Kid Conferences – Getting to Know Your Students

Kid Conferences – Getting to Know Your Students

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher

Ever wonder why, as elementary and middle school teachers, we meet with our student’s parents and never meet with our students one on one for a conference. Years ago, I held my very first Kid Conference with each one of my students. It was a precursor meeting before I held my October parent teacher conferences. I also always held another one after the long Winter break in January. This was a game changer for me and my students. 

A Kid Conference is exactly what it sounds like, a conference with a kid. Some teachers host kid-led conferences, which is a different concept (a great one, but different). A kid-led conference is where you prep a student to lead the meeting you host with the child’s parent or guardian. The student is able to talk to their caregiver about their academics, behavior and more in the classroom. I love having my students lead during conferences and it is much easier for them to do once you host a private conference with them first. You do not have to have kid-led conferences to be able to host your own Kid Conference at school. Both are great and I suggest starting with hosting your very own Kid Conference. 

A Kid Conference is a one on one meeting involving the classroom teacher and their student. It should be about 5 minutes long; depending on how many students you have in your classroom, you can make the meeting longer if you choose. With my second and third graders, 5 minutes is plenty to answer the questions that are important. During the conference, I welcome a student to my back table and ask a series of questions to better understand them, their learning style, and more about them as a person. My goal is to get to know them inside and outside the classroom.


kid conference resources


Each of my Kid Conferences happen during the school day. I make sure my class has the directions they need to complete some independent work or centers while I am meeting with each student. Last year, I had my students rotate through my different Starting with STEAM bins to explore with creating. 

I provide a sign up sheet for my students to come pick a 5 minute time block; this allows them to pick if they want to meet with me first or later in the day/week. I select times throughout the day that work best for my class’ schedule. They are not all back to back time slots because in order to complete a class of 25, it would take 2 hours. We all know that it would be very hard for elementary school students to focus on independent work for 2 hours straight. I suggest providing time slots for the morning and some in the afternoon over a couple days.


kid conference whiteboard signup


During this time, the students first work on a couple things to get ready for their Kid Conference. I give them a small slip of paper that says, “I wish my teacher knew…” This paper is for them to use if they want to tell me something (about home or school) that they don’t feel comfortable telling me out loud. This allows them to feel as if they have a safe space to let me know about a situation that might affect their schooling. The Kid Conference process in general allows students to open up to you more and share something (since they have one on one time), however, some students might still need that slip of paper to feel comfortable to say it. I have a little box with a sign that I allow all the students to put their “I wish my teacher knew…” slip in. That way, they don’t have to talk with me about it right then.


Kid Conferences - I wish my teacher knew...


Each student will also be given a list of questions to read over beforehand to know the questions that will be talked about in the meeting. I also have a QR code available that the students can scan to listen to the questions read to them. I provided this in the resource because I knew I wanted them to be as independent as possible during this time so I can have uninterrupted time with each student.


Kid Conference Question List


I then have a list of the questions with a recording sheet for the teacher to use during each Kid Conference to take notes and keep them for their records. This is helpful for me to remember something or circle back to an item I learned about a student in the future. I can also use these notes for my parent teacher conference or my Kid Conference follow up meeting in January. 

I can’t stress this enough… The things I learn in these meetings are so VALUABLE! Spending time to get to know your students on a one to one basis is so very important. If you don’t have a relationship with your student, they won’t feel comfortable learning as much from you as possible. We also all know that if something is worrying or bothering a child, it will distract them from their everyday school life. 

Use this Kid Conferences sheet of questions, form and sign up sheet to host your next 5 minute student interview. Checking in with your students, creating goals and building relationships is a vital part of the classroom. Print these resources now to use for your own Kid Conference day.


What teachers are saying…


“I loved being able to sit down and conference with my students using this resource!  It helped me get to know them better right from the start!” – Sarah C.

“​​I’ve been using this resource for a while! It is such an awesome idea. I love to give my kiddos some much needed 1-on-1 time…” – Heritage A.

“Great conversation starters with my students and I loved getting more in touch with them!” – Colleen

“This was a great way to start back to school after Winter Break! It allowed me to check in with each student and set goals for the new year 🙂 Thanks!” – Kaytlin G.


teacher in the classroom


guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.


