One Wall At A Time ...

30 August 2011
Today I went back to my classroom for the first time this summer.  I leave it so long because my room is always the last classroom to get cleaned in the school ... and as it turns out, it still wasn't cleaned.  Only the floors had been done.  I had my youngest with me, so my time was limited.  (She had a great time gluing, yes gluing, scraps to my desk, though - guess what I'm scraping off tomorrow).  So, discouraged and distracted, I decided to tackle my smallest wall today.  It took me a while to dust and clean all my shelves, and replace books which for some reason were not in the same spots I left them ... and then I got to work.

This is the before picture ...

And this is after ...

I know - it doesn't look like a lot has changed ... but having one little wall done has made me feel much better (and I managed to clear out some of the clutter from my dining room).  I LOVE my new bulletin board colours - so happy I made the switch from orange.  I like my stools in front of my library, and the READ letters on top of my bookshelf.  I actually glue gunned the letters to the top so they won't get knocked off.  And I'm very excited about my new Character Rocks bulletin board.  I have a bucket of character rocks (click here to read a previous post about them), my basket of character ROCKS cards, and an empty bucket to be filled.  I wish the buckets were a little smaller, but that's all I could find at the Dollar Store at the time.  I am on the lookout for smaller ones, though.  I got the poster in the middle from TeachFactory - you can download her classroom posters from Flickr.  She has some AMAZING talent!  I ended up with too much blank space on my board after I had put everything up, so I glue gunned some of my character rocks to the board.  (In case you're wondering, I've decided that "glue gun" can be a verb - just like "google").

That's about it for today - on my way home I made a stop at the hardware store for some paint and more baskets.  Tomorrow I'm tackling my math cabinet and bulletin board.  Stay tuned ...


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 7

29 August 2011
Well, it's my last craft day for the week, and I have to admit - I'm going to miss it.  But I do need my evenings back to get everything ready before school starts next Tuesday.  And it will be nice to get my dining room back - my crafts and school supplies have taken over!  I'm taking a trip out to my school tomorrow to drop everything off.  I also plan to get some "before" pictures of my class at that time.

So, let's get to it.  I love the tissue paper pompoms that are hanging from the ceilings in the classrooms I've seen.  I pinned this from Keen on Kindergarten.  Her room is soooooo cute!  It's one of those rooms that makes me wish I taught kindergarten ... for a moment or two, at least.

I found instructions on how to make them from good ole Martha Stewart.  Click here to see them.  The article said to use 8 sheets of tissue paper, but I read in the comments that you should use more to make them fuller.  I used 15 sheets of 20 x 26 tissue paper for each one.  I wanted to make 5, but it turned out I only had enough paper for 3.  I hung them from the ribbon I had left over from my crayon wreath.  Another quick, cheap, and easy craft.  They'll look great hanging from the wooden beam that runs across my classroom.  So great I'll probably have to run out for more tissue paper ... I guess I'm not done with the crafting, after all.  Actually, they look pretty great hanging from my pergola on the deck - I must remember to make these for my next summer backyard party.

My latest "dress-down Friday" T-shirts arrived today from Cafe Press.  I love them!  I use the "Let's Eat Grandma" as part of a comma lesson every year.  The students LOVE this!  "You wish you could hit like a girl" will be my new coaching shirt - I coach the girls' volleyball team.  And "The dog ate my lesson plan" is just plain old funny!


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 6

28 August 2011
So I'm a day late in posting this.  I got sidetracked back-to-school shopping with my kidlets yesterday.  I didn't even get a chance to work on my latest craft until last night.

This was my pinspiration.  It was posted on a forum from Two Peas in a Bucket.  I've seen the crayon monograms floating around the blog world, and I thought this was a neat take on it.  I've already made the crayon wreath and the melted crayon art, so this was a nice change.

This craft was very inexpensive to make.  I got 10 pks of pencils from Staples for 25 cents each.  I used about 25 pencils for this craft.  I bought the picture frame (shadow box frame) from the Dollar Store.  I glued some scrapbook paper to the back of the frame.  Then I printed out a template of the letter R on the computer.  I used this template to measure where I needed to cut the pencils.  I cut the pencils with a scroll saw (see - I told you before - I like using power tools).  When everything was cut, I glue gunned the pencils on.  I did almost fry my pencil sharpener (which would have made this an expensive craft), but it started working again after I gave it a rest.  I think this will look great on the top of my filing cabinet.


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 5

26 August 2011
Thank-you to everyone who has left comments this week - your comments totally brighten my day!
OK - day 5 ... here goes ...

