Valentine’s Love in Your Classroom

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to discuss emotional wellness and student self-care.

Traditionally the emphasis was on card and gift giving, whereas now we often tend to promote love and kindness on Valentine’s Day. Discussing the different types of love, whether for our parents, neighbours or fellow classmates, allows students to think about the huge concept of love and what it means to them. This provides the perfect opportunity to delve into greetings, giving and gifting.


Morning meetings in the classroom often include a greeting and this can take many forms, including a “Good Morning,” a wave or a handshake.

Often the greetings and responses need to be taught and modelled to help students understand the cues and expectations. Modelling helps students understand how to use eye contact and pressure in a handshake, voice intonation in a verbal greeting and facial expression in a wave.


Where I grew up in Northern Ireland, Valentine’s Day was not celebrated, unless in a romantic relationship. As a teenager, it was awkward and to be avoided. As an adult, it was somewhat similar. When I moved to Canada and had my first child, I discovered that Valentine’s here is about showing love to everyone, a celebration that I really enjoy participating in.

Taking time to recognize everyone in a daycare room or classroom helps children understand that although they may not be best friends with everyone, they can give everyone respect. Just as greeting everyone is a way to show respect, giving cards is a similar way to acknowledge respect.

Making Valentine’s cards is a fun part of our routine now and we try to change our designs each year. Make your own Paint Printed Valentine’s Cards with Creative Paint Rollers.

While many of our students do not make cards, the act of writing a name on a purchased card offers a wonderfully authentic writing experience.

Some students may be new to Canada or new to the experience of giving cards, so a communication home to explain our Valentine’s Day customs can help clarify expectations to parents. Another suggestion is to give students an opportunity to write/make cards in class and then everything is done in school, relieving the pressure to complete cards at home.


Gifting can also be part of Valentine’s celebrations and we often make something with students that they can take home and gift to family or friends. This is a wonderful way to demonstrate and focus on the joy of giving.

In the past, we have made Heart Crayons from that box of old crayons you have lurking in a dark corner. As a collaborative effort, this could be achieved by a class quite easily and gifted to a friend or younger sibling.

Having a class party is another way to show love, for food, dancing and fun!

Tips as an educator

  • Be clear about expectations for giving Valentine’s cards/gifts and communicate to students and parents
  • Allow opportunities to talk about Valentine’s day and what it means to each child
  • Encourage children to make Valentine’s cards/gifts for special family members in their lives
  • Emphasize the message rather than the material focus that is often placed on Valentine’s Day
  • Have fun and celebrate love in all its forms
Written by Chris, an elementary and middle school teacher in Pembina Trails School Division.

Ideas from Our Community on Making Your Classroom Comfortable

We asked you how you make your classroom environment feel inviting and your suggestions were inspirational. Cozy, comfortable and inviting seemed to be the most important concept to our community. Shauna made a very valid point: “I want my room to make myself and students feel like home because of how much time we spend there“.

While styles and recommendations varied, a cozy feeling remained top. So how can we create a cozy environment? Here are some of your recommendations:

Soft, cozy seating

Use carpets, soft seating and pillows to make classrooms feel more like a home. Sharon mentioned “Soft and comfortable furnishings“.

Display children’s work
Whether it is a piece of art or a lego construction, displaying our learner’s work helps them to realize we appreciate the effort they have put into their learning experience.

Using children’s names 
Karen labels “cubbies with the name of each student to hang their coats and backpacks“. Adding names to cubbies, hooks or even learning spaces helps children feel part of their learning community.

Natural materials
The belief is the more children interact with natural materials the more they tend to be drawn to and appreciate our natural world. Therefore, for many educators, incorporating the natural world into our classrooms of a high priority.

Bright colours
Colours in the classrooms are very much a personal preference of the educator in the space. Some prefer natural and others prefer bright colours. At Quality Classrooms we recognize both have their place and try to meet the needs of each educator, just as you try to meet the needs of each child you work with.

All different book genres need to be in the classrooms to meet the preferences of our students. Displaying them in a reader-friendly way may make books more inviting. Just spines showing can be intimidating so a combination of display methods will appeal to more readers. Debra enjoys “putting up a big reading tree bulletin board in my library” to encourage book sharing while Cindy mentioned “a comfy corner for reading“.

Photos of children 
Displaying photos helps to ensure children feel they have an important place in the classroom. Including family photos can also help children feel more at home.

Alternative Seating
Alternative (or flexible) seating is here to stay as more educators recognize the importance of student choice and individualized learning. We now have many options available to give our students to best learning spot for them.

