Cricut In The Classroom

For Christmas of 2017 my lovely parents-in-law generously gave me a Cricut machine. My mother-in-law also bought one for herself at the same time and as we both unleashed our inner creativity, it was something we really bonded over.  It took me a good 12 months to really become comfortable and start making lots of things. Now I can’t stop!

I really love using it for my classroom. It makes everything so much easier, quicker and neater. I thought I might throw out a few ideas and see if I can inspire you to get creative too.

 

First things first – my day starts with a hot cup of tea.

 

Before entering the classroom – a challenge at the door!

 

An inspirational quote at the classroom door (all letter individually cut out).

 

Notebook covers with personalised monograms.

 

Labeling my Ikea furniture

 

Ensuring your school supplies stay where you need them to.

 

A cute trolley to help keep all my loose paperwork organised!

 

A back to school first-day gift – personalised bookmarks.

 

A birthday chart – The print and cut feature was used for the header images and reverse weeding was used for the title and months. Photos of the students holding up the numbered date of their birthday will be posted underneath each month.

 

Recording the date on the board each day becomes each with a template.

 

A display that lights up when the student Star of the Day is ready to do their jobs (ie take the roll, organise lunch orders etc) This is used as a visual indicator to other students that they need to come to the floor to start the morning admin. Saves me using my voice! (Star light purchased at Kmart)

 

A special seat for the Star of the Day to use.

 

Helping students to understand noise expectations.
Adhesive vinyl stuck onto tap lights.

 

Assisting with yard clean up – labeled buckets and tongs with adhesive vinyl.

 

Finally, the Principal asked me to ‘freshen up’ the female staff bathrooms. This was the end result: The main wall display and two toilet doors.

        

 

Want to pin this page for later?

 

As I create new ideas, I’ll post them on my Pinterest board. Follow my board here

I’d love to hear your ideas of how you use your Cricut / Silhouette machine to help your teaching or to decorate the classroom!

✏️❤️ Katie

Open Night – A room filled with smiles

Meet the Teacher Night (or Open Night / Acquaintance Night as my school used to call it) is a big deal. Parents come and meet you, check out the classroom and want to hear all about your teaching attitude/philosophy. I always feel like I need to be on point and my room needs to be above and beyond neat and tidy.

I always get a bit nervous before the parents come in. Will I ramble on and forget what I was going to say? Will I make a good enough impression? Will parents understand how much their child means to me? The reality is – parents just want to say hi and see where their child spends most of their day. I always get to the end of the night and think ‘That was actually pretty good. What was I stressing for?’

One thing I do every year that is a HUGE hit with parents and visitors, is to have the students create portraits of themselves and then attach them to the backs of their chairs. It fills the room with fun and makes it appear to make a class full of smiling faces. My students love it too as it gives them a chance to be creative and show their individual personalities.

 

HINT* Stick a ruler on the back of each portrait to keep them upright.

When the night is over, I print off student names, attach them to the bottom of each portrait and display them in the classroom entrance for the remainder of the year. Lots of smiling faces to welcome all future visitors.

If you’d like a copy of the free display so you can make your own, just click on the picture below.

 

 

Enjoy!

✏️❤️ Katie

Making student weekly reflection FUN!

Teaching year 2, I was after a fun way for students to reflect upon their week without being the usual boring ‘what I did this week’ kind of scenario. (I’m sure you understand what I mean)! After talking with a colleague, I came up with this design and my kiddos LOVE it – even to the point of asking to do it!

 

Here’s how it works:

Each student is presented with a half book (a notebook chopped in half).

 

Every Friday I print out a different and that afternoon I verbally review each of the week’s questions/statements with the class. Together we brainstorm a few possible answers. This helps to avoid any students from saying ‘ I don’t know what to write’.

After a set amount of time, students are then provided the opportunity to turn to their seated partner and share what they have written. The books are then stored in a small basket at the front of the room, ready for the following week. It genuinely only takes about 15 minutes but it’s a wonderful way for students to independently reflect, do a bit of creative thinking and then share these thoughts verbally with a partner.

The parent feedback I’ve had from this has been wonderful! Students love to take their books home at the end of each term and share their ideas with their family.

After a few weeks, you’ll begin to notice that students get really creative with their answers. For example, when we first started with Friday 3-2-1, to the statement ‘1 thing I wish had been in my lunchbox this week’ I was receiving answers such as ‘chocolate bar’ or ‘candy’ and now the answers are as diverse as ‘a unicorn’ or ‘a note from my mum’. Students really do begin to think differently when given the chance. After a while, students even begin to suggest their own 3-2-1 statements.

