Posts tagged freebie
Target's Back to School Calendar

I am Canadian.  Once upon a time we had Target, and it was glorious.  But only a few short years later our Targets closed, and I was once again left to venture down to the States for all of my Target purchases.

Luckily, I live in Vancouver, BC, so there is a Target Dollar Spot less than an hour away.  Phew!

This year I have made more than a few quick trips across the border to decorate my classroom and find budget-friendly teaching supplies.

One of the things I loved was my new target calendar.  It was a total winner. However, upon closer inspection, it had a problem.

The calendar started on Monday.

@the.traveling.teacher  noticed the same problem!

When teaching students to chant, say, and count the days of the week we always start on Sunday.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

We were totally thrown off by this design. So I had to make new labels:

I tried to design complementary labels.  If you'd like them, they are available for free by clicking HERE.  Just print, laminate, and go! 

In the comments below, let me know where your Target Calendar is located in your classroom.

Happy September, All!

Planning for the First Day of Third Grade

The first day of school is exciting and nerve-wracking for students and teachers. I can remember anxiously preparing for my first First Day as a brand new teacher.  I had run through so many different scenarios in my mind of what I thought could happen. The reality was a lot more chaotic and I was so glad to have planned so much in advance.

Tips and tricks for the first day of third grade by Poet Prints Teaching

In our school, the first day is a half-day to meet teachers, find classrooms, and get orientated.  That doesn't mean I don't have to be prepared.  It's surprising how much needs to be done in four short hours, so making a plan is key.

Here are my most important tips for the First Day of Third Grade:

First Day of Third Grade Tip One:  Have a plan for school supplies.

Every school and district manages school supplies differently. Sometimes teachers purchase and organize all supplies, other times students purchase supplies from a set list.  Our school does a combination of the two.  While I purchase some supplies and am able to organize them ahead of time, students arrive on Day One with backpacks full of pencils, paper, scissors, and all sorts of other personal supplies.

So what do we do with them? Here is how I organize school supplies in my third grade classroom.

On the first day of school, I have empty dollar store washing buckets set out on my bookshelves. During the year, these will be labeled for each subject.  However, on the first day of the year, I label each bucket with the name of a school supply.

  • pencils
  • erasers
  • lined paper
  • blank notebooks
  • glue sticks
  • liquid glue

These supplies will become communal.  I put them in my back cupboard and ration them to be used for the whole year.  Students have access to my back cupboard (I try not to make most of my classroom 'off limits') but it helps to make our school supplies last all ear. 

On the whiteboard, beside a greeting to my new class,  I write a clear list of the supplies that can go inside of their cubby and/or desk (depending on the year).  These are supplies that are not communal.  When students come in on the first day, they take a look on the board, and begin to sort their supplies before meeting me on the carpet for our very first morning meeting!

First Day of Third Grade Tip Two:  Plan a fun get to know you game!

Every year, a good portion of my new students will inevitably walk in awkward and shy.  Even if I have invested time into getting to know the second graders before they left for the summer they will be nervous on the first day of school.  This is where a fun, non-threatening get-to-know-you game is key.  In my classroom, I love to use a beach ball to ask students fun facts about themselves.   Using a beach ball is a great way to get students moving, and to break away any first day jitters.  Make sure that your questions don't provoke any awkward answers.  The point is to allow your students to open up, not to embarrass them!

On her blog, Teaching in Paradise has great suggestions for how to set this activity up, and sample questions to use on your beach ball.  Check it out here!

Beach Ball Questions from Teaching in Paradise

First Day of Third Grade Tip Three:  Have something for your students do to.  

No matter how hard I plan, and over-plan, there is always something on the first day of school that does not go to plan.  (Mild chaos is inevitable!)  I make sure that my students each have a Back to School Workbook at their desks that gives them something to do during the first day (and week) back.  This way, should the unexpected happen (like a nervous parent who needs to talk, or a student in tears who needs a moment of one-on-one time) the rest of the class has something to work on.  

Back to School workbooks  also allow me to gather vital information about each of my students.  They are not just busywork.  With the workbooks I am assessing basic skills:

Can you begin working independently?

How long can you work independently?

Can you write legibly?

Can you form sentences?

Are you able to follow written instructions?

Can you infer?  

Can you make a logical connection between these two pages? 

This year, I made my students a Back to School book to specifically assess their skills and learning styles.  I want to know how they view themselves as learners, and what basic skills they may have difficulty with.  So while this book helps to occupy some students during moments of chaos in the first few days it is actually so much more.

