Rainbow Similes: The Best and Most Creative Poetry Lesson for Spring!

rainbow simile activity for the elementary classroom

What is my favorite month to teach writing? April wins!

It's National Poetry Month, and there are so many ways to incorporate some extra creativity.

One of my favorite poetry lessons is teaching about SIMILES.

We start out by talking about what a simile actually is, and look at examples of them. These mentor texts are wonderful for introducing similes, and seeing some in action!

mentor texts for teaching similes

In the spirit of April Showers and all things spring...

we incorporate rainbows and colors into simile writing!


All you'll need is: large pieces of white paper, sets of watercolor paints, and a planning sheet.

rainbow similes written down and a watercolor rainbow

First, students can plan out their color similes on paper. Then, they can get to work on their rainbows!

a child's watercolor painting of a rainbow

Once the watercolor paint is dry (it doesn't take very long), students can copy their similes from their planning sheets onto their rainbows.

It helps to use pencil first, and then go over the writing using a skinny permanent marker!

a child's watercolor painting of a rainbow

These projects make a beautiful display of student work all spring long.

a display of children's artwork, watercolor rainbows

a display of children's artwork, watercolor rainbows


Are Rainbow Similes something you'd like to incorporate in your classroom?

You can download these free printables HERE!

rainbow similes activity

rainbow similes activity

Happy Writing!

Work on Writing Choices in the Elementary Classroom... A Must Have Center!

work on writing center in the elementary classroom

The Writing Center is my favorite place in our classroom.

Why? "Work on Writing" is a place where students can practice writing every single day!

I'd love to take you through my Work on Writing center, and explain a little bit about the choices students have. PS - If you're wondering about the structure of when and how students visit Work on Writing, visit this blog post to learn more.

For now, let's dive into Work on Writing!

Here is what my Work on Writing center looks like:

colorful drawers with writing center labels on them: list, friendly letter, lined paper, how to, pick and write, and draw and label.


- The drawer set is from Michaels. Teacher tip: remove the knobs for easy labeling!

- Speaking of labeling, the drawer labels are from The Organised Teacher over on TPT. They are editable, and F-R-E-E!

- Thematic Vocabulary Cards are from Cara Carroll over on TPT.

- I used clear frames from Amazon to display my "Work on Writing" center sign. This helps provide a clear visual of what and where the Work on Writing center is throughout the year.

You can download your free sign HERE if you'd like!

In my Work on Writing Center, I include seven choices: Let's go through them together!


This activity comes along with Cara's Thematic Vocabulary Cards. The students practice writing sentences featuring any of the vocabulary words displayed in the writing center! This option is great for working on sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation.


More suited for beginning writers, this writing choice ALSO comes along with the Thematic Vocabulary Cards! 


This is exactly what it sounds like! Students are free to write about whatever interests them. For those students who may have writers block (I was this kid!), I LOVE the monthly prompts from Heidi and Emily over at Second Story Window.

I typed out the prompts, and stuck them on fun cutouts that you can find at Dollar Tree, or any other teaching store! These prompts are switched out every month.


How To Writing is so much fun for students, because they get to be the expert on writing out steps for how to do something they're great at. Students also practice important learning concepts of using temporal words (first, next, then...), and being descriptive while using short, sequential steps!


Writing recipes allow for students to be both creative and organized! They need to provide a list of ingredients, as well as step-by-step directions for how to make their delicious dish. Yum!


The parts and purpose of a Friendly Letter is a must-do lesson to introduce this center! One of the most important teaching points is why we write friendly letters, and who we write letters to (Family members, relatives, people we don't see that often...). This helps from friendly letters turning the corner and becoming "notes" that students just write to one another. 😉


We all make lists! This writing center is my very favorite. To introduce this center, we talk about when and why people might make lists. Grocery lists! Lists to remember tasks! You name it. Much like the thematic vocabulary cards, I display a seasonal collection of List Writing Options in our Writing Center.

List writing is SO beneficial for students. It helps them develop an awareness of spelling patterns, expand vocabulary, and connect concepts across the curriculum!


If these Work on Writing ideas are something you'd like to incorporate in your classroom, you check out this collection of centers in my TpT store!

