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Jan 24, 2015

The Interactive Journal - Why It's a Must.

Hey Everyone!
    Something that I really enjoy using in the classroom are interactive journals (also called Interactive Notebooks or ISNs)

     In short, if you are not using Interactive Journals in the classroom, you and your students are missing out! 
There are so many benefits for both you and your students, and they can be used for EVERY subject! Here are some reasons why you may want to consider implementing Interactive Journals into your classroom:

1.      Interactive journals benefit both left brain dominant and right brain dominate students.

Everyone uses both the left and right hemisphere of the brain, but there is a theory that we use one side more than the other – this is known as brain lateralization. Students who are left brain dominate are considered more analytical and logical. Right brain dominate students are thought to be more creative and artistic.
An interactive journal fosters both our logical and creative skills.  

2.      Students are ACTIVE and ENGAGED in the learning process

While using an interactive journal, students are doing so much more than just writing sentences. They expand upon their reading by filling out graphic organizers and organizing their information in a fun, creative way.

3.      Students keep their work organized and neat.

Interactive journals have a table of contents and numbered pages. Students are required to place each page in the correct order and take ownership for their notebook if pages are missing. You can even have students color code or use colored sticky notes to organize information. Students will love the final product of having an organized, well designed notebook. 
 And what teacher would argue against not having to deal with free floating papers inside desks?

4.      Interactive Journals can be used for every subject!

Interactive journals are often used as reading notebooks and math journals, but you can literally use it for any subject! An interactive journal to write down your scientific observations is great to have for lab activities during science!

5.      Foldables and flaps are just plain FUN.

Seriously! Who doesn’t love creating hidden messages? :)

6.    You can easily align student notebooks with Common Core.

7.      Students will actually enjoy the note-taking process!!

Note-taking can be so mundane... You don’t want your students to just zone-out during a lesson and not absorb the information being taught! With interactive journals, students are active in the learning process.

8.      Students take ownership and care for their notebooks.

Most of us care about the things we put hard work and effort into. Creating an interactive journal is a process. Students will take pride into their work and won’t want a single page missing from their notebook!

9.      Students see the final product and can take pride in their work. Students can use this work as a portfolio too!

10.      Multiple Intelligences are at work!

Interactive journals incorporate multiple intelligence (Howard Gardner’s theory) into your teaching. Get the other parts of the students brains working!
Here are the nine intelligences:
Intra-personal Intelligence - students looking within themselves. Journaling is great for self reflection
Naturalist Intelligence - use themes and topics related to nature
Musical Intelligence - explore different types of music using a journal
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence - organizing interactive journal in a logical manner
Existential Intelligence - exploring philosophical ideas
Interpersonal Intelligence - communication and working with other students
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence - combining movement and learning
Linguistic Intelligence -using language

11. Last but not least, here are FREEBIES to get your students using an Interactive Reading Journal!

Cover of notebook:

 Reading Log/Table of Contents:

Book Information:

Character Development: Adjectives

Fun Flaps to get you started!

Are you ready to jump right in?!

Here are resources to keep an interactive journal throughout the ENTIRE year!

Jan 19, 2015

Linky Party - Freebies!

Hi everyone! I'm hosting a linky party!  Please share your best freebie by linking up!

  My freebie that I'm sharing is a resource for Substitute Teachers. They are "While You Were Out" papers to leave on the teachers desk to let them know how the day went! There are three different themed "While You Were Out" notes to choose from!
Themes include: Nautical, Woodland, and Owl!

Be sure to grab a button and link up! Follow for future linkups! Thanks for joining =) 


Jan 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Activities & FREEBIES!

Valentine’s Day Activities and FREEBIES!

Stumped on what to do for Valentine’s Day in your classroom this year? Here are some little-to no-prep activities to enjoy with your students!
Students can make their own Valentine's Day Cards! Here's a simple and easy FREEBIE for students to design Valentines to pass out to their friends on V-day!

Read “The Biggest Valentine Ever” by Steven Kroll – An adorable story about friends coming together to make the biggest, best valentine ever!
After reading "The Biggest Valentine Ever",  have your class make their own biggest Valentine based on the book!
Make sure students all contribute a little something to make this giant valentine special! 

Set up a Scavenger Hunt based around Valentine’s Day! Here are some ideas for the students to find around the classroom!
               -a book with a heart on it
               -a book with the word “love” in it,
               -a lovebird or a lovebug (could be any bird or bug)
               -a red or pink crayon
               -words that rhyme with love
               -words that start with V.
               -a friendship bracelet (hopefully someone is wearing one! :) )
               -something that is shaped like a heart 

Write poetry with your students!  Here is a acronym FREEBIE poem to get you started! Click here for sensory and haiku Valentine's Day poetry!


