Friday, October 24, 2014

6 Make-Life-Easy Halloween Celebration Teacher Tips


Have you left at the end of a class celebration totally exhausted?

You feel like you have been the coach, the cheerleader, the clean up crew, the event coordinator and the referee.  When all the party animals have left for the weekend, it takes every ounce of your energy just to drag yourself home and plop like a blob on the couch.  
You always set out to create a high energy celebration, with student fun.  Your ultimate goal is an organized, deliberate, and productive flow of activities.  Well, this goal is not always easy to execute.

And the Halloween Celebration is the worst wipe-out-the-teacher offender.

Halloween often comes at the time of year when you are running on empty, emotionally and physically.
That is why--- I want to divulge to you---- my 6 helpful Halloween Celebration tricks, a  treat for you.  
Now drive home and partake in your own celebrating!
In the comments below, I want to hear from you!  Any tricks or treats you have to take the chaos out and put creativity in?
Be specific, because thousands of teachers come here each week for insight and support. Your share may be exactly what someone needs to hear.

Friday, October 17, 2014

You Want These SECRETS To CRAFTivity Success: 'Teachers We Love' with First Grade Blue Skies

It's that time of year when classroom cuteness and overwhelm dials turn way up.  

How do I know this?

First of all, I noticed the movie, Elf, while scrolling through the channels last night.  A movie I watch at least 100 times before Christmas.

Second, my pinning finger hurts.  You know, the finger used to pin thousands of great holiday ideas to  Pinterest boards that may or may not ACTUALLY get accomplished.

Ready or not. There's no place to hide.  The holidays are coming.  I better not find you huddled in the corner of the teacher copy room, buried in a pile of construction paper, covered in glitter, with your fingers glued together.

Let's pull ourselves together.


Jennifer White from the blog, 'First Grade Blue Skies' has secrets.  Juicy crafty secrets.  Secrets behind her adorable craftivitities and bulletin boards. 

Easy secrets that will lower your classroom craft stress level.  Secrets that will have teachers, parents and students googly-eyed and ooooooing and ahhhhing over your room.

Jennifer's ideas will turn your classroom-cuteness level up to high, but her secrets will keep your overwhelm-dial low and coasting smoothly into the holidays narwhal style.

Secret ingredients for craftivity success include:  

*circle sponges from Walmart
*spray painted clothes pins with erasers used for polka dots 
*ready made patterns
*thin tipped Frixion markers from Japan that you can order on Amazon
and don't forget 
*parents do the prep for you!  

WARNING:  Don't make my craftivity mistake.  

In my first year of teaching kindergarten, I tried to do craftivities daily.  Enter the kindergarten craftivity sweat shop.  We must cover all the walls and bulletin boards!  Make this classroom vomit with craftivity cuteness!  The cuter my classroom must mean the better the teacher I am.

You probably already know the moral to this story.

Burnout 101.  

The kids loved the crafts but I went OVERBOARD.  I like Jennifer's approach to doing one craftivity per unit of study at most.  

I know you might be concerned, are craftivities academic enough?  

Here are my thoughts: 
  1. Craftivities  can easily be the kick off to a unit that gets kids excited about new learning OR the craftivity is the culminating activity after a unit of study.
  2. Craftivities integrate several subjects to give the learning some complexity and depth.
  3. Yes, you may have to do some of the prep.   But the students also learn cutting, gluing, following directions, and design. The craftivity benefits the fine motor skill practice and the choices students make as he/she creates.
  4. Craftivities offer a student an opportunity to create a product.  All students are successful and the product is also displayed, shared and admired by a diverse audience, the parents and students at the school.
  5. Students and families prize craftivities for years to come.
Now that I have you all pumped up to do craftivities let's have a giveaway.  Jennifer sells the craftivities shown in the video in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, and she is generously giving you a chance to win a craftivity bundle!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I love hearing from you!!!!  Don't be a quiet lurker.  I seeeeee you.  ; ) Participate! Let's get to know each other and be virtual teaching friends.

