Powered by Blogger.

God's Creation: Preschool Bible Learning Day

Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. 
My preschoolers are constantly pointing out different things they see out the car window, following lines of ants around the playground, and identifying random cloud shapes they see in the sky. I decided to build on this fascination and do a mini-unit all about Creation on our Preschool Bible Learning Day (a day we invite friends over to do fun Bible-themed learning activities together).
To begin the lesson I sat all the preschoolers down and started listing things (clouds, trees, rhinos, flowers, apples, babies, grass, monkeys, moms and dads) and asked the kids who created all of those things (they proudly yelled, "GOD!"). Then I asked them how long it took for God to create everything? Each child got a turn to answer (and the responses varied from 1 to 29 to 4,030). I told the kiddos that we were going to watch this video that gave an account of every day of creation. Afterwards I wanted them to tell me how many days they heard. This video is from Saddleback Kids and gives a great overview of Creation (from Genesis 1-2). It is only 3:28 long.
We then reviewed the 7 days of creation with this fun coloring page:
We hung it on our fridge and will refer back to it throughout the week. I'm not really concerned with my preschoolers memorizing what God created on each day - I'm more focused on them know that 1) God created everything, 2) He did it in an orderly, organized way, and 3) He built a day of rest (Sabbath) into our week

Then we gathered back on the carpet to read this cute book:
God's Bright and Beautiful Colors by Crystal Bowman
This book highlights the different beautiful colors God gave us through his creation. Each page focuses on a different color and has an activity to keep the kiddos engaged.
You can purchase this cute board book on Amazon here --> https://amzn.to/2Z1SXOB
*Note: This is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission for sharing the link, at no cost to you. All commission goes back into the running of Joy in the Journey. 

Next we practiced identifying colors with this fun and easy activity. I punched out different colored circles (a large and a small of each color). I glued the small colorful circles on a display board and mixed up the large colorful circles. One by one the kids chose a large colorful circle, identified the color, and matched it to the small circle on the board. Then they answered the question: "What is one thing that God created that is (whatever color circle they were holding). This activity reinforced not only color identification, but also drove home the idea that our God is a Creative God.

Next we did a sensory activity: we created clouds with shaving cream!
I gave each preschooler a small squirt of shaving cream and let them go to town! To say they loved it would be an understatement :) We used this time to review the days of creation and talk about God creating the clouds. We shared two benefits of clouds (protection from the sun's rays/heat and providing precipitation). If you've never done shaving cream clouds, I urge you to try it! It's really great for cleaning desks/tables (and it smells good too!) I bought my can of shaving cream at the dollar store.

Then, to emphasize the point that God created humans special (out of the dust, in His image) we completed these "God made me special" mirrors.  Each child drew a self portrait and traced the word "special." The bottom says "He loves me just the way I am!" We glue large popsicle sticks to the back to create a stand for our mirrors.
 Lastly, we took the fun outside and went on a Creation Hunt!
I bought magnifying glasses for every child to use as we hunted for different examples of God's creation.  These are cute, durable and actually work to magnify things!

Phew! What a fun morning! 

If you'd like to do these activities with your preschoolers, here are some links for you:
The video: Creation (Genesis 1-2) by Saddleback Kids
The book: God's Bright and Beautiful Colors
The Creation/Nature Hunt log is FREE here
The Days of Creation is from this God Created the World resource
The God Made Me Special mirror templates are from this God Made Me! resource

Like these ideas? Pin it for later!

Finding JOY in the JOURNEY of teaching,

10 Tips for New Teachers

"Congratulations! You got the job!"

Now what?

As a new teacher, planning for the school year can seem like an overwhelming task with a never-ending to-do list. Let me put your fears at ease: you got this! Yes, teaching is a lot of work. It's the best, hardest profession (in my humble opinion!). I want to make this transition as smooth as possible for you, so I have compiled 10 tips for New Teachers for you to read and implement as you plan for your new classroom!

Welcome to the wild and wonderful ride of teaching!
1. Be yourself! 
You are qualified. You were chosen for this job! Don't let others' comments or negative skepticism make you second-guess your calling or your classroom decisions. Trust your instincts. You know how you want your classroom to run and what teaching style is the best fit for you and your students. Don't be discouraged! Remember: You are exactly the right teacher for these students this year!


