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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Keeping Your Classroom Germ-Free This Winter: An Infographic

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

3 Awesome Thanksgiving Projects for Your Classroom

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and, when you are teaching a group of children, it's a great opportunity to come up with unique crafts and projects for them to do. From hands-on tasks like growing things to simple crafts involving paper and glue, there are tons of diverse ways that you can engage your class. Activity tables for kids should always be places of fun and learning, so make sure to choose projects that they will enjoy and be proud of! Also, don't just stick to paper – opt for crafts that call for lots of different materials and textures. Here are some of our favorite projects at School Outlet for kids this Thanksgiving.

teacher with kids in art class

Grow Indian Corn

It's always fun to have students grow things in the classroom, but not many people know about this one. If you place an ear of Indian corn in water and let it sit for a few days, did you know that it will start to sprout thin grass and roots? Your kids will get super excited when they notice the tendrils start to poke out of the plant! Get a few ears and set them around the classroom so that your kids have a few to watch. When they start to get denser, you probably won't want to keep them, since they get to be as large as regular corn stalks. You can let the kids cut the grass, and then put them outside. If you want to try actually planting them, revisit this little activity in the spring.

What you'll need:

  • A few ears of Indian corn
  • Shallow tubs of water to lay them in
  • Scissors for cutting the grass

Weave Small Mats

Weaving projects are always fun for students, and this one is particularly good because it is somewhat less labor intensive than the standard cardboard loom is. The good news is that it still offers a lot of room for individual creativity. Grab some a loose weave material like burlap and cut it into squares or rectangles so that there is one for each student. Have the children pull out selected strands of the fabric from the material, which they can then replace with yarn in the pattern and color of their choice using a needle to weave through the burlap. Once finished, your kids have a lovely little coaster or placemat that can be used around the classroom or at home!

What you'll need:

  • Burlap squares or rectangles
  • Yarn in a variety of colors (fall hues will go well with your theme and the natural burlap color)
  • Large plastic needles
  • Scissors

Make a Turkey

little girl making craft turkey
There are many different versions of this project, but our favorite uses a pine cone for the turkey body. This emulates the texture of feathers in a really cool way, and also creates a great décor item that parents can proudly display during the holiday for years to come. What you use for the tail feathers is up to you, and can range from paper or feathers to colored pipe cleaners or Popsicle sticks. Another creative option is to use colorful leaves from outside. This saves you money as the teacher and also adds visual interest to the finished product.

What you'll need:

  • Pine cones
  • Leaves (or other choice material) for tail feathers
  • Self-adhesive googly eye stickers
  • Orange or yellow paper for beaks
  • Glue
  • Scissors

These are just some of our favorite Thanksgiving crafts for the classroom at School Outlet. What are your favorite projects? Comment below and share your Thanksgiving craft pics with us on Facebook!

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Preventing the Spread of Super Lice in the Classroom

woman checking girl for lice
Lice seem scary enough by themselves without introducing treatment-resistant bugs into the mix. Super lice have been a growing concern for parents and schools alike this year, and the problem doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. However, there's no reason to panic! For one thing, lice are NOT considered a health hazard, according to the CDC, since they do not spread disease – they are merely annoying pests.

And, as it happens, prevention is always your best defense. While most information out there is aimed at parents (as it should be), schools have to know how to handle the problem, as well. Here is some essential information for teachers that will help them prevent the spread of these bugs.

First off, how do lice spread?

  • Lice are most often spread through head to head contact among preschool and elementary school-aged children, though anyone can get them.
  • They do not fly or jump. Lice crawl from one person to another, feeding on their blood and laying eggs (nits) in their hair close to the scalp where it's warm.
  • Their presence does not mean that the family has a dirty home or that there is any parental neglect, as lice are incredibly easy to spread and common.
  • They do not come from your pets. Lice are human-specific parasites.
  • Lice cannot live for more than a day or two off of a human, as this will cut off their food supply and keep them at a cooler temperature than they are comfortable with.

What do lice look like?

