Don’t have it? Make it!

This school year Jee Young and I found ourselves going in completely different directions.  I am extremely excited and happy for her every time she talks about the resources she is enjoying at her new school in Singapore (and I am sure we will receive amazing blog posts about how to use these resources in our own classrooms!).

Whereas, this year I get to foster my creativity in a different way. My school is small, with a mission’s mindset. Almost everything the school makes they give away in scholarships to allow students the chance to an education they otherwise would not be able to afford (I know, so awesome!).

I was actually pleasantly surprised at the size of my classroom, it is a lot bigger than I imagined. The wall space is pretty great, but I was sad to discover that I didn’t have any large bulletin boards… so I made one! And by made one, I mean I taped up borders onto my walls and separated a space for my students’ work. Another way to display their work is to hang strings from the ceiling. When the strings are full the room looks so cosy and bright.

I also ran out of shelves for the books I brought with me, so I used baskets. I still need to organize them, but for now… it works!

I don’t have any rugs on my floors (yet, I am totally saving up or continuing to petition for them) so we are using nap time mats. They work out pretty well. I love how they are easy to move, but at the same time I wish they would stay put. Can’t have everything I guess.

What kind of international school are you at? If you have any ways to make something out of nothing you should TOTALLY share. Or what is something common for a school to have that you can use in a new way? Let us know!


First Week Activities

I made it through my first week as a dual kindergarten/first grade teacher! How is this normally done? I have no idea, but I am going to figure it out and do it to the absolute best of my ability this year!

As a new kindergarten teacher I have been on the web, hunting down ideas for activities to do in the classroom, doing a lot of reading up about it, and talking to friends who teach/have taught these energetic youngsters.

During my research I discovered Donna (Hi Donna!) over at, this is an amazing blog with great ideas.

One of the activities I chose to do on my first day was have the students draw self-portraits. I read somewhere that you could do it again in December, and then near the end of the school year (April maybe?) and see how their sense of self-image has changed. I had some students draw in detail their whole body, and I had some students draw a circle and dots for eyes. It was so interesting. I demonstrated first by telling them I was going to draw my self-portrait, I drew a circle on the white board and said, “Good. Done!” They laughed and informed me that I was indeed, NOT done. They helped me by explaining I had eyes, and a nose, and a mouth, etc. I took a picture of them on the first day of school and printed them out to hang up next to their self-portraits. If you have mirrors, give them a mirror and encourage them to examine their face closely!

I found this ideas and others over at, here are a couple links:

Link One

Link Two

Do you have a go-to kindergarten blog where you get ideas? If so please share! I need first grader ideas as well, teaching two grades is an amazing challenge— since differentiating to fit a child’s needs is what it is all about. I am absolutely LOVING pinterest at the moment, whoever invented that— pure genius.

Back to School Supplies: What’s in your Teaching Bag?

Going home almost every summer is incredible helpful for stocking up on teacher supplies! The top items on my list this year were:

-A stapler (really, at the very top- you know how much teachers staple… I had to get a nice one!)

-Those awesome large post-its that have become super popular (my grade teaching partner introduced me to them)

-Library card pockets (you know what I am talking about? I don’t know what else to call them)

-Word strips (I just love them!)

-Door decorating goodies

-And some type of ELL game/activity for teaching my boy at the orphanage

I love the Teachers Center!

I am overstocked on borders, posters, and blank books (Jee Young introduced me to the site, check it out for some great options of blank/lined books), but I realized when I came back my collection of stickers has seriously dwindled. Tears!

I was able to have a nice long Skype conversation with Jee Young this week, and it sounds like her new school is the BOMB. (Which in teacher terms, means she has a LOT of resources). But if you are in Korea, teacher resources are very limited.

What are the availability of resources in other countries? Do you make a mental list of what you want to get in the States (or your home country) like me?

I start teaching at my new school on Monday (this week is orientation and prepping my classroom). I went from second grade to kindergarten (and I had no idea until this week), who can give me advice on teaching the little ones? HELP!

Personalized Necessities for Teachers

A few months ago, I blogged about the perfect teacher gift, personalized note cards and notepads for teachers. However, a few days ago, a coworker showed me her personalized lesson plan book and I was pretty impressed. It was much more “stylish” than the standard old school lesson plan books. It turns out that this designer has many more personalized teacher items and other non-school related products! Since I’m overseas, I will probably order some things to my parents home in New York and have them mail it me. So whether you are a teacher, getting ready for the school year, or a parent, wanting to get a thoughtful gift for your child’s teacher, here is the site:

erin condren

On the website, there is a whole section for cute teacher stuff here: teacher gifts

Here are some of their items in their teacher section:

Plus, they have many other cute items not related to teaching!


I’ll end with this quote on their webpage which I love!

The Act of Writing

Happy August everyone! I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer, especially if you are a teacher. You deserve the time for rest and rejuvenation. I feel like other people (non teachers) always get jealous that we have such long vacations, but honestly, if we had to do what we do, all year long with no summer break, I don’t know how we would survive! 🙂

My summer vacation is pretty much over now, so I guess it’s time to get back to blogging! This past July, I had a chance to attend the Teachers College Reading Institute. It was amazing as always. One of the keynote speakers was author Christopher Paul Curtis, who was a funny and charismatic speaker, which would be expected if you have read his books. He kept us laughing, smiling and almost crying with his keynote speech. This one thing he said that really stuck with me was how he described writing.

“Writing is an act of revelation. The more I wrote, the more revealed I would be. ”

-Christopher Paul Curtis

As he shared stories about how his writing connected and reflected his own life in many ways, I was reminded about how my writing reveals who I am. I was also reminded of the importance in keeping up my writing, especially as I am going through these big changes this year. So stay tuned for more posts, hopefully more on the summer institute and transitioning to a new school and country!