• Reading

    4 Ways to Make Your Classroom Library Irresistible

    bLOG 6 COVER.jpgInstill a Love of Reading In Your Classroom

    FUN FACT! Research has shown that kids love to read for TWO main reasons:

    • FOR FUN: Students have reported that reading transports them to another world that they get to create using their imagination. Next to aerobic exercise, reading is the most amazing workout for your brain!
    • FOR FACT: Students have also stated that reading gives them knowledge. Whether they are learning new vocabulary, new concepts, or a how-to-do project, reading helps to build essential skills they will use their entire lives.

    learning-164331_1280.jpgBONUS FACT!

    • Did you know that reading also REDUCES STRESS by lowering your heart rate??

    These 3 factors should encourage teachers everywhere to make the most of their classroom libraries!

    Follow these 4 Tips Below and you’ll be well on your way to making your classroom library positively irresistible to your students!

    1. Create an Enchanting Environment. The goal in designing an enchanting environment for your classroom library should be to make students feel a sense of excitement and wonder simply by looking at it.
    • What colors are being used? How do these colors make me feel? (Read About Colors and Their Psychological Meanings Here)
    • Is there a theme?
    • Are there chairs, cushions, pillows, and rugs that all say, “Come get cozy and get lost in a good book?”
    • What is the lighting of your reading nook like? Is your theme more of a bright, outside feel where you have all white light? Is your reading nook suggesting more of a homey feel where warm lighting lamps are needed?
    • How are your books organized? Is your library system easily accessible from a “grab and go” and a “returning” point?

    These are all essential questions to ask yourself when creating that irresistibly enchanting” atmosphere for your classroom library space.

    Check out these real-life examples!

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    Kristi from Teaching in the Tropics has done a FABULOUS job at making her classroom library absolutely enchanting! She’s got a poppin’ color theme, a comfy space where students can get lost in a book, an organized book system, and inspirational reading quotes that melt the stress of the school day away! View more of her wonderful ideas HERE! 🙂
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    Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher has certainly made her classroom library irresistible! This simple, yet elegant color theme of teal and white is simply stunning. And look at all those comfy pillows! Her library books are organized and easily accessible to her students. This enchanting little library look is completed with the most beautiful natural lighting. You can keep up with Kristin and her many creative ideas HERE!

    If you are looking to create or redesign your classroom library, these two places offer wonderful inspiration!

    1. Say Hello to Book Buddies! 
    • Add what I call a, “charm feel” to your reading nook with Book Buddies!
    • Keep a Book Buddy Basket (Grab the Labels Here) somewhere in your classroom library.
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    Dot the Giraffe – She was my students’ favorite Book Buddy! 🙂

    My students absolutely ADORED their Book Buddies! They loved to snuggle their Book Buddies while they read their books silently.

    Sometimes, I would even walk by and hear my kiddos reading out loud quietly to their Book Buddy (YAY for those reading fluency skills being practiced so naturally!).

    When it came to buying my Book Buddies, I loved finding huge stuffed animals, but any sweet looking stuffed animals will do just fine. I typically found the really big ones (shown in picture above) on sale right after Valentine’s Day.

    1. Play Hide and Seek Bookworm – A Library Game!
    • Get your students excited about reading!

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    Students will love to know that while they are reading, they are also secretly looking for a bookworm. I designed this library game with the intention of it keeping up library engagement all year long.

    The duration of the game can of course be up to the teacher as it is a completely low-maintenance game. This library game requires very little prep work and upkeep on the teacher’s part, and students will never get tired of it!

    This game also comes with the cutest little Bookworm Reports that your kiddos will LOVE to practice their writing skills on (because it involves a prize!).

    Grab this Library Game Here and Learn How to Play!

    1. Give your students TIME to enjoy reading.
    • The school day is chaotic.
    • Students need a designated time during the day to enjoy their classroom library.
    • An easy way to provide them with this opportunity is to incorporate a Read-to-Self time (part of the Daily 5 Literacy Framework).

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    Last year, I rotated my students daily (in their groups of 3-4) through a Read-to-Self station using our classroom library.

