Tales from Outside the Classroom

Monday Made It: DIY Share Chair

I'm linking up for my first ever Monday Made It.  I'm not the crafty type.  As much as I want to be, and I want to be successful, I just don't have the crafty gene.  Most of my stuff is worthy of being on Pinterest Fail.  I try and I try and I try and I try.  And it just never quite comes out the way it should.  So I generally don't care to share most of them with you.  This one, however, turned out okay.  Not amazing, but okay.  However, it's worth making it all the way until the end, because I certainly do have a Fail to share.

 I bought these two wooden stools from my local Goodwill.  They were $4 each, so I was super excited to get a great project for my classroom, and fill a void, for about $10.

 They weren't in the best shape.  Here you can see how scuffed the edges are.  You can also see what a giant pain in the butt it was to try and remove the price sticker.  Why?  Why, must people put stickers on things where the stickers can't be removed?  Why?

 I used a piece of sandpaper to lightly sand off the top layer.  I wanted to take off the remaining sheen and make sure the paint "stuck".  I was using super cheap paint that I just had leftover in the house.

 Here they are after I sanded them down.  I put about three layers of black spray paint on them.  After the second, I flipped them over to make sure I got it from every angle.

 I used a couple of paint pens to decorate the top.  Because my classroom is basically black and white, I just stuck with that.  I wanted to add a bit of decoration so I made the lines in silver.  I thought about designing the legs but my OCD would get in overdrive if each one didn't match up.  And, knowing my lack of skills, I knew I wouldn't be so successful in keeping each one the same.

 All in all, I'm happy with the way it turned out.  I could have used other tools instead of just free handing the paint, but I sort of like the unperfect look.

Plus, after finishing the top on this one and moving onto the next one, I knew it was time to call it quits.
Apparently, I made it a couple letters in and then switched words.  I mean, it wouldn't be my project if it went smoothly.

Now to decide what to do to fix it.  Should I try to write over the i and the r and change them to a r and an e?  Or should I sand and repaint the top?

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School Supply Deals: Week of 7/20

It's here.  This is the week things start getting real.  The week where you start going to four stores each week so you can get the best deals.  The week when you realize your summer is now dedicated to Back to School.  Here are the great deals this week.

And just a reminder- I don't post every school supply sale.  I post the ones that I think are the best "deals".  The ones you want to buy because it's the best price.  You might not agree and find think there's a deal I've missed.  Feel free to leave it in the comments. :)

Menards- The Home Improvement Store

I know you think it's odd to buy school supplies from a Hardware store.  I do too.  But each year they offer a KILLER sale.  So if you have one, it's definitely worth it.  A variety of the deals are also rebate deals so you'll have an upfront cost.  Get your rebates delivered elsewhere, and do separate transactions, to score more than the 10 limit.

  • 1 Subject spiral notebooks- FREE after rebate- Limit of 10 per mailing address.
  • 10 pack pens- FREE after rebate- Limit of 10 per mailing address.
  • 5" scissors- $0.39
  • Glue bottle or 3 pack Glue Sticks- $0.39
  • Pink erasers 4ct- $0.39
  • Cap erasers 40 pack- $0.39
  • Correction tape- $0.59
  • 7" scissors- $0.59
  • Highlighters 4ct- $0.59 (thin)
  • Dry erase markers 3ct- $0.59 (appears to be red, blue and black mixed)
  • Plastic storage box $0.59
  • Pencil pouch $0.59
  • Post-it Notes $0.59
  • Paper Clips $0.59
  • 5-Tab Dividers $0.59
  • 1" Binders $0.79
  • Dry erase markers 2ct black- $0.79
  • 3 hole punch $1.97 after rebate- Limit of 2 per mailing address.
  • 6 quart tote $0.88 (for book storage in libraries?)
They also have travel cups (ceramic hot cups and plastic double walled with straws) for 99 cents after rebate.  I'll be buying quite a few of those too.


Also remember that Staples prices matches + 10% so you can bring in ads and get things cheaper.

  • Crayola 10 ct markers & 12 ct colored pencils- $0.97
  • Post-it Notes 18 pack- $10
  • 2 pocket folders- $0.15 (I may start to buy some but generally wait for 10 cent deals)
  • Composition books- $0.50

Office Depot/Office Max

  • Poly snap envelopes $0.25 (look great for task card storage- haven't seen them in person)
  • Pink erasers 5pk $0.25- Limit 3
  • Glue bottles $0.25- Limit 3


  • Elmer's Glue Sticks 6 pack- $0.99


  • Wexford 1" Binder- $0.69
  • Wexford Index Cards- $0.29 with in-ad coupon

Let me know if you find any other good deals.  Happy shopping!

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4 Corners- A Kinesthetic Preassessment

I decided to do a little Throwback Thursday post and re-run a post from early on in my blog days.  I was going back and looking at my older posts and between all the crap {seriously, why would anyone follow my blog back then?} I had some really good posts.  I thought I'd bring some new life to them from time to time with a little Throwback Thursday!

