DIY Time {all the way from Hawaii!}

Yay!  Starting off with a yay because Nicole from Teaching with Style is here today.  Check out this fun DIY!
Hi there! I’m Nicole from Teaching With Style and I’m so excited to be here on A Modern Teacher today!
I am currently teaching 2nd grade on the beautiful island of Lanai, Hawaii.  But I have a secret to tell you all – I’ll be moving to Maui and teaching 1st grade next year!  I’m so excited for my new adventure!
In my classroom, I am passionate about a clean, bright, and organized space.  In order to do that on a budget (shipping is soooo expensive here!), I end up repurposing a lot of things.  To hold student pencils in my tables baskets, I use plastic Welches frozen juice containers covered with cute contact paper.
Another container I use a lot are metal soup cans.  I got an OXO smooth edge can opener at Macy’s last summer and I love it.  It doesn’t leave a sharp edge at all!
I cut the tops off my cans, peeled the labels off, then spray painted them bright green.
After they were dry, I got my supplies ready to glue ribbon on them: scissors, cute ribbon, and E600 glue.

I cut the ribbon, then glued a small hem on them.  I used clothespins to help the hems dry.

I then glued a zigzag around the top and stuck the ribbon on, with the glued hem on top to give it a clean edge.

Here they are completed! I can’t wait to fill them up!


Here are some blue ones in my classroom.  I use them on my teaching table to hold pencils and other writing utensils that my small groups use.


Thanks so much to April for letting me stop by today!
I hope YOU got some ideas for creating cute and cheap organizational items for your classroom!

Megan Wheeler - Love the bright colors of paint and ribbon for these pencil cups!


Mark Your Calendars


It’s time to celebrate! Why? I have a few special projects coming out and they are HUGE. HUGE, I tell ya! And on April 21, you’ll find out all about it. If you are a newsletter subscriber (which you received this morning and an exclusive freebie), you know a little. However, all details will be given April 21.

If you hang out on Instagram (SO much better than Facebook~by the way~), follow me for all the behind-the-scenes real-time action.

If you used one of my Teacher Lesson Planners last year, send me a picture of you and the planner {or just the planner} in action. I am planning a fun project with the pictures. AND there is a special treat waiting just for you. {By sending me the picture, you give me permission to use the picture in the project}

Have a great week y’all!


Regina Muna - OMG!!! I’m so excited I’m’s going to be utter torture waiting for the 21st..Whatever it is I know it will be great!! - Oh my gosh Regina! Thanks so much!!!!!!! xoxo!!!! That just made my day! I don’t know how I didn’t see this comment before. Thank you! Thank you!!


It’s so BRIGHT in here!

Classroom Management.  What do you think of when hearing those two words? Those two words are almost exciting for me as Classroom Organization.  Almost.  Today, I am sharing an easy, EASY classroom management idea called “Start Cards”.

You know when the kids come in to the classroom and everything is fine in the hallway but as soon as they enter–all of a sudden you have to put out fires.  Sure, you might tell the kids–get out a book from your book bag and start reading while I do this, this, and this.  You are putting out fires from what happened in the lunchroom, recess, and hallway.  Or maybe you had a meeting during their “Specials” that went over and you didn’t have time to put the manipulatives around the room like you thought you would.  Most start reading but others take.their.time.  Well, this little ditty is meant to help with getting the kids focused on the next subject/skill/task.

Super Easy—-

The idea is for the kids to get started on a task without you having to say a word or make a copy of something…not one.single.worksheet…ahem….printable.

You’ve heard of EXIT CARDS–right?  Well, these are the complete opposite: ENTER CARDS or what I call…Start Cards (not rocket science–maybe you’ve heard of them?). I labeled chart paper or some other poster or white board etc. with “Let’s Get Started”.  Kids take a look at the “start word”, grab a sticky note or index card (or whatever you want them to have) and start drawing or writing what they learned yesterday (or last week) about that skill.  For example, let’s say you are learning rounding as a strategy to add.  You’ve taught (or kids have come up with) different ways to “round”.  One strategy is using a rounding “hill”.  So, on the chart paper next to “Start Word” you write “rounding hill”.  Kids can write or draw what they remember about a “rounding hill”.  It’s a great preassessment too.  Just a quick check.  Kids can either put their sticky note on the chart paper or keep in the math journals, etc.

Start Cards

For Kinder you could slowly introduce this routine….maybe you are learning about the letter T.  On the “Start Word” you could leave that part off and just write a big “T”.  Kids could draw what T reminds them of –or something that starts with T.

