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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Classroom Reveal 2017-2018

I can't believe that AWESOME time of the year is here again- the anticipation, the excitement, and the FUN! Yes, it's back to school again, and I can't wait to reveal to you my newly decorated classroom!

This year, I teamed up with Oriental Trading to bring you some amazing decoration ideas for your classroom!  For additional information on any of the products or teaching resources, click to the images below! 

Let's get started and take a quick tour around my classroom!

Classroom Library: This is hands down my most favorite place in the classroom! I have always wanted to make my library feel cozy and homey for my students!  While the cubbies have been in this corner since last year, I struggled to find a background that could help me achieve the look that I had envisioned for my library.  Then TAH-DAH- the Fadeless Weathered Wooden Paper from OrientalTrading! Not only does it help the white cubbies stand out from the white walls, it is also perfect when paired with a black border and green and mint fans! I'm excited to hang my reading anchor charts here for my students to refer to throughout the year as they apply them while reading here in our classroom library!

Birthday Wall: Right next to our library are the tall, plain cabinets that had old tape and chipped paint on them.  Last year, I tried to cover them the best I could with posters.  But to achieve a cohesive look, I decided to use the Fadeless Weathered Wooden Paper again on the front doors and made it our Birthday Wall!  Paired with a bright, white border, the cabinets are now functional and pretty!

Student Work Display Board: I've always wanted to have a student work display board, so I decided that I would do so this year to help motivate my writers to do their very best!  Using wrapping paper from a local store along with a Oriental Trading's black border, green, mint, and pink fans, and streamers, this board is now functional and gives my classroom a much needed  splash of color!

Front Board: I needed a space to highlight the week's best work and to hang important notes and No Names!  This small board by my big whiteboard in front of the classroom was the best space for it!  I love how the Fishscale Rainbow Scallop border contrasts against the black background to help make this space possible for me!

Word Wall: This summer, I created my own jumbo letter signs for our Word Wall.  The signs are big enough to be seen even across the classroom, but small enough to all fit on our dry-erase board.  I can't wait to fill it up with sight words and have my students use them throughout the year!

Classroom Motto: Since our classroom is an interior room with no walls, I struggled to find a display that would fill up this HUGE space and is meaningful to our class.  I thought of making separate focus boards for each individual subject.  However, the drawers and floor cabinets underneath of this big board, makes it troublesome for me to hang any anchor charts or posters.  Therefore, this inspirational quote along with these easy-to-make flowers are perfect to brighten up our classroom!

Cubbies: One of the luxuries of our class is that we have our own cubbies! This space has been so important by helping my students keep up with their work. Lined with some bright colored cardstock and cubby tags, these cubbies make me so happy just looking at them! :)


Labels, Labels, and More Labels: A goal of mine this year was make labels for my classroom and help better organize supplies!  I am overjoyed that these labels are going to help my STEM design challenges, desk caddies, and book boxes so much more organized this year!!!!

Back to School Photo-Op & Student Gifts: To welcome my new students on Meet-the-Teacher Night, I set up an easy photo op in the back of my classroom!  I used my pocket chart holder to hang streamers and created these simple props.  I also made additional props for my son who is entering Kindergarten and my students' siblings who may be entering these grades as well. And of course, I sent each of my students home with a warm hug and a little present to let them know how excited I am to have as my students!

Thank you so much for touring our classroom!  I had a great time decorating our little space and making it organized and functional for my students!  The items below are products from Oriental Trading!  Click to the image for additional information.

Disclaimer: Products from Oriental Trading were sent for review.  All opinions are of my own.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A DIY Unicorn Birthday Party

Recently, we celebrated my daughter's second birthday, and of course, I HAD to throw her a Unicorn-themed birthday party!  What other way could we have celebrated how magical she is than to throw her a party that matches her personality?! :)

Well, since I am a Do-It-Yourself kind of gal, I was up to the task to do just that but also on a budget!

First, to decorate her high-chair, I simply cut pink streamers to size, folded them in half, cut slits to the make the tassels, and then twisted the halves on a long string of white yarn. Once all the tassels were made, I taped the entire string onto the tray.  I then added some pink, white, and aqua blue balloons and streamers onto the wall to give a little POP of color!

