How to Make a Teacher Toolbox

Have you made a teacher toolbox? If you haven't, I urge you to do so because it will greatly improve your teacher life :-)

I am not naturally organized.  A few years ago my room was what I would now refer to as a disaster!  I had stuff everywhere! Stacks of paper, manipulatives, books etc. where everywhere!  My desk was no exception! Some people say that they can work in organized chaos, but let me tell you that I am not one of those people.  I must have a place for everything or everything ends up all over my place!

In an effort to tame one thing at a time, I decided to tackle my desk.  Enter the teacher toolbox!  This little thing has transformed me and set me on a path to organization. It feels wonderful to know where all these odds and ends are instead of having to dig through my desk.  Not only does it help me in my organizational mission, it also looks great in my classroom!

Here it is:

 Close up of the center drawers.
The left side.
 The right side.
I'm not kidding when I say it's transformed my life!  Now I want to find a place for everything in my room :-)

***Update: You can now get your non editable copy HERE or an editable version HERE***

Would you like to make your own teacher toolbox? Just follow the instructions below in order to make yourself one and start getting organized ;-)

How To Make Your Own Teacher Toolbox:

The dimensions:
  • The large drawers are 1.87 inches tall and 4.18 inches wide.
  • The small drawers are 1.41 inches tall and 1.85 inches wide.  
Use these dimensions to create your template.
  • When printing, select to print ACTUAL size.  (If you print them on "shrink" or "fit to page" the images are going to be much smaller and won't fit correctly on your drawers.) 
  • Print on regular copy paper.
  • Use a trimmer for nice straight lines. 
  • Laminate your labels.
  • Attach them to the outside of your drawers using a glue gun, tape, or other type of adhesive.  I used a glue runner which is kind of like double sided tape. Tape and glue runners are forgiving and will be easy to remove if you don't like the placement or want to remake your box later on.
I wish I had known this stuff BEFORE I started mine.

If you are interested in my designs, you can pick up these owl labels here:
Update: I've had several requests for different designs.  Make sure to visit my TpT shop HERE for more designs :-) 

I am linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. Check it out to find more creative projects!

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Classroom Management

Are you a Pinterest lover?  If you are, then you will want to link up over with Just Reed for her Ten Pin Linky Party.

Just link up 10 pins that follow this week's theme: Classroom Management.  You can view my whole board dedicated to classroom management right over here:

Here are my 10 classroom management pins:
1. I delved into Whole Brain Teaching and this is the pin that got me started:
2.  Whole Brain Teaching comes with a set of rules and I found that the rules as is, weren't working for my kids.  I found this pin and rules seem to be a better fit.
3.  I will be incorporating Teri's (A Cupcake for the Teacher) rewards system with my behavior chart this year!  
4.  This is another idea I want to use with my clip chart to acknowledge students with outstanding behavior.  When a child gets to the top level they receive a jewel on their clip.  When they have 5 jewels (or any amount that you set) their clip goes into the hall of fame!  
5.  Sometimes kids just don't know when to step away or how long they need to step away for.  That is why I am going to make one of these jars this summer.
6.  When I saw this pin, I knew I had to make it into a chart for my kids.  It's going to be so helpful!
7.  The person who came up with this is a genius!  
8.  I would like to incorporate something like this into my class but I'm not sure how I'm going to do it yet.
9.  My behavior chart works great in the room, but some children seem to forget that their outside behavior is important too.  Problem solved!  The kids that need the extra reinforcement can take their clip chart with them where ever they go now. 
10.  I actually bought the fish bowl for this project a while back.  Now to find the time to get it done.

Now link up with Ashley for her Ten Pin Linky at Just Reed and share your ten classroom management pins!


Classroom Management Ideas

I wish someone would have told me how important classroom management before I began teaching.  I was very fortunate in having a very kind and sweet class my first year that helped me get things running smoothly.  I have now taught for the past 6 years and have learned that without management I cannot teach!

My classroom management is NOT perfect by any means, but I'm getting better with it each and every year.  My classroom management has improved greatly due to three things:  Behavior Clip Charts, Classroom Rewards, and Whole Brain Teaching.

1. Behavior Clip Chart:
I used to use the flip cards for behavior management but each and every year I always stopped midyear because it didn't work.  The students who were following the rules were never recognized for their behavior and the ones who were breaking the rules were the ones who were getting up to change their card.  My awesome BFF began using her chart in her class and it inspired me to get started with it.
I created mine using my Cricut.  The shapes were then laminated for protection and I attached the whole thing using different colors of twine.  The clothespins are from Walmart and only cost about $2.  Each time that they reach the Fabulous Falcon level they receive a little gem on their clip.  If they go above this level I say that they are "off the chart!" and they get to pick where to put their clip.  I got this idea from THIS post :)  

Each day the students record the color that they end the day on.  I use a simple form to communicate the colors with the parents.  I use the back of this as their Weekly Newsletter to save on paper.   The parents sign this paper and it is due the next week. This paper is placed in my student files and I take them out for parent conferences when I go over classroom behavior.  It's awesome!

This year, I am implementing some ideas form Teri from A Cupcake for the Teacher to go along with my chart.  I will be blogging about this soon. 

2. Star Jar
A fun thing I implemented this year was my Compliment Star Jar.
 Each time that we get a compliment for walking in a nice line or doing a great job in specials class etc they earn a star.  When they reach 15 stars, we will have a small celebration (early recess, puzzle time, computer lab time).  The kids LOVE to earn these little stars!  They keep a daily count on them to see how many more compliments they need in order to make their goal.  I do not recommend taking away stars, but in a serious situation I do take them away.  It's a huge deal if they lose stars and it settles the class down quickly.
To add some fun to this I put these little faces on the stars.

3. Whole Brain Teaching
I have been implementing some aspects of whole brain teaching and I am loving it!  Thank goodness for this website: 3rd Grade Thoughts and this video:
This post and video were my first exposure to WBT.  I love that there are class rules with it (that I will be tweaking for this year) and that everything is so hands on.  I love the hand gestures and that the children are always moving and doing something.  With WBT the kids don't have time to be off task and that means that they don't have time to misbehave.  I love it!

My favorite parts of WBT are:

  • The Class Rules
  • Hand Gestures
  • Class Yes

Our whole team used these elements of WBT.  I ended up teaching summer school this year and I was so happy that I didn't have to start from scratch when going over the rules and procedures.  It made everything so much easier because they already knew my class rules and Class Yes!  I would like to implement more WBT this year, so I will using the WBT website to get some more ideas.  Best of all the training for WBT are free at their website right here: Power Teachers

Extra Advice: 
Some other bits of advice I wish someone had given me is that I have to be well prepared every day, especially in the beginning, or else things can spiral out of your control real quick.  When the kids are engaged and working, there is no time to be bored, so there is no time to misbehave.

Also, sometimes kids don't know what "good behavior" is or what it looks like.  Sometimes we need to tell them and show them what it looks like.  I've seen tons of teachers that tell their kids to do something but the kids don't know what she is talking about and therefore don't do it.  When this happens to me I stop and teach a mini lesson on what I expect from them.  We also practice what it is that I want to see, over and over again.  That investment of time in the beginning of the year (also when a new student arrives) is well worth it down the road.

So there is what I have been working on, and learning about classroom management in the past six years.  Make sure to link up with Leigh at The Applicious Teacher for her linky this week!


Owl Themed Classroom Decor

Have you heard about The Applicious Teacher's linky going on right now?  She is hosting a weekly link up and this week's topic is classroom decor.

I love looking at teacher's classrooms.  It gives me inspiration to change things up and make my classroom more comfortable to be in.  While doing this post I realized I have changed some things up and didn't take pictures!  First of all, this wall down here is now in the back of my classroom and the alphabet has been replaced by my own themed one.  You can see that in the pictures way down the post.
This is my fluency reading tree.  I LOVE cherry blossoms.  My BFF created this template for the tree and I added some cherry blossoms to make it a cherry blossom tree.

I use the tree to monitor our progress in reading by moving the students' clips from one side starting at 0 to 100 for the end of the year.  You can number their clips so that they can't see who is where.  Before putting the clips up, we have in depth conversations about us making progress at different times and they never make anyone feel bad about where they are on the tree.  They love moving their little owl up to the next level when they meet a goal!
This little owl is so cute!

A close up of my cherry blossoms.

