Wednesday, February 10, 2016

(Not so) Bad Kitty & Puppy Valentines Bags

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No longer being in the classroom, I am able to volunteer as my youngest boys room mom. He is in the 2nd grade, and after much coaxing, has finally starting reading chapter books.  So yesterday, when I was looking for a super quick idea for making a classroom set of Valentines bags, he threw a little wrench in my plan.  I was scrolling through ideas on Pinterest and came across this picture of some cute bags on the blog, Buzzing About Second Grade

It immediately reminded him of the book by Nick Bruel, Bad Kitty: Puppy's Big Day.  Since this is his favorite series at the moment...I was on a mission.  The Puppy pattern comes from The Glyph Girls on TPT.  The Puppy pattern is here, and I also modified their Splat pattern from here, after all, Bad Kitty is a cat.

I ended up printing the puppy pattern on cardstock on brown kraft.  I printed two to a page of each of the patterns so that it would fit on my white handled sacks I got here.  I added the names onto the bones and cut my hearts and 1" circle noses out with punches.  I am not a fan of scissor cutting, so I tried to eliminate some of it with these punches:

Now for the Splat/Bad Kitty bags.  Since I couldn't print on black cardstock, I made one pattern and traced it with the silver metallic marker by American Crafts.  I used the puppy standing body and the Splat head for the pattern.  I drew in the legs with the silver marker, but for the ears and mouth, I used the American Crafts Galaxy Marker in Pink.  I punched two eyes out with my 3/4" circle punch and used a Sharpie to draw in black circles.  I used the I used a heart punch for the nose. For the names on the kitty, I used the heart pattern page that was included in the puppy pattern (again printing two to a page), and added text on the computer.  I printed them on pink cardstock. I told my kiddo that the "Bad" Kitties had to look a little happy for Valentines...he wasn't buying it!

Using a glue stick, I glued everything together and down on the bags.  To put the teacher's name and year, I used a DJ Inkers heart from this collection

These bags were inexpensive to make. It took a little time to cut all of the pieces out, but I enlisted my second grader to cut the puppy ears out for me.  If I were still in the classroom, I would have had the students do this in class.  I like it when their projects are unique, so I would have let them choose their own colors. 

My second grader is truly excited to take these to school for his classmates.  I did make him one kitty that looked more like Bad Kitty.  See why these couldn't be on Valentines bags...cute but grumpy!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Super Cheap Dry Erase Boards & Erasers!

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As a teacher, I often used TONS of my own money for my classroom.  It is hard to get by when you are trying to teach kiddos concepts, yet your school budget just doesn't allow for you to get what you need.  One thing I needed was individual dry erase boards for my students. 

Since a class set of dry erase boards were so expensive, I ended up using plastic plates instead! You know, the kind you get in a pack at the grocery store.  I did have to do a little trial and error, however, because with certain plastic plates, the dry erase marker would sort of etch in and you couldn't erase it.  Jodi at the clutter free classroom upgraded a little and got a more durable plastic plate set at the Dollar Tree!  See her post HERE . 

Another alternative to the plastic plates is getting shower board.  You can get sheets of it pretty inexpensive at your local home improvement store.  I ended up inheriting a set of these from a retiring teacher. Her husband had cut them for her, but I hear you can get the store to cut them for a fee. They are not as light weight as the plates, but they are definitely more durable. They can double as a hard surface for students to write on if you do not have clipboards.  On the blog, Simply in the Middle, she used colorful duct tape as a border (see left). 

Another thing you need for dry erase boards are erasers.  I know that some people use white socks as a sort of mitt.  I have to be honest....since kiddos aren't the best hand washers, this kind of grosses me out.  I was never a fan of the socks.  One thing that I stumbled upon that is absolutely FREE are USED dryer sheets.  I know what you are thinking...used dryer sheets?! That is worse than socks.  Think harder.  You use dryer sheets with clean clothes, so a used dryer sheet is clean and usually still has a little smell to it.  You get a free eraser and little deodorizer!  I got students to bring these in and gave them a ticket (tickets went with my reward system).  I stored them in an empty wet wipe container.  You can just shove them in there.  Since they are free, you have no worries to throw them away when kiddos need a new one.  Also, if they lose theirs, no biggie, they just get a new one.  It really worked out great for me, and we never ran out of them! 

