current favorites

September Thoughts + Favorites

this post contains affiliate links

september thoughts + favorites

Hi friends,

Yes, I know it’s a week into October already 😛 but I still wanted to share my September thoughts and favorites with you before we get too much farther into my favorite month!

September was really busy for me - I tried to teach as much as possible, create some fall things for my shop, and also pursue a bunch of other other side hustles (blog post about that coming later this week!) I feel like the upcoming time change and the back to school feeling always encourage me to work a little harder somehow. I’m looking forward to going hard again for October and then slowing down a little in November and December.

I was sick for the last few weeks of September with a cold that turned into a more serious flu, so I had a lot of teaching days where I basically just dragged myself out of bed 😢 I’m thinking of writing a whole blog post about managing online teaching while you’re sick, but things that got me through included keeping a heating pad on my lap and a humidifier close by, drinking tons of tea between classes, and resting as much as possible. I would love to hear how you guys handle teaching with a cold!

in my shop

In my shop this month, I mostly focused on fall and back to school themed items! Fall just might be my very favorite theme to create things for, followed closely by rainbows! 😊

Mid-Autumn Festival

Lots of you used the Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes, Vocab Cards, and Find-a-Star Game back at the beginning of September! I’m so happy I could help you celebrate with your students. I had so much fun with Mid-Autumn Festival this year, and I took lots of notes for next year. The word I found myself teaching the most this Mid-Autumn Festival was “rabbit!”

Pumpkin Numbers

I drew these a while ago with my digital pen and made them into some number props to use throughout the fall in my classroom. I love having something seasonal to hold up every time I ask “How old are you?” or help a student count to 10. These could also be used as a cute classroom decoration! By far my favorite things

Maple Leaves

I created these realistic maple leaf props from real photographs I took of maple leaves from my yard. I made medium and mini sizes! This was good practice for me in using Photoshop and different settings on my camera, and I learned a lot in the process. I hope to make a lot more realistic props from my photographs in the future, since I find they work well for a lot of my students, especially those who don’t like “cute” props.

Fall + Halloween Vocab Cards

These were maybe the most satisfying thing to create this month, since my students have been loving them and I was looking forward to building on my Mid-Autumn Festival Vocab Cards. It feels great to be slowly building a set of vocab cards based around my own classroom experiences and the words I’ve found myself teaching the most over the last year and a half. If you’re collecting them along with me, the Fall and Halloween Cards and the Mid-Autumn Festival Cards don’t have any of the same words. I’m looking forward to releasing more of these soon and learning more about how they work for you guys!

Mini Flashcard Sets

This month in celebration of back to school I released lots of mini flash cards: Alphabet, Numbers 0-10, Months of the Year + Seasons, and Days of the Week. I made a demo set in pink, blue, and green, but I’m also making personalized sets in your favorite colors! Pastels, rainbow, black and white - custom orders are my favorite because often you guys think of awesome combinations I never would have thought of!

in my classroom

This month, I was on the lookout for allll the cute fall props and decorations! Plus the back to school sales make it hard to resist

Fall Photo Booth Props

I’ve always found photo booth props work well in an online classroom setting, and these fall themed ones are really cute! I love the maple leaves and the different types of pumpkins.

Giant Pencil

I fell in love with this giant orange pencil this month! (It comes in other colors too.) My students always laugh when I bring out my giant sunglasses or anything remotely oversized, and this giant pencil would really make the class special for them.

Rose Gold Microphone

I’ve been thinking about getting a real microphone for my online classroom for a while now, and I love this rose gold one! I’ve seen it recommended by several teachers, it can be a speaker, player, or recorder, and it comes in lots of other colors too.

Emoji Sticky Notes

I showed these on Instagram and got some questions so I figured I’d repost them here! I recently bought more since they’re pretty inexpensive right now. They’re a cute, easy way to teach emotions, and you can easily laminate a bunch of them, attach them to popsicle sticks, or glue them down to some cardstock to make them more durable.

Happy teaching, friends.

Em 💖

Props & Rewards I've Been Loving Lately

this post contains affiliate links

props and rewards I've been loving lately

Hi friends,

I’ve been mixing things up with my props/rewards recently and thought I’d share a few of my favorites. I’m always looking to repurpose items I already have or introduce new things to my classroom that can serve lots of different purposes.

ENVELOPES & HAPPY MAIL

I got these mini envelopes to include in all my Etsy shop orders, and one day I filled a few with little 2D props, stickers, etc., wrote numbers on the front, and gave them to my students as rewards. It was a total hit! Something about watching me “open” their presents is apparently totally riveting! 😊 I’ve done something similar before with little treat bags, jewelry boxes, etc. (How cute are these macaron boxes?!) If you like making advent calendars or sending snail mail then maybe this would be fun for you and your students too. I might upgrade to these cute felt envelopes to make a more durable reward system in the future.

Some days I fill the envelopes randomly and sometimes I put in things according to a theme, upcoming season or holiday, or the lesson content. For example, this morning I put a little robot, ball, yo-yo, doll, and blocks inside for one of my level 2 students; yesterday I filled four bigger envelopes with items related to the four seasons to help prompt a student to make full sentences (like a snowman eraser, 2D snowflake prop, Frozen stickers, flashcards with the word “cold”, etc. for winter) As I pulled out each item she was reminded of words she could use to make a full sentence and practice the vocabulary for the unit.

Some ideas for things to put in the envelopes:

Erasers

Charms

Stickers

Felt diecuts

Scrapbooking stuff (try searching for ephemera, diecuts, cardstock shapes)

Little artificial flowers, butterflies, etc.

