Open House Ideas {Fab Ideas from the Weekend Warriors}

It's time for Weekend Warriors!  I love our monthly link up.  I really do!  Our goal has always been to share great ideas with you, but we are always striving to make things better.  Over the past month we've made some exciting changes to Weekend Warriors.  First, we have a new look!  Eek, don't you just love it? 


Another change we've made is to open up the linky!  That's right, if you have a blog and some ideas to share that go with the current month's theme, then grab the buttons, post away, and link up!  We'd love to check out your ideas!

So, let's get started with this month's theme!  This month, we are linking up to share our favorite Open House ideas, and more!  We hope to share some fun ideas that you can use at your own Open House, or whatever annual nightly event your school might host.


Warning, you are about to be photo bombed.  My apologies in advance.  But, I have lots of ideas to share with you. Each of which helped make our Open House a successful event.  I truly hope you can take an idea or two away from this post!

We recently had our Open House, so I thought it would be fun to take a peek at what we did.  This year we spruced up the inside of our classroom by displaying new work on our bulletin board. It's always so nice to hang fresh work up for these kinds of events.  The kids had a blast making this adorable display from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers.  They wrote about why their future will be so bright.  The parents loved this display!


I kept our self-portraits up so the kids could play a guessing game with their families (you may recall from a few posts ago, that I never take this board down, or change it out).  A few weeks ago, I removed the name tags that were on display with their artwork. With the names gone, the kids asked their families to figure out which portrait was theirs.  It was a fun to watch this!

If you're looking for a fun way to get students interacting with their families and their work, this is a simple way to do so.  Just have your kiddos complete a self portrait, put them on display, and watch the fun unfold!

 
Look for quick and easy projects to fill smaller spaces in your classroom.  We put together this quick and easy little "board." This space is actually where I hang my anchor charts, but I didn't need those on display, I wanted student work on display.  The students finished the prompt and colored their iPod. Easy peasy.



You can grab a copy of this quick project here.

Another idea is to spruce up your desks or table groups.  That's exactly what we did! The students wrote letters to their parents thanking them for attending and noting the things they wanted their families to look at.  We set these out with newly decorated name tags and bouquets of tissue flowers.


I had the students hide their well loved name plates in their desks and they made new ones. I simply cut some white card stock into strips (2 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches) and wrote the students' names on each one. Then, they used colored pencils to decorate!  This is my sample (and I really should have colored a bit darker...oops).  I will be laminating their name tags so that they can use them as bookmarks. They are very excited about this!


The finishing touch?  We made some fun tissue paper flowers to set out at our table groups.  Aren't they amazing?  The following Monday, I sent them home with the students (they each took home a mini bouquet).



My sweet colleague suggested this idea, and I am so glad she did!  It made our room look super cute, the parents were really impressed, and the kids had a blast.  And, they are super easy to make! 

To make these beauties, you need some tissue paper circles (I used 4 inch circles that I cut out on our die cut machine), pipe cleaners, and some "vases" (I used the small Mason jars).  Fold one end of the pipe cleaner over (twice).  Stick the opposite end through a mini stack of tissue circles (3-6 pieces).  Gently slide the circles up to the folded end.


Then, take your whole hand and scrunch the circles upward. 


Then, open the layers one at a time and rescrunch each one.


Finally, trim the stems and stuff them into some Mason jars!

Another fun idea is to set out any class books you might have.  My students were so excited to show these to their families!


Finally, to create a calm and welcoming environment, make it smell nice!  I can't be trusted with a Scentsy, but I love the Air Wick plug in air freshener.  I found a great tropical scent the other day and plugged it in.  Our room not only looked great, but it smelled great!  I realize this is soooo not necessary, but it's a nice touch.


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Don't forget to visit these fabulous ladies to grab some more great ideas for Open House and more! And, if you've got some great Open House and More ideas to share, feel free to link up!





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Testing Treats

This week, our third grade neighbors will begin their first round of end of the year testing.  To show some support, I made these fun little gifts for the students.


I bought some Hersey's Kisses, microwavable popcorn, and a pack of mini bubbles.  Then, I simply printed the signs out, taped them to a paper straw that I purchased from Michaels, and stuck them into the basket/containers you see above.  Easy peasy!


Here are a few close ups of each of the gifts.



I knew that left over Easter grass I had packed away would come in handy!  I found these little mini bubbles at Michaels.  They are perfect!



I personally think that they should get to watch a movie while they chomp on this popcorn.  Testing is hard work, they need to relax a bit too!


Many of the kids next door were my own second graders last year, and the teacher is one of my closest friends, so I love being able to let them know that they are being thought of.  It's a small gesture, but I hope it makes them feel special and reminds them that they are supported.

Last year, I was able to include student made gifts, but unfortunately, our testing schedule wasn't released until last Tuesday, and I was in the midst of putting on a school play (my kiddos rocked that, by the way).  You can read more ideas about supporting test takers here

Got some test takers to support?  You can grab the gift labels {here} for free!

Toodles!


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Bulletin Boards {Tips and Tricks}

Bulletin Boards.  Teachers either love them or hate them.  I love them.  A lot.   Keep reading for some tips and tricks to make your bulletin board life a bit easier!


Bulletin boards are a great way to showcase student work, changing them out freshens up our space, and the kids love seeing their work on display!  Displaying student work is an easy way to help students establish ownership and develop a sense of pride in their work.   So, I make sure to showcase their work regularly! 

I have three bulletin boards total, and each showcases student work.  One is in our main hallway and two are inside my classroom.  I change out these boards once a month.  So, how do I keep these boards updated each month?  It's easy! 

