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

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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:
  • 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
  • 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,

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

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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!)

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Get Your Students Digging In Their Bibles {FREEBIE!}

Do you want your students digging in God's Word and thinking critically about what they are reading? If you responded with a resounding, "YES!" then keep reading for some ideas and a special FREEBIE just for you!

As a Christian teacher it is my deepest desire to see my students develop and grow a thriving relationship with the Lord. But giving our students a 20 minute Bible lesson three times a week isn't enough. Taking them to a chapel service once a week isn't enough. Your students need intentional time spent learning about and reading God's Word every. single. day.

I believe that the Bible is God's Word. It is the account of God's work on Earth to redeem sinful people back to Himself. It is living and active. It has the power to change lives!

Do your students believe that?

Do YOU believe that?

Here are some fun and easy ways to get your students reading the Bible:
1. Tell them about what you're reading
Our passion for the Word needs to be contagious! We need to share with our students what we're reading in our daily quiet times, what lessons we're learning, what awesome ideas we took away from the sermon we listened to at church on Sunday. Talk with your students about what God is revealing to you through His Word. Some teachers have a "What I'm Reading" board where they update the class on what book they are reading - you could do this, but instead of listing your current novel, write what chapter or book of the Bible you're reading. Insight for your students (and accountability for you too!)
2. Ask them about what they're learning
After you've opened up to them about what you're reading and learning, turn the tables and let your students share. On Mondays ask your class what they learned at church the day before. This provides a great way to hear their hearts and provide some accountability to make sure they're paying attention!
3. Read the Bible with your class
Start your morning with time in God's Word. This doesn't need to be part of your Bible curriculum - just pick a book of the Bible (or have your class vote!) and start reading together. Stop and comment on what you're hearing about God's character, about God's plan, about Hs calling on our lives, etc.
Not sure where to start? I recommend reading John or Romans if you want a really good overview of the Gospel, or Proverbs if you're looking for nuggets of real-life wisdom. You can also use a kids devotional if you want stories that will relate to your students and connect back to God's Word. The Gospel Coalition has some great devotional recommendations for all ages.

To make it easy for you to get your students digging in their Bibles, I've created this FREE Daily Devotional graphic organizer that your students can use to track what they're reading. In my classroom we completed this page together for each new chapter/book we read and compiled it into a class booklet. At the end of the year I photocopied a copy for each student to take home. Alternatively, you can have each student fill it in independently. (I recommend you guide your class through it the first couple of times so they know what types of things to write in each box)

Click the link to download your FREE Daily Devotional graphic organizer for kids
If you use this free resource with your students, I'd LOVE to hear about it!

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Thanks for joining me as we find JOY in the JOURNEY,

FREE Nature Hunt activities for kids

It's Time for a Nature Hunt!
Take your child outside for a fun time exploring different beautiful parts of nature!
Set aside specific, intentional time to discover and investigate with your child - Make sure you dress appropriately (you might get dirty!) 

Ideas to Engage Your Child:
  • Give your child a magnifying glass and encourage them to look closely at the world around them
  • Practice identifying the color of every item your child sees (i.e. this leaf is green (or even light green vs. dark green for older children)
  • Practice counting the nature items you find (“How many pinecones can you count at the base of this tree?”) 
  • Have your child describe the things he sees using his five senses (“the top of this leaf looks pointy, the woodpecker is noisy, this rock is smooth, this flower smells beautiful, etc.”)
  • Have a kid that doesn’t like to get his hands dirty or touch bugs? Let him wear a pair of kid-sized gardening gloves.
  • Let your child keep a bug in a bug catcher – make sure to put lots of leaves, sticks, and grass in there to make him feel at home. After a day or two release the bug back into nature.
  • Talk about the different habitats for animals in nature – woods, ponds, jungles, fields, artic tundra, deserts, oceans, etc.
  • Brainstorm how the nature area you’re exploring will look different depending on  the season. (no leaves in the fall, snow covering the ground in winter, baby animals in spring, blooming flowers in summer, etc.)
  • Collect rocks and paint them with fun colors and encouraging sayings. Leave them on a walking path or at a park for others to find!

To help make your nature hunt filled with fun and learning, I have created some free printable activities for you to use with your little one! There are several options for you to use - choose what works best for your child or use them all!

Here's a preview of what's included:

  • A magnifying glass template: Give your child a magnifying glass and let him loose! Let him explore and then record the different plants, bugs, rocks, etc. that he observed.
  • Nature Hunt Log: Perfect for pre-writers, this log asks your child to find different specific things in nature and then color them in as he finds them. Celebrate with a yummy snack when the log is completed!
  • Colorful Nature Hunt: This is a higher-level thinking activity that asks your child to identifying different things in nature and then sort them by color. You can write the items as your child dictates to you or have them draw pictures for each color category.

