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Teacher Amazon Favorites – Back to School Edition

Peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, macaroni and cheese, teachers and…..AMAZON! There are some things that just go together.

The back to school season is rapidly approaching, and if you’re anything like me, that means you’re filling your Amazon cart (and wish list) with all the things for your classroom.

Teachers’ plates are already full with plenty of items on their back to school checklist, so I wanted to make things a little easier for you and share my absolute favorite Amazon must-haves for the back to school season!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means that at no extra cost to you I will earn a small commission from affiliate link sales to help offset the cost of running this site. You can read my full disclosure HERE.

1. Fadeless Bulletin Board Paper

One of the things I most enjoy about putting together a classroom, especially when moving into a new room, is making it feel like home – both for myself and the students. So, creating bulletin boards that are inviting is important to me as we head back to school. This fadeless bulletin board paper is easy to use and lasts ALL YEAR!! I love how it instantly changes the look of your room right away! I’ve used the white shiplap (but it was out of stock while I was writing this) as well as the weathered wood and I love them both! Find it HERE.

2. Magnetic Bulletin Board Borders

As more classrooms are adding magnetic whiteboards to their rooms (more than half of the wall space in my room is magnetic whiteboards), it’s nice to have something to add a little extra to that space. Whether you’re putting it on the whiteboard itself or using it as a border around paper, these magnetic strips are super easy to use – AND they can be used year after year, which is a big win! Linked HERE

3. Magnetic Clips

Speaking of magnetic white boards, if you’ve got them in your classroom, you’re definitely going to need plenty of these clips! I use these all of the time to display student work, anchor charts, newsletters, and more! The clip makes is super easy to change out work, and the magnet piece makes is easy to move from place to place. Find them on Amazon HERE.

4. X-ACTO Pencil Sharpener

Now, when it comes to pencil sharpeners, not all are created equal! My first year of teaching I tried to save money and went with the cheaper pencil sharpeners, and boy, did I regret that decision! Your pencil sharpeners are going to be used all day, every day, so be sure to get one that really does the job well. This X-ACTO pencil sharpener does just that! It’s my favorite sharpener and I won’t be going back to the cheaper ones (I don’t really need to because this one holds up great as well 😊). Grab it HERE.

5. Chart Paper

As much as I love incorporating technology into the classroom, sometimes you just need paper. This is especially true when you’re building anchor charts, setting classroom expectations, brainstorming ideas with your class, or creating anything that you want to display on your wall. I love these charts because they are ruled, which means I don’t end up writing diagonally across the page. These charts are the perfect size and tear away easily from the pad. Find the set HERE

6. Mr. Sketch Markers

Well, now that we have the chart paper, we’ve got to have something to use to write. I absolutely loooove these markers for writing on chart paper or checking student work. The thicker tip makes my writing bold and easy to see on the chart paper. And who doesn’t love a marker that smells great?? My students just love trying to guess the scent when I use these for quick checks. Linked HERE.

7. Flair Pens

While I use my Mr. Sketch for chart paper and quick checks, when I’m giving more specific feedback, my flair pens are my go-to. These write incredibly smooth, are easy for students to read, and I love the variety of colors! Find them HERE.

8. Paper Cutter

I know most schools have a nice paper cutter in the office, but there’s nothing like waiting in line to get things cut or trimmed when you’re trying to get everything ready for Back to School. I love that this paper cutter is compact enough to lock away in my cupboards (got to keep those little hands safe), and yet effective enough to get through all of my cutting jobs! This was a little bit of a splurge when I bought it, but I’m so thankful I did! I end up using it all of the time. Check it out HERE.

9. Back to School Book

I always love reading a picture book on the first day of school (no matter what grade I’m teaching). My top pick, especially for upper elementary, is Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. This heart-warming and inspiring story tells about a teacher who simply would not give up on one student, and my students are always surprised when they find out who that character is. Almost every year it leaves me in tears, but my hope is that it also shows my students that I want to be that teacher for them. It’s a must-read in my opinion. Grab it HERE.

