Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Quick & Easy Tutorial: How To Create A Color Theme Template In PowerPoint


Malimo Mode: A Quick & Easy Tutorial: How To Create A Color Theme Template In PowerPoint - stay true to your school, blog, brand or favorite colors!
If you're anything like me, you love color coding, cohesiveness and just over all delicious colors. It's tied directly to my pen/marker addiction (which explains why a lot of my top finds for the classroom is in fact pens and markers...).

I love to use PowerPoint as a tool for creating and teaching, and having my favorite colors easily available is SO helpful and convenient!

A lot of schools have a set of school colors they like to use for their materials. I also know that a lot of teacher bloggers have a very cohesive style in how they like to decorate their little home on the internet. Even though it's all about what we have to say, and not how we wrap it - it doesn't hurt to have your work be easy on the eyes, right? I think there's a lot of hidden motivation and inspiration in aesthetics!

I tried to capture a quick and easy video tutorial from my screen, and I hope I'm able to explain how I create a color theme template in PowerPoint, despite my software being in Norwegian. It really should translate well to your English version. :)

I completely forgot to mention it, but Lindsey shared in the comments: you're also able to set your theme fonts! You'll find the option located in the same initial menu where you go to change color! Super practical if you want to use the same base fonts!

Take a look at the video below, and leave a comment afterwards! What PowerPoint or Office tips do you have to share? They might seem basic to you, but we all know things are easy once we know them - we might not even think that others aren't aware. Share your best tips below!

All the best,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds!

Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Great tips from markers to center equipment - especially #7 and #9!
I've always loved office supplies with a passion. Seems only appropriate I became a teacher! I've been known to hoard pens, markers, crayons, pencils - and especially cute notebooks. (There's always room for one more - right?)

My favorite part about going back to school is picking up new supplies for myself and my classroom. (Let's be honest, it's mostly for myself..) I enjoy setting up centers, arranging the markers in nice bins and I enjoy wishfully thinking that all the markers will have their caps intact when Christmas arrives.

Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Washable markers from Crayola!
I wanted to share with you some of my absolute favorites - but more importantly: I want to know all about yours! Tell me all about them in the comment section below, I am positive I have room for just a few more items. (Not really, but I will try my best! I can definitely make it work! ;-))

1. Crayola Broad Tip Markers

Who doesn't love Crayola? One of my favorite marker sets is this "Ultra-Clean Washable Markers" - because they are in fact, as promised, washable. I actually drew with one of them on some cloth to see if it washed off. It did!

I love that the colors are so vibrant, and with the broad tips I can write both thin and thick letters.


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Gorgeous flair pens!

2. Paper Mate Flair Pens

Flair pens are being raved about from teachers all over the world. I first noticed them on Instagram, where another teacher had written the most gorgeous rubric with different colors. 

Teachers use them for their own planners, for grading papers, writing quick notes and more.

I love how comfortable they are to write with, and especially the assortment of colors!

To be perfectly honest, my students aren't allowed to borrow these amazing pens. I need to keep them neat and intact! ;-)


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Jumbo grip pencils gives a relaxed grip!

3. Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Pencils

It's not always appropriate to write using markers or pens, and when it comes to coloring I definitely prefer colored pencils over markers. (Gives me less stress when I color outside the lines. Seriously. How do the kids do it?)

These Jumbo Grip Pencils from Faber-Castell are amazing for kids (and adults, mind you!). They have small rubber "dots" that gives you a great grip without having to clench the pencils between your fingers. I've noticed a lot of kids find it more relaxing to color with them because of it. They also have regular grey pencils (the one at the top of the photo!). I definitely prefer these to any other pencils!


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Erasable pens from Pilot!4. Pilot Frixion Colors Pens

These Frixion Colors Pens from Pilot seem redudant when I have the amazing Paper Mate Flair Pens right? Wrong!

What's amazing about these isn't just the gorgeous colors - but the fact that applying friction will let you erase them! On their caps there is a small rubber eraser, and it easily allows you to undo whatever mistake you've made.

This makes them my favorite go-to pens for correcting papers and grading. I want my language to be precise when giving feedback - what's more embarrassing than having typo's and errors in a teacher feedback?


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Bananagrams for all things literacy related!

5. Bananagrams

Bananagrams are great for playing the crossword-game they're created for - but also sooo much more! I use them for literacy centers, for printables with word work, literacy tasks, practicing vowels and consonants, playing word-in-word games, spelling and vocabulary. The possibilities are endless!

There are a lot of cheap knock-offs on eBay and Amazon, but I would definitely purchase the real deal. These are sturdy and well-made, the first set I bought (a cheap copy) were hollow and had crooked letters that disappeared after a short period of time. Not exactly inspiring when you're setting up a center..


