Everyone is Fighting a Battle You Know Nothing About. Be Kind. Always.

Infertility was never talked about to me growing up. It actually never occurred to me that I might experience it. I think I was just scared into believing that I would get pregnant right away. My husband and I married young. He was in nursing school and wanted to have kids right away, but I wanted to wait until we both had good jobs. Once we both felt settled in our careers, we were so content in life that we didn’t feel rushed to start a family right away. Time catches up with you though, and four years ago we decided to stop birth control and to just see what would happen. That’s when the monthly rollercoaster started. The whole spending at least 2 weeks of the month with the possibility that I might be pregnant and letting myself build up the fantasy of having a baby in 9 months, to only be let down and then have to start the process all over again the next month.

To relieve the disappointment and to not have to deal with the emotions, I’d always tell myself, “It’s okay. Life is good. You’re not even 100% sure you’re ready to have a kid anyway.” There was truth in those words, but then I’d drive by a friend’s house that just had a baby and instantly start sobbing feeling like all my friends were going to leave me behind. That they’d distance themselves from me because they had kids, and I didn’t. I was afraid that if they knew I was struggling with infertility, it’d only make them pull away from me more in fear of hurting me. 

After 3.5 years of struggling with infertility, last August my husband and I were working at a summer camp out in the woods away from stores and cell service. I was 2 weeks late and was having pregnancy symptoms. My husband doesn’t get his hopes up as much as I do, but both of us started getting giddy. We didn’t have a pregnancy test and couldn’t buy one while we were at camp, so in the meantime we built up this whole idea. We had decided how and when we wanted to tell people, we started picturing my maternity leave and how that would work, and most of all we started letting ourselves imagine holding a little piece of the two of us and feeling completely in love. The last day of camp, as we were packing up, my period started. We were crushed. I hid under a blanket for over an hour, blasting music through my hearing aids and just letting myself cry and feel the disappointment. My husband held me. After a little while, I got up and got to work carrying on with our last day of camp. Nobody else knew the disappointment we felt. To everybody else, it was just like any other day. 

I’ve pushed down these emotions for so long, that today I decided to try to put words onto paper and give these emotions the credit they deserve, without trying to apologize for them and that is why I am here sharing a small piece of my story and how it has changed me. But even as I do so, I feel the need to say, “I know my story might not be as bad as someone else’s” or “I know people have worse problems and may not want to hear about this.” Why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to compare and not give credit to our own emotions? When in reality, I am sharing this because I feel it is time for me to stop stuffing these feelings down, and also because I have felt comfort from hearing other people’s stories. It has given me hope, but also empathy, to read about other’s experiences. To know, that deep down, none of us are completely alone. And also I am sharing this, because it has given me stronger empathy and patience with my students. 

Now as we continue to go forward with doctor appointments, tests, hormones…etc. I think often of the quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I think of this quote when my students’ behaviors change, or I see a look of sadness in their eyes even though they’re laughing with their friends. They all go through so much at home, and internally, that I don’t completely know or understand. In the same way that they don’t know that I just got off the phone with a disappointing conversation with the doctor, I don’t completely know what their morning consisted of before they walk through my classroom door. Behavior is a form of communication, and this is important to remember with our students. It is our responsibly and honor to be living examples of kindness, and genuine relationship building…to know and love these kids with patience and grace while understanding that they may all be fighting their own battles in the same way we do. 

Behind the Scenes of a 7 Day Classroom Transformation

Over the last 6 years, I’ve been collecting classroom pieces from Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace in order to transform my classrooms on a budget. I’ve share a little bit about this in a couple other blog posts over the years, including Classroom Transformation and Cafe Style Classroom on a Budget. What made this transformation different than the others though, is that it took place in 7 days.

Keep in mind that I brought some furniture with me and was given furniture with the room, so that made this transformation quicker and less expensive. Here is a run down of the time and budget spent on this space…

If you’d rather see the video version of this transformation with time lapse clips, you can watch this transformation Here on my YouTube Channel.

