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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chalkboard Dot Labels for Art Supply Boxes

Ever wonder how to organize your school art supplies?  I have used everything from supplies in the packages (Fail!) to big mixed bins of supplies (Mess!) to individual desk boxes (Items stolen.) I finally found a workable solution. Plus, I wanted labels that would mesh with my rainbow chalkboard theme.
I am really lucky to have these book shelves in the back of my classroom.  I think I have the only room in the school with this set-up.  Aside from our classroom library, I do store our art supplies and some paper on the top shelves.  We did try to set up a make-up work station, but no one used it. For ten years, I've been trying to figure out a system for make-up work that "works!" When I used classroom folders, we could just slip the papers into the absent kid's folder. However, students now bring their binders to class, so we can't do that. I say "we" because I always have a student job of "absentee helper." 
I bought these clear supply containers from Really Good Stuff probably eight years ago.  We (again this is a student job) used to try to make each box a complete set of colored pencils, markers, a sharpener, crayons, scissors, and glue.  We would also add a pencil and eraser.  Students would always end up taking the pencil, eraser, and sharpener. They also always seemed to prefer to share boxes to get missing supplies. 

What seems to work better is just grouping the supplies together.  For example, I now have three or four boxes of crayons where they can just take what they need and (hopefully) return them.  We probably use the colored pencils and markers the most in social studies, so I have several boxes of each.  When we are doing a bigger project, I try to arrange the desks in groups.  However, if we are having an exam in language arts where I have four classes compared to one, I don't move the desks. 
I did clean up that top shelf. This is the boxes in progress!
To make the labels, I used Power Point. I have downloaded some free polka dot patterns in rainbow colors from Teachers Pay Teachers.  I copied and pasted ROYGBIV colors onto a slide. I used four colors per slide to fit my boxes.  Then, I took a screen shot using COMMAND-Shift-4 on my Mac which then goes to my Dropbox account.  I edited this and copied it over the polka dot pattern. Then, I used Scrappy Girl dot font in white to type in what I needed.  I didn't laminate them, but reversed taped them in the boxes.  I knew if these labels were on the outside, they might peel off.  I had help from our wonderful building sub, Miss O. She always volunteered to help copy and do things when she had a little downtime.  I think she actually took these and worked on them while covering other classes. Thank you, Miss O. The end result was really cool and looked much neater.  Every box fits perfectly on this shelf and students started using them immediately. 

I also want to give a shout out to an anonymous women who donated a big haul of books to me.  I know that a lot of kids have asked for these I Survived books.  Even my 6 year old nephew was interested in reading some of them.  This kind lady also gave me a bunch of other high interest series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and 39 Clues. The nicest thing?  She would not take any money for these books as her garage sale was wrapping up.  She even gave me the plastic bin!  

Okay, truth been told, my mom and I need to stay away from garage sales. This lady also gave my mom free curtains! 




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Health Plan

A few months ago, I started Shakeology.  I was really feeling sluggish and did not have the energy to exercise.  I would come home from school and often get directly into bed.  I started the Shakeology and bought the Power Greens to add to it. My first order was a mix of all different kinds.  I really liked the chocolate the best and probably the strawberry the least.  I really did get an energy boost from this and almost a body buzz.  My body started to feel good again.  I still wasn't exercising, but I started to think about exercising again.  

For my second order, I choose the greenberry flavor so I could add the power greens to it.  The taste was pretty good. The only issues were that I was still feeling hungry after having a shake.  I checked the carbs and they were pretty high.  So I was drinking this and having my regular lunch with it.  Shocker, I started gaining weigh.  In the meantime, my mom bought me the Lose Your Belly Fat book by Dr. Travis, on tv. I learned more about gut microbes and probiotics, etc. 

So I started buying kefir, leeks, turnips,parsnips, and other things I've never eaten.  I really tried to like some of the new food. The kefir was fine in a yogurt shake.  I hated the turnips and could not choke down the parsnips.  I just didn't like the odd tastes. I guess the worst were the leeks. I even turned one batch into a leek soup.  I blended it in a blender and followed the recipe. Hmm, I really think I could eat this again. However, I think you get the health benefits from only lightly grilling the leeks.  I also tried quinoa and really liked that. The big question is: Was I losing weight? Nope, I gained another solid ten pounds.  I still didn't have the energy to exercise. 
So, after trying a bunch of little things, I've back to the Atkins. I started again Sunday. I've already lose five pounds and it is only Wednesday.  My appetite reduced by 90% by Monday. I have been drinking Detox tea on and off.  Yesterday I felt sluggish and tired. However, today, after my -5 pound loss weigh in, I couldn't wait to get to the gym.  I've also been walking with a friend and have been to the gym three times since Sunday!  I feel pumped!  I am stretching. I am doing the bike.  I'm back in the weight room. I'm on the elliptical.  