Like this article? Then you may also enjoy Casey’s post about Classroom Transformations!

Welcome Back to School – First 10 Days Prep and Plans

Welcome Back to School – First 10 Days Prep and Plans

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher

It’s back to school time and you have to start thinking about all the things you want to try to fit into your busy schedule for the first couple weeks of school. My number one priority is building relationships and routines within the first few days so we can get focused on the standards afterwards. 

A great way to integrate some basic story elements while collecting work samples from students to help gauge their learning is to complete a back to school read aloud and activity each day. Each book can guide questions to help build student relationships and team building skills. You can integrate writing components to take work samples and help plan your instruction for the upcoming weeks. 

I have created a FREE Back to School Ideas for the First 10 Days Guide! You can get an inside look into my classroom from over the years. I have everything from ELA read alouds, lessons, math activities, STEAM and SEL lessons and back to school Produces and set up. This 10 day guide helps me map out certain things I want to make sure I touch on while also working around the required items that my school will ask for me to complete. 


ideas for first 10 days of school


During my teacher prep week (usually the week before the students start), my school will let us know of new initiatives and standards we must hit on those few first weeks. They will also give out the required and optional assessments we must fit into our schedule. The things I have listed on this guide is not a hard pressed schedule, but more of a flexible guide to the things I will fit into my days. 

And then of course, there are the times I need to unpack their school supplies, practice walking down the hallways and give them a fun tour around our school. All important things to do when you are onboarding a new class, I wanted to take some of the planning off your plate and give you a leg up on heading back into the classroom. 

Let’s start with some of my favorite Back to School books to read:

favorite 10 back to school books

More Favs of Mine:

David Goes to School by: David Shannon

Miss Nelson is Missing by: Harry G. Allard Jr. 

A Base Case of the Tattle Tongue by: Julia Cook

I understand that every classroom has a different schedule, teaches different subjects and has time blocks of time to start the school year. With that in mind, I created the First 10 Days of Plans – Idea board. The simple and easy to read board lays out most of the activities and lesson plans I do each year with my K-3rd grade students. The board consists of lesson plans connected to read alouds, Social and Emotional Learning lessons to help the students build relationships, introduction lessons to Math and STEAM standards. Lastly, I focus a lot on team building and school and classroom producers. The Back to School BINGO is my all time favorite product!

You can download the FREE Google Docs now that has everything you need linked to get started this week! In the first two weeks of plans, I have included 4 freebies and some fun activities that any grade level can do. 


Want a sneak peak into some of the activities and plans outlined in the guide:


Time Capsule: Have your students fill out their first day of school questionnaire! Then have them come back to this time capsule on the last day of school! Check out the video here!

classroom transformations guest blog


Free Write Fun Slides: Use these slides all year long! 15+ fun writing prompts per month to use. Start with August & September. Each slide helps guide the students with a writing prompt.

Procedures BINGO: Teaching students the school and classroom procedures are so important (this will last all week!) Maybe even into a second and third week. This is editable so you can add your own procedures too!


Back to School Bingo


This Week Went Swimmingly: Grab a fun writing sample to wrap up the first week of school! Of course, it is mermaid themed. I use this as a writing sample to help group and guide my writing block the following week. 

Two Truths, One Lie – (Flip) Formally FlipGrid Template: Use this organizer to introduce Flip (Formally Flipgrid) to your students. It’s a great getting to know you and tech activity. I love watching their videos and picking their lie!


Back to School - Flipgrid Video


Tiny Target: Wrapping up the first couple weeks can be difficult, reward the amazing work by opening your classroom store! These labels help make your own little Dollar Spot come alive.

Who Has the Number?: Use this fun get to know you activity that focuses on numbers in math. I love watching the students walk around and ask each other questions to get to know each other. 


Who Has the Number? game


Exclusive Back to School Read Aloud Lessons: Want to have it all? Grab the Back to School Ultimate Bundle now. It includes 23 products and an exclusive freebie with THREE read aloud lessons for the books, First Day Jitters, The Invisible Boy, and Do Unto Otters.


Do Unto Otters book


guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.


Like this article? Then you may also enjoy Casey’s post about Classroom Transformations!

Lesson Planning – Classroom Transformations!

