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June 30, 2012


Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B is giving away this pencil sharpener. 
I want to win it. 
 I would love to win it.  
I need to win it.  
Everything I've heard about this pencil sharpener 
sounds like it's a dream come true.
There are some steps to follow to have your own chance to win. 
But like I said -
I want to win it.
Seriously though, I hope whoever wins it has a 
magical time sharpening pencils.   
Head over to her fabulous blog to take your own crack at winning.

Good Luck!


June 29, 2012

Free Kindle Books - Fabulous Find Friday

Yay!  Another linky party!  

I'm linking up with Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B to share my newest addiction.  I love reading (when there is time) and even more, I love not having to pay for good books.

So I started following Pixel of Ink a couple of months ago and started loading up free books onto my Kindle.  Now you may already know about this site, but it was new to me.    


That's what this website does - it just finds free and sale Kindle books and sends me an email (or posts it on their FB page) to let me know what to look out for.  They have the description of the book and the link, and it's just a click away from downloading onto my machines.  Yes, plural - machines.  For Dr. Seuss' birthday my class this past year had a Read-a-thon and raised enough money for a NowBoard! and a Kindle Fire for the classroom.  Then I bought one for the classroom as well using gift cards, and I have my "old" one too. (I call it old because it doesn't have the fancy color settings that you need for picture books.)  In the past couple of months I have downloaded hundreds of free books for myself, my own little kids, and my older students.

It's more than just the original Pixel of Ink.  They have a sister site called Pixel of Ink - Young Edition, and then other ones too for Christian fiction, non fiction, recipes, etc.

I hope this helps someone out there in blogland.  Remember, to read Kindle books you don't have to own a Kindle - you just have to have that app somewhere on your computer, iPad, or phone.  Anything to get kids (and adults) reading, right?  

Hope you have a great day!


June 28, 2012

I Went Shopping! (Linky Party)

I'm joining the linky party over at Ladybug's Teacher Files.  I love shopping!

Here are some of the things that I've gotten lately. 

From Big Lots: 
spiral notebooks, pre-sharpened pencils, labels, pencil boxes, glue sticks
The idea:
Spiral notebooks will turn into whole class journals
Pencil boxes will turn into alphabet/word work collection boxes.
 From Barnes and Noble:
The Daily 5 book (I have used my Kindle version in the past, but I wanted a hard copy so I can write in the margins and highlight).  I also picked up some dot dicuts.  
 From the Dollar Tree:
pizza pans, stamp pads, cutsy pens/paperclips/binder clips, staples, pocket organizers, baskets
The idea:
Pizza pans will turn into my new hall pass board and the other ones will become word work magnetic boards 
Pocket organizers - center stuff or new prize "box"
Baskets - center stuff

 Not pictured:
Craft paint (Michaels)
Pillow cases (Dollar Tree)
Tri-fold boards (Michaels)

I really do love shopping!  Still so many more things to look out for... next trip I need to buy some magnets, alphabet stickers, and that cool magnetic paper.  

Hope you had a great day too!

June 27, 2012

Teaching Blog Addict

Why oh why have I never heard of TBA before today?  I just found the website tonight as I was blog hopping, and I'm so thankful that I did.  As a 4th grade teacher, I am always on the lookout for other teachers that are dealing with the same material/curriculum/hormones/maturity level that I am.  I went onto their site and it was so easy for me to navigate to the different grade levels.  Then I found their Pinterest link and... well, once again I was thankful.  So many ideas that are ready to go.

If you haven't checked them out already, please get going and do so quickly!  There is so much more support for your classroom that is literally a click away.  

Hope you have a great day!


June 25, 2012

Updating My Clipboards

I know there are a lot of different ways to update clipboards.  I've seen the ideas on Pinterest and Classroom DIY.  My first idea was to use contact paper on the clipboards, but I know me and how I was when I was little.  I needed a solid color to focus if I was writing on something.  So I turned to spray paint. 
Here's how I tackled this project.

Materials: 3 blue cans of spray paint, 1 can of metallic, and then the basic drop cloth.  

First, I had a big plastic drop cloth that I put all the clipboards upside down on.  I spray painted the backs first.  It took the entire can to tackle the backs, and they still needed a little spritz of a second coat to finish it (2nd can).  The type of spray paint that I used dried very fast.  I only had to wait about 30 minutes between coats for them to be really dry.    

Then I flipped them over and I sprayed the front.  I didn't worry so much about the metal part, I just aimed a little closer to tackle the top part of the clipboard.  I had to do a 2nd coat as well - that put me onto my 3rd can of blue.

The last part was a spray on the metal part with the metallic spray.  I used a file folder, traced out a rectangle from the top part and cut it out.  That allowed me to put the file folder under the clip part and protect the blue color at the top part of the board from the metal color.  The metal paint was just a quick spray, and I didn't do a second coat.    
 I think they turned out so nice.  After using the same clipboards for 12 years, these look brand new.  No marker stains, no pencil marks, no doodles...  we'll see how long they last like this.  
Now, my neighbors have seen this project in my front yard basically all afternoon.  I had to do it in my front yard as my puppy probably wouldn't have been much of a helper.  The last thing I need is a blue dog.  I had quite a few people slow down as they drove by my house.  It might have been that they were looking at the boards, or they were admiring my now "smurf" looking hands.

It was an easy project, one that I won't think twice about tackling again if I ever want a different color.  

Happy Painting!


This has been linked to 4th Grade Frolics - so much more is happening over there.

June 23, 2012

Birthday Pencils

For birthdays I have always celebrated in class by having my students make each other a birthday book.    In primary grades they drew the birthday child a picture and wrote a sentence wishing them a happy day.  In my 4th grade classroom, I changed it up to make a birthday wish book.  My students use a 1/2 sheet of copy paper to write a wish for the birthday child.  My wish for you is _____________.  They have to use color, draw a small picture, and include the child's name on it.  The kids think of so many things for birthday wishes - everything from a pony, to an ice cream sundae, to a vacation at Disneyland... it's just something fun for them to help celebrate that child's day.  My wish to the student is always for them to not have homework.  I give them a homework's pass for a complete day's worth of homework.  Of course they can save it for another day if they want, and of course they can't use it for projects or take home tests.

This summer I wanted to create something else for them, something that they can keep from me.  I saw this at Classroom DIY, a birthday bouquet of pencils and dicuts.  On the original it has each student name and their birthday.  I changed it to being just a simple saying, "Happy Birthday! Love, Mrs. S".  Of course I don't have just 10 kids in my future class, so the rest of the pencil/dicuts are already completed in a plastic bag ready to refill once the pencils are dwindling.

I learned from my past experiences that you never just make 32 of something that will be used all year long.  I almost always have students moving and coming (last year was the exception).  So, I created 36 of these - yes, I used all 3 packages of pencils, and a bunch of the dicuts.  This project cost me $5 - I went to the dollar store for the fancy pencils and dicuts, and used a planter and glass beads that I had at my house.    


June 21, 2012

Boggle Game

Another summer project is complete!

Today I worked on my class' Boggle game.  Once again - same classroom, same amount of wall space... I wanted to have this game available for kids to play during our Daily 5 Word Work time, so I used a Tri-fold display board.  Just like the Homeworkopoly board, I want to be able to fold it up when it's not in use.  

This was my inspiration for the project.  I know some people have put it up on actual bulletin boards, others use auto drip pans for a huge magnetic board... so many options.  The link goes to the terrific blog (Create, Teach & Share) that has the student worksheet (bottom right corner), and also an alphabet set.  I was trying to avoid laminating letters, so instead I used 2 sets of alphabet flashcards from the dollar store.

Here's how I set it up:

Left side - Title - These are part of the letter set that Create, Teach & Share has as part of her Boggle board.

Display board - I divided the middle section into 16 sections - 4 x 4 rectangles, then used velcro on the back of clothespins to hang up the letters.  I was able to cut the velcro pieces in half to make them go farther.  Originally I was going to put the velcro on the back of the flashcards themselves, but thought that by using clothespins it would be easier to take the letters off/on at the end of the week.  

Right side - The top has the class directions, then the rules to the game, then how to score their words, and finally the student worksheet.

Use your dry erase marker and write the letters on the sheet protector of your game board.  All week try to think of words during Word Work time.  We will see who can figure out the longest word on Friday!

How to Play:
             The letters in the words must be connected in the same order in the grid.
             The letters can be connected by an edge or a corner.
             The word doesn't have to appear in a straight line. It can be tangled around.
             Each letter in the word must uniquely appear in the grid. For example, if the word is ERASE, the letter E must appear twice in the grid. The word can't just loop back and re-use the same E.
             Words must be at least 3 letters long
             Words cannot be a proper noun, such as a name or place.

Score Your Words
            Less than 3 letters= 0 pts (invalid boggle word)
            3 letters = 1 pt
            4 letters = 1 pt
            5 letters = 2 pts
            6 letters = 3 pts
            7 letters = 5 pts
            8 letters or more = 11 pts

Some other odds and ends:
*I copied a class set of the student worksheets, and these will go into sheet protectors in the students' binders for easy access.  That way they can just add to their lists as the week goes on.  
*I'm planning on having my class helpers change the letters on Friday.  When looking for the rules to the game, I found this website.  It not only had the directions and scoring that are above, but also has tons of printable boggle sheets that will actually form words.  I figure that I can print these out, create a binder that I can choose from, and then my helper students can change up the letters for me into the specific order that these experts know will create words.
Just so you know I just threw random letters up on the board as I tested the space plan - not a lot of words can be created from this set up.     

Well that's about it for this project.  After I took the picture, I put clear contact paper on top of the paperwork parts, and it is now ready to be used at school.  I love checking things off my to do list!

Hope you had a great day!


June 20, 2012

Homeworkopoly Game

Ladybug's Teacher Files inspired me to create this for my students.  You can find her post here in addition to the game board and playing cards that she created.  I don't have a lot of wall space, so instead I put this on a tri-fold display board and covered it with clear contact paper.  I will pull this out on Friday mornings to celebrate students that have all their homework completed that week.  Then, the rest of the week it can be tucked away until it is needed again.  

How will I play the game?  Students will roll the dice and move their little marker to the correct spot.  The spot could just be a "resting" spot, or else it could be an activity or treat.  Activities are listed on the board - spelling a spelling word or answer a math question.  Treats are listed on the back of the cards - they could end up getting a chance to use a pen for the day, read an extra 10 minutes more, sit wherever they want for a lesson, etc.  Just a little something extra to enjoy the moment.  

Yay!  One project complete!  


June 19, 2012

Summer Projects

It's only been 2 weeks of vacation and the "itch" to get ready for next year is already happening... At this point it's just a list of projects (in addition to the normal prep for back to school).  Here's what I'm planning on working on this summer and the inspiration behind them.  I can only hope it will look this good when I'm done.  

I'm sure there is more stuff, but these are the things that I will start out with.  So many options...  so much time...  

I hope that some of these ideas inspire you for your classroom as well.  I'll post my version as I complete them.

Happy Summer!