Up-cycle Your Classroom

What’s up-cycling you may ask? It’s taking things that could be old or recycled and turning them into everyday useful things! Decorating and keeping a classroom stocked can be expensive, especially in the primary grades. So I wanted to take the time and post about how to up-cycle and DIY some things for your room.


Before I get into useful tips on how to reuse the things in your room, I wanted to tell you about a great hidden gem of a website. I’ll post the link as always. If you type it in BE CAREFUL not to reverse the wording. This is a page I learned about from an art professor and the products are amazing! You can buy all your glue, paper, markers, and craft sticks in bulk cheap. If you have a limited budget and need to buy these items out of pocket go here!

This blog, the Clutter-Free Classroom, has great ideas on how to reuse and decorate containers for classroom storage.

Students or you have a messy desk? Those desk and paper organizers can add up your first year. Who doesn’t have cereal boxes though?

What other ways can you re- purpose items in your classroom?

Share and Grow!

-Miss. Moriah-



Array City

If you’re like me, the term array as applied to math may be fairly new. However, once I began to understand them I could see how they could be useful learning tools for students. If an array is something that is a new term to you or it is a little confusing I recommend this page. I like the visuals and explanations.

I am  currently placed with 3rd grade students in a city setting. They have been working to learn multiplication with arrays. Some students are behind  academically and others have behavioral needs in the room. When the teacher asked if I wanted to create a lesson, I jumped at the chance to integrate my love of art into the lesson! Many of the students in the room love superheros too so I thought about this when creating part of the lesson.

*Note- there are a lot of steps but we gave them a check list on the board.

In the lesson students review arrays as a group.  Then they were  asked to solve six multiplication problems from a worksheet and draw the arrays (this group needs that extra scaffolding). After they have solved and drawn, students had to check for correctness with an elbow partner. Once the arrays were checked, students got construction paper and turned the arrays into a city scene like the one shown here.

array city

But, the fun didn’t end quiet yet! I really wanted to know what happened in the city. So students were given graphic organizers to write 3-5 sentence stories in. Many students in this class struggle with where to place capitals, punctuation, or just don’t like to write. I told them if they want to write four perfect ( Capital, !.?, best spelling) sentences about how Batman saves their city from evil that was ok with me. Many students told me about Trick-or-Treating but I did get a lot of superhero stories too!

Here is the Pokemon story from one student.

array city

Do you like the idea for this lesson? Great let me know! It aligned with common core grade 3 ELA and Math standards. They kids enjoyed it and it would make for a great bulletin board. I can’t take all the credit though. I borrowed the idea from this page.

Learn and Grow!

-Miss. Moriah-


“My… won’t load!” The smartboard is broken again…. “This link doesn’t work what do I do now?” “The computer ate my homework.”

Technology is great, when it works. However, there is still something to be said for a book or pencil. They can’t get corrupted (well maybe by a puddle) and they take a lot longer to become obsolete. Having witnessed teachers using programs to teach for them and others who use technology to assist in the learning process, I can see pros and cons in it’s daily use.

Children are not designed to sit and be on a computer for half the day. They are movers and shakers.  This isn’t to say adults are supposed to sit all day either, we just have more patience. Helping students to connect their learning in their brain and body, through the mind and music, or other multiple connections can help with recollection of information. Muscle memory is a powerful thing!

This being said I wanted to post a piece in technology since it is so prevalent in our classrooms. Included are some useful infographics of educational apps and websites for the classroom.

Learn and Grow,

-Miss. Moriah-


-Do you remember using geoboards? They took up a lot of space in the room for storage and could be challenging for some students to use. With this online version you always will have the colors of bands you need and no one will get poked with the geo-pins!

-This site is cute for students just learning fractions who may need a little more practice at home. The site talks to you and guides you through a pizza fraction adventure. I like it because if mom and dad don’t remember fractions well either the student can still learn independently. The information is read and written plus there are images.

-This educator compiled a bunch on resources for fractions on her blog. Check them out! Many are games or classroom tools.

-Again, depending on your students you will have different needs for technology. I found some of the items on this list more useful than others. But I liked the compilation overall. This list includes lesson planning sites, social learning, and useful tools. With 50 links on the page its worth a click.

