Archive for the ‘School Ideas’ Category

Frog Bulletin Board

This is the bulletin board I put up outside my classroom.  I also wrote student names on the frogs.  I put up more frogs than the number of students on my class list, in case more students showed.

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These are instructions for double-sided curtains.  In Part 2, we prepared the edges of the curtain fabric, and we sewed the top and bottom of the curtains before turning them right side out.

I based my pattern on the one here.

Mark a line 1-1/2 inches from the top of the curtain and another line 3 inches from the top of the curtain.  Make sure you use disappearing or washable fabric markers.

Pin the curtain ties halfway between the 3 inch line and the bottom of the curtains.  Pin them on the same side of the curtain.  Have the unfinished edges on the inside of the layered curtain fabric.  I put them on the right side of my curtains, with the shorter tie on top.

On the outside (right side of fabric), start at the top and top stitch along the side (close to the edge) until you reach the 1-1/2 line.  Sew across the curtain on the 1-1/2 line.  When you get to the other side of the curtain, sew along the edge toward the top of the curtain.  To review:  You’ll be sewing down for 1-1/2 inches, across the fabric on the 1-1/2 inch line, and back up to the top of the curtain.

Next, start at the bottom of the curtain.  Sew along the edge from the bottom of the curtain until you get to the line that is 3 inches from the top of the curtain.  When you get to the 3 inch line, sew along that line (across the curtain).  When you get to the other side, go back along the edge toward the bottom of the curtain.  To review:  You’ll sew from the bottom of the curtain, along the edge to the 3 inch line, along the 3 inch line, and back along the bottom of the curtain.

If you did this correctly, the side edges will be sewed together, except for a channel between the 1-1/2 and 3 inch lines.  This channel will be for your curtain rod.  That’s right!  You’re done!  Make sure you wash off the fabric marker!

The above picture shows how you need to sew very close to the edges (on the sides of the curtain).

The shorter tie goes in front and the longer tie wraps around the back.

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These are instructions for making double-sided curtains.  In Part 1, we made the curtain ties and sewed a contrasting border to the bottom of the curtains.

I based my pattern on the one here.

Mark 1/2 inch along both sides of the main fabric.  I used a fabric marker that erases with water.

Fold over along the line and press.

See the turquoise line (above)?  Mark 4 inches from the top of the main fabric pieces (on both folded over edges).  Sew that edge down from the top of the fabric to that mark.  You’ll only be sewing those 4 inches down right now.

This will keep the curtain rod from catching on a raw edge, because this is where you’ll later be sewing the curtain rod channel.

Can you see the stitch line (above)?  Notice that the stitches are very close to the raw edge.

Layer your curtain pieces with right sides together (You’ll do that later.).  Sew the TOP and BOTTOM.  Do not sew the sides together.  Turn right side out and press.

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I wanted to have some curtains for the window on the door of my classroom.  They needed to be double-sided, and they also needed a tie to keep them open for the majority of the time.

I based my pattern on the one here.

The window was 29 inches across the top and 37 inches down the side.  I purchased 2 yards of the main (apple) fabric and 1/2 yard of the contrast (red) fabric.

Contrast fabric – Cut two 7″ wide strips (bottom border) and one 4″ wide strip (curtain ties).

Ties (contrast fabric) – Cut the 4 in. strip into 4×14 in. and 4×21 in.

Fold tie pieces lengthwise, right sides together.  Sew one end and along the length.  Turn right side out and press flat.

Top stitch 1/4 in. from the edge on the closed end and along the length.  A contrasting color of thread looks nice.

Main (apple) fabric – Cut into two pieces.  I trimmed off selvages, so my pieces were about 44×35.

Bottom Border – On each of the main (apple) fabrics, sew a contrast (7 in wide) strip of fabric along the bottom edge of the main fabric (44 in. edge).  Make sure right sides are together.  You can sew 1/4 in. or 5/8 in. from the edge.

Press the seam flat.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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At the end of every school year, I make a classroom scrapbook.  Not only do my students like to look through scrapbooks from previous years, but they are especially helpful at the beginning of each school year for giving parents an idea of the activities that we do.

