Friday, August 15, 2008

Word Wall

This year I will add a word wall to our classroom. Our reading curriculum is the Reading Mastery program. Lessons are designed to be fast-paced and interactive.

My word wall is a tool for use, not just display. It is designed to help students develop a growing core of words that become part of our reading vocabulary. We’ll complete a variety of review activities to provide enough practice so that words are read instantly and automatically.

I am creating my word wall using a leaf pattern to fit my safari classroom. You may download the template.

Read more about Interactice Word Walls here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Crayola Leftolas

As I prepare my classroom for the start of the school year, I need to clean and organize supplies. I went through containers of crayons and came up with a big pile of broken crayons and larger, yet worn down ones. This morning I took a detour from setting up my classroom and played with crayola “leftolas.” A friend suggested I melt some into one great big crayon. I have never attempted this so I went to the Internet for a “how-to.”

1. Preheat oven to 250
2. Put some crayon pieces in a muffin cup. I used Reynolds extra large foil baking cups to line my muffin tins.
3. Bake approximately 10 minutes or until the crayon pieces melt.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
5. Peel off the foil muffin cups.
6. Name the crayon. Mine will be “Safari.”

I’m leaving the old crayons in my classroom so students can create new giant multi-colored crayons. Each student will get to name his or her color. We are going to gift these to our first grade reading buddies. These crayons are great for little hands. Younger kids can wrap their whole hand around them and "go to town coloring" without breakage.

It is so difficult to clean out a classroom! Everything has value.
The history of Crayola and the names of colors is fun to research. Check out this site.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


If you give out incentives, it becomes challenging in the upper elementary grades to come up with new ideas. CanTeach offers a list of 49 reward ideas. Get creative and offer students variety.

I’ve created incentive cards to use in my classroom. Here’s my templates you can download. I print these incentive cards on cardstock.

Students keep the card until they decide to cash in on the reward. I’ve noticed some kids choose to collect reward cards. They never actually redeem the card for the prize.

For occasions that require a larger award, I’ve had success with local fast food restaurants donating free food coupons. Check with local video and game rental stores for a free rental coupon. The movie theater sometimes gives out free movie passes. Don’t forget to mention you are a teacher.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Young Einsteins

The Young Einsteins is a club designed for students who are interested in exploring and learning more about this world of ours. Students learn about a topic and then set an appointment with me so that they may demonstrate mastery. Students may become a 15 star member all the way up to a 65 star member. A list of activities is provided.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Mrs. Renz in Redmond, Oregon, for giving me permission to use this Mastery Club in my classroom. She is an inspiration for teachers everywhere!
Another big thanks to Tom Chalkley for the caricature used on our club's certificates.

I created this bulletin board to post the Young Einsteins Hall of Fame. It will include the name and picture of each student in the Hall of Fame. The names remain posted in my room and on my school web site from year to year.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mane Events

Declutter your desk. Classrooms are busy and teachers need to keep track of everything and everyone. Get organized with a message center.

The humble bulletin board is definitely low-tech, but it works.

What You'll Need:

  • twenty-four 3-3/4-inch-diameter cork coasters

  • acrylic paints: orange, yellow, brown

  • removable wall-mounting stickers tacks or pushpins


1. Paint the tops of 12 coasters in assorted colors. Paint a second or third coat, as needed, to fully cover the cork.

2. Glue a plain coaster to the back of each painted coaster. (This adds thickness to the bulletin board, so you can push tacks into it.) Lay books on top of the glued coasters to prevent the cork from curling. Allow to dry overnight.

3. Paint the edges of the coasters; let dry.

4. Referring to the photo, adhere the coasters to the wall with removable wall-mounting stickers.

Mix and match the color placement in a pleasing pattern.

This message center hangs behind my computer table. It is actually one of those old green chipped chalk boards. I decided to cover it with paper and create a bulletin board. My teacher’s desk sits in front of the computer center which allows me to have a work station situated both in front of and behind me.

The message center ensures that I have a clean workspace on my desk.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You've Got Mail

Thank you, Mrs. Estupian, for this wonderful idea and pictures! Today I'm out searching for a classroom mailbox - -to paint safari style. If you want directions to paint one, check out Mrs. E's blog.

Keep Talking

By the time kids are in late grade school, they should be able to contribute to meaningful meal conversation. During the star student lunch I provide the table topics. Kids truly enjoy this time and those who are invited back for a second lunch generally ask for a topic before I’ve offered one.
Keep Talking is a clever little conversation starter book. I purchased this book at

Another great resource for table talk may be found by clicking here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Show and Share Bag

I stumbled across this adorable gift bag - -Hallmark Expressions. This little bag has now become our class “show and share” bag. Each student gets a turn to be a “star student.” During the week our star will bring in pictures and trinkets to "show and share."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's for lunch?

Students are given two lunch choices - -A or B. Also there is the option of Cold Lunch or Home. The labels for the lunch choices were printed on sticker paper and wrapped around frosting tubs.
Uses for pocket charts in the classroom are almost endless. For simple attendance and lunch count, I created this pocket chart. Student names are in number order on the pockets. The pockets for the chart were created in Microsoft Publisher. These pockets were glued to a poster board and then the board was laminated.

All students check in first thing in the morning. The menu choices are written on a small white marker board near the pocket chart. They make the lunch decision using a craft stick. A quick glance at the chart gives a lunch tally and also signals children who are absent.
A great time-saver for me is delegating the responsibility of lunch count and attendance to our class secretary.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Please Sit Down!

This little ol’ wood school chair was separated from its classmates at some point and then landed in my room. I decided this loner would make a fun chair for our star student. The “star” gets to use the chair for the entire week.
It was a project involving spray paint, Mod-Podge, sponges, painter’s tape, balsam wood stars, and time. Several coats of Mod-Podge should guarantee those letters stay put.
Tearing the painter’s tape into strips to create the zebra stripes was time-consuming, but well worth the effort - our star chair is dressed to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"T" is for Trash

Here’s proof that even a trash can will add to a classroom theme. I chose to add pizzazz to these old metal rusting trash cans with colorful patterns.

First, I sanded the trash cans to get off all the loose stuff and smooth down the edges. Next I coated them with Rustoleum to stop the rust and then top coated each trash can the color I wanted. Finally, I used sponges and painter’s tape to create the animal print look.

We have a marked plastic container for paper trash in our classroom. Our school has a recycling program so at the beginning of the year, I use Scholastic’s lessons to teach students the importance of
paper recycling. This site has everything you need including lesson plans, reproducibles, and resources.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wild About Books

Designed to sit with other pieces in our safari room, this bookcase gives easy access to our Accelerated Reading books. The front drawers were sponge painted using an orange base and a black glaze.

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My checkout system is the old-fashioned library checkout system with pockets and cards. I glue a pocket inside the front cover of every book.
A card is created for each book that includes the book title, Accelerated Reader book level, and Accelerated Reader points. When a student borrows a book, she places the book’s card in her pocket on the library pocket chart. When a student is finished with the book, she returns the title card to the book, and places the book back on the shelf. This system works for me - -the students can manage check-out independently, my books stay organized, and very little time is required of me!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ten Posters Go On the Wall

My posters are complete. I have a BIG bulletin board to fill. Beth Newingham was my inspiration for the genre posters. She has created posters and made them available to print at her site (click on her Teacher Resources tab then Genre Posters).
After I completed my posters, I discovered a literature genre gaining popularity - - comic books. The arguments for teaching comics in the classroom are convincing. Check out this lesson plan at read▪write▪think.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Genre Posters

Before I began teaching, scrapbooking was a favorite pastime. In the classroom, I find the tools and gadgets of scrapbooking come in handy. These scrapbook papers were purchased at Hobby Lobby. Several packets of brads and eyelets followed me home too. The metal embellishments are new to me, so today I played. I guess embellishments are the craze right now and a way to add dimension to projects.
I’m making genre posters for my language arts classroom. Safari animals were found using Google Image.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Birthday Bunch

Here’s one chocolate indulgence for students during the school year - - a personalized candy bar. A healthier idea is to wrap a granola bar. I chose the chocolate bar because the expiration date is a year out. This allows me to wrap all the candy bars (40+) at one sitting and display them in my room.

I created my wrapper template in Microsoft Publisher by making a 6 inch square. I ordered the safari animal cutouts at
Creative Press.

Microsoft Publisher offers a candy bar template. You may edit the file as needed by replacing the text, changing the colors, and adding the clipart as desired. These candy bars wrappers are great ideas for class awards, Christmas gifts, Valentines, thank-you gifts. Check it out at here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's a Jungle In Here!

Bulletin boards make a great teaching tool for your students.
They'll make your classroom visually appealing and stimulating.

I generally enlarge my clipart to a size of 3 or 4 feet. The larger sizes tend to pop out and get noticed.

Clipart has saved my life - - enlarge, reduce, be creative! I use clipart on my bulletin boards, portfolio covers, worksheets, instructional units . . . everywhere!
Google Image makes it so easy. Read about copyright restrictions here.

I'm counting on this gang to help with some interactive bulletin boards.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Swing On By

I found him this morning while googling a totally unrelated topic. I now find I must locate a spot for this guy in my classroom. He is just too cute to pass by.
One way to enlarge clip art is by making a copy on a transparency. I then project the image on a piece of butcher taped on the wall. You can make the image as large or small as you like. Once you have the size you want, trace the image onto the butcher paper. When you're done, color the image with markers, colors, or pastels. Laminate your projects for durability.
I generally enlarge my clipart to a size of 3 or 4 feet. The larger sizes tend to pop out and get noticed. My swinging friend will be in good company. He’ll join other safari animals I am creating for bulletin boards.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wild About Learning

Create letters for your bulletin board using 8 1/2 x 11 inch scrapbook paper that is placed on the landscape setting in Microsoft Publisher. You can use Word Art to make fancy letters, or use the fonts available in the program. I print them as “outline with no fill color” and feed the scrapbook paper through my printer. Check out my template here. Laminate projects for durability.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Questions for Mrs. Full

Why did you start writing this blog?

The summer of 2008 I attended a technology institute for educators. I was so impressed with the projects created by colleagues. When blogging was introduced, I received the best advice from a veteran blogger, “The best way to learn is to do.” After viewing several published blogs, I decided I needed a theme. Since I’m preparing my classroom for the new school year, I’ll blog my preparations.

Why the crafts and projects theme?

There are numerous websites for curriculum and lesson plans written by the experts. I thought I’d take this path and share projects. Also, I need photos to work with many of the page elements on the blogger template.
It appears you like to craft, do your students get the opportunity to create projects?
As we progress through the year, I will include descriptions and pictures of their projects. I teach the language arts for fifth grade students and I incorporate many hands-on craft activities in their lessons. We also create projects for the seasons, mother’s day, red ribbon week, the holidays, and the list just goes on . . .

But what is the academic value of Hands-On Craft Projects in Elementary Schools?

Conducted in 2001 by ROCKMAN ET AL, an independent educational research and consulting company, the study revealed the following key findings:· Student learning improves when classroom lessons incorporate hands-on craft activities.· Students develop greater curiosity about the subject matter when craft projects are included.· Student behavior and socialization skills improve when crafts are undertaken.· Teachers regularly use craft projects to teach the core subjects and link the projects to state and national curriculum standards.· Teachers say learning through craft projects accommodates students with different learning styles.

What's fun about blogging? Doesn't it waste hours of time?

Yep - especially when you are learning the “how-to” of blogging.” But if you notice I do not spend a great deal of time journaling. The majority of my blogs are pictures. I like to post ideas that might be helpful to teachers. I try to post simple projects that anyone can do. . .things that are fun. My intent is the projects I have completed will inspire ideas in others. I hope others will share their ideas and comments.