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Punches & post-its for reward currency and math manipulatives!

6. Post-Its & Punch

This butterfly punch is something I bought for my scrapbooking hobby, and it's a Martha Stewart Punch. I use it to punch butterflies (doh) that we use for many different things. Some days I reward with butterflies as a currency, and let the kids collect and trade them in for extra recess. 

I have printables that ask the kids to illustrate amounts, and when using those printables at math centers, I leave this punch (and others) there. The kids then punch out as many  as they need and glue them on. Punching on a post-it note with extra broad sticky areas will make the butterflies self-adhesive!


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Extra larger perler beads as math manipulatives.

7. Large Perler Beads

It doesn't really come across on the photo, but these are extra large perler beads. Of course, they may be used for crafts, but I prefer to use them as math manipulatives!

With a board like this, the kids illustrate different amounts in a math problem. They visual support is invaluable for some kids, but definitely helpful for everyone. They can do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tasks easily, and get a better grasp of what the concepts include.

The possibilities are endless with these perler beads! I just have to resist the urge to sort them according to color, because that wouldn't even last a day - am I right? ;-) 


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Using die is great in the classroom.

8. Die

I love playing games in the classroom, and because of that I have die in so many different shapes! Using them for math tasks is a given. Rolling numbers to either add, subtract, multiply or divide is a classic at my math centers.

We also use them with different printables where the kids roll to write a story. Each roll of the dice will determine characters, setting, items, key words etc. In essence they roll out a writing prompt, and it's been a great hit!

Another trick is to have a die with the exact number of students in your class. Roll to divide tasks fairly - works like a dream!


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Felt balls as math manipulatives & calm down strategies!

9. Felt Balls

Felt balls are amazing! Not only do these ones look (and feel) amazing, but they are so practical! I use them as math manipulatives (everything that can be counted works, right?), but more importantly as a calm down strategy.

I have quite a few students that are "fidgety". They will tap their pencils, chip away at their desks, and basically be crawling out of their own skin by the end of a lesson. When this is starting to happen I quietly slip them a felt ball. It can be pinched, squeezed, rolled -- and best of all: dropped to the floor without making a sound! It calms down the student, without disturbing the others. A bonus is that they are extremely cheap!


Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Do-A-Dot sponge dabbers

10. Do-A-Dot Paint Sponge Dabbers

These gorgeous dabbers can definitely be used for crafts. And they would be super cool crafts, too! I like to use them for printables instead!

Tasks that ask students to find, mark, cross out, color, select, match pairs and so on are perfect for these paint dabbers. If you've ever played bingo you know how easy it is to keep track of a sheet where dabbers are marking the numbers out. One example are some printables I use where the students must find the odd one out, and explain why. They mark the ones that can be grouped, and write their reasoning. Super easy and fun! Anything that changes things up are usually welcome in the classroom!

Malimo Mode - Top 10 Favorite Back To School Finds! Great tips for using colored clothes pins!

11. Clothes Pins (Bonus-Tip!)

Clothes pins in gorgeous colors can be used for classroom decorations for sure! I have hung strings in different places, and we decorate by hanging up our wonderful work with these colored clothes pins. Simple and gorgeous!

Something else I use them for are centers! Clothes pins can be counted too, right? It works wonderfully! I also have task cards where the students are marking the correct answers to different tasks (yellow = 10, pink = 15 etc).

At language centers I use task cards where for instance blue clothes pins are used for verbs, red for nouns. Maybe green are vowels and yellow are consonants? Endless possibilities!


There are my top 10+1 favorite back to school finds. And let me be clear: I'm not affiliated with any of these brands or products - I'm just a teacher in love with good stuff! I hope you got some ideas and inspiration! Feel free to share the post with your teacher friends! :-) 

I know you have some great tips, too! I would love it if you shared them with me! I can't wait to hear what I need, but don't know exists yet! :-)



All the best,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How To Keep The Back To School Activities Mindful of All Children

Malimo Mode - How to keep the back to school activities mindful of all children. Fun activities for all social backgrounds - free download in the blog post!
I've always loved going back to school. It's strange to think about, but as a kid I always felt the summer holiday was too long.

How strange was I?

There were just so many things to learn, and we were always so short on time. It helped that I loved my teachers too. I was always giddy with excitement to see them again.

I even remember how shocked I was to learn that they actually left school during the summer. Especially my 6th grade teacher. I remember her saying she had been on a holiday with friends.

Friends? Do teachers have friends?? 
It was so weird to me!
(Luckily, teachers do have friends!)

