Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's Enough to Make Me Smile

I received an offer from SmileMakers to review one of their products. They have many classroom products in their catalog. Being an affiliate of Staples, many school/office supplies were included in their offer. Until I was contacted by their representative, I thought they only made stickers, pencils, and items for treasure boxes. I didn't know of their wide catalog selections.

After perusing the catalog online, and considering many choices, I decided on a product that integrates my interests of reading, writing, and blogging in a kid-friendly way. The product, Book Blog Pocket Chart, was appealing with its eye-catching computer-like display. At almost 3 feet by 3 feet, it could be a bulletin board by itself.

On a sturdy printed material, it has space for three book reviews and six comments (Avatar space included). There is also room for a favorites lists. It comes with blackline masters for the students to write reviews, comments. There are also twenty double-side cards with open-ended questions on character, setting, summary, etc. This one display could motivate students to write to prompts that support many aspects of the common core, with any book they read. At $24.99 it is in line with other pocket charts of similar size. 

I recommend you take a look at their catalog to see the variety of products they offer. They aren't just for stickers and prizes. They have a satisfaction guarantee and offer free shipping on purchases over $49. Total purchases less than that ship for $4.99. Not bad! 

I am not sure where I will hang this pocket chart. I am thinking I may post it in the hall to entice students to read and write reviews. I cannot get into my room until Monday, and will have to work "office hours" until August 13th, when I can get my key and key fob. Our building renovations are not finished, including our office, but we have until August 27th before we have to be back. Until then, I have a lot of tasks to accomplish. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Projects for Monday

It's Monday! I love Mondays because I love to see what everyone has made for their classroom and homes that may inspire me to be creative. I am so glad Tara @4th Grade Frolics does this linky.
I have wanted to make one of those 1st Day picture frames from Pinterest for awhile. I finally found the frame I wanted at Michaels. It was one of those laser cut frames, on clearance for $1.99! Love it! I decided I wanted some versatility in the use of the frame, so I made the title removable by tying it on to the frame. I want to use the frame when it wasn't in use with kids, so I painted the reverse in a school color, purple. It will hang with my new monogram, made with Washi tape, also from Michaels. The letter was also on clearance.
It doesn't show it very well, but it is black glitter on side one. (My charcoal glitter paint from a previous project, and Michaels glitter dust in black.) These pictures don't do the frame and letter justice, but without daylight, it was the best I could do.

My next project was a redo of a project I did last week. I didn't like my homework numbers. On a trip to Michaels, I found sets of 6 bottle caps also on clearance. They had various designs on them. I repainted all but the chevron caps in my neon rainbow paint. I used a sharpie and white paint pen to number the caps. I coated them with a layer or two of the Mod Podge to protect them. My numbers from last week's project? Repurposed to Daily 5 book bin labels.

Another project was my behavior clip chart. I used my rainbow background.  The background was one of my MMI projects, too. 

I have a couple of other projects I am working on for next week. What will you make?

Tara at 4th Grade Frolics

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spending a Pot of Gold for the Rainbow

I love a good deal. I love to find items that are inexpensive while fitting my theme. When I was trying to convince myself that my neon rainbow colors with black were not going to be too crazy, I happened upon some items at Walmart. I decided to proceed with the color theme.

On a trip to Walmart (to find the crates for my stools for last week's Monday Made It), I found the perfect border and alphabet strip. I am not sure if I am going to use the alphabet strip, but it matches, and I may not be able to get it later!

I also purchased sets of Crayola crayons by color, a 27 file organizer (doesn't match :( but it was what I needed, and was a fraction of the cost at the school supply company in town). I also found neon Sharpie markers, composition book zip it covers, and Dry Erase learning boards. They are 10.5 X 7.75 pieces of a commercial laminated board, like cardstock. They are ruled on one side and blank on the other. They should be perfect to keep inside of our math journals when we are working at the carpet in Daily 4 Math. They aren't rainbow, but will be useful.

Then, I went to Michaels to purchase some supplies for my Monday Made It projects. I got off track and found another black and rainbow border and a lime green border that I need to go with the Walmart border. I also got some circle cutouts and calendar pieces. I have  made some, but they will be a nice change for the calendar. The plain circles in my rainbow colors will  locker labels. Michaels had a sale going and a deal where buy one get one, lots of clearance items, and of course my teacher discount!

