Schoolroom Swag

Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Making a classroom feel like home...

I've been thinking alot about what I want to do with my classroom this coming fall. It's time to decide once and for all. I love all the bright colors of fun bulletin boards with their pompoms and tissue paper flowers. In fact, I helped create some for a friend last week.  

But I really want to feel at home in my classroom this year. I want to walk in and feel like I'm in a home, not a classroom. I'm afraid I'm going to miss the bright and fun of the colors and the pompoms, but this year I'm changing things up. I'm really going to try to use decor items that I would use in my home. Some of what I would like to do, I know I can't. Frames around bulletin board instead of borders. Warmer paint color. Wallpaper. So instead, I'm using what I can. I have only just begun, but here's a start:

I spray painted my plastic tubs silver. I love the way they turned out. These were lime green dollar store plastic. I also covered them in a spray topcoat, to try to minimize the inevitable chipping. I love lime green, and it hurt me a little to cover up all that bright fun, but do they make me feel at home? Do I have lime green plastic tubs in my living room? No. That's my goal. Not eliminate fun colors, just be more intentional about feeling at home.

Here's my next step: recreating my reclaimed wood wall in the form of bulletin boards.

 I found this here on Amazon. And I'm not sure if it's because I have Amazon Prime, but it was free shipping!  So I've been dreaming of wood bulletin boards for the last 2 days. Seriously. DREAMING of it. In my actual dreams. Trying to think of what to use as a "frame". I would use pieces of fence post actual wood, but it's too much wood. The one in my house doesn't have a frame around it. So what to do to frame it in...a white fence post frame??? Hmmm...there's a thought. That sounds like a ton of work, though, if you ask me. And at this point, I don't think I have it in me. So a paper border it is. But I'm keeping it simple: white (flip over one of my 5,000 already purchased borders) and gray. But I still need some color on my bulletin boards, so I'll be thinking that over.

One more hurdle: reduce, reuse, recycle. I'm trying not to buy 12 rolls of new border, "new" Goodwill furniture, more bins, baskets, organizers, name plates, whatever.  Some purchases are inevitable. But I'm trying to use WHAT I ALREADY HAVE! It's tough. And even though I haven't made big purchases at the teacher's store, and honestly, I probably won't, my friends in the spray paint aisle at Home Depot are getting to know me very well.

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Seeing a Home in My Classroom

I'm thinking more and more about setting up a classroom to be more like a home. Look more like a living room. Or a family room. Or even an office. Just a warmer, more homey feel.I LOVE to be at home. So do my kids. Probably because we are NEVER there. (I also think that's why it's so messy.) But even with the laundry basket on the floor, and the carpet that needs vacuuming, the half-empty Wendy's cups on the counter, and the 5 pairs of shoes next to the couch, we all want to be here. Maybe because it's comfortable. Or because that's where WE all are, even though we don't love each other every second of the day. But I also hear my students say from time to time "I wish I were at home." You can't blame 'em, can you?
I know it's empty. But my point is;can you see school books in baskets on here? A comfortable and pretty chair next to it instead of a hard plastic one?
That's what I want to capture at my school. That feeling of home. Next year I'm changing schools. Again. I'm thinking a lot about it, too. How do I want my new home to feel? Just like that- like a home. So I'm trying to look differently at pictures I see and articles I read about home decor. I'm thinking about how I can apply those things to my school. And I'm thinking more in terms of "my school" than "my classroom". When we think of our home, we think of it as the collection of rooms, not just one. Our family is a unit, not one person. Our school is more than just our classroom, it's the entire place, from the office to the janitor's closet. 

Is there anyone who hasn't jumped on the rustic farmhouse bandwagon yet? Come on it, the water's warm! I'm looking at that folder bin on the wall, thinking "I could use 3M hooks to hang that bad boy. It would be great for turning in papers!" That's MUCH more homey than my plastic tray sitting on the counter looking messy!
But to begin, I will start in my classroom. And I'm using  a new eye. One that is full of a love for all things HOME.

. Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Higher Level Thinking with Morning Work for 3rd Grade!

I'm pretty sure in a former post I mentioned that I'm teaching 3rd grade this year. So that meant many things, one of which was: I needed new morning work!