10. Lunch Pail

Since we’re on the topic of teachers, I want to be sure to include a couple of must-have items just for you. Lunch breaks always seem to fly by, so it’s important to have your lunch ready to go. I love this insulated lunch bag because it has plenty of space inside, zips closed, and has extra pockets for storing little items. Plus, it’s super cute! Linked HERE.

11. Stanley Tumbler

One thing that I’m absolutely horrible at during the school year is drinking water! I know, it’s a horrible habit, but there have been days when I’ve dismissed the students for the day and realized I never touched my water. However, one thing that has seriously helped is this tumbler! I love that it has the straw option, is dishwasher safe, and actually keeps my water COLD!! Maybe I’m an “ice snob,” but I have an even harder time drinking water if it’s lukewarm. The fact that this tumbler keeps my water ice cold makes it a must-have for me! Find it HERE.

12. Backpack

I absolutely LOVE this backpack for taking things to and from school. I can easily fit my laptop in it, and it has so many pockets, I don’t end up losing things at the bottom. BONUS: It makes the perfect travel backpack in the summer! Grab it HERE.

13. Wireless Doorbell

While I didn’t come up with the idea for using this, these wireless doorbells are excellent for classroom management! It is super easy to use, and I’m able to get the students’ attention easily. After just a couple of days of training, the kids have it down. If you haven’t use one before, check it out HERE.

14. Handheld Chimes

I adore my wireless doorbell, but sometimes I want a different sound to cue a different response for my students. This is where the chimes come in! While I use the wireless doorbell to get their attention, when I ring the chimes, I don’t even need to say a word and they know their noise level needs to come down. I often keep it by me during reading groups, so I can signal them when it’s getting too noisy. Simple tool, awesome results! Find it HERE.

15. Student Dry Erase Boards

It’s so important to evaluate student learning throughout the day, and one of my favorite ways to do that is through the use of dry erase boards. I can clearly see students’ thinking, yet we’re not wasting a ton of paper and they’re still getting in the writing fine motor skills. I love that this set comes in a pack of 25 – and they are double sided, which comes in really handy when the math problems start getting long and they need more space. Find the boards HERE.

16. Glue Sticks

No matter what grade you teach, if you’re in elementary school, you WILL be going through glue sticks. I always stock up at the beginning of the year because it’s often when I can find them at the cheapest price. So, even if you think you don’t need them now, go ahead and grab some HERE.

17. Parent Communication Folders

One thing that I find to be critically important in teaching is parent communication – and I think most teachers (and parents) would agree with me!! I love to get this started right away with setting up parent communication folders. These go home every week with returned assignments, information from the office, our weekly class newsletter, and other materials. Since they’re going to and from class every week, they need to be sturdy, and these do the trick. I love that these folders have a front clear pocket so I can customize it for the students, as well as two pockets inside for papers. I find them to be an essential tool in keeping parents informed. Grab them HERE.

18. Cardstock

As you’re prepping all things back to school, you definitely want to have some cardstock on hand. This cardstock is a nice bright white and has a great thickness to it. I love using it for bulletin boards, labels, and items that I plan to use year after year. Even if you’re planning to laminate, if you don’t want your page to be a bit translucent, use cardstock! Find it HERE.

19. Elderberry Syrup

This one probably comes as a surprise to you, but it seems when the back to school season hits, there’s always a little cold or bug of some sort that is making its way around the campus. So, when I head back to the classroom (and pretty much anytime there’s a bunch of yucky stuff going around), I try to give my immune system a bit of a boost with this elderberry syrup. I usually give a dose to my kids (my own, not my students 😉) as well. Especially if you’re a new teacher and building up that teacher immune system, check it out HERE.

20. Cricut

Yes, I know, this is definitely an expensive item, so don’t feel like you have to go out an buy one to get through your teaching year. However, if you’ve collected some gift cards, have saved up some fun spending money, or have a person or group of people that really want to splurge on you, I highly recommend getting a Cricut. I’m not an expert on these machines by any means, but I find myself using mine ALL THE TIME! Whether it’s cutting out circles (I mean, who can do that perfectly?) or creating cute bulletin board letters, or helping me create really awesome craft materials to use with my students, this machine can do so much!! Check out more HERE.

