Alleah Maree

13 Fall Books with Teaching Ideas for Kindergarten

Kindergarten, Reading Activities, FallAlleah RostoharComment

Fall is my absolutely FAVORITE time of year and I always go a little crazy with happy fall books in my classroom. So, here are my current favorite fall books with a few ideas for how to use each one to teach your kindergarten students some reading, writing, and phonics skills.

SPOILER ALERT: I’ll give a quick synopsis of what each book is about and the literacy skills I think you could easily teach and practice using each book. So, just so I don’t spoil the ending of the stories for you if you wanted to be surprised, you’ve been warned. Haha! :)

** This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products that I personally love and am linking for you below, I’ll receive a small percentage of the profit that the website makes from your purchase at no extra cost to you. :) Such a win-win-win! **

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1. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

This sweet story is about a young fox named Fletcher who notices his favorite tree starting to look different. As he sees the tree’s leaves start to blow away, he gets more and more concerned and tries to catch all the leaves so they don’t get lost. Finally, a worried Fletcher climbs to the top of the tree to help it hold onto its’ last leaf, but soon the leaf pops off and he takes it home to bed with him. He worries about his tree all night, but wakes to find his beloved tree covered in sparkling icicles and looking more amazing than ever.

This book has a bunch of opportunities for making connections and predictions, as well as inferring. There are even some opportunities to identify a few cause and effect relationships and the vocabulary and imagery are amazing! This book companion for Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is a really fun way to connect the story to a variety of essential literacy skills.

2. Hello, Fall! by Deborah Diesen

First of all, I’m ALLLLLL googley-eyed over the illustrations in this book. Lucy Fleming just OUTDID herself. But, the story is equally lovely! It’s told from the little girl’s perspective as she recounts all the things she and her dad notice that announce that fall has arrived. They see animals preparing for winter, hear lots of leaves rustling about, taste the deliciousness of apples and cider, pick out some great pumpkins, and play together in the leaves. The story wraps up by naming the treasures of fall, including beauty, wonder, and love.

This book offers a bunch of chances for student interaction during your read aloud, including opportunities to use their 5 senses, practice inferring, predicting, and making connections. I’d recommend this adorable book to connect with almost any literacy skill you’re practicing!

3. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell

Pumpkin Jack is the story about a pumpkin who gets carved into a jack-o’-lantern by a boy named Tim. Tim loves his jack-o’-lantern, names him Jack, and keeps the jack-o’-lantern for as long as he can. It soon begins to rot and Tim leaves him in the garden. As the seasons change, the abandoned Jack begins to wrinkle and mold and flatten, until it’s covered in snow. When Time finds what’s left of Jack as the snow thaws, just some pumpkin skin and seeds laying in the soil, he says good-bye for good. But, when the spring comes, Tim notices sprouts where Jack used to be and waters them until they grow into brand new vines, then flowers, and finally pumpkins! He shares them with his friends and chooses the perfect one to carve into a jack-o’-lantern, saying “Welcome back, Jack!” as he finishes it.

This book is a very story-oriented way to introduce the life cycle of a pumpkin! That means it’s perfect to connect your reading to science standards, as well as practice sequencing, making personal connections, predicting what might happen next, and finding causes and effects. This adorable craft is a great addition to learning with this book too!

4. Because of an Acorn by Lola Schaefer and Adam Schaefer

This book is an extremely simple book that describes the effects of an acorn by following what happens next because of an acorn. It starts with an acorn, which grows into a tree, which attracts a bird, which knocks a seed down into the soil, which grows into a flower, which produces fruit, which attracts a chipmunk, who lures a snack, who attracts a hawk, who knocks another acorn down from a tree and starts the whole cycle over again.

The illustrations in this book are super unique and beautiful and the story is a very simple one to retell, practice sequencing, and expand on with creative writing. This would also be a good book for expanding on what ELSE could have happened from the previous action, making it a great way to identify cause and effect relationships.

5. Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Leaves is a simple story about a young bear who notices leaves falling all around him for the first time. He tries to help the leaves, but gets really tired in the process. So, he fills a hole with the fallen leaves, sleeps through the winter, and is excited to welcome brand new leaves in the spring time!

The illustrations in this book are really pretty and there are very minimal words on the pages, which makes this book really great for making predictions and inferences, as well as sequencing and retelling. Students can also make connections to how the bear is feeling about the new seasons he’s experiencing.

6. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Too Many Pumpkins is the story of Rebecca Estelle, an old lady who loves to garden, but HATES pumpkins. She will not look or touch or think of pumpkins until one day, a pumpkin gets smashed in her yard and she covers it in dirt. The next spring, pumpkins begin sprouting up and she ignores them some more, until fall comes and there are pumpkins growing all over her yard! She decides to make the pumpkins into baked goods and jack-o’-lanterns so people will come take all the pumpkins and pumpkin goods away, and it works! Rebecca gives it all away…except for a few seeds that she keeps to plant next spring.

This story gives a bunch of opportunities to make predictions because many of the pages end in “until…”. Students can make predictions and inferences about what could happen next, how Rebecca is feeling, why she might be feeling that way, etc. The story is a really good one to retell and practice sequencing, as well as identify the main idea and details.

7. The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Junia Wonders

The story of The Roll-Away Pumpkin follows a little girl who is chasing after her pumpkin that is rolling away. As she runs through town trying to catch her rolling pumpkin, people of the town join in to try to help. As they continue chasing, the pumpkin rolls toward a lady making soup, and the delicious pumpkin soup is served to all the townspeople who have been running around town trying to catch the pumpkin.

This book is written with a repeating phrase on many of the pages, which is a simple way to include your students, making it an interactive read aloud. Have your students read along and say the phrases they know are coming next, or even identify the same words they see on each page! You can also incorporate retelling, cause and effect, and some really creative writing assignments, like “Draw and illustrate what would have happened if the pumpkin didn’t roll into the soup.” or “How did the pumpkin get started rolling in the first place?” You can add in a simple pumpkin craft to complete the fun!

8. Fall Weather: Cooler Temperatures by Martha E. H. Rustad

This book is the perfect way to incorporate non-fiction text into your fall literacy explorations! Complete with a table of contents and short, simple chapters about fall facts, it covers topics such as when fall begins and ends and the kind of weather to expect in autumn. The book is illustrated and does not use photographs, but includes some extra facts (almost like captions) written on leaves on many pages. There are simple headings, chapter titles, an index, and a glossary included as well.

Fall Weather would be a fantastic way for students to make connections from a book to their real world. And, with an easy experiment for making rain gauge at the end, it makes for a super simple science-literacy connection as well. Retelling facts and practicing some non-fiction writing are great ways to extend the learning with this book!

9. Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson

This book is about Mouse and Minka venturing out into the leaf-covered world and experiencing all the details about the leaves. They noticed the color, shape, and texture of the leaves. They also demonstrate all the fun things to DO with leaves, like running, jumping, piling, and counting the leaves.

This is a great book to use to practice retelling, making connections, and color and counting skills. It also includes a lots of really creative verbs, which make for some great writing lessons and inspiration. The pictures are simple and bright and perfect for young students!

10. The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz

This book is about a pumpkin who feels “ugly” because he’s shaped differently than all the other pumpkins. He tries to fit in many places, but no one ever accepts him or makes him feel like he belongs, UNTIL he finds a garden full of squash! He finally learns that he IS a squash, NOT an ugly pumpkin, and feels right at home.

There are so many fun skills to practice with this book! Students can practice inferring feelings, making connections to the characters and situations, predicting what could happen next, and making inferences from the details in the pictures. I found this resource that covers a BUNCH of pumpkin related skills that are super engaging and fun for your kinders! Also, the story of The Ugly Pumpkin rhymes all the way through the book, which is always great for little ones to hear and practice doing themselves. I LOVE mixing in a good poem-based, rhyming type of book in the middle of all the regular stories, just to mix it up. :)

11. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie is a non-fiction book about the life cycle of a pumpkin. It includes tons of descriptive words and beautiful photographs of the seeds, sprouts, roots, leaves, flowers, vines, and pumpkins. It describes that pumpkins are a kind of squash and how they can look as far as color, size, and texture. The book wraps up by showing fun ways to use pumpkins, like making tasty treats and carving jack-o’-lanterns.

This book is perfect for practicing sequencing with drawing or cutting and gluing, and would be a great way to practice writing and illustrating real facts. The pumpkin life cycle element is a super simple way to tie fall literacy to science standards as well!

12. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll

The book “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” is about two mice who have big goals for a pumpkin…one wants to carve the biggest jack-o’-lantern and the other wants to win biggest pumpkin at the county fair. They discover they both want the same pumpkin, so they decide to work together to reach both their goals.

This is a good story to practice sequencing with for sure! Your kiddos could also practice identifying and connecting with feelings, as well as making predictions about what could happen next. And in case you need some fun extras, this book companion from my sweet friend Kelly is a great resource to practice literacy skills with the story.

13. Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship by Edward Hemmingway

Around this time of year, many students are beginning to feel really comfortable with each other, their teacher, and their school environment. That can sometimes lend itself to some not-so-nice behaviors starting to come up. So, I always like to bust out Bad Apple in the fall, not only to practice a bunch of great literacy skills, but also to remind my students about being a kind friend to others.

Bad Apple is about a good apple, Mac, who is very happy. He meets a worm named Will who quickly becomes his closest friend. But, the other apples make fun of Mac for “having worms” and he starts to feel sad. Then, Will disappears and Mac knows he has to find his friend to feel happy again. So, he goes off to find him, and when he does, he is reminded that having good friends who make you happy is the best thing an apple could have.

This book is a perfect read to practice making predictions, identifying feelings, and making connections. It also has lots of opportunities to infer, both from the pictures and the story, and plenty of chances to let your students “turn and talk” about feelings, inferences, predictions, and connections they’re making as you read. This resource is a perfect companion for this adorable book!

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Well, friends, there are my 13 favorite fall books this time around! I’m SURE I’ll have a bunch more to add to the “favorites list” by next fall, but for now, I hope there were one or two stories that you can share with your little learners to practice all those amazing literacy skills we’re continually teaching. :)

Happy fall, y’all! I’m cheering you on!

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10 Fun Ways to Practice the Alphabet

Alleah RostoharComment

Teaching little ones the letters of the alphabet and all the letter sounds might seem like a simple task. But, finding new, engaging ways to practice that letter knowledge is always a challenge. Generally speaking, young learners are super spongy and soak up new information fairly quickly, but keeping them engaged and wanting to learn can be the tricky part.

So, here are 10 ideas for how to practice the letters of the alphabet in engaging ways that keep them motivated and loving learning!

** This post contains a few affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products I already personally love and am linking for you, I’ll receive a small percentage of the profit that the website makes from your purchase at no extra cost to you. :) Such a win-win-win! **

1. Building Letters

Building letters using a variety of materials is a fun, hands-on way to practice identifying and forming them over and over again. This kind of activity not only solidifies the formation, shapes, and look of each letter, but is also highly engaging because of the unique materials you can provide for students to use. Upping your engagement is as simple as changing out an old material for a new one. Here are some ideas for materials I’ve seen lots of teachers use to build letters:

  • Playdoh

  • Wikki Sticks

  • Snap or unifix cubes

  • Legos

  • Pom-poms

  • Paper clips

  • Stickers

  • Mini erasers

  • Pipe cleaners or “fuzzy sticks”

  • Sand trays

  • Stamps


There are SO many other fun materials you could use and I’d definitely encourage you to use things you already have or things you can buy super inexpensively. Kids just love new stuff…anything will work well really! If you’re looking for a few resources to guide your students as they build letters, these free fall-themed letter cards and these letter building cards are a few of my current go-to’s.  

2. Letter Worksheets

Little learners definitely need a LOT of practice with hands-on activities to master their letters. BUT, I truly believe that building that letter knowledge through identifying, writing, and matching letters using pencils, crayons, and markers is an essential element of that learning as well. I definitely used a bunch of worksheets with my students to help them master their letter and letter sound skills. I always tried to find the most unique worksheets I could to keep it fun and engaging. I found that as long as I didn’t use them TOO often, use them for EVERYTHING, and included many different skills to mix it up every so often, my little ones enjoyed working on their letters this way. Finding worksheets that have some writing, coloring, cutting, gluing, matching, and drawing is a great way to make sure your kids stay motivated and wanting to work.

These alphabet worksheets, these alphabet practice pages, and these letter sort pages are a few of my all-time favorite alphabet worksheets for my little learners to use.

3. Hands-on Centers

Using a variety of hands-on center activities is another awesome way to keep your students learning and enjoying it. I always tried to use centers that involved a different action or material, but would reinforce a lot of the same concepts.

For example, when we were working on letter formation, one center would have dry erase markers to use on laminated cards. Another would have letter mats for students to create the letters using playdoh or pipe cleaners. A different center would have a few fun worksheets to complete. And yet another center would include a letter game or some free choice in creating letters. This way, students were all practicing their letter formation, but were doing it in so many different ways that they didn’t realize they were doing the “same” thing in each center.

These hands-on alphabet centers and these alphabet centers are a few that include a lot of variety in the activities, as well as a lot of focused practice on the alphabet.

4. Songs

Ohhh, singing! One of the best ways my students learned to master their letters was through singing them over and over and over again. YES, those songs definitely got stuck in my head on a daily basis, but it was so worth it to hear my littles humming them in the hallway or singing them together at recess because I knew it was constantly reinforcing their letter knowledge without them even knowing it.

Here are a few of my go-to videos to watch and sing with my littles!

