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The Choice of Engagement


I've tried multiple ways to run stations and centers in my primary grade classrooms the past ten years. Depending on the dynamics of your classroom some strategies and organization of stations work and others do not. I have found that I keep changing the way I manage stations due to the fact that they never seems to run just perfectly. I clearly understand that when teaching 7 years olds, stations may not ever run smoothly. Expecting young minds to work independently on task can be challenging for teachers and can cause stress when trying to decide how to manage small group instruction and what the other students will be doing at the same time. I'm here to share a way that you can get your kids to work independently and stay engaged. 

This year I decided to rethink my station management (again). I believe that when you teach firm procedures and expectations your students CAN work independently on any tasks. The key is to keep the students engaged at all times. Students should have something to do at every moment. More than just reading a book quietly or drawing a picture. Student engagement will pay off in the long run and you will be able to put your entire focus on your small group instruction, which is most important.

Choice Boards are perfect for station and center time. These choice boards build student engagement, differentiated instruction and have minimal teacher prep.


Choice Boards are perfect for station and center time. These choice boards build student engagement, differentiated instruction and have minimal teacher prep.

Children love choices. They want to feel like they are in charge of their own decisions. I use Choice Boards in my classroom during small group time because these Choice Boards are allowing students to choose between literacy activities that hit all the fundamentals of reading (phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension). Each day the students choose 3 activities from the list of 5. These activities are done on lined writing paper or scratch paper. Yes, I know it saves on copies and prep (another reason I created these boards). Once they finish their required 3 choice activities they can move onto a Choice Challenge. Choice Challenges are engaging early finishers that aren't just busy work. In my classroom I have organized an area where students can find supplies for their Choice Board activities and Choice Challenges.  It's an area where they will not distract my small group lesson or the students working independently on tasks at their seat. 

Choice Boards are perfect for station and center time. These choice boards build student engagement, differentiated instruction and have minimal teacher prep.

The Choice Board foldable is great for organization and tracking student completion. Students score themselves at the end of the week on how they did on Choice Time activities. Teacher then also has a check list of work quality and behavior during Choice Time. And guess what is the best part of the Choice Boards? These Choice Boards are completely EDITABLE for any teacher and grade level use. You can decide what activities you want your students to complete. The Choice Board pack is available in my TPT store and includes the editable boards and lists of great ideas for activities for students to complete during choice time. 

Choice Boards are perfect for station and center time. These choice boards build student engagement, differentiated instruction and have minimal teacher prep.

Grab this great resource to build student engagement and independence in your classroom today! Click the product image below to visit my TPT store.

Choice Boards are perfect for station and center time. These choice boards build student engagement, differentiated instruction and have minimal teacher prep.

Below you will find many examples of activities and products you could use for Choice Challenges (early finishers). Obviously you can still give your students the choice of silent reading. Some kids want that and I never want to take that quiet and important time away. 















Online Teacher Wish List


Oriental Trading's Online Wish List is a great way to let parents know the resources and supplies your classroom needs all year long. As needs change during the year this great online tool can be updated for holidays, special classroom projects and other needs. Parents can stay informed by just a few easy clicks! Creating your online wish list is effortless and sharing it out to parents is even easier. Give Oriental Trading's Online Teacher Wish List a try this year and say goodbye to paper lists or constant emails asking for supplies. 

Follow my easy steps below to build your wish list today and don't forget to grab a few more back to school items from Oriental Trading to make this school year the best one yet!



Special thanks to Oriental Trading for donating amazing back to school items that will included in a giveaway in the next few weeks on Instagram. 


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Learning Zone - Classroom Reveal 2016-2017


Each year it's my hope to bring to life an amazing learning environment for my students. Whether I change classroom themes or switch things around, it's important that I try something new for each group I teach. This teacher simply can't do the same things over and over again.


Three years ago my husband discovered a new hobby. This hobby has become a part of our lives and I'm blessed that Jon has found a love and a talent that he can share with family and friends. Jon has fell in love with tools, wood and making beautiful furniture. Our home is full of furniture pieces that have a story behind them because of his plans and design process.

After months of thinking about a new classroom theme I decided to merge the classroom and my home! I wanted to create a fun environment that fit what I do every day in my classroom but be a peaceful and bright place for my students to learn. 2nd graders love building with legos, I love planning STEM challenges where they become engineers, my husband loves shopping at Home Depot and being a builder himself. As a class we are ultimately building a classroom community each and every day. Because of these things, I came up with my theme for the 2016-2017 school year. WE ARE BUILDERS! We are building the road to success in our 2nd grade classroom. I hope you enjoy my classroom theme as much as I do. My students are eager to begin our adventure on Monday and can't wait to put their minds under construction!

