Repurposing: Tools for the Classroom

Teachers are always finding new ways to help their students.  Repurposing is a great way to find new tools to help your students. Do you have bulletin board border that has seen better days?  Border can be cut up and used as bookmarks.  Border is colorful and sturdy which makes it perfect for bookmarks.
Baby hangers are great teacher tools.  You can buy a multipack at Dollar Tree.  Baby hangers make great teacher tools to hang visuals or small anchor charts.
Pedometers are small, useful teacher tools.  Do you have students that have the wiggles?  Let the student put on a pedometer and walk X number of steps.  
Have you repurposed something for the classroom?

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Organize Books, level books, and freebies

Do you have a system to organize your books? The longer you teach, the more books you collect, which makes it harder to find a specific book when you need it. I have tried different ways through the year. My current way is to organize my books using multiple systems.

Leveled Books

Some of the books that I use with small group lessons are leveled.  I use the Level It app or Book Wizard  to find the reading level.  I shared tips for leveling books plus freebie on my Leveled Books tips post.

Authors of the Month

There are so many children's book authors and never enough time to read all of their wonderful books.  Set up an authors' birthday reading station for free choice time.  The choice of books will change each month.  You can read more about this and grab a free copy of the birthday center.

Build Community with Books

One way to build a sense of community with your class is to take an inventory of your book collection.  Put your books in groups or communities that you students might identify with:
Add the books to the lessons that you teach throughout the year.  Students who relate to the characters in the books are more engaged and connected with the lessons.  You will love the excitement you see with your students when you take the time to do this.  "He looks like me!"  "She lives with her Grandma like me!"

Friendship - Idea #1

Friendship is a theme that can be taught at any time of the year.  

The Sandwich Swap is a story written Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah.  Salma and Lily were best friends until they shared their opinions about their peanut butter sandwich and hummus and pita sandwich.  It is a wonderful story about looking at something from a different point of view.

My Buddy by Audrey Osofsky is a story about a boy with muscular dystrophy and his friend, a service dog named Buddy.  The story shares all of the ways that a service dog helps his owner.  

Fluency Passages

The Fluency Check file in the picture above include passages about the special needs community.
  • Guide Dogs
  • Henry Wrinkler - author and actor - dyslexia
  • Rick Riordan - former teacher and author - son has ADHD and dyslexia
  • Dav Pilkey - author - ADHD
  • Dr. Helen Taussig - dyslexia and hearing
  • Sneha Verma - Special Olympic swimmer - Down Syndrome
  • Patricia Polacco - author and illustrator - dyslexia
  • Tourette's Syndrome 
  • Clay Marzo - surfer - ADHD

Writing Letters: Morning Messages - Idea #2

Morning messages are a wonderful way to begin the school day.  It is also an easy way to teach letter writing format to your class.  You can add stories about writing letters or the post office to your plans.

Dear Juno by Soyung Pak is a story about a boy writing (drawing pictures) to his grandmother in Korea.  Children who do not live near their grandparents will be able to relate to this story.

A letter of Amy by Ezra Jack Keats is a story about a boy named Peter.  He is going to have a birthday party.  He wants to invite his special friend, Amy, to the party so he writes her a letter.  He has a problem when he is on his way to mail the letter.

Delivering your mail by Ann Owen is a quick read about mail carriers.  The book shows different types of mail carriers in different types of neighborhoods.  Facts about mail, the history, and links to learn more are shared at the end.

Morning Messages - options

It can be time consuming to write a morning message each day.  Have you tried Easy Morning Messages?  

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Back to School Read Alouds and Anxiety

Do you have favorite books that you read the first week of school each year?  The pandemic has impacted our community in multiple ways.  Before COVID-19, some of your students may have experienced some type of trauma. After COVID-19, all of your students have experienced stress, change, or trauma. Save your favorite Back to School books for the second or third week of the new year.  Social and emotional learning lessons should be the focus at the beginning of this school year.

The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul is a timely story.  This is a story about a girl's family and what they experience after hearing bad news on tv. The story tells how a young child can help his or her family and neighbors.

There are always a few students that feel anxious at the beginning of the year.  This year you may notice more students experiencing anxiety because of all that has happened recently. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is a wonderful book to add to your plans.  Your students will be able to easily identify with Wemberly, a character who feels anxious about the first day of school.

Let your class make a Wemberly Worried flipbook after you discuss the story.  Bonus:  This makes a great bulletin board for Back to School Night.

Do you need for social emotional learning (S.E.L.) read alouds?  I have compiled a book list you should check out.

Have you tried a feelings journal with your class?  It is a great way to take the pulse of your class.  It is included with this file.

Don't forget to check out my Back to School book list.

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Teacher Resource Tips

In a perfect teaching world, we would have all of the resources we need at our fingertips.  Wouldn't that be nice?  With a little creativity and effort, you can find, make, or get needed resources.

Look around your house, visit yard sales or garage sales.  Silicone candy molds or ice molds can be a used in the classroom. This pineapple mold can be used with Play-doh to make patterns, counting, or a compound word center.

Back to School Read Alouds

Do you have favorite read alouds that you share with your class each year?  I have some favorites and am always looking for new ones to add to my collection.
Students love the Black Lagoon series by Mike Thaler.  Best of all there are books about many of the members of the school community that you introduce your class to at the beginning of the school year.   Here are a few examples (affiliate link):

During the first month of school, I  recommend reading The Substitute Teacher from the Black Lagoon. Discuss with your students what your expectations are when you are not at school. This will ensure a smooth day for your substitute and students.

At some point in the year, you may get a new student.  Keep a copy of the forms, newsletters, and other handouts that you are sending home to parents the first week of school NOW, so you can send them home with the new student.  It also helps if you have a supply box with basic supply and an extra desk set up ready to go.  You do not usually get advanced notice before your new student arrives.  Once you have welcomed your student and he or she is settled in your class, you can read the book,  New Kid from the Black Lagoon.

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