Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Home Craft & Teacher Things Closet Reveal

I have always, always wanted a craft room.  I don't craft so much around the house, but I love to have all kinds of stuff on hand for teaching projects, wrapping gifts, or holiday things.  All I want is a tiny Hobby Lobby in my house.  Is that too much to ask?

We don't have an extra room in our home for me to have an entire room for my random stuff--and that random stuff has unfortunately been scattered EVERYWHERE.  You would find washi tape, dry erase & sharpie markers in almost every drawer in the house, including... the bathroom?  {Don't ask me how or why.  I don't even understand.}  My teaching books and MANY notebooks/idea books could be found in the kitchen, master closet, beside the bathtub, the mudroom, on my nightstand, in the office, on my kids bookshelves, etc.  It was getting out of hand.  I felt bad for my husband who was constantly finding my little trail of teaching things all. over. the place.

So, even though we don't have a whole room for my endless amounts of STUFF that I bring home--I wanted a little place to get things more organized.  We have an upstairs loft & office area, with a closet we were using to shove all of the office junk and loads of board games we never play.  For 2 years I've been thinking of transforming it into the craft closet, and this past weekend, we finally got to work and made it happen--it only took one day, a few storage boxes, and a little paint.  Okay, well, two cans of paint.  First, I picked a pale green.  After the hubs spent the morning painting, it just wasn't right--the color was too light, and it looked the same color as it was before.  So off I went to choose another color, this time getting testers.  I chose a pink and a purple.  It looked like Barbie's dream house. Um, NO.  I finally found a coral that I just love.  It's girly and perfect.  {Sherwin Williams Coral--"Hopeful"}

Here is a little "before and after" action for you:

#embarrassing.  Yep, I'm a messy & disorganized slob sometimes.  

Now onto the pretty.

It is still a work in progress.  I need to create labels for everything, and I would like a few more storage drawers underneath the mirrors on the side wall.  But this little closet is such a happy place!  

Those mirrors have just been sitting on a shelf for a few years!  I had no idea where to put them!

And, I used a piece of my new milk glass to hold my bakers twine!  

Now, hopefully my stuff won't be all over the place anymore.  I can't make any promises, though.  ;)  

Do you have a home craft room?  
Any suggestions for additional storage items that will actually fit in my small space?  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five for Friday...I'm Back!

I don't even remember the last time I blogged.  It might as well have been 50 years ago.  I feel like I've been gone forever! I've missed this ol' blog.  And sharing my classroom  and life and thoughts with y'all.  But sometimes, you just need a break.  So I took one.  Life has been busy.

Mostly, I've been chasing this guy around.  Mischief, cuddles, and BIG personality on this one.  He's not spoiled--at. all.  :)  

Onto my Five for Friday...

1.  I missed Vegas, but I made it to Birmingham.  
I am crazy sad I couldn't be in Vegas, meeting all the amazing teachers and bloggers and TpT-ers out there.  The only thing that made me feel better was getting to attend the Alabama Blogger meet up today in Birmingham!  This is our 3rd year to meet, thanks to THE Jennifer White of First Grade Blue Skies!  Chips & cheese, bracelet exchange,  Hobby Lobby shopping spree, and popsicles from Steel City Pops--yes, please!  I absolutely adore these sweet people, and that we all share a love for kids, food, sweet tea and shopping!    

After many, many attempts with the selfie stick, Dana finally got everyone in the picture!

2.  I put together an "easy to assemble" shelf.  ALL by MYSELF.  

I've already shared about my experience on Instagram, but in case you missed it, just know that it was NOT "easy to assemble".  They should put on the box that you will CUSS like a SAILOR when you put together this shelf.  I may have cried a little bit.  It took THREE stupid hours of my life that I will never get back.  And I learned that I am incredibly grateful to have a husband that has put together many a cube shelf for me without complaint.  And I can't wait for him to build a few more of these gorgeous shelves for me, because, unfortunately they are PERFECT in my classroom. #sorrynotsorry 
Y'all...Walmart, Better Homes & Gardens "Weathered"--$68...go getcha one.