Turn on some Valentine’s day music and just free paint!
Find songs about friendship, love, and giving.. One of my favorite songs of all time “You’ll Be in My Heart” from the movie Tarzan!
Here are some other great Valentine's Day themed songs:
You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Newman
Lean on Me – Bill Withers
Bruno Mars – Count On Me
Make pink and red play-dough with your students!
Here’s a really easy recipe:
6 cups flour
3 cups salt
6 cups water
6 Tablespoons veggie oil
3 Tablespoon cream of tartar
Red liquid food coloring
**JUST FOR FUN - add ROSE scented oil! BONUS - Your classroom will smell wonderful too! :)
 Be sure to bring heart shaped cookie cutters!

Read “Pinkalicious: Pink of Hearts” by Victoria Kann. This book is great for Kinder through 2nd Grade level students. The illustrations are gorgeous in the Pinkalicious series!

Design Valentine’s Day gifts for families! Hand prints shaped into a heart makes a very beautiful gift for loved ones!

 Design letters, cards, and Valentines for friends and loved ones!
 Check it out here!

This resource includes letters, written gifts, and Valentines for students and their friends! Let your students explore the true meaning of friendship with these creative writing assignments!
These activities also make great gifts and crafts for Valentine's Day! There are Valentine cards included for students to hand out on V-Day as well as cards to color in or make your own.

Read “Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink” by Diane deGroat
Gilbert writes not-so-nice Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates and his prank goes terribly wrong. Find out what happens to poor Gilbert!

BINGO Play February themed BINGO! Here is a fun Bingo FREEBIE!
Have students copy down Valentine ’s Day words in the bingo squares. Cut another copy of the words into strips and draw from bowl. Read them aloud as students place conversation hearts on the squares. The first student to get all five in a row (straight  across, up or down, or diagonal) wins the game!
Here’s a list of February Bingo words:
admirer, heart,
 doves, sweetheart,
 roses, kisses, letter, angel, friendship,
 crush, cupid,
enamored, be mine, charmed,
lovebirds, Valentine,
 girlfriend, candy,
 date. boyfriend, lovely, flirt,
February, chocolate

Celebrate Valentine's Day all month long with February Fun Pack!
Your students will love completing this activity packet!
This resource includes fun writing activities, poetry (haiku, acronym, sensory), math activities, bingo, create your own "Love Bug" creative writing, silly sentences, and much more!)
Find it here!
I hope you found some fantastic ways to enjoy Valentine's Day with your students!

Jan 11, 2015

Science Trading Card Mania!

Hi teacher friends!
      So for a while now I’ve been designing this type of product that I’m obsessed over… they are educational trading cards! There are many fantastic ways to implement them in your classroom. My sister’s 3rd grade classroom used the biome card set for a lesson and the kids had such a blast learning about unique animal and plant adaptations!

Here are some creative ideas for students to implement trading cards into their learning:

1.      Trading animal card games for students – Which animal has the best adaptations to survive the cold? What about the scorching desert? Who can build the strongest team of animals from all different parts of the earth?

2.      Make-believe Martians! What kind of crazy aliens can students come up with after studying the planets? Since Neptune is an icy gas giant, what if there were giant ice creatures?

3. Creative Journal Writing Assign students a card. Have them study that animal or planet and report what they learned in their journals.

4. Have students create a moon journal. Have them go home and study the moon. When they come back to class, they are able to report which phases they recognize!

5. Formation games. Aligning the planets in a row or the moon phases in the correct order!

6.  Because the cards are downloaded as a PDF, you are able to create as many sets as you want in your classroom! Just print, cut, and laminate! You could have a classroom set in which you allow students to take home and research!  You could create a research project!

7.  Let students come up with their own card games and rules! This gives your students the chance to use their creativity and problem solving skills!

8.  Around the World!  Grab a map and see if students can place where each animal belongs on the map!

9. Pros & Cons  What are the pros and cons of each planet? Even though we know Earth is the only planet that can sustain life, what if we were forced to move to another planet? What would need to change? What would be the pros and cons of living there?

10.  I’m thinking of.. Students can play in pairs and try to guess what card the other student is holding after giving clues and descriptions.. This is also a great way for students to test their new knowledge!

These are just some creative ideas for students to implement trading cards into their learning! Click below to find out more about available science trading cards!

Jan 4, 2015

Behavior Management in the Classroom!

