Using Your Cricut to Organize Classroom Supplies


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.


As teachers, it is not new news that this year is going to be unlike any other and that heading back to school in the midst of a pandemic is going to require us to rethink many of the ways that we organize our classrooms. One that immediately came to mind when I thought about my classroom were the supplies. If this were a typical year in my classroom, our supplies would be communal. There would be caddies on tables holding pencils, highlighters, and sticky notes and a variety of bins around our room containing art supplies and math manipulatives. But with all of the precautions in place to keep our students safe and students rotating the days they are in school, I had to get a little creative when thinking about storing student supplies this year. Thankfully, labelling materials has never been easier by using my Cricut Joy! Check out some ideas for organizing supplies below:

Idea #1: Supply Boxes and Pouches

It’s no secret to teachers that students come in each year with their favorite pencils, markers, erasers, and other small supplies. This year, however, it is going to be extremely important that students keep track of which materials specifically belong to them. To help keep their handheld supplies organized, pencil boxes or pouches are small but mighty! If you don’t already have these on your supply list, I found them for $1 or less each at a variety of stores, so they are both useful and affordable!

Idea #2: XL Supply Storage Bags

Once smaller supplies are organized and labeled, there are folders, notebooks, workbooks, etc to worry about. This year, I stumbled upon some extra large, heavy duty plastic bags that will easily fit all of these larger supplies, along with the smaller pencil cases or pouches inside with no problem! I used the Ziploc brand Big Bags, but you can find a variety online. With students sharing desks on different days (hello hybrid model), it is going to be so important for students to easily pack up materials. I am thinking I will have students hang their bag in their cubbies when they are not at school for easy storage!

To create both projects, the steps are basically the same. Read on to find out what you will need and how to personalize your own organization materials in the classroom!

To personalize these projects, you will need:

-Your Cricut Joy Machine

Cricut Smart Vinyl in a color of your choice

-Pencil cases/boxes or pouches and/or oversize bags for each student

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Create a design in Cricut Design Space that you can begin with and change student names as needed. If you do not have a Design Space membership, you can create one here!

A few important notes:

*Make sure that you pay careful attention to the size of the design so that it will fit within the clear space on a pouch or on the top of a supply box.

*You can use any fonts that you love, but if you like my design, I used the Cricut font “Straight and Simple” for the tall student names and “Lia’s Wedding Font” for the other words on the box. Both are free with your Design Space membership!

*To insert clipart, like the pencil you see in my design, simply use the Images tab in Design Space and look for an image you may want to insert. It helps to filter it to “cut only” and “single layer” for easier cutting.

*Don’t forget to highlight all parts of your design and press “Attach” before cutting to keep your words and images in place!

  1. Once your design is ready, cut your Smart Vinyl to size and load it into your Joy Machine and begin your cut. Remember that you do not need to use a cutting mat with Smart Vinyl!

  1. After your cut is complete, peel off the excess vinyl and weed out the inside of any letters or images.

  1. Using transfer tape, stick your design to the pencil box, pouch, or bag, use your scraper tool to firmly stick the vinyl, and peel off the transfer tape.

  1. Follow steps 1-4 for each student in your class (simply by changing the name on the design) and you are ready to go!

And that’s it! If you have any questions or need help with your design, send your questions my way! Happy organizing and best wishes for a fantastic (but crazy) school year!

The Best Teacher Backpack Round Up

As the school year approaches, I am in the market for a new teacher bag and this year, I’ve decided I’m going to kick it old school and get a teacher backpack! I asked my followers on Instagram to send their favorite teacher backpacks my way and after being asked to share, decided to round the most common answers up into one place for you all. An important note: I personally have not used any of these backpacks. However, any that I’m sharing were suggested multiple times from other teachers, so they’re tried and trusted from your fellow educators. Read on to check them out!


The Teacher Tote Backpack – $79.99

This was overwhelmingly one of the most suggested teacher backpacks. With two pockets, a laptop compartment, and an insulated lunchbox space, it’s no surprise that as I write this post, it’s sold out! The website says it will be launching mid-August, so keep your eyes open! 