Come on in! Welcome to our learning zone!
Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

These street sign posters are perfect for growth mindset in the classroom. The posters are easy to print and beautiful for any classroom bulletin board.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.

Create an inviting classroom environment with this construction theme decor. Theme decor includes printables, posters, bulletin board displays, calendar, schedule cards, labels and much more.


Do you want to create a LEARNING ZONE classroom too? Visit my TPT Store using the link below to check out my construction theme products!









Classroom Decor and Much More


Classroom decor is much more than just beautiful bulletin boards we put on the four walls that surround our classroom. Classroom decor can create an inviting atmosphere that can be a foundation of a welcoming environment. Paired with a loving, dedicated teacher and useful educational resources, all can produce the perfect classroom that we all desire every year.

Creating a welcoming environment for your students is essential. It's the first thing they will see when they walk in that door the first day. The design and layout of your classroom will ensure a fun and creative year ahead. Parents will notice your dedication through time spent on creating such a positive and creative classroom.

10 years of teaching in 5 different schools and 3 different states means that I have done my fair share of moving and setting up classrooms. In my 10 years I have done 7 different classroom themes including circus, camping, jungle, beach, cowboy, monsters and construction. Each theme was done differently and has gotten better each time. Teachers ask me often why I change my theme every few years? My answer is always, "I love changing and growing in my classroom." Each year I get a new group of students and it's my promise as their teacher to deliver the best education for their little minds. This allows me to try new things and grow as a teacher each and every year. Changing my classroom around and switching decor is one of the things I can change every few years to make my teaching ever changing.

I have come up with five easy steps for creating a welcoming environment that you can use this upcoming year in your classroom.



Choosing a color or theme is the first step in transitioning your classroom into a creative learning environment. Make a list of your favorite colors and themes. Think about what would look great in your classroom space. Do your have a classroom that is dark without windows? You might want to brighten your classroom with colors that will open up the space. Think about what colors compliment each other and then choose your favorite. Don't forget to include your students age when deciding on a theme or colors. If you teach upper elementary you will want to make sure you don't have a theme that is too primary for your students. 

Trends will come and go but remember you don't have to have a classroom theme forever. Choose what you love now and know that in a few years you can change it and make it better!





Classroom decor can become quite costly but I'm here to tell you that you can decorate and create an amazing learning environment with a reasonable budget. A little goes a long ways! Use what you have. Visit your local consignment stores or even a local garage sale! You will be amazed at what you can find for a fraction of the cost of buying from some of the educational stores.

If you do purchase from educational stores, don't forget to shop during their back to school sales. Mention you are a teacher and get your discount from Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Joann's. My motto is NEVER buy anything that is full price! 


Once you have decided on a theme or color scheme for your classroom its time to brainstorm and make a list of all the things you want to include. This list is messy and doesn't have to be perfect. The very first thing I do is start listing everything that comes to mind when I think of that theme. For example, when I was brainstorming for my new construction theme, I listed street signs, tools, hard hats, caution tape, etc. My list included over 50 things that I wanted to incorporate into my classroom some how. These things will help you come up with bulletin boards, decorations and great sayings for your classroom. On this list also include bulletin board sayings. For my construction sayings I included, "Caution- Hard Hats Required" and "Minds Under Construction" and many more. Write these down! They will become sayings you can use everywhere!




This step sounds silly but it really is essential. I draw a map of my classroom and then start marking where each bulletin board is located. This allows me to see the whole picture and then start placing borders and sayings for each board. It's important when laying out your decor that you don't put butcher paper or fabric that look terrible together. This also includes borders as well. I've tried to keep the same color paper or fabric on all boards in my classroom to make the boards match and look great together. My monster theme classroom had black backgrounds but different color borders that were all coordinating.





My final piece of advice for redesigning your classroom this year is to recruit those family members and friends to help you! Anyone can put up butcher paper! You will need all the help you can get this year when you are decorating! Even the smallest of helpers can do things for you as you prepare for back to school! Order some pizza and get everyone working hard to make your classroom the most creative learning environment ever!

Don't be afraid of making a creative and beautiful learning space for your students. You deserve a bright and cheerful place to go to work each day and the students will learn better with an organized and creative environment to learn and grow in this year!