Monday, July 30, 2012

Oh My!

Oh my!  Last night I realized, that with my little vacay to Vegas on the 9th, I have only four working days in my classroom before it's back to work! Perfect timing for Amanda's Linky on Classroom Organization. So, today my daughters and I trekked it up to school to set up furniture and organize my desk, with my new caddy from my sweet mom.  Of course, I thought I had it all figured out...packed snacks, a cooler, two fans, toys, books, a doll, etc., to keep the girls occupied while I worked.  They were angels - not one complaint!  How, I'll never know...there was no air conditioning, my room was a disaster area, I left my keys at home (or maybe they're lost somewhere in the boxes I've already dropped off), so I couldn't unlock my cabinets, I must have left the room 100 times looking for something or someone, and it had to be BORING!

Callie sweetly separated a bag of about 8 decks of cards into actual decks.  My sister-in-law had a great idea for keeping them that way:  put one type of small sticker on the back of each card in a deck, and a corresponding sticker on a travel soap dish, so Callie did that, too.  She's my organizer, so she actually enjoyed that (a personal nightmare for me).  Clare shelved books for me, played on the computer, and brushed her American Girl doll's hair for-ev-er!

What I thought would be about two hours of work turned quickly into four, and our head custodian kindly informed me that the hallway outside my door would be being scrubbed and waxed in the next 2-3 days, so I'll have no access to my classroom, even though it has already been waxed.

Oh my, again!  Plan B:  print out posters I've made, review the newly adopted reading series, make copies of my Back-to-School packet, laminate decorations...only the laminator, which has been broken since March, STILL IS!!! and the reading books STILL ARE NOT HERE!!!

Plan C:  Work on as much as possible from home, and pray for dry floors by Wednesday morning!  That said, I've posted a few new items over at my TPT shop.  Here's a preview:


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Whooo's Found Something Fabulous?

Okay, so my mom actually found my fabulous find, but it really is FAB-U-LOUS!  Over at Hobby Lobby, I've been drooling over this incredible desk caddy for weeks (unbeknownst to my mom), but it was $60!  It has three magnetic drawers, a place for a photo, 12 storage areas, plus the center one, and on top of all spins!  Anyway, my sweet mom saw one that was broken - no spinning bottom anymore - for $11.99!  It just so happens that I recently bought the smallest rotating spice tray ever, from Wal-Mart, for $4.  I borrowed my hubby's drill and drilled right through the plastic rim of the spice tray, then screwed it into the bottom of the spinner-less caddy.  Voila...a $60 dollar item for $16!  I was so excited that I added scrapbook paper to the fronts of the drawers, ribbons to the little tag holders, and threw in some junk I had just so I could make a video to e-mail my mom to show her how adorable her fab find was.  This picture is "before" my little additions.
My own purchases this week were mostly at the Dollar Tree - how bad is it that someone can spend $80 there in about five minutes, when every single thing is only one dollar? 

I did find some deals at Target.  I'd been looking for clear acrylic or plastic jars to use for storage, but they were all about $15, which I thought was ridiculous.  The nicest guy at Target had the best idea - he pointed me toward the Archer Farms snack aisle, and showed me some caramel corn in the perfect sized clear cylinder.  I also noticed some sesame snack mix in another fab container.  Together, these containers cost $7, and were full of yummies!  I dumped the goodies in ziplocks, washed the containers, removed their stickers, added some scrapbook paper, and made these (sort of - this is a Hobby Lobby inspiration picture - I didn't take pics of mine, but they're cuter!).

Link up over at Fun in Room 4B to join the Fabulous Find Friday fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Whooo's Got Heart?

WOW!  I just read Heather's latest post over at Heather's Heart - she is so incredibly on target!  In the rush and excitement of getting ready for back-to-school, it's so easy to get caught up in how cute everything looks, how perfect our rooms are, and how much "stuff" we can cram into our spaces.  It's funny, though, the first thing I tell my new students each year is that I will love them unconditionally, that I will treat them just like I do my own children, and that I can't teach them a single thing until I've made sure that they are safe, happy, and comfortable.

