Monday, August 22, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Linky Party

I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Clutter Free Classroom, for a back to school linky party!
Clutter-Free Classroom
As teachers, we all LOVE back to school time - the start of a new year.  So what makes this one of my favorite times of the year?

  1. Setting up my classroom!  I love tweaking the room set-up, trying new arrangements, putting up new decorations, and almost every year thinking of (and implementing) a new theme!  This year my theme is pirates and I am excited to add some creative touches to my classroom.
  2. Trying new things.  Every year, I change things up in big and small ways.  This year I will be rocking a SMART board (big change!) and adding a clip chart to my classroom behavior plan (smaller change).  
  3. Decorating!  I guess this kind of goes along with setting up the classroom, but I love adding special touches around the room - like this Wordle sign with my kiddos' names on it for outside the door...

Wordle: Mrs. Plum's Class
and my converted spice rack/office supply holder...
     4.  New things!  New supplies (for the students and for myself), new clothes, new containers, new get the picture :)  I treated myself to some new markers this year - my favorite kind!
I also plan on treating myself to a little shopping spree with the profits from my upcoming yard sale.  Why should my son get all of the fun new things??
     5.  A fresh start.  I love meeting new students and their families.  This year I have several siblings of past students, which I just love.  It's so nice to have an established connection with the families.  This year will also be a fresh start for my own little sweet pea!  After 3 years of Montessori, he will be starting Young 5's at the school where I teach!  We are both excited :)
   Here he is rocking one of his new pairs of shoes!

So what makes you giddy and excited about a new school year?  Link up with Clutter Free Classroom and share!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Creations!

I have really enjoyed reading and seeing all of the Pinterest posts in my Linky Party!  There is still time to link up, click here to join the fun!
I have been getting my craft on today, inspired by projects I found on Pinterest.  I have seen these cute clipboards on several pins, so I decided to try my hand at making them.
Aren't they cute?
I have never used Mod Podge before, so making my clipboard was an adventure to say the least.  I am freakishly somewhat of a perfectionist, so the little wrinkles and bubbles in the paper I was adhering were driving me CRAZY!  Thankfully, after it dried it was much better.  Here is the finished product...
I really like it, but when I lifted the clip, a teeny, tiny piece of paper stuck to it and ripped, which will also probably drive me crazy.  My husband pointed out that if I have paper on the clipboard it won't even show, so I guess it will always have something on it :)
The other project I saw was to make a paper sorter using the flat rate boxes from the post office.  And of course, more of the Mod Podge.
This project didn't have directions or a finished photo, so I just had to wing it.  Owen and I picked up a few boxes today, and I put them together, leaving one end open.  I cut the extra box flaps off, and then hot glued them together rather than using duct tape (I didn't know how well the Mod Podge would adhere to that).  Then I chose some patterned and solid scrapbooking paper, and used the Mod Podge and a foam brush to adhere it to the box.  I tried a tip that I read online and waited about 10 minutes before putting the Mod Podge over the paper, which seemed to help the wrinkles.  To finish the shelves off (and to cover up the writing) I used a tape runner to stick black paper on the inside of the sorter.  It turned out really cute, and seems pretty sturdy.  I will probably use it to store reading group materials or unfinished work from each table group - I haven't decided yet.  Here is the finished sorter:
I could not get a good shot without getting glare from the Mod Podge.  
Another shot of the sorter (please ignore the clutter in the background :)
So there are two more projects to check off of my list!  I still have my behavior clip chart, name tags for desks, welcome signs, and a banner to make, along with a few pirate accents to jazz up my bulletin boards.  I have not been able to get into my classroom so far this week because they are waxing the floors in my hallway, but when I can get in, I will post pictures!  It is coming along - our open house is Tuesday the 30th, so it needs to be finished by then.  
One last friend Erin at Kleinspiration was nominated for Parent's Magazine "Best Mom Tech Blog."   What an honor!  She could use your help and your votes - click here to help her out!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party