I have two versions available:  one Bible-based version, and one non-religious Back-to-School workbook


Back to School essential skills workbook by Poet Prints Teaching


First Day of Third Grade Tip Four:  Do a project together. 

Two years ago I started doing an Art project on the first day of school.  


I taught a full Art lesson.  And it was glorious.  

I don't particularly like teaching Art, but I love the way my students come out of their shells when they are working intently on something and being a little creative.  It also gives my quieter students a chance to showcase their personalities without having to be the center of attention.  

My favourite project to do on the first day back is a Lego Self Portrait.  I get the Lego template from Art Projects for Kids and follow the basic lesson from Art with Mrs. Nguyen. 

I begin by handing out Lego people around the classroom.  We talk about what students can see. What shapes make it a lego person. (Curved hands, rounded head, rectangular legs).  Then together, we sketch me!  What am I wearing?  What could I be wearing?

Then students are set free to draw themselves as Lego people.  I love seeing what they come up with.


April and May are some of my favourite months to be a teacher. By this point, I know each and every one of my students, and they know me.  We’ve found our perfect rhythm and can work together as a fairly well-oiled machine.

I know which students need that ‘extra push’ to do their best, and which ones need to be gently coached with a hug and a smile of encouragement. I know how to correct behaviors in a way that encourages the best from my little ones, and doesn’t crush their spirits.

Each student needs such different things, and it often takes months to figure it all out.

Look at my little hard-working students  Oh term three, how I love you!

So, for me, Term Three is the most blissful of the three.

They know what I expect in my classroom, and I (for the most part) know what they need to be successful. I still get small butterflies in my stomach when I look across the hall to the Grade Two class that will eventually be ‘mine’ next year.

I wonder how we will get to this point.

Academically, I find September to be one of the most challenging months as a teacher.

Is anyone else with me on that one?

All of those lovely, high-achieving students that walked out of the school in May or June, walk back in like tiny little zombies who have forgotten almost everything. (Or so it seems!)

Oh, the summer slump.

Teachers, you know what I mean.

It’s that phenomenon that happens over the summer where the 8+ weeks of summer vacation seem to erase our students’ brains… or at least the part that remembers how to ‘do’ school.

So we re-teach. Things that were a snap in June, are suddenly brand-new skills.

  • How to put your name on a piece of paper
  • Where to line up
  • How to use capital letters and punctuation
  • Working for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time
  • How to open a thermos! (So, so many thermoses… side note: why has no one invented a thermos that will open itself?!)

I’ve tried all kinds of things to beat the Summer Slump.

I’ve sent home reading logs, writing journals, and extra science projects.

Some have had more success than others.

This year, I’m trying something different.

I’ve put together a “Stay Sharp Summer Packet” for my kiddos.

It covers most of the things that we have learned in Grade Three, plus a few skills from previous grades that I don’t want them to lose.

I’m spiral-binding it into a booklet and sending it home right before the break.

Purposeful practice: Summer practice pages specifically designed to practice the most important skills.  (Try out a freebie - link below!) 

It is my hope (and prayer!) that they will do one page every 2nd day.  That should be about 15 minutes of work. Just enough to help to keep their minds sharp a little bit over the summer, and maybe, just maybe, prevent the summer slump from completely erasing their brain! ;)

I'd love for my blog readers to try this packet out!  The full version is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I've put together a sample (9 full pages!) for you to try out for free. The full version (90+ pages is available for 5$). 

(CLICK HERE for the freebie!)  

Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.  

How do you combat the Summer Slump in your classroom or in your school? I’d love to hear your tips!

- Rachel

Easter in the Classroom

I work in a Christian school and I love it. I love being able to talk about my faith all day and play my favorite worship songs as my students work.  I have had so many incredible conversations with students about their big questions, and worries, and it's great to be able to point them back to The Word in all things.

Of all of the holidays, Easter is one of the 'big ones' in my classroom.  Teaching at a Christian school allows me to stray further from the theme of bunnies, eggs, and chicks(however cute they may be!) and focus on the story of new life through Jesus' sacrifice.

This year, to tie our Bible lessons into our Language Arts, we are going 'in depth' into the symbols seen in the Easter Story in the New Testament.

Following this complete plan, we have been learning about Jesus by actually reading our Bibles, and spending time in Bible study! All of the reading is from the New Living Translation of the Bible, and it's the perfect level for my third-grade students.  I love that they can 'dive into' The Word on their own!

Then, we craft!  In my third grade classroom, Art is a tie-in to almost every subject, and my students love getting crafty.   Check out our Symbols of the Easter Story mobiles

The whole Easter unit is available HERE  from my Teachers Pay Teachers store .