Day 1: Cleaning & Painting ($100)

The first day can be overwhelming. I spent this day cleaning, moving furniture to the middle of the room, and painting the dark walls. The paint on these walls is called “Semisweet”and I buy it at Lowes. I spent $100 on paint and painting supplies.

Day 2: Wallpaper ($120)

For my accent wall, I decided to use white shiplap wallpaper. This was peel and stick wallpaper that I found Here on Amazon. It is thin like contact paper and is a good temporary use wallpaper that can be removed if needed. I should have put it up in smaller sections though as it tended to wrinkle easily. It took me almost 5 rolls to cover this large front wall.

Day 3: Furniture Assembly ($180)

I didn’t have too many new furniture pieces to put together besides these modern white chairs from Amazon. I also put together my wood and metal stool table and pipe and wood bookshelf. Both of which I brought with me. The rest of the furniture was already in the room or it was solid wood furniture that didn’t need to be assembled.

Day 4: Plants ($24)

I wanted to add a lot of plants to this classroom, not just for decor, but for educational purposes and for cleaner air. I went to Home Depot when they had house plants 3/$12 and added them to this shelving system. I also have fake plants on the tables.

Day 5: Painting Window Frames & Doors ($0)

In every room transformation that I’ve done, there is always one idea of my husband’s that I don’t want to do, out of laziness, but then it ends up being worth it. In this classroom, it was painting the window frames and doors. It really did pull the whole room together though.

Day 6: String Lights -Up & Down- ($0)

In all of my classrooms, I have strung Edison bulb string lights. I assumed I would in this room too. I spent hours going up and down the ladder to get them up, only to take them back down. I decided I liked the look of this room better without them, because of the white brightness without the string lights.

Day 7: Final Touches ($100)

My favorite part of any room transformation is when the big stuff is out of the way and I can focus on the details. I loved this day, as I got to manipulate different decor pieces and add the finishing touches.

Mario Kart Classroom Transformation

This last Friday, my first graders walked into a total classroom transformation. Our whole day was filled with Mario! The day was centered around Design Thinking and Math, with a Mario Kart theme. It started off with the students coming into the transformed classroom with Mario theme music playing in the background, and Mario Kart on Nintendo Switch set up and ready for the kids to play.


The students took turns racing on Mario Kart as they trickled into the classroom. I wanted to give some context for the students that have maybe never played Mario Kart. Plus, it was a fun way to start the day.

Then, we moved into the design process. I had a cardboard box for each student that they were to turn into a car for our Mario Kart math games. The students spent time on Thursday analyzing and finding some potential problems, that they would need to solve in order for the box to be an efficient car. For example, the boxes would need to stay up on the students while they were running around playing the games, the cars would need to be the correct size in order for the students to be able to move around, and the students needed some way to be able to collect gold coins and not drop and/or lose them while running around in their cars. The students then spent time sketching and labeling at least four different ideas of how they could keep the coins from dropping out of their car design.

On Friday morning, the students carried their cardboard box down to our school’s design lab. They spent 75 minutes designing their Mario Kart cars. Their top criteria was to have the car be able to stay on them for the games, and for the coins to be able to stay attached to the car during the whole time. Their constraints were that they had 75 minutes and could only use any materials and/or tools found in the lab (which is actually a lot).  The students came up with all types of designs. Some made straps to hold it up and others cut out leg holes that were just the right size to hold up their box. Some used ribbon for straps, others used rope, and some even used tape that they put back to back to make straps. In order the hold the coins, some made compartments out of cardboard and hot glued them to their cars, some made bags and attached them, and others made little compartments inside of their cars. Every student was totally engaged and working hard the whole 75 minutes and honestly could have worked for much longer if they didn’t have the time constraint.

After the students finished their cars, we went back to the transformed classroom. The first math game that we played involved the gold coins that I had set up along our shiplap wall. Each coin had an addition problem on it, as well as, a white card with the coin number. The students were given a packet with three pages of addition problems. They were either Mario, Luigi, or Yoshi packets. This allowed me to differentiate the types of addition problems that each student did. Some pages had three addends, some had missing numbers in the addition equations, some had story problems, and some had four addends.

