Distance Learning: Making Connections

We all know that making connections with students is important. In fact, it might be one of the most important things we can do as teachers. Connections lead to a better outlook toward school and a willingness on the students part to engage in the learning process. But, how does making connections look when you are separated with miles between you and your students?

There are many ways to connect to your students when teaching behind a computer screen. And, they are all super simple. 

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.  For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Morning Meeting Share Time

Every day, we start our day with a "This or That" question. It's almost like a mini morning meeting where the kids get to share their opinion on a topic. I say mini because, my schedule is packed. In our first 30 minute block of online learning, I have to teach phonics, vocab, and reading. But, even though our daily question is quick (5ish minutes), the kids are given a chance to be heard and share their ideas.

Kids love to share. They love to hear their friends share. This allows them to make connections with their peers. This provides for a shared experience that in turn helps build classroom community.

Be Available/Let Them Talk

Our day is broken up between synchronous and asynchronous learning time. Typically, we have 30 minutes together for lessons and what not, and then the students have 20 minutes to work on assignments independently. This schedule is not my favorite, but in this learning environment, I'm not sure there is a perfect solution, so I follow the guidelines set forth by my school and district. 

During asynchronous learning time, I am always still online in our live Google Meet (it's a requirement). The kids know they can pop in at any time during asynchronous learning time to ask a question, get help, or just talk. A lot of my students will pop in just to talk. They like to show me things in their home or things they have made. They like to share stories and ask questions, and you know what? I'm fine with that. When they take the initiative to come and hang out with me, they clearly want to interact and are looking for a connection on their end. 

And, don't worry, I do check in to make sure they are caught up on their assignment for that work period. If they aren't, we work on it together. This allows me to make sure their assignment gets done, I can see where they are at, and we get to chit chat a bit along the way. This has really allowed me to get to know my kids on a more personal level. I love when they pop in.

Sometimes, kids will come back to our meet 5-10 minutes early. Just to hang out. I let them talk to me, and to each other. I do not put my Meet into present mode with music playing. I encourage them to interact. It's just one small way I can encourage social interaction. They know that when it's time to start, I will let them know and they have to mute as others come back to the Meet.

Communicate with Parents

Staying in contact with parents is a great way to strengthen connections with your students. When your parents feel in the know, they are more likely to support their kids with online learning. When your students have parents who support them, they are more likely to have a positive outlook toward school. Find opportunities to communicate with parents outside of reminders that their child needs to complete a missing assignment. Share a win. Give a compliment. Thank them for supporting their child. 

Social Time

At the end of each day, I have an optional Meet where the kids can come and do a quick directed drawing with me, followed by a Mad Lib (Mad Lib, Jr. is my favorite for primary aged students). We draw, we laugh, the kids often share stories and ask questions. It's just a nice time where we hang out without any academic instruction. 

Happy Mail

Snail mail will never go out of style. Kids love getting mail! I like to send my students some sort of mail every once in a while. At Halloween, I sent them a sheet of stickers and a pencil, along with a special note. 

For the winter holidays, I plan to send them a few color by code coloring pages, a fun sticker sheet where they get to create a holiday friend (from Amazon), and a word search (which I'm sure I'll be able to find on TPT). It doesn't take long to get this set up and sent out. 

My students loved their happy mail delivery in October, so I'm excited to put together a new one for December.

Most of these ideas are ways that I have connected with my students, but in the course of doing so, the kids have also been able to connect with one another. While it may not be the same as it would be in real life, it's something, and I'm grateful for the connections we've been able to make.

Share your favorite way to connect with your students during distance learning in the comments! 


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Amazon Must-Haves for Distance Learning

I recently wrote a post about finding balance in the midst of teaching online during a pandemic. You can find that post here. Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite tools for distance learning. Things that, if I really think about it, help make this sort of teaching a bit easier in one way or another. 

My hope is that maybe one or two of these items might help you solve some issues you're having with distance learning. Neck pain anyone? Back pain anyone?

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.  For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Document Camera

Friends, if you use one of these in the classroom, you need to be using one at home. It is my top must have. I don't have the space at home to set up an anchor chart. I can use my doc camera to create mini anchor charts with the students and to project all the kinds of things I used to project in the classroom. I simply share my screen and switch to the doc camera software so the kids can see what they need to see. 

As you can see, I have a super fancy set up here to give the doc camera some extra height. Hehe.

If your school allows you to check out materials, and you haven't already taken advantage of that option, I highly encourage you to check out your document camera. If that isn't an option and you'd like one of your own, you can find the one I purchased by clicking here. A word of caution, these tend to sell out often.

