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.


My Running Goal for 2016


My 2016 frugal Training Log aka composition notebook and my 2015 Runner’s World Training Log.

I was happily tracking my workouts in 2015 with my Runner’s World Training Log (a freebie when I renewed my magazine subscription) when I noticed that my accumulated miles (elliptical, running, hiking, biking, etc.) were 666.914. Hmmm. That’s awfully close to 700.  Is it possible with only about 10 days left of the year that I could squeeze in those extra miles??  It was worth a shot.

The week of Christmas I enjoyed a long run mid-week as well as a Christmas Eve run to see the lights at 10 o’clock at night and a Christmas Day run in the morning. I traveled to Colorado where I counted my skiing and snowshoeing miles on top of my running miles. As soon as I got home, I re-added my miles – 696.744.   Geesh! Really?? I needed 3.56 miles and my 5K for New Year’s was 3.1. Okay. So I’ll jog a warm-up.  I thought I was covered but since the race was short (my Garmin measured 2.91 miles), my total came to 699.914. NOOOOOOOOOOO! Well, I’m going to count it as close enough anyway as there were some hikes/walks that I didn’t include in the book for the sake of 0.086 of a mile. And doesn’t rounding count in this situation?

But that got me thinking of a goal for 2016.  It would be super cool to run 2,016 miles in 2016 but that would be nearly 39 miles per week, something that my schedule just won’t permit me to do. What about 800 miles – a little over 15 a week? Or 900 miles?  Or better yet, what about 1,000 miles? That’s definitely manageable – a little over 19 a week – but would still be a challenge at times.

I settled on 1,000 miles. Bring it on!


run with purpose pic

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  I’m anxiously watching my mailbox for the 3 CDs that I have ordered!