We were all so excited to come back and tell everyone what we had been up to during the summer. Some kids had been abroad - some even on the other side of the world! This was pretty much equivalent to traveling to the moon at the time. Some had been at their family cabin, and some went camping. Most of us just stayed at home, though. Despite not traveling far in kilometers, we had traveled so far in fun and games. Climbing trees, swimming, water balloon fights and sleeping in a tent in the back yard. It was amazing!

Things have changed now. After I started working in the classroom I noticed that more often than not, kids were traveling with their families during the holiday.

Malimo Mode - How to keep the back to school activities mindful of all children. All about me A-Z.Except some kids.
The ones that you know haven't been anywhere.
You don't have to ask.

Children have various social backgrounds. Some families have more money than others. Some families barely make ends meet. Others aren't able to.

Being a teacher means fighting to erase social inequality by empowering children with knowledge.

This knowledge isn't just confined to curriculum! It is knowledge about how it's okay to be different, to have different things and to have different experiences. It is our job to make them believe that no matter their starting point in life, their goals can be placed wherever they want.

Keeping this in mind I wanted to create some back to school resources that are mindful of the different social backgrounds in my classroom (and elsewhere!). The printables allow children to recap and share their summer memories, without feeling uncomfortable or like anything less.

I hope you find the BTS resource interesting! To get started, click on the image blow and download some free printables for back to school. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic! How do you make sure all your students are comfortable when sharing summer memories? 

All the best,

Friday, July 8, 2016

The 5 Most Important Things To Remember As A New Teacher

Malimo Mode: The 5 Most Important Things To Remember As A New Teacher! Friendly advice for beginning your career and avoiding burnout! Free printables in the post!
I remember my very first day as a teacher vividly. I was nervous. Palms sweaty, heart racing.

I had barely slept the night before, and for some reason my hair didn't want to cooperate that morning. I couldn't wear what I had planned, because it just didn't feel right anymore. Never mind that I tried on every single piece of clothing in my closet. I arrived at school two hours before the first bell rang, and I still felt like I was late!

It wasn't anything like teaching practice, where a "real" teacher was never too far away.

Now I was on my own.

A thousand questions and insecurities were racing in my mind:

Am I ready for this?

How am I going to introduce myself?

How will the students react to me?

What is the classroom environment like?

Did I bring my lunch? What did my professor say was the key for managing the class? What did my professor say about anything?? What have I done!?


Relax! Breathe. It is overwhelming, and you're going to feel overwhelmed for the coming weeks. That's completely normal - we've all been there. I've talked to 20+ other teachers and tried to summarize their advice and thoughts into five points.

The most important things to remember as a new teacher are:



  1. Give yourself some slack. You're not going to know everything, manage everything and be on top of absolutely everything from day one. Nor is anyone going to expect you to.

  2. Being prepared will take the edge off. Arrive as prepared as possible for your lessons. It will help you feel more confident. Keep in mind though that you can plan the perfect lesson - and it doesn't pan out at all. That's normal, and happens to all of us.

  3. Talk to your colleagues. Ask questions, collaborate, tell them what you're struggling with and ask for their advice. Seeking out knowledge is nothing to be ashamed of - we're all lifelong learners, remember?

  4. Take care of yourself. Protect yourself against the far too common teacher burnout. Make sure you take some time off, and nurture yourself. If you don't take care of you, it's going to be a very, very long year. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and socialize. It's going to do you good!

  5. Give yourself grace. Every day as you leave work, remind yourself that you did your best that day - and that is good enough. As you gain experience, you gain traction and confidence. It's a steep learning curve, but that also means you're growing!

I wish you the best of luck in what's to come, and I hope you know that it's going to be an adventure of a lifetime! Working with kids and their amazing ways of thinking is a gift. You're going to change lives, shape minds and help prepare the students for their future.

Do you have any questions? 
Do you have any advice to add? 
Leave them in the comment section below
 - I'd love to hear from you!

Malimo Mode: The 5 Most Important Things To Remember As A New Teacher! Friendly advice for beginning your career and avoiding burnout! Free printables in the post!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Asking questions in the classroom [The Solar System & Planets Research Unit]

Learning by exploring topics with research based units. Asking questions is key for developing critical thinking. Great unit on the solar system and the planets!


When I was a kid I was completely mesmerized by the stars.


Growing up in a rural area I had such an amazing access to them. No city lights drowning them out. The stars were especially bright during winter, and I remember sitting outside staring at the sky until my cheeks were so cold they felt frozen. So cold in fact that the ground would creak when you stepped on the snow, and the northern lights danced in the sky almost every night!

I used to ask myself;
What is out there?
What do we actually know?