Phone Stand

Here's why I love my little phone stand. It is next to my computer and it allows me to easily see when any Dojo messages are coming in. I have so many tabs open on my computer, there is no way I can toggle between them while I'm teaching to see if a parent has sent a quick message about tech issues, etc. I can also see when my principal has sent me a message.

Ergonomic Foot Rest

Goodness gracious, when I first started distance learning, my back was killing me. I felt like I was 85 years old. Then, I remembered that long ago in my previous work life, I had a desk job (10 hours a day at a desk) and an ergonomic foot rest. I quickly searched Amazon and grabbed this foot rest. It was worth every penny. My back quickly recovered and I've been using the foot rest ever since.

Ergonomic Mouse Pad & Cordless Mouse

If you're prone to wrist pain, these two items will be your best friend. I started out the year wearing a wrist brace. I just wasn't used to this much computer work (I'm also prone to joint pain). Again, I remembered to way back when I had a desk job and an ergonomic mouse pad that helped ease wrist pain. I found this mouse pad on Amazon for super cheap and quickly added it to my cart. 

The wireless mouse may not be as big a deal to others, but for me, it's one less cord to have to battle once papers and manuals are spread all over my desk during the day. I also found the mouse on Amazon.

Laptop Stand

Keeping in line with the whole ergonomic thing, this laptop stand helped to alleviate some neck pain I was also experiencing at the start of the year. It also helps keep my laptop from overheating.

Cozy Chair

I mean, if you're going to sit all day, you might as well have a cute and cozy chair. This one is from Amazon. I love it. It was a bit of a splurge, but I have no regrets.

Tiered Cart

This thing helps me organize all my stuff so that it's also accessible throughout the day. I teach from the loft space in our house. It's a microloft (extremely small) and I have no storage for the materials I need. I can load up this cart and push it against the wall when I'm not teaching. In the morning, I simply pull it next to my desk and can easily grab what I need. 

This cart is from Michaels, but here is a comparable one on Amazon (in case you don't have a Michaels near you).

Expandable File Folders

When they told us we would be required to do reading groups virtually, my jaw dropped. I mean, HOW? Then, I went into action. I use these expandable file folders to store the materials I need for each group. I mostly use Reading A-Z projectable books with my groups, and these file folders allow me to organize the guided reading lesson plans with my notes for each day/group. 

Do you have a distance learning must have? If so, leave it in the comments below!


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5 Tips for Surviving Distance Learning

Distance learning dragging you down? I hear you. I feel you. I've been teaching 100% from the computer since mid-August. I've spent my fair share of days glued to my computer, solving tech issues I'm not really qualified to solve, and adapting our curriculum to work in an online environment all while getting to know my students, identifying their needs, and trying to make connections. Oh, and meeting the needs of my own family and home.

distance learning tips for finding balance

For the first several weeks, I was working 12 hour days. One night, my husband came home to see me crying at my computer. Feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and overwhelm got the best of me. But, it was that moment that I decided I would no longer allow this learning environment to be as all consuming as I had allowed it to be. My home was being neglected, my family was being neglecgted, I was on a constant verge of an autoimmune flare (if you know, you know), and I struggled immensely to help my middle schooler not only adjust to online learning, but middle school itself. Enough was enough.

Let me be clear, I still work hard, the work is still hard, and I still have my struggles, but now I'm in a groove. I can tackle each day with a clear mind and fresh point of view so that I can be the best virtual teacher I know how to be. 

Here are the things I did, and still do, to help me find some balance with distance learning. I hope some of these resonate with you.

Set boundaries

Just do it. Is it hard? Yes (at first, anyway). Is it necessary? Yes. 

I sit down at my computer at 7:30 every morning to begin my work. My contracted hours begin at 8:21, but I have always been one who goes in a bit early. At 3:31 (end of the contract day), I turn my computer off. That's it, I'm done. No matter what, I walk away and I don't return until 7:30 the next morning. I make good use of my prep time to attend to the tasks on my daily to do list.

And, I no longer do ANY school work on the weekend. I just won't do it.

Was this hard to do? Yes. Truth be told, I had to baby step my way there, but I'm there now. I no longer feel as overwhelmed or hopeless. And, I haven't cried since that night my husband came home to that awful sight.

