Weekend Warriors: Pinteresting Classroom Projects

My bloggy friends and I are back! And I must say, I am LOVING this month's theme!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
I think I've added at least 10 more projects to my summer To Do list after reading everyone's posts yesterday! I now have 4,481 pins after hopping around everyone's blog LOL! Click here to see my home/craft pinspirations from yesterday.

Today I'm sharing some classroom pinspirations I've been working on. First up is the homework club. I've seen a bunch of pins of homework boards, including here and here. I wanted to do it last year, but never got around to making a board. I was also having a hard time with using numbers to represent students because I don't use numbers in my classroom, yet I didn't want to use to use students' names or photos. Talk about hard core public humiliation! So after thinking about it, I decided to give each of my kids a number so they can have some anonymity, but I will only use the number for the purposes of this board. Here's mine:
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
I bought this magnetic whiteboard with a cork strip around the outside at Hobby Lobby for $12. It was cheaper than the plain old whiteboard. Weird, hey? Then I bought the decorative tape (don't think it's technically washi tape) for $2 to cover up the cork strip and pretty it up. I whipped up a few labels and some numbers and laminated them. The top labels are attached to the board but the numbers have magnets on the back. I know I have some super cute library pockets at school, so I will add those to the bottom to put in the number tiles that are removed from the board.

I separated it into two sides: homework and reading. For homework, I'm looking for my kids to return their math packets and their weekly spelling contracts on Fridays, and for the reading club, they need to read 75 minutes and return their reading calendars on Mondays. The two sides will be rewarded separately. The plan is to have a special lunch in the classroom (they all LOVE lunch in the room. Why is that???) for the bunnies who've returned their work. I don't grade homework; I just check it in. Did you do it or not? Sometimes I don't check in homework right away so it piles up. I'm hoping the homework club will keep me more on-track with checking in homework, plus will give my students an added incentive to return their homework on time.

Moving on... Have you seen those straw dispensers used for pencils? Me too, but I always thought that it was a little unnecessary. They're cute, but my large plastic tub works just fine. Then I was reading about one a blog, and the blogger said that it prevents kids from digging through the tub to find the "perfect" pencil; they just take the one that comes out. And I'm SOLD!!!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
I bought the dispenser from Amazon, made the label, and spray glued it on the inside. I wanted to cover the whole inside so the bunnies wouldn't be able to see inside at all, but it just seemed like too much work since it's odd shaped. I can't wait to fill it up with freshly sharpened pencils!

Lastly, I am loving all the chalkboard signs I've been seeing, not only for the classroom, but as home decor as well. I know I'm super late to the chalkboard par-tay, but better late than never! Of course I couldn't find exactly what I wanted on my Hobby Lobby trip, or at least at a price I was OK with. So I made my own chalkboard! 

First I found chalkboard placemats. I got two for $6. I'm thinking about taking the extra one and the chalk markers to school and putting them in my Word Work station. Then I found a build-your-own frame. The total cost was around $5 for the frame, and I spent $2 on the paint. I first painted them brown and then turquoise over the brown.
 Next I put it together and then used some sand paper to scuff it up a bit so that the brown would show through. You can't really see it though in the finished photo, but trust me; it's there! I used a staple gun to attach the chalkboard placemat to the back of the frame. It ended up being smaller than I was intending, but it works.

Now it was time to decide what to write on the board. Here are a few of my pinspirations: this one, this one, and this one. I decided I wanted some kind of quote about making mistakes. Now it was time to write..... but I couldn't bring myself to do it! Funny, since the quote is all about making mistakes. So I gave myself a bit of a pep talk and started working.
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
Thank goodness the sign photographs well!!! Because trust me, lots of mistakes were made in making this sign! I'm not sure where I'm going to put it in my classroom yet, but I am excited to add it to my room. I also decided that chalkboard art is not really my thing....

OK, it's time for me to hop around, check out my friends' projects, and pin more projects! Haha! Make sure you also follow me on Pinterest to see my future pinspirations!