Here is my pinspiration for today's craft.  Isn't it absolutely beautiful?!?  There's just something so timeless about it ... LOVE IT!  This is from Cheeky Magpie - and complete detailed instructions are given on the site.  They're written much better than I would've written them, so I won't even try.

Today's craft required absolutely no special materials - and cost me nothing to make!  YAY!  It did however, take some time to complete ... namely cutting all the pages, and then waiting for everything to dry.  I actually left it out to dry overnight, then finished it this morning.  The only things I did differently from the instructions given on Cheeky Magpie were that I used diluted red food colouring for the pages, and I used a glue gun for any gluing.  It actually turned out a lot better than I thought it would.  I was getting worried when I was cutting the pages, because my exacto knife wasn't that sharp, and it was starting to look a little rough.  It turned out pretty well in the end, though.  I'm going to put it on my side table in my reading nook in the classroom.  I know it doesn't fit my turquoise theme, but a turquoise apple would just be ...wrong.

I have another confession today ... (these crafts are good cleansing for the soul).  When I was looking through my bookshelves for a book that wouldn't break my heart to cut up, I found an old copy of Who Has Seen The Wind.  (I'm sorry if anyone is a fan out there, but I just couldn't get through this one.)  When I opened it up to cut off the cover, I noticed that it still had my highschool stamp and name sticker.  I must have committed the crime that drives me so crazy in my classroom now.  I "stole" the book.  So, to my grade 9 English teacher, I'm sorry I kept the book.  I don't know why I kept the book.  But I'm glad I kept the book ... I like it MUCH BETTER now!  ;)


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 4

25 August 2011
I'm having so much fun this week!  My nights are a little busier, and my wallet is a little lighter, but it's totally worth it!

This was my pinspiration for today's craft.  This picture came from A Girl and A Glue Gun - a great blog full of crafty ideas.  I've seen a lot of decorated clipboards out there, but I really liked these.

This was a really cheap and easy to make craft.  I already had the scrapbook paper and mod podge, so I only needed the clipboards - which I found at the Dollar Store.  The most difficult thing about these clipboards was getting the paper to fit around the clip at the top.  I made a template with a blank piece of paper, then used that template to trace all the other tops.  I finished the boards with three coats of mod podge ... I might add a few more coats ... I've been known to knock my coffee over on my desk on more than one occasion.  I do have a tip - I used wood clamps to hold the clip open to apply the mod podge and let it dry.  It worked like a charm!
My youngest thought it would be funny to "pop" up from behind the chair just as I was taking the picture.  Too funny!

I made 4 boards for myself.  One for Language Arts (I use a clipboard when I'm conferencing with my students, completing running records, keeping track of DRA testing, etc.).  One for Phys Ed - I always bring a clipboard to the gym with me (makes for quick and easy assessment and observation), and I need one for coaching (volleyball season is just around the corner).  One for homework (I keep a board to keep track of completed homework, and assignments coming in).  And one extra - for whatever I want.  Voila!  LOVE them!  I wanted to keep the turquoise theme going, but I wanted them to be bright and colourful, too.  Mission accomplished!

Time for a confession - I'm one of those teachers with the "piles" on the desk.  OK - who am I kidding ... piles on the desk, on the counter, on the bookshelf ... you get the picture.  As a result, my clipboards sometimes get buried somewhere in the piles.  Enter great idea ... I glue gunned magnets to the back of the boards (took a few more than I thought it would, but I had lots left over from my magnetic pebbles).  The wall beside my desk is metal, so I can just stick these little babies up on the wall, and keep them away from the growing piles.

And the best part ... this morning when my girls woke up excited to see what craft I had finished last night, I surprised them with clipboards of their very own.  Which makes me THE BEST MOMMY EVER!!!

Happy Thursday!


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 3

24 August 2011

I've been wanting to make these crate stools for 6 weeks - that's when I first pinned this one from What the Teacher Wants.  She has fabulous (and entertaining) how-to instructions for making these crates.

I put off making them for a bit because I didn't think I'd have anywhere to put them in the classroom.  My classroom is very small and I don't even have a guided reading table.  (I do however, have the lunch room just outside my classroom which is full of tables and chairs I take advantage of ALL the time!).  And then I had a brainstorm ... or at least excuse to make them.  My students LOVE my classroom library, but I know they don't LOVE sitting on the floor while looking through the book choices.  I thought I could make the crate stools and keep them in front of the bookshelves.  And I can definitely use the extra storage - I can see them full of recycled newspapers, old magazines, sports equipment ...

