Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop - Knock the Socks Off Your Kiddos with a Dynamic Room Theme!

 Hi there, everyone!  Welcome back to the

So today is our first official day of Spring Break!  Yahoo!  
I do have to admit that I have let ideas of next year sneak into my mind...I just can't help it!
One of the first things that I allow myself to think about is some new room decor.
I do change my room every year (except the year I had a frozen shoulder...far too painful to even think about taking paper down and putting new up).  

So, today I thought I'd share some tips to consider when picking decor.  I hope they provide some inspiration for you, if a room decor is what you're thinking about.

Maybe you're considering filling your room with a cool color combo.

 Maybe glitter or plaid is more your style.

Maybe you have a passion for the great outdoors or the beach, or maybe your school is using an adventure or mascot theme.  It's always great to integrate those things into your decor.

Sometimes I find inspiration in the strangest of places...a piece of fabric, a book, someone's home decor colors, an interest that I'm just developing. Maybe you're a die-hard sports fan and want to incorporate that into your classroom.  Ideas are everywhere! 

One of the first things that I do is create a secret Pinterest board.  Sometimes I just collect random ideas on there until something just "sticks".  That's how I know that it is just right!  I have to feel it!  I love doing a big reveal of what my classroom theme will be to all of my sweet internet buddies.
 I know that many people think decking your room out costs tons of money, but here are some things to consider to help cut the costs:
the dollar store
garage sales
other teachers' discards
thrift stores
using cardboard and other displays at your local store
clearance racks
painting what you already have (LOVE Fusion covers everything!)
building and creating your own materials
and of course there are coupons and discounts

 My thinking is that I spend 9 months of the year and most of my waking hours during those 9 months in my classroom.  I also love to have an inviting and warm place for my kiddos to come to learn.  So to me, it is worth investing.

Below are some of the themes that I have used in the past.

This is my classroom this year...a learning safari.

Part of my space classroom from a few years ago.  (My dad built this little reading spot out of PVC pipe.)

My busy buzzy room!

This is my pirate classroom.  It was one of my faves!

So creating an inviting space is so much fun, as you can see! 
I hope that if you're considering creating one for your classroom, this post has helped!

I hope that you'll continue hoping around and collecting some amazing ideas on the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!

Thank you to the following for their amazing graphic talents:
Sassy Designs
Ms. Fultz’s Corner 
Teacher’s Toolkit 
Just So Scrappy 
Creative Clips 
Scrappin Doodles 
Pretty Grafik 
JW Illustrations 
My Cute Graphics

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Guest Blogging Over at Minds In Bloom!

I am soooooooooooo super excited to be guest blogging over at Rachel Lynette's Minds In Bloom Blog.
I'm blogging all about the amazing program that I'm so fortunate to be part of at our school.
If you want to learn more about our Accelerated Learning Model hop on over to 

See you over there!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stylin' It Up for Read Across America

WARNING:  Pinterest can change your life!  OK, well, not maybe, but it can inspire ideas that you just can shake.  Read at your own risk!  OK, just kidding, but I did become just a little bit obsessed this week.

Welcome to the 
Along with Read Across America, our state celebrates Nevada Reading Week.  Our amazing librarians and their committee have many fun activities planned during the week.  My favorite?  Book Character Dress Up Day!

In the past I have been Farmer Brown and my kiddos have been the farm animals from Click, Clack, Moo!  I have also been Max and my kiddos have been the Wild Things (that was so appropriate for that group that year - LOL!)

I presented several different ideas this year to my sweet second graders and they were all shot down...until...I mentioned that they could be 

So, if you'd like to see how I turned my fabulous students into some of my favorite things, keep on reading!

Fortunately, all of this cool tulle ribbon was on sale at Michael's for 40% off.  Each spool was less than $2!  (and I also used my teacher discount!)
We used ribbon for the waistband of their tutus and the girls measured, then cut and patterned.  The boys were fantastic with helping the girls, too.

Then we had to decide how to "decorate" the boys.  My son suggested suspenders and we made those out of ribbon.  The boys in my class came up with mustaches and bow ties.  We made the bow ties out of sparkly ribbon just to give them a little zing.  All of the materials we bought were on sale!

I sent a note home asking parents to send their children in red shirts, if they had them, and as you can see, they did!  For the Thing circles, we just printed them out on cardstock and the kids cut them out.  The kiddos had to measure and cut their own "hair", too!

Here they are after making the appearance at morning opening.  Can you tell how windy it was?  Their "hair" flapping around in the wind made the funniest noise!

 I love these "Things"!

As for my costume, I wore black leggings and a black shirt and shoes.  My son helped me make my tutu.  We did black around the sides and back and white sparkle tulle in the front.  I rounded the corners of a piece of sparkly felt and attached it to my shirt with safety pins.  A red ribbon is attached to the top of my shirt.

I asked my parents to send in a couple of dollars to help defer the cost a little and with all of their generous donations, I ended up spending less than $20, including my own costume (which I paid for, of course).  Not a bad price to outfit 19 things and 1 Cat in the Hat.

Now to figure out how on earth we're going to top this next year!
(If you have any ideas, please feel free to leave me a comment!)

So...are you ready for another Bright Idea?  Hop on over and visit the amazing Amy over at


Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sail Through Spring...Make Your Planning a Breeze & TPT Sale

I know that some of you have just had winter break, but here in Las Vegas, we don't have that...and Spring Break is a long way off.  So, along with some of my other amazing blogging/teaching buddies, we are offering up some tips to help you sail through Spring.

