Easy Crafts You Can Make for Your Classroom {Classroom Decor Crafts}

I love decorating my classroom. I know that for some, it is not a priority, and that's cool. But for me, my classroom is my home away from home. For that reason, I like to create a space that is not only kid friendly, but one in which I will feel happy and comfortable. Happy teacher, happy classroom!

With it being summer, and given the fact that I'll be moving to a new school very soon, I've spent some time working on some things to make my classroom a homey and welcoming space including a fabric garland, some decorative letters, and a magnetic sign out board.

Fabric Garland
I love fabric garlands. A lot. I have made one for my last three classroom themes/color schemes. I really, really, really loved my most recent color scheme, but (in my opinion) it won't really work in my new classroom. Here is my previous color scheme. It makes me so happy!!

Anyhoo, realizing that this scheme won't work in my new room, I made a new garland in a color scheme that will work with the colors of the walls in my new classroom. Actually, I made two. Haha!

Fabric garlands are so easy to make. There's a little bit of cutting, some tearing, and finally, some tying. That's it! When I made my first garland (it was b/w polka dot mixed with zebra stripes...kinda crazy, right?), I used THIS tutorial from Little Miss Momma. Please visit her post for all the details. But, basically, you'll need:
  • a variety of fabrics (you can buy fat quarters, or purchase one half yard each of a variety of fabrics)
  • some ribbon (3/8")
  • scissors
Once you have your supplies you will:

  • Lay each piece of fabric flat.
  • Snip the fabric every 1-2 inches. I placed two fingers down and snipped. I repeated this step until I got to the end of the fabric.

  • Tear the fabric into strips using the snips you made. The fabric will fray a bit.
  • Trim off the edge of the fabric that shows the brand name, etc.
  • Tie the fabric to your length of ribbon. 
    • Fold a strip in half, place the loop behind the ribbon, and then feed the two tails through the loop.
    • Secure in place.
  • Be sure to leave a decent amount of ribbon at each end of the garland. I don't cut the ribbon to size until I feel that my garland is the length I want.
  • Tie a knot in the ribbon next to the first and last piece of fabric. This just helps make sure they stay in place. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Annnnnnd, you're done! Hang your garland on the wall. I usually just use push pins or staples to do this. This is where that length of ribbon at each end of your garland comes in handy, you can use it to hang/attach the garland to the wall.

Wooden Letters
I used to have a set of black ABC letters that I hung on a narrow space of wall in my room. Buuuut, black will not longer be my base color. Navy blue will be. So, I grabbed some unfinished letters from Michaels and made myself a new set of letters.

What you'll need:

  • unfinished wooden letters
  • acrylic paint
  • mod podge
  • fabric or ribbon
  • buttons
  • hot glue gun
What to do:
  • Paint the letters. I painted three coats-use white paint as a primer if desired.
  • Let the letters dry.
  • Coat the letters with Mod Podge. Honestly, you could probably skip this step, but I like that it seals the paint and adds a bit of shine.
  • Let dry.
  • Hot glue buttons to the corner of the letter B.
  • Tie strips of fabric (or ribbon) to the letters A and C, as shown.
  • Hot glue a loop of ribbon to the back of each letter for hanging. I hang the letters with push pins.
That's it!

Magnetic Sign Out Board
Last year I switched to a sign out board using magnetic numbers. I loved it. A lot. But, I made my numbers out of card stock, and the board was a tiny cookie sheet. By the end of the year, I knew I needed to come up with a better quality board. Here's what I made.

This board was inspired by my long time teacher BFF. She made a board for her Kinders to keep track of lunch choices and it is adorable! After seeing her use this exact magnetic board, I decided it would be perfect for my sign out board upgrade. 

What you'll need:

  • magnetic board (This one is from Hobby Lobby. It can be found in the aisle with the bulletin boards in the home decor section.)
  • acrylic paint
  • wooden circles (I used 1 1/2" circles)
  • round magnets (not pictured)
  • hot glue
  • number stickers (scrapbooking section of your local craft store)
  • Mod Podge
  • colored masking tape (not pictured)
What to do:
  • Paint the wooden frame of the magnetic board. I didn't sand mine, but I did put some painter's tape on the metal board.
  • Hot glue a magnet to the back of each wooden circle.
  • Paint each wooden circle. You could do this first, but I like to hold the magnet while I paint the top of the circle. 
  • Once dry, add your number stickers to each wooden circle.
  • Seal each numbered circle with Mod Podge.
  • Use colored masking tape to divide the board in half.
  • Label each side of the board as desired. I cut my labels out of vinyl using my Cameo Silhouette.
I haven't crafted anything for my classroom in a long time. I forgot just how relaxing it can be to craft and create fun things. I should probably add it to my list of ways to relax and recharge this summer!