-Of course no list of resources would be complete with out this tidbit! So my students are all on their tablets, now how do I make sure they are doing what they should be doing…. Don’t worry I don’t an article to help you out! I hated being hovered over as a student , I’m sure I was not the only one. This article includes tips from teachers on how they handle technology in the classroom. Here are FREE downloadable posters to remind students of some technology rules for the classroom too.

-I have to say I’m not Google Classroom savvy. However, many schools are starting to use this new system. I found this website with  a slideshow telling you all these cool things you can use the online tool for as well as a book (about $20 on Amazon). So if you are new to the product and your school heavily uses it it might be with a glance.


-What else can you look for that may not be on this list? Take a virtual field trip, listen to an audio book, play a book on youtube aloud and save your voice, use an app and text about a good day, us the tablets and record the skits your class did for parents to see at conference night. What else can you think of?

Bell Ringers and Early Finishers

Early Finishers

Students work all work at different paces. Having 5 yell ‘I’m done! What now?’ , can be a challenge when you are trying to help another student or pick up the phone. Early finishers are perfect for students who need extra engaging tasks after the assignment is finished. They allow their peers to keep working and you to help others or answer the phone that keeps ringing in ELA!

Included here are some nice ways and ideas for using early finishers in your room. Check out the images at the end of the post for even more ideas!

  • Write one task on the board for students to do if they finish early.
  • Leave an early finisher bin in the room. Students can select an early finisher activity to complete from the bin.
  • Have an “I’m Done” jar with tasks students can do.
  • Allow students to do homework.
  • Do you have class jobs? Maybe you are the mailbox sorter and have not sorted! Ask to sort the mail.
  • Write a friendly letter to a classmate.
  • Have a shout out jar. Ask the students to write a shout out of something they saw a peer doing that was nice and put in in the jar.
  • Have some Madlibs photo copied for a fun Friday!

Bell Ringers

Bell ringers , morning work, brain worm ups, whatever you decide to call the first task of the day is fine by me! I love the idea of giving students a task, brain teaser, or word problem to get their brains in gear and help them settle in for the day ahead. The bell work usually takes 5 minutes but can last longer you will visually see all students are ready to learn when they have to bell work completed. No wandering students here! The morning work helps not only the students mentally prepared for the day but, if students are given breakfast in the classroom they know to sit and eat at their desks. You can establish a book and break fast routine. Hey, gotta get those 2o minutes in someplace! Here (and in the images) you will find ideas of bell ringers to get your class’s brains in gear.

  • Read 2o minutes while having breakfast.
  • What is going on in a picture in a few words or phrases.
  • Word of the day! Can you use it in a sentence?
  • Give students a journal prompt. ( What did/ will you do this weekend?)
  • Put a BIG word on the board. How many other words can the make using those letters?
  • Pull out a prefix card or two. How many words can they make using those prefixes?

Classroom Jobs and Scheduling

Having been in a classroom where the teacher never assigned students jobs I see the value in it even more now than before being in his room. Student jobs not only help the classroom run smoother because they help tasks get accomplished as a community but the jobs also take stress off of the teacher. Asking students to help with small tasks can help free up the few minutes in the day you need to help explain a challenging math problem to a student.

Having jobs in the classroom are not only beneficial to the teacher but the students. Students will learn responsibility by taking on small tasks weekly and rotating why gets each task. While being the paper passer or official lunch counter isn’t a huge task, students don’t usually want to let their classmates down.  After all, they want the spelling test back or their lunch accurately put in just as much as their peers.

Jobs are not the only part of making a schedule in the classroom. It’s important for students, especially those who struggle to read time, to know whats going on when. Having a schedule posted in the room of the daily routine can be useful to not only the students but the teacher. If you are running late to music and the clock looks like the picture someone is sure to remind you!

I love the idea of using calender’s to help students know what is going on later in the months as well. You can place little cards in the slots (that can be a classroom job) or simply print one out from Google to display with icons for major events/ holidays. If you print one it’s nice to get it done BIG! Then you can write notes for due dates to students in colors as reminders in the room.

Enjoy and Grow!

-Miss. Moriah-

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Classroom Arrangements

Arranging your family room can be a challenge, but a classroom even harder! With 23 bodies to match the furniture your moving about it’s not an easy task. Not knowing who is going to be chatty, need to be near a door, where the board will be, or the room size can make planning for a future room a bit stressful. I’ve seen rooms that have been converted closets, the room dictated the desk arrangement, or others were they were two classrooms in size! Big or small you have to arrange them all. Not knowing what my room or your room (my dear reader) may look like in the future its hard to say how I will set it up. So I went and decided to look at a bunch of arrangements I liked and post them here.