Come back tomorrow to see my Monday Made It projects.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Bright Spot

We have had so much rain this summer. After all that rain, there had to be a rainbow, and I found it! My Monday Made It project for last week was my black and neon rainbow painted stool. This week, I continued with that same black and rainbow theme.

Project 1: I had planned to make two of the milk crate stools for this week, but once I got started (or hubby did with the cutting of boards) I ended up with a total of five stools. Four of which are pictured here.

Three of the stools were made from old milk crates. The thick plastic kind that will outlast any furniture I have in my classroom. Two started out a bright yellow that would match the wood stool trim! The third (not pictured) was an ugly brown. They had been used to hold things in various locations, including our shed. I used Fusion spray paint to cover their previous past. The other two are from Target. I had a can of the paint already, but had to get another one to have extra for any nicks that occur. Can't stand the thought of that yellow showing its ugly self again! 

Hubby cut the seats from scraps he had in the back shed. I had him cut them to sit on the top of the crates, not on the lip like some Pinterest stools show. I thought they would be more sturdy with fifth graders. Hubby put a frame on the inside to keep the lid on the stool. The cushion was from a Memory Foam mattress pad that I bought but hated on the bed. It is about two inches thick and help raise the seats a little more than most, also better for fifth graders. The black and rainbow striped material was purchased at Hancock Fabrics. It was on sale. Hundreds of staples hold the material in place. I love how they match my bar stool!

 Project 2: I have been using my favorite iPad apps (Art Studio and iDraw) to create some backgrounds and clipart for various projects. I could spend hours a day playing, but there are chores to be done. :(  You can see some of my handy work in the projects that follow, and some for next week.

Project 3:  I was inspired by a colleague's Homework Club concept last year, when she came back to the grade level. She used a "Counting Rope" concept. I wanted to do something that would be easier for me. My other inspiration came from the projects shown on Tara's Monday Made It linky. The black and rainbow fits my theme. The neon paper was just to help you see the numbers. The Club will be placed on an aluminum sheet that matches my "Where Are You?" board.

Project 4: I made some tags to go on our Bragging Rights necklaces. I first started making tags here to go with my Reading Olympians. I have several more to make. I still need to cut them and to retrieve the container from school to hold them. I got the necklace chain last spring with a gift card when it was half off. I  may need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to get another roll, but I have a coupon, and want to browse.

Project 5:  I noticed a number of pins on Pinterest with a "Before You Go" displays. I made a version to match my color scene. (Sorry about the glare but lamination can be that way!)

I have a few more things lined up for next week. What did you make for Monday Made It?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Made It and A Flip-Flop Product Swap

I have been busy with one long project for this week, and an easy one. For the first endless project, I had this old bar stool in my screen room for years. Replaced with a set of new ones, I still couldn't bear to part with it. I envisioned a teaching stool, and need one since my rocker was broken in the spring. I wanted one that would remind me of my dear friend, Peg, that got me hooked on inclusion and fifth grade. She had a wild purple teacher's chair that spoke volumes about who she was. I hoped to someday be like her. Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and I find myself being compared to her, by others that loved working with her. To honor Peg, and to make my stool match my new theme, I got busy gathering supplies.

Since my stool was previously stained and varnished, I sanded it smooth and gave it a coat of primer. The spindles didn't make this an easy task! I used black semi-gloss paint bought previously for a bookcase, and lots of leftover acrylics.  I planned to do black with teal and gray accents, but gave in to my wild side. Be forewarned, it looks like a neon rainbow threw up on it! The neon colors required so many coats of paint! If I had to do it again, I would either tape and spray paint, or use one color. After a failed attempt at writing my name, I gave up and added the teal chevron paper and hand-painted "H". I love the way it turned out.

BTW - The stool matches my new renewed black and white with some splashes puddles of color.

My second project was so much easier! I agreed to do a "Flip-flop Product Swap" with Teresa at Confessions of a Teaching Junkie. She sent me her awesome Build-a-Banana Split Multiplication Facts center. The set is beautiful. The clip art is colorful and enticing. All I had to do was print, cut, and laminate.