This is my author of the month wall.  I copied the covers of several books by one author and we read the books throughout the month.  The kids have developed a very strong connection to the authors.  It's awesome when they come back from the library with even more books by the author of the month.  I also cut the letters out with my Cricut. 

 I had been looking for posters from my favorite books for a long while.  I couldn't find any good ones that were the right size or had good pictures, so I decided to create my own! 

This is what it looked like while I was working on it.  It was painful putting it through the laminator :( Some of the oils melted and spread in the wrong places.  It's hard to notice it though. 

This brilliant idea was from my husband.  I read Alice In Wonderland each year and my kids fall in love with the characters from the story!  I got this Cricut cartridge with Disney characters and when my husband saw him, he said that I should make him hold my classroom clock.

This is a view around my bathroom door.  We are blessed in having a bathroom.  We have to share it, but it beats having to send my kids outside and having the classroom door open all day long.  The sticks that you see on the side of the door are my bathroom management sticks. 

Alice is falling down the side of the wall and she lands by the door here on the bottom. 

Here is the Chesire cat:) The kids love his grin!

I LOVE this wall! Each child's picture is in one of these frames.  We did this activity at the beginning of the year and they wrote about themselves.  It gave my kids a sense of pride of our classroom and helped us feel like a family/community.  They also loved picking out their own frame!  I cut the frames with my Cricut at about 10 inches.

I am not a huge theme person and last year was the first time I even considered a theme.  I went with an  owl theme.  It wasn't even on purpose. It began with a cute set of clip art and it kind of exploded everywhere in my room:) 

Here are some owl themed things in my room:

This is our owl-phabet :) I need new pictures, they look so nice across the wall.

This is my Box Tops container I made last summer as one of my Monday Made It's.

This is another one of my Made It's.  It's a bin to hold all of my read alouds for the week. 

Yep, another Made It.  This bin is a life saver! Whenever my kids find a ripped book, they just place it in the book hospital instead of handing it to me to fix.

We celebrate owl style too:
The kids wear this owl birthday buttons.  They feel so special wearing them around campus!

I print out these cards for each of them.  These cards and their button is on their desk when they arrive in the morning. 

Yep, we even test owl style

I am sticking to the owl theme this year and I am wanting to add more teal.  I want a black/white/teal look with bright colors throughout.  I'm hoping it will come together.  I'll be in my room in a few weeks and hope to start my plan of action. Now link up your classroom decor with the Applicious Teacher!

Update: 8/12/13
The latest addition to my owl themed decor: Organization Bins.  Loving having a cute place to store everything!  Click on the picture below if you are interested in this label set. 

So now make sure to link up with The Applicious Teacher and show off your decor!

Teacher Toolbox Trio Linky Celebration!

I saw this linky over at Eberopolis and thought it was a great idea!

Alison is hosting a linky to share some of your treasures from TPT.

Here are the rules of the trio:
1. Share a product that you've made that you couldn't live without.
2. Share a product that you've purchased that you love.
3. Share something from your wish list that you're hoping to get for next year.

1. Something I Made:
Time after time my morning has totally saved me!  I teach my kids how to do it on the first day of school and they are good to go on the second day.  The morning work is customizable so I decide what skills my kids need to review on a weekly basis.  It hits the major skills that calendar usually covers but I usually don't have time to do calendar.  It's meant to be used with second graders but I've met teachers who have used it in first and third grade also.  I'm teaching summer school right now and my whole team used my morning work this past year with our second graders, so on the first day of summer school our kids recognized the morning work and knew exactly what to do when they sat down!  This was just awesome! Plus it is Common Core aligned:)
Click HERE for a view of my morning work:

2. Purchased Product:
Can I just say that I am addicted to TPT??? I love good resources and I can't resist anything that is going to save me time, energy and is going to help my kids.  I just took a peek and I've bought 179 items...I don't even want to know the total amount of money that is...but I can say that most of my purchases have been totally worth it!  I'm having a very difficult time selecting one item.  After looking through everything I am going with this American Heroes unit:
I am always on the look out for good socials studies materials and this one from Teacher to the Core is AMAZING!  My kids loved reading all these passages and they learned so much! The crafts were adorable too! Take a look at this one:

3. Wishlist Item:
Teri from A Cupcake for the Teacher creates such wonderful stuff!  I can't wait to get my hands on this  Writing Center Starter Kit.  This will help me get my writing wall all ready for the year.   It will be such a great reference tool and it makes a beautiful display! 

