Happy Holidays! I hope you and your family are enjoying this time of year and are remembering to reflect on what you are thankful for.

I personally feel thankful that the recent tornadoes to touch down in IL did not hurt any of my family or friends. Even though the damaging storms  were about 130 miles southwest of me, my town still had the tornado sirens going off as a precaution because of the strength and speed of these unpredictable winds. Lillie was NOT happy about the storm.

If she could have. she would have sat directly on my lap. She is pretty brave in most weather, but has never been comfortable or calm during tornado “drills”. Since we basically live in Tornado Alley, we have these warnings and watches more often than I like.  For this reason ONLY, I like having a basement to go to during the storms. Better safe than sorry, as you will see from the pictures below.
Slide3

When I first looked at these pictures, it just seemed like an open field. But, as you look closer you see that this is an actual neighborhood where there *were* hundreds of houses. You can see a border of remaining houses, but the inside of the neighborhood was totally taken out. So sad and scary.

Even though I don’t personally  know anyone affected by these storms, my sister does. Having worked at Caterpillar for many years in Peoria (a town very close to Washington, IL), she has remained friends with some of her former coworkers. The picture below is of her friend Denise’s house which is in Washington. My sister made a good point. In a way, we were all lucky it happened on a Sunday afternoon. *Most* people are home on Sunday afternoon and on this day, most were waiting for the Bears game to start. Had it been a weeknight, there would probably have been a higher amount of injuries and deaths. Food for thought.

Denise and her family were home and luckily they also have a basement to take shelter in. After the tornado was over, she and her family discovered their damage. Even though their house is standing, they can’t stay in it, and had to move out quickly and will not be able to move back in for at least a year. I know they are grateful to be safe and alive, but I can only imagine the stress they are going through picking up the pieces from this horrible day.

To show how there is truly no sense in how/where these winds destroy, here is a picture from Denise’s back yard facing her neighbor’s house. As you can see, in a matter of yards, the tornado completely tore her neighbor’s home down. So sad.

So, why am I showing you all these photos? Well, the other day when I was perusing Teachers Pay Teachers, I discovered that there is a group of teachers who are raising money to help those in need from these disastrous tornadoes. I will be making a purchase and I hope you will to. If you are interested, click the image below and show your support.

IL relief

Now, let’s get my craft on… This weekend I made a new Pinterest craft. The thought behind this craft was that it could actually be a gift that my students make for their families. I used to do a family gift every year, but haven’t for the past few seasons. I’m hoping to try this one with my kiddos, because I know how much their families will love to take them out each holiday. What are they? Drink coasters with their pictures on each one. Here is where I got the inspiration from:

I am going to take you through my adventure creating my own example. Let me rephrase that… I am going to take you through my HONEST adventure creating my own example. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I practiced first. :) I have to apologize about the quality of my photos. They looked a lot crisper last night, lol.

Step one: My materials

What I used:
A mat of some sort- I used (several) sheets of construction paper
4 pictures printed off my computer onto regular copy paper
4- 4×4 ceramic tiles (shower tiles)
4- 4×4 foam squares
Modge Podge
Modge Podge Acrylic Sealant
brush
glue gun 
assorted ribbon
Not shown: 
Gift Card :) – I’ll explain 

Let me start with a few tips.

#1-I went to my local Home Depot and purchased 100 tiles for $13. I have 24 students, and with my own coasters, we will use all 100. Hopefully, we don’t have any “uh-oh’s” because I have exactly enough. If not, I’ll make a quick trip for the extras.  This box is HEAVY. I’m hoping I don’t trip on my way bringing it into the school or I’ll be buying 100 more. :)

#2- Don’t use pictures printed from your own computer. The ink will run a little. When I actually do this with my own class, I’ll take the pictures (which will be it’s own blog post… so excited for this part!) to Office Max or Staples and have them print them out. I really don’t think it matters if it’s printed on photo or copy paper. Copy paper is more delicate, but still doable.

First things first, I cut my pictures out. For my examples, I used dog pictures. I’m going to be giving the coasters to my mom and since we sadly don’t have any grandkids (yet) in our family, we only have granddogs. ;) Two of the coasters are of my girl, and the other two coasters are of my sister’s pugs, Yoda and Hunter. Yes, that’s Hunter’s real tongue. It’s super duper long and we love him even more because GOD made him extra special. Poor dude.

Okay, once I cut out the pictures, I spread Modge Podge onto the back of each picture and flattened them onto each tile (with my fingers).

Since everything looked good, I did the next step. I applied a THIN layer of MP to the tops of each coaster. Right on top of the pictures.

