Christmas Lip Balm Gift Tag

I am always trying to think of simple and cute little gifts for my teaching team during Christmas.  I have the perfect free lip balm printable to share with you!

I was inspired by this 6 pack of chapstick that I found in the holiday section at Target!  They are adorable and were $4 for a pack of 6!  I bought two packs and used these as gifts for the office staff, librarian, counselors, etc.

I dug up some colored paper, washi tape, and attached the chapstick to this lip balm printable to spread Christmas cheer all over campus!

Grab the free LIP BALM PRINTABLE and attach to some chapstick to let your staff know you appreciate them! :).  I included a couple of different phrases for you to choose from, just print and sign your name. ;)

Merry Christmas!


Family Photo Op with Minted

How is it already Christmas time?!?  It really is my favorite time of year, and having a toddler makes the holiday season that much MORE magical!  One of our family traditions since I was a little girl has been sending out Christmas cards to friends and family.  This year I am partnering with Minted to showcase their new Photo Op feature.  

The Photo Op service includes-

• A 30-minute portrait session. Their independent portrait photographers come to you - anywhere you want*, 7 days a week.
• 10 expertly retouched photos. Plus access to view and download all photos from your session in 2-3 business days.
• Complimentary holiday card styling. Their stylists will choose the perfect designs to highlight your photos.

*Only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, including select zip codes for Marin, East Bay, Peninsula, and the South Bay.  In select zip codes in Los Angeles and in the New York Metropolitan Area, including select zip codes for NJ and CT. 

Here is how the Photo Op with Minted works: 

Step 1: You choose your photo preferences and schedule a day for your photography session.  The Photo Op website is user friendly and easy to navigate.  When setting up a session with a local photographer you start by inputting the zip code for where you want to meet and take photos.  You can take them at your house, neighborhood, or anywhere else you want.  After you pick your location you then answer a couple of questions to narrow down what types of photos you are looking for.

I really appreciated this feature because this information was then given to my photographer, so she knew what I wanted and could capture those specific types of photos.  Step 2: Your independent portrait photographer comes to you and takes your family's portraits.  My photographer's name was Wendy and she texted me a couple of days before our photo date.  We discussed specifics on where to meet and any other request I had.  We touched base the morning of the photo session to let each other know we were on the way.  

I decided to meet Wendy at a local park.  We spent 30 minutes taking photos.  She was sweet, kind, and quick at capturing those fleeting moments with a toddler and dog.  ;)  Once we were done with the photo session, she uploaded the photos to the Minted site and the Minted team edited and styled Christmas cards using my photos.

Check out some photos Wendy captured of my little family...

Step 3: Receive a link to download your photos and view your styled holiday cards in 2-3 days.  Once I received my photos I had the HARDEST time narrowing down my favorite photo (I still haven't decided).  Minted gives you four different holiday card options using your photos.  You don't have to use any that they made for you, but it is a really handy feature if you are in a rush or if you aren't gifted in designing cards.

Step 4: Finish customizing your favorite card design and check out.  Once you are done designing your cards, you check out and can spread Christmas cheer to your family and friends!

I would HIGHLY recommend using Photo Op with Minted for your Christmas card photos! It was simple, cheap, and I scheduled my photo session 2 days ahead of time!  Go ahead and check it out!


Learning Through Play

Does anyone else wish we were allowed to play more in you classroom?  I'm not only talking about Kindergarten... bigger kids love playing too!  I am always looking for opportunities in my classroom to create moments that promote play, conversation, teamwork, and creativity.

Lakeshore and I have partnered together to review some of their learning resources that are perfect for preschool and primary students. Please note that I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore Learning and I am compensated for my blog post, but all ideas are mine. :)

A simple way to incorporate play into your classroom is using it as a reward! When I revealed this Play and Explore Rocket to the students they couldn't contain themselves!  

If you are allowed time to play in your classroom then get ready, because your students will LOVE this rocket.  If you aren't allowed play time then you can set this in an area in your room and use it as an incentive for excellent behavior!  If you catch students behaving well then you can give them 5 minutes to play once they are done with their work.  

I loved hearing them discuss and plan how they were going to play and what they wanted to do with the astronauts.  Playtime is a great opportunity for language development if you have an English Language Learner population in your class!

One of my favorite Lakeshore resources are the Sweet Treats! Letter Molds.  These letter molds are made for baking, but I brought them into the classroom for the students to make play dough letter shapes.  We made sight words using the letters, put the letters in order, and also spelled our names.   

These molds can be put in the freezer or oven, so the options really are endless on how you can use these.  This would be great to bake A-Z cookies for the class once you learn all of the letters of the alphabet!

I also like the idea of placing pom poms and tweezers at the table for the students to pick up pom poms and place them in the letter mold to make letters.  

Do you have a magnetic station in your class?  I would highly recommend the Magnetic Creation Station from Lakeshore.  This resource is super durable and contains a really strong magnetic base for the students to build onward and upward.  

Again, one of my favorite components of watching them explore was listening to the collaboration, discussion, and teamwork when trying to build a tall tower.  They were using critical thinking and trial and error to make their design.

One thing I like to encourage is for them to actually have a plan on what they are going build and then try to achieve it.  The magnetic set comes with a design book showing different construction ideas, and the students appreciated having a visual of what their design could possibly look like.

If you are interested in any of these activities, I have a 20% off coupon waiting for you, follow this LINK to get the coupon!


Getting Crafty with Lakeshore Learning

I love finding ways to incorporate art into my classroom.  There isn't necessarily time to constantly be doing art products, but there are a couple ways you can incorporate it into your schedule to keep those little hands moving and those minds creating.  

