Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Bulletin Board Ideas

Our school is looking merry and bright this December with cheerful bulletin boards and colorful Christmas displays that are "decking our halls." Our teachers and parent volunteers have been busy creating a festive mood at our school, and I think these bulletin boards and displays turned out adorable! If you are looking for some holiday bulletin board or display ideas, then take a peek at the pictures below.

This first display was created by our parent volunteers. A sweet little elf sits on top of a Christmas mantel to greet children and visitors as they enter our school. Red bulletin board paper was wrapped around boxes that were stacked to create this fun mantel. My favorite part is the fire made from tissue paper and bulletin board paper.




This adorable bulletin board was created by my sweet teacher friend. I just love this Santa's Clothesline bulletin board, and the "Merry Christmas" undies are just too cute! I love how she used a real Santa hat and real shorts along with the coat and pants that she drew and created.


Whimsical Christmas trees on a black and white polka dot background create a simple, but eye-catching bulletin board. I love the simplicity of this board. It is so bright and colorful and will definitely catch your attention.



If you are looking for a holiday display that is student-created, then this board is for you. Create a beautiful student-made bulletin board with this packet from my store. Students will create flipbooks to respond to books that they have read.  Included in this packet is one Christmas tree pattern with 4 different choices for responding to fiction or non-fiction books. The flipbooks and the lettering are inlcuded in this packet. Simply print the letters out on colored paper and cut out. All other pieces in this picture are NOT included in the packet. Your students will love creating these adorable flipbooks, and your bulletin board will be the talk of the school. Check it out. 





Have a blessed day!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fall Bulletin Board Ideas and a Freebie!

I absolutely love fall! Fall leaves, fall colors, cooler weather, and fall bulletin boards! Pretty fall bulletin boards can definitely make your classroom stand out, but I know that teachers do not have a ton of extra time for creating new bulletin boards. That is why I designed these easy to print bulletin boards. Your students will help you decorate by creating these fun and adorable flipbooks to display on your boards or in your hallways. Not only are the flipbooks fun and cute, but they are an excellent way for your students to write about their reading. Display the flipbooks alone, with the included letters, or add extra details to make these boards as simple or as detailed as you like.



The first bulletin board is my Acorn Reading Response Bulletin Board. This adorable board comes with flipbook pieces to print and copy for your students. Students complete the information about a favorite book, a literature circle book, or a classroom read. Pint the letters included and hang for a visually pleasing bulletin board display. I have included a photo with ideas for little "extras" that you may wish to include on your board. You may decide to create a tree from brown bulletin board paper and purchased dollar store fall leaves. Borders and burlap ribbon can also be added to finish out your display. Your students will love seeing their work displayed. Find this in my TpT store.


If you are looking for a decorating idea for Thanksgiving, then let your students create these turkey flipbooks. Two sizes of flipbooks are included in this packet. Hang with the letters that are included in this set for a beautiful November display.


This next easy fall bulletin board can be yours for free! Simply click HERE for the link and download the printables to create this colorful scarecrow bulletin board for your classroom! You may even want to use some of the pieces with the other bulletin boards. For example, I used the fence that is found in this freebie in my turkey bulletin board. Be creative! I hope you enjoy this little fall gift!



Have a blessed fall!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Creating a Vocabulary Rich Environment in Your Classroom

Creating a classroom environment in which words are loved, valued, and enjoyed is an important way to help students discover and use new vocabulary. When students see your love for vocabulary and are immersed each day in a word-rich classroom, their personal vocabularies will increase. Here are a few suggestions to help you create a word-rich environment in your classroom. (Continue reading for a freebie for your classroom!)


Share your favorite words.

Talk about why special words are important and interesting to you. Invite students to share their favorites. (Personally, I love the words gossamer, luminescence, eloquence, ominous,  and zephyr-which happens to be the name of the first car I owned.)

Apply sophisticated words in the classroom.

Use sophisticated words with your students. For example, ask students to illustrate instead of draw, tidy, instead of clean, collect, instead of take up. Talk about the din, raucous, or  cacophony of noises heard in the hall or lunchroom. My favorite sophisticated word to use with my class was just a happy accident. After reading the word accolade in a story with my class, I now record on the board any accolades that my students receive from other teachers or adults in our school. My students now know and use the word accolade every day

Play games and do fun vocabulary activities.

Visit my Upper Elementary blog post on 10 Engaging Vocabulary Activities that your students will love. Find fun vocabulary activities for your classroom.

Vocabulary Spotters

My students love spotting vocabulary words that we have learned in class in their library books and personal books. Encourage this vocabulary search by making a big deal when words are found. Give brag tags for Vocabulary Spotters (freebie found here or click the image below) and students will search diligently for these words.




Varying vocabulary instruction and activities will help keep lessons new, fresh, and exciting for your students. For more ideas on creating a vocabulary-rich environment in your classroom, visit my blog post at Upper Elementary Snapshots.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Seven Fun Ways to Use Index Cards in the Classroom

I don't know why I like index cards so much. I mean, I like them almost as much as Post-Its, pretty note cards and papers, and fancy notebooks. Yes, I admit, I hoard index cards! No, they are not very pretty or fancy, but they are the perfect size for so many quick and easy classroom activities that are sure to get your students motivated. Also, they are so inexpensive that it is easy to keep a lot on hand.


I realize that technology is all the craze in classrooms across the country. In fact, I am so proud to be a 1:1 classroom this year! I love technology, and my students love it, too! Even with all of the technology that we have available, I think it is important to provide students with a variety of fun activities to keep them motivated and excited about learning, and sometimes, even a simple index card can generate excitement in a lesson. Here are 7 ideas for using these inexpensive little cards.

1. Two Truths and a Fib.

 I have used this activity for many years on the first day of school, but this is also a great way to continue to get to know one another throughout the year. It is also is a fun way to cover some of the Common Core speaking and listening standards. If you have never played this fun activity, give each student an index card and instruct her to write 2 truths about herself and 1 fib. Then let each student share all three statements with the class and call on a classmate to guess the fib. You can also use this as an after activity for a lesson by having students list 2 truths and 1 fib about a topic they just learned or read about. Let them share with a small group and have group members tell the fib about the topic. This is a great closing for a lesson or unit of study.

2. Random Name Picker

I realize there are wonderful and cute random name pickers on the web that are fun for the students, but sometimes as teachers, we just don't have time for all of that! Give each student an index card and instruct him/her to write his/her name in bold letters. Then draw and color pictures around to decorate the card. Take up the index cards to store in a container all year. Then, the next time you need to quickly and randomly select a student, simply draw one of these cards. Use these throughout the entire school year.

3. Student Passwords

O.K. This idea is not so much fun as it is a necessity. I don't know if your school is like mine, but my poor students have at least a half a dozen passwords that they are suppose to keep up with. To help them out, we have printed out passwords on stickers and placed on index cards for each student. These index cards are kept in special containers or in the students folders (depending on how often the passwords are needed). This has helped us out tremendously and kept searching for passwords to a minimum.

4. Yes/NO Cards


Let each student write "Yes" on one side of an index card and "No" on the other. Use these cards as a quick wrap up to a lesson or a quick review. Call out a question related to the topic of study that has a yes or no answer. Students hold up the card to show the correct answer. You can quickly assess who understands and who may need to be pulled for small group instruction. True and false cards can also be made and used the same way.

5. Sequence Strips



Use index cards to create a fun way to review sequence. After a read aloud, give students 4 index cards. On the first, write the title and on the other 3 write the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story. These make a great hall or bulletin board display! Read more about this fun activity here.

6. Vocabulary Strips


Give each student an index card. Students should draw a diagonal line from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. On the top left side, students will write the vocabulary word and definition. On the bottom right side, students should draw a picture of the vocabulary word and use the word in a sentence. Just like the activity above, students can complete 3 or 4 cards and glue on a long strip of construction paper to display in the hall or on a bulletin board. This is a fun way for students to review vocabulary.

7. Reading Response Activity


Your students will enjoy summarizing a read aloud, a book from lit circles, or a book from independent reading when you give them an index card and one half of a 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper. Let them draw a scene from the book on the piece of paper and write a summary of the book on the index card. Then simply attach the index card to the paper for a quick and easy hall display.

Certainly, there are many other ways that index cards can be used in the classroom. I hope you have found one or two here that you may want to try with your class!

Have a blessed day!


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Classroom Reveal

Decorating our classroom, to me, is something that I enjoy each year. I like making a room inviting and colorful for my students. Already this year, I have had students comment on our classroom decorations. My goal this year was to keep it simple by using the same color scheme as last year, but I wanted to change things up slightly. By doing this, I was able to save time and money which to me is a win-win!  I am very pleased with the outcome, and I hope you enjoy this peek into my classroom.

Cactus themed motivational bulletin board.




I love how my motivational board turned out! This set of motivational posters are available in my TpT! Find them here.


This is my reading nook and classroom library. Above this nook is my focus board where I will post the reading skill and focus strategy for each week.









Sunday, August 6, 2017

Four Fabulous Ideas for Establishing Classroom Rules and Procedures

With the beginning of the school year racing toward us, teachers are in high gear getting their rooms and materials ready for a new group of kiddos. One important part of preparation is having a plan for classroom rules and procedures. We want students to know our expectations and meet those expectations so that our classrooms will run smoothly this year and our precious students will have an opportunity to have a wonderful year. Here are four ideas for establishing those rules and procedures.





We know that simply telling students that they should be "good" is not going to "cut it" in the classroom.  Students need specific guidance.  To help students understand and to give specific guidance, I chose one adjective to describe my expectations. The word that I chose was "calm."  On the first day of school, I simply spoke to my students about my expectations for them.  I told them that I like a calm classroom.   Even when we are working with groups or partners, having a whole group discussion, or even walking down the hall, I expect my students to be calm.  We can still have fun, play a game, or do group work while behaving in a calm manner. We talked about what calm looks like, sounds like, and acts like.  Of course, every teacher is different. Your classroom and personality may be different from mine, and that's ok. Perhaps you want to choose another word to focus on such as "respectful" or "kind." You could even have more than one! Think about your expectations and choose a specific adjective or two that works for you and your classroom that will help guide your students to excellent behavior.



