November 26, 2016

Candy Gram Fundraiser

The season of giving is upon us. I'm so happy to be joining in with some of the most giving teachers around to share a great idea, give away a free gift, and offer a gift card giveaway.

After a week off to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, we will be back to school on Monday for three weeks until our long awaited Winter Break. During those three weeks, our school is filled with engaging holiday activities, lessons and events.  It is a time when our clubs and organizations also participate in charitable giving: Food Drives, Blanket Drives, and Caroling with Socks for the Elderly. These groups also raise money to donate to our local food bank and other charitable organizations.  One way we raise money is to sell Candy Grams.

Candy Grams, or Holiday Grams, are specially delivered messages with a treat that are sold around holidays or special events. The treat can be candy, a pencil, a bookmark or other trinket you attach to the gram. The Turkey Grams below were sold the week before Thanksgiving break and delivered on that Friday afternoon before dismissal.

You can easily hold a Candy Gram sale at your school to raise money using the following steps:

1. Schedule the Candy Gram fund-raiser close to a major holiday or event.

2. Choose a simple, inexpensive candy or treat that you can purchase in bulk from Costco, Sam's, Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading: Blow Pops, Tootsie Pops, Candy Canes, Pencils, Bookmarks, Plush Toys, etc. We try to get a business or parent to donate these items so we don't have to take the cost out of our profit. 

3. Print your grams on white card stock in color, or print in black and white on colored card stock. The card stock helps support the weight of the candy when you attach it. 

4. Advertise by hanging flyers, announcing in the morning announcements, posting on the school website, and sending home information in parent newsletters.

5.  Sell the grams before or after school the week of the sale. You can sell them for 50 cents or $1 each.  Choose an amount you think would work well in your school community.  You can even offer class sets for teachers to buy for their students at 50% off the regular price.

6. Sell them at a table that will get a lot of parent and student traffic in the morning and afternoon. Have several pens on hand for customers to fill out their own cards, or you can fill them out for kinder and 1st grade students.  Also have a list of teachers with their room numbers in case you need to refer to it.

7. After selling the gram and attaching the candy, put it in a large gallon size zip lock, or big brown envelope labeled with the teacher's name or room number.

8. On the day of delivery, deliver the bag to the teacher's classroom at a convenient time so he/she can hand them out to the students.

If you would like to try selling candy grams at your school, I have a free gift for you.  Click on the picture below for a FREE download of a Holiday Gram with the cute Christmas mouse:

If you are interested in the complete product with additional holiday grams to choose from, check out the Candy Grams product in my TPT store.  There are 10 different grams in the complete product and it comes with additional forms and flyers. Click the picture below for more information:

Thanks for stopping by today.  Join the Give-Away below for a chance to win a TPT Gift Card and your choice of a product from my TPT store: Queen of the JungleGiveaway ends on Saturday, December 3, 2016.  One lucky winner will be chosen! 

Click below to visit other blogs participating in the  
Teachers that Give Blog Hop.

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Until Next Time....

August 15, 2016

Back 2 School Blog Hop

Back to school season is here!  I have teamed up with 50 wonderful teachers to bring you great tips and ideas for classroom managment and organizational strategies as we head back to school.  I hope you will want to participate in this Back2School Blog Hop and Giveaway.  You can enter to win one of two great prizes.  We are giving away the chance to win a $50 TPT gift card and classroom resources from over 30 authors, including myself. 

These past few weeks I have been blogging with Back to School Teacher Tips.  I have talked about the five things I think are most important to devote attention to as we head back to school each year. Here are the links to those posts if you want to see them:

The one additional piece of advice or tip I have to share on management and organization is to keep yourself organized with a Teacher Calendar/Organizer/Planner.  It is so important to keep up to date on lesson plans, due dates, deadlines, events, and your "To Do" list.  There are many varieties out there for you to choose from. You can purchase bound versions from teacher stores, bookstores or Amazon.  Erin Condren has some beautiful spiral bound teacher planners. Teachers Pay Teachers has a variety of versions you can download and put in a binder.  Find one that works for you and be sure to use it every day to keep yourself organized.

Would you like a free calendar to use this year? It will help you to keep organized.  I'm offering a free download to those who are participating in our Blog Hop.  For a free copy, just click the link below to download this Editable Calendar to print and use.  