Other Ideas

Pamela mentioned the importance of making the entrance area welcoming: ” We try to make our entrance area inviting with a board of staff photos and names, a photo frame of kids at play, and a chalkboard where we write quotes or phrases“.

Important ideas also mentioned by our community include: a growth chart, personal touches, open-ended and quiet activities for everyone, flowers and plants (real or fake), welcome sign, photos of staff, Tanya mentioned: “I love having plants in the classroom for a cozy touch“.

Thank you to our wonderful Quality Classrooms Community for sharing their knowledgeable and inspirational ideas!

Understanding Storage Furniture

Buying storage furniture can be an overwhelming process. Here at Quality Classrooms we try to give you all the information you need either on our website or catalogue but sometimes extra information is needed. Deciding what is important for each piece can make things easier. Here are a set of questions to ask to help define your storage furniture needs.

  1. Does the storage furniture need mobility?
  2. Does it need to lock?
  3. Do the shelves need to adjust?
  4. Do I need bins/trays?
  5. Do I want solid wood, plywood or laminate?
  6. Do I need access to one side or both?
  7. Am I willing to assemble furniture?
  8. Is warranty important?
  9. Is Greenguard certification important?

These questions help to decide what is a ‘need’ and what is a ‘want’. ‘Needs’ are necessary, whereas ‘wants’ may have some flexibility. Determining your needs and wants is a great way to start when investing in a storage piece that will last for years.

  1. Does the storage furniture need mobility?   Mobility can be a necessary function in shared spaces. If storage needs to be moved regularly, a hinged unit may be preferable. This allows movement without the risk of toppling or the contents falling out. For movement occasionally, ensure casters are present.
  2. Does it need to lock? This is only needed if security or safety is an issue but can be more challenging to retrofit well. 
  3. Do the shelves need to adjust? Adjustable shelves to suit a collection of different objects, such as books, are convenient. Many storage units have shelves which do not adjust, especially if they are made for infant daycare rooms. Ensuring a unit has adjustable shelves, if this is one of your needs, allows for personalization to suit the stored materials. 
  4. Do I need bins/trays? Bins or trays are often wanted for a unit and not all units have bins. If this is essential, check bins/trays are included and the same applies for lids. 
  5. Do I want solid wood, plywood or laminate? Solid wood is the most expensive and laminate the least. If colour scheme or matching is important, check the wood colour and/or the accent colour matches your room. 
  6. Do I need access to one side or both? Some storage furniture is accessible only from the front, others front and back. The unit featured above is accessible from all four sides. Placements in your room dictate the accessibility you need. This 24 Cubbie Tower with Clear Tubs is perfect for the centre of a room, it allows children to access tubs independently from all four sides.
  7. Am I willing to assemble furniture? Furniture that needs assembly is usually cheaper and shipping may also be cheaper as it is transported flat packed. If you are able to assemble, this can be a way to save budget funds.  
  8. Is warranty important? All of our items have a 1 year warranty but furniture can have up to a 15 year warranty. We only select strong and durable furniture, suitable for learning environments. If extended warranty is important to you, ensure you have a piece of furniture with a manufacturer warranty.
  9. Is Greenguard certification important? GREENGUARD Certified products must meet stringent chemical emissions requirements, such as being screened for more than 10,000 volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

There is a great deal to consider when buying a piece of storage furniture. You are investing a sizeable amount of budget funds on something you expect to last a long time. We are happy to be here to help you make the right choices for your needs.

Classrooms Management Strategies and Tools for Back to School Success

You have spent weeks planning and perfecting your classroom and now you are finally ready for your students. So much of how the next few weeks will play out depends on your classroom management… no pressure! Even the most experienced teacher gets nervous and struggles to sleep the night before the big day. Reminding ourselves of tips and tricks to develop strong relationships with students from day one helps reassure our crazy teacher minds.

Get to know your students: 

Plan activities to get to know your students. All about me activities are great to help students get to know each other but also for the teacher to get to know what makes a student tick. When we learn what are they passionate about, their strengths and weaknesses and their innermost dreams we can better connect as educators.

Have clear expectations:

Class rules, contracts or agreements are a great way of sharing expectations and can be created collaboratively giving students more ‘buy in’. Knowing the expectations and boundaries help us feel safe in our environment. When we feel safe, we excel.

Reinforce your expectations daily:

We all need reminders of what is expected of us and visual reminders can be helpful.

Behaviour cards for each student allow you to visually demonstrate how students are following expectations without disturbing the rest of the class. They can be labelled with students’ names and displayed in a prominent location. The Classrooms Behaviour Kit is a great set to get started with.

Regularly incorporating the rules and /or agreements into class discussions reminds all class members of the expectations.