To go along with my guest post on Kleinspiration about Pinterest, and to share my latest addiction, I'm hoping you'll join in my Pinterest Linky Party!
Share your favorite pinboards, Pinterest inspired projects, or just share some great ideas you've gathered!  
Here is one project that my son has been begging me to make (even though his birthday is not until November!).  Behold...the birthday treat box!
Using a craft organizer, fill each section with a small treat.  Add a label and voila!  Instant gift.  I thought this would be cute for the classroom - instead of giving the whole box, students could make a little baggie of mixed treats.
Another great Pinterest idea that I will be using in my classroom this year is a student file box.
As students complete work throughout the week, they file their papers in their folders.  When I am ready to grade or pass out papers for students to take home, everything is in one place.  Plus, it teaches students to be responsible for their own work.
No Pinterest post would be complete without sharing a recipe.  I swear, I can't go on Pinterest without becoming ravenously hungry!  All of the delicious recipes posted have given me plenty of ideas for things to make.  However, before pinning a recipe I look carefully and make sure it is not too hard (my cooking skills are just so-so).  So, anything you see posted on my food board is relatively easy to do and usually won't contain any crazy ingredients.  Here is one that I just can't wait to make...
Taco stuffed shells!  I *love* Mexican food, so this is right up my alley!

I hope you'll join in the fun and link up some of your favorite Pinterest finds!  Click here to follow my Pinterest boards.  Don't forget to become a follower of my blog as well - I am always posting my latest Pinterest finds and projects, along with freebies and fun links!
Need a Pinterest invite?
Feel free to email me at and I would be happy to send you one.  
I can't wait to see all of the Pinterest links!

Guest Blogger!

I am so excited to be a guest blogger on my dear friend's blog!  

Head over to Kleinspiration to read my post about Pinterest!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Still Working...

Wow, I can't believe that we are already into the second week of August!  School will begin before I know it.  I have been working diligently on projects in my classroom and for my classroom - and don't worry, I am still working on the book-based substitute plans!  I want them to be top notch for my followers (and free!).
I went to Lowe's the other day and purchased paint for some shelves in my classroom.  I chose "sauteed mushroom," which is a nice, darker tan color.  Three coats later, they are finished!  Here are the before...
Chipped, flat ivory paint.
And after...
A nice, satin beige finish!
I do love the way they turned out.  They now match and look so much nicer, and fit with my color scheme.  Speaking of colors, have you seen these on Pinterest?  
I think these would be great for Daily 5 word work, so while I was at Lowe's I picked up a stack.  All I need to do is add the chunks and make some letter & blend strips for the students to use with them.  Great idea, huh?  Pinterest has really inspired me to create some cool things for my home & classroom.  If you're not pinning yet, you should be!  If you'd like an invitation, leave a comment with your email and I'll send one your way.  You'll thank me later :)
Finally, my husband did come to my classroom the other night to help me rearrange.  He was VERY helpful (that is, after I convinced him that *12* first graders at a table was a bit much!!!).  Coming soon I will post pictures of my layout and progress, but it is just too much of a mess to take pictures of right now.  Owen has set up his own "Lego office" in one whole corner of the room, along with all of the boxes of orders and clutter that comes along with the beginning of a new school year.  I'll keep working away!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Target Card Giveaway!

My sweet friend Erin over at Kleinspiration is giving away a $25 Gift Card to Target in celebration of 500 followers!
Who doesn't love Target?  Head over to her blog and enter for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Crafty!

