Sunday, October 17, 2021

Classroom Tour 2021-2022 (and a flood!)

Hi, friends!  It has been a while!  We began school on September 7th and I have been SO exhausted every evening and weekend.  Blogging has taken a seat on the backburner!  I have finally mustered up the energy to post today!  Today's post is my classroom reveal for the 2021-2022 school year.  I'll try to link anything shown.  As always, if you have specific questions on what you see, you can leave a comment below or email me at  

Let me first start by saying it takes a village!  I am so lucky to have the help and support of my mom and Mr. Wheeler!  I am fighting some pretty nasty back and hip injuries and it was great to have a lot of help this year!  My mom comes each fall to help me set up my room.  It's been an annual tradition (minus last year, of for my entire career.  She is so helpful and we make a lot of memories together during this time!  

Here is my water bottle stand.  PRAISE for this!  Last year, my kids kept their water bottles on their desks and they constantly fell off, broke, and spilled.  It was insanity.  I only had 10 kids in each of my 2 classes last year.  I knew that with 23 students at once this year, I had to come up with a new plan.  I grabbed this stand from Amazon and zip-tied it to a desk up front.  It works so well!  The kids are allowed to get up and get water as needed.  Check the stand out here (affiliate link).

I got these light blockers about 10 years ago, when I began having major migraine headaches.  I love the cozy feel they give my classroom.  Each spring, I take them down and wash them.  I put them in the washer and let them air dry.  Mr. Wheeler is very tall, so he comes in handy when it's time to put them back up in the fall!  Don't worry, the wrinkles shake out after the covers have been up for a few days.  Grab the light blockers here (affiliate link).

This year, students have to be spaced 3 feet apart.  I must say, I actually like (gasp) the old school front-facing desk setup.  I did this last year, as well.  Students are much more focused and there is less talking during instruction.  I provide lots of opportunities for partner/group work, so sitting like this is no big deal.  Some things in education will always work well!

Here is my trick word wall.  I use Fundations Phonics.  You can grab the word cards I have on my word wall by clicking the product cover below. 

Here's my front board.  This is where a lot of classroom management pieces are located.  I use the Voice Levels Posters & lights throughout the entire day.  I change the Early Finisher Board once or twice each day.  The Greeting Poster also gets changed daily, as does the Helper Cutout.  I've linked most everything shown below. 


Here's our classroom mailbox system.  I got the mailbox from Really Good Stuff a long time ago.  I use binder clips with numbers to label the mailboxes.  I assign each child a number and keep a list on the side of the mailboxes.  Mailboxes and cubbies are the only things I use numbers for.  To me, it's worth it not to re-label them each fall.

This is my SEL/PBIS area.  As you can see, we use PATHS for SEL.  We also use PAX as part of our PBIS program.  Whew!  That was a lot of acronyms.  Hahaha!  Behind the black heart, I have a photo of each student in my class.  The school buses on the dry erase board are for The Homework Club.  

We use Wit and Wisdom as part of our Literacy curriculum.  I have a board set up for it as well as the corresponding word wall next to it.  

Here is a little Math area.  We use Illustrative Mathematics for our Math curriculum.  This is our first year, so I am not exactly sure what I need to have up yet...we are figuring it out as we go.  One thing that's for certain, is that my kids always use a 120 chart for reference!  The one I have is from Differentiated Kindergarten.  The Teen Number Posters you see can be found by clicking here.  The Math Strategy Posters can be found by clicking here.

Here is my calendar board right inside my classroom door.  I got the calendar pocket chart from Amazon a few years ago.  I've linked it here for you (affiliate link).  The specials board can be found here in my TpT shop.

These are my glorious cabinets!!!  I am lucky to have all of this storage.  I have been teaching first grade for 18 years, so I have lots of stuff.  The cabinets are full.  The clear bins you see in the cubbies are activities sorted by skill (Math and Literacy).  These are non-holiday activities, flashcards, etc...The labels can be found by clicking the product cover below.

Here is Mr. Wheeler and I when he stopped by to help me before school started.  He is the best!

Hopefully you enjoyed the onto the FLOOD.  Background Info: I had just finished Open House and gone home for the Labor Day weekend.  Families brought their school supplies and I had them all sorted in bins under my whiteboard.  I planned on dealing with them the first week of school.  The kids were to come Wednesday for their first day.  

After leaving school the Friday before kids arrived, I got a call that the girls bathroom, which is right next to my room, had flooded.  Water was pouring down the hallway and into the 1st grade classrooms.  I was told I could just leave it and it would "probably be fine," but my classroom is my pride and joy and I was sure I wouldn't be able to relax over the holiday weekend knowing my room had water in it.  SOOOO, Mr. Wheeler and I went up to school at 5:30 pm on Friday and got to work.  He filled a yellow mop bucket twice.  I had to move everything off the floor.  My pristine room was ripped apart so things could dry.  It's a good thing I was exhausted from Open House, or I would have cried.  We worked for 2 hours.  Thank goodness we went up there.  Nothing was ruined, but a lot of things were wet!  A LOT would have been ruined had we not gone up there.  Let's just say I'll remember this incident forever!

