Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY bulletin boards, 99 and 100

This is my second week linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for a Monday Made It! This is something way out of the ordinary, or even very artsy or DIY. However, I am very happy with the end result. My new classroom has TONS more wall space than my first grade classroom. And they are all staple friendly! I wanted to take advantage of it all, but wanted to have designated spaces (like bulletin boards) instead of just throwing a bunch of poster and anchor charts on the walls. I have had three big empty walls that I wanted to create bulletins boards for things like Writer’s Workshop Board, Math Wall, Data/Focus Wall, etc.

To start, I wanted to make sure my new do-it-yourself bulletin boards were perfect squares or rectangles. I hate when things on the walls are not straight. Crooked lines seem to stare at me all day until I fix them. So I used yarn and push pins to map out how big and where exactly they would go on the walls. I had to measure a bit and do a little bit of adjusting before they were perfect.

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Then I covered the insides of the big, yarn rectangles with colored butcher paper. I did three different colors that go with my color scheme. I didn’t worry about the edges being perfect because I bought some thick ribbon for the borders. I used the yarn as my outside edge when putting the ribbon up. This way everything would still measure up perfectly and be nice and straight.

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This was my first time using ribbon instead of the border from teacher stores. I was so happy with it. It was fast to put up. I only needed to cut 4 pieces for each board (instead of trying to line up those precut pieces with scalloped edges!) And I love the way they stand out when you come in the room.

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Here’s a sneak peak of my room. This was taken around 10:00 am…check out the storm we were in the middle of!

Before I go, I know this is late, but last Monday was the beginning of United Art and Education’s Teacher Appreciation Sale. Did anyone else wait in line to be one of the first 100 people to receive a mystery envelope? My husband and I got there 30 minutes early, and watched about 5 people cut in line (I wanted to yell “She cutted!”) We were pretty sure we had no chance, but somehow Clint was #99, and I was #100! We couldn’t believe it! AND we got the two top prizes- $10 and $20 gift certificates. I am never lucky, so this was pretty cool.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Classroom Library Series #3 (AND LAST!)

I can officially check another project off the list! And this one turned out even better than I expected. Mostly because everything was free, but I also love how it looks in the room. In my last post I gave a step-by-step of how I transformed an old box into a book tub. The only steps left were creating book labels and attaching the book tubs to the book shelves.

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The best part of it all was getting to use a power tool!! The book shelves are not very deep. They were from Blockbuster and made to hold dvds. Chapter books fit perfectly. But I REALLY want to use them for my picture books. So I decided to screw the boxes onto the shelves. They will still hang off the front a few inches, but they won’t go anywhere. And since I am using cardboard boxes, who cares about the holes? I might not have done this if I had invested money in the project.

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So now I have 24 book tubs that are securely stuck to my bookshelf. The kids can still browse through the books, but they cannot take the tub down. I didn’t see this as a problem since all of the shelves are low to the ground.

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After getting everything drilled in place, I added the book labels. Book labels were pretty time consuming. I luckily found some on TpT for free, but they didn’t have every label I needed. So I made 10 or so myself. I backed them with blue construction paper, laminated them, and used Velcro to attach them to the book tubs.

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I just love how uniform everything looks. So much better than my old mismatched tubs that were falling apart! I hope you have enjoyed my library makeover. I am almost ready to post my new classroom before and after pics!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Classroom Library Series #2

I have been in the blog world for over a month now, so I think it is finally time to join a linky! I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics to share my new DIY completely FREE book tubs for my new and improved classroom library.

In my last post, I shared my solution to my mismatched classroom library. Today I want to share how to use laminate butcher paper (the big rolls of paper that many elementary schools or art departments have) to wrap boxes. The reason I decided to try this is because it is absolutely FREE! I figured laminating the butcher paper would make it more durable. Butcher paper is gets wrinkly and tears easily. The lamination did keep the paper durable and clean-looking, however, it is harder to wrap the box because of how stiff and thick it becomes. So here are some pictures and captions to give you the step by step of wrapping a box using laminated butcher paper. You can DIY any box into a decorated storage container using this idea!

Here’s what I used: laminated butcher paper (measure and cut before laminating), cardboard box (fold and duct tape the top flaps down into the box), stapler, scissors.

First, the size of the butcher paper to wrap one of the Scholastic boxes (about shoebox size) should be at least 1 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. That was how big mine was and it fit pretty perfectly.

Center the box long end to long end. Make sure it is centered.

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Start with the short end flaps. Pull the paper as tight as you can, fold them up, and staple them to the inside short ends of the box.