I wanted to leave space for movement in my classroom because I like to keep learners active in both the brain and body. In many of these arrangements you will notice space is purposely left in areas of the classroom for movement or desks are pre-clustered to allow partner or collaborative work. While I’m going to be a wonderful teacher, who is better to re-word directions or repeat a missed direction than a peer? I’ve included a few easy alternative seating ideas as well. As an adult learner it is hard to sit in a desk for a long stretch of time, as a child learner it’s even harder! Options are great, if you can learn on the floor, a pillow, or ball great! I’m happy if everyone is learning.

However I wouldn’t leave you handing with out a link out to help create a more traditional room too! Scholastic provides this nice virtiral classroom tool teacher can use FOR FREE to arrange a room. All you do is drag and drop your basic classroom layout (windows, doors, shape) and then place in the furniture. They have most of the basic classroom tables and desks there so it’s a nice jump point.

I hope that you find this assortment of seating ideas helpful to you!

Enjoy and Grow,

-Miss. Moriah-


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Movement for Success!

Teachers know that kids need movement in their day to stay focused. Sitting on the floor or at a desk for too long would make anyone wiggly and unfocused! Children, especially in earlier grades, need movement in their day to help the brain and body stay alert and energized. Even small change ups in how you as the students to move in the room can have an impact throughout the day. Check out this post for links and suggestions on how to get you classroom moving throughout the day.


Move to learn:

  • Teach students to edit each other sentences in a new fun way. The work walk where students take pens and edit 1-3 errors they see on each others papers while rotating in a clockwise motion. Students can be assigned to capitalization, punctuation, etc.

  • If editing item for practice on the bard get students moving even bigger! Ask students to stand up and use their bodies to help show the corrections as you read. (e.g. a capitalized letter is represented by raising both hands in the air in a tepee or an exclamation point is represented by jumping up and down in place. A period can be an index finder forward in personal space).


  • What about math?Demonstrates positive and negative integers by creating a human number line. Or go outside and create arrays within your class size.
  • I borrowed this from another teacher, thank you Mrs. R! A great math idea for younger or struggling students is asking them to show with their arms. Create a plus or plus / minus with arms if they think they need to add or subtract in the problem. If a student is really struggling they can peek at a neighbor. You will see but they won’t. You will also see the hesitation between signs if they are unsure which is good feed back for who needs a little extra.

Science moves too! Something I have used to help students learn about the ocean, jungle, or other similar spaces is enact the place and things that belong there. Students would start sitting in a big circle after they have a bit of knowledge on the topic (maybe day 2 of the lesson) and slowly build the place they are learning about with their bodies. Ex. Teacher begins telling the story and building the scene of an ocean. It’s a clam day beautiful blue sky/ (pick a place maybe)/ its stormy and dark/ etc. Select one or two students to be types of fish, waves, seaweed, turtles, etc. All students can be involved the quieter or less mobile students can be rocks or starfish. In the end, all students will be moving or part of the system. Ask them to look around , ask questions pertaining to what they created, send students back to tables/desks to write about the experience.

– Ameba Tag: Show students how germs spread or amebas break and form via tag. Use elbow tag for the amoeba tag base.

  • Play “Heads Up/Seven Up”/ 4 corners for a round at the end of the day or as a movement break.
  • Basket ball review for many different topics (google for examples)
  • Instead of a hand raise in a class count (like who needs passes to the library) have students stand or place a hand on the shoulder.
  • Touch your ear, lace your finders, find different ways for students to show responses and keep them engaged!

Links to More Ideas!

– Does your class have the wiggles? Need a quick bran break? Here is a list of energizers to get you refocused! Need more energizers than whats on this list? Some of these cross over but some are different. Click here for more ideas.

-Check out these two videos. Here and Here


– This free website has a ton of brain breaks! The catch is you need to log in. Watch the video on the home page for more info. Check out gonoodle.

Want a book of ideas to keep on hand? Susan Roser has a wonderful book of energizers. You can find her book on Amazon or other major book stores. Energizers! 88 Quick Movement Activities That Refresh and Refocus.

 Move ,Learn, and Enjoy!

-Miss. Moriah-