July 31, 2012

Summer Shopping Linky Party! (July edition)

Hello everyone! Well, I had a mild panic attack this morning when I turned on my MacBook and saw the date. It's the last day of July!! And I'm not panicking (yet) because the start of school is coming later in August, but because I completely spaced the July edition of the Summer Shopping Linky!

Well. It's still July now and there's still time to start this party, right? 

So first I'll show off a few purchases I found at Walmart today (please don't tell Target I was unfaithful, it's very unlike me!).

I bought these little zebra lamps...
They are so tiny and cute! They have the exact same base as my other three larger lamps that look like this:
I love how they will go together! And they will have a very important function. They'll be going on the shelves of my classroom library, which is going to need some extra lighting because it's going in a closet this year. (The closet is open, without doors, just so you don't think I'm totally weird!)

I also bought some new little carpets for my little reading nooks. My old carpets were pretty aged and gross, so I grabbed a couple that matched our color scheme (still looking for a green, yellow, or orange one to complete the set)...
Yes...they are bathroom rugs. 

A bit strange maybe, but I like them because they are super-soft, you can wash them in the machine, they are cheap (14.97 I think?), and they have those really grippy bottoms (my old ones kind of traveled a lot, you know?).

On a side note! I would never admit this to anyone else but my fellow classroom-crazed-designers...but I tucked a little sample of my color scheme in my bag today, just to make sure it all matched!
Well, that's all I have for now! We don't start back until August 28th, so I'm trying to hold out for some good school supply sales.

Have you been shopping? Of course you have!! And I'm hoping we can share our finds together! Please feel free to link up any classroom purchases. 

I don't have a button for the linky because I am in the middle of 463 projects right now and I'm sure you are too. I hope you don't mind!! Here's a blog button in case you want an easy way to link back from your post (it will link to this party)...
Ladybug's teacher files
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July 29, 2012

Frequent Words...at a glance! (printable)

Hey everyone! Today I finally finished something I've been meaning to make for my students for a looong time now--and I'm hoping it's something you can use with your class too!

It's a Frequently Used Words list, compiled onto four pages. I'm planning to photocopy them back-to-back, then laminate the two pages to put in my students' binders (you can read more about our old binders from last year and download some free covers by clicking the green link).

So...after a lot of typing, pasting, re-pasting, and word-sorting (the best feature available in Word!) we have...
These four pages feature:
  • over 700 words (I think it's about 736, I lost track during the gazillion revisions!)
  • Dolch Words, from pre-primer all the way to grade 5
  • The first 200 most frequently used words, taken from The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists
You see, my students have these little word books our school provides and they are fantastic. Each page features a ton of words by letter, with spaces to write more words on each page. 

But I wanted an additional resource my English Language Learners could go to first...an at-a-glance type of sheet to help them with their writing.

And I wanted the words to cover a range of learners, since I have newcomer students who are just beginning to read in English and need the access to basic words, all the way to more advanced students who have strong reading skills and need words close to or on grade level.

The file can be downloaded for free from my Teachers Notebook shop by clicking on the green link below...

Do you have any favorite word resources for your students? I would love to hear about any that you recommend!
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July 27, 2012

My favorite baskets...and some editable labels


Perhaps this should be titled "Ode to My Beloved Storage". That might be a bit dramatic though. But you have some favorite storage too, don't you? So I know you'll understand.

So...I am linking up with my pal Elizabeth for her:
I have to admit, I haven't found these recently BUT...I did purchase a new set semi-recently (like back in June!). But they are definitely something I can't live without in my classroom anymore.

In case you can't tell already, it's those oh-so-pretty paper baskets from Really Good Stuff. They are awesome. And they are EVERYWHERE in my classroom!

It started out with just the blue ones, when I had shades of blue in my room a few years back. Then I got the tropical-colored ones last summer. And this June, I just couldn't resist buying one of the new shades (orange!!) to add to my collection...
I must tell you in all honesty, it took me a long time to finally splurge on these baskets. I'm pretty faithful to the Dollar Tree for storage. Oh, and those clear shoe bins that are under $1.00.

But I am glad I have bought these over the years! They are sturdy, durable, and just lovely to look at. My students each have their own basket for their work (since we no longer have desks, but tables) and I use others to help organize the rest of our classroom. 

This year, I am going to have baskets set up for all subjects. Actually, two each--one for classwork to be turned in, and one for homework within a given subject. 

I'm also going to have others set up for Notes from Home, Extra Papers, Spelling Test Papers, etc. 

I won't bother explaining the labels because, at this point, you all get my obsession with the black labels and I'm afraid I'm going to start boring you.