The students solved a problem in their packets and then found a gold coin that had the same sum as the problem. They then put the coin number in the circle. When they had finished a page, they should it to me (Luigi) or my parent volunteer (Mario) and if they got all the problems correct and found the corresponding coins, they earned a gold coin (gold paper plate).

After about 30 minutes, the students gathered their gold coins, got in their cardboard cars, and headed to the gym with their fourth grade buddies. In the gym, there were posters with the numbers 1-30 across the walls. The students were given three sticky notes with addition problems on them. They had to solve them, put them on the correct posters with the corresponding sums, and then return to collect a gold coin and get three more sticky notes. This continued for about 25 minutes. The problems got increasingly more difficult as they kept coming back for more sticky notes.

Overall, the day was a huge success that got the whole school excited, not just my first grade class. The fourth grade buddies came to gym to play the Mario Kart math game with my students and to remind them addition strategies as the problems got increasingly harder. Before school, our classroom was full of students from other classrooms checking out the transformation and watching the first graders race on Mario Karts. My students were super engaged and ended up doing a TON of math.

I believe in giving my students experiences and unforgettable memories intertwined with rigorous academics.  Students are so much more inclined to have a growth mindset and challenge themselves when they are engaged and happy.

You can always find more information, pictures, and videos of different classroom transformations and lessons on my Instagram or Facebook accounts.


Kayla Collins


Flexible Seating

For me, it all started about five years ago when I was a Kindergarten teacher. I didn’t have desks or assigned seating in my classroom. We spent most of our days rotating through work stations. During this year, my husband and I talked about how if I ever taught older kids that we should turn the classroom into a cafe style environment. At the time, I never saw myself teaching anything other than Kindergarten because I had fallen so in love with it, but the next year I was offered a job as a 5th grade teacher in my home town. I had moved away for college and then moved again for my husband’s nursing clinical rotations, and we were now finally at a place where we could move back. I was so excited because my husband and I both knew we would end up back in my hometown, but jobs can be hard to come by, and I was happy to have been offered a full time teaching position. With this new position, my husband and I jumped on the opportunity to transform my new classroom. Over the course of a couple of years of DIY projects and shopping at thrift stores, we were able to create a cafe style classroom. You can read more details about this classroom here.

Over the three years that I taught 5th grade, I was able to see the amazing positive benefits this classroom had on my students, academically and socially. This last Spring, I was offered a 1st grade teaching position at a different school where I could learn more about Design Thinking and teach it to my students. This also opened up another opportunity for me to set up a new classroom with flexible seating. I set up this classroom very similarly but with a woodland/farmhouse style. You can also see pictures and learn more about this classroom transformation.

I get lots of questions about flexible seating, and this blog post is long overdue. I’ve been wanting to be able to put all the questions and answers in one place as a resource, so here we go…

What is Flexible Seating?

Flexible Seating is the philosophy of giving your students choice and variety in their learning space. This means that not every student is sitting in the same type of seating at the same time. There are not just rows of assigned desks. Flexible seating can be set up with lot of different types of furniture and seating options, as long as there are a variety of options.

Why Flexible Seating?

I could write pages in response to this question, but I will just share a few reasons.  According to Benedict (2014), studies on how the brain works and recalls information showed that the more the environment changes while learning the same information, the more we are able to recall that information later. This can be as simple as learning through different activities, such as writing the words, typing the words, and also singing the words. It can also be about changing the physical setting in which we are learning the information. This can mean learning content at the standing table by the window,  in the teepee, sitting on the spinning stools, and also stretching out at the coffee table..etc.

Another reason to have flexible seating is because of the space that it gives the students to move around, have quick transitions, and to be active while learning. Taking desks out and switching to flexible seating can give your classroom so much more physical space.

The last reason, that I’ll touch on right now, is the ownership of learning that it gives to the students. It is a great opportunity for students to have choice and power in discovering how to set themselves up for success.

Where Do Students Keep their Supplies?

In the schools that I’ve worked at, the students have had cubbies, lockers, or hooks to hang their backpacks and lunches. In the classroom, we have community supplies and areas where we keep our books and journals.