2. Invest in your students
The number one thing that will ensure a smooth school year is not your classroom decorations. It's not the curriculum or your new comfy teacher shoes. It's the relationship you're going to build with your students. Kids crave authenticity. They know if you're happy to have them in your class. How can you build this relationship?
  • Look them in the eyes when you speak to them and call them by name (even on the first day!): I used to study pictures of my students so I knew exactly who they were when they entered my classroom for the first time
  • Greet your students at the door: Let them know you're glad they've come to school each morning. Ask questions to see how their morning went (did they oversleep, did they eat breakfast, did they fight with their parents on the ride to school - all of these things will affect their attitude and ability to learn in class)
  • Learn about their families: It's important to know about the people who are important to your students. Learn their sibling's names and ask about them. Make mental notes when kids talk about their parents and engage with them about these details. 
  • Talk about their interests: I know you're probably not interested in the latest game or fad - but your students are. Make an effort to learn about these (a quick google or youtube search will do!) and maybe incorporate them into the learning. Kids are instantly more engaged when they can relate the concepts to something they're interested in.
  • Attend their activities: It means the world to students when their teachers show up for things outside of the school day. Try to attend a few soccer games, ballet recitals, church choir concerts, etc. If you can't attend, write your students a quick note the day of the event to let them know you're thinking of them!
3. Procedures, procedures, procedures
Everyone will talk to you about the importance of procedures. And you know what? They'e right! You need a specific procedure for everything. Everything matters! How/when sharpen pencils? How to ask for restroom? How to push in chair, turn in homework, throw away trash, stand in line, walk down the hall, EVERYTHING!! 
You can grab a FREE planning sheet here. 
Once you've decided on your procedures, you'll need to communicate them to your students. Don't assume that they know how you want them to label they papers or when they can sharpen a pencil. Remember: Kids thrive on routine and clear expectations. We cannot fault our students for things we have not explicitly told them we expect of them.

One way that I love to teach and review my classroom procedures is with these Class Procedures Interactive Notebook foldables. As we go through our day I model and the class takes notes on each procedure. It also helps them get used to doing interactive note-taking, which we do a ton of all year long! (win-win!)

These can be customized to fit the needs of your classroom – choose the foldables you want and then have your students fill them in with your specific rules, routines, and procedures. You and your students can refer to this document all year long, especially after Winter Break when they might need a refresher.
4. Ask for Help
When you are starting a new career (or position or school) it's normal to have questions. Ever be embarrassed for not knowing something! I encourage you to make a list of questions - you think you'll remember, but when it comes to the time to ask, you'll probably forget some big ones. Having them written down helps. I actually kept a notepad on my nightstand for a while so I could jot down questions and ideas I was having before I fell asleep. Writing them down immediately helped me sleep better because I wasn't worried I'd forget. 
Who do you ask for help? Find a mentor teacher. This can be someone assigned to you or just someone who is positive and helpful that you gravitate towards. 
5. Collaboration Over Competition 
Teaching can be a lonely ride if you keep to yourself. Share ideas with your team. Bounce ideas off of others and listen to their response with open ears and an open heart. Don't be afraid to try new things. And if, after a few weeks, something isn't working? Then change it! Be flexible. 
6. Give Yourself Grace
Remember what Anne of Green Gables said: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
Each day is fresh, for your students – and for you too! Be gracious with your students. They are learning and maturing all the time. And you're going to make mistakes too. Own up to them when you need to and learn from them always. Respond rather than react. Don't let your students push your buttons. Remember: Your value does not depend on your students' behavior. Don’t grade based on emotion. A student doesn't deserve a bad grade because he made you angry. Sometimes its best to take a break, go for a walk, clear your head, and then tackle your pile of grading when you're calm.
7. Set time limits on school work
Teaching can be all-consuming. Set a time every day and go home, no matter how large your to-do list is. The work will still be there in the morning. Your family deserves you to be happy and engaged with them just as much (if not more!) than your students do. Your job is the most important one in the world but your kids need you rested and relaxed, not stressed out, tired and sick. Make the most of your planning times at school - the more prepared and organized you are, the less time you'll waste. I choose one afternoon (Thursdays) to stay late to plan and make copies for the following week. The other days I made sure to leave by 4:30pm to keep from burning out. You know yourself best. 
8. Befriend the secretaries and janitors
The secret behind a great school are the secretaries and janitors. These are the people who keep your school running like a well-oiled machine, so you want to be on their good side. Talk to them and take a genuine interest in their lives and their interests. Bring them coffee or treats. Have your students make them cards and pictures. Because you never know when you're going to need that book shelf moved for the 87th time that day, or when you come down with the plague mid-day and need someone to scramble together a sub for you... They're more willing to help you out if they like you!
9. Read books
These are my three favorite professional development books for new teachers:
10. Partner with parents
We know that parents can be difficult to deal with, especially as a new teacher. But I found that partnering with them and communicating effectively and often with them helped build the 
relationships right from the get-go and laid the foundation for a smooth year. Work hard to remember names and faces so when a parent shows up, you know which student they belong to. Send home frequent communication to keep them in the loop about classroom goings-on. I recommend a weekly classroom newsletter that gets sent home in a Friday folder, by e-mail, on Remind, Class Dojo, etc. Parents like to know what’s being covered, when tests are coming up, and it puts the accountability on them to stay on top of what’s going on. I recommend sending home personal notes or e-mails with positive things about your students to each parent at least once a quarter. This helps you focus on the positive traits in your students and reminds the parents that you have the child’s best interest at heart. Knowing that goes a long way! Check out these FREE Bug Notes I send home:

Well, that's it - my tips for new teachers! 
I am so excited for you to begin this new adventure! 

Not in the Back-to-School zone yet? Pin this post to come back and refer to later:

The Empty Pot {A Book About Honesty & Integrity}

Looking for a book to read on the first day of school? The Empty Pot by Demi is a fantastic book that emphasizes the importance of HONESTY and living with INTEGRITY.
Book synopsis: The Emperor needs to choose a successor and decides to host a contest. He gives all the children in the kingdom a seed and tells them to bring back their best in one year. Ping, the main character, is very excited because he loves to garden and knows he can grow a beautiful flower. However, Ping plants his seed and nothing happens. He replants it in a larger pot with fresh soil. He waters it and looks after it every day, but still nothing grows. After the year, the other children all make fun of Ping because they have beautiful flowers, but all Ping has is an empty pot. Ping's parents encourage him, telling him they're proud of him for doing his best. The children all come to the Emperor, but he is not pleased with their beautiful flowers. When he sees Ping's empty pot, he smiles. The Emperor tells everyone that the seeds he handed out had been boiled, so nothing could grow from them. All of the other children had swapped out their seeds, but only Ping was honest and brought an empty pot. Ping, praised for his honesty and courage, is crowned the next Emperor

It's a fantastic story with a great message - I love hearing my students' gasp when they hear the plot twist! 

Buy the book on Amazon or you can watch the book being read on Storyline Online (it's really great quality!)


After we read the book I had my students do several activities to drive home the message of the book and sneak in some important reading skill practice.


Here are the activities I use with my students:

·    Front Cover visualization: I have the students look at the book cover and make predictions about what they think the book will be about. I accept all answers with a straight face. If anyone has read the book I ask that they stay silent so they don’t give anything away. Most kids don’t want to spill the beans for their classmates because it’s such a fun twist! I also have them make observations about the picture on the cover (it’s a unique shape and style so it prompts a lot of good discussion). 
·    Charting the Details {Beginning-Middle-End graphic organizer}: As I read the story I have the students jot down important details from the beginning, middle, and end. This helps them develop the necessary skills of note-taking, sequencing, and retelling. 
·    Retelling Booklet: After the story I broke my students into pairs (using these fun food buds pairing cards – my kids LOVE them!) and had them complete these cute Empty Pot booklets.  They worked together to fill out the different pots with important details from the story: Characters, Beginning, Middle, End (I have them compare notes from their Charting the Details organizer and write succinct summaries together), and the Moral of the story. They then color the pots, cut them out, and staple them together to make little summary booklets.
·    Sequencing Events: The next day we read the book again (no surprises this time!) and I have them place the events in order.
·    Cause & Effect: Then I divide the students into groups and put their cause and effect skills to the test! I give them an activity sheet with the “causes” filled in and they need to come up with the effects.  
·    Vivid Vocabulary: Next, with the same groups, the students put on their word wizard thinking caps and look into important vocabulary words from the story (successor, proclamation, swarmed, and ashamed). The groups work together to brainstorm definitions (drawing on prior knowledge and context clues) and then look in the dictionary for the official definitions. They then compare the two and decide if they were correct or if their definition needs tweaking.
·    My Favorite Scene: The final activity of the reading period is a more creative one. The students go back to their desks, break out their art supplies, and get in touch with their artsy sides J. I give them a piece of paper and have them draw their favorite scene (in the style of the illustrations from the book). Most of the students draw the scene where the Emperor announces that he’s boiled the seeds and everyone is stunned. It’s a great reminder of the story’s main message that they can take home.
·    Moral of the Story(letter writing activity): The last day of our book study starts with a writing activity. The students choose a friend to write to who has never read the book. They explain the story in a short, succinct summaryand then explain the theme, or moral of the story. We know that teaching is the highest form of understanding – so the act of teaching something the moral really drives the message home in their hearts and minds.  
·    Irony: While irony isn’t in the standards, I think it’s an important literary device that the students need to be exposed to. I teach my students the official definition of irony (a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected) and then, as a class, we come up with what was ironic about The Empty Pot. (It is ironic because the reader thinks Ping will be reprimanded for bringing an Empty Pot, but in the end, that was exactly what the Emperor was looking for.) 
·    Fill the Pots (following directions and drawing activity): Then I give the students an activity page with six different empty pots on it. In each one I tell them what type of flower to draw and they have to listen and follow my directions exactly. This helps refine their listening skills and encourages them to pay attention to details.
·    Honest or Not?: The last activity in this unit is a critical thinking activity. I divide the students into pairs again and give them eight real-life situations (such as “Sara and Joshua are playing a game at recess. Sara cheats and adds an extra point to her score when Joshua isn’t looking”) and have them decide if it is HONEST OR DISHONEST. Then, as a team, they come up with a ninth example, switch papers with a neighboring group, and determine the answer. This activity provides the real-life application to the story’s message. I chose scenarios that an elementary school student could relate to, so that they can apply the moral to their everyday lives.


At the end of our unit I give each student an empty terra cotta pot for them to take home as a reminder of our important study this week:
I love running into students from previous years and they tell me they still have their empty pot sitting on their desk and it reminds them of our class! 

If you'd like to try these activities with your students you can download this print-and-go resource here

Want to pin this idea for later?

FREE Ultimate Teacher Supply List

Every summer the student supply lists are mailed out and placed in those little boxes in the school supply aisle at Target - but what about the teachers? You probably know the basic supplies you'll need, but there are always things I wish I had at school to keep things running smoothly and especially for the "uh-oh" moments that are bound to happen.  
I brainstormed with some other teachers and we compiled a master list of all the helpful things we keep in our desks, closets, and cars. Note: these are not student supplies - these are things for the teacher!

Here are some of the things we came up with:
PERSONAL SUPPLIES
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Snacks
  • Spare outfit (including comfy shoes!)
  • Sweater/jacket
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush
  • Hair clips/rubber bands
  • Chap stick/lip stick
  • Hair spray
  • Hair dryer
  • Feminine products (if applicable)
  • Band-aids 
  • Rain coat
  • Rain boots
  • Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen 
  • Medicine
  • Safety pins
  • Sewing kit 
  • Set of utensils
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand lotion
  • Contact solution
CLASSROOM SUPPLIES
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Single Hole punch
  • 3 hole punch
  • Stapler
  • Staples 
  • Staple remover
  • Sticky tack
  • Sharpie
  • Paper clips
  • Binder clips
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Sticky notes
  • Note pad
  • Ruler
  • Dry erase makers
  • Stain remover
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Broom/dust pan
  • Mini tool kit
  • Air freshener
  • Baby wipes
  • Towel
  • Rags

Now this is A LOT to remember - Thus, this Ultimate Teacher Supply Check-list was born! You can download this check-list for FREE here:
I've included a blank column for you to write in other personalized things you'll need. Have a great idea that's missing from this checklist? E-mail me and let me know!

