Get Ready for Back to School in the Summer

Summer is about more than just hanging out at the beach and drinking tasty cocktails. 

You’ll get more done when you take your drink to the computer with you! That’s how you can get better results with your summer – or at least be more prepared for the school year. 

But as we all know we don’t get to hang out at the beach all summer. The truth is, even though we are on summer vacation we are already thinking about the next school year. 

So here are 5 easy ideas that can simplify your path to getting ready for back to school during your summer break. 

# 1. Decide on your Classroom Theme

This is a really important part of your classroom and being an elementary teacher we are always wanting our classroom to have a theme. Even if you stick with your same classroom theme from last year, it’s always fun to add something new to your room. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. There are so many DIY ideas you can do.

My theme is Texans and I have made several fun additions to my classroom. They didn’t cost much and it was fun to do some crafts during the summer. You can read more about it here.

Texans classroom decor

# 2. Obtain Classroom Supplies

This is the time of the year to buy extra supplies that go on sale. It’s always a good idea to have extra pencils, paper, pens, folders, and dry erase markers. I know I had to go into my stash of pencils at the end of the year because my kids ate all of them this year! It’s cheaper to buy them for $.25 in the summer instead of $2 during the school year.

One of my favorite classroom supplies are chalk markers. I’m in a very old school and we still have blackboards. These are great to use on them and make it much cuter.

# 3. Plan your First Week Back

This is a great time to think about what books you want to read to your class the first week of school. The fun icebreakers you want to do with them. Pinterest has some great ideas you can do for classroom building activities and fun get to know you games.

One of my favorite books to read is First Day Jitters. It’s a must have for the first day of school!

# 4. Look at the Curriculum Guides

This is a great time to look at your curriculum guides. If your district outlines your timeline for you this is a great time to see what you are teaching and when. Go through and look at the standards and see what activities you can add to the timeline to be helpful for your students. You can even go make some Pinterest boards for each standard and starting pinning ideas that you would like to do during the school year.

You are more refreshed in the summer and will definitely appreciate having some ideas ready to go when you get to October. It’s no fun trying to look for great activities on character feelings on a Sunday night. I know I’ve been there!

# 5. Get a Sub Folder 

This is a really important one. Make sure you have a sub folder in place for the school year. You never know when you are going to be out for an emergency and can’t make it to school to prepare for a sub. Our school makes it mandatory before the school year even begins.

If you are interested in getting started with free sub plans you can find some here.

Is there anything I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the post with the best ideas (and a link crediting you).



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Back to School Tips

It’s back to school time! There’s  so much going on that sometimes I don’t even know where to start. It feels like I’m being pulled in all directions. Well I need to remind myself that I’m not Superwoman and I need to stop and take a deep breath. I will do what I can and let the rest go. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that some things can be let go. So here are some back to school tips when you come back to a room that looks like this…

empty classroom

Tip #1. Breath: I know that sounds easy but it is really stressful when you walk into a completely empty room. You know you only have a short amount of time to get it ready for your kids. So just breath and look at the positive. The floors are really shiny!

Tip #2. Take one section at a time: Decide what you want to do first and stick to it until you finish. Maybe you want to go ahead and do all your bulletin boards while everything is out of the way. That’s what I do. Maybe you want to set up your desk first so you can have your computer ready to go. I work on this second. Whatever you do, taking one section at a time will help you keep your sanity and keep your classroom uncluttered.

Tip #3. Organize as you go: You definitely don’t want to just throw things in your desk because you will be upset with yourself all year long. Take the time to put everything where you can find it. Make sure you leave some extra room in a drawer for new things you will get throughout the year. Definitely use containers to keep paperclips and little things contained in one spot.

organized desk

Tip #4. Make an emergency kit: I finally did this last year and it was a lifesaver. I put all the necessities I thought I would need in case of an emergency. You never know when you are going to have to stay at work late or need to freshen up during the day. Jessica from Time Out with Mom, has an awesome blog post on creating a teacher emergency kit. Make sure to check it out by clicking on the picture.


Tip #5: Make a sub tub: You definitely need an emergency sub tub. You never know when you are going to be out and won’t be able to get up to the school to get your plans ready. You can just have another teacher get your sub tub out and you are ready to go. If you would like my free sub plans to get you started click here.

I also have some sub plans that you can use with a favorite read aloud. Click on the picture below if you would like to check them out.

sub plans





Let me know in the comments below which tip you are going to try out.



