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Back to School Basics, Week 6

We are officially halfway through July! *Insert horrified face here!* School supply aisles are already filling up and everything! Yikes! But, don't worry! If you have been keeping up with our summer blog series, Back to School Basics you are ready! Each week we have been tackling a tiny task that will make going back to school a little bit easier! 

If you are like me, you have spent much of this week shopping! With Amazon Prime Day and Target's 15% Off Teacher Event, I have been busy shopping. So let's make this week's task easy and fun! 

This week your task is to: Reach out to your team! 

 Maybe your team consists of all of your teaching BFFs and you have been in touch all summer, AMAZING! Maybe you are brand new and haven't even met all of your team yet, that's okay too! Take the time to reach out this week or do something nice for them! Here are a few ideas:

Have a casual team get together! Invite your team over for breakfast and planning or meet at for coffee or a meal at a restaurant. If you can't get together, at least send out a group text and see what everyone has been up to!

Make a little gift back to school gift for each team member. Last year, I gave each of them a pair of the best scissors ever. I seriously stand by that statement 110%, they stayed super sharp all year long! Download the gift tag for FREE HERE! 

 This year I am giving little notecards with this gift tag! Read more and download the tag FREE HERE. You could also pair this tag with this.

Create something that everyone can use! Did you already lay out the scope and sequence for this school year? I'm sure your teammates would love a copy! Did you already make flashcards to go with the first nine weeks sight word? Email it over! Already make your Meet the Teacher Night Scavenger Hunt? It might help a new teacher on your team plan theirs! Little things like that go a LONG way and save everyone time. Hopefully, they will share with you too!

Catching up?

Back to School Basics, Week 5

We are already on Week 5 of our summer blog series, Back to School Basics! Each week we are tackling a tiny task that will make going back to school a little bit easier! 

This week your task is to prepare for that first time you meet your students and/or their parents. For me, this is Meet the Teacher Night! It's always so fun to meet all of my new students and their families for the first times, but it can also be a little bit overwhelming! After all, everyone is there to meet one person...YOU! Let's spend a little time preparing this week so that things go as smoothly as possible.

1. Make sure those forms are ready! I have parents fill out a student information form on this night so I already have the information I need before the first day. If you have been keeping up with us, this should already be checked off your list. If not, check out the post HERE

2. Make a wish list! Parents can't help provide classroom supplies if they don't know what you need! The beginning of the year is the perfect time to ask parents for what you need for a successful school year. I use this circus cupcake stand (that matches my classroom theme) to display the items I need. Parents just take what item they can donate to the classroom. 

This was perfect for displaying items I needed! I love being able to reuse it every year too! 

I am super blessed with wonderful parents who love Amazon Prime almost as much as I do. This year, I decided to create a wish list on Amazon to share with parents. The best part is that I can add items to the list throughout the year and everything will ship right to me. I just created a QR code that parents will be able to scan and shop! 

I hope this will be an easy option for my parents who want to donate to our classroom! 

Check your list from Week 2 to see if there is anything you can add to your class wish list! Here are some things that I typically ask for. Click an affiliate link to see it and add it to your own wish list!

Lysol Wipes
Googly Eyes
Play Doh
Colored Paper
Stamp Pads
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (I cut them smaller and they make the best erasers!)
Band Aids
Hand Sanitizer 
Mr. Sketch Markers
Game Pieces: Like this, this or this
Ziploc Bags

Oh and don't forget THIS! One year I included it on my Amazon Wish List and it was seriously the best item ever and I use it every single school day! Such a time saver!

Tip: Try to include items at a variety of price points so parents can help at a point they feel comfortable. Also, include a note if needed: Googly Eyes can be found on the craft aisle of the Dollar Store! 

Make a small gift to send home with your students. There are SO many cute ideas for this one! I have done a few different things for this over the years, but my favorite thing to give my students is these little cotton candy buckets because again, it matches my circus theme! You can read all about this sweet little gift HERE.  