Photo Credit: The Teacher Tote


Himawari Backpack from Amazon – $39.99 for regular size, $48.99 for large size

This one was also highly recommended! It comes in two sizes, regular and large, and has lots of inner pockets and a laptop sleeve inside. It comes in SO many colors, too! 



Photo Credit: Amazon


Square Backpack – Universal Thread from Target – $32.99

I absolutely love the look of this backpack, especially the Cognac leather style! It has internal pockets, both slip and zip, and fits up to a 13” laptop. Super cute and affordable!

Universal Thread

Photo Credit: Target

Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack – $78.00

If you’re looking for a modern looking bag, this is definitely the one for you! It is made from 100% recycled polyester and has all the pockets. A perfect bag for a teacher who may commute on public transportation because it has a secure inner pocket and a smaller outer pocket for easy access! 


Photo Credit: Everlane

Madewell Lorimer Backpack – $198.00

Is it possible to fall in love with a backpack? Asking for a friend… This bag is definitely a splurge purchase for our teacher budgets, but it is beautiful, made of real leather, and has internal and external pockets. If you’re a fashion forward teacher, this is the bag for you.


Photo Credit: Madewell

Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack – $128.00

Another one that is on the more expensive side, but this backpack is perfect for on-the-go teachers. It has a lower compartment to keep things like snacks or lunch separate (they say it’s for sweaty gym clothes but, like, come on), an internal water bottle pocket, and a sleeve for your laptop. It is made of water-resistant fabric and comes in a few different colors! 


Photo Credit: Lululemon

Kah&Kee Backpack on Amazon – $38.99

This bag comes in so many different style options that it’s almost impossible to decide which I like best! I love the buff/camel color option! You also can choose to order it in a small or large size. It has a smaller front zip pocket, inside pockets, a laptop sleeve, and a water bottle pouch! Definitely a great and affordable option! 


Photo Credit: Amazon

That’s it for bags that had multiple/many votes! Some other ideas were the Motile Backpack from Walmart (which was sadly sold out at the time of writing this post), Vera Bradley backpacks, Thirty One bags, the Beis Work Tote (not a backpack), and Hershel backpacks. Did I miss any others? Feel free to leave them in a comment below or send them to me on Instagram so I can check them out and pass them along!



Adding Big Fat Notebooks to my Classroom Library

While we have been learning from home, I was fortunate enough to receive a few of Workman Publishings “Big Fat Notebook” series books, including their latest release, Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding.


The Big Fat Notebook series includes books that are meant to help middle school students tackle concepts in a way that is easily accessible, attention-catching, and fun. It literally looks as if someone took really awesome notes and compiled them into one big book! Each chapter of the book includes diagrams, drawings, visuals, along with the text, as well as a quick quiz to check your understanding at the end of each section. It’s so appealing as a visual learner and as someone who loves organization, I enjoy how easy it is to follow. I am excited to add them to my classroom library as a reference book for my students!


Now, let’s talk about the Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in particular. I can already think of a handful of students in my classroom who would devour this book from cover to cover! The book covers a variety of topics, including how websites are designed and created, software engineering, and how to read and write code using Scratch, Python, HTML, and CSS. It really delves into some detail, so this is likely best for students who have some type of background in coding and computers, but could be a great supported resource for students who are just starting out as well to get an overview of all the computer science and coding information.


You can find the “Big Fat Notebook” series on Amazon. Click here to shop Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding as well as other awesome BFN titles!

*This post has been sponsored by Workman Publishing, but all opinions are mine.

*This post contains affiliate links

6 Tips for Navigating Google Classroom while Distance Learning


Google Classroom Post PIc

If someone would have told me at the start of this school year that we would be finishing the last four months from home, I would have laughed. But, here we are. Times are crazy, friends. Distance learning is officially how we will finish out our year. I understand that expectations for distance learning are vastly different, depending on your state, district, and school. And let’s be honest, we’re all figuring it out as we go and doing the best we can – and that’s all that we can do! So, I’m not here to offer up expert advice about how to master distance learning. I am, however, going to show you 6 Google Classroom tips that have made my life easier. You may read this and think, “Heather, these are not groundbreaking. Everyone knows this.” Or, you may think I’m a tech wizard. Hopefully, you’ll land somewhere in between. Here we go:


Tip #1: Create Topics for Easy Organization


This one may seem like a no-brainer, but hear me out. Creating topics to organize assignments is one of the most essential things for Google Classroom. With so many things popping up on students’ streams throughout the week, topics are key to making it easy to navigate for you and for students. I personally have topics for all of my core subjects, as well as announcements (where Zoom meeting links go) and morning messages. That helps both myself and my students know where to look for specific things that they need. You can create topics to organize in any way that works for you! Under each topic, you can post all of your assignments, as well as materials (things that are not “due” but live on their Classroom page) and questions you may ask for check ins, morning message engagement, and more. Like I said, this one may seem simple, but it is really a lifesaver!

To create a topic, click on the “classwork” tab at the top of your screen, click “create,” then select “topic,” and give it a name. You can click and drag the topics on your Classwork page to order them in the way that makes the most sense for you. When you create an assignment, just make sure you designate the topic you’d like it to go under using the drop down menu on the right of the screen. Then, boom! Instantly organized!


Tip #2: Create an Assignment Title Format

Assigmment FormatThis is another one that may seem simple, but offers is quite the organizational hack. When posting assignments, create a format that you will keep across the board. If you post assignments daily, it could be something as simple as “Day, Subject Assignment” (ex: Tuesday Math Assignment, Wednesday Math Assignment) or “Day, Date, Subject Assignment” (ex: Friday 4/10 Literacy Assignment, Friday 4/10 Writing Assignment). If you post more long term, you could name things by topic or unit (ex: Because of Winn Dixie Chapter 1-4, Because of Winn Dixie Chapter 5-8). Whatever format you choose, keep it consistent across all subjects. This will help students to easily find their particular assignments and help you to stay organized!



Tip #3: Differentiate Assignments with Symbols 

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 10.46.25 PMThis hint was one that I heard in a webinar and it is a game changer! You can use emojis to easily differentiate assignments or materials. In order to do this, you also need to know how to assign things to only certain students, so this is a two for one tip!

The first thing you need to do is create your assignment or material. If it is going to be very similar for each group of students, you may want to use the reuse post feature (read tip #4!) to keep the bones of the assignment the same and modify from there. Once your assignment is created, you can alter the directions as you please and add the links/docs you need for that particular group. To make sure the differentiation easy to keep track of, you are going to use an emoji in the title! To do this, go to and find the symbols you would like to use. Click on the symbol, press copy, then go back to Google Classroom and paste it into your assignment title.


Once the assignment or material is created and your symbol is in the title, it is time to assign to your groups. To do this, on the right side of the assignment/material screen, click the “All Students” drop down, uncheck all students, and click those that you want the assignment to go to (alternatively, if you are only taking a few students off the assignment, you can just uncheck their names). Make sure that you assign the correct emoji to the corresponding group, and you are good to go! Students cannot see the other assignments you have created, so they will not know that there are other symbols/assignments going to their classmates.


Tip #4: Reuse Posts to Save Time and Energy

Reuse Post 1

As I quickly mentioned in tip #3, you can reuse assignments that are similar to avoid having to recreate them repeatedly! This is great for assignments that have the same directions, but may need different materials, or for things like morning messages that have a similar format daily. This is also perfect for recurring meetings that you may want to remind students of each week and include the login information and password to. The only tricky thing here is that if you are only assigning the post to particular students, you do need to reselect them each time you reuse the post, as it defaults to “All Students.”

Reuse Post

To reuse a post, go to the “classwork” page and click “create.” Then, scroll down to “reuse post.” Click that, then select the assignment you would like to reuse from the menu. This will open up a new assignment/material that is the same as the one you are reusing! If you need to modify it, add materials, or select only certain students to post to, you can do that all before you assign or schedule it!


