Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It: Polka Dot Explosion

It's Monday! That means it's time for one of my favorite Linky parties - Monday Made It hosted by Tara at 4th Grade Frolics. I'll be stopping over there after I post this to check out what others have made.

I have been very busy making things lately since it's back to school in just two short weeks. I finally got the email today saying that I can get up to work in my room starting next Monday. It's not an official work week, but I guarantee you I'll be up at the school a lot. There's still a lot to do in the new classroom since I haven't been able to put ANYTHING away yet. Luckily, I'll have my best helpers (my parents) in tow!
Now that we have the exciting news out of the way (yes, I'm excited about getting back to work), we'll move onto my projects for the week. I'm sure I've made more, but I'm going to share three different projects today.
The first project for Monday Made It is one that I finished last week. It took paint, wood pieces from AC Moore, and painters tape. I've posted at tutorial here if you're interested in seeing exactly how I made the sign below and how I messed up along the way.
I'll be attaching some ribbon to the back and it'll be hung outside my door. I love the way it turned out. I learned a thing or two about painting along the way. This entire project cost less than $2. (If you have the paint already...otherwise add in a little more for the paint.) The next two projects were actually completed today.
Yesterday, I went to an awesome local open craft time and made some really cool things for myself. However, when I headed to the craft time, I had planned a different project. I forgot the Washi tape though! So, I worked on that project today and I must say I am now an official fan of Washi tape. The stuff is amazing!
I posted Saturday about the reading buddies I use in my classroom. They are great for motivating students to read independently but I decided I needed something to make "Visit the Teacher" more inviting. I had some small popsicle sticks and a roll of Washi tape sitting among my craft stuff. I've had the craft sticks for a while (I'm not sure when or why I bought them), but the Washi tape was actually bought for a different classroom project. My clothespins are at school though so I can't work on that project yet.
I decided to go ahead and try out the Washi tape and came up with these tiny pointers that students are going to be able to use during our reading group time. Now, I just need to find a cute little container to hold them in! The wolf is just an example - it would not fit in well with my décor. :)
The last project that I worked on today is another one of my big summer updates. Do you remember the white bins I use for my reading bins? The ones that were getting washed and then getting a face lift? Well, they got their face lift today! All it took was the ice bucket, ribbon, and some hot glue.
I took the ribbon and put it around the middle of the bin. I used hot glue to keep it in place. You'll notice that the ribbon doesn't quite meet on the one side - that's okay! I'm going to cover that mess with cute tags once I have student names to put on them. I think these will look much nicer in their cubbies this year. In this picture, you can see that I have the cutest help ever!
Disaster struck in the middle of this project though! I ran out of ribbon. :(  Apparently it took a little more than I anticipated. So, I'll be making a trip to Wal-Mart at some point. I should probably evaluate what else I need before I go so that I don't make multiple trips.
I feel like I've actually gotten something accomplished today. Way to turn around a rainy day! What's my next project? Turning fabric into pillows for my reading center...
Also, don't forget that everything in my TPT shop is FREE until the end of July. If you download something, I would love it if you left feedback!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Double Linky Sort of Day

This has been an interesting day. That story is for another post though. I was debating what to post about today and happened to see not one but TWO fabulous linky parties going on. So, topic problem solved!

The first linky is Sunday Smorgasboard hosted by Michelle at Fabulous in First. I think this linky party was made for me - it's all about randomness. The way Michelle describes herself when setting up a classroom reminds me of myself! You'll have to go read her description. :)

Anyways, I'm going to give you 3 random things from my week. Enjoy!
I have been very busy working on things this week. Some of them I will show off tomorrow during Monday Made It. I am still not able to get up and work on my classroom so my pile of goodies continues to grow at home. One simple thing I did was make dry erase pads from a fleece baby blanket I bought at Dollar Tree. I'm hoping these work well as erasers.

I organized my closet this week. I'm hoping this will make getting dressed easier in the morning. Everything is separated by color and the hangers are turned to help me keep track of what I've already worn.
I've got a great idea for a back to school activity that I'm currently working on. I'll be sharing it soon after I've got it where I want it to be. For now, here's a peek. (A very small peek as this picture won't really tell you anything.)
One linky party down! Now for the next one!!
This linky is brought to us by Latoya at Flying Into First. This one is about getting acquainted. Today's focus is on school year goals.
What are my goals for this year?
I want to get my feet wet in first grade and make sense of a different grade.
I would like to put more thought into what I wear to work. (Seems superficial, I know, but sometimes clothes affect your attitude and how people perceive you.)
I want to see my kiddos succeed.
I would like to improve my data keeping abilities. I've improved on this each year, but I would like to see it improve even more.
The last big goal? Keep up with my blog and add more fun items to my TPT store!
Now, it's your turn! Head on over to both of these wonderful linky parties and see what you can find!
And don't forget - everything's free in my TPT store until the end of July!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Motivating the Kiddos

One of the most challenging parts of being a teacher is motivating students. That being said, I was delighted to find a new linky party that will give me new ideas for motivating students!  Hop on over to view it!