I've also created a special free version of the craft for my lovely blog readers.  You can find that HERE.

Let me know, how do you prepare for Easter in your classroom?  Any tips or great resources to share?  Sound off in the comments below!

- Rachel 

Easter in a Christian Classroom
Blog Launch Giveaway

Welcome to the brand new blog for Poet Prints by Rachel Poetker.  I am so glad that you are here!

Although I have been trying my hand at blogging for the past few months, I


 invested in a beautifully designed blog.  It was worth every penny.  I used

Blogs Fit For a Queen

, and they were wonderful to work with.  They took a colour palette from my home, and pictures of real decor from my house, and integrated them into my blog colour scheme!

I just love how this blog reflects who I am.

I am kicking off the brand new blog with an amazing


!  There are two prize packs to be won, and lots of chances to get your name in to win them.

Prize Pack #1 - TPT Shopping Spree

This prize pack is filled with gift certificates to amazing shops all over Teachers Pay Teachers!  To start, there is a $15.00 gift card that can be used

site wide

.  Then, go shopping at seven different (and equally amazing!) TpT stores for your choice of any resource from each one!

Click through to browse sellers participating in  TPT Shopping Spree:

Kelly Malloy


The Krafty Teacher


Third Grade Giggles


A Pinch of Kinder

Garden Full of Knowledge


Serious Giggles,

Janet Rainey


Poet Prints by Rachel Poetker

Blossoms of Blue


Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson


It All Started With Flubber,

Love, Believe, Teach with Jo-Ellen Foody

Prize Pack #2 - Resource Roundup

This is the ultimate elementary resource pack.  Writing, reading, math, smart board lessons, no-prep packs, year-end awards, games, crafts... this pack has it all!  There are more than 20 units, lessons and resources, and it is valued at over $200! 

Click through to browse sellers participating in Resource Roundup: 

Poet Prints by Rachel Poetker


Mrs. Renz Class


Natalie Lynn


Carla Hoff


Mrs. O Knows

Being Great with Mrs. Bates


Speech Wonderland


Mrs. Beatties Classroom

Teaching to the 4th Degree


Teach Two Reach


Jessica Lawler


Talkin' With Twang

Teaching Autism


Mr. Mault's Marketplace


Jewel Pastor,

Sasha's Creations


The Class Couple

The Tidy Teacher


Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten


Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

Keep Em Thinking by Susan Morrow


Crazy for Second Graders


Itsy Bitsy First Grade Teacher


Adventures in the Mitten


Laura Schumacher Anderson

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A HUGE thank you to each and every Teachers Pay Teachers seller who donated their resources to be a part of this giveaway.  This would not be possible without you, and I am so grateful! 

Check back every day until Saturday for more chances to win.  Winners will be announced on the blog.  Don't forget to stop by the comment section below and let me know which prize pack you are hoping to win! 

- Rachel

Use the image below to post to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the hashtag #PoetPrintsBlogLaunch

The Easy Way to do Subtraction

Subtraction in Third Grade is not always as easy as it looks! 

There are parts I love about teaching.  Reading? Writing?  Speaking?  All over those!  Creative centers and integreated learning? Check and check!

But math?  Sometimes I feel like I am totally 'rocking it' and other times it seems like my lessons go in one ear and out the other!  I have to work extra hard to make sure that my students are getting the best possible math education.  Finding strategies that work for everyone in my class is a constant juggling act! 

Am I alone in this?

I spend my evenings on Pinterest, and reading other blogs about strategies that work for other teachers, and I try to implement them in my classroom.  I desperately want my kiddos to succeed.

Recently, our math curriculum introduced subtraction with missing numbers.  Boy, were we lost.  Do we add?  Do we subtract?  What is the question even asking.  There are so many times when the materials we have (especially the text book), are just not enough!

So I started from scratch.  I made new worksheets, new posters, and a new "cheat sheet" to help guide my confused bunch of third graders.  After a bunch of repeated practice... I think we have it!  Praise the Lord!

So, I am sharing it with you.  Use it, try it, let me know if it helps your kids to master this concept.  Although this is available on Teachers Pay Teachers blog readers can have it for FREE as part of my Free Resource Library (See the link at the top of the page that says 'Resources') when they sign up for my mailing list.  

Once you sign up, the password to the library will come straight to your inbox. PLUS there are other great units and printables in there as well!  

I promise not to spam your mailbox (nobody likes multiple e-mails a month, or even a week!), but it's a great way for us to stay caught up, and for me to send more free lessons and units your way.

Sign up form is below.  Once you've subscribed, let me know what you think in the comment section!

- Rachel

Get access to the resource library now!