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Then you will need to make 8 cuts. Cut into the inside top corners (4). This will relive the pull that might make it hard to keep staples in.

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Then cut into the bottom corners (4). This will create two large rectangle flaps.

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Now you will fold and staple the top four flaps. Fold them across the box, and secure by stapling on the inside of the box. You should have some paper in the corners that are kind of tricky to staple down. I used 3 or 4 staples for each flap. Repeat for all four flaps.

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You should only be left with the two large rectangle flaps. Pull this up and over the top edge of the box, and staple on the inside of the box. Repeat on the other side.

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And that’s all folks! If you pull everything tight enough you shouldn’t need any staples on the outside of the box. That’s what helps keep a nice, clean look.

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Next step will be adding colorful book labels! To be continued…

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Classroom Library Series #1, new RW mini lessons posted!

Happy Saturday everyone! It is gorgeous in Peru, Indiana today. A perfect day for my teacher buddy Caley to get hitched!

So I am really excited about my new classroom library! I spent a lot of time yesterday getting my boxes together for my new bookshelves from this post. I still have some more work today but I got step one done (which was hopefully the biggest step)! So here is what inspired me to update my classroom library this year:

The Problem:

This will be my fourth year teaching, and every year my library seems to double in size. And every year when I go back to school shopping I am guilty of buying about 5 new book tubs from Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Target. And every year I stuff them to the max and they break or get misshapen. This year I decided to stop that habit and come up with a new solution. Some of my tubs are still in good shape, but they are all different colors- mostly neons and bright colors. This year I am sticking to a different color scheme. One thing I decided on was to go with either all black or all white book tubs. I want all matching, simple, and clean. But my problem is that I am FRUGAL! Especially with my teaching stuff. If there is a tub at DG for $1 why spend $5 at Really Good Stuff? (because they will last longer, duh!)

The Solution:

Well, I am sticking to my frugal ways! An idea popped into my head one day when I received an order from Scholastic. The cardboard shipping box that my books came in was the same size as most of my book tubs. (Light bulb!) I asked my fellow teachers to save boxes for me the last few months of school, and I came up with 30 boxes! I currently have about 20 tubs, so this way I can spread the books out so they don’t ruin the box so quickly.

Another Problem:

How do I get these boxes completely black or white? I thought about covering them in contact paper (too expensive), wall paper (not strong enough), and then decided to try spray paint. I went ahead and decided on black, and after two boxes, I threw in the can. The can was already empty, the boxes were messy, my index finger was numb and black. I was not feeling it.

Another Solution:

I was frustrated that I had 30 28 boxes in my garage and no plan. Then my husband came up with the solution. At first I thought it would be too much work, but then what sold me was the fact that it would be completely F-R-E-E! His idea was to use the big rolls of butcher paper at school and laminate it. Then wrap it like a present. I was a little nervous that it would look a little sloppy, but after the first one that I tried I knew it would be perfect!

Tomorrow I will have pictures and a step by step of how to make these completely free book tubs! I love how they turned out, and know my room will look great with the uniform look. Stay tuned!

But before you go, I just posted my third packet of Back to School Reader’s Workshop Mini Lessons. If you haven’t seen my other two packets be sure to grab those as well in my TpT store! The third packet has 5 lessons on procedures, skills, and reading strategies.

Packet 3 RW pic

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RW Vocab Matching Center

One of my back to school goals is to get some fresh, new centers ready for my third graders. I have always enjoyed centers that you can leave out for many many weeks without the kids getting bored. Matching games are something that my kids have always enjoyed, and once you teach how to play the game, you can change out the skills and topics very easily.

When we go back to school, we all know you can’t just jump into centers. You have to teach procedures first with lots and lots of modeling. I always start teaching centers with easy activities or games that everyone can understand. That way they aren’t focusing as much on learning how to do the activity, but learning how to go to centers, how to work with others, how to clean up, how to rotate, and so on. This took my first graders a good month of practice before I gave them challenging activities. I am hoping my third graders will catch on a little faster, but I don’t see any reason to rush this at the beginning of the year.

On my to-do list is to come up with those easy, “everyone understands how to do it” activities that I can use while I teach through my center procedures. However, instead of using linking cubes, coloring, and puzzles (like I got away with in first grade) I would like to try some review skills and centers that they have guaranteed been exposed to before (matching games, memory, word searches, magnetic letters, etc...) That way we can start right away with learning centers to be task-oriented and not just “play time”.