A few things I reminded myself of as I made this transition are:
  • My mental and physical health are crucial to being an effective teacher.
  • I can't teach effectively if I am burned out.
  • This job does not pay me enough to sacrifice my own time and energy at the expense of caring for my own needs and family.
  • Being a teacher does not mean I need give up my life and health.
  • No one cares how much of my own time I commit to making distance learning work.
  • Talking to fellow teachers who felt the same and wanted to lessen the burden of online teaching themselves.
Let's be honest, I still remind myself of these things.

Find other ways to spend your time

Part of my feeling of overwhelm stemmed from the fact that I was no longer making home cooked meals and my home was being neglected. I'm stuck and home. All I see is the inside of my house. And, it wasn't looking so hot. I'm a firm believer that your physical environment plays a huge part in anxiety, mood, and overall well-being. 

I started watching "Clean with Me" videos on YouTube (yes, they're strange, but oddly motivating) and started taking that time I now had available by setting boundaries to attend to our home. I didn't actively seek these out, they just popped up on my feed one day. I guess it was a sign. Haha! I've been decluttering, deep cleaning, and fixing small things here and there ever since. 

I also started exercising regularly. Again. This has always been something I do, but with all the work I was doing to stay afloat with distance learning, I simply couldn't make time for it. And that was another thing that was contributing to my sense of overwhelm. Now, I'm back to several workouts a week. I love using Beachbody workouts, but I also go for walk around our neighborhood because you can only stay cooped up for so long.

Plan with others and divvy up the tasks

Share your workload. If you have a team that works well together, capitalize on that. Divvy up the planning so that each person is responsible for planning one subject each week. 

When my team and I decided to do this, it helped make the process of setting boundaries a lot easier. We were all overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. Each member of my team is responsible for planning a subject using our adopted curriculum and preparing the digital materials for that subject. We have a strict system in place where plans and materials must be dropped into a designated Google Drive folder by a certain day each week. This works well for us and everyone has done an amazing job of staying on schedule. 

We meet weekly to go over the plans and answer any questions others have, and also share tips and things that have been working for us. We ask each other for advice as needed. 

Sometimes, I even plan with teachers outside of my school. We bounce ideas off each other and share successes. So, if your team is too small to divvy up the planning, you can ease the burden of planning by reaching out to other teachers you might know.

TPT is your friend

I make a lot of materials using screenshots of our curriculum and the like, but sometimes I just need something a bit more engaging for our asynchronous assignments. I've been creating on TPT for many years now, but I can't create it all. And, when it comes to distance learning, I need my fair share of supplemental digital resources. Rather than spend 10 hours creating one resource every time I need one, I search TPT to see what I can find. This saves me tons of time and I'm willing to spend a few dollars here and there if it means my own time remains my own.

With that said, I have created some digital resources that I rely on often. Click below to check them out.

Find something that brings you joy

Read a book, binge watch whatever, play a board game with your kids, diffuse your favorite essential oil (mine is peppermint), leisurely peruse Pinterest, bake something, decorate for the season...these are all ways I bring joy to my world these days. 

If you're looking for some binge worthy shows, here are a few of my faves on Netflix:
  • Jane the Virgin
  • New Girl 
  • Schitt's Creek
  • Man with a Plan
  • The Last Kingdom
  • Ashley Garcia Genius in Love
  • The Good Place
  • Community
  • One Day at a Time
  • Mr. Iglesias
  • Lucifer

I realize most of these are comedy. What can I say, I like to laugh.

Bringing joy doesn't have to be big, it just has to warm your heart and take your mind off other things. What brings you joy? Share in the comments below!

If you are still experiencing a great deal of overwhelm and hopelessness with distance learning, I hope some of these ideas might resonate with you. Remember, teaching cannot dictate how you live your life. It should not come between you and your home, your family, or your well-being. I hope you are on the path to finding a groove and a bit of peace. 



distance learning and tips for finding balance

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Amazon Must Haves for the Classroom

It's time to share some more Amazon must-haves for the classroom. Amazon is one of the most convenient places for teachers to get what they need. I find the majority of my classroom items on Amazon. Their pricing is great and you can't beat Prime shipping.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.  For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

This is not the first time I've shared some Amazon must-haves. You can check out other must-have items for your classroom by clicking here. 

With that said, here are some MORE amazing Amazon must-haves for your classroom. :)

This past year, I invested in an easel. Those fancy ones from Lakeshore and Really Good Stuff are too pricey for me. But this office style easel has proven to be very useful and effective. You can adjust the height, it's magnetic, and it has a whiteboard surface. I expect to get several years out of it. Click here to check out all the details.

