5 Ways to Bring Kindness Into Your Classroom

Guest Blog by Michelle | Lakeshore Blog Ambassador from Apples & ABC’s

Parents and teachers love to focus on reading, writing and math, but it’s just as important to teach social skills! Here are my favorite ways to bring kindness into the classroom.

1: Start the year with kindness.

To set the tone for the year, I like to teach kindness, friendship and inclusion as early as possible. This year, I started by talking about how we should treat each other in the classroom. Then we discussed feelings. I used Lakeshore’s Moods & Emotions Mirrors to provide examples of different emotions.

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The children shared what makes them experience the feelings on the mirrors—proud, angry, happy, shy, sad and scared. Then my students flipped the mirrors over and practiced expressing these emotions!

All the kids said they feel sad when their friends are mean to them. This was my chance to discuss ways to make our friends happy instead of sad!

We talked about ways we can spread happiness and make everyone feel like part of our big classroom family!

2: Read about kindness.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of my favorite ways to spark discussions on friendship and kindness. In the book, a little fish learns that sharing his beautiful, shiny scales with others makes him happy.

I love the big book version because its giant size lets the whole class easily see the pictures. I invite kids to come up and point to the text, and we do fun activities, such as picking out sight-words.

As I read, I pause to check for understanding…and to discuss how the pretty fish feels after sharing his sparkly scales. Then I ask the kids to talk about how they feel when they share. I also like to remind them how wonderful it is to spread kindness and make friends at school.

3: Play interactive games.

Encourage your class to practice sharing with an interactive game, such as the Lakeshore Magnetic Fishing Set. We played during small-group time so I could show students how I wanted them to work together.

We sat in a circle, and each student got a turn to fish. We practiced counting the fish (including the total we had in the end) and naming the colors with each catch.

As we played, we talked about sharing and waiting patiently. We even cheered for our friends while waiting our turn.

I loved seeing my students take pride in rooting for each other!

4: Create task cards.

Kindness task cards are a great way to help older students learn social-emotional skills. I created these cards after witnessing some not-so-kind behavior in my class last year. The cards feature 16 different scenarios that actually happened in my class…and that I wish I could go back and change.

To play, students draw a card, read the scenario and then respond with an idea for showing kindness. The cards also come with editable slides so students can invent their own scenarios. This is a great circle-time activity. I like to use colored containers to keep the cards organized and easy to put away.

5: Work kindness into your decor.

I love to hang kindness quotes around the room—it’s one of my favorite ways to set an expectation for positive behavior. I use quotes as bulletin-board titles and as accents to fill space on the wall.

Quotes are great reminders that we are one giant family and need to support and respect each other.

Academic success is very important, but so is treating others with respect and kindness. We want our classroom to be a safe place where we “stick together,” build each other up and can be ourselves.

You can grab these Bulletin Board Templates in my Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) store. In addition, here’s a great lesson plan for teachers: First Day Friendship Building.

Classroom Decor Ideas Students and Teachers Will Love

by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

Are you excited yet overwhelmed by all the classroom decor options out there? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve browsed countless themes and color schemes to bring you the only list you need to decorate a classroom that’s fun and engaging for everyone.

Our collections are available in our stores only—so you can experience the colors and designs firsthand…and coordinate on the spot with Lakeshore’s friendly staff. Click here to find a store near you and plan your visit.

Pete the Cat Collection

Get your cool cats ready to learn with a Pete the Cat theme!

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Decorating Tips:

  • Welcome students with a decorated door. We spruced up our door with a homemade Pete the Cat, musical notes and blank CDs!
  • Play with color. We combined yellow and teal Fadeless® Paper to create a bold color scheme.
  • Accent store-bought decor with handcrafted elements. We crafted giant buttons from paper plates and pipe stems. The buttons really brighten up our calendar and welcome board!

Woodland Friends Collection

Bring a touch of the outdoors into your classroom to inspire young imaginations!

Decorating Tips:

  • Add texture. We made bushes and trees out of tissue paper and layered a grassy border over the bulletin board.
  • Incorporate personal touches. Have your students bring in photos to post on the bulletin board. We placed kids’ pictures over tent-themed bulletin board accents to bring our “happy campers” message to life.

Kindness Theme

Always in style, kindness is a great theme to incorporate into your classroom decor!

Decorating Tips:

  • Add a hands-on element to your bulletin board. Our bulletin board encourages kids to write ideas for showing kindness. We even added little buckets to collect their ideas! To attract kids’ eyes, we selected a vibrant Rustic Pencils Border and used Superbright Tagboard for the message.
  • Use leftover materials to create finishing touches! We designed a banner using leftover tagboard and hung it over the bulletin board.
  • Display books related to your theme. We used Neon Connect & Store Book Bins and Plastic Book Baskets to create an inviting display of books about kindness.

STEM Collection

STEM thinking will come naturally to the whole class with this decorating theme!

Decorating Tips:

  • Create a bulletin board that inspires. Our bright bulletin board reminds kids to use STEM thinking. Plus, kids go crazy for the scientist with wacky hair! We even set out a write & wipe board for displaying a STEM question of the day.
  • Provide design materials to encourage creative thinking. Place miscellaneous materials in your STEM area so students can make their own inventions. You can even teach students the basics of the design process with our Design & Play STEAM Kits, which allow kids to create, customize and test real-working vehicles.



Dr. Seuss Collection

A classic Dr. Seuss theme never fails to make kids smile!

Decorating Tips:

  • Stretch your bulletin board sets. We started with the Dr. Seuss Giant Cutout Bulletin Board Set and added lite blue Fadeless® Paper, a Poppy Red Chevron Border and tissue-paper flowers. We even cut out our own letters to create on-theme messages!
  • Help kids get to know each other! Using the Dr. Seuss School Selfie set, we created a bulletin board to help kids learn who’s who.

Visit your local Lakeshore Learning Store for these collections—and more!

Classroom Organization: Tips & Tricks from Real Teachers

Posted by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

Have you started thinking about organizing your classroom for the new school year? It’s hard not to during back-to-school season, right?

To help you set up the best classroom ever, we reached out to a few of our teacher friends in the hopes that they’d share some insider secrets. We hope you find these tips and tricks on classroom organization as helpful as we did!

Michaela, Especially Education

I’ve always dreamed of turning my small special education classroom into the Pinterest-worthy learning space of my dreams, so I was thrilled to discover that my Lakeshore Learning Store had plenty of resources to help me best use my space. It took lots of work (and rearranging), but now my classroom is just right. Here are some tips I learned during my organizing adventures:

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Tip 1: Segment small spaces with room dividers.
On Instagram, I field tons of questions about my Easy-Clean Room Dividers! They keep distractions to a minimum and help segment my small, boxy classroom. Our dividers have endured quite a bit of wear and tear since we purchased them, but they’re still in excellent condition. (They may be lightweight, but they’re also tough!)

These are an absolute must in any special education classroom! They even come in Calming Colors®.

Tip 2: Make storage bins your friends!
One of the easiest ways to bring organization into the classroom is with storage bins. I use bins for just about everything: storing picture books, individualizing independent work, organizing completed work and more. I always consider durability when I purchase classroom items, so Lakeshore bins are the only bins I buy.

Tip 3: Choose fade-resistant paper.
I love bulletin boards, but I despise setting them up. Butcher paper is my archnemesis!

I used Fadeless Paper® back in August, and it lasted all year—so I only had to set up my board once.

And why stop at bulletin boards? I also use Fadeless Paper to hang window banners and decorate my classroom door.

Tip 4: Save time with magnetic letters.
When I discovered this Classroom Magnetic Letters Kit, I knew I had to have it. I love everything about this set: the red vowels, blue consonants, easy-access storage box—and multiples of each letter.

These have saved me so much time—and stress—during small-group instruction since I don’t have to search through a bucket full of jumbled letters.