Adult lice are small and look like brown grains of rice; eggs are white, oval-shaped, and attached to the hair. A magnifying glass may help you to identify them more accurately, as they are tiny and often confused with dirt and dandruff. Also, the eggs may be easier to find, as adult lice avoid light and will move away when you part hair.

How can I prevent them in the classroom?

1.  Remind children not to share hats, coats, scarves, hair bands, earbuds, etc. – These are the most well-known transmission methods.

2.  Discourage selfies – Two people sticking their heads together to fit into a shot has increased the number of people (older tweens and teens especially) who get head lice. Remind kids that they shouldn't be taking pictures in class anyway. You've got learning to do!

3.  Invest in smart school furniture – Piling backpacks and coats is an easy way to ensure that if one person in the class gets lice, the rest of the class will get it too. One of the smartest ways to avoid this problem is to invest in school furniture supplies that are designed to separate each child's items. For instance, individual cubbies and spaced out coat hangers can keep kids from transmitting lice.
school furniture

4.  Keep naptime nit-free – If children are young enough to still have a naptime, assign each child a cot that only they will sleep on (preferably with removable and washable fabric) and make sure that they are easy to identify. In addition, have parents bring in laundry bags to place blankets and pillows in so that these items aren't coming in contact with other children's. If there is a confirmed case of lice in the classroom, have the parents take home fabrics and launder them regularly.

5.  Keep an eye out for infestations – If you notice one of your students scratching their head an inordinate amount, pull them aside and quietly talk to them about it. If you think they might have head lice, send them to the nurse for a check. Also, if your school doesn't already do this, organize a regular check for everyone (including staff). This will take some of the stigma away from the problem and help prevent larger infestations at the same time.

6.  Send home information to parents – A great deal of the most important treatment and prevention will take place in the home, not the school. As such, parents need to know what to look for and how to handle the problem. A pamphlet detailing the symptoms, the appearance of lice and nits, and the treatments options and recommendations should be sent home whenever there is a confirmed case in the school, and probably at the beginning of the year as well.

Preventing super lice in the classroom is not as difficult as it seems. Armed with the right knowledge and supplies, you can stop the spread of these pests and help those affected get back to normal more quickly. Check out School Outlet for classroom furniture that will bolster your efforts!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School Should Not Mean Back to Sick: Tips for Keeping Your Child Healthy

It's that time of year again: back to school season. While many students are ready to have something to do and see their friends again, parents can become a bit apprehensive at this time of year. This is because being back in a classroom also means being exposed to all of those nasty germs again, and with the cooler weather headed our way, kids are more likely to come down with something.

The good news is that there are some preventative measures you can take to decrease the likelihood of your child getting sick. Here are some of the most important ones from us at School Outlet.

doctor checking little girl's throat

Get Flu Shots

Flu shots are one of the best defenses your child will have against a truly nasty and sometimes even dangerous virus. Flu is most likely spread though droplets created when people sneeze, cough or talk, according to the CDC. Since it is relatively easy to come in contact with these germs, being vaccinated is often the best method of prevention.

Use Hand Sanitizer

Remember, even if your child has been vaccinated for flu, there is no cure for the common cold. Buying your child hand sanitizer is a good idea, since they will not always have access to a sink and may be forced to touch something that sees a lot of use. A portable 2 oz. container should do the trick!

Use a Paper Towel to Open Bathroom Doors

This is a simple, but incredibly effective technique that can save your child and your whole family from a nasty bug. Get your child into the habit of using paper towels to open bathroom doors by reminding them when you are out in public (for instance, at a restaurant, grocery store, or mall).

Keep the Desks Clean

Classroom desks and chairs are some of the most common places that you will find germs, especially if kids switch rooms on a daily or hourly basis. Of course, there are janitors whose job it is to clean the school, but they aren't doing this between classes, and even the best of them will miss a spot from time to time. You can include a small pack of sanitary wipes in your child's backpack so that they can clean the desk if it appears dirty or if someone sneezes.

Wash Hands

This is the single most effective way to prevent illnesses. By washing, your child can avoid inadvertently touching their eyes, nose, or mouth after coming in contact with germs, and can also stop the spread of any illnesses to other children.