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Smoothie Day!

I love events.   I'm not the biggest fan of class parties (the chips/pop/free-for-all type of parties) but oh my stars do I love an all-class event.  After the first month or two of school, once I am sure that I trust my class, and I know the dynamics of the kiddos in the room, I love planning big things.  

All class theme day around a book where we are in character?  Sure!

Set up lemonade stands around the school to practice entrepreneurship? No problem!

Drape bedsheets from the ceiling and turn the entire room into a blanket fort for buddy reading?  Done! 

Create a neighbourhood-wide scavenger hunt themed around things we have studied during the year? Yes, yes! 

In Health and Career Education we have been studying healthy eating and food groups.  As we wrapped this unit, it was time to celebrate in a fun way.  My kids have been begging for a "Mrs. P style Party", and I was happy to do it!  Together, we planned Smoothie Day, an in-class afternoon to make delicious smoothies, and celebrate healthy eating choices.  

I sent home  flyers for each parent a few days in advance.  I'm pretty fortunate that most parents in my class are able to bring something small in if we do a class event.  (Although I don't usually ask for too much throughout the year). I'm pretty specific to ask for fruit/veggies that are cut up already, because it makes the process go much quicker, and I don't have a ton of space to do a lot of chopping/peeling at the back of the room.    

On Smoothie Day, each student brought in their contributions.  I have a small bar fridge behind my desk (thanks to the hubby last year!), and I packed it full of the perishable goods.  Then we waited until the afternoon.  I quickly crammed in all of the academic subjects, so that way we could end our day with Smoothie making.  

We started the activity by brainstorming all of the food groups, and reminding ourselves why it was important to eat many different kinds of food groups.  

i.e. Why shouldn't we just have a smoothie of just strawberries and bananas?  Why is it important to also eat dairy and vegetables as well?

  (Note: this is where I really sell them on how GREAT smoothies are for eating sneaky vegetables!  So many of my kiddos are amazed about how they can't even taste the spinach/carrots/cucumber that is in their smoothie, and go right home and ask for it!)

Then comes the good part... making smoothies!  I have two blenders in the classroom, one for me, and one for my Educational Assistant.  We each took a group of three students, and guided them through creating a smoothie "recipe".  Our only instruction was that it had to have fruit, dairy, and vegetables in it.  Then they were off!  It was so great to watch them gather ingredients as they decided what they thought would taste best, and be best for their bodies.  

hile sipping their finished creations, I sent them back to their desks to write out everything that went into their smoothies.  This way, they had something to take home to their families to show how to recreate the smoothie they enjoyed in class.  (24/25 loved it, vegetables an all!)

I've gathered all of my resources Smoothie Day together, and you can grab them HERE.  The best part, it's totally free!  I hope you and your class love celebrating healthy eating as much as we did.  

Leave a comment and let me know how it goes!  Happy blending :) 

- Rachel

We are Bucket Fillers! (Freebie)

Students in my class are practicing being bucket fillers!  The concept of being a bucket filer comes from Carol McCloud’s Book 'Have You Filled A Bucket Today?' and 'How Full Is Your Bucket' (For Kids) by Tom Rath. 

Both books are focused around the idea that everyone carries around an invisible bucket that, throughout the day, is being filled by the kind things that you do for others or that others do for you.  A bucket filler is someone who is showing positive character traits (kindness, compassion, care, respect, consideration for others), and is being a responsible citizen. When our buckets are full, we feel happy.   When our buckets are empty, we feel sad. 

For the next few weeks, we will be learning about different qualities that bucket fillers and bucket dippers exhibit.  We will be continuously reading and re-reading bucket filling books  so that students are able to really grasp the concept of bucket filling.  I can wait to have students start practicing being being bucket fillers in the classroom, and encouraging students to be bucket fillers at home! 

We used this bulletin board as a visual reminder of bucket filling actions.  Whenever I saw someone being a 'bucket filler' I added a star to the bucket.  When it was full we celebrated with a popcorn party! 

(Teachers: I have created an entire unit to kick start this kindness campaign that is available for download now.  The unit is designed to be done over 3 weeks, has 6 unique lessons, a teaching guide, bulletin board templates, and interactive games! See it here in my TpT store

For checking out my blog today, I have an awesome freebie for you.  One part of the Bucket Filling unit is a 'Bucket Filling, Bucket Dipping' sorting activity.  You can use it as a drama game in your class, as a sorting activity in small groups, or as independent work.  There is a sorting mat included!

Bucket Filler Freebie for Blog Readers (Click!)

Let me know how you use the Bucket Fillers program in your class. I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!