The Hallway Board
The hallway board is always the first one that gets changed out each month. I always aim for the first week of the month.  The decor framing this space stays put all year long.  I have a Rock Star classroom theme, so I carried the theme out into the hallway.

We are required to showcase writing on our hallway boards, but I usually display a small craft alongside the writing.  Since we write every day, it's pretty easy to come up with some sort of piece to showcase on this board.

As you can see, I just staple the work to the wall.  I don't cover the wall with fabric or butcher paper With that said, the color of this wall is terrible for showcasing work. It needs some pop of color, so I always hang construction paper behind the students' writing.  When I go to hang it up, I simply layer the writing page on top of the construction paper and staple them in place at the same time. This saves a ton of time!


The Classroom Boards
Ok, let's talk about those boards inside the classroom.  One of these boards is our designated self portrait gallery wall, and I never change that board out. I just can't bring myself to do so. It's so darn cute and it always makes me smile.  By keeping this board up all year long, I save more time!  



But, I do change out the second bulletin board in our classroom.  Sometimes I showcase writing on this board, and sometimes I showcase a math or art project.  In other words, I don't go out of my way to create an elaborate display that requires extra planning and preparation. I simply choose something interesting that we are doing and hang it up.  Remember to keep it simple and showcase anything your students have done that would make them proud!

The adorable zombie board shown above is from Haley O'Connor.  You can find her Zombie Data Pack here.  My students had a blast with it!

 

Just like I do in the hallway, I only switch out the students' work on these board.  That's it.
  • I don't replace borders. 
  • I don't replace fabric.
  • And, I very rarely include headings to match the work (and if I do, the students make it, like in the rainbow example above).

I simply do not have the time to create a brand new bulletin board each month. Instead, I set up the board (fabric and borders) before the start of the new school year and simply change out the student work each month.  Easy peasy!


Tips for Covering the Boards
Use solid colored fabric.
  • This allows the student work to stand out, or "pop" against the fabric.  I've used patterned fabric before, and there is certainly nothing wrong with using it, but the work didn't really stand out as I liked.  I also have a very, very small classroom, too much print would create a chaotic feeling.  
Keep the same borders up all year.
  • I like to double up my borders to add visual interest. Since I use solid colored fabrics to help showcase student work, I can add a little fun and playfulness around the edges.
Hanging Student Work
I prefer to staple my students' work to my boards. This way, I can make sure it lays flat against the wall/board.  Not everyone staples their work though.  My sweet neighbor likes to use push pins.  She loves how quick and easy it is to hang up the work this way.  Genius! Wish I took a picture of that for you!  I have also used clothespins, and they are quick and easy when it comes to switching out work, but I found that I ultimately prefer to staple. 


Quick Clean Up Tip
If you're like me and you prefer to staple you students' work to the board, your floor might look like this (or worse) once you're done removing the old work. 


What a mess, and a pain!  I have a quick and easy solution to that problem.  Got one of these?


Yep, a magnet is all you need!  Simply hover the magnet over that scattering of staples and be amazed at how quickly you can pick 847 staples up off the ground.  That number may or may not be a slight exaggeration.  But, seriously, it is the fastest, easiest, and most efficient way to pick those little pokey beasts up off the ground.


I hope you found a few tips and tricks that you can use!  Thanks for stopping by!

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Bag 'Em Up! {Birthday in a Bag}

I've been on Spring Break all week, and I am not going to lie, it has been amazing!  I have done my fair share of relaxing, enjoying the weather, working out, and generally having a nice time with my loved ones. I even tackled a few organizational projects at home, namely organizing our closets and my office.

In my quest to forever be organized, I stumbled upon materials/items I've been stockpiling for next year.  More specifically, items to be bagged up as student birthday gifts.  I was going to save the project for summer, but I figured now is as good a time as any!


I know it isn't necessary to give students a gift on their birthday, but it is a nice way to let them know that you care about their special day.  And, who knows, for some kids, it might be the only gift they get.  Here's a look at what's included in my birthday bags.

What's Included
A homework pass!  I mean, who wouldn't love a night off from homework.  If you work with younger kids, be sure to explain how this pass works.  The concept is new to many of them.  :)



A special birthday brag tag.  My students absolutely love brag tags.  You can read more about brag tags here.  And, you can find these specific brag tags here.  I also have a black and white set available here.


Finally, they also get a super fun pencil.  How cute are these pencils I found at Michaels?  Thankfully, they have had them for a few years now, but of course, any fun, cute pencil would work here.


Here is an out of the package close up of these cuties.



That's it!  I live by the philosophy of K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly).  They get a homework pass, a fun pencil, and a new brag tag.  The gift is by no means over the top, but the kids are always happy to get their bag of goodies!

Click {here} to grab a free copy of the homework pass!


How I Wrap Up the Goodies
For me, the easiest way to give the students their goodies all at once is to bag 'em all up.  It's a birthday in a bag!

I simply put the items into a fun zebra print treat bag (purchased in the party section at Walmart) and tied them with some fun ribbon that I found on clearance at Michaels. I'll be the first to admit, it looks a little funky once it's all tied together, but there is a pencil in there, after all.  And, seriously it's what's inside that matters most.  Right?



Storing Birthday Bags Throughout the Year
I store all of the bags in a simple box that I found in the Dollar Spot at Target last summer.  This picture shows the bags I made last year, but it gives you an idea of what it all looks like when everything is bagged up and stored for use.

Since the bags aren't overly stuffed and the box they sit in isn't oversized either, I can easily store this box on a shelf behind my desk. This gives me easy access to the bags when I need them.


Originally, I wondered if sharing this idea now might be too early, but then I decided, I can't be the only planner out there!  And, now, I'm really excited that my summer "To Do" list just got a little shorter!

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Toodles!



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