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This is day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of my classroom preparation and organization series. If you’re new, welcome! Please have a look around!

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I may be exhausted, but I’m happy.

My first day back at school went swimmingly! There were only 10 children present and they were all on their best behavior. We had many laughs, shared some great stories and have started the new year on a fantastic foot.

As promised, I’d like to share the classroom displays which are adorning my walls. I still have two displays to share with you but will wait until the kids have left their impression on them.

Fun, engaging bulletin boards are one of the easiest ways to create a unique classroom environment. On the first day of school, students are instantly drawn to the appearance of their new classroom. For kids and parents alike, first impressions matter.

Throughout the year, my bulletin boards are more working walls than display boards. The boards are constantly referred to and adapted to reflect our current learning. Students reference the walls for a variety of reasons including spelling and examples of correctly used skills.

Even though the walls were not yet in active use when I took the final photos this morning, they were ready for action and dressed to impress.

Here’s a quick, direct from my camera phone, guide for preparing bulletin boards for the first day of school.

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First up,measure the boards. To make life easier in the future, write the measurements directly on the boards using a permanent marker. This way, you will never have to measure again!

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If several of your boards have the same measurements, you’re in luck! Three of my boards are 250.5x 120 cm so I can measure and cut all three papers at once.

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Simply layer the paper you want to use, measure once and cut twice or thrice. Give yourself a bit or extra paper for each end of the boards to guarantee that it will fit. Any extra paper can later be cut away with an exacto knife.

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Mark the measurement on each end of the paper then place a meter stick in the middle to help form a right angle fold.

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Fold the paper over the meter stick then remove the meter stick and press the paper to form a crisp fold.

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Cut along the fold using a sharp knife.

Your background paper is now cut to size and ready to use!

Staple it up, edge with some fancy borders then get to filling in the boards as you wish.

Here’s a quick view of the displays in my classroom this year.

Reading Strategies CAFE Menu.

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I first saw the idea for the awning on What the Teacher Wants. They got the idea from here.

This display is right next to our emergency door which gets quite drafty at times. So rather than using post it notes for the kids to mark their reading goals, they each decorated a clothes pin to clip to the sign which reflects their reading goals.

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This project was yet to be completed when I left school last night. I was so pleasantly surprised to come in this morning and find my awning hanging in place. I still want it to stick out from the wall a bit more, but I am so happy with the look as a whole.

Today we posted our first two reading strategies so the display is already doing its job.

Even though I printed, backed and laminated the CAFE signs, it wasn’t until I looked at these photos that I realized the CAFE descriptions hadn’t printed. Oh well, I’ll just write them on tomorrow!

Vibrant Vocabulary Word Wall

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I’ve not had a word wall until now because I couldn’t spare the space for one permanent display. This year I took the plunge and decided to go for it. I’m sure we will use the wall frequently enough to make up for the “lost space.”

 

Recipe for Success in Year 4B

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I made this display last year to accompany our first day of school Recipe for Success activity. It was such a hit, I decided to do it again. Even at the end of the year, parents and children were still talking about the Recipe for Success. One family continued to follow the recipe at home and made our first day activity as a snack throughout the year. To hear more about the display and activity, click here.

Play Fair in Year 4

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Another display that I used last year, this display sets the expectations for behavior in the classroom by referring to football (that’s soccer for all my American readers.) The kids get warning before receiving a yellow or red card depending on the severity of their misbehavior. This is one of the best behavior management strategies I’ve used or seen used. It is based on the understanding that the children are all respectful and will play fairly, but is prepared to help manage any unsportsmanlike actions. You can read more here.

Math Working Wall

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(Yes, that says Maths. Those silly Brits put an ‘s’ after the word math.)

This is another active working wall that will be used throughout the year. I loved The Clutter Free Classroom’s Math Workshop Rotation Board. I put my own spin on her ideas to make the rotations work in my classroom.

You probably can’t tell by the photo, but there is one star for each day of the week. There is also space for the work book page and extension page to be completed each day. I only have 12 students this year so have decided to go with 3 groups.

I plan on starting the math lessons as usual with mental math, class instruction, whole group practice and work book pages. This will probably take 40 minutes. I plan on using the last 20 minutes of our math lesson for stations. The kids will rotate between the five stations you can see labeled on the trays- one station per day. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Reading Recommendations

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Each child has a pocket on this display where other kids can leave book recommendations. There is even a pocket for our classroom assistant and me (which I still need to make labels for.) Everyone loves receiving mail, especially in the form of a specially recommended book!

