Thursday, August 16, 2018

Teacher Tip: How To Make Your Own Letters

I have to tell you a secret.  A deep, dark secret that will make most teacher souls clutch their pearls and gasp.

I hate bulletin boards.  For real.  Can NOT stand them.  They are a constant bane to my existence. 

At the same time, mine MUST be phenomenal! (Mostly because once it goes up it stays up all year because- I hate bulletin boards.)

The one in the hall is the one I worry about.  EVERYBODY sees it.  So it has to be amazing.  

In the past, I have cut letters out on the Ellison machine or bought pre-punched letters.  They tended to stress me out.  

The pre-punched letters always had either too many or not enough.  And what am I supposed to do with all those other letters?  I don't need more junk in my closet!  

The Ellison machine works well enough, but the largest letters we have at school are 4 inches.  Sometimes, you just need something.... bigger.  Or cuter. #fontmatters

The secret to my bulletin board happiness is making my own letters!  It is really quite easy and can be done in a few simple steps!

In this example, I used KG Happy Solid.  I LOVE KG Fonts and have purchased several for my products.  One of the things that I love is that teachers are free to use them for their own personal use for free.  (Just make sure you respect her TOU and purchase a license if you want to create with it!)

Here is a picture of my board from last year.  I think all the letters are KG Happy Solid, except for the 3.  It is KG Geronimo Blocks.  I printed them in outline on to red paper.  For the football letters, I used brown paper and then traced an outline on to white paper to back it and added the white stripes to make it look like a football. 

Have you made your own letters? I would love to see pictures of how you used them!  Drop me a line below or send at email to!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Secret to Brag Tag Success

For the past few years, I have been using brag tags in my classroom with a huge amount of success. In my room, we call them Bulldog Tags because students wear them around their neck like a dog tag and our school mascot is the bulldog. The first year was rough and there were a lot of flops. Through trial and error, I have found the 3 key points that have made using brag tags a hit! I'm going to share those with you as well as the materials I use and how I prep the tags.

 1. Prepare them ahead of time

If I had to say there was ONE secret to success, I would say it was this one. Having your tags printed, laminated and hole punched BEFORE the year starts, makes the process smooth. When they are all ready to go, it is simple to grab it and hand it out.

 I keep my tags behind my desk. I have a hardware and craft storage container that I keep academic tags in and a small basket that I keep behavior tags. When I need one, I take it from behind my desk and hand it out. During the summer, I spend some time printing, laminating, cutting and hole punching the tags. It's something that is pretty easy to do while your binging Netflix shows.

 2. Be picky about what you give them out for

I don't hand out a bulldog tag just for existing. I use them mostly to encourage academic skills and growth.

Here are some examples:
-mastering math facts
-passing reading levels
-scoring 100% on a test
-mastering a concept they have been struggling with

 I do have a few non-academic ones.
 -at different stages on Class Dojo
-maxing out a character on Go Noodle
-special days like the 2nd day of Second Grade

 3. Make a big deal out of it with a celebration

When I give students a bulldog tag, I do it one of 2 ways. If it is an academic tag, I hand it out during morning meeting. This allows me to share their success with the whole class and allows others to be proud of them.

 If it is a Class Dojo tag, I make a big deal by making all kinds of fanfare trumpet noises. Dun dun duh duh! It may seem like a bit much, but it helps the kids get excited.

Resources I Use 
(The links that follow are Amazon affiliate links.  This means, I may receive a small commission, from Amazon-not you, if you purchase any of these materials. I cross my teacher heart that I ONLY recommend products I know, love and use!)

I use a 64 drawer hardware and craft storage unit.

For student wear, I buy lanyards and three inch rings.  I have tried smaller rings and other lanyards, but these have worked best.

Need some Brag Tags?  Check these out from my TPT store!

How I Prepare
First, I print and laminate sheets of tags.

Second, I cut and hole punch

I have found 2 different ways to cut and hold punch.

One way is to cut around the edge and then cut into long strips of 5 tags.  Use a hand held hole punch to punch down the strip of 5 tags.  After the holes are punched, cut the individual tags apart.

I have found that I can line up 2 rows of tags and cut them at the same time, but any more than that and they start slipping.  This causes the cuts to be uneven.

The other way is to cut the tags apart and place a small stack in a large hole punch.  

