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The Best Teacher Gifts for Back to School

Happy Back to School! I always love starting the year off with a cute little gift for the teachers in my life, whether it's my own kids teachers or my teacher besties! A simple gift is a great way to start the year and spread smiles!

This year I decided to give my son's teachers one of my MOST FAVORITE teacher supplies- FUN pens! I mean what better way to start the year than with a brand new pack of pens! Teacher. Heart. Happy!

And when you can't decide if you're Team Flair or Team Inkjoy, you obviously have to get both!

Are you Team Flair? Click here to grab a pack of Flair Pens on Amazon (affiliate).

Or Team InkJoy? Click here to grab InkJoy Pens on Amazon (affiliate).

Want the tag for yourself? Grab them here for FREE!

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{Book Looks}: The Koala Who Could

One of my favorite things about teaching is finding amazing picture books to use in my classroom. Personally, I love finding {Best Friend} books that I can use throughout the year to teach the standards AND social skills. My Book Looks blog series is a series of posts about some of my favorite pictures books and how I use them in my classroom! You can read all about Sneaky Spinach, The Jelly Donut Difference and The Fruit Salad Friend

This year my son is in the same grade I teach, and it's SO crazy that he's already a little first grader! I absolutely LOVE his teacher and all the amazing things she does with his sweet little class. When she mentioned the book The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright, I knew I had to find a copy for myself! 

This sweet little book has SO much to offer and I know I will be using it in my classroom for years to come!

This sweet little book is all about Kevin the Koala, who likes to keep things safe high up in his tree! He misses out on many different opportunities, like playing with his friends, because he doesn't want to leave the comfort of his tree! However, one day a woodpecker comes and taps at his tree causing it to fall down! Kevin learns that someitmes change can be a good thing, and not so scary! 

This book was written by Rachel Bright! Rachel is not only an author but created a company, The Bright Side, which is "a collection of opitmistic thinkings celebrating the art of the silver lining." Rachel lives with her family and dog, Elvis, in Dorset, England. You can learn more about her on her website

This book is one of my {Best Friend} books because there are so many different ways that you can use it in the classroom! It would be a great book to read at the beginning of the year to introduce your new students to change and trying something new, hello growth mindset! 

We started by brainstorming all different things that we COULD do, but were scared to try! If I did this at the beginning of the year, I would have guided my students to more academic responses and what they COULD do during the upcoming school year! I loved all the things they brainstormed! 

Afterwards, we really dug deep into the author's purpose for writing this book and the central message of the story! This is a hard concept for little learners and this story is a great way to really break down the concept! 

Then, my students wrote about what THEY could do and created the cute little koala craft!  It made the cutest hallway decor! 

If you are interested in using the activities in your classroom, you can grab this Book Looks unit, here

This book really is a great addition to your classroom library and one that I think you will LOVE! Make sure to comment below with how you would use it in YOUR classroom! 

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{Book Looks}: The Fruit Salad Friend

Welcome back to {Book Looks}: Book Reviews for the Classroom! I absolutely LOVE using picture books in my classroom and it makes my teacher heart so happy to share them with my readers! You can read all about The Jelly Donut Difference here and Sneaky Spinach here

One of my ALL TIME favorite books is Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy! Whenever she publishes a new book, I {have} to add it to my library! Her newest book, The Fruit Salad Friend, was no exception! 

The Fruit Salad Friend is the sweetest book all about finding the recipe for a true friend! What I love most about this book is that it teaches SO many lessons and you can incorporate it into your classroom in many different ways to meet academic standards AND teach social skills! 

This book is all about Chloe, a little girl that loves fruit and school! However, lately something is different and she wonders, "What do you do when friends don't treat you with kindness?" This brave character navigates the trials and tribulations that pop up on her way to discover the recipe for a true friend! This book is perfect to read at the beginning of the school year, or anytime! 

Maria Dismondy is an inspiring author whose books focus on topics that challenge children. Maria has a background in early education and is commited to teaching the importance of character building, which allows her to touch lives all over the world! She travels as a public speaker to schools, community forums, and national conferences! When she is not busy writing or speaking, she is at home in Michigan with her family!

In my classroom, we started our activities by reading the book! One of my absolute favorite parts about teaching is reading aloud to my students. I love it even more when my students get really into a book! Since we have read other Maria Dismondy books, they were SO excited to hear this book! 

After reading the book, we discussed different characteristics of a good friend. I wrote down some of my students' responses inside the fruit on an anchor chart. They came up with so many different words to describe true friends! It made my heart so happy! 