Reward the positive:

Identifying and calling out the positive is habitual. If we make an effort to do it the rewards can be great. Having a visual reminder as a teacher is a helpful reminder.

Incentive Charts are a great reminder to us as teachers to notice the positive and can be personalized to each student. What one student is rewarded for can be very different from the next but the reward is visual and clearly seen by everyone in the class.

There are many other ways to reward positive behaviour including awards and stickers. Resources to incentivize can be found here.

Encourage positive behaviour towards others:

Filling buckets is a commonly known term now, thanks to the author Carol McCloud and her Have You Filled a Bucket? series.

A positive reinforcement pocket chart is a great way to encourage students to compliments each other and identify the positive in their classroom. Your job as a teacher is so much easier when students are being kind to each other!

A calm learning environment:

Keeping track of time and not having to rush to assembly or to a specialist class is a must to keep everyone on track and following behaviour expectations. Timers can help with this process. As a teacher we can get so distracted helping groups or individual students and a timer can help us stay on track as well as the students.

The Time Tracker is a visual timer that be set to give a visual and audible alert.

The choice in timers is amazing now and you can usually find something to fit your needs.

Transitions can be difficult for some students so any help is always welcome.

There are many resources aimed at younger students, which is also useful for elementary students. They can be helpful to move from the morning circle to the end of the day and is filled with movement activities, games, fingerplays, chants and songs.

Student responsibility:

When students feel they are trusted they will often work harder to achieve more responsibility. Giving class jobs not only helps you as a teacher but encourages responsible habits. We all like to feel we are helpful.

The Helping Hands Pocket Chart encourages teamwork and self-esteem as students take responsibility for their classroom. It features 10 class job cards (pledge leader, postmaster general, tech specialist and more) with blank reverse sides and 30 student hand cards. Reuse all 40 write-on/wipe-off cards year after year.

Good luck Teachers! 

Having a classrooms that feels like a team is the ultimate reward. We at Quality Classrooms wish you all the very best as you start off the new academic year. We are here to help when you need classrooms supplies and will do our very best to support your teaching.

Back to School Essentials

What we consider to be back to school essentials varies greatly depending on the individual teacher and what they are going to be teaching but some things are pretty universal.

A Good Pencil Sharpener

This is a must and stops the headache of permanently blunt and broken pencils. There are some different options but a quiet automatic pencil sharpener that works with six different pencils sizes is very appealing.

Dry Erase Boards for Students

Student dry erase boards are a wonderful way to check understanding, keep students focused and a useful planning tool. The new Dry Erase Answer Paddles are fun and a useful way to check students have grasped the main points of a discussion. Questioning during an introduction and allowing doodling can help keep students focused on what they are learning. They are also a good way to plan writing and some students like the flexibility of being able to erase quickly and redraft.  If you prefer a larger writing surface for students these 2-sided Alphabet Write ‘N Wipe Boards are lightweight and of great value. The other side is blank and so ideal for drawing and free writing.

Post-it Notes

Essential to have in any classroom post-it notes are great for labelling your photocopies and annotating student work. They are also a great way to get students’ input quickly and make a clear visual sharing poster.

Book organization

Some teachers like students to have their own books at an easily accessible place, such as a magazine/book holder for each student, other teachers prefer to keep the same books together in a container. My favourite storage containers are Gratnell Trays. They last a lifetime, won’t let you down mid carry and come in different depths depending on your needs.

Alternative Seating Options

I have discussed this in the past and am excited to see so many classrooms embracing alternative seating options for their students. The Tilo Motion Stool is a great option for any classroom and comes in different heights and colours.

Marking helpers

To make marking more appealing, I use stickers and fancy pens. I choose pens in different colours, (sometimes glittery or smelly) and use stickers to encourage a dialogue between teacher and student. I find if the writing is bright students are more likely to read comments and suggestions and work towards improvement.

Whiteboard Pen Selection and Organization

Lots of whiteboard markers are essential in my classroom. I tend to walk around with them in my hand and put them in my pocket so a good sized collection is a must. A Magnetic Storage Box help to keep a few staples like markers and pointers handy and clear for sub teachers who come into your room.

Basic Supplies

I like to have a teacher collection of pencils, pens, erasers, colouring pencils and markers for those students who are unable to bring supplies or whose supplies are dollar-store quality and quickly disintegrate. My favourite pencil is the Tri-Write Comfort Pencil and name of the pencil reveals why. Pens and erases I am not too fussy about although cheap erasers can destroy a page pretty quickly! The variety in colouring pencils is huge. Having basic supplies makes life easier and arguments less, hopefully.

Whether you are shopping for your class or your children, good luck with your back to school shopping. May you find all you need and enjoy organizing!