That's it!  A few hours over the summer and my bulldog tags are ready to go for the year! 

Do you use brag tags? I would love to hear how you prep and store.  Drop me a line in the comments or shoot me an email!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

5 Tips for Teachers: Taking Care of Your Feet

Over here at Primary on the Prowl, we are all about self-care.  One of the best ways I know to practice self-care is to take care of your feet!  You are on your feet ALL day, and they deserve the best! Make sure you read all the way to the bottom to find the give-away!

Look- I get it... some people HATE feet.  They are kinda funny looking and they stink.  Your feet work hard though so they need a little love.

#1- Wash, Dry, Moisturize
Really, I shouldn't have to say this.  Wash them.  With soap.  Dry them.  With a towel, not your bath mat.

#2- Alternate comfortable shoes
I'm guilty of not doing this!  Alternate the shoes you wear every day allows the shoes to dry out and can help avoid odor and infections.  If you LOVE your high heels, make sure you are wearing some flats in between to avoid damaging your foot and leg muscles.  Side note- I just learned that your feet have over 100,000 sweat glands... ummm, let those babies dry!

#3- Get a pedicure or massage
A pedicure is my guilty pleasure.  It's the one thing I do for myself that I do not apologize for or give up.  Not up for a pedi?  Get a massage!  

#4- Get to a doctor if you feel pain.
Bunions, hammertoes, blisters and heel spurs are painful.  If you feel pain for any reason, make a doctors appointment and get it checked out.  

#5-Wear Socks!
Besides being cute, socks have a purpose!  They wick sweat away from your feet, which keeps them dry.  They also provide some shock absorbency as well as protecting your feet.  

Here are some of my favorite foot care products I have found on Amazon!  (Just an FYI, these are affiliate links.  I may make money, from Amazon-not you, if you follow my link and make a purchase.  I cross my teacher-heart that I only recommend things I have used and love!)

If you have trouble balancing on one foot or bending over, this mat will help keep your feet nice and clean! 

I love fuzzy socks!  I like to sleep in these!

Still here?  Great!  Here's the good news!

I'm teaming up with a bunch of other bloggers to give away a pair of Tieks!  
(You know, the shoes you really want but don't want to pay for...)

Enter the rafflecopter to get a chance at a pair of Tieks or a TPT gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 4, 2018

4 Ways to Find Balance by Taming Dinner Chaos

Recently, I have been talking with some friends and colleagues about end of the day struggles.  There is ONE thing that comes up repeatedly, with almost everyone I talk to regardless of age, gender, family structure or profession.  That struggle, my friends, is dinner.

And I get it.  It's the end of the day.  Everyone is tired.  Everyone is hungry.  Personally, I just want to get food out to the family and sit down!

I have done some trial and error research and have some tips to make it easier.

1.  Keep it simple.

Leonardo da Vinci said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." and I think it's perfection when it comes to weeknight dinners.  This is not the day to break out the rack of lamb or Coq au Vin.  A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup or bowl of chili is perfect for a cold night.  A big salad or a tortilla wrap make a great hot weather meal.
simple meals

2.  Think long term.

No, I don't mean your 401K.  I mean tomorrow's lunch or next weeks dinner.  I have a pretty small family of 2, but I cook for 4 (or more).  I can cook once and feed us dinner, lunch the next day and dinner in a week or two because I have frozen half.

3.  Make a plan.

And stick to it.  Every week, I take a look at our activities and decide which day or two I'll actually have time to cook.  Those are the days I plan something simple to prepare, like tacos.  I'll look at the busy days and choose something from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw.

4.  Let someone else do the hard work!

Not too long ago, a friend gave me a free referral to Hello Fresh.  I had wanted to try one of the meal delivery systems, but the price was a little high.  When I got the free sample though, I jumped on the bandwagon. 

I am completely SOLD on the convenience!  A cold box full of fresh ingredients arrived at my door with a complete plan for 2 delicious meals.  I am not in the position of paying for a Hello Fresh box every week (#futuregoals) BUT once a month or so is doable! 

I don't know about you, but my time is as valuable as my money-- and depending on the week, sometimes MORE valuable!

Want to try Hello Fresh for yourself?  Click here to get $40.00 off your first week! (No secrets!  I get a $20.00 credit if you try!)