Marine, Tales from a Very Busy Teacher

A teacher’s work is never done! Even during summer break, I am constantly thinking about ways to rework my classroom. This summer, I’m rethinking my classroom organization with some of my favorite Lakeshore products—and these clever strategies:

Tip 1: Use clear boxes to create classroom centers.
Centers help me keep my classroom routine running smoothly! To create them, I simply label clear bins, fill them with supplies and place them in my classroom library for students to access at any time.

I even have some centers prepped and stored so it will be easy to switch things out as my units change!

Tip 2: Brighten up with neon book bins.
When I saw these Neon Connect & Store Book Bins, my teacher’s heart was so happy. These colors fit my classroom theme and provide a bright feel, and the interchangeable labels make organization easy. They’re also incredibly versatile.

Tip 3: Organize technology with pocket charts.
I love using pocket charts for more than managing assignments! I use the Polka Dots Storage Pocket Chart* to organize classroom technology, including headphones, headphone splitters and more. I even label each pouch so students know exactly where to find materials.

Tip 4: Organize data with pocket charts.
I love using the Chalkboard Brights Pocket Chart* to organize classroom data on an informal level. The chart is my “ticket out the door” system for formative assessments. I set up the pocket chart in an easily accessible location and record the day’s lesson objective in the top space. Then I use bright sentence strips to write those objectives in the form of a question and have students record answers on smaller sentence strips that can be placed right in the chart.

Jodi, Clutter-Free Classroom

To succeed in the classroom and enjoy my work, I seek out ways to save time and get organized! Here are some tried-and-true organization methods that worked well for me as an elementary teacher and continue to make my teaching days run smoothly as a homeschool mom.

Tip 1: Simplify the distribution of materials with supply caddies.
With handy compartments and built-in handles, these caddies make it easy to give students what they need—whether they’re working on the floor, at a desk or at a table. Using caddies is so much easier and faster than having students find and gather items themselves!

Having everything ready and organized will even decrease off-task behaviors and distractions—and increase student engagement and success.

Tip 2: Set up project centers and workstations.
Many teachers think they don’t have the space for project centers and workstations, but Lakeshore’s Heavy-Duty Paper Trays & Lids make organizing and managing centers easy in classrooms where space is limited. Each stackable plastic tray holds papers and supplies, and the lids are perfect for keeping materials contained and organized. I even have my children use the sturdy lids as work mats.

Tip 3: Practice color-coding!
Color can be much more than a decorative touch! Color-coding is a proven method of organization; it makes it easy to find things students need quickly. Here are some color-coding tips:

• Use colored tape on the spines of books and journals.
• Coordinate notebooks, folders and binders to match your color system.
• Use color-coded containers for storage, collecting work and housing related materials.

Who’s ready to start organizing? Click here to find a store near you and plan your visit.

*Available in stores only.

Classroom Decorating Ideas for the New Year

by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

Are you ready for a classroom refresh to help you take on the new year? You don’t have to undergo a total overhaul to keep students smiling—simply making a few small changes to your bulletin board or reading corner might help energize your classroom!

Keep reading for some decorating inspiration—then visit our stores to browse over 40 different collections and find the perfect look for your 2017 classroom.


Dr. Seuss Collection

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Decorating Tips:

  • Repurpose accents to make teaching aids. We wrote “silent reading” and “quiet time” on two Dr. Seuss hats, then attached each to a wooden dowel.
  • Pair solid and print borders to create a pop of color and add a stylish “framed” look to your board. We paired the Dr. Seuss ABC Deco Border  with solid red trimmer. And don’t let extra borders go to waste—use them to tie the whole look together by framing posters around the classroom.

  • Take inspiration from posters to design new learning activities. Consider placing the Dr. Seuss Try Something New Poster  above a storage box filled with a variety of “new” activities. Each week, have one student pull out an activity for the class to try.


Painted Palette Collection

Decorating Tips:

  • Play with color! We love how this rainbow border looks with light blue fadeless paper.
  • Encourage positive behavior! We put students’ names on clothespins and clipped them to bulletin board aids (BBAs) with encouraging behavioral messages.
  • Display an example of your craft of the week (or month) to get students excited about upcoming creative projects.

