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Picture it: You're in the middle of a math lesson and you ask your class, "Does anyone know what 10 - 7 is?"  Several students' hands go up, you pick one, and instead of a number you hear, "Can I go to the bathroom?"

As teachers, we all know this scenario too well.  But interrupting learning time is only one bathroom issue that teachers face daily.  I can think of a some more off the top of my head:

-If you say yes to one student, you can almost guarantee 12 other hands will go up.
-There are several "frequent flyers" in your group.
-Your kids think the bathroom is a place to shout and play.
-Your classroom bathroom is a mess by midday.
-The bathroom is all the way down the hall.

Whatever grade you teach, you've faced one or more of these bathroom dilemmas (and probably more).  And on top of those, sometimes it's hard to determine who really has to go.  
For years I struggled to find the right solution, and I have tried a lot of different things.  I weeded out what worked and what didn't, and I put a bunch of them together into a Bathroom Rules & Management Kit!

The ideas presented in this post can be used together or alone.  Use what's right for YOU and YOUR STUDENTS!  Please always keep in mind that some children need to use the bathroom more than others for medical reasons.  Always have an open mind when it comes to bathroom emergencies as well!

* * *
First thing's first, you absolutely need to set rules and expectations for bathroom breaks.  This is important whether you have a bathroom IN your classroom or way down the hall.  I've had three classrooms without and one classroom with (by far my favorite), so I've dealt with both scenarios.

I included nine rules posters that you can display in your class bathroom, near the door as a subtle reminder before kiddos exit your room, or even in the hall outside of the bathroom.  Other reminders (not shown) include knocking first, closing the door behind you, and being quiet/no playing.

I always love to create anchor charts with my students.  Discussing proper bathroom etiquette is no exception!  There are large anchor chart pieces in this set that you can use with chart paper.  List your ideas with marker or use Post-It notes (kids can write their ideas and put them in the correct spot).  Later you can use the editable mini posters to type your answers and create a small visual.  There are two useful topics included: "Is it a good time to use the bathroom?" and "How should I behave in the bathroom?" Students can refer to these all year!

One idea that's always worked for me is the use of STOP and GO signs.  I like to hang them back-to-back right on the bathroom door.  I just punch a hole in the top, tie with string, and hang them on a command hook.  When students enter the bathroom, they flip the sign to STOP so other kids know that it's occupied.  When they come out, they flip the sign back to GO!

You can also use the STOP and GO signs as a "good to go" signal. Create a small display on your chalkboard or whiteboard using the "Is it a good time to use the bathroom?" anchor chart header.  Switch out the STOP and GO signs during the day so your students can take a look and see right away whether it's a good time to ask.

One of the biggest bathroom issues I've faced is when students ask to use the bathroom A LOT.  It's hard sometimes to figure out who is just looking to escape and who really has to go.  And on top of that, there's so much going on during the day that it's not easy to remember who already went and how many times! (I have a terrible memory, anyone else?!)

 I was looking for a fun way to TRACK and REDUCE bathroom breaks to see who was asking me all the time, while also hoping to cut back on the amount of [unnecessary] breaks.  And so, I created a checkout system that really helped!  I explain the system in further detail inside the Bathroom Rules & Management Kit, but basically I use pom poms to represent bathroom breaks.  I can easily see who's asking and who isn't.  

Another great way to track trips is with a tally chart!  You can use this on it's own, and change the chart out weekly, bi-weekly, monthly... it's up to you!  There's also a black & white version for easy copying.  You can also use the tally chart WITH the pom pom system, which is what I do!  Since the poms will be emptied daily (make it a student job!) the tally chart is a quick way to mark bathroom breaks at the end of the day and have a record on hand.  You can refer to it if you need to speak to a parent.

Individual bathroom passes are another great option.  Give each student three passes (or more or less--up to you) for the day/week and have them turn them in with each trip they take.  Passes can be kept at student desks or in a designated spot (like a pocket chart) and they can be dropped in a specific turn-in bin.

