Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale! 30% off!

Everything in my TpT store is 20% off so with the 10% site wide sale, the total is a whooping 30% off! Please also visit the Wise Owl Factory Store. Carolyn - the creative force behind Wise Owl, did all the work to put this amazing graphic together!
There are lots of other great sellers who are having sales too! Here are some of the best!

5 Ideas for Bathroom Passes and Procedures

It would be great if kids would only use the bathroom at recess and lunch, but in the real world, kids often need to use the bathroom during class - sometimes at the most inconvenient times! Here are five ideas for managing this little inconvenience.
  1. Put your bathroom passes on lanyards. Require students to wear them around their necks when they go to the bathroom. Why? Imagine this. Your student is in the bathroom and needs both hands to deal with ...well, you know. What happens to the hall pass? It gets set down on the floor - ick...double ick!

  2. Use bathroom time as learning time - they are just sitting there anyway, why not give them something to think about? Vocabulary/spelling words, math problems, quick quizzes, brain teasers, or current events could all go on the back of a bathroom pass. Change the content often.

  3. Another idea is to have students leave the pass in the classroom on their desks. You could use passes you make or any large, novel object such as stuffed animals. Then you know which student is in the bathroom at any given time and students would not have to ask permission every time they have to go.

  4. Consider having students raise their hands with crossed fingers when they want to use the bathroom. You can give permission with a eye contact and a nod instead of interrupting the lesson. 

  5. If you have ESL students at your school, avoid confusion and embarrassment by being sure that there is a boy/girl symbol as well as the word on both the passes and the bathroom doors. 
These ideas came from 300+ Tips for Teachers.

Write a Poem by Rolling Dice!

Here is a fun activity that integrates creative writing with math by having students use dice to write a non rhyming poem. Students will also get practice with syllables.

You could do this as a whole class if you have enough dice, or at a center.

Here is what to do:

  • Give each student a pair of dice.
  • Students roll the dice and add them up for a total.
  • The total is the number of syllables for the first line of the poem.
  • After the first line is written with the correct number of syllables, the student rolls the dice again for the next line.
  • Continue until the poem is finished
  • Name the poem. 
  • Share!
This is easy to do on notebook paper, but if you want a
free printable worksheet, you can get one here.

Get more ideas for using dice with little ones right here on Empowering Little Learners or head over to the Linky Party at Little Miss Kindergarten.

Free Classroom Procedure Checklist for the Start of the Year

Every teacher knows that you must have specific procedures in place for your classroom to run smoothly. Here is a checklist that you can use to make sure that you have a procedure or routine for everything. This would be a great tool for a first year teacher as well as a good reminder for those who have been around awhile.

You can download a Printable copy for free right here!

Minds in Bloom 100 Followers Giveaway - Everybody wins!

Giveaway over - have reached Over 100!
I left home for an hour and came back to find 74 new emails! This is well over the 100 originally promised, but since I did not catch it, I am going to give a free product to everyone who emailed me before 1:45 Pacific time today (Thursday).  Please be patient, it may take a little while to get to you all.

Thanks to everyone who participated! And even if you didn't get here in time to get a product, I hope you will consider following anyway. There are lots of great ideas here on Minds in Bloom and I do frequent giveaways on Facebook. 

Now that Minds in Bloom has 100 followers, I thought it would be fun to do a little promotion/thank you. 

Here is how it works. You get a free product of your choice (anything $5.00 and under) from my TpT store just for following this blog and my facebook page. It is my little way of saying thanks. 

Here is what to do:
  1. Become a follower/friend ("join") Minds in Bloom on the right sidebar. If have already done this, thank you! Skip this step. 
  2. "Like" my facebook page. If you have already done this, thank you! Skip this step.
  3. Go to my TpT Store and pick something that you want. If you want to follow me there too, that would be nice, but it is not required for the giveaway. 
  4. Email me at mindsinbloom101@gmail.com and tell me your user name and what product you want. 
  5. I will email you back with your product attached. That's it!
The giveaway ends either on Friday at noon Pacific time or when I have given away 100 products, whichever comes first.

About my TpT Store:
I create ready-to-use worksheets and activities primarily for grades 2-6 (although I do have a few resources  for K-1 and secondary). I have over 100 products and most of them are priced under the $5.00 limit for this giveaway. I am a top seller on TpT and my products are highly rated. There are resources for Literature, ELA, Math, and Creative and Critical Thinking as well as Classroom Management. 