Do Students Fight Over Certain Areas?

I have actually not had students fight over an area, but I also don’t dismiss them all at the same time to find a spot to work. We have a gathering area where we do all whole group instruction, which right now is the carpet at the front of the classroom. After our short whole group lessons, I dismiss the students 1-2 at a time to pick where they are going to work. Different kids go first each time, so that they all have the opportunity to pick first. This also means that we are changing spots several times throughout the day.

I spend the first couple weeks of school having the students practice sitting in the different areas as we come up with classroom expectations for each spot. By the end of the first couple of weeks, they have had a chance to try everything. We also spend big chunks of our day rotating through learning stations, where the students are moving around to the different areas in groups.

Would Flexible Seating Work in Middle and High School Classrooms?

I have seen flexible seating be very successful in all grade levels from pre-K to High School. When I taught 5th grade, I also taught 5-8th grade Spanish while my students were at Specials. Flexible seating can be great when students are rotating in and out of your classroom, if you set it up strongly and have a gathering place for whole group instruction. Even with older students, I spent time going over the expectations and having them try the different areas before giving them choice. I have seen in my experience, and heard from middle school and high school teachers, that flexible seating allowed for more space in the classroom and also showed the students that their teacher respected them enough to give them choice and create an environment that they are proud of.

How Did You Pay for All the Furniture?

You can read about how I was able to set this up on a budget here, but there are also other options like Donors Choose to be able to fund flexible seating. I spent a lot of time looking on Craigslist, used furniture Facebook groups, and at thrift stores. Even though it is used, I chose to use solid wood furniture because it is sturdy and can be sanded down and re-stained if anything happens to it. The students take amazing care of the furniture because they are proud of the classroom and we have spent lots of time setting up the procedures at the beginning of the year.


  • Have enough table surfaces for every student to be at a table if necessary.
  • If you just make one change, have a standing table. You can use bed risers or just extend the legs on a table that you already have in your classroom. This allows your wiggly students to have a place where they can be more active while working.
  • Have enough clipboards for all your students. These are great when students want to work on the floor.
  • Remember, it is about giving your students choice and variety in their learning in order set them up for greater success. Spend the the beginning of the year setting up the procedures strongly and let the students be a part of this process. The more choice the students have, the more ownership they have of their learning.


For more picture, videos, and information about how flexible seating works in my classroom, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram.



Benedict, C. (2014). How we learn: The surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens. New York, NY: Random House.

Classroom Transformation


As I start in a new classroom, I try to think, “If I were to go somewhere to focus and learn, what type of an environment would I choose?” I know for me personally, I’d choose a coffee shop. It has a buzz of conversation and collaboration, but it is not overstimulating. There are different seating options and it usually has a calming demeanor to it. I want this for my students. My last classroom was a 5th grade classroom and definitely had that cafe feel. (You can read about that classroom transformation in my Cafe Style Classroom Transformation Blog Post ) This summer I switched schools and also switched grade levels. I am now teaching 1st grade. I wanted to be able to keep a lot of the wood and metal pieces that I had bought for my previous classroom but make it work for a younger grade. I decided to do a Woodland/Farmhouse style classroom.

In this blog post, I want to share before and after pictures. I will go more into details about the various aspects of the classroom in later posts. I will say that “where there is a will there is a way”. I did not spend as much money on this classroom as it seems, because, like my last classroom, it is full of DIY projects, Craigslist finds, and clearance items. I do have more details on my Facebook Page if you are wondering where I found the items in my classroom and the prices.

Here are some Before and After pictures of my classroom so far. Keep in mind that when I inherited the classroom, the classrooms were still all being switched around and there were both 5th grade and 1st grade furniture and supplies in my new classroom.












Here are a few more Woodland Classroom Pictures, and yes those wood cut outs are pillows and the shiplap at the front of the room is a rug! Aren’t they perfect?! Amazon Prime for the win!