Weekend Warriors: Pinteresting Home/Craft Projects

It's the last weekend of the month, so you know what that means? It's time to link up with my fellow Weekend Warriors!!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
Pinterest is actually what introduced me to the blogging world. All these amazing images took me to even more amazing blogs and I was SUCKED IN!! Currently, I have 103 boards and 4,472 pins... YIKES! Although I will admit I was a pinaholic in the early months, while now I tend to be more selective with what I pin.

Today I want to share with you some of the pinspiring home and crafting ideas I've implemented in recent months. Click here to see my classroom pinspirations from this weekend's blog hop! First up, I needed to do something about the HOT MESS I called my jewelry box. Sadly, I'm not a bracelet girl, although I really wish I was (Alex + Ani anyone??? I wish...), but I end up playing with them and taking them off during the day. I'm more of a necklace girl. There are tons of pins out there, like this one, or this one, or this one. I needed some serious organization, so I went to heaven Hobby Lobby, found five different, yet matchy drawer pulls. I already had a few hooks screwed into a board where I hang my scarves, so I asked the hubs to move them over a smidge and hang up the drawer pulls. Observe:
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
Close Up:
The drawer pull was $4-$5 each. In the same aisle, they also had racks with hooks with decorative pieces on the ends, but I felt like that would be cheating. If I'm calling this a Pinterest project, I actually need to make something. And by "I," I mean the hubs :) He's such a champ! I also liked the random, yet somewhat matching look of the pulls that I chose. The pre-made racks had the same decorative pieces on each hook.

I love how I can now see all the necklaces that I have, and what colors I need more of :)

OK, up next, a little crochet project. I was pinspired by this pattern. One of the second grade teachers at another school in my district is expecting a baby girl any day now! She posted pictures of her nursery on Facebook and said her theme was "You Are My Sunshine." I actually pinned the pattern several weeks before I found out that nugget of info, but had no reason to make it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered her theme because it fit perfectly! Her colors are cream, gray, and yellow, but of course I had to add some pink!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
 It's a little hot in June/July for a hat (which is my specialty), so this lovey was a perfect alternative!

Speaking of babies... I'm currently 31 weeks with our Baby #3, and we don't know baby's gender! We have a boy and a girl already and found out with both of them, so we decided to be surprised for the last one. Yes, this is the last one! I wanted to make a baby blanket for the baby, so I scoured Pinterest and found this pattern. If you haven't noticed, I tend to gravitate towards turquoise and green, and since those colors tend to be more gender-neutral, that's what we're going with for the nursery. I found the sign at Hobby Lobby, and then picked out the yarn to go with. Voila!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
 I added the scalloped edge around the outside to give it a more finished look. And the best part? I actually finished this five weeks ago: 14 weeks early!! I'm never early. In fact, I'm still working on my daughter's baby quilt and she's 2.5 years old...

As you can imagine, I have lots of yarn. Problem is, I have no place to put it. I was storing it in a bunch of plastic tubs and Thirty-One bags, but I couldn't always see what I had, plus the skeins would often become tangled. I had seen lots of pins of people using those plastic shoe organizers to store cleaning supplies, jewelry, foods, and spice packets, so I came up with the idea to use one to store my yarn. Here she is!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: Weekend Warriors Pinterest Projects
I actually had to buy another one because I have so much yarn. In fact, I could probably even use a third, but I have no idea where I would put it. This one hangs on my closet door, and the other one is inside my closet (just down from my new necklace storage and scarves). I LOVE how I can see everything I have and it's easily accessible.

So what do you think of my projects so far? Feel free to hop on over to my Pinterest page to tell me what I should do next! Also, don't forget to check out the projects my fellow Weekend Warriors have been working on!

Make sure you come back tomorrow. I'll be sharing some of the classroom projects I've been working on!


It's My {Bloggy} Birthday!

Two years ago I started this blog on a whim.

