Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

It’s a strange feeling when you realise that you’ve over half-way through the first term of the year.

For me, I start panicking about what I’ve taught (or not taught) and what I’ve got to fit in before the start of second term because report-writing is now officially around the corner, and honestly it’s completely exhausting.

Schools are intensely busy places – we’re forever fitting in special events, guest speakers, updated timetables, buddy activities, curriculum and just about anything else you can think of. It requires a certain amount of flexibility and I know that I am (currently) a much more relaxed teacher when it comes to accomodating these, often last minute, changes.

I wasn’t always, though, and it’s something that takes time, patience -and possible a few tears every now and then – to understand that leadership is actually very understanding of the interruptions and that if something slips, the world won’t end. It’s often OURSELVES who are the ones putting pressure on our own selves when everyone else is willing to give us a break.

As such, it’s obviously been a completely nutty term for me, hence my absence in posting. So many things have been happening:

  • Starting back in a classroom
  • Parent information nights
  • Leading the Literacy team
  • Leading the Graduate Liaison Program at my school
  • Expanding the Graduate Liaison Program (with a colleague) to incorporate graduates from local schools
  • Swimming lessons
  • House Athletics Carnival
  • And… oh, yeah, teaching!

I haven’t had a chance to create more video content for my teaching youtube channel because I just haven’t had the time, and I’ve come to terms with it. (Mostly. It’s hard when you want to do a good job at something and yet find it difficult to actually find the time.) That said, it’s still on the agenda.

The most important thing is that my class is fantastic and they’re doing so much work and doing it so well. They’re an awesome bunch of little learners and I’m so lucky to do what I do, and be surrounding by such great kids, and colleagues.

Now it’s only a few short weeks (filled with public holidays, professional development days, professional learning days and planning days – go figure!) until the end of the first time and I’m exhausted, but loving my job.

How are YOU doing? What’s been happening in your classroom this term?


My 2018 Classroom Tour!

Welcome to my 2018 classroom tour!

This year I went for a full-on theme, which is not something I’ve done in the past. (Usually I’ve just opted for lots of bright colours!) But this year my school has a focus on developing curious learners so I opted to go with an Alice in Wonderland theme and I love  how it turned out, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

I have a video tour, which I’m going to include in this blog post, where you can see and hear me walk you through my classroom and the different areas and features. I’ve also got some photos below for you to check out.

If there is anything you would like more information on, let me know in the comments and I will happily do specific blog posts to answer your questions.

Do you have a classroom theme? Let me know in the comments what you do to set your classroom up at the start of a new year!


Elizabeth Richards Teacher Diary 2018

Over the years I’ve used various teacher planners – Erin Condren, bullet journals, generic teacher planners, printed planners from TPT, a Kikki.K binder planner. I love planners. I love trialling new ones. I’m honest with myself when they don’t work, and when they do. I also know I need to switch it up now and then because change reinvigorates the way I interact with them.

I’m going to share a few thoughts on the planner I’m going to begin 2018 using – I’ve also got a video flip through of it, so you can scroll down and hear my thoughts if you like!

This year I decided to trial the Elizabeth Richards Teacher Diary, and bought myself one just to see how it goes.

It’s very similar to an Erin Condren planner – it’s A4 size, and quite thick and thus heavy. However, depending on how you plan to use this, it may not be a problem. I intend to use this as a bit of a classroom ‘bible’ and it will stay at work during the week, and come home on weekends so I can map out my week. (If this is something you’d be interested in seeing as a video, let me know in the comments.)

Let’s talk about a few of the features:

  • The front cover is actually a plastic pocket that you can slip covers in and out of easily.
  • It comes with 2 sturdy covers, with 2 designs on each (total of 4)
  • The back cover is a thick/sturdy plastic with an elastic strap

It has:

  • A yearly planner
  • Note pages
  • Dividers for each month
  • Undated monthly layouts
  • Undated weekly spreads
  • Lesson review space
  • Password lists
  • Student contact details
  • Health information
  • Parent communication logs
  • Classroom expense tracker
  • Professional Development log
  • Assessment Checklists

It is very colourful and well laid out. For my intended purpose, which is weekly overviews and on-the-go notes, it’s going to do exactly what I need it to do as a desk planner.

The paper is about the same thickness as general copy paper, so it’s not a planner to be using permanent markers in, but that’s easy to work with.