One of my goals for spring break was to make my morning work for 4th quarter. And yes, it's the Saturday before school starts again, but I did it!! Whew! Time for a nap.

I like to use higher level thinking with morning work, just to give them some practice and make morning work a little more engaging. Each day has a theme, but the pages change three times within that theme. So for instance, Monday is Math Monday. Three weeks are spent practicing counting money, three weeks practicing time, and three weeks for fact family practice. On Mondays, we use it like a scoot game, or scavenger hunt, where the kids find a numbered envelope with a problem in it.

Disclaimer: there is a teeny tiny bit of prep work involved, but I tried to keep even that as simple as possible. You also need to have a few items on hand, but they're very common, and you may not even have to buy them. Or if you do, they're cheap! And it's only for a few days. Most days are just print and go. But I want to let people know that. I kept the price low ($3.50) for the whole quarter's worth of work.

Tuesday is "Touch it Tuesday", which speaks to the early childhood teacher in me. There are three Tuesdays of using chopsticks to pick up objects (or letters) and then write about them, three days of writing about goop they will make, and three days of writing spelling words in different kinds of substances (like canned pumpkin or shaving cream).

Wednesday is more simple. "What is the Question Wednesday". I give them an answer and they write 5 questions to go with it.
Thursday is "Thoughtful Thursday". Analogies, hink pinks and literary equations. I'm a word nerd, so I love that day!
Friday is "Fun Friday". Riddles!! Some are harder, some are easy.
It took me 'til the 11th hour to get it done, but what a relief! Now for that nap. You can find the morning work here. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, February 26, 2016

Blues and Coral Decor

Here are some of the inspiration pieces for my next classroom d├ęcor pack. I've recently become a fan of navy. It's such a classic color, but I never really liked it. Isn't that a Jerry Seinfeld joke about navy? "What's the deal with navy? It's not black, it's not blue. It makes me uncomfortable." Can't you hear Jerry Seinfeld saying that?

Navy is for sure a classic color. If colors had ages, it would be 2,000.  But paired with newer, hipper colors, like teal, turquoise, gray and coral, (of course gray is an old color, too, but it's like Han Solo- it's totally cool and will never age) it takes on a whole new look. It seems to ground the rest of the colors. It brings maturity to the young pups.

So I've just STARTED working on my next year's design. It's barely even a passing thought, but I wanted to at least get something down on paper. On computer. You can get the first page of labels/word wall/name tags/calendar pieces/whatever you want them for at Teachers Pay Teachers. It's free and editable. You'll see there is no coral in it yet-that will come later. I used four different shades of blue because I think different tints of a color bring depth to a room. There is also texture in the color. Go check it out and let me know what you think.

Have a great FRIDAY!!!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Cave, A Campfire, and a Watering Hole

I just read about an interesting guy named David Thornburg. He seems to live in Brazil and the United States, from what I can tell.  He is a future-thinker and has some cool ideas. I like the way he thinks about new classroom spaces helping students to learn, and more importantly, to "think".  He has developed some easy to implement ideas in classroom design. He encourages classrooms to have these parts (as soon as you see them, you'll understand what he means):

Watering hole
Mountain Top

Here's what he means:
Watering hole: a place to come together to exchange ideas
Campfire: here is where we share stories, exchange ideas and allow the group to build on each others’ ideas.
Cave: a place to withdraw from the noise of the classroom to be alone with your thoughts and reflection. A place to explore questions and make connection
Mountain Top: where we celebrate and share learning ‘one to many’. You ‘sing it from the mountaintop’.
Sandpit: here you play, prototype, and experiment without worrying about mess, water or damaging surface

This analogy appealed to me because it's true in our personal lives, and should also be true in the classroom. We can achieve these places in our classrooms using what we already have. We don't need new and expensive furniture. We just need to put ourselves in the mind of our students. What spaces do they need each day? Can they go to a corner and cool off? Can they engage with each other to share learning? 

As I read more about classroom design, some of the ideas out there seem to me to be exactly that. "Out there." Maybe not bad, maybe even great, but also not exactly realistic. I try to remember these 3 key ingredients:

all things in moderation
balance, and
some is better than none.

