Welcome to Another School Year!

Just like that, summer was over! It was an incredibly busy one yet strange at the same time. I’m not even sure how to even explain it. Yet I was excited to get into my classroom and changed my theme slightly this year. I was fed up of using the same borders and colors that I’ve used over and over and over again for years! I had bought black fabric years ago for my bulletin boards and I continue to use those (frugal!) so this year I decided to do black and gold.  I believe “Glimmer of Gold” was the name of the theme that I purchased at Mardel’s. Why not?

The custodial team cleans all of the classrooms during the summer and takes out all furniture. My carpet was cleaned and the furniture put back where I wanted it other than the student’s desks, which I arrange into groups. The photos above show what my classroom looked like when I first walked in after the summer break.

Here’s what it looks like right before Open House.


One of my student groups, ready for Open House night! I used folded sheets to cover the storage area shelves above the coat hooks. Love my new poster on the left and incorporated our district’s theme of Dream, Believe, Achieve on the right.


These cubbies hold textbooks.  Their desks are too small to hold these as well as their other supplies we use daily. I used labels with sticker numbers and then put clear contact paper over them so they can be reused year after year. If I want to, I could write the students’ name on the contact paper also and it will still keep. The signs above the sink are for birthdays and the post office I use for handing out papers weekly. The desk is my “Safe Seat” for students from other classrooms or my own that need a break from their other space.



This is my Focus Wall for our new Journeys English Language Arts curriculum as well as a part of my library. I redid my tubs to the black/gold and cut the signs in half to do more tubs. Frugal?! I also reused plastic tubs from Furniture Row that had leather cleaners in. I arrange my Accelerated Reader levels and also by collection, like Captain Underpants, The Magic Treehouse, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I bought the pencil tubs from the Dollar Tree and I reused chalkboard clips from my wedding reception to label the tubs. 


The central part of my classroom, the SmartBoard! I did buy a new black & gold calendar.


The classroom door. I added my students’ names on arrows and kept my Gold Glimmer theme going outside the classroom with signs and notices. I love the difference! Can you see the guinea pig cage through the window? I brought Cosmo  and Tito back to the classroom!

This is my 12th year of teaching and I’m looking forward to hopefully making a difference in the lives of my students and taking them to the next level.


The Lake Was Calling


What was once the mountains calling have since been replaced by the lake. When my parents sold their place in Keystone, CO, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. But the 9+ hour drive was a pain and not easy and they wanted something closer to home. I don’t blame them. As much as I loved going, the drive was a nuisance and basically 2 days of traveling nixed any short trips away. This past summer I went with them to Rogers, Arkansas where they ultimately bought a place in Bella Vista, right on the lake.  Since I was recovering from IT issues from my marathon, it was the perfect time to get out of town. I even took a vacation day from work so I could stay a little longer.  Oh, and this was the ultimate craft weekend, too!


Breakfast on the screened in porch every morning. Heavenly!


Morning Bible study/reading on the dock watching the sun rise. I do studies through felicitybee where she has monthly themes and readings/writings. I love them! If you have a chance to check them out, please do! 


Mandatory selfie before hitting the lake with my Dad in the kayak


A beautiful, still lake


My Dad and I

It was a lovely weekend and I can see why my parents love it here so much. I’m looking forward to another weekend away soon where next time I can bring my fur babies!


My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home


Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦


Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

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Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!


The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.


I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 


A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.


Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.


This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.

Summer School Projects

I looked at the calendar today and realized that I have less than 2 weeks left of my summer vacation.  2 weeks!  Where did the time go?  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time off this summer and have been reflecting on my teaching from last year, writing down ideas, pinning more ideas on Pinterest, filing and tidying out files, and making some new projects.

Last year I had my crayons, colored pencils and markers in labeled, colorful bins. I hated the way they were thrown back in there or put in the wrong bin so I made something new using what I had on hand with existing drawers, scrapbook paper and stickers.

My new drawers for student supplies.

My new drawers for student supplies.

