Back to School Season – First Day Photo Prop

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials, witnessed the large bins of pencils, glue, and notebooks appearing in the stores, and have begun to notice the slow reappearance of school buses making their rounds. It’s back to school season.
My first day of school with students is next Monday and I couldn’t be more excited! In order to prepare for the first day, I’ve been doing a few arts and crafts of my own at home. Here is one that I thought you would enjoy!

First Day of School Photo Prop


I created this prop as a gift idea for parents so that they may see how their child has grown throughout their kindergarten year. At the end of the year I will create a “Last Day of K” sign. If you have any other ideas about potential uses, please feel free to share!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 large wooden letter (or number) to reflect your grade level (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)
  • paint (I used acrylic – it looks much brighter and bluer in person)
  • 2 foam paint brushes (1 large and 1 small)
  • adhesive foam letters and numbers (again, Hobby Lobby) – if you can’t find adhesive foam letters and numbers don’t worry about it! Just use tacky glue or a hot glue gun to adhere your message onto the letter.

What to do:

  1. Using a large foam paint brush, evenly spread the paint over the surface of the wooden letter. Use the small foam brush to paint the edges and corners.
  2. Let the first layer of paint dry and then apply a second coat.
  3. Once both layers of paint have dried, lay out the foam letters until you are satisfied with your design.
  4. Carefully peel the paper backing off of the foam letters and press, adhesive side down, onto your painted letter.
  5. Voila! You now have a beautiful photo prop for your first day of school.
  6. This craft can be used in many other ways as well! Take a look below for some other designs I created based off of this project.

2014 Photo Prop Kinder Photo Prop Name Photo Prop Diagonal Name Photo Prop Vertical

Quick, easy, and adorable in the hands of a 5 year old.


When in Springfield… Eat a Horseshoe!

I am running rampant in pure teacher mode here in Springfield this weekend for the Illinois Reading Council Conference! I said farewell  to my students on Wednesday afternoon and booked it 4 hours south to dive head first into a weekend full of literacy! I told my husband via text after checking in at the registration booth, “I’ve got the nerd shakes!!!” Not only does this conference allow me a brief respite from my class but it has also dramatically improved my typing abilities on baby iPad! Just kidding – what I meant to say was, this conference reenergizes and re-focuses my teaching in a way that nothing else can. I feel inspired to try new things, to put myself in the shoes of my students and become a learner again, and be a better teacher! In the past two days I have gained so much new information and so many new ideas that I am practically bursting with excitement. There is really no other way to describe it. It’s been awhile since I have had such a positive outlook on Monday, but I cannot wait to get back into the classroom with my students and try this stuff out! I will definitely be writing future posts on how I’m putting my new knowledge of the Common Core, essential questions, close reading, and inquiry based instruction to use in my classroom! Those poor first graders aren’t going to know what hit them come Monday morning.

The sessions end each day at 4:00. From 4:00 to about 9:00 (my bedtime) the downtown area of Springfield is my oyster! Now this is my third time attending the IRC Conference and each time I come down here, I say I am going to find and eat a horseshoe. Horseshoes are the gems of this great state’s capital. A horseshoe is a sandwich. The base is usually a piece or two of Texas Toast, layered with a hamburger patty (or basically any other type of meat your heart desires), topped with fries, and coated with a thick, dreamy cheese sauce. After my last session today, I decided to track one of these delicacies down. I found it at a local restaurant called the Brickhouse Grill and Pub and decided to order my horseshoe with a burger patty and bacon – solid choices if I do say so myself. Go ahead and take a look below.


And the aftermath…


Cross that off my bucket list!

I have to say this sandwich lived up to most of my expectations…and also that I proceeded to power through the fat burn setting on the elliptical in the hotel later that night. Worth it.

Successful Saturday!

It’s been awhile since I’ve actually had a Saturday that allowed me to be restful and productive at the same time. After a seemingly endless week of school, I really needed a day like this. It all started with a fried egg sandwich. I’m pretty much a genius at creating this beautiful breakfast meal. It then turned into a 10am nap (if you haven’t tried a morning nap lately I highly suggest it) which gave me the energy to do some school work and bake some amazing soft pretzels (check out the recipe here). Not to mention my amazing husband brought home the best chicken tacos for lunch from a little Mexican restaurant called Sammy’s near our house.

Back to business. The reason for this post is to introduce my fellow teachers out there to an idea I came up with yesterday! I am beginning a new intervention with 3 of my students to practice word families. I found several resources using the Florida Center for Reading Research website that focused on onsets and rimes. Now I had all of the tools to build an intervention off of, but was thinking of a way to keep it all organized and easily accessible. This is what I came up with! I used large, letter-sized yellow envelopes to store each separate activity in. On the front of each envelope I taped the directions so that I would easily be able to see what was inside and what other resources I would need to complete the activity. Most envelopes have all that you need inside, but there are a few activities that include the use of dry erase boards or plastic letters, which I will have stored elsewhere. I also made sure to keep all of my master copies inside of the envelopes so that I will have them to make more copies in the future. My intervention will take place every morning and I will use one activity per week. I posted some pictures below so that you can see how I organized these activities. I am really excited to see how this goes and will be sure to keep you posted!

*If you are in need of research based interventions for your class, you really should check out the Florida Center for Reading Research website. They have an abundance of great activities and ideas that are printable and easy to use!

I’ve got the nerd shakes!!! Here are a few of the completed envelopes. Check out below for a more detailed look on how I put them together!

Pasted the directions to the front, cut out the onset and rime sliders, copied extra student work papers, and inserted it all into the envelope.

Pasted the directions to the front, cut out the onset and rime sliders (which I copied on card stock for more durability), copied extra student work papers, and inserted it all into the envelope.

Pasted the directions to the front of the envelope, cut out the onset and rime cards (again, printed on card stock), placed them into labeled paper bags, copied extra student work pages, and placed everything inside the envelope.

Pasted the directions to the front of the envelope, cut out the onset and rime cards (again, printed on card stock), placed them into labeled paper bags, copied extra student work pages, and placed everything inside the envelope.