4 Corners is a strategy typically used to build students' anticipation for new content.  You can use it to gauge students knowledge and comfort with a topic.  But, one of my favorite ways to review a skill is to use the 4 Corners strategy. I like it because it gets the kids up and moving. I also like it because your kids can hide within the pack if they aren't so certain about an answer. Here's how it works.

First, you label the four corners of your room. With review, I use multiple choice options a, b, c, d.  As a preassessment, you would label each corner with a level of comfort.  You could also come up with fun names for each corner.
1) A little minnow (struggling with the content)
2) A goldfish (feeling a little strong)
3) A catfish (big, bad and content)
4) A shark (I've got this under control)

Second, you ask the students a question and give corresponding answers.

Third, students move to the corner that represents an answer that they think is correct or the corner describing their comfort.

I always make the students explain the answer to reinforce what they're learning if you're reviewing. For your students who are struggling, they get to practice but if they don't know an answer, they can just follow the group and listen for the explanation. By doing this activity, all students are involved and it gets the kids up and moving for a couple minutes.

Basically, you can use this strategy any way to have students make a choice. I often forget about using it, but I need to add it back into my repertoire rotation.  Do you use 4 Corners in your classroom?  I'd love to hear some other ideas in the comments.

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Wishlist Wednesday: Open Ended Comprehension for 2nd Grade

This week's Wishlist Wednesday item is my Open Ended Comprehension for 2nd Grade.  These short passages are written to focus on students restating the question in their answers.  In my third grade class, we use these at the beginning of the year to practice PQA (putting the question in the answer).  I have a whole blog post about both here.

You can enter to win a copy of it over on my Facebook page or you can click the image above to head to my TpT store to buy it for 30% off!

On a completely unrelated note- I'm completely obsessed with Zulily!  You've probably heard about it by now, but in case you haven't, here's a rundown.  Zulily is a daily deals site.  They offer deals for a few days at home in women, men, kids, and home categories.  I buy items for myself often, but I also have scored some cool things for my classroom.  Right now they have some great Back to School deals going on. They've also got some great teacher resource deals as well.

This table top magnetic letter stand and letters is only $14!

This black pocket chart totally goes with my black and white theme in my room.  I'm thinking this would be great for absence work, turning in work for each subject, or if you buy a few, it'd be great for mailboxes.

There are so many other products that are available as well.  To check out many of their Teaching Resources click here. This site is incredibly addicting.  Don't say I didn't warn you. :)

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School Supplies Deals- Week of 7/13/14

It's here.  It's officially the Back to School season.  I'm not quite ready for that yet, as it's giving me stress about everything I haven't yet accomplished {you know, since I haven't started anything yet}.  But, I also can't pass up a good deal so I'm going to start wrapping my head around the school year and make sure I grab great deals each week.

If you didn't follow me last year to see each week's deals, here's how it works: Each Sunday (sometimes Monday) I post the school supply deals I find each week.  Some are regional so you may not always have the same options in your area, but I also try to look nationally.  I try to include information on coupons, rebates, and limits, so you know exactly what you need or what the deal entails.  I also don't post every single item on sale at every single place.  I try to just include the "good" deals; those deals that you want to stock up on this week because they're a great price.  Without further ado.....


Remember that Staples will also price match to 110%, so bring in competitor ads!
  • Sharpie Permanent Fine Tip Marker- 2ct- Submit for rebate- FREE
  • Crayola Assorted Color Pencils- 12 ct- $0.97
  • Staples 6 Outlet Power Strip- $5

Office Max/Office Depot

  • Scholastic or Office Max Glue Sticks- 4ct- $0.25- Limit 3
  • 5-inch Kid Scissors- $0.25- Limit 3
  • Sharpie Single Permanent Markers- $0.25- Limit 10
  • Scholastic Crayons 24 ct.- $0.25- Limit 3
  • Office Depot Colored Copy Paper- $2.00- Limit 4- (Spend $4, get 50% back in rewards)


Use a Target Mobile Coupon for $1.50/3 Up & Up products to make these deals fantastic!
  • Up & Up Smudge Free Erasers 2 ct- $0.52- Free when you buy 3
  • Up & Up Staples 5000 ct.- $0.410 Free when you buy 3


  • Elmer's School Glue 2ct- $0.50
  • Crayola Crayons 24ct- $0.50
  • Scotch Laminator- $19.97

Happy shopping!

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Teacher Lesson Planner

Last year I used a customizable teacher planner from A Modern Teacher as my plan book, and I loved it!  I loved that I was able to make it completely the way I needed and wanted.  I'm a paper planner kind of person, and so having one that I can make completely to work for me and my tastes makes me excited.

Here are a couple pictures I uploaded last year on Instagram.

April has updated her planners to give teachers even more options to make them work for you! Her bundle is amazing and I can't wait to get everything coordinated for this year. Click on the image below to head to her TpT store and check out all of the bundle options-- you'll need to know which bundle you'd like for the giveaway below. :)

To get an idea of how you can customize it for yourself with step by step tips, check out this fantastic post.