3.  I am into painting things and galvanized buckets.

I went to an antique store--more about that later--and found the most amazing color of shabby chalk paint.  I just HAD to have it, because my white supply shelf was looking sad and tired.  I love a good before and after pic!  It makes me feel all "HGTV" or something.  The buckets will hold extra class supplies--glue sticks, glue bottles, etc.  I sure wish Cameo would give this teacher a silhouette machine.  I could go crazy with vinyl labels for those buckets!!!  Wink, wink...cameo people?  Are you reading?!  Probably not.  Whatever.  I'll just use stickers.

4.  Tiffany blue is my jam.

It's taken me awhile to figure out what kind of color scheme/theme I wanted in my room.  I have always wanted something calm.  Something shabby chic-"ish", friendly, welcoming, and happy.  I think I am finally beginning to build the classroom I have been wanting for so long--and this will be my TENTH year of teaching.  I have been busy this summer trying to tie in more of the tiffany blue throughout the room.  Ribbon has done wonders for my table buckets.  I plan to share more of my classroom in a later post!

5.  I have a new hobby.  And it still involves shopping.

I threw a bridal shower for my precious niece a few weeks ago.  I wanted the shower to be mainly white, and I borrowed the most beautiful milk glass from my sister in law.  I fell in love with all of her pieces, so I have started antiquing and looking for milk glass pieces of my own!  I LOVE it all.  It's just so vintage and classy!

Here are a few pics of the food table with the milk glass!  We had buttermilk biscuits with ham & white cheddar, baby bite cakes (stop the world), fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, broccoli salad, and "something blue" punch.  It was so fun, and I enjoyed planning all summer long for it!  

The end.  I'll be back.  Hopefully not in 4 to 5 months like last time!  :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 12

I'm being real for a moment, I was a little intimidated to learn that I was hosting the link up for this chapter.  After reading, I still didn't feel exactly clear about what problem based learning is, and if I was actually doing ANY of it in my classroom.  Maybe it's just me, but problem/project based learning sounds so official, and kind of serious/fancy.  After studying the chapter further, and...GOOGLING (yes, I googled it.  I *may* have even searched it on pinterest, too)...I realized that PBL is something that I have done, and continue to do as much as I can--I just didn't know it!

Marcia Tate describes project or problem based learning as interdisciplinary.  Learning is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum, and it is purposeful and student-led.

I love using unit topics (science/social studies) to create exciting and meaningful learning experiences  for my students.  One of my favorite projects ever was actually during my student teaching experience.  As a community/service learning project for social studies, I had my students brainstorm ways they could help out in the community.  After lists of ideas and class discussions, we voted on creating a school-wide teddy bear drive for the children at a local women & children's shelter.  The students were completely in charge of  advertising--creating posters to put on display around the school and flyers to send home with all classes--(writing & language standard...check!)  In addition to teddy bears, we also decided that we would accept monetary donations for people who didn't have time to shop for a bear.  Each morning, students were responsible for counting the money and stuffed toys collected--(math standard...check!)  The students were excited that they were contributing to people who were in need, and they were so engaged in the project, that I never once heard, "I don't know what to write."  Or,  "Do we HAVE to do this math?" One of my sweet girls brought in all the money she had in her piggy bank to donate.  Precious.

By the end of the two week project, we delivered 500 bears and $250 cash to a local shelter.  After we were done, many students were already busy brainstorming other projects they could do to help others.   Typing this now, I am wondering why I haven't done MORE projects like these.  It makes learning fun, and it was just good for the soul!

Although I am a fan of PBL, I think where I struggle is letting the students take more control during activities and projects (I'm a control freak!  WHO KNEW!???  HA!!!!!!)  Especially in first grade.  The project I did with the bears was a 3rd grade class.  I felt a little more comfortable giving tasks to the older ones.  I loved the suggestion on page 90 about sentence starters to help with student discussions while solving problems.

Like I said, I googled the PBL.  (Please don't laugh at me!  I really wanted to be a good linky host!)  I found this great video on Edutopia.  It helped me to see that PBL can be planned, but it can also happen naturally....for example, when I get those awesome "teachable moments"--I should take advantage of them, and allow them to develop into project based experiences.

