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Monday, August 27, 2012

Made it Monday and Sunday and Saturday

Just another Made it Monday...oooo...whoa...wish it was Sunday....ooooo whoa

(Has that line already been used?)

I am linking up-
but first I have to apologize.

I HAD to finish the projects (that you will see in a moment) and I was not able to make that
video for converting a reg calendar to a pocket chart calendar-
Littlest Little has agreed to be my cinematographer  and we are getting that video completed and posted this Wednesday the 29th

Before I show you these pix,  you have to pinky promise not to be "judgy".

My "repurposed" items were not mine.
They were not purchased.
They were not donated.

They were "found".
The afternoon before....trash day.

Please do not picture loads of furniture on piles of landfill with the gulls swarming around them-
that is not the case.

On my walk I spotted a chair that was not purchased at a yard sale and they were going to THROW IT AWAY!!
WTH!?!? Don't they know there is a teacher in "hood"?

There was also a table and 2 chairs set a couple of streets over. These people just moved in, and they bought
a new set. They weren't even trying to sell it- they were just going to THROW IT AWAY!!!
WTH?!?!? Don't THEY know there is a teacher in the "hood?"

So I called the MR  on his phone,
like ya do,
and I said
(outta breath)
"MR! MR!  (puff puff)  GET IN YOUR TRUCK!
(huff puff) MEET ME OVER HERE!!!
(I walk fast, so I am OUT OF BREATH if you try and talk to me).

He heard FREE and it was like the Starship Enterprise teleported him over to where I was...
He is a little concerned with all the remodeling I have done this year- so this was a welcomed price- FREE...
without further ado:

Here is the chair:

It's a doozie, eh?
Solid wood! The whole thing-
And they may have a cat- I'm just saying.

This was a hard project for me- because I am very allergic-
unless your name is Zeke and I am medicated the whole time I am
around you. Smooches, Zeke.

Several antihistamines involved in the making of this comfy chair!!

I painted it black (surprise)
and bought material to cover-
I just threw these covers out and made new ones  completely.

Next is the table and chair set:
It looks full size, but isn't- more of a dinette.

I covered the chair with a vinyl table cloth that I paid a DOLLAR for (I know my Fernie is loving that I am being so frugal- she is ALL about the saving of the $$$$)

The staple gun is now living in the holster close to the glue gun.
I am considering a thigh holster....

Ready for all the after pics?
This is AFTER
the cleaning of the furniture
the first coat
the second coat
the third coat (on table only)
the spray varnish
the spray scotch guard
the stapling
the sewing (yes, I didn't use fabric glue this time)
the moving
the lifting
the walking around it because I did it all in the house because it is A MILLION HUMID degrees outside and everytime
I would put  on a coat of paint, a really dumb bug (and his dumb bug cousins) would LAND on it!!

Here we go:
The chair in the reading center. Fabric is green with pink polka dots.

The cutie table as the new writing center.

Next door neighbor in hood saw all the painting and brought me the little cubby that is now on the cart-  little bins still have scissors. Lil tubs have glue sticks.
See the material on the bookcase?
I was very aggravated my the non matching pencil boxes where the markers "live".

So I did the fabric glue thing, made a little curtain, bought a dollar tension rod and Voila! all covered up.

 Plans? making anything else?
Yes, I am painting my rocker-
I've been a little off of it lately:)

And I am going cheat I think and buy two pretty pink shower curtains....stay tuned to see where they go..

So you ask
"Squirrels, what are your kiddos learning these days?"
Well today we covered how to load the staple gun.
Last week we mastered how to paint WITH the grain...

Just kidding-
we are assessing
DIBELS Beginning of the Year BM.
AMC Counting Assessment
AMC Hiding Assessment
Compass Entrance Core Pretest
Just my general "Do you remember anything from Kindergarten Assessment?"

Today was day 13. I plan to have all B.o.Y assessments completed by Thursday.
If my head does not explode first.....

