28 July 2014

Everything is AWESOME!! (like Made-It Monday)

Made-It #1: Awesome Student Welcome Bags
I don't know if I was the only teacher who experienced this, but my class would break out into singing the Lego movie chorus spontaneously on Friday afternoons in the computer lab starting in February when the movie premiered in theaters.  "Everything is Awesome" became our unofficial class song because as soon as somebody started with Everything... the whole class would be harmonizing along before it ended!  I actually quite enjoyed it because I love including songs and music throughout the day, plus I thought it had a good message for kids (side by side ... working together).

There in lies the inspiration for my new and improved Student Welcome Gifts looking quite AWESOME in my opinion.  I've been doing these goldfish bags for the past 3 years and was ready for a change.
Last year, I moved to a new school and our site mentor used white paper bags to contain all her safari-themed items for her student welcome gifts.  On the outside of the bag, she had glued a nice poem framed in a jungle-esque border.  I thought it was such a grand gesture to start off the year on a positive/exciting note having a cute goodie bag to take home with you from Meet the Teacher night.
 While at Walmart, I had to pick up these bags ($1.67 before tax)... Fortunately, I had recently seen a blog post by Club Chica Circle on how to print on paper bags.  Her tutorial is great at explaining how to load the bags into the printer to avoid the most mishaps.  Initially, I forgot to flip the image upside down so that was fail #1.  Next, I printed one at a time and was having great success and no jamming.  So, I decided to load more than one at a time and request multiple copies be printed.  Then, the printer began to jam and misfeed - so back to one at a time to keep my printer happy.  In the end only 5 bags were lost to the recycling bin.
On the keepers, some of the ink smudged (but let's be honest, I don't think the kids will mind) - plus it adds a bit of character.  I was trying to help the planet by not being wasteful by tossing out some imperfect bags because of a few smudges here and there.
Inside each bag, students will receive an owl fridge magnet (see original post here), the best fruit snack ever because it's made by Black Forest (who knows gummy better than them?), and a groovy 'stache detailed further below.  I say I'd be one ecstatic kid going back to school if I knew these gifts were waiting for me!
 Boys are getting the green mustache cards inside their goodie bags.  Since I have 11 boys and 13 girls, 1 gal will get a green 'stache while the rest get pink.  Because of that, I needed to be able to identify "boy" bags vs. "girl" bags.  So, I put together two different designs - here's the template if you'd like to have for personal use.  Make sure to follow the printing tutorial I mentioned above if this is a project you decide to tackle.
Disclaimer: All images were found licensed and labeled for reuse through google images.  I am in no way making a profit off these gift bags inspired by The Lego Movie.  "LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this content."
Made-It #2: Mustache Student Gifts
Well, in addition to the obsession with "Everything is AWESOME" our second obsession was with the humorous little mustache.  Take a look at the new "Congrats, You're an Official 4th grader" proclamations complete with stache swag.
 Summer clearance at Hobby Lobby means quite the bargain find for me.  It was perfect since I needed enough for 24 students and there just happened to be two packs left in the store to meet my needs!
 Here's how I turned it into the official announcement cards.  Use mailing labels (30 to a page - type up what you want it to say), gather cardstock you'd like to use - I never used the leopard pattern in my animal prints pack and purple just happens to be one of our school colors!  Then, use hot glue to adhere the sticker backs to the  square card.
Made-It #3: Notebook Ribbon Markers
We use composition notebooks for grammar and writing.  When I did notebook checks, I'd have students place a sticky note on the page of the assignment I would be checking for.  Well, now that I know how often I checked these notebooks last year, we went through A LOT of sticky notes.  Not to mention, some sticky notes managed to wriggle their way out of the notebook before I got to it, making it an ineffective system for some.  Have no fear, pinterest sent me the solution to this pesky problem here!

Made-It #4: Labeled Lunch Tub
 I inherited a pretty beat-up blue lunch tub from the former teacher who's room I was given, and never quite got around to relabelling it.  So all last year my lunch tub had the old teacher's last name.  Found these letters while in the Duct tape aisle at Hobby Lobby and I think they're a fabulously new product, perfect for labeling my new white lunch tub.
You may notice these large plastic tub from the summer section at your local Target, we use these to tote the lunchbags down from the classroom to the cafeteria. I love how the letters look similar to the Felt font I'm obsessed with!!

Made-It #5: Compliment Can
Earlier this summer I had pinned Funky in Fourth's compliment card freebies.  I knew I had wanted to do some sort of class bucket-filling container, and this was perfect for naming my clearance find.  Picked up this cute canister for just $3 - 80% off from Hobby Lobby!!
Just tied some funky black and silver ribbon on the handles and hot-glued the sign - I love it!!
Can't wait to see what crafty projects the rest of you have been up to lately over at 4thgradefrolics' linky!

