Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting My Craft On

As I was creating my stuff to link up with 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made-It this week, crafting for the classroom became quite the family affair.  Our two boys arrived back from being out of town for a few weeks (spending quality time with my in-laws).  When my 13 year old son saw what I was working on, he quickly decided he needed a piece of the action.  Later, my husband decided he needed to get in on the action too. Add my visiting friend, Amanda, to the mix and you can only imagine the crafting extravaganza we had!

A few months ago, in an issue of Instructor Magazine, I was inspired by a free printable for reader's theater props.  I knew I needed them, instantly, but I needed to make the time to actually do it.  I downloaded the printable, laminated the amazing props, cut them out, and attached skewers to them with hot glue.  I hope my kiddos enjoy them as much as my family does.
Then, I took the plunge and made one of the crayon melting projects that are all over the blogs and Pinterest.  My personal touch was the vinyl decal.  I wanted writing of some sort at the bottom, but wasn't sure what.  Then, I remembered I had some vinyl decals with inspirational words on them.  I attached it, and Voila!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Teachery Things I Can't Live Without

As the summer winds down, my kids are out of town, and I have no access to school yet, I have been having a good time checking out a ton of blogs.  They are giving me a plethora o' ideas to help start the school year off right.  Now, if I can just remember whose blog I saw what on.

Speaking of blogs, the other day my real-life friend, Jaime, over at Bloom, stumbled across a fun Linky-Party being hosted by Teacher Idea Factory and suggested I join.  When I realized it was a list of my top 5 must haves for school, I was all over it!

There are no two ways about it, my number 1 is my number 1, but the rest of my must haves are in no specific order.  I wonder if any of you out there can relate....

1. My super amazing, incredibly handy husband.

I have found that many husbands act like a classroom is their wife's domain and it is not to be messed with.  They have no interest in coming within yards of the school, nonetheless into the classroom.  I am learning that my husband is a hot commodity in the world of teaching.  He builds things for me, he hangs things for me, he schleps to school to barbeque for my class, he even (bless his heart) brought a power washer to school one Saturday to help me clean up some grease I had spilled on a concrete pad.  Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect and he sometimes goes to school kicking and screaming, but he still goes.  I am grateful everyday to have a husband who is willing to help me out on this wild ride.

2. The Internet
O.K., I guess I lied earlier when I said my list was not in any special order.  My husband is still number 1, but the internet is a super close number 2.  I don't even want to begin trying to guess how many hours I spend online each night looking at blogs or shopping TPT/TN, as I figure out what on Earth I am going to be teaching my kiddos in the near future.  I also can't imagine being a teacher back before the internet and teacher blogs.  I knew there was a reason I had my kids first and a career later.

3. Vinyl wall decals

Last year, as I was getting ready to set up my room I came across some super cute vinyl wall decals.  I had no idea how they would work in my room or if they would actually stick to the walls.  They worked like a charm and have held up better than I could have asked.  I love how customized and inviting they make my room look.  The kids really enjoy the little extra something they add too.

4. Target/Michaels/Amazon

Need I say more????  Living in Alaska we do not have a Lake Shore, Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree, etc., so we have to take what we can get.  I LOVE these three stores.
5. Mod Podge

Oh, my word, Mod Podge has changed my life.  I can't begin to list the countless items I have made for my classroom thanks to the power of Mod Podge. It seems like whenever I have a question about how to adhere something, the answer always seems to be Mod Podge.

What items do you swear by in your classroom?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Day Jitters

I am linking up with a fun blog hop that Fierce in Fourth is hosting.  This particular hop spoke to me, as this will only be my second year teaching.  The three things I am most jittery about are:

1. Classroom Management- Not only was last year my first year teaching, but I just had a tough class.  Before the year started I knew I needed to have my management act together and....I thought I did.  Little did I know, I had no idea what I was really in for.  I am still working on exactly how things are going to run in my classroom.  I think it is going to be a blend of CHAMPS and WBT.  Wish me luck!

2. Finding the balance between work and home is stressing my out quite a bit.  My career and family are two things that I want to be REALLY great at, which takes work on both fronts.  Luckily, I have been married for a number of years and my boys are getting older, but I still need to find that balance between being a mom, a wife, and a teacher.

3.  It sounds a little silly, but I am also a little jittery about our daily schedule.  Last year, we didn't find out our schedule for Specials, lunch, etc., until the day before school started.  It made it a little difficult to plan.  Then, I had several days with pull-outs first thing, followed by lunch at 10:50 (yes, 3rd graders with lunch at 10:50 makes for a long afternoon).  A schedule like that made it hard to plan a balanced day.  As I sit and type this, I can have a ton of grand ideas about my day, what I want to do and how I want to do it, but ultimately a lot of that is in the hands of my principal.

