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Teachers everywhere are figuring out how to bring learning into the homes of students, and we are rocking it!  Distance Teaching is currently the new normal, and technology is our biggest and best tool.

While researching ways that I can help, I stumbled upon the Boom Learning website, where you can play Boom Cards.  Boom Cards are interactive digital resources that kiddos can access on tablets, computers, and mobile devices that are connected to the internet.  They are self-checking, require zero prep, and provide instant feedback to teachers.  Sounds great, right? Especially as we navigate teaching virtually!  More on how to create a Boom account later! ;)

Since discovering Boom Cards, I got to work!  I am really proud of my new set, Read & Sequence.  I'd love to show you a little more about it!

On each Read & Sequence card, students will read a short story and look at the pictures, and then number the pictures in order of events.  On Boom, kiddos can simply click and drag each number over the correct picture!  Sequencing is an essential reading comprehension strategy, and these 3-step sequencing cards are awesome practice!  When kiddos are ready, they will hit the green "submit" button.  If the answers are correct, the next card will appear.  If answers are incorrect, they'll have a chance to correct any mistakes.

As noted in the picture, there are 24 short stories included.  So as not to overwhelm students, I separated the cards into four decks of six story cards each.  Kiddos can choose a deck to complete.  When they are done, they'll be directed back to the menu, where they can choose another deck or take a little break.

These digital task cards are PERFECT for Distance Learning, and they would be great in the classroom as well!  They are engaging and can be completed individually.  It would make an awesome learning center or small group activity!  

So how do you access my interactive Read & Sequence cards?  You can purchase them from my TpT shop, where you will download a PDF with a special link, or you can buy them right on Boom.  This set is also included in a money saving BUNDLE on TpT!

To PLAY your Boom cards, you'll need to sign-up for an account on Boom Learning.  To help teachers everywhere, they are offering FREE Ultimate memberships through June 2020.  And to be honest, the membership fee after that is very reasonably priced at just $15 to $35 per year (depending on how many students you'd need to add).

To get set with your free extended trial, just head to Boom Learning and follow the instructions on this fancy graphic:

I am not affiliated with Boom Learning at all, by the way!  I just think this platform is an awesome way to 1) utilize technology in your classroom and 2) assign work during this Learn at Home phase!

Feel free to pin the image below to save this post for later or share it with your teacher friends! :)

If you've been following me for awhile, then you already know that I LOVE to craft. So when I was given the opportunity to partner with Cricut, I jumped at the chance!  They asked me to create some fun DIY classroom projects using their Cricut Maker machine.  I'm so excited to share my first project with you! 
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
This post contains affiliate links.

Choosing what to make first was the hardest part of the whole process-- seriously! Cricut makes it extremely easy to learn how to use their machines.  You can find tutorials on their site, and each machine comes with an example project and instructions so you can get a feel for how it works.  There are also various tutorials around the web for all different kinds of crafts.

For my first project, I decided to make a classroom birthday board.  I am in LOVE with how it turned out!  If you want to make your own, keep reading for a supply list and step-by-step instructions.

You will need the following materials to complete this project:


1. Paint one cupcake for each month on the wood pallet.  I made myself a little stencil and painted all the bottoms first, then all the middles, and so on.  You could also choose another shape, like balloons, stars, etc.  Allow paint to dry.

2. In Cricut Design Space, choose your fonts and images. If you'd like your sign to look like mine, HERE is the link to my design. Be sure to size everything appropriately to fit the wood piece that you are working with.

*Tip: If using two different colors of vinyl, change the colors of your images in Design Space and Cricut will automatically place them on separate cutting mats.

3. Select "Make It" then set the material to "Shimmer Vinyl."  Load the blade into the machine if it's not already.

4. Place your vinyl on the machine mat, shimmer side up.  Load the mat into the machine using the flashing arrow button.  Then press the flashing Cricut symbol to start cutting!

5. Peel the finished vinyl from the mat and remove any negative pieces from your design with a weeding tool.  Your design images should remain on the liner.

6. After weeding, cut the elements of your design into separate parts (I separated each month so I had 12 pieces, and did the title in two parts).  Place transfer tape over the design elements and use the scraper tool to transfer the design from the liner to the tape.  Peel the transfer tape up carefully to remove the original vinyl liner.

7. Lay the design elements on top of the wood pallet where you want them to go.  Press down with your hand and then burnish really well with the scraper tool.  Lift off the transfer tape.

8. Measure and cut lengths of ribbon.  Hot glue to the back of the wood pallet so they hang beneath each month.

And that's it! From there you can add clothespins with student names and birthdays, and clip them to the ribbon.  Hang your birthday board in your classroom and ENJOY your hard work!

If you want to save this project for the future, feel free to pin the image below!

The first day of school is a busy, busy day filled with learning about each other, collecting/handing out supplies, and teaching procedures.  I always try to make it as special as possible for my students by completing fun projects in between all the "business" of the day.

One of my faaaavorite activities is making magic bead bracelets with my kiddos!  I used to make magic play-doh but it involves some prep.  The bracelets are suuuper simple to make, you only need a few supplies, and you don't need to prep much at all ahead of time.

