Classroom Crafts & Activities – School Outfitters Blog Furnishing Great Places To Learn Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:51:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Game Time in the Classroom Wed, 21 Oct 2015 03:29:50 +0000 This post was written by Tom Richmond, a Sales Support Specialist at School Outfitters.

Students of all ages love to play, and what could be better for educators than finding ways to make games into learning opportunities? Teachers and parents across the country are coming up with new, crafty ways to repurpose games for educational environments. These creative solutions are easy on educators’ budgets, and often the students will have so much fun that they won’t even realize they are learning! We put together a list of some of our favorite ideas for games for various age groups that will keep students happily and engaged throughout the school day.


Sponge Blocks

Source: Toddler Approved

Kristina at Toddler Approved cuts colorful sponges into rectangular strips children use to sort, stack, and build. They can even use them to make the shapes of letters when learning the alphabet. This is a fun, safe way for younger students to learn and have fun at the same time.


Easter Eggs



Source: Live, Laugh and Learn

Plastic Easter eggs can be repurposed into all kinds of fun matching games to teach word recognition, counting, and arithmetic. Write different parts of word families on opposite sides, match numerals to their written forms, or even have children find and match equivalent sums. This fun activity also comes with the added benefit of causing relatively little noise in the classroom.

Sight Word Games


Source: Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Source: Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Instead of simply using flash cards to teach sight words, try printing up extra sets of cards and having the students play go fish with them. Or, print the target words on connect four pieces, like Bern at Mom to 2 Posh Lil’ Divas, and have children read the words aloud before playing their pieces.

Assorted Board Games

Source: Teaching With Task Cards

Source: Teaching With Task Cards

All kinds of board games can be repurposed into learning materials with just a little tweaking to the rules. With games like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders, younger kids can draw cards with letters or words to identify for each space that they move. This also works perfectly for middle school teachers who use task cards in the classroom


Historical Guess Who!


Source: A Crafty Teacher

Source: A Crafty Teacher

This classic game is perfect for the classroom when outfitted with a new set of faces to choose from. Vanna at A Crafty Teacher made her set with figures from the American Revolution, but this can work well with any historical period.


Combine Like Terms Uno

Source: @tmaynard5 on Twitter

Source: @tmaynard5 on Twitter

Crafty teacher Tara from iPads in Middle School Math created fun algebra games for older students. Rather than simply matching colors as in the original Uno, her students play cards with like terms along with colors. She even included an easily printable version.

Test Prep Jenga

Source: The Tutor House

Source: The Tutor House

Rather than using flash cards or worksheets to review for tests, Adrianne from The Tutor House put questions on Jenga blocks. This way, students have some fun while they prepare for their next exam. It’s especially great for practicing foreign language vocabulary.

These are just a few of our favorite crafty ways to introduce games into the learning environment. We’d love to hear some of your ideas as well!

Guest Post: Create Immersive Education With Binge-Teaching Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:28:49 +0000 This is the next guest post from Brian Smith, an educator from North Carolina. He’ll be blogging with us over the next few months.

Binge-watching is watching multiple episodes of a show for several hours in a single sitting. This has become a national phenomenon. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and TV series on DVDs and Blu Rays have all increased our opportunities to binge-watch. It’s now commonplace to find a series that we love and feed our obsession for as long as we can keep our eyes open.

My 10-year-old daughter, Ella, has been binge-watching Full House over the last year. Snow days are her favorite times to cuddle up and watch the Tanner girls grow up before her eyes. She just started the season 8 DVD, the last season, and is a little sad that her love affair will soon end. My wife and I just recently started binge-watching an award-winning, colorful Netflix series. Instead of going out for our date night, staying home with take-out has become our new ritual.

What does binge-watching have to do with education? It hit me the other night that binge-teaching is one of my favorite ways to teach. I love those days when I can close my door, flex my schedule and really focus on one topic for an extended period of time.  Just like there are multiple episodes in a binge-watching session, when you binge-teach, you have several different activities around the same topic.

Binge Teaching
In today’s educational climate, where teacher effectiveness is determined on one yearly assessment, subjects like social studies and science often get pushed to the side. There are often not enough hours in the day to teach every subject and anything that is not reading and math continues to get moved to another day. Does that day ever come? If not, then binge-teaching is the answer.

A well-planned unit can oftentimes be condensed into one big day of learning. Instead of spreading out smaller units across several days, you can combine the introduction/discovery activity, read-aloud text, non-fiction reading and different activities into a couple hours of binge-teaching love!