Letter Sounds

See It, Say It, Sign It

Phonics Song for Children

The Vowel Song

Alphabet Song

5. Act Them Out

Taking some time as a whole group or even as an independent center activity to create letter shapes with your bodies is not only super fun, but can also help students to visualize what the letters look like. It can help your students to associate those letter shapes and sounds with a movement, making them easier to remember. Also, you’re most likely teaching very tiny learners who are constantly needing to wiggle and squirm anyway. So, teaching them specific movements, body shapes, and stretches to go along with their letter shapes and sounds is a great way to harness all that energy into activities that can be tightly tied to their letter knowledge.  

These alphabet movement activities, these alphabet yoga cards, and this ABC movement freebie are a few great resources for incorporating movement and letter learning with students during independent times.

And, here are some fun videos to guide your students’ movement if you want to try them out!

Phonercize

Act Out the Alphabet

Alphabet Workout

6. Write Write Write  

Little learners definitely need a LOT of practice with hands-on activities to master their letters. But, that being said, I truly believe that forming the upper and lowercase letters properly through a lot of writing practice is an essential part of mastering their letters and sounds.

So, giving them opportunities to practice writing their letters as much as possible is always a priority of mine. I have them write the alphabet using pencils, crayons, markers, dry erase markers, chalk, and, when I’m feeling super brave and nice, even my TEACHER pens on occasion (never the flair pens, but OTHER teacher pens). Haha! :) That last one REALLY gets them motivated to write because teacher pens are the coolest kind of pens, of course.

Another reason giving your students a lot of chances to write their letters is a great way to practice is that it’s super easily differentiated. You may have students who are focusing ONLY on mastering letters A, B, and C while another student may be working on sounding out and writing CVC words. Writing is a great way to focus in on where each student is working and give them assignments based on their current skill level.

Using journals like these from the beginning of the year to practice writing letters, drawing pictures, and learning other writing skills like directions and neatness is a simple way to keep all your students’ writing practice in one place.

7. Play Games

Games are one of the simplest ways to take engagement to the next level! And you can pretty much turn ANYTHING into a game with a little friendly competition or a fun reward. You can make alphabet cards into a matching or memory game, create scavenger hunts and “write-the-room” activities using any kind of letter identification/creation/writing cards, and even make letter building a little competition. “Whoever creates the most letters with their playdoh by the end of the day earns a sticker!” or “When you can write all your letters in your journal by yourself, you can come show it to the class on the projector.” These simple rewards can be SUPER simple motivators to help work and practice feel like a fun game. These are just a few really simple, engaging activities to turn what you’re already using letter practice into too!

Of course, you can also use some actual letter games, like this roll and cover, these alphabet games, or these alphabet dab it pages. They make great center activities or small group practice and use a lot of materials you probably already have in your classroom.

8. Use Manipulatives

Again, this one sounds pretty simple because it is, but getting out the magnetic letters or stickers can really bump up how interesting an activity is. If you’re sitting with a small group who needs some practice with the letter T, you could just have them practice writing it repeatedly or finding it in a letter search page. OR you could have them dig through a bucket of magnetic letters finding ALL the letter T’s, upper and lowercase, in any kind of font as they go on a “treasure hunt”. These magnetic letters from Amazon are super affordable and are a slightly different look than your basic magnetic letters, like these. Target also usually has some super inexpensive sets you can grab…use it as your excuse to go, AGAIN, this week. ;) Haha!

Anyway, using any kind of letter manipulative is a quick way to boost engagement. Here are some of my favorite manipulatives to use in small groups and centers:

9. “Reading” Activities
Okay, so this one is a DUH, BUT, I wanted to include it as a great way to practice letters because it just IS! When little ones first start “reading” (turning pages, looking at pictures, noticing that the words are on the page mean something, etc.), there are letters ALL over the place. Just noticing that these letters are grouped together to form words which form sentences is a great foundational skill for little learners.

I used to have my kindergarten students count how many times they saw a certain letter in a book, page, or worksheet, just as an extra challenge. “Good morning, friends! It’s Monday and we’re on the hunt for letter H today! Remember to write how many times you see the letter H in your morning activities and we’ll share in a bit!” We would pop over to the carpet at the end of morning activities or center time and share how many letter H’s we’d found, celebrating each one, whether greater or less than the one before. This was a great way for kiddos to be on the hunt for letters as they saw them in their normal learning environment, as well as how to support and encourage each other in their learning.

Just getting books and worksheets and activities that involve letters in front of them is a great way to improve their grasp of letter recognition.

10. Saying Letters and Sounds

Lastly, practicing saying letters and their sounds aloud to their teacher, friends, classmates, stuffed animals, parents, whoever will listen, is another good way to reinforce their letter knowledge. Give students opportunities to talk with partners in your classroom throughout the day, having them discuss letters and sounds and words and pictures that are related to those letters. This might seem like a simple, unnecessary task, but sometimes our students need to be reminded that they can talk and chat and help each other learn in really simple ways.

And these kinds of tasks can be incorporated into transition times or centers super simply! Maybe give groups of 2-3 students 5 minutes to draw as many pictures that start with the letter B as they can. The words one kid thinks of will be completely different from the words another kid thinks of. They’ll be learning from each other without even knowing it. Or, we used to play a game where I would pop a letter up on the board and give my students 30 seconds to find something in the room that started with that letter. I used this as a “brain break” and an opportunity to “speed walk” around the room a little willy-nilly. It was always okay if they found the same object as someone else did if they needed to, which was a great way to make sure that every kid felt successful. Even the littles who didn’t know what sound the letter G makes independently could feel successful and learn from their friends who knew it on their own by finding the same object they did. Then, I’d go around the room and call on a handful of kids to share the object they’d found aloud and we’d try another letter. This took us maybe 3-5 minutes and had so many positives effects by just letting kids talk and help each other learn.

So, there you have it: 10 simple, fun ways to practice the alphabet with your little learners, even using things you already have. I hope you found an idea or two in this post that you try with your students! I’d love to hear about things that you’ve tried and loved using in your classroom, so leave a comment below if you have an amazing letter-practice strategy you want to share. :) I love hearing your ideas!

OH! And here’s a little freebie for letter practice for you! Hope it’s helpful and fun.

As always, happy teaching! I’m cheering you on!

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5 Ways to Use Centers in Your Classroom

Alleah RostoharComment

Let’s talk centers for a minute here. Getting center time set up in your classroom with new students can be a time-consuming and very detail-oriented endeavor. It takes a ton of planning, resources, preparation, practice, and TIME to get this time really running smoothly in most cases. BUT, you finally have expectations set and being met (mostly), some great routines in place, and things are going along just swimmingly.

Then, one Thursday morning, you hear it for the first time this year…”Oh, THIS activity again. We already DID this one. I’m BORED.” UGH. The dreaded “we-did-this-before-I’m-bored” comment. As a teacher who’s working their TAIL off to plan for great center time every day, this is NOT the ideal comment. But, we’ve all been there, heard it, and started searching for the next great activity.

As the year goes on, it’s important to keep your activities fresh and engaging in order to keep your students motivated and learning. When I first started teaching, keeping things “engaging” normally meant hopping on TPT at LEAST once a week (if not more) to see what new centers or activities or worksheets I needed to buy to keep my kids entertained and learning for the next week or two. However, I soon found that this was not a habit I could financially keep up with. So, I got creative with the activities that I already had and here are the top 5 ways I used the same centers to engage my learners in the classroom!

1. Independent Work Centers

This one is obvious: using the centers like they’re intended to be used…as centers. Haha! This usually looks like a lot of printing, cutting, laminating, cutting, and organizing to get the centers ready. Then, explaining and modeling how to complete the activities before allowing students to spread out around the room and get started.

Many center activities that you buy will come with directions for set up and use of each center, so I’d definitely recommend starting by using the activity the way it was intended to be used. Easy button, yes?

2. Change the Directions

Another way I found to use the same centers again is to simply change up the directions for how the center will be completed. Sometimes, I would make the activity into some sort of partner game by adding dice, dry erase markers, and whiteboards by posting different directions. Or instead of writing answers, I’d ask students to write AND DRAW their ideas. Maybe I’d leave the answer key for the center out (without the assignment numbers or labels, of course) and have them search for the question that made the most sense for that answer and explain their thinking to a partner.

Honestly, check out your Bloom’s verbs and pick a challenging one that you think most of your students could accomplish and work it into your directions for that center. Don’t just match the cards, justify your thinking too! Don’t just list, illustrate and categorize too! I use THIS WEBSITE to help me write learning objectives sometimes and it works perfectly for writing new center directions too. :)

3. Add Movement by Working Around the Room

Many centers come with some sort of card or smaller piece that is needed to complete the activity. So, to mix it up if we were using the same centers for a few days or weeks in a row, I would simply change the location of those manipulatives. Instead of leaving cards in the same ziplock bag or plastic bin they’ve been in for the past 4 days, maybe hang the cards on the wall in one area of the room or dump them in a bag of pinto beans that kids have to dig around in to find the cards. If you’re blessed with a large classroom like I was, you can even spread the cards out in an entire area of the room so it’s a bit more like a hunt to find the next card before answering. This not only adds an element of newness to the activity, but also gives your learners the chance to move around a little more than they previously had been with this activity. Keeps them moving, learning, and enjoying it without even knowing it.

SIDENOTE: I’d highly suggest playing this idea up a bit too! If you teach little ones, tell them they’re going to complete this center, but today they’re pirates looking for treasure (the cards, ha!) before they can solve the problems! If you teach bigger kids, make it a friendly competition or give them a time to beat if they can handle that kind of excitement. Little things that YOU get excited about can be passed on and make THEM excited about it too!



4. Small Group Work

If you’ve already used your centers in a thousand different ways and you just have no more energy to put into creatively trying to make them work for another activity, bring them to your small group table! Small groups are all about teaching to and learning about a specific skill or level. So, pulling out materials that are mostly review at the start or end of a small group is not only engaging and fun, but also a great way to keep old concepts fresh in their minds.

Another benefit of pulling out an old familiar center activity for small groups is building up student confidence. For some students, working in small groups can feel really challenging because you’re meeting them at their current level, but hopefully you’re also pushing them a bit outside their comfort zone. So, pulling out an activity they’re familiar with and feel confident they can complete well is a great way to boost their confidence in their own abilities and still get in some great skill practice.

5. Add An Open-Ended Twist

This is one of my FAVORITE ways to change up center time activities: add an open-ended task! So, on the off chance that you don’t know what an “open-ended task” is, it’s a task that can be answered in a variety of ways, encourages independent and creative thinking, or can continue to be answered forever. Haha! Adding one of these kinds of tasks to the end of a center is a simple way to help the activity last longer AND challenge your students to use higher order thinking too.

EXAMPLES:

  • After you identify the beginning sounds of the pictures, draw as many objects as as you can think of that start with the same sound.

  • When you’re finished writing all the words from the cards around the room, use each word in a complete sentence. Try to see if you can use multiple words from the cards in those sentences!

  • After you solve each math problem, write a new problem that would have the same answer as the one you found.

These are just a few ideas for how you can add a little “extra” to a center to give it a new element, but any task you add on to the assignment that will challenge your students to think about the concept they’re working on in a new or deeper way is a GREAT addition! HERE are some open-ended word problems for math centers if you need some ideas for big kids. :)

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Listed below are some of my very favorite centers for primary grades:

PRESCHOOL

KINDERGARTEN

FIRST GRADE

SECOND GRADE

LITTLE LEARNER FREEBIE

You most definitely don’t have to try EVERY one of these ideas with the same centers all at once, but hope you found a least one to try soon so you can save some money and time by using the same centers in new, engaging ways. Happy teaching!

Cheering you on!

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7 Classroom Management Tips for Little Learners

Alleah RostoharComment

Do you teach tiny humans? I mean, like, REALLY tiny humans? After teacher Kindergarten and second grade for 3 years each, with a lot of subbing mixed in at times, I was forced to figure out what kinds of management strategies worked well for young learners. So, here are 7 easy ideas for managing your classroom full of littles and communicating expectations consistently and effectively.

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1. Visual Directions

Using visual directions is a super effective way to remind students of what they should be doing without needing to constantly repeat yourself. By displaying these visual cues, I could encourage students to be as independent in their learning as possible. AND, as a small bonus, keep my sanity in tact too. Because, if we’re being honest, answering “I’m done with that part…what do I do now?” eleventy-billion times per lesson can be testing on the patience. Haha!

Visual directions are a simple way for students to practice sequencing skills multiple times a day, stay on task during independent work, and to learn to problem solve independently before asking for help. Also, they’re helpful for all kinds of learners, including students who are learning English or have extra needs. I would recommend posting them in the same spot all the time so students always know where to look when referring to the visuals.

CLICK HERE to see the editable ones I always used with my kindergarteners. I simply printed, cut, and laminated each card and then displayed them on the side of my magnetic whiteboard using a piece of adhesive magnetic tape.

2. Directions ON Activities

Displaying directions for what students should be doing physically ON the activities is another great way to help students work independently. One thing I used to do is secure something like these editable morning tub cards to the actual plastic bins that the morning tub materials are stored in. This was a simple way for students to refer to directions and expectations for what they were currently working on without needing to ask me how to use the morning tub or how to complete the activity. This is especially helpful when you’re working with a small group or needing to get things in order for when you’re working all together as a class next.

Depending on what your particular group of students needs, you could include words, pictures, or a mixture of both to communicate what students should be doing to complete the activity and use the materials needed correctly. I would strongly recommend laminating these directions so they’re more durable an will last through all the kiddo use. Ha!

3. Positive Notes

In my experience, it does people’s hearts a WORLD of good to hear the things they’re doing well. Knowing that we’re succeeding at something can be such a blessing to hear about, on a great day or challenging one.

