One of my favorite read alouds to share this time of the year is Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago. Gustavo The Shy Ghost is a story about a shy ghost who's just too shy to make any friends, but he really wants to try. It's such a well written and beautifully illustrated story and a perfect read aloud for any time of the year, but especially timely for Día de los Muertos. I love this book for all sorts of reasons and it's such a great choice for a class read aloud. There are so many different topics and skills that can be addressed before/during/after reading. While there are many different SEL lessons you can pull … [Read more...] about Gustavo The Shy Ghost
It should go without saying, but just in case you need the reminder, teachers are everyday heroes. Truly. And if their ability to effectively teach during a pandemic (either virtually, in-person, or asynchronously) didn't convince you, I'm not sure what will. And whether you believe it or not, facts are facts :) There's nothing I love more than working with teachers and I'm always chomping at the bit this time of the year to help in any way I can. I know the time and money teachers selflessly spend in their classrooms trying to make their learning environment a comfortable space that engages each learner. It's more than they have to … [Read more...] about Clear the Lists
Creating opportunities to share an experience together is one of the best ways we can help build relationships with others. Whether it's establishing connection with our kids, co-workers, spouses, or family & friends, shared experiences are the building blocks in the foundation of relationships. As teachers and parents, it's important for us to create opportunities that allow our kids to engage in those experiences. Whether you're a parent with kids at home or teacher with kids in school, it's important to be intentional in the experiences you're providing. One of my favorite relationship building activities for both home and school … [Read more...] about Building Relationships – Use Your Spidey Senses!
As parents, we have a strong tendency to fall prey to the familiarity of routine. The monotony of the normal day-to-day tends to set the tone for the interactions we have with each other & our kids, too. Oftentimes, I can predict how a conversation with my boys will go before I even initiate it. As a mom, I crave authentic communication and conversation with my kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get more than one word answers from them. I also realize that asking them the same questions over and over again breed the same answers. I'm always trying to engage my kids in conversation one way or another and I've … [Read more...] about 200+ Conversation Cards for Kids
As COVID-19 continues to shut school doors, many parents are finding themselves with their kids at home and struggling to keep them engaged in meaningful activities. I put together a list of 100+ ideas to help you keep your kids occupied in meaningful ways. While these ideas aren't necessarily academic, they will learn from them. Real life skills, patience, problem solving, creativity, perseverance, and so much more. I hope these ideas are helpful, as well as enjoyable, for both you and your child(ren)! Get in the Kitchen!- Scour Pinterest or sift through old cookbooks & magazines for new recipes. Some of my favorite kid … [Read more...] about 100+ Activities For Kids to do at Home
As schools all across the country continue to shut their doors amidst growing concerns of COVID-19, I've been encouraged to see so many individuals and companies provide virtual opportunities for kids to continue their learning experience even when they aren't in the classroom. I thought it would be helpful to share a landing space here that would provide both parents & teachers with free resources that can be accessed while your students/children are at home. If you'd like to add any additional resources in the comments, please feel free to do so as well. I hope this helps make things a little easier for us all. Before sharing … [Read more...] about 30 Free Virtual Learning Resources for COVID-19 School Closures
There are so many different ways to use conversation hearts instead of saving them for a sweet treat. Here are 6 different ways to use conversation hearts in the classroom and will definitely have your kids looking at candy in a whole new way! 1. WAR OF HEARTS War of Hearts has always been a class favorite and there are a few ways to incorporate this one into your instruction. This game is played like the card game, War, and here are a few different ideas for play... Partner Play - both players grab a conversation heart from a bag/container and count the number of letters on each. Players write the numbers in the matching heart … [Read more...] about 6 Conversation Heart Activities
This time of the year lends itself to learning about winter animals and one of my favorites to incorporate into reading and science is the penguin. When starting any kind of informational/non-fiction unit of learning, it's good to start with a schema chart. Here's an example of one I used in the past to assess what my kids thought they knew about penguins before we started our unit and understand what they hoped to learn as we explored the topic further. A chart like this will stay displayed on the whiteboard throughout our unit of learning. This gives the kids an opportunity to add more information (new learning) to our chart and we … [Read more...] about Penguins
I'm often asked by friends and strangers alike what my thoughts are in regards to holding a child back an extra year as opposed to sending them to Kindergarten with a June-early September birthday. As a former K-2 teacher who spent fifteen years in the classroom, I definitely have my opinions about this. However, instead of sharing my perspective solely through the lens of a teacher, I'd love to share my opinions with you from the viewpoint of a mother who made this decision for her child as well. Keep in mind that these are my opinions based solely on my personal experiences. We all have vastly different experiences both in and out of … [Read more...] about Why We Gave Our Child The Gift of Time & Delayed His Start in Kindergarten