Lesson Planning – Classroom Transformations!

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher


Check out how I morph my classroom into an engaging learning lab for any subject! Anytime you can change up your student’s routine to engage them in a new learning experience is well WORTH IT! A classroom transformation creates an immersive experience for our students without having to leave the classroom.

I know that pulling off a classroom transformation can be stressful and overwhelming, however, if you follow these guiding points, you will be able to better understand what your day or week will look like beforehand.


classroom transformations guest blog


First things first… ALWAYS START with the instructional goal/problem when planning a classroom transformation. You must have a standard or group of standards in mind to successfully complete a transformation. This is NOT about a theme or turning your classroom into an underwater shark tank, just because. You need to have a purpose…


classroom transformations guest blog


My suggestion is to start by laying out the content you have been teaching and figure out what you are assessing your students on. This process will start about 2 weeks beforehand. Most subjects and content have the potential to lead to a classroom transformation idea. You just need to create those creative juices flowing!


classroom transformations guest blog


For example, my class and I spent weeks learning how to measure distances and comparing lengths. We asked a lot of questions about diving into the water and compared two divers. This helped with the idea of having a Shark Diving day to help measure and compare sharks and divers. I started with the content and let the idea come to me. I would not suggest scrolling through Pinterest and just selecting a circus theme because you think the kids will like the circus.


classroom transformations guest blog


If you are teaching elementary measurement standards this school year, check out this Shark Classroom Transformation here!

Next up, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself when planning your own classroom transformation or buying someone else online.


5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Classroom  Transformation


  • What time frame will you have available to complete your classroom transformation? Is it a one-day or a week-long unit? Plan so you know how many centers, activities, or lessons you will need. 
  • What decoration resources/materials do you already have available to you that connect with your standards? Selecting the theme is the fun part! Think about – (kids’ birthday parties you have leftover decorations from, companies that can partner with to provide materials (Crumbl Cookie, Starbucks), or what is currently available at the dollar store) If you don’t have anything to start with, ask yourself… What are your students interested in? Poll them and see what is fresh and new! This might help spark an idea that connects with your standards. 
  • Can this theme/topic be connected over multiple content areas? Math, reading, and writing? Can you extend a restaurant theme over the science content you are currently working on? Can you add a STEAM or physical education component to your day?
  • What expectations do I have for my students on an “out of the box” day like this? Make this clear to them beforehand. This will help plan your centers/activities accordingly. 
  • How many center/rotations or groups can they handle? Do you run a teacher-led group? Do you have other adults to help you on that day? Is a worksheet their best use of time or does every station need a recording sheet?


classroom transformations guest blog


If you ask yourself these questions while designing or buying a classroom transformation, you have already set your students up for success. The day will go amazing and the kids are sure to remember the experience and content learned for years to come. 

Let’s dive into some of the classroom transformations I have created for my 2nd and 3rd graders. We have transformed our room into a backyard BBQ and restaurant to have a book tasting or barbeque.


classroom transformations guest blog


We have dressed up for the 101st day of school and transformed into the 101 Dalmation movie for the entire day!


classroom transformations guest blog


We’ve taken on the world of road construction to assess area and perimeter for our all-week classroom transformation. Hard hats included!


classroom transformations guest blog


My favorite of all time was our sweet-smelling bakery for our Crumbl Cookie day to learn about shapes and fractions! They had a blast and it also tasted amazing!


classroom transformations guest blog


Whether you are ready to start designing your own classroom transformations or using someone else’s idea, here are some tips and tricks I have learned along the way! 


10 Tips and Tricks for a GREAT Classroom Transformation:

  1. Showing your work is a must 
  2. Label all of their supplies and papers BEFORE you start (things will get left around the room)
  3. Have a visual timer to show rotations
  4. Have a checking-in process (team leaders or individual students)
  5. Review expectations before the day starts
  6. Set up the room beforehand (but not too far in advance (they will move and ruin your stuff) – Here is a FREEBIE to show you are working on the process
  7. Fun background music is a must! It is fun and keeps everyone quiet (Spotify – Follow me here)
  8. Decide what you are keeping (to use again) and what the students are able to keep (let them know ahead of time)
  9. Have a clean-up crew ready at hand
  10. HAVE FUN – take a step back and spend some time listening to them work in groups, you will be amazed at how engaged they are! (take lots of pictures to remember it by)


classroom transformations guest blog



guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.


