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?”

day 2

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


Fidget Stones

pre-wedding.pngHow do you feel about fidget spinners?

In my opinion, the idea behind them is just what some students need. When they became popular I sat with my students and talked to them about why someone would need a fidget spinner (it’s not just a toy). I used myself as an example, as I always do with this subject, I constantly play with my ID badge or my necklace (my one friend from last year always liked to point this out). I can still teach and read stories even though I am fidgeting. I wanted my students to understand some people NEED to fidget and for others fidgeting is distracting. Let me clarify, I am NOT saying the student who is using a fidget distracts others instead, I’m saying the student themselves are distracted when they have a fidget. This also helped my students to understand fidgets are not toys.

They need to decide which is true for themselves.

1. I can fidget with something and still use active listening. I remember what was taught and didn’t spend any extra time completing my work.

2. When I fidgeted with something I sometimes missed what the teacher was saying or it took me longer to complete my work. 

It’s amazing to see that my 2nd graders as a class decided the only time to use Fidget Spinners was during recess and dismissal time. They recognized that they were more of a distraction. Now, I still had my friends that really could use a fidget. Yes, I like the concept of a fidget spinner. What I really mean is I like fidgets. I think the conversation from above is an important one to have with students. I understand that some students benefit from them. There are plenty of fidgets that are not distracting to others and more cost effective.

Let’s explore a quiet and possibly free option for students!

IMG_3490.JPGFidget Stones

As a kid living on the lake I always played with stones. You know those smooth ones?

I always had one that I would put in my hand and rub with my thumb. I can still find one that I had from high school.

These fidgets can be free if you go find some stones or relatively cheap. Bonus, rock painting has also become very popular. You can find a bag of stones from Wal-Mart or a local craft store. Here is a cheap set from my Amazon affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2eTD7Q7

I know it sounds crazy to bring stones into your classroom! Of course you need to set rules. We don’t want flying stones! I created a Fidget Stone, I Can Statement Poster just for this. You can grab it for FREE HERE

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Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 10.39.13 AM.pngMake sure to show the students what you want from each statement. Focus on the positive and how to use it not what not to do. Let them find a rock or pick from the stones you bought or collected. This will be their fidget stone. They need to responsibly choose from the 2 options above and follow expectations. Of course, as always this is a privilege and misuse can equal in it being taken away.

Get your copy of the I can poster plus a version with teacher notes all FREE.

I hope that you can find a fidget that fits your classroom. Feel free to share in the comments!


Ways to Hide The Clutter


You could call me a type B teacher! I was told for years that my classroom is too messy & I need to get organized. My organization is my piles! While they don’t look pretty each pile has a purpose. I have truly tried to be crazy organized and put everything away in a file folder and then into a filing cabinet or hanging bin. This just isn’t me and that’s okay.

I also have items from 5th grade math, 5th grade social studies, 5th grade writing, 5 years of Kindergarten, and 2nd grade. I am only going in my 11th year of teaching, so I have many more years of teaching ahead of me. How do I get rid of all of this stuff? I have put a lot of time into these resources.

These are some tips that I have learned over the years. I’ve transformed my piles into Pinterest worthy classroom. (Just wait for the reveal during the back to school season.)

1. Save only resources that were bought or put together. Don’t save all of those worksheets! What? Why? How? From now on make sure any resource you download you are putting on a jump drive or on the cloud. (This is one place I am organized) No need to save a paper copy.

  • What about those worksheets that aren’t digital? Scan them, it’s even easier if you have one that feeds the papers. Many school printers also have feeding scanners (where you put a pile of papers on top). Most of these have the capability to e-mail everything right to you. Using yours at home? It can send it to your computer. Simply take your on topic pile (or folder) and scan everything from that lesson & it will keep everything together. If that’s too much simply keep 1 copy. Send the rest with the students (they love extras).


Handmade Fabric Garland Banner Ribbon Garland Tassel Garland in Gold Pink White – 30 PCS

2. Top stock. I learned this from working in retail. This is that place up high that you keep all the materials you are not currently using. I’ve seen people try to make their boxes look pretty by wrapping them, but I don’t have the patience. Instead, I use a fabric fringe garland.


3. Use Curtains. My mom custom made mine! You can use window curtains or valances. Here I used a tension rod to hold them up. Behind these are my piles! I keep the up and coming worksheets & resources here. I may have the shelf labeled or a flat bin.

Needs Filed Bin. Sometimes, we just get too busy make sure to have a drawer or bin for your pile of things that need to be organized. This reduces the clutter on your desk.

Round Spring Tension Cafe Rod

My tall shelf has drawers labeled with each day of the week. I also have an extras bin this way if there is any spare time I know right where to go. This is also great to grab when you have a sub. I  make sure I have a section in my sub cheat sheet to tell them where it is.

It’s okay to have piles as an organizational tool. Take these easy steps to look as organized as the next person while giving your room a homey feel.


Chapter 2 & A Freebie

Chapter 2 is a shorter chapter it talks about their core beliefs. They have 7 main beliefs and they talk about 6 of them in this chapter. I’ve also created headers for each of the Daily 5 Tasks that you can find at the bottom as a FREEBIE!

  1. Trust & Respectdaily5snapcover
  2. Community
  3. Choice
  4. Accountability
  5. Brain Research
  6. Transitions as Brain & Body Breaks
  7. 10 Steps to Independence

I will give you a main list for each of the topics.

Trust & Respect

  • Trust the students this can be built with the 10 steps to independence and practice.
  • This is a gradual process.
  • Pull unfocused students to “check-in” have them tell you what they are going to do. This may need to be done throughout.


  • Create rules and procedures together as a class.mojo-hi
    • I plan on doing this by having the students pick what our green points should be on Class Dojo.
  • Try to have students be part of the planning process whenever possible.
  • Whole group work is the perfect place to set the stage.
  • Students are taught to be aware of and understanding no matter what level they are at.


  • Research shows that students learn and perform better when they select an activity.
  • A LARGE focus for the Daily 5.
  • Students have a choice of which station to go to first.
  • Students can sit anywhere in the room.
  • This is all done with instruction and practice.


  • This does not mean worksheets & tests.
  • Have students be accountable for their actions.
    • For example, they are accountable for their voice levels once it has been practiced enough.
    • They can be held accountable for where they choice to sit.

Brain Research

This is personally one of my favorite topics!

  • Research shows that students can attend for however old they are.
    • For example, an 8-year-old can attend for 8 minutes.
  • After that window the ability to retain in decreased. (Are you just wasting time at that point?)
  • Use the 20/80 rule 20% direct instruction 80% practice.

Transitions as Brain & Body Breaks

  • Break up lessons with Brain Breaks.
    • Have you found GoNoodle yet? GN_10783246_GoNoodle Stickers_V2.inddThis is a must have in the classroom!
  • Teach what is expected so that you are not wasting time.
    • I would do a video and then students were held accountable to show me our “rug rules” as soon as the video was done!



I have been searching through TPT to find posters for the Daily 5 and noticed that they are all a full-page long. I don’t know about you but space is something I don’t have a ton of! I want my students to be able to move their name into which station they are working on. Of course, it also goes with my Lake/Nautical theme! I fell in love with them! I hope you enjoy as they are a *FREEBIE*. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

daily5snapread  daily5snapmath

Roll with the Waves…