Oracle 651 vinyl in white
Step 7: If you aren't using vinyl on the outside, you can just as easily use sticker letters or a paint pen/metallic sharpie to add details like name and year. 

Step 8: Add a ribbon for hanging-- or hooks if you prefer.

Step 9: Put in small bags with tissue paper. I usually buy mine at craft stores when they have a sale! 

Step 10: Remind students to carry them home VERY carefully-- since they are glass!

This is one of my favorite ornament crafts! I've been making them with my students for over 5 years now! They always turn out beautifully-- and you can always save the extra supplies for the next year! If you want to save this idea-- please pin the image below: 

Wood Slice Ornament DIY

Hello! I know a lot of teachers look for relatively inexpensive ornaments/gifts to make with or give to their students! Here is one of my favorites! (Please note this post contains some affiliate links for Amazon)

Wood Slice Photo Ornaments
Supplies: Wood slices, ribbon, Mod Podge, Paintbrush, Pictures, Scissors, Pencil

Step 1: Purchase wood slices from a craft store or online. I bought these from Amazon, and they came with the hole already drilled! You can get Mod Podge at almost any store-- I usually buy the regular "matte" kind, but any kind should work. 
Step 2: Take photos of students-- use the "square" setting on your iPhone (Instagram sized photos) and upload them to your computer (sometimes I just email them to myself if my Dropbox is being slow!) I recommend taking the picture not super close up because you want space to trace around the person and not have to cut off pieces of their heads. (Or do a practice one first to see if you are taking it from the correct distance)

Step 3: Measure wood slice width and height (this helps you size the photos for printing)

Step 4: Open Microsoft PowerPoint (or whatever program you prefer-- PowerPoint is easier to move photos around/size them-- so I highly recommend it over Microsoft Word!) Change the slide layout to "blank" then you can open your files and drag/drop your photos onto the slide (or use the insert photo function). You can always add more slides if you have a lot of pictures. 

Step 5: Size your photos to be the same size as your wood slice. So if your wood slice is 2.5"-- make your photo that size. You can also make is slightly larger if you plan to trim it down a lot. To size your photo in PowerPoint-- right click the photo and select "size and position" from the choices. You can then type the size in and it will automatically adjust.

Step 6: Print photos. I think they look great in black in white, or sepia, or color-- it's really up to you!

Step 7: Lay wood slice ornament over photo and trace around the outside. Then use scissors to cut around your markings. You can always trim it down further to make it fit better. 
Step 8: Use paintbrush to apply a layer of Mod Podge directly to the wood slice (be sure to use the wood slice you traced with-- since each slice is shaped slightly differently). Put photo on the wood slice and rub it down on the glue. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge OVER the picture (don't worry-- it'll dry clearly)
Step 9: After the glue dries, use a pencil to poke through the hole-- and use thin twine or ribbon to hang. Add date, student name, class name, etc. on the back of the wood slice using a paint pen (markers may bleed)

Step 10: Let students create wrapping paper using butcher paper-- or buy some cheap bags and tissues paper from the dollar store. Have students help you wrap-- and you are all finished! 

Parents will love keeping these ornaments as years go by! I hope you enjoy making these with your students! Pin the image below to save it for years to come:

Teacher Fall Favorites

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I don't know about you, but fall is my favorite season! So many great holidays and activities to be had! Here are a few of my favorites I use every year:

My students LOVE these multiply & color pages! They make for a colorful display, quick sub plan, or fun activity on a party day! You can find this set HERE.

I love this board for fall! You simply have to print & cut the wording-- the coffee cup templates are editable so you can add student names. Plus, it comes with an option to focus on kindness in the classroom (which is always important). Find this bulletin board kit HERE.

These fall tags make me so happy-- and it's an easy way to reinforce things you want to see happening in the classroom! Find these brag tags HERE.

One activity we like to do before Halloween is make paper mache "pumpkins". Only, we let the kids create whatever masterpiece they want! We hang balloons from the ceiling with string, mix up paper mache glue, and give the kiddos newspaper and butcher paper to create their design. 
Students must put 2 layers of newspaper on the balloon before creating their designs with butcher paper. We let the balloons dry all weekend long-- then we pop the balloons, cut the tops open wider, and attach a pipe cleaner as a handle. The kids LOVE it! 

One last fun activity is to have a "Pumpkin Day". Students bring in a pumpkin from home, then you spend the whole day doing reading, writing, and math activities with them. You could also incorporate science! 

Here's an example of the descriptive writing project. Students decorate a paper pumpkin secretly then write a detailed description. You can hang the pumpkins and have students try to identify each pumpkin using the descriptions.

This unit also includes an easy pumpkin craftivity. You can use it to create a bulletin board display. There are writing pages included to staple to the craft.

There are some different pumpkin math exploration pages included, as well as addition and subtraction practice, but my favorite math activity is the graphing project. Each student gets a pumpkin and colors it in secret. Then you display all the finished pumpkins and fill out a tally sheet together. Students then use the tally sheet to create a bar graph! 

You can find these "Pumpkin Day" pages and activities HERE in my TPT store. Hope this post gave you some fun ideas for your classroom! 