Well I'm back (as promised) with some photos of what I've been working on for my classroom!  Pinterest has really inspired my inner crafter :)  I've had so much fun making things!
I saw this on someone's blog (can't remember where!) - using a shower tote for money and notes, and hanging it near my desk.  I added the vinyl and ribbons!
A Pinterest inspired craft!  Vinyl to decorate hand sanitizer (or hanitizer, as the students always seem to call it!).
This project was super easy!  All I did was peel the labels off of hand sanitizer bottles and add some vinyl and a ribbon.  I saw the "germ juice" on Pinterest and thought it was adorable...but when I showed Owen and he said "Germ juice?  Cool, you can drink it!" I rethought that label!  I really don't want to inspire any students to drink the hand sanitizer!  I used a really large pump and just put my name and some polka dots on it instead :)
Of course Owen had to jump into a picture!
Inspired by Herding Kats in Kindergarten, I made these name sticks with fancy stones on the end.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but they are light blue with darker blue swirls in them.  I got the stones (a big bag!) on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics for only 97 cents.  Now I just need to make a cute container for the sticks!
I think this is my favorite project - post it note holders!  I saw this on Pinterest as well, and decided it looked easy and the final product was really cute.  I made the blue one for myself, which is why it is the only one with an initial on the tag.  I have the other ones ready to either sell at a craft show or give as gifts - I can easily add a cute sticker or letter to the tag to personalize them!
Here's a close-up of the one I made for myself.  Truly, I like the polka dotted one better, but this one matches the colors in my classroom better :)
So there you have it - my evening of easy crafts!  I think I am going to head over to Pinterest and start an "I Made It!" board!  Which craft is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Classroom Progress & a Giveaway!

So...Owen and I went into my classroom today to start setting the room up.  I have not been in all summer (which is pretty unusual for me) and my room is a hot mess.  But, with the SMART board installed, I was inspired to go start on my new layout.  The problem?  I was NOT inspired.  I moved a few things.  Then I moved them back.  Then I moved the same few things again.  I think I made it worse.  Finally, Owen and I went to a few stores for some retail therapy.  Here are some pictures I snapped with my phone before we left to document the chaos...
Looking in from the door - new SMART board on the left, former gathering area/library in the back corner.
Looking in from the door again - this time a view of the right side of the room.
Another looking in view - do I want my teacher table there?  I'm not sure...
Not pretty.  I am dragging my poor husband in later this week to help me think of ideas and move things around.  He complains a lot, but the labor is free :)  In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas to inspire me, suggestions, etc. please leave me a comment!  I am really struggling with the gathering area/library.
Now, onto the giveaway!  Jodi from Clutter Free Classroom is having a giveaway!
Her blog was the first educational blog I started following, and is still one of my favorites!  She is giving away a set of back to school books, a pocket chart, dry erase schedule and her Ultimate Teacher Organizer Tool.  Just the name of that makes me want it!  Check out her blog for a chance to win.
I haven't forgotten that I promised pictures of the projects Owen and I are working on.  They are on their way - hopefully in the next post!  I just had to go get some more supplies to complete them :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Exciting News & a New Addiction

Owen had preschool camp at my school today - and boy was it hot!  He loved it though :)  After his camp, I decided to take a peek in my classroom since I have neglected it all summer.  I walked in to find not one, but *two* surprises!
My SMART board has been installed!
AND I got a new computer!!!
That was a super exciting discovery!  I really love how they installed the SMART board too - instead of hanging it over my white board, they moved a bulletin board over and put it in between the white board & bulletin board on the wall (see above).  Now I can still use that board for instruction and I think my gathering area will be much more do-able as well.  Owen & I are going to go work on setting up the classroom tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have more pictures to post soon.
Also - have you discovered Pinterest?  OH.  MY.  WORD.  I could spend ALL day on it!  It is basically an online corkboard where you can pin any and all of your ideas - and peek at all of the cool ideas others are posting too!  I think you still need an invitation to join, so if you would like one just leave me a comment with your email address and I will send you one.  You will love it!  Don't say I didn't warn you though :)  If you are already on Pinterest, I added a button to my blog so you can follow me there as well!
Owen and I are going to work on another vinyl Cricut project (inspired by Pinterest!).  I'll post pics when we finish!  Happy pinning :)


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