Behavior Management Tips for New Teachers!

Behavior Management is a challenge that every new teacher faces. Unfortunately, teachers cannot be 100% prepared on how to effectively manage an entire classroom in their credential program alone. It is something that we have to put into practice and figure out as we go! It involves trial and error, and every teacher has to discover what works for them in their own classroom. So often first year teachers are overwhelmed and feel unprepared for managing classroom behavior. 

So for elementary teachers that would like a little extra guidance, here are my various tips and methods for maintaining control of the classroom. Although I can’t say I’m the leading expert on behavior management and have been in the field for 15+ years, I can promise you that I’ve taught preschool for years and that is ALL BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT! With young children having less than 5 minute attention spans, you are constantly redirecting and refocusing. You have eyes in the back of your head and in all four corners of the room. Teachers really do have superpowers. ;)


1. Physical Activities – Physical movement is beneficial for so many reasons. Not only is it good for overall health but it can break up the strenuous mental tasks in the classroom. With YouTube, it makes it so easy to just put on an educational song and do a quick stretch or warm up!
2. Don’t let them see you sweat – If students are becoming out of your control, do not let them see they are getting you upset. You don’t want them to see that they have control of your emotions. Take a deep breath and try to think with your logical brain rather than your emotional one. Picture yourself an observer. You walk in the classroom and you see a flustered teacher with screaming students. What advice would you give him or her? What could they do in that moment to correct the situation? Do you have behavior management tools in the classroom? Utilize them.

3. Rewards and Incentives – What rewards and incentives does your class implement? What do your students get excited about and what would they work hard to earn? Do you use reward bucks, coupons, stickers, marble jar, or maybe a prize box? See what works for you in your classroom! Check out this free guide to an awesome prize box!

4. Routine – make sure to have a solid routine each day. Write it on the board so the students know it too! Younger students do not handle changes well. Give them a heads up at the beginning of the day if something needs to be altered.

5. Talk quietly – when the class is REALLY LOUD Whisper softly…. They have to stop talking in order to hear you.

6. Emotional Outlet for Feelings and Frustration– Do students have a space in the room to gather their thoughts or let off steam when they need to? Check out the Zen Zone.

7. Repetition – Repetition, Repetition! ……and Repetition! J

8.  Write and Erase – If the class is talking loudly and your unable to get their attention, turn to the whiteboard. Write your instructions one word at a time and erase. “Please” erase. “Get” erase. “Out” erase. “Your” erase. “Math” erase. “Notebooks” erase. "Turn" erase. "To" erase. "Page" erase. "124" erase. They stop talking to try and figure out what secret code you are writing on the board. Those who figure it out right away can be rewarded!

9.  Brain Breaks – Do your kids need a mental break? When your class begins to lose focus and they need a quick break, these activities are perfect to have in your back pocket!

10. Clip Charts – Behavior clip charts are a great tool to have. Write students names on clothespins to move up and down the chart. Everyone starts in the middle at “having a good day”.. they can move up to “an excellent day” or down to “call home”.

11. Pull a card – To be honest, I’m not a fan of this method, but it can be effective. It’s similar to clip charts except everyone has their own pouch with 4 colored cards. Green, Yellow, Red, Blue. Everyone starts on green and the student pulls a card if poor behavior continues after a friendly warning (they pull green and tuck it behind yellow, red, and blue so the yellow is showing). Green means – having a good day/neutral, yellow is caution, red and blue can be whatever consequences you want to set in the classroom. If you do decide to use this method, make sure you emphasis that students can earn their way back to green! If you don’t, your student may give up and not care about their behavior the rest of the day.

12. Teacher versus Student – Students are held accountable as a team rather than individually. They are competing against their teacher for points. If the students are talking, the teacher gets a point. If the teacher asks… “class?” and they respond attentively with.. “yes?” then they get a point. If you catch them working quietly during independent work, they get a point. Check out Whole Brain Teaching methods!

13. Keep Calm – No matter what happens, it’s important for them to feel like they are in a safe learning environment. They need an adult who is in charge and can handle any situation that arises.

14. Don’t negotiate with them – This is a quick way to lose your authority as the classroom teacher. Whatever you say goes. If you say, “The next student that talks when I’m talking is moving down on the clip chart” and that doesn’t happen, your students will be skeptical of what you say in the future. 

Those are my quick tips for first year teachers or teachers who need a little extra with behavior management in the elementary classroom. Check out the StudentSavvy Behavior management bundle. It has so many resources that I referred to above. In it you'll find brain breaks, the zen zone, behavior clip charts, classroom coupons, and much more.


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