Hope these ideas help you!  Do you have any cheap alternatives for dry erase boards or erasers that I didn't mention?  I'd love to hear them!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bulletin Board Idea & Parent Communication Log

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Classroom Freebies Manic Monday      i LOVE the idea of sharing the love with my fellow teachers as this school year is just starting up.  I've linked up with Classroom Freebies and 4th Grade Frolics to do just that!
     My friends went back to work today for those beginning of the year meetings and staff development.  Since I myself am not returning this year, I was a little sad not to be with them.  Anywho... I wanted to share a picture of a beginning of the year bulletin board I made a few years back.  It looks a lot harder than it was.  I bought a couple of 8x8 books of craft paper that already had cute designs on it.  I used my Cricut to cut out my student's names in coordinating paper.  I then used Popdots and craft glue to adhere them.  I connected the paper together like a quilt using ribbons.  My name was in the center.  I used pre-cut letters from the local teacher store to make the title: Making Connections in 2nd Grade....well my "t" in connections obviously fell off before I could take a picture :-D I kept it up a good while because I had two outside bulletin boards.  When I finally disassembled it, my students had a treasure to keep!

So there is a free bulletin board idea..... but that's not good enough is it?  How about something useful?  I keep a folder on all of my students.  I put all important notes from parents in the folder along with a communication log.  It is important to have good communication with parents, but don't forget to have positive communication as well.  I find that when a parent feels that I am on their side, that they are more likely to back me up.  Even if I am calling on a serious note, I try to begin and end with something positive.  I also ask the parent for their take on the situation and for any suggestions that they may have.  Keeping documentation is important.  It can prove helpful when you have to call the same parent again or when you need to go to your principal with a bigger issue.

I've Uploaded this FREEBIE to my TPT Account.  Go on there, download it for free, and ENJOY!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Time & TPT Freebies

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School will be starting soon in my neck of the woods.  To get with the spirit, I've posted some FREEBIES on TPT as well as some back to school basics.  I added a back to school fun pack, transportation pack, and discipline pack.  Check it out & tell me what you think!  Don't forget to download the freebies while you're there!  Click HERE for my TPT page.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Parent Helper Sign Up Sheet

Pin It Now! has a linky on how to get parents involved.  Parent involvement is key.  You have to have parents on your side.  They need to feel that they can trust you and that you are looking out for the best interest of their child.  If you do not have that, then it will definitely work against you.  I have found that most parents want to be involved in their student's schooling, but some just do not know how.  It might be because they are a single parent, struggling to make ends meet, or it might be because they are insecure about the knowledge they feel they lack.  At the beginning of the year, I use a sign up sheet that allows parents to sign up for things that they feel they could contribute to.  Find the page below for FREE here at TPT.
The sign up sheet opens up opportunities that may be more achievable to parents who are unable to be room mothers/parents or join the PTO.  At Parent Orientation, I express that our classroom is alway open for them to share their talents and experiences.  I have had parents come in and share for Chinese New Year, Dental Week, Fire Prevention, holiday crafts, etc.  I can always relate things back to the curriculum and it gives students and parents pride in our class. It may sound weird that you get more parent involvement by asking them to volunteer, but it works.  What you are doing, is making them feel welcome in your classroom and at your school.  This helps to gain their support and opens up communication.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun App to Teach Handwriting