Tip #5: Schedule Posts in Advance

Schedule Post

Thank god for the “schedule” feature on Google, amirite? Honestly, I don’t know where I have been, but I didn’t start using the “schedule send” feature in my email until this year. Now that I discovered it on Google Classroom, my life has been forever changed. This feature is amazing for batch creating assignments, then having them post to students’ stream on a particular day/time. If you know what your upcoming week will look like in advance, you can create all of your assignments beforehand and rather than having to save them as a draft, log on at the time you want to post, and press assign, you can simply schedule them!


My team schedules all of our assignments for the upcoming week on Friday afternoon, so we do not have to worry about creating and posting them daily. We schedule send our assignments to post a minute or two apart on student streams every morning, based on the order we want them to appear in, starting with the assignment we want students to see last and ending with the assignment we want students to see first (ex: Science/Social Studies at 7:50, Writing at 7:55, Literacy at 8:00, Math at 8:05, Morning Message at 8:10). We also schedule send announcements for later on in the day so that students see them on their stream as they do work. This is great for Zoom meeting information that students may need throughout the day!

Schedule on Stream

To schedule send assignments, create them as you normally would first. Then, click the small arrow next to “assign” on the top right of the screen. Click “schedule,” then choose the date and time you would like the assignment to post to students’ stream! LIFE. IS. GOOD.


Tip #6: Save Extensions for Early Finishers

Extension Material

Whether we are in the classroom or virtual learning, there are always going to be students who finish early or are looking for extensions to their activities. A great way to save time and energy, as well as make resources easily available for these students, is to create a material under a specific topic that houses all of your extensions and early finisher activities. It’s important that this is a material, rather than an assignment, because it is likely not required, so it will not have a due date. It is simply always there for students to access, should they choose to. For me and my team, this is as simple as a material that links to a Google Doc containing links to games, programs, challenges, and more. All of the extensions are in one place as a menu for students to choose from. When students finish early and leave the inevitable, “I’m done what should I do now?” comment, you can simply direct them to that material. A Google doc with links or a direct link to an extensions folder is great for this because you can constantly add to it without having to create a new material on Google Classroom each time you find something new!

There you have it- my hacks for Google Classroom! Hopefully you learned a thing or two that can save you a bit of time and keep you organized as we navigate learning from home. Best of luck, friends, and let me know if there are any ways that I can help from afar!


A Dietitian’s Guide to Snacks

Let’s talk about snacks. They’re one of my favorite things in the whole entire world, honestly. I might love snacks more than my husband (kidding, kind of). But snacking in the classroom can be tricky when trying to navigate around allergies, especially nut allergies. So I’ve teamed up with my friend, Emilie Burgess, a Registered Dietitian, to share some nut-free snack ideas with you all. She has put together some great options for nutrient-dense, yummy snacks. These are perfect for you to pack as a teacher, to toss in your kids’ lunch boxes, or to share with your students’ families as classroom-approved snacks! 

FullSizeRender 8

Emilie encourages snacking in pairs to combine a protein source with another food group. Let’s take a look at some of her perfect pair ideas!

-Pretzels and SunbutterSunbutter is made with seeds, so it is a nut-free alternative for dipping

-Yogurt and nut-free granola– As a teacher, I feel like I need to say this: don’t forget to pack a spoon! Reusable ones are best to be eco-friendly

-Nut-free snack bars and strawberries– There are many nut-free bar options out there, like Made Good Bars or 88 Acres. Check the wrapper for the ingredients!

-Dried chickpeas and apple slices – Apple slices are one of my go-to snacks in and out of the classroom. Toss them in lemon juice or cinnamon to avoid browning

-Applesauce and cheese – Mini Babybel wheels or cheese sticks are super easy to toss into lunch boxes!

Carrot sticks and hummus– For the veggie haters out there, pretzels are a great dipping option


-Fig Newtons and berries– I swear my parents convinced me Fig Newtons were better than Oreos when I was a kid, so these are a throwback for me!

-Banana and seed butter– Sunbutter and watermelon seed butters are great options and many come in squeezepacks to avoid the mess

-Crackers and cheese– This is my personal favorite, so I had to save the best for last

Processed with Rookie Cam

Emilie was kind enough to compile this list into a printable for you, including some brands she has tried and loves. Click on the image below to download it and keep it on your fridge for future reference. Happy snacking, friends! 

Nut Free Snacks