    Not only did each and every one of my students receive structured time to enjoy our classroom library, I saw their love for reading grow throughout the year. Our little library became everyone’s favorite place to go during break times!

    If you follow these 4 tips, your students won’t be able to resist using your classroom library!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Designer Tips

    Are You Choosing the Right Colors to Design Your Projects?

     

    Color Inspiration for Your Projects

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    Did you know that color speaks?

    The COLORS you choose for your projects send psychological messages to your viewers before they ever read a word of your content.

    There are loads of articles on color theory, but if you’re looking for the nutshell version, look no further!

    Below is a list of my interpretations of color

    These interpretations are commonly associated with these colors.

    • BLACK: elegant, authoritative, sophisticated, trendy, and classy.
    • WHITE: pure, divine, perfection, clean, light, organized, and good.
    • GRAY: professional, modern, order, calming, sleek, and smooth.
    • RED: love, resilient, energy, and a call to action.
    • ORANGE: warm, harvest season, achievement, and attention-grabbing.
    • YELLOW: pure sunshine, full of energy, joy, and all things happy and fun.
    • GREEN: creative, natural, and has a sense of prosperity.
    • BLUE: calm, confident, determined, relaxing, and stress-free.
    • PURPLE: royalty, enchanting, luxurious, and free-spirited.
    • PINK: soft, sweet, compassionate, gentle, and kind.

     

    Personally, I tend to use a LOT of blue (teal), pink (blush), green (sage), black, and white in my teaching resources! Perhaps that is because these colors coincide with my personality.

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    Notice the black, white, sage, blush, and tiniest hint of teal. I wasn’t kidding about those being my favorite colors!

     

    If you’re not sure what color to start with, any shade of BLUE will always be your best bet.

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    Research has shown that people tend to tune into more products, news articles, photos, etc. when the color BLUE is the foremost color present.

    Blue is also the leading color of successful marketing (take Twitter and Facebook for example), the most common color in the world (no shock there as our planet is 70% ocean), and the answer to almost everything.

    • Teacherpreneurs: Want to start selling more products? Incorporate more blue into your covers.
    • College students: Want an A+ on that essay? Print it on blue paper (Just kidding, you might get an F+ if you use blue that way). BUT! You should absolutely use blue in those PowerPoints, Prezis, and other special projects your professors assign to you.
    • Moms: Want your kids to start knocking out that chore chart? Try ice-cream! If THAT doesn’t work, well, maybe try marking up that whiteboard in blue Expo markers??? 😉

     

    Still need more help picking the right colors for your projects?

    Do you struggle when deciding on what colors go together for your resources or projects?

    If you’ve answered, “yes,” to either of these questions, chances are you could use some “instant color theme” solutions in your life.

    If you haven’t discovered the magic of color palettes yet…

    YOU’RE ABOUT TO!!!

    Color palettes are my GO TO whenever I am seeking color inspiration for my teaching resources.

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    A Color Palette from  my Spring Color Palette Collection
    Ex. Newsletter
    This February Newsletter was created using the Spring Color Palette above. Disclaimer: This is an example newsletter. Teachers everywhere know newsletters could never be this short. 😉

     

    With color palettes, you can design the perfect color theme for any project in an instant!

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    Get inspired with these free seasonal color palettes HERE!

     

    Become an expert at using color in your projects. Have fun designing!

     

     

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  • Teacher Tips

    Do YOUR Students Hit One Another?

    Blog Pic16 Activities to STOP THE HITTING and Build Classroom Community

    A couple years ago, my students had a habit of hitting, scratching, or hurting one another whenever they got upset or too silly.

    I was SO frustrated, worn out, and at a total loss, because I felt like I had done everything and yet, nothing was helping.

    • I had talked to my students one-on-one about their behavior. And for some students, I did this DAILY.
    • I had revoked privileges and given logical consequences.
    • I had modeled what positive and acceptable touches look like by having my students role play.
    • I had my students practice dozens of calming strategies in the “Take 5 Corner” of our classroom.
    • I had written emails, called parents, and even resorted to sending my students to other classrooms.

    Maybe you’ve been here too, you’re exasperated, and quite frankly – just done.

    Then I remembered something.

