Parsing?? What’s that??

Understanding grammar and how to use grammar effectively is the foundation of the English language.

Parsing is an important skill for students to be able to do to understand the construction of sentences. This knowledge and understanding then helps for the successful construction of independent writing.

I have found that parsing is one of the trickiest concepts for my class to understand as they become a bit overwhelmed all at once (especially in the beginning!)

To combat this I created a resource that beaks it down into small bite sized chunks for practising.

This pack is designed as an independent station / centre. Sentence strips are printed, laminated for durability, cut and ringed.

Each card has a sentence which includes a noun, verb and adjective. Students need to read and parse the sentence, identifying the parts of grammar.

Two differentiated recording sheets are included:
1-10 and 11-20 (to allow more recording space)
20 sentences

An answer sheet is included. This can be used for teacher marking; or to increase student independence, provide this card after the task has been completed for students to mark their own or a partners.

Happy parsing!

✏️❤️ Katie

Problem Solving Strategies At Your Fingertips

For many students Maths is hard. There I said it – Maths can be hard. When I was in Primary School we were taught one way of solving tricky equations and that was just the way we had to do it. No questions asked. Even if it didn’t make sense.

Over the years the method of solving problems has changed. However, many Mums and Dads will understandably always revert to the trusty, tried and true ‘carry the tens place and then add down’. However this doesn’t always work.

Looking at this chart, it appears there is more than way to solve a problem!

For our students to be effective problem solvers, we need to teach them that there’s more than one way to solve a problem and to provide the strategies for them to do this. I wish my teachers had done this for me! It’s vital that we provide the tools to encourage students to be effective problem solvers.

I made this chart for my students to use as a reference. During the first two terms of the year, I specifically teach the different strategies that students can use to solve problems. We use this card to help us make conscious decisions of which strategy to use when, and what works best for us. This has given even my strugglers more confidence and independence in giving tricky Maths a go!

If you’d like your free copy of the reference card, please click on the picture below.

✏️❤️ Katie

DIY Flexible Seating

When I work, I sometimes sit at my desk and other times on the couch with my laptop (as I am right now 😄).

As educators, we know that academically all students work differently, and the same goes for how they feel comfortable in a classroom. I always have a comfy corner with a couch, another with beanbags, along with the option of desks. My students often ask if they can work on the floor. I’m ok with that – as long as they are on task.

Providing multiple options for seating isn’t just a fad. It’s common sense.

One thing that I made for my classroom is crate seats. Each one is made using MDF, wadding, another layer of cushioning and gorgeous fabric over the top. The best part is, not only are they fun and portable, but can also be used as additional storage if needed.

Here’s how I made them…..

You will need:

  • 1 piece of MDF cut larger than the crate opening
  • 1 piece of MDF slightly smaller than the crate opening
  • 1 piece of thick foam cut to the same size as the larger piece of MDF
  • 1 large piece of wadding
  • 1 extra larger piece of the fabric of your choice
  • 1 milk crate
  • staple gun
  • glue
  • screws
  • a spare pair of hands if available!

The MDF I purchased from Bunnings, while the foam came from Clark Rubber.

Step 1

Cut a piece of MDF larger than the crate opening. This will the seat base. Cover it in glue and attach a piece of thick foam cut the same size to the board.

Step 2

Lay your fabric of choice face down, a layer of wadding in the middle and the glued MDF/foam base on top. Cut notches in the wadding to reduce the bulkiness in the corners of the foam once it’s folded.

Step 3

Here’s where that extra pair of hands comes in handy! Fold up each side one at a time, and staple in place. Make sure you pull it tight before stapling (but not too tight!). Do opposite sides first  before rotating to staple the other two sides. Neatly folding sides 3 and 4 before stapling (as if I was wrapping a present), provided really neat corners.

Step 4

Screw down the smaller piece of MDF into the middle of the seat. This not only holds the fabric in place, but also allows for a lip inside the crate so the lid doesn’t fall off (notice the corners cut on an angle to allow for a better fit).

Step 5

Repeat with different fabrics to make a variety of seats!

Here’s how I used them to store student’s filled workbooks which I needed to keep for report card writing time.

Milk crate seating

All up, each crate lid cost me about $20 each. It may seems steep but this is now the third year in a row I have used them successfully and they are wonderful not only for general class time, but also to grab and use at individual student conference time or listening to a student reading one on one.

