Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cute Classroom Theme-based Decorations

I have been teaching for a long time-long enough to have two of my daughters follow me into teaching. I am humbled by their incredible creativity. Each year them send me pictures of what they have done in their room and each year I am totally impressed. I asked permission to share a couple of their ideas with you and, today is that day.

First, there is Grand Central Reading Station.  This is an excellent example of how to make a reading space that kids will want to use.

The train is actually a bookcase. I love all the little details.

Every train station has a bench for waiting. This one is no different, but I do have to say that this one looks a lot more comfortable!

This is a way to keep track of how the kids are doing.

The great Safari decorations were fun to see. Welcome to a classroom where everyone belongs!

The little plastic safari hats add to the pictures, which are actually placemats from Botswana. The African animal borders complete the picture.

Have you ever used a theme to decorate your room? What did you use? I'd love to hear about it!

Pinterest to the Rescue

Teaching in a small, multi-grade, self-contained classroom has a plethora of challenges. Organization is one of the greatest challenges, because I have to keep track of all the assignments for each day. I like to work ahead, but often found myself making the same materials over because I could not find the ones I have already made. I tried the folder method, with a folder for each day. I would take the folder out and it would disappear. It doesn't help that I seem to be in constant motion all day and would carry it off, lay it down and forget where it was or leave it on my desk and cover it with a couple pieces of paper. Then, I was perusing Pinterest when I found what has proven to be my greatest find.

The funny thing was, I was not unfamiliar with the solution; I had just never put the two things together. Plastic drawers that hold 8 x 11 1/2 inch paper saved my day, and maybe, my sanity. I bought two sets of them and used sentence strips to label the first five: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The bottom drawer (there are three drawers in each set) is used for left-overs or for things still too far in the future. It makes keeping track of the work as easy as pie.
The site where I found the ideas was Controlling My Chaos.

My second greatest frustration in my classroom was the bulletin board. I loving having them. I hate changing them. I do not know where I saw this on Pinterest, but I followed a link about bulletin boards. The author suggested putting up a black background because I would go with anything. Last school year, I bought black material and put it on the board. Amazing! First, I love black and how it makes everything pop. Second, it really does go with everything!!! To make it even better, I found chevron borders at Joann's Fabric, in close-out. Check out how my board looks now!
I loved it so much, I used black on the bulletin board in the hall this year!

When I wanted to make a giant class puzzle for the first day of school, the idea was inspired by a link on Pinterest. I went to Have Fun Teaching because I check out most of my links because some don't work. I saw puzzles and thought about a first day of school activity that I had seen on the Internet, though I know not where. I made a giant puzzle by blowing up the puzzle pieces and gave one to each child. They wrote their name on it and decorated it. We put the puzzle together and I put the school and such on extra pieces. We glued the puzzle on to stock board and hung it on our door. Every piece was necessary for a complete classroom!

Our last day of school is totally fun. I look for activities that a school with students from K-8 can enjoy together. Looking at Pinterest, I found several Minute to Win It sites and saved lots of ideas. When it came time to plan the day, I went to my End of the Year Activities board and created our last day plan.

That worked so well, I spent spare summer moments building a new board for Back to School activities. A few days before my wonderful class entered the building, I sat down and used many of the ideas I pinned here and organized our first day together. I have to have tons of ideas because I teach the same children for up to six years and Pinterest has so many ideas, I never have to repeat myself unless I want to redo something they loved.

This year, I am trying to be a STEM classroom, that is I was until I went on to Pinterest and found out about STEAM. Now, with the tons of pins I have pinned, I will never run out of ideas and activities. I only have one problem now. I keep trying to remember how I taught before Pinterest, and I can't quite seem to remember! What is your best find on Pinterest?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Portable Centers

My classroom is small and I do not have good places to set up centers for every subject. Labor Day weekend gave me some free time to actually think about the situation and I think I may have come up with a workable idea.

I stopped by a dollar store to check for yummy veggies and fruit. As I walked down one aisle, I noticed the little, tri-fold boards and an idea was born. I bought it and brought it home.

The first thing I did was head over to my Anchor Charts board on Pinterest. I chose two math boards, both on fractions. I drew the Backward Zorro on the top half and the Butterfly Method on the bottom. Now I can add exercise sheets (which I will hold in place with page protectors) on either side-the left for the Backward Zorro and the right for the Butterfly Method.

Now I can put it on the table at the side of the room or kids can actually set it up at their desk. That is the beauty of the smaller tri-fold boards-they fit on my student desktops. When we are done, I can put the board away or leave it on the table.

I plan to make them for every subject. When I need to change the subject material, I have another plan. I am going to punch holes in the top of the board and add ring holders. Then I will be able to add new pages. As I change the pages, I will just flip it over to the back. To make the pages durable, I am going to laminate them.