Category Archives: Classroom management

Printables – links!

In a lot of schools there’s sometimes a short 5 minute break to even out the lunch period and the afternoon recess times. During those 5 minutes the kids don’t really have the time to go outside but I might have to prepare my next lesson etc. Here’s a few free printables that I carry around so I can hand them out during those mini-breaks. And also if it’s raining and they have to spent the recess inside the classroom. And if someone’s ready with their work and I haven’t prepared anything else for them 🙂

Note: I have not in any way contributed in the making of these, I found them from the Internet and think they’re super cool! As much as I’d like to be the teacher who makes everything herself from scratch, I just don’t have the time. There’s so many great artists who offer their work for free so I can focus on other things!

Fun robot coloring page (just one, but awesome!):

Disney coloring pages (a lot to choose from!):

Van Gogh’s Starry Night (maybe for the art class too!):

Seurat’s Bathers:

Illustrator Christen Noelle offers a couple of free cool coloring pages (not your generic coloring pages, great stuff!):

I keep a word document with the saved pictures in it, so I can easily print just one file and get all the coloring pages right away. And it doesn’t matter if someone takes “the last one”, because I have them stored in my computer. (Some kid favourites I’ve saved in a separate file such as “Hello Kitty” or “Angry Birds” coloring pages that seem to be a hit right now).


Working towards that movie night – Reward System

When I first started with my students, they’d had a bunch of substitutes already and didn’t have a routine in many things. I saw in Pinterest that another teacher had used puzzle pieces as a reward system. Now, kids learn routines fast and since I couldn’t afford an actual puzzle (and I didn’t even find one big enough with just less than 30 pieces) I bought a 3-euro-poster instead and cut it to pieces. Everytime the class did something well, they earned a piece. I handed 2-4 pieces a day and in the end waited the grand prize: a movie night with popcorn. I know the puzzle might not be the prettiest to look at, but it did the trick. And after it was finished it can be used as an actual puzzle.


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Freebies: Activity Cards

I’ve been trying out activity cards with my kids. I have a card for almost everything we do and I use them both in our daily schedule where kids can easily see what the agenda for the day is and when kids have the option to choose what they want to do.

I try to listen what the kids would like to do each day and then put the cards on the blackboard. Each child has a name tag that s/he puts under the activity s/he chooses. After s/he finishes an activity, s/he cleans her/his space, chooses a new activity and then puts her/his name under it. Some of the activities are used rarely (such as drawing on the black board, building a fort, playing the piano, playing on the computer) and they might have enough space for one or two students at a time, but some cards are used daily (such as coloring, drawing, playing board games, doing one’s homework).

When a student complains that s/he has nothing to do, I can point to the blackboard and ask him/her to choose an activity from the listed options.

Now here you can download a microsoft word – file, that you can easily edit, add or change the pictures, resize the cards, add text in your own language, change fonts and maybe add clip art too. Here are pretty great free clip art for personal use only: to add them to your activity card, simply copy the picture, and paste it to the word-document.

 These are made by me, but they are free to use in your classroom as you see fit. You can download the file from the download button on Google Docs (Ctrl + S) and open it to modify on your own computer.




I made two-sets of the activitycards I needed, that way I can put an activity card to our daily schedule and still have another card to put on the blackboard. I also printed a few blank cards. Because I laminated the cards I can use a dry-erase marker to write on the blank cards an activity that I don’t have a spesific card for.

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Ariadne’s Threads

A friend of mine is an art teacher in junior high school. Last year she got a book that contains Ariadne’s threads, several odd mysteries that unfold piece by piece as the story goes on. This used to be a TV-show in the 90’s in Finnish television.

Ariadne’s thread is basically a party game. The host is the reader that tells a short story.

A man walks into a bar and asks for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a revolver and shoots a hole in the ceiling. The man doesn’t get any water but still he thanks the bartender and leaves. What has happened?

The guests start asking questions to which the host can only reply yes or no. Some of the Ariadne’s threads are short riddles you might remember from your childhood and sometimes they are Agatha Christie-like long murder mysteries.

After getting a permanent teaching job my friend started telling Ariadne’s threads to her students. When the students are finishing their work, she tells a mystery and the students have the end of the class to figure out the right clues. Now, she tells me, she’s known as the “mystery teacher” in her school and when the class nears its end, students eagerly await the weekly mystery.

Last fall I was substituting a class that I felt was difficult to manage. They were 1st graders and they were all over the place. I’m not the one to demand old-fashioned strict discipline, but enough is enough. At least you have to have basic manners.

When the school bell rang they ran out like a rampant herd of horses leaving a mess behind them. And after an afternoon of straightening the desks and picking up shoes, books and pencils, I thought, this is not my job, the kids made the mess, they should learn to clean it too.

The next day I made sure we had more than enough time to clean the classroom and when we were eventually ready, we had some extra 5 minutes left. As a substitute teacher I never let the kids go home early, I’m legally responsible for them till the last minute, and I don’t want to be thought of as that substitute teacher that finishes her classes early.

So 5 minutes left, the kids are standing next to their desks all set for the bell to ring to fly them from the classroom like exploding rockets. So I told a riddle. It wasn’t an Ariadne’s thread, but a riddle a 7th grader had told my friend, the mystery teacher.

What grows and grows the more you take away from it?

And the class was instantly silent. It took them the remaining 5 minutes to figure out the answer. And they had pretty good ones too! Hair grows although you cut it, trees grow although they drop their leaves and even the universe grows and grows no matter what happens inside it (pretty impressive idea for a 7-year-old).

The answer is obviously a hole.

And for the rest of my time with the 1st graders, each day I told them a riddle or an easy mystery. And even when the bell rang they didn’t run out of the class as fast as possible, but stayed put until the riddle was solved.

I don’t always tell riddles in every school and class I teach but it’s a good way of grabbing the students’ attention before the day is over.

Last week I taught 2nd graders for three days and yesterday, after saying goodbyes and wishing a happy weekend the class just stood there and didn’t move. We didn’t have extra time so I figured the students would rather go home than stay a few minutes longer on a Friday, but one of the girls was wondering where the riddle of the day was and the others were nodding. “Easy one this time!” shouted one student. Others agreed.

Since we’d been studying poems I told them a poem like riddle, but unfortunately it’s difficult to translate it properly:

It fills valleys, hills and tunnels but you can never fill a bucket with it.

It’s kind of nice to have your own thing. And also a routine the kids know to expect. And before the answer is figured out (or given) no one has left the class even when the school bell has already rung. Although the school bell marks the end of the class, I think it’s still the teacher that gives everyone the permission to leave.

Oh, the answer is fog.

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