All year long, I take photos of my students doing math, literature circles, science activities, etc.  At the end of the year, I narrow down the photos to an affordable amount, get them printed, and start scrapbooking.

This year, I printed 150 photos.  I purchased tape runners (I had glue sticks at home for when the tape runners ran out), background paper, coordinating cardstock, extra sheet protectors with expansion posts, and a scrapbook album.  You’ll also need a paper trimmer with a good blade and a Sharpie marker.

After you print your photos, sort them by subject or activity.  Don’t have more than 4 per page.  Then, put the groups in the order you want for your album.  Mine went something like this:  front page (pictures of all of my students), reading pics, writing pics, social studies, science (lots of pages!), parties, etc.

These paper pads were $5 each from Walmart.  They were fantastic.  I used the coordinating cardstock (right) behind each photo.

To keep things simple, match a background design with cardstock.  You’ll want two pieces of the pattern paper (they will go in the album side-by-side).  I fit 3 photos per page of cardstock, so if a side-by-side has 8 photos, you’ll need 3 pieces of cardstock.

In the above photo, you can see the side-by-side papers, selected photos, and cardstock.

Sorry, I can’t show faces (confidentiality).

Put glue on the backs of the photos, stick them to cardstock, trim around, and glue to the paper.  I don’t use fancy layouts or diecuts.  I just put the photos on the page at angles.

After you make all of your pages, add expansion posts and sheet protectors to your album.  You might need to add cardboard spacers, which sometimes come with the sheet protector packs.  Basically, they are strips of cardboard that fit between sets of sheet protectors to give your album more of a flat look, because the photos and scrapbook papers raise the thickness of your album.

The spine (between the covers) was 1-1/2 inches tall, so I expanded the paper covering the spine.  There were directions for how to do this printed on the spine paper (it came with the album).

For journaling, I cut a small rectangle of coordinating cardstock, wrote a word or two to describe what’s going on on the pages (in Sharpie), and then added a doodled border.  Examples:  Literature Circles, Measurement, Sheep in a Jeep!, etc.  Glue on the journaling rectangles, put the pages in the sheet protectors, and you’re done!

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My husband and I have been working the past few days to set up my classroom.  Due to a lack of masking tape, I haven’t been able to put up many posters, and since the school plans to install cabinets in certain areas of my room this year, I have to go easy on the decor in certain corners.  Still, everything came together really well.

Here’s a panorama my husband took of my room today.  Click on the photo for a larger pic.  Then, click again to get an even larger image.  Remember, I’ll be putting up quite a few posters as soon as I can get my hands on some tape.

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Cutest School Posters

I was flipping through a Carson Dellosa catalog (teacher books, posters, supplies, etc.) and came across these scientific method posters.  So cute!


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My husband and I have started using tupperware for our lunches.  In turn, we’ve had to buy larger lunchboxes to fit said tupperware containers.  I use a backpack lunchbox and my husband uses a traditional, insulated, square lunchbox.

Why do I have such a big lunchbox?  I pack lunch, morning & afternoon snacks, often breakfast, and sometimes dinner.  If there’s room, I’ll try to fit a 1-liter water bottle inside.  Having a backpack lunchbox allows me to have my hands free for other materials, like graded papers (Like they actually get graded at home!  I prefer to exercise, eat dinner, and relax every evening!) and teacher books.

Our current lunchboxes.

Our current lunchboxes.

Just some of our food storage containers.

Just some of our food storage containers.

Of course, when I saw Bento Laptop Lunchboxes on more than one blog, I was instantly intrigued!  I’ve read nothing but good reviews.

Here is a laptop lunchbox.

Here is a laptop lunchbox.

I’ve read online that the lunchboxes:

  • are Eco-friendly
  • cut back on plastic baggies and individual wrappers
  • allow you to buy lunch items in bulk
  • look “cool”
  • keep your lunch organized with separated foods

Here are two other blogs that mention using Laptop Lunchboxes:

Do any of you use them?  If so, let me know your opinions.  Where did you buy them from?  I haven’t seen them in supermarkets or other retail stores around here, so I’m assuming that you have to buy them online.  Let me know what you think!!!  Let the comments commence!