I hope this checklist proves helpful as you're planning for a new school year. 
Remember: If you have it, you'll probably never need it. But if you don't - you'll definitely need it! 

Finding JOY in the JOURNEY of teaching,
~Jessica


5 Practical Ways to Show Your Students You Care

The number one thing that will ensure a smooth school year is not your classroom decorations. It's not the curriculum or your new comfy teacher shoes. 
It's the relationship you're going to build with your students. 
Kids crave authenticity. They know if you're happy to have them in your class. 
But the question is: How do you build and foster this relationship?


  1. Look them in the eyes when you speak to them and call them by name (even on the first day!): I used to study pictures of my students so I knew exactly who they were when they entered my classroom for the first time.
  2. Greet your students at the door: Let them know you're glad they've come to school each morning. Ask questions to see how their morning went (did they oversleep, did they eat breakfast, did they fight with their parents on the ride to school - all of these things will affect their attitude and ability to learn in class)
  3. Learn about their families: It's important to know about the people who are important to your students. Learn their sibling's names and ask about them. Make mental notes when kids talk about their parents and engage with them about these details. 
  4. Talk about their interests: I know you're probably not interested in the latest game or fad - but your students are. Make an effort to learn about these (a quick google or youtube search will do!) and maybe incorporate them into the learning. Kids are instantly more engaged when they can relate the concepts to something they're interested in.
  5. Attend their activities: It means the world to students when their teachers show up for things outside of the school day. Try to attend a few soccer games, ballet recitals, church choir concerts, etc. If you can't attend, write your students a quick note the day of the event to let them know you're thinking of them!

Make these simple habits a part of your daily routine and you'll find that you school year goes much more smoothly.

Remember: "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you saidbut they will always remember how you made them feel" -Carl W. Buehner

Looking for more tips, ideas, resources, and freebies to help simplify your lesson planning? Join our Facebook community!

The One Thing Every Christian School Classroom Has to Have


I've had several different classrooms and they each had a different paint color, different furniture, different set-up, different decor, etc. But one thing they always had: a prayer requests/answered prayers board. 

Students were encouraged to write prayer requests on a sticky note - they could sign their name or keep it anonymous. We prayed for these items each morning during Bible devotions. But I didn’t want the kids to just pop up a prayer and forget about it. We celebrated as a class when they could move their prayer request to the Answered Prayers section, reminding us that God hears us and answers our prayers (though not always in the way or timing that we’d expect). 

This special board served many purposes in our classroom: 


  • Reminded the students that God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14) and carries our burdens (Psalm 55:22)
  • Modeled for the students how we pray individually and corporately (in a group)
  • Let me get to know my students and the things/people that matter to them
  • Bonded the class together - it's hard to pray for someone and dislike them at the same time!

Tip: using sticky notes instead of dry erase markers helped keep the writing small (no more taking up the entire board) and made it easier to move from one category to the next.

Sometimes students want to share private prayer requests with their teacher. I don't know about you, but it always helps me to pray for someone if I can pray for them specifically. So I have created a prayer request template that my students could fill out and turn in privately to me. This helped me connect with them in a deep way.


You can download these little notecards for FREE here: Your Teacher Is Praying for You




Looking to teach your students explicitly about prayer?
These print-and-go interactive notebook foldables will engage your students' hearts and minds as you teach them about the importance of prayer: Prayer Interactive Notebook Foldables
(Grab this resource for 50% off this weekend only!)

Want more ideas?
Sign up for my Christian Teaching Newsletter to get ideas, tips, resources, and freebies sent directly to your inbox: http://bit.ly/ChristianTeacherNewsletter

Pin this idea or share it with a friend:
Back to Top