So, writing notes to students who you catch doing or being something wonderful can be a great management tool! A few kind words about something you’ve seen in their work, behavior, or personality can help students feel a sense of belonging and trust. Pointing out small, specific things you notice communicates that you truly care for them. And, as the old saying goes, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Even the most challenging student can be reached when they know they’re cared for and important to you and your classroom community.

These positive notes for students are quick, simple ones that you can just print, cut, and pass around to your little ones to tell them how great they are! Sticky notes work super well too. :)

4. Behavior Calendars

Behavior calendars are not only an easy idea to keep track of behaviors for the day, but a simple way to communicate the events of the day to parents as well. Usually, these kinds of behavior calendars are used in conjunction with a color chart or clip chart, but they can be used in many other ways as well. Normally, students will color the picture on the correct day of the week to correspond with the color they earned on the color chart for that day. Then, the teacher will write a quick note once in awhile to keep parents informed. I tried to always write a note when a student had an “extreme day”, whether AMAZING or truly challenging. This way, I could brag on their absolute greatness or help parents understand why their child had such a struggle-bus day. These simple notes are an essential part of the management and communication process and parents love to be kept in the loop about their child’s behavior in many cases.

Remember, the most important part of using behavior calendars is to make sure students know what is expected and what they are bringing home to their parents and that the parents are told about the specific behaviors went on that day in the classroom, amazing or not so much. I always used these editable behavior calendars with my kindergarteners as a super simple, quick way to keep track of and communicate about behaviors.

5. Silent Reminders

Reminding your little learners of what’s expected of them and what their best behaviors looks like is always important. However, a lot of the time, it’s not something you want to have to holler down the hallway or draw a bunch of attention to. So, silent reminders are the perfect way to accomplish this!

Take these free cards to assemblies, while walking in the hallway, while observing students working in the classroom, or even to recess to gently and effectively remind your kids of your expectations for their behaviors. Using simple hand signals is another great option for silently giving directions.

With both of these strategies, you’ll need to teach your students what they’re for and what they mean when they see the card or the hand signal. Teach about it, read about it, color or draw about it, act it out, act out how it DOESN’T look, all the things. When you’re sure your students understand what’s expected, then you’re free to start using this kind of tool and even attaching the same consequences to them as if you had given the same instruction verbally.

6. Color Clip Chart

Using a color clip chart can be a little bit of a touchy topic. Many teachers love them, many hate them, and for a variety of reasons. I personally always used a color clip chart, with very clear expectations for myself and my students, for a few reasons.

So, if you’re on the fence or want to use a color chart but aren’t totally sure how, here are a few tips that helped this tool be successful in my classroom.

  1. BE RESPECTFUL: I always used our color clip chart to manage behaviors in a concrete way that I felt my young students could understand, NOT ever to shame or make anyone feel belittled or embarrassed. I would take time at the very beginning of the year to discuss and explain what the chart’s purpose was and how we were going to use it. This helped my students understand the PURPOSE of the color chart, which was to help them SEE how their choices were affecting their day and others around them and keep track of that throughout the day. It was never ever to make them feel badly or communicate that they weren’t “good” or anything like that. With little ones, explicitly explaining this concept is very important. Most of my students always understood these concepts pretty quickly and I made sure to be true to my word and never used it in a way that made anyone feel embarrassed or ashamed.

  2. USE YOUR JUDGMENT: Some students have personalities that like to push boundaries and will need you to give an instruction along with a “or you’ll need to move your clip down” to get them to listen. Others will be completely MORTIFIED at even the mention of their clip. So, use your judgment and use the chart to be an EFFECTIVE behavior manager, not ever a punishing or demeaning process. Some kids, you’ll probably NEVER have to actually have them move their clip because presenting the warning of moving it will be enough. You may need to only GLANCE at the clip chart to send your sensitive kids to a tearful change of behavior. Your more stubborn kids may need to move their clip all the way down many days in a row for them to finally learn that their behavior is unacceptable. So, you know your kids…be gentle when needed and firm when needed. You’ll know the difference.

  3. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you have your students move their clip down for EVERY incorrect or inappropriate action, many of them will go home on red every day because they’re young and learning and need a LOT of grace. I’m not saying to lower your expectations or let them get away with unexpected behaviors, but I AM encouraging you to move clips for things that are truly worth changing. So, in other words, pick your battles and only move clips for things that are truly unacceptable behavior (hurting others, being intentionally disrespectful, deliberately not following directions, etc.) and not smaller things that can be adjusted with a bit of training (putting supplies away incorrectly, occasionally talking when they should be listening, not paying attention in line, etc.).

  4. FIND THE GOOD STUFF: Last tip: FIND THE GOOD STUFF!! Holy moly, those little learners do SO many great things throughout the day, y’all! Notice them and move those clips up up up for EVERY great thing you see! :) This is a really effective way to motivate your kiddos AND help them feel empowered and hopeful that if they DO move their clip down once or twice throughout the day, they have opportunities to make up for that choice. Giving them the reassurance that they can always work really hard to move their clip back up throughout the day is a great way to help the clip chart keep a positive spin and not get defeating or negative.

So, those are my thoughts on color clip charts. It may or may not be a great fit for you and your students, but that’s completely up to you. I truly believe a clip chart can be used to positively shape behaviors if used thoughtfully. CLICK HERE to see the editable one I used in my classroom for years!

7. Always Post Expectations Visually

Keeping expectations for behavior and assignments posted in a simple and visual way is obviously an important part of communicating with young learners. Since they are usually still mastering their reading, writing, and sometimes even speaking skills, SHOWING and illustrating expectations is crucial.

In addition to visual directions, keeping posters or something similar posted in the classroom that shows behavior and work expectations can be a helpful strategy. The school I taught at most recently used a program called “CHAMPS”, so these editable posters came in really handy for keeping expectations known to everyone walking into your classroom, including students, administrators, and parents!

Posting expectations this way is an all-around win for you for these 3 reasons:

  1. They’ll help your students know how to behave and be successful in your classroom.

  2. They’ll show administrators that you plan ahead and set up clear expectations for your students.

  3. They’ll communicate to parents that you are organized and manage your classroom in a way that sets their kids up to be successful in their academics and behaviors.

Keeping young students motivated and learning in an effective way can be challenging, but you are a ROCKSTAR and can totally do it! I hope you found a tip or two that will help you train and shape your little learners into amazingly independent kids. Leave a comment telling me which management ideas you already use or would like to use with your students this year!


Cheering you on!

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31 Back to School Freebies for K-2

Alleah RostoharComment

Hey hey hey!

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL season!! Oooooh, I’m just so excited for a brand new school year, so I thought I’d help you start your year off with a bunch of free greatness to use with your class! I’ve included  freebies from some AMAZING teacher mamas, so scroll on through to check out 31 freebies that’ll be perfect to use in your kindergarten, first, or second grade classroom. And if you need a few more free ideas for your classroom, sign up here and I’ll send you freebies and updates through email! 

Okay, as promised: 31 FREEBIES. Here you go! Click the name of the freebie to go straight to it!

1. Back to School Freebies - Alleah Maree

Games, puzzles, and worksheets are a super fun way to start your year! These activities are sure to keep your little learners entertained for a bit.

2. All About Me Back-to-School Craftivity - The Stay at Home Teacher

OOOH, everyone loves a good craft! This adorable apple craft is the perfect way for kids to tell you all about themselves. It’s perfect for getting to know your students at the beginning of the year and sharing about yourself too!

3. First Day of Kindergarten Lesson Plans and Checklist - Carolyn’s Creative Classroom

Need a few ideas for how to start off kindergarten? This freebie includes crafts, tips, tricks, and organization ideas for you to use from the very beginning. Also, there’s a checklist included, so THAT’S super helpful and nice! Haha.

4. Learning Objectives Display - Briana Beverly

Show off all the amazing stuff you’re learning in class with these cute learning objectives headers! They’re bright, simple, and a great way to display your objectives in your classroom.

5. First Day of School Signs - Easy Teaching Tools
Taking lots of good pictures on the first day of school is such a fun way to remember where it all starts out. Grab these super cute first day of school signs to document your students’ first days in your classroom!

6. Back to School Welcome Note {Popcorn Theme} - A is for Apples

These popcorn themed notes are a fun way to thank people for “popping in” for Meet the Teacher or Open House! Simply attach to a ziplock of popcorn and you’re all set!

7. Back to School Math Activities - Katelyn’s Learning Studio

Back to school math work can be super fun with these hilarious jokes and riddles! Use them as an extra activity, fun math assignment, or even homework!

8. Reading Tips Brochure to Parents from Teachers - A Teachable Teacher

This brochure is GOLD. It gives parents a bunch of great ideas for how they can help their child throughout the year with important skills like reading and writing. Totally perfect for Meet the Teacher or Back to School Night!

9. Back to School Kindergarten Assessment - Keeping My Kinders Busy

Quickly figure out where your brand new kindergarteners’ learning is starting with these free, simple assessments! These are a great resource to use at the very beginning of the year.
10. Phonics CVC -At Family FREEBIE - The Curious Hippo

This little freebie is a super fun way to practice the "-at word family! Using a hands-on approach, your students will love getting to work on this activity as they practice some crucial phonics skills.

11. This School Year Will Be the Best Freebie - Stories by Storie

This idea for an activity is a really fun way to look forward to the school year with with your students and build your classroom community. It provides you with ideas for books to read and activities to complete to create a class book!

12. Back to School Bingo Posters Activities - The Kinder Life

Starting the year by playing games is always a good idea! Grab your students’ attention with these simple, fun bingo posters and start building your classroom culture right from the start.

13. Class Book for the Beginning of the Year - Literacy with the Littles

This class book is a super fun way to get to know your students and encourage a sense of belonging and teamwork at the beginning of the year. Also, it’s editable and SO stinkin’ cute!

14. Primary Homework Log - Fun in 401

This resource is a great way to help your students take responsibility for their learning and keep your teacher world organized when it comes to homework!

15. All About Me Craftivity Freebie for Back to School - Coffee Beans and Children’s Dreams

This "all about me” craft is really fun and the perfect way to encourage your students to share about themselves and get to know each other. The activities included would make a really cute bulletin board or door decoration!
16. Bus CVC Word Building Mat - Little Learning Moments

Working on spelling and reading CVC words at the beginning of the year can get monotonous, so spice it up with this school-themed, hands-on approach.

17. Find and Cover Numbers 0-10 FREE - Brittani Black

Want to incorporate fine motor skills with your academics? Gotcha covered! This activity is a simple way for students to practice identifying numbers as they use pom poms, unifix cubes, marker, crayons, or any other manipulative to practice their fine motor skills at the same time.

18. Memory Progress Books - Little Mrs M

Having students document how the year starts and finishes is a really sweet way to help them see how much they’ve grown. This freebie allows students to create a book to see how much they’re learned throughout the year with you!

19. First Day- Hooray! - Little Owl Academy

Looking for a few cute printables for your little learners? Here they are! These worksheets are a great way for kindergarteners to practice coloring, writing, drawing, and even gluing.
20. Back to School Vacation Creative Writing Activity - Look We’re Learning!

This creative writing activity is a super engaging way to hear about what students did over the summer break or tell about places they’d love to visit someday. Writing prompts and instructions are included!

21. Rules for Kindergarten Mini-Book - Katie Roltgen

We all know that kindergarten friends need a lot of practice and repetition when it comes to expectations, especially at the beginning of the year! This booklet is an awesome way for students to show their interpretation of the rules and draw examples of expected behaviors.

22. Back to School Parent Survey - Bow Tie Guy and Wife

Back to school time is the PERFECT time to make sure you get to know your students’ parents! These surveys are an easy way to build your relationship with them from the beginning and get their input on things coming up in the classroom.

23. Poetry Folder FREEBIE - The First Grade Roundup

This freebie is a great way for students to practice reading and color matching at the same time! Check out this cute poem and the activities that go along with it.

24. Back to School Letter Matching Center Activity - Teach Glitter Grow

Starting the year off using a “hands-on” approach whenever possible is a great way to encourage engagement. This letter matching freebie is a perfect center or small group activity that uses fine motor skills as well as letter knowledge.

25. 1st Grade Back to School Baseline Reading Assessments - iHeartLiteracy

Knowing where your students’ need to start learning is so important to their success! So, these free assessments are an amazing way to figure out where your first grade students are learning currently so you can make a plan to get them where they need to be.

26. Line Up Chant - KTP on TPT

Oh, hallway behavior! You tricky thing. Haha! Check out this cute little chant to sing after you teach hallway expectations and before you venture out to take a bathroom break as a whole class of 28 tiny humans.

27. Dear Teacher - A Beginning of the Year Activity - Spatial Projects

This activity is a wonderful way for students to introduce and share about themselves in a way that’s comfortable and easy. It includes writing a letter and completing pages to share about their themselves.

28. Reading Logs for Primary - FirstieLand

Reading logs can be a simple way for students to track their reading progress and give a sense of accomplishment in reaching a reading goal. Written and picture versions are included, so they work for any grade level!

29. Apple Bulletin Board Letters - CookFamilyResources

If you’re almost ready, but need to pull your room together with a little fall fun, these apple bulletin board letters are the perfect addition. They’re great for bulletin boards, labeling big sections of your room, or even decorating your door!

30. Back to School FREEBIE - Elementary At HEART

This editable freebie includes a couple forms for YOU, the teacher, to stay organized and efficient. And, did I mention that they’re editable?? Because THAT’s super convenient! Haha.

31. Welcome Brag Tags - Ashley’s Goodies

These brag tags could be a nice addition to your classroom management strategies! Use them as rewards, allow kids to give them to each other for amazing behaviors, and allow kids to save them up to work toward an end goal/reward.