Be sure to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics:)

Monday, August 20, 2012

The CUPS or Where Did All My Stuff Go?

 Happy Monday!

My students came in to a little surprise this morning.

Actually it wasn't a huge surprise- they had "heard" about what I was going to do,
but they had not actually seen it yet.

I have been gradually "taking" their supplies away this past week.

Am I starting a new school on the side?
Am I selling their supplies out of the trunk of my car?
Am I feeding an addiction to new crayons and pencils?


Just kidding.

I want tables soooo badly, but I am stuck with desks.
I do not like desks.
I do not like the noise they make.
I do not like the space they take.
I do not want them in my class
I think desks are a pain in the

Ask me about what I do with all of their stuff.
How do they get what they need? I have a great system for passing out supplies.
Who has time to pass all of that out? It takes no time at all.
How do you keep them from putting stuff inside?
I taped off the front of their desks.

(Update: I get lots of comments asking me why I didn't just turn the desks around. That would be a great solution, BUT there are support bars on the back that would make it impossible for the students to sit or to push in their chairs)

I used clear packing tape. Works like a dream.
Follow me as I show you where everything "lives" in my room.
I'll wait while you line up...
Kristin, that is not your spot.
Hadar- focus.
Reagan and Holly, we're not talking right now.
Lorraine put that down.
Tanja and Jen R, thank you for standing so nicely.

Okay, now that we are ALL ready.

I made the "tables" out of my desks.
They are in groups of 5.
There are 4 "tables" so far this year.
They use these table #s for various things, I will share those.

At each table there is an A,B, C, D, E. It is on your nametag  to help you remember.
I might say "I need the Es to go get your table bin".

So the Es would go get the bin (only four people up).

 Let's pretend we are coloring something.

I keep the crayons in these little travel soap containers. Works like a dream. They will actually hold all 24, but I take out all but the main 12.

The red violets, blue greens, and dandelions are saved for other projects.

Those little "crayon boxes" live in a table bin.
The table bins live on a cart.
(Reagan, please keep your hands to yourself).

So now we will pretend that the Es have gotten the bins and taken them to the table.
Whoever takes it to the table, passes them out.
I might call the Ds to put them away. (again, only four people are up).
If you are the person putting them away, you make sure you get one from everybody at your table.
5 friends. 5 boxes.

What if someone is missing a color?
They can go to the crayons and get the color they need to put inside of the little box.
I painted them, but am not loving them, because they are too yellowy.
These are the same containers from the SO LONG SQUIRRELS post- just painted with new stickers.
Notice how two very distinct colors live in the same drawer.
Also if you find a crayon on the floor, you can just put it in the correct drawer.

(Holly, move with the line, please)

Now let's pretend we are working on something that needs scissors.
I have learned my lesson.
Scissors used to live at their desks (first 5.5 years of teaching).

I can't take it anymore.
The cutting of the clothes. The hair. The paper that WASN'T supposed to be cut.
Not to mention my aversion to metal- I can't handle that noise when they

So the scissors live in a separate bin.
They are in the four little bins on top of the shelf. Each contains the # of scissors to match the # at the table.
If what we are working on needs scissors, I will put that little bin in the table bin before we start.
That way when the Ds come get their bin, they have what they need.
The same with glue. It isn't in the bin, unless we are going to use it.

What about pencils?
We can't be up ALL the time taking pencils and putting them back!

Pencils live........
The desks in this pic are taped off in the front- couldn't even tell, could ya?

in the CUPS! See the cups? Cups are good.
There are only three things that can be in your cup.
A pencil.
A dry erase marker.
The coins from behavior system (that's another post).

What about keeping that cup from falling off?

The cups take up a tiny little space. Pencils don't roll off onto the floor.
NO ONE has to "dig" in a pencil box to find anything.

We only use yellow pencils- because they are community.
See how nicely they stick up out of the cup?
At the end of our day a friend just takes 'em right out, puts them in the
please sharpen me can, and then another friend puts one sharpened pencil in the cups
each morning. If you need a new one during the day, you just trade out at the cans.

This is how nice it looked while they were at lunch.
When we are finished, someone  from that table will put all those boxes in the table bin and then the table bin will go back to the cart.
And all will be right with the world.

Whooo is coloring so nicely???

A few questions I have gotten from fellow teachers

What about the pencil boxes they brought in?
Those are in the closet with a set of markers in them.
We do not use them that often, so they don't need to be in the way.

Don't they mess with the tape?
I started with the tape in November last year. So those children had two months of access to the
inside of their desks. But it was no problem at all!!! I only had to "re tape" one child's desk out of 20.

What about the books and notebooks?
Notebooks are in a literature stacker (which I am considering a bin for each table)
Books live in cubbies when not being used.

What if they need supplies for a center?
If crayons, scissors, or glue is needed for any activity- it will be in the center box.

Okay, friends
now let's all move back to the carpet.
Fern, that's not walking.
Crystal, please stop pointing at your friends.
Katie, I love the way you are sitting at the carpet.

So, now you all think I am this crazy Hitler Teacher who doesn't let anyone use anything EVER.
I promise I am tons of fun- we do a lot of fun things- I promise:)

I have just based this system on my previous experiences.
They cannot interrupt your instruction with noise from supplies that are not in their hands. (They will find other ways to do it, but now they must get creative) :)
The less distraction, the better.
They all have to take ownership of our room. We want our room to reflect the type of students we are:
Obsessively Compulsive

(just kidding on the last one)

I have tons more pictures!!!
I will have to s-p-r-e-a-d them out!!!!

Totally off subject-
I am going to make a video- how- to where I am turning a regular calendar into a pocket calendar with sheet protectors and shipping tape. I will post it this weekend.

I hope you enjoyed the little walk around my class (Kristin and Reagan, I'll talk to you two after class) <3>
I hope everyone has a Terrific Tuesday Tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Word Wall Woes Wiped Away!

I have a dirty word for you-
are you ready?

Word Wall.

Don't get me wrong- when used as a teaching tool vs. decoration- a word wall is awesome.

What makes it so bad is the fact that many words do not want to hang out on the word wall.
They don't want to be taped to it,
stapled to it,
pinned to it,
hot glued to it,
or velcroed (not a real word) to it.

A few times I have heard in conversation
"I can't get the cards to stay"
"I don't have room"

Never fear- Crafty Squirrel is here!!!
I have moved rooms three times and I have taken my word wall with me each time.

Wanna see it?
OK, you twisted my arm.

But be patient- because since I redid it, I have lots of pictures.

I don't like fooling around with stuff that falls- so usually I have my glue gun in my holster
but since I add words in front of the children- there is a potential for lawsuit there.

I use  a foam insulation board.
Yep- you've seen it when they are building houses:
 You can buy a whole big board for just under ten dollars.

I then purchased a $5 twin sheet from Wally World.

An aside-
Ever wonder why they put that big ol sheet in that tiny ol bag?
There was an entire twin flat sheet in that itty bitty bag.
Which explains why I had to iron it FOREVER!

Bleck- irons are evil....EVIL!

anyway, I got out all the wrinkles-
laid it on the floor
put the foam board inside
and used ....
nope- not fabric glue-
but a staple gun.
Now you are asking-
Squirrels, how are you gonna get that thing to stay on the wall???

You are not  going to believe me, but I am going to tell you anyway-
6 command strips.

That's it.

Just six.
AND it is on the wall directly above my HVAC!!!
Don't look at the yellow and red word wall- thing- that's from my "old room".
See- And before I changed it from the previous fabric-
it was there for 3 solid years- all winter, all summer, with 6 command strips.

Here's something important.
When you purchase it, it is going to have this thin film of plastic on it-
DON't TAKE THAT OFF- that is what the strips stick to.

So after getting my Word Wall banner glued to ribbon
I got it all put up on the board.

The letters are on there with staples
and when I add each word card, I use a push pin. It goes right into the foam and stays there until I take it out for the summer-
(We have only done procedure this week- as soon as I teach them "a word" I will add it).

This is the set that is used for the Word Wall- By Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle

There is NO WAY in the world that it could have been any more perfect than it is!
I showed her a fabric I bought and she said "Oh I have something you might like"
I fell in love!

So I have this set to publish because I have somewhere to be at 8pm (CENTRAL...Hadar, google it) <3 p="p">And I don' t think I will be able to post after I am done with that engagement-
I hope it works- I have never scheduled a post before.....

Tomorrow is a work day- I am finally going to tell you all about those cups....I bet you are on the edge of your seat!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Easy Projects for Class Decorating!!!

Happy Friday, Folks!
I made it-
the first full week of school.

I am still alive (and so are the Littles)
Which the latter part is amazing because I have not cooked a meal in two weeks-
(I need more easy peasy recipeasies!)

Don't get me wrong- It isn't one of those
"Whew! I made it!"
things because of the sweeties-

it just gets way hectic here (as it does with us all).

I have a few easy peasy tasks for you tonight-

the first one being the curtains that I made for the back door.

Now if you have read previous posts, you know that I am
extremely close with the makers of fabric glue-
Now I don't know them personally, but I do send them letters
It upsets me that they don't write back!
I really am their #1 Fan!!!!

Almost my entire back door is window-
which can totally mess up my projector-
so I have to keep it covered.

These are the old curtains from my
"gumball phase"

It totally does not match - so had to be changed a week before school started.
I knew I wanted to use the design fabric from the little window on the door-
but I wanted  the valance to be either black or pink.

The long curtain part was your basic fold over, crease with iron and sew glue the hem with fabric glue.
The valance, I was not wanting to do anymore work than I had already put on my list- so here is what I did:

SInce I covered that piece of insulation for my word wall with the black twin sheet, I had some of that left over.
I took the part that is at the head of the bed (does that have a name)?
We'll just call it the "header"

First I had to crease and "sew" the hem.
Then I did some magic-
see the top  of the sheet?
There is already a perfectly good seam and stitch there- why mess it up?
So I got my magic sewing tool  (scissors)
and cut a little slit on the back side. You just have to pull the front and back away from each other a  little to make sure you don't cut through both sides.
Really, that's all I did after I glued that little hem.
Then I put the curtain rod through-
The ends of the rods are magnetic and stay on the door really well.
But the rod slid right through there!!! And since it is on the back- no one sees it!
After I added the long curtain with the little tension rods to the window part, I put the
magnetic rod with the new valance on:
And looky there-
NO ONE KNOWS how easy that was to change-
except you
and the other people who read this
AND the other people they told
AND the people you are going to tell...

OK- so now A LOT of people know about it- but who could keep something this easy a secret????

I have another easy project- and then it is off to bed-

When I made up my mind to change everything, I knew I would have to change my calendar.
It is a large focus in our room!!
I had the cloth one that everything under the sun velcroed to-
but there was NO WAY I could share daily info with them from a red and blue calendar that lived
on  pink and black board....

Ok I could have, but it  wouldn't have been as cute- and after standards "cute" is the thing that matters most.

Anyway, I found this calendar on Teacher Created Resources
and immediately knew that I had to order it.
It is a regular posterboard type calendar.

I also knew that I didn't want to deal with pins or velcro or staples to add the date-
but what was I going to do?
Ta da- Crafty Squirrel to the rescue!!!!

I took sheet protectors- cut them into strips of 2.5".
Placed them so that the closed edge was on the outline of calendar and I "nested" the insides together.
The doublesided taped held them in place while I was getting the positioned.
I used clear packing tape to use one long strip right across the middle of each row.
And now my $5.00 posterboard calendar has become a year long calendar "pocket Chart"!!
The date cards slide right in and I dont have to pin or add velcro.

