Friday, August 16, 2013

Teacher Week 2013: Tips & Tricks - Make a Fabric Bulletin Board from "scratch"

I'm back for a quick post on the last day of teacher week!
I've gotten a lot of questions about the fabric "bulletin boards" that were in my classroom pictures earlier this week.

 Example #1 - blue polka dotted board beside the Smartboard

Example #2- yellow chevron board above community supply shelf

Example #3 - hot pink board above (soon to be blue shelves) for math manipulatives

The truth is they are not bulletin boards at's just plain ol' fabric on my painted cinderblock walls.  So, I figured I'd go ahead and make that a quick trick to share.  I think I've finally mastered the easiest (and quickest) way to put fabric on the walls after several years of trial and error.
So, first things first.  You need to meet my hot, new BFF.
Here she is.
Isn't she beautiful?
This is a cordless glue gun.  I've borrowed one from one of my coworkers for going on 7 years now so I finally broke down at bought my own (at JoAnns).  It's fabulous.  You can use it for quite a while before putting it back on its base to heat up again.  I'm sure you could do this without a cordless gun but this makes it way easier.
I put up almost everything in my room with hot glue because it's the only thing that stays all year.  Most of the time it pops right off of the wall with no problems but every now and then you'll get a glob that doesn't want to come off without the paint. 
Soooo...I figured out a different way to hang things instead of putting the hot glue directly on the wall. 
Painter's tape!
Just put the tape wherever you want to hang something and the hot glue goes on the painter's tape.  If you need to take it down, you just peel the painter's tape off and there is absolutely no mess or damage!
You can also put painter's tape on whatever it is that you are hanging so that it won't be damaged if you want to take it down or move it but I didn't do that with my fabric because I figured by the time I wanted a change, I would be ready for new fabric.
The best part is this makes the whole process go super duper fast AND helps you get your fabric straight on the wall!
More tape and the fabric is on its way up!
*Notice the purple hot little bff can be kind of feisty sometimes.  We have somewhat of an unhealthy relationship.  She burns me.  I say bad things to her and then I forgive her and love her once more.  Sigh.*

If you need a little extra staying power for a larger board...this stuff works great and wipes off the wall with a Clorox wipe pretty easily.

 It works fine without anything except hot glue around the edges, though!

Then, you can put your border up the same way OR hot glue your border straight on the fabric.

Now you have a brand new bulletin board and less ugly cinderblock wall!
Please excuse the hot mess below the board.  It is going to be dealt with soon. ;)
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week: Taming the Wild!

I didn't get a chance to link up yesterday because vacation got in the way.  Sad story, right? :)

I'm back bright and early this morning, though, and I promise I do have some posts lined up to show you lots of instructional organization so just check back in the near future.  I am especially excited to show you my new organization for word study sorts!

But "taming the wild" day! Ha! Love it!  Classroom management is one of my favorite topics and (I think) one of my strengths.  I believe in setting high expectations for behavior and I find that my kiddos usually follow.  When everything is under control and everyone is being NICE...then we can have FUN and be silly!

Here are some of my tips and tricks for classroom management.  I usually keep a few things in place all year and just add in some others when we need something fresh and exciting...or when I find something on Pinterest that I have to try! ;)

Our guidance counselor is pretty much AWESOME and supports a school wide bucket filling program to go along with this book.
I seriously love this book.  I'm sure you've seen it...but if, by chance, you haven' is a MUST read!

Any time I want to reward the entire class for good choices and "bucket filling" behavior, I put marbles in their bucket. Our counselor takes care of awarding stars for full buckets and rewarding them in small ways.

I'm going to focus my post on what I do in the classroom.

First of all...I only have 3 rules in my classroom.  I can fit anything under one of these rules!

Check out this post to find our more about my rules and grab a free copy of them.

I pass out these tickets from Creative Teaching Press all day long for good behavior. Especially at the beginning of the year...ANYTHING positive gets a ticket.