The point is that they are starting something without much direction.  Something that isn’t fluff and something that is purposeful…for both you and the kids.

classroom management

Do you do something like this?  What do you think?


And now…time to hop to another BRIGHT idea.  I am SUPER excited to send you to Krista from 1 Happy Teacher. Click below to hop to her blog and then catch more ideas from the link-up.


One Happy Teacher
Happy to be a part of this hop!


Tanja - What a great idea! It can be simple for kindergarten or more complex for the upper grades. Thanks for sharing!

Adrianne Meldrum - I like this idea! So simple and quick to implement.

Gladys L. Appleton - I love this! I can’t wait to start using this bright idea with my own students! :)

Teaching in High Heels

Erin Wing - Great idea, and very versatile!
Is your blog design new? I love it!

Laura - Such a neat and simple idea! I love it! Thanks for sharing!
Peace, Love, and First Grade - Thanks Laura! - Thanks so much Erin! Yes, it is a new design :) - AWE! Thanks so much Gladys!! - Thanks Adrianne! - Hope you can use it Tanja! Thanks so much!


3 Million and Counting!

Have you heard?  Teachers Pay Teachers ~a pretty amazing website~ has surpassed 3 million Teachers!  WOW!  You know, TEACHERS come in all forms.  Whether you are a parent (a child’s first teacher), a teacher of 4 year olds, a music teacher, a Second Grade teacher, a teacher to eighth graders, and everything in between, what you do matters A WHOLE LOT.  You have the future in your hands.  {no pressure-haha}

TPT provides much needed resources to so many teachers worldwide.  Worldwide.  I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that.  What an amazing opportunity to be a buyer, what an amazing opportunity to be a seller, and what an amazing opportunity for anyone who cares about children.  I am honored and hugely supportive of this website.  Thank you for your support to my shop.  I hope in some small way I have helped you become a better teacher/parent.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

To celebrate, there is a site-wide sale tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28.  Please use code  TPT3  when checking out.  My store will be set at 20%.  Almost 30% off your total purchase!!  Have fun shopping! ~April

tptsale 1 2014

Image credit to Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher Blog.



DIY Little Notes for Students and Teammates

Do you own washi tape?  I really have fun with it. Really!  It’s just so pretty. The possibilities are endless with this decorative tape.  You can even label stuff with it.  Who would’ve thought?…Like my kids’ cups or snack bags, etc.  Well, my friend Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher is here today with  a fun little washi project.


Hey everyone!

I’m so thrilled to be here on April’s blog and sharing ideas with you!

I’m addicted to washi tape. If you haven’t heard of washi tape, it’s like decorative masking tape. It’s super easy to use and pretty easy to remove! You can use it to decorate and create just about anything.

Today’s craft that I’m sharing, uses washi tape to spice up little notes to students. What kind of notes? Maybe it’s the student’s birthday. Or they need a pick me up (we all need those sometimes right?). Even better, you’re out and have a substitute, so you can leave little reminders to be on their best behavior! But plain white paper is…well…plain! So let’s spruce it up with some washi tape fun!

What you’ll need:

*Washi Tape

*Cardstock (or you can use scraps of whatever paper, but cardstock works best).

*Writing utensil (I used pencil, but pen/sharpies work just as well!)

My cardstock ready to go and be washied!

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Tanja - Thanks for letting me contribute!!!

Melissa - Where did you find that great tape dispenser? - Tanja found it at Costco for about $20. :) - Yes!! Thank YOU for contributing!

Mme Aiello - What I really want to know is, where did the great dispenser for your Washi tape come from! I’ve got my finers crossed that this is some sort of DIY project that I missed, but somethig tells me I’ll have to pony up & buy one, right? So awesome though!! Thanks for sharing your photos!

Mme Aiello - Sorry – I’m as bad as the kids! *MUST* remember to read through all comments before commenting myself!! LOL I apologize for asking something yu already answered.

Tammy - No big deal Tammy!!! :)


St. Patrick’s Day Freebie

Two years ago, (wow–two years already–I still can’t believe it), I created this simple, simple outline for St. Patrick’s Day.  Well, today I am bringing it back.  With March just around the corner and this beautiful spring-like weather in my neck of the woods, I thought it would be good to “dust it off” and make activate again.  You can find it in my TpT Store HERE.

This simple outline is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day learning.  First, you could have your students write everything they are thankful for on the coins.  Then cut the pot out and glue the coins on the pot.  Great for bulletin boards or extension activity.  Have fun.

I also wanted to remind you of a post I wrote last year of a round-up of ideas for St. Patrick’s Day.  Plus my pinterest board has a ton of ideas too.  Hope you can use one of these ideas!