I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out some of my favorite Back to School supplies on Amazon! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below or send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Wishing you an amazing Back to School Season!!!

If you’re interested in ALL of my Amazon Teacher Favorites, be sure to check them out HERE.

Getting ready to head back to your classroom and set up for the new year? Check out this list of 20 of my favorite Amazon products for this season! Whether you can grab 1 or all 20, these teacher must-haves will help you get everything ready for Back to School! #backtoschool #amazonfaves
Amazon Faves, Back to School, Fall, Teaching

Back to School Teacher Favorites Survey

Know exactly what to get your child’s teacher with this easy to use, editable My Teacher’s Favorite Things Questionnaire!

Know exactly what to get your child's teacher with this easy to use Teacher Favorite Questionnaire. This FREE survey will help you know all about their favorite thing so you know just what to get them for teacher gifts. It especially comes in handy with Back to School, holidays, and Teacher Appreciation week. AND, it's editable, so you can customize it just for your child's teacher! #teacherappreciation #teachergifts #teacherfavorites

For the first time since becoming a parent, both of my kids will be going to school this year! Since I understand how much time, energy, effort, and money go into teaching, I was eager to bless these teachers who were now spending 6 hours of the day with my babies.

While I love all of the mugs that students have lovingly given me over the years, I was eager to get these wonderful teachers something they really wanted. And selfishly, I didn’t want to buy something that was just going to end up going to waste or sitting around never being used.

So, I created this Teacher Favorites Survey.

Know exactly what to get your child's teacher with this easy to use Teacher Favorite Questionnaire. This FREE survey will help you know all about their favorite thing so you know just what to get them for teacher gifts. It especially comes in handy with Back to School, holidays, and Teacher Appreciation week. AND, it's editable, so you can customize it just for your child's teacher! #teacherappreciation #teachergifts #teacherfavorites

It asks about their favorite drinks, foods, shops, and general preferences, so I’d know just what to get them if I happened to be running by Starbucks in the morning and wanted to grab one for my kids’ teachers as well.

I created a pre-filled template if you simply want to print and go (just be sure you write your child’s name at the beginning of the paragraph so the teacher knows where to return it.

I also created an editable version so that you can include local restaurants, shops, etc. The editable version also comes in handy if you have a male teacher and want to ask them about things that tend to be more popular with guys.

Know exactly what to get your child's teacher with this easy to use Teacher Favorite Questionnaire. This FREE survey will help you know all about their favorite thing so you know just what to get them for teacher gifts. It especially comes in handy with Back to School, holidays, and Teacher Appreciation week. AND, it's editable, so you can customize it just for your child's teacher! #teacherappreciation #teachergifts #teacherfavorites

My boys’ teachers were shocked and absolutely thrilled to receive this wish list. One of them even said she felt like it was Christmas!

I’m eager to use these to know exactly how to bless these amazing teachers, and I hope you grab a copy too!

Just click on the button below to access this freebie!

Back to School, Family, Parenting, Teaching

Four Seasons Activities for PreK and Kindergarten

It’s back to school time!! Although I can hardly believe that summer has come to a close, I always get excited for a new school year.

The first few days (and even weeks) are often spent establishing and explaining rules and routines. And while sometimes I’m super eager to get to the curriculum, I know just how valuable taking the time to train the kids is! You can read more about it HERE.

Our Morning Calendar Routine is definitely one of the areas I spend plenty of time establishing expectations and routines. Part of the calendar routine involves taking a weather observation for the day. We just use this simple weather chart. Some years I have used it with the rotating cover and brad. Other years I have just laminated it, glued a magnet on the back (for the magnetic whiteboard), and clipped on a clothespin (with a magnet too). Grab it for FREE at the bottom of this post.

FREE weather and seasons chart to use in classrooms


And since we’re talking about weather, I introduce the seasons toward the beginning of the year as well. I’m going to be sharing some of the activities from my Four Seasons Activity Pack below.

