About Me

Hey y’all!  I’m Cara Carroll and I live in the great state of Texas…where everything is bigger!  There’s NO place I’d rather call home…scorching hot summers and all!!  This year I’m starting my 13th year {GASP!!!!} teaching.  I started out my teaching career in Kindergarten and after 7 years with my 5-year-olds, I made the switch to a brand new district to teach 2nd grade.  And I LOVED it!  I found a whole new love for teaching.  

After 1 year in 2nd grade, I moved down to 1st and absolutely fell.in.LOVE.  I taught 1st grade for two years and then my husband found a new job in a new city, so we put all our faith in God's plan for our life and relocated 300 miles south for a brand new adventure.  God sure knows what He's doing ;)  Now I’m back in Kindergarten and loving it!  Kindergarten is even better than I remember! It feels so good to be HOME!

My crazy little family.  God bless the photographer who was able to make these two look at the camera...at the SAME time!

 When I’m not teaching, I’m busy being mom to my two precious little boys who pretty much keep me laughing non-stop!  My oldest is starting 1st grade this year and my baby will be in Kindergarten!  KINDERGARTEN, people!!!!!!  Can somebody PLEASE tell me how to slow down time?!

I started presenting for SDE this past year and have had the best time meeting teachers all over the country!  I'll be coming to see a few of you this year, so stay tuned for more details!  If you're interested in booking a workshop for your school, contact me at thefirstgradeparade@gmail.com for more info!

I also **attempt** to be domestic, but my efforts usually fall short.  There are dust bunnies that greet me in the evenings, piles of laundry waiting to be washed, and random toys strewn throughout the house.  Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling in a snowstorm.  Can I get an amen?!  When I’m not working on school stuff, I love crafting, home decorating, and cooking.  Even though I’m not super consistent, I try to journal all my recipes, DIY attempts, and house stuff on my domestic blog Pearls, Handcuffs, and HappyHour.

I started this little ol’ blog in 2010 as a way to share ideas and “virtually scrapbook” my classroom happenings.  I never could have anticipated how the Lord would bless me in other ways.  God is great, isn’t He?  I have made some of my best friends through blogging and met some of the most amazing educators & people!   I’m continually inspired by all the amazing teachers who share their ideas through blogging and feel like I’m such a better teacher because of all of our online collaboration.  There are so many talented, amazing educators out there!  

I believe that learning should be hands-on, full of content and rigor, creative, and meaningful.  Most of all, learning should be FUN!  There's nothing I love more than knowing my kids don't even realize they're learning because they're having so much fun through the process. While I love having cute materials and classroom decor, I believe that content can't be ignored...ain't nobody got time for "fluff"!  Never underestimate the value of highly engaging material coupled with strong instruction.  Just because it's cute doesn't mean there's no substance! :)

Thanks for visiting!  So happy to have you here :)  


October 22-23 - Conference for Tennessee 1st Grade Teachers {Franklin, TN}

November 13-14 - Conference for Wisconsin Kindergarten Teachers {more info soon}

December 8-9 - Conference for Michigan Kindergarten Teachers {Livonia, MI}

January 26-27 - Conference for Texas 1st Grade Teachers {San Marcos, TX...more info soon}

February 2-3 - Conference for Texas Kindergarten Teachers {San Marcos, TX...more info soon}

February 6th - Conference for Tennessee Pre-K Teachers {Franklin, TN...more info soon}

February 9-10 - Conference for Alabama Kindergarten Teachers {Birmingham, AL...more info soon}

Contact me at thefirstgradeparade@gmail.com if you're interested in booking a workshop or team/one-on-one teacher mentoring for your school!


  1. Love your new blog design!!!

  2. We love your new blog design and love your "all about me" section! We've been following your blog since the very first few posts and can't believe how much you've helped the teaching blog world grow! You're amazing and you did such a great job explaining the purpose of teacher collaboration in your new "all about me" section! Thank you for sharing with all of us!!!

    Frugal In First

  3. Cara! I LOVE your new design! Just beautiful.

  4. I really enjoy your blog. Im going to check out your domestic blog right now. i would love to know how you fit it all in, How do you do it?!??

  5. Wow! Weirdest thing ever. I was checking out your blog and noticed you mentioned you were on house hunters, which is a show I absolutely love! One hour later, your episode is on TV.