The List Writing part of this collection just got a HUGE update! You can now have access to 120 List Writing Prompts that can be used all year long.

Click HERE to download your free September and October List Writing Prompts.

Wishing you happy writing moments to come!

How to Calmly Transition Back to the Classroom after Lunch and Recess

calm down strategies for rest time after lunch in the classroom, called rest and digest

What is one of the trickiest times to transition back to instruction during the school day?

After Lunch or Recess.


Research has shown that our bodies digest far better when they are relaxed, and when we can actually set aside enough time to simply eat (rather than cramming finding a spot to eat, having a conversation with a friend, eating lunch, and cleaning up in the span of what many students have to be 20-30 minutes). What should be a leisurely activity is often so rushed, for teachers and students both.


Oftentimes, it can feel like herding cats when your students get off of the playground, and back into the classroom. Somebody left their jacket outside. Somebody else needs a drink of water. Somebody else needs to use the restroom. All the while, the energy is at an all-time high, and it takes 10 minutes (or more!) to have everyone back in learning mode.

Is there a solution for this?

YES. The answer?


In my classroom, we happen to transition from lunch right back to the classroom.

Before moving onto grabbing our math workbooks, we "Rest and Digest."

During this time, students are still and quiet. The lights are off as they grab a drink of water, make their way back to their seats, and settle in.



I usually play soothing music or nature sounds from a YouTube video while students are making their way in, and all the while as their sitting at their seats.

We listen to the similar music/sounds during Writers Workshop, too. We call it our "brain music!"


Using whatever materials students have easy access to (either in their desks, or readily accessible in the classroom), they can simply doodle.


This is literally no prep on your part! Reading while resting is an effective way for many students to calm down.


Teaching children to control their breathing gives them the ability to focus. It also helps instill self-control. Many deep breathing exercises can be explicitly taught. Deep "belly breathing" is a great place to start.

You can download my FREE "How To" Belly Breathing Poster HERE!

How To Steps for Deep Belly Breathing


If Rest and Digest time is something you'd like to incorporate into your classroom, you check out these mini books in my TpT store! They will guide your students through the above strategies with explanations to make for a calm transition time.

Rest and Digest - A Tool for a Smooth Transition from Lunch to the Classroom
Rest and Digest - A Tool for a Calm Transition from Lunch to the Classroom
If transitioning from RECESS back to the classroom is what you want to focus on, you can check out the companion to Rest and Digest, Rest and Reflect!

Rest and Reflect - A Tool for a Calm Transition from Recess to the Classroom

Wishing you calming lunch & recess transition times to come!

Favorite September Read Alouds for the Primary Classroom

favorite read alouds for september in the elementary classroom

I absolutely love September in the classroom. The beginning of the school year brings a month of community building, fall, and all things apples!

Here are some of my favorite read alouds to enjoy all month long, and some ways I incorporate them into different lessons.

This book is fun to read during the first weeks of school. Amelia Bedelia is a character that your students will love visiting again and again!

Whether she's hopping off the bus, or gluing herself to her seat, Amelia finds herself on the first day of school with feelings of anticipation and excitement.

It's relatable for any student or teacher during the first few days back to school.

If you're using this as a Mentor Text for a poetry lesson, I have a great activity in my TpT shop to go with it! Your students will love creating a class book of idioms.

Idioms Activity by Miss Clark's Spoonful on Teachers Pay Teachers

"There's something peculiar about that plant!"
is a phrase your students will love reading throughout this story.

As Cassandra (the main character) starts school, her mother wishes she could go back to second grade again! So naturally, she disguises herself as a plant... a perfect tie in to Miss Gardner's lesson on plant facts! Overall, this is a funny and super lovely story about the relationship between how plants need love and care, and the love any parent has for their child.

This is a very fun Mentor Text to use for lessons on expanding vocabulary! With words like peculiar and ridiculous being repeated throughout the story, students can use context clues to determine definitions. I also love to encourage my students to use them in their Word Collectors so they can use them in the future!

This book is actually a realistic fiction text from the Scholastic Guided Reading Program, level E... but it can be used as so much more!