In our classroom, we have been working really hard on finding the lesson or the central message of a story! This hasn't been the easiest skill for my first graders, so I love using Maria Dismondy books because they are so relatable for my young students! We had a class discussion on the different lessons that this book taught us, and my students got right to work! 

We also got to make our own {fruit salads} by naming students in our class and writing about HOW they are true friends and show those characterists. I absolutely LOVE ways to make spread smiles and happiness, and I love how this little activity allowed my students to give sweet shout-outs to their friends! 

These activities made the sweetest display for the hallway! 

You can grab these activities and more in my Kindness Counts: A Maria Dismondy Unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! 

This is such a great book full of sweetness and kindness! Do you want to WIN your own copy of The Fruit Salad Friend and my Kindness Counts unit? Enter the giveaway below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Best (and Prettiest) Teacher Bag EVER!

Over the last ten years, I've used a lot of different teacher bags. I mean, A TON. I'm a bag lover and just can't seem to say no to a pretty new teacher bag!

A few years ago, I fell in love with the Stella & Dot Getaway bag to use for weekend getaways and as a carry on bag for airplanes. I tried using it for school, and even though I have a ton of stuff in my bag, it was really just too big.

So, when Stella & Dot released a smaller version of the Getaway bag- the Daytripper- I couldn't wait to try it out for my teacher bag! I immediately fell in love!

This bag fits every single thing I need for school.  My laptop, Erin Condren Teacher Planner, notebook, Flair pens, snacks, a water bottle- EVERYTHING! And, it even has room to spare!

For the nights that I need to bring home more, the bag is expandable! So it can fit a ton without being too bulky!

I also LOVE the simple black and cream striped print. It literally goes with everything I wear and is perfect for every season!

Another favorite part of this bag is the wipeable surface! I feel like I'm constantly making a mess and using baby wipes - so having a bag that is easy to clean is a MUST for this teacher mama! And, I love that you can get a matching pouch to use for Flair pens!!!

And, of course it is a great bag that you can use for other fun adventures! I LOVE pairing it with my Getaway bag for weekend trips!

I hope you love this teacher bag as much as I do!!! 

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Meet the Teacher Made Easy!

It's hard to believe it's only the beginning of August and I'm already done with Meet and Greet, the first week of school, AND Open House! Wow!  I wanted to share what I do for Meet and Greet and Open House!

At my school, we begin the year with Meet and Greet during pre-planning as an informal event for our students and families to meet the teacher! Like I said, very informal! As a new teacher I used to stress TONS about this event and wanted my room to be absolutely perfect and LOTS and LOTS of information to send home with parents. Now, I realize that doesn't have to be the case! Less is more! I mean, my room is pretty much ready- but I don't have that much on my walls and I don't send a ton of information home!

I've tried many different options for this event over the last ten years, and this year I used a super simple checklist that families grabbed when they walked in my room and I LOVED it! Very simple and easy to use! I placed all the signs in clear sign holders (affiliate link) and I loved how easy it was to just slide papers in them!

I had everything my families needed on students' desks. Each year I copy the pages that parents need to complete on colored Astrobrights paper (affiliate link) and the few information pages that they can take home on white paper. This year, I added some post-it notes on the top to make this even easier! You can grab my free template here and just type your message in the box!

I always like leaving a little treat for my students! You can see 20 different ideas for Beginning of the Year student gift ideas here!

After the parents completed the paperwork, they sorted the large supplies into the tubs at the front of my room. This really helps save me A TON of time during the first week of school! I do have students keep some of their supplies in their desks, like their pencil boxes and composition books!

Afterwards, our students and families were invited to use our {photobooth} and take a picture! I absoltuely LOVE using this DIY photobooth in my classroom throughout the year. I use a 60 x102 sequin tablecloth (affiliate link) for the background and they are perfect! They come in tons of different colors and are very inexpensive!

And that's it for Meet and Greet! Super simple! Next up is Open House!

Open House is a more formal event that is held in the evening and includes a presentation that my co-teacher and I present to our students' families to explain our classroom and curriculum! I find that it's much easier for me to have a PowerPoint presentation to guide me through everything I need to say! Here's a preview of some of the slides in my presentation!

I always have some type of refreshments or treats for parents that attend Open House. For the last couple of years, we've just put water bottles and small treats out! I really feel like this adds to the presentation! You can see I reused the sequin tablecloth from Meet and Greet!

If you are interested in the Back to School Forms, you can grab them here!

And you can grab the editable Open House Presentation and corresponding signs, here!

I hope you have an AMAZING start to your year!!!

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