Here is my biggest advice...and I definitely need to remember to listen to myself.

Take Care of Yourself!

This is the long haul.  It seems like our bodies are tired and give into sickness much easier this time of year.  I have already started trying to eat better.  Nope...not perfect, but I'm aiming for improvement.  I even have slipped an Airborne in my lunchbox, just in case.

Do you feel like this?

It's time to change that...just for a minute...or an hour...or a day...or...
Set time aside each week, or at least every other week, to do something nice for yourself.  Need some ideas?  How about:

Get a pedicure.
Buy yourself flowers.
Eat lunch outside.
Pack yourself a special lunch.
Take a class that truly interests you.
Take notice of the beauty of nature.
Cruise Pinterest for FUN things.
Go shopping by yourself.
Visit a park, an art gallery or a museum.
Treat yourself to dinner out on the town.
Go cosmic bowling.
Take a wine and painting class with friends.
Crank up the tunes on the way to work.
Go for a run or a long walk.
Watch your favorite movie.
Enjoy a long, hot bubble bath.
Think of anything except school.
Download a new app.
Run through the sprinklers.
Give yourself a pat on the back.

So now for the making planning a breeze part!

You can find these ideas and so much more right in my store!  
Easy Peasy!

Click on any of the pictures to take you right to my store!

If you're looking for something else, be sure to check out my super fabulous friends and their spectacular products.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Round Number Celebration & Giveaway!!!!

Hi there!  WOW!  It seems within a week's time I hit a lot of zeros...fortunately those zeroes were attached to some other numbers!

Just because I have THE MOST AMAZING group of followers and friends, I think it's time for a CELEBRATION! 


You could win an amazing prize!!

Those who know me, know that The Josh Stevens Foundation is very near and dear to my heart.  Spreading kindness in the lives of our children is huge.  Encouraging them to BE KIND is enormous.  If you haven't taken a moment to read how this incredible family turned tragedy into a sweet memorial of their son, I hope you'll take time to do so.  

This brand new shirt that they are offering is, I think, perfect for any teacher.  You may just win one!

Who couldn't use a gift certificate to TPT?  I am constantly amazed at the opportunities provided to me through TPT.  The friends I've made and the opportunities I've provided for my family...not to mention that I really do think it has helped to improve my teaching.

I am also offering up $50 in merchandise from my store.  

Since this is a celebration, I am also offering a new FREEBIE!

If you've wanted to give Choice Boards a try, here's your chance. 
Click on the picture to take you to Google Docs where you can download a Be Kind Choice Board.

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. 
Most importantly though, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Like I said, I am so grateful for each and every one of you and for all the friends that I have made through this journey.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! Paper Airplanes Take Over Our Class!

Recently, I gave one of my book clubs a book to read.  

 These four little darlings gave me "the look".  You know the look...the "this is not a chapter book and we want a chapter book" look...welcome to second grade.  I briefly discussed the book and told them that if they became masters of their craft then they could teach the class...spark ignited!  However, I had absolutely no idea where this would take us.

We just completed a week-long completely integrated paper airplane unit.

 Our amazing librarians collected a variety of books for use to use.  (Notice there is even one on how birds fly.)

The first thing that we did was to apply for our pilot's license.  This was a great way to make the students agree to practice safe flying strategies.  As you can imagine, I was a little nervous about someone losing an eye from a randomly thrown airplane in a no-fly zone. 

But they LOVED receiving their test pilot's license!

Because we had dabbled a little in paper airplanes, we had some vocabulary, but needed to put some definitions to it.  So we created a vocab chart.

We have also been trying to implement PBL (project based learning) in our classroom, so the students worked together to create a driving question.  This is a pretty ambitious one, but we used their words and ideas.

I have been attending STEM classes all year, so I knew this was a perfect opportunity to implement some things that we had been learning.  And once my little skeptics taught the class how to make paper airplanes, it literally "took off" in my classroom.  (In fact, one of the teacher's kids in my class helped himself to some butcher paper and made a giant paper airplane!)

So I used this great unit from Smart Chick Teaching Resources.
She has a TON of STEM activities.

We spent time researching and collecting ideas on what makes a great paper airplane.

Then we set to work on folding, creating and putting our knowledge to use.

And then...FINALLY...flying them!

The first day we used yardsticks to measure, but found that tape measures worked much better.

The students recorded their information each day in their "Lab Books".  They were responsible for recording their procedures, materials, distance and "hang time" for three different flights each day.

At the end of the week they recorded their best flights for each day on a recording sheet that is going to go up on this bulletin board in the hallway of our school.

This was the first week that I was able to follow my dream of integrating our entire day and standards into one unit.  Since "airplane" is a compound word, that was a great springboard for a unit on compound words. 

We also implemented informational writing and used a "how-to" format.  First, the students sketched out what they were doing to do using this template...

and then they turned it into a flip book.

We used a story that integrated the compound words, had a create your own ending and a variety of other skills that were used with it.

I LOVED that on the last day of the unit, my cute little blondie boy up there said with a sigh, "I can't believe that we're not going to do paper airplanes next week."  He's also the same child that got his dad up at 5:30 one morning to make paper airplanes.  (He turned out to be wrong, because I am still seeing him zipping and zooming his paper airplanes in hallways after school.)

If you want to purchase this unit, simply click the picture and it will take you directly to the product.

A HUGE thank you to my sweet friend Wendy from Teacher's Toolkit for the adorable paper airplane graphics!!

Blogging tips