If you make any, please do send me a pic! I’d love to see them!


✏️❤️ Katie


3D Printing for teachers

On my 40th birthday my lovely husband bought me a 3D printer. It was one of those gifts that I would have never thought of to buy myself but I LOVE it! It has now joined my Cricut obsession as one of my favourite fun time wasters creative tools.

As I have been teaching myself how to use TinkerCad online and the software that came with the printer, my mind keeps going back to the old teacher brain that can’t turn off thought of ‘what can I make that would be useful in class?’ The best part about 3D printing is that whatever I make can be used repeatedly and will stand the test of time. (If you’d like a copy of the 3D printing files I made so you can create your own, scroll to the bottom of the blog!).

The first ever thing I made were personalised keyrings for my kiddos bags for the first day back at school. They were a HUGE hit!

I’m a big user of hands on equipment and Math manipulatives in my classroom. Students need to make it, see it and experience it before they can record any new thinking.

The first thing I made was a set of ten frames. We use these in class a LOT! Flip tiles fit into the square spaces perfectly and are a wonderful tool when decomposing numbers. I have used them in multiple ways for making 10, 20 and subitising. They are one of those tools that I’ll use year after year again.


I also made the ten frames in a smaller size to use with those super cute mini Erasers from Kmart.

We’ve used them for partitioning 10 in 2 different parts

Partitioning 10 in 3 and 4 different parts

Incorporating other hands on equipment to show different ways of making 20


Continuing our unit of Number, I designed and created the hundreds chart cut outs. I’ve always used the cardboard versions but they get damaged so incredibly easily. My design uses both the numerical and word value, with two small stars located at the top to show students which way around it needs to be. The starting number is placed in the middle and students use the guides aroudn the edge to explore one more, one less, ten more and ten less to help familiarise themself with a hundreds chart.

My next creation – Pentominoes! I 3D printed each set of 12 in multiple colours so that I had a whole class set. They are a HUGE class favourite!!!

For storage I keep them all in one big, clearly labelled tub.


Want to 3D print some of these yourself? Get your copy of the .STL and .OBJ files by clicking on the images below.

Check out our Pinterest board for more fun ways to use the 3D printer in the classroom!

✏️❤️ Katie

Cricut in the Classroom for Holidays and Special Occasions

It’s no secret that I LOVE my cricut and have been using it to great effect in the classroom for the last few years. (See my Pinterest page with my ever growing collection of personal photos here)

I’ve also been using my cricut for special occasions at school – Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, World Teachers Day, just to name a few! And it’s not just for gifts – it’s also been a wonderful tool for hands on activities.

Here’s just a sample of the ones I managed to get photos of.

Snowman t-shirts for our class performance at the Christmas concert. I made every grade 2 student a snowman t-shirt (they looked soooo cute!) while the teachers had the snowmen with the hats as a point of difference.

Student baubles ready to be discovered hanging up a week before Christmas break
Ice block holders for student gifts

Named baubles for co-teachers

Lacing cards – I cut out both the square and many small circles in a Christmas themed pattern ready for stitching. Students used a blunt needle and wool to lace in and out. These were then stuck to the front of Christmas cards for a personalised DIY parent card. These are cards my grade 2 students made. Fantastic for fine motor skills. Gorgeous! **Hint** – the love heart templates are perfect for Mother’s Day cards too!

Want a copy of the free cricut pattern file that I designed? Click here!

World Teachers Day
Who doesn’t love a surprise gift? Each year I make super cute personalised gifts for my co-teachers to let them know they are appreciated. Here’s a selection of what I’ve made over the years: mini stationary sets (print and cut), hole punches,  pens, candy jars, and Bitmoji stickers with the a picture of the recipient (print and cut).

Remembrance Day
Wearing a poppy is an important symbol of respect and reverence. Each year I make gorgeous poppies for my teaching team to attach to their shirts with a safety pin.

Bunnies! I love these little bunny huggers! Wrap one around a mini egg and leave on student desks as a surprise. This was a free download from Lia Griffith (click here for the freebie link!)


Want to pin this page for later?

I’d love to know how you use your cricut for special occasions! Happy cricut-ing!

✏️❤️ Katie

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 letters 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! I also use it for my guided reading groups with the week’s texts in the top tray, mini whiteboards in the middle tray and boxes of magnetic letters in the lower tray for my low group.


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 easy 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 – labelled 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.




✏️❤️ 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 Games 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