Students roll a set of dice, multiplying the two numbers. The total determines what part of the sundae they earn, after needing to roll two "1"s to earn the bowl. This set is CCSS aligned for third and fourth grade, but my fifth graders will need a quick review of facts in the fall prior to our MEAP test. This will also be perfect for my inclusion students that struggle with math. All I need is a set of dice to add to my container, and it is ready for my students to enjoy.

Teresa has the cutting file for a Silhouette machine that she is willing to share, but I don't have one, so my daughter was coerced with a real ice cream sundae as her pay!

The storage container is an up-cycled Blue Bunny Sweet Freedom ice cream container.  A quick spritz of black Fusion paint and contact paper, and it looks beautiful! The pieces will fit, with the "bowls" and "bananas" hugging the sides.

I swapped my Equivalent Fractions Are Fun (Anytime). I loved doing the swap and would love to find more  teachers with whom I could trade products. 

Don't forget to check out Tara's blog for more Monday Made It projects, and Teresa's blog for more flip-flop products swaps.

One last thing, since this post won't be until Tuesday, July 16th, my wedding anniversary, I am going to do a quick sale at my TpT store. It will be from the time I finish here, until I wake up Wednesday morning. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tried It - Mystery Skype

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about technology is how it can connect us, no matter how far apart we are. Skype is one of the easiest things I have used to make the world come closer to my neck of the woods. I have used Skype in several online projects, but until this year, my kids knew who was calling, and what to expect. Mystery Skype was a new experience for both the students and myself. I first read about Mystery Skypes on a blog, but don't remember whose, since it was a couple of years ago. I saw a post about Mystery Skypes on Shepherd's Shining Stars.

We were able to set up a Mystery Skype with her class. You can read about it here and here.

To Skype, you need a webcam or some document cameras will work. You may need a stand alone microphone. An iPad can also be used, but it may be difficult for students to view the other class without cloning the screen. I have a Microsoft webcam I use. We use the smart board to view the feed from the other class. We also have a sound system and microphone that gives us good quality sound and picture. An alternative to Skype could be FaceTime. Our school blocks some social media sites, although we can request a window/time frame for them to be opened for educational purposes.

I recommend choosing a class in your time zone because it is easier to find common times with school starting and ending in similar time frames. I also recommend setting up a trial call with the teacher to check picture and sound, especially if this is your first Skype. Work out the arrangements ahead of time, and have fun learning about other classes or places.

Interested in a Mystery Skype in the fall or sometime next school year? Fill out the form. I will share it so you can get matched up with classes next year.

Mystery Skype - Find your match

Have fun!  Don't forget to link up with Holly for the link up! Remember this is the only one this month.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goin on a Blog Hunt

Laura Candler is hosting a blog hunt for elementary blogs. The purpose is to have a source for relevant blogs to follow. How can you follow posts now that Google Reader is gone? You can join me and others on Bloglovin. It is easy to do if you have an account. Don't have an account yet? Go to Bloglovin. Click on the button to join. Follow the steps. (There are tutorials online if you cannot do this.)
Once you have an account, come back to this post. Click the "Follow me" button (the plus sign on the right). Already following and have an elementary blog? Join the hunt! Click Laura's adorable image below.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Where Are You?

It is Monday morning. I am linking up with Tara for her Made It Monday linky.

For this week's project, I made a "Where Are You?" Sign. I used a cookie sheet, small wooden circles, paint, sealer, magnets, and Washi tape. The wooden shapes, paint, sealer, and magnets were left over pieces from previous projects. I bought the cookie sheet last year to use with magnetic letters for word work. My kids used the file cabinet more than the cookie sheet, so I decided to repurpose the sheet.

I chose the glittery charcoal and turquoise from last week's project. To make it easier for students to find their number, I painted even numbers gray and odd numbers blue. I used paint markers and sealed the student circles with spray lacquer. I used craft glue to attach the magnets. (At our school, we use the word "facilities" instead of "restroom". I needed a spot for RtI and students that see OT, PT, and Speech to sign out. I often have students at four different locations during work time in the afternoon.)
I am going to hang this by the door with Velcro strips. I hope this will allow me to keep better track of my students' comings and goings.
Thank you to all that followed my link to Bloglovin' and are following there. I have the winners from my giveaway, Mindy W. and Lindsey J.  Look for my email. I will email your choice of three goodies from my TpT store.

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