And I mean anything.   The kids collect these tickets (cute container pictures to come!) and each week...if they have 10 tickets, they get to trade in their 10 tickets for one of these red tickets and they write their name on it and put it in our "raffle basket."

Each month, we do a big raffle drawing with the red tickets for prizes.  The prizes range anywhere from Dollar Tree junk treasures to "lunch bunch" and "bring a stuffed animal to school day" coupons to free books from Scholastic bonus points, etc.

I have just collected ideas from YOUR blogs and Pinterest for ideas that will work in my classroom for the drawings.  My kids' favorite things to win are things that don't cost me any "stinky feet" coupons where they get to take their shoes off all day in the classroom.  Works for me!

I think they key to this kind of classroom management system is to be very liberal with the tickets at first and make a HUGE deal about it when they are dispersed.  They really like earning tickets and keeping count of them. I keep some in my pocket to hand out, but I also have them loose in a basket near my desk so if I'm working with a small group and see one teeny tiny little sweet soul doing what they're supposed to be doing while the rest of the class acts like wild hyenas...I can very sweetly say "! Look at Austin sitting quietly and setting up his math game for his partner.  Austin...go get yourself a ticket.  THANK YOU!"

And I don't have to get up.  Which is good.

 I also LOVE the math that I hear going on as they collect them too.

"I have 6, so I need 4 more to make 10."


I know you're wondering...and YES, I do take the tickets occasionally for negative behaviors.

'Cause I'm a big fat meanie.

I don't take them often, but sometimes it's absolutely necessary...and sometimes I'm in a bad mood.  There. I said it.

The other thing I like about this kind of system is that their whole day isn't judged by where they are on a chart or what "color" they landed on at the end of the day.  That totally works for a lot of classrooms and I have been itching to make a cute clipchart and give it a whirl...but if it ain't broke...don't fix it...right?? And this works for me!

So what else can my little darlings do to earn tickets?

Wellllll....check out this post to get more info on "Mystery Walker" and "Secret Student" AND to get your free copy of these posters for your classroom.

Both of these ideas work basically the same way.  One is for hallway behavior and the other is for any ol' thing.  I've even used "secret student" for school assemblies and field trip.

You choose a student's name and don't tell anyone who it is.  You watch that person closely...and they only get their ticket if they did a PERFECT job on whatever task you were watching.  

And lastly, a NEW thing I'm trying this year are "quiet critters."  I'm sure you've seen a version of this on Pinterest, and I have no idea where the original source came from...but if you search for "quiet critters" on Pinterest you will find tons of ideas!  I can't stand constantly saying "Shhh" but sometimes it's important that my kids work silently...especially if I'm doing testing, etc. with another student.

Most of the pictures I've seen on Pinterest use little pom poms for critters...but I found these ADORABLE little plush monsters on Amazon that I am going to use.  Click the picture for the link.

I'm going to use these little monsters for times when the kids truly must be silent.  Everybody gets a quiet critter to start with, and if they make noise...bye bye monster.  Sad!

At the end of the activity, whoever has a monster left on their desk will get a ticket.

I will let you know how this works since this is new for me...if anyone else has tried does it work?

OK...beach time!

Happy Teacher Week!  Can't wait to read up and find some new ideas. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week 2013: Classroom Sneak Peak

This is probably my favorite day of teacher week! I just love looking in other people's classrooms! 

My classroom is nowhere near finished! I will share what I have but I'll be back later to show you the finished product!

 I took some pictures last week before I left but I still have a lot to do.  I have worked more this summer than I usually do because I was on a mission to get rid of every single monkey/jungle thing!  I've been hanging with the monkeys for 6 years and it was just time for them to go.  I decided to go without a "theme" so that maybe I won't get tired of it quickly.  I think my theme now is just bright colors and patterns! I know some people probably think it is too bright and crazy but I believe in organized chaos!  I think if everything has its place and your room is neat and can go a little crazy with colors!  I just made that rule up as I was typing. I like it.  I'm sticking to it.  My house is neutral city so I think my classroom is my little outlet for my love of all things bright!