If you’d like a copy of this resource, just click the image below. The resource includes 26 different prefilled pages (plus an extra duplicated page to cater to the regional spelling of favourite/favorite) along with a blank template so you can print and write your own.

✏️❤️ Katie

Do You Elf?

Every year, my Year 2 class has a Christmas Elf who comes to visit on December 1st. As our school year usually ends around December 13th, we only have our little mate for a fortnight before he heads back home to the North Pole.

I always allow the students to name our elf as it gives them a sense of unity with the newest class member and he then officially becomes ‘our elf’.

Our new friend always arrives with an official letter to make it more authentic. Click on the image below to download your own copy of the letter.

As a group, we have discussions around what we should name our little visitor, and we do a blind vote on our top 5 choices. Then we vote a second time and graph the results.

In the afternoon of the first day of our elf arriving, I either read the elf story to the class from the official book or watch the YouTube clip of the same name.

Every year without fail I have a student who announces that the elf isn’t real. That’s fine by me, as it stirs up conversations and sparks wonderful opinion writing. Every now and then I purposely won’t move the elf after school or he’ll ‘go missing’ (ie hidden in my drawer) for a short period of time with a note left a) addressing the issue of everyone thinking that he’s not real or b) claiming he was touched by a non believer. Even the non-believers don’t want to miss out on the fun of finding the elf’s new hiding spot each day!

Over the years I’ve been taking photos of some of the mischief our elves have been up to both at school and at home. I’m a big believer in simple is wonderful, so if you’re after some super easy ideas, check out our Pinterest board below. There is an ongoing board so more will be added each year.

Happy Elfing!

✏️❤️ Katie

Kmart in the Classroom

I love using games in my classroom for two reasons: 1) they can be adapted to reinforce absolutely ANY subject area and 2) my students have so much fun that they don’t even realize they’re learning!

I’ve written about this before with my Print and Play series but I also use purchased board games and modify them to suit my class needs. The best place to buy these games that I have found honestly is Kmart.

At anywhere from $1 to $5 per game, my rather extensive (and growing!) collection includes ‘Don’t Fall Down’, ‘Tumbling Towers’, and ‘Who Is It?‘ just to name a few. I also find myself drawn to the incredible cheaper items such as the mini erasers, pizza erasers, wooden noughts and crosses sets and mini bowling sets and devising cool ways to use these. At around $1 per set why wouldn’t you?

 

With my collection growing, I needed a way of storing all of my resources that works for me. I have found that the easiest way to store the games is to use  plastic tubs. It keeps everything neatly organised and for each session I can quickly just glance at the label, grab the box and go!   I also keep a laminated copy of the corresponding worksheets inside the box.   That way everything is together and I don’t need to go hunting for anything.

 

Larger boxed games are kept in a centrally located tub in the classroom labeled ‘Board Games’.

 

The best games are the ones that can be used in more than one way. For example, the mini bowling set is ideal for practicing multiplication, addition and subtraction skills, while noughts and crosses can be utilized for tallying and graphing…

 

or ‘Don’t Fall Down’ (the Kmart version of ‘Twister’) for sight words, graphing and probability…

 

or ‘Who Is It?’ (the Kmart version of ‘Guess Who?’) can be utilised for Math, English, Science – the options are endless!

 

To help you take advantage of any Kmart games you buy, check out this resource. It includes printable recording sheets, games suggests and activities to help you on your gaming journey. For the majority of the games, the prep is extremely minimal; all you need to do is print off the recording sheet, grab your game and play!

 

I hope this inspires you to have more fun with your class. I’d love to hear how you use games in the classroom to encourage hands-on learning.

✏️❤️ Katie

 

FREE Activities with Letter Tiles

This week I got a shock when one of my class parents walked in and presented me with a large box. This box contained 2,000 (!) of the Woolworth’s promotional Disney letter tiles. As the dad worked at Woolworths and the promotion had ended, he was able to give the tiles away and lucky me – I now have a new resource for my class!

I instantly put my creativity hat on and came up with a selection of printables that could be used for letter tiles – and not just the Disney tiles (to download your own free copy just scroll to the bottom of the page).

   

 

While all of the activities can be used with any generic letter tiles, Ive also included a few extra pages specifically for you to use if you have any Woolworths Disney tiles!

 

To grab your own free copy, click the image below!

Enjoy!

✏️❤️ Katie

I Need a Break!

