Tips for a Smooth Back to School Digital Style

Weather you are headed back to the classroom or starting digital with distance learning you most likely have come to realize technology in the classroom is a must! Let me share a few tips with you about how to introduce technology to your students. I’ve started my first week of school teaching these lessons for the past 11 years . From kinder to second and even when I taught 5th grade. Yes, they may have already been using technology, but you’d be surprised at what they don’t know.

Introduce them to the parts and main features of the device. This may seem silly since everyone went digital last year and the kids did okay. The idea here is for the students to understand the terminology and uses of each part.

Here are a few ideas:

  • How to properly shut down the device
  • Searching the computer for files or applications
  • The desktop (Can they change the background? You’ll want to address this before they figure it out.)
  • How to save and where to save to
  • Where/what is the main hub? (Google Classrooms, Canvas, Schoology, etc.)

Grab a FREE copy of these posters HERE

3 different versions depending on your device

Teach them how to handle the device. Students often don’t show respect to their tech because they are used to having it, or maybe getting the latest and greatest. We need whatever device they are using to last, be that at home or in the classroom. Practice handling the device before letting them use it if you’re in the classroom. I like to practice how to get it from the cart, how to place it on the desk, how to open it with 2 hands, and how to put it away. Grab your FREE copy HERE.

Teach them the basics of the internet. While most students do understand the VERY basics of the internet, they don’t know the terminology or helpful ticks. For example, the back button, how to make a new tab, what’s the difference between the toolbar and Google Search, how to snap windows, etc. With iPads I also show them how to force close the apps at the end of the day. This helps the iPad run smoother. I typically teach this day 1 or 2 of back to school. I give the lesson with no tech in front of them, then give specific tasks for them to practice with me.

Teach them about digital citizenship. Get into the basics of being respectful and caring on-line. We want students to be able to collaborate, but they are also used to social media. Make sure they understand that the same rules apply when we are physically in the classroom and when on-line. We can get into cyber bullying after we’ve set the foundations.

Using your tech for digital worksheets or apps is only a small part of what these devices can do. If you set up using them correctly it’ll give your students a better understanding of how to use them as a tool. You can grab my digital back to school mystery puzzles to use as a great introduction lesson for some of the basics of Google.

If you are looking for some digital second grade math resources make sure to follow and check out my store.

Why You Should be Teaching Character Education.

Ever complain about how your students don’t know how to interact? That they have no respect? That they don’t know how to communicate face to face? That they don’t know how to deal with their emotions?

Instead of complaining I say let’s teach them. Yes, it’s true data shows our students are loosing communication and emotional skills. The digital world opens up so many things, but like all good things you can have too much.

So, how do we as educators make a difference? How do we find time to teach them how to deal with their emotions when we barely have time to teach them the core?

That’s a great question, my belief is that we should be doing mini-lessons everyday for about 10-15 minutes. I like to incorporate writing and reading standards into my lessons. This way we are double dipping so to say. Here are some core character traits.

Some of these are commonly taught at the start of the year. We set up our classroom rules based on many of these principles. I think as educators we now need to be teaching our students how to use these principles outside of the classroom. You’ll also find as you teach and reinforce these concepts learning other subjects become easier.

We need to teach students how to identify their emotions and more importantly what to do with them. What should we do when we feel anger or sadness? How do we share our happiness? What do we do when we are frustrated?

I’ll be sharing some of those answers over time, and how I teach some of these concepts. Make sure to follow the blog so you don’t miss a lesson. If you’re interested in giving character education a try you can check out my growing bundle of activities for elementary students HERE.

What if Everyone Did That?

We were teaching our character education lesson for the day and read the story, “What if Everyone did that?” by Ellen Javernick. Afterwards, we made a list of why we shouldn’t do each of the scenarios. The only reason they could up with was that they would get in trouble. 


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This made me dive deeper into the question at hand. The first thought that came to mind was, “What about those students who don’t care if they get in trouble?” The second thought was, “What about once they realize they don’t always get caught?”

This is where I went on a bit of a tangent, that became an experiment. What rule could I tell them that they didn’t have to follow for the day? My answer, putting their things away. It wouldn’t ruin anything or hurt anyone and it had a dramatic result, just what I needed.



The instructions for the day was, “You do not have to put your things away today.”