One of my favorite way to introduce the seasons is using the book Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Although it doesn’t explicitly name the different seasons, it illustrates the cyclical nature of the seasons through the changes we see in a tree. It’s super interactive and great for prek and kindergarten students. They just love following the various “commands” to make the tree change. Click on the image below to grab it (This is an affiliate link – which means you’re not charged anything extra, but Amazon gives me a commission for directing you there. You can read my full disclosure policy here).

After spending some time interacting with this book, we name the seasons, and then identify which pictures relate to the different seasons. After an introduction to the seasons, we do a class picture sort. Students have an individual sort as well.

The kids also love building their Four Seasons wheel to color and take home.


One of the centers the students love is the four seasons puzzles. There is a puzzle for each season (I usually have 2 copies of each season at the center). Students find the four puzzle pieces that match the season to complete the puzzle. Then, since the pieces are laminated, students trace the name of the season words using a dry erase marker.



Since it’s the beginning of the year, we also spend time creating a class birthday chart. This pairs perfectly with the I Love my _____ Birthday page, where students write a little about what they like about the season in which their birthday falls. We’ve haven’t done a lot of writing at this point in the year, so sometimes I just record what the student shares with me. It’s a great way to get students thinking about the seasons – since they usually can recall events surrounding their birthday!



And speaking of writing, one of the things I love most about this Seasons Activity Pack is the Seasons Word Lists. Although I encourage students to use phonetic spelling as much as possible at this point, there are definitely students who want to know how to spell every word correctly. Providing them with these Seasonal Word Lists, not only gives them a little inspiration for their writing, but each list has 20 commonly used words associated with that season – with picture clues!! It’s been a wonderful resource that we use all year!


While we spend time at the beginning of the year introducing and discussing the seasons, we revisit the seasons throughout the year as they change. The Seasons Through my 5 Senses, Color by Code Activities, and Emergent Readers are perfect activities to use throughout the year.


And since my students tend to know more about technology every year, they absolutely jump at the opportunity to use it when we’re learning about the seasons. The Dress for the Weather digital cards, as well as the Which One Doesn’t Belong digital cards are always a big hit!

If you’re interested in grabbing these activities for your class, you can find the Activity Pack by clicking on any of the images above or RIGHT HERE.

Hope you have the opportunity to check it out! And if you use any of these materials in your class – I’d love to see them in action!!

Grab your FREE Weather and Season Chart Download HERE.



Back to School, Homeschool, Preschool, Science, STEM, Teaching

STEM Activities

What is STEM/STEAM? Why is it important? Learn exactly what STEAM is and why it's important for us to incorporate it into our students's education.

When I was growing up, we never spent time in the classroom working on a STEM project. In fact, really the only time we referred to “stem” in school was in regard to our study of plants.

However, as I got closer to earning my degree and credential, the term STEM was beginning to become a hot topic.

And now, the term STEM –  and most recently the term STEAM – are becoming increasing popular AND powerful in classrooms across the country.

So, what exactly is it?

STEM (which we started seeing in the early 2000s), stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. And in recent years, there has been a big push to include an A in this acronym – intended to incorporate art and design  – creating what educators refer to as STEAM.

You may ask, “If teachers are already teaching science, math, technology, etc as subjects in the classroom, why is there such a push for STEM/STEAM?”

The goal of  a STEAM approach is to create a learning environment where students integrate science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics to solve real problems. STEM/STEAM challenges often ask students to work together to ask relevant questions, brainstorm solutions, communicate about potential problems, seek out information, and apply this information to create a solution.

Does it need to incorporate all of the listed disciples to be a STEM activity? No! Remember, the goal of STEM/STEAM is to encourage students to be innovative problem solvers through a variety of opportunities.


Who would benefit from STEM/STEAM activities?

In a word, EVERYONE!

Whether you’re teaching in a traditional classroom, homeschooling kids at home, or working with kids through tutoring, camps, or other programs, every child can benefit from STEM.

And one of the things that I absolutely love about STEM/STEAM is that it appeals to different learning styles and natural abilities. A student that might struggle in reading, may be the one who is able to come up with 3 different solutions for a STEM challenge.

Obviously, what I would present to a kindergartner would be much different than what I would present to a 5th grader, but the sooner we can teach kids to think creatively, the better!

