I’m allergic to bad manners

I was completely blown away when I first saw one of my students at the beginning of the year holding a telephone handset in front of them and talking into it like a mobile on speaker phone. Then I realized….. In an age of cordless phones and mobiles, many of my 7 year old students may not actually have a corded phone in their home!

So I did a quick class survey. Unbelievably, most students had never used a corded phone before! Straight away I knew I had to add this into our beginning of the year procedures.

I’m huge on using good manners. One of my favourite and frequently used sayings is ‘good manners cost nothing, but mean everything’. (I might also tell my students I’m allergic to bad manners hahaha)

Therefore I created some posters that I had stuck up on the wall next to the classroom telephone. We also role played how to answer the phone by using the poster and having students answer in a mock call situation. It didn’t take long for them to get the hang of it and now when we receive classroom calls, my students are always told by the callers that they have beautiful manners! It makes the caller and themselves smile.

If you’d like a copy of the free editable posters, just click the picture below.

✏️❤️ Katie

Managing My Classroom Library (Part 2)

Having a classroom library is a BIG job and I wanted to explain the logistics behind how I make the mammoth task of borrowing super easy and how I help my students to remain accountable for the books. (See the first blog post here)

Step 1: The first thing I do is to label all of the books with my name. To ensure consistency, I use a sticker I created and place one on the inside of each book cover. This helps students to differentiate between my books and the ones they have borrowed from the school library. It has also helped a few of the books find their way back to the classroom if they are accidentally sent to the school library.


I use PPS stickers I purchased from Officeworks that measure 64mm x 26.7mm and simply print them myself on my home printer.

Download a copy of the editable sticker template here


Step 2: I then contact each book for durability. When I first set up the library, this job was HUGE however over time as I have needed to purchase fewer and fewer books it has become easier. (Obviously you don’t need to do this step if you don’t wish to – I just did because I’m a bit OCD about making them last longer lol). Did I mention that contacting books is quite tricky at first? After a few you get the knack for bubble free books. It just takes practice! (It also helps that I have a lovely mum who helps me the side to do book covering).


Step 3: I send home a parent permission letter on school letterhead explaining the classroom library, my intentions behind and it and asking parents to sign that they agree to help their child be accountable for borrowing. Borrowing from me is an optional extra, however if a form is not returned signed by the parent, then the child will only be borrowing from our school library, and not my personal one as well.

Download a copy of the editable letter here


Step 4: Booksource Classroom Organiser!!!!

This amazing and FREE web-based system allows you to set up a borrowing system for your students. Even better – if you have books in bulk to enter, simply download the free app and scan each ISBN barcode in. It also helps you keep an inventory of what books you have, along with creating a searchable online database that includes guided reading levels and suggested titles for future purchases.


Once the books are scanned in, I input all of my student’s names as borrowers, set the multiple available parameters (i.e. Book limit per student, length of time they can borrow the books for etc) and I’m done!

When a student wishes to borrow a book, they log in using the password I have given them, type in the title of the book and click ‘borrow’. That book is then allocated to their name and becomes their responsibility.

Books overdue? You can check this on Booksource too. I like to provide students with both a verbal reminder and a slip with the title to help them remember to return their books.

Download a copy of the overdue reminder slip here

To be honest, the initial set up did take me a good part of my summer holidays two years ago when I first started using Booksource (understandably I did have 2,000 books back then though to scan, sticker and cover) but now it’s a breeze when adding new books. A quick ISBN barcode scan with the app, sticker, contact and that’s it. I can do it at my own pace, with a cup of tea or watching a movie at night.


Before I started using Booksource and simply allowed students to take which ones they wanted, I worked out I lost over 50 books in that one year alone. Students simply said ‘I can’t find it’. There was no accountability and no way I could enforce having them return the books to me.

Since using the free system two years ago in conjunction with the parental permission note, I have had every single borrowed book returned to me. I’ve even had parents replace the books that were damaged by their students.


I hope this has given you a few ideas or helped add a few missing pieces to your library journey!

✏️❤️ Katie

Unusual Parent Requests….

Why marbles? Because some days I feel like I’m losing mine…. Keep reading and I’m sure you’ll understand!

