January Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch the video to see all the items that comes in this month's Teacher Care Crate, and read below for more details on each item!

Art Print: Designed by me, this 5" x 7" professionally printed art print is perfect for displaying on your desk or in the teacher's lounge. {Retail Value: $8}

Joy Journal: Record what makes you happy in this Joy Journal from Personal Pep Talk. {Retail Value: $5}

Bath Bomb: This Mystic Mermaid bath bomb from Fifi and Kiki's Bath Company will add some sparkly vibes to your bath. {Retail Value: $3}

Washi Tape: Use this gold glitter to decorate your planner or hang your art print. {Retail Value: $2}

Sleep Meditation: This month's crate includes a card from Yoga for You which links to a guided sleep meditation. 

Earrings: These faux druzy earrings from MG Designs will add some sparkle to your day! {Retail Value: $8}

Granola Bar: Stash your Chocolate Almond Sea Salt granola bar from Kashi in your desk for when you need a healthy snack. {Retail Value: $1}

Vapor Rub: This all natural vapor rub from Blue Oak Farm is wonderful for soothing congestion and smells great too! {Retail Value: $10}

Sleep Mask: Use your adorable sleep mask to get to sleep faster. {Retail Value: $9}

The January crate is all sold out, but head to teachercarecrate.com on January 25 at 8 pm EST to subscribe starting with the February crate! 

8 Organization Faves for the Classroom from Amazon

This post contains affiliate links.

We all know staying organized is key when it comes to keeping classroom clutter at bay. Check out some of my organization faves, all available on Amazon!

1. Small Parts Storage The little drawers are perfect for holding brag tags.

2. Sterilite Baskets I bought 12 of these baskets my first year of teaching and have used them for so many things! They're perfect for leveled readers or printed books, but I've also used them for centers bins.

3. Wall Organizer  Get your weekly copies or other paperwork off your desk and somewhere you can see them at a glance with a wall organizer.

4. Command Hooks My organization strategy is to hang anything that can be hung. Seriously, I have a huge pegboard in my home office! You can use command hooks for hall passes, flashcards, pocket charts, and more.

5. Teacher Toolbox A teacher toolbox is definitely a must-have! Clear off all the bits and bobs on your desk, from paper clips to band-aids, in a pretty toolbox.

6. Expanding File Organizer I use expanding organizers to hold my weekly phonics lessons. I prefer them to a binder because they can hold pocket chart cards and other small pieces without worrying about them slipping out. 

7. Rolling Cart These rolling carts are so useful! If you're short on shelves, you can use one as a sight word station. It also makes a great "command center" for storing class-wide items like tissue, hand sanitizer, and pencils.

8. Paper Organizer This is one of my all time favorite purchases! It's such a delight to see your Astrobrights all pretty and organized. 

Don't have Amazon Prime? You can try it out with a free 30-day trial here!

December Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch the video to see all the items that comes in this month's Teacher Care Crate, and read below for more details on each item!

Art Print: This month's 5 x 7 art print was designed by Jess Golz of Teacher Golz and Ink Chicago{Retail Value: $8}

Knitted Headband: Use this maroon headband to keep your ears warm all winter long! {Retail Value: $12}

Mint to Be Balm: Handcrafted by Me Time Botanicals, this balm is perfect for dry hands and feet. {Retail Value: $12}

TEACH ornament: Your handmade ornament from Cabin20 Creations can be displayed on a Christmas tree if you celebrate, or up in your classroom all year long! {Retail Value: $10}

Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm: This delicious smelling lip balm from Shade Tree Naturals is perfect for swiping on between classes. {Retail Value: $4.50}

Christmas to Color: This activity book includes holiday postcards, gift tags, and ornaments you can color as you relax over break. {Retail Value: $9.99}

The December crate is all sold out, but head to teachercarecrate.com on December 26 at 8 pm EST to subscribe starting with the January crate! 

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues as a Teacher

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

You get up and go to school and it's dark and freezing. When you leave school, it's also dark and freezing. Then you repeat, only seeing the sunlight on the weekends, and even then, it's still freezing. Sound familiar? If you find yourself suffering from the winter blues, try these tips:

1. Invest in warm clothes & outerwear. If you live somewhere freezing like me (Chicago!) go ahead and get the warmest of everything you can find. When I first moved here and bought $200 snow boots from L.L. Bean, it was the most expensive clothing purchase I had ever made. But this is my fifth winter wearing them every day, and L.L. Bean even fixed them for free for me when the back seam busted (I walked a mile plus to and from public transit every day). #worthit #notsponsored

2. Plan a trip or staycation. If it's in the budget, plan a quick trip somewhere warm over a long weekend. If it's not (and realistically for most teachers, it's not), try a "staycation" somewhere warm close by. My new favorite thing is to spend the day at the Korean spa. It's $35 for a day pass ($24 if you get your pass at the Asian grocery store next store, which obviously I do) and it's full of hot baths and saunas. No affordable spas near by? Try indoor botanical gardens or a conservatory. 

3. Exercise. Getting up and moving might be the last thing you feel like doing, but we all know it can energize you and boost your mood. If you hate the gym like me, try a yoga class or even a fitness video on YouTube. I find it especially effective to schedule that ish! I go to yoga twice a week on the same nights, which keeps me from having to re-motivate myself to go each time because it's already on the schedule.

4. Get a SAD lamp. While light therapy lamps are technically for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, they can help the rest of us soak up a little faux sunlight too. I would put mine on as I was getting ready in the morning and eating my breakfast before going to school.