This calendar is part of my Editable Teacher Binder. The complete binder product will help you get organized this year.  It includes organzational printables to help you keep all of your forms and information at your fingertips in a binder.  Or some teachers like to make several binders to meet their needs: Student Information, Lesson Plans, Student Data, ect.  This packet makes organizing all this paperwork a breeze.  Click below to find out more about the organizing Teacher Binders


You can enter this giveaway to win one of two great prizes.  We are giving away a $50 TPT gift card and classroom resources from over 30 authors. Good Luck!

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Hop on over to the next blog, Setting the Standard - Inside & Out with Karen and Kelie, for more Back 2 School Tips! Click on the Apple Link below:

Until Next Time......

August 13, 2016

First Day of School - Back to School Teacher Tips #5

Back to School Tip #5
The First Day of School

Well, we are finally here.  The last in my series of blog posts for Back to School Teacher Tips. Today, I want to share some advice about the first day of school.  You want to  make a good impression on students the first day of school.  The key to this is to plan ahead and be prepared.  Then, when that first day comes you are ready to greet those bright shiny faces as they walk into your classroom. Here are some suggestions to help your day go more smoothly:

Greeting Students: Smile, shake hands and greet your students as they walk in your classroom.  This makes them feel welcome and helps them feel more at ease.  

Introductory Activity: Have an activity on their desks waiting for them or some instructions posted on the board/Smartboard for them to follow while they wait for all students to arrive and class to start.  You don't want them to just be sitting around feeling nervous. This is an activity I have had waiting for them on their desks. This page gives them something they can complete that will give you some information about them to begin building a relationship.  This activity is part of my 1st Day of School Packet that I sell on TPT.  (Click on the picture below.)

Icebreaker Activity: Help your students get to know you and each other.  Have an icebreaker activity prepared and ready.  One activity you might try is called Tangled Web.  Have students sit in a large circle.  You start by holding a ball of yarn, introducing yourself and telling the class one fact about you.  Then, hold on to the end of the yarn and throw or roll the yarn ball to another student across the circle from you. They say their name and a fact, hold a part of the yarn and roll the ball to the next person.  This continues until all students have shared and the yarn makes a tangled web figure. 

Classroom Rules, Expectations and Procedures: You want to begin to teach students these important expectations that I have discussed in my previous blog posts.  But, you don't want to just start going down the list on the first day telling them what to do.  You want to teach and model your expectations as they come up in your daily activities the first days and week of school. Start with your classroom environment. Briefly point out areas of your room, let them explore, but don't go into too many details until you are ready to use an area. Classroom rules are important for the first day, be sure to model and reinforce as much as you can this first week.

Read Aloud: Read-Alouds are important for the entire school year, but I think especially so on the first day of school.  Whether your students are in first or fifth grade, they love to hear their teacher read.  I always bring my students to the carpet, so they are close and can see the pictures in the book.  Some of my favorite picture book titles that can be read aloud on the first day are:

Grades K-2nd:
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler
David Goes to School by David Shannon
Tomorrow is the First Day of School by Maureen MacDowell
Amelia Bedilia's First Day of School by Herman Parrish

Grades 3rd-5th:
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess
Thank you Mr. Falker by Patricia Pollaco
Homework by Arthur Yorinks
This is the Way We Go to School by Edith Baer

On the first day of school, you want to set the tone for your class for the rest of the year.  Above all, relax, smile, have a great time and get to  know your students.  This should be a day to begin learning about your students and for them to learn about you.

For other back to school Teacher Tips, click on the links below:

Until Next Time.......

August 7, 2016

Meet the Teacher - Back to School Teacher Tips #4

Back to School Tip #4
Meet the Teacher

Each August, our school does a Meet the Teacher Night the Friday before school starts.  For an hour and a half, our building is open for families to come to our campus. Students get to see where their new classroom is and meet their teacher.  This is not the time when a formal presentation is made by administration or teachers (This happens a few weeks after school starts at our Open House/Grade Level Meetings).  Meet the Teacher is strictly a time for students to come up to school, see their new classroom, check out their new desk, and meet their new teacher. 

During this time, the classrooms are ready: All decorated, organized and looking great! This is another good reason we do this the Friday before school starts.  Since classrooms are ready, teachers can go home at the end of the day, relax and not worry about their rooms the weekend before school begins. (Like that stops them from totally not worrying.  NOT! But, every little bit helps.)

Since you get a lot of parents to attend during Meet the Teacher Night, here are some things you want to make sure and have ready for them:

1. Collect Names, Phone Numbers and E-mail Addresses:  Be sure to have some sort of sign in sheet that requires them to give you their phone number and E-mail address.  This way you have the most up to date information right at your fingertips.