Actually take the time to model expectations for the students. Explain to the students what each activity should look like and sound like, then practice, practice, practice. Practice transition times. Practice restroom procedures. Practice exchanging classes and getting materials together. We actually do this in my classroom. Our grade level exchanges classes, but we don't exchange the first day or two. This gives us some time to practice. I actually take time to practice how to exchange, how to get materials together, how to line up, and how to stand in the hall to wait to walk to the next class. Practice lunchroom behavior, etc. Begin the first day of school, but continue to model throughout the entire year. Your students will still need reminders throughout the year.



Post your expectations or rules in your classroom so that students will have a visual reminder of classroom expectations. Students need these visual reminders daily. Charts, posters, or bulletin boards can provide this. I personally prefer to use motivational posters instead of classroom rules. I like how motivational posters remind students in a positive way and challenge the students to be their best. As an added bonus, they serve as motivation for myself as well. Sometimes I need a little reminder, too. Whether you use motivational posters or classroom rules, expectations should be posted as a visual reminder for your students. Here are a few examples in my TpT store that you may love!

These Farmhouse Themed Motivational Posters are perfect for encouraging positive behavior as well as adding a rustic touch to your classroom.







We cannot explain classroom expectations only on the first day of school, never mention them again, and expect our students to follow them perfectly throughout the rest of the year. That will just not work. Students will need reminders of your classroom expectations, whether it is part of a daily morning routine, a read around the room activity, or a daily or weekly discussion of behavior expectations. We all need reminders now and then.

Have a blessed school year!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

14 Fabulous Time Fillers for Language Arts

We have all been there (no matter how long you have taught or how well you have planned a lesson). You have just finished a fantastic lesson. Everything went as planned and the students were highly engaged, but you glance at the clock and you have 5 or maybe 10 minutes left before time to transition to lunch, music, or to exchange classes (if you are departmentalized). Now you think, "What should I do now?" For times like these it is great to have easy time fillers on hand or in your back pocket ready to use. Because I teach reading, writing, and grammar,  I am going to share 14 Fabulous Time Fillers for language arts. Of course, at at the top of the list for time fillers in language arts would be independent reading and/or reading aloud to the students. It is so easy to simply say, "Take out your independent reading and read,"  but it is also great to have a variety of activities ready to use. Here are 14 time fillers that take only 5 to 10 minutes that will review previously learned concepts, motivate your students to read, or engage your students thinking.



1. Share an idiom and its meaning. Not only is this a great time filler that students will enjoy, but it is a great way to help review a skill that your students need.

2. Call out a word and have students tell the part of speech. You may want to limit the parts of speech to 3 or 4 at a time. For example, you may want to let the students know that the words will be nouns, verbs or adjectives; or they may be verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, or pronouns.

3. Have students write a simple poem such as a haiku or an acrostic poem.

4. Have students to write a sentence containing alliteration. This could be a fun tongue twister.

5. Show a Grammar Rock video from Teacher Tube. Here is the link to the collection.

6. Create and display a partial metaphor or metaphors. Have students complete or make suggestions on how to complete each one. For example:
     He was so mad, he was a ____________________. (raging bull, steaming tea kettle)
     He was a ________________, hidden by the darkness of the night. (ghost, dark shadow)
     As the storm grew worse, the rain turned to ___________________. (rocks pounding on my head)

7. Have students complete the sentences by using personification.
     The wind _____________________________________.
     The car ______________________________________.
     The sun ______________________________________.

8. Show book trailers from SchoolTube. There are several choices available to show such as Wonder  and Hatchet.  This one for One and Only Ivan is very good.

9. Watch and listen to a book being read by an actor on Storyline Online. Several of these are over 10 minutes time, so just jot down the time that you get to and finish watching it another day when time allows.

10. Give a book talk about one of your favorite books from your classroom shelf that you think your students will enjoy reading independently. Share the book blurb from the back of the book and why you like the book. Ask your students who wants to read it, and watch the hands go flying up. Pick someone who gets to read it independently. This is a great way to motivate those who are struggling with finding a book for independent reading.

11. Have students to list the alphabet down their paper. Then give them 3 minutest to write one noun that begins with each letter. (ex: apple, bear, cake, dinosaur) You can also do this with verbs or adjectives.

12. Have a quick review of irregular verbs. Write 5-10 irregular verbs on the board. Have students write the past and past participle for each one. For example:
     run    ran      run
     sing   sang   sung

13. Use this free set of cards to review "there, they're, and their." This easy activity is a great way to have a quick review of these confusing words.

Pirate Homophones:  They're, There, and Their

14. For a quick review of similes, metaphors, and personification, use this fun "Show Me the Card" activity. If you like the free activity above, you'll love this activity too!

Figurative Language Show Me the Card Activity:Similes, Metaphors,Personification

I hope you enjoy these ideas and find a few that will be helpful to you and your kiddos!



Have a blessed day!