I let it dry for about 15 minutes so that I could do the second THIN layer. This is where I noticed a problem. In the original directions, the blogger said to smooth out each photo with a credit card so that it doesn’t bubble up. I thought, “I don’t want to gunk up a credit card. I can smooth it with my fingers.” Well, guess who was wayyy wrong??? THIS girl. After the first thin layer, they were all super bumpy but one was way worse than the others. So, since I knew I have exactly enough tiles, I wondered if I could start over.

Luckily, being wall tiles, they are very durable and SUPER easy to clean. I ran them under water and with some semi-serious rubbing, got all the remnants off of the original picture. This is where using actual photos could be better. If I were doing only a few, I’d use actual pictures, but for this craft, that would mean printing 96 pictures. I decided I wanted to do another one over, so I reprinted these two photos and found (oddly enough) a PetLand gift card. This way I had the strength of a credit card, but wouldn’t possibly damage an actual credit card. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a PetLand. I’ve been to PetCo and PetSmart, but can’t say I even know where a PetLand is near me. I was given this as a Christmas gift MANY years ago and obviously have never used it. Lol.

Slide12So, I started over with these two tiles. I cut the photos, applied MP to the back of the pictures, laid them on the tile, smoothed them with the gift card and let them dry. Once dry, I applied the first THIN layer to the top of each tile. I liked it so much better that guess what I did???

I redid the other two tiles.

Yep, that was me… the girl who should have followed directions the first time. Lesson learned. But, I figure, if I am going to do something, I might as well do it right. :)

Okay, so after each of the four tiles had three THIN layers of MP applied to the top, I did the next step. (BTW–wait about 15 minutes between layer to let them dry completely. I had a ceiling fan going so that sped it up as well)

For this step, I took the tiles into the garage and applied a generous layer of the acrylic sealant to protect the pictures from wet glasses. I did this in the garage because the original blogger said to do this in a well-ventilate area. I was not about to NOT follow her directions again. So, I sprayed them and let them dry in the garage over night.

Almost done! Once they are totally dry, I warmed up my glue gun and applied a generous amount of glue to each foam square and pressed them to the backs of each tile. This is to protect your furniture from the rough side of each tile.

Some people use felt dots like the picture below while others use foam or felt.

Slide17I did buy these, but I’m pretty sure I’ll save them for something else. I have a TON of foam sheets left over from a project I didn’t end up doing, so I’d rather use that and make sure I’m not possibly damaging some family’s furniture if the dots fall off.

Last step: Tie together with a pretty bow!

Once all the glue dried, I stacked them, and used the green ribbon to tie them together.

Overall, I think it will be a great project to complete with my class. It will take a few days to complete because of the drying, but we’ll make it work. Have you done this project before? Any words of wisdom before I tackle it with my class?

If this isn’t your cup of tea craftly speaking, check  out the other creative teachers who also linked up with a fourth grade favorite of mine–Tara at 4th Grade Frolics! She always has the best ideas that are helpful and most importantly, easy to implement!

 

 

Have a great week!

{ 10 comments }

Veterans Day Rerun (Just in time) :)

by becky on November 3, 2013

Can you believe it is already November?!?!?! I have Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences this week so I have had to really plan ahead to keep everything moving smoothly. I’m excited for November because it means full Fall! I love seeing the trees changing colors and the change in time. The extra hour this morning was MUCH appreciated. However, I wish someone had let Lillie in on the secret that we could sleep an extra hour. That girl was up and at it at 4:00/3:00 am. Really? Really? Oh well, once she settled I was able to take a power nap because let’s be honest… this teacher needs all the sleep she can get.

Another part of November I enjoy is teaching my students about Veterans Day (no apostrophe) :) . I created a mini-unit last school year that I’m incredibly proud of. If you have already purchased it, make sure to re-download it because now it is CCSS aligned. In case you missed it last year, here is how I implemented it with my students.

Enjoy!

So, I have to be honest. In the past I haven’t taken much time to really discuss Veterans Day. I always asked students what they know about the holiday and why we celebrate it. I am ashamed to admit that I’d often get Veterans Day and Memorial Day confused. Well, not anymore. This past year my best friend began working in the Murfreesboro Veterans Administration Hospital in Tennessee. She can’t tell me much about her patients, but the bottom line is Veterans are not honored nearly enough for what they sacrifice for our safety. Now that my eyes have truly been opened to this, I decided that I will no longer pass up this holiday and I will educate my students on the history of Veterans Day and why we NEED to honor and celebrate these heroes. I learned a ton and I feel confident my students did also. In fact, every once in while teachers create lesson plans that they don’t want to admit that they are proud of, but THIS one I’m very proud of. Here is a breakdown of the learning that took place in my classroom.

