My Primary Paradise | Making Teaching A Breeze

National Day of Kindness Freebie!

Hi Friends,

I know I’m not the only person right now with a heavy heart. Whatever “side” of things you’re on, or even if you’re indifferent, I know that everyone I talk to is disturbed by the way that *some* people (on BOTH sides and again, even those who are indifferent) are treating others. It’s disheartening.

I know as a teacher, I always, always stressed the importance of kindness. SO many conversations with students who were having disagreements went something like this (when I was speaking to each party involved one on one):

Student: But I don’t like him/her.

Me: We don’t always like everyone, but we still have to be kind to everyone.

Student: But he/she did …. XYZ

Me: Even if we don’t like someone’s words or actions, we still have to show kindness.

So, how appropriate that today is National Kindness Day. After everything that has happened in the last week, I think that it is the perfect time to remind our students and ourselves to always choose kindness.

And, I wanted to put my money where my mouth is, so I created a little freebie that will be perfect to use tomorrow and this week.

My #NationalDayofKindness pack includes 3 posters to hang in your classroom.


And a WANTED poster activity that works perfectly after a discussion or book about kindness. Students can draw and write about what they want kindness to look like in their classroom, school, home or the world as well as talk about what they will do to be kind.


If you’d like some recommendations for great books about kindness, here are a few of my favorites (aff links).

I hope that this can help start a discussion on kindness in your classroom this week. There can never, never be too much kindness in the world. <3

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Morning Work- A Sanity Saver in the Mornings


Ah, morning work. When I was in school, that wasn’t a thing. At least not in my school. We came in and the teacher collected lunch money while we unpacked, sharpened pencils, talked about the Rugrats episode we watched last night etc, etc and then eventually the Pledge of Allegiance would come over the loud speaker, we’d all stand, and then when it was over, we’d dive into our work for the day. But typically, a few kids were still talking, not everyone was unpacked, and someone (or many someones) would inevitably end up with bench time before we were all settled and ready to learn.

My first year of teaching, I didn’t always use morning work. Sometimes I’d have a do now, sometimes I wouldn’t. I was a bit unorganized and overwhelmed. (I know, a first year teacher who’s unorganized and overwhelmed? Shocker! 😉 )

When I went into year two, I was much more organized, and was much better about always having some kind of morning work for my students, but it wasn’t always consistent. They’d often have a lot of questions, even far into the year, and it wasn’t doing it’s job.


What exactly did I want my morning work to do? It’s simple, really. I wanted my morning work routine to

1. Review important skills.

2. Be easy enough so my students could do it completely on their own.

3. Be challenging enough that it took more than 2 minutes (but not so challenging that it took 30 min).

4. Keep my kiddos busy while I did all of the morning duties.

That way, when it was time to begin our day, we could really dig in right away.

My 3rd full year of teaching, I was in a new school teaching second grade. That year, before school started, I really thought long and hard about what I wanted my morning work to be like. What I came up with saved my sanity every single morning, and the other teachers in my grade began to use it as well.


It was fabulous because students knew what to do every. single. day. Each day followed the same format, so after I taught them how it worked, we were set for the year.

After completing the pledge every day, we’d quickly go over the answers, so students knew, if they were stuck, they could just move on and we’d review it together before morning work time was over.


It also gave me a glimpse at the skills that students needed a little extra work on, and helped to guide my guided reading and math time.


And then when I moved back to first grade the next year, I created a first grade version, which again, saved my sanity big time.


I am a firm believer in using morning work to help students get into a “school frame of mind”. It also was a great way for students to collaborate. I often would hear students asking each other for help from each other, which I loved.

Do you use morning work? What have you found successful?

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Dollar Tree Bowling Math Centers

Dollar tree heart eyes. That how it all started.

A few days ago, I made a child-free trip to the Dollar Tree, and as I was wondering aimlessly, drinking in the fact that I didn’t have to wrangle a toddler or carry an infant, I saw it. And instantly, I had what I like to call dollar tree heart eyes. :)

Bowl & Learn

I saw this little plastic bowling set and immediately thought “I NEED to turn that into a center!” Because… let’s face it. Kids like (need) to play, move, and have FUN. Plus, kids like to knock stuff down. It teaches them the laws of physics I guess too, right? 😉

So, I stuffed the little bowling set into my basket along with lots of other random items that I NEEDED, and continued to browse.

When I got home, I set to work, and I am so excited about the math centers that came to be! Low ink, very little prep, NO CUTTING (hallelujah, am I right?) and SO fun and engaging!

Bowl & Learn

FYI- in case you don’t have a Dollar Tree near you, and you don’t want to purchase an entire case of little bowling sets from their website, you can totally purchase bowling sets on Amazon (although not nearly as cheap) or simply use small cups.

These centers are super easy for you and for your kiddos.

Here’s how they work.

Bowl & Learn

They set the pins.

Bowl & Learn

Grab a recording sheet.

Bowl & Learn




They’re perfect for working in partners (look, now they’re learning social skills like taking turns, too! 😉 )or independently.

I wanted to cover a variety of skills, and I plan to add more as time goes on as well. (Please feel free to comment below with suggestions.)

But so far, this pack includes:

Counting, Tally Marks, and Skip Counting by 5’s and 10’s Bowl & Learn

Number Recognition to 100

Bowl & Learn

Addition (to 30) & Subtraction (to 20)

Bowl & Learn

Shape Identification and Graphing

Bowl & Learn

And the best part? There are multiple levels and options for the skills in the packet, so it’s easy to differentiate and grow as your students advance.

