Fall Word Wall Cards with QR Codes

Using QR codes to make fall word wall cards that are engaging and self-checking

The word wall is such an integral part of both my pre-k and kindergarten classrooms. It is a visual display that exposes my students to key words that they need to know.  At first I used it only for students’ names and sight words.  However, oftentimes when we would be doing a theme or unit we would do writing activities associated with the theme and students would struggle with writing particular words; therefore, I decided to add theme words to the wall as well as our writing center.

A big help with students learning sight words was adding QR codes to the word wall cards which made them both interactive and self-checking.  Plus my students LOVE QR codes!  They think they are magic and are drawn to any activity that incorporates them. So…… I had the idea to add QR codes to our theme word wall cards as well.

The QR code cards are used in the writing center, learning centers, students’ writing folders, and also sent home for practice.  The word wall cards without QR codes are used on our main word wall and in our pocket chart.  This is because many of the cards on the main word wall are out of student reach and not easily scanned.

I use 3 sets of fall word wall cards.

fall word wall card

As I stated above, this card is placed on our main word wall and used in our pocket chart.  I also hang the fall words together in our writing center.

fall word wall card with QR code

I use this ink-saving, self-checking card for individual student writing folders, for take-home practice, for games, and in our writing center.  They hang in our writing center and students can take them down for use in their writing.


The students practice saying and/or writing the word and then they scan it to see if they are correct.  When scanned, the students see a full color photograph of the word and they hear me say the word.  I use real photographs because it makes it easier for the students to make the real world connection when writing, plus it is great for my ELLs/ESLs.  I asked parents to donate their old smartphones for the past several years so I have a supply of them on hand in our writing area.

fall word wall card with QR code scan

Watch this short video to hear and see the scanned QR code.

These word wall cards are also great to use with games or activities because they are self-checking and printer friendly.

fall word wall card with picture and QR code

I created this card for a quick and easy center.  I simply cut the card apart on the line by the picture and place them in a center along with some donated smartphones or iPads.  The students match the pictures with the words and then scan the code to see if they are correct.

fall word wall card with picture and QR code

Watch this short video to see and hear the scanned QR code.

Adding the QR codes to our word wall cards has really heightened students’ interest in using and practicing seasonal vocabulary words.

If you would like to use these fall QR code word wall cards in your classroom click here to see more details and samples.

Fall Word Wall Cards with QR Codes & Real Photos

You may also like:

Teaching the Signs of the Fall, Autumn Season

Differentiated QR Code Math Centers, Around the Room




Kindergarten Books / Read Alouds for the Beginning of the School Year

45 Kindergarten Books for the Beginning of the School Year

One of my favorite parts of the school day is reading aloud to my students.  It allows me to share my LOVE of reading and instill a love of books in my students.  It is a time where we can connect, share experiences, and build a classroom community.  I pause often throughout the reading to ask questions, share thoughts, and allow students to add their opinions and ask questions.

In the beginning of the school year books are a great way to discuss nervous feelings, expectations, how to be a good friend, behaviors, etc.  I feel it is important to put these books in your library or book area for children to read at their leisure.  Even though kindergartners may not be able to read all the words in a book, they can still “read” by looking at the pictures and retelling the story in their own words.

Listed below are some of my favorite read aloud books for the first weeks of school (I couldn’t list all of them as this post would be too long lol).  I hope this helps you stock your library area for the hectic beginning of the year.

First Day Jitters / Feeling Accepted


Books About School


Behavior / Rules




You may also like:

Back to School, Open House, Meet the Teacher Student Gift Tags

Student Birthday Gift Ideas

Setting Up Your Early Childhood Classroom for Success

First Week of School Activities & Classroom Decor (Dog Theme)




Student Birthday Gift Ideas & Tags, Certificates, & Brag Tags

Student birthday gift ideas, tags

I feel that it is important to do something at school for students’ birthdays. It is the one day out of the year that is THEIR DAY so I feel that it should be acknowledged with something special.

Over the years I have tried different options for celebrating student birthdays. I’ve included my favorites in this post.  The basics have stayed the same – the birthday student is acknowledged as soon as they arrive – why make them wait when I know they are excited. They are given a certificate, something to wear (if they choose), and a special gift. Their desk or cubby is decorated with streamers, we sing Happy Birthday first thing in the morning, they can choose their class job for the day, and if they have brought a special treat from home we have it for snack.  The options for the gifts, certificates and apparel have changed over the years.  I have listed my favorite student birthday ideas below.