Building Up Your Classroom Library

Building Up Your Classroom Library

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher


Setting up your classroom library can be a daunting task. Whether you are a brand new teacher or a teacher switching grade levels (this is a big deal because not all books are appropriate for all ages). Here’s my guide to collecting books from multiple locations without breaking the bank!

Where do I get my books from?


Scholastic Book Clubs!

My favorite website to buy classroom books is Scholastic Book Clubs! Check out the best ways to earn points and FREE books year-round. Then you also can’t beat the deals that they have each month, a lot of them being only $1 a book!

Earning BONUS POINTS – Always fill out your back-to-school form to update your class size to earn your 100 points each year, save ALL the emails from Scholastic throughout the school year to build up coupon codes for your next order, and have a notebook to write down codes when they come up on the Scholastic IG/Facebook pages. I collect so many points throughout the year to earn so many FREE BOOKS and school supplies! If you don’t have a Scholastic Book Club account yet, use this link to earn a FREE 250 Bonus Points from me!

classroom library

Birthday Coupons – In the beginning of each school year, you get an offer to buy a class book of b’day coupons. Each pack comes with 30-32 FREE book coupons and they are each worth up to a $5 FREE book. That is upwards to $160 worth of books, for a cost of $30.00! I have bought these for my students in the past and handed them out for their birthdays. They are to take them home and select their book with their family online. I don’t do that anymore because most of them lost the coupon or forgot to log on and redeem their book. Instead, I have them work with me on their birthday to select a $4-$5 book (no less than that- getting the best value) to buy a book with the coupon code on my account to add to our classroom library. Then when it comes in the mail, that student gets to present it to the class as a gift! They get to put their name in the book as a donation, it makes them so happy. That stocks my classroom with 32 new books each school year for $30!


classroom library


Family Book Orders – Making the Scholastic Book flyers available to your families helps build your points so you can buy some classroom books for your classroom as well. Here are some of my favorite tips for boosting family orders!

    • Let families know that every order, no matter how small or big, earns FREE Books for your classroom. Use this pack to help boost sales and recommend your families! This gets families involved by sharing your Class Code for online ordering and letting them know they can choose a FREE $5 Book with every $25 online order with code READS.
    • Share photos of all the FREE Books and resources your class has earned. A picture is worth a thousand words! I even do #BookBoxDay unboxing videos for my students and families!
    • Send home reminder armbands with the due dates and their wish lists, both of these are available in this pack!
classroom library




Family/Friends for Donations

The second place I go to collect books is simply by asking family and friends. I use my personal and professional social media platforms to post about a need for used or new classroom books. You would be surprised how many households are sitting on dozens of children’s books that they don’t use anymore. I’ve had families with high schoolers now that hadn’t gotten rid of any of their elementary-aged books and simply had them sitting in a box in their garage. They were happy to donate and get them out of their space. It never hurts to ask! I especially reach out to my retired teacher friends! Then I go through the books and then any repeats I have I offer to other new teachers or give to the students to take home to start their library.


classroom library



Visiting Your Local Public Library

Have you ever been to your local public library? Did you know they are always getting rid of books that are now out of circulation? My grandmother used to volunteer at our local library and she would say that books that weren’t checked out super often, had too many copies, or were a little damaged would be taken out of circulation. These were always donated but sometime she would be able to bring some home to be (knowing I was a classroom teacher). It is always good to ask or give them your contact information in case they have books to get rid of.  



Amazon Wish-lists (#ClearTheList) 

Have you heard!!?? Celebrities, companies, influencers, and so many other people are helping to #ClearTheList of teachers’ Amazon wishlists! If you haven’t made one yet, it is your time to take a second and add classroom books and other amazing supplies

How to make a list:

  1. Login to your Amazon account
  2. Go to “Account & Lists” at the top right corner
  3. Click on “Your Lists”
  4. Create a list (make sure it’s public)
  5. Add items or books that you find on Amazon (if you want some classroom list ideas, check my favorites out here!)

