Monday, August 8, 2016

Ribbon Love

Here's a little sneak peak into this year's classroom update - my bulletin boards - at least so far.  Notice my new love - ribbon border!  I don't have to laminate it, it's easy to hang, versatile, and easy to store.  I used wired ribbon and gave it a 3-D effect by pushing it together before stapling.  I also skipped the background paper this year since the color of the boards actually matched my theme!  Easy!

This is my Accelerated Reader board to keep track of the points the students earn for reading books and taking AR tests.  AR Stars - get it?  This ribbon was from Michaels.  It has lace on top of the burlap, but is kind of hard to see.    The AR banner was made using left-over pennants from my alphabet mentioned below.  I made the incentive charts to match my theme and put the template in my TPT store - for FREE!  There are also matching name tag templates.  Just print on card stock!  So click here for the link.

Star Student for the student of the week.  I do this instead of having classroom jobs.  My Star Student will do every job for the week and have a personalized bulletin board display as well.  It's easier for me to keep track of than multiple jobs!  This ribbon is from the Dollar Store!  Yep - $1 a roll.  Needed 3 rolls for a 4 foot by 4 foot board.  The frame was from the thrift store, painted ocean blue and I made the pennant with left over scraps of burlap.  I used Elmer's Glue on the edges to keep it from fraying and cut the letters out using our Ellison machine at school with a font called Lolliopop and scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby.  Then I just glued them onto the pennants and strung some burlap through the tops.

My calendar board.  Sorry the days aren't up, I just now finished cutting them out!  And of course, some of them need re-laminated because they peeled as soon as I cut them out.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  The M's are from Michaels on HUGE sale and the frame was another one from the thrift store.  Ribbon border is from the scrapbook section of Michaels.  The flowers, butterflies, and pennant banner up above are from Hobby Lobby.  The alphabet was done with the Ellison machine again.

Finally, I always need a place to keep important notes and personal pictures, so I used command hooks to hang some extra netting on the wall above my phone and attached some mini clothespins I found for $1 at Michaels.  The M is also from Michaels.  The gold garland was a leftover from my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, but I originally bought it at Hobby Lobby at Christmas time.

I hope these help to inspire you while you're getting ready for back to school.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Today is the first day of The-Month-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.  There are many myths and many truths to this final month of summer.  Let's take a minute to look at some of them.

Said no teacher ever!  Fact.  We all do it.  All year.

 Yep.  Goes right along with the one above it.  And now you know what's coming...

Because who needs to get ready for the kids who are coming tomorrow?

And admin thought 4 hours was being generous.

Enough said.

"Can't sleep.  Clowns will eat me."
Okay, it's not that bad, but truthfully, every year I have at least 1 back to school nightmare.  Sometimes I lose kids at recess, or I forget to send my class to lunch, or I don't hear the dismissal bell and I have students in my classroom overnight, or I swear at a school board member's child.  It's not officially back to school until I have "the dream."

Again - the dream.

Yes, the days of shorts and flip-flops are coming to an end, and none of us - kids or teachers - want to say goodbye.

We all have them.  Those friends and family members who think it's SO FUNNY to remind you that you have to go back to work.

I'm not sure about this one.  My own childhood was filled with mixed emotions.  I loved school, couldn't wait to see my friends, but hated to see summer come to an end.  I'm pretty sure my own child feels the same way and so do many others.  But the parents...

Okay, I'm sure a lot of parents feel this way, but I know other parents who have a hard time saying goodbye to summer and letting their children start school.  True, most of the parents I'm talking about are teachers who hate to leave their own children and go back to work, but still...

So true!  We spend all summer praying that our class list isn't as bad as we heard it would be.

And finally...
The greatest myth of all...  But there's always wishful thinking.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Addiction - Sea Glass Spray Paint

So I admit it.  I have a new addiction.  I can not stop using Krylon Sea Glass Spray Paint.  I have been spraying anything glass I can get my hands on - vases, wine bottles, milk bottles, canning jars, olive oil containers, the list goes on.

It's so easy, so pretty, and SO fits into my coastal shabby chic classroom decor!  I have found the best selection at Lowe's, but it's also available at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and various other craft stores.  My personal favorite is Sea Foam, but I have also used the aqua.  I hope to get a hold of some of the other colors soon, too.

$1 each at Michaels.

30 cents at a thrift shop!
I just sprayed the glassware lightly, you can always add more, but you can't take it off.  Then I added twine, netting, frayed material, sea shells, ribbon, and various other supplies to make it my own.  Here are some more examples.  Try it out!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Make Your Own Wooden Sign - The EASY way!

While at the beach this summer, I saw the most adorable shopping tote in The Cotton Gin- a favorite shop of mine in OBX.  The tote had the quote, "Always be yourself, unless you can be a mermaid then be a mermaid," written on the front and I instantly fell in love with the idea.