Now it's your turn to link up with Alison at Eberopolis. I can't wait to find some more new goodies!

Summer School Essentials

I've never taught summer school before, so when I took it on this summer, it was a shocker!!! I've taught intersession before at my own school and had the ability to stay in my classroom to teach, so it was no big deal, but I can tell you right now that I was not prepared at all for summer school!  I was going through the long list of items I wished I had today (my second day) and decided to go and pick my stuff up from my home school.  I came up with some essential items that I need to bring along with me if I decide to teach summer school again.

I did learn that a teacher will teach with anything she has on hand.  It just makes it very difficult to teach with a pack of unsharpened pencils, tables, chairs and some blank paper!  So here are the materials I wills always take with me when I teach summer school:
Here is an explanation of each item, most are self explanatory :)

1. Behavior clip chart:  I didn't realize how much I count on this until it wasn't there.  I wanted to reinforce good behaviors and I didn't have anything to do that with.  It's classroom management on the go!  I'm just going to hang it up tomorrow with the clips and it's all good!  You can click here to learn a bit more about my clip chart! I love it! Thanks Jennifer for introducing me to it:)

2. Pencil sharpener: What good are pencils without a sharpener?  The rooms we are in are barebones!  There is nothing!  So one person had a sharpener and we were all desperately trying to get ahold of it.

3. Tape:  We created some charts and I wanted to tape them to the board and there was no tape around! Yikes!

4. Morning Work:  Our whole team uses the morning work I created, it's easy to customize to the kids' needs.  The kids walked in, saw their morning work and got right to work while I figured out busing situations, spoke with parents and got other duties taken care of.  Not to toot my own horn here, but my morning work was a perfect way to assess what skills they were missing or had forgotten.  By the way, how do kids forget how to count by 5's in ONE week???

5. Stapler: I wanted to hang some stuff up and there was no stapler.  Enough said.

6.  Scissors:  I'm not sure how many things we had to chew open on the first day, but it was a lot of stuff.

7. Magnets:  I use magnets all the time to hang things up on my board, hang reminders on my door and so forth.  Tape will do, but magnets are super nice to have around!  I especially like these hook ones from Staples.

8.  Sanitizer {AKA Hanitizer}: I have a bathroom in my classroom so I'm not used to kids having to leave the room for that.  Many times the kids came back without washing their hands...I wanted to run for the sanitizer and there was none around!  It's also a pain having to have the kids run to the bathroom to wash their hands after they blew their noses.  Sanitizer is so much easier!

9. Stickies: I use stickies for everything apparently.  I use it to create charts with the kids, to write notes to parents and so forth.

10. Staple Remover:  This is not my classroom, so I need to be able to remove stuff when we are through with the room.

11. Markers: Any and all kinds of markers!  I don't have a projector/doc camera here so I'm reliying on markers to write on the white board and to create anchor charts.  I didn't have any for half the day!

12. Pens: You just need pens!  Love these flair ones especially.

13. Push pins:  I like to pin my charts on the walls so I can move them around easily.  Push pins are a must.

14. Teacher toolbox: If you have a teacher tool, you are so lucky! (I'm planning on making one this summer).  I have a fake teacher toolbox.  It's from the container store.  It has 4 drawers.  Definitely not enough drawers but it does the job for now. I keep all those little things like push pins, paperclips, markers, pens, and stickies in there. It was nice picking this up from my room knowing I had all these necessities ready to go.

15. Whiteboards: We have a limited supply to paper, so white boards are necessary. Plus they add so much engagement with the kids.  Don't forget to pack plenty of dry erase markers.

16. Boxes:  I have desks in my own classroom and we use boxes to keep everything organized.  I'm working with tables this summer and I have to admit that the tables and I are struggling to get along.  These boxes I picked up a couple of years ago at Walmart are saving us!

There's tons more stuff I could add to this but I can't take my whole classroom, so these are the tools that are going to help me get through this summer.

Is anyone else in the same situation?  What did you take with you to help you and your kids?
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