I Am Grateful - A Reflection Journal

 I Am Grateful - A Reflection Journal

Mindfulness Journal for Kids

Teaching children to be grateful is an important skill.  It also helps promote mindfulness and teaches them to be present, in the moment and to reflect on themselves and their experiences.  

One way I have implemented reflection time with my own two personal children, as well as with students, is by journal writing.  Journaling also helps improve writing skills, which is an added bonus!

I decided to create a journal that helps children learn to reflect.  I included color and black/white options.  I like having them color certain pages because it helps them express themselves (and they love to color!)  I also included large and small versions and styles for a variety of ages.  

Here's a few pictures of the journal in action.

This picture shows the black/white version of the cover getting some beautiful colors added in!

This is one of the pages that asks children to identify people in their lives that they are grateful for.

This picture shows one of the journal entry pages.  On the top, students write what they are grateful for and on the bottom, they include something fun they did today.

There are a variety of mixed prompts and many of them can be repeated to extend the journal, because there is always something to be grateful for!

Here's a little video preview to show you what is included in the Grateful Journal.  You can purchase the resource by clicking any of the images in this post.

I hope you enjoy this journal with your students and/or your own children!  
Let me know how you like it!  Share an image on social media and tag me @teachingzoo

Tie Dye Ornament


These Tie Dye Ornaments are a fun and easy craft for students to do.  I love the Tie Dye effect and I've done it with so many different crafting themes!  It always turns out beautiful and unique for each child and the one of the beauties of it is that you'll never truly know how it will turn it out until it is done.  

The items you'll need for this craft are:

- Coffee Filter (or plain paper cut into a circle)
- Tissue Paper in a variety of colors and cut into about 1 inch squares.
- Construction paper in a variety of colors and cut into about a 2 x 1 inch square.
- Pipe Cleaners
- A hole puncher
- A water spray bottle 
- A large scrap paper

The steps are simple.  Place the coffee filter on a large sheet of scrap paper.  After you've cut the tissue paper into squares, students choose which colors they want to use and they simply lay them on top of the coffee filter.  I always lightly write the child's name with a pencil on the edge so we know who the project belongs to.  If you don't do this before they start, the project will be completely wet.  After the coffee filter is completely covered, you help the child spray (or spray it yourself) until it is completely covered in water.  Then you just let it sit until it is dry.  I usually move the large sheet to a drying rack and let it sit overnight.  Do not take the tissue paper squares off until it is dry.  Once it dries, you can just lift them off or brush them off.  The tissue paper will literally just fall right off when it's dry.

The results are always beautiful and each one is different.  I always love how they come out!  You can then just hole punch the construction paper rectangles (2 inch by 1 inch) and string the pipe cleaner through to give somewhere for the ornament to hang.  Then you glue it onto the back of the ornament and you're done!  


Post a picture on Instagram to let me see how yours turned out!  
Tag me and tag me @teachingzoo to be featured!

Write the Room - Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving Write The Room Center Activity

Write the Room is ALWAYS a fun activity for students that gets them up, moving and learning!  They always enjoy it because they get to move!  Students also love hunting around the room for the words.  If you haven't tried a Write the Room activity before, you should!  You will quickly find that it is one of your students' favorite activities too.  Since Thanksgiving is coming, I set up the Thanksgiving version of the Write the Room activity.  I've made tons of them for every season and theme you can think of!  To set it up, you print out the picture/word cards, cut them out and tape them around the room...on walls, cabinets, desks, get creative!  Decide which option of recording pages you want to use with your students and you're ready for them to Write the Room!!

You can click the pictures to visit my store and grab your copy of the Thanksgiving Write the Room activity.  If you NEED (want) all of the Write the Room Activities, there's also a Bundle!

Let me know if your students like using the Write the Room activities!  Leave me a comment below or post a photo in action and tag me on social media!

Give Away!

 It's Giveaway time!  I want to thank all of you!  See below for your chance to win $25 to my TpT store!  You have 3 chances to win! You can win on my blog, my Instagram, or on my Facebook page!  

Virtual Learning Tips for Parents

In my last post, Tips for Teachers for Virtual Learning, I gave tips that teachers could use to help with virtual learning.  The tips help both teachers and students.  However, I feel that there are tips that parents can do at home to help as well.  I am sharing these tips as both a teacher and a parent who is participating in virtual learning right now.  In my district, we have been back to school with fully virtual learning for a week and a half.  Here are some tips for you, as parents, that I think you will find helpful:

1. Have a designated space for your child to learn.  In school, students have their own space at their desk or table.  I'm not saying you should go out and buy a desk, but if you already have one or want to purchase one, by all means use it.  There are some great options available for desks too.  They even make folding desks that you can put away (like the foldable tables) when you're done using them.  Otherwise, find a space for your child to use that is set up for him or her and that they know it is "their school space".  I think you'll find that this is helpful because it will be the place they know to go "for school". Here's a folding desk that looks nice and is easily stored:

2. Print your child's teacher's schedule.  Have it next to your child.  Having a schedule is something that I recommended for teachers.  Having it available for your child will benefit both you and your child.  Children thrive off of predictable routines.  When they have their schedule visible, it helps them know how their day will go and what comes next.  It provides structure.  I would also recommend laminating it if you have access to a laminator.  If not, Amazon has some inexpensive options that are great.  I personally have an Amazon brand laminator at home and love it.  Here it is:

3. Provide opportunities for your child to release some energy.  Even while your child is working, there are some great products out there to help them maintain focus.  For starters, fidgets.  There are a HUGE variety of fidgets out there.  Not every kind works for every kid.  They are usually relatively inexpensive, so get a few and find the one that works for your child.  Here are a few ideas that I use with both my own children and with the students that I support.

Along with those fidgets, I also recommend a wobble seat cushion.  It has air inside and provides some core engagement, but also some sensory.  Here's the one that I have:

Another thing I recommend, and my own children have, are stationary bikes under their desk.  It gives them a chance for their feet to move, while sitting still.  This can help enhance focus.  Kickbands are also another great option. 

5. Provide opportunities for screen-free activities.  When the school day is over, or if you get a break in the middle, have your child engage in some activities that are off of the screens (computer/TV).  Help your child to be active.  Go outside and get some fresh air.  Draw with chalk or do bubbles. Go for a walk.  Do a nature scavenger hunt.  Play board games.  Have fun together!  *Board games need their own post, so look for that one in the near future!

6. Take some time to teach your children buttons that they will need to click for their classes.  Teach them how to use basic computer skills/functions.  This will help them navigate during their class.  It will also help create and encourage independence.  If they are relying on you for each and every step throughout this process, it can be much harder on them and you in the long run.  

7. Be patient.  Being in school virtually and being in school virtually are two different things.  It's OKAY if it's not perfect.  Just try your best.   Give yourself and your child time to get used to this new way of learning.  Don't stress if it doesn't go exactly as planned. 

Teacher Tips for Virtual Learning

This year will certainly be different.  Different may mean that it's a change from how we are used to having our classes and seeing our students.  However, it will be the same in many ways too.  As educators, we always have the opportunity to teach students.  Be it in person or virtually.  You can inspire your students from a distance too. 

With that said, I want to share some things that will help make distance learning a little smoother for you and your students.

1. Make sure you have a schedule with a predictable routine.  This will help you and your students stay on track and will also provide structure for your students' day.  Just like when we are in the brick and mortar school building where there is a schedule, an online schedule should be used to help the flow of the school day and help your students to know what comes next.  Whether your day will be the same length, bell to bell like when in the building, or shortened hours, create a schedule that will work for you.  I would also recommend that your students have access to the schedule.  It is up to their parents to display it for them, but having it next to them where they can see is very beneficial.

2. Breaks also need to be built into your schedule.  Sitting for long periods of time is HARD.  It is hard for you and super hard for your students. Both you and your students will need them. Breaks that get your students moving are even better! GoNoodle.com is free and has a huge variety of brain breaks that get you moving! Some of their videos are silly and students absolutely love them! I'll admit that the songs get stuck in my head too.  Hahaha...you'll see!

3. Help your students (and their parents) become familiar with the site and with the expectations of virtual learning.  There will be buttons for your students to click throughout the day and it would be beneficial to practice navigating.  It will boost independence in your students if they are able to navigate the site themselves and will help the day go smoother too.  

4. Class Rewards are always fun and within virtual learning, they may be different, but your students will still love them! You can have them earn points, virtual tokens, virtual gumballs, etc., and give the class "prizes" when they reach the goal.  Some virtual prizes can include having a virtual dance party, choose a story for you to read aloud or as a virtual story, choose a brain break video, no homework for the day, extra recess time, talk time, online game, et cetera.

5. VISUALS! I'm sure you've heard the saying, "'Visuals speak louder than words."  It's true.  Words can become redundant and students can "tune you out".  Using visuals can help you achieve the desired outcome, while limiting the verbal prompting.  Click here (or the picture below) to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and get a visual pack that I created for both online and in-person teaching.

Here's a picture of what's included in the visual resource.

I hope this post helps you plan for your virtual instruction.  YOU can do it!  Your students are lucky to have you! I hope you have a GREAT year!

All About Me Freebie!

All About Me activities are a great way to start the year off with your students.  Students get the opportunity to share information and important details about themselves with you and their classmates and give you insight into their life.  It's a fun, yet important activity to get to know your students.  I always think it's fun for the teacher to do too!

I've created this FREE All About Me activity to help you get to know your students.  You can get your copy by clicking on the image and it will take you to my store to download it for free.  I have included both printable and digital versions in both color and black/white.  This way, even if you're teaching virtually, you have the option to use the activity with your students.  

I hope you enjoy the All About Me activity and have a super year!  Happy Back to School!  :)