First I passed out a Veterans Day K-W-L to my students and together we filled in the K and W section together. Then, I read the first of two pictures books to the class. I intentionally chose LOW leveled books so that they get the gist without overwhelming them. Here is the exact book we read the first day.

As I was reading, students were allowed to take notes on what they were learning. Like I said, it was low enough that they were able to listen and take notes. Here they are doing a GREAT job of participating… (such good Goobers :) )

On the same day, one of my thoughtful teammates brought in her boyfriend’s actual military dog tags for the students to look at. I forgot to take pictures, but they were so gentle with the tags and they were beyond excited to find out why it had the information on it. Nothing like building suspense.

The next day we read my personal favorite book on Veterans Day…

They again, took notes as I was reading. At the end, I had them share out their “L” thoughts. Here is our KWL anchor chart filled in. :)

Then, came the part I was MOST excited about. I told the class that they would be writing friendly letters to the Veterans that my best friend works with.  But, it wouldn’t be just any friendly letter. Nope, these would be in the shape of dog tags-cuh-ute!!! Of course immediately they were super stoked. I have to admit one of the things I really enjoy about this class is they enjoy doing projects. That of course makes me feel good knowing they are excited to use their creativity. Here is my example I showed to my 4th grade friends.

Since they were excited (“Cool. Awesome.” were just some comments I heard ;-) ) I knew I wouldn’t get many complaints when they turned over their KWL chart and saw on the back I had created a Friendly Letter graphic organizer for them to write their letters. The letters will be glued in between the two tags. With some guidance they got to work and began filling in the different sections of the graphic organizer. OMG… some of the things they were writing really made me feel good because I know the veteran who receives it will be touched.

Moving on… :)

The next day I decided to discuss why soldiers wear military dog tags and the history behind them. (very cool to know btw) We read a handout I made and then answered questions such as, “why do soldiers wear 2 identical tags? What types of information is included on them? and “Why are they called dog tags?” I wanted them to learn that everything has importance and that when something is symbolic, it’s because there is a history to it. That led us to why Poppies are a popular and symbolic sign of Veterans Day. By this point students were ready to peer edit their sloppy copy organizers and get to work on their final copy stationary.  When they were finished recopying their letters (in pencil), I had them pick the cover they wanted. I had 4 choices available. They then colored the letters in with a gray crayon, and cut their pieces out. I wanted to make them look super authentic so I found this silver ribbon at Hobby Lobby that looks like a real chain.

You can’t beat 24 feet for $1.99. Um, totally happy I found this. I really makes them look authentic.

Once their actual projects were done, we talked about red poppies and why we see Veterans and those supporting the Veterans wearing these flowers. Another interesting fact I learned. Then, each student used the template I created and made their own poppy. I told them that they get to keep the poppy since we are sending their letters to the Veterans. Here is my class’s amazing final projects.

They look so great and the students have a way better appreciation for what these men and women have done and continue to do everyday. I wish I had thought of this sooner, but at least I feel better knowing that from here on out, come early November, my students will be learning a whole lot more about this honorable holiday.

I realize that today is Veterans Day (P.S. did you know that you are NOT supposed to add ‘s to Veterans Day? I didn’t until I did this project), but if you want to purchase your own copy of this unit, even if you just hang on to it until Memorial Day or for next year… here is a breakdown of what you will get in this 24-page unit.

Included in this unit:

**(NEW)CCSS
{Suggested} Lesson Plans
KWL Anchor Chart Headers
Veteran KWL student copy
Friendly Letter Graphic Organizer
** (NEW)Text vs. Text Graphic Organizer
4 Front Cover templates
Back cover template
Final copy stationary (2 page options)
**(NEW)Blank Page Option (Students can draw a picture for their Veteran.)
History of Military Dog Tag handout/Review Questions
Poppy Craft idea
Character Traits of a Veteran student organizer
Bulletin Board Headline Letters
Examples from my classroom

 Click {here} to visit my TpT store to get your own copy.

Have a great week!