What are you Reading?

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Every year I take a photo of each student holding a sign that says “I’m reading.” These photos are then printed, laminated and stuck on this display. The students place a post-it note on their photo sharing their current read.

This is a quick and easy way to share books and create the platform for book talks. Last year one of my students collected her old post-it notes and was so proud of her “book stack” at the end of the year.

 

Visual Time Table

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This time table helps the students to feel prepared for the day and helps me to not hear “what are we doing next?” 1,000 times a day. I made this chart by cutting plastic files in half and taping them against the large cardstock to form top-opening pockets.I simply swap out the cards and spin the movable clock faces to match our agenda for the day.

Odds and Ends

I love quotes and have had a lot of using them around the year this room. Although these are not displays, they do decorate our room and help create a one-of-a-kind environment.

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I recreated this sign in power point to match a poster from pinterest.

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One of my favorite quotes is an extension off of Dr. Seuss’s “The more you read…” quote. I like the extended version but am unsure of the original author.

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If you’re after the fantastic sign against my writing station, click here to download a copy for yourself.

So, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my display tour.

Check back tomorrow to see two more displays: Frame Worthy Work and our Classroom Commitment Tree.

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This is day 1, 2, 3, 4 of my classroom preparation and organization series.If you’re here for the food, you’re in luck, I’ve even tossed in a tasty link today!

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Today we welcomed the new students and families to our school. I have one student who is new to the school this year. She is absolutely adorable. As soon as the Head introduced me, the little girl hopped up from her parents, grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the hall because she was so excited to see the classroom. 

A good start to a new year!

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I still have one project to finish before I show you the big reveal, but here’s a sneak peak of how the classroom looked when I left school today.

Tomorrow is our first day of school. In preparation for the athletic event, I ate a carb-loaded dinner of pasta with avocado cream sauce. It might look strange but it is so creamy and delicious!

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With all the excitement for tomorrow, I’m sure I won’t be able to sleep tonight, but one can wish.

Alright, on to the project of the day!

You know paper mâché, but have you heard of yarn mâché?

I hadn’t either until it exploded all over pinboards on pinterest.

yarn balls

I was instantly hooked on this photo and the simple how-to instructions.

Since I knew these {please read in a British accent} simply wouldn’t go with my home decor, my mind instantly visualized these lovely hanging yarn balls over my classroom desks.

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I prepped my table, blew up differently sized balloons (in retrospect these were much too large), snapped a metal clip to the bottoms of the balloons for a bit of extra weight and got to work.

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I made a mixture of equal amounts school glue and water then dropped my yarn in.

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This was a messy project that the kids would love! I on the other hand got bored after two balloons so called in quits for the day only to return to the project a day later.

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Just for fun, I sprinkled a bit of glitter over the sticky yarn.

I hung the balloons to dry for a week while I was in Budapest. When I returned, some of the balloons had slightly deflated which made for better balloon removal.

A few other yarn balls clung to the deflated balloons for dear life. I even left some balloons inside- these are my favorite.

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All in all, my project didn’t turn out as perfectly as the inspirational photo, but I still love the look of the slightly deformed yarn balls.

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Once the yarn balls were hung to hang and streamers were added, the whole look really came together!

If you’re looking for more pinterest-inspired classroom projects, head over to Jen’s website. She’s sharing her pinterest projects all week this week.

Wish me luck tomorrow! I’m bubbling with excitement and nerves.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to hear about my first day back. I’ll also be sharing (fingers crossed) all of my new school year classroom displays.

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Fast Pockets

This is day three of my classroom preparation and organization series.

Day 1: No-sew radiator slipcover

Day 2: Maintenance-free classroom library

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Ah, library pockets, you organize, display, group, and guide an endless amount of classroom projects, how I love you!

One thing I do not love is your pre-made cost or restrictive sizes.

I also do not love cutting, folding, and gluing homemade versions of you.

Traditional library pockets, I’ve left you for your simple, fast, reusable and homemade cousin… I hope we can still be friends.

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Fast Pockets

Materials

Cardstock

Paper cutter

Laminating sheets

Laminator

Ruler

Exacto knife or box cutter

Procedure

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1. Cut your cardstock to the size you desire. If you feel like making funky shapes, go for it, these pockets are made for you by you, be as creative as you wish!

