Starting Back Strong in the New Year

Starting Back Strong in the New Year

Hey y'all. We made it through the first semester and the next one is right around the corner. So how can you start off the new semester strong?

1. Invest in a new planner
I personally love Happy Planners, but use what works for you. Setting up a planner and getting organized is the first step in having a strong start for the new year.

2. Make a plan
Maybe you spent time thinking about changes you'd like to make in the new semester. Now's the time to make a plan. There are a few changes I'm implementing, like seating arrangements and new groups for students. Before you go back to the classroom, think about you you're going to make these changes. Small changes might not need much planning, but bigger changes will.

3. Review expectations
Several of your students will have forgotten every rule, procedure, and expectation that you ever taught this year. Brace yourself and get ready to review them with this classroom expectations book. The first day back, we fill in these books as a class and discuss which big ideas we need to remember for each setting. We go back and reread them as needed throughout January (and sometimes even in February) so we keep ourselves on the right track.

4. Go slow to go fast
Don't expect to just jump right back into curriculum. I like to start the first day back with a team meeting and share out how our break went. We spend most of the first day back easing into things and reviewing expectations. Give students time to adjust back to the regular routine.

5. Set some goals
Adults set goals in the new year and your students can, too. It doesn't have to be a big deal, any goal setting method will do. In my classroom, we use our data binders to self-reflect and plan for our learning in the new year.

6. Breathe
It'll take some time to get your students to where they were before the holiday craziness. Follow the steps above, stay consistent, and breathe. You and your students will need some grace coming back to school, so breathe, relax, and enjoy their smiling faces. 

Enjoy the rest of your break and get ready to come back rested, refreshed, and ready to make an impact. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more great resources coming soon. Have a great week.

Stay sweet,

Holiday Classroom Management Tools

Holiday Classroom Management Tools

Hey, y'all! December is upon us and so is the wonderful, exciting behavior. This time of year, students (especially young ones) need some extra positive reinforcement to make sure they keep their behavior on the right track.

Sometimes that means earning our class holiday party. This year's group needs regular reminders of expectations so this visual is helping them stay focused for the next two weeks. Depending on your class, you can have your students earn a letter a day, or earn one any time they are on task. My class is working on using an inside voice. It's a skill we desperately need to master!

If you're not wanting (or needing) them to earn the letters, you can use them as a countdown to the party day as well. Simply add a new letter each day and when the least letter is added, it's party day.

This is a freebie in my TpT store, so use it however you need to. The holiday gnomes are too cute to pass up so grab a copy of you own here.

Have a wonderful week, friends, and stay tuned for more great resources coming soon.

Stay sweet,

Winter Sight Word Hide and Seek Freebie

Winter Sight Word Hide and Seek Freebie

Hey, y'all. We made it through Thanksgiving and this long weekend has been wonderful. I've had time to catch up on things and actually think clearly again! Woo hoo!

I had a few extra minutes (can you believe it?!) and I made a new hide and seek sight word game. The words in this series (by series, I mean there's a Halloween and Thanksgiving version, too) are from the reading program Into Reading by Houghton Mifflin. They are from the 2nd grade curriculum but many first graders may be able to read them too.

Simply place the cards you want your students to practice reading in a pocket chart and place the snowman behind one of the words. Students take turns reading the words, guessing which one the snowman is hidden behind. The game is over when the snowman is found.

This game is a favorite in my class and my students get so excited when they find it. Changing the cards out seasonally makes the game even more novel. You can grab a copy of your own for free here.

How do you like to practice sight words? I'd love to know! Drop a line in the comments and fill me in.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more great resources coming soon. Have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay sweet,

How I Stopped Blurting in My Classroom

How I stopped the Blurting in My Classroom

Hey, y'all! I know you've never had a student blurt out in your classroom before [insert sarcastic tone]  but one day you might. If you're dealing with this issue in your room, I have a couple of tips for what I did to stop the cycle in my room.

I tried everything. We read the books, we had the visuals, we praised the students doing the right things, we gave consequences to those who didn't, we filled out behavior reflection sheets... nothing seemed to get it through that this behavior was totally disruptive.

Then came the data.

I made a quick table in a Word document with each students' name in their own square. Then, I tallied. It seemed like it was more than half the class with this problem, but once the data came in (and by data I mean I tallied every single blurt from every single student), it was only about 4 students who really struggled with this.

Students got to see how many times they interrupted the class each day and became really aware of how disruptive it was. (Like 50+ blurts from one student alone!) I was at a loss for tricks by that point, so I did what I hate doing and I let every single student who didn't blurt go to the treasure box.

I hate the treasure box. I believe intrinsic rewards are more beneficial than extrinsic ones. But they just weren't getting it.