And the best part? You can download these activities for FREE! 
Click here to download: FREE Nature Hunt Activities for Kids

If you go on a nature hunt with your child(ben) I'd love to hear about it! E-mail me news of what you discover and some pictures if you have them! 
Happy hunting!

My Bible Study Journal

I’m absolutely loving my new daily Bible Study Journal 😍. It’s got a beautiful cover, awesome hand-lettered quotes and Bible verses sprinkled throughout it, and has pages for three months of daily Bible study. I got this for my birthday at the end of January and had to order another one for May through July! 

Here are some pictures of the inside:

I love how simple it is. It has added the right level of consistency and accountability for me to use it with my daily quiet time without being overwhelming or tedious.

Grab your copy here --> My Bible Study Journal

There are also a Prayer Journal and a Sermon Notes Journal available - I have them all!

Note: these are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for sharing the links, at no cost to you. These commissions help keep this website running!

What are YOU reading in your daily quiet time these days? I'm diving into the book of Jonah and I can't wait to see what God teaches me through it. I'd love to hear what you're reading - send me an e-mail and let me know!


As a teacher, we receive many gifts throughout the year as students and parents seek to show their appreciation for our hard work. I always want to thank them for the generosity, but sometimes writing out thank-you notes throughout the year can seem a daunting task. But not anymore...
I printed the thank-you notes in color (but you could also print in black and white on colored paper) and then cut them apart. When a student gave me a gift, I jotted down a quick note to myself and then during my lunch break each day, I addressed the thank-you notes and sent them home that day. It kept the task from getting overwhelming and I was able to thank them specifically for what they brought without writing out a long note each time.

Some of the notes are specific to items your students may bring in - simply print, sign, and give out:
And other notes include more space for you to write a note to the family:
This cute, user-friendly, print-and-go packet is a real time saver for teachers! This 40 page packet includes notes to say "Thank-You" on any number of occasions - when a student gives you a gift, when a parent drops off a coffee, when a family donates a book, etc. Each template is included in both color and black & white. The resource also includes teacher directions and suggestions.
Want to check them out? Click here to see the print-and-go thank-you notes!

FREE Bible Devotional Activity for Kids

Happy Friday, dear teachers!
As a Christian teacher, it was my desire to not only teach students the curriculum, but also give them opportunities to develop personal Bible reading skills. Reading Bible passages and thinking critically about what it means is not something that will just happen without effort. 
When we read the Bible we want to:
  • read
  • decode important vocabulary
  • determine context/historical background
  • think critically
  • make connections
  • reflect/apply it to our lives
  • pray

It takes time and practice for adults to develop these skills - and we can't expect our students to do all of these things without direct instruction, modeling, and a whole lot of practice!
To give my students the needed practice, I set up a time each week to do a "Digging Devotion" where the kids would dig in their bibles and complete a devotional page.
Give your students a copy of the activity page and a Bible passage (or let them choose!) and get them digging in their Bibles and thinking critically about what they read. Perfect for Christian school teachers, Sunday school leaders, and homeschooling parents. 

Today's FRIDAY FREEBIE is a little different - instead of hosting it in my TPT store, I'm sending this FREE Devotional Guide for Kids activity page to all subscribers of my Christian Teaching newsletter. Sign up here -->

The newsletter with this FREE download will be sent early next week, so make sure you sign up for the newsletter today! The newsletters are sent once a month and will never include spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

National Day of Prayer: Prayer Activities

Related imageToday (May 2nd) is the National Day of Prayer. Americans across all 50 states will gather in churches, local businesses, the steps of city halls, schools, neighborhoods and public gathering places for a day of public prayer for the United States of America.

This year’s National Day of Prayer theme is “Love One Another.” The theme comes from the words of Jesus in John 13:34, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.”

Every year on the National Day of Prayer I like to spend intentional focused time teaching my students about praying and practicing the important discipline. 

We take notes in our Bible journals using these interactive notebook foldables:

 You can get all of these templates to use with your students by visiting my teacher shop: Prayer Interactive Notebook Foldables 

Here's what teachers are saying about these activities:
"What a great tangible tool for kids to use in prayer!" -Hannah M.
"Our prayer journals got a facelift with these awesome interactive activities!" -A Teacher's Highlight Reel
"This was be such a great reinforcement of all we've been discussing in Bible class. It's fun, creative and thorough. THANKS!!!" -Melissa G.

Teachers Who Pray:
Every Sunday I do a weekly prayer post for teachers to use to pray for the upcoming week in their classroom. Each week includes a prayer prompt and a Bible verse focus. Join me on my Facebook page to see the weekly Teachers Who Pray posts!
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