You can also find more pictures and details of this transformation on my Instagram Page

Thank you,

Kayla Collins


DIY Rustic Wood Chairs


As I go from 5th grade to 1st grade, I am taking the wood/metal cafe look of my 5th grade classroom and transitioning it into a woodland look for my 1st graders. A lot of my flexible seating options are the wrong size since I will have much smaller students, so I have spent time this summer creating new options to fit with this rustic woodland theme.


I found these two wood chairs at Michaels on the clearance aisle. They were $15 each, and were made with unfinished wood. I could’ve left them like this, but I wanted to give it a more shabby chic look, so I bough a grey wood stain and a special walnut wood stain.


First, I covered the chairs in the grey stain. I didn’t stir it well enough though, and it ended up being really thick on the seat. It also looked more blue than I pictured. I panicked a little but I knew I wasn’t finished yet.

After the stain dried, I sanded down the all of the chairs with a power sander. I left some stain all over it, but sanded sections of it where there was very little stain showing.


Next, I covered the chairs with special walnut stain.

After it dried, I sanded it down again. I tried to sand the edges the most, and sanded sections of the seats more heavily than others.


It turned out very different than I was picturing, but I love it. It almost reminds me of animal fur which is perfect for our woodland classroom.

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Grammar Skits

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Grammar can be one of the most boring and frustrating subjects to teach and learn. As I was sitting last year thinking about how I was going to teach the parts of speech, I started thinking about what types of personalities these parts of speech would have. I love using personification and imagination to make learning more engaging and fun. I also want my students moving, laughing, and comprehending at a deep level. This led to me writing my first grammar skit. This skit included 4 parts of speech that are sometimes difficult to grasp: preposition, conjunction, pronoun, and interjection. As I was writing this skit and these parts of speech were coming to life, it made me laugh out loud.  I was picturing my students moving around the room giving personalities to these concepts, and it made my teacher heart happy.

Preposition is constantly in a new location throughout the skit.

“I am by the door”

“I am under the table”

“I am on a chair”

Several times during the skit, Interjection interjects when the narrators are talking.


Yay! That’s so much better!”


Pronoun comes to the scene and is a very mysterious character. He/she keeps referring to things as it, him, her, them…etc., but won’t ever say the name of the nouns. When asked why he/she is so mysterious, Pronoun answers by saying, “I am a pro at keeping the nouns’ exact identities a secret.” Get it? Pro-noun. 🙂

One of the narrators struggles to make his sentences flow together, and Conjunction comes to save the day. By repeating what the narrator just said but with conjunctions, the audience sees how helpful conjunctions can be.

This whole skit is color coded with the name of the part of speech matching every time that specific part of speech is used. The students also wear matching headbands with the name of their characters in the same colors that are seen in the skit. Now the students are experiencing visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning in one activity.

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This skit brought my students so much joy over the last two years, so I decided to share it with other teachers online through teacherspayteachers. It was such a hit with other teachers that I got lots of requests for more grammar skits. Since then, I have written 3 more. One more with the other 4 parts of speech, and two that cover figurative language pieces. All of these skits are top sellers, with constant positive feedback flowing in. Teachers have shared videos and pictures of their students laughing while doing these skits, and commented on how successful they are at teaching their students these concepts. Here is some of the written feedback I’ve recieved about these skits:

“My students LOVED doing this skit! We practiced a few times this week and now they are calling out parts of speech when they hear it (a teacher’s dream!). I’m going to purchase the counterpart to this one. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this product!!” –Kathryn P.

“WOW! My students embraced this skit and performed it throughout the school with gusto! My students all know what figurative language is and their knowledge is now seen throughout their writing – YAHOO!” – Amy O.

“This product here made me a rock star teacher!! My kids loved it and so did I. Thank you so much for such an engaging way to teach figurative language.” –Hamidah K.

You can find all of these skits in my teacherspayteachers store. Here are the direct links to each one:

Grammar Skit 1

Grammar Skit 2

Figurative Language Skit 1

Figurative Language Skit 2

or you can get them in bundles (also found in my store).