So the first day, 10 students went to the treasure box. My biggest blurters were sad. The next day, 13 students went to the treasure box. Again, my biggest blurters were sad. It just didn't click yet. Each day, more and more students went. Finally it clicked. My most disruptive students GOT IT! And they went to the treasure box! And I was finally able to TEACH!!!

It was a red-letter day, I tell you.

Now, again, I hate the treasure box. I hate buying junk that they're just going to throw away eventually. So the day everyone got to go, we started building in whole class rewards like a dance party. Then, we upped the ante and students had to earn the trip to the treasure box over two days, then a week. Then, whole class rewards took precedence, and they were weaned off the treasure box.

Did it take time? Yes. Did it work? Yes. Thank God.

The biggest thing is that students needed to become aware of their behavior before they were able to change it. And it has made all the difference in the tone of our classroom and what we are able to accomplish.

It's not a perfect method. I've had students who wouldn't care either way. But it helped me and hopefully it'll help you.

I didn't make a big deal about who didn't go to the treasure box. I didn't call anyone out who had an awful day. I just praised the students who exhibited self-control. Those "good kids" never seem to get the same attention from the teacher that the tougher kids get, so we changed the dynamic. Our classroom is now happier, calmer, and more productive. All it took was helping students reflect on their behavior.

What do you do to curb blurting in your classroom? I'd love to know. Drop a line in the comments and tell me all about it.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more great ideas and resources coming soon.

Stay sweet,

January Math Centers for Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade

January Math Centers for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade

Hey y'all! It's getting pretty chilly around here and winter math centers are just the thing for keeping my littles engaged while enjoying the season and all it has to offer.

Kindergarten centers cover things like addition and subtraction within 10, counting, simple graphing, skip counting, and more

First grade and kindergarten centers practice nonstandard measurement while second grade centers practice standard measurement with both inches and centimeters.

First grade centers review adding and subtracting within 20, place value to 100, fact families, money, graphing, and more.

Second grade stations include adding money, addition and subtraction within 100, place value to 1,000, graphing, and more.

These stations are always a hit with my class and I know your students will love them, too. I like to dress them up by putting the cards in mittens or seasonal gift bags, adding cotton balls for counting manipulatives, or putting materials in sensory bins. It helps to make the stations a little more entertaining.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more great resources coming soon. Have a wonderful week and stay sweet.

Free Fall Sight Word Games

Fall Sight Word Hide and Seek Games

Hey y'all. Are you ready for some new freebies?! Woo hoo! I have two brand new hide and seek games in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. They are super fun and easy to differentiate.

Simply place the sight word cards in a pocket chart and hide the ghost or turkey behind one one of the cards. Students take turns reading the sight words, trying to find the hidden card. My students absolutely LOVE these games and it really helps them identify the sight words more quickly.

You can grab a copy of each of these games for free in my TpT store here and here. The words are from our district's second grade curriculum, but most words are also suitable for first grade, too. Just pick and choose what you need!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Stay sweet,

Editable Math Hide and Seek Games and a Freebie!

Editable Math Hide and Seek Games

Hey, y'all! So I was playing a sight word hide and seek game with my class in the morning and they were eating it up! I mean kids were all the way sitting down, no one was bugging anyone around them, they were nearly silent with their hands raised just dying to be called on. It was the best behaved they had been all year.

Then we got to math time, and it was much *ahem* busier than it had been in the morning during our reading game. And that's when it hit me. Could we review math facts or concepts using the same strategy? Could we have a similar game that they are so engaged in that everyone is on task for math?

Why yes, we can! And it comes as a math hide and seek game. I printed out cards with math facts on them (answers missing of course), and hid a little character behind one of the cards. Students take turns solving the equations trying to find the hidden character. For instance, a student would say, "10+2=12" and I would lift the card that says, "10+2=___" to see if the character is behind that card.

It may just be this group, although I've had kindergarten classes get excited too, but they are just BESIDE themselves trying to find the hidden card. AND they're practicing needed skills!

I love these cards because there are a ton of choices for equations making differentiation and increasing the rigor easy, but they also have an editable page making it super easy to target skills your class is working on. Pre-printed cards have addition and subtraction facts to 20, but you could use the editable pages to create more equations with numbers to 10, doubles, doubles plus one, or even multiplication equations.

The fall set has a picture of Johnny Appleseed, a ghost, and a turkey for the hidden character. The winter set has a picture of a gingerbread man, a penguin, and a Valentine superhero. And the spring set has a picture of a bunny, a flower, and a sun. I like to trade out the characters and surprise my students. It adds to the fun and excitement!

And for sticking around to the end of this, I have one more game for you. This shape hide and seek game is free in my TpT store. It's played the same way with a few different character choices to use. You can use whichever cards you need making it just right for kindergarten, first grade, or second grade. 

I hope you found some new ideas for your classroom and enjoy this shape freebie. I'm always adding new things to the store so check back often for more great resources.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Stay sweet,

Not Your Mother's Color by Code

Color by Code for Reading Skills

Hey, y'all! My students have been loving our color by code activities lately. These aren't your typical color by code, though. These are SPECIAL!