For her cake table, I decorated the background with matching yellow, pink, and aqua streamers in alternating heights.  The easiest way to hang streamers that I have found, is to tape them beforehand on a long piece of clear tape.  Once it's complete, hang the entire strand to its designated spot.  It's SUPER easy to put up and SUPER easy to take down! I also added a white and gold glitter banner to the background as an accent.  I also added to the cake table some unicorn paper straws, party hats, unicorn chocolate bark, cupcakes, small marshmallows drizzled in unicorn chocolate, balloons, and a simple cake.  The banner in the front of the table fit perfectly with our theme and made her day even more special!

To make the Unicorn Bark, I melted pink, blue, white, and purple chocolate together in a microwave on a tray low heat. I then mixed the colors together then sprinkled sprinkles on top, left it out to cool and harden, broke the large piece into chunks, and then TAH-DAH!

To make the unicorn marshmallows, I saved a small batch of unicorn chocolate and poured into a small Ziplock bag. I then cut a small hole in the corner with the bag tightly closed, then I carefully squeezed the chocolate over the small marshmallows and added sprinkles on the top.

These adorable party hats and paper straws from Target with some pink lemonade were easy and super fun touches!  And of course, rainbow cupcakes and cake to top it all off!

Well, our little unicorn had a blast and loved all her decorations! I think daddy was a little tired in the end (notice him lying in the background), but it was ALL worth it!!! 

Pin now, read later:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dear New Teachers: An Open Letter to New & New-ish Teachers Starting Out

11 years ago, when I was hired 15 minutes before Meet-the-Teacher Night, I was overcome with excitement and honestly, pure terror. The teacher, who was assigned to my classroom had decorated it with the cutest decorations and sent out postcards to the kids to introduce herself, decided that she wanted to transfer back to her previous school that morning. And so, I walked into a fully decorated classroom and met students who thought I was someone else.

The night actually turned out great and my excitement helped calm my nerves. It was only until the next day that it hit me. My classroom was completely EMPTY except for the furniture, the mandatory school signs, and the name plates that were left behind. 

Everything that I had bought and saved up from the Teacher Section at Dollar Tree was in a big plastic bag and that was it.

Teachers from across grade levels at my school then began dropping off decorations at my door, and I happily and gratefully hung them on my walls. No specific theme, just whatever that worked to help run an organized classroom.

Those were the days of NO PINTEREST, NO FACEBOOK GROUPS, and NO INSTAGRAM. There were few teacher blogs around, and seriously I didn't even know of them because I had not even of such a thing until much much later (silly me). But with the limited digital and instant source of ideas at my fingertips, I didn't really feel pressure one way or another my first year of teaching to buy or have much.

My classroom was decorated, but according to today's standards, it was pretty empty and plain. However, I had one of the most memorable years in that classroom with my students and wouldn't change it for the world! 

For new teachers today, it's different. Way different. And I get it. While it's inspiring and exciting to see so many ideas for your classroom, it can literally be OVERWHELMING! Everywhere you look, the bar for teaching has risen so high with so much talent, creativity, and innovation, that you can't help but to question your own talent and creativity. I know, because even after all these years I still doubt and question my own ability. 

But, what I want you to know is that you are ENOUGH. Yes. YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

Beautiful decorations are nice to have. Bright colored bins are pretty and eye-catching. Laminated colorful supply labels make your classroom very organized. But none of that can replace a GOOD teacher. To get to this point in your life, you have had to complete hours of observations in the classroom, hours of volunteer work with children, passed amazingly hard college and state exams, and jumped over unbelievable hurdles to receive your own classroom. You GOT this. You are ENOUGH.

Don't feel overwhelmed and intimidated with what's out on only display on social media. Know that what is posted on teacher accounts and profiles mostly relate and pertain to ideas and resources for all teachers because they are afterall, teaching accounts. You do not have to have all those things to be a GREAT teacher. 

You just have to do the best you can everyday with your own students. That is the most important thing of all!