Lakeshore and I have partnered together to review some of their learning resources that are perfect for preschool and primary students. Please note that I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore Learning and I am compensated for my blog post, but all ideas are mine. :)

The Draw and Learn Studio is a great tool to use in the classroom to practice drawing AND learning how to write.  The whiteboard is magnetic so it is perfect for the students to practice building words, isolating first/middle/last sounds, or making sentences.

Some ideas of how to use this with your students:
1. The student draws a picture and then finds places the letter it starts with on the whiteboard.
2.  Practice writing and building sight words.
3.  Make a list of rhyming words by manipulating the magnetic letters to build new words.
4.  Put the letters in ABC order.

The Textured Rubbing Plates are a good scaffold for the kids BEFORE they learn how to use stencils.    The students really enjoyed picking a texture (the spiderweb and leaf design were the favorites) and rubbing it with a crayon to reveal the print on their paper.  

It was good practice for them to learn to hold the paper still and rub the crayon repeatedly to get the design to show through the paper.  I like to use rubbing plates before I introduce stencils because they use the same skill of holding the paper still with one hand while they draw with the other.  Using the rubbing plates allow them to make more mistakes compared to a real stencil.  

We used old crayons that had lost their paper or were broken, and this turned into a wonderful discussion about recycling and reusing things that aren't in perfect condition anymore.  These rubbing plates would be really cute to use as the background for an ocean scene, having the kids add different layers of animals to the textured design on the paper.

Our last activity included these Design Rollers. Students LOVE using stamps but it always ends up being a huge mess and the kids get covered in ink.  I would like to proudly report that these design rollers kept the kids' hands clean!  The handle is long enough so they don't need to touch the giant ink pad with their hands at all!

These stamps provided practice for fine motor skills and creativity.  Again, I am going to use these in the future as a textured background to an art project!

What the students enjoyed most was having free reign to create.  Normally, I do systematic art projects with an end goal in mind.  But we incorporated the stamp activity into their free play so it was a great station to set up for creative exploration.

I have a 20% off coupon waiting for you, follow this LINK to get the coupon!

Also, I am going to be attending the FREE Crafts for Kid's Day on November 11, 2017 in the Fountain Valley, CA store!  We will be crafting from 11am-1pm, and I would love to see you there!  Please email me if you want to join, so we can get an accurate headcount!  I am SUPER excited about this, so I hope you can join me! :)


Crayon Bulletin Board

In the beginning of the year I always start with teaching about the colors.  It is a very basic concept, and all of the students can feel successful the first couple of weeks learning about colors while I am also trying to assess everyone and teach classroom procedures.  I designed a DIY Crayon Bulletin Board Template for you to use in your classroom!

If you are looking for the wood background you can grab it on Amazon using my affiliate link below! 

The best part about this bulletin board kit is that I have the following quotes for you to choose from.  You just pick you favorite one and print it on colored paper, then cut it out!
Crayon quotes:
We are a rainbow of possibilities.
We are the brightest crayons in the box.
Be unique. Let your colors shine.

The crayons are editable so you can write the color name or type each student's name on the crayon.  It makes for a really personal bulletin board that is just for your class!

This bright and vibrant board is perfect for showcasing student work or hanging in the awkward space above your sink! ;)


Early Learning Counting Practice

I am going to brag a moment.  Harry can count to 10.  Yep, he's a genius.  

Ok, I am TOTALLY kidding (but you know I am SO PROUD).  I have to give credit to his daddy for practicing counting with him every day, it warms my heart when I hear the two of them practicing in the other room.  We decided to keep the ball rolling by continuing to sharpen this skill and to practice memorizing the numbers and counting objects.  With the help of Lakeshore we were able to use some hands on resources to explore and memorize numbers.

Lakeshore and I have partnered together to review some of their fine motor products that are perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and even kindergarten students. Please note that I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore Learning and I am compensated for my blog post, but all ideas are mine. :)

First I introduced the Learn to Count Washable Activity Book.  This little book zips up and he can carry it around!  I first showed it to him when we were on an airplane for our family vacation.  It kept him quiet for a good 20 minutes while he flipped through each page, playing with the interactive activities.  

I helped show him how to find the creatures on each page and then how to touch each one and count. He isn't able to read the sentences but after a couple days of me reading it to him he would make his own sentences as he turned each page.  We were able to practice language and count at the same time!

Harry's FAVORITE counting manipulative were the Number-Bots.  The numbers actually transform into little robots!

Harry and I played with these by starting them all as numbers.  He would say the number then we would turn them into little robots and he would practice saying the colors!

The options are endless for using these in a primary classroom because they come with addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and equal signs! Here are some ideas:
-Have the students put the robots in number order.
-Start the numbers off as robots and put them in a number sentence.  Then ask the students to turn the robots back into a number and solve the problem on a white board!
-Give the students two robots, and have them turn them into numbers and see who can create a bigger (or smaller number)

Why do kids love stamps so much?  I love them too, but I HATE the mess.  These Self-Inking Math Stamps are great because you don't need a stamp pad!  Harry was easily able to stamp his little heart out, they are super durable and fun at the same time.

First he just practiced stamping with the star and car shape to get the hang of it.  The top of each stamp shows the letter/shape so the kids can easily identify what they are stamping.

Here are some advanced ideas of how you can use these stamps:
- stamp different numbers and ask the kids to stamp that same amount of stars under it
-stamp out a number sentence
-have the students roll dice and stamp that same number

For more Lakeshore inspiration and ideas follow them on: