Monday, July 28, 2014

Made It Monday - Tablet Charging Station & Trashcan Beautification

I don't know about you, but I look forward to 4th Grade Frolics' Made It Monday linky party each week!   I love to see all the fun projects everyone is up to over the summer!  This week I worked on two projects; a charging station for my four tablets and making my gross green trashcans look pretty! :)

Last year I got four tablets through donations from parents and from Donors Choose.  They were great to have in the classroom but a pain to keep charged because I could not fit all four charing blocks on one power strip.  So, coming up with a better solution was on my list of summer projects.  Since the big power blocks were such a problem I started by going on Amazon to find a solution.  Check out this great USB wall charger.  It's great because I won't need any charging blocks!

So with that problem solved, I just needed to come up with a cute container for the tablets!  I decided to paint the toolbox that my daughter made me in her "shop" class this year.  

You can see the awesome new USB charring block in the picture below!  I can't wait to bring this to school and get it set up for my kiddos!!

I don't know about you but the trash cans in my classroom are OLD, DIRTY and UGLY!  I actually got this idea from my buddy, Kimberley, who was tired of her yucky trash cans too! 

 After a good cleaning, I spray painted them!!  If you can't tell, I love zebra print so I painted the cans black and added two rows of my fav zebra duct tape around the rim of the trash cans!  Wham!!  Instant trashcan beautification!!!  

 Thanks for stopping by to check out these fun projects!  I'm headed to the linky to get inspired…

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Creating a Facebook page can be easier than you think

Ya just gotta love social media…

After my trip to Vegas and the TPT conference, I was determined to get myself a Facebook page.  I have a personal Facebook page but am not the best at keeping up with it so each time I go there I find the changes are almost overwhelming.  My husband and 2 teenagers literally laugh at my inability to grasp the simple interface.

So, when I first sat down to create my First Grade Spies page I decided to google for some help.  Luckily, I found a wonderful blog from Jenny at Luckyfrog's Lillypad that basically walked me through the process.  

So thanks to Jenny, I finally got around to creating my Facebook page!  I am excited to be able to collaborate and share ideas with you all via Facebook now too!  Please stop by my page and shoot me a link to your page so we can network there as well!

My next social media hurdle is going to be Instagram!  Yikes!  I downloaded the app but that's as far as I've gotten.  LOL

Monday, July 21, 2014

Made It Monday - Chair Makeover, Reading Buddies and a Freebie!

This summer I have been so busy with digital projects like cleaning up my school files and cataloging my class library that I haven't had as much time for crafting, creating and Made It Mondays!  But, finally I found some time to finish my first two summer projects; Reading Buddies and refinishing a new chair for my classroom.

 The Reading Buddies are an idea that I borrowed from an unknown teacher at Gaithersburg Elementary School.  I was there after school one day for some training and saw all these students reading with little stuffed animals on a stick.  They were sitting there readign in the hallways as they waited for their busses to be called.  The students were all so engaged and sat there happily reading to their stuffed buddy.  When I took a closer look, I could see that the buddies were simply Beanie Babies that had been attached to paint sticks.

To make mine, I first had to get some paint sticks and Home Depot was generous enough to donate a whole class set to me.  I spray painted the sticks in various colors and once they dried I attached the Beanie Babies to the sticks using rubber bands.

I decided to store the Reading Buddies in my big blue bucket which I think will be handy since it has a nice handle on it and students will be able to move it to the hallway for morning line up reading and then back to our room for Daily 5 read to self.  Click here for a Reading Buddies sign freebie!

My next project was recovering an old chair that came from my Mom's beach house.  Earlier in the spring, my hubby and I went down the beach house to help my mom and step dad paint the place.  They rent the beach house all each summer and furniture usually takes a beating over the season.  The picture doesn't show it but this chair was pretty grimy and my decided to throw it away!  Yikes - the teacher in me saw it's potential and saved it from the dump!  

I found some bargain fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and got out my trusty staple gun.  I learned a few things along the way - the first one being that I am not a very good upholstry refinisher!  But after a lot of trial and error I was able to finish the chair and I think it looks pretty good.  My cat, Boo, loves it!  It spins around and is super comfy so I know my little first grades are going to love it too!!

I love Made It Monday's!  Thanks so much to  Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for creating and sharing this linky party!  I am off to read and get inspired for my next project!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back from Vegas with a RENEWED LOVE of Teachers Pay Teachers!

I have been back from Vegas since Monday but today is the first day I have had to myself because I had leadership meetings at my school all week!  Boy, do I miss Vegas…

I had a blast in Vegas and spent lots of quality time with 2 of my favorite TPT sellers, Kim Row and Carrie Shoenfelder!  These ladies and I spent the whole week laughing and touring around town enjoying all the amazing and often distracting (squirrel) sites!  We won some money from the $1 roulette tables and penny slots and we even got to ride in 2 different limos!  We really felt like high rollers!

The highlight of our trip was the opportunity to participate in the first ever Teachers Pay Teachers conference!  Honestly, I can't believe it was just 1 week ago today!   Sadly, we missed the big blogger meet up because we had tickets to a show but the whole day of the conference was filled with meeting amazing teacher sellers and some pretty fantastic break-out sessions!

We were treated to breakfast and all gathered together to hear the key note speakers before our sessions started.  Being in the room with over 750 teacher sellers was pretty cool; the energy was electric!  Each of the speakers got up and graciously shared their story with us in ways that made us laugh and touched our hearts!  The dedication that the company has to teachers is impressive, the company truly consists of a group of people who "get" what we do and want to help us make a difference in not on each other's lives but in the lives of the students who ulitimatly use the materials shared on the site.  

I got tears in my eyes after Deanna Jump and Paul Edelman spoke.  They were both so genuine and humble in their keynote speeches that we all sat there feeling like we were listening to an old friend tell us a familiar story.  Deanna, Paul and every TPT employee at the conference were all so friendly and approachable.  It was amazing to meet them all in person, and of course I had to get my picture taken with some of them...

Teachers Pay Teachers did an amazing job of pulling us all together, inspiring us and motivating us to be our best - just as they do on their website!  The site really is more than teacher sellers and teacher buyers, it is truly a collaborative world filled with not only professional but often personal development!  

I simply can not wait until next year's conference!!  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Sale Vegas Style!

I'm headed off to Vegas to attended the first ever Teachers Pay Teacher's conference!  I can't wait to get together with so many of you amazing teachers! So, in honor of the conference, I am having a sale in my TPT store starting July 9th!

Mercedes over at Surfing to Success has started a linky party for anyone else who is having a sale too, so be sure to hop over there too and see what other great deals you can find!

Thanks for stopping by and happy shopping!!  ;)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Classroom Library Organization - New and Improved!

Hi there!  I hope you are all having a restful summer!  I am busy tackling my very long summer list of things to do…

The biggest project so far has been a revamp of my classroom library and thanks to my awesome teammate, I think I have finally found a system that is going to work for me and my students.

Ok, so basically, I created categories for my books based on what type of books that I have the most of and gave each category a number.  So for example, I have a quite a few Care Bear books and Biscuit books, so I put them together in a basket.  I love the series My Weird School so I have collected about 15-20 of those, so I put them into a category!  I made a sign showing the category and number (12) for the basket and put a sticker on each book and wrote a number 12 on it the sticker.  

After I sorted out all my books, I ended up with 24 different categories!  Some of my categories are seasonal so I won't have to have them out until that season but at least they will be all sorted.  When students are done reading they will be able to find the basket with the correct number and put the book away.  

Having all my books in the correct baskets and categorized was a huge mental undertaking, then I got some help from a few middle school students to put stickers and number each of the books!  I am happy to report that the whole project is complete!  If my classroom wasn't being used by summer school, I would be able to put all the books back on the shelf and snap a picture of my beautiful new library system.

The next step in the whole class library step was to find a new library app to keep track of my books electronically.  I blogged about a great free app back in January '13, call BooksApp.  Sadly, that app is no longer available in the iTunes store.  So, I started searching for a new app to use as my electronic database.   The two that I like the best are iBookshelf and Book Crawler.  They both have a free version for to try but have limitations on them so if you have more than 50 books you might want to just get the $1.99 versions of the apps.  I downloaded the free versions of both so I could try out the scanner option of them and then I wanted to see what other options I had once I had my books scanned.  Both iBookshelf and Book Crawler had good scanners that worked well using my iPhone!  iBookshelf was pretty cool because you have the option of scanning multiple books at a time which seems to make the process go faster.  I have decided to use Book Crawler because I liked that it gave me fields that I could edit myself.  So, I was able to add my category and book bin number right into the record (as you can see in my picture below).

So, what kind of system of organization do you use for your class library?  Please let me know especially if you have tried this numbered category system, I really want to know how it has worked in your classroom!!