Registration is no longer needed !

Getting to the Core

Hi!  Welcome to my main BLOG!  I'm so glad you popped in!

If you look to the right you'll see some of the other categories to my BLOG!

  • Arts-Crafts & Activities offers several fun things to do with your children each month complete with patterns, directions and pictures.  
  • Books of the Month, lists a few of my all-time favorite childnren's seasonal-books and a newer realease with a lesson, activity, + how to jazz up your story time with this book. It also includes a few skill sheets, + a magic trick that I do! 
  • Hot Tips & Cool Solutions is just that, a bulleted check list of interesting information to help make your day run smoothly. The 1st three columns will start with September,  but I'll post in late August in time for BACK-TO-SCHOOL.
  •  Right now, Dishin' Up With Diane has a yummy recipe waiting for you to try. And...
  • Care To Share features a "Hot Topic" for discussion each month. August's is: How do you keep things organized? 
  • So don't forget to check out the TOP side-bar!

Also featured on the Main Blog's front page each month are:

  • Chuckles & Heartwarmers: Cute things my students have said. Hopefully they bring a smile to your day or warm your heart.  If you have a giggle from your classroom or home please take a moment to "grin & share it!" with us. Contact me at with the header: Chuckles. Thanks in advance. :-)
  • Quote: I used to write one on the board every day when I taught high school. The girls in my class often wrote them down in a special notebook. Often one of those quotes became the graduating classes' motto! Consider them the "Apple Seeds" on my site!
  • A Peek At Next Month: Give's you a sneak preview.  It's intent is to FYI you to get you excited about what's up-coming so you WANT to come back! I do this same thing with my Y5's. At the end of the day I tell them 1 or 2 wonderful things we'll be doing on their next day of school so they can't wait for another adventure in learning!
  • Freebie Of The Month: Your little ones will have fun tracing the basic shapes each month in this adorable booklet and then have a nice keepsake at the end of the year! This feature is simply my way of saying "Thanks for stopping! I appreciate you!" And thanks to my daughter Kelli who designed this sweet smilie button for me. Look for it in the shopping cart.
summer, teacher tips
I can't believe it's August!
Do you say that every summer too?

I hope you're having a super summer! I know many of you will be getting your classrooms ready for school in the next few weeks. I have some terrific tips to share in my September Stuff II where you can look at my handbooks and handouts and see how I do things with my Y5's. Hopefully this will give you some great ideas to add to your own, or be especially helpful if you've just landed a job.

You can also check out my decorating tips  and TWM 500 where a picture is worth a 1000 words. I like to keep things less cluttered by having my shelving units turned sideways and backwards. When someone enters the room things look nice and stream lined. They don't see lots of tubbies with "stuff" in them, but a slim side of a unit or the smooth back with a colorful poster on it! My tubbies are all the same size and only bright primary colors. This also makes things look neat and organized and less messy. Drawer units are nice to help little ones become perfect "picker-upper's"! Mine simply pull out a drawer or tub, dump it out, and when the timer rings, toss the things back inside. getting organized, open house, back to school

Some of you may even have your Open House in August like we do. I made mine extra fun by turning it into a Treasure Hunt! I send an invitation to my students to get them excited. They receive a list of 10 things to find like their locker with their name tag on it, their monkey on our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Welcome To Our Classroom bulletin board, and even me! When they find me they need to introduce themselves and their family. They get a strip of stickers to paste to their treasure map and when they've completed the list they can crawl through our wiggle worm tunnel, throw a coconut bowling ball at the pineapple pins, and go for a ride around the block on the school bus.

I have the "how to" including my letter home to parents, a cool countdown to class and my summer welcome letter to my students included at TWM 432. I hope it gives you lots of great ideas to get you and your children excited for this fall too! I've been doing The Open House Treasure Hunt for 10 years now with rave reviews from kids, parents, and other teachers.  Many of my fellow lower elementary teachers have also adopted it. It's an easy and fun way to generate excitement, dispel fears, and get children to find all the things they'd need to find on the hectic first day of school anyway.