See how nice and neat?!?!?
I made the "Today is:", "Yesterday was:" ."Tomorrow Will Never Get Here:" section last night-
That was also an easy one- The whole week is done three times, once in each color
and I punched holes after laminating, used binder rings and pins, and VIOLA! I just have to pull it down and flip it each day as we talk about it.
(Yes I know the 'Yesterday was' portion is crooked in the pic- a number of firsties also pointed it out to me today,
it was just a matter of leveling the pins)

Our calendar is quite extensive- I will add the other pieces in the next two weeks- other wise our morning calendar will turn into our whole Math time and part of Lit BLock!!

So i hope you found a few things that were on your list to do on here- and maybe these versions of them will lighten your load as you begin to get your room ready for the year!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WTH!??!?! Wednesday

Oh how I have missed saying that!
It has been a few weeks since I have said that-

Let me rephrase- it has been  a few weeks since I have "typed" that!!

Let's start with the obvious folks-


Isn't she BEE-U-TA-FUL!?!?!

It isn't actually a "what" happened- it's a "who" happened
Lauren from The First Grade Diaries !

I will tell you the story-
(like you thought I wouldn't)

Once upon a time, there was a Squirrel. This nutty little Squirrel decided that she REALLY liked a particular clipart that
she had seen in a Hibernation Unit by The First Grade Diaries.
The Squirrel couldn't stop thinking about this clip art.
She loved it.
It loved her.
She could just feel it.
They were meant to be.

So the Squirrel took a chance and emailed the creator of this cutey little squirrel and asked what
Lauren thought about maybe taking that squirrel, giving her a bow, some lipstick, and a hot little dress.
She even went as far as asking what Lauren thought about a makeover for the whole blog.

I am not going to insult your intelligence by having you guess what Lauren said...

ok, she said YES!!!

And here she is ....
(Miss Squirrel, not Lauren)
But you can find Lauren by checking her out here:

The First Grade Diaries Etsy Shop

I promise if don't already know her you will fall in love!

And now THIS squirrel is going to live happily ever after!!!
 (And will forever be loving Lauren!!!)


So much has been going on-
I have been trying to wrap my head around this year so far.

We are full implementation of CCSS for Math and ELA-
I don't consider myself to be  a seasoned teacher in the least bit. This is only year seven for me.

but still

WHY THE HECK do I feel like a first year teacher?!?!?
CCSS is supposed to be narrow, but deep.
I get it.
But give us a little folks-
could they have made it a little broader on the ol' standard there??

I have "I CAN" statements scrolling at the bottom of all my dreams now!!!!

Trying to think of ALL the things that  a firstie needs to know before I can say
"CHECK! SHE KNOWS THAT!" is insane-

I feel  like I'm on a plane with no parachute,
a dive with no tank,
a climb with no gear,

you get the picture-
and for the record, I have never done any of those things- so I guess I should have said

a movie with no popcorn
a bath with no bubbles
a nap with no blankie.....

I know I can do it- (because of my wonderful bloggy support team)!

Did I tell you that I almost passed out the other day??
This is why:


For Realsies-
Frame of reference? Look at the very large plant to the left!!
I went to the office and had them call a custodian!
They said "why don't you just step on it?"
I said "because this thing is big enough to eat small birds!!!"

I did not stick around to see where he was taken and if he made it out in one piece-
I am a lover of nature (in pictures- not in person)

You'll love this one-
WHO THE HECK drives the Shrek- mobile???

ME! Look at the shadow of my van....hee hee:)

And it wouldn't be a WTH Wednesday unless we checked on how folks are arriving at my nutty
little slice of cyberspace:)
We all know that you can "Put your socks and shoes in front" to get here- we don't know why,
but you can.
If you ever get lost- you may always follow the old standby- "put your hand in your sock"

(there's those darn "I CAN" statements in there too!)