I’ll be very honest and say I don’t know if I’ll use this one planner for the whole year (I’ve yet to manage an entire year in a single planner), but I want to give it a good go. My detailed lesson plans are all electronic, so this is purely for ensuring that I have a clear visual overview each week and that system works pretty well for me.

Do you use a physical planner? Which one do you love to use?

Cleaning Scissors | A Cleaner Classroom

Back to school inevitably means a lot of cleaning up – tables need to be wiped down, dust needs to be cleared and everything needs to be ready for the first day.

I have to say, one of the jobs I hate the most is cleaning scissors. In my school, scissors are a communal resource in the classroom, and working with little kids means that they get all sorts of glue and gunk on them during the year. It’s gross.

While I was doing a few jobs in the classroom today, I figured I’d collect my new room’s scissors and take them home to clean them. Now, it’s a mixed collection of scissors, but I’ll go with it (and I’d rather spend budget money on better resources than replacing scissors that don’t need replacing!).

Here’s my scissor cleaning tip:

Place all the scissors (open) in a  bucket of hot water – as hot as you can get it – with a scoop of washing powder.

Leave the bucket to sit somewhere for a few hours. I left mine for about 3.5 hours, you could leave it longer or a little shorter, depending on how much time you have. The water will go cold, and that’s fine.

When the time is up, grab a sponge and wipe down the scissors to remove any remaining gunk. You may need a tiny bit of elbow grease, depending on how dirty the scissors were, but it probably took me 15 seconds per pair of scissors, plus rinsing time.

Lay your scissors out to dry completely.

That’s how easy it is!

Do you have a preferred method for cleaning scissors? Share it – or another cleaning tip – in the comments below!

My Classroom BEFORE!

There’s just under two weeks left until the school year officially begins here in Victoria.

So far I’ve kept my holidays pretty much that: holidays. It’s really important to recharge, and what I’ve learnt over the last few years is to take that time to not worry about my classroom. It will still be there when the year begins, and if it’s not 100% done, the world will not end.

Today I had to drop off things I had in storage into my classroom and I took this before photo of my room (mostly because I know I’ll forget to take a before photo next time I’m in!). Most of this stuff is mine, although there are some things that belong to last year’s teacher – it’s always hectic to move things at the end of the year, so we’re pretty accomodating.

Later this week I’ll be going in for the first of two preparation days that my team has organised. We plan on going in together to make it more of a positive experience and to ensure everyone’s on track with what’s going on. I may go in one extra day – it just depends if I’m happy with the amount of work I get done.

I’m super excited about my classroom theme for 2018, which I’ll hopefully reveal to you late next week. What I can say is that it’s based off an idea from a whole school initiate we’ve been rolling out over the last 12 months and I can’t wait to show you the bits and pieces I’ve made to put up.

Do you have a theme for your classroom that you’d like to share?


Back to School: Teacher Essentials Gift

Whether you’re a parent or a fellow teacher, sometimes we all need to find a quick, thoughtful gift for the teachers in our lives.

One of my favourite things to make for my fellow team members has always been a ‘survival kit’ gift. Now, there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest for those of you who want to do a search and see what’s available for those. They came with cute little tags, usually with puns or phrases that match the items included.

While what I’m sharing with you is similar, I also wanted to keep it pretty practical. My good friend, Shanyn, from Classroom Chit Chat, recently shared a post for Graduate Teachers all about Classroom Essentials (it’s a great post, you should definitely go check it out), with lists of items that every teacher should consider keeping in their classroom to make everything run a bit smoother.

I’m piggy-backing off her ideas and creating a Teacher Essentials Gift that would make a great present to give a colleague, or to give to your child’s teacher. And the best thing? You probably have most of these things lying around your house!

In just two steps, you can create your own personalised teacher gift!

Step 1. Choose your container.
This could be a mug, a travel mug or even a small make-up purse/pouch.
A pro-tip, a travel mug is probably preferable to a mug, because it has a sealable lid, which means it can be carried safely to and from the classroom, minimising the risk of spilling hot liquid, but you’ll know your recipient better than I do, so go with something you think they’ll like.
You can pick up mugs and pouches all over the place for very reasonable prices, so just keep an eye out for something you like.

Step 2. Fill your container!
Be creative with this – there are so many different items you could include that will always be gratefully accepted by your teacher friend. Try and personalise it to their personality or preferences. These might range from treats to emergency essentials – remember, it’s the thought that counts!