The Crumpled Heart Object Lesson

There is an object lesson that I do on the very first day of the school year. The students come through the door, I greet them, and show them the room. Then, we meet at the carpet, where we will meet every morning for the rest of the year. This carpet is where we do sharing and community circle. It is where we truly get to know each other and where we can laugh together as we tell silly stories about our weekends, pets, experiences..etc. On the very first day of school though, I start this carpet time with an object lesson.

I show them a heart cut out of construction paper. There is not a single crease or line on this heart. As I hold up this perfectly smooth heart, I tell the story of how I first learned I was hearing impaired. As a 5 year old, I was excited to be able to wear hearing aids and to have something that made me unique and special.

I continue to tell them about the comments kids said and experiences that I had that tarnished my innocent and care-free spirit. Each time I tell the students about one of those experiences, I crumple up the paper heart.

I then go on to tell them about how when I met my husband, he showed me again how my hearing loss can be beautiful. He reminded me that I should feel proud of the things I’ve been able to accomplish and who I have become. He constantly reassured me that people wouldn’t think less of me if they knew, rather they’d be impressed with my story. I slowly started to wear my hair up again and to try not to hide my ears. I stopped smiling and nodding when I didn’t hear what people said, and instead asked them to repeat themselves.

As I tell this part of the story, I flatten and smooth out the paper heart.

Then, I hold it up and ask the class if the heart is as good as new. But of course, it still has lines and creases from being crumpled. The words of my peers scarred me, and even though I’ve moved forward and have grown in confidence, I still have that insecurity in the back of my mind. Those words aren’t erased. I still feel vulnerable when I’m in crowds of new people and my hearing aids are exposed. Will people think I am incapable? Handicapped? Will they not what to talk to me?

I also remind the students that the kids that said those mean things to me growing up, were most likely not even trying to be mean. Maybe they were trying to silly, or to fit it, but nonetheless the words had an effect. We can’t take back the things we say.

This crumpled paper heart stays up on our white board all year, as a reminder to think before we speak. When is humor cruel? Is what we are saying necessary and kind? What effect will our words and jokes have?

On the flip side, we also take it as a reminder that even when words hurt us, we have choices in how we choose to look at ourselves. We can be proud of our differences and walk confidence in what makes us unique.

You can watch a video on my Facebook page with all the details of this personal story and how I use it to establish a safe environment for my students, by being real and vulnerable with them on the first day.  It is the Facebook Live video entitled, “Creating a Safe Classroom Environment from Day 1”.




“Make a classroom a home. Excite and engage. Love and accept. Be silly, but real. Be so fun, your student even realize they’re learning.” -Teachlikeyoumeanit


Detective Math

When I was a child, I loved math because I felt like a detective solving all these cases. I loved that math was full of puzzles, and soaked up the feeling of accomplishment when I could solve something that seemed so difficult at first. Now, as a teacher, I’m passionate about bring this creative and engaging mindset into my classroom. Math doesn’t have to be scary and frustrating if you’re using your imagination and being a detective solving a crime. When school is silly and fun, students feel relaxed and safe to attempt new things, and learn from their mistakes, instead of quitting when they fail.

We do Detective Math a few times a year. I have created Detective Math bundles to cover math standards while encouraging higher level thinking. Even though these math centers are challenging, my students are always excited to do it. Sometimes, I use them to teach new concepts, but usually I use them to assess the concepts and to assess my students’ critical thinking skills. I never call it a “test”, but set up the right way, it is a perfect activity to assess my students with, because they are relaxed and engaged.

Each bundle has several cases (centers) that can be used as individual lessons and activities, or you can lay them all out at the same time to have the students rotate through as math centers. Each Detective Math bundle comes with an M.C.I.S.- Mathematical Criminal Investigation Services Heaquarters Poster to put up around your room to help transform the room. It also comes with detective badges for the students to wear. 14492352_303773670002230_775567667413411302_n


Each of the cases (centers) comes with the instructions written out as a case file. I always glue the case files to big manilla envelopes, and keep the case tasks cards inside of the envelopes. When it is time to lay out the centers, I take out the task cards, and then have the students students turn in their case work (answer sheets) to the envelopes before switching centers. Then, I can just grab the envelopes at the end and have all the answer sheets together to grade.