Last year I also made a really cool game called “Flip It” using lids that my students really enjoyed, thanks to Pinterest!  The object of the game is to roll 2 dice and flip the cap with the sum.  The first one to flip all of them over in their row wins!  I made some more sets with the milk and water lids that I’ve been collecting all summer, labeled them, and put them into sets.  I then put the sets into baggies which were put into a Party Pail ice cream bucket (recycle, right?!) with a label made of out an index card with multi-colored letters.

Flip-It Math Game

Flip-It Math Game

I have wires that run across my entire room above the desks and across my beautiful windows.  I tried large paperclips last year to keep the papers attached and it worked for a short time until I needed to close the blinds or open a window.  Clothespins work way better!  I had some that I used for a behavior chart last year that had students’ names on them so I painted over them to use on the wires. I bought a small bottle of paint from Walmart for $0.50 in Admiral Blue to match my primary colored classroom.

My freshly painted clothespins/paper holders.

My freshly painted clothespins/paper holders.

A teacher who was leaving our school left a bunch of these yellow paper pads in the teacher’s lounge before the end of school last year.  These have so many uses!  They’re more like a card stock so I thought I’d turn them into notes.  I could use these for thank you notes to the students or notes home for parents. In the past I sent home what I would call “sunshine notes” as they were positive notes on a sunshine paper. I used my existing stamps and ink to make several of these.

My "Sunshine Notes"

My “Sunshine Notes”

At the end of the school year I received a huge packet of new math vocabulary for the classroom.  I guess with the new Common Core Standards things like wording in definitions and pictures to go with them change, so I recycled all of my old ones and have spent many hours highlighting and coloring in the new ones.  I could’ve left them black and white but that’s boring. Besides, having some color attached to them can aid with students’ learning.  They do look cool! And I’m grateful for my daughter helping me with them, too. They took FOREVER! (In case you didn’t know, coloring is a good stress reliever!)

My thick stack of new math vocabulary. I need more wall space in my classroom!

My thick stack of new math vocabulary. I need more wall space in my classroom!

I used another idea from Pinterest for random sticks last year.  One end of the stick is painted (or colored) a different color.  Once you’ve drawn the stick, turn it over so you don’t choose that student again.  They’re none the wiser that you’ve flipped it so they’re still on their toes thinking they may be called on again.  I bought a small bottle of red from Walmart for $0.50.  I have an apple green already but I wanted something different for this year. I’m sure I could have gotten them cheaper at Michael’s with my teacher discount but I was already at Walmart and is it really worth the few cents it would have taken to go to yet another store.  Probably not.

Red Random Sticks

Red Random Sticks

I believe I’ve had a busy yet balanced summer. I feel good that I’ve gotten these things done as a head start to the new year. I’m sure once I get back into my classroom I’ll find more to do before the year officially starts with students on August 12th. For now, I’ve at least done these things!

Rockin’ the Days Away

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Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend Ron and Nancy Brown’s “Rock Your Math Class” workshop by Creative Mathematics.  My principal had some extra $ available and that always makes it easier if I’m not paying for it!  I am a learner anyway so taking a couple of days during my time off in the summer is well worth it if I get something back to use in my classroom.  Originally I was going to use this class for college credit to go toward my re-certification but I decided against it as I still have time.  That and who knows how things will change with this due process mess?!  But anyhow, this workshop was phenomenal!

I LOVE playing music in my classroom and last year’s class could identify Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and general classical favorites,  just to name a few.  I also try to incorporate melodies and videos to help students learn different concepts from multiplication to bones to senses. It really helps them learn the concept!

Now I’m truly fired up on how to use more music in my math class, not only for use in my core curriculum but also for intervention time.  I have a great book from the workshop with more masters and samples available on-line. Yay for freebies!  From telling time, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, science concepts, and brain breaks, my CD player will be working overtime!

If you’re interested in checking out the music, their website is www.intelli-tunes.com.  I’m anxiously watching my mailbox for the 3 CDs that I have ordered!


Bonus – Snow Days!