I am incorporating a little bit of the "boho birds" collection from Carson Dellosa and "tweeting birds" collection from Creative Teaching Press to pull everything together.  It's funny because I really don't like birds in real life but as you can see from my blog...I adore little pink, cartoon birds. 

OK.....I'm just procrastinating because I don't want to show you my unfinished room.  Don't judge.  ;)

 Classroom library needs labels and some TLC

 Writing table and my teacher the "word wall to be"

A closer look at my teacher area...needing labels!

 Front of the room...needs a lot of work.  The yellow frames at the top ready to be filled with math word wall cards and word work "chunks."

 The meeting area with smartboard where most of my whole group teaching takes place.  The green chevron board in the back is going to be full of anchor charts and projects that we are working on throughout the year.  The pillow on the floor in the back will be around a little black table for reading and partner work.

 Squint your eyes and pretend that those math manipulative boxes are on a pretty blue shelf that the hubs is making me. ;)  That door is the bathroom door waiting to be decorated.  The yellow curtains hide guided reading materials and more math manipulatives and LOTS of TPT products and games in manilla envelopes!  The blue drawers hold work work materials like wiki stix, stamps, a mini sandbox, shaving cream, letter cubes, etc.

This is my guided reading/math table for small group instruction.  The blue polka dot board in the back is the back of my supply shelf and will hold reading strategies (magnetic).

This is our community supply shelf as you walk in the door...ready to be filled with brand new supplies...makes my teacher heart happy!  Everything is ready for some cute labels...on my to do list next week!

That's all for now.  Come back soon for a finished version! Don't forget to link up with Blog Hoppin' to get in on all the fun this week.  I'm off to the beach...can't wait to look in all of the beautiful classrooms this evening!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week 2013: Ten Random Tidbits about ME!

I looove teacher week!  We are squeezing in one last summer vacation right now,  so this post is going to be short and sweet but I did not want to miss out on the party! 

I also LOVE my new blog design.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Kassie at The Cutest Blog on the Block for giving my blog a little one year anniversary makeover!

Here are 5 random tidbits about ME:

1.  I got married in May in the Outer Banks.  It was the most fun thing I've ever done!  We rented a gigantic house and all of our family and closest friends stayed with us. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect, laid back way to start our lives together! The whole event was so "us."

*Another fun fact: My older brother got ordained online and married us because we didn't want a stranger at the beach to do the ceremony!  He now has the nickname "Rev". :)

2. My husband's name is Andy.  He's a firefighter in the same city where I teach.  We have a dog, Sawyer, who we treat like a child.  He was even part of the wedding!


Sawyer is completely spoiled rotten.

3. My dad was the principal at my high school.  It wasn't as bad as it may sound because I was a pretty good kid (had to be, right?!).  I wish I was at home to share a high school picture, but I'll just have to leave the awkwardness to your imagination.

4.  In high school and college, people used to get my best friend and I mixed up all.the.time.  It was ridiculous.  We get it less often now...but what do you think? Twins or no? 

This is us during our freshman year at Virginia Tech. Go Hokies!

And now...

Maegan is in Uganda serving as a missionary since January and I miss her SO daggone much!

5.  Andy and I hope to have children of our own in the future but for right now we LOVE lovin' on our friends' babies and our precious nieces and nephew.

Cuteness overload!

6.  I've seen Bon Jovi concerts in 4 different cities.  Maegan and I may been considered groupies for a short time. We actually traveled to Denver to see him one time (from and it was totally worth it because we had front row seats.  No one believes me except Maegan, but Jon Bon Jovi did indeed blow me a kiss at one of the concerts.  And I liked it.