So don't feel intimidated or pressured in anyway. You GOT THIS. You really do.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

5 Things to Do Before the First Day of School

So the countdown to the first day of school has begun for many teachers.  As more and more things are added to our long list of things to do, it is important to prioritize all the tasks at hand and go down the list one by one.  I am guilty of having a million imperative things to do and then finding myself in the corner of my classroom rearranging the pillows at the Library Center.  Yup, that's me! Guilty as charged.  :)

So to keep me focused, I have come up with 5 Things to Do Before the First Day of School so that everything will go as smoothly as possible, which of course does not include me remembering to grab my lunch from the kitchen counter before dashing out the door. :)

1. Have your plans and class schedule ready. Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, but after spending hours getting your classroom ready and meeting your students at Meet-the-Teacher Night, you need to have your class schedule set and all the plans with any print-outs to go along with the first day and the first week of school ready on your desk. Display the classroom schedule on the board or somewhere students can easily find and follow along.  This is especially important toward the end of the day when it is dismissal.  Going over and practicing how students will be dismissed will definitely make your first day much smoother and less stressful.  Being organized and prepared will help set the stage for the rest of the year.

2. Designate different learning areas in your classroom.  Part of setting up your classroom is having different learning areas for students.  Do you have an area for reading, Word Work, writing, computer, math, STEM, etc.?  Are you doing Flexible Seating? What are the expectations for those areas?  The more defined the areas are, the more helpful it is for the flow of the classroom and for students to learn the expectations of how to work and learn in your classroom.

3. Establish a system on how to organize your classroom supplies and let your students know. Having a place where supplies are stored or a designated area for students to get and replenish their supplies later on will help with classroom management.  During the first week of school, I always go over where our classroom supplies are and the process of getting them.  For instance, construction paper is separated by color and is stacked on the open shelf in my classroom.  Also, there are two buckets for sharp and dull pencils by my pencil sharpener.  When students need to sharpen their pencils, they simply leave their pencils in the bucket and get a new one.

4. Have a behavior incentive system ready.  No matter if you are doing a clip chart or brag tags.  Having an incentive system so that students can be recognized for their good choices and be held accountable is imperative in a positive and productive classroom. In the past, I have done clip charts, tickets for Treasure Chest prizes, and punch cards.  They have all been effective and helpful in encouraging good choices.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure that you explain it thoroughly to your students and parents, be faithful to it, and have your prizes ready (little toys, coupons, etc.).  However, if you need to change it up in the middle of the year or so, do so!  You know what's best for your class.  Just make sure you go over with your students and their parents as well.

5.  Label individual student areas.  Have name tags ready for where students will place their own personal belongings.  Will they have their own cubby or hook to hang their jacket and backpack or assigned desk?  Young students like having their own personal spaces in the classroom.  It helps them keep track of their own belongings and feel belonged in the classroom.

It's hard to believe that with a blink of an eye, summer will be over soon.  But your new students have been waiting all summer to meet and get to know you!  They are so excited and know that it's going to be their BEST year with you as their teacher! :)

Below are some resources that are great for Back-to-School!

Pin now. Read later!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Friends at Target

So it all started last week when I realized that since it's summer, I can finally do one of my most favorite things- go to Target anytime I want to!  :) With that realization, I created a meme to show my excitement and posted it on my Instagram feed.

One thing led to another, and I found myself setting up a Target date with one of my teacher friends, Carrie from Adventures in Kinder and Beyond and I couldn't have been more excited!  To share the fun, we named our outing "Friends at Target" and decided to invite all of our friends on Instagram to follow our stories and feed to see all the goodies that we would find.

After catching up on coffee at the Starbucks conveniently located inside the Target, we headed straight to the Dollar Spot to hunt for all the new and cute items for our classrooms!  And oh look at all the things that we found!  From colorful binders, file folders, magnetic dry-erase boards, to chalk, fluffy pillows for reading centers, activity books for math and science, and easy readers on shapes, colors, and animals, they were all there right in front of the store just waiting for us to throw them all into our cart!

We had so much fun that we headed over to the home decor aisles to see what else we could find for our classroom, and it only got better! From sweet little rugs to a live-sized tent to stuffed flamingos, bears, and unicorns to cactus-shaped lamps and more!  Honestly, I wanted to buy them all for my classroom and for my own kids' rooms.

After an hour and a half of walking up and down the aisles like two overly excited teachers needing an intervention from the Target employees and a Where-Are-You phone call from both of our families, we had to call it a day and check out with a cart full of goodies.

Even though we had to say goodbye, we didn't want the fun to end there!  So....if you are reading this, I am tagging you to find a buddy to go with you on a Target date and share all the amazing items that you find at your local Target!  Add your buttons to the graphic below to share the excitement and don't forget to tag me so I can follow you as well!

Have fun, teachers!!!   

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