Monday, December 10, 2012

Preschool Project: Elmer Elephants

We have been in Christmas Project Making Mode at school, but I have a non-Christmas project to share with you today.

Have you read the book Elmer?  If not, Elmer the Elephant is not "ordinary elephant color", he is patchwork.  After reading the story that went along with our "Letter Ee Week", we used paper plates to make brightly colored and patterned elephants.  

First the students colored designs on their plates (each student needed 2) then they used watercolor paints over the top of the crayon for a fun effect!  They also followed these steps for the elephants trunk.  (I found the pattern in an old activity book, but you could draw your own or look online for a picture that would work.)

Once they were dry, we cut one paper plate in half and stapled it on either side of the other plate as ears.  Then we glued the trunk and eyes on.

I thought they turned out great and we got lots of comments on them from parents and other people who visited our school.  Definitely a project we will do again next year for Letter Ee!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Preschool Project: Marble Painted Jack-o-Lanterns

Wow!  After 7 weeks, I finally feel like things are settling down just a tiny bit at school.  Most of my crafting happens at school these days and it's of the "preschool project" variety, I've decided that I might as well start blogging about those things, or I probably won't get to blog at all!

So today, I want to share a fun and quick Halloween project we made at school this month.  

Marble Painted Jack-o-Lanterns

Have you marble painted before?  If not, you are totally missing out!  I took pictures of the process, but they all have students in them so I can't use them on my blog.  However, it's fairly simple.  

Here's what you need:
Shallow box or lid big enough to hold your paper (I used the lid from a box of paper, it had about 3" sides.)
8-15 Marbles
Orange Tempera Paint
Plastic Cup
Plastic Spoon
Construction Paper (White, Black and Tan)
Masking Tape

Here's what you do:
Make a small ring of masking tape, attach it to the center of a piece of white construction paper and then stick it down inside the box
Put some orange paint in the plastic cup and add the marbles to the cup
Stir them with the spoon until they are coated well
Dump them out into the corner of the box with the paper
Gently tilt and shake the box to make the marbles roll across the paper
When you like the design, dump the marbles back into the cup and pull the paper out
Once the paint is dry, cut the paper into a pumpkin shape
Cut Jack-o-Lantern features and a stem from the black and tan paper
Attach with glue and you're done!

If you are making a classroom bulletin board, a title such as "We've just rolled in from the Pumpkin Patch" ties in with the rolling marbles. (Clever, huh?! Ha! If you think of something better leave me a comment.)

My students loved making these and keep asking when they can marble paint again.  So I guess I've have to figure out a few more marble painting projects this year!  Hope you have been making some fun Halloween projects of your own!

And, since I haven't posted a picture of my boys lately, here they are!  18 months old and enjoying a beautiful fall evening on their new John Deere tractors that Grandpa Steve got them!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Classroom Transformation: Part 4

Settle in, this gets long! I'm going to try and get through the rest of the room in one post, then I'll another post sometime with some of my organizational tips and such.

After the fabric on the ceiling post, I showed you the doorway wall.  Now I'm going to move to the back wall.  It took me awhile to accept the back wall as the "back" of the room - when I was a student in this room, it was the front.  But when the SMART Board was added to the room, it was put on the back wall for many logistical reasons, thus turning that into the front of the classroom.  Not ideal for the way I would really like the layout of the room to be, but I'm pretty sure they aren't willing to move the projector, SMART Board, wiring, internet hook-ups, etc... for me, so I have made it work!

So here we go, with the back of the room.

If you remember from the "Before" Pictures, this orange alphabet bulletin board used to be a chalkboard.  (You can still see a sliver of it on the far right.)  To transform it into a bulletin board, I bought 1/2 inch insulating sheathing (this stuff), cut it to size and attached it to the chalkboard using small strips of velcro.  When I taught Kindergarten, I had a Word Wall and I really wanted something similar for Preschool, so I use this as an "Object Wall" for learning beginning wounds of words.  Throughout the year, we attach objects under the letters...a marker will go under the Mm and a crayon will go under the Cc.  Students also bring pictures from magazines and catalogs in to attach to the wall.  The desk is for a student teacher that will be joining us during 2nd Quarter.

There is also a rolling toy box (another project I had my dad make) with wooden blocks and a shelving unit (another dad project) with various toys and puzzles.

I have created a divider for the library using my filing cabinets - they are set back to back against the wall), the "Book Nook" (yet another dad project!) and a wooden cabinet.  This filing cabinet hold my reading, math and seasonal files.  The students get to use the Book Nook for reading during choice time or if they finish a project early.  The curtains are held up with a tension rod and the bottom cushion is a 5" piece of foam that I covered in fleece (it's super comfy!)  The wooden cabinet holds games, puzzles, and manipulatives that we use during Centers.   

Next up is the Library! I LOVE my Classroom Library, probably because I have spent many hours putting it together over the years.  The filing cabinet in the back is filled with more books, the top 2 drawers are organized by category and the bottom 2 are organized by month.  The rug was $19 at ShopKo one year as part of their Dorm Room collection and it's held up great.

 This giant Open Faced book shelf cost me $5!  I was walking past a Hallmark store that was going out of business one day and they had a section of their card displays on the sidewalk with a $5 sign on it.  I ran in and bought one, had a coworker help me haul it to my car, and got my dad to put legs on it for me!  It's positioned back to back with the Book Nook.  On top of the Book Nook, I have an Under-the-Bed Storage Box that I use for Bulletin Board Boarders and Letters and other miscellaneous things.  The bins on top of the filing cabinets are from Wal-Mart and they hold extra crayons, markers, glue sticks, etc.

The majority of the books are in these bins.  All of the white bins are actually Ice Cube containers that I bought at Target.  They work great from primary aged books because some of them are so big!  The books are sorted into categories and have a colored sticker on the spine so the students are able to get them back in the correct bin.  The bins are labeled using a colored sticker and the same Self Adhesive Business Card Holders I used on the bins I talked about the other day.  That red bin on the top by the window is the Book Hospital; if a student finds a book that needs repair they can just put it in there.  We call the round pillows "Reading Spots" and students can use them to read anywhere in the room when they finish their work early. (I bought them at Lakeshore.) I love to buy stuffed animals at Kohl's from their "Kohl's Cares for Kids.  That's where the Pig, Mouse and Moose came from.  They are only $5 a piece and are so soft!

This year, I added a bunch of lanterns and pompoms to this corner just for fun! :)

Still with me??  We are onto the Window Wall.  Half of the Library is on the right side of this wall.  The middle section holds some toys (the blocks, semi truck, Lincoln Logs, the barn, etc.)

Then we have the Writing Center.  It's stocked with markers, crayons, scissors, glue, paper, and stencils for the students to use during Choice Time.  This year, I added the wrapping paper to the back panel of the shelves (Thanks, Pinterest!)

The next set of built in shelves hold the curriculum I need for Centers.  I also added wrapping paper to the back panels of these shelves.  (Found all the wrapping paper at Target.)  The blue organizers on the top are from Lakeshore and I added colored buttons to them so I know what belongs in each one. 

This corner shelf is kind of a mess, but I promise I will have it all organized once we get the year started.  It hold curriculum, assessment materials, catalogs, and lots of other things.  (I think I'll do another post to share how I stay organized and make planning a cinch!)  I painted that bookshelf orange last year, it was the same old dingy cream color the rest of the room used to be.

And onto the Front Wall!  Not much to this on the left, sink, Calendar, SMART Board (not sure how I taught without one!) and my desk .

Rather than having a second computer cart, I just keep my computer on my desk.  Like the other desks in the room, the front of mine is pushed against the wall to save space.  I use the Yellow Bulletin Board to hang up all the pictures and projects the students make for me. (They love that!)

My two classroom rules are above the SMART Board: Be Kind and Follow Directions. The Daily Schedule is listed on the right and the calendar is on the left.  The storage drawers on the floor hold the other calendar pieces, CDs, and games we use during our Opening Meeting. 

These last four pictures are centered on the corners so you can get an idea of what the middle of the room looks like...

I love having that Kidney Table right behind my desk.  I can just turn my chair around to teach my center or work with small groups.

I still need to add the Chair Pockets I made to the chairs, so check back for that!