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Classroom DIY- Monday Made It

I have been busy doing some classroom DIY lately so I decided to link up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

Monday Made It 1

I wanted to choose a different classroom theme this year since I was switching classrooms and grade levels. I am looping with  my students from 3rd grade to 4th grade. I really wanted to do a theme that my class would love. After a lot of thought I decided to do a Texans themed classroom. I live in Houston and we are a huge football city. My students are huge football fans. Most of my boys play football and many of my girls are cheerleaders. So I began getting my decor. The problem is I have to make a lot of it myself.

Button 1The first thing I made was a paperclip holder. I was able to buy many of the desk supplies with the Texans logo but not a paperclip holder.

texans paperclip container     IMG_4946

I bought the supplies and stuck the magnet to the cover of the jar. I then stuck the sticker tattoos on the jar and put the paperclips in the jar.

texans paperclip holder    texans paperclip holder

Oh so easy and cute! This could be done with any theme.

Button 2So I am not a seamstress by any means. In fact one of my best friends (who is a fashion designer) would cringe if she saw these pictures. I do not sew but I do have an heavy duty glue gun! You would be surprised what you can make with some material and a glue gun. A couple of years ago I made some monster pillows for my classroom with felt and a glue gun. They lasted two years. So I decided to make some Texans pillows for my classroom library.

texans pillowI bought a twin sheet set. The set came with a pillow case so I just put a pillow in the case and glued it shut. That was super easy. Then I took the sheets and cut out some of the material, turned it inside out, and glued two sides together. I then turned it back the right way, put the pillow in, and glued then end shut.

small texans pillowThis is the end product. Not too bad looking.

Texans pillow

Button 3I also made some Mod Podge Items.

texans decor

I bought some Texans gift wrap and Mod Podged it to pencil box and a chalkboard frame. I really am pleased with how they turned out.

Texans classroom

So I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can make some items of your favorite theme in your classroom. I will be posting some pictures of my classroom soon.


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Back to School Struggles

Am I the only one struggling with Back to School time this year? I know I have a lot of other things going on in my life but, this year seems to be extremely difficult.


When you look on Pinterest and Facebook you see all the wonderful posts about back to school time and all the beautiful classrooms. You see the awesome back to school activities everyone is doing. My room is decorated nicely and I did some cute back to school activities. My kids loved it. Yet underneath it all I’m still struggling with being back in the classroom.

Here are some of the reasons:

  • I feel unprepared with the new math curriculum. I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time to digest the new standards.
  • I didn’t get to spend enough time in my classroom getting it all setup.
  • My school just got a new principal, assistant principal, and other administrative staff within the last 3 weeks. Thank goodness all of them were already at our school, they just moved up in new positions.
  • I am also the new Technology liason at our campus this year. I continue to get lots of emails about lots of things I don’t know anything about.
  • I am a mentor teacher for a new teacher on my grade level.

I know people don’t want to read blog posts about teachers struggling in the classroom so early in the year. I  also believe I cannot be the only teacher already struggling.

This is my 14th year of teaching and this year seems extremely difficult for me. But is it really more difficult than all of the other back to school times? Is it like child-birth, in that you don’t remember all the excruciating pain and torture?

If I really look back at my previous 13 years of back to school times, would I think this was really the toughest year?

My first year of teaching: September 2001. It started off wonderful but 2 short weeks later it was horrific. My degree did not prepare me for how to handle Sept. 11th with my students.

My fourth year of teaching: 2004. The school I worked at closed down a week before school started and I had to become a teacher’s aide in Kindergarten at a new school. Not the easiest thing to do.

My fifth year of teaching: 2005. New school, new team, my first time in public school, and 24 second graders.  Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and many new students to our school. Huge learning year.

Then there were several years after that when we had to take everything down in our classroom and set it back up due to issues with the building.

2008: Hurricane Ike hitting our area. No electricity or school for 2 weeks, school flooded, resetting up classroom on concrete floors. Then having to redo everything several months later when we got the new floors.

2013: Moved to 3rd grade and switched rooms and team members. I felt like a new teacher.

2014: Refer to list above.

So is this year really more difficult than in the years past? Do we sometimes forget the beginning of the year until we have to do it again?

I guess I just to need to get through the next couple of weeks and try to remember that this too shall pass. Don’t let all the cutesy decorations and fun posts fool you.

back to school shoppingThis was the fun field trip to Lakeshore last week.

The beginning of the school year is tough for teachers! I know I can get through this just like I have the past 13 times.Hopefully I’m not the only one with back to school struggles. How about you? Let me know what you struggle with.