A partial view of the front steps of my house. You can't see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

A partial view of the front and steps to my house. It didn’t accumulate on the bench but you can’t see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

What would you do if you were given the gift of extra days off from work due to the weather? I was hoping for one – yes, just one – but ended up with three.  I had a great time catching up on my to-do list. The children? Not so much. They didn’t want to go outside (too cold and actually the wind chill the 2nd day was not safe) and electronics dominated their days.

Day 1:

  • a minimum of 3 hours catching up on grading with several cups of hot green tea. That was rewarding enough- just getting caught up!
  • made 2 wheat beer breads from Tastefully Simple mixes and a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the children.
  • went through younger son’s closet to find clothes that he didn’t like/wear any more for either a consignment sale or for the garage sale this spring
  • did son’s taxes so he could get his refund – still need to do the state 😦
  • organized basement and cleared off one bookshelf for oldest son who was voluntarily cleaning and reorganizing his room.
  • shoveled the driveway – 6″ minimum of it with some drifting. At least we can get the cars out now!
  • organized the laundry room cabinet, wiped down the units, made new dust rags from old t-shirts.
  • read an old Eating Clean magazine looking for ideas for new recipes

Day 2:

  • slept in – yay!
  • made a batch of banana muffins with the last 2 bananas I had in my freezer (a first for me – usually I clean them out during summer!)
  • made a from scratch brownie recipe for the children
  • taped off and primed the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • posted 3 items on Ebay
  • painted the first coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • did some touch up painting in the same bathroom
  • painted the master bath door to get ride of the scratched off paint from my parents’ dog that passed away 2 years ago (yeah, I know that should have been done a loooonnnnggg time ago. . . )
  • ran 4 1/2 miles on the basement treadmill
  • watched one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, while knitting a new scarf project
  • read my new Runner’s World magazine before bed

Day 3:

  • slept in again! I could definitely get used to getting up at 8 am as opposed to 5:45 am!
  • painted second coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • organized linen closet and added more things to the sale pile
My wonderfully organized linen closet!

My wonderfully organized linen closet!

  • completed 2 loads of laundry (washed, dried AND put away)
  • ventured out on the roads to go to Lowe’s so I can get the towel rack for the bathroom as well as knobs for the painted vanity
  • also went to Michael’s for more yarn for my knitting projects
  • also went to Walmart for a photo I had delivered there to go in my new Keystone frame as well as pick up some more fruit
  • painted the vanity AGAIN including the doors AGAIN
  • lined the vanity and the drawers with new liner – love the red!
  • took Buddy to Lillie’s house to play in the snow. He loves play dates with my Mum & Dad’s dog!
  • went to a Girl Scout cookie meeting – yes! Cookies!! We can start selling Saturday, February 8th!
The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

I have accomplished a lot these past few days while the snow was a-blowin’ and the temperatures droppin’. It feels good to have gotten something accomplished and I’m more than ready to go back to work again . . . even if it is just for a day before the weekend!!


Our Animal Habitat Project

I’m TOTALLY loving my new school and students!  We were able to study about animals and their habitats as a part of our Treasures reading series and our 3rd grade team decided to do a project to go along with it.  I was extremely pleased with how the students embraced it and got so excited about it!

It was a 3-part project where they researched their animal, chose a project (a diorama, a mobile, a poster, or a real artifact display), and then did an oral presentation along with their project. The project had to be done at home with minimal parental support but the other parts were done in class.  I used a rubric that was developed by another teacher friend although I’m going to tweak it for next year’s class. It was a good starting point for this year though.  Here are a few pictures of what my students came up with. I’m so proud of them!

Dolphins hanging from the lid of a bottle painted blue for the ocean.

Dolphins hanging from the lid of a bottle painted blue for the ocean.

Polar bears on styrofoam and batting for ice.

Polar bears on styrofoam and batting for ice.

Dolphins swimming with the goldfish.

Dolphins swimming with the goldfish.

A tri-level diorama to show the green mamba snake.

A tri-level diorama to show the green mamba snake.


The Bobcat.

The Bobcat.