I pride myself on being a teacher who will bend over backwards for her students. I care deeply about each and every one of them and often call my students ‘my kids’. My 7 year old daughter has now also started calling my class ‘mummy’s kids’ because even she knows how much their welfare, education and safety means to me.

However, it has often occurred to me that sometimes, giving 110% just isn’t enough for some parents. All I can do is giggle about some of the requests I have received in the past from parents. It truly does validate for me that educators are teaching much more than the prescribed curriculum these days. These are just a few of my more recent unusual requests….

On a Wednesday morning: “This Friday is my son’s last day. We are moving tomorrow and so he’s starting at a new school. Can you throw him a party?”

On the last day of school for the term: “Can you test my son’s reading level today? I think he’s higher than your assessment from last week and I’d like him retested before the holidays”. I explained to the mum (as I had multiple times previously) that while her son read beautifully, he needed to continue working on his comprehension and was already exceeding benchmarks.

On an extremely cold and rainy, winter’s day: ‘Can you please speak to my child about what appropriate clothes they should wear? I’m not sure if shorts and sandals are appropriate…..’

I’d love to hear what interesting parent requests / comments you have received during your teaching career.


✏️❤️ Katie

Being intentional with student learning

Two years ago, my school started investigating student learning intentions during our PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities).  While this year, our groups were renamed TLC’s (Teacher Learning Communities), our focus has remained the same.

For someone like me who had never heard of the concept of learning intentions before; I was actually concerned that it would be another thing that we as professionals would use as a ‘buzz phrase’ but never really implement or find useful.  I am happy to say that I was wrong.


‘Learners learn best when they understand what they are learning and what is expected of them.’ – Dylan William


In order for students to take more responsibility for their own learning, they need to know:

What they are going to learn

How they will recognize when they have succeeded; and

Why they should learn it in the first place


When I begin a lesson, I start with explaining to students what the actual learning intention is. If it’s the first time for a particular intention, we will discuss it as a group, what the expectations/success criteria are and suggestions on how they could stretch their thinking. If it’s a sequential lesson where the learning intention is the same, I remind students what it is at the start of the lesson, refer back to it during the session and then review the progress with students at the end.


‘Learning intentions describe what children are going to learn, not what they are going to do’. – Dylan William

Now this is tricky because a lot of teachers get confused between the task and the learning intention. A learning intention can focus on either knowledge, skills or understanding but does not state what the actually task is. A year 2 English example would be:

LI: To explore some features of text organisation

Task: Using a nonfiction text, locate and analyse the contents page, table of contents, index and glossary.


Can you see the difference? Here’s another example, this time Maths:

LI: To recognise halves, quarters and eighths of shapes and collections

Task: Using playdough, demonstrate an understanding of halves, quarters and eighths in a variety of ways.


It is imperative that learning intentions are written in child friendly language and are displayed in a prominent place for students to refer to whenever needed. To help with this I make sure that the learning intention is attached to any recorded work in books and also front and centre as a display in the classroom. The display that I created is both interactive and extremely visual.

Because the cards are attached using rings and are hanging from pins on the wall, they can easily be taken down for the teacher to use when discussing them with the class, then returned to the wall for continual reference. It is also important for parents to be able to see the learning intentions displayed when they visit.

When a new learning intention is required, simply lift the group of cards from the wall, flip to the required card and hang it back up on the wall. No need to continually write each days / weeks intention up – simply flip and hang!

I created this 401 page display to help my year 2 students keep on track of their own learning and help make our Learning Intentions visible in the classroom.

This pack follows the Australian Curriculum Content Descriptor Elaborations (plus a few additional ones I needed for my own class!). I have done my best to cover all the Year 2 Learning Intentions you will ever need for Maths, English, HASS, Science, Health, PE, Digital Technologies, Design Technologies, and The Arts. However, if you find that you would like to add a few extra ones yourself, I have also included a PowerPoint file with 25 additional pages of the corresponding frames so you can create your own extra ones – simply type in and print.

While child friendly language has been intentionally used, a few key words have been included such as ‘viewpoints’ and ‘interpretations’ as it is important for students to be exposed to these higher order thinking terminologies.

Two styles of Learning Area headers are also included, along with headers and empty frames for each of the Languages. Premade Learning Intentions for the languages are not included due to each school being individualised, however you can use the editable .ppt file to make your own.

