Book Nook Stamp (New FAVORITE gem!)

My reading-heart skipped a beat today!!  😍💞📚

I saw a colleague using this AMAZING stamp today, on her new books from the book fair:
I seriously went online and ordered it during my lunch break!  I can't wait to use it.  

{This post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. If purchase something using these links we may receive a small commission. Thank you in advance for choosing to support The Learning Lab.}

Sometimes, it truly is the little things in life!
Happy Reading (and stamping!)

Anyone else use something similar in their classroom libraries?

DIY Plastic Drawer Organizer UPGRADE: Classroom Decor on a BUDGET!

Old, tired classroom supplies got you down?  On a tight budget?  Well, this tip is for you!  

I'm excited to show you how I turned my ugly classroom bins and drawers into handsome, functional pieces.  It was SUPER easy and fun!

Last summer, I decided to update my classroom decor into a Colorful Farmhouse theme.  It started off great--I was highly inspired and had a blast shopping for decorations and supplies at Michael's, the Christmas Tree Shop, and JoAnn's Fabrics (to name a few.)  

Then, the receipts started to pile up. 😢 I realized I needed to slow down and figure out how to best use the resources I already had. 
Shopping Spree! 😍
I hit a small moment of sadness, when I realized all of my bins and plastic organizers were primary colors... and worse, I had these clear drawer organizers that looked dirty and had tons of leftover sticky spots from years of labels.  But I needed them! (These Sterilite Organizers really do rock, btw)
Sterilite Mini 3-Drawer Organizers
Throwing them away or rehoming them, just wasn't an option budget-wise.  So, I got to work.  Here's what I did:

Mindful Moments in the Classroom: Creating a Space for Coping Skills and Self-Awareness

Sometimes, there are just too many things for me to manage in a day!  Seriously.  I want to do it all!  But, more often than not, the day flies by and I find myself reflecting back thinking things like, "I should have given my students more (insert: breaks, transition time, movement, mindful moments, sensory activities, coping skills, etc.).  Ugh... I want to do better!

Well, today, I thought of ONE thing I could change.  One thing I could take off my plate.  One little gift I could give my students...  

Instead of 'leading' our mindfulness activities in class, I found a way to facilitate them!  

Now my students will be more self-directed, have more freedom of choice, and will be able to practice coping-skills and self-regulation!

Here's what I did:  I created a Mindful Moments Nook, and you can do it, too!  Here are some very simple-to-follow steps, to create your own safe and welcoming space for your students to gain awareness and to become more available for learning.

Teaching TRAITS, using Classification and Dichotomous Key!

Physical and Behavioral Traits, NGSS

If you have ever taught Physical and Behavioral Traits (or Adaptations), then you know some students struggle with differentiating between the two!

We are getting ready to launch into our unit on TRAITS LS3-1, LS3-2, LS4-2.  Before we begin, I like to pull out my Classification Unit to engage and elicit background information... 

WOW!  It is such a powerful way to start this unit!
NGSS: traits and classification
Check it out here!

Homophone Activities: Commonly Confused Words!

Homophone activities: printables
I have a secret mission in teaching... 
to make sure my students can spell these commonly confused homophone words:

* To, too, two
* There, their, they're
* Your, you're
* Its, it's

This year, I upped my game! 

We not only learned about each type, read books, and practiced...

Homophone booklets: printrables

Constructed Response--Writing about Reading (Freebie)

If you are looking for a simple and straightforward way to teach essay-writing, then Constructed Responses are it!

It is important for students to understand what it means to "construct" an essay or response.  You will want to spend some time talking about the art of building your ideas, while using evidence directly from the text. 



Responsive Classroom Management: Books, Signals, Rules, Consequences--FREE Printable Poster!

Download a FREE Printable Poster!
Teachers KNOW how critical effective classroom management is!  

The best classrooms employ strategies, which utilize both SOCIAL and EMOTIONAL skills, in order to achieve high ACADEMIC success.

Responsive Classroom is an approach to teaching, which (when well-constructed) leads to improved classroom behavior and academic growth.  

According to Responsive Classroom, "Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness."  This helps educators to "create safe and joyful learning communities where students develop strong social and academic skills and every student can thrive."  

I have been using Responsive Classroom strategies for over 17 years!  

Check out my TOP THREE book recommendations and Responsive Classroom Management Posters!

Mindfulness: Practicing Mental Health & Well-Being, FREE Printable

Click Here for a FREE Printable Poster

If you work with children who struggle with anxiety, self-regulation, or stress, then teaching mindfulness practices are for you.

Schools all over the world are now training teachers and support staff to teach mindfulness techniques--and to practice themselves for mental health well-being. 

Why Mindfulness in the Classroom?

According to the Positive Psychology Program

Mindfulness helps students and staff manage their stress more effectively and work through it more quickly. Frequent mindfulness practice—even micro-sessions of a few minutes or less—imparts health benefits. Research suggests that mindfulness programs can improve cognitive performance as well as resilience to stress.

Summary Posters & Graphic Organizers: FREE Printables!

Summarizing teaches students how to integrate the most important (main ideas) from their reading, in a meaningful way!

*Updated April 2019!
Summary Posters and Graphic Organizers: FREE
Download These FREE Printable Posters

Summarizing strategies can be used across almost every areas of learning.  They help students recall and synthesize important information!  

These posters provide a clear structure and support for both fiction and nonfiction summarizing, by using the 5Ws (and H).

5 TIPS for Flexible Seating: Creating an Alternative Classroom on a Budget

Alternative Classroom
Whether you are you in your first year of teaching or are well past your first decade, you have probably spent HOURS arranging (and rearranging) the desks, chairs, tables, and various other items in your space.... trying to find the perfect classroom design.

You are not alone!  When I first began teaching, fifteen years ago, I was content with the more traditional style of using desks, which I thoughtfully moved around and around into groups.

About four years ago, I began the journey of flexible seating. I wanted to have more options for students who needed wiggle, stand, or get more comfortable. Since then, I have made some mistakes and learned a lot.  I NOW have my DREAM alternative and flexible classroom design!

I'm going to show you how I have been able to acquire quality furniture, without breaking the bank!  I am also going to share:

5 tips to help you successfully plan YOUR flex classroom!

THEN: Traditional Classroom
Nothing but desks 
Flexible Seating: Classroom Bench, Desk, Pillows
Our Zen Den