Most questions will never be answered, but we still have to ask them!

That's why I love research units. It lets us take a look at the hard facts - and sprinkle them with philosophical questions. Don't underestimate the power of philosophical questions in your classroom. We can teach our students so many things. Math concepts, literacy, science and more. Teaching them to ask question and to wonder is equally important. At least! [Probably even more important!]

Questions create the challenges that make us learn! 

Learning by exploring topics with research based units. Asking questions is key for developing critical thinking. Great unit on the solar system and the planets!

I have always believed that not all knowledge should be "served" to the students. A lot of the contents I remember most vividly from school come from researching and exploring topics. We went exploring for knowledge in textbooks, encyclopedias and eventually online. One teacher stands out for me in particular, my social studies teacher at junior high. We did a lot of exploring in that class! Not because the teacher was lazy, not at all! We had clear cut directions of what to look for, questions to answer, and not to mention - questions to find! We had presentations, posters, papers and made neat notebooks, flipbooks and lapbooks! [Even though they weren't called that back in the day.]

In my mind, there's room for research within most topics. Even those that are clear cut and presented on a silver platter like a Michelin meal can be questioned!

I've created a framework for my students to explore different topics. The worksheets are high resolution so they may be printed as posters. This allows me to choose between group based projects with presentations, or opting for a regular scale print for individual work. The students have separate notebooks for these exploring topic pages, and we've decorated the covers.

Learning by exploring topics with research based units. Asking questions is key for developing critical thinking. Great unit on the solar system and the planets!
Click here to find the research unit!

In my experience these research units work well for painting a picture of a topic - getting an overview. 


In particular this applies for students that might have difficulties concentrating, or having a satisfying progress in their work. There isn't a big, blank paper staring them down, and feeling that they have an overwhelming task ahead of them. These sheets have smaller boxes, and this appears to have a positive effect - focusing on one at a time!

It's important for me to have some control of what the students must take away from a research unit like this. Because of that I have some pre-determined elements on the different posters/worksheets. In addition to that there are blank fields where the students decide themselves, and entirely blank templates for full teacher autonomy - or student freedom. ;-) Suggestions for inquiry questions are also found in the research unit, and you may use them as a basis or starting point. What would we like to find out? How can we approach this topic?

Learning by exploring topics with research based units. Asking questions is key for developing critical thinking. Great unit on the solar system and the planets!

I encourage my students to combine different types of illustrations for these research units. Drawing is wonderful, and they can supplement their own illustrations with pictures they find online. When we're finished with the unit I use a rubric for assessment. Naturally, we've looked at the rubric before starting the unit as well. Find a rubric, and an empty template, in the unit!

If you enjoy the format on this research unit you can find the entire series here
I'll be adding many different topics there as we work on them in our class! :-) If you want to try one of my research unit to get a feel for the framework, find the free Incas research unit here!

All the best,

Monday, May 2, 2016

- Teacher, I'm finished! -- Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers!

Students work in different paces, and some are eager to share whenever they are finished. Others will at that point have quite a bit of work left to do. The "I'm finished"-packs are created to occupy the early finishers.
Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!

The purpose of the “I’m finished”-series is that the
Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!
teacher can simply print these worksheets and place them in a “finished”-folder. The students can quietly help themselves to a sheet while waiting for new tasks in the classroom. Students that work at a high pace aren’t left idle, and because of that won’t have time to be bored or become disruptive.

Students that work at a slower pace are able to work in peace, without the distractions tied to others calling out “finished!”. Of course, they can be used for other purposes as well, such as centers - or even homework!

The growing bundle in this series will contain at least 10 different packs. At present, 5 are available. To give you a better understanding of the different tasks I've created a freebie with samples from all of them. Use the samples for your early finishers, or as you see fit! Find the freebie at the bottom of this post!

The current packs are:

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!
  1. Coloring by instructions
  2. Short writing tasks
  3. Coloring by multiplication
  4. Drawing & reading comprehension
  5. Pre-primer & primer sight words word search puzzles

1. Coloring by instructions

The coloring by instructions pack contains 25 pages with three different types of tasks. Roll and color have the students roll dice to color parts of the image. You may decide whether they must roll a number once or several times to complete coloring parts with given numbers. Some of the worksheets are split in half. You can print and cut the sheets in half for regular roll and color tasks, or let the students play «against» each other. 

The second task type is color by instruction. The instructions on these sheets contain up to 8 sentences. They instruct the students as to what to color, and which color to use. Maybe even which color not to use! The third task type is color by sight words. Different levels are covered (primer, grade one and grade two).

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!