Which of the crafts that Jennifer showed in the video are you swooning over the most?   Leave me a comment below.  

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, October 10, 2014

FOUR No Cost, Under-an-Hour Teacher Halloween Costumes

It is that October dreaded feeling.  The students may have already started asking and guessing.

What will you be for Halloween this year? 

Like me, you probably think creating a costume is too complicated.  I end up avoiding costume decisions until the night before the Halloween parade at school.

Parent conferences? Organized. Report cards? Done. Halloween Costumes? I take the fly by the seat of my pants approach.   

Come on.  How about we try things differently this year.  

Let’s do Home-Made Halloween Costumes the no cost and done in less than an hour way.

Costumes must be-----

Comfortable to wear
Make students happy
Easy to assemble
AND Do Not have to be perfect

All made with things you have in your closet, in your garage, and with your office supplies.

Secret #1   Keep the Costume Simple

Secret  #2  An all black outfit is your costume canvas

Secret  #3  Use masking tape, safety pins, magazine pictures, construction paper, a hot glue gun

Secret  #4  Students add to your costume or interact with your costume   
                        -Students add word cards to the word wall
                       -Students find the pictures on the I Spy costume or the students could               
                        make the pictures that are on your I Spy list. 

Now you have the secrets for easy, cheap costumes, and are starting to get in the Halloween Spirit.  

Maybe just a little?  

I guarantee putting a costume on will boost your spirits.  How do I know?  It worked for me.

The years when I was most burned out and feeling overworked, I didn’t dress up and honestly wished I had worn a costume.  Stepping away from the stress and papers and putting my focus into a costume may have snapped me out of it.  A priority reset.

When all is said and done and your costume is put together, your students will remember YOU!  They won't remember the intricacies or your costume but they will go home with a huge Halloween grin.   


Do the Halloween Shuffle----- Walk to the closet and put on your black tights, black hat and black shirt .  Slap some things together, as I like to say, and just have FUN!

Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite Halloween costume!  I can't wait to see you below in the comments.

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, October 3, 2014

Behind The SLANT BOX Scenes and Math Talk With Jameson from Lessons With Coffee: Radio Episode #06

She is quirky, authentic, has great fashion sense and she tells it like it is.  Enter Jameson from the blog Lessons With Coffee.  I was lucky enough to interview Jameson for the latest Sheila Jane Teaching radio show.

I never thought I would talk to a teacher that made teaching middle school math sound fun to teach.

 It was in middle school that Jameson received the help she needed to succeed with math.  Her special teacher in middle school used colors, graphing paper, and praised the small things to help Jameson line up numbers, and the colors helped Jameson to emphasize the steps in the algorithm.

Jameson is naturally sensitive to the needs of the struggling math students.  Fortunately she was open to teaching math when offered the assignment.  NOW she shares her special ways to meet the needs of all math students. Jameson stresses the importance of giving students choice when solving problems.  She advocates note taking, interactive notebooks, test taking strategies, visiting teachers and checking out teacher blogs; those who teach grades below and grades above.

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheila Jane Teaching on BlogTalkRadio
Jameson is also sensitive to the needs of new teachers, teachers who feel isolated and alone.

Her first year of teaching she decided to reach out to a mom's group that did exchange boxes.  She built a friendship with another person and liked the experience, so soon Jameson created SLANT boxes for teachers.

You may feel alone and not getting the TLC you need in your department, grade level, or school district.  Don't fret; Jameson assures us the SLANT box could serve you well.  400+ teachers have connected through her system.  She pairs up two teachers, provides a monthly theme, and next thing you know you have a teacher who appreciates you, and you are so happy to have a teacher friend who wants to understand your teaching context.  All parties benefit.

Jameson is Amazing; Listen to the Interview ---- teaching strategies, teacher out reach and best of all teacher match maker!!!!

I want to hear from you!  Do you belong to any monthly subscription box services?  Which ones?  I can't wait to read your comments.

Thank you for listening to the show.

Sending you love and happiness,