This post contains affiliate links.

A set of 1000 magic beads is more than enough for your class.  Each student will need about 20-25 or so beads.  I like to separate the beads into little cups or containers beforehand.  I'm not sure where the pictured containers are from, but these plastic cups with lids would work just as well.  It's also a good idea to use craft trays to help prevent rolling beads, but it's not necessary.

Pipe cleaners are perfect for making these bracelets-- you can use colorful or white stems, it's up to you!  The pipe cleaners are thick and hold the pony beads so they won't roll off the other end.  Both of my girls (5 and 2.5) did a wonderful job making their own bracelets!  I had my almost kindergartener count the beads as she went along.

Once enough beads are on the stems, twist the two ends closed and snip any extra length.  I like to leave a little bit of space so it's easier to slide the bracelets on/off, but not so loose that they fall off.  Then just tuck the ends of the pipe cleaners in so that the pointy part doesn't stick out.

Now if you're wondering what makes these white bead bracelets so magical... the beads are actually color changing UV beads!!  They change colors when outside in the sunlight, just like magic!

Before heading outside, I like to tell my students, "Your bracelets will magically change color if you are going to have a GREAT year in first grade!"  You can then take a little walk outside (if that's allowed at your school) or have your kiddos wait until after school.  They can report back!  I've done this project right at the end of the day so it's fresh on my students' minds as they are dismissed.  The next day they come back and are SO excited to report that they WILL have a great year!!  Some students continue to wear the bracelets day after day, others twist them onto backpacks, and EVERYONE loves it! :)

Feel free to pin the image below to save this post for later or share it with your teacher friends! :)

Setting up or closing a classroom (depending on when you're reading this) can be a stressful time of year... but it doesn't have to be.  It can be fun, too!  Opening your classroom is a fresh start, a chance to try something new and create a welcoming space for you and your students.  And closing your classroom means it's time for summer break, so what's not to love about that ;)

Today I'd like to share a tip that has helped me tremendously over the years.  It's not exactly rocket science and I'm sure many of you already do this, but I didn't think of it my first few times around so hopefully it will help someone out there!

Here's the first part of this brilliant idea: a classroom set-up supply box!

This post contains affiliate links.

What goes inside the box? ANYTHING you might need for decorating your classroom!  Prepare your box ahead of time, like when you are closing up your classroom, to make going back easier.  (Or if you have a separate batch of supplies specifically for classroom set-up, even better!)  Your to-do list will be long enough-- you don't want to add searching for your staple remover to the list.

Here's a look at what I put inside my supply box.  I've linked my favorites below each picture so you can easily find something you might need!

stapler (one that opens for tacking) | staples | staple remover | scissors | hole punch
hammer & nails | level (not pictured, but handy for hanging items) | 

hot glue gun & sticks | Scotch masking tape (the best IMO) | tape | velcro

magnet dots | push pin magnets (I have tons of magnets in the red box) | push pins 
Command hooks | Stikki Clips (not pictured BUT SO IMPORTANT) | black Sharpies

Now for the second, very important part of this idea: put the box somewhere you can quickly find and access it!  Take it from me: putting all your supplies in one box at the back of your closet isn't going to help you.  So, as you're shoving things in said closet-- err, cleaning your classroom-- at the end of the year, make sure your supply box is easy to find and easy to grab when you go looking for it in a few months.

I hope this simple tip helps you, whether you're a veteran teacher or brand new to the game!  Feel free to pin the image below to save this post for later or share it with your teacher friends! :)

I'm always looking for ways to make my kids' screen time more valuable--both in the classroom and at home.  That's why I love the idea behind the new streaming service app, Vooks!  Vooks is like the Netflix of children's books, offering better screen time for kids with animated storybooks.
This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

A Vooks subscription offers unlimited access to an ever-expanding library of books for kids ages 2-8. My first time scrolling through the app, I noticed the library included classroom favorites such as The Snowy Day and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as at-home favorites like Cinderella. Both of my girls (ages 2 and 4.5) were immediately hooked as soon as the video for Cinderella begin to play.
With words on screen and perfectly-paced animation, this app encourages the development of literacy, focus, and imagination. As a teacher I love that the text is highlighted in bold letters as the words in the story are read. This helps kiddos with tracking (matching the speech to print) as they follow along and listen, which is great for beginning and improving readers. At the same time, the illustrations come to life and jump off the page. The slow-paced animation encourages focus while fostering imagination. If you have access to tablets in your classroom, add Vooks to your center rotation for a fun alternative to library time!
The app can be used anywhere there is an internet connection, and it's accessible on your smartphone, tablet and computer. A huge bonus: you can also download a bunch of Vooks ahead of time and watch them even if you don't have access to the internet! This is an awesome feature for road trips if you're a parent, or spotty internet connections in schools if you're a teacher (you know the internet is down as often as the copy machine is broken... tell me it isn't true).
It is worth mentioning that unlike some other apps and services, there are no ads and Vooks is guaranteed kid-friendly. This is a GREAT feature, because teachers and parents won't have to worry about what their students and children are viewing. Kiddos can move from book to book within the app without possibly clicking on something that isn't age appropriate.