And DO NOT feel like you have to spend a lot of money on this one. It's all about making a great first impression and letting those sweet babies know how excited you are to get to know them. Make a video of yourself reading a special bedtime story to your students for them to watch the night before the first day of school or about yourself. A QR code will make it easy for students to watch the video, just add it to a cute graphic! I created this to have at each student's desk that they can take home, scan the code and watch!

4.  Create a check list or scavenger hunt for students to complete with their parents. Meet the Teacher Night is always crazy because there is only one of you and like a million people who want to meet and visit with you. Give your parents and kids something to do that will help them learn about the classroom and get comfortable. Here is an example of mine:

Catching up?

Back to School Basics, Week 4

Hello July! Please be slower than June! We are already on Week 4 of our summer blog series, Back to School Basics! Each week we are tackling a tiny task that will make going back to school a little bit easier! 

This week's task is to set up your parent communication for the school year. 

I find that email seems to be the best way to communicate with parents and keep everyone in the loop of that is going on! You don't have to use precious printer ink and you have an easy record of what was communicated and when! Each Monday I email out a weekly newsletter to let me parents know what is going on that week. I use the same template each week and just update the information. I try to keep it simple. I use Powerpoint to create my newsletter and just add shapes, text boxes and clip art. 

Helpful Hint: Save a copy of your weekly email as a PDF file before you email it out to parents! This way it won't turn wonky if you use cute fonts and clip art. Plus parents will be able to read it on their smart phones. 

Another way I communicate with parents is through my classroom Facebook page. I set up a closed group and only allow parents in the group. It's a great place to post pictures and parents enjoy seeing what is happening in the classroom everyday.

Other communication ideas include:


So decide how you are going to communicate this school year and go ahead and get it set up and ready to go! 

Catching up?

Back to School Basics, Week 3

It can't already be the last week of June! This summer is going way too fast! We are already on Week #3 of my summer blog series, Back to School Basics. Each week we are tackling a tiny task that will make going back to school a little bit easier! 

This week's task is to tackle those beginning of the year forms. 

This might look a little bit different for everyone, but my guess is that every teacher has some paperwork for parents at the beginning of the year! Here is what works for me!

First of all, I like to have my forms ready for parents to fill out at Meet the Teacher Night. Why? 
  1. Parents can fill out all of the information right there and leave it with me. Small children's backpacks often eat papers. 
  2.  I NEED know how everyone is getting home, so my odds of losing someone significantly decrease, hehe. That First Day of School dismissal is killer...Amen!
  3.  I feel like I already "know" my kids before the first day. 

These are the forms I will have prepped and ready to go that night:  

I try to keep it simple and just have one student information form. I like to copy it on bright colored paper so that it is easy to find in my student information binder. Download this form for free HERE. I always leave the back blank too, in case parents want to write me a novel. ; ) The office will have most of this information on file, but I like having it at my fingertips too! 

Each year I create a Meet the Authors board that includes a little biography of each student and a place that they can display their work. Read more about it HERE. I use this little form to create their biography. I leave it on each student's desk at Meet the Teacher Night so that they can fill it out with parental help if needed. It's just one more thing i can have ready to go!

Download it for free HERE

I also LOVE using Donors Choose to fund materials and experiences in my classroom. It's like Christmas when your stuff arrives!

 After a project is funded, pictures of students using the materials are shared with the donors. A photography permission form is required for each student. The beginning of the year if the perfect time to get this done too! Read more about how to use Donors Choose HERE

Y'all know that I'm all about summer time; so I won't be copying anything until the school opens back up in August. For now, I have all of these files nicely organized on my Google Drive, so I just need to print! Exhibit A:  

In fact, I am keeping everything I need right here in this "Beginning of the Year" folder so I can just print and go come August. Score! 

