Hello lovely readers!
I want to take a second to reintroduce myself. My name is Hannah and I’m a former teacher who turned into a stay-at-home mama.
My husband and I knew long ago that when we started to have kiddos, I would stay home with them as long as we were financially able to do so. God has taken such good care of us and enabled us to do just that!
While staying at home raising a toddler, with another baby on the way, has certainly kept me on my toes these past couple of years, I do not have the type of personality that can be home all day without working creatively in some capacity.
I struggled at first as a new mom, literally going crazy at all the free time I had after just coming off of teaching where you basically have zero free time. I prayed constantly that God would show me what else I could do to maintain my creative sanity while I stay at home for these next several years raising my kiddos.
So, one of the areas of research I did to start out was pretty cliche, but incredibly helpful insight nonetheless…
I took a personality test (the Passion Profile Quiz by Clarity on Fire).
And what was my passion profile?
A Firestarter! AKA someone who is a passionate business person, with a deep desire to create. This also happens to be one of the most difficult personalities to adjust to a stay-at-home mom life IF they’re not running a business or something on the side!
Side note: If you need help discovering what your true passions are, I encourage you to take this quiz! It will definitely give you insight about yourself that will help you understand why you are the way you are!
Once I had this information on the back burner of my mind, I began to look for online jobs that would give me the 100% flexibility I needed as a mama and 200% of the creative work I sought so desperately.
And because prayer works (Matt. 7:7), God showed me two things:
- TeachersPayTeachers (my new digital creative outlet with 100% flexibility)
- @whitegardeniasoap (my new physical creative outlet with 100% flexibility)
Both of these avenues have become beautifully creative, amazingly flexible side jobs I can do right from home.
Bottom Line: If you’re a driven stay-at-home mama struggling to find a creative outlet or some type of side job, don’t give up!! There are so many options out there. With a little prayer, a lot of research, and even more prayer, you’ll find your passions; passions that may even lead to a little extra income for you and your sweet family.
Best wishes to you in the new year!
Planning a Fall Festival Has Never Been Easier
We all love fall. Leaves, pumpkin spice, cooler weather, roasting marshmallows, and fall festivals!
We all want to bring autumn into our classrooms and into our schools. What better way to throw a school-wide fall festival? Or even a classroom fall festival!
Only, as much as we love fall, and as much as we would like to throw a class fall festival, it’s simply too much! We’ve got no extra time for something like that! Flyers, games, decorations, materials… it’s overwhelming just to think about it.
I’ve been in the classroom and I get it. I’ve wanted to do fun stuff like that but didn’t have time. It’s tough and the days are long and crazy! Most days can leave us feeling a little defeated or even depressed.
But because I love teachers, and because I love fall so much, I’ve created a resource that makes a fall festival possible for the busy teacher. It’s called the…Fall Festival Event Bundle.
Here’s How it Works!
Have a blast with it!
The resource includes done-for-you flyers, programs, game ideas, decorations, social media posts, and more!
Now you can bring fall to your class without all the stress of planning and executing a fall festival.
Instead of giving up before you even start, now you’re almost done before you start!
Go from being the “I-wish” teacher to the “Let’s-rock-this!” teacher! Turn your class from a dull dreary day into a festive autumn party! Your class will remember this for years to come.
TPT Life Hacks So Easy You’ll Think You’re Cheating
#1 Flat Pack for PowerPoint
Did you know that simply turning a document into a PDF doesn’t make that document secure?
Wait, what’s an unsecured PDF?
An unsecured PDF is a PDF that you can still select an area, image, etc. from the PDF itself and copy and paste it somewhere else. You can automatically see the problem this presents for both you as a seller and a buyer.
By uploading an unsecured document, two things have just happened:
- As a seller, your work could potentially be stolen.
- As a buyer, you’ve just violated someone else’s TOU if you used their clipart in your work, since now other people can use their images without having had to buy them.
If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably read over a dozen articles on how to secure a PDF and the 20-30 steps this process requires.
Creating a teaching resource and then uploading that resource used to take me absolutely forever when I had to secure my product in addition to all of that.
A fellow TpTer told me about FLATPACK!!!
WARNING: This resource is going to sound too good to be true, but it’s SO TRUE!!!
Flat Pack for PowerPoint is the single best resource I have ever bought on TPT, created by TPT Seller: Bearwood Labs.
Instead of going through half a million steps to secure my files, I click ONE BUTTON in the Flat Pack tab of my PowerPoint and…I’m done! Automatic secured file!
While Flat Pack does a multitude of things, my favorite features are creating secured PDFs and secured editable PowerPoints all with the click of a button!
As of right now, Flat Pack is only available for PCs, but Bearwood Labs is currently working on a version for Macs as well.
It’s a little bit of an investment, but SO worth it!
To hear more about how Flat Pack works, view my tutorial here!
#2 TPT Description Editor PRO
OLD TPT thought process when adding a description to a product:
- “Okay, I need to make this product title bold in my description, so <strong>TITLE</strong>. And I want this link to go here so I need to input the code, <a title=…”
NEW TPT thought process when adding a description to a product:
- “Okay, this title needs to be bold, CLICK! This needs to be linked, CLICK!…”
Bearwood Labs has made TPT life easier and better AGAIN with TPT Description Editor PRO.
If you haven’t grabbed this resource from Bearwood Labs yet, don’t wait! This resource will have you singing Hakuna Matata with no product description worries for the rest of your days. 😉
#3 Marketing Templates
Last but not least…
Whether you’re new to TPT or you’ve been designing teacher resources for a while now, these marketing templates are sure to save you hours of work so you can get back to making your products!
Instead of researching what the dimensions are for this and that, this resource includes 9 pre-made PowerPoint templates all ready for you to add your designs to.
Quit wasting time trying to figure your layouts… Imagine how many MORE products you could create with all that extra time. More products = more $$!
There you go! Three resources later, and you’re a more efficient TPT seller who has more time to make your products, eat pizza, take a bubble bath, or whatever it is you do to relax after you’ve worked all day.
Instill 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.
- 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!
- 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!
If you are looking to create or redesign your classroom library, these two places offer wonderful inspiration!
- Pinterest Board: https://pin.it/ih5me2hvapmvsv
- Instagram Tag: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/classroomlibrary/
- 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.
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.
- Play Hide and Seek Bookworm – A Library Game!
- Get your students excited about reading!
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!).
- 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).
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!
Color Inspiration for Your Projects
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.
If you’re not sure what color to start with, any shade of BLUE will always be your best bet.
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.
With color palettes, you can design the perfect color theme for any project in an instant!
Get inspired with these free seasonal color palettes HERE!
Become an expert at using color in your projects. Have fun designing!
16 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!
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???
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.
#1 Shaving Cream Spelling Practice
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!
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
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!
#3 Testing Treats
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!
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!!! 😉
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:
- 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
2 Common Praises Teachers Need to Stop Giving Their Students
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!