After they've completed everything on their list they get their treasure, which is a treasure box filled with all kinds of goodies like school supplies, little McDonald toys that I've collected at garage sales all summer, stickers, candy, etc. including a crayon cake! What's a crayon cake? It's a great way to recycle broken crayons and makes a wonderful coloring or writing tool because when you use it, it makes things many colors! It's great for those fall leaf rubs!.Here's How:

  • To make some for your students, peel crayons and break them into small pieces.
  • Spray a large or small muffin tin with cooking spray like PAM so that the crayon cakes will easily slide out later.
  • Fill each hole to the top with multi-colors of the broken crayons.
  • Put on the bottom shelf of a pre-heated oven at 250 degrees.
  • Depending on your oven, bake for 15 minutes 'til the crayons are melted.
  • Let cool and then tip over. I leave my tins lying face down. Crayon cakes will plop out.
  • If they don't, run face down, so the tin is under warm water, but not hot or you will melt the crayons again. 
  • I've also put the pan in the freezer for a few minutes to pop them out that way too.
  • I used to use the big muffin pans, but later bought the mini ones because they take less crayons and are easier for my Y5's to hold.
  • I make an extra set to use in my classroom. My students think they are "Way  cool!"
  • So that I'm not spending hours peeling crayons during the summer, in June when things are winding down, I have my students help me with this project! They enjoy doing it, and it's a great fine motor skill for them.

     If you read the alphabet book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to your class and want some adorable ideas, visit one of my favorite sites at: My favorites are Build a coconut tree shape, and Make a paint stick flet board. Too cute! She also has a printable for 3 coconuts in the coconut tree using bingo dot markers which I use every day in my classroom for one-to-one correspondence. My Y5's LOVE them.

     For an easy Monkey Maze click here.  I tell my students that I found 4 ways to get to the banana. They only have to find 2. I just LOVE this site because it's interactive.. It's one of the places I send my Y5's on their Web Quests! (Find out more in September.) This site is where your students can connect the dots and color right online. Great fine motor and computer skill practice for young children.

What’s Happenin’ ? Summer is for vacations! I hope you had a chance to take at least one, even if it was the now popular “stay-cation!” My husband’s brother got married in New York so we had a great excuse to extend our stay and see a bit of the east coast. I took some great pictures you may want to show your students if you study RAINBOWS (We went to Niagara Falls and saw a beautiful one!),Niagra_Falls_Rainbow Mayflower then journeyed on to see PLYMOUTH ROCK, and a replica of the MAYFLOWER and later PILGRIM’S PLANTATION where we also saw a WAMAPANOAG village. You may want to print off the pix, laminate them and make your own booklest or bulletin boards or use them  in a mini slide show. They'll be great for a November unit during Thanksgiving week. I'll repost then too!

Last summer we had a chance to see the Grand Canyon (A long time on my “bucket list” of things to do.) We stopped at a piece of property that advertised: “See real dinosaur footprints!” To get my Y5’s excited right at the start of school,  dinosaurs is my first science theme, so of course we had to check this out.  (Click on the green writing to see my fun dino stuff!)  Our guide armed with a milk jug of water took us around and poured the water on the prints. He didn’t tell us what kinds of dinosaurs left them, but they couldn’t have been too big, as they were about the size of a shoe box. I have only his word as to their authenticity; but it was fun and my students enjoyed seeing pictures of    dinosaur footprints. I hope yours do too! dinosaur footprint  In the meantime I hope you enjoy the site. If there's something you're looking for, and you didn't find it, drop me a line ( and I'll see what I can do!

Educationally Yours,

teacher tips        

          I hope you can REST, RELAX, and REJUVENATE for what's left of the....


  • Here's a tip: Make it a point to check out all the SALES that the office supply stores have during the month of August.
  • You owe it to yourself to do this. You know you'll kick yourself later when a teacher tells you that they got THEIR folders for only a penny!
  • If you're a first year teacher and haven't heard, here's the news: Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples all have wonderful "loss leaders" during August to launch their back-to-school push. A "loss leader" is something that they stock up on, then offer at a huge discount, to get people to come into their stores. They know that once a tired mom, hauling 5 kids around gets in their store, she'll probably buy everything else she needs. A savvy shopper will not.  YOU be that savvy shopper.
  • School Bus. school supplies, teacher tips, back to school
  • Click on any of the links to check them out now.
  • Today I ran around for you. So if you live in MICHIGAN and you're reading this the week of Monday, August 16th before Saturday at 9 p.m. the sale prices are good for the week. 
  • If you live elsewhere, the above stores all told me that although they are everywhere throughout the US, their sale items and promotions are all different. The best thing to do is to go online and check out their ad specials. Even if you're reading this after the 22nd, Simply click on any of the store names and you can check out their ads to see what is currently on sale.
  •  One thing I like about Staples is their PENNY sales! Where else can you buy folders and a pack of 20 pencils for a penny?  The penny sales do require a $5 minimum purchase, which is not hard to meet because of their $1 specials.
  • If there's a 'limit" on a featured item, teachers ALWAYS get a "special limit" of 25! THANK YOU Staples.
  • Their "Teacher Appreciation Day" this year in MI is this Saturday 'til 2
  •  They have a teacher rewards card where you gather points and get a certificate in the mail for a dollar amount off.
  • They do have an expiration so don't carry them around in your purse or wallet forever.
  • In Grand Rapids, MI this week the "extreme deal" for a  penny are spiral notebooks. Copy paper is also 1¢ after the rebate.
  • The dollar deals that were perfect for me were the Crayola 10 - pack bright color markers, the 5 -  pack black Sharpie markers,  and the Crayola colored pencils.
  • Again, stores vary state wide. All managers told me to check online first, and if you have to drive a distance, give them a jingle on the phone to make sure they have things in stock.
  • Click on the box that says "Weekly add" to see what their specials are in your area.
  •  Both Office Depot and Office Max have teacher Appreciation Days and offer some great loss leaders.
  • Office Max will double a limit for teachers, however limits are often 3's. You can always ask a manager, but the one I talked with today said the limit came from the corporate office. Office Depot doesn't give a special limit to teachers, but they do a percentage off if you have a teacher's rewards card. Again, it doesn't hurt to ask.
  • Office Depot has a Teacher Appreciation breakfast on their Teacher Appreciation Day as well as specials.
  • Super Deals at Office Depot this week, clear plastic pencil pouches reg. $1.99 only .5¢ (wow!) limit 3,   Children's Fiskars scissors with a matching colored eraser $1.00 Great color selection.
  • Office Depot's Teacher Appreciation Day is August 28th
  • When you go Online click their weekly add, you'll get a window to type in your zipcode.
  • Office Max had their Teacher Appreciation Day yesterday. Sorry.  Sometimes you can go in and ask if they have any left. They were kind enough to give me one today. It was a circle zippered pouch with a bag inside. 
  • Super Deals this week at Office Max are:  24 count Crayola crayons for .25¢ limit 3 (teachers can get 6) wooden rulers .5¢ same limits, black or blue 10 - count Bic pens .10 ¢ same limits. They also have some "Buy 2 get one FREE" items going on as well.
  • When you go online, there's a place to enter your zipcode to get the specifics for your area. back_to_school, school bus, school supplies, teacher tips,
I also checked a few other places...
  • The Dollar Tree Store is one of my favorite places to shop! It has more "teachery" things than usual including the durable bags that all sorts of stores are selling now as we "Go Green". These had cute school designs on them including one that said Project Bag.
  • When I taught 1st grade I sent Busy Bags home with my students. They couldn't wait for their turn to take home the Guess-ti-mate Jar bag, the Bear bag, the Pattern bag, etc. I'll write more about Busy Bags in another Blog.
  • I know stores vary, but ours had a plethora of brightly colored tubs and square boxes that are perfect for table caddies for supplies. They had borders, posters, die cuts, journals, certificates, stickers, stamps, art  supplies, K & 1st grade workbooks, to name just a few items. 
  • Our store also has little aprons. I bought a few. Not just for the dress up box, but for my Class Helper of the Day.
  • I don't mess with a calendar filled with Helpers of the Day. I stopped that after my 1st year of teaching. I just didn't like all the work that entailed. Trying to remember who had done what job, remembering to change it before I went home, when I was half brain dead.
  •  Now I have one special person of the day who gets to do all of the jobs. I have a Mystery Envelope that I laminate. Each child has a name card like the ones that I have on their tables.  I slowly slide the child's name out letter-by-letter 'til someone finally recognizes it is them.
  • The only job that they don't get to do is Snack Helper. The person who brought the snack is the helper for that and they get to choose a friend.
  • So if you haven't visited a Dollar Store lately, as Shakespeare would have said: "Hi thee hence! And get thee to a Dollar Store" You'll have fun.
  • Toys R Us has some cute and unusual supplies, but no super dollar deals. If you  are buying a backpack for your own children they have a nice selection of popular characters and you get a lunch box /bag free with a purchase of one. .
  • Target has the small Elmer's Squeeze Bottle School Glue for .25¢ a bottle, Glue Sticks 3 for only .25¢ the clerk told me there was no minimum as she said a customer the day before bought over 100!
  • They also have Crayola Crayons 24 count for .25¢ no minimum for them either.
  • I always find some cool things in their Dollar Deal bins too.
  • Meijers is also a big regional chain store. Their loss leaders this week are .15¢ pocket folders and  .15¢ spiral notebooks. In the past when I've told them that I was a teacher and needed 25 of something they graciously let me have a higher minimum.
  • Wal-Mart has the plastic pencil boxes that I use for my treasure boxes for .60¢ and Elmer's Squeeze Bottle School Glue for .25¢ a bottle.
  • All of these stores are my "favorite haunts" along with Hobby LobbyMichaels CraftsJoAnn Fabrics, Schuler Books, & Barnes and Noble. The last 3 give discounts to teachers.  Simply ask to fill out a form.  You need to show a canceled payroll check &/or some other school ID. The 1st two usually have a 40% to 50% off  one  regularly priced item coupon in their weekly online ad.
  • I hope you found this info valuable. It will be archived so you can check links quickly.