Even the students answer sheets are made to look like a place for the students to show their case file work.


There are several ways you an set these centers up to create the detective atmosphere. One ideas is to turn off the lights and let the students use flash lights and lamps to solve the secret cases. img_1382


Another way to create the detective mood is to transfer the task cards onto white card stock using a highlighter. Then turn off the lights and give the student UV backlights to see the secret messages. You can find these little UV flashlights on amazon.


As you can see in the picture of my students working, they are wearing what we call “Genius Glasses”. These are 3D glasses that I popped the lenses out of and put tape in the middle of. We wear them when we need to critically think and may need an extra bust of confidence. You can find similar glasses at the Dollar Store. I also play detective music in the background while they are working.


All these centers involve higher level thinking. Here are some examples of my Detective Math Bundles. Click on the links to find more information about each one.


Addition & Subtraction for 1st/2nd grade. It uses algebraic thinking while strengthening addition and subtractions facts up to 20.


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Factors & Multiples



Multi-digit Multiplication


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Multiplication  Perfect to help make those multiplication tables concrete while giving the students strength in skip counting and division skills (even though it never technically talks about division)


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Units of Measurement  Practice converting units of measurements, while incorporating the concept of perimeter.



Decimals & Fractions My very first MCIS Bundle, and the one I am doing with my class this week. Story problems are censored, numbers have turned into shapes…all kinds of number crime going on. 🙂


For more information on these Detective Bundles visit my TeachersPayTeachers Store or you can see Facebook Live videos about these activities on my Teachlikeyoumeanit Facebook Page.




Above & Beyond


As a child, school came easy for me. My school work was never too hard, and I prided myself in being a good student. I really enjoyed school, but it wasn’t until 8th grade that I felt inspired to be more. My 8th grade teacher believed in me, but he also had very high expectations. He wasn’t impressed with grades. Rather, he was impressed with us going the extra mile. Which meant, for me, it was the realization that getting an “A” didn’t necessarily mean that I had given my best. I had always identified myself as a good student, but now realized that I had actually often taken the easy way, and yet saw myself as superior to others because I could could get good grades. Even though my peers were working harder and therefore honestly had more reason to feel pride. This teacher pushed me to self reflect and dig deeper into who I really was. What kind of person was I? What did my choices say about my character?  Did I go the extra mile? Was I driven to be my best?

This is one of the reasons I later decided to become a teacher myself. I have often been told that I have very high expectations of my students, yet they consistently reach those expectations. I believe the key here is that you have to not only have high expectations, but must also have the relationship with your students to inspire them to want to reach for it. I’ve seen so many bosses and teachers try to force their employees/students to reach their expectations through force or fear, but it doesn’t work. It only leads to frustration and resentment. This philosophy bleeds into everything I do as a teacher, and I feel so passionately about it that I could honestly write a book on classroom community, but for today I am going to focus on one little detail: The Above & Beyond Board.

This bulletin board is inside of my classroom and not out in the hallway for a reason. I want it to be front and center for my students and myself daily. I rotate student work through this board weekly. I pick work that I know the student went the extra mile on. It is not based on grades. A student could get 100% on an assignment and it could still not be “above and beyond quality”. I know my students, and I know when they are truly giving their everything and being the best they can be. This is when they are nominated for the board. It could be a student that usually rushes through their writing, but this time he takes his time to write a quality piece in which he even checks and rechecks for spelling and grammar errors. Or a student that took the math lesson and instead of only doing the assigned math problems, she did the whole page for extra practice.

Once I have picked a sample for the Above & Beyond Board, I announce in front of the whole class why I am picking that particular student’s work. Then the class cheers for that student, and the student gets his/her work put up with his/her name on the mini chalkboard clip, and a note on it explaining why it was chosen. The students really take pride in their work being presented, and it has inspired all my students to give their best, even in subjects that may have been difficult for them in the past.

I feel so blessed to get the opportunity to play a part in these children’s lives as they mature into young adults, and are building their identities. Being a teacher is such an honor, and we are truly making a difference.