So there it is!  Sorry that got so long and thanks for sticking with me if you made it all the way through!  Again, if you have questions or want more details about anything in my room, let me know. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Classroom Transformation: Part 3

Ready for more classroom pictures? If you haven't seen my first 2 classroom posts you can check them out here and here.  I'm sharing the doorway wall with you today, and there is A LOT of stuff crammed into this wall.  (Who am I kidding, there is a lot of stuff crammed into every wall!)  

On the far left, I have the house/kitchen play area.  Pretty standard space...dolls, high chair, cradle, stuffed animals, table & chairs, kitchen set, dishes, and food.  A few things I do to help keep this area neat:  I have 2 large tubs in the fridge to hold all the food and utensils.  They are only about half full, so when the students are putting things away they don't have heaping bins to try and balance things in.  I also don't put extra clothes out for the dolls - I used to but found that the dolls were always naked because they wouldn't have time to redress them during clean up time.

In the middle of the wall I have the children's mailboxes.  This is one of the many projects I "hired" my dad to make.  When I switched to Preschool, I needed a second set because I have morning and afternoon classes with a total of 35-40 students and they each need their own mailbox.  I label them with a small laminated name card held to the inside wall of the mailbox with sticky tack.  The black tub is for carrying our snack and milk to the room.  The blue bins on the left hold Independent Center Time Activities and the red, green and yellow ones hold Craft Supplies.  There are floor puzzles on the 2 shelves and the bins on the right hold Choice Time Activities...matchbox cars, Legos, animals, etc...  For the label on each bin I found Self-Adhesive Business Card Holders at Office Max.  Then I made the labels using Microsoft Publisher.  The label just slides into the Holder and I can easily slide it out if I decide to change the contents of the bin.  (So much better than using Packing Tape to attach a label to a bin!)

Next is my Aide's desk.  (She hasn't been in to put her stuff on her desk yet.)  You will notice that both my desk and hers have the front edge pushed up against the wall.  This is a HUGE space saver.  If I turned our desks around, the desk would have to sit way out in the room to make space for walking and sitting behind it.  It truly is amazing how much extra space you will have if you can make this work in your space.  Then, I have my Construction Paper Organizer.  (It was another Dad project!)  The shelves slide out so it's easy to get to what you need.  On top of it, I keep clipboards with the bus charts on them.  I also attach notes from parents to these so I remember that Johnny is getting picked up by Grandma instead of riding the bus and such.

The last thing to share with you here is my Shape wall.  Just like the colors, I chose not to put them on an actual bulletin board.  I use the green board below it to display monthly art projects (usually half of them fit and the rest go above our coat hooks in the hallway). Oh, and see the lovely bundle of cables and cords??  That's what happens when the school was built WAY before the days of computers and other technology in each classroom! There are holes drilled between each room and this is how they ran the wiring through the school.

So that's the latest installment of My Classroom Transformation.  Tomorrow is our Open House so I probably won't be back until Thursday with more.  Let me know if there is something you want more details about!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Classroom Transformation: Part 2

I just got home from my classroom and IT'S FINISHED!!  It was so nice to walk out of there knowing it was all ready for Open House on Wednesday.  That also means it's time to start sharing it with you!  I'll be sharing it over the course of several posts because it's just too much to pack into one.

It's come along way from the pictures I shared yesterday!

Here's a shot of the doorway.  Check out that paint color!!  So much warmer and inviting.  (I still need to add some paint to the door frame.)  In the rest of this shot, you can see my aide's desk on the far left, my construction paper storage unit (more on that later), storage for a bunch of misc. stuff, and a $5 mirror from Target that I added above the sink. I also chose that space to display the Colors since bulletin board space is limited.  You can kind of see a 1 on the soap dispenser and a 3 on the paper towel dispenser.  We use those to remind the kids they get 1 pump of soap and 3 pumps of paper towels. And see that blue fabric at the top of the picture?  I'm pretty sure it's my favorite part of the room...

I used 30 yards of fabric (10 yards in each color) and draped it from the ceiling/beams using velcro, shoe glue, and fabric glue. (And some math skills!) I took this picture while sitting on the floor, so it's from the perspective of the students.

Not only does bring the ceiling down, cozy up the space, and soften the lighting, it also covers up the ugly ceiling!

