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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Giveaway Time!

Things were looking shaky for a while there, but we did it! Go Broncos! That's good news for us, and good news for you! Below is the link for the Rafflecopter giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday is always an important day here in the Mile High City... it's game day! If the Broncos win tonight, you win! Up for grabs are some Broncos car magnets and a $25 dollar Teachers Pay Teachers gift card, just in time for the big sale Monday and Tuesday. =) Stay posted for the Rafflecopter link if our Broncos win!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Homework Made Easy

I had been pondering for years the ideal way of doing homework, and my move to a new school this year and a new grade level prompted me to finally take the plunge and make a big change.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all worksheets for homework! Gone are the days of endless hours of grading! Gone are the days of families struggling to balance nightly homework with busy schedules.

I dreamed up the idea of a homework menu while thinking of new ways to give my students academic choice. Where was the choice in the worksheets I was sending home? Where was the personalization? And as a mother to my own two children, why create an additional unnecessary stressor on busy families that already struggle to simply eat and bathe each night?

Of course, your administration might have requirements for homework, but I'm lucky in that my administration realizes that required nightly homework is for the most part unnecessary in the primary grades, and they allow us flexibility in how we deliver homework. Our little first grade babies have already worked for hours upon hours all day at school, it's just not developmentally appropriate to expect them to continue that pattern at home.

My answer- a monthly homework menu! A list of choices and options that children and their families can choose from, and can also choose when the tasks are completed.

We change and update the tasks at the beginning of each month, and have students turn in their signed menus at the end of the month (with any paper tasks stapled to it). We grade for effort and responsibility, because in first grade that is the bulk of what we are trying to establish.

A key component to our homework menu is the “other” section, where we encourage families to enter valuable learning they do on their own (reading about animals at the zoo, discussion of a mountain habitat on a family hike, etc.).

Of course there are always people who are hesitant to try something a little outside the box, but by and large we have had rave reviews from our families about the homework menu.

Head on over to the store to pick up my FREE Editable Homework Menu (click below)! =) And if you give it a try, please sound off in the comments, I'd love to hear how it goes for you!

Thursday, October 1, 2015


My first graders and I have been discussing kindness, and we love this video. It had the room completely silent as my lovely students contemplated the power of kindness.

After the video, I asked them what kindness meant to them. I just love their answers.

"Kindness is like, if you have 10 popsicles, and your friend doesn't have any, you give them 2 or 3."

"If there's a friend who's hurt, you should help him up. That's being a kind friend."

"Kindness is like, if somebody didn't have that good of a snack, if my mom and dad let me give them a snack, I could give them one of my apples, then they would be able to eat a healthy snack."

"Kindness means not to ignore people."

"If someone doesn't have anyone to play on the playground with, then I would play with them."

"Kindness is caring and not just worrying about yourself."

"Kindness to me is, when I feel sad and lonely and a friend comes over to play with me. That's kindness."

We also made a class book called The ABC's of Kindness, which you can grab for free here!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Portable Reading Nooks!

I can't tell you how much I love my reading baskets!

My firsties do too!

They fit perfectly in them sitting criss cross and leaning against the back. It gives them their own personal cozy portable reading nook! Kids in primary grades love fitting into spaces the size of their little bodies, and these provide them with a cozy nook that they can take anywhere in the room for a comfortable and quiet reading spot all to themselves.

I bought these Sterilite laundry baskets because they were the sturdiest ones in the low price point I was looking for (teacher salary, duh!). They stack up easily, which makes storage a breeze. They also were great for school supply sorting on the first days of school! Multi purpose baskets!

Every kinder and first grade class (maybe second grade, but I'd test one out before buying a slew of them) NEEDS reading baskets!

Kid and teacher approved!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Magic Play Dough

If you have never done Magic Play Dough with your students, you are missing out. This was the number one moment of our first week of school.

You make magic play dough by putting food coloring inside a ball of play dough, then closing up the hole so that it looks like regular play dough. I bought a 3 pound tub of white play dough from Amazon and it was just enough for my 29 students, and I even have a few left over. I used about 3-4 drops of gel food coloring per play dough ball.

I started off the activity by telling my students I bought some magic play dough, but I wasn't sure if it was really going to work or not. 

I really played up the fact that I wanted to try it because I heard that sometimes it will turn colors and then you can make a wish, but I have never tried it so I don't know if ours will or not... I told them if it does, great! If it doesn't, that's okay, we would still have fun playing with our regular play dough. 

Then I explained that the instructions said to keep it in the bag for two minutes because otherwise the magic will not work, something to do with air getting in the bag. 

The kids totally bought my act, and then were completely amazed when it worked! I'm talking over-the-moon excited, making wishes, glued to their changing dough. And after two minutes or so, I told them it was okay to take it out of the bags because the magic had already happened.

It was so fun, such a special moment to share with my new little firsties. =)

The next day though, I picked my kids up from recess and one of my boys was crying. I asked what was wrong and he told me, "I don't want my wish to come true! I don't want to turn into a robot!" I just about died laughing, on the inside of course. I assured him that the robot wish was just his pretend wish, and he could still make a different real wish. Haha! I checked in with him a few more times after that, and he doesn't seem to be scarred for life, so I think we are okay.

For a FREE Magic Play Dough poem (written by yours truly!) and an accompanying writing activity, head over to my store!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Giant Base 10 Blocks!

So easy. So cheap. I've seen this idea floating around internet-land over the summer, so I had to make giant base 10 blocks for my new first graders this year!

I bought 6 pool noodles from Dollar Tree, so this project cost me 6 dollars. Basically, I cut each noodle in half using a serrated knife, which made 12 halves (woah, math!), then I took two of the halves and cut them into ten pieces each.

Now, you only see 10 of the "ones" pieces because the first time I cut one of the big pieces into ten little pieces, I was not successful. They were uneven, and I didn't cut straight. It was sad. So I did some verrry careful measuring and cutting the second time around, and got 10 mostly even and straight pieces. Ten is all you really need anyway. ;)

With the uneven reject pieces, I cut each one in half, then cut a slit in the tops of them so they can be card holders! Name tags, table numbers, station labels, etc.! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

(Schedule cards are all I had at home to test these babies out!) 

I can't wait for my kids to practice place value with these super fun giant manipulatives!

Monday, August 10, 2015

First Day of School, Part 3: Activities

The first day of school is a lot of logistical stuff, and of course tons of routines and procedures. But there must be fun too! The following activities are guaranteed to put smiles on your students faces and make the nerves melt away, and a lot of routines and procedures can be worked into these activities so you can feel like you are accomplishing a lot.

1. Magic Play Dough

Magic Play Dough is always an instantaneous hit, your kids will talk about it and remember it all year long.

The idea is that each student gets a ball of magic play dough and a poem (A freebie! Written by Yours Truly!). The poem tells students that if their magic play dough changes color, they can make a wish for the new school year!

Of course, all of their play dough will be magic, as you will have loaded it with food coloring to ensure they all get to make a wish!

Some teachers make their own play dough, but I don't have the time or the kitchen skills for that. I ordered this giant tub of white play dough and will put different colors of food dye inside-

You can also buy primary colors of dough and mix them to make secondary colors, it's up to you! The kids will be amazed either way. =)

Have students keep their play dough in the baggie for the first two minutes of squeezing and squishing to make sure they don't get dyed fingers, but then they can take it out (once you've given them the go-ahead) and it does not stain at all. They can play with it, mold it into something that represents themselves or represents their wishes, etc.

Next, the poem can be turned into a fun little flap booklet.

Students simply fold down the center dotted line, then cut on the star lines to make the flaps (Or you can cut the flaps for students in advance if you are not ready for them to use scissors on the first day, I'm still debating whether or not I'm going to!), then students write their responses underneath each flap.

Gotta love Magic Play Dough.

2. Gingerbread Man School Tour

If you haven't read this book, don't bother... ORDER IT RIGHT NOW. It is seriously my favorite for the first day of school, especially because of the activity that goes along with it.

In the book, some students bake a gingerbread man and as he comes to life, they leave for recess.  The gingerbread man panics because he doesn't know where all the kids went, so he searches for them throughout the school, then finally arrives back at the classroom where the kids are ecstatic to see him again!

The author, Laura Murray, has a fabulous (free!) gingerbread man hunt as a follow-up activity -

This is the PERFECT opportunity to do a school tour on the first day of school. You leave the clues out ahead of time, and the clues lead you and your students around to different parts of the school. It's a great opportunity to practice line up and hallway procedures, to meet other staff members they need to know, and to familiarize students with their surroundings.

In the end, the final clue leads you back to the classroom where the gingerbread man is waiting for you!

This guy ( is on his way to me right now, I can't wait! You can also print out a big version of him ( and color him in, or put out real gingerbread man cookies (Little Debbie makes some).

I will be leaving little gingerbread cookies (just small, round cookies) out at each student's desk; a gift from the Gingerbread Man! You will need a partner in crime in order to pull this last part off of course. Someone who can set out the cookies and the GB Man while your class is out and about... so save some cookies for bribery!

3. School Transportation Graphing Activity 

A little taste of math! To make sure that I know how students are going home, I do a graphing activity on the first day of school.

For Meet the Teacher Night, before school begins, I have transportation visual cards in a pocket chart. Parents fill out and sign parent permission cards with the required information about how their child is getting home each day, then they put them in the pocket chart and I collect them at the end of the night for my records.

Then on the first day of school, I do a math activity where I have the students put a name card in the category that describes how they are going home that day. Then they color in a graph to match the transportation data and we talk about which category has the most, the least, etc.


4. School Year Timeline

I have a year-long timeline set up somewhere permanent before school begins. It is a place where we document special events throughout the school year, and kids just love checking out the timeline and reminiscing about our year every once in awhile.

On the first day of school, I take a class picture in the morning. I print it out during my lunch or planning period, and we put the first event on our timeline sometime in the afternoon. Kids just love the nostalgia of always getting to look back on this picture of our first day together. And I start working on those social studies standards right off the bat! ;)


5. All About Me Activity

 Finally, the first day of school isn't complete without an All About Me activity! It's so important to get to know your students, and for them to get to know each other. Relationships are what this whole school thing hinges on; with them, your class will be harmonious and successful, without them, everyone struggles. Take the time, on this first day and throughout the first few weeks, to build those relationships.

There are so many great all about me activities out there, but this is the one I'm going to do this year! It comes from Sparkling in Second Grade, and I fell in love with it the moment I saw her post it!

It's adorable, it's editable, and it's fun. What more do you need? =)

I hope you have found some helpful ideas in this three-part series about the first day of school! If you missed one of the prior posts, you can navigate to them on the side bar ----->

Have a great first day, and a great year!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

First Day of School, Part 2: Routines and Procedures

If you missed Part 1: Arrival, make sure to check it out!

If you have taught before, you know very well that the first few weeks of school are very heavy on routines and procedures! Our motto at my old school was "Go slow (now), to go fast (later)." The more time spent on setting expectations and practicing routines and procedures NOW will pay off immensely in the long run. That means that academics might start off slowly, but they will pick up later. If you don't take the time to practice routines and procedures, you will be losing even more time redirecting later. Go slow to go fast!

Here is a handy dandy list of routines and procedures you will need to teach in the first week of school. (Click the image to download a copy for FREE!)

The first day of school in my class is comprised mostly of practicing routines and procedures. There are a lot of things students need to know and begin practicing right away, and I'd rather them do these routines properly from the beginning, rather than letting bad habits set in and having to break those bad habits later. For example, take my addiction to Iced Mochas... if I'd never even tried one, I wouldn't have given as significant of a portion of my salary to Starbucks as I have. If I would have just filled my Nalgene up with water and been on my way, we wouldn't have this issue. Moral of the story: Make good habits before you have to break bad ones!

The first column on the routines and procedures checklist are the things I recommend building in to your first day, and a few items on the second column as well. As I plan, I work these things into some fun activities, and spread the stand-alone procedures out (like bathroom and recess expectations and routines) in between activities. For example, if I'm planning to do an All About Me activity where students will be writing about their favorite things, I will first model how to properly use and take care of pencils before students are given this material. The activity will then give students the opportunity to practice what I've modeled. After this activity I might take some time to introduce our procedure for going to the bathroom, and have students practice this procedure. Our next activity might involve using crayons, so I would do another model of proper use of crayons. You get the picture. Real application of the routines and procedures; thoughtful planning of how to incorporate them into your day. (**I explained how I make this work for my arrival activity in the comments section below!**)

For some of these things, you will need to re-teach multiple times over multiple days and/or weeks before students are 100% ready to take on the routines and procedures on their own. They will need lots of repetition and lots of opportunities to practice the routines/procedures correctly. It will feel like Groundhog Day to you, but kids need it, and it will pay off, I promise.

Responsive Classroom has some great, highly effective strategies for teaching routines and procedures. I wrote about them and included some fabulous video examples here:

Remember, this first day can set the tone for the whole year, and you do not want to lose the opportunity to start off on the right foot immediately. So, establish routines and procedures, and establish them well. You can have fun and still show your students that there is work to be done and there are expectations that are to be followed in order for that work to get done.

Establishing Routines and Procedures

Responsive Classroom has two strategies for teaching Routines and Procedures that changed. My. Life.

Guided Discovery is used to introduce a material, an area of the classroom, or an activity to students. It's focused and purposeful, yet it still allows some open-ended discovery. Interactive Modeling is used to teach a very specific behavior, procedure, or routine, it is not open-ended. So, before you decide which technique to use, you have to decide if there is a specific way you want the routine or procedure done, or if there are multiple acceptable ways it can be done.

For example:

Bathroom procedures; I have one specific routine... so I use Interactive Modeling.
Using crayons; I allow multiple (appropriate) ways to use... so I use Guided Discovery.


1. Introduction of a material, area of classroom, or activity (naming).
2. Generate ideas and model exploratory work (teacher models exploration, a couple of students model exploration).
3. Children explore.
4. Children share explorations and observations.
5. Cleanup and care of materials.

Here's a video of Guided Discovery in action!


1. Teacher names the desired expectations for a routine or procedure.
2. Teacher models the desired expectations.
3. Teacher asks students to notice and explain specific elements of the routine or procedure.
4. Teacher chooses a few students to practice the routine/procedure.
5. Teacher again asks students to notice and explain specific elements of the routine or procedure.
6. All students practice routine/procedure.
7. Teacher reinforces desired behaviors that are observed.
8. Teacher continues to reinforce, and redirects and reminds as necessary.

Here's a video of Interactive Modeling in action!

For more Interactive Modeling videos, check out this link from the Responsive Classroom website-


While these strategies are used a lot in the beginning of the year, I find opportunities to use them all year! I introduce new routines and procedures at many different times throughout the year, and sometimes we have to refresh our understandings of routines/procedures that we've practiced before.

Give these strategies a try! It might seem like overkill if you haven't done it before, but once you do it, you will not regret it. These strategies give kids such a firm understanding of routines and procedures, you will be amazed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Day of School - Part 1: Arrival

I am moving to a new grade level at a new school and district this year, so I am feeling those "first day jitters" for the first time in 8 years. I can really sympathize with what my students feel on that first day, which reminds me of how important a soft landing upon arrival is on the first day of school.

When my students walk in on that first day, the first thing they will do is hang their backpacks in their cubbies, which are labeled with their name. Labels are important; they show the kids that they have a personal space that is theirs and theirs alone, which reduces the stress of separating from the backpack, which is their last connection to home.
(These labels are included in my Watercolor Classroom Theme that I can't wait to start putting up in my classroom next week!

Next, they go to the meeting area on the carpet, where personalized name coloring pages have been placed in a circle, showing each child where they should sit. This is important too, because it eliminates the stress of wondering where to sit.
(Note the coloring pages in this picture actually say "Last Day of 2nd Grade", that's because I do the same activity on the first and last days, I just only have a picture of them from the last day! At the end of the year it provides a great sense of closure to do the same activity they did on the first day of school.)

From there, we hold our first Morning Meeting of the year. On the first day of school, some kids might not be comfortable speaking in front of the class yet, so for our greeting I introduce each student rather than students introducing themselves (they will speak for themselves on the second day). I say, "This is my friend, __________." and the class responds, "Hi, ___________." I then ask a simple question like "What is your favorite color?" and each student shares their answer. Afterwards I'll ask if anyone can name three people in the circle. Then each day I increase that challenge!

Normally an activity and a morning message come next, but on the first day I skip those two things. We keep it simple and work up to a full morning meeting over the course of 3-4 days.

After everyone has been introduced, I have students take their name coloring pages to their tables, where they can begin coloring with crayons. Coloring is familiar to them, so this is a safe activity to begin the day with. (Note: This is the only material I have available for them to use at this point in the day, as I will do deliberate introductions of other materials as the day and the week goes on, in order to explicitly set expectations for how materials will be handled and organized. More on that to come in an upcoming post!).
Coloring pages are available here ( for grades K-3.

While they are coloring, I can check in with students, help a few students at a time sort supplies, and get any loose ends tied up that I need to. I also use this coloring time to teach our two quiet signals. We practice the bell signal, and the raised hand signal by playing "the freeze game".

(Note: These coloring pages, when completed, make really cute bulletin boards or banners as decorations for Back to School Night! It's important for kids to see their work on the walls as soon as possible so it starts to feel like THEIR space, not like they are just visitors in MY space.)

This arrival routine gives students a soft landing on what can be a stressful day for some. After this soft landing, I usually find that students are ready to come out of their shells bit by bit, but I still take it slow and easy the first day. Less is more.

Stay tuned for...
First Day of School Part 2: Routines and Procedures
...coming soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!

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I am so excited about my fabulous new blog design! I can't stop looking at it. Lindsey Paull, you are the bomb dot com. If you have any blog design needs yourself, don't shop around. Go directly here - and do not pass go. You will not regret it.

Now I can't wait to write more about my teaching adventures! I'm going to have a TpT giftcard giveaway soon NOW to celebrate, you know you could use some TpT money for the new school year! So follow me through Bloglovin or by entering your email on the sidebar ---->
Then enter the rafflecopter below!

Thanks for stopping by! You can wipe the drool off of your chin now.

**Giveaway has ended! Winner is Julie Porter Davis! Congrats Julie, happy shopping!**
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 24, 2015

Student-Generated Class Rules

I love having my students create their own class rules. It is so much more meaningful than arbitrary rules that come from the teacher. Students really take ownership of the rules when they are in charge of creating them themselves.

I begin this process as I do most other activities in my classroom, with a book! One of my recent favorites to use with rule creation is a book called If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover.

In this book, different scenarios are shown that exhibit what the world would be like if everyone did little, harmful things. It shows that although certain misbehaviors might seem small, they can become out of control problems quickly.

I then pose the question, “What do we need in order to make sure that we don’t have out of control problems in our class this year?” Rules! I also connect to our prior conversations about Hopes and Dreams. (If you missed that post, stop right now and click here to read up on one of my absolute favorite beginning of the year activities. Done? Ok, back to business.) I ask, “Will we be able to meet our Hopes and Dreams if we don’t have rules?” and “How can rules help us with our learning?”

Once we are all on the same page about the importance of having rules, we begin the process of creating them!

First, I have students get up and do Kagan cooperative learning routine to discuss rules they think we should have in our class. I take this opportunity to teach one of my favorite routines, Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up. In this interactive activity, all students begin by sitting on the floor quietly. I call out “Stand up!”, and they stand up silently. Then I say “Hand up!” and they raise one hand in the air. Last I say “Pair up!” and they walk around silently to find a partner. They choose a partner and put their raised hands together, then they sit down, face each other and discuss the topic, in this case, rules they think our class should have. I use Interactive Modeling to teach expectations for this routine (stay tuned for a future blog post about Interactive Modeling!), and they have to practice it a lot, but once they can model the expectations of choosing different partners and not declining any partners, it’s a great way to get them up and moving and doing some focused discussion.

Something important to remember as you are listening in on their conversations is to help your students phrase their ideas for rules in positive form rather than negative. So, instead of “Don’t run.” try “Walk in the classroom.” Instead of “Don’t talk while the teacher is talking.” try “Listen to the teacher when she/he is talking.” This is so so important, we don’t need kids talking about all the things they aren’t supposed to do! We need them talking about what they ARE going to do! So when you hear that word “don’t”, make them flip it around by asking, “What ARE we going to do?” It takes practice, but the kids will catch on.

After a few rounds of Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up, we come back together and make a long list of all the ideas they have for class rules. I had a Promethean board at my previous school, so we did this part of rule creation electronically, but I’ve seen teachers use chart paper too. Here is our list from last year, you can see all of their ideas are phrased in a positive form, and I just listed them. I created each “rule” in a separate text box by the way, and you will see why next.

After we’ve listed all of their “rule” ideas, we stop for the day. Gotta love those short attention spans!

The next day I bring the kids together again, pull up our list, and I tell them that while I thought their rule ideas were all really great, there are so many that I’m worried I won’t be able to remember all of them! Then I mention that I was thinking some of them were kind of alike, and maybe we could sort the ones that are alike together, to make it easier to remember all the different rules. (If you are a teacher, you are really one step away from being a professional actor, so I know you can handle this little act!)

Then we start reading through them, and kids start suggesting rules they think are similar, and we start dragging rules around making groupings. (If you are using paper, cutting them out and physically moving them works too!)

This process, depending on how much discussion happens, can take a couple or even a few sessions. Last year, my group of second graders had deep discussions and debates about how certain rules were related to other rules, so it took us about 4 days of 15-20 minute sessions to agree and get them all sorted out. This is what we ended up with…

We had four distinct groups of similar rules. I think it's best to stick with 3 or 4 total, otherwise there are just too many to think about and remember.

Our next task was to give each group of rules a name or choose one rule from within it that describes all the other rules in the group. After a little more discussion and debate, they decided on these four rules…

I wrote them out onto a poster, we took an oath to promise to always follow our rules for the good of the class, and everyone signed the rules ( I didn’t take a picture, I’ll make sure to do that this year!). It was displayed prominently in the classroom, and we referenced the rules (using the language the kids decided on) daily!

If you want class rules that have meaning and aren’t just arbitrarily given to students, I highly recommend this process!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hopes and Dreams - A new school year MUST!

One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is having my students declare what their biggest Hopes and Dreams for the school year are. It is also something that we revisit throughout the year, and provides a beautiful sense of closure at the end of the year, too. It sets the stage for rule creation (stay tuned for a post about how I do rule creation in the very near future!) and for goal setting, and is a huge motivator.

Hopes and Dreams is a key Responsive Classroom First Six Weeks of School routine, and it’s recommended to begin the process on the third day of school.

I like to start by reading a classic that is perfect for primary grades, Leo the Late Bloomer. This gives a perfect example of a young tiger who has hopes and dreams of accomplishing things like reading, writing, drawing, and speaking.

After reading, we discuss the book and I make sure to use the terms “hopes” and “dreams” when talking and asking about what Leo wanted to learn. (ie- "What did Leo hope to learn how to do?" "Why was that a dream of his?")

Next, we practice the routine of “Turn and Talk” (it’s still very early in the year, we are practicing new routines left and right!), and students talk to a partner about some hopes and dreams they have for their own learning this year.

Since I taught 2nd grade and will be moving to 1st this year, I usually stop there for the first day because of short attention spans. ;)

On the next day of Hopes and Dreams work, I pull out Leo the Late Bloomer again and have students recall what Leo’s hopes and dreams were with another Turn and Talk. Then we compile a student-generated list of hopes and dreams they have for themselves. This can be a lot of ideas, and can be a long list, but make sure to guide kids to be specific! Specific goals are better than general/broad goals. Example: “I hope to learn how to write numbers to 200.” instead of “I hope to be good at math.”

On the third day of Hopes and Dreams, I re-read the list and do a think-aloud of choosing a Hope and Dream for myself. Then I have students brainstorm their number one goal. I do a lot of guidance during this part one-on-one to make sure they are choosing attainable goals, and that their goals are academic goals. They might have a personal goal of being able to swing across the monkey bars, but that isn't something they will be working on in class with me. Then we begin working on some type of visual representation of our hopes and dreams.

First, we write our hopes in our writing journals, then I type them up. I give them their paper with their typed hope, and then they draw a picture to illustrate it. We put all of the pages together and bind them into a book! The kids LOVE this book. Last year, I saw kids read this book almost every single day throughout the entire year. Make sure you laminate the pages first if you go this route- it needs to hold up to lots of wear and tear!

You don’t have to make a book, of course. I’ve also made cutesy bulletin boards for Hopes and Dreams in the past, I just prefer making a book because the kids can read and interact with it a lot more when they can hold it in their hands. =) It just feels a little more accessible.

We read our published Hopes and Dreams book (our first class book, hooray!) as a read aloud, and begin our work toward accomplishing our goals. =)

This is a fabulous, engaging, and authentic activity to really get students back in the school mindset and prepare them for another year of learning!

**Bonus activity idea!!!**
I mentioned in the opening blurb that this is a great activity for the end of the year as well... let me explain how I use these Hopes and Dreams on the last day of school.

On the last day, we read through our book one last time together as a read aloud, and after reading each page, we talk about how each student has accomplished their hopes and dreams. If a child had a goal that wasn't quite met (which is very rare since I give guidance on choosing appropriate goals in the beginning), I just don't mention that fact, I mention how hard they worked on their goal and how much their brain grew. The class applauds each student after their page has been read and commented on.

Then we dismantle the book, and each student gets to take their page home. Depending on time (we all know how crazy the last day of school can be...) and age of the kids, I would also have students write a short reflection on their hopes and dreams, and how they were able to reach their goals.

Doing this provides a great sense of closure for the kiddos, as revisiting their hopes and dreams brings them full circle from where they started to where they are ending the year.