{ 1 comment }

A free gift perfect for Halloween! :)

by becky on October 30, 2013

Hi Everyone! So, if you are reading this, I’m hoping you have all your Halloween candy bought, your costume completed, and your party plans all figured out. If you have, then you are MILES ahead of me. Well, I have the candy bought but, everything else “will get done when it gets done”. I had a very busy and super fun weekend visiting my friend Lisa in Nashville. No joke, I could totally see myself living there. TN teachers… know of any teacher openings? ;-)

Well, if you aren’t 100% sure how you are going to reign the troops in on Thursday, I’m hoping I can help. Last year, I created a Halloween Hunt for my students to complete. Here are some highlights from last year’s October 31st activities. :)

When I was lesson planning last week, I realized how choppy the next two weeks were going to be. I decided that on the 31st, we would do some math review. I wanted to play different Halloween-themed games, but again, that didn’t happen. Instead, as I was laying in bed a few nights ago, I kept thinking how wound up the kids were going to be ALL day on Wednesday and how I might contain a little of the craziness. Then, duh, it hit me! A Halloween hunt. If you’ve visited my blog fairly often or even if you just snag my freebies, then you may notice I like to do classroom scavenger hunts. This time, I’d have the kids do a Math review scavenger hunt. THEY LOVE IT and the deep down bottom of my heart secret reason I love this is because they are SILENT. So, I printed up some cute Halloween question cards using digital backgrounds I bought on Etsy , wrote 22 review (a question per student)  questions on the cards and hung them up around the room. Here is an example of one of the 22 cards scattered throughout my room…

As soon as I started taping the cards up, the kids knew exactly what I was doing. They were way excited and I was way happy I didn’t have to pump the activity up. Once we reviewed expectations, (spread out and give each other space, work independently, be quiet, stay focused, and use your resources) I passed out their answer sheets and let them go. I kid you not, it was so quiet in my room you could hear a pin drop. That kinda freaked me out… I’m so weird. Too noisy and I get nervous but too quiet and I get jittery. Have I ever mentioned I have issues? It’s cool.

Sooo, I turned on some fun Halloween music (quietly)

 and then it was just right in my room.

Questions may be found on the counter…

On the wall…

Next to a whole BUNCH of toilet paper…

and even in the mailbox bin.

And it wouldn’t be a successful math review if I didn’t ask them to answer my FAVORITE math fact!

What did I do during the hunt? Well, after I monitored that everyone was focused, I sat at my back table and re-glued the Goober’s morning magnets. Nice!

They did such a stellar job, I was super happy I had put these baggies together. I had originally planned to hand them out at the end of the day, but I thought their mature work habits deserved a little reward. Each baggie had a purple pen, orange pen, bag of pretzels, Pop Rocks, and 10 mini toothpastes. I mean, everyone needs more toothpaste after Halloween! ;-)

I have ALL intentions of doing this again on Halloween… minus the goody bags. Those just didn’t happen this year. Si la vie! If you also want a little peace and quiet WHILE also having your students review previously learned topics (it doesn’t have to be Math… in fact, I’m already thinking of Science and Social Studies questions I’m going to write on the cards) then click  below and download your own copy of my 22 question cards (blank) and student answer form. I hope you enjoy!

Have a great night and Happy Halloween!

{ 2 comments }

iPick…iPod style!

by becky on October 6, 2013

Hi, Everyone! I hope the Fall weather and dropping temperatures has been getting everyone ready for the best holidays of the year! :) I am excited to share some fun freebies over the next month of things you can do in your classroom to make the holidays more fun and manageable.

Today, I am going to share my newest addition to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I’ve been working on some new units, but wanted to share a fun visual that anyone with ANY reading program can use.

This current school year has been an explosion of new curriculum in my district. We are implementing a brand new reading/writing curriculum and attempting a new Math pacing in order to meet the needs of the CCSS. Needless to say, like SO MANY of you out there, it has been a challenge to stay afloat. I have to say though, this has been a great year in terms of team collaboration. I am lucky to work with 3 other professionals that “get it”, and are willing to work together to make sense of this new adventure we call CCSS. I still feel overwhelmed EVERY.SINGLE.DAY…. but, I’m starting to feel like I might get through the year with only half of my hair turning gray. ;)

One of the big steps I’m taking to getting on the same page as my team is to begin to incorporate the CAFE into my reading groups. I love learning about new strategies and bought both The Daily 5 and The CAFE books years ago. I use parts of the Daily 5 inmy classroom even though I don’t necessarily call it that, but I have been apprehensive to delve into CAFE. I’m taking it slow this year, and praying my teammates don’t get annoyed with the bajillion questions I will have, but you have to start somewhere. I have the headers up and will get them in my TpT store soon, (free of course), but for now, I want to share how I taught my students to pick “Just Right” books.