The best way to ensure that your child is washing their hands properly is to teach them at home, and get them used to always washing up before meals, after sneezing or blowing their nose, and after touching anything dirty. They should be rinsing their hands in clean, running water, applying soap, and then scrubbing thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. After they are done, drying their hands on a clean towel and avoiding touching the door handle is crucial, or all of their work might be immediately undone.

These are just some of the ways to keep your child healthy and happy this school season. What other measures do you take? 


Friday, August 7, 2015

Building the Ultimate Preschool/Kindergarten Activity Center

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Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Ideas for Setting Up Your Kindergarten Classroom

It's almost that time of year again: time for shuffling furniture, labeling classroom supplies, and perfecting lesson plans – in short, back to school. Every teacher knows the buzz, that feeling of a new school year, new students, and endless possibilities. Kindergarten teachers, however, know just how crucial those first few days are. Yours is possibly the first classroom your students will ever encounter, and it will set the standard for all future classrooms and learning experiences. No pressure, but kindergarten teachers have big shoes to fill! Below are ten fun, fabulous ideas for setting up your kindergarten classroom so that communication, education, and fun are the norm from day one!

1.       Set the tone of organization from day one
Kindergarten students are new to the school day. Some may have been to preschool, some may have been in daycare, and others may have never been in a school-like setting with other children before. Therefore, it is important to teach students YOUR expectations for organization and respect from the first day. Having a space to keep students' belongings safe and organized will teach them responsibility, and will free up more classroom space for moving, growing, and learning. Coat racks, cubbies, or lockers are all excellent organization storage options. It is helpful to explicitly teach your students how to use this space, as some of them may be new to sharing a room with others. Some helpful lessons may be to teach them how to appropriately put things away, when students are allowed to access their things, and how to respect their classmates' belongings. 

2.       Group work with tables and chairs
We all know that today's kindergarten is not what it was thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. Kindergarteners are held to rigorous standards for learning from the moment they arrive in your classroom. However, while these standards might be high, the seating arrangements should still reflect the children's levels of development. Seating your students in groups is the most effective way to allow for sharing, communication, and peer-learning. Whether at circular, square, or rectangular tables, your students should always be seated with at least two other students for maximized learning. Also, remember that tables and chairs should be the appropriate height for your students. Nothing distracts a five year old more than being uncomfortable!

3.       Rug time is the best time!
Much of your kindergarten teaching will occur on the classroom rug. Therefore, you want your rug to be a welcoming space. Large, colorful rugs are a good idea because they give students room to sit comfortably and have personal space. Assigning spots on the rug usually helps save time, and students like knowing exactly where to sit. Rugs that already have clear boundaries, such as shapes or numbers, work well and will save you time trying to remember where each student's spot is.  
4.       Reading Nook
Kindergarten is truly a magical year, during which your students will learn to truly treasure reading. Giving them a special space to read during free time or reading time will make this love even stronger. In this special reading nook, it is important for books to be easily accessible to students. Covers should be facing out so that kids can see what titles are available to choose from, and bins of books should be labeled by author, subject, or series for clear organization. Comfortable seating should be available so that students can easily hunker down. It's amazing how quiet and productive students can be in the right setting!

5.       Visuals, visuals, visuals!
Kindergarten students love to learn through song, rhyme, and play. They love to watch you teach, and then imitate you when playing school with peers. Many of these children remember by watching, which is why visual aids are key to their success. A simple sketch to explain a lesson can be the difference between complete confusion and total comprehension. Make sure that your whiteboard or chalkboard is in an easy-to-see, central location. That way, all students will be able to see it, whether from their tables or from the rug. It is also beneficial to have a small easel or chalkboard available for students to practice lessons on during activities or even as your helper during a whole-group or small-group lesson.

6.       Space for Centers and Workstations
Throughout a kindergarten school day, your students should be constantly engaged in learning, both with you and with their peers. Centers and workstations are places where students practice working independently to strengthen the skills and strategies that they have already learned from you. However, as every kindergarten teacher knows, this can be the noisiest and most distracting time of day if not properly overseen and organized from the start. Designating clear spaces around the room for different centers will allow students to know exactly where to go, and where to stay, until their time at that center is over. These spaces can be as simple as a table, or as intricate as a play kitchen or art corner.  