Heavy Duty Paper
I used to print all my task cards, write the room cards, and reward tags on card stock. Which I would then laminate for added durability. But, using all that card stock eventually wore out my printer.

Now, I prefer to use 28 or 32 lb. printer paper. It's a higher quality, thick printer paper (thicker than your standard printer paper). And, the color always looks more vibrant. Once laminated, it's nice and durable and everything holds up really well. These two are my favorite:

HP 28 lb. paper
HP 32 lb. paper

Charging Stations
As my collection of classroom tech grew, I realized I needed a way to keep my devices organized while they charged. Beyond that, I needed something to contain the nightmarish collection of cords that was taking over that corner of the room. Cords are like the visual equivalent to nails being dragged on a chalkboard.

These bamboo charging stations are perfection. There is a power strip inside the base where each device is plugged in. Any cords that hang out of the charging station are wrapped together and now the cords stay out of sight and the kids know where to put the devices when they're finished with them.

Amazon sometimes runs out of the bamboo color, but they also offer a version in black. Click here for the item I purchased to check out the available color options.

Hole Punch
Yes, a hole punch made the list. Hehe. Over the years, my hands have become weak and prone to inflammation. Hole punching can be a more difficult and uncomfortable task than it needs to be. Enter this hole puncher.

It fits in the palm of your hand and has an ergonomic design. Best of all, it punches really easily. You don't have to squeeze too hard at all. This reduced effort hole punch is from Paper Pro (Bostitch). I ordered several so I have a backup, and one at home. Check it out here.

Oil Timer
This oil timer is a great tool for keeping kids focused during independent work time. I choose a time keeper (aka time manager) who comes to the front of the room during independent work time. They hold the timer while keeping an eye on the rest of the class. When the timer runs out, they place it on another student's desk (a student who was working the whole time and not talking). You can read more about this classroom management idea here. 

Click here to see this oil timer on Amazon.

Keyboard Covers
I know most people use these to cover their keyboards and make them look more fun and colorful. I use them as a word work center. Simply place a set of words out with these keyboard skins and you have yourself an instant center.

No, there is no accountability with this center. But, it does expose kids to a keyboard as they practice typing words they need to know. If this idea appeals to you, click here to see the keyboard covers I purchased.

LCD Boards
Another fun word work tool I've found on Amazon are these LCD writing boards. The kids love them! I mostly use them in our small groups when we practice sight words or specific phonics skills. These boards are a bit different than a mini whiteboard which is why the kids love them. It's different and being able to use them creates immediate buy in. Click here to see the boards I purchased on Amazon.

Harry Potter Style Glasses
If you like adding a bit of novelty to your day, then consider purchasing these glasses. My kids love wearing them during small groups, independent reading, or when working on their sight words. Kids who already wear glasses have been known to put them on over their regular glasses. If something as little as a pair of fun glasses motivates my students to read, I'm here for it. Click here to check these out.

Cap Erasers
I don't know about you, but my students always go through pencil erasers faster than they go through actual pencils. One day, I looked at our pencil bucket and noticed that most of the pencils still had a lot of life in them, they were just missing erasers. The solution was simple, get some cap erasers! These Paper Mate ones are my favorite because they erase and hold up really well.

For around $4-5 you get 144 erasers, which lasts for quite some time. Click here.

For more useful finds click HERE.
For tools every teacher needs click HERE.


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Easy & Effective Classroom Management Ideas

One of my favorite things to do is see what other teachers are up to in their classrooms. When teacher's share their ideas, I eat it up! I'm always on the lookout for new ideas, new tricks, and new tips.

If this sounds like you, then keep reading. This post will peek inside my classroom as I share more of my favorite classroom management tips and ideas. Click here for my other classroom management ideas post.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Like I mentioned, I love learning new things from other teachers. Welp, guess how I learned about this handy classroom management tip? Another teacher! My teammate shared this genius idea with me.

Basically, the time keeper holds this oil timer and watches the rest of the class during independent work time to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to. It is a way to encourage kids to stay focused (and quiet) during their independent work time. It works because everyone wants to be the time keeper!

Once the kids have started working, I choose a student to come to the front of the room. I do this by casually placing the timer on their desk. That's their signal that they have been chosen as the first time keeper. This student gets to hold the oil timer at the front of the room (where they can see the whole class). As the timer runs its course, the time keeper is looking for their replacement (someone who is working, not talking, not messing around, etc). When the oil timer runs out, the time keeper simply places the timer on the next student's desk. This continues until your independent work time is over. You can find these oil timers on Amazon. 