     Wasn’t it great being healthy all summer? Ever wonder why that is? Well it’s time for back-to-school and I have some thoughts on STAYING HEALTHY, especially if you are a beginning teacher.  Classrooms are breeding grounds for germs. Here are some tips for avoiding the dreaded “bug”.germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands

  • I wasn’t too sure about getting a Flu Shot until the year I tried it and didn’t get sick! Now I get both “kinds” each year.
  • I take a multi-vitamin. It’s important to read the labels. There’s a zillion kinds out there. So take an age-specific one. I like Centrum Silver or One-A-Day for the older woman because I really do feel they help me feel better. I’ve added Gingko Biloba to help me stay focused too. Someone told me that it’s the only herb that the Alzheimer’s Association recommends. This too, is because I’m getting older and have more often asked myself why I went into this room! Some friends also swear by B12 and vitamin C during the winter months.
  • I use the spray disinfectant that our school gives us, on all my tables in the classroom everyday before I go home, and if my students are extra sneezy and coughing I use Lysol. I also wipe the doorknobs, my telephone, and the computer keyboards.
  • I use my own Kleenex box that I keep at the back of my desk, out of reach of students. It’s that anti-viral kind that they came out with.
  • I have Kleenex boxes in all 4 corners of the classroom, and ask students to please bring a box in along with their school supplies at the beginning of the school year.
  • It’s important to get the kids on board. So educate them.
  • The minute one child is caught sneezing or coughing, I take that opportunity to STOP everything and teach them all how to sneeze and cough in their elbow. We practice together, and then I positively reinforce that behavior when I see it being done with a candy Smartee. I know some people are against candy, but this is a tiny-quick melting treat that really motivates the behavior I want.
  • I tell them how important it is to wash their hands, that germs are on them and that if they don’t wash they can become sick. germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands
  • To demonstrate this I put baby powder on my hands and then I go around and touch theirs. We go into our huge supply closet. I turn on my battery-operated black light bar which they think is “way cool”, then I turn off the lights. I tell them to look at all of the germs that are on their hands! The talcum powder just glows! My point is made! Seeing is believing.
  • You also have to SHOW them how to properly wash their hands. Don’t take for granted that parents do this.
  • Also CHECK children as they come out of the bathroom, don’t just ask them if they’ve washed. If their hands aren’t damp you know they didn’t wash. My Y5’s are always amazed that I know they are “lying”  when I say “ I don’t think so, now get back in there and drown those germs!”
  • I tell them to sing the ABC song while they wash. I read somewhere, that one chorus is sufficient to kill all the germs.
  • Our school installed antiseptic gel dispensers in every room when they read the studies that showed they helped cut illness as much as 50%  I think it was a school nurse that launched this campaign, back when a school could afford one.
  • I have my students use them after they use the bathrooms even though I make sure that they have washed their hands. I also have them use them when I see them picking their nose. What is it with that “favorite” habit of every child I’ve ever had! YUK! We also use the “magic soap” before we go to the cafeteria and before we eat our snack.
  • If you make sure your students are germ-free you stand a better chance of staying well. I love the foam magic soap that Bath and Body sells. I keep that in my pocket for “special” times and for me to use through out the day. Gold Bond has come out with a cream that’s germ killing which I also love because sometimes all the “alcohol” in the other stuff can dry out your hands.
  • Use your own crayons, scissors, pencils etc. This was a hard habit for me to break as I was always sitting down with my students either helping them one-on-one or working with a group. Their supplies were handy and I’d have to get up to get mine. Opt to wear an apron to not only keep your clothes clean, but keep supplies in your pockets.
  • This next one is hard too, but probably the most important" DON’T". Try not to touch your face at all, especially your eyes, nose or mouth and especially if you haven’t washed your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water. You need to stay hydrated for a variety of reasons. I have a little fridge in my classroom that I keep the children’s’ snacks in as well as my lunch and lots of bottled water. I try and make sure I drink at least 2 bottles each day. Some say you should have 3. On hot days that’s no problem. Taking the time to take a few sips is the problem. I try to keep my students hydrated too by including drink AND potty breaks.
