classroom organization

Classroom Hack–Use Zip Ties for Task Cards

Here I am, chugging along with back to school on my mind.  I know we still have about 4 weeks left, but I’m sprinkling some teacher stuff into my demanding sleeping, swimming, and Netflixing schedule.  There’s a LOT to do, and if I don’t start now it will just nag at me.

I am so excited to dig into task cards with my students this year.  There are like a MILLION ways to use them and I’ve only scratched the surface.  Back to the story.  I’ve just cut out 72 cards, punched holes in the corners, and am ready to put them together…when I realize I don’t have any of these–

Photo from  I am addicted to office supplies.  Love them!

Photo from–Yes. I am addicted to office supplies. Love them!

Time for a cliche. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I have a need.  I need a way to bind my task cards together WITHOUT some of those ring things.  Then, I remembered that I have a pile of zip ties sitting on the counter and decided to give it a try.

Classroom Hack Zip Ties for Task Cards from The Pensive Sloth

Classroom Hack Zip Ties for Task Cards from The Pensive Sloth

It worked!  We had clear and yellow, but the yellow ones were huge and barely fit through the holes.  Now, I’m off to search for zip ties on Amazon.  Surely they have a rainbow colored pack???

–The Pensive Sloth


My Favorite Things: Tiny Storage Baggies

Did you know that they make tiny storage bags?  Well, they do and they are perfect for all of those laminated cardstock pieces you spent hours cutting out.

These baggies are about 2 X 3 ish and are perfect for a fraction sort game I made for my kiddos.  I think I paid $4.00 for a pack of 100.   Great for centers and stations in the classroom!

These baggies are about 2 X 3 ish and are perfect for a fraction sort game I made for my kiddos. I think I paid $4.00 for a pack of 100. Great for centers and stations in the classroom!

I discovered these earlier in the year when I was picking up craft supplies for our holiday ornaments and needed something for storing sequins.  It dawned on me that these would be perfect for our science and math sorts and cutups…so I bought a few.  They are the bombdiggity because:

1–They don’t take up much space.  I hate putting cards in baggies that are too big.  They flop around, get bent up, and storing a few sets takes up more space than it should.

2–They are cute.  I’m not much for cute most days, but I do find these tiny little bags to be quite adorable!

3–They are cheap and easy to find.  You can get about 100 of them for less than $5.00 at most craft stores.  I usually shop Hobby Lobby, but Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics probably sell them, too.

@thepensivesloth small ziplock baggies for storing classroom games

I placed them next to a pencil so you could see the approximate size. I think these are about 4 X 6. Because the cards don’t have lots of room to ‘swim’ around in the bag, they seem to last longer without getting bent up.

@thepensivesloth mini storage bags for classroom stations and centers

Seriously. You have to try these! My next project is to organize my games into a binder and these will fit perfectly…Perhaps this summer?

These are a MUST HAVE if you use teacher-made materials, centers, or stations in your classroom or if you are a Teachers Pay Teachers junkie like me!


–The Pensive Sloth


#thepensivesloth #teacherproblems meme #teacherhumor ecard covering walls staar

Anchor Chart Attack

OK, so if you live in Texas or another state with a big test…basically anywhere in the US…you know the challenge that anchor charts present.  I love anchor charts!  My students use them.  I don’t spend a ton of time making them pretty, but rather focus on making them meaningful for my kiddos because we create them together.  My challenge is where to put them?  I am self-contained, so I have anchor charts everywhere about everything.  Other than anchor chart overload and running out of space, when the big test comes it all has to come down or be covered.

I am trying something new this year.  I bought a few command hooks, some colorful dollar store clips, and grabbed a few plastic hangers and voila!  My anchor charts are now removable.  I could only get back far enough to see part of the wall where they are hanging, so I’m sorry about the picture.  I’ll work on getting a better one up soon.  Actually, they are hanging on cabinets above student lockers. It’s not perfect, but it should help significantly with hiding all of the learning and help before the big test!

See for yourself:

I Escaped the Zoo Cage!

I read a blog post earlier this week by Common Core Galore and More! and it was hilarious.  You should read it.  It gives a very honest look at one teacher’s perspective of centers from the “zoo cage.”  It was as though she took a photo of my classroom when I taught first grade and wrote about it.  Spot on.  Now that I’m an intermediate grade teacher, things aren’t much different during centers.  We call them stations now.

So last week, I left the zoo cage.

If you are wondering what the zoo cage is, it is the teacher’s seat at the small group table, tucked away to the side of the room where much maneuvering is required to get out.   The problem is that the kids know you are trapped, and while the cat’s away, the mice will play…

Last week, quite by accident, things changed in my room and I escaped!  In all the hustle and bustle of teaching and meetings and trainings and tutoring and paperwork and the various other minutia that makes up a large percentage of a teacher’s job, my small group table has become a pile of projects and it just wasn’t suitable for children.  But, this was no excuse not to meet with my kiddos who needed a refresher on multiplying and dividing with decimals.  So, I moved to the rug.  With clipboards in hand, my students gathered eagerly (well, obediently) around my easel and all was right with the world!  Things weren’t perfect, but I certainly had a better position in the room.  I could see more, get up and around faster, and interact more openly with the others who were working on tech projects.

It has been over a week now, and I plan to continue my experiment and let you know how it goes.  Happy teaching!

reading groups, guided reading, guided math, math groups, small group teaching

Teach small groups somewhere other than small group table? Challenge accepted!