What kinds of things do you like to make for your classroom? Tell us in the comments below. :)


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Summer Reading Picks for Teachers {2018}

Summer and reading go hand in hand. Am I right? For me, it's the time of year when I can really settle in with a book and enjoy the content. Summer started a few weeks ago and I've already managed to read some great books. And, I also have a list of TBR books at the ready.

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Keep reading to learn about all of my 2018 summer reading picks. Warning: I don't read books with heavy content. They just aren't my thing. I like to keep it light. I like to escape reality. I like to avoid sadness, destruction, and agony. If you're the same kind of reader, then these picks will be right up your alley!

You can probably find many of these books at your local library, but sometimes the newer titles can be harder to get your hands on (at least that's the case at my library). If you can relate, Amazon links have been provided for your convenience. :)

This summer, I finally started reading on a Kindle. Not exclusively. I do prefer an actual book, but sometimes the Kindle book prices can't be beat, and it's nice being able to take multiple books with you, without all the bulk.

Books I've Already Read (and Highly Recommend)

Confessions of a Domestic Failure- This book is hilarious. It's also real and honest. I can't say enough good things about it. The story centers around Ashley Keller who is both overwhelmed and in love with being a new mom. She isn't a perfect Pinterest mom, and she doesn't have it all together. She's kind of a hot mess, just like many moms in the real world. It's an easy read you won't regret.

Fitness Junkie- In this story, Janey Sweet finds herself getting caught up in a whirlwind of fitness fads all in the name of losing weight to appease her judgmental bestie and business partner. Don't worry, she sobers up and teaches that guy a lesson and learns to love herself for who she is. Girl power.

The Knockoff- This book is written by the same authors of Fitness Junkie. Since I enjoyed that one, I decided to read this one too (actually still reading it as I write this post). The books are not related. The Knockoff is about an up and comer with ambitions of taking over her former fashion idol's position at a magazine. The up comer, Eve, is actually a former assistant to the woman she's trying to replace, Imogen (a top fashion editor) and the generational differences between the two adds to the drama. It's good!

The Hating Game- This was a spicy read, friends. You've been warned. But, the story is fun. Basically, the two main characters act like they hate each other, but really they love each other. They have to work in the same small office space making it hard to contain their hate/love for each other. Finally, and reluctantly, they give in and give love a chance.

Innocent in Las Vegas- Sometimes I like to read mysteries, but only if they aren't heavy, or gory. Or scary. This series meets my requirements: light and easy to read, but still fun to try and figure out "who done it." Plus, it's set here in Vegas! It was an easy read. I finished it in one day. This book is the first in a series so we meet the main character, Tiffany, who is blackjack dealer looking to get her PI business off the ground. She is hired to solve a murder mystery. Sounds heavy, but I promise you, it is not. It is light, entertaining, and a relaxing read. I'll probably read more in the series soon.

TBR (To Be Read) Picks That You Might Want to Read Too

Small Admissions-This book is my next read. It's about a woman who accepts a job in private school admissions. It sounds like a (light) fun read!

According to a Source- I'm a sucker for any book that is set in Hollywood and centered around celebrity gossip (although, I'm pretty sure they will be made up celebrities-hehe). I can't wait to read this gem.

Matchmaking for Beginners- The lead character in this story finds that her new marriage has ended but somehow ends up becoming a matchmaker. Even though she doesn't know how. Sounds funny.

When Life Gives You Lululemons- I'm a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, and this book features the assistant, Emily, from Devil. Overall, it's story about friendship and rich people behaving badly. What's not to love?

Crazy Rich Asians- Before I watch this movie, I want to read the book. The movie previews looked good, so I have high hopes that the book will be even better. It's actually a trilogy, so I've already decided that if I like this one, I'll read the other two books too. Can't wait!

Where are the Nonfiction Picks?
I usually include a few PD books in my reading picks, but this year I'm so focused on relaxing and recharging, that it's all about the fiction.

For more reading ideas and suggestions, click HERE (2017 Summer Reading List) and HERE (2016 Summer Reading List). You'll find lots of fiction and nonfiction picks in these posts.

Do you have a book to recommend? Leave the title in the comments! :)


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Useful Classroom Finds {A Wish List For New and Not So New Teachers}

So, I have some exciting news. Next year I will be moving to a brand new school! As in, the school itself is brand new! Moving to a new school, and into a new classroom, means that I have been collecting ideas and creating a classroom wish list. I mean, can you blame me?

I thought it would be fun share my current wish list with you. Whether you're a teacher who is just starting out, a teacher who will be returning to the same school, or you find that you're in the same boat as me, you may just find something to add to your own wish list. ;)

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.  For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Guided Reading Supplies
My new classroom will be bigger than what I'm used to (I may be over here doing the happy dance). The past 13 years I've been squished into a 400 square foot classroom with 22+ students. The extra space means that I will actually have a reading group table! No more kicking students out of their desks so that we can use a table group as a reading table.

Last year, I used the Ikea 3-tier rolling cart to hold my guided reading materials. Confession: I wasn't a huge fan. It didn't hold as much as I would have liked, and that sucker was super hard to push from point A to point B. This year, I'm thinking that I might want to switch things up and get a 10-drawer rolling cart. I have one at home. It rolls great. And, I can neatly tuck things into each drawer. I hate looking at clutter. They sell these at Michaels, but you can also find it HERE on Amazon.
I'm also thinking about using these wall pop dry erase decals to put on the table. Students can use these dots to respond to their reading, work with vocabulary, and so on. They come in various colors, but the grayblue and green will match my new space perfectly. If you've used these, please share your experience with them in the comments. I'd love to know how they worked for you.

General Storage
I like to set out activities for my fast finishers to work on. I've never really had a super cohesive means of putting these materials out, but I'm thinking that next year is as good as any to get these things organized. These drawers from Sterlite are perfect! They are the wider sized drawers. Amazon sells a three pack HERE. I haven't priced them at Walmart or Target, but I'm sure you could buy them individually there as well.

These drawers could easily be filled with directed drawings, one page crafts, dot to dots, etc. Psst, From the Pond has some great directed drawings and one page crafts. I also put out things like wrap ups, addition/subtraction machines, and more! You can read more about fast finisher ideas HERE.

These teal bins would be perfect for organizing my materials for each day of the week. I used to have the rainbow colored set from Lakeshore, but I passed it on to a fellow teacher. I need my bins to match my classroom. #notsorry This set from Storex is priced right (and the reviews aren't bad either)!

General Supplies
I've always wanted a paper cutter for my classroom. I never took the plunge into purchasing one because two of my neighbors each had one. But, I won't be neighbors with those sweet ladies anymore, so I'm definitely adding a personal paper cutter to my wish list for next year. The reason I want one is because my new school is huge. HUGE. Walking down to the workroom will be a bit of an ordeal. Dramatic? Maybe. But seriously, sometimes I just have a few things to cut/trim and hiking to the other side of the ginormous building might not always be the best use of my time.

So, with that said, I'm thinking I'd like to get this Westcott cutter. My friend has this one, and it works great!
This next item is a bit of a fluffy find. I mean, I'm not sure that it's necessary to have a crayon sharpener but I think it would be useful. It drives me crazy when crayons go flat, making it hard for students to color neatly. Maybe this would help with that. I might ask Santa to bring me this one. Hehe.

Flex Seating 
Since I will have extra space, I am looking at bringing in some flex seating options. I do not plan to go full on flexible seating, but I like the idea of having options available. Now that I will have space for kids to really spread out, I would love to make a few of these options available to my students.

These wobble cushions can be placed on the floor, or on top of a chair. I think they'll be a good option as I start out with alternative seating options.

I'm hoping to lower one of the tables in my new room. Fingers crossed this dream becomes a reality. These knee pads would be great for kids using that table.

I would also like to add some yoga mats and camping chairs. Walmart has some great prices on those items.

With kids working on the carpet, I think it would be a good idea to have clipboards available. This set on Amazon is on my wish list, and it's priced just right!

There you have it friends, a peek at all the things I would really, really, really love to add to my classroom next year.

What would you add to the list? Share your ideas in the comments below. We'd love to know about other useful finds!


For more fun finds including picture book recommendations, PD book recommendations, and more, click HERE.