In the first few weeks of the school year, I observed my students choosing books from my library. I wanted to see what types of books they gravitated towards. It was not surprising that books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, and “Bone” (graphic novels) were among the most popular. I knew that this year I needed to do a formal mini-lesson on how to choose “Just Right” books. I am a firm believer in not forcing students to read at a certain level just because their formal assessments say that is the “right” level. I really feel that in fourth grade, students should be free to choose the topics and genres that interest them… to a certain extent. I want to create and deepen their love of reading, but also want to challenge them as readers. That’s why I give them a few weeks to choose their own books. Then, I swoop in and guide them in choosing “better” books.

To start, I ALWAYS read this book:

 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE and just for fun LOVE this book! It is a great way to introduce choosing books. After we discuss the story, we create an anchor chart of Too Easy/Just Right/Too Hard books. Then, I introduce my version of the iPick poster. There are millions of these floating around cyberspace, but I decided to gear mine towards the iPod. Here is my class’s anchor chart and iPick poster displayed in my classroom.

 Then, after they know what my expectations are for them, they “check in” their books with me. The language we use is “Fun books” and “Independent books”. I let them choose three a week from my library and one of them MUST be an “Independent book”. They are assigned a shopping day to choose new books, and their books need to last them the week. If I notice they are finishing way too quickly, I step in and help them make better choices. The funniest part is when I suggest a book and they seem very apprehensive. Then, after they read it for a few days, almost always they come to me and say, “Ms. Furlan, I LOVE this book!” I joke and say, “Wow! Ms. Furlan must know something about picking good books for her library.” But, it’s forming trust between us so they can believe me when I say, “Try this. I bet you’ll like it.”

If you would like to have your own iPick poster iPod style, click the picture below, and snag the file for yourself! I made them in a variety of colors to fit any color/theme you may have. I hope it helps. Til next time, happy reading!

{ 0 comments }

Happy Labor Day! I can’t believe it is already September 2nd. What a crazy rush of a summer and start to the new school year. So much has happened, but let’s just say… things are on the slow now and I couldn’t be happier.

Can I be completely honest? No judgement? Promise? Here’s a secret…  I really do NOT enjoy the beginning of the school year. I know it sounds so harsh, but I feel like a broken record for the first few weeks of school. I go home utterly exhausted, and I feel like the new normal takes longer each year to get established. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating my truth. I LOVE the second month of school. Kiddos begin to fall into our class routines, I no longer feel like I’m setting up the classroom, and I can go home with a few hours left of energy each day. I know the beginning of the year sets the tone for the entire rest of the year, which is why I still keep the record player going, I go to bed early to make sure I have energy for the next day, and I continue to believe, “We’ll get there.”

This week is our third week, so I’m beginning to have hope that we WILL “get there”. My new group of kiddos are *quite* the bunch, and I’ve been trying my hardest to be as consistent as possible because I KNOW they need the structure. The good thing is my team and I are in this together. This is truly a unique bunch of students and we are all working together to “get there”.

That being said, I have been oh so happy to have a 3-day weekend! Of course, I’ve been working on school stuff, but I’ve also been enjoying the calm. Keep Calm and Carry On, right?

One of the perks of having a genius for a sister is she has great jobs. Jobs that have perks. Perks that my coworkers and I will never experience. One of these perks is having Transformers 4 being filmed partially in her workplace. This weekend in Chicago, they were doing some of the filming, and employees were able to come and watch production, and see some of the props. She asked me if I wanted to come, and even though I honestly have NEVER seen a Transformers movie, I thought it would be cool to go and take pictures to show my kiddos. Sidenote— a few weeks ago Divergent was being filmed here also and I kept asking her if she was going to try to be an extra. I will totally try in case the second movie gets filmed there as well.

So, guess what… movie sets are pretty boring. There is a WHOLE lot of waiting and standing around. But, we did get to see some of the cars and we even had a Walhberg sighting. Take a look…

That’s me in front of a few of the cars that weren’t being used… Again, no clue abut these, but I’m sure some of my boys will be able to tell me the back stories.

We were pretty far away, but my sister still managed to get a shot of “Marky Mark”. I always think of him and wonder if “Nicole 4 eva” is still on his chest, lol. After his sighting, there wasn’t much going on. Still SUPER cool to see in person.

In other news, amid my internet absence, I completed several crafts for my classroom. I was pretty busy working on all sorts of projects this summer. I wanted to share a few of them with you since they turned out so well. :)

So, this summer I finally decided to take on flowers. I have a pretty large backyard that came with a bunch of really bad landscaping. Over the past three summers, I have cleaned up the landscaping to the best of my own ability, but basically that meant tearing everything out and starting over. I planted a bunch of flowers in pots because I wasn’t sure what I should plant, but I figured it was a good way to start out gardening. One day when I was at Home Depot buying soil, I found these cork mats. I bought a bunch, and decided to paint them using my class colors.