If you know me well, you know how much I believe in the power of telling kids WHO they are. I love praising kids not just when they succeed, but when they progress and improve, too. The end of the school year is one of my favorite times of the year for doing just that. While I think it's important to celebrate growth and progress all year long, I love giving kids tangible pieces of praise in the form of awards to affirm how much they've grown throughout the year. I am so excited about these growth mindset awards! These tangible pieces of paper praise are great for recognizing yearlong growth, but they're also perfect to give to kids … [Read more...] about Editable Growth Mindset Awards
In years past, I loved using the month of May to reflect on the school year with my kids. As much as I loved doing this for myself, I've always felt like there is so much power in showing kids how far they've come in just a few short months. This was especially fun in Kindergarten. I loved showing my kids writing samples from the first few months of school compared to how they're writing in May. "That is NOT my writing!", they'd exclaim. "I never wrote like that!" Trust me sweet children. You DID. And those first few months of your writing journey were painful (for both of us). Can I get an amen?! As soon as our countdown to … [Read more...] about End of Year Reflections & Memories
You might not know this about me, but just in case you were wondering, sentimental stuff is my jam. This time of the year brings out the sap in me and I find myself knee deep in everything that's nostalgic. My favorite part of the holiday season is decorating our family tree. The store bought ornaments are great and all, but my tender heart lets out a sentimental tear or twenty whenever I pull out the ornaments handmade by my boys. Their little fingerprints painted on the matte acrylic kills me. Can you even believe their fingers were tiny enough to cover just a teensy portion of an ornament?! Now their man hands would CRUSH them! But … [Read more...] about Keepsake Ornament
Ahhhh, summer. It's almost here. In fact, it's so close I can taste it. I love summer. Everything about it (except the crazy Houston heat and humidity!) What I love most about summer is having my kids home with me. Having them home also means I need to figure out ways to keep them busy. Not shuffle them here-and-there kind of busy, but active (both physically and creatively). Since the boys were little, they've been helping out around the house (as much as they can). If I'm being totally honest, this last year they've been slacking in the responsibility department quite a bit. I can't blame them solely for it though. If I had a mom … [Read more...] about Summer Chores & Boredom Busters
With all the random crazy weather days we've had this year, I know many teacher friends who have yet to celebrate the 100th day. If you're anything like me, you like this special day to be organized, simple, and FUN, but MEANINGFUL at the same time. I gotcha covered, friends! Check out some ideas below for celebrating the 100th day of school. For the first few years of my teaching career, I didn't think the 100th day of school was all that. I mean sure...it was special. SUPER special (for lack of a better description). But I didn't invest much time in planning because I guess I didn't think it was THAT big of a deal. Oh, how … [Read more...] about 100th Day of School
The best way to spread holiday cheer is celebrating differences far and near...don't you think?! Holidays Around the World has always been one of my favorite themes for the month of December. I've planned for this many different ways over the years. Some years we'd learn about several countries in a 2-3 day time frame. Some years we'd take a week to study different cultures and celebrations. When I last taught Kindergarten, our entire campus (it was a Pre-K/Kindergarten campus only) traveled the world in one day. Our kids got boarding passes and boarded a plane. Destination - holidays around the world. Our administrators acted as the … [Read more...] about Holidays Around the World
*This post contains affiliate links via Amazon* On a personal level, Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. The parades. The family. The FOOD!!!! And when the weather cooperates, it's one of the most magical days of the year (for me, anway). So it should come as no surprise that I would feel the same about celebrating Thanksgiving in the classroom, too. Well, any holiday, really ;) Here are a few things I've done with my Kindergarten and First Graders through the years during the month of November. Of course, I don't have time for everything you see every single year, so depending on the dynamic and abilities of my students, I … [Read more...] about Celebrating Thanksgiving
I often get asked how I'm able to fit things into my day and I'm hoping this helps give you an idea of how that looks. Let's go ahead and start with the plans. I'm fortunate enough to be able to help teachers plan for their days while pushing in to assist and mentor. We talk a lot about "fitting it all in" and I hope this helps you to see what that looks like. I tend to OVERplan because I'd rather have more than enough to get through the day(s). You can download them HERE for a closer look. Whew. Now let's break it all down. MORNING WARM-UP Most kids are still filtering in during this time, so I like to give my kids something … [Read more...] about Fitting It All In
Encouraging students to be responsible learners can oftentimes be a challenging task. It's wonderful when our students come to us with experience in responsibility (like doing chores at home!), but oftentimes that just isn't our reality. So it's our job, as teachers, to TEACH our students HOW to be responsible. Teach them what it means. What it looks like and what it doesn't look like. Model responsibility. Encourage it. Most of all...provide them with opportunities to be responsible!!! One of the most effective ways to instill within our students a sense of responsibility is by trusting them with a specific job. A task for which … [Read more...] about Help Wanted: Classroom Jobs!