7.       Organization for Centers and Workstations

Once you have a clear plan for where each of the centers will be in your classroom, it is important to organize the materials for a smooth experience. Color coding bins, labeling supplies, and putting all materials in close proximity to their matching centers will help your students to work independently. It may take some brainstorming, but once your centers are organized and expectations are clear to your students, your station time will be smooth sailing!

8.       Save some space for small group lessons
Once your centers and workstations are underway, you will have time to pull a few students for strategy groups or guided reading lessons. This time is precious, as you get to zoom in on just a few students and target their strengths and needs. Having a kidney table in your classroom for these small groups is an efficient way to meet with students while the others work independently around the room. Try to set your table in a corner, away from the other kids and any distractions. In addition, keeping a small set of mobile drawers nearby can help you stay organized and maximize your teaching time!
9.       Get funky with seating
While there are, of course, standard chairs that most kindergarten students would find comfortable, it can be beneficial to sometimes switch the seating up. Having a special seat for the student of the week, for example, can keep kids excited and motivated all year long. Another fun way to encourage hard work is to use an author chair when you want students to share their writing. Better chairs can also help that active student stay seated during your lessons. Get creative! A little change in seating can go a long way with five and six year olds.

10.   Don't forget about YOURSELF!
As the teacher of young students, your days often go by without sparing a single thought for your own needs. You encourage letter sounds, sing rhymes, and tie shoes while your cell phone sits in your handbag and more and more work piles up on the desk. Don't forget about yourself! Staying organized all day can help you save a lot of time once the students leave. Having a system that works for YOU is important to ensure that not only your students have a good day, but that you have a successful and happy one as well. Remember, without you, nothing in your fabulous classroom would ever get done!

At School Outlet, we have the supplies that you need to organize your classroom to perfection. Check out our inventory today!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cheap School Chairs: A Chair is Just a Chair?

You may walk into a classroom and notice many things: the vibrant colors, the inspirational posters, and the impeccable organization. But did you ever notice the chairs? Surprisingly, the color and style of chairs in a classroom tells a lot more than you might think. Studies have shown that color can affect your mood and your motivation. Comfort, of course, has a say in these as well. If you take a look at the chairs in a classroom, you can learn a lot about the kind of work and progress that goes on in that room.

Blue is a common classroom chair color, and is known to create a mood of peace and relaxation. This makes these chairs a particularly good choice for younger students, who need to stay calm and feel comfortable in their environment in order to be productive. Blue can also stand for professionalism, and encourage students to work towards a higher standard than they might otherwise try for. However, certain shades of blue are thought to be so soothing and relaxing that they may cause students to get tired or bored. Therefore, it is wise to choose a bright blue that pops, especially for the younger, more restless students. 

A less common and more innovative classroom chair color is orange. Orange is thought to stand for enthusiasm, creativity, and happiness. Classrooms with orange chairs invite students to take risks in their learning. They promote a learning environment of problem solving, imagination, and joy. Teachers and administrators should take this into consideration when determining chair colors to purchase. 

Rather than choosing just one, mixing a variety of chair colors can invite a diversity of feelings and moods into a classroom. As we know, not all learning personalities are alike. Therefore, mixing and matching chair colors can suggest that all students are welcome and encouraged to learn in that different color chairs. A common combination of colors is red for students who are passionate and excited, blue for students who are professional and calm, green for students who are optimistic and enjoy learning through nature, and yellow for those who are lively and excitable.  
classroom. The simplest way to do this is by buying
Another innovative way that educators can mix and match their colors is with a customizable chair that we sell here at School Outlet! Mahar Creative Color Mix chairs are a favorite among teachers who strive for color, and thus learning, diversity in their classrooms. For example, choosing a fuchsia frame to create a nurturing environment and a purple seat and back for sophistication could encourage success in your students! The possibilities are endless, and the potential for classroom improvement is great.  

There have been many studies on the meaning of color and its effect on mood, and there is more to it than meets the eye. Why not furnish your classroom to match the kind of learning and success that you hope to see? Check out our inventory at for even more seating options!