My favorite day of binge-teaching was centered around ice. I planned several days of lessons about ice and reversible change during our penguin unit. The weather was a winter wonderland. One day, while looking at our mason jar ice experiment, a student asked, “What’s the fastest way to melt ice?” From that question, we had an entire ice day (before the Frozen phenomenon). We read books about ice. We made ice in different shapes and documented which shapes melted first. We hypothesized different ways to melt ice. Then we executed selected student hypotheses (light, salt, hairdryer, breaking it apart into smaller pieces). The binge-teaching ended with the class creating a letter to send to interested parties about our ice melting data.

Student engagement skyrockets during a binge-teaching session. Students can learn about a topic and put that knowledge immediately. This creates a sense of excitement that’s contagious to everyone involved.

My other favorite binge-teaching topics:

  • Forces and motion
  • Characteristics of different materials (wood, paper, clay)
  • The life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Different cultures around the world (with each binge-teaching session focusing on one culture)

Tips about binge-teaching:
1.  Keep your kids moving. If you are going to have several texts to share during a binge, use different spaces for fiction and non-fiction read-alouds. Hearing text in a variety of areas can cement learning. Make sure that, if possible, your hands-on activities are located at different places around the room.
2.  Make sure that you are including a couple of different hands-on activities for each binge-teaching session that you plan. Using tactile and kinesthetic learning will improve retention for all students.
3.  Stay focused. Introduce a topic and use binge-teaching to help your students develop a deeper understanding of a topic instead of being exposed to a wide variety of related topics.
4.  Be prepared and have fun. Binge-teaching works best when you have planned it well and are excited about the topic. Your excitement will set the tone for how your class views the topic.

Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest. Share your favorite topics to binge-teach and use #bingeteaching to following along.


Celebrate the 45th Earth Day With These Fun Activities Thu, 16 Apr 2015 18:15:02 +0000 On April 22, 1970, the very first Earth Day was officially celebrated. Since that day 45 years ago, the initial fight for a better environment that began as a small national pool of 85 individuals has grown into a global force of 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries.

If your class is interested in joining the fight for a better environment, here are a few suggestions to get their creative juices flowing:

  • Ask them to sign the Climate Petition. This international petition is an active voice for millions across the globe to demand the elimination of carbon in our environment. The best part is that students can access the petition online and the form only takes a few minutes to complete.
  • Invite students to partake in building a class compost at school or even one at home. Composting is a fun activity that teaches children about the importance of conservation, and it’s a fast and easy way for them to make a difference.

  •  Build a pizza box solar oven. This solar oven requires only a few supplies to get cooking, and within minutes you can use it to heat and serve small snacks such as s’mores and leftover pizza.

[su_youtube url=”″ width=”520″]

Invite students to log their own Earth Day contributions at home, and offer rewards for the most accomplished each week. Activities can include:

Keyboard with "Save Power" button

  •    Turning off the water while brushing their teeth.
  •    Encouraging their family to go meatless one day a week.
  •    Creating separate waste bins at home: one for trash, one for recycle and one for compost.
  •    Walking or riding a bicycle with family instead of driving.

 Make small changes in the classroom to encourage conservation. Activities can include:

Children recycling

  • Keeping doors closed to conserve heat or air.
  • Having recycling bins available for the disposal of paper and bottles (Win one for your school here!).
  • Electing an “energy officer” in your last class of the day to ensure that all computers, tablets and printers are turned off.

Earth Day is a great opportunity for students to learn about the changing environment and why their help is needed to make a difference. We hope these ideas will help you introduce your students to fun ways to make their world a little greener!

Share with us some the activities you have planned for your class on Earth Day. We’d love to hear your ideas.

Luck of the Irish – Lessons for St. Patrick’s Day Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:14:50 +0000 One of my favorite holidays is right around the corner – St. Patrick’s Day! What’s not to like about a holiday smashed right between the end of winter and the beginning of spring?

It’s fun to recognize and celebrate special days in your classroom, and teachers are great at turning holidays into extra memorable learning opportunities. If you’re searching for unique, festive lessons for St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few activities to consider. Your students will enjoy the unexpected lessons, and come away with some new knowledge, too!



Who needs a pot of gold when you can make a rainbow in a jar? Not only is this project’s outcome beautiful, but it offers an interesting science lesson on density. This neat demonstration from Playdough to Plato blogger Jen Rice requires only common household materials. Young elementary students will need lots of hands-on help, but with supervision, older students can each create their own rainbow.