Whichever tracking system you use, I highly recommend adding an incentive!  Candy, stickers, mini erasers, and bouncy balls are all fun ideas!  If kiddos aren't asking or using up all their passes in any given day/week/month (again, it's up to you), they can earn a little reward OR earn tickets for prize drawings.  This will help discourage those unnecessary breaks.

All of the ideas above AND MORE are included in my Bathroom Rules & Management Kit.  You will also find hall passes, a Wheelchair Accessible sign, labels, and various options.  I really tried to include EVERYTHING you need to manage bathroom breaks in your classroom!!  I'm telling you-- these ideas are GAME CHANGERS!!

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

One of my favorite organizational tools for the classroom is the B.E.E. Book!  B.E.E. stands for Bring Everything Everyday.  It's a fancy name for a take home folder. ;) 

But it's not just any take home folder.  It's the BEST take home folder.  Because it keeps kids organized.  And their parents.  And me.  I call that a win-win-win!

*I'm going to lose the dots and just refer to it as a BEE now, don't judge ;)*
This post contains affiliate links.

I purchase and put together the BEE Books for my class.  I like the folders to be uniform and it gives me a chance to have them ready for the first day of school.  I always choose bright yellow folders for my BEE Books, because bees.  Black folders would also be a perfect fit!  I buy the poly portfolios with prongs as they have the best chance of lasting throughout the school year.

You can include as little or as much inside as you want.  I keep mine fairly simple.  On the outside I add a cute label with my kiddos' names (you can add student numbers, too).

On the inside I label the left and right pockets.  The left side is for papers that should be LEFT at home.  These might include completed papers, school flyers... anything that can be taken out and stay at home.  The right side is for papers that should come RIGHT back to school.  These might include notices or test papers that need signatures, homework to complete... anything that you want to see again.

I also include a 3-hole pencil pouch in the BEE that we use for money and notes.  Without it, money for lunch, field trips, and book orders was lost in pockets and desks, and notes to me were crumpled in the bottom of backpacks.  Now we all know where to put and look for these items!

As I mentioned above, I keep my BEEs simple.  Aside from the labeled pockets and zipper pouch, I add in two clear page protectors for our spelling menu and homework/skills assignment sheet.  I also 3-hole punch our behavior calendars and pop them in the BEE, too.  If you use a clip chart, you can even stick a mini version inside so parents are aware of the color code! 

BEE Books go home with students every afternoon, and come back to school every morning.  My firsties know that when they empty their backpacks in the morning, their BEEs go in a specific bin, and that they aren't supposed to take anything out (either myself or my aide will go through it).  If you teach older kids, you can assign more responsibility... or even as the year progresses with the young ones!

If you want to make your own BEE Books for your class, I provided the cover and inside labels in my *editable* Notebook & Folder Labels pack.  There are tons of other labels, too!  You just type your class list in ONCE and student names will autofill on EVERY page of labels.  So easy!  They are made to go on these Avery labels because they are nice and big.

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

I am VERY excited to share my latest product with you!  My Year in School Memory Book is a WONDERFUL way for students to document the *entire* school year!
This post contains affiliate links.

This memory book is special because students will add to these ALL YEAR!  There are monthly pages for kiddos to fill out at the end of each month, as well as pages for special days like the First Day of School or the 100th Day.  I even included a page so students can look forward to Next Year.

I also was sure to differentiate this pack.  There are THREE levels of memory book printables included to accommodate different grade levels and all types of learners!  I set it up for students in Pre-K/TK, 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th {covers also included for those grade levels}.

Last but not least, I included an editable PowerPoint document so you can add memory pages for ANY day you like {Halloween, Reading Day, Spirit Week, etc.}!

Now a quick look at how I put my books together!

The Astrobrights envelopes I used are neon and 9x12" (they don't seem to have neon in stock anymore, but more a primary set).  They come in a pack of 25 and have an adhesive seal, which is what you want in order to laminate {rather than a prong or string}.  The envelopes *just fit* inside a legal size laminating pouch, which is perfect for at home laminating!  If you have access to a large laminator, by all means, use that one instead!! ;)

Complete directions for putting it all together can be found inside My Year in School Memory Books!  If you don't want to go the envelope route, I also included a page of ideas for other ways to assemble your books!

