And the winner is...

Congrats to Melanie E., the winner of the $50 gift card to Erin Condren! I love, love, love my teacher planner, but all their organizational supplies are amazing!

Don't worry if you didn't win, there are many more giveaways in the future :-)

Open House!

My school district starts pretty late in the year...the first week of September! Here are some things that I do to make Meet the Teacher/Open House run smoothly!

1. Get parent emails
I leave a laptop right outside the door on a desk so that the parents line up to put in their email addresses directly onto a spreadsheet. I LOVE email, I sometimes feel like I am spamming these poor parents sometimes (but they always say they appreciate it, so who knows!). I notice it works best to place my laptop on a desk right outside the door, because the parents see a line of other parents and immediately get in line to type in their email. In the past, I have put it right up front on my podium/projector before, but they never see it with the herds of parents/kids in my room and I end up not getting many email addresses. I like to add all the emails I get onto a distribution list and send an email out right after Open House simply thanking the parents and directing them to my teacher Twitter page. Opening up that line of communication right from the start puts parents at ease.

2. Student names
I don't write up name tags on Open House. I place a piece of paper (as shown above) at each seat that says the students' name on it that it says on my class roster. It also says "Welcome to my classroom! Many students go by nicknames. What would you like to be called this year?". I have gotten some weird nicknames that even catch the parents by surprise.... but I love the ownership it gives students. The world of nicknames is their oyster! I teach at a gifted magnet center, and third-grade is the first year at the school for the kids. Sometimes the kids "reinvent" themselves by giving themselves a nickname or more mature name that they always wanted.

3. Supplies
Many parents bring in supplies during Open House. I just have them place the supplies next to the students' desk... a big chunk of our first day of school is dedicated to organizing supplies (besides the community building, of course!). My first year of teaching I decided to organize all the supplies myself... well by 6 pm I was sitting on the floor crying while opening glue stickers. Never. Again. Giving students more responsibility and trusting them how to figure out how to open a glue stick/crayon/colored pencil package works wonders. Of course you'll have kids who loudly will exclaim "I CAN'T OPEN THIS!" But it allows other students to rise to the occasion and  help those students out, showing teamwork and caring. It's a good indicator on the first day which kids already are showing leadership skills.

4. Scavenger Hunt 

I never, ever want a student to leave on Open House without saying good-bye to me first, those last moments make such a difference. On my scavenger hunt you can see that I specifically mention handing me their green "Interesting Fact" card. This ensures that the student and I have some sort of interaction when they leave. Simply putting down "say good-bye to me!" makes it easier for students to sneak out or figure that there are too many students/parents around me and leave.

5. Google Forms 
I email parents that same night with a Google Form (since the parents that came directly put their emails into my computer, which allows me to quickly prepare a distribution list!). This Google Form has all the basics... name, phone number, child's interests, etc. This way I keep it safe all year long! There are no loose papers that I need to shuffle through to call home... everything is safe and sound in a nice online spreadsheet that I can pull up at school or at home.

What do you do for Open House? Do you have any ideas that you think work great? I would LOVE to hear them, I am always on the lookout for ideas to make my classroom run smoothly :-)

Erin Condren Teacher Planner review & $50 GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!

Have you heard about the Erin Condren planners? They are all over the blogging world, and I knew I had to get my paws on one of them! In the past, I only heard about their Life Planner. Many of my friends would post about it on Instagram and exclaim how "life-changing" it was. Obviously, I had to give it a try! A life-changing agenda?! Sign me up! When I saw that Erin Condren had a Teacher Planner, I knew that I needed to give it a shot.

As a teacher and organizational fanatic, I have a passion for agendas and planners. I previously used a Lilly Pullitzer agenda because I am a Lilly fanatic, but found it way too heavy. It also had a lot of unnecessary features (like the monthly calendar view was printed twice? Maybe there was just an error with mine). The Erin Condren ones are much lighter, and in my opinion, much better organized. These teacher planners are perfect for both short-term and long-term lesson planning. Erin Condren has more than just teacher planners for school, they also have notebooks, notepads, file folders, clipboards, boxes, stickers, pens... the list goes on and on! They have a gorgeous lookbook if you want to check it out for some goodies to make your classroom organized and beautiful this September.

If you're new to Erin Condren and would like $10 off your first order, sign up through my affiliate link! 

The Review


First of all, receiving the gorgeously packed box was a gift in itself! The outside of the box was dark blue with a pretty flowery design, along with the foreshadowing "Enjoy!". Open it up, and there are some nice free gifts included! I received a motivational sticker, as well as some gift tags. The gift tags would look darling on a gift-wrapped present, and the motivational sticker will look fab on one of my cabinets in school. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Underneath the stickers and treats is luxurious golden colored tissue paper with another "Enjoy!" sticker to seal it. 