The story beautifully and simply follows two friends as they demonstrate activities that can be done in the Fresh Fall Leaves. In addition to building foundational skills like retelling the order of activities (jumping in the leaves, raking the leaves, etc.), it's a fabulous opportunity to build in visualizing by describing how leaves can look, sound, and feel.

Your students will most likely love to tell you all about their fall adventures, as well. Hooray for text-to-self connections!

In this story, a child takes a walk greeting the trees, birds, animals, insects, and even weather as he goes. Along the way, each one tells him how it is preparing for autumn! With beautiful illustrations that students will marvel at, this book is an awesome opportunity to discuss Author’s Purpose. I love to discuss with my students that even though the story has illustrations, it still gives us real information about the changing seasons.

In another nonfiction connection, this text is filled with ways for students to dive in and identify how Summer and Autumn are alike & different.

As you know, I'm a huge Gail Gibbons fan!

In this book all about, you guessed it, APPLES, your students can explore a simple concept in such rich, diverse ways! One of my favorite things that I've done over the years with this unit is Cara Carroll's Apple Investigation.

The students always have so much fun, and learn a ton about the different types of apples, and uses for them.

This book is always a favorite among my students each and every year. 

Bruce Goldstone takes us on a journey through all of the amazing phenomenons of Autumn. We use this in our classroom to focus on questioning of nonfiction concepts (Why do leaves change color? How does frost form?) and of more figurative, creative concepts (How does autumn taste? What is autumn shaped like?). Throughout the book, all of these questions are answered!

Another great way to enjoy this story is through the lens of nonfiction features, and author's purpose. The visuals allow students to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the fall season!


You can encourage your readers to enjoy books all month long with this FREE September Reading Log.

Did I miss any of your September favorites? I'd love to hear about the books you enjoy reading in your classroom this month.

Happy reading!

Classroom Management for Your Best Morning Meeting Share Time

morning meeting, making share time manageable with picture of share schedule and morning meeting boo

I know they say never say never.

BUT.... Morning Meeting is one component of our day in the classroom that I will never, ever skip.

Why? It truly is (one of the) ways to build a strong classroom community.

Beginning each day with a purposeful time to practice important listening & communication skills is so very important.

The four components of Morning Meeting I include are:

  • Greeting
  • Share
  • Activity
  • Morning Message

All of these parts cohesively work together in order to create a classroom environment that is inclusive, safe, and welcoming.

When we Greet one another, we practice eye contact and kind ways to say "good morning." When we have our Activity, our bodies are up and moving as we develop sportsmanship and teamwork. We conclude with a Morning Message that incorporates shared reading, fluency, and a sense of building classroom routines.

Smack dab in the middle is our Share.

With one topic to focus on, Share time is for exactly what it sounds like: Sharing ideas about the particular focus for that day. It's another fabulous opportunity to develop whole body listening skills, and for your students to get to know one another.

Here's the thing.

This is where if you're not too careful, things can get really long really fast.

I have 21 students in my class. Every student sharing every day, especially with a more involved question that requires attentive listening, like "what does being a good friend look like?" will start off GREAT, but then lend itself to moments like...

  • "I'm hungry!"
  • "Hey, there's a squirrel outside the window!"
  • Along with a case of the wiggles SO severe that in a blink, the attention span of your students is officially over.

Has this ever happened to me?


So, if you're anything like me, and looking for a way to make sure that your Morning Meeting Share time stays manageable, purposeful, and FUN, I've got a solution for you.

Use a Share Sign Up!


Depending on how your week is going, you can end the week by introducing the share topic for the following week! Or, you can introduce the share topic for the current week at the very beginning of that same week. You can encourage your students to think about the question as it pertains to their lives!


You can do this however works best for your classroom! Perhaps you call students by tables, rows, or individual desks. To ensure that the same students to not always sign up for the very beginning of the week, switch up the order in which they sign up.


Reassure your students that no matter which day they sign up for, everyone will get a turn to share. Let them know how excited you are to hear your thoughts!


A Share Sign Up allows for your students to share their ideas while also doing their best active listening. Since you're sharing on the same topic all week, it'll cut down a bit on your Morning Meeting prep, too. It's a win-win!