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Easy Halloween Crafts

Looking for a simple art project for the coming weeks?  I've got you covered!  Below are a few favorites 

Puffy Ghosts

These cotton ball ghosts are SO easy and quick!  Grab the download for the ghost template and face HERE, at Thriving Home Blog.  I have 23 kids and it took us 3 1/2 bags of 200 count cotton balls.  I didn't give my kids a limit; I just set the cotton balls out and told them to come get a small handful as they needed.  *We used Elmer's glue bottles for this project.

Paper Plate Pumpkins

To make these simple pumpkins, get the cheap paper plates and some orange paint.  You will also need some scraps of black and brown construction paper.  Kids paint their plates orange, add faces, and stems.  Easy!!

Paper Plate Spiders

These are a bit more complicated.  We used small, black dessert plates for this.  I gave my kids tape, google eyes, glue, silver glitter, and silver pipe cleaners.  They added 8 legs and as many eyes as they wanted.  

The Little Green Witch

This craft goes specifically with the adorable book, The Little Green Witch. We read the book, as well as The Little Red Hen and then compare/contrast the two stories.  We also do some of the other Literacy activities included.  


These fun Frankenstein and Mrs. Frankenstein craft is from First and Kinder Blue Skies.  We used paint to make it a bit more interesting!  The best part of this craft is that it's FREE!

Craft Stick Spider Web

This is a great craft to do as part of your Halloween party.  These are great to make if you have parent helpers or a small class.  Just grab some large craft sticks, white yarn, and plastic spiders.  


The final craft is this ghost craft from Crafty Bee Creations.  I love her crafts...tracing, cutting, and gluing are great fine motor practice!  This craft is also FREE!

Happy Crafting!


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Adopt a Cow

Hi, friends!  Hope you're well and that your year is off to a fantastic start!  We start after Labor Day so I am knee-deep in prep mode as we speak!  We've been receiving many emails with updates, meeting invites, etc...

One of our most recent emails contained information notifying us that there won't be any field trips yet again this year.  It was disappointing to hear, because children love the opportunity to get out and see the community!  I'm sure the "no field trips" rule is still in place for many districts.  I was thinking back on field trips of the past, and our annual dairy farm field trip came to mind.  It's always been a favorite for students.  Kids love farms!  

Although I'm saddened by the fact we can't attend our annual dairy farm field trip this year, I've found an alternative!  The Adopt a Cow Program by Discovery Dairy is a highly engaging year-long program that gives students an inside look at dairy farming and brings agriculture into the classroom.  Students and teachers "adopt" a dairy cow for their classroom.  Throughout the program, updates on the cow's growth, as well as photos, activity sheets, and suggested lessons that align with the Common Core Standards will be sent.  Students will also have the opportunity to write friendly letters to their cow!  Live virtual chats and farm tours are also available.  Students can talk directly to a dairy farmer to ask questions and meet their calf.   

Adopt a Cow was designed specifically for grades 3-5 but younger and older grades can enjoy the program as well.   

The best part of all of this is that it's FREE for teachers!  This program is available to classroom teachers in the US (as well as teachers anywhere in the world!), homeschool teachers, those managing an after-school care program, those managing a library program, or those managing an agriculture program.   

*Teachers in Ohio and West Virginia will be virtually paired with a calf from an Ohio dairy farm.  Students will learn the calf's name, where she lives, and learn about how her farmer takes care of her.  

If you're looking to bring a 1,500 lb friend into your classroom this year, head over to the Adopt a Cow page and sign up.  A dairy cow would make a fantastic class mascot!  Hurry, because registration ends September 15th!  The first 100,000 to sign up receive a mailed kit via snail-mail with information about their calf.  Check out a sample introductory kit here.  

*The introductory kit will arrive in November once your calf is born.*


Adopt a Cow is a national program made possible in Ohio and West Virginia by the American Dairy Association Mideast through a partnership with the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania, who developed and manages the program as part of its Discover Dairy education series.

I received compensation for this post, however all thoughts on the program are my own.  I personally signed up for the program, as well.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Setting Up an Organized and Inviting Classroom Library

 Hi, friends!  I'm sure many of you are in full back to school mode, and probably working in your classrooms.  I wanted to get right to it today with sharing tips about my favorite area of the classroom: the library.  There's been much debate over the years about how to set up the library, and at the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you and your students.  In addition, your curriculum department may mandate you set up your library a specific way.  However, even if that's the case, you can still create an organized and inviting space for your students.  Below are my top tips.

1.  Build your classroom library by purchasing books at thrift stores, garage sales, and using Scholastic Books points.  

2.  Sort your books into categories based on easy-to-navigate topics.

3.  Label bins with clear and easy-to-read labels (be sure a picture is included for the younger grades!).

4.  Label each book (I know, I know, but you will be so happy you did once they are labeled!) with a sticker on the inside cover (or outside cover if it doesn't bother you!) that matches the bin label.

5.  Make your library an inviting area...add a lamp, some book character stuffed animals, etc...*Notice my animals are not out...this is a photo from last year.  

6.  Establish a book checkout system with your students and introduce it within the first month of the school year.

I'll link my best-selling library labels below.  Just click the cover photo to be taken to my TpT shop.  There are two sizes of bin labels to choose from included, as well as TONS of themes!  I love the crispness of them.  They are visually appealing and easy for kids to see.  Happy organizing!