Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back to School Packet

I may be a little early on this, but I finished my Back to School parent packet last night!   (I can FINALLY get back into my classroom to work tomorrow, so I'm getting pretty excited!)  Each year, a couple of days before the first day of school, our school holds Ready Fest.  This gives students and parents a chance to meet their new teacher and get some registration-type paperwork done.  This, year, I'm planniong on giving this packet of information to parents at Ready Fest.  I'm hoping this will help them to feel confident about the first day of school, and it may improve my chances of getting some of this paperwork back! :)
I'm attaching my Back to School packet, and you are more than welcome to use it for your own classroom.  I am planning to print the first page on cute polka dot paper (Thanks Dollar Tree!), punch a hole in the top left corner of each page, and attach them with cuet ribbon.  Basically, even though it may be a waste of time, I'm planning to cutesy it up! 
Let me know if you have any questions about anything included in this packet!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You've got Mail!

I love getting mail!  Doesn't it make your day to get an unexpected card or note from a friend when you go to the mailbox?  When I was in college, my mom used to send me a card or a small package once a week.  I always looked forward to seeing what she sent, even though it was never anything big or expensive.  Somehow a card and a few dollars for lunch seemed so much more special when it came as a slightly unexpected surprise in my mailbox.
Knowing how much I enjoy gettting mail, I thought my kiddos would enjoy it as well.  Each year, a couple of weeks before school starts, I send a short postcard to my new group of little darlings.  I let them know that I will be their teacher, and I usually remind them of any back to school activities coming up.  This lets me introduce myself and lets them know that I am excited to meet them.  I think it's also a great first impression for parents, since it lets them know that their child's teacher is looking forward to meeting them.
Last summer, I discovered VistaPrint, and my back to school postcards will never be the same! 
Here is my personalized, cute-as-can-be postcard from last year.
Since I ordered them using an email coupon, I only had to pay shipping and handling for 250 postcards...great deal!
....Until I got moved to 3rd grade this year.  (I'm looping with my class from last year....exciting!)  Now 230 of these sweet little postcards are packed away in my closet.
Fast forward to this summer and another VistaPrint email coupon.  I not only ordered another 250 postcards (which match my jungle-themed classroom)....
I also ordered 500 free (only pay S&H) business cards!  I'm using these business cards (which also match my classroom decor) for lunch passes, desk passes, computer passes, etc. in my classroom store this year.  They are so much cuter than the usual store-bought certificates, and I only have to fill in a few blanks each time they "buy" one in the classroom store...Love it!
Aren't they cute?  Right now, you can get your own free business cards!  Let me know the creative ways you use them in your classroom!
Now, I better get to work on the 24 postcards that I need to send out by Friday!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Teacher's Notebook

As I was looking through a few of my favorite teacher's blogs tonight, I came across Teaching in FlipFlops.  The author of this blog is a new third grade teacher, who also happens to be using a LOT of zebra print in her classroom this year.  (I feel like I struck gold with this one!)  Anyway, she mentioned in a couple of her posts that she has a Teacher's Notebook store, so I went over to check it out.  The concept of Teacher's Notebook is a lot like TPT, but I think it may be even better!  First, several of the Teacher's Notebook stores post free items there as well, since it's a little easier than posting everything to your blog.  Second....get ready for can earn rewards for your purchases!  Yay!  I love to earn rewards for buying things that i want to buy anyway!  Basically, this is a great resource, and I thought I'd share it with you all!
Check it out! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Target Dollar Spot

There have been a lot of posts lately about the AHmazing deals at Target right now, so I thought I'd share some of my finds!

Here's the whole shebang!
I always make a beeline straight for the dollar spot as soon as I walk into Target.  My husband trails along silently for about 4 seconds before he decides to head over to the electronics, knowing that I'm going to be occupied for a good long while (He really is a good sport about my many trips to Target).  I forgot to get a close up picture, but I got some great baskets and supply buckets for $2.50 each!  I've always done community supplies in the past, and as much as I love having the kids learn how to share the supplies, I'm a little tired of constantly having to ask someone to "Stop jiggling the markers, please!" so I think this year I am going to use individual supply boxes.  What are some tips you use for supplies?

I also got some birthday badges (always needed) and this adorable notebook to use for staff meetings.  I like keeping my notes from staff meetings for the year all in one place so I know where to find things later.

I am also crazy about stickers and put them on every piece of work my students turn in.  I usually try to get the kinds that boys and girls will like, but I couldn't resist the Mermaid Princess stickers!  They're even glittery!  Sometimes the girly-girl in me just takes over!
Scored some adorable hall passes for $1 each too!  I don't have the kids actually take them to the bathroom (or office or water fountain) because they come back wet/dirty/soggy/germy/broken.  Ew.  When someone needs to leave the room and have permission, I just have them place the pass on their desk so I know who is out of the room and the students know when their classmate has come back so they can ask permission (even though I usually say no, followed with "It's not contagious...")  I have also seen other teachers use dog squeaky toys as bathroom passes because they can easily be bleached throughout the year to disinfect them!

Last but not least, I got these precious notepads!  I am completely crazy for office supplies, and I always have been!  Give me a new pack of pens and I am a happy camper.  The striped list pad has a magnet on the back to stick on the side of my desk or filing cabinet!  I'm super pumped about using these!

What are some great scores you've found lately?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Never Underestimate the Power of the Thrift Store

So I admit it....I'm a thrifting junkie.  If I admit that it's a problem, that makes it ok, right?  Needless to say, a few weeks ago I found myself at a one of my favorite flea markets while visiting the fam in AL.  It's one of those places where individuals set up booths to sell their things.  I hit the jackpot when I found a booth run by a recently retired teacher!  I (proudly) demonstrated some self control and didn't totally clean her out.  Here's what I found:

*Notice that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, enters our house without Winslow investigating it first.  He approves of this purchase, by the way. :)  And note the B.I.G. mess in the background....more on that later.*

First, I got some super cute sparkly rainbow border (unopened!) for *drumroll* $1.00!!  You all know how quickly bulletin board supplies add up! I'm doing a garden theme in my room this upcoming year and I think it will be just perfect for my helper board.

I also got Chutes and Ladders, complete with all pieces for $1.50 and Hi-Ho Cherry-O (only missing 2 cherries) for $1.00!  These will be perfect for indoor recess days or Friday Free Choice minutes.  I have not gotten any new games since my first year teaching, which I can't believe was 5 years ago, so it's pretty safe to say that most of my games are worn out.

I also scored that lamp and spruced it up by hot gluing some ribbon I had laying around to the shade.  I plan to spray paint the base a different color because I'm not okay with the brown ribbon with the black base.  Cringe.  I love using sunlight and lamps whenever possible in my room.  It's so much more calming and really seems to have a positive effect on my kiddos.

So those are my super thrift store finds!  In these last few blissful weeks of summer before the back to school craziness, head over to your favorite local place and see what you can find!  Happy thrifting!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Backing Up Data

My complete life saver is....

I know from experience, which I learned the hard way, how important it is to back up your data.  I was definitely that kid in college who's computer crashed the night before a midterm was due and had to START.OVER.  So after that life changing experience, I probably over back up my data.  In addition to saving things on an external hard drive, I have a Gmail account specifically for documents.  When I finish something important, I simply send an email to myself in that account with the file/files I want to save.  The great thing about this is there is no limit to the amount of data you can have (at least I have yet to reach a limit) and you can simply search for the name of the file to retrieve it!  I'm talking papers from freshman year of college are still in there!  I just try to be really good about putting what I'm saving in the subject line of the email and voila!  Super fast and you can do it from any computer!

Join the data back-up linky party over at Kinder Kraziness!

Pin It!

I think I speak for both of us when I say we are ADDICTED to Pinterest!  It is such a great place to find ideas for anything under the sun!  One of my very favorite things, though, is finding activities and organization ideas for my classroom!  Best of all, it's totally free and you can pin anything from anywhere! All you have to do is install the bookmark bar button (say that 5 times fast!) and you can pin any image you find on the web (can we say one great place to keep all these fabulous blog ideas??)  To see what Myranda and I have pinned, click the links below!