Sunday, August 7, 2011

Slowly, But Surely My Classroom Takes Form...

As I continue to blog stalk hop, I am amazed at the creativity, energy, and SPEED with which you all put your rooms together!  There are so many beautiful classrooms in America being put together right now by dedicated teachers!  I just wish THAT kind of thing was what people thought about when they think of teachers -- dedicated teachers using their "time off" to create positive learning environments.  Let me be one who says, "I notice, I understand, I'm impressed, and THANK YOU!"

(This is me, stepping off my soap box now...)  Back to your "speed" -- I don't have that...  It seems to take me FOREVER to put a bulletin board together, much less my whole room - lol.  As usual, I have spent my summer "puttering" around town (and online), gathering supplies, dropping by the school to work in short bits (shorter because we don't have full "air" in the summer).  At least now I can say that some of my bulletin boards are up and ready to go and some of my "projects" are taking form.

My first few years of teaching were spent in Nebraska.  One of my team teachers, Mrs. Smith, had a section of her classroom wall with 20ish class pictures all hanging neatly and the title "Mrs. Smith's Reasons For Teaching."  I LOVED this and FINALLY have my own.  Mine are not as neatly placed, because they are not all the same size, but my husband (ladder helper) and I figured it out and I LOVE IT:
I have taught 6 years and the other frame is waiting for my current class.
Found these fun "frames" on sale at Michael's :)
Placed above our Helper Board and Family Board.
I've also gotten the "main idea" of my Student Writing board completed.  I'm sure this will need "tweeking" along the way, but it is presentable:  "Red Carpet Writing"

Placed above the Writing Center (not ready for photographing - lol)
I've updated my "Mrs. Cade Loves..." board - always a student favorite:

Here are just a few other parts of the room that are ready to go:

I'm going to try these for my daily materials this year.
We are departmentalized, so I color-code everything for my 3 classes:  Red is my color :)  This houses my birthday and celebration boxes (top rack), my baskets for turning in work (color coded, labeled baskets), and my tubs for "Friday Folders" and Materials to hand out (red bottom tubs, not yet labeled):

Finally, a "shout-out" to my beautiful, creative daughter who painted my teacher stool and author's chair (Love you, Sassy!):

More to come...Thanks again for all of your inspiration out there!  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shrinky Dinks Are So Much Fun!

If you haven't made Shrinky Dinks, you don't know what you're missing!  The wonder of it all always makes me feel like a kid!  Though it takes a little investment of time and money on my part, I LOVE the end product and feel it is soooo worth it!

I use Shrinky Dinks in my classroom two times a year: 1st day for our Lunch Choice Board and to make Christmas ornaments (That'll have to be a later post).

Here is the process:  I find a design I want for the year.  This year I am having a "Star" theme, with an emphasis on "Hollywood."  I have done "stars" in the past and wanted something different, so I went to my Thistle Girl clip art and picked a few.  I chose these, enlarged them, and printed them out:

Next, I got my Shrinky Dink sheets out.  It comes in several types.  I prefer working with the "Ruff and Ready FROSTED."  ALL instructions are included in the package of course. :)

I use a Sharpie (one of my favorite teacher tools:) and trace my designs on the ROUGH SIDE.  Several on a page makes the most of the money you've spent:

Next, I get to COLOR :)  I usually stick to my favorite color, red, and any other colors that go with my theme.  I allow the students to use whatever colors they want and always get some awesome creativity!  I use COLORED PENCILS because the wax in crayons will melt and markers will be too dark.  Another tip:  If you will be writing on any part, leave uncolored or color lightly.

Get out your Sharpies again and Personalize:

Next cut them out, and place them on a piece of brown grocery bag on a cookie sheet:

Slip them into a pre-heated (325) oven and turn the light on, because this is where the magic happens!!

They always curl up and SCARE ME TO DEATH! :/

Be patient and in about a minute and a half (leave it in up to 3 minutes), you will get this final product:

Remove to a cookie sheet to cool (takes no time at all):

These are all the ones I made that day (different sizes).
While the stars are probably my favorite, I have done stars before and a 3rd grade teacher had the students do stars last year.  I wanted to pick something different.  All we need now is a magnet on the back and they are ready for the lunch choice board:

Boys will will be in the blue basket and girls in the red (love these cute little baskets I found in the TARGET dollar spot this year - so handy!)  When I get it, I will post the menu beside the board and students will come in and make their choices each morning.  The "lunch captain" will use the form in the yellow basket to record the lunch count each morning.  At the end of the day he or she will remove all of the magnets and put them back into the baskets for the next day.  Aside from an occasional reminder, lunch count is not a worry for me =)

Here are a few different ones my classes have made in previous years, along with this year's top choices.  I thought I would want the smaller one, but really like the larger I think.  I always go with red, so I MAY go with blue this year, actually probably not - lol.  Note:  I have always had a patriotic slant to my room, if you can't tell by the colors (What can I say, my husband was in the Air Force.)

These can easily be moved to the whiteboard and used during the day for keeping track of various things.  I always have students use them to let me know who is in the library and who is taking an AR test.  I'm sure you all can find far more uses for them!  By next year, I am sure I will see all sorts of Shrinky Dinks on Pinterest!  You can find Shrinky Dinks at Michael's, on ebay, and various other places, but I cannot always find enough of the kind I want.  This year I started ordering straight from the  Shrinky Dinks store online - it saved me some hunting time for sure and cost almost the exact same.  You will want to experiment with size, color, etc.  I have students color them on the 1st day and take them home and shrink them that night.  They are always AMAZED at their creations.  I know there are toaster oven instructions, and this could probably be done in class with a toaster oven, but taking them home works best for me.

I hope you and your students have fun "Shrinky Dinking".  Another plus is when the kiddos get to take these home at the end of the year and turn them into refrigerator magnets - a reminder of their cool 4th grade year!  HAPPY SHRINKING!!!