I moved it to the top of the pile of totes and thought that I would come back and get it after I finished perusing the merchandise and made my final selections.  But of course, when I came back to get it, it was gone.

Disappointed, I set out searching for the tote online.  While I found many objects containing my beloved quote, I never did find the actual tote bag.  Then I started thinking.  Wouldn't I rather have the quote on a piece of artwork where everyone can see it instead of just on a tote bag.  Of course I would!  But I'm cheap, and they were expensive!

So I decided to make my own.  Here's the finished project followed by the hacks - I mean details - of how I made it.

So it started out with me finding a junk piece of wood in my husband's stash that was roughly 15" x 13".  Not sure what he was planning to do with it, but...

Then I first painted the entire board with Rust-oleum Ocean Mist spray paint.  I think I was just spray paint happy that day.  I was painting everything this shade!  Good thing the dog is fast...  I guess I thought I'd just spray the entire board that color, rough up the edges and be done, but I wasn't quite happy with the results.  

So...  I let it dry and then I dry brushed some of Anita's Morning Blue craft paint on top.  Still not quite right, so I added a touch of the Blue Bahama Patio Paint, also with a dry brush.  And finally, because I had no white acrylic paint here, I added a couple of strokes of white tempera that was in Aiden's closet!  Then I sanded the edges once it dried to give it a nice worn look.

This is what it ended up looking like, but really, the picture doesn't do it justice.  It was really pretty with the blues and turquoise and wood shining through.  

Now I did not freehand the lettering, nor did I use stencils.  I took an extreme shortcut and used alphabet stickers I bought at Michaels - on sale of course - plus, they have a teacher discount. I wanted to use different fonts to make it fun, so I chose a 3" font from Mambisticks - sorry they don't have a link to this particular sticker set on their website - and a 2" letter from Recollections.  I also wanted to use the gold font from Heidi Swapp so that "be a mermaid" would stand out on the sign- again, no link, sorry.  

I'd love to tell you I planned everything out and measured, but that would be a lie.  I thought about measuring and everything, but I'm too impatient.  So I just sat down in front of the television and started slapping letters on the board.  I actually ran out of E's and had to get creative with a C and a J.  Finally, I used the hot glue gun to add some shells that we had lying around the house and finished it all off with a quick clear coat.  Done.  What do you think?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Coastal Shabby Chic No-Sew Curtains

I just realized that I never posted about the curtains I made.  These were the first additions to my new classroom theme.  If you're looking for a shabby chic, no-sew curtain, these were easy and I love how they turned out.

Here they are actually on a window in my classroom, but this isn't how they started!

I actually started by ripping up a flat sheet!  I knew I needed some filler pieces, and we no longer had a queen-sized bed, so...  I used those frayed-edge strips along with a mix of various laces, netting, burlap, and ribbons to construct these no-sew curtains.  Some of the laces I grabbed from my mom's antique shop.  It's very handy having a fabric-loving hoarder for a mother!  Seriously, some of the lace was from my junior prom dress!  I also used some pieces that I had on hand from my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.  I bought very few pieces, but what I did buy, I got on sale 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  Here is a picture of some of my supplies before I started!

My anchor was this 4 inch natural jute woven lattice wire edge ribbon from Hobby Lobby - which was of course 50% off.  I made all 3 curtains with 1 roll of this and still have some left over to decorate with!  I measured the width of my window and then added 4 inches so the curtain would drape.  I cut the 4 inch jute lattice to the length I needed.  I also measured how long I wanted the curtains to be and then subtracted 4 inches for the width of the jute ribbon.

Next I measured each type of ribbon and cut it to the desired length of the curtains.  I divided each type into three piles, since I was making 3 curtains, so that each curtain would contain the same elements.  Some of my cheap, clearance ribbon was too wide, so I cut it into strips that would fit.  It really didn't matter if it frayed.  I liked that look.

Then I started knotting the laces and other items into the bottom box on the lattice.  Most times I doubled the lace and slipped the fold through the box, threading the ends through the fold loop to make a knot.  If the elements were too wide, like the frayed burlap, I just did a regular knot.  I filled every box and tried to space the various items out so they would look similar, but not identical.  I put the bigger pieces in first, the sheeting, burlap, netting, etc., and then filled in with the thinner pieces of ribbons and laces.  I didn't worry if all of the pieces were the same length, the varying lengths added to the curtain's charm.

To hang the curtains I used 3 Command Hooks above my window and hung them from the center and both ends.  Then I covered the hooks by adding a knot of burlap.  Easy!

Here's a closer picture of one of them hanging from our mantle.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trash to Treasure

Decorating my classroom.  The saga continues.