If you want to share it with friends & family, click “Invite,” copy the link, send it out, or share it on your social media pages.

classroom library



If you make your Amazon wish list, reach out to some local companies or popular businesses online and see if they would be willing to help out and donate. I use Twitter and Linkedin to reach out to a lot in my local area. Write them a letter introducing yourself, telling them a little about your school and students, and then tell them how they can help. 



Thrift Stores/Facebook Selling Groups- 

One of my favorite summertime activities is strolling through a good thrift store. Whether it’s a GoodWill, Wonder Book & Video, ReStore, or any local company, you can find gently used books for a very cheap rate. Make sure to save your receipts so you can write them off your taxes! 

You can also join your local Facebook teacher groups (mine is called Teachers Sell Stuff (city, State) and see if anyone has books available for purchase. 

As you are selecting books for your classroom make sure you gather a wide variety of books. I try to have some leveled books, picture books, just for fun books, magazines, comics, graphic novels, chapter books, maps, and much more. Get creative, the kids love a diverse set of things to get their hands on. 



Other Helpful Classroom Library Tips and Tricks:

Make sure to have book bin labels for your students to be able to find and organize their books. Here is the set I use to label my 2nd-grade classroom. Hang some signs to help students to select their “Just Right Book,” grab this FREEBIE here. I also make sure to label ALL books that come into my classroom so I don’t lose track of them. I use these mermaid ones on Avery shipping labels (30 per page).


classroom library


Where to buy your bins?? My favorite places are Storex, Dollar Store, The Target Dollar Spot, Walmart, Ikea (have the kids decorate them), or the DIY option, start collecting cereal boxes now! Simply save larger cereal boxes and cut them down like the pictures below. Cover them with paper, spray paint them, or leave them with the kids’ favorite cereal pictures.


classroom library


Good luck and happy building up your library! 🙂




guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

Packing Up Your Classroom? It’s the Perfect Time to Set Up Your Back to School Box

Packing Up Your Classroom? It’s the Perfect Time to Set Up Your Back to School Box

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher

Packing up your classroom at the end of the year can be exciting and also challenging at the same time. However, I promise you… if you spend some time setting yourself up for success at the end of the school year, you will be so glad you did at back-to-school time.


I have a box that I pack up and place on the top pile of all of the classroom supplies at the end of each year. These are all the items I will need first at the start of a new year, or in my case,  my long-term substitute will open. I am expecting a baby over the summer and will not be starting my school year with my kiddos this school year. I want my substitute to be ready and not feel overwhelmed the day they start setting up my classroom in the Fall. 

The box doesn’t have to be fancy, although you can use a nice plastic storage bin as well. I upgrade my Amazon box each year (because it gets bigger and bigger) and write myself a fun little note. 

“Let’s Do This!” “You’ve Got This!” “You Go Girl!” “You Can Do Hard Things!” “Crushin’ it!”

What’s inside my box? 

    • Back-to-School event items
    • Simple Teacher supplies
    • Birthday favors
    • Bulletin Board items
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Master copies for the first week of school
    • Motivational Note
    • Water bottle and snack (that won’t go bad) 
    • $5 or gift card 

Putting together your own box can be done this summer if you haven’t started one before… check it out now!

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Back to School or Sneak Peek Event at School – At my school, we always have a sneak peek event (for new to the school families) during the school day. It usually occurs on the 2nd teacher work day back and our classrooms are NOWHERE READY for school. The families pop in and say hello and want to see their new classroom. Instead of stressing out about this, I have things ready in my box for a cute setup for a table outside in the hallway. 

The box includes a dollar store plastic table cloth, a blow-up number 2 balloon (for 2nd grade), my mermaid sand bucket with donations needed for the school year, and a small gift for each student that comes by. Grab the mermaid bucket donations needed template here.

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Some of my favorite sneak peek gifts are popcorn, mini pop-its or blow pops with these adorable tags (Thanks for Popping In), mini or full-size erasers with these Mistakes labels, or a slinky with these Spring into School tags. Check out my full list of where to buy these items!

Lastly, I place a sign on my classroom door that says, “Under Construction.” You can grab this freebie now, I have it available for your bulletin boards, library, and much more. 