Student Birthday Gift Ideas

Birthday “Sundae”

I found this idea several years ago on Pinterest and absolutely love it (I can’t remember the original Pinner to give credit)!  These birthday “sundaes” are very simple to create, look adorable and special sitting on students’ desks, and my students love receiving them – win,win!  You can purchase the dome cups and lids on Amazon (set of 50 or set of 25) or kindly ask your local McDonalds or Starbucks for donations.  Fill the bottom of the cup with candy or small prizes.  Add crinkle cut paper to resemble the whipped topping. You can find it on Amazon or your local craft store or shred and “crinkle” your own white paper.  Place a red lollipop (Tootsie Pop) through the top hole to resemble a cherry (please note that the gifts I give to the students have a wrapped Tootsie Pop, I did not have one on hand for these pictures which is why the lollipop is not wrapped) and a pencil through the hole to resemble a straw.  Glue or tape a student gift tag or label on the cup.


Special pencils are a simple and useful birthday gift that students love receiving.  You can find birthday pencils at school or office supply stores, party stores, Walmart, Amazon, Oriental Trading, Really Good Stuff.  Simply tape a special birthday gift tag to them to make look extra special.  A saying that I like to add to the tag is “A gift that is just “write” for your birthday”.


Another simple birthday treat that students love receiving are bubbles!  They can be purchased in multi-packs at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. Attach a birthday gift tag with ribbon and voila you’re done!

student birthday bubbles gift tag

Treat Bag / Birthday Box

When I first started teaching, the school where I taught had a birthday box for each grade.  It was a copier paper box that was gift wrapped and filled with special prizes from Oriental Trading.  When you had a birthday in your class, you would bring in the birthday box and the birthday student was allowed to pick a prize. (sorry I don’t have a picture of it as it was a long time ago lol).
When I moved to a different school I changed the idea slightly.  I liked the idea that the student had some choice in their gift but I also wanted to give them something special from me so I combined the two.  I would place a few items from me in a baggie (pencil, candy, bookmark, etc.) and then they also got to choose something out of our class treasure chest. After they chose their gift, it would be placed in the baggie and I would tie the baggie with ribbon and attach a birthday gift tag for a special treat that they took home that day.

student birthday gift bag and tag

I’m Bursting with Excitement Starburst Treats

If your students enjoy Starburst candy, a cute birthday saying for their gift tag is “I’m bursting with excitement that it’s your birthday!”.

Starburst student birthday gift tag

Goldfish Crackers – You are “o-fish-ally” 6 years old

Since turning another year older is a big deal to young children I really like this gift idea because it emphasizes their official age. You can purchase the snack bags of Goldfish Crackers or Swedish Fish and attach a birthday gift tag or buy a large container and fill a baggie with either Goldfish Crackers or Swedish Fish and attach a birthday gift tag with a ribbon.  Put the saying “Happy birthday!  You are “o-fish-ally” 6 (insert age) years old!” on the tag.

student birthday gift idea and gift tag

Cookies or Sweets – Wishing You a Birthday as Sweet as You

If your school allows giving cookies or sweets as birthday treats, a cute saying for the gift tag is “Wishing you a birthday as sweet as you!”.  I have attached them to snack size bags of cookies as well as the large wrapped cookies.

Scooby Doo Graham Cracker Sticks – Special Treat for Your Birthday

For the last several years I have had a dog theme in my classroom and therefore have given these birthday treats to match our theme.  I purchased individual snack bags of Scooby Doo Graham Cracker Sticks (they are shaped liked dog bones) and attached a birthday tag with the saying “A treat for your special day”.

student birthday gift idea and gift tag

Birthday Certificates

I used to give the same birthday certificate to every student, but now I have several birthday certificate templates that I personalize with not only their names but a special message.  I feel this makes it individualized and special for each student.

Each student also gets a signed certificate/card from their classmates. I pass it around when students arrive (I try to be secretive about it) and then present it to the birthday girl or boy after we sing Happy Birthday.

student birthday certificates editable

Half Birthdays

For students who have birthdays during the summer months, we celebrate their “half birthday” during the school year.  As someone who has a summer birthday, I never got a chance to celebrate my birthday at school and always felt left out so I make sure that doesn’t happen to any of my students.  They receive the same treats and a special “Half Birthday” certificate.

Apparel and Birthday Brag Tags

When I first began teaching I gave the children birthday crowns to wear on their special day.  I have since changed to allowing them to choose between a badge or necklace because the crowns seemed a little uncomfortable and didn’t always stay on their heads.