Today, I'm going to focus on motivating students to read. What I'm going to share today is something that I have used since I first started in the classroom. It has changed and evolved with time, but it seems to be successful for boys and girls in the classroom. Since I'm unable to get up to my classroom due to carpet installation, I have staged the pictures for you at home.

One of the things I collected growing up was stuffed animals - they were cute, cuddly, and could be found everywhere! My love of stuffed animals found it's way into the classroom the moment I started teaching. I brought in themed stuffed animals to share with the kids. It helped increase their excitement for a topic and brightened up the reading center. That group of kiddos was the ones who showed me the potential of stuffed animals in a reading center. They loved reading to them!

The idea of using stuffed animals has since evolved greatly in my classroom and I have found a new use for them that the boys and the girls love. It's also a great way of sharing the many beanie babies I collected growing up. I love knowing that they are being loved!

Instead of providing a few stuffed animals in the reading center, I have moved towards individual reading buddies. Early in the year, I allow the students to pick out one beanie baby from a pile to keep in their book boxes all year. I always have more beanie babies than students so that everyone gets to actually pick one.

After they select their reading buddy, we discuss how to care for the buddies and when they are allowed out. I will be creating a cute printable for that this year. The rules are pretty basic. Students are told up front that their buddy will "run away" if they aren't treated well. I've only had to take a few away over the years and they work extra hard to earn back their buddy. They grow quite attached to them over the course of the year and get super excited when I spill the last part of being buddies - at the end of the year, I let them take their buddy home. It's my gift to them in hopes that they'll continue to read at home.

Now, I said that they keep their buddy in their reading bin, but I didn't explain what their reading bin is. It's a simple white ice bucket from Wal-Mart (I'm going to cutesify them this year!) where they keep three leveled books for our "Read to Self" time that occurs during pack up (more on this in another post). Each student has a bucket that stays in their cubby. They select the three books from our classroom library. They have to check in with me before picking out new books and the books must be on their level.

Remember I had to stage these photos! My kiddos definitely do not have pink dog buddies or grown-up picture books about New York. I live alone with my furbaby so kids' books are not plentiful in our apartment. The three books and their buddy stays in their cubby unless they are reading from it at their seat. They are able to read these books as an early finisher activity and at the end of the day during "Read to Self."

Even though this started out as a reading motivation tool, I have seen students use these buddies in other ways too. Sometimes they will ask if their buddy can work with them on a worksheet. The rule we established is that their buddy could sit at their table if they were silent and working. This helped with on-task behavior. I have also seen quite a few stories starring buddies and buddies of their classmates.

I know I mentioned that I use beanie babies for my buddies, but you can use any small animal. The point is for it to fit in their book bin easily. I like using beanie babies because they come with names which adds to the fun of using them.

Sidenote: Don't forget that everything in my TPT store is FREE until the end of July. If you download something, I would love it if you left me some feedback on it! My Random Raffle winner has been chosen and will be announced and contacted after I upload new things to my store!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Fun FREE Surprise for You!

I thought I'd have a little fun and give back to my readers. So, for a limited time (through the end of July), I'm making everything in my TPT store FREE!  No contest to enter, no things to like - it's all free. (I would appreciate it if you left feedback on things you download!)

Spread the word, grab something for free, and leave some feedback!
Happy Christmas in July and soon to be Back to School!
I'll be updating my store next week with all new stuff after this special ends. I've been busy working on a few surprises for you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shop, Shop, Shop

Since I can't get in to work on my classroom yet, I headed out today to do a little shopping. It started out as shoe shopping and quickly turned into school (bargain) shopping. I found quite a few good things today.

I found this pack of foam pirate ships and the ship wheel in the clearance aisle at A.C. Moore. Currently, our A.C. Moore has a clearance blowout going on that takes and additional 80% off of clearance items. The foam ships were $1 originally (making them 20cents now) and the wheel was $2 originally (making it 40cents). Add the 15% discount on top of that and I walked away a happy teacher!