So this morning I woke up and had my favorite oatmeal.  Quaker Steel Cut Apple Pear Pecan.  Yum.  I wondered if the remnants should go in the recycling bin or not, as I wasn't sure if the container was thin plastic or heavy coated cardboard, so I dissected it.  Upon removing its skin - okay, its label...  I discovered a beautiful white plastic container just perfect for holding things such as pencils, Q-tips, cotton balls, or other wonderful supplies that need holders.  Inspiration.

So I added some twine, a ribbon, and a small sand dollar with my hot glue gun - and voila!  A new container for my Coastal Shabby Chic classroom!  I see many variations of this in my future.

Simple Supplies


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bucket Seats

I thought I was all prepared to just walk into my room in August and start teaching.  I even put up my August calendar before leaving school for the summer.  Then I decided that my crates needed redone, and I could no longer purchase the fabric that coordinates with Dots on Chocolate.  Sooooo...

You guessed it.  It's a summer of complete redecorating!  Inspiration struck while I was at the beach and it's been nonstop since I got back.

This week I made new bucket seats from 5 gallon buckets.  Here's the finished product.

And here's the video, if you'd like help making your own.

More updates to come as the decorating continues.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Coding for Kids

Okay, I feel really bad that I haven't blogged in forever!  I am going to try to blog at least once a week - starting today.

So today starts another week of state testing and my kiddos are pretty burnt out from test prep.  That's why I decided today was the perfect day to veer away from the scheduled plans and introduce coding to my third graders.  They love it!

Why coding?  Coding is one of the most sought after skills in today's job market with nearly 1,000,000 high paying, fun-filled jobs and no one to fill them!  It also incorporates all of the STEM skills we try to nurture in our students, from simple math skills to complex problem solving. So maybe a better question is why wouldn't we teach coding to our students?

I started by having them watch this video from about the importance of coding.  We stopped the video occasionally for some discussion points about why in the world I'd be teaching them about coding in third grade and then also when they saw how cool some of the work places were!

Then I had them use the link on our class webpage to be taken directly to their class and name on is a FREE site where there are TONS of coding lessons, games, videos - you name it!  I had already set up my FREE teacher account and added all of my students in about a total of 5 minutes!  It was easy.  Here's how to start on

Go to code studio and click on the Teacher Sign Up button as shown here.

Fill in the information on the sign up page and sign up for FREE!

This will take you to your Teacher Home Page.  Scroll down until you see the box for Student Accounts and Progress.  From here you can add your students and create your first assignment.

As you can see, there are a TON of other resources you can access from your home page, but if you're like me, you want to jump right in and get started.  You'll look at those other things later!  Right?

The screen you'll see when you access the Student Accounts and Progress screen will give you some insight into which kind of accounts you'd like to create.  This is mainly determined by the age of students you will be enrolling.  You can have picture usernames and passwords for the youngest users or email registration for the older users.  I opted for the in between option - Word.  After I registered my kiddos, they were taken to a screen that had all of the students in my class listed.  They just clicked on their name and then entered a secret code - it's just 2 words that they get printed on a card.   The options I described are pictured below.

On this page you will also see a button at the top that asks you to create New Section.  I'm sure if I taught multiple classes, I'd need to do this for each class, but as I am self-contained, I just did this once and called my class by the school year so I don't get confused next year.

You can use the drop down menus on this page to create your class and have it tailored to your needs.

You can see that I chose to start my class with the classicmaze course, but there are many courses to choose from.   I like to start with this one because it starts really easy with Angry Birds and then, as they progress, they move into Plants Versus Zombies, Ice Age, and other games they're already familiar with.  The course you choose is up to you, your kids, and their ages.

Once you assign a course, you will see that Manage Students will appear under your new section name.  Click on this link to enter your students.  The following screen will appear.

I Add Multiple Students and just load my entire class at one time, but the Add student option is helpful if a student moves into your class after you've started a course.

Just add your students, one per line, and then click Done.  Once you are done, the next screen will have some drop down menus for gender and age that you can either fill in or skip.  If you skip the drop downs, your students will have a chance to fill them in themselves when they first log in.

At the bottom of this screen you will also see the option to print out cards with your students' log in information.  I do this and the students glue the cards into their tech folder that they keep in their desk with all of their log in credentials for various sites.

You will also see the sign in page link.  This will be on the card that you print as well.  I copy this link and put it right on our class webpage for easy access.

The only thing left on this screen is to make sure you click the Save All button at the bottom.  Then you're all set up.  Have your kids go to the website, find their name, sign in using their unique secret words, and begin coding.  It's all self paced and will give them hints when they need them to make them successful.  My kids LOVE coding and don't even realize they are learning math and an extremely marketable skill!

From your Teacher Home Page you can track their progress, check how many lines of codes your students have written, watch videos, invite guest speakers to your room, or my favorite - take a coding class yourself!  It's addicting!

I hope you try it out.  Hope to see you next week...