I got the crates from Staples, and the fabric and foam from Walmart - I already had everything else, including piles of wood in my basement.  I've had the supplies for over a week ... but it's taken a week of nagging
asking nagging my husband to cut the wood.  (Ironic thing is, I can do all this myself - I'm actually quite proficient with power tools.  What kept me from it is the possibility of bugs hiding behind or under the wood stacked in the corner of the basement ... blecchhh!)

Anyhow, long story short ... they're done and they're FABULOUS!  The colours fit my new theme PERFECTLY ... Yay!


A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 2

23 August 2011
I must admit, I'm having fun with this.  And I love showing my girls my new creation when they wake up in the morning.

OK - on to day 2.  I had pinned these FANTASTIC letters made by Jaime at What's The Buzz in 1st?  You can see all of them at her Etsy store by clicking here.  They are sooooo cute it makes me wish I had a ladybug theme in my classroom (but I'm not sure my grade 6 boys would go for that).

And then, two days later, my sister came out to the cottage with THIS - a birthday present her kids had made for Popa.  I knew fate was telling me I JUST HAD to make these letters ... so off to Walmart I went for some 8" letters, scrapbook paper, ribbon, and mod podge.

I wanted to keep my letters in the same colour scheme I am planning for my classroom, so I was happy (happy dance happy) when I found scrapbook paper in the perfect colour range.  (I actually bought a HUGE package of scrapbook paper so I can bring it into the classroom - the last time I needed special paper I couldn't find any in the ENTIRE school).  I glued the scrapbook paper onto the letters with mod podge and then used a glue gun to attach the small ribbon around the edges (this step was a HUGE pain - literally - I burnt my fingers three times) - but I LOVE the effect ... and I would do it again.  I put two more coats of mod podge on the top when I was done.  Voila!  I can't wait to set these on top of our classroom library!  I took the picture with my letters on my bulletin board paper - I'm so happy with how well they turned out!

What are your pinterest inspirations?

A Week of Pinterest-Inspired Crafts: Day 1

22 August 2011
Well, the countdown is officially on.  Two more weeks until I'm back to school.  I think I'm ready curriculum wise ... I've got my first week plans, I have a good idea of my long-range plans, I have my class list for groupings and seating plans ... check, check, check.

What I'm not completely ready with is my classroom decor.  Completely inspired by all your beautiful classroom pictures I've seen posted lately, I decided that this was one area I could definitely work on.  I've got a good start - I know my colours, my bulletin board paper, borders, and letters have all been delivered, I received my first Vista print order ... but I still needed that extra something to "raise the bar".

While I was fishing with the family yesterday, I had a brainstorm - I'd do a post each day this week on a pinterest-inspired craft I had completed.  It's win-win ... it will force me to complete some of those ridiculously cute crafts I've pinned, and it will give me something to blog about this week.  (I'm running out of ideas ... my camera and I have to get back to school).  So, after we returned home from our fun fishing trip (my middle daughter is the only one who caught a fish ... make that two fish), I took a quick trip to Walmart for some more supplies.

Day 1

I had pinned this melted crayon art that I had seen floating around the blog world.  This print is from Etsy, but I got the idea and the instructions from The Techy Teacher.

I bought a 16 x 20 canvas and a box of 96 crayons (I took out the white, black, grey, and all the browns).  Glue gun your crayons to the top of the canvas.  I left all the crayon names facing out (I LOVE some of the crayon names ... seriously, they just make me happy).  Then, I set to work with the hair dryer.  I kept the dryer on low, and aimed it at the middle of each crayon (so the melted wax wouldn't splatter as much).  I have to admit, it did take a while to get the effect I was looking for ... probably about an hour - but I AM LOVING the end result!  This will look great sitting on the top of one of my bookshelves in the classroom.  Voila!

Are there any pinterest-inspired crafts you've just got to try?  I'd love it if you left a comment (and even a link!).

Supplies for this craft (affiliate links):


My Vistaprint Order Came In!!!

18 August 2011
So, I'm wondering if it means I've been doing too much online shopping if my daughter takes one look at the delivery truck and says, "Mom, the lady with the boxes is here again."  Oh well, bad thing or not, I'm so excited my Vistaprint order came in!  Yay!!!

This is most of my loot.  I also got an extremely large banner that I couldn't take a picture of yet.  You'll see it when I finally post my classroom pictures.  The brown banner (check out our work ...) will hang outside my classroom over two bulletin boards where I post student work.