The cards are created as A4 size, however I printed mine two to a page and back to back to reduce on printing and laminating costs. Because they are being flipped over, it is fine to print back to back (and highly recommended!)


Best of luck on your Learning Intentions journey! I’d love to hear how you are going!

My Budget, No Sew, Book Week Costumes

Each year across Australia, The Children’s Book Council of Australia brings children and books together celebrating Children’s Book Week. During this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian children’s literature.

Let me tell you – it’s a pretty big deal. Students love participating in all of the activities that school librarians organise, ranging from visiting authors providing workshops to theatre production incursions. A few years ago, I worked as the teacher in the library and I spent months preparing a variety of events for the 700 students at my school to participate in for the week.

Side note: This year I made a QR Code around the school scavenger hunt for my students to participate in – you can download it here for free! I actually made 3 different, smaller ones but have condensed it down to 1 larger, more generic hunt to match more school locations.

Book Week celebrations always culminate in the most fun event of all – the whole school fancy dress parade. Now while students LOVE this day the most, a lot of teachers often groan (and so do many parents!) about having to organise costumes.

I’m of the mindset that it doesn’t have to be hard or take too much time to achieve a fun costume. After all, it’ll only be worn for a few hours, so why spend a fortune? Many parents will simply go to the local Kmart / Target / Toys R Us and purchase a fancy costume. I understand that people these days are time poor and I get it, I really do. For me, I enjoy being creative and this is why for the last few years I have been making my own costume. While I do know how to sew (I went to an all-girls high school where sewing classes were mandatory), there’s nothing better than a trusty glue gun and some safety pins!

I thought I’d share with you the costumes I have made and worn for the last three years to show you that it’s honestly really easy and can be done on a tight budget with minimal effort.

This is the basic costume template I used for costumes #1 and #3 (obviously not to scale). I cut out two and glue where shown.Here are my costumes from the last 3 years…..


Book – The Day the Crayons Quit

Materials required:

  • 2 metres of coloured felt
  • 60cm of black felt
  • One cardboard party hat

Starting with a basic template, I cut out 2 pieces of coloured felt for my body and hot glued them together where shown. I then cut out then block letters spelling ‘CRAYON’ from the left-over coloured felt.

Then, from the black felt, I cut out an elongated oval and two long rectangles. I hot glued the coloured block letters to the middle of the black oval and then glued the oval to the middle of the coloured base.

The rectangles I cut in half using a wavy line. When hot glued onto the coloured base at the top and bottom, I simply left a gap between them so the colour would show through.

For the crayon tip, I simply used another piece of left over coloured felt and glued it around a cardboard party hat.

Paired with black leggings and a black long sleeve top, my outfit was complete!

A few of my colleagues loved this idea so we all got together and made crayon outfits in various colours, created a few placards saying ‘I Quit!’ and walked around the costume parade together. It was a HUGE hit!

Book – The Rainbow Fish

Materials required:

  • An old blue t-shirt
  • A length of elastic long enough to be tied around my waist.
  • 20cm each of various blue fabric
  • 20cm of pink fabric
  • 20cm of sparkly fabric
  • 2 metres each of tulle in various ‘watery’ colours

T-shirt – fish scales

From the various blue and sparkly fabrics, cut out circles approximately 8cm in diameter. (I traced around the inside of a roll of sticky tape for size consistency). Hot glue these onto the t-shirt in a random, but overlapping fashion. Use mainly the coloured circles but occasionally insert a sparkly one. You won’t need to cover the whole t-shirt – simply a large section at the front.

Skirt – Fish tail

Loosely tie a piece of elastic around your waist at the position where you wish for your skirt to sit. Remove the elastic waistband.

Measure your tulle into strips of fabric twice the length of your desired skirt plus 5cm. For example, if you want your skirt to be 30cm long from the waist to the hemline, measure your tulle into strips 65cm long. Cut about 20 of these strips to start, and cut additional pieces later if you run out. For a fuller, fluffier skirt, cut many pieces of tulle into small, thin sections. To create a skirt that lies flat and not as fluffy, cut only a few pieces of tulle that are very wide.

Fold your tulle strips in half. As you begin to add your tulle to the skirt, fold each strip of tulle in half. This should create a loop on one end and two loose tails on the other.