7.  I met M.C. Hammer when I was a little kid in an elevator in Richmond.

8. If I go to a restaurant and they have fish tacos on the menu...there is a 95% chance that is what I will order.  My favorite fish tacos of all time are from a little place in Blacksburg, VA called "Cabo Fish Taco."

9.   I wish I could draw.  Even my stick figures are sad.  :(

10.  My favorite place in the world to be is at the beach!  Which is where I am now...which is why I need to get off of the computer. :)

Don't forget to link up and check back all week for fun teacher week posts!

Happy Back to School!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guess what?

I have a new blog design that will be unveiled VERY soon I hope.  I'm so darn excited.  Here's a little sneaky peeky...


Stay tuned, friends!

I haven't been able to get back in my classroom for a few days but I've been working a little bit at home and my favorite finds this week were these lightweight, bright frames at Michael's! They were buy one get one free PLUS the sweet lady at the register had a coupon for 20% off instead of my 15% teacher discount. Woohoo!  I love them and I think (hope!) they're lightweight enough to stick on the wall with a command hook.

Everything looks better framed, am I right?  I obviously couldn't afford to frame everything on my walls so I decided to frame the rules and motivational posters.  Here is a start on that.

Click the links to be taken to the original source if you like these posters.

If You Can't Be Kind, Be Quiet  (Can I get an amen?)

And the class rules were made by yours truly.  

I actually posted a different one a couple weeks ago and I changed my mind on the color scheme (big shocker!) are welcome to grab yourself a copy of either one if you want them!

I like to keep my class rules short and sweet.  I let the kids have input on what kind of rules they want in the classroom on the first day of school...but for some reason they always get bogged down in things that pertain to physical violence and gross stuff.  Is that just my kids?

If I took all of their ideas, we would have 6,972 rules.  

1.  No hitting
2. No pushing
3. No kicking
4. No spitting in other people's food in the lunchroom (an actual one from one of my kiddos from last year)
5.  No biting
6. No calling people "cry babies" even if they are  (no...I couldn't make this stuff up)
etc. etc. etc. etc.

You get the picture.  So...I still get their input, but I have these 3 ready to rock because let's be honest I can slide any transgression into one of these categories.  I'm good like that.

Pretty sure spitting in other people's food qualifies as not being kind and respectful.  Just saying.

Last but not least,  I've been working on a little "Back to Basics" math and literacy pack and it's up and ready to go!  This is full of activities (whole group, small group, individual work, and partner games) that I plan to use to review basic skills with my first graders at the beginning of the year.  It would be perfect for kindergarten and Pre-K all year long.  I also plan to keep these activities handy to use for intervention as needed throughout the year in my first grade classroom.

Language Arts Skills:
first day writing template
-alphabet letter cards (lowercase)
-alphabet letter cards (capital)
-letter sounds picture cards (26 plus ch/sh/th)
-beginning sound assessment & answer key
-CVC picture cards
-CVC word cards
-"write around the room" CVC activity and/or assessment
-missing letter CVC assessment and/or guided practice
-DRAW IT (CVC word version)
-DRAW IT (CVC sentence version)
-rhyming picture match/pocket chart cards
-"No Nonsense" real vs. nonsense word rhyming activity
-rhyming sentence challenge activity

Math Skills:
-"A Number Book" (students illustrate simple sentences to show mastery of one to one correspondence with simple pictures)
(numbers 1-10)-"Adios Monsters" dice game & recording sheet
-"Spin it to Win it" card/unifix cube game (numbers 0-20)
-"It's All About the Dots" subitizing cards...perfect for number talks!
-"Fill it Up" card game (numbers 1-30)
-colorful number cards 1-30

It is ON SALE for 5 bucks this week. :)  Check out the preview here if you're interested!

I'd also love to GIVE IT AWAY to the first 5 readers that head over to my facebook page and leave me a comment there telling me you could use it! 

Happy Summer!