Teach By Design
Dec 10, 2019

Our Favorite Things 2019

We have 24 new things you’re just going to LOVE! From mini griddles, to easy classroom strategies, here are the little things that will bring big joy to your day. It’s our Favorite Things for 2019!

No items found.
Apple Podcast Button

Truth for Teachers

We came across Angela Watson’s podcast at the end of October. Truth for Teachers covers a wide range of topics every teacher is likely to experience at some point during their career. Angela was a teacher, so she gets it. She’s also a coach, so she’s ready to push us to find ways to improve. From the five unhelpful things she’s said to students, to dozens of ways we can leave work at work, check out Truth for Teachers wherever you stream your podcasts.


This app is new to us, but might be pretty familiar to some of you. Kahoot is a learning platform that turns your quizzes into game-based learning. Once you create your quiz, students log in with the game pin on their mobile device and start answering questions in real time. Have them work alone or get together in groups to compete against each other. Check out the reports to evaluate how each student did and which concepts need more instruction. Kahoot is free for teachers…forever!

Classroom Wish Lists

According to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 94% of teachers spent some amount of their own money funding supplies for their classrooms. With class supply lists distributed at the beginning of the year, wouldn’t it be great to have a running list available to any family, any time, in a super convenient location? Enter Amazon Wishlists. Create one for your classroom and start adding all your hopes and dreams, electronics, and supplies inside. Check out this article from Teaching with TLA and find out how she created a wishlist for her room and got so many extra supplies she never could have bought on her own.

Lip Balm

It’s winter, and this year has been particularly dry in the Pacific Northwest. We’re all a little obsessed with lip balms these days. No matter how many we buy, or where we stash them, by the end of the month we’ve lost them all (probably to the same place hair ties and socks inevitably end up). That’s why we suggest picking up an extra 4-pack ASAP.

Hand Lotion (Purlisse Coconut Oil + Orange Blossom Silky Body Butter)

There are certain textures and sounds that will always make my skin crawl. The sound Styrofoam makes when it rubs against itself. The way cotton balls feel when you squish them between your fingers. Typing on a keyboard with dry hands. I spend a lot of time in the office typing, so I’m always looking to alleviate that last one. Purlisse Coconut Oil + Orange Blossom Silky Body Butter is delightful. It moisturizes like no lotion I’ve tried in a long time, and the scent is perfect for the time of year.

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint barks are here and no two are alike. We prefer abark with white chocolate that melts in your mouth, enough peppermint to clear your sinuses without making your cry, and a little saltiness to counteract all the sweetness. The perfect bark for us this year is Snack Factory’s white chocolate and peppermint Pretzel Crisps. If you’re debating whether to get the big bag or the bigger bag, trust us…you want the bigger bag.

Dash Round Griddle and Dash Waffle Maker

Our Customer Support Manager, Diertra Lomeli, purchased these tiny appliances for our office and single-handedly revolutionized our breakfast game. These tiny griddles – one with a flat surface, one with a waffle pattern – heat up in about a minute and cook an egg in about the same amount of time. They’re compact and so easy to clean. We think your breakroom needs a couple of these guys, too.

Insulated Thermoses

We love these thermoses by @Jewelchic by House VIP for a few reasons.

  1. They keep our water cold and our coffee hot.
  2. We can see their vibrant colors from across any crowded room.
  3. Proceeds from their purchase go to support efforts to give children in Zimbabwe access to quality education.

Oh, and they’re on Oprah’s list of favorites this year, too!

Be+ (Be Positive)

Teachers implementing PBIS in their classrooms have a lot of things to remember: Notice students doing the right things. Remind the class about expectations before they walk to the cafeteria for lunch. Check in with certain students at the end of class to let them know how they did and what they can do better. That’s a lot to remember! Be+ is a free, mobile application to remind and track all of the positive reinforcement and pre-corrections you give throughout the day.

School Climate Survey Spanish Translations

Did you know every School Climate Survey is available in Spanish? They are! Simply launch the survey and select Español from the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner on the survey’s first page. If anyone in your school could use the School Climate Survey in Spanish, take advantage of these new resources to include their voices in your discussions.

Daring Classrooms

Brené Brown has devoted her career to studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She’s best-selling author, and a teacher.Naturally, she has decided to bring all her knowledge and experience to schoolswith Daring Classrooms. It’s all about creating safe, courageous spaces where students take chances and open themselves up to the possibilities vulnerability creates. Brené has a way of inspiring us to do our best and we think she’ll do the same for you.