Well actually, it was two years ago yesterday, but I'm posting this today due to the Bright Ideas link up from yesterday. June 21 is actually my most favorite day of the year, and not just because it's my bloggy birthday. It's midsummer-- the longest day of the year. I just love all the sunshine we get today! I worked at a living history museum while in college and a few years after, and we always celebrated midsummer with good friends, live music, and tasty foods and beverages. I have such happy memories of midsummer :)

Anyway... It's my Bloggy Birthday!

I am forever grateful to all of the friendships I've made while on this journey and all of the classroom/teaching ideas and inspirations that have come from this whole experience. Thank you SO much to each and every one of you... you really know how to make a girl feel special :)

To celebrate, I thought I'd share how I celebrate birthdays in my classroom. I love making a big deal out of students' birthdays. I think it builds classroom community as well as self-esteem for the birthday person. I've also included a freebie for you!

First, the birthday person gets to sit in my special teacher chair. This is a big deal, because NOBODY sits in my chair!
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: It's My {Bloggy} Birthday!
Don't mind the mess. This pic was snapped on the second to last day of school!
Next we all sing to the birthday person. I ask a very important question before we start: do they want the Birthday Song with cha chas or with no cha chas? Personally, I'm not a fan of cha chas in the Birthday Song, but I know the kids love it, so whatever...

Next I ask the birthday person... If you could have anything in the world for your birthday, what would it be? I like to encourage outrageous things :) I write down the list of potential birthday presents. Here's an example of one student's list:
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: It's My {Bloggy} Birthday!
I've gotten lots of fun present ideas in the past: a mansion, a pool, a limo, a unicorn... and of course some realistic presents: iPod/iPad, Lego sets, American Girl doll, etc. I will also ask for favorite colors, because we will be making a birthday book and we need to know how to decorate the birthday page!

Then the birthday person will choose a helper or two to pass out birthday treats. I encourage healthy snacks, in accordance to my district's policy, but birthdays only come once a year, so I really don't mind if a parent sends in 24 cupcakes :) They will go wash hands while everyone else starts making the birthday book.

Each student gets a page. They will choose a gift or two to "give" to the birthday person. They write first, making sure it's a complete sentence, then draw a picture of the gift and decorate the rest of the page. Here are some examples.

Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: It's My {Bloggy} Birthday!
One of my pet peeves is that I don't like it when kids start eating the snack before everyone has one. It's just not good etiquette. So they are not allowed to eat until we make sure everyone who wanted a treat got one. Then the birthday person announces that they can eat, and we all say "thank you" as a class. After all, we are here to celebrate a birthday, not to get free food from the birthday person... :)

I forgot to take a picture of the final birthday book product, but I will take all the pages, add a front and back color with construction paper (or you could use card stock) in the color of the birthday person's choice, bind it with the comb binder in the teacher work room, and write "Happy Birthday (student's name)!" on the cover.

I've made the birthday page an editable freebie for you! There are four options: 6 candles, 7 candles, 8 candles, or 9 candles. Yes, I do make sure I have the right number of candles for each child. I'm pretty sure the kids don't even notice, but it makes me happy :) All you have to do is type in the student's name in the last balloon. If you have Hello Fonts, I used HelloHandMeDown; otherwise, just use what you have :)
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade: It's My {Bloggy} Birthday!
Click on the pic for the freebie! Make sure you click the black arrow in the upper left corner of Google Drive to download the file to your computer. When you click on it, it should automatically open PowerPoint, and you can edit from there :)
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! I just treated myself to a blog makeover! RUN, don't walk, over to Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs and get yourself on her waiting list. She is incredibly talented, easy to work with, affordable, fast, and in general, and an all-around awesome person! You won't regret it!!!

Thanks again for joining me on my blogging journey! Here's to the next year!


Bright Ideas: Shoe Tying Trick

Who's ready for some more Bright Ideas? 
No products, no sales pitches; just really great ideas to take back to your classroom!

We all have them... those kiddos whose shoes are NEVER tied... And why is it that those kiddos' laces are the longest ones on the planet?