Enjoy?! You bet I will! Isn't it funny how beautiful packaging makes everything inside a box ten times better?! It's like opening up a Christmas gift. I opened it up carefully, even though I knew I wasn't actually saving the tissue paper!


EEEEEEEEEEEEEE IT IS SO DARLING! The white box on the bottom of the planner is where my name and school is listed... I blocked it for personal reasons. HOWEVER it is in a beautiful font and looks quite regal. You can customize it with your own name and school, or your name and no school, or your school and no name, or a quote, or... anything! It is totally up to you! The site is super customizable so you get your planner exactly how you want it.You can also see on the picture above that it comes with a ruler to be used as a place marker so you can quickly open up to whatever lesson plan page that you are on.

The picture below is how the back of the cover looks. What I really like about the cover is that it will be durable throughout the year. It is hard, laminated, and it will be easy clean if something is dropped on it or a kiddo gets too close with sticky fingers. This happens to me a lot! I feel like every single day there is a birthday in my classroom and a boatload of donuts or cupcakes. Somehow all my stuff gets touched in the process. Well, at least if anyone touches my planner it will be just fine!

I chose the Scales pattern for $59. I went with the same coloring that is in the template on the website, because I LOVED the colors they chose. My Pattern color is white, and my background is Lagoon. It reminds me of a mermaid tail or a friendly dragon :-)

There are so many color options on the website. If you have a custom one like I did (with your name), it takes a week or two to be made and ship, so keep that in mind if you need one ASAP. Erin Condren offers a planner that is already made and ready to mail if you need it super soon.

The covers can also be changed and personalized. You can swap out planner covers for your mood or seasons! Definitely helps keep your beautiful planer new and fresh!


Now on to the fun part... what is inside?? To make it easy, I broke everything down into 14 sections and included pictures/discussions on each one. Erin Condren definitely thought this baby through! The colors, fonts, and quotes used throughout the planner add a feeling of fun and enthusiasm. 

Here is the beginning of your planner. You put down your basics in case your planner gets lost or left at a staff meeting. There's also a fantastic place to jot down access codes/usernames and web resources. I am terrible at remembering my passwords for sites like BrainPop, Study Island, Discovery Education, or IXL, so this is a way to jot them down so you can easily log on to those favorite sites of yours! I am not sure yet what I will put in the Web Resources section. I am thinking this would be a good place to put down my favorite apps, websites, or lessons that I learn about on Pinterest. Sometimes I will find a pin for a great app on fractions, but quickly forget about it if it is not the math unit we are currently studying. I see me using this as a way to jog my memory for future small group and lessons!

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS SECTION! I have a chronic issue of writing down field trip dates on post-it notes and then promptly losing them (whoops). This will be perfect! I will also put down my most dependable volunteers or ones that I utilize the most (like room parents, a copy mom, Wednesday Folder mom, etc.) here. What a nice, easy, and central spot for all the volunteer information! I am loving the color combo here too, the green is beautiful.

This section is good for an emergency. I leave super detailed sub plans for my substitutes when I am sick, doing professional development, or traveling, but this is good for those emergency situations. On the bottom part for "students with special needs" I may go over it with Washi Tape and change it to "Morning Meeting." Then I can put down a generic greeting, share, activity, and closing that can be done in my absence. Since my school does Responsive Classroom, Morning Meeting is a key part of every morning. I know the kids would be a bit on the wild side if Morning Meeting goes missing from their routine! "Class Rules" or "Dismissal procedure" could also be put there if you are not comfortable with putting down the confidential special needs information either. Oh, and how stinking cute is that owl?!

Lots of great dates for the year are here! It's so easy to forget those holidays like Earth Day or April Fools, but here is a handy list to ensure that you always know what day they fall in. As soon as I got my planner, I wrote down all the dates on my monthly calendar view so that I wouldn't have to flip back to this page. Isn't this page cute? It's like a big rainbow or bag of Skittles.

I am terrible with remembering birthdays. I have a huge bday chart on my wall and still manage to forget! I tend to realize it is a student's birthday when I see them walking down the hall in the morning of their birthday holding a big box of Krispy Kreme donuts or brownies. The second I see this, I make a mad dash to my birthday box to grab their card and special seat decoration. I know, I am the worst. Thankfully it is a long hallway to get to my room, so I have a decent amount of time to get their stuff together! I feel totally guilty admitting to this. Anyway, this is another place to check every morning. I also will put all the birthdays on my monthly calendar, since this is the part that I will use most often! You could probably use Washi Tape and change this to something else if you don't picture you using it much. But I personally love it!