I know checking the cleanliness of student desks is nothing new, but one day I found a fun and exciting way to do this. The kids loved it so much, that I do use this method of checking desks often.

I took this flashy wand (as I call it) and went desk to desk. If the inside of their desk was meeting the expectations I made perfectly clear to them the first week of school (and all the days after that), I tapped the wand on their desk and they got a reward tag. They take great thrill in seeing the wand light up. It's the little things, friends. Since it was such a hit, I've continued to use this method.

Note: Sometimes I give a reward tag that is specifically for having a clean desk, but other times, it's just a reward tag reminding them that they are awesome (see above).

This is something I'll often do if we have an extra 5-7 minutes because it doesn't take long to peek inside a desk and see who knows how to keep their materials organized and who doesn't. You can find these flashy wands in the Target Dollar Spot (or whatever it's called these days).

Oh goodness, there is sooo much I could say about reward tags. They are such an effective tool to use in your classroom. So effective, that I've written several posts about them. Click here for allllll the details.

Basically, reward tags are little tags that students earn for making good choices, working hard, meeting goals, working toward goals, accomplishments, and whatever else you want to recognize a student for. Over the course of the year, they collect tags and place them on a ball chain necklace (a ring clip works too!). In my classroom, students wear their necklace any time they earn a new tag, and everyone wears their necklace on Fridays. Again, click here to read the many blog posts I have detailing all things reward tags, including useful tips and tricks and the ins and outs of using them. 

This trick may just make an appearance in any classroom management blog post I write. That's how much I love it!

A movement code word is exactly what it implies. You move when you hear the word. I started using this several years ago when my class thought they should follow the directions as I was giving them. Sigh. It was driving me bonkers. I started using the code word and told them they could not move until I was done talking and I said the code word. It turned things into a game of sorts (and no, no one loses and you don't get in trouble for forgetting).

I change my word weekly because changing it daily would never work for me. Like never. I like to use silly words. Some people like using academic words. Our day is so regimented that I prefer using a fun, silly word. It's a simple way to add more fun to the day.

I have an entire blog post about using a movement code word. Click here for all the specifics.

Sticks with students names. I don't know what genius came up with this idea years and years ago, but it's a management trick that's still going strong.

You can use name sticks for so many things: calling on students, pairing students, choosing a mystery walker, attendance, and MORE! Click here to read (in detail) the many ways that name sticks can be used in the classroom.

You need to have a plan for students who finish their work early. Otherwise, chaos will ensue. Okay, maybe not chaos, but you'll have a handful of kids just doing what they want and most likely distracting their classmates.

In my classroom, if you finish an assignment early, you can either:

  • Work on unfinished work (must do, if you have any)
  • Read silently
  • Choose a fast finisher activity

Giving students a choice is important, and this is one way I can do so when there are so many restrictions in place that dictate how our day looks.

My fast finisher activities are kept in drawers. The students can choose any activity from any drawer. I have 9 drawers total so I don't have to swap out the content very often. I typically stock the drawers with various sight word activities, grammar puzzles, and/or math puzzles. Here are a few examples of what I have put out in the past.

Sight word drills:

Sight word flash cards:

Miscellaneous puzzles and activities from Oriental Trading:

I'll admit, this little trick is definitely fluff. But, I won't apologize for it because the kids love it. I found this light up bubble wand when we went to Disneyland last year. I had to have it. I

I use the wand to shower partners/small groups of students with bubbles when they are working with an appropriate voice level. When kids work together they have a harder time with voice levels. When one group sees another being showered with mini bubbles, they work harder to control their voice levels because, I mean, who doesn't want a 15 second bubble party?

You can find light up bubble wands on Amazon. I haven't used them, but if you like this idea, and don't plan on visiting Disneyland any time soon, maybe there is one here that would work for you. :)

I have five table groups in my classroom. Sometimes, I need one person at that group to get materials for the table, or get privacy offices for the group, collect papers from the group, etc. I've found that designating one student as the team captain is the easiest way to do this. I don't have to spend time picking a student. The captain just does it.

Every Monday, I choose a new team captain. When the students see a little dino like this one on their desk, they know it's their turn to be team captain. I only have one rule...do NOT touch the dino. If they do, they lose it. They don't lose their position as team captain, they just don't get to sit with their dino pal for the week. Basically, they get to practice some self-control with this position. ;)

The dino is a bath toy. I got this set on Amazon.

That's it, friends! I hope you found an idea or two to try in your classroom. Don't forget to click here for more classroom management ideas like picking a mystery walker, using sticker books, and more. 