Cute barrettes, hair ties, and rings

Postcards (I like these baby animal ones!)

Pinback buttons

Flash cards

Little notes (write your own or snag some cute ready made ones)

Toy animals

CLOTHESPINS & DIY MAGNETS

I recently found these breakfast food clothespins at Bed Bath & Beyond and was inspired to make my own clothespin rewards! Somehow everything is a little bit cuter on a clothespin or a magnet, and you can more easily attach them to a background, headband or headphones, name tag, whiteboard, etc. This is helping me repurpose a lot of my 2D props that just sit in a box most of the time. Now I can clip a bunch of different veggies or animals to a laminated piece of scrapbook paper or to my necklace and reference them throughout class. It adds a little more fun and visual interest for the students.

PLACEMATS

I got this animal/ABC placemat at Kmart over the summer and it’s quickly become one of my most used props! Placemats are often sturdier than posters or cardstock manipulatives, and some of them can be written on with whiteboard markers. I like these animal ABC placemats too.

BEADS, CHARMS, AND ERASERS

I used to use wooden stringing beads like these in another job, and I recently saw some at a friend’s house and was reminded of what a great prop/reward they are for online teaching! Buying a set of beads or charms can be an inexpensive way to get a ton of rewards systems and props. I also love eraser packs for the same reason. I don’t have kids so I don’t have toys around my apartment to use in my classroom, but little things like charms, erasers, and jewelry work well for my mobile setup because they’re so easy to store.

I’d love to hear about how you’re using props/rewards recently - join this conversation on Instagram!

Happy teaching,

Em 💕

shop this post

Current Favorite Organization Supplies

favorite organization supplies.png

This post contains affiliate links.

Hi friends,

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite supplies for organizing online classrooms and teaching spaces. With back to school sales all over, I’m looking forward to purchasing a few things I’ve been eyeing for a long time now.

I’ve reconfigured my online classroom setup a lot in the past year or so, and it’s become clear to me that being really, really organized is key, especially if you’re like me and a) teach from a small apartment, b) move a lot, and c) tend to be a pretty disorganized person generally! Also, the longer I work in the same space where I live, the more I realize how important it is to delineate specific spaces for each aspect of my life. I don’t have a permanent classroom area, so I set up my space in our living room each morning before I teach, and if I’m not careful, we can quickly go from having a living room to living in a pile of my props (and feeling like I’m always “at work”). Having the pieces in place to quickly transition my surroundings from “work” to “home” is really important to me, and my goal is to ultimately minimize the setup/take down time of my online classroom. I’m also looking for storage options that I can easily transport with me when I visit friends or family, options that don’t require wall space, and ideally options that can easily break down or be used in other ways when we move or if my circumstances change. At this point in my life, I just don’t want to buy single use storage, especially plastic items, so anything I do purchase has to pass a version of the “how could I use this five other ways in five other places five years in the future” test.

CARTS AND MOBILE SHELVING UNITS

The first thing on my wish list is a rolling cart of some kind. I’ve seen lots of teachers use them on social and I think this would be the perfect thing for moving my props and supplies from room to room or holding all the random things I love to use that don’t really store flat (bubbles, giant sunglasses, balls, etc). I love this pink cart from Darice, the dark blue IKEA Raskog, this white triangular style, and this white more rectangular style.

SHELVES AND DRAWER UNITS

We don’t really have the space right now for more bookshelves, but I am considering buying some sort of mobile drawer unit or flat file to store not only my teaching stuff but my products and packaging supplies for my online shops as well. I’m creating more and more 2D props and flat stuff to sell, and it’s currently kind of just in piles everywhere, so it would definitely be nice to have one contained place to store everything. I love the look of the IKEA Helmer drawers, this five-drawer unit with cutout drawer pulls, this cute three drawer unit, and this modern white three drawer unit with a wooden top.

BINS, BASKETS, AND TOTES

Another solution I’m considering is a bin or basket system. This would be more portable than a cart in some ways, since I could just grab bins or baskets and put them in the car. Right now I use my bike basket and old cardboard boxes or whatever is around to store bigger items. I do like being able to see into a big bin or basket, and I already know baskets are some of the most versatile storage pieces in my home, so I would feel confident if I bought more that I would use them for multiple purposes down the road. My favorite picks currently are these extra large round rope totes, these black and white geometric and white zig zag three piece sets, this cuuute offwhite macrame set, these pretty jute baskets, and this beautiful steel and wood dual handle basket.

DESKTOP AND DRAWER ORGANIZERS

I’m leaning towards some kind of clear desktop organization system that I can keep next to me while I’m teaching and then stow under my coffee table or on our bookshelves at other times. I currently use a combination of cardboard boxes and random clear file folders for my 2D props, which are cumbersome to store and make it difficult to see everything at once. I would love to have one attractive unit for all my random 2D props! I love this MUJI stackable acrylic case, this five drawer organizer, this bamboo paper tray, and this white bamboo caddy.

Happy organizing, friends!

Em

My Favorite Washi Tapes

my favorite washi tapes

This post contains affiliate links.

I think it will probably come as no surprise that I looove washi tape! I recently posted on Instagram that I use washi tape sometimes as a reward for students who love stationery supplies, and I received a few questions about where I buy tape, so I figured I’d make a lil’ blog post about it.

Pictured above are some washi tapes from the new back to school collection at the Target dollar spot. I can’t find a link online, but hopefully if you like them you can grab some near you. They’re modern and bright and play off of classic back to school patterns - I couldn’t resist!

Here are a few more of my current favorites!