Prior to the start of the new school year, I always like to reflect on my relationships with my parents from the previous years. What could I have done better? How can I improve? How can I deepen my relationships with both parents AND students? These aren't always comfortable questions to ask myself because at some point they lead me back to my mistakes and weaknesses and confronting my shortcomings isn't always easy. However, being willing to recognize and admit my areas of weakness always leads to change and improvement and that's ALWAYS a good thing!!! While I think my parent relationship game is pretty strong, I will admittedly tell … [Read more...] about Managing Parent Communication
Yes YOU. The one whose weary body hits snooze 5 times before hurriedly rushing out the door to get to school on time. I'm talking to you. The permanently positive teacher who slides into the classroom on rainbows and dreads the end of the school year because it means having to say goodbye to your students. I'm talking to you. And all of you amazing teachers in between. I'm talking to you, too. To the teacher who doesn't like a classroom full of stuff and has opted for a more streamlined and calming decor scheme, IT'S OKAY. It doesn't mean you're not an awesome teacher because your … [Read more...] about Hey Teachers….It’s OKAY.
Can y'all believe we're already (quickly) approaching the end of April?! WHERE DID THE YEAR GO?! Our babies get out at the end of May and you know how May goes. Everything sort of hits us at once. Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, testing, assessment after assessment, portfolios, cumulative folders, plays, musicals, field trips, graduation, etc., etc., etc. Try as we may to be on top of things, sometimes the inevitable just sneaks up on us! For me, that is usually Mother's Day. I always think I have more time to plan and prep. What about you?! Well today I wanted to share with you some Mother's … [Read more...] about Celebrating Mother’s Day
We're a week away from celebrating St. Patrick's Day, so I thought it would be the perfect time to First, let's talk behavior. I always get a lot of questions about behavior management. You will never hear me say I have it all figured out. Nor will I declare that all of my ducks are always in their rows. However, I do know that sometimes the novelty of what we're doing wears off and when it does our kids become less engaged in learning and more apt to act unfavorably. I've found that changing up behavior incentives at different points during the year really seems to curb undesired behavior. I don't … [Read more...] about St. Patrick’s Day Activities & Freebies
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and today I'm at home nursing a sick child. There is nothing worse than not being able to help your baby feel better. This just STINKS. We could absolutely use the prayers. Fevers scare the daylights out of me...especially when the Motrin/Tylenol combo doesn't do a thing to relieve them. For those of you who will be at school tomorrow, here are a few activities you can implement for a little extra fun. Of course, they'll work perfectly for the month of February as well so no need to put them away after all the Valentine excitement has died down! First up, Valentine Bingo. … [Read more...] about Valentine’s Day Freebies! – Blending & Sight Word Games
Can y'all believe it's almost already Valentine's Day? Does it seem someone pressed fast forward on February? Or nah? Well...that's what it feels like to me. Moving on. Since Valentine's Day is just a few short days away, I wanted to share a writing activity & a printable treat tag that you might be able to put to use in your classroom this coming week. First up, let's talk tags. I absolutely LOVE Valentine's Day and love gifting different treats to students, co-workers, friends, and family. There's just something my Kindergarten heart loves about the holiday (as commercial as it may … [Read more...] about Printable Valentine GIft Tag & Writing Craftivity – FREEBIES!