My first back to school review center is focused on vocabulary that we use in Reader’s Workshop. At my district, we have only been using Reader’s Workshop for 2 years now. I went ahead and used it my first year because that was what I was comfortable with out of student teaching. So the majority of my new class will have had Reader’s Workshop vocabulary since first grade. I think the majority will recognize these words that I have put in the matching game, but will have to stop and think to remember their definition. It will probably take a few rounds of playing this game to fully recall all of the definitions and get 100%. Why not use this time to review? It’s better than taking up our precious time throughout the rest of the day!

Grab a copy of my new Reader’s Workshop Vocabulary Matching Center at my TpT store

RW vocab matching center pic


Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer To-Do List Update and an Award!

Before I share my progress from my previous post about my Summer Project To-Do List, I want to give a BIG THANKS to Patti at One Class, One Sound for sharing the Liebster Blog Award with me. This award was created to give recognition to blogs with 200 or less followers. I am a newbie to the blog world and definitely appreciate this! Thanks again Patti!


Here is what you do if you receive this award:

1. Copy and paste the award to your blog.

2. Thank the person who gave it to you, and link back to them.

3. Nominate 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.

So here are my nominees…

Teaching Third

Third Grade Grapevine

Psyched to be in 2nd

That’s So Second Grade

Forkin’ 4th

Make sure you check out these super cute blogs! I’m excited to find 5 new blogs to follow!

So I was checking the calendar a few days ago, and realized that I go back to school in less than a month. (!!!) So much to do- so little time. But half of me is so excited for the first day in my new school with my new class. A while back I posted a Summer To-Do List, and I want to check on my progress.

Classroom Projects

1. Crate Seats- DONE! See how they turned out here. I absolutely LOVE them!

2. New Book Boxes- making progress… I have my student book boxes ready, but I am still trying to DIY my classroom library boxes. I went ahead and used some magazine files that I hadn’t used yet for my student book boxes this year. They are colorful and brand new! Stay tuned for the others…

3. Teacher’s Tool Box- DONE See how that turned out here. It’s already set up in my classroom!

4. Move in to my new room- DONE! Still working on bulletin boards and organization, but all of my boxes are unloaded and furniture is all arranged! Pictures coming soon!

Total- 3/4 complete! Not bad!

House Projects

1. Clean/Organize Garage. DONE! As of 11:00 this morning! I definitely put that one off, but it is finally done and lookin’ good!

2. Finish building the deck- DONE!!!!! This one is so exciting. My father-in-law and husband put in so much time. My F-I-L gave up more than a week of his vacation time to build this for us. Check it out. We are so thrilled! Here is the Before and After!

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3. Paint living room and hallway- DONE! I got this done a few weeks ago. I really do not like painting. I think I am going to retire from it as of now. It looks great though, and now I can get some pictures on the walls!

4. Window Treatments- halfway there… Clint and I took a trip to IKEA on our anniversary and I found two sets of curtains that I have put up in the living room and master bedroom. But I am still looking for something cute for the kitchen and family room. Guess I need to do more shopping!!

Total- 3/4 complete!

Other Projects:

1. Teach Meatball to skateboard- Major FAIL! He is still afraid and wants nothing to do with it! I tried picking him up and putting him on it, and he just ran away. :(

2. Relax- Well, to my standard I would say yes. I have enjoyed quite a bit this summer. But summer’s not over, I will keep working on this one!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A few weeks ago, all of my boxes and furniture were moved from my old school to my new school. However, I had a weird situation with furniture. Since I am moving from first to third grade, I had to leave all of my classroom furniture (teacher desk, teacher chair, student computers, and most importantly my beloved kidney-shaped table). I inherited the classroom furniture of the third grade teacher who retired. And here’s the wah wah- no kidney-shaped table. I love using this shape for guided reading. It’s functional, it’s not too big, not too small, nobody fights for a spot because they are all the same, it’s NEEDED! (for me at least!) So after asking custodians and being shot down I thought of something: Donors Choose!

If you have never heard of Donors Choose it is an amazing program that finds donors to fund projects/supplies/books/etc. requested by teachers. It is free for teachers to sign up and submit a project. Many teachers post projects that need special materials like science experiments or lab kits that can be too expensive to buy ourselves. Other teachers have been able to get complete classroom libraries funded. I checked before I submitted a request for a table, and noticed that many others have had tables, chairs, computers, rugs, and other furniture completely funded. So I gave it a go! Here’s a quick and simple overview of how to post a project:

1. Sign up. Again, completely free. Just like signing up for other websites. Once you are a member you can create a project.

2. Creating a project requires spending “points”. You automatically get 3 points just for signing up! The number of points for each project depends on how expensive the items are that you are requesting. My table is a $300 project (they add a lot for shipping, processing, site fees, etc.) and it only cost me 1 point. So I could still post 2 more projects!

