Easy, No Prep Card Center

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One of the best pieces of advice that I have received was to create centers that could stay the same throughout the year. Over the years I have added more and more centers to my rotation that require little to no prep and that has saved my sanity!

One of the centers that has worked super well for my class is the card writing center. It’s a favorite every single year! Since this station is in the rotation each week, the kids know exactly what to do when their group is assigned to this center. This means that I don’t have to explain how to do it and the kids don’t interrupt my group during small group time. The main goal of centers is to keep the kids engaged, working, and practicing while the teacher works with a small group of children on targeted skills.

The best thing about this center is that it requires no prep work! You heard that right. No cutting little game pieces, laminating, or sorting anything! All you have to do is copy new cards for the week and you’re done! You don’t even have to fold the cards for the kids. They can handle it without a problem.

I had been using the same template for the past four years and it was time for an overhaul. I can't wait for my kids to see all the options!

Easy no prep card center!

You can choose to leave the inside blank or add lines. This file includes three different sized line templates that you can use to add lines inside the cards. 

Easy no prep card center!

There are OVER 50 designs that are included with more to come! You can check out the video below to see more card choices. 



Helpful Tips: 

  • When you introduce this center, make sure to model it and practice completing cards as a class. It also helps to have a couple of samples in the bin (or wherever the materials are held) just in case they need a little refresher. 
  • Have lots of copies ready to go. I suggest two or three designs at a time. I let my kids make as many cards as they would like during their time in this center (as long as the work is neat and complete of course). In a period of 30 minutes, my kids usually make one or two cards. 
  • Designate a place for your kids to place their cards when they are done. I picked up a mailbox from Lakeshore and it works perfectly! Our class “postal pal” passes them out at the end of the week. 
My kids LOVE to write cards for their friends and family. I'm sure yours will too!

If you would like to pick up this center, just click HERE or the picture below:


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Product Updates for Brights Fans!

Some of my favorites have gotten some product updates! These updates have been on my to-do list for a super long time. I'm so happy to have them completed. Every resource below now includes over 400 clip art choices for you to choose from so that you can match up every one of your students with the perfect image!

1. Editable Mailbox Labels

This mailbox system makes my life so much easier! I collect work that needs to be graded and put it back into these bins.  Every Thursday I send home a week's worth of work.  So far I'm noticing that more parents are getting to see their child's work this way.  In the past I've seen that my kids have work from weeks ago in their backpacks!  I was looking for a solution and this seems to have done the trick.  I also put a folder at the bottom of each drawer to help me build an ongoing portfolio.  Now whenever a last minute meeting pops up, I can pull the portfolio and have lots of student work for the meeting. These also come in handy for parent conferences!  


2. Book Bins

These book bins are one of my kids' favorite things in our classroom! So much that at the end of the year last year, my kids asked their third grade teachers if they would still have their own book bin in third grade!

I am all about happy colors and these labels with these bins from Lakeshore were just perfect for us!

3. Skinny Name Tags

The next resource is something we use all the time! Long ago I learned that packaging tape was one of the best ways to attach name tags to desks. Well, I was using huge name tags and they used up so much tape! A couple of years ago I thought about how amazing it would be if I could attach name tags with one piece of tape. That is the day this idea was born! These name tags fit perfectly inside the width of packaging tape.  Just place the name tag on the desk and run a piece of tape over it. Voila! 

When I print these, I print a duplicate set so that I can make bookmarks. My kids ADORE them!


Are you a Target Dollar Spot fan? Well, a year after I made these, Target created these thin adhesive labels and guess what? My name tags fit in there! #targetforthewin I'm now using these on my student desks but when I run out, I'll be using my trusty old packaging tape! 

If you own any of these resources, please make sure to re-download them now! If you are interested in purchasing them, please check out the links below:



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Creating Photo Ornaments

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Hi there!!! I posted an IG story over the weekend about my class ornaments and I received tons of requests for detailed directions. I'm a total visual learner and I know that watching me do it all might be more helpful than reading the steps. This is how they look when they are done:


Before you begin watching, please note that I took pictures of my kids using a Snapchat filter. That is how I got the reindeer ears on there. Second, I worked a 13 hour day today and I sincerely hope that all my directions were clear...but it's been a long day (Christmas show at school). Please let me know if you need clarification on any of these steps. 