Please share your thoughts on this chapter, and link up!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Valentine ideas, a freebie, a cool book, paint, and love.

Hello, friends!  It's been awhile!  I'm back, and ready to blog.  Here are my five randoms of the week:

1.  I'm back on MyFitnessPal.  And I'm hungry.   That's all.

2.  Valentine's Day--it's kind of a big deal. 
I kind of love Valentine's Day.  It is the cutest little holiday ever.  I love all the hearts, flowers, candy, and pink things.  That is why my classroom currently looks like a giant Valentine Village.  It's getting a little out of hand, and I'm not finished yet.  We've still got a week to go, people.

The kids created these giant hearts.  They drew pictures of all the things they love most, cut them out, and glued them inside the hearts.  They look so festive up there on the wall!  

To practice combinations to 10, everyone got a small bag of candy hearts.  They used the hearts to show a way to make ten.  I made it a little more challenging by explaining that they couldn't use the same way as someone at their table.  I also said they could add three numbers together to make 10.  They used Elmer's glue to attach the hearts to small blue plates.  This display just makes my eyes happy.  All my favorite colors!  I used a silver sharpie to write the names on each plate.

We finally got back to some interactive writing.  I LOVE making interactive writing charts!  After we worked together to write the steps and illustrate, the kids used the directions to create their own Valentine.  

And...I can't wait to use some of this little packet leading up to Valentine's Day!  
Next week is going to be awesome.

3.  I'm feeling adventurous.  I'm about to pull out some paint...for word work next week.  Yep, I'm crazy.  But y'all, I'm desperate for new and creative word work ideas.  I thought it might be fun to use paint for ai/ay week.  This may just be a Monday deal, because I foresee spilled cups of water, painted desks, and such.  But it could be amazing--who knows?  I will choose to be positive.  {It's going to be the BEST word work station EVER!!!!!!}  Lol.  Click the picture to download a free copy of the page.  

4.  The Q & A Book is a must-have for any parent.  Someone shared this a few months ago on Instagram.  Thank you, whoever you are!  I've been filling it out every night before bedtime with my four year old.  This book will be priceless one day!  

I especially love the "heart-warming" entries like this one...

Corn???!!!  Well, okay, then. 

5.  Love is...

I was actually inspired by the Q & A book to interview my students this week.  I asked each of them to tell me what love is.  I used a photo of each of them holding a sign, and typed up their response on the photo.  I printed and laminated them, and have all on display on my classroom door with the heading "Love is..."  (I would show it, but I don't show pics of the kids!  It is precious!)  Some of the responses...

Love is happiness.

If you love someone, you'd do anything for them.

Love means you marry somebody.

Love means you can't let go.

Love is when you really, really, really like someone.  

Love is when you like someone, and you tell them, and they say thank you or somethin'.  

I just love those sweet babies!!!

That's my 5 for the week!  Link up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

T is for...

It’s hard to believe, but I almost wasn’t a teacher. 

When I first started college, my mind was completely made up that I would work in advertising.  I got an amazing internship opportunity my sophomore year, and thought I was set.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that it didn’t make me happy.  And I wasn’t good at it.  It just wasn’t working.

God opened doors and placed teaching on my heart.  I am so very thankful that He knew what I needed, and showed me the way.  

I taught 4th grade my first two years.  It was hard—the kind of hard that made me want to give up this dream and do something else.  I couldn’t see the big picture.  

This year, the 4th grade students I had that very first HARD year-- will graduate from high school.  Through Facebook, I saw that one of those students just got her college acceptance letter to the University of Alabama.  I BAWLED like a little baby, y’all.  Not only was I beyond proud of this kid, but I felt that in some way, I was part of her journey to get there, you know?  

What we do as teachers, each and every day, is so much bigger than we can see.  We are helping kids reach their goals and accomplish dreams.  And, I’m not going to lie…I also cried because I feel super OLD—but that’s another story.

What are you thankful for?  Link up with Blog Hoppin'!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reindeer Games GIVEAWAY!