If a Share Sign Up is something you'd like to use in your classroom, you can download it HERE.

Morning Meeting Share Sign Up by Miss Clark's Spoonful on Teachers Pay Teachers

Oh! and, if you're looking for Morning Meeting 101, I highly recommend taking a look at Responsive Classroom and The Morning Meeting Book. It's one I pull out year after year.

Responsive Classroom The Morning Meeting Book
Wishing you joyful Morning Meetings and super share times to come!

Easy to Follow Steps for Setting Up Solid Classroom Rules and Expectations

classroom rules and expectations written on white board, and picture of how to access background knowledge

My top tip for heading back to school is to spend the first six weeks of school building your classroom community.

During these six weeks, usually on the second or third day of school, is the day when classroom rules and expectations are created.

In order for this to be successful, make it a COLLABORATIVE PROCESS!

Here's what this looks like in my classroom:


I gather my students in our meeting area. I open the discussion by explaining that we'll work together to create rules for our classroom.

We have a brief chat about what rules are, and why they are important.

creating classroom rules accessing prior knowledge discussion questions

These questions allow me to tap into your students prior knowledge and lead into the rule creation process.


I have my students simply brainstorm rules they think are important to follow in their classroom. I'll record every. single. one. down.

We end up with quite a list, but that's okay! The important thing is that all students are feeling heard, and their ideas are being recorded.


After we have our mega list and the ideas start to slow down, here's where the true facilitation comes in on my end.

I begin grouping similar ideas together with the end goal of creating five simply worded classroom rules in mind.

The conversation goes something like this:

Me: "Wow, these are a lot of really important expectations! We have such a great list here that it could be hard to remember all of them. I notice that we have no running, use scissors the right way, and no jumping in the classroom. Those all sound like being... oh, what's that really important word that starts with an 's'..."

The students readily jump in to help me "remember" this word. 😉  Excitedly, I get exclaims of "Be SAFE!"


The process of grouping similar ideas together continues, until our list looks something like this.

A list of classroom rules

The important thing to note is that the simply worded expectations are framed with positive language. Beginning each rule with "Be..." is a great way to do this.

  • Be Safe.
  • Be Respectful.
  • Be Responsible.
  • Be Kind.
  • Be Positive.

Ultimately, am I deciding on the five classroom rules? Yes. Do my students have a role in creating them? Yes.

By making the creation of rules a collaborative process, students will have a deeper understanding of what "being safe" looks like, or what "being respectful" sounds like.

The year kicks off with my students taking ownership of their space and caring for their community!


You'll find these five rules, plus EDITABLE options in my TpT store!

Classroom rules posters

classroom rules posters

classroom rules editable posters

After your list of classroom rules is created and finalized, you can use these brightly colored posters to display them in your classroom!

With editable options, you'll be able to best meet the needs of your students.

Happy community building!

End of Year Gifts for Your Students


What a school year it's been. Whether you're officially on summer vacation, or finishing up your last few days/weeks of school, I am sending you all of the virtual high fives!

I have a serious hot/cold relationship with student gifts. Each year as the last few days of school roll around, I ask myself the same question:

"Should I get my kids gifts this year?"

On one hand, it's a super nice thing to do for your students. It checks off that last box that can make the year feel complete.

On the other hand, the end of the school year is SO busy. Between all of the end-of-year events happening and all that you have on your plate, the energy level of the kids is off the charts.

If you're anything like me, you feel bombarded on social media at this time of the year with pictures of adorable, hand-made, personalized gifts that teachers have made for their students. This can definitely put the pressure on, even though it shouldn't.


Gifts come in the form of the love and appreciation we have for our students.

- spending countless hours working to make our classrooms welcoming spaces.

- designing engaging lessons to reach every child.

- taking care of the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.

THESE are the gifts that begin on day one, and keep giving throughout the year.

There are years when I get my students gifts, and years when I don't. It took me a few years to realize that THAT'S OKAY.

If you are a teacher who buys your students gifts each year, some years, at the beginning of the year, at the end of the year, or anywhere in between, that's awesome too!

You should always feel great about how you express your appreciation for your students in a way that feels genuinely good.