24 July 2014

Snapshots from My Classroom!

So I went in to drop off a few things today, and decided it was time to put the desks back into table groups.  Here's some quick snapshots, obviously most of the walls are bare of anything but fabric and border.
7 Habits / Data Wall / Clip Chart
Science - loved the plate idea from Pinterest last year

Reading Wall Panels / Horseshoe TAble

Writing Wall / back of room

student work wall (no students yet) / blank space = Grammar Wall / Fear the Fork (go ASU!)

Math Wall  / view of desks from back of room

view of whiteboard from back of room

view of bathroom sign-out table / lunch tub / recycling bin
Well, I still have plenty to do, what teacher doesn't?  But it'll happen next week because a week from now,  Meet the Teacher will have already happened!  WHOA

23 July 2014

Wordless Wednesday

First time linking up with Christina at Second Grade Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday.  Can't wait to hear what you think!!

Any ideas on what I should use these canisters for in my classroom?

22 July 2014

Math Facts Made Easy with Math Magician!

I'm so excited to have just finished creating my Math Facts Club clip chart. (so much cuter than my first system from back in 2010 - scroll down - but don't say I didn't warn you)  I love how this visual tool just entices students to race to the top just like our behavior clip chart.  Not to mention, it also boosts student fact fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division which are kind of foundational skills when it comes to working with the upper elementary level math concepts!   Learn more on how to easily implement this fact fluency program into your classroom at just 5 minutes a week!

The first school to ever hire me was a Title I school where family support at home was limited to say the least.  So the math coach instituted a schoolwide Math Facts Club where the kiddos would test in their classroom, and then once they reached the grade-level benchmark agreed upon, teachers sent names to the coach so she could officially announce the new inductees over the morning TV announcements.  All members to join the Math Facts Club earned a certificate, a fun pencil, and an official T-shirt!  Needless to say, the kids would reenter the classroom like rockstars.  So with a little power from peer pressure, and the desire to make it to the TV announcements, our student population couldn't get enough of the Math Facts Club.

Well, that was before Common Core, multiple budget cuts, and the recent push toward more "discovery learning" vs. rote-based memorization.  During my short time there, print shop orders for the Math Facts Club tests were eliminated, the TV announcements stopped because we had to utilize every "academic minute", and out the window went the cool math prizes along with any other notion of fun.

In my attempt to provide the same excitement of math fact fluency for my new batch of 4th graders, I searched online for different math fact programs and discovered Math Magician.
Math Magician was perfect because it too required students to complete 100 problems within five minutes - just like our school Math Facts Club!  Since we had just adopted the Leader in Me, I knew that this data could easily be tracked from week to week like our spelling, math and reading quizzes. (pic of my old-school / just started teaching / new teacher salary / KG fonts didn't exist Math Facts Clip Chart below)
As far as prizes, Claim Jumper (a fabulously delicious restaurant a mile away from our school) sent me an email inquiring if our school would be interested in certificates good for a free kids meal.  Seriously?  It was meant to be!  Now, I'm sure you could hit up local fast food chains near you and have similar success, but you'll find six different certificates to choose from in the Math Facts Club pack.

EXCLUSIVE: 24-hour sale since I'm participating in...

For only the next 24 hours you can score my two newest math products at 50% off since I've linked up with The Teaching Tribune for "2 for Tuesday."  Click the icon above to see what other great deals are going on this Tuesday!  Who doesn't love sales??  I've already got some great items waiting for me in my cart that I can't believe I'm getting for half off!!

Find the complete Math Facts Club set complete with clip chart labels, graphs & certificates by clicking the pic below:

In addition to the Math Facts Club, you can also snag my 4th Grade Math Dice Games at 50% off by clicking the pic below!!

hooray for Tuesday - the most productive day of the week! :)

20 July 2014

summertime DIY home projects

As promised, I'm posting some of the home projects I tackled at the end of May / beginning of June when I moved into my new house.  As with all moves, there was a lot going on and now things have mellowed down, thankfully - just in time for school to start up again and the routines of the daily grind to return.

DIY framed chalkboard
Something I had been lusting after was a cute chalkboard to do list I could hang in the office / craft room.  I posted about this in the entry below but the lil Chihuahuas were more of the focal point.  Here you can see it in all of it's glory as my working To Do list - I love the bistro chalk markers.  I feel like I'm a barista at Starbucks everytime I use them!

DIY white filing cabinet
Well I had added the cute touches with my vintage framed chalkboard, but I still needed some functional pieces for my office.  Enter the need for a filing cabinet.  Thankfully I have frequented the Goodwill enough to know about their every other Saturday 50% off everything sale - so I did a little strategic scouting on Friday night and snapped the only "before" pic I have of my filing cabinet.  Although there was some rusting on the top I knew I would be making it pretty anyway.  The important part was finding one that opened and closed properly.  Luckily, I was able to navigate straight to the cabinet (I left all the junk on top of it to deter any fickle shoppers) and leave with it at a STEAL price of $5.  Two coats of spraypaint and a thin coat of polyeurethane later, it was glamorous enough to move into the office - I just love how it turned out!!

