Wednesday, May 20, 2015

6 Best Kept Secrets in the Primary Classroom

As I wrap up yet another school year, I look back at the messy fun that has been my teaching career. Each year I try to have more fun, learn more and make the year more special for my adored students.  While preparing everything the last few weeks, I thought it would help others to see what I've done to make the end of the year fun, but not too stressful.  Here are some fun memory makers and takers. 

Memory Book

I have found many amazing free memory books on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I found I always had to cut and paste to make the book I liked best.  So I decided to make my own.  This memory book is unique in the fact that you print it at the beginning of the year and fill it out 3 different times during the year. By the end, you have a completed memory book that covers the whole school year with handprints and pictures included!  No scrambling at the last minute to find the pictures or samples of work throughout the year, just take a few minutes at the beginning, middle (100th day) and end of the year and you're set!  I can't wait to hear how it works in your room!
Click on the picture above to view the preview.

Thank you! Thank you!

Here is a Pinterest goodie!  I painted the letters for "Thank you! We love you!" each on an 8.5x11 piece of white paper.  I have each student hold a letter and take their picture.  They are then inserted into a power point with a cute background and a heart or two. VoilĂ ! Thank you notes that will be adored the whole year through.  Give them as Thank You's for gifts, volunteers and other staff members. I've even sent them to those in the military as a reminder we love them and they are remembered.  I've used the letters for years and they are still going strong!  A heartwarming thank you is always appreciated. 

Here is the original link I found on Pinterest.

Year Round certificates

Again, just trying to make my life easier (and cheaper), I made my own certificates that can be used year round for any occasion. There are even blank certificates on which you can write your own celebration.  They can be used at each quarter/report card or weekly to encourage your class to strive to be greater!  (click on the picture to view it in my store)

Scholastic $1 Books

I think most teachers are aware of the Scholastic Book Club.  I grab up several $1 books throughout the year and by Christmas or the end of the year, I have enough for gifts.  I write a little note in the cover and sign my name.  Presto! Easy gift they will cherish. I still have books my teachers gave me in elementary school.  If money is tight, I use up my bonus points and sometimes don't even have to pay anything for this really great gift!

Morning calendars

If there EVER was a primary resource to invest in, this is it! Ok, it's FREE now, but it was worth my investment.  For years, I struggled with calendar and morning work. This puts it altogether in easy monthly packs.  I print them up and the students are learning how to write the date, look for the weather, draw a picture and write a sentence all on one page! I also added these (free) calendars in the front for them to number.  We used some of our fundraiser money to invest in this and we haven't regretted it!  I think you'll feel the same.

Math Journals (Freebie)

Ok, can I just say a HUGE thank you to all the teachers out there that make amazing things and post them for FREE!!!  This has been an essential component to introduce our math each day.  These FREE math journals cover a large spectrum of benchmarks for kindergarten and maybe even first grade.  Each month can be downloaded for free and you have a mini lesson for math each day!  Have fun! (Did I mention how FREE they are?!)

Visit Ketchen's Kindergarten to download each month separately.

I hope at least one of these tips has been helpful to you.  I try to make my life as simple as I can while still having an enriching, fun time (before I go home and cuddle my three little ones).  Please leave me feedback as to how they help you! If you like what you see, check out my store, I am ready to unleash a TON of new resources this summer!  Happy trails and see you soon!

A special thank you to the following artists featured on this blog:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thank You Teachers! Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of Teacher Appreciation Week!  If you missed out yesterday, you can check out some great teaching secrets for your classroom HERE.   Also, you don't want to miss out on the two giveaways we are hosting this week.  If you didn't enter yesterday, you can do so now.  Make sure you enter for both prize bundles so you have double the chance to win!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Today, we are offering a collection of high quality classroom resources at a huge discount.  Below is a list of Best Selling Resources that have been discounted by 20%.  You can receive an additional 10% off at checkout by using the code THANKYOU.

An InLinkz Link-up

We have also put together a collection of $1.00 Deals to help stock up your classroom for the rest of the year and next year.  I know I have added several of these deals to my cart.  Don't forget to use the code THANKYOU at checkout for maximum savings!

Follow on Bloglovin
Monday, May 4, 2015

What works! Essentials for a successful primary classroom

You're amazing! You give your time, love, creativity and energy to serve others. You don't just serve students, you reach entire families.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by and celebrate your hard work with us.  My goal is to share some tips that have helped me through my nine years of teaching. This post is for's not a pay raise or a special dessert, but hopefully a few ideas you can take with you into the end of the year and into the rest of your teaching career. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax...