The picture below is the final shot. I am using them as cork boards to pin student pictures up on. They are currently hanging on the front of my desk at work and add a  nice touch of color to my usually dull desk. Easy Peasy!

The next project I made literally took all summer. Not because it was hard to do, but because I had to wait for Hobby Lobby to call and tell me my back-ordered parenthesis shapes were in. The signs below are made from Chip Decor and I originally bought all four letters and the two parenthesis they had in stock. After 5 different Hobby Lobby’s (including one in TN), my shipment finally came in and I was able to finish my project. I really do like how they turned out. They are displayed in window in my classroom library. They look great!

The next project was inspired because I had the urge to have all my shelves match. I have bought several of the plastic shelving over the years and they aren’t all the same brand, size, or height. They never looked bad, but I thought it would be fun to have them all the same color. Then I found spray paint for plastic and bought a few black cans. Here are the first few in my garage ready to be painted.

Here are the same two drying next to my shed. They dry pretty quickly but I wanted them to air out outside. Super easy project, just VERY stinky. I definitely suggest using a mask for any spray painting project.

One of the last projects was just an updated birthday card for my kiddos. I have used Lillie on my past birthday cards for the class, but I wanted the gift to be Pop Rocks, so I tweaked the saying to fit the candy. Lucky kids!

So, there you have it. A few of my finished projects that I just did not get to post about. But, better late than never. :) I hope you have had a great summer and start to your school year! I’m hoping to share some class pics soon. I finally have  a SMARTBoard and getting it meant rearranging the ENTIRE classroom. I feel like it is a completely different room.  A lot of work was put into it, but it’s one of my favorite set-ups and themes.

Til then, have a great short week at school!

{ 3 comments }

Monday Made It (finally)

by becky on July 8, 2013

Hi Everyone! I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by. This time next month I will hopefully be putting the finishing touches on my classroom. We officially start August 16th so I have A LOT to do to get ready for my upcoming Goobers. I have been working on plenty of things this summer, but most have been house related. I have also been waiting impatiently patiently for Hobby Lobby to restock some of their Chip Decor so one of my first projects has been put on hold since early June. I cannot even express how many Hobby Lobby stores I have been to in IL and also in TN. I went to TN a few weeks ago to visit some college friends and luckily I was able to stop in a Hobby Lobby there. Per usual, my shape was out of stock. Grr. Oh well, it will just make the project more meaningful once it is done.

So, for today’s post, I wanted to share a project I was able to complete. I don’t know about you, but the things my students collect on and inside their desk drives me nuts. I feel like some kiddos understand that less is more on their desk, but others are mini hoarders and every day they have more “things” they accumulate. In their defense, I do expect them to have a pencil, pen, and highlighter at easy access. But, that can turn into a pencil, pen, highlighter, glue stick, dry erase marker, pink eraser, smencil, marker, notebook, and hand sanitizer. AHH! I am forever saying, “Find a new home for this” to several  Goobers each year. Sooo, when I saw that The Dollar Tree had black, plastic, kid-friendly pencil cups, I knew I could work with them.

After I bought 30… yes, 30,  (we never know how many kids we are going to have and my 1st year, I had 34 students.) I figured out how I could tweak them to make them more fun and personalized. Here are my materials:

I’m still going with a colorful classroom theme this year, but I’m narrowing the colors to pink, yellow, green, and blue. Why? Well, those were my favorite colors of polka dot border I could find. I wish they had purple with white dots, but no such luck. Maybe next year. The good thing is that I have a bunch of signs and posters already made up in these colors, so hopefully the room will look less punky and more pulled together.

To create my new pencil cups, I cut strips of ribbon in each of my new colors, 2-inch black polka dot circles, and  numbers 1-30 in a whimsical frame. To adhere everything I used mini Velcro dots and of course, my hot glue gun.

The reason for the Velcro dots, is because I am planning to have my kiddos pick their own pencil cup. I don’t have my roster yet, so I don’t want to assign numbers to cups without know who is getting what. I mean, most boys are go with the flow, but I wouldn’t want to accidentally give a boy a pink cup just because their number happened to land on a pink ribbon.

I put a velcro dot here…

And the opposite side on the back of the numbers.

This way once they are glue together, the numbers will be easy to change out when necessary.

After a few trial and error cups, I got the hang of it. I’m hoping they will hold up.

I might need to get bigger Velcro dots, but I’m hoping they stay strong. Fingers crossed.