My Facebook friend who sells the Shakeology texted me if I wanted to order.  Nope, one reason is that I'm getting out of credit card debt and money, but the other reason is the carb level.  I've been inputting every bite into My Fitness Pal.  I really haven't been drinking enough water. I'm also planning to stretch several times a day.  

Another big thing that is helping is my cool towel. I got it at Walmart for $9.99. It has been one of the best things I've ever bought!  (Also, it came in handy when my AC broke.) All I do is wet it and it stays at about 60 degrees. As someone who is always hot, this is a huge boost to my energy. I can go and do a lot more with my cool towel gracing my neck.  I bought another one (different brand) on Amazon and I don't like it that much.  It is more of a nylon fabric and you have to snap it. 

Tomorrow, I suggested to my sister that we take the kids to a local amusement park.  Even though it is hot, I think I'll do fine.  Yep, I definitely be bringing my cool towel. 


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Charlotte's First Birthday Tea Party

 Happy birthday, Charlotte!  We love and adore you so much.  You are my little sunshine and buddy.  It's hard to believe that you are already one!
Instead of having a big party for Jackie and Syd, my sister wanted to have a big birthday party for Charlotte's first birthday.  The theme was to be tea party.  Since Charlotte broke the ice tea maker the night before the party, the only tea was iced tea in bottles.  However, we had champagne punch and bottles of water also.
My sister made most of the decorations this year.  I didn't get out of school until two days before the party.  The color theme was gold, salmon, and mint.  

Before the party, I bought the big balloon tank this year.  I try to start blowing up balloons as late as possible as they only seem to last a few hours.  Luckily, Spiderman was able to quality test them. 

I bought many of the decorations from Orientation Trading and Amazon.  There was a line of vintage florals that went perfectly with the color scheme and theme.  We wanted to have a ton of white and pink roses everywhere. Yet the day was very windy and we ran out of time. My sister cut some of her roses from her front to add to the tables. 
For the favors, I bought cellophane bags and these really cute plastic tea sippy cups from Orientation Trading. I also bought this tea pot lollipops, tea party butter mints, bubbles, and various leftover candy from the pinata to fill the bags.  The bags were a huge hit with the kids.  


              
For the music, we decided to use Alexa from Amazon.  I started out with classical, but it got a bit dull so we were able to just switch it to "party music" or something more upbeat. My sister made the Charlotte banner as well as a few photo banners. Apache is wondering what is going on.  
My brother brought and blew up this GIANT football.  I was terrified that it would crash into the punch and cake table and destroy everything.  Luckily, I was able to block it once and no cakes or drinks were injured.


My brother's girlfriend Mareena was enlisted to draw on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen.  It took her about an hour and the wall was a huge hit.  What an amazing artist!!!
                           
 I bought a hat and gloves for Sydney to wear.  She refused to try on or hold the gloves, but she did put on the hat for about ten seconds! What a doll.  Senior and I took our annual selfie!

I took a selfie with the Guest of Honor.  My sister was able to use some of her leftover wedding decorations to decorate the poles on the back porch.  Aunt Joanne and Charlotte took a shot for their Facebook post! 
 
Our cousin Rachel's kids actually wearing the hat.  Thanks to Brody and Nora for being great sports.
               
 
After eating, it was time for the cake.  Would Charlotte smash her birthday cake? Only time would time.
                                 
After the singing, our sweet girl was not quite sure what to do? Why was she wearing this hat? Why was everyone gaping at her?  Daddy helped her stick her hand in her cake.  Good stuff! Yet the best was about to come: presents!
 
Charlotte absolutely loved her gifts.  She got several baby dolls, a hand crocheted bear with a purse from Karen, and a lot of cute outfits, books, and toys. However, someone who also loves dolls was lurking in the background...
 
