How to —

Do you need some inspiration to feel motivated about starting another school year? I have teamed up with some talented teacher-authors to share inspirational ideas for next school year. From classroom organization to first day of school activities, this collection of blog posts will set you up for back-to-school success. There’s something for everyone from PreK to middle school. Here are a few  favorite teacher blog posts (labeled by grade). I hope you find the posts as inspiring as I do.


K – 6th Grade

Start the School Year Off Right! will help you get ready for the busy season.  Melissa Bonito from Peas in a Pod offers some smart tips and tricks to help set the stage for a smooth school year. You won’t want to miss her top 5 back to school tips, and how she goes about teaching classroom procedures!

2nd – 5th Grade

Kelly Malloy from An Apple for the Teacher is full of classroom design inspiration! She offers multiple pictures of her classroom throughout the years. Her latest post, My Students Are Amazing, offers a peek at her classroom door display for September. Hint**There’s a freebie in this post!

K – Middle School

In Organize & Transform Your Classroom, Suzy Memeo from StudentSavvy offers tips on creating a space that makes you happy! She will guide you as you come up with your plan, locate the problem areas in your classroom, and tackle them. Her beautiful designs are a must see!

Prek – 3rd Grade

Read all about creating a life long love for reading within each of our students in My Favorite Way to Increase Reading Engagement by Paula Beckerman from Paula’s Primary Classroom. She says, “After 25 years of teaching early childhood, I haven’t found any magic tricks that always work for everyone, each child is unique after all!  There is, however, something that has served me incredibly well, year after year.” Find out what it is HERE!

3rd – 6th Grade

“How do you see your role in the classroom in terms of the first month of school?”  That was a pivotal question on my job interview many years ago. Sometimes the more things change, the more the stay the same. Whether it was asked during your interview or not, the answer can make or break your classroom management plan. If you don’t accomplish anything else during the first weeks of school but to have control of your class, then you have done a good job! It was my answer and the  school superintendent interviewing me agreed! Read more about how Kathleen Guleksen, from A Plus Kids, does just that!

Hint**There is a freebie in this post!

We are so happy to share these tips with you. Do  you have any beginning-of-the-year strategies that work well for you?  We would love to hear them. Please leave your tip or comment below.





Clip art courtesy of Laughing Deer Studio

Hi everyone! Every year we have lots of fun with our grandchildren at our annual Easter Egg hunt held on our back lawn. The kids enjoy it and look forward to it. Two years ago I realized that the kids were getting too big to truly enjoy opening little plastic eggs with little candies and trinkets inside. I decided to create something new. At first there were complaints because it was change and my oldest grandson is not a math fan, but the kids had a great time and when it was over I had three happy kids! Then I thought an adapted version of my new math egg hunt could be used for classroom fun.


I created a new Easter Egg hunt based on luck but engaging and lots of fun. The eggs were stuffed with numbers.  Just for fun, the numbers over 10 were printed in yellow to be recognized as having a higher point value.  Here are the sheets of numbers waiting to be cut and stuffed into the eggs.


The Challenge for Selecting Numbers

Each kid got a sheet with 16 numbers. The kids had to choose just 12 numbers and write them in the bunny ears.  These are the only numbers they would get credit for finding.

When deciding which numbers to choose, kids needed to think that lower numbers were worth less, but there were more of them in the eggs, so the chance of finding lower numbers was greater. Kids need to make a choice. Their chosen numbers were written in the bunny ears.


The eggs were hidden and the kids ran around the yard looking in the garden, on benches, in flower pots, in window boxes, etc. until they were sure they had found all of the eggs.   

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Each child was given an empty egg carton with the 12 numbers they chose--one number in each section.

When they opened each egg there was a number inside from 5-20. Then they sorted the numbers from the eggs into the egg cartons. If they had chosen the number in the beginning they were awarded that number of points.  If the number in their egg was not on their list, it was discarded.  We computed one number at a time, starting with 20 and working our way down to 5.  "How many 20s do you have? How many points is that?" Then the next child was asked, "How many 20s do you have? How many points is that?"

