Friday, August 24, 2012

Classroom Tour Pictures Galore!

Oh. my. goodness. I never thought I would go this many days without blogging! For as much planning and work as I did before school started, I just don't know where it all went! I started school with my kiddos on Wednesday and I've been crazy busy for the past two-ish weeks setting up my room and curriculum. I have switched from first to third grade this year, so it was a brand new ball game for me, but I'm super excited! I absolutely loved first and miss my littlest ones, but I can already tell I have a fabulous group of third graders and I can't wait to start seeing light bulbs go off!

Lemme start with a quick photo walk around my classroom so you can check out our little home for the next 180ish days of school :)

Here's my little welcome sign outside my door :)

This year my "jungle" theme couldn't be contained and I had to branch out into the hallway... pun intended :)

That adorable "Welcome" sign was one of my exciting freebie finds on TpT! Here is is closer up peek:

The colors and zebra pattern fit PERFECT for my theme. You can snatch up this printable sign from Kindergarten Lifestyle for {FREE} here. I decided to glue my circles on paper cake doilies (which are my newest quick crafting obsession in my classroom!!) With a little hot glue and a ribbon down the back, you have an instant welcome sign that is just TOO CUTE! Thank you Kindergarten Lifestyle!!

Moving on to the rest of the room:

My desk and the front of the room:

My tree! It is over my library and group rug.

I am SO excited about my newly organized classroom library! I have a TON of books, just ask my mom- she helped me organize all of them! The bins and labels make me oh so excited!

There's the door to the hallway, my word wall to-be on the cabinets and all my kiddos' desks with my Meet the Teacher goodies :)

 Student computer table, my jumbo monkey, and the bulletin board has my whole group reading focus wall on the left, writing process in the middle and math on the right.

Here's another angle of the same corner. I was strugglin because I couldn't find a map or a good place in my room that had a large enough wall space for a map. I found this great map at Joann Fabrics! One yard of fabric is exactly one full map. I used a coupon and got it for 5 bucks! I love how colorful and bright it is!

Here are some close ups!

My teacher drawers for planning, my teacher bookshelf and my birthday balloons :)

I *LOVE* these framed rules- black frames are from the dollar store and I just printed off the rule sheets with clipart from my computer.

Super Star Work Wall with glitter clothes pins. Clothes pins have two flat thumb tacks glued to the back so they stick into the bulletin board. I LOVE that I won't have to put staples through students' papers every time I want to showcase them.

Our school requires that we post our quiet signal, behavior chart colors/descriptions, classroom incentives, prize cart prices, etc. so this wipe off board filled up with all that jazz.

My kiddos' materials. I always stock a classroom resource shelf for my students who don't bring in supplies. Gotta love Dollar Tree plastic bins and fun labels! I stuck all my labels on my bins this year with sticky velcro dots. This way I can easily switch them from bin to bin if I make any changes in my organization next year. 

My writing process wall. Dollar Tree pulled through for me again! I glued flat thumbtacks (5-6 on each) on dollar pizza pans and stuck them right onto the bulletin board. Also got these little banana papers from the Dollar Tree to write my kids names on them and stuck magnets on the back. I want the kids to be able to move themselves through the steps.

 A close-up on my library bins. Ahh!! I'm loving the zebra touch this year!

Cubby book bins for my kiddos with cute lil numbers hot glued on. I found the numbers as a freebie on TpT and I can't find them again to give you the link! If you search for "zebra" on TpT and sort price "low-high" you will find so many free adorable classroom labels and printables! If your theme is's definitely a MUST to hit up TpT freebies!

My work bins. It was absolute fate that I found these 50 cent place mats at Walmart to put underneath them because they matched the tablecloth I had bought last fall! I cut the tablecloth down the middle and sewed the ends together so I could stick it to the underside of the table with sticky velcro dots (actually my mom took the reins on this project, too!) The table is open on both sides because the other side opens to the cubbies- so I wanted to hide ALL of my stuff with a wrap around curtain.

Close up on my math manipulatives- I will have a lot more, but I haven't gotten the complete set from my district yet- these are just my personal ones. I got those green mini bins on the right top shelf at the Dollar Tree. I thought it would be a good idea to have these so the kids could take a handful or two of counters back to their seat.

LOVE this rolling drawer stand from Michaels- it was 50% off, plus my teacher discount! I don't have it filled yet, but I want to use the top drawers for my word work groups- I have three different levels that I use in my classroom every week, so this will be a great way to organize. I also am going to use the bottom drawers for early finisher activities. 

Reading group bins: $1.50 caddies from Big Lots- jazzed up with some wide zebra ribbon woven through and a printed/laminated label on the front! Love!

Not really "part" of the classroom, but this is my office supply drawer that I am loving because it is finally organized!!! I have back stock of all these supplies in the cabinet underneath, but these are quick and easy to reach from my desk. I feel like a lil Staples :)

My classroom wouldn't be nearly as organized and decorated if it wasn't for my crafty mom! I asked her to make these "hide away" curtains for my built in bookshelves. The bookshelves are great, but they are so deep, so they aren't quite functional for the kiddos to use because things get pushed so far back. I used a suspension rod just inside the front of the bookcase to hang it. Voila! 

That was a load of pictures, so if you are still with me after all that, THANK YOU! I hope you might see some things that might work in your own classroom. We will see how many changes I make now that the kids are back and the room is pack to the brim. So far the set up is working well for the small space we have. Does any teacher actually thing their room is BIG ENOUGH? I don't think so :)

I will post tomorrow some quick pictures of my Meet the Teacher activities and favors. Thanks for not forgetting about me after this long break from blogging! Okay it was about two weeks, but it felt like forever!!

I have so much stuff in the works, I can't wait to share it with you. I *hopefully* will be having another big Followers giveaway soon for 600! Stay tuned. Hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Bloggin' Freebies!

Hi! I just wanted to let you all know that I am guest blogging over at a fantastic blog that I'm sure many of you have already discovered...Teaching in High Heels! Gladys was so sweet to let me guest and share some freebies and ideas with her followers, but I don't want you to miss out! Hop over and check out her blog for {TWO} freebies that I'm offering {Psst....One of them is a 30-page Back to School Unit, but only for two days, so hurry!}.

Make sure you check out the rest of her blog because there are TONS of great ideas that I know you will love!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

TpT Back to School Sale {HUGE!!}

It's that time of year!!! I'm so excited for the {HUGE} TpT Back to School Sale that starts tomorrow!! It is a great time to stock up on all those favorites you have seen on blogs or those items that have been on your wish list for a while. Since I have changed grade levels this year, I have my eye on a TON of great products that I want to snatch up during the sale. 

My little shop will be on sale with everything 20% off, so add the promo code and that's the full 28% off the price! There are a lot of products that I have added to my shop this summer and so many more that are in the works. A lot of the clipart I have started making is regularly priced $1.00- so 28% off of that is a lovely 72 cent sale price for you!! That's better than shopping in the new Walmart 88 cent teacher supplies! All my other clipart sets will be on sale, too. 

I wanted to mention a couple of my favorites in my store that you might want to snatch up while the gettin's good! :) You could grab BOTH of the products below for just a little over $5.00 total. Gotta love sales!

The Writing Scoop {Four-Point Writing Rubric} - This is one of my favorites, and it's not just because it is all about ice-cream :) This is a four-point ice-cream themed rubric that can be applied to ANY writing activity. There is a visual comparison for each number to an ice cream sundae so students can see how their writing is "topped" with details and good traits at at "4," but might be "leavin' people hungry" with a "1." Anchor charts, student reference cards, bulleted requirements for each rubric number/score, as well as a blank rubric {so you can create your own specific criteria for a writing assignment} are included! During the sale, this lil baby will only be $2.34!

Boggle Math Boards- This pack is perfect for math stations, early finishers, partner practice or weekly math challenges. This pack comes with 20 ready made Boggle Math Boards that have numbers plugged in and positions so students have MANY opportunities to find equations on each board including subtraction, addition, multiplication and division. Great way to differentiate for students. Blank boards, templates, 2 levels of boards, recordings sheets and more are included! Grab it during the sale for only $3.12!!!

Alright folks- I'm off to work on my guest blog for one of my blog favorites- Gladys over at Teaching in High Heels! I'm so excited to guest on her blog, she has so many fantastic ideas! I have been a HUGE fan for a long time, so I want to make it a good post! If you haven't checked out her blog, make sure you hop on over, and then hop over again to check out my guest post next week! Toodles for now!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Meet my Monkey!

Hi friends! I have an all day professional development today, but of course, in the midst of getting ready and dressed, I got distracted and ended up on here, writing a blog :) I wanted to post a quick little picture of my big monkey in my classroom! I worked ALL day in my room yesterday and this monkey is the most "finished" part- so I'll leave you with this little cutie until I have something more constructive to share after my workshop today!

Any name ideas for this chunky monkey?

PS. I was going to post this picture as part of a "Wordless Wednesday" post until I realized that I have a lot of trouble NOT talking or writing words, so  I will have to work on that for the future :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mystery Bags {Freebie}

Last night I set my alarm for an ambitious 7:30am so I could get into school and work all day in my classroom.....I woke up at 10:00. Oi {my goodness} vey! My internal clock is going to have a very rude awakening in a couple weeks. So... after my late morning, I could have gone into school a little later....but that didn't happen either. I have no excuse except for being lazy, and maybe a slight case of denial about school starting. I WILL be going in to school early tomorrow and working all day, though.

I ran a TON of errands today getting stuff for my classroom- which always turns out to be a more expensive trip than I had planned. I got a lot of organizational stuff. I get a small "high" at the thought of organization with a color-scheme. I think this is true of many teachers :) I will post some pictures of my goodies tomorrow when I get them into the classroom.

Enough about my procrastination! I have an easy back-to-school ice breaker activity for pretty much any grade level to share with you. They are called Mystery Bags and are quick and easy as pie. There are so many back to school activities and "get to you know you" or "all about me" projects (which I love, don't get me wrong), but sometimes I need an activity that will just get my kiddos TALKING to each other and working with a variety of partners during those first few days.

Mystery Bags can be a partner, small group or whole group activity, and honestly it's not anything ground breaking or new, but I'll share how I have done it in my class. I start with a large brown bag with some sort of prize for the kiddos. They have to guess what is in the bag and we make a list. As I give them clues, they decide if they need to cross out any of the ideas from their original list. The list gets pretty narrowed down after they get some clues, or I shake the bag and they can hear it. If I see them getting stumped, I will let them ask me a yes or no question about it. Sometimes I have fun pencils inside for them to use during the following activity with partners.

The whole group activity is pretty much just an example of what they will do with partners. After you reveal what's in the bag, students will make their own Mini Mystery Bags with a lunch-size paper bag and one of the little poem labels shown below glued on the front.

With a partner, they will choose a mystery item to put in the bag either from the classroom, or I usually have an assortment of more unique objects for them to use that might not be typical to a classroom to make it more challenging {apple, deck of cards, dice, mini pumpkins, candy cane- anything that will fit in the bag basically!} A lot of times I also just have my kids ask their partner questions about the mystery object- instead of one giving clues. This gets them thinking up their own questions, and they soon realize the better questions they ask, but faster they can figure out what's inside!

After the kiddos have partnered with a few different people and done a few different objects, we do a quick wrap up discussion about what types of objects were the hardest to guess, why they were hard, what types of clues were the most helpful, yada yada.

Like I said, this idea is nothing elaborate, but it's an activity that helps when you are trying to get your class to mesh and work with each other. It's also easy to plug in during short periods of downtime during the first couple days when schedules are a bit more jumbled than usual. If you want to make some Mystery Bags for your kiddos, you can grab the little poem that I made up for the front of them by clicking {HERE}. I am also thinking of making some kind of activity sheet to go with it- so if I come up with that, I'll put if up in a later post.

Alrighty, this girl is going out to dinner! My mom is visiting and helping me all week with school stuff!! She made the most adorable outfit for my jumbo monkey that I can't wait to put on him tomorrow. Get ready for a load of pictures tomorrow :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

MEGA Clipart Snatch Up- Hurry!

My goodness, I feel like I have been MIA for quite a few days on here! I've been neglecting my Creative Chalkboard and working on a BUNCH of other things. But I'm back and I got a lot to share.

I have been cranking out the clipart- I have been on such a clipart craze since I got my iPad this summer and figured out how to turn my drawings into digital images. I promise this blog will be much more than a stream of clipart giveaways, but thanks for humoring me in my newest obsession for now :)

The good thing for you is that every time I add a new clipart bundle, you have a chance to grab it from my Clipart Snatch Ups! Since I have finished so many bundles I was working on this weekend, I am having a MEGA snatch up. I have five new sets in my store, so the first {FIVE} people to comment on this post will get to choose ONE of the following clipart bundles to snatch up for {FREE}! If you're one of the first five, please leave your email and your choice so I can send it to you!

Hurry, hurry and snatch up a set for yourself! Check back later on Monday for my post on a fun back to school activity called Mystery Bags :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Clip Art Snatch Up: Scarecrow Friends

I have just posted my Scarecrow Friends clip art bundle to my TpT store and couldn't be more excited! I have been having WAY too much fun with my iPad and figuring out how to create clip art (that is going to have to be cut back until that bare classroom is in order!). This bundle isn't as big as some of my others, but I spent so much time putting in details into the four color images and three digital stamps.  Check out the bundle in more detail at my store by clicking {HERE}

Here's the SNATCH! If you are the first to comment on this post, you can gather up these Scarecrow Friends for {FREE}! Just leave your email and I'll pass them along. If you aren't the lucky winner, you can still grab this bundle at my little TpT shop for just $3.00 for personal and commercial use!

New {School} Year Resolutions Linky Party and Heart Palpitations

Hey friends! Today I am linking up with Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness for a New {School} Year Resolution linky party! Goodness knows that there are a TON of things that I want to try and do this year with my kiddos, classroom and keeping my sanity, so this is the perfect little push to get me to write them down....and hopefully commit to them.

Resolution #1: Put papers IN folders- Last year I had a horrible habit of laying papers on top of the file folders in my desk drawer instead of filing them right away. When I was super busy, it was just easier than trying to stuff them in folders- which were already crammed so full in the drawer that there really wasn't much room for papers in them anyway. This year I am starting off with folders up the wha-zoo, heck I have a folder OF folders. I'm off to a good start :)

Resolution #2: Get more sleep- When I get busy, sleep is the first thing to go (okay, working out is the first thing to go, but I don't value that as much as my sleep). Most nights last year I was getting 4-5 hours of sleep. Oi vey! Thanks to a consistent coffee schedule, I could function surprisingly well, but it was just not a healthy year. So earlier to bed this year!

Resolution #3: Use my Smartboard more- I'm so lucky to work in a school with top of the line technology in every room. I have a Smartboard, doc camera, sound system with a personal mic and more. I did my best to learn the ropes of the Smartboard last year, but on top of tackling a new curriculum, I was in pure survival mode and didn't get much past the basics. This year I am tackling a new curriculum AGAIN in third grade, but I know a lot more about Smartboard than I did before.

Resolution #4:  Try for a little more balance- As fellow teachers, you know as well I do that balancing work and not letting it consume your life, weekend, house, etc is easier said than done. However, there came a point last year that I knew I was developing a problem....I found laminating scraps in my bed haha. Apparently my late night center prep had gotten in between my sheets. When you get into bed and discover you are laying on lamination need an intervention.

I could list about a billion more resolutions, but I'll stick with four and maybe follow through on them better:)

On another note, I made my first serious trip back to my classroom to start setting up for next year. I had peeked in a couple weeks ago, but just now got the okay from my principal that the floors are waxed and I'm cleared to get going! I can't say it was the most productive day, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Here is what I'm working with....

{Insert shortness of breath and heart palpitations}

I have a LONG road ahead of me. Can I get a huge OI VEY? In the spirit of pinterest, I made this photo to truly express my anxiety... :)

Haha In other news, I was surprisingly calm when I helped a teacher get a bat out of the school yesterday. 

Hopefully I will have some progress pictures for you in a few days. Just for fun... can anyone figure out what my classroom is missing by looking at the pictures? (Yes, it is missing A LOT, but there is one specific thing that is pretty crucial that the school does not have for me yet!) First person to comment with the right answer gets to choose a {Free} Creative Clips Digital Clipart Bundle of your choice! Check out my TpT store or Creative Clips page on my blog for your choices :)