So, there you have it! 31 back to school freebies for you to use in your classroom this year. I hope you found a BUNCH that will help you stay organized, help your students feel welcomed and excited, and start to build your classroom community from the very beginning.

Let me know if you’ve seen or created any amazing back to school freebies that you just can’t start the year without! I’d love to see the resources you already love to use.

Wishing you a magical back to school season!







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11 Tips for Communicating with Parents

Alleah RostoharComment

Hey hey, teacher friend!

We all know that keeping parents in the loop about what’s happening in our classroom and at school is a SUPER important part of being an amazing teacher. But, good GRACIOUS, who has time to chat with every one of our students’ parents every week?! VERY few of us. I SO GET IT. So, here are 11 tips to help you impress parents and administrators alike with your amazing communication skills. Haha! Here we go!

1. Get every parent’s correct contact information.

FIRST STINKIN’ THING: GET AN UP-TO-DATE EMAIL ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER FOR EVERY PARENT. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried to call or email a parent and the information is old or inaccurate. So, at Meet the Teacher Night or Open House, collect that information in at LEAST 2-3 places. I know that sounds redundant, but if you have it written down on 2 or 3 forms, you’re more likely to get accurate information. Also, let parents know that you’ll be USING that information to send updates and information consistently throughout the year so they understand how crucial it is for you to have a way to contact them that will definitely get through.

2. Send group emails with updates and quick information.

This one seems obvious, but group emails are such a quick, simple way to help parents feel like they’re being involved and informed about what’s happening in the classroom with their kiddo every day. Sending email is also an awesome way to keep track of your communication with parents (since we all have or WILL have that parent who tells our principal “I never heard about that grade before!” or “I had no idea this event was even happening!” Pull up that email and BAM…proof to show that you’re a rockstar communicator and there’s no denying it.

I send quick emails to remind about small things like, “Hey y’all! Please remember Friday is a half-day and dismissal is at 12:00pm. Hope you have a great weekend with your kiddos!” But also send emails that have a lot of information about the coming week or even month if it’s a busy one. If you’re concerned about sharing parents’ emails with other parents, address the email to yourself and then copy and paste all those compiled parent emails into the blind copy space.

3. Consistently send newsletters.

Sending out a newsletter with upcoming events, important dates, current learning objectives, and any other important information is an amazingly easy way to keep everyone in the loop. When I taught kindergarten, I sent out a newsletter once a week (either through email or a physical paper and sometimes BOTH) and parents totally LOVED it. So many of them made a point to let me know that they appreciated knowing what was happening in our classroom each week and it was helpful in keeping them involved. It was SO worth the extra 10 minutes of work to make sure everyone felt included and on the same page moving forward.

The best way I can suggest to make this happen is to buy or create a newsletter template and make writing your newsletter a part of your weekly (or monthly) routine. Choose one day each week (or month) where you change out a few key details on your newsletter template, save it, and either print a master copy or email it out to your group of parents. Simple, quick, stress-free.

Also, you don’t have to send them every week if that sounds stressful. Once a week, once every two weeks, once a month…you know yourself best, so do what’s best for you and what you know you’ll actually follow through with. It’s much better to say you’ll send out a monthly newsletter and end up sending it 1-2 times a month than to say you’ll send a weekly newsletter and only send it out once a month. Decide how often you want to send one and be consistent. :)

4. Only respond when you’re calm.

Most people who become teachers do so because they are passionate about teaching and truly care about kids and their education. Most parents love their kids fiercely and will do anything to get what’s best for them in life. SO…there are BOUND to be times when a parent says or does something that completely ruffles your feathers and throws you off your game. I’m fairly certain colleagues have seen smoke shooting from my ears on an few occasions. However, I would strongly recommend that you wait to respond to them (if it’s an email or phone call) until you’re feeling calm and clear about what you want to say in response. Responding to them when you’re feeling angry or hurt or unappreciated usually ends with you saying something you didn’t REALLY want to say, but didn’t have the self-control to hold back because you were emotionally worked up. I’ve waited as long as 24 hours to respond to situations that made me feel upset because I wanted to make sure I responded professionally, kindly, and clearly. When everyone has calmed down again, you’ll be super proud of yourself for taking the time you needed to relax and communicate in a collected manner instead of spewing all the crazy responses that popped into your mind when you were angry.

5. Give parents all the information you have.

I’m naturally what I like to refer to as an “over-communicator”. I like to make sure everyone is on the same page and has the same level of understanding as much as I possibly can….and then double check, JUST to make sure I didn’t misunderstand. HAHA. So, that being said, giving parents as much information about an event or situation is a great way to avoid confusion and not have to answer the same question an obscene amount of times. Mention dates, times, durations, locations, attire, what to bring, what not to bring…all the relevant information YOU would want to know about the event, share it them. Tell them simple directions how to get to the gym or include the email address for the music teacher so they can direct questions about the music concert to her. If it’s helpful, legal, public knowledge, share it with them! They’ll be grateful for your thoroughness.

** Quick Note: If you’re explaining a behavior situation in detail, be sure to only refer to their own child by name and not use any specifics when referring to other students to protect everyone’s legal rights and privacy. :)

6. Pick a great app.

We can do so many incredible things using technology, including communicate super effectively! There are a ton of great communication apps out there for interacting with your students’ parents or you can set up a class website to post information to as well.

My personal absolute favorite app to use to communicate with parents is SeeSaw. This app allows you to send out memos and reminders to all parents who have downloaded the app and are logged into your class’ account with a unique login. What’s even MORE fun is that each of your students can have their own unique “feed” where they can upload things like videos, photos, and other notes and information about things they’re doing in class using iPads! Parents can check in on their own child’s feed any time and see the great work they’ve been up to during the day. Both parents and teachers can add comments on students work, so that’s another great way to give students AND parents academic feedback! So many good things!

7. Send information many ways.

I’ve found that sending out information ONLY one way isn’t a very effective way to make sure every parent hears about what’s happening in your classroom. You only send home a flyer or handout and THAT kid shoves it in his desk to find at the end of the year. You only send an email and it accidentally goes to spam! You only update the classroom app or website and those few parents without smart phones or computers miss the memo. So, whenever possible, send home information a few times and in a few different ways. My school used to even print out stickers to stick on kids’ shirts as they left school the day before a big event, like “Field Day is Tomorrow” or “Early Dismissal at 12:00pm” with the corresponding dates. BRILLIANT.


8. Write notes on behavior calendars.

This is a quick, simple way to make sure parents know you’re paying attention to their kiddo throughout the week. Behavior calendars can be used in a whole bunch of ways, but however you’re using them, I’d definitely recommend finding some time near the end of the day when you can write a positive note or two, as well as address the specifics behaviors for anyone who had a “hard day” that day. Your note can be a quick smiley face, a “You’re such a great friend!”, or a “Had trouble following directions today. :(“ Jotting a quick note is just a simple way to reinforce to parents that you are paying attention to their kiddo and that you want parents to be clear about what happened at school that day. I would recommend writing a note on each student’s behavior calendar at least once or twice a week, but definitely more often if something especially wonderful or especially challenging is happening.

9. Set and communicate during what times you’ll respond to emails.

This is something I’ve learned throughout the years that’s just a good way to make sure you’re covered in the event that someone is dissatisfied with your response time to emails. You have a life outside of your teaching career and when something time sensitive comes up and parents feel you “didn’t respond quickly enough”, this is a good way to keep yourself in the clear. I usually tell parents that I check emails from 7am until 9pm. This way, they know that if they send me an email at 9:27pm about a missing assignment that’s due tomorrow, I’m not going to respond to that email until the next morning in most cases. There is the occasional time that I’ll respond to an email later or early than I normally do if it happens to fit into my schedule, but that’s not the norm I’ve set up for my students' parents to expect from me. Doing this also gives you some time each morning and each night to not have that nagging responsibility that you need to check and respond to emails so you can just take a breath for a minute.

10. Be proactive!

So, Sarah has a super hard day at school. She comes in late because she missed the bus, she’s hungry because she skipped breakfast, and she forgot her homework. She’s impatient with her classmates, speaking disrespectfully to you, and is just in an all-around “off” mood. Recess rolls around and Ben kicks the ball she was playing with and that’s as much as she can take. She shoves him to the ground and yells “THAT’S MINE!” at the top of her lungs. YIKES. Needless to say, she needs some time to breathe on the sidelines and chat with you about what’s going on, why she’s feeling so upset today, and an appropriate consequence for her behavior.

Now, you have two options. Option 1: wait for the email, phone call, or in person visit from her parents in the next 3-6 hours OR, Option 2: write a quick note on her behavior calendar, send an concerned email, or even give her parents a quick call after the kids are dismissed? I’d for SURE recommend option 2. It let’s parents know that you care about their child, want what’s best for her, and are honestly concerned with her behavior that day. Letting them know what went on from another adult’s perspective is super important too, because sometimes kids can forget key elements in the causes and effects from the day. ;) The short version: Being proactive is a super effective way to remind parents of how much you care for their child, are paying attention to what’s happening with each student every day, and that you’re on the same team, ready and willing to support them in any way.

11. Communicate in a way that builds relationships.

Regardless of how you choose to communicate with parents this year, always keep your relationships at the front of your mind and heart. Your relationships with your students and their parents are some of the most important ones you’ll form this year at school. Ask them about themselves, learn what is going on in their lives, connect with them about your favorite restaurant or that crazy new movie…whatever quick bits of time you can spare really helps build your relationship.

The bottom line is that parents love their kids and they want to know that you love their kids too. They want to know you’re on the same team and are working together to help their child learn and grow. And being on the same page with parents and partnering together to help teach kids life and academic lessons is such an ideal place to be! I’d encourage you to do whatever small things you can to build trust and partnership in your relationships with your students and their parents. It’s always worth it.

SO, there you go…11 tips for communicating with parents like a ROCKSTAR. Haha! You may do a lot of these tips with parents already, but do you think you could choose one or two tips from this post to implement this year? Or, if you already do ALL of these things, maybe pick one to focus on doing it better than you’ve done it in the past? I think that some of the greatest teachers are the ones who keep learning small ways to improve what they do…the best teachers never stop learning, right? :)

So grateful for you, friend! Really really. Let me know in the comments if you have any other amazing communication tips that you’d add to this list. I love hearing from you!

Enjoy all your moments today!

 

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20 Tips for New Teachers

Alleah Rostohar2 Comments

Hey hey, teacher friend!!

Oh MY, congratulations on graduating and landing your very first teaching job! I’m so INCREDIBLY stoked for you. I remember that feeling and it’s so SO good. OR maybe you’re going back to the classroom after being away for a bit? THAT’S super exciting too! You already have amazing knowledge of your own, but these little tidbits will definitely add a few thoughts your tool belt as well!

So, before you get out there and make the coming year the best one EVER, here are my top 20 tips for surviving your first year of teaching.

** This post contains a few affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products I already love and am linking for you, I’ll receive a small percentage of the profit that the website makes from your purchase at no extra cost to you. :) Such a win-win-win! **

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1. Write out all the procedures you plan to cover in the first week.

Making a list of all the procedures want to cover with your students when they come in the first day (and week!) is a great way to make sure you explain all the procedural information your students will need. Think about what you need to know the first day of a new job and all the most important procedural information your students will need to know.

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Where’s the bathroom? What do students do when they come in in the morning? What are each of the important areas of the classroom? What kind of behaviors are expected during whole group or work times? What does the schedule look like? What do they do if they have a question or need to talk to you? Just make a BIG list and then narrow it down to the most important things that students need to know in the first week. Here’s an example of a list I made one year.

2. Be a supportive and contributing team member.

Hopefully, the people you work the most closely with are the best group of people you’ve ever met in your entire life. But, even if some are challenging at times, do your best to be supportive and contribute your strengths to your team. Maybe you don’t love science, but have some great ideas for spelling…contribute those! Maybe you absolutely hate planning on paper, so offer to keep track of team plans in a Google Doc or AirTable spreadsheet. Maybe you can’t STAND lunch duty, but would LOVE to be outside for recess every day….offer that idea! I encourage you to share any of your strengths to contribute as much as you can to the happiness and success of your team. Everyone pitching in helps create a super supported, happy group of teachers!

3. Over-prepare for Meet the Teacher Night.

Getting yourself over-prepared for Meet the Teacher Night will help you feel prepared and ready to meet all your students and their parents, as well as take a LOT of the pressure off for the actual night. I would definitely recommend creating or purchasing handouts to give to parents that collect information from them AND provide them with information they’ll need to know about your classroom. Peek here and here for a few of my favorite resources for Meet the Teacher night success!

4. Always have snacks and treats hidden in your room for YOU.

ALWAYS. HAVE. SNACKS. You’re going to have slow days and days that go by so quickly you don’t remember anything. So, keeping snacks and treats in your room and ready to eat is a great way to keep your energy up and your brain clear. My snacks of choice are chocolate, goldfish, and trailmix.

5. Start the year off finding everything that’s right about your students.

This one is simple, but so intentional. From the very beginning, purposely notice the amazingly GREAT qualities of your new learners. I guarantee that there will be a million times that you need to remind about something, redirect behaviors, and shut some actions down completely, so do your best to build a relationship with each of your students right from the start by simply noticing and naming all the amazing things about them. Comments like, “Wow, that was so thoughtful, Casey!” and “Thanks for being such a nice friend, Laura.” will go a LONG way for your students’ hearts and help them know that you care about them, are interested in them, are on their side, and want what is best for them. Then, when discipline needs to come into play, they know deep down that you care and you’re just trying to help them make great choices.