Science Buddies STEM Activities

We love free stuff, but we love free useful stuff even more.Science Buddies offers teachers free project ideas in all areas of science. In their teacher resources, you’ll find free lesson plans, classroom kits ideas,tools for the upcoming science fair, worksheets, examples, tips, and more.There are links to kits you can purchase for projects in your classroom and a blog full of ideas to get your creativity going. So, when you’re stuck in a science rut, check out Science Buddies!

Kiwi Crates for the Classroom

Kiwi Co is a monthly subscription box full of STEM projects for kids delivered directly to their home. Now, the company is bringing their projects to your classrooms! Choose from four projects or plan for the long-term and set up a monthly subscription. Each box comes with 10 project sets designed with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in mind.

Command Strip Caddies

There’s a love of office supplied around here. A love so deep, one day we got lost on the 3M website looking at mounting and hanging products in school supplies. The exploration dug up a set of command strip products we never knew existed: caddies and organizers. Specifically, I can think of exactly 23 uses for the medium caddy: dry erase markers, erasers, index cards, post-its…

No Phone, New Friends Friday

This favorite thing came up on radio during the morning commute to work. Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal, Janet Behrens, noticed how so many students walked through the halls with their heads down,consumed in the glow of their phone. To get everyone’s heads up, looking each other in the eye, engaged in real-time, face-to-face conversation, she came up with No Phone, New Friends Fridays. Here’s the idea: Students get a colored card when they walk in the cafeteria assigning them to a table to sit. This gets students grouped with people outside their friend groups. To get everyone talking, each table has a pile of conversation starters to break the ice. We love everything about building community in schools, and No Phone New Friend Friday does just that.

3-Tier Rolling Cart

Organizational systems are key to a functional classroom.Organizers on wheels? Well, those are next level. We love to get our steps in, too, but sometimes the back-and-forth is just too much. Pack this 3-tier cart with the essentials and take them with you wherever your instruction happens.

March Series by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell

This 3-book autobiographical graphic novel series written by civil rights leader and US Representative, John Lewis, is a series for young and old to read. The graphic novel style makes each book such an easy read though the content is a difficult story to tell. Teachers have included the series in middle and high schools in over 40 states. You can find their lesson plans scattered across the internet.

Really Good Stuff

This site was new to us, but once we saw it, it became a favorite. Really Good Stuff is an online store built with teachers in mind. It has everything from organizational products, to games, decorations, furniture, and so much more. There are even free resources and a way to search the site for products that match Common Core and State Standards. If Really Good Stuff is new to you, too, check it out. We’re sure it’ll become one of your faves.

Post-It Note Check-In

Erin Castillo is a high school Special Ed teacher from San Francisco. Her Post-It Note Check-In Instagram post caught the attention of some folks around the office back in March. Erin had students write their names on the back of a post-it note and stick it in the row they felt best described how they felt that morning. The exercise gave her a quick way to see how everyone was doing, identify the students who needed a check-in, and allow students to visually see that they weren’t alone in their feelings. If you like this idea, too, Erin drafted a free, printable version on her Teachers Pay Teachers account.

New PBIS.org

The Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has a new website! It’s the same URL…but it’s got a new look. Their sources have been updated to include only the most current and relevant materials. The search functionality returns more useful results. Every topic includes steps for getting started implementing in your building. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new site, what are you waiting for?

Because of Them We Can

Eunique Jones started Because of Them We Can in February 2013 as a 28-day photo campaign to teach and refresh Black history while connecting the dots between the past, present and future. Six years later, ithas become a movement committed to engaging people – especially children – with content and tools to amplify Black excellence on a daily basis. Check out their website or even their subscription box for all the details.


Our favorite things list wouldn’t be complete without a social media hashtag. #ClassroomManagement is full of ideas from classrooms all around the world for how they try to make their rooms more engaging and welcoming.The hashtag is active on both Instagram and Twitter. Check them out and post your own great ideas!

Imagination Library

Who loves getting mail more than little kids? Dolly Parton is ready to give every kiddo, ages 1 day to 5 years, free books. Free! Every month! Just use their search tool to find your local affiliate, sign their waivers, enter your information and wait for the books to show up in the mail.When your kids ask where the book came from, just tell them Dolly sent it.


Because it’s free for elementary schools, our guess is you probably know all about Epic. We included it as a favorite because of the way it brings books into classrooms in such a modern way. Epic is an online database full of thousands of books, quizzes, games, and more focused on getting kids engaged and excited about reading. Get families involved with discount codes and Spanish translations available. With so many books to choose from, we think this app is appropriately named.

Download Transcript

Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

No items found.