I have started using brag tags in my classroom and I give students a special birthday brag tag that they can add to their necklaces.

If you like any of the above student birthday gift tags, certificates, and brag tags and would like to use them for your students they are available here.  They are editable so you can personalize them for your students and there are 10 different designs included.  Please click here to view more details and view the preview file for pictures of all of the designs.

student birthday certificates, gift tags, and brag tags

Student birthday certificates, gift tags, brag tags


You may also like:

student gift tag money saving bundle pack

TPT Bonus Sale Save 28% August 22

SAVE 28% with coupon code ONEDAY during the Teachers Pay Teachers Best Year Ever Bonus Sale August 22 Only

Did you miss the Back to School sale or forget something?  Well today is your day to stock up and save 28% (don’t forget coupon code ONEDAY).  Let’s make this the Best Year Ever!

Welcome students back to school with creative and fun student gifts as well as adorable classroom decor.

Back to school student gift tags

Dog Back to School Classroom Decor and Activities

NEW! Celebrate your students’ birthdays and make them feel extra special on their special day with personalized birthday certificates, student gift tags, and brag tags.  EDITABLE

Student birthday certificates, gift tags, brag tags

Purchase the Back to School Student Gift Tags and the Birthday Certificates, Gift Tags, Brag Tags in a MONEY-SAVING BUNDLE.

student gift tag money saving bundle pack

NEW!  Reward your students for working hard on learning all 26 letters with new Alphabet Brag Tags & Book (unique tag for each letter).

Brag Tags & Brag Tag Book for the Letters of the Alphabet
Have fun learning or reviewing math with Apple Math Cards.

apple math cards and games
Learn the four seasons with engaging PowerPoint presentations with real, full-color photographs.

Signs of the Four Seasons Bundle Pack (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall)

Save on these resources and more at my Teachers Pay Teachers store (don’t forget to use promo code ONEDAY)

Lessons for Little Ones by Tina O'Block on Teachers Pay Teachers

Brag Tags / Rewards & Book for the Letters of the Alphabet


brag tags for the letters of the alphabet and an alphabet brag tags book

Let’s face it, learning 26 letters and their sounds can be a daunting task for young children.  Even though at 4-6 years old they are in the middle of a language explosion and their minds are like sponges, it is still a lot to learn and process.  This is why I love to reward and encourage them each and every step of the way and make it a positive learning experience.

We all like receiving appreciation for our efforts, especially from someone we respect. Young children are no different.  They love receiving acknowledgement and praise from the teacher.  Since there are a lot of letters that they are expected to learn, I like rewarding them for their efforts after they master each letter of the alphabet with a unique brag tag/reward.  Receiving something special to celebrate their efforts (especially if they have been struggling) can energize their desire to learn more, rekindle enthusiasm about learning the alphabet, and restore their confidence and commitment.

I made the brag tags / rewards unique so that students receive something different and special for each letter learned that represents the letter and can be kept as a keepsake or reference.  Each brag tag has a praise word that begins with the alphabet letter along with a ‘You learned letter ____!” cheer. Each tag also has pictures of objects or animals which begin with the letter.


My students loved receiving these brag tags / rewards and couldn’t wait to see what each one said.  In fact they would oftentimes try to guess what the praise word and pictures were going to be prior to receiving their tag (which was a great review of the letter sound!).  They were a great incentive that both celebrated and encouraged their mastery of the alphabet.

I have distributed these rewards / tags several different ways over the years.  There is really no right or wrong way to use them – it totally depends on your personal preference and your students. They are very versatile and can easily fit any teaching style.  There are several ways to have students keep track and store their tags.

Necklaces or Binder Rings

Since brag tags have become “all the rage” in the past 5 years or so, most recently I have used brag tag necklaces to store student tags.  The ball chain necklaces that resemble dog tag necklaces are what I use.  I found mine on Amazon, though I have been told that you can also find them at Oriental Trading and some craft stores.  I use the 24 inch length for my pre-k and kindergarten students.  On Amazon you can find them in packs of 50 or packs of 25.  When students master a letter they receive the appropriate tag and add it to their necklace.  After they have received all 26 alphabet letter tags they can take them home. I also award them with a special reward after earning all 26 tags.  They can choose to have lunch with me, extra game time, extra iPad time, etc.