Hope you have a great week!



Writing from Day 1

So, have you heard????  A Modern Teacher now has contributors!  I’m super excited about this new project.  These ladies are super teachers.  Today, I am privilege to introduce you to Megan.  She has a blog, Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade and a Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Wahoo!!  She is sharing some great tips on how to start Writing Workshop.  Without further ado… she is….

Growing up, I always loved writing.  I would write in journals, write poetry, and excel in writing for school. This carried on through college and eventually into my career as a first grade teacher. Writing is my favorite subject to teach!  The growth that children show is amazing!  When I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Reading/Literacy back in 2006, I knew that I wanted to do my thesis on writing in the primary classroom.  I am so happy I did!

I have been teaching for 11 years, and it has taken me a bulk of that time to get my writing workshop running smoothly, and the way I feel is best for my students.  I believe in teaching children the process of writing first. I begin by instilling a love of writing in my students early in the year.  In fact, we write on the first day of school!  I never discount the work that the children do; to some a sentence is a big milestone.  I do a lot of modeling with writing in my classroom, and I feel it is key for developing strong writers.

I also create a print-rich environment for my students.  I want them to have access to sight and vocabulary words all year long as they are developing their reading and writing skills.  I have a special writing area set up in my classroom where students go to get the supplies they need.  They are able to visit this area freely; I try not to hinder their choices for paper, but I do guide them in the direction I feel is most appropriate for their individual levels.

Exciting Announcement!

Happy Dance tonight!  I am giddy with excitement to share some news!  Starting this month, A Modern Teacher will have the privilege of some talented ladies contributing their classroom ideas.  I am thrilled to have them onboard!

Introducing some fabulous teachers….

fabulous contributors

Nicole from Teaching With Style

Gladys from Teaching in High Heels

Megan from Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade

Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher

Stephanie from Falling Into First

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Nicole - Yay! I am so excited to be teaming up with you, April! And I can’t wait to read the fabulous posts from my other blogging buddies, as well! :) - Yes, me too! Thanks so much Nicole!!

Linda Kamp - This IS exciting! I can’t wait to read all of the posts!

Megan Wheeler - Hooray! Can’t wait! Thanks for the opportunity!

Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade

Mrs. Wheeler’s TPT

Tanja - So excited!!! - Me too! - Me neither! Can’t wait! - AWWWW!!! Thanks so much Linda! I think you are in for a real treat :)


Pete the Cat for Valentine’s Day at Target {Book Love}

I’ve been talking a lot here on how books inspire SO many parts of my life (even started a little series on ‘book love’).  More parts than I ever realized before this blog.  I think all teachers are that way.  Wouldn’t you agree?  We are constantly making connections to our own lives and coming up with grand schemes on how to connect and apply.  I had a principal once tell our staff that it was ridiculous to do projects after reading a book.  I think that is horse feathers!  (Ha!  Don’t laugh at me too much!  I would say something else but want to uphold a little integrity here–hahahah) I understand her argument of how now, in my adult life, I won’t necessarily do a project after every book I read BUT I definitely think it is one way to get kids excited about reading.  It can be a huge motivating factor to fall in love with a book ~for some kids (and of course, depends on the project).

So, today I bring you a little project after reading Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool.  It is a sweet story of friendship and openness.  One of the characters brings a huge heart saying “LOVE” to school.  Since we are working on identifying letters and sight words, I thought it would be fun to do a project with the word LOVE.

First, we read the book.  I purchased this book at Target.  The book has some added goodies like a poster, stickers, and valentines.  So fun~right?!  Then we made some connections to our own life and then we applied what we learned about the letters in LOVE.

Pete the Cat for Valentine

Oh and I did this project for gifts, however, it would be so easy to use this as a word station and put some stencil letters out and viola ~practicing a very important word in our language.

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Seeing Your Year in a Big Way

The overall picture.  Do you like to see the big picture?  Or do you like to see the steps and then the big picture?  I am one of those people who have to see the big picture and where I’m going before I can set some goals on a daily basis.  It’s nice to know where you are going.

A few months ago, I created a Monthly Curriculum Map for this school year.  It just gives an overall picture of what your year will look like.  Where are you taking your students?  What themes/projects/lessons/standards will you be tackling each month?

Well, this is just a quick post to let you know I have updated this FREE Monthly Curriculum Map for next year (found in my shop).  I had several requests to get a move on it.  So, here it is.  Oh and it is editable in fields too–in Power Point.

I hope this makes your planning a little easier and gives you an overall picture in a very simple, easy-to-read format.

Good luck!



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