It is often difficult for a student to control their emotions when they are angry or upset. Over the years I have tried many different strategies and this is one easy way that I have found works brilliantly.

When a student is frustrated or on the verge of losing control, it is imperative to nip it in the bud before it escalates. I have found over the years that the use of these cards has really helped my students to self regulate and become more in control of their behaviour.

At first I was genuinely worried that the use of a card to go to the office / time out space / calm down room / buddy class would be taken advantage of, however every time I have used these cards the students are aware that this is a strategy that is being used to help them.

Obviously you don’t want to send your student off in to the yard without supervision, but instead to a supervised area. This could be the office, a buddy class or even the front office. Before introducing the card to the student, I will speak to the office team / leadership team / teacher colleague and discuss the situation with them, making others aware that I have a student who often simply needs a quiet space to breathe and take a few moments to clam down before returning to class. Every staff member I have ever asked to be that 5 minute time out person, has always been happy to help.

When introducing the card to the student, make it REALLY clear that this isn’t a punishment, but simply a chance for them to calm down and take some time to settle before returning to class. I quietly sit down one on one and read the card with them, pointing out the words ‘When I am ready, I will go back to my classroom.   Thank you for helping me. ‘ Students need to be aware that we all care about them and want to help them to be the best they can be. That’s why it is important to thank the person helping us.

I also incorporate into my health lessons sessions about being angry and that its ok to be angry, but it is up to us how we choose how we deal with it.

After a few weeks of using the cards, I find that students are beginning to self regulate and use the cards to take a mini break before their behaviour escalates.

HINT: Laminate the cards for durability and record your class name on the back. That way if it gets left behind, it can find its way back to you!

Download your free copy of the I Need A Break Cards by clicking on the picture below.

Enjoy!

✏️❤️ Katie

Christmas fun

It’s that time of the year again, when your students are really tired, but anticipating the school holidays and the arrival of the jolly guy in red!

While keeping learning focused, it’s also a time to have some fun, (reduce your stress levels!) and incorporate the Christmas season within the classroom. To do this, I love using numeracy games and creative literacy tasks.

Over the 15 years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve paid a lot of attention to what my classes have enjoyed and also really learned from. Using this understanding, my ‘Print and Play’ series was born! The games are exactly that – print and play! Just grab a dice or two, some counters and begin playing.  Perfect for reinforcing prior concepts with pair work, centres or whole class activities (just print multiple copies), my kiddos don’t even realize they’re learning!
 
  Another activity my students LOVE involves (dad) jokes and decoding. Spin the decoder wheel and solve the riddles!
 
Do you have an elf on the shelf in your room? Build an elf using Maths!
 
Make sure you follow out TPT shop as new Print and Play game sets are released!
✏️❤️ Katie

Being creative with adjective poems

Learning about parts of speech can be really tricky for some students. I love to incorporate fun activities that have contextual meaning to bring the words alive. This fortnight we are continuing our understanding of adjectives!

One of the activities we are participating in is adjective poetry. Here’s how it works:

Scaffolded by the teacher and brainstormed together, we first devise a bank of adjectives on a particular topic under the descriptive headings (we chose frogs).

Then we took those adjectives and placed them into a poem template to bring the words alive!

 

The point is, there’s no reason to learn about adjectives, or verbs or nouns for that matter if they aren’t used in a way students can understand! For an extension task during our literacy centers, students will then independently create their own bank of adjectives and create an adjective poem on another topic. My class loved this activity and the creative ideas were hilarious and enjoyed by all!

Click on the image below to get your adjective poem resource.

 

✏️❤️ Katie

Reverse Word Ladders

Letter substitution and word creation are two skills that students will find invaluable along their English learning journey. As students make new words based upon changing letters that represent a sound / digraph, the letter sound associations are strengthened through practice. It can also be a valuable way for students to learn new words and increase their vocabulary.

For example as students make the word ‘flan’ from ‘flap’ they not only reinforce the letter sound associations for ‘f’, ‘l’ and ‘a’ but they may then add words such as flan to their vocabulary.

These reverse word ladders are a little bit different from the usual style of ladders. Usually students start at the bottom of a ladder and climb upwards with their words- these ladders start at the top and work downwards. When we read a book, we read from the top to the bottom, so asking a student to work from the bottom to the top actually confuses them.

 

This packet includes 4 pages (with 2 on each page so 8 in total) of CVC, CVCC, CVVC, CCVC and CCVCC words. Plus the answers of course! Click on the image below to get your packet.

 

✏️❤️ Katie