Books on Vooks (isn't that fun to say?) are also categorized in some pretty amazing ways. Be Brave and Be You are two excellent examples. You can also browse by categories like New Releases and Classics, or sort by age range.
Since Vooks is a subscription service, there is a low monthly fee of $4.99 or an annual fee of $49.99. However, everyone who signs up will receive a FREE 7-day trial!  Like most kids, my girls enjoy their screen time very much. So far, they've enjoyed browsing the Vooks app. One of their favorite finds is an animal alphabet book! And since Vooks is a better alternative to screen time, it's both guilt-free for parents and fun for kids--I call that a win-win!

I have always loved giving my students little themed gifts throughout the year.  And now that I'm the mom of a preschooler, I'm also having fun sending in treats for my daughter's classmates!

For Christmas this year, I thought it would be fun to create Play-Doh Christmas tree kits!  Instead of just a little toy or trinket, these kits will allow kids to use their imaginations and create something.  All you need are a few crafty supplies... and I bet you already have some of them in your teacher closet!

This post contains affiliate links.

You will need:
star beads or cutouts
FREE bag topper (linked below)

Stuff each sandwich size Ziploc with one can of green Play-Doh.  I found enough individual cans at my local craft store, but you can actually buy a case online.  Next, add your embellishments! I used red and silver tinsel pipe cleaners for the garland.  Cut two pipe cleaners in half, for a total of 4 pieces per bag.  Pony beads make the perfect ornaments-- grab a handful and add it to your kit.  Sequins or rhinestones are other fun options.  Last, add in a few stars!  I found star beads at the craft store.  You could also use a star punch to create stars from card stock.

Once your bags are stuffed, seal them up (push out as much air as you can so it will be easier to add the label).  Cut out the bag toppers (I recommend printing on card stock), fold them in half, place over the top of the bag, and staple on both sides.

I included two versions of the tag in this free file: one has a little heart with space to write your name, and the other does not.  Click HERE to download your copy!

Kids will love this creative gift!  And how cute are the decorated trees?!

Feel free to pin the image below to save this post for later or share it with your teacher friends! :)

Communication with parents is KEY when you're a teacher.  Unfortunately, getting in touch with parents isn't always easy.  Notes get crumpled in backpacks, phone calls home go unanswered, and scheduling conflicts can get in the way of face-to-face meetings.  

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

Luckily... there's an app for that!  I was recently introduced to ClassTag, a FREE classroom communication app (and website).  I've used other apps in the past, but this one takes the cake.  It has everything you could possibly need in one handy application!  It is available as an app for iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as a complete website.

Through ClassTag, teachers can directly message parents or choose to send a note to the whole class at once.  The private message is great for addressing a behavior issue or discussing a grade.  The class-wide announcement is a quick and easy way to remind everyone about Picture Day, for example.  The app will convert the message to text or email (based on parent preference) and it will *automatically* translate it into 50+ languages.  What?!  It's also worthy of noting that the messages are sent from private numbers, so your information is kept safe.

ClassTag makes asking for volunteers (chaperones for the zoo field trip) and donations (apple juice for the class party) EASIER than ever!  With just a few clicks, teachers can create a "Volunteer Request" or "To Do Item" and parents can sign up right from their account.  Too many volunteers (as if that's possible?) and cupcakes in excess (again, as if that's possible?) are not an issue because limits can be set right in the request.

It's also super easy to organize parent-teacher conferences with ClassTag.  I know firsthand how difficult it can be to coordinate meetings with 20+ families and their busy schedules.  ClassTag allows teachers to organize conferences 1, 2, 3 by creating time slots on certain days.  Parents can sign up for a time that works for them, and there won't be any double booking!  The app will also send out reminders so parents won't forget their meeting time, which is great!

Another awesome feature of ClassTag is the ability to share fun classroom moments with families.  Teachers can upload photos of craft projects, videos of the holiday concert, or simply information on exciting classroom happenings!  Parents can then see these notes right on the class page and stay up-to-date with what's going on at school... because every kid says, "nothing," when asked.

Other noteworthy elements include weekly newsletters and a stats page.   ClassTag will automatically send out newsletters with events, due dates and announcements from the week.  ClassTag also keeps an activity record on the "Family Activity" page that shows who is viewing and responding to messages and who isn't.  That means teachers can even check on parent engagement! Can we send them report cards, too?! ;)

Last but not least, ClassTag offers a fun feature called The Marketplace, where teachers can cash in virtual coins, or "ClassTag Coins," for classroom supplies.  Earning coins is easy-- simply use the app to communicate!!  ClassTag Coins are added when teachers send messages, when parents sign up for events, and more.  Rewards in The Marketplace range from googly eyes to books to gift cards!

ClassTag has everything teachers could possibly need rolled into one, easy-to-use app (plus full access on the web)!  It is the perfect tool for parent-teacher communication... it helps turn parents into partners!

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