Reference the legend of the the Blarney Stone to create a festive writing assignment. Scholastic shares one teacher’s persuasive writing approach to this Ireland-themed assignment. Of course, Ireland’s long line of famous storytellers won’t mind if you put your own spin on this project.



Follow in the footsteps of America’s Irish immigrants. Take your students on a (very cool!) virtual tour of Ellis Island. The tour can be a great jumping-off point for a history lesson on immigration, 19th century history or family genealogy.

How will you recognize St. Patrick’s Day in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Classroom Storage Ideas: I Vote Cubbies! Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:25:29 +0000 Your classroom’s probably pretty busy. There are so many students, supplies and ongoing projects. Not to mention the coats, boots, backpacks and lunchboxes that possibly need a classroom-based home during the school day. Classrooms really need to have some organizational solutions. When space is at a premium, teachers have to get creative. Here are a few of my favorite ways to unclutter any educational space!

Milk Crates




They’re durable, spacious, inexpensive to buy and they only get better as you stack ‘em. Yes, if you’re lucky enough, you can even find old milk crates that may no longer be in use. In that case, make sure to give those crates a good cleaning first. Otherwise, I suggest you buy them from various retailers (The Container Store offers some great colors). To make everything more accessible for students, you can stack the crates (handle to handle) and keep them together with zip-ties (here are some step-by-step instructions); it’s easy to secure the crates to walls with nails or screws, too. Plus, the open design allows students to see all the materials they want to use.

What about other classroom uses for the milk crate? There are tons of ideas out there (get some DIY inspiration from The Eager Teacher)!





Here’s the same idea with a different look. I’ll keep this short. If anything, plastic bins are better for storing smaller classroom supplies. It’s easy to find your favorite style (with drawers, without drawers, with colorful or transparent plastic). Check out our selection for some cool options!




Of course, here’s the classic cubby style. They’re built to last, they’re designed for children and they often complement existing classroom décor. Rounded corners help prevent injuries and wide (sometimes weighted) bases make these units more stable. Wooden or laminate cubbies are a more expensive option, but they’re also far more likely to continue looking great for years, especially in high-energy early learning classrooms. Plus, many carry lifetime warranties. Even with older K-12 students, cubbies are ideal for keeping track of lunchboxes or daily assignments.

What’s great is that all of these space-saving products fit snugly against the wall, which maximizes the usable square footage of any learning environment. My favorite part? With cubbies, stackable cubes, whatever you want to call this beneficial design – educators and their students always win!

What organizational techniques do you use in your classroom?


]]> 1
Elementary School Valentine’s Day Activities & Lessons Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:55:45 +0000 February 14th is approaching fast. Looking for a way to celebrate beyond the standard parties, candy and Valentine card exchange? Why not incorporate Valentine crafts and activities into your entire day? Here are some ways to make an entire school day out of Valentine’s Day.

Broken Heart
This Valentine’s game requires concentration and teamwork as students pass a tissue paper heart back and forth using only clothespins. As teams rip (i.e. “break”) hearts, they’re disqualified. The last team with an intact heart wins. It’s surprising how quiet a class can get when they’re concentrating this intensely!

Via Cul-de-sac-Cool

Via Cul-de-sac-Cool

Valentine Votives
This one’s for upper grade levels: collect glass jars from students and recycle them into festive candle holders that kids can give to their parents. With some scissors, tissue paper and corn starch, students can customize their own design. It might need to dry overnight, so plan to do this with enough lead time so that students can bring them home for Valentine’s Day.

Via Homemade Serenity

Via Homemade Serenity

Show Some Love
Love Valentine’s Day crafts but don’t have an artistic bone in your body? Don’t worry, this bulletin board project is just a matter of cutting and pasting, making it easy to do and a cinch to clean up. Students trace their hand and then glue down two fingers to create “I love you” in sign language. Glue a heart on top of that and have students write down something they love about a topic of your choosing, such as school, a unit you’re working on, or their own lives.

Via One Lesson at a Time

Via One Lesson at a Time

Find Your Heart Mate
Valentine’s Day math can be more than You + Me = Us. Distribute “broken” hearts to your class, one half with an equation, the other with an answer. This gets students out of their seats to exercise their mathematics skills, so it feels like a game and not a math review.

Via One Charming Party

Via One Charming Party

I <3 Science
Likewise, there are plenty of science-themed Valentine’s activities out there. This pack at Teachers Pay Teachers has five elementary school lessons on everything from force, motion, and air pressure (“Cupid’s Target Practice”) to chemical reactions (“Crystal Hearts”).