You can enter to win one of April's amazing bundles in the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Back to School Season is Here!

It's July which means the Back to School season has arrived.  You may not be ready to think about school at all yet, and I'm not really either, but it's time.  That is, if you want to get some great deals on school supplies.
I'm a couponer.  Once I saw how much I could save by using coupons for household items, I started saving and stockpiling.  I'm not the best couponer in the world, but I go through spurts.  When I'm running out of shampoo, for example, I'll start being diligent on couponing again for a few weeks and then I'm able to get my stock back up to a good level again.  Last year was the first year I really started couponing for school supplies.  With it being my first traditional classroom, and in a very low income area, I knew I was going to need to purchase a lot of supplies myself.

I started posting School Supply deals each week last summer.  You can click the button below to check one out.
I figured if I was taking the time to compile everything into a list myself, I might as well share it with others.  And people liked it!  I think most teachers are frugal, especially when it comes to our classrooms.

This year, starting next week, I'll again be posting sales for each week.  Before then, though, you need to head to Coupons.com back to school sales to get your coupons ready before all the sales begin.  You can print out each coupon twice from each computer you use, and I recommend doing that in advance before the deals get posted.  Every week or so I head back to Coupons.com and print out the coupons I think I may use.  That way, they're available and I know they don't run out by the time a big sale hits.

There's also a Back to School sweepstakes at Coupons.com!   Each day they are giving out $100 cash prizes through July 31st.  They are also doing a grand prize of $2,500!  It's super simple to enter....just put in your email address.

So get your coupons in order, and stake out your local stores!  One note that was new to me--- apparently Office Max and Office Depot merged into one store.  This means one less place to score deals, but maybe that makes it more convenient for you to make it there!  And one reminder for you--- Staples price matches +10% so if you have both stores available in your area, take the Office Depot ad to Staples and score your goods for even cheaper!

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Wish List Wednesday: K/1 Common Core Math Review

I'm linking up with the ladies from Owl-Ways Be Inspired for Wish List Wednesday.  If you follow my Facebook page, I've done the first two weeks there.  Each week I'm sharing my most wish listed product, offering it for a 30% discount, and doing a giveaway each day on my Facebook page.  This week's product is my 3rd most wish listed item- my Common Core Math Warm Ups for 1st grade.  They review most of the K and 1 Common Core Math standards.
Click the picture above to check it out in my TpT store and click here to enter into my contest on Facebook.  I'll be changing the price back Saturday morning, so be sure to buy before then!

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Using Google Docs to Create Interactive Mind Maps

In April, I shared how I use Google Docs in my classroom to give students a quiz or instead of a worksheet.  I also shared how I use the spreadsheet for data tracking.  If you missed that post, click the image below to head there.
Today, I'm going to share the second video in the series.  It's how you can use Google Docs to create Mind Maps with your students.  Check out the video below.

Oh and please forgive the million ummmmms. :)

I'd love to hear your ideas on how you can use Mind Mapping with your students.  This is not a strong area for me and I'd love to hear some suggestions!

Don't forget to check out the other link ups!

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Wednesday Website: PixiClip

I have an exciting new website to share with you today for Wednesday Website!  PixiClip provides the tools to give you an interactive whiteboard, and even allows you to connect your mic and webcam to add in recordings of your voice and yourself!  If you are doing a flipped classroom, this would be an amazing tool!  I'm not lucky enough to have an interactive white board in my room, but received a projector and document camera through Donors Choose last year.  I wish I would have known about PixiClip, because it's an awesome tool!

PixiClip creates clips- up to 5 minutes of a screen capture, with your audio and webcam if you choose- that you can share publicly or privately.  You could also just use the surface as an interactive whiteboard with no intention of sharing your clips.

Here you can see the tools that are included- especially the ability to upload an image to work on, and a pencil and a marker to write on the image.  You also are able to register for the site so you can save your clips. You can make the clips public or keep them on your page.  I think if you are doing a flipped classroom this would be a fantastic tool.  You could demonstrate your lesson and then share the link with your students.  You can embed videos into your class blog, as well, so it's great for giving kids a tool after they get home if they need a refresher.  It would also be great for video tutorials for parents- especially on some of the non-traditional methods we're using in math class now.

Here's a Clip where I use one day of my monthly story problems.  I am loving PixiClip for this for next year rather than me just talking and gesturing with my hands- even though I'm sure I'll still gesture.

After you're done with your video, you can choose which privacy setting you'd like and you can also name your Clip.
This allows you to make your clips private so others can't see them without going to your page- which seems great for classroom use.  It also allows you to make them public, which means we could have a plethora of educational videos at our fingertips as they get expanded and more videos added.  In the meantime, I'm loving the idea of just using it with my students.

Have you used PixiClip before?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Click the image below to check out my other Wednesday Website posts.  Also, head on over to my Facebook page to check out my new Wish List Wednesday sale and giveaway!

Click the image above to go to all of my other Wednesday Website posts.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post, however, all opinions are my own.

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