In the box, I also have stuff for my formal Back to School (BTS) evening event that is after my classroom is fully set up. I placed a couple of plastic bowls (for serving snacks and candy to my families), fun photo props, a BTS Welcome Bag full of goodies, and their All About Me Bag assignment to bring to school their first week of school. Each family also gets a sticker when they walk in that says, “ I am the Proud Parent/Grandparent/Family of _________!” You can grab those here.

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Simple Teacher supplies – Next up in the box is all the simple teacher supplies needed to start the school year. I make sure I have a couple of types of tapes (masking, painters, and scotch), a good pair of teacher sizes scissors, stapler and refill staples, a stapler remover, a black magic marker, a pack of sticky magnetic dots, post-it’s, a couple sharpened pencils, my FAVORITE wireless hot glue gun and refill glue and a tape measure. Not spending time ripping apart boxes to find all of these items will definitely save you time. Now, if I can just stop myself from talking to every teacher that walks past my classroom, we would really be able to get some back-to-school work done

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Birthday Favors – This is an overlooked item that I have added to my BTS box over the years. I never want to forget to celebrate the summer birthdays in my class (I am a July baby myself, and I never got to celebrate at school). My best tip is to go shopping at the end of every summer to grab class set deals that are basically free. Every year, the chalk, bubbles, sunglasses, slime packs, and summer beach balls are on sale at the end of the season. I buy up at least enough to cover a huge class size (30), then any I don’t end up using goes in my prizes box for the following year. You don’t necessarily need to add the items in the BTS box, but I always have the birthday gift tags printed and ready in my box to remind me to celebrate those kiddos that had July/August birthdays. The past few years I have found amazing slime deals and have used these gift tags, grab them here

Bulletin Board Supplies – If you are anything like me, the base of the bulletin boards is the first thing I do when I get back. I want to make sure to grab the butcher paper color that I love before it’s all gone (a.k.a. teal and hot pink) and it is an instant way to make your room look pretty. I make sure I have my small bin of bulletin board supplies (see my bulletin board blog post here) and then my Amazing Work Coming Soon & Construction site signs printed and ready to go! Grab these freebies and then have your students help you design your classroom bulletin boards.

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Cleaning Supplies – No explanation needed – Cloxex wipes, paper towels, Magic Eraser & Goo Gone. Want to see where I buy all my BTS Box supplies, check out this master list with links. 

Master Copies – My in-service BTS week is when I work with specialists and teammates to start planning out the first quarter of ELA and Math content. This time is so valuable and I want to make sure all my “getting to know you” and “setting up routines” papers and lessons are ready to go. I make sure I have my master copies ready in a folder in my BTS box. I do not try to guess how many copies I need ahead of time, I make the copies on that first week. However, if you have leftover paper at the end of a school year and you are at a school that makes you wait for your first paper order when you get back, MAKE ALL THE COPIES BEFORE YOU LEAVE for summer.

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I make sure to have my Back to School Bingo, First Day of School Sign (blow-up numbers), Time Capsule, All About Me Bag, and Welcome Bag copies. I also have the first week of school writing papers, design your own name tag template, Do Unto Otters craft, and some Math About Me papers. Lastly, whether you do flexible seating or not, having your student’s name tags glued onto their hard case pencil boxes is a great way for them to actually use them as a resource and easy for you to make desk changes through the school year. I have them available for grades 1-2 and 3-4. It also saves your custodians from scraping off all that glue leftover at the end of the year. They will thank you!

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Motivational Note – Before you close your box up and give it a good tape, grab a blank piece of paper or adorable stationery. Write yourself a BTS motivational note for your future self. Give yourself some advice or simply tell yourself, “You’ve Got This!” This note will seem silly while you are doing it, but will brighten your day (because you will forget about it). It’s a great touch to help start your new school year off with a bang! 

Treat Yourself or Treat Someone Else! – Throw a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin’s or $5 cash to treat yourself to something on your way home from your first day back. If you don’t feel like using it, give it to a coworker that looks like they might need it that first day back. You can also grab a water bottle and a non-perishable snack and throw it in so it’s ready for the first day! 

I hope you found this BTS box list helpful, it took me a while to know what I wanted in mine and it will evolve as you get to know your BTS habits. 



guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.