Bowl & Learn

Bowl & Learn

Visual directions for the centers also make it easy for your students, and it will keep you from having to explain directions over and over and over.

Bowl & Learn

So, if your kiddos would enjoy getting to Bowl & Learn, you can grab the whole pack in my TpT shop.

Bowl & Learn

And since you made it to the end of the post, you can try one for free by clicking the picture below! Yay!

Bowl & Learn Preview Freebie

Before I go, I wanted to share that I’m also working on an ELA version which will be available shortly! If you have any specific skills you’d like to be included in the Math or ELA versions, please leave a comment.

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2nd Grade Common Core Math Made Easy!

My favorite grade to teach is 2nd. Granted, I’ve only ever taught 1st and 2nd, but 2nd graders are such a fun age to teach because they’re still cute and sweet, BUT they can already read and there’s a little less shoe tying. I enjoyed the mix of innocence and independence. Additionally, my very favorite subject to teach is math. I LOVE math at the lower elementary level because it’s so concrete and ever lesson can be hands on and fun. One of the biggest labors of love last year was my 1st Grade Activities by the Standard Common Core Bundle (Learn More Here and Grab a Sample Here).

I am THRILLED to announce that I’ve begun working on the 2nd grade version which will make teaching 2nd grade math skills easy and keep your kiddos engaged! There will be one pack for each of the 26 second grade common core standards!

2nd Grade ABS

I am so passionate about 2nd grade math, and I plan to not only create this product, but also share tips and tidbits on 2nd grade math periodically on my Facebook page, like this video below which gave some background info on why teaching Odd and Even numbers more in depth than 1,3,5,7,9 is odd and 2,4,6,8,0 is even. (Click the picture to watch the video explanation, and make sure to “like” my page for the ability to watch future videos live as well).

Facebook Live

Now, here’s a little sneak peek into what is included in each pack.


First, each pack includes teaching posters with pictures and simple, kid friendly definition and examples for each concept. These are great tools to put up in your classroom and it also gives you the verbiage that you can use to help explain the concepts to your students.Interactive notebook

Secondly, each pack includes interactive notebook activities that only uses 2 pages per standard and requires minimal cutting, folding, and gluing. These hands on activities are a great way to have students practice each skill in an engaging way, and, once each activity is complete, they can go back and review that skill as needed. The sorts can be done over and over! Activities

Third, each pack also includes at least 5 printables that will allow students to practice every skill involved in the standard. They also make fantastic assessments. When creating these printable activities, I focus on quality, not quantity, so students will not be asked to do 50 problems when you can easily assess their knowledge in 10 or less.

Answer Keys

And finally, each pack includes answer keys for the printables that are included which saves you time and energy.

Each pack for each standard is available individually here in my TpT Shop as I upload them, but I have also created a growing bundle in which I will upload each new pack as it’s finished. The bundle price is currently half of the final price, and will go up as new packs are added. The sooner you purchase, the more you save while still having access to every pack as it’s uploaded!

Growing Bundle

I hope that this resource as well as the tips I’ll be sharing on my Facebook page about 2nd grade math activities and strategies makes teaching 2nd grade math a breeze!

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3 EASY DIY Toddler Crafts

Happy Sunday!

A few weeks ago, we welcomed baby number 2 into our lives, and we are thrilled with this little bundle.


I recently blogged over at SeeMamaTeach about what we did to make the transition from one kiddos to 2 a little easier. To check out that post, just click the picture below. :)


One of the things I mentioned in that post is that doing a simple craft with my 2 year old, when I can, has been a HUGE help in making the transition from only child to big sister (aka has to wait for things now) a little easier, so I decided to share some of those simple crafts with you today!


These crafts are all super easy, super fun, and require supplies you most likely already have. These are perfect for toddlers up to kindergarteners, and could easily be tied to specific lessons. However, we just did them for fun.


The first craft is a simple DIY maraca. All you need to create this is dried beans, plastic eggs, masking tape, plastic spoons, and markers to decorate.


First I had her fill the eggs with dried beans using the spoon. She thought this was a blast, so not only was it great fine motor practice, but it entertained her for a good long time! (After the maracas were done, we kept filling plastic eggs, just for fun.)


Next, we put the egg between the spoons…


and taped around the top.


And then kept going.


Then, we decorated them with markers. I think it would have been super fun to use stickers as well.


And then they were done! We sang so many songs while shaking these after, and she is still playing with them over a week later!


This was by far my sweet girl’s favorite craft, and it was so simple!


First trace and cut out their hand.


I drew on a mouth and let little miss put the googly eyes on.


Next, she decorated them with glitter glue which very quickly became her new favorite thing ever.


And then last, we glued on the popsicle sticks for handles! She was so excited to play with them, I couldn’t even get a picture. :)

She is obsessed with Laurie Berkner songs, so we naturally played the Goldfish song while acting it out with our fish. These little puppets have gotten so much use, and were so simple!


After making the fish puppets, she became a little obsessed with making things using her hand prints, so the next craft we did was a hand print bee.


This one was also super simple. I pained yellow and black stripes on her hand.


Then, we put her hand down on a piece of paper. Since she’s 2 and wiggly, the colors got a little mixed, but she didn’t care at all.


Last, we held the paintbrush together to make a circle for the head, a mouth, and an eye! Easy and cute! I think this would also work well with a foot.


I know I said 3 crafts, but I also want to share this little bonus craft. I don’t have pictures of the steps because it was super impromptu, but we made a little butterfly out of her handprints. We didn’t make it a puppet, but if you glued a popsicle stick on the back, it could easily be turned into one.

I hope the littles in your life can enjoy some of these crafts as well!

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