That's why David's idea of the cave and the campfire appeal to me. It's easy for me to process, understand why it's desirable, and then implement. I can use what I already have.
A "cave" in the corner.
A "watering hole"
See that rug area in the front? Our "campfire."
Find these areas in your classroom. You probably already know where they are. If not, take 20 minutes. I bet you can move some desks just a little, and there they will be.
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Learning Lounge

This is a very student-directed classroom. I love that table next to the loveseat. It looks really homey. But could you pull this off in your school? I think my principal would listen to me if I wanted to implement this. I think I'd have some explaining to do, though, as to the why it's necessary to completely get rid of my desks.  But for this teacher, great!

Her name is Elise Legaspi and she's from California. I think her room is very comfortable, and she has some great furniture! You can clearly see she's a student-directed teacher who wants students to be engaged. And that's what classroom design is all about! Engaging students and transforming not only the classroom, but the students!

Transforming your classroom will transform your teaching!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kids LOVE new school!


Check out this innovative school in Florida. What do you think?

I would love to try it for awhile and see how it works.  Or at least visit and learn from them. Would I be able to fit into that model? How do the kids learn and get along? What are test results? Do they test? Are there any traditional aspects? How does it work in the day to day?

I think it's really interesting, in regards to classroom design, and learning!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Budget crunch gift idea

I was in a serious budget crunch at Christmas time. We had some MAJOR car bills (we're talking multiple thousands) come up right before Christmas which ate into our Christmas fund. So I was on the hunt for BARGAINS. And when I say bargains, I mean...what can I make for next to nothing?

So here was one solution...a Christmas decoration for my sister. I think it turned out really cute. In these pictures, it still needs an "M" (for Meyer) as the tree trunk. I decided not to put a star on the top, but you could if you wanted. I couldn't find any that weren't cheesy.

I made this out of fence post wood slats. About $2.50 from Home Depot for a 5 or 6 foot post. I already had the three pieces as left-overs from a fireplace project, but you only need one board, cut into 12 inch strips. Here are the steps I took:

1-cut the angled edges off (and cut into 12 in. pieces if you need to)

3-cover with painters tape to make the chevron
4-stain again with the tape on, to make the pattern
5-screw on a piece of bracket on the back to keep the pieces together

6-glue on the ornaments
7-screw in eyelets on top and insert wire

8-add twine bows or accents to the eyelets if you want

Now, I had most of these items at home, so I only had to buy the ornaments for $3 at Michaels. But if you had to buy everything, it would still cost you less than about $15.

I want to make another one, but with the next one, I plan to make the pieces longer, and add an arrow with the word "Permberly". There are a TON of ideas you could use. A heart for Valentines, Eggs for Easter, a simple initial, a plain arrow, an ampersand, (what is it about ampersands that are so cool?) vinyl letters,  you name it.

Thanks for reading!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Easy long range planning

Do you know Linda Kamp? She is awesome. I love her products and her blog posts. Helpful, to the point, engaging. I read her latest, and it taught me a new Pinterest tip. Organize the school year pins by month!  You can't do that for all of your teaching pins, but it's great for those that work! I think it will really make planning my year easier.

Also, being Jan. 2nd, with school a mere 2 days away, it's time to start planning. I'll be honest, I HATE writing lesson plans. Mine are pretty involved, and that's important to me but I need to find a way to enjoy writing them and find passion in my planning! I'm not sure that's possible, but today I came across Linda's January Pinterest board, and a new way to use that I think might help. I've written before about, but my new way to use it: Planning units!  It allows me to create units in any class, date them, add lessons, assessments, objectives, standards, and more.

I just finished Social Studies for the rest of the year. Now I'll just need to add to each individual unit as I go. For example, I purchased 2 MLK projects at TPT, and I added them to the unit. And at, I can upload the unit right to my lesson plan page. So I can plan my unit, go to my weekly lesson plan, attach the items I purchased, along with the unit plan I created, and boom! My week is done. And saved for the next year to tweak as I go. I can also add a link to my monthly Pinterest board (or any Pinterest board) and anything pinned is right there, ready to use!

If you need planning to be a little easier, or you need to do some long term planning, is the way to go.

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]