The bottom line is, STEM and STEAM activities encourage students to be creative problem solvers – and why wouldn’t we want to develop this in our kids?

What is STEM/STEAM? Why is it important? Learn exactly what STEAM is and why it's important for us to incorporate it into our students's education.

Why is STEM/STEAM important?

25 years ago, the thought of people literally being able to carry a computer around in their pocket and be able to connect with other around the world seemed unfathomable. Even when I was in high school and technology was starting to change rapidly, I had no idea just how quickly the advancements would come!

Suffice it to say, our modern world is highly driven by the components of STEAM, and we need to develop learners that keep asking hard questions, developing creative solutions, formulating plans, doing research, and applying it to real world problems. STEAM not only exposes children to these learning experiences, but it helps them to develop an innovative mindset that we hope they will carry with them into adulthood.

Since we’re working with acronyms, I’m going to use that sane acronym to give you my top 5 reasons for including STEM/STEAM learning opportunities in your classroom.


Students Love It!

STEM/STEAM is FUN! Kids are naturally curious, and STEM activities are definitely driven by that! It encourages students to question, explore, and wonder about the world around them – and it’s hands-on! As a teacher and a mom, I have seen my kids fall in love with STEAM activities!


Teaches Cooperative Learning

The majority of STEM/STEAM projects involve students working together in pairs or teams to come up with a solution to a problem. Not only does this foster an environment where kids learn to work together, it also teaches them the value of listening to and learning from the ideas of others. Watching students work together (and celebrate together) is such a delight.


Encourages innovative problem solving

One of the most valuable components of a STEAM challenge (in my opinion) is that it encourages students to come up with creative solutions for problems. Furthermore, there’s not just one way to solve the problem. Different solutions can be suggested, developed, and tested. Students may come up with multiple viable solutions. All the while they are engaged in the learning process and learning from each other.


Allows Us to Focus on the Learning Process

I’m definitely a “recovering-perfectionist.” And looking back, I think that during my school aged years, I definitely placed way too much focus on the outcome (the test score, the grade, the award), rather than the learning process. How I wish I would have understood how much more valuable that process is! I love that STEM is all about the learning process. Yes, the hope is to be able to create a solution to a problem, but the end goal is not what it’s all about! We’re much more concerned with the questioning, innovation, and critical thinking that’s involved in the learning process!


Multiple Learning Styles and Abilities are Celebrated

As I alluded to above, STEM/STEAM activities focus on an integrated approach to learning, and often tap into students’ strengths, experiences, and even learning styles that may not otherwise be shared. I have seen students that tend to be reserved or hesitant in other subject areas absolutely “shine” during STEAM time.



Looking for some FREE STEM Activities for your little learners who are obsessed with dinosaurs? Be sure to grab these FREE Dinosaur pattern block templates and STEM Challenge Cards below!

Dinosaur STEM activities, Dinosaur STEAM activities, perfect for preschool or kindergarten

Back to School, Homeschool, Parenting, Preschool, STEM, Teaching

7 Different Ways to Use Dot Markers


My kids and I looooove using dot markers!

Not only do they help kids with their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but there is really no clean-up for Mom! Yep – no paintbrushes, no water cups, no paint pallets – it’s simply the dot markers and the paper. Seriously, it can’t get much easier than that when it comes to art!

I love that the dot markers can be used for skill-focused activities as well as free creative expression. The boys love the bright colors and the ease of use – and that they last for so long!

There are so many educational and fun ways to use these and I wanted to share a few of my favorites today!

  1. Letter and/or Number Recognition

When my boys first began working on letter recognition, they absolutely loved getting to “dot” the letter on the page. Because using the dot markers made the task so simple, they were really able to focus on the letter recognition skill and have fun in the process. Since this was an activity they asked for repeatedly, I’ve made my A-Z Dot Pictures available for FREE below! Just click on the picture to grab your FREE set!


  1. Patterns

Again, the simplicity of use makes these a perfect tool to use when teaching patterns. Since there’s no cutting or gluing this is a great way to practice simple patterns, especially when you’re short on time!