6. Buy a personal laminator.

Even if your school has a laminator you can use, I highly recommend buying your own. It’s so much more convenient, the lamination is much more durable, you can laminate any time you want to, and you don’t have to worry about waiting in line or supplies being gone when you need them. This laminator is amazing with these pouches…super easy to use and ready for you ANY time you need them.

7. Communicate with parents OFTEN.

Parents LOVE to be kept in the loop about what’s happening with their child. It’s a great idea to give parents a few calls with positive reports early in the year to communicate to them that you love their kid and have their best interests in mind. Then, when you need to call because something challenging has popped up, the parents know you’re on their side and their kid’s side and aren’t out to “get” anyone with your insight.

Also, I strongly suggest that you communicate with parents in written form as often as you can squeeze it in. A weekly newsletter, a group email, an app for parents (like SeeSaw) that you can update with the latest news from school…all of this is a great way to communicate AND DOCUMENT that you’ve been communicating. Parents LOVE communication, administration LOVES communication, teachers LOVE communication! And, when you put things in writing, you have proof of your amazing proactiveness in communicating important information. You can send home newsletters through email as PDFs, hard copy newsletters, daily behavior charts with updates, or even just a few group emails to all the emails you’ll collect at Meet the Teacher Night.

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8. Find a planner you totally LOVE.

There are a BUNCH of great planners to choose from…Erin Condren, Happy Planner, Plum Paper, ALL kinds of greatness on Etsy…how on earth are you supposed to choose?! Honestly, I can’t tell you which one is “best” because you have to figure that out for yourself. But, I CAN tell you that you definitely need to do some research and find one that makes sense to you and that you love using. You can create your own using powerpoint, purchase one from TPT like this one, or snag one from your favorite planner company. So far, Erin Condren’s monthly planner is my favorite, but I’d definitely suggest shopping around to find the best one for YOU and then use it DILIGENTLY. There will be LOTS to keep track of, I promise. Haha

9. Find a teacher bestie.

Teaching can be really hard some days. Super rewarding and wonderful too, but definitely challenging. You’re going to need someone to vent to, someone to “get” you, someone to tell you that they feel the same way and you’re not alone. So, just be on the lookout…they might be someone right next door or maybe someone you never expected.

10. Get comfortable with saying “I don’t know that answer yet, but I’ll find out for you!”

This can be a super tricky tip because it might feel like you’re admitting you don’t know what you’re doing. But, in my experience, parents, administrators, colleagues, and even STUDENTS really respect people who can admit that the don’t have all the answers, but are willing to figure them out. I learned at a very young age that being able to find information you need is just as important a skill as knowing everything in your head. Just be sure to follow through with what you say you’ll do and people will respect your transparency and willingness to go the extra mile to help solve their problem or ease their curiosity.

11. Start off your year with firm, consistent, kind discipline.

“You can always loosen up. It’s much more difficult to tighten up.” This is something my mentor teacher taught me from the very beginning when I was student teaching. Most of us want to be loved and liked by our students…that’s completely normal. But, I can tell you from YEARS of experience that your students will love you for giving them very clear expectations, boundaries, and consequences. So, be kind and fun, but also teach your kids where the boundaries are and remind them consistently of what will happen if they push those boundaries. They won’t love the consequences at first, but they will definitely learn to respect you for keeping your world and consistently following through on what you say. Set high expectations for your kids and they’ll surprise you with how amazing they can be. As they learn to do what’s expected throughout the year, you can start to loosen the reigns a little bit and allow for a little more banter and fun because your students will be very clear about how far is too far, and that allows for a little more fun for everyone. Firm, consistent, kind, and your kids will appreciate and love you for it. Start super tight and loosen as they learn!

12. Figure out the best way to take a bathroom break before the year starts.

You’re definitely going to need a few restroom breaks throughout the day until you teach your body to get on your daily schedule. So, chat with your team and other professional adults working close to your classroom to find out who is happy to keep an eye on your class while you shuffle down the hallway to the restroom real quick. And, of course, definitely offer to do the same for them whenever they need it.

13. Purchase easy sub plans.

Kids are sweet and wonderful and fun and GERMY. I lovingly refer to them as “little cootie factories” because those precious little hands get into everything, touch everything else, and pass everything around. I’m sending you all the prayers for a STRONG immune system, but chances are, you’ll come down with something at some point.

So, having easily-preppable sub plans ready to print off and plop on a desk is CRITICAL. It’ll help your over-thinking teacher mind rest in knowing that when you feel that unwelcome tickle in your throat or you notice that you’ve sneezed 7 times in the last 43 seconds, all you need to do is email a teammate with your plans and ask them nicely to print and lay them on your desk while you stay home with your tissues and Netflix. These and these are my current favorites!

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14. Wear comfy shoes.

You’re going to be standing for 97% of your day and moving all around campus all day long. I totally LOVE and want to be a “cute teacher” who has the most adorable outfits and looks so put together and ready to take on the world. But, I’m just sayin’, when it comes to the shoes, pick comfortable ones that you can walk, sprint, jump, crawl, crouch, and stand in happily for extended periods of time. You never know when you’ll need to do any one of the previous activities at a moment’s notice. Good ole Keds or some Target sandals are my favorite choices.

15. Bring a lunch that doesn’t need to be heated so you can finish it and not wait in line.

If you’re like most teachers, you’ll have approximately 27 minutes to drop your kids off at lunch, walk back to the lounge, eat your lunch, clean up, make those copies you forgot about for science, use the bathroom, and pick your students up from lunch. So, spending 2 minutes waiting for the microwave to be free and then spending another 5-7 minutes prepping and warming your own food just isn’t ideal. My favorite go-to lunches are usually a turkey sandwich, a salad with some kind of protein on top, or a bunch of “snacky” stuff, like cheese cubes, snap peas, pretzels, and chocolate.

16. Plan WAY too much content.

OVER. PLAN. Just play WAY too much content for what you’ll possibly be able to get through. Especially at the beginning of the year, when you’re first getting to know your students and where they are with their academic and social skills, it’s really important to plan a LOT more activities than you’ll actually be able to accomplish in a given time period. How many activities you should plan for each hour of the day for the first two weeks or so will greatly depend on what grade level you’re teaching. If you’re teaching kindergarten, you’ll probably need to plan 3-4 super short activities ready for each hour of your days. If you’re teaching third or fourth grade, you’ll probably only need 2-3 super engaging activities, but you know yourself and your kids best, so go with what works best for you.

I would recommend planning activities in an “up, then down” kind of pattern. This means I’ve found it works well to plan a really fun “up” activity that is exciting, active, and will get your kids super engaged. Then, bring them back down a bit with a more calm, academic activity afterward. This kind of pattern gives students a bit of something fun to look forward to at different times throughout the day, but doesn’t overwhelm everyone with constant fun, active, hyper activities.

After the first few weeks, when you start to know your students better and what they need to stay engaged and learning, you can ease up on the amount of activities you’re planning and start planning just one lesson that will be accomplished in the time you have to spend on that subject or topic. However, it’s smart to have a few backup activities in your back pocket just in case any of your kiddos finish assignments before you planned for them. HERE are a some ideas you to check out to have on hand for early finishers!

17. Buy yourself a a really big to-go coffee mug.

Like, a BIG one. You’re going to need a steady caffeine intake, so just make sure you have a travel mug or cup big enough to hold a LOT of your favorite caffeinated beverage.

18. Invest in a good “teacher toolbox” supply organizer.

I fought this idea for a long time. Too expensive, everyone has one, I don’t really need it…but when I finally caved, I never went back. I don’t know how I ever lived without it. I use a toolbox similar to this one and absolutely LOVE it! There are a bunch of cute ways to decorate your toolbox too! You can spray paint it any color you want and either make or purchase labels for all the little drawers in your organizer. These bright labels are some of my favorites. And here’s a free version you can try first!

19. Go with the flow.

Prepare yourself to be flexible as the days march on. We spend so much time planning every minute of our school day, but really, very few things go as planned in a day of teaching. Even FEWER things go as planned in your first YEAR of teaching. You are still learning so much on your own and with our students, so just keep that in mind as you go through the days. Some days, you’ll accomplish all the things and your day will go just as planned. And other days, literally NOTHING will go like you expected. Fire drills, bathroom accidents, broken technology, behavior challenges, surprise administration walk-throughs (*insert YIKES face here*), messes, assemblies, and just the normal, every day up’s and down’s are bound to throw your plans off a lot of the time. And guess what? IT’S OKAY. Just go with the flow and bump that activity to tomorrow.

20. Breathe.

BREATHE, dear friend! YOU ARE AMAZING. This year is going to be so many things…fun, challenging, crazy, sweet, tiring, rewarding, joyful…SO. MANY. THINGS. So, just remember to breathe and not take the tiny trips and stumbles TOO hard. Give yourself grace…you are learning right alongside your students. Be gentle, be graceful, be forgiving. Treat yourself the way you treat your learners, with patience, encouragement, and a “I can do hard things!” mindset. You’re going to make mistakes and do things wrong and feel super silly about it…but just breathe. :) Everyone makes mistakes…just learn from it and try to mess it up less next time. It’s SO all good!

Okay, dear friend. That’s it! I’m sending you ALL the love and encouragement and belief that you can absolutely do great things all year long. You are completely irreplaceable. No one can teach those kids the way you can. Go be wonderful you and let those kids know how capable and smart and loved they are.

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Cheering you on!

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6 Engaging Summer Activities for Students

Summer, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Homeschool IdeasAlleah RostoharComment

Hey, teacher friend! Can you believe that summer is almost here?! AHHH! It’s crazy to me how quickly the year went by, but here we are, at the edge of another summer. Well done, you teacher of tiny humans, you! You’re AMAZING and have done so much for your students this year. Your well-deserved break is just around the corner!

As the year wraps up, teachers start to think about what kinds of activities to send home with students to encourage learning and keep their brains active over the summer months. Many parents love having something simple to use avoid their kids losing ANY of their hard-earned knowledge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just effective. So, here are 6 ideas for engaging activities to send home with your learners over the break.

1. Summer Daily Activities Calendar

Sending kids home with calendar-like worksheets full of fun review assignments is a super sneaky way to keep them using their brains and learning without them even realizing it. This kind of activity can be super effective because it combines the element of choice (“pick any activity you want for today!”) with reviewing critical skills in a risk-free way. These activities are usually quick and will take kids just a few minutes each day to complete.

Click HERE to download my free EDITABLE summer daily activities calendar! You can use my pre-made version with activities for early elementary learners or add in your own text to change the activities to be on level with what your students need to practice. :)

2. Summer Sensory Bins

If you teach younger students, like preschool and kindergarten, sending home ideas and resources for sensory bins is a great way to encourage parents to play and learn alongside their littles over the summer. These summer sensory bins for little learners from The Stay at Home Teacher, Kaitlyn, are not only super engaging, but are also very simple to set up and use over and over again. Change out the kind of materials your kids are manipulating for a whole new experience as they learn some new literacy and math skills! Here’s a free peek into what kinds of activities are included in her products!

Click HERE to read more details about how Kaitlyn uses sensory bins with her little learner!

3. Summer Reading Challenges and Programs

Reading is one of the simplest and best ways to keep students learning, in my opinion. Encouraging that love of reading in any way possible is a win for all teachers and parents. :) You can send home information about free summer reading programs from places like Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books. Some of these programs offer free printables and other fun incentives to kids for reading throughout the summer, like, PIZZA, for example!

Here is a simple, free reading challenge resource from Briana that you can send home with your students to keep them reading, learning, and growing. Encouraging reading can be a simple gift you gives your kids with the right resources and a tiny bit of planning.

4. Summer Review Packets

So, this one might seem obvious to some, but I’m honestly a lover of a good old fashioned “summer packet”! I know worksheets are not every student’s jam, but if you can find some printables that mix learning with some more enjoyable elements, like coloring, cutting, gluing, etc., worksheets can be engaging activities to let your kiddos review their skills and keep them fresh in their minds for the following school year.

These are some of my favorite summer worksheets to make into packets for young learners!

FAVORITE #1

FAVORITE #2

FAVORITE #3

5. Summer Task Cards

Sending students home with task cards sounds weird. When I first considered this, I thought, “I am NOT printing, cutting, and laminating SETS of task cards to send home to each and every student in my class.” But, I sat with the thought for a minute and came up with a few simple options to make this work.

OPTION 1: Use a small part of one of your last days of school to let your students cut out their OWN sets of task cards. Print them out, pass them out, and give every kiddo a ziplock bag. Then, let your kids spend time chatting quietly or watch a Bill Nye video while they prep their own summer activity!

OPTION 2: Print out the task cards you want to send home in packet form, slap some simple instructions on the top for parents and students to figure out what the heck to do with these cards, and send them off!

Summer Math Task Cards

Summer STEM Task Cards

Summer Writing Task Cards

6. Summer Crafts

CRAFTS!! If we can make all this summer “review work” FUN for students, I totally believe they’re MUCH more likely to do it and not be bummed about it. So, another option is to send home a few ideas for crafts that students can work on over the break.

These math crafts from Jana at We Heart Teaching are all the great things…cute, educational, editable, simple, amazing. They get a HUGE thumbs up from me. All you would need to do is make sure they include the skills you want your kids to practice, print them out as a packet for each student, and send them home with a short instructions page. DONE. Low prep, high engagement, happy summer! Haha.

You could also create a list of other fun ideas that involve a craft with an academic component to send home with your students. Include ideas like, “Choose a video from Art For Kids Hub and write a story about your drawing.” Or, “Read your favorite book or chapter from a book. Recreate a setting from the story using items from your house (with parents’ permission, please!).” These kinds of ideas give students the freedom to make choices, but are still nudging them toward practicing academic skills they need to keep fresh.

Even simple writing crafts like these are a quick, simple way to make writing work engaging! Just print and send!


Well, there you have it…6 engaging activities to encourage your students to keep learning all summer long.

Do you usually send home something learning-related with your students each year? If so, what are your favorite activities? If not, I hope you found something inspiring here to try this year!


Happy teaching and happy summer, friends! Enjoy your break!

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25 Free Activities for the End of the Year

Summer, End of the Year, Elementary Freebies, Homeschool Ideas, Classroom FunAlleah RostoharComment

Hey friend!

The end of the school year is coming up FAST, y’all! You’re so close to crossing that finish line and wrapping up another awesome year with your sweet kids. This was always the time of year when my lesson plans started to drag a bit and got more difficult to focus on and be creative with. Always wanting to keep activities educational and engaging, I also really wanted to plan lots of fun so my students would leave my room with all kinds of happy memories of our year together.

So, to make your planning process for the next few weeks just the TINIEST bit easier, I collected a bunch of AMAZING end-of-the-year activities that are completely FREE! These freebies are all from other work-at-home-mamas and epic classroom teachers who I just ADORE, so please click any of the freebie titles or store names to check out all the goodness they’ve created. Alright, here we go!

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1. Hip Hip Hooray End of the Year Award from Literacy with the Littles

This freebie from Rachael is the CUTEST way to celebrate your sweet students moving onto the next grade. It’s time to celebrate those hard workers you’ve spent your whole year molding and teaching and caring for!

2. Memory Book Covers (Editable) from A is for Apples

Everyone loves a good memory book at the end of the year! Elyse has the cutest covers for your students to decorate for any end of the year memory book you decide to make.

3. End of the Year Activities Summer Review from The Joyful Journey

This little freebie is full of no-prep summer review pages, including counting worksheets and a scrambled sentence worksheet.

4. End of the Year FREEBIES: Puzzles, Games, and Worksheets from Alleah Maree

This end of the year freebie is from me and includes fun activities for your little learners, like basic math and ABC order puzzles, math and literacy worksheets, and a few summer writing crafts too!

5. Summer Reading Challenge | Summer Reading Bingo from Briana Beverly

Briana offers this great summer reading BINGO board for you! It’s a great way to help your students reading all summer long.

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6. Print and Go Summer Activities Freebie from Coffee Beans and Children's Dreams

Grab this ink-friendly way to give families a bunch of fun activities to work on this summer! This pamphlet includes a bunch of activities to help kiddos keep learning and growing through the summer months.

7. End of Year Memory Book *Free* from Raise the Bar Reading

This end of the year memory book from Cassandra is great for any grade level! It’s packed with a bunch of fun, engaging activities help your students remember all the great things about their year with you and their classmates.

8. Free End of the Year Science from Endeavors in Education

This free activity from Jennifer is a hands-on way to teach your students about solubility, color mixing, and molecule movement. You’ll need just a few materials to complete this activity and all instructions are included! This is a great way to keep your students learning and engaged in these last weeks.

9. FREE End of the Year Teacher Report Card from Joy in the Journey

Oh goodness, this super cute booklet from Jessica gives your students the opportunity to give YOU some grades for the year! See what your kiddos have to say about all the ways you were AMAZING and maybe even some ways you could grow…if you date. ;)
10. End of the Year Checklist FREE from KJH

We could ALL use this one, I’m sure! This checklist is the perfect way keep your end-of-year classroom clean-up feel manageable. Use it to help you keep track of all you need to organize, sort, and clean in all the little nooks and crannies before summer break!

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11. EDITABLE Graduation and Excellence in Subject & Character Certificates FREEBIE from The Kinder Life

These certificates from Amy are EDITABLE, y’all! All you have to do is download, type in names and dates, print, and you’re ready for any and all end of the year ceremonies! This is such a simple, cute way to press the “easy button” at this crazy time of year.

12. FREE END OF YEAR ACTIVITY | Last Week of School Writing Activity from Tarheel State Teacher

This activity from Tammy is a really personal, thoughtful way to end the year with your students! It includes instructions for how to complete this cute little bag activity, as well as writing templates and graphic organizers. Such a unique, fun activity for upper elementary students!

13. Sweet Year Gift Tags- End of the Year FREEBIE from Elementary at HEART

Diana’s gift tags would be a “sweet” addition to any end of the year gifts you’re planning to give! There are a few different color options included and are super simple to prep.

14. Summer Fun Count and Clip Number Cards from The Therapy Mama

Jennifer from The Therapy Mama has these cute count and clip cards for your little learners! They’re great for reinforcing students’ counting and fine motor skills! Just print, laminate, and clip away!

15. End of Year gift tags FREEBIE! from The Primary Post

Hayley Lewallen has the cutest little tags for gifts you’re giving at the end of the year. Add them to any little gift, especially one from the Target Dollar Spot, for an added personal touch!

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16. End of the Year Memory Book FREE from Special Treat Friday

This little memory book from Heather is a fun activity for your students to remember the good times from the past school year! This freebie includes 4 sheets to create to a memory book, but she also has a paid version with more pages and ideas.

17. End of the Year-Summer Slide Flip Book for Parents from Two Little Birds

Jen has this awesome, two-sided flip book in her store all about informing parents about what “Summer Slide” is, along with some ideas and resources to avoid it. It includes a book list, writing prompts, and some fun educational app suggestions too!

18. End of Year Writing and Math FREE from Think Grow Giggle

This freebie includes a writing and math activity from Jeanine! The writing activity would be a GREAT bulletin board for the end of the year and the math activity gives your kiddos opportunities for critical thinking and cooperative learning.

19. End of Year Letter to Next Year's Students from New Hampshire Belle

These adorable templates are perfect for your students to write helpful, encouraging letters to your future students! They’re a fun activity for your current students and a great ice breaker to read to the students in your class next year.

20. FREE Letter to a Future Student Mad Libs: An End of the Year Activity! from Exceptional ELA

Stacey mixes up the “letter to a future student” idea by adding a Mad Libs activity to it! Similar to Mad Libs, students fill out the parts of speech with some hilarious words and the add them to their letter. Reading these letters aloud makes for a great activity with some good laughs!

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21. Summer Wine Gift Tags- Free from Teaching in Stripes

This one is just for YOU, teacher! These summer-themed wine tags from Lauren are perfect to add to a wine-themed gift for yourself, a friend, or one of your hard-working coworkers.

22. End of the Year Letters to Students! from Teaching with Crayons and Curls

Chandra uses this “Letter to Future Students” activity to have her students think about why the students coming to your class next year will absolutely love it! She includes a template for every grade level and each one includes two versions, pages for illustrations, and a bubble map.

23. A Day in the Life of a 3rd Grader: Moving Up Day Presentation from Always A Lesson

Gretchen has this great presentation for you to show your students who will be third graders next year! It’s a great way to show upcoming third graders some expectations for behavior and academics. 

24. End of Year Report Card FREEBIE from Cait's Cool School

Let your students tell you how they think you did this year with this teacher report card from Caitlin! This freebie includes two report cards versions, one blank and one full of ideas for you to use. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors!

25. End of the Year Compliment Book Activity + Free Printable from Kiddos and Crayons

This freebie from Jordan gives your kiddos writing practice AND a keepsake from their current grade! Simply staple some papers between construction paper and have students decorate the front page of their booklet. Then, their classmates can write compliments, notes, or even draw pictures for their friends! Such a cute, simple way to remember a great year.


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I hope you found one or two (or ten!) freebies to make the end of the year with your students even sweeter, more simple, and really fun. Thank you for everything you do for your students, their families, YOUR families, yourself….you are incredible and a total superhero. :) I admire you and love what you do.

Happy end of the year! Enjoy all the moments. :)

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3 Reasons to Use Morning Work AND Morning Tubs

Back to School, Homeschool Ideas, Classroom Fun, Kindergarten, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Morning WorkAlleah RostoharComment

Morning Work vs. Morning Tubs. I feel like there’s a constant back and forth over which option is “better” for little learners. But, I truly believe there is space and time in the classroom for BOTH of these awesome activities! So, here are my 3 reasons for using both morning work AND morning tubs with kindergarteners.

**Disclaimer: When I say I “use both morning work AND morning tubs”, I DO mean interchangeably. I do not usually use both morning work and morning tubs in the same day. :) That would be a whole lotta time to warm up for the day! Ha! I usually set my morning activities on a 3-1 schedule: 3 weeks of paper/pencil, standards-based morning work and 1 week of morning tubs. Once in awhile, if students are super antsy and I can tell they need a break from using their brains so constantly, I’ll surprise them and bust out some morning tubs on a Friday. But, normally, we do 3 weeks of morning work, one week of morning tubs. I find this give them enough structure without being too monotonous.

REASON 1: SKILL PRACTICE

Morning work and morning tubs both provide students with many opportunities to practice a variety of skills. By incorporating both these activities into your daily routine, you’re giving your new learners a chance to practice academic skills like reading, writing, math concepts, and phonics, as well as motor skills, like manipulating and balancing objects, holding and using a pencil or marker, and steadily piecing something together or making something fit. Each of these skills is essential to molding our students into well-rounded, intelligent, coordinated little humans. :)

MORNING WORK: QUALITY morning work that provides students with standards-based activities for them to practice their skills in gives them the opportunity to practice their academic skills in either math, literacy, or both WHILE they hone their fine motor skills by holding a pencil, coloring inside the lines, or tracing. I personally LOVE the academic part of morning work because I’m a pusher. I always want my kids to be thinking, practicing, finding a new way to look at a problem. So, by providing my students with an opportunity to work on these skills in a risk-free environment, I’m giving them the perfect opportunity to take risks and try out their new-skill muscles. We quickly grade our morning work together on the projector, both to allow students to show off their skills and for them to notice the areas they need to keep practicing. I look over them to see who is strong in what areas and who is challenged in what areas and they are sent home. No grade, no pressure…just practice.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs also provide students with opportunities to practice many different skills, though these skills usually require more physical involvement than the morning work does. Morning tubs usually require students to have more dexterity with their hands and be able to manipulate the objects in the tubs. These kinds of activities are equally important for little learners to practice. They need to know how to squish play dough into the shape they want it to be in, how to balance a few blocks on top of each other, how to make that marker create the squiggle or drawing that they want it to…these are the foundations of important life skills that they’ll need to use later in life! And then there is the creativity aspect of morning tubs. Kids will come up with the most inventive, fun, creative ways to use objects if you allow them the time, space, and supplies to do so. Of course, please be sure to come up with and post expectations for behavior while using morning tubs. No one wants a counting bear to the head or rubber bands flying off the geoboards on purpose (except for maybe the little one DOING it, haha!). But, once you’ve established expectations, encourage their creativity as much as possible! What can they create with those pattern blocks? What game will they make up to play with the cards? Do they know how to share politely? These are all equally important skills as letter formation and number identification and require the same amount of direction, encouragement, and practice as the academic skills do. Morning tubs are a safe, effective way to practice these important social and creative skills.

REASON 2: VARIETY

I am a HUGE fan of routine and being sure that my students know what to expect as often as possible. I believe that people tend to feel less anxious and more calm when they have an idea of what to expect next and kindergarteners are no different. However, that being said, I think mixing up the routine in a structured way allows students to have the safety net of routine, but also learn to be adaptable to change in their world. So, by still having a “Morning Warm Up Time” like always, but changing up the activity to something equally (if not more) enjoyable than the normal activity, students can learn to adapt to change in a super gentle, safe way.

MORNING WORK: Morning work is such a great anchor for my students’ days! They know that they come in, unpack their things, turn in their homework folder, and grab their morning work. There is quiet music on, twinkle lights dancing above them, and every day feels like a “normal day” when they first come into our classroom (I mean, USUALLY…and other days, there’s a fire drill and I forget to take attendance and Joey throws up in the hallway…but, that’s another post altogether. HAHA.). So, using morning work that has a nice variety of activities and skills is crucial to keeping students’ attention, brushing up on as many standards as possible, and keeping it fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend choosing morning work that has a lot of “fun” involved…whether that is coloring, matching, tracing, drawing, whatever it might be, pick one that has a lot of engaging qualities so your students feel excited to see what’s next.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs are SUPER simple to use when adding in variety to your normal routine. Simply change one, two, or ALL of the activities in your tubs and you have instant engagement! The only thing I would suggest is to not change out the activities TOO often. I’ve found that sometimes, students can become overstimulated by constantly changing options or activities. In turn, they can sometimes find it hard to focus on and be content with an activity for an extended amount of time. So, change out those activities to keep them engaged and learning, but don’t do it so often that they need a new activity every time they sit down. :) Just a little tip I’ve learned by doing it the “wrong way” myself. Ha!

REASON 3: STRUCTURE

Oh em goodness. STRUCTURE. Any other teachers out there who are too type-A to just “let go” and “embrace the chaos” in their classrooms? OH, yeah….me neither. ;) Haha. No, for real, I’m just a tad bit controlling and really struggle to feel peaceful and confident when there is constant chaos that I am somehow supposed to be in charge of. SO, morning work and morning tubs give us the structure (and lots of peace of mind for me) because I know what to expect, they know what to expect, and my littles are engaged and learning in some way or another. On normal days, this combination keeps the chaos at bay.