But I do have a little something for you, my friends. It's an editable Powerpoint file featuring the labels shown above. It looks like this...
And you can customize them by adding a text box, typing in the label name, and dragging it over the label image...
And that's it! I hope this file can be used by some! To download it directly here, please click on the green link below:

Terms of Use: This file is intended for personal use only. These labels are not to be resold individually, or used in any file being sold or shared. 
Thank you!!

What kind of storage do you like the best in your class??
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July 26, 2012

Teacher Toolbox (Printable)


Ok, so I know everyone finished their teacher toolboxes like forever and a half ago--but I wasn't really planning on decorating mine. You see, I am notoriously bad at spray painting. I really prefer to make everything on the computer...it comes out neat and clean and I can undo anything I don't like.

But I kept seeing these beautifully decorated teacher toolboxes EVERYWHERE I went...the blogs, Pinterest, Monday Made It. I couldn't escape the call to decorate it!

So I decided to keep it simple: black and white to go with my color scheme.

And I like seeing a bit of the content in the drawers, so I thought I would just decorate the little handles (this was the fun part!).

I printed, laminated, and sorted them...



Then hot glued them to each little drawer...
In the midst of all this, I vowed to actually spraypaint the box the right way. You know, a light coat first, then another one (following the directions on the can of how long to wait in between coats). And I did it! I painted three coats and it looked PERFECT! I was so, so proud of myself. I bragged to everyone within range about my painting skills.

This didn't last.

That evening, I hauled my little white toolbox inside. It was still a bit tacky, but I really wanted to put the drawers inside. So I tried the first drawer. It wouldn't fit in the box. I tried again and again. I thought, "maybe it's still too tacky." But I knew something wasn't right.

Well, after a few more tries (please don't laugh at me!) I figured it out. It was upside down. I had painted it the wrong way.

This wouldn't be a problem, except the bottom (or top, so perhaps I should say "the bottom in Kristen's world") had adhered to the newspaper and had various bits of articles stuck all over it. This hadn't bothered me before, but now this had to be the top!!

So, instead of waiting until the next day like a rational person, I rushed outside to finish it. But it was all too late. The sun was slipping behind the trees. The mosquitoes were converging. Various bits of plant life were blowing in the breeze and adhering instantly to the toolbox.

Suddenly, my old, familiar, impatient techniques had kicked in. Within 3 minutes, the entire thing was soaked and dripping and making those weird spider-webby things that always seem to happen to me when I spray paint (except in my perfect upside-down paint job this morning, of course).
(Look, I'm not even putting my blog name on this photo like I usually do because it's a mess!)

So. It is what it is. From far away, it looks alright and matches my room. Up close is another story. Let it be known, this is the day I have sworn off spray paint for good. It's all contact paper and hot glue from now on!

Anyhow, I am linking up my toolbox with all of the other lovely (nicely-painted!) ones that have been on...
Thank you Tara, I never would have had the guts to even make this if it weren't for your linky party!!!

And I do have a little file to share--just in case anyone else hasn't made a toolbox yet and would like to decorate the handles. It's in an editable Powerpoint file, so it just needs little textboxes with your label names on it. These labels are designed to fit this specific box--I got it from Lowe's. I hope someone can use it--someone who is much better spray painting than I am!!! :(

Click on the preview below for the file! :)
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July 24, 2012

Cheap Chair Pockets...Take Two!


Hello bloggy friends! Well, I said I didn't want to go back into school yet but I just couldn't resist stopping by and trying out the chair pockets! 

In case you missed the previous post, I have been trying out those cheap nail aprons from Home Depot (not my original idea, but a wonderful one found in the sites mentioned yesterday!) as a way to hold a couple of books my students are currently reading, so they can pull them out easily whenever they have extra time to read.

So. I had done a lot of thinking about how they would work best, thanks to all of your insightful comments last night--thank you!

And here's what we ended up doing...and by "we", you know that means I dragged my poor sister to school!

I liked the idea of having the bags down lower on the legs of the chair (that way the kids wouldn't have to have the tied strings touching their backs--that would just drive me nuts!!). But when I tied the strings on, the whole apron started to slip a bit.

So...

We used Velcro instead!

We snipped off the apron strings and put some nice, heavy-duty Velcro in each of the four corners of the apron, then stuck them to the chair legs:
 And voila! The chair pocket was exactly where I wanted!



One of the other reasons I wanted the pocket so low was also thanks to your comments about chair stacking last night! With the pocket lower on the legs...

The chairs can be stacked on top of one another nicely. I don't have a second chair pocket yet to show you, but the legs of stacked chair can be seen above.

And here are some closeups of the second chair stacked on top of the pocket...

Now I am perfectly content, because I know it will work for my students! 

A bit more information I've learned: 

These chair pockets can't hold a ton of books and I don't think a folder can fit, but I have a separate location for those other items (very excited about that next one--coming to the blog very soon!!!). They are, however, absolutely ideal to hold my students books they are currently reading. And a small whiteboard.