2.  Find Out How Students will be Getting Home: You need to find out how students will be getting home from school each day. This is especially important to know for the first day.  You want to make sure they make it home safely.  I set out sheets like these for parents to put their child's name on.  They sign on the sheet that tells me how that student will normally be getting home.

3.  Sign-Up Parent Volunteers: This is a great time to get parents to volunteer to help out in your classroom.  Have a sign-up sheet or a form they can fill out to let you know how they can help you.  They don't always have to come up to school to volunteer.  Many parents work and cannot do that. I let them know that is not a problem.  I have lots of things they can do to help at home in the evenings.  They can cut and prepare centers and games, staple packets, assemble minibooks and so much more.  Some parents are able to come during the day and can volunteer on a regular basis.  I have them do things like reading with students, helping tutor with flashcards, put up bulletin boards, stuffing paperwork in student envelopes, etc. Some parents can only come every once in a while when they have a chance.  That works for me too, there is always something they can do to help.  Meet the Teacher is a great time to put some names in place to give you a hand.

4. Classroom Wishlist: Another way parents can help is to donate things you need for your classroom.  I'm not talking about the regular school supply items that they send with their child on the first day of school.  I'm talking about those extra things we never have enough of and have to spend our own money on: Antibacterial Wipes and Sanitizer, Sharpies, Crayola Markers, Colored Post-Its, Post-It Tabs, Laminating Pouches, Colored File Folders, Cardstock, Treasure Chest Trinkets and Treats and even Books for the Classroom Library.  It's worth asking if you even get just a few items. I set mine out with sticky notes and a simple sign.  But, there are many cute, clever ways to ask for these items. (Search Teacher Wish List Ideas on Pinterest) Here are a couple of fun examples from the ladies at Teach, Create, Motivate and Sweet Tooth Teaching.

If you want to set up a simple Wish List area in your own classroom here is a freebie for you.  Use this sign and some stickie notes to let parents know what you  need for your classroom. There are two versions.  This full page version and a half page version you can fold in half and stand like a table tent. This is a quick and easy way to hopefully get some great new supplies.  Click here to download

If you'd like some extra ideas and printables to help you during your Meet the Teacher Night, you may want to check out the products in this packet. Click the picture below to link to my TPT store and check it out.  

July 23, 2016

Classroom Expectations - Back to School Teacher Tips #3

Back to School Tip #3:
Classroom Expectations

Another very important part of classroom management at the beginning of the year is making sure your students know and understand your classroom expectations. When classroom expectations are clearly communicated from the start, it helps create a positive environment where all students can learn and grow.  When students know exactly what is expected of them with regards to behavior and academics, they can more easily meet these expectations. 

Behavioral Expectations: A positive classroom environment must have clear behavior expectations from the first day that students walk in.  Students need to be taught these expectations with specific targeted lessons that show what the expected behavior looks like and what it doesn't look like. It is important to teach, model, and practice. Then, reteach, model and practice again. This needs to continue to happen until students are demonstrating a clear understanding of  the expectation and what they need to do.  A good behavior management system is also key.  Teachers use a variety of systems in their classrooms: PBIS, Class Dojo, Color Coded Charts, Behavior Logs, etc. Most systems can work effectively, the key is consistency and reinforcement.  I found that a clip chart system with rewards and consequences worked well in my classroom.  The Discipline Management Packet below has a 5 poster chart, incentive punch cards, certificates for great behavior and much more. I believe it is important to provide students with incentives and rewards for meeting behavioral expectations.  Click on the picture to see the details.


Academic Expectations: Research shows that having high academic expectations will result in higher student achievement. If your students know you expect them to turn in their work and will accept nothing less, they will turn in their work.  If students know you expect every paper to have a heading, you will have less papers with no name on them.  If students know you expect them to participate in the class discussion, they will be more likely to contribute their thoughts and ideas.  The key to successful high expectations is the consistency and reinforcement in making sure students meet them. For example, if all students are expected to participate in classroom discussions, sometimes a student may not want to answer and says, "I don't know" when called upon to answer a question.  Instead of letting that student off the hook by going on to the next student to answer, make sure the student knows you will come back to him for the answer. "OK, Tom, let's see if someone else can help you out." Call on another student for the answer. Then go back to Tom.  Ask the question again so he can repeat what the other student said.  Be consistent with this strategy.  Once students know they cannot get away without answering, they will be more likely to pay attention, participate and meet your expectations. They also know they will get the support of help with an answer when they truly do not know.