My school utilizes an online attendance check, so unfortunately I would be unable to use this. Some ways that I may redo this page with Washi Tape include:

  • Students' home phone numbers
  • Parents' email addresses
  • Read alouds read in class
  • Literature circle/book club group books

This will be PERFECT for creating seating charts and getting those chatty students away from one another. One day I hope there is an app that could do seating charts.... you could type in the behavior students and the quiet students, click a button, and suddenly have your seating chart done! I am positive this app would make millions of dollars... I would certainly buy it! If only I could create apps. Until that is created, this graph paper works out great :-)
This may be my favorite part of the planner. I adore having simplified information in one spot. What a terrific way for year-long planning and truly looking at the "big picture." These two pages are genius. I usually have a bunch of post-it notes falling out of a binder for my "year at a glance," this one clearly wins. The font on the "year" is so pretty. 

The EC Teacher Planner has monthly calendars for September through June. My favorite planning tool are monthly calendars, so this is my favorite part of the planner. On the righthand side of the monthly views are a section for notes, as well as mini calendars for 2015 and 2016.

The monthly calendar views do NOT have the calendar dates already on them. However, EC sends these little date stickers. You can see how the stickers look on the before and after calendar views. Many people like to fill the blank dates in by themselves... by my handwriting looks like a small child's. So I happily filled up the calendar with the date dots. Putting the date dots down only took a couple of minutes for each month, but I love how it looks after the dots are put on. They coordinate with the colors for each month. I put them on my calendars while catching up on some Devious Maids on my DVR.

Before date stickers

Date stickers

After date stickers
How beautiful are these colors? The May color scheme is my absolute fave.... yay pink and blue!

On the back of each monthly calendar is a big section for Notes. This is a fabulous place to put perhaps staff meeting notes for the month, lesson plan ideas, professional development training notes, etc.

I usually use PlanBook Edu (which I will continue to use to upload detailed lesson plans), but this format is brilliant for a quick glance lesson plan book. I like this as an overview. Although we have to write up lesson plans, I really don't utilize those complex lesson plans during my teaching. I wrote them once... I definitely don't need to reread them before each lesson! I like having something quick to look at, since I already planned out my lesson. This works out super well for that!

There are 40 weeks worth of planning.

I do wish that the dates were printed in the book along with subjects, however EC offers labels on their website that you can get made for this. You could also easily make your own with some labels from the store. I tend to rush through things, and I know I will somehow manage to screw up the dates/subjects if I wrote everything out in pen by myself. Plus I have hideous handwriting....

Do you like stickers and decorating things? Let's be real, of course you do! I would decorate my face in stickers everyday if it was socially acceptable. These stickers say things like "report cards due," "REMINDER!", "conferences," "field trip," "library," "testing," "IEP," and "assembly." There's also one for "furlough." To be honest I didn't know that teachers could be furloughed! I guess you really do learn something new everyday.

There's a nice section with a checklist. This is a great way to keep track of project requirements, homework, permission slips, etc. I am very excited for this page, I love the colors used and it is really handy. You also do not have to rewrite everyone's name again when the page is all filled up... just fold on the dotted line!

Erin Condren included a nice plastic folder pocket to keep important documents in. I think I would keep a class roster and maybe field trip forms here. 

The pouch comes with some extra little goodies, like calling cards and stickers. In the future, I am going to store grading stickers in this pouch! I am always losing my stickers, and this will be an easy place to grab everything that I need. 

Some fun extras also came in the pouch. I received do-it-all dots (these are a fun way to embellish your planner with symbols for things like cleaning, doctor, nails, hair, money, etc.), as well as some inspirational cards. I can see me taping the cards to my bathroom mirror when my fiancĂ© had a bad night. 

I highly recommend this planner! It is a little bit costly, but at least for me, I it is 100% worth it. The planner is so much fun to use and makes organization beautiful. All the possibilities for stickers and decorating is endless, it is perfect for those who are creative or scrapbooking junkies. I highly recommend to give it a try! 

Would you like $10 off your first order? For a coupon, you can sign up through my affiliate link!

Want to learn more about the Erin Condren Teacher Planner? Check out ideas and how to use to be the teacher at your school with the most organization!

And the two winners of the plastic book boxes from Steps to Literacy are.....

Wow, there were over 800 entries to win a set of 40 plastic book boxes in primary colors from Steps to Literacy. These boxes are the best for using as student book boxes, classroom library boxes, storage containers, math manipulative holders, or lesson plan organizing. If you don't know what all the hype it about, make sure to read my review on these great organizational & storage tools.

Congrats to our two winners, Hope Anne and Josie! Both these winners will be emailed. Congrats, ladies!

Remember, you can still use the promo codes even if you didn't win! Steps to Literacy provided me with exclusive promotion codes to save you money! Use the code GLITTER3 to receive a 10% discount on all book bins in the shopping cart when a set of 20 or 40 is ordered at the same time. This code also provides you with free shipping for your entire order, meaning you can shop and find some more goodies to start off your school year! Don't need a set of 20 or 40? Use the promotion code STL15TS to get Free Shipping on all orders over $50.

Thank you to Steps to Literacy for providing these book boxes and making this giveaway possible! Follow them on Facebook for more giveaways in the future :-)