Gift-giving teachers, I have three tips for you that have helped me keep me grounded in my own journey:


You're not putting together gifts for a wedding shower. Don't feel like you need to stop at two or three places to put together an elaborate, themed gift. For example, if you're going for a beachy theme, a sand pail or a sand shovel are just fine on their own.


My friends, at one time, I was the Queen of Cute. I still like to think I have a little bit of this title in me, but over the years, I've definitely evolved as an educator. If you're buying gifts for your students, ask yourself first, "will they use this, or will it end up being thrown away?" If you can't see your students finding a use for your gift, reframe your thinking.


Have a few extra boxes of crayons sitting in the back of your classroom closet? How about those Scholastic points you haven't used that can get you some free books? Sometimes, you may able to tap into the classroom resources you already have without breaking the bank.


Keeping these tips in mind, I have a FREE download for you to use during these last few days of school. What kid doesn't love Play Doh?

Download your gift tags HERE for FREE!

Play Doh End of Year Gift Tag for Students

Play Doh End of Year Gift Tags for Students

You are a treasure and a gift to your students. Happy Summer!

Favorite May Read Alouds for the Primary Classroom

When I think about May in the classroom, it brings along warm feelings of sunshine and the HOME STRETCH to Summer Vacation!

Here are some of my favorite read alouds to enjoy all month long, and some ways I incorporate them into different lessons.

I bow down to Gail Gibbons as the expert of all things nonfiction.

We utilize her books a lot for examining nonfiction text features. Quite often, the texts are lengthy and full of amazing information. This one is no exception! It's perfect for breaking up over the course of a few days.

Students always love examining the diagrams, charts, and detailed illustrations to learn more about monarch butterflies grow throughout their life cycle.

This beautiful story takes the reader on a journey through the Spring season. All the while, we're encouraged to observe how new life begins in the Spring. The illustrations are gorgeous, and perfect for tapping into the five senses to create mental images.

We're usually wrapping up our comprehensive poetry unit of study around May, and this story is great for writing poems using descriptive language. Acrostic Poems (Write a poem based on the letters in SPRING!) or Spring-based Color Poems (Think, "Yellow is a buzzing bee." or "Blue is the clear, cloudless sky.") are some of my favorites!

I like to revisit how to build a strong classroom community and cultivate a sense of belonging as the year begins to wind down.

If you're familiar with bucket filling, you'll love The Big Umbrella. Just like we can fill each other's buckets with kind words and thoughtful actions, we can use an infinitely big enough umbrella to shelter each other from the rain.

This story can lend itself to amazing discussions about the importance of kindness, empathy, inclusion, and community.

Warm and fuzzy feelings guaranteed.

One of my very favorite things to do is integrate math and literacy! We explore our unit on measurement in the Spring, and this book is a perfect companion.

The main character, a small green inchworm, is the perfect representation for just what an inch looks like in real life. He also knows just how long other things (a toucan's beak, a robin's tail, etc.) are, because he is one inch long!

This story is the perfect partner for introducing how to use different units and objects to measure the length of other objects. Your students will also love the Caldecott Award Winning illustrations, and following the inchworm's story as he uses measurement to problem solve!

This one is so fun.

We dive into opinion writing during the Spring, and this story serves as a perfect springboard.

Is it a duck? Is it a rabbit? The world may never know for sure. That being said, your students will develop some pretty strong opinions and back them up with reasoning based on the observations they make from the story's illustrations and setting. I also love the embedded message that there's no one "right" answer, and that it all depends on our diverse points of view.

Are you team duck or team rabbit?

In the spirit of Spring and new life, this story is a must-read.

Eric Carle takes us on the journey of a seed with dazzling illustrations, simple text, and the perfect child-friendly explanation of a flower's life cycle.

I love to use this book as a mentor text to refer back to as we label parts of a flower, think about 5W questions (Where should we plant seeds? What do seeds need to grow?), and plant seeds of our own!


You can encourage your readers to enjoy books all month long with this FREE May Reading Log.

Did I miss any of your May favorites? I'd love to hear about the books you enjoy reading in your classroom this month.

Happy reading!