For other Back to School Teacher Tips click the link below:

Visit again next week for Back To School Teacher Tip #4!

Until Next Time...

July 16, 2016

Classroom Organization - Back to School Teacher Tips #2

Back to School Tip #2
Classroom Organization

Classroom organization is one of the most important things to consider as we head back to school.  Teachers with effective classroom management will have an organized classroom set-up, with routines and procedures in place that keep the environment conducive to learning. During the first  weeks of school it is important to teach students those routines and procedures that will help your class run smoothly.  A lot of time will be spent in explaining, modeling and practicing your expectations.

Classroom organization starts with the physical arrangement of the classroom.  How will you arrange the student desks? Where will you do small group instruction?  Do you have a large area or carpet to bring your students together?  Where are your stations, centers and classroom library?  You want to arrange your physical space so your procedures and routines are easy to carry out. 

Classroom procedures and routines need to also be in place.  Procedures and routines are how things are done in the classroom.  Students must know from the very first day of class what they are expected to do and how to do it. I use a checklist to help me remember which routines and procedures are important for me to directly teach when we start back to school.  Here is a sample of the items I have on my checklist.

One important procedure I make sure to have in place is the use of Hand Signals to do things like use the restroom, sharpen pencils, drink water and get a tissue.  These are quick easy signals students give me that I can respond with a nod yes or no and it doesn't interrupt the lesson.  The general rule when in a lesson is that unless it is an emergency they need to wait until the next transition for these types of requests.  However if that emergency does happen, this allows them to quietly let me know without disturbing the flow of the lesson.  It is also helpful during other times in class like stations, seatwork, small group instruction, etc.  The hand signals I use are listed below.  Each number 1-5 represents something students show me to let me know their request. The fist up is my signal to them that I need complete silence.  These signals work great with the students.

All of these classroom procedure items can be found in my Classroom Procedures and Routines Packet.  This contains the checklist for beginning the year, the Hand Signal Posters, a Student Booklet for students to use as they learn your procedures and routines and Task Card for a Scoot Game to practice what they learned.

Click here to download the product.
Classroom Procedures Booklet has pages for students
to write notes on the routines and procedures you teach.

Task cards to practice the routines and procedures.
Use them in a center/station or as a SCOOT Game with the
answer sheet that is included. 

For other Back to School Teacher Tips click the link below:

Until Next Time...

July 7, 2016

Building Relationships - Back to School Teacher Tips #1

Where has the summer gone?  Time is passing by so quickly and now Back to School is just around the corner.  I am really looking forward to a brand new year. I plan to have a five week series of Back to School Teacher Tips. This is great for new teachers but could benfit veteran teachers as small reminders of what is important at the beginning of each year.  Stop back by each week to see the newest tip!

Back to School Tip #1:
Building Relationships

A classroom culture is created with the positive relationships that a teacher builds with his/her students. It is clearly one of the most important things a teacher should do at the beginning of the year.  You want to get to know your students on a variety of levels: academically, personally, and socially.  The more you know about your students, the better you are able to understand and motivate them. So, how do you start to build that relationship on the first day?

Try an activity like the Mystery Bag.  In a paper sack, have three or four items that represent who you are.  On that first morning, take each item out of the bag one at a time and share what that item means in your life.  That afternoon, send home a small paper lunch bag and ask students to fill it with three or four small items that represent who they are.  At the end of each day, have students sit together on the carpet.  Choose a few students to open their bags and share something about themselves.  This activity is a lot of fun for students and you get to learn a lot about their lives and what is important to them.

Another activity you could do on the first day of school is the First Day Letter.  As a writing lesson, have students write a friendly letter to themselves.  Have them write things like:  their feelings about the new school year, what they will miss about the previous year, what they expect to achieve this year, etc. Collect the letters.  You can read each of them to find out more about your new students. Place each letter in an envelope and seal it.  At the end of the year, pass out their letters.  The students read their own letter. It is interesting to have them share their letters to see if their ideas, opinions and feelings have changed since the first day.

These types of activities help you to learn about your students, help your students learn about each other, and help you begin to build strong relationships in your classroom.

These activities and more can be found in this Back to School Activities, Games and Puzzle Packet.  Click the picture below.

          Activities to get to know your students and begin to build relationships with them.

Fun games and activities for students to interact together and begin to form friendships and connections.

To see the next Back to School Teacher Tip, click here: