Friday, December 19, 2014

4 Tips To Enjoying Your Holiday Break From School

Better than the New Years Eve countdown.  Better than the 5-4-3-2-1 "you better do this or else" student countdown.  Better even than the blast off countdown.

The  'winter' 'holiday' 'Christmas' break countdown (whatever your school calls it) is arguably a teacher's favorite countdown of the year.  Ok, maybe the summer break countdown is tied for first.  

In the days leading up to break, teachers experience complete exhaustion and stress.  The only brain mode... plan, plan and do more planning.  The to-do list at home and school never ends.  

Holiday break daydreams are a nice escape from the classroom chaos.  Our minds wander off to images of gingerbread house decorating, cookie parties, caroling, getting caught up with grading, reading, exercise, and the potential for break fun. The list goes on and on until the inevitable question surfaces.... Wait. How am I possibly going to get all THIS done? 

We are the ultimate to-do list generators, planners, and givers.  This time of year puts us in one setting; GO! 

Stop! A problem exists.  Teachers go from controlling the classroom hullabaloo straight into controlling their life hullabaloo! 

Priority #1: A teacher's break from school is sacred.  Taking care of yourself now sets you up for success the rest of the school year. 

You deserve an amazing self-fulfilling break.  Time to get refreshed and energized.  This will be a no-regrets vacation; you will know you maximized your vacation time.

From me to you: Some no-fail tricks to experience the best break from school yet!

Now it's your turn.  Watch the quick video above and then comment below. Give us your tip or tips that you plan to take for a test drive over break.  Leaving a comment means taking a step towards a teach happy, live happy and be happy lifestyle! (Also tell me when your break starts!)

Sending you all my love,


Friday, December 12, 2014

Throw A Classroom Party The Easy and Fun Way

I may need an intervention.

The marathon of deliciously cheesy holiday movies on the Hallmark channel has started and I can't. stop. watching.

There is something so relaxing and heartwarming about a predictable Hallmark ho-ho-ho movie plot.  Something that makes even the busiest teacher forget all her worries.  

Have you seen 'Let It Snow' with Candice Cameron aka DJ Tanner from Full House?!?!?!  I have been waiting for this movie all year long.  Nothing can shake me out of my sugar plum fairy and egg-nogg daydream. 

Oh wait.  There is one thing that tugs at the back of all teacher's minds this time of year.

Cue the students running around hopped up on sugar. Watch out for the crumbs and sticky sparkling cider spilled all over your classroom floors.  Pack on the under eye concealer to cover up the late night classroom prep.  

You guessed it.  It's Classroom Holiday Party Time Of Year.  

Rather then let the chaos overwhelm you, let's take a different approach.  A simplified, calm, well planned, and happier approach. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing my Instagram buddy, Stefanie Khan, from @chicclassroomstyle Stefanie is not only a second grade teacher, but also a party planning extraordinaire.   She even writes for a party magazine.  

You will adore her upbeat and calming take on classroom holiday parties.  She shares her best kept tips. 


I want to know your view of classroom holiday parties.

Do you have any tips to help us out?  Tell us about how you throw parties in your classroom.  

Leave a comment below.  

Thank you for reading and watching this interview.  If you found it helpful, please share with your teacher friends.  Less classroom party chaos and more holiday teacher relaxation.  Count me in! 

Sending you teach happy, live happy, and be happy LOVE!


Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Ways To Get Rid Of A Teacher Funk

"Why am I in such a funk?"
This is the question and sentiment all teachers have around this time of year.  

October and November bring on that dreaded feeling of disillusionment.  
You are 
          worn out 
             and ready for a vacation.
What are some easy ways to banish the Teacher BLAHS away for good? 

Let’s do a reset and bring on some happiness.

Tip #1: Close the Books:  
Time to slow down and have some enjoyable, relaxing time with your students.  Step away from the text books, projects, worksheets, and Teachers Pay Teachers.  We are always caught up in the 'Get Done' mode. Relax with your students.  Ask students questions about life, have some free choice time, play a game with them, participate in the Go Noodle Brain Break with your students.  Have fun with them! 

Tip #2:  Basque in the Sunlight: 
Let your students put some sunshine into your life with a thank you note or letter written to you. They describe some learning highlights and shower you with appreciation.  If you don't want to toot your own horn let your students do it for you!   
Tip #3:  Start up the Band:  
Bring on the music.  Turn the volume up.  Sing along.  Drum the steering wheel.  Let the music rev you up. Use music in your classroom to spark imagination.  Ask students what their favorite songs are.  As long as they are appropriate make a DJ list and play these songs during the day when students are good.  I have had times when a student has better musical taste then me, and I learn what is hip in the music world.   

Tip #4:  Call in the Troops:  
Reach out to a friend or family member with a simple request.  Come to my classroom and help me spruce up my room for the holidays. You know they are going to love helping you, and you’ll definitely feel happier when the bulletin board or decorations look spectacular.  Recently, I stopped by a friends new classroom before we went out to dinner.  She was hired late in the summer and barely had time to put her room together.  I pulled out the bright pink bulletin board paper and soon her bulletin board was beautiful. It was on her to do list, but had no time.  She said just looking at the cheery pink andjust knowing I put it up for her, put a pep in her step. 

Tip #5:  Get Real with Yourself:  
Maybe you have developed some bad habits since August. Are you snacking on sweets, drinking too many sodas, eating tons of carbs, or going on a coffee binge in the morning?  Stop.  Change your routine.  Your body and mind will thank you.

5 MORE tips to beat the Teacher Funk Blues:

Bonus Tip:  
Embrace your inner student.  Up until this point you have had to run a tight ship.  Keeping your students in line and setting the rules and procedures.  You are in total adult teacher mode.  Don't forget that you need to be a kid sometimes too.  Cry, pout, whine, belly laugh, say silly things... You need someone to take care of you.  You need to eat a cupcake and get it all over your face. Roll in the grass, splash in the rain, do some jazz hands and get ridiculous.  Let you inner kid out with glee and take off your serious pants for awhile.  

When you get a dose of happy, your body has a chance to bolster its immune system.  The goal is to stay healthy, so you can really enjoy your upcoming vacation.  

Got any holiday plans?  Leave a comment below! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Paycheck Spent On Your Classroom? Get What Students Need In 4 Easy No Cost Steps PLUS A GIVEAWAY!

Stay tuned to the end of this post for a giveaway! 

Fellow teacher bloggers talk about it and have success. Melinda Gates and Katie Couric can’t stop talking about it. 

It made Oprah’s favorite list.  

And let me just say, I am a HUGE Oprah fanatic.  Like HUGE.    

Yet I still wasn’t convinced.

Why didn’t I run right to the website?  Sign up?  Get on board?  And what exactly am I talking about?

Donor’s Choose. is a way for public school teachers to post a classroom project and request and then wonderful people can give any amount to the project.  

Great concept.  Yet why have I never jumped on board?    

My inner skeptic asks:

Is it easy?   Are my chances at getting what I want very slim?  I imagine the teachers who get funded are from low income schools.  There is probably a time consuming Donors Choose obligation after I receive my request.  And surely, there is a packet of paperwork to fill out, and I have no time for that.  The things I request won’t be delivered until next year. 

Bottom Line:  Is it worth my time?  Without really looking into it.  The sceptic in me won, hands down.  I answered, NO.

Now I know the real scoop. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey from the blog Thriving In Third.  She has successfully used Donor’s Choose and broke the process down nice and simple.  Listen to our interview. 

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheila Jane Teaching on BlogTalkRadio

Easy steps: 1) Post classroom project request on Donors Choose
                    2) Shipped to you, when a project reaches its funding goal
                    3) Write a letter: thank the donors and explain how money was spent
                            (over $50 received, students write thank you to donors posted for donors
                            to see.)
                    4) Send a picture of project in action

As our students like to say: Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

Your school, students, principal and parents will have an Oprah ah ha moment when they realize you made something wonderful happen for the school.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 24, 2014

6 Make-Life-Easy Halloween Celebration Teacher Tips


Have you left at the end of a class celebration totally exhausted?

You feel like you have been the coach, the cheerleader, the clean up crew, the event coordinator and the referee.  When all the party animals have left for the weekend, it takes every ounce of your energy just to drag yourself home and plop like a blob on the couch.  
You always set out to create a high energy celebration, with student fun.  Your ultimate goal is an organized, deliberate, and productive flow of activities.  Well, this goal is not always easy to execute.

And the Halloween Celebration is the worst wipe-out-the-teacher offender.

Halloween often comes at the time of year when you are running on empty, emotionally and physically.
That is why--- I want to divulge to you---- my 6 helpful Halloween Celebration tricks, a  treat for you.  
Now drive home and partake in your own celebrating!
In the comments below, I want to hear from you!  Any tricks or treats you have to take the chaos out and put creativity in?
Be specific, because thousands of teachers come here each week for insight and support. Your share may be exactly what someone needs to hear.

Friday, October 17, 2014

You Want These SECRETS To CRAFTivity Success: 'Teachers We Love' with First Grade Blue Skies

It's that time of year when classroom cuteness and overwhelm dials turn way up.  

How do I know this?

First of all, I noticed the movie, Elf, while scrolling through the channels last night.  A movie I watch at least 100 times before Christmas.