Just a little Update: I have given away 20 products so far. A few people have asked about leaving feedback on TpT for the products they received. Unfortunately, this is not possible since the site only lets you leave feedback if you purchase the product. However, I would be thrilled if you left feedback for some of my free products. I have a bunch of them and anyone can rate a free product. The easiest way to find them is to go to my store and sort by Price - (ascending), no keyword. 

8 Memory Tips to Use with Your Students

Minds in Bloom is pleased to welcome guest blogger Carmen Y. Reyes. This post originally appeared in the TpT seller forums and is reposted here with permission. 

Carmen specializes in tools for helping with classroom management, communication, learning disabilities, and understanding how students learn. She is clearly an expert in her field with years of relevant experience. Her ideas would benefit teachers in every subject area and at every level. Here is her extremely informative and free 55 page document on Persuasive Discipline. There is a wealth of ideas here with plenty of examples. You can also visit her blog here.

  1. Short memorizing rehearsals are more productive than a longer isolated rehearsal. Make sure that each practice is no longer than 30 minutes at a time. It is better to have five weekly rehearsals of 30 minutes each than one longer weekly practice of 3-4 hours in a row.
  2. Memory improves when students use multiple sensory pathways to learn the material. For example, when students are learning visual material, they need to elaborate verbally on what they are seeing. On the other hand, if students are trying to consolidate verbal material, for example, from the social studies textbook, memorization is easier if they draw a diagram or write smaller bits of information on index cards that they can study visually.
  3. When the learning material is both meaningful and organized, is always easier to remember. When studying, children need to use organization aids such as timelines, outlines, bullet lists, flowcharts, cause and effect diagrams, and/or comparing/contrasting diagrams.
  4. Have children practice in highlighting, outlining, and summarizing important information (key words and key phrases).
  5. Students can remember definitions better if they use their own words and/or paraphrase, rather than trying to memorize exactly what the teacher said or what they read in the book.
  6. Memorization improves when students think of something that connects with the new information, and link the new concept, topic, or theme to what they already know.
  7. Teach students to think of examples of what they are trying to remember. The more connections they make, the more details they add to the concept or topic, and the more examples they can think of, the better their choices of memorizing and learning the information.
  8. Teach students to group the information, placing similar items together. For example, from a grocery list with 23 items, the student creates the fruits group, the vegetables group, and the meats group. The student needs to know how many items he needs to remember (23) and how many groups of items are in the list (3). It is harder to remember 23 isolated items from the longer list, but the same items are easier to recall if we put them in three groups, e.g. eight meats, six vegetables, and nine fruits.

Merry Christmas in July!

Here are some fun and free Christmas (and Hanukkah) activities from Minds in Bloom to tuck away in your files till December!

Christmas Would You Rather Questions for Kids

Christmas Analogy Fun

Christmas Break Scavenger Hunt

Twelve Days of Christmas Math Word Problems

Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe Journal Prompt Grid

Hanukkah Vocabulary Matching and Word Search

Menorah Logic Puzzle

How Many Latkes? Logic Puzzle

You can find even more free Christmas Activities over at The Organized Classroom Blog! Among other things, there are a ton of great activities for the primary grades, a terrrific dreidel activity, and a linky party for Christmas crafts.

Back to School "Snowball" Fight

Here is a quick and really fun get-to-know you activity for the first week of school. Have each student take out a sheet of notebook paper and write three interesting, but not widely known facts about him or herself. Students should not put their names on their papers.

Then have the students crumple up their papers into balls and have a "snowball" fight. After about half a minute or so (or as long as you can stand it), have each student find a snowball, which by now are all over your classroom. After uncrumpling the paper, each student must try to find the student whose snowball he or she retrieved.

Extend the activity by having students share the three facts with the class. A good way to do this is to choose one student read his or her facts. Then the student who the facts were about goes next. Continue until everyone has read theirs.

Another option is to have a second snowball fight and do it all again either with the same snowballs or with a new set.

This activity is part of Beginning of the Year Activities and Classroom Management Tools

Something fun for the Staff

Here is a fun way to recognize colleagues who go above and beyond to be helpful. It involves creating a special award that is passed from person to person, often with much aplomb.

To implement this program, find something you can use as an award - ideally something kitschy from a yard sale or thrift shop. We used a duck made out of some sort of Rattan material. Another group used a  statue of a dog that was encrusted with puka shells. If your staff has a sense of humor then try to find something truly tacky.  It should be sturdy and at about the size of a shoe box. Give it a fun name. We called our duck Dulcinea. 