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Classroom Organization Ideas

I love being organized. And, I love talking all things organization. So, let's do it. Let's talk organization!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Once again, I'm here today to share my love of organization. I'll be sharing a few (more) examples of how I organize specific materials in my classroom. (Click here for more specific examples of how to organize classroom items such as crayons, tech, clipboards, and more.)

I say this in most of my organization posts, but it is worth repeating: organization varies from person to person. It looks different to different people. What works for me might not work for you. But, hopefully it will at least inspire you and give you an idea.

Read Alouds
After I read a book to my class, I set it on the ledge of our whiteboard.

I let the books fill up that space, and when it is full, I move them to my filing cabinet. Yep, that's right, I organize and store my read alouds in my filing cabinets. I learned this gem of an idea from my teaching bestie years and years ago. I use legal sized file folders to create dividers and organize my books by topic or theme.

Fast Finisher Drawers
When I moved to my current classroom, my fast finisher organization system got an update. My room has two sets of short racks. They really aren't as functional as you might think because they are so short, so I decided to use them for my fast finisher materials. I purchased some oversized Sterlite drawers and simply put the fast finisher options in the different drawers. I made labels and attached them with Velcro dots.

The drawers I purchased are approximately 14 x 14 inches. The exact item I purchased does not appear to be available any longer (unless you want to pay twice what I did). But, Amazon does have a smaller set of drawers available (11 x 13.5 inches). You can find the smaller set of drawers here.

Within the drawers, you'll find more organizational goodness. Some of the activities I put out are stored in dry erase pouches, or sleeves, so that the resource can be used over and over. The ones shown below are from Oriental Trading, but you can click here for a comparable set on Amazon (with high ratings). 

You can find these sight word drills in my TPT store.

Finally, some of my fast finisher options are placed in zipper pouches like these. I get these at Walmart. They are less than one dollar a piece and every year I buy at least 10 more to add to my collection because I use them for centers and other things too.

Morning Tubs
Morning tubs are a great way to start your day with students. They provide a soft start and are perfect for easing kids into learning each day. With morning tubs, you basically set out some hands-on materials for students to play, build, and create with during the first 5-10 minutes of the day. You can read about what to put in morning tubs and how to manage them here.

I store my morning tub materials in drawers like these. I purchased mine from Michaels, but you can find a similar set, like the one linked here, on Amazon.

I love stickers. A lot. I have a lot of stickers. A lot.

I give out table points in my classroom. Each day, the winning table group gets a sticker. They add the sticker to their sticker books. You can read about how I use table points and stickers here. 

When I award stickers each day, I need quick and easy access. This magnetic holder has been a life saver! It sticks to the whiteboard, just below the space where I record the table points. I found this at The Container Store. Click here for a holder with similar dimensions. 

Reward Tags
Another classroom management tool I use daily in my classroom is reward tags.

In short, reward tags are a quick and easy way to recognize student effort on the spot. Students are awarded a tag and it is added to a special necklace. I have written many posts about reward tags. Click here for ALL things reward tags.

Just like the stickers mentioned above, I need to be able to quickly access the tags since I award them throughout the day.

I've found that storing my tags in an open container as seen below is the way to go. These are DMC floss organizer trays. DMC floss is what people use when they cross stitch, or make friendship bracelets. I've found that the trays are the perfect place to store my tags. I cut the lid off and glue some ribbon/bow on the outside. The trays sit on a bookcase at the front of my room so I can easily find what I need.

You can find these containers on Amazon, or at your local craft store (they are usually cheaper there).

Magnetic Marker Container
I realize this is not a revolutionary idea, but honestly, having a cup or container of some kind to organize and store your markers is great. Instead of having markers strewn about the ledge of your whiteboard, you can store them all in one handy spot. Store your markers cap side down so the color becomes more vibrant.

You can find these containers almost anywhere. The teal one shown above is from Home Goods. This link will take you to a similar sized option on Amazon. This link will take you to a smaller sized option on Amazon.

Student Work Folders
Classroom organization extends beyond the teacher and his/her resources and materials. Students need to be organized too!

One way that I teach my students some organizational skills is by giving them folders to store their work in. I tend to use the two shown below most often. I also make a technology folder where they store all their passwords and/or materials they might need to bring to the computer lab.

I purchase my folders at Target. You can find these labels in my TPT store (the set currently includes 120 labels).

Click here for more specific examples of how to organize your classroom. 
Click here for more posts on how to get organized, the truths about getting organized, and more.


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