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2. Fold the cardstock to form a pocket, no need to seal the sides.

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3. Place each pocket in a laminating sheet with plenty of space along the sides.Run the pockets through the laminator, once, twice, three times to really form a firm seal.

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5. Cut around the shape leaving at least 1 cm of lamination on all sides.

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6. Use a ruler to guide your exacto knife along the pocket top you created earlier. Carefully cut the top open to reveal the pockets, just be sure not to go all the way through the cardstock!

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Super simple, huh?

These green pockets are now hanging on my book recommendation display. Each student has a pocket that his or her friends can pop book recommendations into. A fun way to “get mail.”

Tomorrow I’m going to share a pinterest inspired decoration project. Be sure to come back for more!

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This post is day 2 from my weeklong classroom preparation and organization series. To see how I made a simple no-sew slipcover to hide an unsightly classroom radiator, click here.

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For the last three years, I’ve struggled to find a system for arranging my classroom library.

When I first arrived as a teacher at my current school three (!!!) years ago, the classroom library was more a book graveyard than anything. Teachers are unable to throw away books, and before I arrived, every unwanted book found its final resting place in my classroom.

Luckily the head of my school has been very generous and agreed to any and all requests I’ve given to expand our classroom library. Now with a well balanced and engaging selection of books, I’ve moved into stage two of my library struggle: organization and maintenance.

I’ve changed my classroom library every year, yet nothing seamed to work efficiently. The books were always in the wrong places, covers were bent back in an attempt to shove one more book in a too-small space, what was once carefully organized inevitably began to look like a dump.

One year I had the kids reorganize the books based on similar themes and genres in hopes that they would take responsibility for the organization of the classroom library. That class cared for the library but the next year’s new class was not invested in the project and took little care to maintain the library.

My project for this summer has been to tackle the library once and for all. Here’s how I’ve finally created an organized, maintenance-free classroom library.

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  1. I decide how I wanted to organize my book shelves and books. I chose to separate the books as follows:P8220867 One bookshelf for fiction books that are not part of a series or we only had one book from the series. P8220868 One bookshelf for fiction which is organized by author and book series (I still need to put a label on the front of the magazine files.) P8220869 One bookshelf for non-fiction and multicultural books.  P8220873 One bookshelf which is shared between poetry, plays and Ancient Roman non-fiction.
  2. After deciding how I wanted to organize my books, I removed all books from the bookshelves then fit each shelf with containers to organize the books in an enticing, forward-facing manner.
  3. Next up, I placed similar books together by theme, genre and favorite authors. This part of the project took me hours as I hummed and hawwed over which box was the best fit for each book. 
  4. Once the books were all organized, I labeled each box with a post-it note and the theme/ genre of the books inside. P8220864
  5. I moved the boxes around a bit until I was happy with the organization then number the boxes chronologically on the post-it notes.
  6. Following that, I counted the number of books in each box and wrote that number on the post-it, too.
  7. Once all book boxes were numbered, labeled and complete with the number of books they contained, I removed the labels and took them to the computer.
  8. I created labels for the boxes including the box number, theme/ genre and an image to match. (I’m happy to share my labels if you e-mail me!) I printed, cut, laminated and stuck the labels on the corresponding boxes. P8220865
  9. Boxes labeled, it was time to label the books. I created book labels for each box including the box number and theme/genre. I printed the descriptions on return-address labels then stuck one label inside each book for the corresponding box. (Again, I’m happy to share.) P8220871 Now that every book is numbered to match a box number, there is no excuse to put books away incorrectly. Just like that, there’s {hopefully} no more confused kids and frustrated teachers!
  10. I then changed my classroom library checkout book to reflect the organizational changes. The book contains space for the child’s name, book title, book box number, date and teacher’s initials (I always sign the books back in.)
  11. Before putting the library into use, I will teach the students about the classroom library as well as important organization procedures. They will learn how to check out books, check them back in and put the books away in the appropriate box.

With my library corner organized, I was able to turn towards creating an enchanting reading environment.

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I found these fantastic lightweight nylon butterflies at a flea market a few weeks ago.

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I had hooks sporadically placed above the library corner then hung the butterflies with fishing wire. I tried to hang the butterflies at different angles and heights to simulate their movements.

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When the wind blows through the doorway, some of the butterflies gently turn and sway. They are so soothing and magical!

If you would like any of the files used to create this library, please either comment below or e-mail me directly. This project took me many hours; I would be happy to spare another teacher from the work!

Please pop bye again tomorrow to see how I make fast and simple library pockets of any shape, size and design.

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No-Sew Slipcover

My summer holiday is officially over.

Although I’ve already put in at least a week of work on my classroom, I’ve still felt like I was on vacation.

Starting tomorrow, it’s back to work for the teachers and assistants at my school and come Thursday, it’s back to school for the kids.

To celebrate the beginning of the new school year, I’m dedicating this week to classroom preparation and organization. Each day I will post a sneak peak into my classroom complete with photos, ideas, and tips for starting the new school year.

If you’re a new teacher, I especially hope you find this week helpful and encouraging. Being a teacher is the most rewarding profession- I am so excited for you and the great adventure you’re about to begin!

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I love that my classroom is bright, colorful and cheerful. One way that I’ve added extra color to the room is through the use of bold, graphic fabrics.

The front of my classroom is a wall of windows with two large radiators. Since radiators aren’t the most attractive sights to be seen,  I’ve created a simple no-sew summertime slipcover* to hide one of the ugly beasts until wintertime.

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I found this fun fabric a couple years ago at IKEA. To get started, place the cut-to-size fabric wrong-side-out over your radiator.

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Using safety pins, create a “seam” between the two layers of fabric. Place the pins close together to prevent gaps. I first pinned the sides then pinned down the top flap.

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Flip the fabric right-side-out and you’re done!

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Crisp, solid, no-sew seams in mere minutes!

*Don’t you worry about fire hazards, I’ll remove the slipcover once the radiators are turned on.

Check back tomorrow to see how I’ve created an enchanting, magical, and maintenance free classroom library.

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Woo hoo!!

Last week, I spent 3 of my 5 vacation days back at work.

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End-of-year reports.

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Without going into much detail, I’ll share a little secret with you.

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It takes me roughly 4 hours to write one end-of-year report.

There are 18 students in my class this year.

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That’s 72 hours of report writing.

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72 hours of exhausting, mentally draining, anxiety inducing report writing.

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As of 10:32 pm tonight, my reports are officially DONE!!!

Woo hoo!

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It’s now time for me to focus again on me: going to the gym, eating well, exploring this awesome country, and most importantly, enjoying the last 4 weeks of school with the best class a teacher could imagine.

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Friday was a great day.

It was Teacher appreciation day at school and all I can say is that I appreciate being appreciated.

The kids were so excited to pour out their love and appreciation to our classroom assistant and me.

The kids prepared and presented a poem about the two of us. Our Room Mums decorated a large flower pot with the words of the poem and planted a gorgeous lavender plant inside. They also made a large version of the poem to display in the class as well as a small copy for the two of us.

First thing in the morning, we were each given one gerbera daisy from each kid in the class. Later in the day, when they read the poem, they each presented a long-stemmed rose to each of us. So sweet.

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The theme was ‘flowers’ and our classroom looked like a garden. I can’t believe I didn’t get a single photo of the classroom.

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I was too busy being in the moment to step back and see it from the outside. The parents of my students are simply amazing, I am really lucky to know each of them.

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Just like last year, I stuffed myself silly at the Teacher Appreciation lunch. There are some very talented cooks in this school.

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I had a lot of fun walking home with my flowers after school. It was fun because I shared the love and gave away most of the flowers to people I passed on the way home. There is one beautiful old lady that I pass every day. She looks like a million bucks, always smiling and wearing bright red lipstick.

When I stopped to give her the flowers, I discovered that she speaks English. We had a lovely little chat. She’s 94 years old, lives independently, does her cleaning and shopping herself and always makes it out of the house for a short walk each day. She was so thankful for the roses and kept holding them out to look at them with a huge smile as we spoke.

I can’t wait to share this story with my students tomorrow.

When I got home from work, my weekly vegetable box was there to greet me.

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Red leafed lettuce

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May turnips

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Rhubarb

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Parsley

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Apples

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Carrots

On Saturday I went on the Spring Tour with the farm where my vegetables are coming from. It was a fantastic day, full of information, but that will have to wait for its own post.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend.

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