Rainbow Shamrock Craft Freebie


Click the image above for a free and easy St. Patrick’s Day craft. Be sure to visit Teaching Blog Addict’s Freebie Friday for more awesome freebies:


If you’re looking for more St. Patrick’s Day fun for next week check out my other St. Patrick’s Day posts below:


Correct 30 Fabulous St Patrick's Day Freebies collage final version


Free March Reading Journals & Kiss Stickers

March Reading Journal Freebie Pinnable Image

Happy Leprechaun Awareness Month! I think St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite times during the school year. There are so many great books and activities you can do with your class. Way more than you can actually fit in between March 17th arrives. That’s where my March Reading Comprehension activities come in. I have 30 ready to use, no prep activities that you can use after reading any St. Patrick’s Day story with your students. They are also great to use for writing quick sub plans, using for homework, or during reading workshop. You can find this packet in my TPT shop by clicking the image below. And for a free sample click the image above!

2015 March Reading Comprehension Activities Square Cover

My new favorite craft (and I might be stretching things to claim this as a craft) is making kiss stickers for any occasion so of course my candies are ready for St. Patrick’s Day! Click below for free stickers! You’ll need full page labels and a 3/4 inch circle punch and you will be set.

Free Kiss Stickers for St Patrick's Day



Free Valentine’s Day Chocolate Kiss Stickers

Valentine's Day Kiss Stickers

Looking for a quick Valentine’s Day treat? You’ve come to the right place! My mom needed a quick favor for our church group so we made these fun stickers. I made 3 different treat bag toppers that you can use for your kisses.  Here’s what we made for our church friends:

Love One Another Kiss Stickers

Here’s what I’m thinking about making for my class this year. I love Valentine’s Day at school. It’s always such a cute day at school and way less stressful than Halloween!

Your Teacher Loves You Kiss Stickers

And one more version for your treats. Leave a comment below if you have another phrase you’d like to see on a bag topper and I’ll add it to the file. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day Kiss Stickers

Click the image below to download this free printable:



Survive the First Day Back at School After Winter Break

Survive the First Day Back at School After Winter Break Cover Image

I hope that everyone has been basking in winter break! Mine has been filled with gingerbread, latkes, & lots of cheesy Hallmark movies. Sadly I’m already getting mini panic attacks at the thought of being back at school. I’m trying to ease my way back into school mode slowly with some baby steps. Hopefully we will all have a smooth transition back to school in January!

Happy Teacher Happy Kids Survive the first day back at school after winter break 1

Start with the easy stuff. Plan your outfit- for me that involves conquering a mountain of laundry so all the better to start now! Pack your teacher bag. Clean out any remnants of holiday treats. At this point I think the bottom of my teacher bag is pretty much coated in glitter from sweet cards from students and candy that escaped from our gingerbread trains on the last day before break. It’s time to avoid an ant infestation! Plan & pack your meals & snacks for the first day and be sure to go to bed early.

New year's blog post images1

One of the things that helps me through the first day back after any long vacation is to remember that it’s like a mini first day of school all over again. Someone will be super late, some kids will be absent, someone will cry at some point, you might be lucky and have no bathroom incidents but it’s good to be open and prepared for the craziness. At the very least your students will be very excited to see each other again and want to spend some time chatting.


I always try to start the morning by letting each child share one brief memory from our winter break as part of our opening circle time. After we share we’ll complete this cute page to get in some writing about winter break. Click the image below to get a copy to use with your class:

Winter Break Sharing Page

New year's blog post images2

Another thing that helps me on days like this is to manage my expectations…. which to me can mean going into the day with low to zero expectations and then having a lovely surprise when your class behaves wonderfully! January gives you a great chance to reboot your behavior plan or try something entirely new to keep your students motivated & on task.

New year's blog post images3

When all else fails, plan some fun surprises for your students. Last year I bought 2014 glasses at a party supply store the day after New Year’s Eve on sale. We took hilarious class photos wearing them. I’ve also done a New Year’s toast with sparkling cider or with actual slices of bread toasted. This year I’m thinking about using ring pops to “ring in the new year” Check back later this week for some free printables to go along with these New Year’s treats.


It can be so depressing when you head back into your classroom in January to see empty, bare walls instead of glittery bright holiday projects everywhere. I haven’t decided which project we’ll tackle first but there are so many bright & cheerful ideas on pinterest to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:

Snowman Art IdeasImage Credits: Nancy Nolan’s Kindergarten, First Grade Blue Skies, Mrs. Crosbie, Happy Holidays, Artsonia, The Vintage Umbrella

New year's blog post images4I love this post from Krissy Miner about being a performer in the classroom and it is so relevant throughout the entire school year. The more dramatic you are the easier it is to draw in your audience, aka your students. This is harder and harder to do the more tired you are which is what can make January feel like such an exhausting battle. My mantra at this point is just keep smiling!

New year's blog post images5

The first day back is a great day to read engaging books that are a bit longer. I find that my students can sustain their attention for an amazing story for much longer that they can keep working on more independent academic work at times like this. Here are a few of my favorite series:

Longer Read Aloud Series


Just like on the actual first .day of school it’s always best to over-plan and over-prepare for everything! You’ll be ready for anything unexpected that comes up but you’ll also be ready for the next few days of school if you don’t end up using everything on the first day. Click below for some quick and ready to use activities for January:

January Freebies Image



Another thing that has helped me on days like this is to be flexible with your schedule. Follow your class’s lead and shorten or lengthen work periods depending on how things are going with your individual students at that moment. This is something I try to do throughout the year but especially on days when your kids might be feeling a little bit more squirrely!


My favorite tip for any first day back at school or really for any day in gloomy January is to plan some rewards for yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to no matter how small it might seem… a new magazine, nail polish, candy, or my personal reward for this year:

Chris Soules Bachelor!

And last but not least go home as soon as you can!


image credits: Shutterstock.com/Sandra Cunningham/Patryk Kosmider/ Skylines/Annette Shaff/Luxe/Epic Stock Media/Dora Zett/Soloviova Liudmyla/Alis Leonte/Utekhina Anna/Neil Lockhart


Free Hanukkah Resources for Kindergarten & First Grade

Freebie Page for Holiday EBooks jpeg image


Getting Ready for December!

December is always crazy. The kids are beyond excited and get more squirrelly by the day and there are so many extra events happening. This year I’m determined to be more organized and hopefully maintain some semblance of calm amidst all of the craziness and all of the fun.

Get Ready for December with Free Classroom Printables

One thing I’m attempting to be better about this year is getting organized earlier and letting parents know about special class events with lots of advance notice. I like to kick off the month of December with a special family tradition sharing homework assignment so I sent this note & student page home last week so my kids would have plenty of time to prepare. I use the recording page to create a holiday tradition bulletin board right away which gets our classroom looking festive quickly right when we’re back from Thanksgiving break.

Family Tradition Sharing Collage


For the past two years I have used this fabulous freebie from Susan Moran with my students and it has been so much fun. I enlarge her stocking pattern on the copier, run 2 copies on colored paper, and staple it together to make a stocking that is “stuffable”. I have my kids use the cute notes included in her freebie to write a sweet note for each classmate and they also have the option of bringing in a small stocking stuffer to share as well.  It has been a really nice community building activity for my kids. Here’s the note I send home to the parents to let them know about the stockings.

Slide3I’ve always done some Grinch themed activities in December and this year I’m planning to have an entire day devoted to grinchy activities. At this point I have way more ideas than we could possibly fit into one day so I need to start paring things done. I thought it would be a fun dress up day for the kids too so I wanted to let everyone know now with plenty of time to plan Whoville inspired hairdos!


Click on any of the notes above to download your own copies. I hope it helps you get on track for December! I have my fingers crossed that this early planning will keep me from having too many holiday meltdowns!



First Day of School Treats – The Kissing Hand Freebie!

Kissing Hand Freebie

Click the image to download your free bag tags!

I have officially made it through the first week of school! My class is adorable and I can already tell that it’s going to be one of those special years. That doesn’t mean that I am not completely exhausted though! I have lots of fun back to school goodies I plan to share with you but for right now I wanted to get these cute bag tags up in case you haven’t had your first day yet.

I always love reading The Kissing Hand near the end of the first day of school. Many of the kids will have read it at home that morning or the night before with their parents and it’s a sweet way to connect with your new kiddos. This year after reading it I looked out to a whole carpet full of first graders holding “kisses” on their palms firmly to their cheeks- it doesn’t get much cuter than that!

After reading, we made Julie Lee’s fun Chester the Raccoon crafts. This project is the perfect first day craft. It’s simple but turns out adorable and makes everyone feel successful. While we were busy crafting I had each child come and hold a stuffed animal version of Chester for a cute photo. When I recover from my week one exhaustion I’ll post some pictures of how cute our little Chesters turned out.  Click the image below to check out Julie’s craft:

Julie Lee's Kissing Hand Craft

To make your own bags of kisses you’ll need regular sandwich size ziplock bags, chocolate kisses, & enough tags printed out for your class. I put 5 kissed into each bag and then just stapled the tag to the front. I left a blank spot near the bottom for you to sign your name. Easy & cute! I hope your back to school season is going smoothly! I’ll have more cute back to school freebies when my nap is over ;-)



Stay Healthy This Fall & Beat the Back to School Germs!

Beat the Back to School Germs

Back to school is a stressful time for teachers. Getting sick during those busy first weeks with a new class is always a nightmare & just adds to the craziness! Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep you & your students healthy as you adjust to being in such close quarters together. I like to think that I’ve found a balance between germophobia insanity and common sense. Somewhere along the lines of this sensible cat! ;-)

germophobe cat

1. Wash your hands throughout the day.

Build handwashing for you and your students into the daily classroom routines. Teach your students how to properly wash with soap and how to dry their hands when they are finished. I have a really small sink in my room so I usually have one table group at a time line up to wash while the rest of the kids stay on the carpet singing, listening to a story, or having some other type of fun brain break. This is important because the kids end up racing through when the line is long and they feel rushed. It also helps cut down on the wait time for each child to get a turn at the sink. You do not want to be stuck in a classroom with bored, wild 1st graders waiting in a long line! Trust me on that one!

chameleon washing hands

2. Never use student pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks, etc.

Get in the habit of avoiding your students’ supplies. Keep your own separate pencils (& every other supply) that will only be touched by you. This might seem a little paranoid until you try this creepy experiment. Pick one child to watch for a few minutes and don’t let your eyes wander for even a moment. You will be horrified at what you see but let that horror motivate you to stick to your own supplies. I’m talking fingers in eyes, ears, noses, mouths… pencils & more in all of those same places. And some even grosser ones!

emma stone

3. Set up a tissue station for students far, far away from your desk.

Teach your students how to blow their noses and properly dispose of used tissues. I keep tissues for students on a table along with a bottle of hand sanitizer with  a trash can underneath. I chose a spot as far away from me as possible! I keep my own personal tissue box & hand sanitizer at my desk. The other bonus to doing this is you won’t have a front row seat for any gross tissue related disasters, which can happen quite frequently with younger students.


4. Teach your students to avoid the T-Zone.

I am a big fan of Henry the Hand and his wise advice. For the past few years I’ve used these resources with my class at the start of a new school year and as a part of our calendar routines. The calendar helper each day leads the group in saying, “Don’t touch the T-zone. Never put your fingers in your eyes, nose, & mouth.” While we say this the kids trace a T shape on their faces and then point to each body part as we say it. And we definitely do this without actually touching our faces! Click below for a freebie you can share with your students & post in your classroom.

Don't Touch the T Zone

 5. Wipe every surface, everyday.

Helping clean the classroom is a regular part of our end of the day routine. I keep sponges, scrubbers, paper towels, & cleansing wipes out so they are readily available to my students. One of the many awesome things about first graders is that they are almost always excited to clean. I think they enjoy feeling mature & in charge of something. I have my kids start by cleaning their own desks and then they branch out to other shared spaces in the room. It doesn’t take much time for the kids to get really fast at this so we usually have a 5-7 minute cleaning spree before the last bell rings at the end of school.

sheldon cleaning

I have my fingers crossed you won’t get sick this back to school season! But if it does happen, I hope you have someone there to sing Soft Kitty to you!

It will definitely speed your recovery!

soft kitty

images: giphy.com, KG Fonts, Halfpoint/Shutterstock


The Easiest Way to Bond with Student Families at Back to School

The Easiest Way to Bond with Student Families

Meeting a new group of parents at the start of the school year always makes me more nervous than meeting my new students.

Don't be scared of parents, Buster!

Luckily, first graders just have a way of putting me at ease, for which I am very grateful! It doesn’t always feel that way with their parents, though.

you like me

The good news is that 99.9% of the parents I have gotten to know over the years have been lovely and down to earth. There is that teeny tiny group who will keep you on your toes all year but the majority will be wonderful! Along those lines, I want to share with you the best advice I’ve ever been given about building relationships with parents. It is a total game changer. I can honestly tell a difference between the years I’ve followed this advice and the years I’ve told myself I was too busy for it.

Do whatever it takes

I’m talking about first day of school as soon as possible. The best case scenario would be the teacher initiating this contact rather than responding to a message from a parent. It is definitely one more thing to take on during an already crazy busy time but it is so worth it! I promise!

phoebe doesn't want to do it

Your main goal with this first contact is to introduce yourself & build rapport. I try to keep things friendly and casual. I want parents to feel comfortable chatting with me and to let them know right away to call me by my first name and not Miss Happy Teacher!

act casual

Reaching out to parents early also lets you share about the first days of school. I find that parents are usually very curious about what happens after they drop their babies off with a new teacher. Being proactive and answering those questions before they are even asked goes a long way in reassuring parents about their child’s new classroom.

tell me more sloth

It also gives you a chance to let parents know that you are really getting to know their child as an individual and to share something positive about their child. Parents are more likely to trust and support you in any difficult situations that might come up during the year if you already have established a positive connection with them before any challenging conversations arise.

amy and seth seth and amy high five

  Ways to Bond with Parents

Phone Call

Romy & Michelle phone

This is definitely the most time consuming way to make that first contact but it is also the most powerful way. Before calling, I think about our first day and then each child individually. When I get nervous I tend to ramble so I try to plan out a few things to say to each family before I start dialing. Here’s an idea for what you might say to start your call, “Hi (parent name) this is (your name), (child’s name)’s teacher. I just wanted to let you know what a great first day (child’s name) had and how much I enjoyed meeting him/her.” From there you can chat about class activities and answer any questions the parents might have.


nick's got nothing

While making phone calls is always my first choice it just isn’t possible every year. Emailing is the next best thing. I like to send a short message similar to what I would say over the phone but I also attach a photo from our first day for the parents. This is a great ice breaker because who doesn’t love seeing a part of their child’s first day at school? I love seeing all of the fun first day photo op ideas on Pinterest and trying something new each year. Here are some of the absolute cutest ideas I have seen! Click below to visit my board full of first day photo ideas. It makes it hard to pick just one!

First Day Photo Ideas Pinterest Board

 Note Home

tina fey thank you

At my school, we don’t have a Meet the Teacher or Open House event before the first day of school. Because parents can sometimes feel anxious about the first day I like to send home an informational packet with their child at the end of the day. I include a letter describing the day’s activities, information about any activities coming up that first week, and a questionnaire for parents to complete about their child. I have found some really great letters & surveys that will help as you create your own packet. Be sure to check them all out on The First Grade Parade, A Special Sparkle, First Grade Blue Skies, and First Grade Factory. It’s also nice to have something the parents will see before you call or email later that afternoon. That way they will be ready to ask questions.


oh stahp dis my jam baby

I love my Shutterfly classroom website almost as much as this baby loves Katy Perry… which if you’ve seen this whole video is saying something! This will be my fourth year using Shutterfly and I can’t imagine running my classroom without it! It’s free, password protected, & really easy to share photos & sign up sheets with parents. It is a huge time saver. And Shutterfly is not paying me to say any of this! You can see a sample site here. Be sure to give out information about your new site in your first day of school packet so parents will know where to look right away.

First Day Favors

Sending cheerful & happy students out the door on the first day of school does a lot to ease any worries parents might have had during the school day. And sending a little treat or prize home with your new students is one way to almost always guarantee that you will have some excited kids when the bell rings. Check out all of the fun ideas found on Pinterest for first day favors below.

First Day of School Treat Tags Collagephoto credits: Teaching Times 2, Unknown, Doodlebugs, First Grade and Fancy Free, The Bubbly Blonde, Kindergarten Squared, Me, The Curriculum Corner, Michaela Peterson

(please let me know if you would rather not have your idea featured)

 Just be careful searching favors on Pinterest….. you might get sucked in for hours!

what just happened

I wish you good luck in your new school year and I hope that you will be able to develop positive relationships with your students and their families. Remember, get in touch on the first day for maximum impact!

image credits: KG Fonts, giphy.com, BuzzFeed, MaxyM/shutterstock, punphoto/shutterstock, Balkonsky/shutterstock


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Are You Ready for School?

Brown Bear Links

Starting the school year off with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is the kindergarten tradition I miss the most as a first grade teacher. Kindergarten does Brown Bear in serious style at my school so my new first graders feel they are oh so old and mature for any revisiting of Brown Bear by the time I meet them. So I’m getting to vicariously enjoy Brown Bear in this post! I found so many cute ideas browsing Pinterest this morning so keep on reading to be inspired!

Brown Bear Cupcakes from Cakes by Becky

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Cupcakes by Becky

These gorgeous cupcakes would be amazing as a first day of school treat or as a treat at the end of a Brown Bear unit! The kids would love them and so would their teacher! I am just sad that I don’t live near the amazing Becky because I would be ordering some right now.

Brown Bear Painted Paper Collages from Little Running Teacher

Brown Bear Collage Little Running Teacher

I love doing painted paper projects with kids because they always end up with a great final project. Head over to the Little Running Teacher to see step by step directions for these Brown Bear inspired collages. They would make a gorgeous back to school bulletin board.

 Brown Bear Sequencing Necklaces from Peace, Love, and Kinder

Brown Bear Sequencing Craft from Peace, Love, and KinderI love doing wearable crafts with kids and I’m glad that first graders are not too cool for them yet… hopefully I don’t ever move to a grade where they roll their eyes at that stuff! This Brown Bear sequencing activity is too cute! I love the bear faces and how fun to have all the animals inside ready to help with retelling. Be sure to visit Peace, Love and Kinder to see all of the fun bear themed activities she has created.

 Brown Bear Retelling Puppet from Mrs. Ricca’s Kindergarten

Color Brown Bear Puppet from Mrs. RiccaWhat a fun paper bag puppet! This is such a great back to school activity to practice cutting, gluing, and coloring with new kindergartners. Be sure to visit Mrs. Ricca’s blog for lots of adorable activities to have Color Days with your class as well as a free download to make your own puppets. Super cute!

Brown Bear Magnetic Story Props from Doodle Bugs Teaching

doodlebugs magnetic story props for brown bear

These magnets would be awesome in a retelling center for kids to get their hot little hands on. They could also work as a fun file folder activity. Doodle Bugs Teaching has shared a bunch of great Brown Bear freebies so click on over!

Free Brown Bear M&M Math & Handwriting Practice from Me

Free Brown Bear M&M Color Math Collage

Click the picture above for some fun & easy to prep Brown Bear activities that I made last year. I think that even my first graders will allow some Brown Bear nostalgia if there are M&M’s involved! I also want to share this little animal math game that is from my Color Animal Back to School Unit over on TPT. Click below to get another freebie!

Roll a Rainbow of Animals Free Math Game

Here are some more fun activities from my unit that will coordinate perfectly with your Brown Bear, Brown Bear back to school plans!

First up, play dough  mats!

Brown Bear Play Dough Mats Collage

Language Arts Printables

Brown Bear Language Arts Printables

No Prep Math Games for Each Color Animal

Brown Bear Printable Math Games

The unit also includes handwriting practice booklets, getting to know you animal cards, first day of school treat bag tags, pencil flags, templates for animal crafts & even more printables! Click below to check it out on TPT:

Color Animals Long Pin


image credits: giphy, KG Fonts,  all other images belong to the linked blogger or website owner, please let me know if you would like your photo/link removed from this list