Alright, I need to get to work:)
be sure to admire my beautiful self at the end of this post in the signature....
and then scroll up and grab that GAW-Geous (I'm from the South)
button that Lauren made for me, too!!!!
Have a great Thursday!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Made it Monday!!

It is Monday.

Monday the Fun Day! (said no person EVER)!
That was for Hadar:)

The fun thing about today though is-
I am posting some pictures of all the work I have been doing in my room.

I have been gettin' my craft on-
At one point I was pulled over by the
Craft Cops-
they pulled up in their tiny Craft Cruiser
Out of their loud speaker they yelled
"Ma'm, please back away from the glue gun!"

I dropped the gun, threw my hands in the air and prepared to be
only to find out that the Craft Cops DO NOT exist...
imagine my embarrassment:)

Do you have one of those weird little rectangle windows in your door?

I do.

And for a few years there has been a curtain on it.
I made the curtain.
I could never decide which way to turn it....
do I get to see the pretty
side or does the outside get to see the pretty side??

Last week I solved "that thar" dilemma!

And you can too....
and you don't have to sew!!

Some of you may know that I decided to change EVERYTHING
in my room, one week before school started.
So this project is done with two of the fabrics for my "new" room.

First here is the finished product
(gotta have a goal)

Take the two fabrics you are going to use and put them both
"pretty side" in (facing each other)
I folded the edges over (about an inch)
and just ironed a nice crease
(yes, I said "iron"- please forgive me)

After I got nice creases, I pulled them apart.
Leave the bottom fabric on the board (in my case it was the floor)- don't laugh, but
I don't even OWN an ironing board!!
One of the Littles actually asked, "Who did you borrow that from?"
when he saw me take it to school!

Back to the craft-
You have pulled them apart, now take the fabric that was on the inside and lay it
on top of the piece that is still on the board.
Ok, now the "pretty sides" are both on the outside.
See that BEE-U- Ta-ful bottle of fabric glue sitting there?
Take that and run it along that inside crease that you made.
I pressed it with my fingers first-
then ironed it again (note to self- and all others....Do not let that iron
sit too long in any one spot)

OKay-I hung it over a chair to dry
But look at how clean those edges are!!
I couldn't have sewn it better myself!
Mainly because I am really not feeling bringing that
huge honkin' sewing machine to work-

So now  no matter what side you are on, you get to see the "pretty side"!
I plan to have lots more pictures of all the stuff I have changed and made and painted and sewn glued later this week-
but for now I have just a few.... I've got to get my squirrels all in a row (and that my friends, is much harder than ducks!)

I made a new rotation chart for my centers. It is pretty much the same as the red and black one that i had
last year- but now it matches the room.
Here's how it works-
I place your clip (clothes pin- one of the Littles is painting them white for me right now so they are not on there)
on a ribbon, let's say on Monday- you know- THE FUN DAY!
ANyway- If I place your clip on the first ribbon, then you are in center 1 for math and center A for reading. Tomorrow I will move your clip over one- and they rotate that way. They do not move the clips- later in the year, they will have choices about where they go- but not yet.

Today we practiced rotating with empty centers.
I did not want materials in their hands yet- Procedure, procedure, procedure...
they went through the motion of walking to the centers,getting their center, sitting down in  a comfy spot, opening, pretending to work, I called for putting them away and then they went back to their seats.

These are the centers:
The letter or number is on the wall at the rotation chart, on the center box, and on the shelf so that you know where to put it when you are finished.

Some of you are saying
That is cool- but I have students who are not in the same level for math as they are for reading, so that would not work for me-
when the boxes are filled with materials- the activities inside are tiered- so they will know which  one of the three activities in the box they will need to be working on.

I have soooooo much I have done- but still some left to do-
I will post more as I finish.

AND I will be posting WTH Wednesday!

Head over to Tara's to link up with Made it Monday!!

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