Start by presenting this lovely object to another staff member that has done something nice for you or nice for the school. Ideally, do this publicly, during a staff meeting, for example. Be sure to explain why the award is being bestowed - pour on the praise.

The lucky recipient of the award must then display it proudly and prominently somewhere in his or her classroom (or office for administration) for at least three days, but no longer than ten days. Before the ten days are up, he or she must present the award to another staff member who has earned it by doing something helpful, or particularly stunning in some way. If you have weekly staff meetings, passing on the award could be part of the meeting. If not, then it could be passed along privately between meetings. If you have a large school, you might consider circulating two awards.

It is a simple thing to do that has the potential to bring a little more morale to your school, which in many states, if running pretty low these days.

Great Class Read Aloud: There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom

At first glance, There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar doesn't look like the kind of book you would read aloud to your class. It comes across (at least to me) as more silly than anything else. But though there is certainly humor in the book, There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom is so much more and it is one of my very favorite read alouds for grades 2-4.

The story is focused around Bradley Chalkers, a boy no one likes, not even the teachers and it isn't hard to see why. Describing him as unpleasant is an understatement. Further, he is a failure in school, not even attempting to complete his assignments. His teacher has pretty much given up. Fortunately, a young counselor at his school is not going to give up on him. With her subtle guidance, Bradley slowly changes his life. It isn't easy, but by the end of the book, he is not only starting to succeed in school (I totally tear up whenever I get to the part when he gets his first gold star) but is also making friends. Getting invited to his first birthday party since he was a little kid is a monumental acheivement.

What I love about this book is that Bradley's transition is believable. Further, because much of the story is from his POV, we as the reader develop empathy and we are truly on his side as he starts to change for the better. This would be a great book to start the year off with or to read if you a class that is having trouble getting along.

If you are looking for a Teaching Pack for this book, You can find a great one at Taking Grades.

Have you read this book? What do you think? Do you have a different favorite read aloud?

Christmas in July Sale

The big sale is over, but if you want to see the stores and blogs of the 34 TpT sellers that participated, please click here.

Free - Get-to-Know-You Jenga!

Here is a fun way to take the game Jenga to a whole new level while helping your students to get to know each other better. Just download these free Jenga statement slips, cut them apart and tape them to the bottom of your Jenga blocks (great job for a student or parent helper).

Play the game as usual, but when a student pulls out a block, he or she must finish the statement on the block. The strips have statements like:
  • Three adjectives that describe me are...
  • Something I did that I am proud of was...
  • The last great book I read was...
  • My favorite place in the world is...
The statements are designed to be quick so that no one gets bored. This would be great at a center at the start of the year and fun to play throughout the year.

You can also get basic addition and multiplication facts Jenga here (also free).

"Quotes" for Teachers

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
        -Albert Einstein

Famous quotes are a great resource to use in the classroom! You can use them on posters and banners, on worksheets, on parent notes, as writing prompts, in PowerPoints and so much more. But sometimes it can be hard to find just the right quote. Quote sites on the net are great - but they are often really, really big with many categories and thousands of quotes - most of which are not what you, as a teacher, are looking for. You can waste a lot of time looking for just the right quote after all:

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent."

        -Carl Sandburg

That is why I created Quotes for Teachers - a quote site created with teachers in mind. Not only will you find hundreds of quotes to use in your classroom, but there is also a link to a free set of eight printable worksheets for using quotes plus a list more ideas. 

I will be adding more categories and quotes, so you may want to bookmark it. 

Observation Nature Walk

Here is a fun way for students (or campers, or scouts, or whatever you have) to test their powers of observation while enjoying nature. It is also a great way to introduce the concept of camouflage. To do this activity, you will need a short stretch of trail in the woods, ideally one that is not used a great deal - a couple hundred feet is fine.

First, collect 10 to 12 small, everyday objects that are not found in nature, such as a pencil, a toy car, a Lego, a shoelace etc.

Before the activity, distribute the objects along the trail that you have picked out. The objects should all be in plain site from the trail, but not necessarily easy to see. Some can be on the ground, but consider trees, bushes and rocks as well.