2. Short writing tasks

The short writing tasks have worksheets that are all tied to writing short texts by instructions. They are tied to the image on each sheet. The students can use them for work while they wait, but the tasks can also be a part of a full lesson plan. 

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!
I have used these sheets as a part of a project we like to call «My writer’s book». 

I’ve printed sheets individually, and the students use them for first drafts. The first draft is corrected / given feedback, often in response groups with fellow students as well. The students then process the feedback given, either in writing or on a computer. The final text is printed, approved, and added to the «My writer’s book». The cover we have used for these books are included in the pack.

3. Coloring by multiplication

All the worksheets in the pack are tied to coloring by multiplication. The colors are tied to the math problems, and the answers indicate which color to use where in the drawing. (Note that all colors might not be used!) 

The sample in this freebie is from the 5-times table.

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!

4. Drawing & reading comprehension

The tasks consist of reading a brief text, and completing the drawing based on the information derived from the text. A small part of the drawing is already in place.

It’s important to keep in mind that if the students draw without reading and understanding the text fully – they will get into trouble in terms of completing the task!

Some of the tasks also include instructions about what not to do (for example, «the hoola hoop is not red).

Meaningful and fun tasks for early finishers! Keeping students engaged so everyone can do their work in peace. Find 10 awesome freebie pages in this blog post!




5. Pre-primer & primer sight words word search puzzles

The tasks consist of hunting for sight words in a classic word search puzzle. A word bank is provided so the students can cross out words as they find them. I usually demand that they have found all the words before they can complete the task by coloring the image.

The first two levels of sight words on the DOLCH sight word list are covered in the pack – pre-primer and primer. An answer key is included.


I've found these tasks to be lifesavers in the classroom. I used to get a knot in my stomach every time someone finished early and I started running out of meaningful tasks to give them. I didn't want to ask them to get a white sheet of paper and "draw something". Creating these tasks has really helped me a lot! I sincerely hope they'll be helpful for you as well, and that the samples are well received among your students! If you have any comments or feedback I would love to hear it!

Find the freebie samples here!




All the best,

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Let's Explore! Research based learning!

Let's Explore! Research based learning is fantastic, and helps information "stick". Use these research units for FREE in your classroom. Download from the blog post! :-)
I strongly believe in learning by exploring!
I have always believed that not all knowledge should be "served" to the students. A lot of the contents I remember most vividly from school come from researching and exploring topics. We went exploring for knowledge in textbooks, encyclopedias and eventually online. One teacher stands out for me in particular, my social studies teacher at junior high. We did a lot of exploring in that class! Not because the teacher was lazy, not at all! We had clear cut directions of what to look for, questions to answer, and not to mention - questions to find! We had presentations, posters, papers and made neat notebooks.

If you're looking for the free Incas Ancient Civilization Research Unit download, you'll find it at the bottom of this post!

Let's Explore! Research based learning is fantastic, and helps information "stick". Use these research units for FREE in your classroom. Download from the blog post! :-)

Based on these memories I've created a framework for sending my own students exploring different topics. The worksheets are high resolution so they may be printed as posters. This allows me to choose between  group based projects with presentations, or opting for a regular scale print for individual work. The students have separate notebooks for these exploring topic pages, and we've decorated the covers.

In my experience these research units work well for painting a picture of a topic - getting an overview. In particular this applies for students that might have difficulties concentrating, or having a satisfying progress in their work. There isn't a big, blank paper staring them down, and feeling that they have an overwhelming task ahead of them. These sheets have smaller boxes, and this appears to have a positive effect - focusing on one at a time!

Let's Explore! Research based learning is fantastic, and helps information "stick". Use these research units for FREE in your classroom. Download from the blog post! :-)

It's important for me to have some control of what the students must take away from a research unit like this. Because of that I have some pre-determined elements on the different posters/worksheets. In addition to that there are blank fields where the students decide themselves, and entirely blank templates for full teacher autonomy - or student freedom. ;-) Suggestions for inquiry questions are also found in the research unit, and you may use them as a basis or starting point. What would we like to find out? How can we approach this topic?

Let's Explore! Research based learning is fantastic, and helps information "stick". Use these research units for FREE in your classroom. Download from the blog post! :-)
Suggested questions
I encourage my students to combine different types of illustrations for these research units. Drawing is wonderful, and they can supplement their own illustrations with pictures they find online. When we're finished with the unit I use a rubric for assessment. Naturally, we've looked at the rubric before starting the unit as well. Find a rubric, and an empty template, in the unit!

Click here to download the free Incas Ancient Civilization Research Unit!

If you enjoy the format on this research unit you can find the entire series here! I'll be adding many different topics there as we work on them in our class! :-) 

All the best,