    My friend is an ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PROFESSOR from college. Her name is Dr. Wendy Guthrie.

    After I vented about being exasperated, Dr. Guthrie shared an idea with me:

    Students who have relationships with one another are less inclined to harm one another.

    She then proceeded to give me the idea of incorporating 10 minute segments of team building exercises where students had the opportunity to give one another positive touches.

    In other words, help them develop relationships with one another, rather than creating an “always keep your hands to yourself,” classroom mentality.

    She also recommended that I try this out first thing in the morning before the school day picked up.

    So! I began using team building exercises with my students daily.

    Every morning after unpacking, doing morning work, taking attendance, and listening to school announcements, we would have our team building time for 10 minutes. Once we did them, I felt positive vibes in the air for the remainder of the school day!

    Click Here to get the 16 Team Building Activities, their directions, and a SPINNER! It’s FREE!

    DISCLAIMER: Did these exercises create the PERFECT classroom community???

    Nope, because that kind of perfection won’t happen until the Second Coming!

    DID these exercises MINIMIZE my students from hurting one another significantly???

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I saw my students learn how to love one another better because of their close interactions and relationships they had begun to build with one another through these team building exercises.

    The improved behavior made my job, and my day, much easier to manage.

  • Teacher Tips

    3 Ways to AVOID BORING Spelling Reviews!

    #1 Shaving Cream Spelling Practice

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    Last year I had my students practice their spelling words using SHAVING CREAM.

    For only $2 from the Dollar Tree, I had bought a top-notch spelling review activity.

    It’s AMAZING how confident students can be when they are having FUN.

    As we practiced our spelling words this way, I began to see my literacy-timid students forget all about their insecurities when it came to practicing their spelling words!

    In having so much fun, they were spelling words on their own I had never seen them spell before!

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    If you’re thinking, “Oh my word, “I could never, it’s so MESSY!” Trust me when I say, “It’s SO WORTH IT!!!!

    Plus, thanks to the wonderful invention of paper towels, these kids had their desks all cleaned up within 5 minutes!

    I don’t know about your kids, but whenever I asked my students to clean something, you would have thought I just asked them if they wanted to go to Disney World!

    #2 Play Dough Mats

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    Ever heard of Play Dough Mats?

    Well if you haven’t, now you have!!

    Your entire class is sure to get a kick out of this review activity, and your tactile learners will especially love you for letting them learn their spelling words by squishing playdough through their fingers at the same time.

    These play dough mats can be used in a variety of ways!

    Have students practice their spelling words using these mats…

    • in a whole group setting
    • in a small group setting
    • as a phonics activity
    • as a literacy center
    • or give them out as “take home & leave at home” homework practice!

    Grab Play Dough Mats FREEBIE here!

    #3 Testing Treats

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    Be sure to provide your students with a stress-free environment when it comes to testing!

    What better way to get kids excited about taking their spelling tests than with a little test treat?!!

    In gifting your students with these simple treats, you are doing so much more than making your student’s smile because you’ve just given them free candy…

    You have told each and every one of your students that you love them by BELIEVING in them!

    You can get these treat tag printables here!

    And, last but not least, HANG IN THERE teacher friends!

    As many of you are in the thick of testing season, just hold on tight until the storm clears!

    In less than one short month you’ll be on SUMMER BREAK!!!!

    • Sleeping in (if you don’t have kids lol)…
    • Staying up late (past 7pm!!) watching movies…
    • Reading books you’ve wanted to read all year…(Speaking of teacher bookmarks…).
    • Vacationing to the beach or the mountains…

    In less than one short month, you’ll be LIVING IT UP!!! 😉

  • Blog Posts,  Teacher Tips

    Are Your Pencils Disappearing?

    Disappearing Pencils

    One Amazingly Simple Solution to Keep Your Pencils from Disappearing

     

    At 7:55a.m., I had 100 freshly sharpened pencils in our “Sharp” bucket to start the day.

    By 8:05a.m., I had a student asking me for a pencil.

    “W.H.A.T?!” *chokes on a donut* (No judgement, I was pregnant at the time).

    I can remember my brain screaming, “How in the world?!…Where did all the pencils go?!” If you’re a teacher, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This might be a common problem in your class right now.