Next the numbers had to be tallied. It was interesting to see the math non-fan 9-year-old, who wasn't happy with the new Easter Egg Hunt format in the beginning,  adding those points and all of a sudden interested. "I found five 9s. That's 45 points."  The 1st grade twins had no problem concluding "I found three 10s. That's 30 points."  Finally, the 9-year-old used a calculator to add the total number of points for each of them.



Winner's Prizes

Slightly larger eggs were stuffed with a few $$$$ to create 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.


And, of course, they each received an Easter gift from their grandparents. Here they are with their gifts and holding the prize eggs.

That was my hunt for my grandchildren. It was lots of fun because they enjoyed the steps of the process and there was suspense to see who would win. Surprisingly, the older one liked doing the computing. Here's an idea to adapt the hunt for a classroom activity:

  1. Stuff enough plastic eggs for each kid in your class to find at least 3 eggs. (You decide the number). To be safe be sure to make a few extra eggs. Sometimes 1 or 2 eggs cannot be found.
  2. Stuff the eggs with numbers your kids can add, for example, single-digit, two-digit or three-digit numbers.
  3. Enlist someone (maybe a student or two from another class) to help you "hide" the eggs on the playground just before your hunt.
  4. Arrange kids in groups of 5 or 6 and send in a general direction so as not to have them run over each other. There is no need to rush or push or fight. Everyone gets to collect just 3 eggs and there are plenty for everyone. It is a game of luck! No one know which eggs have the biggest numbers.
  5. Tell kids when they have found 3 eggs, they should return to you.
  6. When you return to the classroom, the kids add their numbers. The kids with the top 3 highest totals win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes presented in larger eggs or envelopes--or whatever you create. Prizes can be dollar store finds or homework certificates.

If you need a fun activity for your kids, try the math Easter Egg hunt,  Be creative and adapt it to the needs of your students! Let me know how it works for you. Have fun! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!


Kathleen in 8 Apples


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My granddaughter Mia was getting ready to celebrate her 7th birthday. Somehow she heard about tea parties and decided that was how she wanted to celebrate. The funny thing is that neither Mia nor any of her friends drink tea and no one had ever been to a tea party.  However, that did not diminish her determination to plan the perfect tea party with her mom. (I helped a little too.)  Mia's birthday tea party turned out great and I will write more about that another day. Today I want to tell you about how much fun Mia and I had making large paper flowers for her very girly tea party.  Somewhere Mia saw pictures of large flowers and decided they would make a special decoration for her 7th birthday party.  Making them is easy and fun. All you need is tissue paper and pipe cleaners. Mia needed a little help, but did much of the work herself.



First, decide on the colors you want your flowers to be. Then take six sheets of tissue paper and lay it flat. Then begin to fold the tissue paper accordion style.


When the papers have been folded accordion style, fold the long strip of paper in half and tie in the middle with a pipe cleaner.



Then trim the edges on each end of the paper strip. Different cuts will make different flowers. This paper was cut to have a scalloped edge. (I actually trimmed the edges. Mia demonstrated for the camera.)



Working on one half of the paper, begin to pull the pieces of paper apart, creating  the large petals.



Half of the flower in the front is complete. Now begin to work on the second half.  Pull the papers apart as you did for the first half and arrange them to make a large flower.



Here is Mia holding the flower she just made. A round dowel was inserted through the pipe cleaner to make a bouquet-like arrangement to place in a vase. Purple and pink flowers are in the background. Mia was very happy with the outcome. Later we made different flowers by trimming the ends with a spike-like shape. Some flowers were placed in vases and some were hung from the ceiling. Mia was right. The large paper flowers were the perfect decoration. All the girls loved them.

Kathleen in 8 Apples

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