You might like to include:

  • Hot chocolate sachets
  • Coffee sachets
  • Tea/tea bags
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes
  • Handcream
  • Perfume
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Dry shampoo (travel size)
  • Body mist
  • Glasses wipes (if they wear glasses)
  • Lip balm
  • Colourful pens
  • Permanent markers
  • Fold-back clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Paperclips
  • Pushpins
  • Small chocolates
  • Mints
  • Safety pins
  • Stickers
  • Stamps

You can really customise this in any way you see fit, and that’s what makes it such a wonderful treat for any teacher to receive (because, believe me, every little bit of stationary helps and treats are always well-received!).

I hope that this inspires you to create your own teacher essentials gift for a teacher in your life!

What ‘essentials’ would YOU include?


2018 Grade Announcement

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has had a safe and happy start to the new year!

I know many of my Northern Hemisphere friends are heading back to the classroom in the next few days, but for those of us in Australia, we’re on Summer Holidays and beginning to think about what’s to come in 2018 with our new classes.

Excitingly, I’m headed back into a classroom next year and I cannot wait. I have a lot of big plans for 2018, that include having my own grade again, continuing to work with graduate teachers within my school (and possibly outside my school!) and continuing to lead the English team.

It’s going to be a busy year!

I also have a lot of things planned for this blog, because I am determined to get back to posting regularly. Whether that’s once a week, or once a month, I want to be more consistent!

But, without further ado, in 2018 I am teaching…

Year 1!

I haven’t taught Year 1 for 3 years (if you don’t count my work from last year), and I haven’t taught a straight Year 1 class before. The last time I taught Year 1 was when I was teaching Prep/1 so I’m excited to see what this year brings.

What about you? What are you teaching in 2018?

Melbourne Cup – Classroom Ideas for K-6

(Image by Samantha Scholl)

Never let it be said that we don’t have enough public holidays. Because in Melbourne we get two bonus public holidays. For sporting events. (And yes, that is kind of as absurd as it sounds, but I’m not complaining, just pointing out a fact!)

We all learn through real-life examples, and what better way to teach than to celebrate learning through nationwide – or, in this case, state-wide – events that our students are going to see and hear a lot about. Not only does it help to teach them about the historical, social or cultural importance of such events, but suddenly they begin to see the real-life applications of maths and literacy skills in action.

To that end, I’m here to share some activity ideas that Melbourne teachers may be inspired by during the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup celebrations. Each activity can be differentiated to meet the needs of your students – I may suggest year levels, but ultimately, these are just suggestions to spark ideas that will best meet your class’ needs.

Side note: this is gambling free – I wouldn’t not encourage or condone Melbourne Cup sweeps, no matter how culturally prevalent they are for this event.

Maths Activities


1) Give each student (or pair of students) a beanbag and a picture of a horse to decorate and pin on to the beanbag. Line students up in an area with enough space (either indoors or outdoors) and have them throw their beanbag.

For junior grades:
  • Have students use ordinal numbers to mark where the horses landed. You could do this with ordinal number cards or take a photo and work on an IWB to label as a class
  • Measure how far the horse travelled using informal units (such as popsticks, blocks, pencils, etc) and record. Students can compare each others’ results – this will provide a great opportunity to discuss using the same unit of measurement to accurately compare findings. As a class graph the results using a bar graph.
For middle and senior grades:
  • Measure how far each horse has traveled using formal units of measurement. Collect all data as a class and have students find the mean, median and mode for the class data.
  • Discuss the factors that may have affected the outcome of the ‘horse race.’
  • Repeat the race – is the data the same?

2) Run timed foot races over a specified distance – group students (strategically!) so that each ‘team’ collects points for first/second/third places. Collect the data and discuss any patterns students notices.


Pull up the current (or past) Melbourne Cup line-up and have students make observations about the various jockey silks.
  • What colours do they use?
  • What shapes do they use?
  • What patterns do they use?

Tally and graph the various answers to these questions.


Draw how big you think a horse is. Measure it in hands. Investigate how big horses actually are and compare.