  • Choose organizational elements in neutral colors so they’ll complement your décor. These baskets are a lightweight, dishwasher-safe alternative to the traditional woven kind.
  • Mix in items from other collections to highlight parts of your board. Our board includes Chevron Frame Accents with sketches of winter clothing to draw kids’ attention to a weekly discussion question about cold-weather dressing.


Black & White Collection

Decorating Tips:

  • Feature your favorite color. We added violet fadeless paper to black-and-white accents for just a touch of color.
  • Display outstanding work! For example, a star theme will encourage students to reach for the stars.
  • Mix up your patterns. Combining dots and doodles creates a unique look. Break all the rules to find your own style.
  • Display your calendar at eye level to make it easy to review with students. You can even add borders left over from your bulletin board to fill in the empty spaces.

Visit your local Lakeshore Learning Store for these collections—and more!

Classroom Decorating Ideas: Real Teachers, Real Style

by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

As back-to-school approaches, it’s the perfect time to sit back, relax…and start daydreaming about decorating your classroom for the next school year. It needs to be stylish and functional, and, of course, your students have to love it. Where do you even start? Right here! We talked to three amazing teachers to get their ideas for classroom styles that reflect their own personalities while inspiring young minds.

Find out which Lakeshore collections they love, and get decorating tips that will help you make your own classroom pop.

Our collections are available in our stores only—so you can experience the colors and designs firsthand…and coordinate on the spot with Lakeshore’s friendly staff. Click here to find a store near you and plan your visit.


Richard, Preschool Teacher – Superhero Collection

You don’t need any powers of your own to pull together this superhero classroom! Lakeshore Learning has done it for you. Motivate students with this bright and functional design.

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Decorating Tips:

  • Mix and match Lakeshore’s Superhero Collection with other classroom decor to make it your own. I used fadeless paper with a brick design to make normal classroom walls look like city streets.
  • Tie your theme into learning in creative ways. I encourage super behavior by displaying “How to Be a Superhero” and “Superhero Sayings” posters.
  • Add touches of color to bring the whole look together. I added red and black bordette, created a colorful gallery of student art and rolled out a carpet that brings even more color—as well as seating—to the room.

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Jodi, Fun in First – Chalk Art Collection

This bright and colorful Chalk Art Collection is the perfect way to welcome students…and I love its modern take on a classic classroom design. This eye-catching display combines chalkboard black with bold colors that will brighten any classroom.

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Decorating Tips:

  • Cut border strips and staple them together to create headbands for students. They’re perfect for birthdays and other special recognition.
  • When choosing your color theme, think about the colors of items in your classroom that you can’t change—like bookshelves, window coverings and cabinets. Choose a color palette that includes those colors.

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Mel, Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations – Chevron & Dots Collection

The Chevron & Dots Collection is colorful, cheery and incredibly versatile! I love using this collection to create bulletin boards that really grab kids’ attention.

Restroom Review Bulletin Board:
This restroom review bulletin board is a wonderful way to have students review weekly skills in the hallway. As teachers, we must utilize every teaching moment throughout the day—even when kids are on their way to the restroom! Of course, this can be done in your classroom as well. I always include our comprehension skills and strategies, grammar, and sight- and spelling words for the week. I also include math vocabulary for the unit we are working on.

Decorating Tip:

  • I love using Lakeshore’s Reusable Write & Wipe Pockets to change out this board weekly. Easy peasy! I also love triple layering bulletin board trim for an extra pop! I used bright neon notebook paper and traced circles. Then I layered the circle bulletin board letters on top. And who doesn’t love colorful tissue pom-poms?

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Back-To-School First-Grade Pencil Bulletin Board: 
This bulletin board is the most welcoming board in our first-grade hallway! Since our school is so large, we need our visitors and students to know which hallway they are in.

Decorating Tip:

  • I decided to layer Chalkboard Brights trim and Polka Dots trim—both from Teacher Created Resources. I handmade the burlap pencil letters using burlap, paint and twine.

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Visit your local Lakeshore Learning Store for these collections—and more!