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.

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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!

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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!

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