Place the halved tulle strips over the waistband so that only a few inches of the loop stick out over the top. Then fold the tail ends around the waistband and pull them through the loop.

As you pull the strips through the loop, tighten them and slide them down the waistband to make room for other strips. Continue adding strips until you have filled up the waistband.

Again, wear black leggings underneath and you’re ready to go!


Book – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Materials required:

  • An old tablecloth OR 2 metres of coloured felt
  • 4 x 10cm wide strips of contrasting greenish felt
  • Headband
  • 2 green pipe cleaners (chenille sticks)
  • Scanned and laminated food pictures from the book
  • OPTIONAL – butterfly wings that I purchased from www.wish.com for $4

I cut 2 of the basic costume template from an old green tablecloth I already had in my cupboard. You could always purchase fabric, however I already had this one I no longer needed so I just used that. I then hot glued the sides as shown in the original template picture, then turned it right side out.

I then hot glued the 4 felt strips in alternating colours to the front, leaving spaces between each strip for the table cloth to show through.

I printed, laminated and cut out the scanned images from the book. These were safety pinned onto the front of my costume.

For the back, I safety pinned the set of wings I had purchased online.

Headband (not in picture) – wind two chenille sticks around a headband to create antennae.

Again, I wore my usual black leggings underneath, with a green long sleeve top to finish off the look.


I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on how you can make a costume. It genuinely doesn’t need to be fancy or time consuming. Just have fun and enjoy yourself!


Managing My Classroom Library (Part 1)

Let me preference this blog post with …. I’m obsessed with books! I’m sure many teachers can relate to this statement.

When I was a child, my mum would often say that whenever she couldn’t find me, she knew exactly where to look. I was always lying on my bed, engrossed in a good book. I loved using my imagination, creating my impression of what characters looked like, pretending I was also in the setting or interacting within the story. I read a huge variety of books, ranging from comics to novels.

As I grew older, my love of books only grew. At our school, we have a wonderfully stocked library full of fiction, non fiction and teacher resources. In fact, when I first started working at the school, (before having a class of my own), I was the teacher in the library, providing literacy lessons to K-7 classes when they visited each week. I was in book heaven! Now as a classroom teacher, my class attends the library for our weekly literacy sessions with the gorgeous teacher librarian, to complement what we are doing in our room.

While my students can go to the library whenever they wish, I always ensure that I have my own personal library for students to access. In my class, there’s never an excuse to not read! Over the years I have scoured second hand book shops, garage sales and willingly received donations from friends. (Oh and did I mention I get a bit excited when the Scholastic Book Club brochures come around?!!?!) I’d ideally LOVE a huge bookcase but there’s not a lot of room so I’ve dedicated one table area to my books. This is what my library area looks like:

To date I have almost 3,000 books in my classroom library. Other teachers are shocked when they find out they I have purchased them out of my own pocket, but it’s just my thing. When a parent tells me that their child is reading more this year than ever and is enjoying it, it makes my purchases all worthwhile. I have a wide selection of reader levels, to cater for all abilities and interests. With that many books, I also intentionally do not put them all out at once. I rotate the boxes each term to ensure student interest. It also gives me the chance to introduce each box and explain the series in each one, explicitly analyzing text features and exploring characters. To keep track of which books I have put out for each term, I keep a page that has 4 quadrants recorded (one for each term) and list the series in each box that I have put out to avoid repetition.

I print off labels that have images of book series logos, laminate, then using boxes that I purchased from Cheap as Chips, I attach the labels using wide packing tape from Kmart to the front of each box showing which series are in each box. (See above for the finished boxes) Students can then easily identify which boxes they wish to borrow from.

PLEASE NOTE: As the images of the book series headers are copyrighted by their respective publishing houses, I am unable to share these with you.


The next step for a classroom library is to monitor borrowing and promote student borrowing accountability. In the upcoming sequel to this blog post, I will explain how I manage this mammoth task really easily!

First Day of School Student Gifts

I love going back to school at the beginning of each year. Meeting my new class, modifying my teaching to incorporate the new learning that I’ve done over the holidays and getting back into the swing of the classroom routine.

