Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My classroom

Surprise!  Not only did I get a room change, I'm also going to teach a K/1 combo!  I'm thrilled at the opportunity/challenge and have been working hard to get my new classroom ready.  It just so happens that I student-taught in that room years ago, so I'm even more excited to return.  As a combo class, I have run into a few challenges, but with the help of pinterest, my family, friends, Classroomlibrary, and DonorsChoose, it's almost ready.

Challenge 1: Organization

I'm keeping my kinder tables from last year because extra desks are a rare commodity.  While they will work great with my kinders, my first graders won't have a place to keep books, journals, etc.  To solve this problem, I went to my local handy man (my dad), showed him a picture of what I wanted (Lakeshore's Mobile Student Work Organizer) and in less than a week, I was rolling in my brand-new, freshly painted, custom piece of furniture!

I love that not only did I get a FREE piece of furniture (minus the present I got for my dad) I also got to customize it.  I asked him to put pegboard on the back because it's a perfect space to put another center area!  Why waste space?  I began noticing all the pegboard in my classroom once I was moving furniture and was so excited that I found all these new places to put pocket charts and supplies!  I also love that I got to paint it :)  I put my new piece next to the back door (backpacks are outside this door) so when my firsties come in from lunch, they can easily grab their textbook/journal/etc. quickly and easily.  Yay!

Challenge 2: Organization/Seating

My next part of organization was all about the chairs.  First, I wanted to create chair pockets to have a special place for my kiddos to put their reading books and writing folder (both things they will need throughout the day).  I like the idea of chair pockets because it means less little feet running around looking for things and inevitably distracting everyone else.  Moments away from purchasing all the expensive durable fabric, I found an outstanding idea on pinterestThe Frugal Teacher was genius enough to use stretchable book covers as chair pockets!

I quickly went to Target (who was having a sale on book covers) and purchased 33 LARGE covers of various colors.  The kinder teacher in me wanted all color-coordination and I was lucky enough to find just enough to give every table perfectly matching (and washable) pockets!  LOVE it!  

My second challenge with seating was not enough- big surprise, right?  Sarcasm aside, I needed a plan.  I found Miss Kranz's directions for crate chairs.  I got the crates at Target ($3 sale), and fabic and padding from Joann's.  Then I got my local handy man (dad again) to get MDF and cut it for me.  He also helped me use the staple gun and assemble them.  In a couple hours- six new and cute chairs!

My plan for the table with crates is to use it as a center.  I can use the crates to store supplies and keep that big table open for kids who need extra workspace.  I can also pull the chairs from this table for extras on the carpet :)

Challenge 3: Supplies

We LOVE Crayola's Twistables at our school and are starting year 2 with these amazing crayons.  I like the Twistables because they last forever (I'm still using them from last year and they have lots of color left), they rarely break, and they are self-sharpening.  Gone are the days of broken crayons that "don't work anymore" because they are down to the paper!  The only problem I had with them last year was the packaging.  It is made of thin plastic that tore easily when eager five-year-old fingers needed crayons.  Suffice it to say, they did not look good and were falling apart before the year was over.  I needed something more kid-friendly.

I looked around but didn't find anything I really loved.  Seeking that coveted color-coordinated room, I decided to make my own.  I got felt, felt stickers, Velcro, and fabric glue from Michael's.  The rest was a simple stitch down the sides and across the bottom.  I removed the sticky backing from the stickers (with tape) and used the fabric glue to adhere them to the top.  The Velcro was easy because it was already sticky!  I'm hoping these will hold up better, and am curious to see how they do!

Challenge 4: Dry-Erase

Unfortunately, I do not have an entire class set of whiteboards for my students.  Last year I used page protectors with worksheets inside.  I liked them because we could save paper and I could essentially customize the "whiteboard."  This year, I wanted to step it up a notch and did with the help of classroomdiy.com.

I changed mine a little, using half strips along the sides to cover less of the papers.  I also left the top open to slip papers in and out.  I plan to fill these with a name writing practice page on one side, and letter writing on the other.  Both are super important at the beginning of the year and things that we practice A TON.  I put a stack in a tray on each table along with dry-erase makers (thank you, DonorsChoose!) so that when kids finish early, they can take out their pocket and practice away!

I also made more with different duct tape for the teacher tables.  Those will stay at the small group tables to be used for review, etc. and won't get mixed up with ones at the tables.


I recently posted about a fantastic new app that I cannot wait to use in my classroom...Book Retriever.  The app is made by ClassroomLibraryCompany.com and soon after posting about the app, someone contacted me from the company.  To thank me for promoting their app, they sent me free books!  I almost can't believe it!  The best present a teacher could get.  There was an added bonus too...each book had a sticker on the back with the grade level, AR level, Lexile level, and the age group! I am so grateful!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I LOVE DonorsChoose, Starbucks, my grandma, and Jennifer from California!  With their support, my project was fulfilled tonight and I am so excited.  My class is getting some goodies from Lakeshore for math and literacy centers and I know we will use these materials for years.  My sweet grandma (and number one volunteer) started it all and Starbucks finished it.  I am so thankful and can't wait to get coffee tomorrow!

 Magnetic Letters

 Clear Alphabet Stamps

Pocket Chart Stand

Creating Sight-Word Sentences Center

Class Set of Dry-Erase Markers  

We are so lucky! I've been so busy putting together my new classroom and will post pictures soon :)