Yep, Sydney was eying up each baby and a little pocket puppy while Charlotte was distracted.  A Cabbage Patch baby might have been "borrowed" and declared to be Sydney's.  Luckily, Charlotte got several and really couldn't wait to play with her Little People RV. (Full disclosure: Syd also took the pocket puppy!)
Did you ever see a happier baby?  She seemed to know that the party was for her.  This was her day and she loved every minute of it.
 We almost (okay, we did) forget the piƱata.  I got saved from trying to make one by Oriental Trading Company's teacup one.  The kids had a blast breaking it open and feasting on the forbidden candy. 
The party was nearing it's end.  The balloons fell and the kids were STILL ready to play more.  It was soon Charlotte's nap time and the other ones went swimming. 
Ma and I as I try to gulp down more punch.  As we say every year, "This is the last big party..." However, we have three more birthdays this summer to celebrate.  These kids love to party!  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

ProClick Heaven


I broke down and finally bought the binding system of my dreams.  I have been looking at these for years.  I have never liked the comb systems and didn't want to spend hours threading them through.  I also have hand punch and coiling different kinds of books and always found them tedious.  I always felt like if the wire was easy enough to work with (like 20 gauge) then it was soft enough to bend out of shape.


I've been spending a lot of time on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have been mostly downloading free stuff for the last few years. However, this summer I bought a grammar pack that I love.  I have used it throughout the year.  Sadly, we are only a fourth of a way through it, but I think it has been helpful as grammar instruction is not a focal point in our curriculum.  (We focus more on reading!) I also just purchased a checklist file that I absolutely love.  In the instructions and pictures, it shows the ProClick system along with tabs!  (I also love tabs!) I showed my terrific co-teacher and she now wants one also.  I see about 130 students throughout the day (however, some are the same students whom I have 2X a day.) So it might be hard for me to make each one a book.  However, I do have a type of "reading" class, a literacy club, and a social studies club with about 25 students in each.  That is manageable.  I also have a teacher-reading group that I could make books for.  (I don't know if they would all appreciate this, but I know some might!) I did my online research and did find one new Pro Click on eBay. It was $49.99 for a starting bid.  I was going to bid on it, but I could not figure out my eBay username. I think I possibly deleted my account because I spent so much on it before. (Ah, I loved those lots of Tim Holtz art supplies!) So I ended up getting one on Amazon Prime for about $70.  With the plastic covers (25), the black back covers (25), and the 100 spines, the total came to about $170!  Okay, that is a lot, but I decided I would make my own grade book,  planner, and parent contact binders for school next year.  The grade book I use is about $25, the Erin Condren planner is at least $75, and when I order the parent contact it is probably $14.  Now, I can customize my own things that will fit for middle school.  Most teacher items out there are geared toward elementary school. Another nice thing is that I only pay about $9.99 for ink since I got my HP Officejet 5740.  I feel like I can print so much for pennies and it looks great.  I was always stingy about ink before but now I want to print in color.
Since I got this system a few days ago, I've made a student checklist book that I can use for anything. I'm trying to focus on positive participate and acts rather than talking out and forgetting materials. I also made a class sign-out sheet.  I like the idea of both not being in a huge binder so we can take both to the library or on a fire drill.  I have a lot of future projects in mind:

*Substitute teacher information book and plans
*Pencil sign-in and out book
*Reading strategies
*Year long vocabulary words book
*Our warm-up sentence editing book
*One with every reference handout I give out
*A "How to..." book like "How to head a paper" and "How do I sign-out a book"
*Technology book (passwords, links, directions)
*Procedures books
*Class quotes
*Book reviews
*Student suggestions
*Masterlist of things to change for next year
*Book of things that people (teachers!) have borrowed (they often do not return them)
*Class narratives
*Student projects
*Donation tracker
*Classroom library manual for student librarian
*Class jobs

Personal projects:
*Kids parties organizer
*Life book
*Health and fitness tracker
*Budget/spending tracker
*House organization/donations
*Tax donation tracker
*Skill books for kids
*Photo books for kids
*Family recipe book
*Family genealogy book
*House passwords/security
*Car/house information
*Birthday tracker/cards

The possibilities are endless. I also ordered the clear plastic sheets and the shiny black back covers.  I love how the pages lay flat and can be folded back.  I am tired of huge binders that I have to lug around.  I ordered the 5/16" box of 100 black spines.  However, I am probably going to order the bigger spines so I can add more papers. There is also an easy open tool that I did not get.  You can also "edit" or open the spines with a pen to add and remove more sheets.  I have just torn out a few pages so far.

I am working on learning how to make my own Teachers Pay Teachers style items.  Most of them are made with Power Point whereas I prefer Microsoft Word.  However, I have to update.