I used clear shatterproof ornaments from Hobby Lobby that measure 3.15 inches in diameter. Anything over 3 inches is super easy to work with. Depending on the size ornaments that you buy, you will have to resize the circles so that they fit. Just play with a sample until you get the sizing just right. 

Part 1

Part 2

Tips: 

  • Use regular paper instead of photo paper. Regular paper will uncurl better inside the ornament.
  • Use shatterproof ornaments. This will ensure that all your kids go home with their gift intact! 
  • Take the pictures against a pure white surface. I like to use my whiteboard. This will make the background removal so much easier! 

This is my go to gift every year! The kids and parents LOVE them so much!

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Progress Monitoring in the Primary Classroom

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Do you progress monitor in your classroom? If so, you might have run into the same problem that I was having: keeping my materials organized. I was SO tired of never being able to find my testing materials when I needed them.  I either lost my timer, my book, stickers, or got everything ready and didn’t have a pencil on hand! I knew I had to find a better way to manage my materials. This year I came up with a solution to my problem.
 I now keep everything together in one place! Life has been so much easier thanks to my new progress monitoring bin! I keep it right by my desk so that it's ready to go the moment I need it.

I posted the picture below and had lots of questions about what I keep inside my bin and the testing materials that I use. This post will go over those questions.

Several years ago, we were required to test our students weekly. Even though we are no longer required to do this, I found that data so valuable that I have kept testing my students ever since. Progress monitoring gives me a quick snapshot of my kids' reading ability. This data is crucial when forming and planning for small groups. Fluency is such a huge factor in reading comprehension, so knowing how our students are progressing with fluency is a must. Please note that when I say fluency, I don't mean reading as fast as possible. I mean reading at a rate that supports comprehension.

All the testing materials are from the DIBELS website and are FREE to download! If you need copies, you can go HERE and register to download the newest edition. If you don't mind an older edition (I use the 6th because it uses less paper) you can use THIS link instead.

So let's dive into this bin and see what's inside! 

1. Student Copy


This large book is the one that the kids read from. I would like to laminate the cover and spiral bind it one day, but this staple has worked just fine for the past few years.


2. Progress Monitoring Booklets

These books are what I use to mark student errors. I copy 30 at the beginning of the year so that I have plenty for new students. 
I added the color-coded sections with highlighters. A few years ago, I did some research while working on my M.A. and I found out that there is a minimum number that needs to be reached in order for students to comprehend. That magic number is 50 WPM in second grade. So anything under 50 WPM is what I think of as the danger zone. My goal is to get my kids out of that zone as quickly as possible. I do not tell my kids that they are in or above the danger zone. This is for my own reference. 

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!
This is what the cover looks like when it's filled out. I love the graph because I can quickly see the progress that my kids have made. My students and their parents love to see these graphs too!

3. Timer

I have one designated timer for progress monitoring. I like to use this one because I can control the volume on it. 

4. Pencils

I keep two pencils ready to go just in case one of them runs out of lead or just stops working. I sometimes will test my students in other rooms (such as the computer lab or the library) and there have been times when we have gotten there and I didn't have a pencil on hand. Super frustrating! These are my all-time favorite mechanical pencils! I tend to press really hard and these can handle the pressure. 

5. Goal Notes

The notes are so important for parents. I quickly jot down their score and the student and I come up with a goal (the experts say to only increase it a few words at a time).  Parents like to see these notes so that they know how their child is progressing.

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!

6. Stickers


My kids are obsessed with these stickers! When they reach their goal (the goals are pretty obtainable) they get a sticker. They love to show their friends and other teachers that they reached their reading goals!

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!

7. Rewards/Treats


This is completely optional. I like to reward my kids for their hard work with some sort of goodie. If you are at a school where you can give out treats, Hershey's kisses work really well! I tell them it's a kiss from their teacher and they giggle for a bit about it! The Target Dollar Spot erasers make perfect rewards too and they only cost $1 for 60 erasers!


Many teachers requested that I share the resources I created for my bin. You can grab a copy below:


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