I LOVE this poster from Teachfactory.  The students will probably think it's a message for them, but really it will be a reminder to me ... there is enough time to do it all.  The Reading Goals postcards (sorry about the glare) will be for students to record their reading goals and keep in their portfolios.  I have just enough for them to complete one at the beginning of each term.

Here I have my Learning Goals bumper sticker - I'll place it at the top of the board where I have my learning goals chart.  I also got thank-you notes, a sticky pad, a pen, and my Character ROCKS! cards.  I can't wait to get my character bulletin board started and set up all my character ROCKS goodies underneath it.

Last but not least, there is my magnetic notepad, 25 magnets (to give out with my Student of the Month certificates), my Welcome to our Classroom door magnet, and my calendar.  I know I mentioned before how in love I am with this calendar.  I made it with posters from Teachfactory.  I want to use these posters with inspirational quotes for writing prompts this year.  OHHHHH - when I was looking up the link for the posters, I just saw she has a Bucket Filling poster, too.  This will look great on my Character ROCKS! bulletin board.  See it here.

So, that's about it.  I'm still waiting for my husband to cut the wood for my crate stools ... maybe if I nag enough tonight he'll get started on it.  It's a good thing I can use these crates for storage - I'm going to need it to haul all my goodies back to school!!!

Happy Thursday!

The Beginnings of my Classroom Remodel

16 August 2011
It's starting to come together.  My bulletin board paper, borders, and letters were delivered today.  I also found some great little baskets to match the colour theme at my local Dollar Store!  I've got to get in to my school soon - my dining room is starting to overflow!
All my bulletin boards had been orange before, so this alone will make a big change.

Funny story - last night I was out shopping for my current pinterest-inspired projects.  So I'm walking through Staples, and who should I see ... my sister - another blogger (Meet the Dubiens) and fellow pinterest-addict.  She was also shopping for some pinterest-inspired projects.  I guess we're two peas in a pod ... or two nuts in a shell ;).  Anyhow, she took one look at the supplies in my hand, and knew exactly what I was making.  So here it is - last night's pinterest-inspired project - I had originally pinned Sydney's at Lessons Learned.  I think it will look great on my door - I haven't decided if I want to add my name, yet.  What do you think?

But that's not all - I got the supplies for another pinterest-inspired project ... I'll bet you can guess what it will be!

That's right - I'm making three of those super-cute stools for my classroom.  I think they'll go great in front of my bookshelves - I know my students don't like sitting on the floor while they are looking for books, so I think they'll really like these.  I'm so excited about them I would've got started last night after I finished the wreath, but it was already a late night because it was my middle daughter's last soccer game.  What a GREAT first season for her!!!  So proud of you, Katie!!!


And Now For Some GOOD News ...

10 August 2011
The other day, a friend of mine posted a link about the importance of sharing good news stories.  The link reported the results of a study that confirmed people were inspired to do good when they read media stories about Good Samaritans' selfless acts.  You can read about the article here:

Inspired by this, I set out to find "good news" sites on the internet that I could share with my students:
Happy News:
Good News Stories (might be better suited for older students):
UpBeat News Stories:
Optimist World:

I do current events activities with my students all the time.  This year I am going to focus on positive current events - sharing some GOOD news.  This could be done in many ways:

  • One student per day could research and then present a good news story.  
  • Good news stories could be used for guided reading groups - identifying the main idea and moral of the article, and practicing oral fluency.
  • Good news articles could be used while studying the features of a news article.
  • Good news articles could be used to practice summary writing.
  • Good news articles could be used for shared reading activities.
  • A good news story could be shared over the projector or overhead for students to read as they come into the class.
  • Good news stories could also be posted over the projector or overhead during lunch or indoor recesses - students will read it.
  • Students could write their own good news stories about events going on in their school or community.

I have created a printable to go along with this idea, and uploaded it to google docs.  You may print your own copy by clicking here or on the picture.


Pinterest Inspired Pebbles

06 August 2011

OK - so I'm still plugging away at my plethora of pebbles.  Today we had a full-blown craft day dedicated to our beach treasures.  To be completely honest, I think I was more excited than my kids - I had seen this fabulous rock alphabet on Pinterest, and wanted to recreate it with my own pebbles.  This one was done by In The Moment - and I love it!