For another look at this product, head to my TpT shop! Be sure to download the preview, too!  I hope you love it!! :)

Do you celebrate Grinch Day in your classroom?  If not, you totally should!!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Grinch visits our classroom one day each December and leaves a lot of GREEN in his path.  It's a really fun day for the kids, especially the ones who believe in the magic of it all ;)  Read on for some of the ideas I use in my classroom each year! 
From top left {clockwise}:

I greet my kiddos with a green streamer curtain on our door. My kids say it is "SO FUN!" to walk through the curtain each time we leave the room.  It's the little things.

Just outside the door, the Grinch alters my welcome sign and labels me as "Mrs. Grinch."  I'm sure both my students and family would agree that sometimes I can be a little Grinchy. ;)

The Grinch loves himself so much, that he frames a photo {er... an old craft} of himself and renames Christmas, "Grinchmas" on our little countdown calendar.

Our elf visitor usually brings us red candy canes {not pictured} and of course, the greedy Grinch has to lick them and turn them all green!  One year one of my kiddos was truly appalled-- until I told him I had a sneaking suspicion that they tasted like apples.

The Grinch makes himself a Super Student with loads of jewels... and he clips all my little ones down to RED!  They are always very concerned about how they will have to color their behavior calendars at the end of the day (maybe the only day they are concerned, ha!)!

Our classroom rules are also tampered with.  Grinch Rules include talking over others, not following directions, and making a mess!  Silly Grinch.  We take this opportunity to discuss what our classroom rules REALLY are.
From top left {clockwise}:

The green guy has to make an appearance, of course!  He made his way from Barnes and Noble a few years ago, but I found a Grinch that is even wearing a Santa suit!  The Grinch also renames our classroom elf to Grinch {anchor chart inspired by Cara}.

Our elf usually finds himself in some Grinchy trouble, like the time he was tied up in green streamers and had to hang out upside down with our lanterns for the day.  The kids wanted me to rescue him but there's that whole "no touching the elf" rule and all!

The Grinch puts our reading buddies {shower puffs from Pier 1... cheap and efficient} into Grinch Jail!

Our class enjoys green frosted cookies and lime green sherbet, courtesy of the Grinch!

Last but not least, a Grinch ornament!  Super easy:  Paint a 3x3" canvas in green.  Paint on a red heart or do as I did and add a foam sticker.  Add red glitter if you like, and hot glue on some ribbon.  Voila!  A Grinchy decoration for your tree :)

**More ideas not pictured!!**

I sprinkle green Grinch glitter all over our desks (it's a mess, but man it's worth it).  The Grinch takes away all our sparklers and classroom compliments {I put them back at the end of the day}.  He sends us an email midday saying that his heart is growing and we can clip back to green.  We read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and watch the cartoon movie.  You can also decorate with green balloons and silly string!

I hope you can use some of these great Grinchy ideas for your celebration next year!!  Do you have any other ideas that you use on Grinch Day?  I'd LOVE to hear them!!
It's the most wonderful time of the year!  If you're starting to think about holiday gift ideas for your students' families, I've got you covered!

As a mama myself, I go weak for handmade art.  I especially love crafts that include fingerprints, handprints, or footprints.  They're a precious keepsake!  That's why I love to make this special gift with my students, and my own girls, too! :)

This post contains affiliate links.

Making these canvas ornaments is so fun and easy!  I bet you have some of the necessary supplies already lying around!  If you don't, I've linked everything below within the directions so you can Prime them right to your house or classroom (Prime is a verb, right?!).

I like to use 3x3" mini canvases.  You can go bigger if you want, but these are the perfect size for ornaments (or just a winter display piece for families who might not celebrate).  I have a bunch of acrylic paints in my supply closet so that's what we use.  The paint dries quickly and washes right off of hands.

I rotate my kids in and out of this station to give each layer of paint a chance to dry.  The first thing we do is paint the background a solid color with foam brushes.  I like to offer red, green, blue and yellow.  Once the background layer has dried, I use a foam brush to paint my students' hands-- pointer, middle & ring fingers plus some of the palm under those fingers-- and they stamp their prints onto the canvas.  With the brush, they can fill in the snow on the bottom.