Most color by code activities have limited depth of knowledge. Students simply color the matching sight word or solve a simple addition or subtraction problem. Those activities are great and are important in their own way, but these are a little different.

With the author's purpose code page, students read the description of a text and have to decide if the author is trying to entertain the reader, persuade them, or inform them about something. We did the first few together as a whole group, then students paired off to complete the page. There were some really great conversations about the descriptions and great justifications of answers.

With the story elements page, students decide if the piece describes a character, a setting, or a plot. This one is a little easier than the one above, making it just right for end of first grade and most of second grade.

We've done several of these in class and they are always a hit. (I mean cheering and everything!) If you'd like to check out the science and social studies options as well, just click here.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to keep an eye out for more amazing resources coming soon. I've been adding things to the shop pretty often, so you never know when you might find something new. Have a great week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay sweet,

Even More Color by Code for Science

Color By Code in Science

Hey y'all! How are you loving the science color by codes so far? If you missed my last post about them, you can check them out here

These aren't your normal color by code pages. Each piece has a description in it and students have to decide which attribute the piece is describing. 

For instance, with the plants color by code, each piece describes a different part of a plant. Students have to decide if it's describing a seed, stem, leaf, root, or flower. 

With the force and motion page, students read the piece and decide if the action is an example of a push or a pull. 

With the continents and oceans page, students read the name and decide if it's naming a continent or an ocean. 

My students have been loving these and they are have intense conversations about them. Not only are they discussing what each piece means, they are defending their answers pretty solidly. #teacherwin

For more science (and social studies) color by code activities, visit my TpT store here. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more great resources coming soon! Have a great weekend!

Stay sweet,

Mindfulness Books for the Classroom

Ten Mindfulness Books for the Classroom

Hey, y'all. I don't know about you, but I am loving this self-care and mindfulness movement. Taking time to breathe in our classroom and to be present in the moment has had a huge, positive impact on student learning and attentiveness. One of the ways I teach these skills is through read alouds and mindfulness practice. A great place for you as the teacher to start is by reading the book, "Happy Teachers Change the World." It was a game-changer for me as far as bringing mindfulness and a calm atmosphere into the classroom. 

Several other books have helped me out on this journey. These are the ten go-to books we use in our classroom to help us center ourselves and refocus.
This post contains affiliate links. 

1. I am Peace
I am Peace is a wonderful book about finding peace within yourself. When things are hectic and seem out of control, you can find your peace within you. And it's illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, making it just beautiful.

2. I am Enough
I am Enough is more about loving who you are enjoying what makes you special. I include it in this series because appreciating yourself goes hand in hand with recognizing your emotions and respecting your feelings and emotions.

3. Breathe Like a Bear
This one isn't a direct read aloud. It's more of a collection of meditations or mindfulness exercises for the class to perform together. With activities like blowing the candle carefully (don't let your flame go out!) or cooling off your hot chocolate slowly, your students will love practicing breathing exercises and focusing on their bodies.

4. Listening to My Body
This is a great book to start your mindfulness journey with your class. When students learn to listen to their bodies, the mindfulness techniques illustrated in each of these books makes a bigger impact. Listening to My Body goes over several of the ways students can tune in to how they are feeling and how those feelings impact the rest of them.

5. My Magic Breath
Taking time to breathe creates a calming effect in your classroom. My Magic Breath will have your students focusing on their breath and calming themselves throughout the day. The beautiful illustrations will captivate your audience as well.

6. Breathe and Be
This beautifully illustrated book is full of exercises to quiet the mind and focus on the here and now. Even the pictures make me want to enjoy the outdoors and leave the rest of the world behind.

7. What Does it Mean to Be Present
This book is exactly what it sounds like. Being present doesn't mean showing up to class, giving gifts, or sharing your project with the class. Being present is focusing on what is happening here and now. The simple strategies in this book are just right to help little learners gain focus and direction in the classroom.

8. Puppy Mind
Sometimes our minds can feel like active little puppies, always curious and wandering when we're not paying attention. Noticing these things is the first step in being able to change things for the better. This book helps the littlest learners become aware of this issue and gives them strategies for calming their puppy minds down.

9. A World of Pausabilities
Pausing and focusing on the here and now can be challenging for small children. Taking the time to teach these skills makes a world of difference in students' well-being. This book teaches exercises to help students pause and focus on how they are feeling in the moment.

10. Ishi
This simple picture book features a rock as the main character. This book touches on kindness, compassion, and empathy.

What other books do you use to teach mindfulness to your little learners? I'd love to know! Drop a line in the comments if you have any great titles to add to this list. 

Thanks for stopping by and and I hope you found some new favorites. Have a great week and stay sweet.