What’s in the Box? Inferring with Mystery Boxes

Inferencing is one of the comprehension skills that I enjoy teaching the most, however it is also one that students find the hardest to master. There are many possible reasons why students find it so difficult. It could be due to a lack of life experiences or sometimes it’s simply because it’s a way of thinking they aren’t often required to do. It may make me sound a bit old here.. (ok ok the internet was only just becoming mainstream when I was a teenager) but these days if a student has a question they can simply ask Siri or Alexa.

One the first things I do to peak my students interest is a classroom crime scene. I still have past students coming up to me in the yard talking about it. Super easy to set up and such fun!

Wanting to keep the momentum going, I devised a special series of mystery boxes. Each of the 6 sets has 6 series of clues (so 36 in total!)

Simply use 6 small boxes and inside each one place an item that corresponds with the clues provided. The clues have been designed to be for items you may already own or could very easily be found at a discount store.

There are three ways to use this set.

1.  In small groups

Form students into small groups of 3 or 4, with each group given one box. Using only the clues and the ability to give the box a little shake (but not open it!), students read the clues, record each one and make an inference as to what is inside the box by drawing and writing what they believe it to be. Some of the clues are easier than others so beware! The boxes are then rotated to the next group.

Students are provided with the chance to discuss their ideas with other groups and workshop other possible answers. As a class then come back together, with students providing what they inferred was inside each box, plus justifying their answer in relation to the clues. For example, “I think there is a balloon in the box because one of the clues said ‘pop!’.“ Finally reveal the contents of each box to cheers of success and acknowledgement.

2. As a whole class.

Use the individual slides one at a time with the whole class recording the clues individually and discussing the possible options. Ask for inferences after each slide and see how student’s ideas change with each extra provided clue. The last clue is usually the give away, with the first three clues designed to have students thinking outside of the box!

3. As an independent literacy center.

Simply set up the sealed boxes, then individually have student read then record the clues before making their final inference.

Included in both US and AU/UK English, this is perfect for an interactive, engaging activity. Includes 36 different sets of clues, so this could easily be a lesson that is repeated multiple times with different answers, or simply choose the clue cards that cater to objects you already own.

Recording sheet and full answers are included.


Happy teaching!

✏️❤️ Katie


Telling Time on a Number Line!

Telling the time has always been a tricky concept for students to understand.

Often they become mixed up between the two hands – which one is the hour hand and which one is the minute hand.

Throw into that mix the fact that there are both hour numbers and minute lines around the clock face and it’s no wonder students get confused.

Well here is now another way to help students tell the time – use a number line!

It makes sense that when learning about place value, using a number line shows children the sequential numbers forwards, backwards and reinforcing the concept of skip counting.

If you take a number line from 0 to 60, bend it into a circle you have yourself a number line clock face!


I have found that using this method after teaching students about number lines has really helped them to understand the concept of increasing minutes, skip counting by increments of 5, o’clock, half past, quarter past, and quarter to.

See what a difference it will make to have a hands-on experience. It really will help make those students make connections with numbers and time.

Download the freebie below and grab your own copy so that your students can make a number line clock too.

Happy teaching!

✏️❤️ Katie

Analysing Character Traits for Kids

I try to read a story to my class every day. I’m a big fan of fairytales and the various versions each one can take. In one story, the Big Bad Wolf might eat Three Little Pigs, but in the next version the pigs take ninja training and chase the wolf. Such fun!

I discovered very quickly that students are coming to school with very little knowledge of the fairytales that our generation grew up with and loved.

When learning about narratives, it is easy to focus on the four main areas of character, setting, conflict and resolution. Often delving deeper into character traits is overlooked as it is quite tricky for some students to deeply think about the personalities of the different characters. It is important that we analyze not just who, where, what, when, problem and solution but also the characters themselves.

I usually teach narratives and character traits after out unit on adjectives, as it helps for students to be able to use broader language and express themselves rather than use boring terms such as  ‘bad’ or ‘mean’. Students become quite clever at finding new terminology and enjoy the challenge of describing each character perfectly.

To encourage deeper thinking, I’ve designed these templates to help students really think about what the characters look like on the outside and how they are on the inside, making comparisons between the main characters.

For example the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. They are very different characters with very different personalities but by placing them next to each other students can compare and contrast what the two characters are like both in appearance and personality.

✏️❤️ Katie

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