5. Stay social. Chicago winters make me want to curl up in a blanket and leave my apartment never. BUT ultimately this isn't going to help your mood, though of course you should rest when you need to! Try organizing a staff happy hour or attending a weekly club or class.

While hopefully these tips will help you get out of a winter funk, if you find you are suffering from depression during the winter months, be sure to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing! 

November Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Watch my unboxing video above to see what comes in the November Teacher Care Crate, and read the descriptions below for more details.

Art Print Ashley of Teacher Dress Code wrote and designed this beautiful letter to teachers. {Retail Value: $8}

Coloring Book Thankfulness to Color by Zoe Ingram is a 96-page adult coloring book filled with beautiful illustrations and thoughtful quotes. {Retail Value: $15.99}

TEACH necklace This beautiful bar necklace is an elegant reminder that you're thankful to be a teacher. {Retail Value: $12}

Thankful Essential Oil Roller Blend This blend of bergamot, clove, orange, cinnamon, and coconut oils is perfect for rolling on to inspire gratitude. {Retail Value: $10}

Gingerbread Salt Scrub Handmade by Me Time Botanicals, this scrub exfoliates and softens your skin. {Retail Value: $12}

Magnets Designed by me, these two magnets can be used on your whiteboard at school or fridge at home. {Retail Value: $4}

Ginger Honey Chocolate Patty This delicious chocolate from Heavenly Organics is just the right amount of sweet. {Retail Value: $1}

The November Teacher Care Crate is sold out, but you can head to teachercarecrate.com on 11/25 at 8 PM EST to sign up for a subscription starting with the December Crate.

5 Ways to Differentiate in the Classroom

This post is brought to you by Study.com.

Whether you're a special education or general education teacher, differentiation has come to be expected in just about every classroom. According to Study.com, with differentiated instruction "teachers proactively create options to accommodate a diverse range of learners while keeping the whole class on track". Here a few ways I differentiate in an inclusion setting:

1. Small group instruction. While simply assisting struggling students isn't truly differentiation, building in leveled instruction for all students is. For example, when co-teaching in a general education math class, my co-teacher and I taught the mini-lesson to the whole class, and then provided leveled instruction to three different groups afterward. I differentiated for the below-level students by re-teaching the lesson and working on basic skills as needed. My co-teacher would work with the on-level students to address any misconceptions and provide additional guided practice. Above-level students would work on a leveled computer program. The next day, a different group would work on the computer program and the above-level group would have a chance to work on enrichment activities or more challenging problems. We adjusted these groups based on assessment.

2. Independent work. Sometimes differentiating independent work can be as simple as changing the length requirement. The standard requirement for a writing assignment might be one paragraph, but you can quietly let some students know that they will be writing three sentences and other students know that you will be expecting two paragraphs. At times, you may need to provide a different practice sheet or assignment altogether.

3. Visual cues. Providing visual cues is a great way to differentiate for students that are below-level or are simply visual learners. You can do this by making sure anchor charts are visible to them, or by providing personal references for those students, like an alphabet sound cue guide that provides a picture reminder of what sound each letter makes (apple/a, b/bat, etc.)

4. Different products of learning. For cumulative projects, allow students to choose how they display their knowledge. For example, if students are learning about life cycles in science, they could display their knowledge through an essay, a poster, a video, or a presentation. A student who struggles to write an essay may be more accurately able to display her knowledge through one of the other options. You can also do this using the "tic tac toe" method, where you provide a grid of options and students choose three they feel prepared to tackle.

5. Flexible environment. Students have different sensory and physical needs in addition to academic needs. Even if you aren't ready to go full on flexible seating, you can still provide a flexible environment that differentiates to student needs. For example, students who are uncomfortable sitting on the rug can be allowed to bring over a chair during a mini lesson. Wiggle seat cushions can work wonders for fidgety students.You can even provide a cool down corner for students who get overwhelmed.

If you're interested in learning more about differentiated instruction, Study.com has an entire course on this topic called Using Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom. And as a little giveaway to our readers, if you like their resources you can use the promo code StudyComTeacherDiffPromo to get 20% off the first three months of their teacher plan!

October Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Find out exactly what comes in the October Teacher Care Crate in my unboxing video, and read below for more details on each item.

Autumn Bucket List: Designed by Jillian Starr of the The Starr Spangled Planner, this 5 x 7 bucket list is full of ways to take care of yourself and enjoy the season. {Retail Value: $8}

Fall Stickers: These stickers are a collaboration with Amanda Newsome of A Perfect Blend. The stickers are perfect for your planner or journal. {Retail Value: $4}

Knotted Headband: This knotted headband from Shabby Flowers is perfect for wearing to school! {Retail Value: $10}

Teach Candle: Made especially for Teacher Care Crate by Guideless Candle Company, this mini candle smells like coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla-- pure fall! {Retail Value: $5}

Vegan Leather Earrings: Handmade by me, these vegan leather earrings are super light and made with stainless steel findings. {Retail Value: $15}

Pumpkin Spice Latte Bath Bomb: This bath bomb from Plainly Simply looks just like a tiny pumpkin spice latte! {Retail Value: $6}

Pumpkin Pie Tea: This loose leaf tea from The Country Muffin is perfect for fall. I've included three tea bags for you to use to brew your tea, or you can use a tea strainer. {Retail Value: $4}

The October Teacher Care Crate is sold out! You can head to teachercarecrate.com on 10/15 to subscribe starting with the November Crate.

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