  1. Color by Code

This works similar to the letter and number recognition, except with this activity you can work on distinguishing between different numbers, letters, and even sight words.

  1. Graphing

Kids love to take surveys of neighbors, friends, classmates, and family members, which can then be translated to a graph. However, keeping the graphs accurate can get a little tricky for little guys. Using dot markers can really help with this – especially if you use a different color for each option. My kiddos have always been thrilled with the results!


  1. Resist Art Projects

Both of my boys love doing arts and crafts projects, but I am not a super crafty person. But using dot markers for tape-resist art projects have given us some pretty great results. You simply tape off the part that you want to keep white, and then the kids can just go crazy filling in the rest of the space with the dot markers. We usually keep it simple by doing a simple shape with the tape, but I have seen others actually tape the outside of the project so that the kids are actually filling in the shape with the dot markers (kind of like a stencil).


  1. Mazes

I’ve already mentioned how we have used dot markers to identify letters, numbers, and sight words, but this option allows your students to practice putting these elements in order. For example, you might have a maze where students have to follow the alphabet A-Z. Or perhaps they’re following counting numbers from 1-20. We’ve even used this type of activity in practicing spelling our names. Using dot markers not only makes it easy for them to fill the space for the maze, but it also makes the path at the end very clear.


  1. Free Creative Expression

Dot markers are so easy to use, my kids love them for just creating pictures of their own. They come up with some of the most creative ideas. And if you want to work on fine motor skills while still letting your kids get creative, there are a number of printables that have adorable graphics with space for kids to “dot” in the pictures. This allows them to be creative while still focusing on being accurate with the dot markers.

We absolutely love using dot markers, and I hope this post gives you a few new ideas on how you might be able to incorporate this wonderful tool in your learning.

Do you have other ways that you love to use dot markers?! Leave me a note in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!

Back to School, Homeschool, Preschool, Teaching

Back to School Tips


I’m so excited that you’re joining us for this Back to School Tips Blog Hop!


Since I know you’re hopping through several blogs, I’ll try to make mine short and sweet!


My tip is a little unconventional in that it doesn’t have anything to do with classroom management, classroom organization, parent communication, or anything like that. This tip is all about you – and creating a routine that helps you keep your sanity throughout the whole year so that you can keep up with all those other things – and you kids too!


I know that when the back to school season hits, it’s easy to try and just power through the day – doing everything in your power to simply make a dent in your mile-long to-do list. The list of things you need to get done seems to be being added to faster than you can check items off, and the absolute last thing you think you can do is take a break for yourself.


But I’ve learned that this often leaves you more overwhelmed and exhausted than if you had taken some time to recharge.


For me, the thing that helps to keep me going is getting regular exercise and eating healthy. I know, I know. When you’ve got meetings to attend, parent nights to host, and students gathered around you all day, getting all hot and sweaty might not sound all that appealing (you mean I need to shower and completely re-do my hair and make-up before going back out?)


But building this into my regular routine has made such an incredible difference. Not only does the regular exercise help me to keep up with the boundless energy of these little ones, but it’s an incredible stress-reliever and I think I get some of my best ideas when I’m in the middle of a run or pushing it on the elliptical at the gym.


In short, my tip is to take some time at least 4 days a week to carve out some time for some exercise, healthy meal planning, and simple downtime (no, I don’t mean sitting and grading papers!) You will truly be amazed at how much this change can affect your entire school year! I know it’s hard – but I also know it’s worth it!


And this year I have teamed up with my friend Kayla from Sweetest Teacher to host the Teacher Fitness Challenge on Instagram. Each week we share a different challenge related to exercise, nutrition, or hydration – and we try to get as many teachers on board as possible! It has been so fun seeing how different teachers have been using these challenges for motivation – and to get their peers in on the action! We’d love to have you join us! Just follow us on Instagram for all the latest challenges!


Now, if you’re looking for tips for classroom management, you can check out my 7 Tips for Successful Classroom Management HERE.


Now you can hop on over to A Grace-Filled Classroom to read Laura’s tips on creating a growth mindset classroom. (Psst…she has a freebie for you!)




a Rafflecopter giveaway


Back to School, Teaching