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One of the things that I did to prepare for the school year was make posters.  Yes, I already have a box full of posters, but I like making updated ones that I feel would work better with my students.  I made reading response posters, journal starter posters, a scientific method poster, a poster with cover art from great books, etc.

Here are some pics from working on some at home (note the mess involved).  I ended up re-doing the math strategies poster, because the writing was too small to see across the room.  Now, it’s a simple poster of about 5 steps (something along the lines of:  read the problem, plan, solve, reflect, write what you did).  I may have to redo the scientific method poster (again), because it also is hard to read across the room.

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Sheep in a Jeep

I teach many of my science lessons from Picture Perfect Inquiry Lessons for Teaching Science and More Picture Perfect

One of the lessons teaches force and motion using the book, Sheep in a Jeep. During the inquiry part of the lesson, students measure how far a sheep in a jeep will travel after going down a ramp.  They increase the height of the ramp, add sandpaper to simulate friction, and add a roadblock to show what happens when sheep don’t use “sheep-belts.”

Last year, I borrowed toy cars, sheep, ramps, etc. from my teammates.  This summer, I collected materials for my classroom.  Finding jeeps was impossible, so I had to make my own from plastic sand trucks that I found for $1 each at Target.

To make jeeps from plastic sand trucks, I used floral wire cutters (that’s all I had) to remove the top of the trucks/SUVs.  Then, I sanded the rough edges.  (I later also used the sandpaper to sand every single edge of the boards that I acquired.  They were quite the paradise for splinters.)  For those of you wondering, I got the sheep from a lovely independent toy shop here in town.

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Back to Work

I go back to work on Monday.  It will be a week of preparation for when my students arrive on the 25th, but I still have to be there at 7:30.  I thought that I would start waking up early today, but I slept in until 10 A.M.  Oh well…

It’s eleven and I’m eating breakfast.  Monday’s going to be very interesting…

Since I will be going back to work, I’ll need to start planning my meals again.  My goal is to start posting my weekly menu on orgjunkie.com again.  I’ve sat myself down at the kitchen table (near my recipe books) to make a monthly dinner menu, so that I can stock up on non-perishables and frozen foods.  I know that most of my dinners will be simple and extremely quick to make (soup, spaghetti, etc.).  I probably won’t follow the menu exactly, but it will at least get me started with some sort of plan to go by.

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Teachers love to write notes about student progress, behavior, parent communication, etc.  Keeping track of them so that you can refer to them on a later date can be difficult.  Sure, you can write on a sheet of paper on a clipboard and later put it into a binder, but then you have two locations of paperwork for a student (you use the sheet on the clipboard until it is full).  You can’t just keep everything in the binder, because it’s terribly awkward to walk around your classroom with a binder flapping open.

I looked into a hybrid spiral (spiral notebook that has binder qualities to it), but it just didn’t seem right.

Last year, I used a large spiral.  I divided it into sections for each subject and numbered one page for each student, per section.  That didn’t work well, because one student would have information in several different places.  Plus, if I ran out of room, I had to flip to a new page at the back of the section, thus adding more places to look for info on a child.

This year, I put numbered sticky notes every 5 pages of a spiral (I assign each student a number — it saves me from replacing name stickers on items each year).  To keep the sticky notes from bending, I covered them with packing tape.  Thus, I had created a spiral that had a section of pages for each student, with tabs (numbered on both sides) for easy referencing.

Of course, the outside of the spiral looked quite awful.  I looked at scrapbooking papers, stickers, and decorations online, and came across some blue ginham that looked quite lovely.  I decided to make my own blue ginham page.

I took a piece of blue printer paper, drew thick lines with a blue highlighter (vertically), drew thick lines with a darker blue marker (horizontally), and colored the entire paper with blue colored pencil (That was a lot of shading!).  After that, I trimmed the paper to fit the spiral cover, printed a scrapbooking tag with a title on it, and then covered my new spiral cover with clear packing tape for durability.

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