Today I got to make my own version.  After I finished painting the letters on the rocks (my oldest daughter told me it looked like a professional painted them!!!!), I painstakingly painted those tiny little polka dots around the rock with a tooth pick.  It took a bit of work, but it made a big difference, so it was worth it.  Thank goodness there was a Dora marathon on TV today that kept my three-year old entertained in between painting her pebbles - otherwise I would've never been able to finish my craft.  When the rocks were all painted (I just used regular acrylic paint) I gave them a spritz of spray laquer, and glue gunned magnets to the back of all the pebbles (I'll leave a link below to the magnets I used for this).  I arranged them all on a cookie sheet, added a bow, and Voila!!!  I'm soooooo proud of it!  I think it would make a GREAT teacher gift ... and my middle daughter has already asked me to make one for her new kindergarten teacher.  But this one is ALL mine ... I've never been very good at sharing ...

(affiliate link)


Calendar Days ...

04 August 2011
I am sooooo excited!  I grouped two of my newest obsessions together last night - and I'm so very pleased with the results.  Pinterest is one of my newest obsessions (like everyone else in the blogging world).  A while back I pinned these FANTASTIC inspirational posters I found by TeachFactory.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them at the time, but I knew I'd have to do something.  This poster is one of my favourites:
You can see all of her posters on Flickr here.  I also follow TeachFactory on facebook - take a peek here.

So last night, I was ordering some MORE FREE products from my very newest obsession, Vistaprint, and I had a GREAT idea.  I downloaded 12 of my favourite posters from TeachFactory's poster collection (it is allowed - I checked), and used them to create a calendar from Vistaprint.  GENIUS!  (If I do say so myself.)  I am absolutely in love with this calendar ... so much so I already know I'll have to get another one next year.

I can't wait to hang this by my desk in my classroom.  At the beginning of each month I can show the new picture over the ELMO, and we can discuss what the message means to each one of us.  I think the inspirational quotes will make GREAT writing prompts, too.  YAY!

I can't wait for this calendar to be shipped to me - I've ordered a whole bunch of absolutely FREE goodies from Vistaprint that I'll share with you when I get them ... 20 days from now.  Let the waiting game begin ...

Happy Thursday!

Character ROCKS!

03 August 2011
One of my readers gave me the best idea of what to do with my "plethora of pebbles".  She suggested I make character rocks - get it ... Character ROCKS!  LOVE the idea!!!  I'm going to tie it into our character education program, and our bucket filling.  I'm so excited about this idea.  Last night I made my first Vistaprint order - I ordered business cards with the saying "Character ROCKS" at the top.  Underneath it says, "______________(name) demonstrated _______________(character trait) because ...

I spent the afternoon writing our character traits onto the rocks with a sharpie.  The students will choose an appropriate rock from the bucket, fill out the card, and glue the rock to the corner of the card.  I will have another bucket beside the rock bucket, and they will fill this bucket with the completed "Character ROCKS" cards.  I will hand out the completed cards at the end of the week, or month ... or as the bucket fills up.  The two buckets and box of cards will be set up on a shelf underneath my character education bulletin board.  I'll post pictures when I get it all set up ... but since I have 5 more weeks of summer, I'm not in a hurry to get back into the classroom.  ;)

(Edit) - This is what my finished set-up looks like - LOVE it!  The rocks are in bucket to the left.  When a student nominates another student for a "character rock", they fill out the card (in the basket in the middle), glue the rock with a fitting character trait to the basket (they can use the glue gun by themselves, or ask me for help) and drop the finished rock and card into the bucket to the right (bucket-filling).  :)  At the end of the week I go through the bucket and hand out the rocks.  And that way I have time throughout the week to monitor who is getting nominated for stones, and if there is a student who hasn't received one in a bit, I can drop one in the bucket).  

If you're interested in trying this system yourself, I have a post HERE with a link to everything I have included on the bulletin board.  

Thanks for a great idea, Barbara - your helpfulness filled my bucket!


Plethora of Pretty Pebbles

01 August 2011
This weekend we spent some time at one of our favourite places in the whole wide world - a place we have affectionately nicknamed Pebble Beach.  We had a picnic lunch, played in the waves, and had some fun on the beach.  All in all - a GREAT time was had by all.

My girls LOVE this couch shaped rock.  The waves spash over the top of the rock, and their squeals of delight can be heard for miles ... it's a good thing this special place is one of our little secrets.

Of course, being "pebble beach" we come home with lots of treasures.  The girls have a blast picking out beautiful stones and this time we brought home three large buckets.

So ... any ideas on what I should do with all these "treasures"?  I plan on taking the smaller ones and gluing them to a picture frame (with a picture from our day), and we're going to make some inukshuks, but what else?  Do you have any good craft or school ideas?