I must say though, that even with all of my jitters freshly off my chest and out in the open, I'm still super excited about the upcoming school year.  Now, if I could just get my keys back so I can really start getting my act together.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starbucks and Donors Choose

I have known about Donors Choose for quite some time, and have thought the premise is fantastic.  After all, I am a teacher, right?  Prior to this summer, I had dreamt of all the projects I should submit. Unfortunately, whenever I contemplated taking action, I was daunted by the process of registering, posting, and actually figuring out exactly what I thought my kids would put to the best use.  

Fast forward to this summer, when I finally decided to submit a project.  While stalking blogs, as I often do, I saw this picture posted over at A Modern Teacher.  After the year I had last year, I knew I needed some of the Sit-or-Go Balls in my own classroom!  I jumped online, wrote up my project, put it online in early June, announced it to all my Facebook friends and let some family know about it as well.  As I anticipated, nothing happened (and that was o.k.).  There wasn't a single donation to the project, but I knew from watching the site that my circumstance wasn't unique, things do often get funded a bit later in the game.  I just needed to be patient (which is something I am not so good at).  

Well, to my astonishment, in early July I received notification from Donors Choose that a donation had been made!  Then, I received another notification informing me that my project ($450+) had been fully funded.  I immediately looked to see who had funded my entire project and was even more shocked to find out that it was none other than the Starbucks Foundation.  I don't know why or how they picked my project to fund, but I am ECSTATIC and grateful!!!!  I can't even wait to get the balls and to begin using them in the classroom.

This is my inaugural public post in the realm of teacher bloggy land. I have been stalking blogs for some time and decided to go for a big launch by linking up with 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made It. I hope I've done everything right and things go off without a hitch (I should be so lucky). If you feel compelled to follow my blog I'd love for you to do so.

After seeing so many super cute mustache things everywhere lately, and seeing how crazy kids of all ages seem to be about them, I was compelled to make it my classroom theme this year. The trick has been figuring out just how to incorporate mustaches in a way that is appropriate and that the kids will also embrace. I think I've figured out some fun ideas.

The first thing I made was inspired by a pin I came across. I am going to hang one of these over each of my table groups. Ultimately, I'll adhere a number to the center of the bottom circle of each mobile, to indicate which table group is which.

The other thing I made was this fun picture. The print was a free download I found on TPT. I printed it at home, bought a $5 canvas at Michaels, and the rest is history. I have to come clean though, this was my third attempt, as I tried Mod Podging over the print on the first one (it smeared and wrinkled), I then used an acrylic seal on the second one (same thing happened). Finally, after racking my brain for another option, I remembered someone using contact paper on the clipboards they made for a previous Monday Made It. I tried it on my canvas project and it worked like a charm!

Dare I admit that I am almost a little excited to get into my classroom, so I can hang these fun creations?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Identity Revealed

I admit it, I have been a stalker of teacher blogs for over a year now. That's right, I have quietly sat in the comfort of my home (often times in my pajamas) or classroom, frequenting many of your TPT and TN stores, re-pinning your Pinterest pins, figuring out what creative idea I could borrow for the next day's lessons, and printing more freebies than I can count. I used to feel guilty, but then I realized it wasn't such a dirty little secret. In the name of full disclosure, through my purchases over the past school year, I have probably helped fund more adoptions, missionary trips, weddings, and college tuition payments than I care to know about (o.k., I'm probably exaggerating, but you get the picture). The point is (I know you might find this shocking, NOT) as a first year teacher, in a Title I school, I was often struggling to keep my head above water most days. As a matter of fact, it was all of you in teacher bloggy land who unwittingly carried me through my first year. For that, I am more grateful than you know.

As I prepare for my second year in the classroom, I have continued to stalk your blogs, and I have continued to be indebted to you all for your willingness to share. Although I have contemplated starting my own blog a million times over, the more I stalk, the less worthy I have felt to actually take the step. After all, I borrow and purchase your ideas, I don't create my own cute and fun stuff. Then, something occurred to me as I was spending this past Monday morning obsessing over all of the super cute Monday Made It ideas over at 4th Grade Frolics...I really am not so unlike many of you. I see an idea, make it my own, and run with it. It dawned on me that although the ideas aren't necessarily originally mine, I do create original stuff for my classroom that I should in fact be sharing. I guess I had assumed that because I follow so many different blogs that everybody else in bloggy land sees all the same stuff I do. Then, I considered the hours, the days, the weeks...that I have spent perusing blogs, trying to find just the right lesson ideas, and realized I was wrong. There would be value to others in sharing what I do in my little classroom too! You have no idea how exciting that epiphany was for me. Finally, there was purpose to starting my very own teaching blog!

My goal with this new venture is to share with all of you how your original ideas come to fruition in my classroom, some of the ways I have made ideas my own, and to just have an outlet to share all the wackiness that comes with being a new teacher. Let me tell you, last year, each day seemed to hold something new and exciting. I could tell you stories that I wouldn't believe if I didn't live them.