MORNING WORK: Morning work provides students with such an routined, mostly-predictable structure for their days. My students know how to get their morning work, they know what they need to complete it, and they know to do the best they can and ask questions if they get stuck. We’ve also learned to start cleaning up when we hear the timer, what to bring to the carpet area to check out our work, and what to do with our morning work when it’s all completed and checked. They complete this routine EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Whether I’m there to teach, a sub is coming in, or we have a fire drill first thing in the morning, we always ALWAYS make time for our morning warm up routine. I feel that it sets up the structure for the rest of the day and allows my kids to come into our room confident about what will be expected of them. So, morning routine creates structure and having a semi-predictable activity ready, like consistent morning work, adds to that structure.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs can contribute to the same kind of structure, but with a little more free choice built in. When first starting morning tubs, I do a LOT of explicit teaching about how to use them and how to NOT use them before allowing my kids to work with them. I approach morning tubs a little bit like I do work stations: 1. Set expectations. 2. Model like CRAZY. 3. Watch them practice. 4. Let ‘em loose! :) There is a lot of step 1, step 2, step 3, back to step 1, try step 3 again, remember step 2, try step 4, YIKES, go back to step 2. HAHA! That’s just the nature of teaching. They WILL learn how to work with their morning tubs independently, it just might take a lot of modeling and practicing at the beginning. However, if you take the time at the beginning to clearly set up these expectations for how students use morning tubs and how they behave during this time, morning tubs can provide a GREAT structured learning time through exploration and creativity.

Using both morning work AND morning tubs in my classroom has worked out really well for my students in the past. Do you use one or the other or both?? Drop a comment below! I’d love to hear how y’all get your little ones brains working too! :)

Happy teaching!

P.S. The morning work I use is here in my TPT store, all bundled up for the entire year! The morning tub cards are HERE and are editable! Some of the activities I put into morning tubs include pattern blocks, geoboards, counting bears, play dough with mats, math and literacy puzzles, unifix cubes, magnetic letters, dry erase boards and markers, blocks, tangrams, and cards, . I usually get out 5 activities for the week and each table gets one tub each day. The next day, the schedule shifts down just one activity and they get to do the next tub on the list. This way, every student gets every tub one time during the week. The next month, I’ll switch out most of the activities for new ones to keep it fresh and fun.


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4 Ways to Make Writing Enjoyable for Kids

Writing, Classroom Fun, Back to School, CraftsAlleah RostoharComment

Oh, WRITING! You squirrelly, beautiful beast, you! Haha! Don’t get me wrong…I personally LOVE to write, but teaching in elementary classrooms for many years has taught me that a lot of our sweet kiddos just don’t love it as much as I do.

Writing is usually very subjective and students can sometimes struggle to really dedicate the time and focus necessary to make it through the entire process, complete all those important steps, and publish great pieces. So, here are my 4 best tips for helping your young author stay engaged and focused as they continue to practice becoming great writers.

1. ADD IN ART

This is my favorite tip: add some artsy element to their final writing piece! Whether it’s a cute illustration for them to color on top, a craft to put together to attach to their final draft, or even the opportunity to illustrate their writing when they’ve completely finished, a little bit of art can be a great motivator for kids! I would definitely suggest making the art portion the reward for finishing their writing work, meaning they don’t get the opportunity to work on the artsy fun until they’ve completed the writing portion. Having the art part as the final step keeps them working hard to finish their writing in a timely fashion so they can get to the “fun stuff”. Great time management + completed writing assignments + artsy fun = happy students, happy teacher!

2. CHOICE

Offering your students some choices when it comes to their writing is a great way to help them feel a bit of control over their writing. Sometimes, you might have the freedom to offer your students the choice of what KIND of writing they want to work, such as narrative, expository, friendly letters, etc. But, most often, you’ll probably feel most comfortable sticking to the unit maps and giving your kids a choice about the TOPIC they write about within a certain type of writing.

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Consider trying these ideas when giving students writing choices:

  • Use a writing choice board, like this one.

  • Post a few pictures for students to choose to write about. Examples here and here!

  • Allow them to bounce ideas off of a friend or small group and then decide on a topic they feel excited and inspired to write about.

Allowing students to simply pick their own topic whenever possible develops a sense of ownership and pride in them that will naturally motivate them to work hard on their writing pieces.

3. SMALL GOALS

Another way to help students stay focused is to give them a little bit of personal accountability and set small writing goals with them. Working with individuals or even small groups of students to set small goals to reach on their writing journey is a great way for you to do some informal progress monitoring while encouraging your students to use their time and brain power wisely. Knowing they will meet with you each Friday or every other day is an effective way to encourage kids to stay on task and complete their work in a timely manner.

I would structure small goal setting for writing like this:

  • Meet with each student (or small group) and decide on an attainable goal that they can meet by the time you’ve established that they will meet with you again (Example: You will have your outline for the beginning, middle, and end of your story completed by next Monday to earn a sticker on the chart.).

  • You AND the student will write down their goal somewhere memorable so they can remember it and you can easily check to see if they’ve met it when you meet again.

  • Remind students throughout the week to reread their goals and focus on working toward them so you can set a new goal together when you meet again.

  • Meet with each student (or small group) again at the designated time to review old goals and set new ones for the following week/days. Be prepared to give out LOTS of positive reinforcement to those kids who meet their goals, such as encouraging words, high fives, happy dances, or even stickers or starts on a chart. Kids usually LOVE this kind of attention!

    P.s. You WILL have kids who don’t meet their goals each week. When that happens, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet with them individually to talk about why that goal wasn’t met and what they can change this week to meet the goal. Never putting any shame or guilt on a student for not reaching a goal, but encouraging them to change some behaviors to make sure they get there this week is a super teacher win. :)

4. SHARING

Setting apart specific times to allow students to share their writing with their friends is a another way to motivate them to get that piece finished! There are a few ways to do this:

  • Allow students to read their writing piece to the whole class.

  • Give students the opportunity to read their completed writing to a few people they specifically like spending time with.

  • Set up opportunities for students to go read their writing to one specific person of their choice, like the principal, their teacher from last year, or an interventionist they totally love.

Some students may totally hate the idea of reading in front of the class, so allowing this idea of “sharing” their writing to be based on what they love and will feel comfortable with gives the opportunity for this strategy to be popular with every author!

And there you have it: my top four ways to make writing enjoyable for kids AND for you!

  1. ADD IN ART

    (Grab this freebie to get you started!)

  2. CHOICE

  3. SMALL GOALS

  4. SHARING

Happy teaching, friends!

P.s. I love love LOVE hearing from you! In the comments below, let me know if any of these strategies motivated your young authors to write like rockstars. :)

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5 Winter Goodies for Teachers

Winter, Teacher Tips, Classroom HappiesAlleah RostoharComment

Hey y’all!

So, before I dive into these 5 winter goodies, let me just tell you that saying that it’s been a “really long time” since I’ve written a blog post would be the understatement of the CENTURY. It’s literally been forever. I’ve been teaching, buying a house, being pregnant, changing grade levels, having a baby, and transitioning to being a “work-at-home mom”. Sooooo, it’s been crazy to say the least, but I’m back and so excited and ready to share these new finds with you!

Okay, so, getting down to business. 5 goodies for you and your classroom this winter season.

1. David Rio’s Tiger Spice Chai Mix

Holy goodness sake, y’all…this stuff will change your mind about chai if you don’t already love it. And if you DO already love it, you’ll be so happy you found this new level of chai goodness. Cold weather just always makes me crave hot chai tea. They serve this at a little coffee shop here in town and I would drive across the entire city to get it…until I found out what kind it is and that I could buy it on AMAZON. It’s a powder that easily dissolves into your favorite milk (I love Fairlife or almond milk personally) or water. I make it in a small pan on the stove, you could definitely steam your milk and then add it to the powder or whatever you normally do for your milk in the morning. It’s even good in coffee, for some caffeinated chai yums! Anyway, try it and let me know your thoughts.

2. Aerie Play High Waisted Pocket Legging

These LEGGINGS. They’re super comfortable and cozy for those cold winter weekends at home grading, lesson planning, or enjoying some well-deserved down time. After having a baby this year, these are the perfect comfort pant and I more or less LIVE in them.

3. Holiday Write and See Resource 

My students are always getting a little bit gripy about writing around this time of year, so I bust out this resource to keep them engaged and practicing their writing skills as much as possible. I assign these as a station activity, leave them as an “early finisher” choice, or leave this as an option for free writing time. This keeps things fresh and fun when you’re at the end of the

4. Treehouse Knit Socks

My toes are constantly cold in the winter and these socks are basically a hug for your feet. I wear them around the house and in my over-sized boots, like rain boots. They’re super thick and soft, and come in a whole bunch of different colors and patterns. If your feet need some love like mine do, you probably need some of these cozies.

5. THESE No Prep Sub Plans

Your students, your kids, your family, your friends….everyone seems to be coughing, sneezing, and wiping their noses. Hooray for the change in weather! Haha. So, with all those germs being passed around, it’s just smart to have some easily preppable sub plans on hand JUST in case. These ones from Kaitlyn Renfro are super engaging, easy to prepare, and super affordable. So, if you feel that ache comin’ on, snag these, print them out, and stay in bed this morning. Winter break is just around the corner!

There you have it: my top 5 favorite things so far winter 2018. I hope you found some goodies in here that you can use in your classroom to help life be more snuggly. Sending you warm, happy, healthy wishes this chilly season!

Happy teaching! Xoxo!

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I'm alive, I swear...

Alleah RostoharComment

I'm the worst blogger in the history of ever. If you're still reading along, I'm shocked and grateful. Haha! I hope you've been soaking up your summer time as much as I have. I've been doing a whole lot of sleeping, a little bit of creating, and a year's-worth of reading! Ha! So much wonderfulness. But, also, SO much has happened in the past 3 months and I'm super excited to fill you in on all the goodness!

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Okay, so, first of all, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! Technically, it's a town-home and we share one wall with a sweet neighbor, but we're totally in love with it and can't WAIT to move in. Since we're building it from scratch, we got to pick out all our finishes (cabinets, countertops, flooring, all the jazz) and now we just get to sit back, save every penny we earn, and wait for it to be finished. Hehe! =) We can't move in until next March, but we're super happy watching it be built and getting to watch every stage of it be completed. Annnnnnnnnd, since we're moving......

...I TOOK A NEW TEACHING POSITION!!! *insert freaking-out-excited face here* I decided to leave my old school and all my sweet friends there to take a new job in a new district more near the new house. I'm going to be teaching kindergarten and I'm just OVER the moon with happiness. I can't EVEN wait to start...even though I'm thoroughly enjoying my summer time. I've been creating lots of little resources I think I might need or want to use throughout the year, but I have to rewind in my mind back to how it was to teach kindergarten. I taught kindergarten for the first 2 years of having my own classroom, but it's been awhile and I'm practicing thinking like a very beginning beginner. =) Second graders are so super sweet and learning to be independent...little kinder babies are just the cutest there ever was and are just starting to learn what it means to learn! So, it's a bit of a shift in thinking, but I'm welcoming it with open arms and can not WAIT to meet my new bitties!!   

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This has been my summer so far. Reading as many books as I can get my hands on, binge watching Netflix and Harry Potter, pool time, eating strawberries and watermelon and smoothies for every meal, and, of course, creating as many TPT products as I possibly can! I don't know about you, but I could spend days on days on DAYS creating new things for my classroom and kiddos. I absolutely LOVE getting to create new things that will help me be a better, more organized teacher and provide my littles with challenging, fun learning opportunities. The picture on the left side here is my August & September Kindergarten Morning Work...both the math and ELA versions for August - October will be posted in the next week or so. 

SO, last, but most CERTAINLY not least, TPT ORLANDO IS HAPPENING!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!! I get to attend my very first TPT Conference in Orlando this year and I'm coming out of my SKIN with excitement!! I absolutely can't WAIT to get there and meet so many new, creative people. I'm hoping to come back feeling full of ideas and inspiration and ready to create some amazing things for my kiddos to use in the classroom this year. And this week, as I was thinking about going to this hugely amazing conference, I decided I needed to be as organized and prepared as possible so I could just soak up everything I'm hearing. SO, to cut down on stress and worry, I created this TPT conference binder that is jam PACKED with organizing pages all geared toward our time together in Orlando. I'm SUPER excited to get mine all printed out in color and into a binder! Click on the image to download the organized goodness or check out my Instagram today for a "Win It Wednesday" chance to WIN this little beauty! {Instagram: AlleahMaree}

Thanks for checking in, y'all! I PROMISE PROMISE to be better about writing...it's a new goal of mine for the school year. Happy Wednesday and soak up that summer time! =)

 

Desktop Calendars

Alleah RostoharComment

Hello, friend!

I'm happy you're here. =) I'm just doing some super-quick, prep-time, throw-it-on-there blogging right now. Haha! But, I'm so far ahead of the game right now....at least in this one, tiny, itty-bitty thing. Here are desktop calendars or the ENTIRE 2016-2017 school year to brighten up your computer world. 

I included two different formats for this year because I felt like my calendar right in the middle was taking up too much space. But, that might be different for y'all and you like the big calendar in the middle. So, I included both formats and you can choose which one you like best as you go. I hope these bring a little joy to your daily to-do's and you remember what a blessing you are to so many! Much love from me to you!

Click the image to download next year's desktop calendars for FREE! Be sure to check in for new little happies as the year goes on. =) Enjoy! 

 

Happy 2016!

Alleah RostoharComment

Happy 2016, y'all!! I hope your holidays were refreshing and cozy and filled with all the yummy food and family time you could possibly squeeze in. =) Also, I'm admittedly the worst blogger ever probably. I completely realized it has been over two months since I last posted and, while I understand that no one is actually religiously checking in to see what I'm up to, it would be better if I popped in every few weeks. Hehe! =) But, I really do have some very legit reasons (aka excuses) for why I have been MIA for a little bit here. Let me try to explain. 