Tell your students about the objects, and how many you have hidden. Their job will be to quietly and slowly walk along the trail to see how many they can spot. No talking and no  pointing. There are several ways to do this:
  • The easiest is just to have them count the objects as they spot them (silently)
  • Another possibility is to distribute clipboards and have them write down the objects as they see them.
  • If you are willing to do a little extra prep, you could distribute a check list of the items and have students check them off as they see them. Make sure they are not in order!
After you students have walked the path, have a discussion about what they saw. 
  • Which objects were easy to spot? Why?
  • Which ones were difficult? Why?
  • What strategies did students use for spotting the items?
  • How did it feel to concentrate so hard on looking for the objects?
Students can gather up the objects when you are done. If you have extra time, you could try it again with the same objects in different places, perhaps letting a pair of students place the objects. 

5 Fun Things to Do While Waiting for the Parade to Start

If you are going to a small town parade for Independence Day, you will most likely have to get there at least an hour before the parade starts in order to get a good place to sit. While you could bring along the Gameboy or Itouch to keep your little ones entertained, why not engage them in an activity that will make them more a part of the event rather than less? Here are some ideas to try:

Do an easy, Independence Day Craft
  • Bring along some red, white, and blue pipe cleaners for quick and fun Fourth of July creations - jewelry, glasses, sculptures etc.
  • If you have a child who has gone to camp, she probably knows how to make a lanyard. Supplies are inexpensive at a crafts store. Here are some instructions.
  • Red, white, and blue plastic pony beads in a baggie plus some cord and a kid's scissors are all you need to make bracelets and necklaces.
  • If you are feeling adventurous, bring face paint and let kids paint flags, stars and other symbols on each other (or you).

Bring a Tub of Sidewalk Chalk
You can find a big tub full of bright colors for under $5. Bring it along, and share. If you drop a few pieces every few yards around where you are sitting, it won't take long for kids to grab them and start decorating your little section of  the parade route.

Ask Some Independence Day Trivia
The great thing about trivia questions is that you are actually teaching your kids about the history of our country, but because it is in the form of trivia, they don't think about that. Here is a good one to try. You could also just take the card box from a kids version of a trivia game and read some of those out loud.  

In a Crowd Scavenger Hunt
See how many of these things your kids can find:
  • Someone wearing ten or more different colors.
  • A bald man wearing red, white, and blue.
  • A child with a blue balloon
  • A girl with braids
  • A boy wearing stripes
  • A small dog
  • A person with a red, white, and blue hat
  • 10 people holding flags or wearing flag designs
  • A person in Tye-dye
  • Someone who is sunburned
  • Someone eating food they brought from home
  • Someone with a blue water bottle
  • Twins
  • Someone eating ice cream
  • A woman with really large earrings
  • A person with purple shoes
  • A woman with red toenails
  • A man with a cowboy hat
  • A man with a baseball hat with no words on it
  • A man with a really long beard
  • A woman wearing something that glitters
  • Someone in a Hawaiian shirt
  • Someone reading
  • Someone using a cell phone
  • Someone who is very old
  • A baby
Play a Word Game
Here are a few to try:
  • Hinky Pinky is a fun rhyming game (take turns coming up with clues, example: silly rabbit =  funny bunny).
  • Tribonds are fun to make up and to solve. Here is a post all about them.
  • ABC games - have kids find things around them that begin with each letter of the alphabet successively. Or  hold a conversation taking turns with each person having to start their sentence with the next letter for the alphabet. Or choose a category like Animals and take turns thinking of one that begins with the letter that the last one ended with (giraffe - elephant - tarantul- asp etc.)
  • Play GHOST. Spelling game  for older kids, here are some instructions.
  • Play the -ING game. Just look around you and find as many things happening that end in -ing as you can. For example: sitting, chewing, talking, etc.
Bonus: If the people who participate in your town's parade frequently throw candy, here is how your kids can get more of it (my kids got this down to a science when they were younger and it worked every year). This works well at small town parades where the parade features lots of baseball teams, scout groups and politicians in convertibles. Not so much with big parades with floats and marching bands. 
  • Go to the parade in a group - at least four kids, more is better.
  • Have your kids dress in bright, bright colors - Tye-dye works well with floppy hats if possible. If the whole group can match, that works really well.
  • Sit all together in a row in front, ideally in the first fourth or so of the parade route.
  • During the parade when someone has candy to throw, have your kids shout something positive and relevant at them in unison, like "Boy Scouts Rock!" or "Go All Stars" This will catch their attention, they will look over, see your adorable, brightly clad children and throw candy at them. Works almost every time. And kids love doing this. Within minutes they will be planning fun things to shout as people in the parade approach. 

Teaching Resources

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