Via Creating Writers and Readers

Via Creating Writers and Readers

 Candy Hearts Experiment
A good use for those chalky candy hearts no one actually likes– sacrifice them to science. Gather bottles with various liquids like soda, rubbing alcohol, vinegar and bleach (if your students are incredibly careful) and ask students what they think will happen when they drop the heart candy into each of the liquids. Write down their predictions and put them to the test.

Via Fun-A-Day

Via Fun-A-Day

Left/Right Story Game
Have students sit in a circle and hand them several small wrapped prizes. Pick one person to read a Valentine’s Day story. Every time the kids hear “left” in the story, they pass the prize to their left. Same goes for right. Whoever is holding a prize when the story finishes gets to keep that prize. Read the story a few more times, starting with new kids and new prizes or break the story up into sections. This is even more fun if students share Valentine’s Day stories they’ve written themselves. See a sample story from Cul-de-sac-cool here.

Happy Valentine’s!


Sensory Tables: The Top 5 Reasons Preschools Need ‘Em Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:25:01 +0000 Children with a Sensory Sand Table



Sensory tables are a staple of the preschool and daycare scene. Why?

Little ones love to explore. So it’s important to introduce a special place for them to learn through hands-on play – and sensory tables can be the command center for all that tactile research. But why, specifically, do children benefit from this fixture of early education? Cue some dramatic music. Here’s the list!

5. Playing with Pals

Children play at an outdoor sand table


Children learn how to play cooperatively with the materials in a sensory table. Mildred Parten, an American sociologist, put together a theory that outlined play at young ages. And even though it was developed in the 1930s, it’s still relevant in today’s classrooms. Sensory tables support Parten’s definition of cooperative play, encouraging children to take an active role in planning, structuring and collaborating through play. Fun fact: Sensory tables actually come from the occupational therapy world, according to Jeanette Der Bedrosian for Washington Parent. “Though sensory tables have their roots in the occupational therapy world, you might find a group of children working together at a table or bin at preschool centers … In this context, it encourages teamwork.” Sharing, taking turns and incorporating others? It all represents a big social step for early learners; it’s all powered by the presence of sensory tables in the classroom.

4. Learning the Lingo

Tin Can Phone


Children learn how to communicate with their peers by using their budding vocabulary. Group play with sensory tables promotes conversation. For example, pre-K students might handle the materials differently, want to try mixing materials, organizing or building with the materials. Think blocks, sand, water – items of many colors and sizes that introduce a variety of textures to early learners. This sensory stimulation encourages communication and broadens language abilities for pre-K students. Plus, preschoolers’ classmates can have a significant impact on learning language, according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Virginia and The Ohio State University. Science Daily reported that because of “the growing recognition that young children’s language abilities affect their readiness for school and later school success, this study offers ideas for designing and structuring preschool classrooms.”

Looking for more ways to prepare children’s vocab for kindergarten and beyond? The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) suggests some other great methods to support early learners’ speech and language development.

3. Refining Fine Motor

Student working on fine motor skills


Children learn how to maximize their hand-eye coordination with the myriad hands-on activities that sensory tables can offer. Mixing, molding, measuring, pouring, pushing, scooping and sifting; there’s so many ways for pre-K students to perform the small muscle movements that are necessary for other important tasks. This type of play provides great preparation for real world applications (tying shoes, buttoning a shirt or zipping up a jacket). Who knew that squishing gooey stuff and clanging toys in a bin could be so beneficial? If you need some extra help getting creative ideas going, Loubina Buxamusa and Ann Mahoney offer some top-notch sensory table activities for pre-K students in this article.

2. Creating Creative Commotion

Soapy Sensory Table


Children learn how to get creative (without so many restrictions) with a sensory table. Other classroom activities like playing with blocks can only accomplish so much, impeding further exploration. But with a sensory table that’s chock-full of sand, water, rice, macaroni or even dirt, all of these separate mediums are fair game for building structures, demolishing structures and getting engrossed in the magic of make-believe. Outside of taste (we don’t want 4-year-olds chewing on sawdust), children can engage their other four senses with incredible vigor, which, heck, isn’t that why they’re called sensory tables? Now that you know why sensory tables are so important, create one, buy one, put it to great use!


Water sensory table

1. Keeping Classrooms Clean

Here’s a teacher-focused numero uno – and it’s incredibly important (just not as much to kids). Of course, you want to encourage children’s hands-on learning, the enthusiastic exploring, all that immersive education, but you also want to keep the mess-making contained. Sensory tables can accomplish that for you. Lay the ground rules for your little ones, consider getting/making a few aprons and, with a little luck (and maybe a trash bag or vinyl mat placed on the floor), you’ll maintain a respectable classroom.

Still hesitant about how you’ll keep sensory table clutter under control? Several blogs (,,, offer great ideas that can help. So get started; celebrate sensory play with your preschoolers today!


]]> 1
7 Educational Uses for Plastic Eggs Wed, 09 Apr 2014 21:43:16 +0000 Plastic eggs are ubiquitous this time of year. But they’re great for things beyond celebrating Easter and storing candy. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite egg-centric activities from around the web, so pick up a pack next time you’re at the grocery store and create some learning games for young students.

Letter Matching

Write capital and lower-case letters on color-coded eggs for a matching game. Children will also work on motor skills as they pair letters. Via Budget Savvy Diva.


Paint Patterns
Paint Patterns

Put some paint on those eggs and start creating. Eggs are a fun way to make perfect circles, plus kids can use them to make patterns. Via Creative Connections for Kids.


Crack and Paint
Crack and Paint

This splatter-tastic art activity calls for putting watered-down paint in corresponding eggs. Then kids get to crack open the eggs and paint with the colorful “yolk.” Just make sure they have their paint smocks for this one! Via Teach Preschool.


Add it Up
Add it up

A matching game with a little bit of math, this is a great way for kids to work with numbers outside of the typical worksheet. Via Premeditated Leftovers.  For a different spin, replace the dots with clock faces so children get comfortable with telling time:

Time Eggs









Sink or Float?
Sink or Float

Conduct some experiments to see what will sink or float when placed inside a plastic egg. Have children hypothesize what the results will be beforehand, then test it out to see if they were correct. Via No Time for Flashcards.


Make Some Music

Make Some Music

Slip some dry rice into an egg, glue it nice and tight with superglue and you have an instrument! The sounds vary based on what’s inside, so experiment with lentils, sugar, dried beans and small screws. Students will have fun trying out the different results. Via WikiHow.


Easter Eggs Aren’t Just for Bunnies

Humane Society Egg Kitty

Are your students too old for Easter egg activities? Check with your local Humane Society or a similar organization – plastic eggs are a great way to hide treats and provide hours of play for cats and dogs. Organize an egg drive and donate all those leftover eggs to a local shelter! Via the Michigan Humane Society.

]]> 2
The Best of Classroom Tips, Hacks and Resources Mon, 03 Mar 2014 17:09:04 +0000 All teachers recognize the need to make the most of their limited time and money, but deciding exactly how to do that can be a head-scratcher. From veterans to newbies, teaching can be a balancing act of epic proportions. So, to make your life just a little easier, I’ve gathered together some of my favorite resources for classroom teaching tools, fun decorations and useful lifehacks.

Although you most likely know this website for pictures of cute animals and nostalgia lists, it can be a valuable resource for classroom ideas.

organization hacks

You can spend days on this virtual bulletin board and still not see a fraction of the ideas it can offer. The boards below should at least get you started.

This site deals in less tangible crafts and more in motivational ideas and inspiration. These lists apply directly to teachers, but there are countless others that work for every life situation.




Independent Sites

100th Day of School Writing Ideas Wed, 29 Jan 2014 21:35:55 +0000 I remember commemorating the 100th day of school in the first grade and thinking about how large the number 100 seemed. Could we really have gone to school that many days? It was a gargantuan figure, and the fact that I had done something 100 times was hard to wrap my head around. (I do remember noticing that the days seemed to move faster now that I was “older,” to which my teacher replied, “Wait until you’re my age.”)
We listed some of our favorite 100th day crafts here, but what about writing exercises? We’ve got you covered.

100 Words
Encourage younger students to write 100 words, either in essay form or, for really young children, just 100 words they can think of off the top of their head.

100 words



100 Reasons
For a dose of school spirit, combine with a few other classes and have 100 students write down something they love about school. Arrange the sentiments in the form of a 100 (how meta!) and voila, a new bulletin board display.

100 board


Me at 100

This prompt works well for younger and older students alike: ask students to think about what their life will be like when they’re 100. What will they have accomplished? What will the world be like? Kids can even draw themselves at 100 or dress up.


100 day dressup

100 Legos
Who doesn’t love Legos? This exercise is a win-win: kids get to play with 100 Legos and then they get to stretch their writing muscles by describing what they created.

100th Day Experiments
Test some “100”-themed hypotheses in science class. These worksheets include measuring the weight of 100 popped v. non-popped popcorn kernels and the volume of 100 drops of water. You’ll also find plenty of math activities for elementary and middle school kids here.

100 legos

]]> 1