Stay in Touch
People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. ~John Maxwell

When you first meet and greet students:
  • Shake hands with them and introduce yourself. 
  • Get down on their level. 
  • Put their mind at ease and ask them some questions about themselves.
When parents see you really care about their child, they are more likely to extend grace throughout the year.  They let their guard down and begin to see the good you can do.  When I have parents that are challenging and require a lot of my attention and energy, I constantly keep in touch through e-mail, phone calls or notes to make sure they understand what is going on.  I try to stay one step ahead of them before they have a chance to begin pointing fingers. Of course you cannot please everyone all the time, but this approach has dramatically reduced parent conflict throughout the year.  It also helps me plan ahead better.  Some of you may think this sounds like a lot of work, but it is easier to put a little more work in throughout the year and spend less time cleaning up messes.


To Tattle or Not To Tattle?
" him how to catch fish and he will eat for a lifetime." ~Unknown
One of the most important skills that I attempt to teach students is problem solving.  On one end, I have Bobby who can't feed himself without mommy and the other I have Susie trying to solve her problem with her fists.  As teachers working alongside parents, we are helping to raise children that will be adults one day. That thought never leaves my mind. More than academic, they need to have common sense and problem solving skills. Many parents don't understand this and just want them to "be kids" and want me to solve the problems for them.  I'm not trying to make them grow up too fast, but they need to know basic survival skills like what to do when someone takes their pencil.
I begin by asking questions like, "Did you tell them how you feel?" (usually they say "No.") or "What can you do about it?" (shrug their shoulders).  Once they know how to respond to these types of questions, I take things a step further and bring out Toby the Tattle Dog. He loves to listen to tattles! The best part is he tells me at the end of the day.  Kids have things in their brain just dying to get out. They have to tell someone.  Mostly they do not care who is listening.  Some students run up to me, barely get the tattle out before they turn and run away.  When deciding if it is a tattle or not, students will ask themselves the questions:
  • Is someone hurt?
  • Are you trying to get them into or out of trouble?
                  and either come to an adult or go tell Toby. 

When I first get Toby out, I let them all come tell him a tattle because I know they've been dying to share something.  This approach really cuts down on the constant tattling and in turn teaches students how to solve some of their own problems. 

Click here to download my 

Tattle Pack {FREEBIE}

 Get Things at No Cost

Find whatever you can for free or little cost.  The website is an excellent place to start.  I have received many books, an iPod docking station and wireless headphones all from Donors Choose.  Set up an account and choose what you want/need for your class and wait for donors from around the country to donate to your wish list.  When it is fully funded, they ship you the items.  Make sure to promptly send thank you notes from students and you will earn points to make another request! This is an essential for classrooms as all teachers spend more than they make to create better learning environments.

Scholastic Book Clubs- I am consistent with sending home book orders every month.  Only two or three families buy something each month, but from those orders, I have received countless free books and teacher resources from Scholastic. I encourage parents to order online and it saves me from having to send in a check and order forms. 

Last, when I have a need or want (like treasure box items), ASK THE PARENTS! They want to be involved where they can be and if they have resources that will help you; they want to share it with you. If you don't tell them, they don't know what your needs are. Don't limit it to a certain time of year, just add it to your newsletter or e-mail when you need something.  Many times their kids are outgrowing books or toys that might be helpful to you.

*Bonus tip: ask for teacher discounts wherever you go, you'd be surprised what you can get for being a teacher!


I truly hope you are feeling the love we are trying to send you! Not only have you received my freebie and hopefully a tip or two, but you now have the possibility to win one of these AMAZING prize bundles.  Did I say AMAZING?!  I wish I could win one!  Enter both Rafflecopters for a better chance to win!

If you like what you see here, come find more fun in my Teachers Pay Teachers store Minute Mommy! Like me on Facebook for FREEBIE FRIDAYS! Can't wait to meet you!

Just take a look at everything you could win...One lucky reader will win this entire prize package!!!
Prize Bundle #1 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
We aren't finished yet....take a look at everything a second lucky winner will win!!!
Prize Bundle #2 Includes
PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
Be sure to enter both rafflecopters for a better chance at winning one of these amazing prize bundles!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.

Thank you to the following for their clip art: