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."