    I soon discovered the ANSWER to the mystery of the disappearing pencils.

    I saw a student open his pencil box which revealed about a dozen pencils…Out of curiosity, I asked the rest of the class to open their pencil cases as well. Students had anywhere from 5 to 15 pencils in their boxes!

    Mystery solved! CASE CLOSED! Literally, the cases were closed over all the pencils.

    Right then, I knew I needed a new pencil system. That’s when I discovered Pen Pal holders! A Pen Pal is a rubber pencil holder that can stick to a desk. Here’s a link to see it yourself!

    Phase 1 of My New Pencil System:
    1. Each student gets 1 (or 2!) Pen Pal holders attached to their desk, where they must keep their pencil(s) at all times when they are not being used.

    Yay! Now students have a specific place for their pencils that isn’t cluttered underneath crayons, markers, or glue in their pencil boxes.

    Phase 2 of My New Pencil System:

    2. Add “Pencil Police” to your list of classroom jobs.

    Here’s What the PENCIL POLICE Does:

    • The Pencil Police checks each student’s desk at a time of the day where students are not at their desk (Read-to-Self time works great!). The Pencil Police can do a “security walk through” once a day, several times a day, or every other day. It’s up to you!
    • If the student’s pencil is in their pen pal holder, the Pencil Police will put a piece of candy (or whatever incentive you choose) in that student’s desk.
    • Teacher Tip: Make the Pencil Police come to life with their own police hat and fanny pack (which can hold whatever incentive you decide to use, such as: candy, mini erasers, gum, school bucks, etc).
    And just like THAT! No more disappearing pencils!!!
    My students made sure their pencils were always in their Pen Pal spot when they weren’t using them. Not only were we going through less pencils as a class, I was sharpening fewer pencils too! If your pencils keep disappearing, give this “out of the box” pencil policy a try! #punintended
  • Blog Posts,  Teacher Tips

    Are You Praising Your Students Incorrectly?

    Stop

    2 Common Praises Teachers Need to Stop Giving Their Students

     

    “Great Job!”

    STOP saying, “Great job!”

    START getting specific and intentional with your praises.

    I’ve been there. In the attempt to motivate and encourage 25 students all day long, for 5 days a week, it’s easy to throw out, “Great job” praises like they’re confetti.

    In order to create self-sufficient and confident learners, praises need to be intentional.

    So next time, when Johnny shows you his painting from art class, instead of saying, “Great job,” tell Johnny what job he did great. You can say, “Cool, Johnny! The colors you added really make the picture POP!” With this specific praise, Johnny knows exactly how he’s done a “great job” painting.

    Congratulations! You’ve just produced a self-sufficient, confident learner!

     

    “I Love How…”

    STOP saying, “I love how…”

    START loving your students for who they are and not for what they do.

    For example, the statement, “I love how Susan is standing quietly in line,” subjectively communicates to other students, “We will only be loved if we are standing quietly in line.

    Using an “I love how…” statement ultimately conveys subjective judgement to students that their worth is dependent upon pleasing their teacher.

    Rather than creating this behavior of dependency in students and shame in other students, demonstrate to your students that they are loved no matter what. This requires a change in thinking as an educator and a breaking of old habits.

    Tell yourself that it’s not about you, it’s about being direct, objective, professional, and conveying to students they are loved for who they are, not what they do.

    Instead, you can say, “Susan is standing in line quietly.” By calling attention to Susan’s behavior in an objective manner, you’ve accomplished three things:

    The entire class has been reminded of correct line behavior expectations from a simple and objective comment.

    For Susan, intrinsic motivation has taken place! Given reassurance that her line behavior is correct, she will most likely continue to follow line rules because she wants to, not because she feels like she will be shamed if she doesn’t.

    Other students have a positive student role model to model their own line behavior after, and at the same time are not feeling shamed and insecure. They know they are still loved.

     

    By making these small changes, you’ll stop producing students who are dependent on your opinion and start producing students who are self-sufficient and confident. As a result, you’ll become a more objective, intentional, and professional educator. And you’ll give your students what they need to grow!

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