DON'T FORGET: Make a few extra copies of everything so you are prepared when a new student comes. Avoid the new student scramble!

Catching up?

Back to School Basics, Week 2

Happy Tuesday! Today is Week #2 of a summer blog series called, Back to School Basics. It's easy for August to sneak up on you and stress you out big time! This summer I want to help you be ready without sacrificing any of your precious summer! Each week I will give you a tiny task to accomplish and some resources to do it! If you are just joining us, be sure to check out Week #1. if not, let't jump right in! 

This week's task is to start your Back to School Game Plan with a list!
Santa knows what he is doing by making a list and I'll admit it. I am a compulsive list maker. The notes app on my phone is full of all sort of random lists that make zero sense to anyone but me. But lists save my sanity! If i write it down, I don't have to worry about remembering it anymore! Here are the three lists I want you to make:

You can grab this printable for free HERE. I suggest printing it on bright paper (like this) and clipping it in your planner or somewhere so you can easily jot down things as you think of them!

SHOP: What things do you need to buy for your classroom or to start the new school year? By thinking about these things in advance, you can start looking for good deals! Remember that you don't have to shop for all of these things yourself either! Some of them can be added to your classroom wish list which we will tackle another week! Here are some things on my SHOP list:

If you are going to be spending your own money, be sure to keep track of your spending and receipts! You can grab my teacher spending log HERE. 

MAKE: What things do you need to make for your classroom? Please keep in mind that I'm not telling you to do all of these things right now! I'm just telling you to write them down so they are on your radar. Here are some things on my MAKE list:

  • Back to School forms 
  • Weekly newsletter template 
  • Teacher binder 
  • Peanut butter jelly partner board
  • Emergency sub plans 
  • Math tub labels

Don't worry! We will actually be making some of these things in the upcoming weeks! So stay with us!

TO DO: What tasks do you need to accomplish to make your school year successful? For example, my district has some online PD that I have to complete before September. This would be an easy thing for me to do sometime over the summer so that I don't have to worry about doing it when things get crazy in August! Here are some other things on my TO DO list:

  • Clean out teacher binder
  • Organize Google Drive
  • Update classroom Facebook page

What are you waiting for? Get your list on! 
See you next Tuesday! : )

Catching up?

Back to School Basics, Week 1

Happy Tuesday! Today kicks off a summer blog series called, Back to School Basics. It's easy for August to sneak up on you and kick your booty! This summer I want to help you be ready without sacrificing any of your precious summer! Each week I will give you a tiny task to accomplish and some resources to do it! Let't get right to it! 

This week's task is to set up your 2018-2019 school year calendar and for Pete's sake, choose something that works for you! 

1. Pick a system, any system! I have tried a million different calendars, teacher planners and apps. At one point I even tried keeping a personal planner and teacher planner and that was just silly! Honestly, I have to turn my lesson plans in online so it's a total waste of time for me to write them! The best system for me is using one planner for everything.  My favorite is The Happy Planner! This year I am using the Mini Planner because it's the perfect size to throw in my purse or teacher bag!


I still like having an actual paper planner because I like to write things down and keep other notes, business cards, lists in it too. So be honest with yourself, if you buy a planner every single year and never use it past September; don't buy one! Do what works for your in real life, even if it's not super cute! If you do like using a paper planner, here are a few things I like to use in my planner...


2. Print out a copy of your district's calendar and add the dates to your calendar. You know you want to start counting down the days til Christmas break! If you keep a paper planner, print a smaller copy of the calendar and use washi tape to tape it in so you always have it handy. 

3. Add birthdays and any other important dates! Don't forget about your teammates or any other important people in the school that you might want to remember! This year I started typing important dates by month and then just printing them out because they don't change year to year! 

4. What else is going on?  Weddings? Vacations? Do you need a substitute? What about professional development? Make note of anything else coming up! It will feel so good to have everything on the calendar! Plus it can't sneak up! 

You can do this!