Here is a list of some of what I did:

  • I cleaned off my desk by throwing anything that needed to be put away on the ground. When the students asked me what I was doing I replied, “If you can do it why can’t I?”
  • The students went crazy with the cut & paste page for the day. They cut it up into little pieces sprinkling it around the floor. (This was one of those moments where I held my tongue.)
  • Every lesson we did we put nothing away, because of this they had extra time to work and they loved this.
  • As the floor got dirtier I would prompt with some of the following, “Be careful where you walk.” “Do you think it is safe to step on that?” “Would you want someone stepping on your work?”
  • Once it got really bad they started to blame it on me because, “I told them to do it,” when adults asked what was going on. We stopped and had a conversation about how I said you didn’t HAVE to, I didn’t make anyone, and that we chose not to. That WE made the mess. (Another great sub lesson, you can’t blame it on others.)day 1.png

At the end of day 1 we filled out our writing prompt, my classroom at the end of the day. Students wrote about how they felt and what we were doing. Now that we are all clean we are going to do another writing prompt, talking about how we felt walking in this morning. Then next week we will bring up the prompt, “What if everyone did that?” and have them visual another rule and what would happen.

You can get the  writing prompts hereWriting Prompts

This comment is what triggered day 2! “It’s fine it will get cleaned up.” When I asked who would clean it my friend gave me a look like I don’t know. Hence, we also learned there is no magical cleaning fairy (sub lesson #2).

As the days went on students found it was hard to find what they wanted, it was harder to follow our other classroom rules, it started to smell stale, and we got a lot of adults stopping by and asking what was going on. Classrooms coming to walk through so they could discuss what was going on. I would simply reply, “What if everyone did that?”

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By the end of the second day we had all the bean bags conveniently placed where we sat on the carpet. They knew what they were doing when they left them there. While we made our pros and cons list I was sure to really enforce our rug rules, which in turn cut back of the students loving it. I only had 2 friends say they liked it messy better. Although, they gave plenty for the cons side of the list. We ended up with 10 cons and 2 pros.

Then students were instructed to clean and put everything back where it was. This morning there are a lot of comments on how it feels so much better with it clean.







Celebrating St.Patrick’s Day In the Classroom Without the Mess

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I absolutely love St. Patrick’s day! I am Irish and Scottish, I have my family tartan, I honeymooned in Ireland, my husband, Patrick, was born the day before, and one of my favorite colors is green. I like celebrating who you are and having a bit of fun. It’s the time of year around here where we have been cooped up for far too long. You need a little mischief every now and then.

I have done the leprechaun visit for many years, and had tons of fun messing up the room and watching my students react.

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Some years though this added chaos is a terrible idea. I didn’t want to let go of all the fun, but I knew I needed a better solution. A couple of years ago I had just gotten new carpeting. There was no way I could add my glitter trail or risk making a mess. This year I have students that really need that structure and have a hard time without it. Although, they need and deserve to still have some fun on a special day.

This is where I came up with my “Anti-Leprechaun” Spray. I tell my students I order it from a special website. I just pull up this page and let them take a quick glance at the picture below.

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While that is a fake promotion you can create it yourself!

  1. Find an old spray bottle or you could buy a cheap one from a dollar store.
  2. Add this FREE label!
  3. Fill it up most of the way with water.
  4. Add green food coloring.
  5. Add glitter.
  6. Shake!

*DO NOT actually spray this around your room!* The food coloring will die your things. I tell the students that I have to spray it once they leave because it only lasts so long. If you really wanted to spray it you could use only green and gold sparkles and some water.

I pour some of it out making it look like I used it for the next day. Then I leave it on my desk so they can see I used it. The classroom is now safe from the chaos!

Still want to have some fun though? Make the leprechaun appear to have stopped right outside your door. I used these little gold pots I found from Party City and filled them with coins and stickers. I hung them from the ceiling or you could leave them at your door. Then I hung the sign that says, “You didn’t spray out here!” You can get this sign for free HERE! This year I will take it a step further and add little green “footprints” with washable green paint.

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There you have it, fun without destroying your room!

Lori Buren from Kinder Lake

100th Product Giveaway

After 3 years and 3 different grade levels I am so excited to share with you my 100th resource! If you think about it it is perfect timing, with the 100th day of school soon approaching! It’s been a long journey for me and I thought it’d be fun to celebrate!

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My 100th product is a set of task cards that I created for my first grade classroom. I love task cards because they have so many uses and most of those ways get the students up and moving!

This set specifically focuses on the magic e pattern. I think the silent e or bossy e pattern is one of the toughest. Up until this point in our phonics program they have only needed to look at neighboring letters. They now have to be able to stop, look at the letters, and keep looking. Needless to say we needed some extra practice!

This is how my 100th product came to life!

You can pick up these task cards HERE and they are at a special sale price while the giveaway is running!

Now it’s time for the fun part! I have joined with some amazing teachers to giveaway a $50 TPT gift card! To enter all you have to do is go through the Rafflecopter below and follow each store! Comment with your follower number and you can earn up to 10 entries! Click on the picture below! -OR-  CLICK HERE TO ENTER100th giveaway logos.001