I always like to present my students with a small (emphasis on SMALL) token gift at home time on the first day back. Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve had many teacher friends ask why I would spend my own money out of pocket to do this when I don’t have to and it’s not expected. I do it because I want to and that’s the sort of person I am. Yep – no other reason that and realistically – do I need any other reason or need to justify the way I spend my own hard earned money? If I can bring a little smile to a student on the first day and encourage learning then I’m going to do it!

So…. here’s what I do!

I love to put together a little bag with various things inside. The bag is sealed but has a cover note on the front with a little poem that I made up to explain each item. Each item represents something whether it’s an attitude, a feeling or the knowledge that I’m there to support them. The bags are simple gift bags I purchased form the party section of Kmart.

Each gift is inexpensive and my students LOVE them! I know the parents appreciate the thoughtfulness of giving out a welcome gift each year too.

Cost breakdown for my 24 students – Each student’s pack contains the following:

A) The actual bag (pack of 8 for $2) – Total $6

B) Super bouncy balls (pack of 12 for $2) – Total $4

C) Sheet of stickers (2 different packs $1.50 each) Total $3

D) Pencils with fancy erasers (2 packs of 12 $4 each) Total $8

E) Glitter glue (pack of 8 for $3) Total $9

Grand total spent – $30

Cost per child – $1.25

I could have removed the glitter glue from the packs which would then have reduced the amount spent to only 88c per student (I however love the idea of having a ‘sparkly’ year LOL).

If you would like a copy of the copy note and the instructions, simply download it here for free.


Happy New School Year!

Organising Student Desk Supplies

With school about to start for the 2017 school year, teachers all around the country are crazily trying to get their classrooms sorted and organised for Day 1. I often read Facebook posts with teachers enquiring on what others use for certain purposes. The most popular discussion topic recently has been… wait for it…….. pencil pots!

Do they go on desks or in drawers/trays? Do students have shared group pots or individual pencil cases? I thought I might share with you what I did last year and it worked so well I am going to continue to use it again this year with a little refresh (more about that later).

Last year I racked my brains on what to do. I was going from a year 4/5 class where students had their own pencil cases into a year 2 class and desk pots where needed. Baskets were too flimsy, the plastic crates from cheap shops didn’t provide divided sections and the specialised ones from Education specialist stores where too darn expensive (especially when these were coming from my own pocket and I need at least 8)!

So I headed to one of my favourite stores, Kmart, to see what I could find. I found small tins and baskets but nothing really caught my eye until I headed into the garden section….. There I found this set!

Made of thick galvanised tin, 3 pots standing inside a sturdy wooden holder with each one being removable if needed (plus on special for only $5 each)! Intended for small pot plants, I knew these would be ideal –  with a few adjustments of course. Whilst being made of thick tin, there are no sharp edges. The top and base are both rolled so all edges are smooth and little fingers are in no danger of being cut.

I knew these were perfect and durable but I also knew that dropping pencils, scissors and glue sticks into the bottom of the tins would be beyond annoying with constant ‘ping’ ‘ping’ noises more than likely to occur.

Next I headed to the art and craft section and purchased myself a set of felt sheets. At only $6.00 there were 12 gorgeously bright colours included and measuring 21 cm x 30.5 cm I only needed to use half of each sheet then save the rest for this year!

I traced around the bottom of the tins 3 times onto each felt sheet.

Then I cut out the circles and sorted them into colours. 

I applied glue into the bottom of each tin and stuck inside a felt circle to cover the base.

Leave to dry for 24 hours and Voila! Awesome durable tins that look fantastic on desks and are extremely hard wearing.


With a chevron theme, I also attached some washi tape I found in the Kmart art and craft section for $1 around the top of each tin to tie it all in to the other classroom decorations.

A friend of mine asked me why I didn’t do multi coloured pots (ie 3 different colours per stand) however I preferred to keep the three tins the same base colour because then I could align them to a group. Ie one desk group had the red tins, another had blue tins etc. Also helped students to be accountable to top them up and replace items when needed. ‘The blue tins need some more lead pencils Miss’ You get the idea. But again – just my personal preference.

By the end of the year the felt at the bottom was dirty from pencil shavings but the tins were still in excellent condition. So I tore out the old felt and glued in fresh – remember I still had half a sheet of each colour left from the previous year!

Pencils go into one pot, textas into another and scissors, glue sticks into the third. Easy!