    P.S.- Love your blog!

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  7. So, I am watching House Hunters and see this lady who says she is a teacher and has two boys and talking about her blog and I was like "Hey, I think I know her!" I frequent your blog all the time for teaching ideas!! You have a great way of speaking to people through your blog that is very easy to connect with and understand! Keep up the good work!

  8. Thats such a colorful blog, i really loved it, although I am a grade 6 science teacher but grade 1 teaches us to not to forget colorful gist of life

  9. I love your blog.I find teacher blogs are the best place for tips that help me encourage my little guys, I'm adding yours to the list!

    Would you be interested in doing a giveaway for one of my teacher totes in my shop? If so, let me know!Thanks!

  10. I'm looking for your "All About Me" frame and picture. (with the black frame and aluminum foil for the background) I have it pinned on P but when it links to your blog, I am not able to find it. Can you tell me what it is under? I have the pieces cut out, but looking for the directions on how you put it together.

  11. I enjoyed your last comment, I say something similar all the time, 'Cute doesn't equal educational or learning'. And I couldn't agree more...God IS Great!

  12. I really like how you do your lesson plans. Do you do these on power point also? I do my on my computer but I use Word and I just know there has to be a better way.
    Any suggestions?

  13. I'm looking at your post from I Know An Old Lady (2011). Do you have a template that kids use for the lady? stine-a@troy.k12.oh.us

  14. You are amazing! Just wondering where you find the energy to do it all?! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. You are sweet :) You're only seeing the highlights though!! I seriously don't have that much energy!! HA!

  15. I LoVe your ideas! I have purchased several things fromTpT store BUT... How do you print out such adorable things without go bankrupt on the ink??? I'm having trouble printing out the stuff I've bought from you without using up an entire ink cartridge! My parents have banned me from sneaking into their house when they're not home & printing on their computer...whoops. Tell me your secret!

  16. Mrs. Carroll,
    I'm starting my student teaching in the Spring and I ran across your blog. I must say......WOW! You are amazing! I love all of your ideas and excitement. I have already bookmarked your blog and I plan on visiting it often!!

  17. Hi Mrs. Carroll!
    I've been in love with your blog for a few years now. I want to use your turkey for The Great Turkey Race next week, and I was hoping to grab your template for the turkey? I can't find it on here. Would you mind emailing it to me please?
    Thanks so much!
    Janna Anderson

  18. Hi!

    I saw your Santa's Key Pinterest post and tried to download the template but all I got was a blank page. Do you have the template you could email to me? NancyL1234@hotmail.com.

    Thank you,

  19. Hey Mrs. Carroll

    I love these creations and tips. Really cool ideas and inspiration. I am creating a project to help educate young people called Aristoddlers. Just like it sounds, it is a new format of Ancient Greek and Roman stories for kids today. If you or any of your followers are interested in my first book Aristoddlers and The Greedy King you can back it on Kickstarter or email me at Aristoddlers@gmail.com and I will send a free proof.

    Here is the Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1490457402/aristoddlers-and-the-greedy-king


  20. Hi Miss Carroll,

    I am Joel from the Philippines.. I am one of your supporter! I love reading your ideas about teachings.It motivates me to do my job better than anything else... Thank you for inspiring new teachers like me... :)

  21. Cara,
    Could you please email me your template for Santa's magic key? It is adorable and I would love to make it for my kindergarteners but I can't download the template. Love your blog! Thank you.

  22. Cara,
    I am so happy I found your blog! I just happened to notice it on your FB and wow! God has blessed you with a great talent! I don't know how you do it all. I was teaching Kindergarten for about 8 years and then I went back to First Grade this year and I have seen so many ideas that I can use here. Thank you for sharing!

  23. I love your blog! You are very creative! I just graduated and I will be starting my teaching career in January..which is exciting ! Although I will be teaching middle school...your blog gave me a lot of ideas for my classroom! Thanks for sharing!!

  24. Do you have a volume 2 for I Know it by Sight?
    Thanks for keeping us inspired!

  25. Cara, I just love your blog and all your creative ideas! I am always looking for new ideas and fresh designs for classroom set-up and I found some wonderful ones in your blog! So thanks! I too love to have lots of colors in my room and separate spaces in which to work with my students. I'll be sure to keep an eye on your classroom!