After their prints have dried, the next step is to add details!  We use toothpicks for this part.  They're the perfect tool for creating tiny faces, arms, and snow details!

Let your students get creative and add scarves, hats, and even bows to their snowmen!

I love how different they all turn out!!  Once your kiddos are done decorating, lay the canvases out to completely dry.  I let them sit overnight just to be sure none of the details smudge.

The following day, I use hot glue to attach ribbon to the completed canvases to turn them into ornaments!  Students can hang them on their trees at home or put them on display if they don't have a tree.

Voila!  Aren't they the cutest?!

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

Groundhog Day is fast approaching!  What do you have planned for your class?  In honor of my new craftivity pack, I put together a post full of Groundhog Day fun for your kiddos!

First up is my latest craftivity!!  Groundhog Day {Craftivity, Printables & Reader} includes the adorable craft pictured above and below.  There are four writing prompts, several printables (such as a word search and write & draw page), and a Groundhog Day reader included!

Check out the listing in my TpT shop for more information!  I hope you love it!!

Another fun activity that I just love is this huge predictions graph!  You can let your kiddos create their own little groundhogs or you can even shrink down the craftivity from my pack when printing the pieces!  The graph idea is from Welcome to Room 36.

What fun is a themed lesson without a themed snack?!  These pudding cups are not only cute, but would be fun to make with your class!  Who can resist a yummy chocolate cupcake??  Not me!  They look pretty easy to recreate.  Or how about a little "Shadow or Not" cookie treat for your kiddos to take home?

ABC's of Literacy put together a great list of books to help celebrate Groundhog Day...
...and Simply Kinder put together a collection of teacher approved videos!

However you decide to celebrate, your kiddos are sure to have a blast! :)

Have you heard of Secret Star?  You've probably seen me talk about it before... and that's because I *love* this trick!  Secret Star is a classroom management tool that works WONDERS on hallway behavior, assembly behavior, teacher talking to the Principal by the door behavior… you get the idea!

This post contains affiliate links.

Here's how it works:  By the door, I keep the above display, which includes a framed "Are you the Secret Star?" sign, a Secret Star Students jar, and a Secret Starbursts jar.  Whenever I need a quiet and well-behaved class, I tell my kiddos I'm looking for the Secret Star and I'll take a token from the Secret Star Students jar.  My tokens have student numbers on them, but you could use names, too.  
Once I have a student picked, I will nonchalantly observe him or her as we walk through the hall {or sit in an assembly, or…}  But SHHH!  It's a secret!  No one knows who I'm looking at… and so they ALL behave!  Why?  Because they want a Secret Starburst, of course!
If the Secret Star happens to misbehave, I don't ever tell anyone WHO it was… I simply say something like, "Sadly, my Secret Star ran all the way to lunch… better luck next time!"  And then *I* eat a Starburst and my kiddos go bananas.  Hehe

I'm telling you, this trick really works!  My firsties never let me forget to choose a Secret Star.  Ever.  They even ask if I'll pick one for nontypical Secret Star events… and sometimes I will, because I'm cool like that ;)

If you want to make your own Secret Star display, you'll need:
*a decorative 5x7" picture frame
*two plastic paint cans {or any type of jars/containers}
*enough 1.5" round wooden tokens for your class list
*a big bag of Starbursts
*and THIS FREEBIE, which includes the sign, labels, and tiny numbers

Putting it all together is simple!  I used a 1" circle punch to cut the little numbers, then Mod Podged them onto the tokens {or rather, I am going to because I can't find my Mod Podge anywhere!}.  You could also just use paint markers or Sharpies to writes names/numbers. Or, here is an alternative to the tokens:
Popsicle sticks!  Write names or numbers on the sticks, then decorate with two colors of  Washi Tape.  Leave them all facing one way {for example, all orange-side-up}.  Then after you pick a stick for Secret Star, flip it so the pink {or whatever color} side shows up.  This way, you'll know that you chose that student recently.

Well, I hope you LOOOVE this idea!  I'd love to read your thoughts and other management ideas in the comments below!

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