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8 Ways Teachers Can Relax and Recharge This Summer

I know I don't have to tell you this, but teachers work hard. Really hard. Summer is our time to relax and recharge.

Sure, we spend our summer planning and preparing for the upcoming school year, but we also have the time to rest and refuel. Something we don't have much time for during the school year. Resting is vital to a teacher's success in the new school year. My hope in writing this post is to remind you to take time every day to do something that helps restore your mind, body and/or soul. OK, that sounded dramatic, but seriously, please be sure to find time for YOU this summer.

What follows are a few (really simple and basic) suggestions for relaxing this summer. Heads up, I apparently enjoy taking pictures of my coffee and books. You'll see this theme on repeat. Haha!

1. Enjoy Your Favorite Beverage
Pretty simple, right? But, I'm a firm believer that it's the little things in life that the most enjoyable.

My favorite beverage is coffee. During the school year, I don't get to enjoy my coffee because I'm busy scarfing it down while I do a million other things. During summer, I can sit and relax with that delicious cup of liquid perfection and savor every sip. You can do the same, no matter what your drink of choice may be.

For an added bit of relaxation, sip your special drink outside while you enjoy the weather, or scenery. :)

2. Find a Relaxing Morning Ritual
Again, if you're like me, you probably find that during the school year you're hustling from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep. Find a relaxing ritual to start your day. This will look different for different people.

For me, that involves leisurely drinking my coffee while reading a book (see next suggestion). Once I'm finished with the coffee (two cups every morning), I workout (more on that in a moment).

3. Read a Book
Reading is a relaxing activity. It's a way to escape to another place without actually having to go anywhere. It's also a way to experience a life unlike your own. Basically, reading is pretty awesome.

During the school year I manage to read professional development books from time to time, but I find that I have a hard time getting through any novels. So, I tend to save those books for the summer when I can really sit down for longer periods of time and fully enjoy the story.

If you're looking for some book recommendations, click HERE and HERE.

4. Workout
I know, the idea of working out and getting hot and sweaty, and maybe even a bit sore doesn't sound relaxing, but it is good for you! A good workout will help you feel centered, energized, and more focused. And that is the whole point of summer, to get centered, energized, and refocused.

Not a gym rat? No worries, neither am I. I love working out from home with Beachbody. There are a ton of workouts to choose from, I don't have to drive anywhere (or worry about child care), and I can workout whenever it's convenient for me. Oh, and their pricing isn't too bad either!

5. Head Outside
Fresh air is good for you. Don't spend your summer cooped up inside the house all day long. Go for a walk, or a hike. Work in the garden. Or, go for a swim. Just go outside. The oxygen, sunlight, and presence of plants is a great way to ground yourself and feel connected to your surroundings. In other words, it's an easy way to feel more centered.

Note: if you're like me and live where the weather is extreme, you can still go outside, just do it before the heat kicks in (early morning), of after it starts to cool down (late evening). Or, aim to spend those minutes outside at the pool (my favorite).

6. Meet Your Friends For...
It can be hard to spend time with your favorite friends during the school year. Take advantage of your days off and get together with your pals. Meet up for coffee, lunch, drinks, or a mani/pedi. Connecting with other human beings fulfills a basic human need, so don't let your summer go by without spending some time with your friends.

7. Play Tourist
If you can't take a full vacation, find some fun things to do around town. It's a great way to get out of the house. You may just try something new. You'll likely see your city through a different lens. Maybe you'll learn to appreciate your home even more. Maybe you'll feel more connected to your community. I feel refreshed just thinking about it!

I took this pic while playing tourist. It is a close up from the Seven Magic Mountains public art installation outside Vegas. I'm not sure how long it will stick around as it was originally commissioned as a two year installation (opened in 2016). Regardless, the rainbow rocks were amazing to look at against the stark and bland desert, and it was fun checking out something so grand and fun in our city.

8. Don't Do Any Work
I know, I know, summer is a great time to tackle classroom projects, refine your teaching practices, and plan for implementing new ideas and strategies. It's a great time because you actually have the time to thoroughly think these things through.  But, it is also possible to pick a day (or 4) where you don't do any work. Let your mind be 100% free of anything school related. After all, how can one fully recharge and refuel if they are constantly working? So, make sure you assign yourself at least one day each week where you don't do any school related work.

I hope you can use these suggestions to help make your summer as relaxing as possible. :)


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