The final examples…

And, the same cups with the numbers switched around… easy peasy

All cleaned up and ready to be taken to school. :)

And there you have it… My first Monday Made it completed. :)

I am hoping to post a few more finished ideas this week. If it keeps raining, they will definitely be completed. This may be one of the rainiest summers I can remember.

For a TON more craft ideas, click the button below and visit Tara’s famous linky party.

Happy Crafting! :)

{ 7 comments }

It’s the end of the year!

by becky on June 6, 2013

I’m back!!!! What a crazy last few weeks of school. I cannot believe the year is actually over.  The past 26 days of school have gone by in practically a blur. Today is officially the first day of my summer vacation, so what have I done? Nothing, lol. I slept in, did some laundry, walked the pup, and caught up on my blog. I did get dressed and stayed dressed, but after a few hours, decided that I’m not leaving the house today…so, my pajamas are back on. Now, I’m catching up on Dance Moms 2-hour season premiere that I missed the other night. Well, I had it on, but I fell asleep practically 20 minutes into the episode. I’m sure you can all relate to the end of the year craziness. So, for me, chill-axing is not a bad way to kick off vacation.

But, now that I have time to catch up, I realize I started to explain what all I did for the ABC Countdown to the end of the year and then I went MIA. Well, I hope you like the following explanation! I know I already talked about our A-Day, but I wanted to have all the ideas in one place…

There are several versions of this floating around TpT and Pinterest. This is my take on the project. To complete, I instructed my students to come up with 3 things that they want to accomplish over the summer. One was to be family related, another school related, and the third was their choice. I love how they look with the fun summer colors!

When I first passed out the ABC Countdown calendar and the kids saw that C was Cartoon Day, they immediately thought we were going to be watching cartoons in class. Even though I PROMISED them that that is NOT what we were going to do, they didn’t believe me. But, I know they were much happier with this activity. One of my great 5th grade teacher friends gave me these copies a decade ago when I was a first year teacher. Basically, the kids trace different heads, faces, hair, eyes, and clothes and create new characters. They LOVED this and it was super hard to get them to stop. Luckily, we had many indoor recess days during May so they were able to create more characters during that time.

This was another fun day. At first I was just going to do L-Lollipops, but then I thought it might be fun for the kids to write letters to next year’s students. I asked them to give the new Goobers advice on how to be successful in TEAM Furlan! I’ll have the letters on the new kiddos desks on the first day of school. :)

For this activity, I gave the kiddos their Time Capsules that they had completed during the first week of school. With the capsules, they had measured themselves with a piece of string. The cutest part was their sincere amazement at how much they’ve grown. To wrap this up, I had them complete the End of Year Reflection page seen above. I recollected both forms and a few days later they glued their forms in their 4th grade scrapbook we put together.

If you haven’t downloaded your own copy of these forms, click the picture below and visit my TpT store where you can get them for free! Enjoy!

Super fun!!! I found this idea on Pinterest and it was such a fun way to exchange autographs. I gave each student their own beach ball and permanent marker, then they blew their beach balls up, and the fun began. I will admit that the bouncing sound was stuck in my head for several hours AFTER school was over, but si la vie. It was a great memory for the class.

And, to end the 2012-2013 year, we had a classroom awards ceremony where each kiddo was given a candy-bar themed certificate and of course, the candy that goes with it!!! And, because I didn’t quite spoil them enough, as they were leaving me and becoming Stinky 5th graders, they chose two kool-aid freeze pops to enjoy over the summer!

Wow! And, I wonder why I’m tired?!?! Well, no time to really rest this summer since my district is going back 2 weeks earlier than normal, and we have a brand new reading AND writing curriculum. So, what am I doing this summer? Getting prepared, that’s what.

Until next time… have a great day and enjoy some time for  yourself!

{ 10 comments }

Just in time for Mother’s Day

by becky on May 4, 2013

So, this morning I was browsing Pinterest for EASY and inexpensive Mother’s Day ideas that I can have my students make this week. I found this cute idea from Kathy of First Grade ala Carte.

I had thought about my kiddos making coupons for their moms, but this added a little more sweetness to the gift. Each flower has a chore or a promise to do something for their mom.  I hope Kathy doesn’t mind, but I tweaked this idea and created my own version of this project. I plan to brainstorm “coupon” ideas with my class next week, but I figured it would be a good idea if I had some ideas already written to help guide their thinking.

Then, I made templates for my own flowers and flower pot. Here is my example I made this morning. (The things I do instead of yard work…) I don’t have all the fun colors of paper at home that I do at school, but I still think it looks cute. :) (Those are supposed to be tulips, btw)

I thought it might be cute to give the kids an option to write a message directly on the flower pot or they could write on the “card” I created. Want to see all I made?