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Getting Ready for Back to School

It’s that time again! Have you started getting ready for back to school? I’m linking up with Where the Magic Happens for another great week of the Diggin’ series. Titleslide1This week I’m going to be looking at some ways that I get ready for back to school. These  pictures are from last year because we still have two more weeks before we go back to school.

This area is one of the central locations in my room. The students daily work is put in the tray. The first aid kit, flashlight, and nurse’s notes are  located here. This is also where my safekeeper box is kept. This is part of  the Conscious Discipline program that our district uses. friends and family

Friends and Family Board

One of the first things I always do is setup my friends and family board. This is a great way to make the students feel like this is their classroom. I send a note home at the beginning of the year for the students to bring a photo from home to put on the board. The kids love seeing each other’s family on the board. I put my family picture on there also. This is one of the great ideas from Conscious Discipline. You can read more about how I use Conscious Discipline in my classroom here.

Commitment Board

This part of the board is also an idea from Conscious Discipline. The students come up with 3-4 rules for the classroom. I then put them on the board. Each day the students came in they would take their picture and stick in next to the “rule” they were going to commit to do their best on for that day. Then at the end of the day if they stuck with their commitment they would give themselves a pat on the back. If not they would say “Oops!” and try again the next day. Below is a copy of the commitment board from the year before. commitments

Calming Lotions

These lotions are for the kids to use when they are stressed, sad, hurt, or just need a little extra something. You can learn more about them here  (one of my previous posts). There is also a free download of the labels there.

calming lotion

How I Get Home

This is a great way to see how each child gets home daily from school. I took some ribbon and used a glue gun to put the different ways students get home. The students can then attach a clothespin to the picture of how they get home.  I have a monster theme in my classroom so I made the cards with monsters. If you would like a copy of them click on the picture below. how we get home_Page_1I hope you were able to get some good back to school ideas.


Don’t forget the TPT Back to School Sale is going on Monday and Tuesday. Everything in my store will be 20% off. Then use the promo code to get another 10% off.

back to school sale


The Diggin’ Series Giveaway is coming soon! Make sure to come back and check it out. It is going to be huge!

Slide2[3]Have a great week!


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Back to School Finds

Back to school shopping already? I went to Target with a list of items I needed. I casually went into the dollar section, like I always do, and there they were! So I had to buy them. Right? If I waited too long then all the other teachers will snag them up. So here are some of the wonderful back to school finds I bought.

Teacher Tote

I found this cool teacher tote. When you put it together it is a small filing storage unit. I have file folders in it now from the workshops I have been to this summer. I think it will be a great tote to keep my sub plans and unit.

teacher tote

Storage Bins

I saw these and had to have them! I got them in 3 colors. These are great to put on the tables to store the students’ supplies. I put bins of books on the tables for the kids to read. I always have to buy more every year so, I thought I would try these out. They are only $1.

storage bins

Write on Cups

I found these and thought what can I do with these. I have a cup of highlighters at the turn in tray for kids to highlight their name before they turn in a paper. This would be a cute cup to use and I could write a little message on the cup. I also thought I could use these for sharpened and unsharpened pencils. I might use them in my math stations for supplies or manipulatives. I might need to go back and buy some more. They had several designs to pick from.


Classroom Prizes

I always need to stock up on classroom prizes. I love the cute erasers. My 3rd graders love the pop up pencils. I found Avengers for the boys and Disney Princess for the girls. My favorite find were the Dr. Seuss pens. They have regular pens and 10 color pens. I think I might need to keep some of these for myself.


Dr. Seuss

They had a whole section of Dr. Seuss dollar items. Bags, stickers, notepads, and whiteboards. I couldn’t pass up the whiteboards. They had some with writing lines for the  primary grades. Then they had these cute ones. I had to get them. They only had 5 so I bought all they had. As we were leaving I saw the employees were stocking up the bins. I really wanted to go back but, I stopped myself.

dr seuss

Needless to say I spent just a bit on $1 bin items. I really need to stay away from Target for a while but, I don’t won’t to miss anything!


I have one more find  that I want to tell you about. You must go to  Kohl’s and get the Kohl’s Cares books. I love them!  They have Litter Critter books and several of them were fairy tales. I bought all 3 fairy tales. Where else can you get a pop up hardback book for $5 and, it’s for charity. The stuffed animals are just too adorable also. I do not have any room in my house or classroom for anymore stuffed animals.

My daughter is loving these books. I have had to read them over and over to her. They really are great versions of the fairy tales. The print is large and the readability is enough for younger children.

kohls books      red riding hood

Have you found any back to school buys yet? Leave a comment below and let me know.


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