alphabet brag tags necklace

There are several options for storing and wearing the necklaces.  I allow students to wear their necklaces during guided reading and group times while we are working on our letters if they choose to, they do not have to wear them.  I store them on a board next to our reading area.  Each child is assigned a number and their necklace hangs below it.  When they need to get their necklace they simply go to their number.  You can also choose to use their names, have students store them in their cubbies, or store them with your other reading materials and pass them out to the students.

brag tags board

Another option that I tried was to store them on binder rings that the students attached to their backpacks.  Since the students brought their backpacks to school every day it worked out well and it also acted as a parent communication tool.  The students were excited to show their parents when they earned a new tag and parents were able to monitor their child’s progress.

brag tags on a binder ring

Alphabet Brag Tags Book

If you want a less public way for students to store their alphabet letter brag tags and for you to keep track of their progress, then alphabet books are a good option.  When students earn a tag, they glue it on a page in their books and then write the letter, write words that begin with the letter, or write a sentence (depending on their ability levels) underneath the tag.  When a student fills his book and earns all 26 tags they can take their book home or they can keep them at school for reference.  Below are pictures of the books I used and the printable templates for the covers (as well as an editable cover) and the pages are included in my alphabet brag tags product on TPT.

alphabet brag tags book

alphabet letters brag tag book


Individual Rewards

I have been using these rewards for many, many years (way before brag tags were created) and I used to give them to my students as individual rewards that could be taken home right away.  I would simply put them on colored yarn or ribbon.  This was a great communication tool for parents.  Students took great pride in their rewards and parents would often tell me that they would get hung up in very special places at home.

alphabet letter brag tag on ribbon

If you would like to view more information about these brag tags for the letters of the alphabet, watch this short video (50 seconds long).

If you would like to use these Alphabet Brag Tags & Books in your classroom, they are available here.

Alphabet Letters Brag Tags & Book

You may also like:

Individual Alphabet Letter Units for Download

Alphabet & Phonics Resources 

Back to School, Open House, Meet the Teacher Student Gift Tags







Setting Up Your Early Childhood Classroom for Success

Setting Up Your Early Childhood Classroom for Success

Your classroom environment influences your students’ learning, mood, and behavior so it is very important that you think about how and what it is communicating to young children when setting it up for those all important first days of school.  The first few weeks of school set the tone for the entire year so you want the classroom to be a positive environment where students feel comfortable and welcome from the very first day.

Create an organized space that conveys how the classroom works.

Your new students will have no idea how things work or what your schedule is when they come in to the classroom.  Create an arrangement that is easy to understand.  Can you clearly see where each area is and what it is?  Setting up centers or organized spaces that are clearly labeled or defined will help young students understand what they can do and what their choices are.

early childhood classroom set up

Storing the materials for each center where they are visible for the children will help them understand what they can do there and they will also learn where things belong and know where to put them back when they are finished.  A great idea is to take a picture of each object and place the picture where the object belongs so children can clearly see where it should go.

setting up early childhood classroom

Displaying a visible classroom schedule will help students know and understand what happens here during the day, what happens first, next, etc.  This will put them more at ease and help them feel more confident.

early childhood classroom schedule

Make the classroom environment a place where students can make choices.

It is important for young children to have choices during the day.  These choices allow them to influence their own learning.  This does not mean that everything during the school day should be student choice, there can also be teacher directed activities and large group activities as well as small group activities and choice.

A good way to allow choice is to set up centers or areas in the classroom where students can learn through both exploratory and socio-dramatic play.  A great way to manage the centers while giving students choice is to have a choice board that shows students what their choices or options are for the day and what centers are open.  You can set it up in a number of different ways.  You may have actual photos of the center with its name underneath and then have the exact number of velcro or magnets under the picture to match how many students are allowed in the center at one time.

early childhood classroom centers choice board

When a student wants to go to a center they place their photo or their name under the center.  If there are no open spaces under the center they know they can not choose that one and must choose another.  When they want to switch, they must come back to the choice board and move their name.

early childhood classroom centers choice board

Another option is to place the velcro, hooks, or magnets right at the center under its label.  Before entering the center, students must place their name or photo at the center.

Your centers do not have to stay the same the entire school year.  Introduce new centers or change existing centers according to your theme or students’ interests. Observe the students and if a center is not being chosen or used try to change it or change what is in it. A few of the most common centers are library (reading), blocks, housekeeping or home-living, science or nature, and art.  You don’t have to have these of course, they are simply suggestions.  Your centers should reflect your students and your curriculum.

Create a classroom that allows students to actively participate.