Which one of these four tips is helping you tame the dinner chaos?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Songs for children

March 17th, AKA St. Patrick's Day, is right around the corner.  My students absolutely love when things become green and shamrocks abound.  Part of the fun of holidays like St. Patrick's Day is the ability to some novelty to the daily schedule by adding some fun songs, changing the decoration and putting the same old thing on a piece of paper in a different shape.
St. Patrick's Day songs for kids

Here are my 5 favorite St. Patrick's Day songs!

1.  I'm a Little Leprechaun by The Kiboomers
I recently discovered The Kiboomers while I was looking for Valentine's Day songs.  I was very happy they had St. Patrick's Day songs too!  The best thing about this song is that it is sung to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot.  

2.  G-R-E-E-N by The Kiboomers
No, I am not paid by The Kiboomers to highlight their music-- I just really like them!  This one is great because it's not just a fun and catchy tune.  It also provides a great way for students to remember how to spell the word green.

3.  Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by Jack Hartmann
This is an engaging counting song set to a St. Patrick's Day theme.  Students will practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s.

4.  St. Patrick's Day Song by PlayKids
PlayKids ups the video game by providing not only a fun song and video, but a lesson as well.  This video touches on St. Patrick and Ireland as well as leprechauns, rainbows and shamrocks.

5.  St. Patrick's Day for Kids by Jus Ran
This video tells the story of St. Patrick- from being captured by pirates to the shamrock as a symbol of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  I like the Irish music and the graphics are child friendly.  Since it mentions religion, make sure you preview the video to fit your schools culture.

Make sure you follow me on YouTube to find these videos and others on a St. Patrick's Day playlist!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 Positive Affirmations for Teachers

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the idea of affirmations.  I'm going to admit, that at first I was a little skeptical... it sounded a little... out there.  However, I was intrigued so I started doing some research.  According to on definition in the dictionary, an affirmation is 'emotional support or encouragement'.  Well, that doesn't sound out there.  I do that everyday for the children I teach. 

Who is doing that for us?  Some of us have significant others who give us emotional support.  Some of us have great admin and colleagues who give us emotional support. 

positive affirmation for teachers

Do you know who we all have?


Why aren't we giving ourselves the emotional support we need?

Here are some positive affirmations you can repeat to give yourself that emotional support you need.

I encourage you to print one (or more) of these out and put it somewhere you will see it.  Right now, I am using the one about responding calmly and patiently.  I have it on my bathroom mirror.  Every time I see it, I say it out loud.

Do you have a favorite affirmation that you use?  I would love to hear it!  Drop me a line in the comments or send me an email!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Old Tracks, New Tricks: Introducing Trixie, Tracky and Tinker

Old Tracks, New Tricks is an amusing new book by Jessica Peterson, published by Innovation Press.  The book stars Trixie, Tracky and Tinker as a set of tracks who get purchased and taken home to join a train set.  The three friends are in for a shock when they realize their new life is not what they thought it would be.  In their new home, the trains are in charge and order the tracks around.  Trixie, Tracky and Tinker are used to having fun and doing tricks.

Will they be happy in their new home?  You will have to read it and see!

(Please note, these links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!  Also, I received an ARC in exchange for writing a review of this book and creating a free resource to go along.)

Buy Old Tracks, New Tricks here!

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  It is perfect for PK-2 and I'm excited to read it to my class.  The human character is quite a bit younger than 2nd graders, but I think they will enjoy the photograph images. 

Pre-K Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit (especially the activities in the back)
-practice identifying characters
-encouraging creativity when building with tracks

Kindergarten Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-counting items on each page

First and Second Grade Teachers can use the book:
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-identify characters, setting, problem and solution
-sequence events in the story

This will be a great book to use when discussing the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Having photographs is generally an indication of a nonfiction book, but this book uses photographs and is purely fiction.

It's also a great book for character lessons such as being kind, playing with others, taking responsible risks and being yourself.

My favorite part of the book is at the very end.  There are 2 special sections, the first is called How to Invent Your Own Track Tricks and is a great way to teach the engineering process.  The next section is called Track-tivities and has 20 activities you can do with a train set such as Painting Tracks, Train Bell Shaker and Track-tastrophe!  

You can also use these FREE word problems based on the antics of Trixie, Tracky and Tinker.  Click here to download them!

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