I had some sweet requests to add the numbers to my shop the other day and they are now available. This file features numbers 1 through 40 (I hope that there aren't any class sizes that are even close to that high!!) and each page has two different sizes. The larger numbers are 5" by 5" and can cover the logo on the nail apron, as mentioned previously

The smaller numbers are 2.5" by 2.5" and can be used to label baskets, cubbies, and other student items. This file is available for $1.50 and you can see it in my shop by clicking on the preview below...

And so concludes my chair pocket adventure! I hope this will be of some help to anyone who is considering something similar. Thank you, as always, for visiting--your comments are one of the brightest parts of my day.  :)
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July 23, 2012

Cheap Chair Pockets!


I am so, so excited about this project--it was cheap and easy (my two favorite words in teacher-language!!). I'm linking it up with the lovely and extremely creative Tara, over at...
So...I've been wanting chair pockets for a zillion years (or so it seems). Especially since I've gone to tables in the past year--I really want my students to have instant access to a book they are reading. 

But the store-bought ones are pretty costly and I am not too handy with the needle and thread...so sewing my own wasn't really a consideration. 

But...

this week I happened upon a wonderful post over at Miss Third Grade (check out her information about the chair pockets by clicking on the green link--she has some really cool ideas about them!). Courtney had found these oh-so-cheap nail aprons from Home Depot. The original idea came from this really cool blog that I'm loving: Confessions of a Nerdy Teacher (I love finding new blogs to read!).

So. These pockets are actually called nail aprons and they are (you will love this!) only $0.77 each!! The minute I hear something is less than a dollar, I'm sold! 

Here's some other really cool things about them:
  • They're pretty tough, for such an inexpensive little item.
  • Their long strings can be tied tightly around the chair.
  • The pockets can easily hold chapter books.
  • The pockets can also hold picture books (as long as they aren't too large).
  • The pockets (ok now I'm getting redundant) can also hold multiple copies of books and other small items (I'm thinking maybe even individual whiteboards, dry erase markers, pencils, etc).

I guess the only downside for me was the orange logo. Don't get me wrong, I love Home Depot and I am very grateful for all of the cheap teacherly items I get from there. But that shade of orange isn't quite the hue I'm using this year (I'm joking...well kind of). 

And I actually wanted the pockets to have numbers on them, because I am all about numbering my students this year (more to come on that later this week). 

But, again, I'm not crafty with painting or sewing, so I had to resort to computer-made labels...
...and some strategically-placed Velcro:

I placed the nail apron flat on the table without the books first, then applied the label with the Velcro pieces on it, so the label was lined up over the logo...
 
(You'll notice that the middle Velcro piece is coming up...I think I'm going to use slightly larger strips for the rest of the pockets instead, so they're a bit more secure).

The Velcro was my darling sister's idea and it's perfect, because it moves with the fabric and has some give as books are being taken in and out of the pockets.

I haven't had the chance to test these out on my chairs in school (I'm not in a rush to go back in this week!) but I will be tying them either to the chair backs, or possibly the top parts of the chair legs...I will be sure to share pictures of that soon.

What are some of your favorite ways to store books in your class? Would you try these chair pockets?

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July 21, 2012

Back from Vacay and Giveaway Winners!

I'm back from a lovely vacation by the sea! It was the best!! We had time to rest, swim, eat, sit in the sun, laugh, take long walks...

and I got to play with my new camera lens!!

But, by the end, even the dogs were ready to go home...
And now we're back!

I wanted to say thank you so much to everyone...it was delightful to read your kind comments when I got home! You are all the best!!! I look forward to blogging in real time this week (Confession: I couldn't quite turn off my teacher-brain while I was away, so I have a lot to share soon)!

And...I also wanted to say thanks for playing along in the giveaways this week! The winning names are shown below--you should have received an email notifying you as well! Thank you, dear readers, and I will talk to you very soon! :)







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July 20, 2012

Summer Steal! Day 7...

Hello again everyone! Today is the last day of Summer Steal! As you read this, I'm heading home from vacation--I can't wait to get back to regular blogging!

So. For this last giveaway, there's a different kind of prize...

Today's Prize:

One winner will receive a $25.00 giftcard to Teachers Notebook or Teachers Pay Teachers--winner's choice of store!
Please enter the Rafflecopter below...
a Rafflecopter giveaway  
This giveaway ends at midnight tonight. All winners this week will receive their prize via email when I get back from my vacation! :)
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July 19, 2012

Summer Steal! Day 6...

Hi friends! The chance to steal an item continues with Day 6! Please see the details below...

Today's Prize:

 One winner will receive a copy of the Bright & Clear Schedule Signs


Please enter the Rafflecopter below...
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway ends at midnight tonight. All winners this week will receive their prize via email when I get back from my vacation! :)
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