Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Classroom Inspiration

As I prepare for and welcome baby into our home I will have a few great friends posting for me over the next few months. I'll be back occasionally to share some things of my own, but am excited to have help from a few fun bloggers along the way! Today I have Casey from Life on Grand Avenue sharing some great 'teacher' related projects. As you might know I am a teacher too and always looking for fresh classroom ideas. While baby isn't here yet, I wanted to share her post a little early with all of my fellow teacher bloggers out there. Hope you enjoy the great classroom inspiration she has to share today!

Hi, my name is Casey! I feel honored to be a guest here at Lemon Tree Creations because normally this is the site I go to to be inspired. Today my projects are completely centered around the "back to school" theme but they are all very easy to do and could be used anywhere!
Our school year officially began on Wednesday August 17th and not without lots of normal classroom chaos and a flash mob! Yes, that's right...a flash mob! Our Crossroads Family decided to liven things up this year at our beginning of the school year assembly with our very own flash mob. I don't think ours will make it on Youtube (I really wish I had a video to post...) but the kids loved it and we all had a lot of fun dancing to The Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea."

Our theme this year (consistent with our dance) is "A Sea of Opportunity" and we have decked the halls (so to speak) and our classrooms to prepare for the first day with our students. I have changed things, added things, tweaked things, and changed things again (in true teacher fashion) to prepare for our big day. Here are just a few things I wanted to share that I have created this year to brighten up my classroom and continue my love for all things organized!

1. "Umbrella Wreath"
This project was SO super easy (just the way I like DIY projects)! The front door to my classroom hosts my student of the week (we call them the "fresh catch") and I needed a little something to dress it up. After seeing the incredible idea here I went to work.
Step 1: Find an old wreath at Goodwill (Mine was $3.00). It seemed to be the perfect size. It just needed a little bit of help.
Step 2: Pull all the old decoration off and prepare it for something way more fun than those crumbling fall leaves.
Step 3: Buy two different size parasols from the Party Source or Party City. They are very inexpensive and add a lot of color to the wreath.
Step 4: Start sticking them into the vines of your wreath randomly and voila! You have a very inexpensive and bright wreath for a classroom or even your home! I have a few more things I need to add to this door to dress it up a little bit but at least I have it started so my students know where their special "All About Me" Posters will hang.
2. "Crate Throne"
This project is one of my favorites. I created a seat out of a crate, a small piece of wood, and some fabric for my "fresh catch" (or student of the week) to sit on while we are on the carpet in my classroom. I found this idea on Pinterest and would like to give all the credit to this wonderful blogger but I have also created a very simple tutorial at my site if you are interested. Check it out here! The "crate throne" has become my simple solution for making my student of the week feel very special while creating a holding place for my books while they are waiting to be catalogued and put into my classroom library.
3. Bucket Fillers
The bucket filling concept is something that is ongoing throughout the year and my students always love it! At the beginning of the year we talk a lot about what it means to be good friends to each other. We always read a book entitled, "How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids" and the students learn about their invisible bucket. We talk about filling other people's buckets by saying and doing nice things for them and we also talk about how sometimes we can be bucket dippers. When we dip into other's buckets it hurts their feelings and it makes us feel bad about ourselves too. The entire year this is something that can be revisited and the students are reminded how important it is for them to be kind to one another. This is a simple way we display the buckets in our classroom and ensure that it is a focus throughout the school year.

4. Today's Password is...
This is something that I really love because it encourages my students to read! As a second grade teacher I know how important it is for my students to always, always, always read! Right by the door to my classroom I have a poster that looks like this...
The students in my class know that each time they come into the classroom in the morning they have to look at the word wall word that is posted on our sign and read it. But we don't stop there! The students also have to read the word to me when we leave the classroom sometimes. On our way out the door for specials or a bathroom break they whisper the word in my ear and once they read the word correctly they are permitted into the hallway. It is a great strategy to engage students and encourage them to read constantly!
5. Bulletin Board Making
For all your teachers out there this may not be news to you but for some of you this may be something really neat to learn (especially if you have a teacher'll see why in a minute).
My husband is also a teacher and at the beginning of each school year he needs help in the "decorating" department. So his mom and I normally come to his rescue and help spice up his classroom before his students come the first day. This year they moved into a brand new building and they each have a very large bulletin board outside of their classroom. As soon as we saw it we went to work planning our attack. Since he is the golf coach for the high school he wanted his theme to have something to do with golf. So we decided we needed a very large picture of a golfer. Immediately I turned on my overhead projector in my classroom, pulled up a picture from the Internet, and started tracing! This is my go to resource when I need something blown up or something to look a little more professional than my "free hand" drawings. Here are a few pictures of the process and the final product.
Step 1: Find a picture and display it on my white board through the projector. Center a large piece of butcher paper on top of the image so that you are ready to trace.
Step 2: Trace your picture on the butcher paper. I made one for my classroom as well. This guy is going on my door with the new wreath...
Step 3: Once your picture is traced all you need to do is color, cut out, and put it wherever you need that extra sparkle!
I hope some of these ideas spark your imagination and help make your classroom (or home) a brighter place! Thanks Lemon Tree Creations for having me and I hope everyone has a wonderful school year!

Thanks Casey! What great classroom ideas. Makes me feel like I should liven up my classroom a bit even though the year is already underway.


Unknown August 31, 2011 at 8:22 AM  

Fabulous ideas! I'm not a teacher but work in an elementary school and I might pass some of these along! Especially love the Fill a Bucket board!

Tiffany August 31, 2011 at 8:58 AM  

Oh, this makes me miss my teaching days! I loved preparing my classroom for the students at the beginning of each year! The fill a bucket idea is so fabulous! What a great and interactive way to teach them about kindness and friendship! Love it! That password idea is genius too! Thanks for sharing!

Amy Waller August 31, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

I love it! I taught first grade (before I went on extended maternity leave) and at the beginning of the year I always read How Full Is Your Bucket! It was always neat to hear the kids say, "Boy, that sure emptied his bucket" or "I'm going to try to make her bucket full". It was cute. I love the bucket bulletin board with the little pails. So cute!

Patrice September 1, 2011 at 8:33 AM  

Thanks again Casey for sharing all of these fun ideas!

V Colbourne September 4, 2011 at 8:28 PM  

These are fantastic ideas. I myself am a teacher and this is really interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!

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