  26. Did you design your blog design or did you pay someone to design it for you? I love it!

  27. Hello. I just found your blog today and wanted to drop you a note to say thank you for all the wonderful stuff you've posted online to help others teach.

    I'm a new Peace Corps Volunteer (I was sworn in on March 19th) serving in Thailand. I am posted in a small village of about 2000 people to work in a school of 220 students (grade 1-9) as an English Teacher Trainer working with 3 teachers grades 1-3, grade 4 and grades 7-8. I will be here for 2 years.

    My only experience was 4 years teaching English in Mongolia, mostly to university students so you can imagine how lost I feel teaching younger students. Right now we are on summer break and the new school year starts in mid-May so I'm frantically surfing the internet looking for good sources and creative suggestions when working with primary age children.

    I will follow your blog but if you have any other suggested blogs besides yours that might be helpful, I'd be very grateful.

    Thanks and look forward to reading more in the future.

    Jim Damico
    PCV Thailand 2014-2016

  28. Hi Cara! I absolutely love your blog and I'm wondering more about how you run your language arts block? What kind of centers do you do? I'm currently doing daily 5 but would like to switch it to something more useful next year that I feel like they get more out of. Suggestions? Would love to hear more! Thanks so much for all you do, truly an inspiration! samantha.gegg@gmail.com

  29. I love your blog. You have many great ideas. My sister and some friends are K5 teachers and recommended your site. My sons Max (8), Sam (6), and I wrote a children's series (Adventures of Fisher and Rigley) that was published and the first book (I Love You... Infinity) came out. It was a project we did together and a wonderful memory. My sister told me to see if I could send you a copy for review. Would that be possible and if so, where should I send it please? Thank you so much for all your positive posts.

    Jillian Schmidt

  30. Hi Cara! Just want to say that your blog is fantastic. You are one of my favorite teacher-authors, and I LOVE stopping by your blog to see all of the amazing new things you've done/created! I was inspired by your blog (how you just started it as just a virtual scrapbook) to create my own, and I have just begun! Do you have any advice for beginning bloggers like myself on how to market yourself/gain followers? I feel like I can't gain traction because very few people stumble across my blog!

    Thanks a lot!
    Miss Peluso's Kindergarten

  31. Hi Cara,

    My name is Ryan Nevius and I work with IL ASCD. We are best known as the Kindergarten Conference people. Your name was given to me by long time committee member Kathleen Conn. I would like to discuss having you as a featured speaker at the 2015 conference. Please email me at rcneviu@me.com

  32. I was wondering where you got your alphabet from?

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  34. Hi Cara! I have been following your blog for awhile and was inspired to create my own teaching blog. I would LOVE for you to check it out! www.mrsheadley.blogspot.com

    xo Kristin

  35. I am also presenting at the Pre-K conference in Franklin!!! Yahoo! Hopefully, it won't be at the same time you present so I can sit in on yours! :)

  36. Cara, I see you are coming to Wisconsin....but I cannot find anywhere online about where.....I teach at a small private school so I might have missed the information, but I would love to come and see you

  37. So happy to find your blog! Great information! I am an early childhood teacher in Australia. Thank you for sharing. I use to teach student teachers movement and music. Nice to "meet " you. My blog is about early childhood. I found you on facebook: my facebook is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Early-play

  38. Where are all the freebies and things you talked about at the Birmingham Kindergarten Conference?

    1. Bonny...they're on the homepage :) Just click the header on top and scroll on down. I've linked to all the freebies in the first two posts on the page (Alabama K and Texas K). If you have any questions, just email me at thefirstgradeparade@gmail.com :)

  39. Cara, can you tell me where you get your covers published. I am a high school teacher who wants to publish ideas but I need a lead on where to get my covers made. Thanks. Carol Perkins

  40. Hi Cara! I am a first year kindergarten teacher and I was wondering if you have any tips for decorating a classroom! Please let me know if you have any ideas! :) Thanks!

  41. Hi Cara,
    I downloaded your pumpkin sorting addition and subtraction, but there aren't any facts for 10... Do you happen to have those available? I love the game mats and activities. So cool!


  42. Hi Cara,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog The First Grade Parade has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 30 First Grade Teacher Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 30 First Grade Teacher Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.