Classroom Decor (Creating Cohesion)

I know it can be a hot debate, "Does a classroom need a theme to be great?" Of course, we all know the answer is "no". You don't need a theme to thrive. But I, personally, have always enjoyed having a theme of some kind-- to create a kind of "cohesion" for my learning space. I know that cohesion can create a calming atmosphere and make a classroom appear more welcoming. All that to say, you do what's best for YOU and your students. Everyone is different-- and that's ok! Here are some simple steps to creating a cohesive space:

1) I think the best way to create a cohesive classroom is to try and stick to a color scheme. So if you love red and black, try to use items mostly in those colors. If you love rainbows-- stick to those bright primary colors!

2) But what if the items I already own (or were given to me) don't match? This is where you have to get creative! Use contact paper, use spray paint (yes, it'll work on plastic-- just give it enough time to thoroughly dry), use chalk paint (it can cover almost anything), use dry eraser board paint, use scrapbook paper and mod podge, or try searching pinterest for ideas! 

3) Use neutrals in the backgrounds. I know we can't control our wall colors, and that's ok! At my school we could ask permission to repaint (it never hurts to ask?). I also try to use a neutral color for my bulletin board backgrounds. Think: chalkboard black or wood grain (these go great with almost ANY theme)

4) Leave blank space. Say it with me, "I do NOT have to cover every square inch." and repeat 5x. It's ok to have empty space. It's ok to leave bulletin boards mostly empty until you fill it in with your kiddos. This will help the room seem less "busy". 

 Last year (and this year) my room has a succulent theme, so I wanted to share some of my favorite pieces (I will include links below the pics):

IKEA Labels (don't look like mine-- but are more like a label)


The "work display" posters come as a bonus file in the giant decor bundle (as do the rainbow cart labels)
So that, in a nutshell, is what most of the succulent decor looks like in a classroom. I find it very soothing and eye catching! You can find most of the items shown above in one of my 2 major succulent bundles (click on their pictures to see them in more detail):

In my TPT store I have created similar listings for the following themes (in case succulents aren't your "thing")


If you have any questions about any of my decor, please leave it in the comments! I hope you have a great year! 

Meet the Teacher Night (Made Easy)

Back to school night-- meet the teacher night-- open house night-- Whatever you call it, it can be a source of stress! But it doesn't have to be! Here are some simple ideas to help you figure out that night in advance! 
Most back to school night activities include some sort of "supply drop off". To make it easier on yourself I suggest have prelabeled baskets/containers off to the sides of your room (out of the way). 
Or even outside your doorway in the hall (this way it's not interrupting the flow of your room). This works great for community supplies like Kleenex, Lysol wipes, and Ziplocks! 

If you want to keep student supplies separated-- have large ziplocks laying out on your desks/tables (labeled with student names) and have families fill them up. You can easily set these aside someplace until you have time to sort more! 

School forms. Such is the life of a teacher. Make it easier on your parents-- if you can send it home to be filled out, do it! Don't make them sit around for an hour filling out forms. I like to have a prelabeled folder (one side says "bring back" and the other says "leave at home") with all the forms and information my parents need. You can find the folder cover in my free resource library (it will range from preschool-6th). Click HERE to access! 
In the "bring back" side they may see school information forms, medical forms, and transportation forms. I always like to have parents fill out a transportation form during the open house, so I know exactly what their child is doing the first couple days of school! 

On the "leave at home" side I put a teacher contact card:
and a brochure about flexible seating. I also like to include my Class Dojo sign up pages (since I do a lot of contact through the app). 

If you have access to Google apps (or love saving on paper) you can create a Google Form with information for you parents to fill out. This makes it easier on you and the parents because they can scan a QR code you provide, or type in a short link, to fill out the survey.

In the survey you can ask a wide variety of questions like:
*Contact Info
*Preferred method of contact
*Which parent/guardian to contact first
*Who does the child live with
*Allergies/Medicine
*What the child is great at
*What the child struggles with
*What makes the child work hard
*Anything else the teacher should know

Then you can keep the info digitally or print it out for your teacher binder!
If parents HAVE to fill out forms, make sure you provide a brief activity for the students! In the past I have made a photo booth using this tutorial:
I have also done scavenger hunts (which you can usually find for FREE on Tpt!) Here is link to 2 of my favorites:
I like to include the numbers so students have to go around find items/places and then write the numbers down:
One other thing I love having parents do is fill out a quick personal note for their kid for that first day of school. I keep the notes and then have it waiting on the student's desk for that first moment they walk into class! Here is an example:
I always include a wish list for my parents to see-- if you don't ask, you will never receive! I've had years with lots of items given and years with only a few (and all were great years!)

One idea is to have a physical "piece" they can take home. Here is the succulent wish list I use in my room (it matches my theme):
Here is another example of a floral themed one:
It doesn't have to complicated-- even Post-it notes on the whiteboard would make a great display!
Lastly, I know a lot of teachers like to send home a small/simple gift for the visiting student. I've done a variety of "gifts" over the years:

Here is a link to the "write stuff" post and label (the bag had a set of crayons and 2 sharpened pencils inside).

Here is a link to the "Blow Pop" label Freebie

Below are links to my "Back to School" bundles (which includes lots of sign up forms, gift tags, and more!) So far I have succulent, floral, and forest themed bundles: 



I hope this post gave you some great ideas for your back to school night! If you have any questions feels free to leave them in the comments!

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