Here's what is looks like when you walk into the room. 

I also used fabric (7 yards) to cove those dated colored panels above the windows.  I cut it long enough to cover the ugly roller shades as well.  You can see one of the shades is pulled down a bit in this picture, but when they are all the way up, they disappear behind the fabric. 

Both of these fabric projects required ZERO sewing.  I used hem tape to finish the raw cut edges on the ends of the fabric and I purposely chose fabrics that had color all the way to the salvage edge...there wasn't a white strip with the fabric brand or it didn't require a hem.  The solid colors are just plain quilter's cotton and the print above the windows is a Batik.  All the fabric is hung with velcro.  Shoe Glue worked like a charm to attach the velcro to the ceiling and Alene's Tacky Glue held the velcro to the fabric.

Any other teachers out there add 37 yards of fabric to their room?  Attach anything else to the ceiling?  Make a fun window treatment?  I'd love to see what you did!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Classroom Transformation: Part 1

**There aren't going to be any "After" pictures in this post.  You'll have to check back soon for those!**

After teaching Kindergarten for 4 years, I transferred to a preschool position in our district last year.  That meant I had to pack all my things up from a classroom that I had spent countless hours putting together and making my own and move it to a different school and start all over.

The school I was moving to happened to be the same elementary school I attended from Kindergarten through 6th grade!  My new classroom is the room I went to 5th grade in.

There were a few things in the room when we got there - a teacher desk, 4 tables, chairs, a book shelf... - just the basics.  During my years teaching Kindergarten, I "hired" my dad to make many things for my room and after we hauled them all into my new room, it was quite a mess!  So, in order for you to appreciate the After pictures, I need to share the Before pictures with you.

The view from the door 
The plan:  Cover the blocks of color above the windows so it doesn't look so dated, get rid of the computer cart (I put my computer on my desk), remove the strange piece of cork board from right corner (Andrew is already working on that in this picture!)

The back wall
The plan: Cover the blackboard so it can be used as a bulletin board

The door wall 
The plan: Cover the blackboard so it can be used as a bulletin board

The front wall
The plan: Remove the board going from the high shelving to the bulletin board, run the projector wiring in a neater manner (isn't that a hot mess!!)

At this stage, I was also working out a floor plan.  It always takes me a little trial and error to get it just right.

BUT, my Top Priority was to PAINT THE WALLS!!!  The grungy cream color was not doing anything for me!  I decided to warm it up with a couple cans of Sherwin Williams Outerbanks, which happens to be the color our kitchen and living room are painted and the color I had painted my previous classroom.

I almost have my room put back together for this year.  (Open House is on Wednesday!)  So check back soon to see what became of this mess!  I'm super excited about how it's evolved and can't wait to share it with you!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Christmas shopping

I can't believe I'm thinking about Christmas already, but every year I say I'm going to start the shopping early.  Not only would it keep the checking account from taking a large hit at the end of the year, but I also think it would help in my quest to find the perfect gifts for our family members rather than having to settle for a gift card.  (Note: I have NOTHING against gift cards.  In fact, I LOVE receiving them, but for many family members, I'd rather give them something with a little more thought behind it.)

So this year is going to be different!  I already started a project for the grandparents, and I'm super excited about it.  Sorry, no details in case my mom reads this!  I'm also going to get my list started so I can start looking for things online and while we are out shopping over the next few months.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to get the Christmas shopping done?  I'd love to hear them!

Here's to a stress free Christmas shopping season!

Friday, July 27, 2012

6 months Post-Op!

In general, January seems like 6 months ago.  But the details of January 27th are so engrained that it seems like it was just days ago.  Putting your 9 month old in the hands of a surgeon is scary.


I know I didn't stop praying all day.  Praying for Ezra, the surgeon, the other doctors, the nurses, the NERVE...if it wasn't for that facial nerve wrapped around the mass I might have been a little more at ease.  Surgery was supposed to last 3 hours, maybe a little longer.  "Don't get nervous if it takes a little longer," Dr. Rimell said.  I was doing okay at 3 1/2 hours, and still pretty good at 4 hours, but after that my stomach was in a knot.  After 5 hours and 1 minute our little man was finally in recovery.  The best news of all was that the nerve was completely intact!  The nerve that could have caused complete paralysis on the right side of Ezra's face had not been severed.  Thank you, Jesus!!

                                                    (1 day post-op)                                       (2 days post-op)

(2 weeks post-op)

We've had several post-op check-ups and at his 6 month appointment the ENT said we didn't have to come back; everything looks great!!  There is still some healing - the skin where the mass was has some internal stitches that are still working their way out and the incision has one stitch that is still working its way out.  The indentation caused from the removal will also fill in over time because he is so young. He can never get an Atypical Mycobacterial Infection again.  (Though I am quite paranoid around bird poop...I feel like I see it everywhere now!)

(2 months post-op)

(Today: 6 months post-op)

During the surgery, they ended up removing the parotid gland because it was in the way and part of the major mess that they found.  Removal of this gland can cause Frey's Syndrome, and wouldn't you know, Ezra has developed it.  It's nothing serious, just another very rare condition.  When they removed the gland, they saved the nerves that were in it.  These are salivary nerves and in some cases they "grow" into the skin causing the skin to turn red, and even sweat, when the person salivates.  So when Ezra eats he gets a red mark on his cheek, we haven't noticed any sweating so far.  (He was eating breakfast in the picture above so it's slightly noticeable, right above the mark from the mass.)  It's something that may or may not resolve itself over time.  Botox will temporarily fix it or there is a surgery to permanently fix it, but if it's not causing Ezra any discomfort (and it doesn't seem to be) we don't plan to do anything about it.  We'll just have to remember to let his teachers know about it so they don't think he's having some kind of allergic reaction during snack time!

Amazing how one day can be so vivid in our memories, isn't it?!  Though we will never know exactly how Ezra contracted this crazy infection, we are so thankful for the medical technology and doctors that were able to take care of it.

If you have more questions about our experience with Atypical Mycobacterium, please leave a comment or email me at thoner02k @ yahoo . com. You can read all my posts related to this here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Great Pinterest Hunt!

I came across this blog post this morning. 

Check out the Hunt for your chance to win some great prizes (and have fun looking at all sorts of Pinterest Boards!)



Monday, July 2, 2012

Give that Pin a Try #3: Repurposing a Container

I know I said I had a recipe to share next, but I changed my mind.

I've had my eye on many versions of repurposed containers on Pinterest.  I desperately need cute storage bins, but somehow diapers and new shoes for my ever growing boys end up higher on the shopping list than new storage bins and baskets.  Here are a few that I've found on Pinterest...

The Kleenex box...

The tin cans...

The Diaper box...

Awesome! Right?

When I was cleaning out our entryway closet, which also holds all of my laundry supplies, I found this old OxyClean container (from back when they were still round - although I think the new rectangular ones will work too, they just aren't as deep) and decided to try my hand at making it into something that could sit out on a shelf without being an eyesore.

I decided to paper mache the outside and make a fabric liner that would fold over the top.

I used Elmer's White Glue and warm water - about equal parts, but I didn't measure.

Then I started ripping pieces of this Kraft colored wrapping paper, dipping them in the glue and applying them to the container.

Here it is with one layer.  It took about 2 or 3 layers to completely cover the bright blue plastic.  Then I let it dry overnight.

In the morning it looked like this.

I had some left over denim so I flipped the container over and traced the TOP rim onto the denim since it's bigger than the bottom - that way I had room for a seam allowance when I sewed it to the rectangular piece.  I didn't take pictures of the sewing process, but first I ironed some Hem Tape to the top long edge of the rectangular piece.  Stitching it up didn't take long at all, and I even got it right on the first try!  (Thought I'd have to pull out the seam ripper for sure!)

I put the liner in and tied some ribbon around it (it didn't need the ribbon, I just wanted to dress it up a bit).  I think it's adorable, and I'm going to use it to serve pretzel rods dipped in chocolate at a 4th of July party.  I'll try to remember to get a picture of that to share later too.

Have you repurposed any containers lately?  I'd love to see them!  Are you planning anything exciting for the 4th?  We are looking forward to celebrating with friends and family at a grill out complete with cold slushy drinks (it's supposed to be hot and sticky here) and lots of fireworks!

Thanks for stopping by!