15 At-Home Summer Activities That Don’t Involve Screen Time

15 At-Home Summer Activities That Don’t Involve Screen Time

School’s out. That means plenty of chances for summer fun. It also means endless opportunities for screen time. If you’re wondering how you’re possibly going to manage your child’s screen time this summer, read on!

We’ve compiled 15 of the most fun activities to do at home with your kids that don’t involve screens.

1. Get in the kitchen. Give your kids a chance to mix up a batter for their favorite cookies. Or have them make pizza bagels or another fun snack. You don’t have to use a stove or oven either. There are plenty of no-bake recipes. Just be sure to supervise your children whenever they are cooking in the kitchen.

2. Put on a play. Bring down that box of old costumes, your old bridesmaids dresses, and fun props. Equip your kids with everything they need to put on a play – or a fashion show. They can even bring a favorite story to life.

3. Make a time capsule. A special way to mark the summer is to make a time capsule. Make sure to date it and include some timely items. Trace around your child’s hand for a handprint. Include packaging from your child’s favorite snack. Add an art project, an all-about-me page, photos, newspaper or magazine clipping, certificates, or anything else your child wants to add.

4. Camp in the backyard. Your backyard makes a great campground, and best of all, it’s near everything you need at home! Set up a tent, sleeping bags, and games. Prepare a picnic lunch or dinner. If you have a fire pit, try this project for natural bug bombs to keep the mosquitos away.

5. Do a backyard bug or scavenger hunt. Take an up-close look at the tiny critters in your backyard. Use this free printable bug hunt to guide you or make your own with other common items found in your backyard, like flowers or rocks. Your child can even bring a notebook and draw the bugs or objects that they see.

6. Create an obstacle course. Empty boxes, hula hoops, and even sidewalk chalk or masking tape create fun obstacle courses. Create one inside or outside using materials right at home. Jump, crawl, skip and navigate these fun courses according to your child’s rules, of course!

7. Make a weather station. Have a future meteorologist? Interest them in this craft project with a purpose. Guide them in making their own weather vane, windsock, rain gauge, and more, with materials you have right around the house.

8. Make bubbles. Sure, you could buy bubbles but it’s way more fun to make them! Try these bubble recipes. Save them for a nice day. Their sugary residue probably won’t do well indoors.

9. Learn to sew. Sewing is a skill that will help your child for years to come. If you feel your child can hold a needle safely, start them by sewing two pieces of fabric together. There also are children’s sewing projects available at craft stores.

10. Try blow art. This is a fun way to paint by blowing through straws. Start with tempera paint that is thinned with water in a bowl. Use plastic spoons or droppers to place a small drop of paint on the paper. Then have your child blow through the straw on the paint to create abstract art.

Pro Tip: To ensure young children don’t accidentally suck up paint through the straw, cut a little hole in the middle.

11. Leave chalk notes for your neighbors. Break out your favorite sidewalk chalk and get to drawing! Draw an obstacle course for dog-walkers to test out on the sidewalk or leave kind messages for you neighbors to see when they come outside.

12. Make a DIY bird feeder. You only need 4 items- cookie cutters, gelatin, bird seed, and yarn. And then kids can hang their homemade feeders in the backyard and spend the day bird watching.

13. Run a lemonade stand. Not only is a lemonade stand a fun activity, it’s a great one to learn about business. Help your child determine the costs to make the lemonade and get the cups. Then help him/her to figure out what to charge. Your child can use art skills to make a poster with prices. Your child may opt to keep the proceeds or donate to an organization in need.

Pro Tip: Check if your local community requires a permit to sell lemonade. The exact rules vary by location.

14. Rescue a frozen toy. This takes a little more preparation, but it’s something your child can help with. Choose small toys that fit into an ice cube tray. Cover them with water and then freeze them. When you’re looking to occupy your child for a few minutes, give them the frozen toy, a cup of hot water, and an eye dropper. Challenge them to rescue the frozen toy. Time them to see if they could beat their best time.

15. Make a summer bucket list. Get your kids involved with what they’ll be doing this summer. Have them make lists of movies they want to watch, books they want to read, places they want to visit, and friends they want to see. Then use the list as a guide for summer fun that doesn’t involve screens.

And for those rainy indoor summer days, check out our list of 100+ Indoor Activities for Kids that Don’t Involve Screens.

Have a great summer!


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