3. I won’t go into too much detail here because the website does a fantastic job of walking you through the project-creating process.  First they ask you a lot of questions to make sure you really are a teacher and that your school qualifies for the program. I am guessing some private schools may not be able to qualify, but if you are a public school teacher you shouldn’t have any problems.  Then they ask you to write a few blurbs about your school, students, the item(s) you are requesting, how it will be used, and why you need it. You will also upload a picture to attract donors to your project. This part took me awhile because I wanted to sound professional, but also say “HEY LOOK AT MY PROJECT!! DONATE TO ME!!” (Don’t worry I didn’t go all shouty capitals.) The last big part of the process is shopping. If you don’t want to spend a lot of “points” you should pick items from their catalog or suggested manufacturer websites. They have tons and tons of products. If you are requesting something that isn’t really unique or specific it should be in their inventory. I had many kidney-shaped tables to choose from. Read the directions or watch the tutorial they have for shopping before you try to figure this out on your own. Once you have your items picked out you are pretty much done. It will have to be approved which takes a few days, but after that, your project is out there for donors to see and donate money to if they so desire (fingers crossed!)

It is a little time consuming, but I hope it is all worth it. I’m already trying to think of something to spend my other two points on. Has anyone had a success story with Donors Choose? I hope I will soon! Here is a link to my project. If you are a donor, LOOK AT MY PROJECT! HELP ME GET A PRETTY KIDNEY-SHAPED TABLE!! Smile 

kidney table

P.S. While posting today I ate one of the best ice cream bars of my entire life. Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bars. HOLY MOLY! Go get them!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Get FREE Stuff!

I’m sure everyone has cashed in on numerous “teacher discounts” offered at tons and tons of stores and suppliers, but I have a new tip that you may not have thought of. On Friday, my hubs was at Kroger and heard from a fellow teacher that our Blockbuster was going out of business and GIVING AWAY bookshelves to teachers. I was thrilled because on our trip to IKEA, we couldn’t fit bookshelves for school in the car so we had to say no. I am in BIG need of book storage. So we made a quick trip to borrow a truck from my dad and got to Blockbuster just in time. The rumor was true- absolutely FREE to teachers! (and no assembly required!) Clint and I each got two for our classrooms, and we helped a friend get 3 for her classroom. It was crazy! I guess I am shocked about this because we tried the same thing when Borders was closing. They were getting rid of all their furniture. You had to get on a waiting list, and if you got called you still had to buy it! No deal there… I am sure every business has their own policy, but the manager at Blockbuster said she was going to have to put all of the furniture in storage. All it took was a teacher (thank you whoever you are) to ask if they would be able to give away the furniture.

Here they are: almost 5 feet tall and double sided! (I’m going to take that blue strip of paper out of the one on the left.)

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So if you haven’t thought about it already, when you notice a store closing in your area, be bold and ASK! What can it hurt? You could end up with FREE stuff! All it took was a little man power and time. Totally worth it! I can’t wait to show you how I am going to get my tubs of books on these things. They are a perfect depth for chapter books, but I need more picture book storage. Today while I was in my classroom unpacking (YAY!) I thought of an idea. I’m going to see if it works first though! To Be Continued…

Friday, July 6, 2012

“My Reader’s Notebook” Printable and Sale!

Wow- it’s been a busy week! I took a bit of time today to sit down and edit my Reader’s Notebook printables. I make my own Reader’s Notebooks instead of buying the premade ones that you can get from those classroom magazines or online. Actually I need to give credit to the amazing parent helper, Debbie, that I had this year. She made them and a whole set for a first year teacher in my grade level. She was the best! But anyway… I wanted to jazz them up a bit because they were lacking fun clip art and fonts. I want the kids to think, “Wow! I get to keep this?!” and not think of it as another writing assignment to do. First, let me tell you how I used Reader’s Notebooks in first grade, and how I plan to use them in third grade.

In first grade I used them as a literacy center. Students would go to the Reader’s Notebook center about once a week. They had to get their notebook from their book box along with one book they have read (important!) and take them to the center’s location. The table was ready with pencils, crayons, and erasers. They would follow the procedures that I modeled, modeled, modeled and would have about 15 minutes to complete one entry. They only had to write 3 sentences and have a picture to go along with it. They always had something to write about because the notebook has a page full of “Story Starters”. They learned to use these to help them come up with something to write about. We also used them occasionally during our Reader’s Workshop Mini Lessons or Independent Reading Time. They are great for recording connections or taking notes. Reader’s Notebooks also help me with informal observations. I conference with students about their entries, and also use them to show parents specific strengths and weaknesses in writing.