DIY shabby chic coastal coffee table
I love the beach and I knew I wanted to go with a more natural / lighter look in the family room since I wanted to accent the natural lighting in my house and the white dining table in the breakfast nook.  Everywhere I looked, tables were $400 or more, and being the frugal diva that I am, I was not looking to spend more than $200 on a piece of furniture.  Luckily, I happened to run across this little gem while grocery shopping at the local Fry's Marketplace (Kroger chain grocery store in AZ that also offers items for your house - furniture, dishware, bedding, bath, etc.)

The only problem was that I would need to lighten the espresso finish because I was not digging that look with my coastal, light & bright decorating scheme.  Lucky for me, I followed the refinishing advice of this pinner and created my own shabby chic coastal coffee table.  Also I was able to discover Annie Sloan chalk paint which did a tremendous job of helping me achieve the shabby chic look I was coveting.

DIY bathroom wall art
Keeping with the beachy vibe of summertime that I had going in other parts of the house, I felt the bathroom needed some cute framed art to cover up those ugly holes in the wall left behind from the previous tenant.  i whipped up these 5x7 prints to fit inside the 5x7 frames sold at IKEA.  Then, I just used some 3M hanging strips to set them on the wall that way it wouldn't leave any more unsightly holes.  The silver framed set is hanging in my master bathroom and the white framed set goes in the guest bath - gotta make sure everyone remembers to wash their hands! LOL :)

Winner Announcement: Stephanie, you have won the PIN IT TO WIN IT giveaway, and I will be sending you the ROLL OUT 4th grade math dice games pack. 
TTFN {ta ta for now} :)

18 July 2014

Easy Teacher Fridge Magnets

TEN DAYS - the countdown until the first day staff must report back to school is on.  I guess I might as well get to sharing what I've been up to aside from settling into my new home, and all that goes with moving.  Here are some of the little projects that have been monopolizing my time lately!  They're not all classroom related, so I guess I'm still procrastinating on the end being near, but at least I got one project off my teacher to-do list.  You probably guessed, I'm linking up for my first-time this summer with Tara for her weekly Monday Made-It.

For the Classroom: Teacher Fridge Magnets
 Since my first year of teaching, I have always sent home magnets for parents to keep on the fridge so my contact info is easily accessible.  I was fancy and had ordered a set of business card magnets from VistaPrint during my first two years, then I discovered magnetic tape and diecuts!  So this is my 4th year making DIY teacher magnets - and my wallet is much happier!  This year I only spent $1.05 (97 cents plus tax) since I already had the rest of the supplies on hand. WOOHOO!!
 How to Make Teacher Fridge Magnets:
1. Pick a diecut your printed label will fit on (shipping labels are 2x4, this year I used address about 1x3)
2. Customize your label with your desired contact info. (name, phone number, email address, room #)
3. Print labels & attach to diecuts
4. Cut & adhere magnetic tape to backs
5. Distribute to families! :)

For Home: Vintage Mirror Turned DIY Chic Chalkboard
 One of the household DIY projects I embarked upon at the end of May was this great idea of turning an old, vintage mirror into an irresistibly, trendy chalkboard thanks to pinterest!  See it as a To Do list here. Luckily, my grandma loves antiques and she has quite a collection of vintage items so I asked, and I received a perfect vintage mirror to craft with!
A trip to Michael's for some chalkboard spray paint, and I was set!  Be sure to prepare any item that you spray with chalkboard paint by rubbing chalk on its side all over the painted surface.  Otherwise, whatever you first write on the surface may remain visible even after erasing! :/ not cute
I recommend using chalk markers vs. regular chalk since it has a bolder, more crisp look

For My Tummy: Reese's Betty Crocker Premium Cookie Bars
For just $1.00, I picked up this delicious looking item while I was at Safeway today (great price thanks to my JustForU card deals, and a 50 cent manufacturer's coupon that was doubled at the register.)  I didn't know that these cookies were a three-step process until I opened the box.  That's because I never even glanced at the back of the box, I just dropped this bad boy into the cart - no questions asked!  Anyway, if you've been meaning to try these, go ahead - they're even better than those Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter cookies I bake around Christmas time.  That's because the triple layers of sweet create a heavenly combination of melt-in-your mouth chocolate, rich peanut butter, and the crunchy crumble of a delicious cookie.  FYI these are sweeter than your normal Reese's candy!

Plan to hear from me more frequently over the next ten days - I'm sure I'll be up to more class related goodness!