  • During the beginning of the school year and in June when it’s hot in Michigan I buy a case of the mini water bottles for my students and let them keep them at their desk. I write their name on the bottom with a permanent marker. They enjoy re-filling them at the water fountain and they think it’s cool to have a water bottle at their desk. It’s also a great fine motor skill to screw and unscrew the caps so we don’t have spilled messes.
  • sick_kids, germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing handsI educate my parents via newsletters to keep their children home when they are sick. That although school is important, this is Y5’s and they are not going to miss anything that I can’t catch them up on. If they’d like to come in and pick up a packet of lessons that we are doing that day,  that is just fine with me. Or if they give me a call, I can send it home with an older sibling.
  • I’m also very aware of who is looking pale, and feeling hot, and don’t hesitate to send them to the office to get their temperature taken. My gut feelings are 90% correct and that sick child is then sent home.
  • I don’t know about you, but I can’t function without 8 hours of sleep. To stay healthy you need your rest. I also send a note home to parents that their child needs at least 8 if not 10.
  • It was very hard for me to leave my room, and not take anything home. Even when I was an aide I’d bring a bag of “stuff” home to do. I remember Mr. W saying: “What are you doing Diane? All I have in my hands are my car keys!” For your health’s sake you have to take your teacher hat off and leave it at school.  and put your mom, wife, or simply your you hat on and go home and RELAX. You need down time to de-stress so that you can recharge for tomorrow.
  • I have invested in a nice selection of soothing music that peels me off the ceiling and quiets my jangled nerves and I start playing it right away in the car. Whether it’s a nice hot bubble bath, or a walk in the crisp fall air crunching leaves an breathing in fresh air you owe it to yourself to rejuvenate your mind and body. And you will be healthier and happier for it.
  • When you get home change your clothes even if it was casual Friday and you got to wear jeans to school. Who knows what little germies took a ride home on your sweater. Then go wash your hands up to your elbows like the surgeons do, and sing the alphabet song yourself.  Washing your hands under hot water also opens up those little capillaries. More oxygen gets into your bloodstream, and on to your brain and that helps eliminate your aching head too!
  • Before you go to bed is not the time to haul out Mailbox Magazine, Idiot Books for computers or anything else that will get you revved up and wide awake. Put on a CD of waves crashing against the shore, spritz some lavender on your pillow, put a hot or cold compress on your eyes, do something that will help you further relax and fall asleep. I try to get ready for bed a ½ hour before I need to fall asleep because I’m usually wired.
  • Lay your things out for the morning so that you can remain stress-free. Choosing my outfit and accessories for the next day was a nice “down-time” thing for me to do too. I think I sleep better too knowing that I’m organized.
  • If you do get sick, STAY home. Try and remember that although your students love you and will probably miss you, they will survive without you.
  • Make sure that you have a great sub-folder already in place especially if you are caught off guard and can’t even function or are in an accident. You can have peace of mind knowing that there is a lesson in there that anyone can teach + all the incidentals for a day with your little ones.
  • Check out my substitute tips by clicking on the link.
  • And if you don’t…I’m here to rescue you. Grab something off the site and FAX it to your school and your sub can run with it. Or call a teacher friend and have them do it for you. germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands
  • When I’m sick I swear by a cup of hot chamomile tea that I drop an Airborne™ tablet in. I don’t care if some people think that product is a placebo or not. When I have a cold it now only lasts about 2-3 days instead of lingering for 7-10. My favorite flavor is apple cider. This product was developed by a 2nd grade teacher and that’s good enough for me.
  • Well that’s it for “Doctor Diane’s” tips.
  • I hope you have a super healthy year! I wish you all the best!
  • Is there something that works for you? Feel free to comment.




Page 149 of 149





Please help keep my site online and FREE.


If you've enjoyed the teaching materials and would like to donate even a dollar to help me with the cost of running TWM, I'd be grateful. Thank you!


Share My Button
fb freebies

advertise with us