As a second grade teacher, my general rule is that I don't tie shoes. At 7/8 years old, you should be able to tie your shoes. And if you can't, then you find a friend to help you. But I have a soft spot in my heart for those kiddos who try and try and try, but just don't have the fine motor skills to do it... probably because that's going to be my own 4-year-old when he's in second grade.

So, yes, I will help some kids tie their shoes. Except I'm not going to double-knot the laces because then kids can't take them out, and it usually leads to a big, knotty mess. Instead I'm going to use a little shoe tying trick I learned in my Teaching PE class I had to take as an undergrad.
I figured the easiest way to explain it to you would be to make a video:
This trick is the only thing I remember from the class. In fact, it might be one of the only things I remember from my whole undergrad experience. Hey, cut me some slack... it's been 10 years!

Can shoes still come untied using this method? Yes. However, it does take some effort for shoes to come untied. You might have noticed that I did have to tug a bit on the loop to get it to come out. I don't want it to be impossible for my kids to get their shoes untied; in my school, they have to change into shoes for PE class, or even when they get home and want to take them off. However, I've been tying my own shoes and my kids' shoes like this for the last 10+ years, and they have never once come untied on their own or if someone accidentally stepped on the laces.

If you liked this BRIGHT Idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram or TPT. For more BRIGHT Ideas from over 100 bloggers, make sure you check out the link up below. Just choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for stopping by!


WOO HOO!!! I'm Getting 5 iPads Next Year!!!

Yes, friends, you read that right. I'm getting 5 iPads next year! Can I get a woot woot?!

The tech department gave me one to take home for the summer to experiment and find free apps. My family does have a personal iPad and iPad Mini, but there's something about THIS iPad that is special. Maybe it's the fancy schmancy foam case LOL!
Yes I took a pic of the iPad!
I'm actually happy they only got each of us 5 of them. I feel like if I got a whole class set, I would feel extreme pressure to use them all day, every day, and I don't want the use of the iPads to be forced. I'll take a class set the following year :) Anyway, I just found out about a free app that you must download. It's called Puffin Academy.
Isn't he CUTE?!
This app has partnered with several educational sites that use Flash. So that means my kids can now do Compass Learning on the iPad!!! I haven't had much time to explore, but I'm also seeing ABCya, BrainPOP, Raz Kids (which does have an app, but it doesn't have all the features the site has), and more are supported by this app! The awesome thing is that this app has only whitelisted specific educational sites, so that means they can't be goofing around on other Flash sites. FYI you can also download a free and paid version of Puffin Web Browser that allows you to use any Flash site.

Now it's your turn! What apps do I need to download? Keep in mind that they have to be free (for now... not sure about my district purchasing paid apps in the future). Also, my district is really trying to focus on students using the iPads to show and create new learning, not just for practicing skills. So I'm looking for apps beyond listening to reading sites, Spelling City, Xtra Math, Raz Kids, Class Dojo, etc. THANKS!!

Last Day of School + FREEBIE!

Aannddd BREATHE!

Today is my first day of summer vacation! My kiddos were done last Friday and then teachers had to report Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for PD and curriculum/lesson planning. It was only supposed to be Monday, but thanks to our friend, The Polar Vortex, we enjoyed two more days together. Actually it wasn't that bad; we definitely had PLENTY of work to do!
WOO HOO!! Last day of school! We went out the back door to wave at the buses!
All packed up and ready for summer!
I have lots of plans this summer: 
LOTS of family time!!
Professional reading: Notice and Note is at the top of my list!
TPT projects: first, third, and fourth grade version of Mighty Math; phonics and language/conventions interactive notebooks; and daily math problem solving warm up packets.
Busy much?!

But for now, I leave you with this little writing freebie to celebrate the end of the year. Here are some writing graphic organizers that I've been meaning to compile and put in my store for MONTHS!
Click on the pic to see the graphic organizers in my TPT store!
Happy Summer!!!

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