Firstly, I've been teaching. Haha! I'm sure you can all relate to that statement. "The reason I couldn't XYZ was because I was teaching." LOL! I love my job, but it definitely is a time-consuming one. So, I was teaching and creating new things for my kiddos to use to practice their skills and learn new ones and being a wife and trying to keep my house from looking like a disaster. Reason (aka excuse) number one.  

Secondly, I was getting ready for Christmas and for our honeymoon of a LIFETIME!! We saved a little bit of our wedding budget to go on the most amazing trip of our entire lives. We started this epic trip in the Bahamas, flew over to Paris, bounced over to Rome, and then ended in Sydney. It was absolutely incredible. We had the most wonderful time together, exploring new places and trying new foods and seeing some super historic creations. We were both getting ready for this massive trip and, for me, this trip meant missing the week before the Christmas break. So, of course, I had a WHOLE lot of very detailed sub planning to do and making sure that everything was "just so" before I left. I spent about two weeks getting everything finished so that I could go on my trip with peace of mind and just totally enjoy it. Reason (aka excuse) number two. Haha. 

Relaxing in the Bahamas with my love!

Relaxing in the Bahamas with my love!

Overlooking beautiful Rome, Italy!

Overlooking beautiful Rome, Italy!

Exploring Paris!!!

Exploring Paris!!!

Checking out Sydney, Australia!

Checking out Sydney, Australia!

Anyway, now that you are somewhat up-to-date, I'm here now! Teaching, creating, learning, and growing with my little second graders. Soooo, starting the new year, I've started some new stations for math too! We do fact fluency tests each week, but I feel like my kiddos should have their facts down more quickly. I spent my day today creating a few little ways that kiddos can practice their fact fluency in a fun way during math stations time. Soooo, I pulled together a few fun ways to practice addition and subtraction facts here and I'm going to implement them tomorrow during our fact fluency station at math time. Eeeeeee!! I'm so excited to start them! Also, if you have any other brilliant ideas, please let me know and I'll add your ideas in to make the options even more diverse. =) I hope these will help our your little ones as they master their math facts. 

Practicing fact fluency with some cute little games and activities! Excited teacher! 

Practicing fact fluency with some cute little games and activities! Excited teacher! 

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Thanks so much for reading along in the teacher journey and for your constant love and support. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Have a beautiful Tuesday tomorrow! =) Remember that YOU mean the world to those littles that you teach every day. You are LOVED. Keep doing you! 

 

Halloween Math Activities

Alleah RostoharComment

So, I'm that teacher loves to have a few different options for the ways my kiddos are practicing their skills. I love to use different kinds of interactive notebooks as much as possible mostly because I love that they get to practice and show off their skills in many different ways. Flapbooks, foldables, color-and-cuts, solve-and-sorts, task cards, partner games...if it's practicing our target skill and it's something SLIGHTLY different than how we practiced the day before, I'm absolutely a fan! 

So, on this lovely rainy weekend, I decided to create a few fun ways for my kiddos to practice their 2-digit addition and subtraction skills. We have worked through learning to add 2 and 3 digit numbers for the past two weeks, using a lot of little resources in my Addicted to Addition: Interactive Math Notebook. We're moving onto 2 digit subtraction this week, INCLUDING regrouping, and I know from experience that this is a tricky one to master! Haha. So, the most practice, the better. We'll start with some activities from Amy Lemons' Double Digit Subtraction unit and then move onto what I spent part of this rainy day creating, my Halloween Addition & Subtraction Activities!  

We'll have lots of task cards to practice solving word problems with, an addition and subtraction sort, and even some color-by-number after solving some math problems! I'm super excited to try out these fun little happies with my littles this week. My students really love to mix things up and practice in different ways, so I know they'll enjoy them too. And, thanks to Krista at Creative Clips Clipart, they're super cute and Halloween themed with happy little Franken-guys! Haha. I love it. Probably one of my favorite quick things I've created so far. 

So, I hope this resource is helpful and makes you smile. =) Enjoy your weekend...hoping you get some much needed rest. Love and hugs from me to you!

Interactive Math Notebook FREEBIES!

Alleah RostoharComment

What A Week!

Oh my! What a week! It's been quite lovely, actually. The temperature has been between 85 & 95 degrees all week, which, in Texas, is totally a hint of fall!! YAY!! So, being the crazy fall-lover than I am, have been sure to wear all my favorite sweaters and boots whenever possible. Haha! We also worked on our main idea task cards outside on the benches in our playground area this week because 65 degree mornings are DELIGHTFUL. They loved it ALMOST as much as I did. Hehe!

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Saturday Adventures and Freebies!

Starting the weekend with a bang...

So, after a great week, my weekend has been extremely adventure-full so far too! After taking my sweet man to the airport to go to one of his good friend's wedding reception party, I headed home. As I walked up to the front door, I noticed this small, unwelcome visitor waiting for me. Of course, as soon as my hubby is gone, all the wackiness comes out! After some research and asking around, I found out that this little guy is a baby diamondback rattlesnake!! I grew up in Phoenix-flipping-Arizona and NEVER saw a rattler, and I move to Texas and have them squirming around the front door. NOT my idea of fun. So, my VERY sweet neighbors came out and helped me get him away from the door and such. Saved the day! =) And the rest of the night was full of cookies and milk and grading oodles of papers. Adventure-full, like I said!  

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But, even though it was actually a super wonderful week, I definitely have succumbed to those allergies that everyone always says that we Texas-dwellers will contract after our third year of living here. I honestly believed it was a bunch of hullabaloo that anyone would even think this possible, but I have been proven wrong. So, after a lovely morning with coffee with friends and checking out the Chalk Walk in Round Rock, TX, I headed home for some Advil and a nap, which seems to have worked for now. 

However, on the up side, sitting around a little bit has given me the opportunity to create a couple little freebies as WELL as blog!! So, yay for that! We just finished up our place value unit, took our test, and my littles totally ROCKED it! I was so proud! =) So, now we are moving onto addition, starting with the easy, review stuff. We started with doubles and doubles plus one, the commutative property and breaking numbers into tens and ones/making tens to add numbers together. Those interactive notebook pages and spinner games are all HERE in my Addicted to Addition Interactive Notebook Unit! So, we used those this last week and THIS week, we are starting to add two digit numbers and include regrouping. Hence, these little freebies! They are a part of my Addicted to Addition Interactive Notebook Unit too, but I have these particular parts themed for fall and Halloween, so I thought they'd make a fun freebie! You can click the pictures to download them from TPT. =)

There is laundry to fold and cookies to eat and sleep to have now, so I must be off. But, enjoy those freebies! I hope they're helpful in your classrooms with your sweet kids. And, if you like these little freebies, check out my Addicted to Addition Interactive Notebook Unit! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, friends! Thanks for reading!  

Back to School!!

Alleah RostoharComment

My Sweet Class

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Oh my gracious, so it has been SO long since I've blogged! I promised myself I'd be better, but butter my biscuit if i haven't been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Sheesh! Well, I'm here now. Yay for that!

This new school year has been so FULL of so many good things so far! I'm feeling SO blessed! I have a group of kids who are absolutely adorable and smart and so sweet. They are funny and oober talkative and I feel like I just got a really good bunch.

I'm also a "mentor" to two new teammates this year, so I've been having lots of fun showing how we've done it in the past and learning new things from their experiences too.

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Building numbers with different base ten block pictures! This unit, Numbers Every Way, is available in my TPT store.

Building numbers with different base ten block pictures! This unit, Numbers Every Way, is available in my TPT store.

TPT Creating

Another thing that I'm REALLY enjoying this year is all the practice I've been given in making new things for TPT so far! I'm not the biggest fan of all of our curriculums, but I've found amazing ways to supplement the curriculums we have by either buying things from my favorite TPT-ers OR by just making little things myself! It's amazing what you can do when you need something fun and engaging that still demonstrates understand in of a concept for your kiddos! Mostly, I've been working on making a place value / number forms unit that has a kinds of ways for my kids to show off their place value skills. Finding ways to build numbers with pictures was tricky, so I made a little cut and paste activity for that, as well as some open number line practice! I know my kiddos were having a hard time knowing how to place certain numbers on a number line, so this little freebie has some easy, fun ways to practice this concept, including a cut-and-paste activity to check for independent understanding. 

 

So, as I need something new and fun, I make it, and then share it in my store. I figure that's a super simple, effective way to share things with y'all WHILE I'm getting things accomplished for my own class. And gosh, if there's one thing I've learned about my littles this year, it's that they ALWAYS like when it's something new or different than the day before. Haha! So, I'm constantly trying to think of a new way for them to practice the same skills. Definitely a challenge, but it's been lots of fun too! It's been an adventure!

Crafty Inspirations

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We've been making lots of crafts, learning all our class and school procedures, and getting to know each other better. We did this cute "Math About Me" craft from Melissa at First Grade Smiles and the kiddos just loved to tell all about themselves with numbers!

Then,  we made these cute little writing pencils from Amy Lemons at Step into Second Grade. We've also been starting to discuss how to be a good partner and team player...thinking of others, using kind words, taking turns, all that fun stuff. ;) They're getting better at it with lots of practice. 

Well, it's off to coffee shops and the library with the Hus for a glorious Saturday, full of extra sleep, laughter, and some much needed relaxation. Thanks for joining in on the fun!

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All Things New

Alleah RostoharComment

Hey y'all! 

Married to this handsome! 

Married to this handsome! 

I haven't posted for over 6 months and that is just sad and plain embarrassing. But, the huge span of time in between posts means that I have a WHOLE lot to catch up on and lots to tell. =) And that is super happy! 

First and most importantly, I GOT MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!
WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! My sweet, handsome guy and I pinky promised to love each other forever and ever and I couldn't be happier. =) My dress was a puffy, lovely mess, my groom was as handsome as I'd ever imagined him to be in all my little girls daydreams, and the day was beautiful. We were married at my parents's home in Arizona and were extremely blessed with amazing, uncharacteristic weather for Phoenix. It rained throughout the entire day before, which brought a delightfully cool wedding day for us. We were surrounded by family, friends, and so much love...the day couldn't have been any more perfect! However, our wedding challenge came three weeks before the actual day. Two weeks before school finished up, my husband (then-fiance) and his best friend were in a serious car accident. He ended up with a wrist badly broken in two places, requiring surgery, screws, plates, pins, and a whole lotta TLC. He also fractured a lower vertebrae and broke a rib. GAH! So, basically, I am simply beyond thankful that he's still here to be mine forever. 

Needless to say, the end of the school year was extremely stressful for me! Ha! Car accidents, planning a wedding's finishing touches, and wrapping up a year with my littles was a LOT to handle. But, we all made it through with flying colors! We managed to squeeze in two field trips, field day, two book studies (Because of Winn Dixie and Frindle!), and a whole lot of multiplication and division practice. We made our learning even more fun than normal, courtesy of the lovely Amy Lemons

Last Day of School HAPPIES!!!! 

Last Day of School HAPPIES!!!! 

Her multiplication practice is packed full of fun activities, like sorts and flipbooks, as well as craftivities that helped my littles take ownership of their learning. And since multiplication was so much fun and so hands-on, we decided to use her division unit, Dishing Out Division, too! We enjoyed our math AND reading times very much and I felt that my students did an amazing job working hard near the end of the year. 

The end of the year also brought a bunch of new changes for our school. We have a brand new principal coming in,  our Dean of Discipline will be new, my teacher partner from last year (who happened to get married on the same day I did! HA!) will not be returning, AND I'm moving to a brand new room! I spent a whole lot of my time near the end of the year packing up and taping boxes, getting ready to transfer them to my new room before hopping on a plane to go get married. =) 

Erin Condren's planners just make my heart happy!

Erin Condren's planners just make my heart happy!

Planning has begun!

I have many grand plans for the following year, including revamping my lesson plans to make them even better than last year, blogging at LEAST once a week, practicing yoga every. single. day., and keeping track of my blog/Pinterest/TPT sales using my new Teacher-Seller Planner and Data Tracker from Lovin' Lit! I feel like this planner is going to be super helpful for me to keep track of how often I'm posting and creating. It's a deep desire of mine to make this year a year of disciplined work and enjoyment...intentionally staying present in every moment and using my time to the best of my ability, both personally and teacherly. =) I'm also using my amazing Erin Condren Life Planner to keep my life appointments, fitness and health goals, and school commitments all in order and right in front of me so I can stay on top of things as much as is Alleah-ly possible. Haha! My kiddos call me "Miss Forgetty-Pants" because I'm always forgetting something, so these planners will be majorly helpful in keeping me organized. 

Top: Lola Bloomindale  Bottom: Lilly Rostocar

Top: Lola Bloomindale  Bottom: Lilly Rostocar

Meet Lilly

SO...we have a new last name and husband, a new classroom, new planners and plans, new coworkers and classroom, AAANNNNNNNNNDD....a brand new car!!! We decided that it was time for my sweet, dependable, old Madam Lola Corolla Bloomingdale to retire into a restful last few years of life. She was the best and it was so hard to let her go, but I managed to get myself into a brand new version of her!! Introducing Miss Lilly Corolla Rostocar! Bahaha. I love her so much...she's new and fresh and so very happy. 

So, I'm starting this new year all new, fresh, happy, organized, and excited! I'm really looking forward to starting the year feeling that some of my ducks are in a row and that I at least have a plan for having some of those things in line. I can't wait to get my Facebook page up and running, even though it is only it's infantile stages at the moment. We'll get it up and running super soon. We'll also be up and running on Instagram super soon too...just little things leading up to the new year's beginning! Feel free to jump in to follow the fun! =) Catch up with you really soon...