Now I have a question to pose to you - what am I going to do with all of those ships? I bought three packs of 30 ships. I couldn't pass them up at 20 cents a pack. How should I use them in my classroom? Give me your ideas in the comments section!

I bought some organizing tools at Dollar Tree. I'll show you how I use these when I can get into my classroom. The goal of the classroom this year is organized and cute!

I found this puzzle at Dollar Tree as well. I'm going to turn it into wall décor for my words station. It's lightweight and should go well on the wall!

I also found these stamps at Dollar Tree. They are foam which means they'll work well for paint or ink. I was excited to find the ocean set!

I picked up a few craft supplies at Wal-Mart. The letters are actually for a home project, but the Washi tape is for sprucing something up in the classroom. I will be trying my hand at mod podge for the first time with the letters - wish me luck!
What about you? Any good finds lately?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Classroom Decorating Series - Pirate 1

Last year was my first year using a pirate theme. I could never really decide on a color scheme to go with it, so you'll see that it's still mostly multi-colored. This year, the theme is going to be much, much cuter! That's a guarantee. :)

This is a view of the clip chart I used for management. I can not say enough how much I loved it!

This is a view of the teacher area. Like I said, it tends to shrink each year!

This is a view towards the door. You can see the palm tree for décor. Décor was not my focus last year. I do love the way I used a bench for the writing table though. (You can see that against the white board. The kids loved writing here!)

The front of the room. The bench was still serving a use under the Smart Board. You can also see Mischief the monkey, our classroom helper. I think the bench may find a new home in my new room. I'm not sure it'll fit beneath the Smart Board anyways.

My lovely writing process map can be seen above the computers. You can also see a smaller reading nook in the back of the room. This map was probably what inspired the pirate theme to begin with.
And what have I been working on for this year's improved pirate/nautical theme?
My Pennant Number Line!! Click on the picture to find it on TPT.
That's all for now. I'm off to work on some more crafts for the classroom!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It

This is going to be a quick Monday Made It post as I'm in the middle of a lot of projects for school.

One of my BIG summer projects:

I turned these colorful drawers (that have seen three years of use by kids)...

Into this:

 (With help from my dad and spray paint. Oh, and the clear drawers from my mom's drawers at home. She now has the colorful ones! Love my parents.)


A computer creation I'm working on (to match my décor!):

An at home creation I'm working on:

I'm sure I'll have many more projects to post next week!  I've been busy working on my to do list for the new school year.
And don't forget to enter my Random Raffle!! You could win an item of choice from my TPT store! I'm uploading new things often this summer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Classroom Decorating Series - Jungle

My second year of teaching 2nd grade, I decided to redo my theme. The Hollywood theme wasn't the match for me. So, I searched the teaching stores and decided on a jungle theme. I love animals, so this was more than fitting!

Take a look at the room:

I tried to make the cabinets look by inviting by surrounding them with border and cute animals. Notice the pieces of my stuffed animals collection at the top!

At the end of my first year of teaching, I had the students decorate monkeys and write their favorite thing about the year on them. I proudly hung these up for Meet the Teacher night.

This was our calendar area. It turns out we didn't use it as much as I thought we would because most of our calendar activities were done on the Smart Board, which wasn't near the white board. You will also see my colored drawers below. I went from desks to tables, but I continued to use the drawers for organizing group supplies. Still worked great!
You can see the back bulletin board with animal print border and my job tree in this picture. The student jobs were displayed with monkeys. You can also see my map to the writing process on the wall. I loved this piece when I found it even though it didn't fit the décor!

I found this rug during the summer and fell in love with it. Unfortunately, it didn't hold up against the sweepers used by our custodians. :(  You can also see the benches my dad made up front! This was my first year using them.

This was the other side of the board - the monkeys were intended to be a behavior management system but I ended up having to adjust the system throughout the year.

This was my reading center and the rest of my lovely benches! I absolutely loved the set up - very cozy. I did away with this set up by the end of the year for various reasons, but I think I'm going to use a similar set up this year. I believe it'll work well in the new classroom.

Here you can see the teacher area. It seems each year, I decrease the amount of space in the classroom that is "mine." This year is no exception - I've already started trying to work out my classroom layout and I can tell you that I've downsized my desk space once again.

Here is a whole classroom shot of it. You'll see I got the tables I asked for. I love them so much more than the desks I had the first year!
And what have I been working on for the new room?

Black Dot Labels for my book bins
 Off to get busy on the to do list again!! We started getting our "back to school" emails today. Therefore, I'm back into planning mode once again!
Don't forget to check out my Random Raffle and enter to win something!