Does this look like a break down of a product I might post in my TpT store? Well, it’s your lucky day!!! Click the picture below and download your own copy of this project for your own students. Oh yeah, for FREE! :) I hope it brings a smile to yours and your student’s mom’s faces. Not sure if I used the apostrophes correctly… lol.

I’d love to hear what you think!!! I hope someone finds it useful. Have a great rest of your weekend. Get ready for Teacher’s Appreciation Week! :)

{ 3 comments }

A= Art Project Day!

by becky on April 30, 2013

 

Well, we kicked off our ABC Countdown to the last day of 4th grade. Like I said yesterday, I’ve never done this with my class before. I wasn’t sure how my kiddos would take to it, but OMG… I really don’t think they could have been any more excited when I explained it to them on Monday. ALL morning they kept asking me when we going to make our project. I had some SUPER fun MAP testing this morning, so I just wanted them to focus while they were taking their frustrating important tests.

Finally, it was time to get started. I decided that I wanted to try to tie in a holiday with our craft. Since we discussed a lot about Veterans Day back in November, I decided to talk about Memorial Day. A more organized teacher would have had a picture book to read the class, but I was having quite the overwhelming morning, and didn’t have time to find one to read. Soo, we just reviewed what we had learned about Veterans Day, and how it relates to Memorial Day. Then, we created a craft inspired by Teri from A Cupcake for the Teacher . Check out the Goobers in action…

Can you tell how excited he is? What a goof!!! :)

Here are our projects on display…

Since my whole team is doing a countdown in their own classrooms, I wanted to see what projects they were making with their class. Take a peek:

The Human Highlighter’s class made these way cute flowers.

Then, they planted them around the school and spread some happiness! Love.

Check out these super creative torn paper masterpieces. I wish I had taken a picture of the hallway shots. One kiddo made a amazingly realistic Pikachu out of torn paper. My class was way impressed.

You can’t see it, but underneath the apples, the ladies are grinning with pride!

And what Mom won’t adore these hand print flowerpots. I’m not a mom, but I know that it’s just the kind of project I would save forever. Your child is only in 4th grade once and with this project the lucky moms will forever have their child’s fourth grade hand print.

I think it’s safe to say that our first A-day was a success. I’m sure B-day (bubble gum), will be just as exciting. Now, this teacher is going to work on some way cool progress reports and watch the 2-hour (score) season finale of Dance Moms. Yes. I watch it. I can’t help it. It’s a sickness. Have a great night everyone!

{ 1 comment }

It warms my heart…

by becky on April 30, 2013

It sincerely makes me feel good when I see other teachers use my ideas in their own classrooms. I mean, I know I get feedback on TpT, but it’s honestly humbling when I can see for myself how others use my ideas.  I’ve gone to district in-services and seen my Math Posters on other 4th grade teacher’s walls. Um, way cool. So, when I came to school today and saw one of my teammates had hung the Autobiography file I had shared with him, I was super stoked. Let me introduce him… Here’s Steve. :)

This is how he looks EVERY morning  and EVERY afternoon when he goes out for bus duty. He was more than excited mortified when he was asked to take over this when the teacher who used to do it was going on maternity leave. I like to think of him as the human highlighter. I secretly love when he goes to leave for home and he still has the vest on. Then, I bring it to his attention, and he rips it off like it’s on fire.  Ahhh, good times, good times. Well, he has helped me TREMENDOUSLY with my reading instruction this year, so I am happy that I was able to give him a writing idea. What idea was that? Well, around the time my kiddos were finishing their Autobiography projects, I shared my files with my teammates. I’m not sure if the others used it or not, but I do know Steve did, because I even saw that he had created an anchor chart just like the one I used with my class. Aww. Well, his students completed theirs and today he hung them up.

Super cute!!! :) Thanks, Steve. You made my day!

In case you missed my blog post about how I tweaked Christi Fultz’s original file, no worries! Christi has updated her file and let’s say… it’s way cute. Just click the picture below and visit Christi’s store where you can download her ENTIRE file for free. Don’t forget to leave her some feedback. She totally deserves it.

In other exciting news… today is officially the last day before the last 26 days of school. Confused?  LOL, what I mean is, that starting tomorrow my class is going to begin our…

I have seen this idea on Pinterest and ProTeacher, but I’ve never sat down and put ideas on paper. Luckily, one of my teammates very generously shared her ideas with our team. I was super excited she shared this and tomorrow the fun begins! To celebrate “A”, my class will be completing a Memorial Day Art project. Stay tuned… more pictures to come!

{ 3 comments }