ELA & The Arts Activities


  • Look at the names of past and present Melbourne Cup horses. Discuss which names stand out and why? What words do the owners use to make their horse stand apart from the rest?
  • Choose an interesting horse name and write a story about that horse – how did it get its’ name? What does it mean?
  • How many vowels and consonants are in a horses name?
  • Do any of the horse names use alliteration, metaphor or similes?
  • Are any of the horse names puns?


Draw a horse – either independently, using a guided drawing or just use an outline – and craft its’ features. Label the horse. Craft a name for your horse and write a history for it – where does it live? What does it eat? Does it race?


Look at examples of real-life jockey silks and notice the colours and patterns. Draw or use a template for the outline of your jockey silk.
  • Draw your own jockey with pencils/crayons/markers.
  • Paint your own jockey silk.
  • Collage your own jockey silk.
Write a short paragraph explaining the design of the jockey silk, including any inspiration used.

Display the class set of silks with their explanations.


Have students write a persuasive text about the Melbourne Cup. Topics could include:
  • We do/don’t need a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup.
  • The Melbourne Cup is an important Victorian Holiday.
  • We do/don’t need Fashion on the Field competitions for Melbourne Cup.


Invite students to come to school dressed as a jockey, or as if they were attending Fashion on the Field. (Your school may choose to run a fundraiser for a charity of its choice and have students bring a gold coin donation for the free dress day.)

Activities might include:
  • Jockey parade
  • Fashion on the Field parade
  • Design a race day hat/fascinator activities
  • Design a fashion outfit
  • Use fabric scraps (or coloured paper) to design a race-day outfit.

Do you have any activities to celebrate Melbourne Cup?


Teacher On Holiday!

Hello, my wonderful teacher friends!

It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve been on my blog, and I have no excuses. This year has been a bit difficult for me in my career (as well as also very rewarding at the same time) which has made it difficult to find inspiration for my blog. But I think I’m getting it back.

One thing that has been floating around my head for an absolute age is that I’m looking to change up my blog/TPT title. I’ve already got a domain name in place and over the next few months, you’re slowly going to see everything change over.  It’s going to take a while, so bear with me, but I’m really happy with my decision.

So stay tuned!

In other news, Spring has sprung here in Australia, and I’m in the last few days of the term three school holidays. I’ve survived a concert term, my birthday, and a whole lot of bookish events in the last few months and I’ve been enjoying taking time to recharge and get myself ready for the last term of our school year.

(No idea yet what I’ll be teaching in 2018, but I’ll keep you all posted!)

One of my new favourite ways to look after myself is to make a Smoothie Bowl for breakfast.

Now, I’m still new to this, but I’m getting better at it and at putting different combinations together.  As someone who’s never been a big breakfast fan, this is a change of pace for me, but something that I’m greatly enjoying.

I’ve also made time to read, read, read.

I was given a stack of books from our school library over the school holidays:

It’s been fantastic to read some books that I know will be on the shelves for the kids at school to pick up – I foresee great conversations up ahead. (Except The Special Ones, which I was reading to see if it was too advanced/inappropriate for a primary school, and yes, it is, but still a good book.)

I’ve also been reading plenty of other books, both adult and young adult fiction.

(I may have also started to get back into a little bit of yoga practise. A tiny bit.)

Ultimately, these things have helped me to settle back into myself after a stressful work period.

Stay tuned for future months as I begin to share a few more school-related posts – I’ve got a big post prepared for Melbourne Cup in November (especially for Aussie teachers), plus a few things on immersion and a creative approach to planning.

What are you keys to unwinding after a busy time period?



Copy-Free Mother’s Day Card!

It’s been ages since I last posted on this blog, and as usual, I’m fashionably late to the Mother’s Day craft ideas – but in my defence, the last week or so has been absolutely CRAZY. There’s been so much going on, and finding the time to sit down and create something new for Mother’s Day had to take a back-seat.

But not this weekend!

I’ve filmed a tutorial for this fun, pop-up-like Mother’s Day card, which can do double duty as a thank you card or just a fun general purpose card that kids can make. I made a variation of this card with Grade 1/2 students earlier in the week and the best part is this is completely copy free. (That’s right, no arguments with the photocopier and coloured cardstock!)


  • Coloured cardstock in a variety of colours
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Markers (optional)

How to:

This is an easy-to-modify card that can be used in lots of different ways. I hope that it inspires you to create your own interpretations on the more traditional Mother’s Day cards.

Have a wonderful weekend (especially to all the mums out there)!