One of my very first products needed some updating!  If you already own the original "Reindeer Games"--please go download the revised and new version!  It now has 51 pages of fun, with updated graphics, fonts, new games, and craftivity templates!  My favorite craft each year is the Root Beer Loving Reindeer--it goes along with a mini book the kids will illustrate--called If You Give a Reindeer a Root Beer.

This pack covers math standards, writing, and literacy, and...I just adore the reindeer clip art by Graphics from the Pond!  CUTE as can be.  The preview below shows some of the activities included in my updated packet.  I am giving away a copy of this fun little packet!  Please enter below!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Five on a Saturday...

1.  I got this ADORABLE mug that made my mornings a little happier.  And...I promptly lost it three days later.  It's seriously nowhere to be found.  That's how I roll.  I may have to go buy another.

2.  We went on our annual field trip to the zoo!  OH, the zoo.  We went in November.  On the coldest day so far this fall...and we FROZE.  Luckily, most of the animals didn't mind the cold at all, so we still got to see all the creatures.  

I wanted to be as prepared as possible for this field trip.  I sort of suffer from teacher OCD/paranoia when it comes to field trips, and I like lists.  Lots and lots of lists.  I created an editable field trip kit that y'all can download for FREE {here}.  In my kit, I added everything I used for our field trip this past week!  My absolute new favorite thing though, were these chaperone kits I made for the parents who came and froze with us.  The kits are just gallon sized baggies, filled with snacks, band-aids, baby wipes/hand sanitizer, and a card with important meet-up times, and my phone number for emergencies.  

3.  Speaking of the zoo... the morning of our trip, I had each of the kids draw an animal they hoped to see.  This was one of the drawings.  Oh, bless.  

4.  The Mayflower of Facts.  An awesome teacher on my team came up with the idea to create a Mayflower and pilgrim display together in the hallway.  I mean, I can't even handle how cute it turned out.  I told her this is officially our new Thanksgiving tradition.  We didn't give the kids templates (I honestly just love the look of kid-created art pieces).  They each cut out their own little pilgrim, and then we had them write one fact (about pilgrims or the Mayflower).  

5.  I am back to creating, and it makes me happy.  Here are some of the newest items I've added to my TpT shop:

Mayflower Memories--an interactive learning booklet.  My class has already completed half of the book!  I love using this booklet along with Scholastic's First Thanksgiving page! 

Here is a preview of what is included:  

Troll-rific Tallies is a unit that I started TWO years ago.  I just finished it this week--I have earned the award for Biggest Procrastinator, ever!  I love this unit--mainly because I am super proud that I finished it.   

Did you link up with Doodle Bugs this week?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Variety of Fall Fun-tivities--in Photographs.

September always brings apple fun.  I can't stand the cuteness of those kid created apple core art projects!  They are still in the hallway, and I don't want to take them down!  In other news, hanging that giant tree was all kinds of hilarious. YES,  it's off center.  Don't even worry about it.

We created a class book together to learn how to create "How to" writing pieces.

Of course we had our annual Apple Tasting Party!  Had to tally up our favorites.  

We made scrappy owlets out of brown paper bags and scrap book paper...

A little bat labeling chart, helpful for our nonfiction writing unit:

We started counting collections using "spooky bags" and everyone got a bag of fun Halloween erasers.

The week of Halloween, a teacher on my fabulous first grade team came up with the idea to have her students practice descriptive writing by describing monsters.  I thought it was a super fun idea, and since we had just read and LOVED the book I Need My Monster, we read it again--listening for great describing words in the text for each monster.  Afterward I gave each pair of students a top secret folder with a monster inside to describe.  The kids worked together to write a description of their monster, and then they read it aloud to the class to see if the rest of the class could guess which monster on the wall belonged to them!  It was great fun for the week of Halloween.

The kids created these funky pumpkins and wrote silly stories about them.  Cutest collection of pumpkins ever.

We read the book Pumpkin Town and then created a town collage, complete with seeds and pumpkins.  The kids used magazines and paper bags to create the houses, and it looks AWESOME.  One goal this week is to create a shared writing at the top of the chart to retell the plot of the story.

And last, because I'm a proud mommy, look at my happy little baby gnome on Halloween!  
AHHH!  I love him!


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