Do you use Photo Props in your class?

I'm a fan of makeshift photo booths for any occasion!  I like to think that a a costume or photo props liven any party!  Everyone rolls their eyes when they see the props but once they're in front of the camera, they have a me!

Using the Photo Booth app on your Mac is THE funniest thing, especially with your girlfriends!  If you try it in your class, use the alien setting, it makes for awesome and creative stories!

As fun as costumes can be, I'm pretty sure my Admin. wouldn't be a huge fun so I've resorted to fun props and signs for special occasions.  They make for lots of giggles, great parent gifts, and serve as wonderful inspiration for writing.
This little freebie was a hit this year.  I left it outside of my classroom door on the first day of school and parents took photos of their kiddos while holding up the sign. 

I taught a combo last year, so I made these number signs as props. I also bought several colorful pairs of sunglasses from Target's Dollar Spot and took this same photo with my students.  I used the photo for our class writing wall.

This year, I'm teaching a straight second so only one number was needed.  Can I get an amen?!?!
Target has great thematic photo prop kits for all of the holidays.  This Christmas one was a huge hit at our class holiday party.  I had an awesome parent who set up a backdrop and took photos of the class.  I had leftover props from my annual ugly sweater party!
On the 100th day of school, we had fun using our Christmas props and the Aging App to inspire our 100th day writing.
Target also had fun St. Patty's Day props which were used to inspire our leprechaun writing inspired by Erica Bohrer.
Target does it again with cute bunny ears and more for Easter.  We used these photos for an easy peasy parent gift {framed photo with popsicle sticks}.
So...let's have some fun with Halloween!  I snagged some Halloween headbands from the Dollar Spot at Target and we went crazy!  Even the boys took part in wearing the headbands!
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You can grab a selection of October-themed {Melonheadz }signs for free!  Tag me in your photos, I'd love to see them!
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What do you do with those School Teacher Photos you get every year?

I was so excited to get a free packet of school photos during my 1st year of teaching.  Like I did when I was 10, I sent them to all of my relatives.  But then, the 2nd year came around.  Did my family really need another photo of my in a dorky teacher pose?  Probably not, but was I going to send them out anyways, HECK YES!
By the third year, the charm was wearing off.  Why wasn't grandma changing out my photos anymore?  Ok people, I can take a hint!  As a teacher, we find a purpose for just about everything.  I looked at my drawer of photos and was beside myself.  A collage of my teaching photos makes no, it's pretty vain. Rather than making a collage of ME, I decided I'd add them to our class Treasure Box.  Vain...sounds like it, but I promise there was a method to this craziness.  When I told the kids about it, they were thrilled.  I didn't think it was a big deal, but it WAS!
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I thought it was silly, my colleagues thought I was absolutely ridiculous.  But I promise you, they were the first prizes to go.  Looking back, I adored my teachers and would have done anything to have a picture of them or my class to share with my friends and family, so it made sense.  I received an e-mail from a mom a few years after implementing this little tradition of mine.  Her family moved back to Mexico and she wanted to let me know that her daughter still has the picture of me hanging in her bedroom.  That truly touched my heart and I realized that this "vain" idea meant a lot to all of my special friends in my class.  I'll endure the friendly laughter from my teacher friends as long as my kids are happy!
In case you were wondering, I went with the 3rd pose for the yearbook!

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I'm part of a Collaborative Blog: The Primary Pack {Plus a Blog Hop}

I am so excited and blessed to have the opportunity to work behind the scenes with the fabulous bloggers of The Primary Pack!  We are collaborating to bring you a rainbow of ideas!  Make sure you follow along to grab a bunch of colorful freebies, as well as enter our giveaway with $300 worth of prizes!
Hi! I'm Kristen blogging from Easy Teaching Tools.  I just started my 9th year teaching primary kiddos.  I've taught full-day Kinder, 1st grade, a 1/2 combo, and now 2nd grade.  I taught on the south shore of O'ahu and in Southern California.  I'm also a Reading Specialist and have a passion for analyzing data and coming up with a game plan.  People think it's nuts, but I love it!

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When I'm not teaching, I love getting together with my bloggy friends.  It's amazing how much fun we have and I'm thankful that I've got a great group of girls all over!
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Do you recognize some of these ROCK STARS {Ramona Recommends, Teacher to the Core, A Teachable Teacher, and more}???
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The Las Vegas TpT meet up that I hosted with Courtney from Ramona Recommends.  Do you spy The Brown Bag Teacher and A Modern Teacher?

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A fun day in Old Town San Diego with Molly from Lessons with Laughter, Vicky from Traditions, Laughter, and Happily Ever After, Jen from Sparkling in 2nd, Peggy from Primary Flourish, Kellie from Learning with Mrs. Little, and Sandy from Soaring into Second.

As for everything else non-teaching related, I love sleeping in, catching up on horrible reality shows, and traveling the world.  I've been to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Maldives, Australia, Tahiti, Thailand, Cabo, the Bahamas and a few others!
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I'm also a firm-believer that jumping photos are the BEST kind!

Doesn't everyone bring a moving van to their classroom?

My students from last year agree!

I have always loved teaching but I really loved creating things for my classroom.  This was before I knew about cute clip art and fonts.  Once I found TpT, I was hooked!  When I make time, I love creating Handwriting without Tears paper and Thematic ELA and Math centers for my kiddos!  

To celebrate our new collaborative adventure, The Primary Pack is hosting a giveaway with tons of fabulous prizes!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway AND here's my "colorful" freebie!  Just click on the image!

 Hop along to meet our other bright bloggers and to grab a rainbow of freebies!

Have some time away from anything teaching-related... it's OK!

My students are on my mind almost all of the time.  I can't go to Target with out scouring the Dollar Bin for potential things I can use in my classroom.  When I'm at the Dollar Store, I grab things I probably don't need, but know I could work it into my classroom somehow.  My poor Mister has to hear story after story about some of my "special friends" or great lessons and even lessons that bombed.  He has no idea what I'm talking about, but he smiles and nods.  I spend hours printing and laminating while watching all of my favorite reality shows.  Laminating makes me happy, like really happy.  I just wish I had a cutting fairy around, like Edward Scissor Hands or something.  The Mister doesn't help me cut...ever.  

When it's time for bed, I always check my Instagram and am blown away by all of the amazing teaching that is going on to there.
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Subconsciously, there's a bit of peer pressure.  I'm not saying that you amazing teachers are pressuring each other, but I think as teachers, when we see all of the amazingness out there, we put pressure on ourselves to create similar opportunities.  Or we compare it to what is or is not taking place in our classrooms.  Last year, I really struggled with this.  I posted a pretty honest post about and have vowed to do a better job of balancing my life.

Teaching is important and it's in our blood.  This.  I.  Know.  But I've also realized that it can consume us.  I can spend late nights creating centers and use my weekend for Target runs, analyzing running records and data, and grading lots of assessments.

I've seen a lot of my friends feel bad for putting off blogging or not creating anything.  Let me tell you this.  Give yourself a break.  Back to School is a crazy, crazy time.  Take time for you, set boundaries, go have some fun!  I haven't blogged at all this entire school year and I make no apologies.  I'm loving my class and my new school.  But I'm loving my life as well.  I've made it a point to create fun weekends and spend them with the people I love.  It's ok to let blogging and TpT take a back seat.  Here's what I've been up to {instead of blogging}.
Have you ever been to a Cineopolis?  Amazing reclining seats, food, and drinks at your seat.  I may have fallen asleep!
 After the 1st week of school, we took a staycation to a spa.  We ordered a bottle of wine, listening to Hawaiian music, got a massage, and relaxed.  I highly suggest a spa day for all of you fab teachers!
How amazing is this salt water pool {no kids allowed}!
Lots of beach walks and enjoying the salt air!
I even visited my old college, go State!  This actually was king work-related because I needed some SDSU gear to wear at school on College Day.

So friends, go have some fun.  Take the teacher hat off {is that even possible} and go enjoy this amazing life you've got.  It's ok, your students will be fine.  After all, when you're rested, relaxed, and happy, your students will notice!
What are you going to do for yourself this week?

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Brain Breaks with Go Noodle {Giveaway}

If you've been following any of my social media, you know how much I LOVE Go Noodle.  It's my most favorite way to use brain breaks because it's so stinkin' fun and easy to use!  And the best part, the FREE version is incredible; it's what I used with my 1/2 combo last year.  
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog
If you haven't used Go Noodle just yet, here's a few quick facts that show why I love it!
Each brain break can last between 1-3 minutes.
You can choose relaxing or energizing brain breaks, deepening on your need.
Brain breaks include yoga, stretching, deep breathing, zumba, dance, singing, track and field, and so much more!
Kids absolutely love it, like really, really love it!

I may have loved it even more because I was one tired teacher last year.  I needed a break too.  Watching my students have so much fun seriously melted my heart.  Plus, when I was feeling grouchy or frustrated, and I'd see my little guys bop up and down, it helped me refocus and remember that my little guys are just that, little guys.  I needed to lighten up!

Plus, there are a bazillion ways you can use Go Noodle.  Read some of the inspirational ways here! from teachers just like you and I!  I even included my Go Noodle Brain Break tickets on their blog a few months ago.

Here are a few videos of my kiddos {and my niece} doing Go Noodle!


 I tell everyone to just create a Go Noodle account and you'll fall in love right away.  Chances are, you'll start using it next week, if you don't use it already.

I've teamed up with my Go Noodle friends to bring you something AWESOME!  If you haven't heard, they've opened up a Go Noodle store that's full of swag to encourage your kiddos.  My favorite items are the sweatbands, pencils {perfect for incentives}and the canvas tote.  If you're a shopper like me, head to the store and use the promo code easyteachingtools to receive 30% off your purchase!  The offer is good until September 6th.
Notice our Go Noodle sweatbands in Las Vegas?

You can win a swag bag, a Go Noodle gift card to the shop, and $20.00 to my Easy Teaching Tools TpT store!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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