Second, my pinning finger hurts.  You know, the finger used to pin thousands of great holiday ideas to  Pinterest boards that may or may not ACTUALLY get accomplished.

Ready or not. There's no place to hide.  The holidays are coming.  I better not find you huddled in the corner of the teacher copy room, buried in a pile of construction paper, covered in glitter, with your fingers glued together.

Let's pull ourselves together.


Jennifer White from the blog, 'First Grade Blue Skies' has secrets.  Juicy crafty secrets.  Secrets behind her adorable craftivitities and bulletin boards. 

Easy secrets that will lower your classroom craft stress level.  Secrets that will have teachers, parents and students googly-eyed and ooooooing and ahhhhing over your room.

Jennifer's ideas will turn your classroom-cuteness level up to high, but her secrets will keep your overwhelm-dial low and coasting smoothly into the holidays narwhal style.

Secret ingredients for craftivity success include:  

*circle sponges from Walmart
*spray painted clothes pins with erasers used for polka dots 
*ready made patterns
*thin tipped Frixion markers from Japan that you can order on Amazon
and don't forget 
*parents do the prep for you!  

WARNING:  Don't make my craftivity mistake.  

In my first year of teaching kindergarten, I tried to do craftivities daily.  Enter the kindergarten craftivity sweat shop.  We must cover all the walls and bulletin boards!  Make this classroom vomit with craftivity cuteness!  The cuter my classroom must mean the better the teacher I am.

You probably already know the moral to this story.

Burnout 101.  

The kids loved the crafts but I went OVERBOARD.  I like Jennifer's approach to doing one craftivity per unit of study at most.  

I know you might be concerned, are craftivities academic enough?  

Here are my thoughts: 
  1. Craftivities  can easily be the kick off to a unit that gets kids excited about new learning OR the craftivity is the culminating activity after a unit of study.
  2. Craftivities integrate several subjects to give the learning some complexity and depth.
  3. Yes, you may have to do some of the prep.   But the students also learn cutting, gluing, following directions, and design. The craftivity benefits the fine motor skill practice and the choices students make as he/she creates.
  4. Craftivities offer a student an opportunity to create a product.  All students are successful and the product is also displayed, shared and admired by a diverse audience, the parents and students at the school.
  5. Students and families prize craftivities for years to come.
Now that I have you all pumped up to do craftivities let's have a giveaway.  Jennifer sells the craftivities shown in the video in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, and she is generously giving you a chance to win a craftivity bundle!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I love hearing from you!!!!  Don't be a quiet lurker.  I seeeeee you.  ; ) Participate! Let's get to know each other and be virtual teaching friends.

Which of the crafts that Jennifer showed in the video are you swooning over the most?   Leave me a comment below.  

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, October 10, 2014

FOUR No Cost, Under-an-Hour Teacher Halloween Costumes

It is that October dreaded feeling.  The students may have already started asking and guessing.

What will you be for Halloween this year? 

Like me, you probably think creating a costume is too complicated.  I end up avoiding costume decisions until the night before the Halloween parade at school.

Parent conferences? Organized. Report cards? Done. Halloween Costumes? I take the fly by the seat of my pants approach.   

Come on.  How about we try things differently this year.  

Let’s do Home-Made Halloween Costumes the no cost and done in less than an hour way.

Costumes must be-----

Comfortable to wear
Make students happy
Easy to assemble
AND Do Not have to be perfect

All made with things you have in your closet, in your garage, and with your office supplies.

Secret #1   Keep the Costume Simple

Secret  #2  An all black outfit is your costume canvas

Secret  #3  Use masking tape, safety pins, magazine pictures, construction paper, a hot glue gun

Secret  #4  Students add to your costume or interact with your costume   
                        -Students add word cards to the word wall
                       -Students find the pictures on the I Spy costume or the students could               
                        make the pictures that are on your I Spy list. 

Now you have the secrets for easy, cheap costumes, and are starting to get in the Halloween Spirit.  

Maybe just a little?  

I guarantee putting a costume on will boost your spirits.  How do I know?  It worked for me.

The years when I was most burned out and feeling overworked, I didn’t dress up and honestly wished I had worn a costume.  Stepping away from the stress and papers and putting my focus into a costume may have snapped me out of it.  A priority reset.

When all is said and done and your costume is put together, your students will remember YOU!  They won't remember the intricacies or your costume but they will go home with a huge Halloween grin.   


Do the Halloween Shuffle----- Walk to the closet and put on your black tights, black hat and black shirt .  Slap some things together, as I like to say, and just have FUN!

Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite Halloween costume!  I can't wait to see you below in the comments.

Sending you love and happiness,