The classroom communicates to a child “what is going to happen here”.  If they walk in the first day and only see a row of desks they may think that they are going to be made to sit still all day and immediately have a negative outlook.  However, if they walk in and see many interesting things to explore they will tend to be more excited and positive.

Preschool and kindergarten students need concrete, hands-on experiences that allow them to explore and engage with their learning.  Young children learn by being involved. Choose activities that match your students’ interests, culture, and ability levels.  This may mean that you have to change your classroom from year to year to match each new set of children.

Literacy everywhere!

It is important during this stage of a child’s development to have literacy or language all around them.  Label as many things as possible, have a sign-in or attendance sheet, create a writing area, create opportunities for students to write or message or fill out forms in your areas (a menu in the food area, plans in the block area, recording sheets in the science area, etc.).

Have a library or book area where the books are displayed in a way that the children can see the covers so they will be drawn to them.  Display books that you have read out loud or books that relate to your theme or the students’ interests and change them often.

setting up the early childhood library area

Create a place for students’ belongings.

Young children need to know that there is a place in the classroom where they can place their belongings and know they will be safe and know exactly where they are during the day.  Many young children like to bring things from home to school.  Oftentimes at the beginning of the year it will be something comforting to help them feel more at ease in their new surroundings.  They need to know that there is a place they can put it where nothing is going to happen to it and if they need to look at it for a minute or get it they know exactly where it is and where to go to get it.

Seeing that they have a special place in the classroom will give young students a sense of belonging and comfort, much like they have their own room at home they now have their own space at school.

Display students’ work and art.

When decorating your classroom leave some space to display your students’ work.  This conveys to them that their work is valued and important.

early childhood classroom display

Display pictures of each child.

Take pictures of each child on the first day of school and during the first week.  Use these pictures in classroom displays along with their names and a little something about them, use them on your schedule cards, on your choice boards, etc. When students see their pictures in the classroom it conveys to them that this is their community and they are a valued and respected member of it.  They should be placed in areas that are clearly visible to the students.

setting up an early childhood classroom

Display things about yourself.

It is not only important to display student pictures and interests but yours as well!  Place pictures on your desk or in the classroom that tell about you and your life outside of school. Students and parents will appreciate knowing who you are and they will feel more at ease and comfortable with you if they know more about you.

Give students responsibilities.

Students need to learn from the very first week how to be responsible members of the classroom community.  A great way to do this is to give them classroom jobs.  Your job board or display should be visual so that students can see what is expected of them, what they are supposed to do, and their name associated with the job or task.
dog classroom helpers class decor

Make it home-like, warm, and inviting.

When students first enter your classroom you want them to feel welcomed and at ease.  One of the easiest things to do each day is to greet each child with a smile and a positive comment.  As far as classroom decor, if the classroom looks too “institutionalized” or sterile it can appear scary or unwelcoming to young children.  Have some comfortable places to sit and relax, provide some soft lighting if possible, bring in some flowers from your house or get a few plants.

Keep it simple and easy to understand.

If you have been teaching for awhile you have probably accumulated a lot of stuff or if you are a beginning teacher you may feel like you have to fill every nook and cranny or bit of wall space.  Keep it simple!  Having too many things on the walls and in the classroom can cause sensory overload for young children and be too overwhelming for them to process.  You want the classroom environment to be easy to process and understand.  A good tip is to take a picture of your classroom.  You may have become habituated to it and no longer really “see it”.  Taking a picture and then analyzing it will help you to see whether it may be too cluttered or unorganized.

Many of the ideas in this post were inspired by seminars and books by Dr. Rebecca Isbell.  Here are a few of her books that I recommend:

You may also like:

Back to School Classroom Decor and First Week Activities – Dog Theme






Best Year Ever Teachers Pay Teachers Sale – Save 28%

SAVE 28% with coupon code BESTYEAR during the Teachers Pay Teachers Best Year Ever Sale August 1-2

Let’s make this the Best Year Ever!
Welcome students back to school with creative and fun student gifts as well as adorable classroom decor.

Back to school student gift tags

Dog Back to School Classroom Decor and Activities

NEW!  Reward your students for working hard on learning all 26 letters with new Alphabet Brag Tags (unique tag for each letter).

Have fun learning or reviewing math with Apple Math Cards.

apple math cards and games
Learn the four seasons with engaging PowerPoint presentations with real, full-color photographs.

Signs of the Four Seasons Bundle Pack (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall)

Save on these resources and more at my Teachers Pay Teachers store (don’t forget to use promo code BESTYEAR)

Lessons for Little Ones by Tina O'Block on Teachers Pay Teachers