In third grade I am excited to use Reader’s Notebooks in a few different ways. I will still use them the same way for note-taking during mini lessons and independent reading time as well as conferencing and parent documentation. I will mostly be changing the procedures for their assignment. They will need to obviously write more than 3 sentences. And I would like to respond back to them after they write. I think it would be fun if they wrote me a letter telling me about their book, and then I write back. I think this would motivate them to complete the assignment. Am I in over my head?? I would definitely like to up the responsibility level this year. My first graders could pick any “story starter” at any time. Some used the same one over and over. I would like to make sure my third graders are trying different “story starters” each week, writing about both fiction and nonfiction books, and using proper grammar and spelling. I think I could still fit it in as a center, but the assignment could be graded this year.

So there’s my brainstorming session for the day. Stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store to pick up the “My Reader’s Notebook Printable Pack” today! Only $1!!!! Click below!

readers notebook pic cover


Oh- one more thing! Tomorrow I am off to my favorite place in the entire world- CEDAR POINT!!! I seriously feel like a kid again. I Google-imaged it the other night just to look at pictures of rollercoasters! We are going for OUR 2nd ANNIVERSARY!! My amazing hubby surprised me with the trip. So to spread the love I took 2 dollars off my Back to School Reader’s Workshop Mini Lessons. Get over to TpT and snatch it up! Click below!

lessons 6 to 10 readers workshop

Monday, July 2, 2012

How “Lovely” :)

Thank you Patti Wilson for the “One Lovely Blog Award”! I was so excited- this is my first opportunity to participate in one of these. You are too kind, and your blog- Mrs. Wilson’s 4th Graders On the Road to Success- is great! I’m happy to be your newest follower!

Once you receive the award, you have to pass it on to others! Here are the 3 rules to follow:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

Now I get to share the love… I am going to find 15 new blogs to follow that are geared toward grades 3-5. I am moving from first to third this year and most of the blogs I have followed in the past were K-2. I need more upper el ideas! Don’t forget to check these blogs out and explore their posts!

Teaching with {Moxie}3 Teacher Chicks 

It's Grow Time! Polish the Stars  Button   [The+Polka+Dotted+Teacher+logo.png]Grab our Button Grab the OTA Button! Alternative Name 

Technology TailgateBLOG TITLE Up Owl Night

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Teacher Tool Kit & Mini

After my “Pinspiration” to make a Teacher’s Tool Box, I am happy to say it was the easiest Pinterest project I have ever done. I have decided this year that I am going without a teacher desk-just my guided reading table.  I am moving into a new classroom that is smaller than my old room. I will also have a bigger class size. Less room=more organization! I thought the Teacher Tool Kit would be a perfect solution. I can put all the little stuff in the compartments and keep my table nice and tidy. Click the link to see the amazing blog I originally pinned this idea from.
And here is my step-by-step process of creating the oh-so-pretty Teacher Tool Kit:
1. Materials: I bought the Stack-On 22-Drawer Storage Cabinet. They sell these at places like Lowes, Home Depot, Menards… I got mine at K-Mart for $16. This was the only thing I had to buy for the project. Everything else I already had (scrapbook paper, tape) or downloaded online (labels). Rebecca at Create Teach Share was so generous to share her labels so I saved myself some time and just printed those. I also downloaded the font she used (Howser) from and made a few labels that I needed. I left a few drawers without a label. After I unpack my boxes I will organize my supplies and see what I need to store the most.

2. Cut labels and scrap paper to fit. It you print the labels from the link, they are on a grid that will be the perfect size. I cut my scrap paper using that grid, then taped the words on the scrap paper. Super easy!

3. Using double-sided tape, I taped the labels into the drawers. I wanted to tape them so that I could remove them if I want to change the design, or if I need to replace a label with a different supply name.
So that was all, just 3 easy steps! Since it was so easy and quick, I decided to make a mini version. One thing I was a little bummed about was the depth of the storage cabinet. If you want to store pencils or pens, you have to lay them at an angle. I already bought this three-drawer container from Big Lots for $4.99, and decided it would be perfect. The drawers are deep enough for long pencils/pens. I also found the cute pencil scrapbook paper when I was going through my old stash. Wouldn’t it be a cute teacher gift?
pencil storage
Quick side note… my boxes have finally been moved. to my new classroom. It’s kind of overwhelming to have a room full of boxes to unload, but I am so excited to get my room set up! Enjoy the rest of the weekend…oh wait, we are teachers. Every day’s a weekend! Smile