Pin It Now!      I have taught from 1st to 5th grade.  I think it is easy to underestimate the importance of PROPER handwriting.  By the time students get into second grade, it is very hard to undo improper handwriting strokes. By then it has become habit.  Not only is writing improperly messy, but more importantly it is uncomfortable, harder, and makes learning cursive next to impossible.
    My four-year-old has been learning to write his letters.  He can make the letters, but not with the correct strokes.  I kept trying to help him learn correctly, but he just wasn't interested.  To him it looked like the letter and so he didn't quite understand what I was telling him.  I found that if I kept pressing, he would get bored with it and want to go off and do something else instead (sound familiar to anyone else).   So.... after trying out some apps on iTunes, I found one the we both love, love, LOVE!  It is called Letter School.  There is a free version, which I tried first, then the full version which is $2.99.  That is a little more expensive than the apps I normally get for my kids, but this one will not disappoint.

 Letter School not only reinforces the letter sound and corresponds it with a word(and picture), but it offers three ways to practice drawing it. The first two ways show dots and the letter outline. Here is the best part: children HAVE to start at the correct spot.  The third way lets them be a little more independent at drawing letter.  When a child has mastered the correct form, a star goes by that letter.
     This is a super way for preschoolers to get the practice they need to make proper letter formation automated.  It works great on an iPhone, but would be a fun way to practice in class on an iPod touch or iPad.  After you typical handwriting practice this would be a great way for students to get reinforcement and make a kinetic and visual connection with what you have been teaching.  A child that hasn't even begun learning their letters would enjoy and benefit from it too.  It could also work for older children who aren't quite making the connection of why they need to change their strokes.  Try the free version here or go for the full version here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cute clipboards for gifts or functionality!

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     Make these cute little clipboards for a co-worker, child's teacher, or yourself!  They are super easy and inexpensive too!  I made the one with the clothes pins for my students to take to lunch as a behavior monitor.  Each student in my class is assigned a number, so I number everything!  This helps me to be able to use classroom items for several years versus just one by adding student names.   I added numbers to the end of the clothespins with American Crafts Galaxy Markers, but you can also just use a permanent marker.  I also used the Galaxy markers to put the white border on the solid green paper.  You can find these clipboards very inexpensively at dollar stores or office supply stores (see here).  Make sure it has a flat clip so you can jazz it up with ribbon.
      Along with the clipboard, you need craft paper, modge podge, a foam brush, ribbon, and clothespins (if you are using this for a behavior monitoring system.)  I used my Cricut to cut out designs and letters, but you could also buy these pre-cut.  For the larger background paper, I find it best to use the thinner craft paper rather than heavier card stock grade.
    I find Modge Podge very easy to work with, but here are a few tips that I have found along the way.  First off, paint the glue not only on the back what you are adhering down, but also on what you are gluing it to.  I have found that when I do not do this, I get more air bubbles.  Also, it is very gooey which is good!  It helps you to be able to manipulate your paper better without tearing it.  If it is not quite were you want it, just slide it around!  I use my Cricut scraper  to help get the air bubbles out.  I start in the middle and gently push the bubbles out to the edge of your paper.  If you do not have one of these, you could use the flat side of a ruler.  Larger things are harder to get down without air bubbles, and I find that thinner paper does better on a large scale.  I used the card stock thickness on the smaller designs for added texture.  Also, if you use your Cricut and piece cuts together like my bear with the flower, make sure you Modge Podge it together on the clipboard itself and not just craft glue it together.  If you do not do this, the design will warp once you add the Modge Podge to it.  After Adhering your designs down, you alway put a layer or two of Modge Podge on top to sort of seal it.
  Now for the finer details....  I used my Cuttlebug texturz to texturize the paper in some of my designs.  This is an easy way to really make your projects look amazing, even with store bought die cuts  The clothespins were made by trimming paper just a tad smaller than the clothespin itself and Modge Podging the paper to it.  The ribbon was easy...just tie it in a knot.  I also added a little tulle with the ribbon to really fill it in.
   Questions?  Suggestions?  Please share!