Being quite the smart-mouth, I sit my babies down on the first day and ask them who their first grade teachers were.  I ask them if all those teachers looked alike, acted alike, dressed alike, etc.  Then I ask them to look around at each other, and at me.  We go through the same questions.  This is my lead-in to introducing my own teaching style.  I tell them how excited and nervous I am, and imagine they are.  I tell them how much I will love each and every one of them each and every day, BUT that I have a smart mouth, that I like to tease and play, and that I have a silly (that's second-grade for sarcastic) sense of humor, and that if I ever do or say anything to hurt their feelings, I hope they will come to me and let me know, because I would never, ever want to hurt them.  Then I tell them I'll make them a deal:  If they tell me what I've done "wrong" before they tell their parents, giving me a chance to apologize and fix the problem, I'll tell them what they've done "wrong" before I tell their parents, giving them a chance to fix the problem.  And you know what, it works!  Before too long, they all get my sarcasm, and we do learn that word early on in the year.  They know I'm teasing, when I tell them I'm going to "let the beatings begin", when they're all "Christmas-Crazy" by, like, every. single. Thursday. afternoon!  We laugh, and play, and learn, and have the best times together, and they know I love them.  It's the last thing I tell them every day.

So, as we all stress out over having our perfect rooms, and our perfect decorations, and our perfect posters (and we still will - we always do!), let's all try to remember that those precious babies we teach won't care, probably won't even notice, the new rugs, the cute borders, or the oh-so-special sparkly table numbers.  All they'll care about is how much we love them...and isn't that why we all do this crazy thing called teaching?
Happy New School Year,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell Me More!

I know, I know, blogging twice in one day!  But I just couldn't resist Amy's Tell Me More Party!

even the sight of Tillman Hall
makes me want to cry!
1.  I am probably definitely the biggest Clemson Tiger fan EVER!  Even after transferring to the rival school, the University of South Carolina, I stood in the student section at every single football game and screamed as loudly as I could for the other team (no matter who they were), because I HATED the Gamecocks!

2.  I wish I were Samantha Stevens from Bewitched.  I wish it in every fiber of my being.  I want to twitch my nose and solve all the world's problems; however, I would have never, ever married either of those Darrins.  Talk about BORING!

3.  I am the Queen of Grammar, and compulsively correct everyone's grammar.  I talk to the television, when it spouts out incorrect grammar.  I cannot stand to hear grammatical errors.  My father did this to me, and I love him for it!  I even buy books like Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Grammar for Dummies, and, yes, I know when National Grammar Day is!

here's the nutball...I always said I
wanted someone who could make
me laugh...
4.  I married the absolute love of my life.  He is THE one, even though it took me thirty-one years to find him.  Oddly, we went to high school together, had many mutual friends, and he knew both my brothers and cousins, but we never met until I was thirty years old.  Then, his sister (my BFF) called me to ask me on a date with him (hahaha) in January.  We were engaged by April, and married in December.  Talk about your whirlwind romance!

no, thanks!
5.  I cannot get in the bed without checking under the covers first.  Again, I can thank Daddy.  When I was little, he told me about the time he was in bed, and felt something cold at his feet.  He called his Daddy in, who jerked back the covers to find a black snake curled up at the end of the bed.  Papa shot it with a shotgun in Daddy's bed!  Yep, check under there every night!

my China Doll, catchin' tadpoles
6.  I have always wanted a Chinese baby girl.  Now, if you're not a believer, this might save your soul:  So, you know it took me for-ev-er to find Mr. Right, but then things went along pretty quickly.  I found out I was pregnant on our first anniversary, the perfect gift!  Our daughter was sideways, because of huge ovarian fibroid cysts and chocolate cysts from my stage 4 endometriosis (which I didn't know I had).  She was delivered via c-section, as a result.  During the surgery, the doctors were all amazed that I had been able to conceive a child, given the severity of the scarring.  Okay, TMI is over.  All that said, I couldn't have more babies.  Here's the God part:  1. Brady, my husband, travels to China for a living.  When Callie was about two, we moved to Nebraska, so he could work for Oriental Trading Company.  2. We moved onto a street that was only one block long.  3. There were eleven children, seven of whom were adopted, four of whom were from China.  4. The first friend I made had two locally adopted children, from the Nebraska Children's Home, and told me that they were a non-profit, and charged absolutely nothing for adoptions (unheard of).  5. Having always wanted, and prayed for, a Chinese baby girl, and finding that we could not have any more biological children, I suggested adoption, but didn't mention China to Brady.  6. He and I prayed about it, and talked about it, but he just couldn't get past the fear of someone wanting their child back, if we adopted locally.  7. Finally, I shared with him my lifelong desire for a baby girl from China.  He was full on board, immediately!  Two L.O.N.G. years later, I "found" our baby on the Internet, and we went to get her in Tianjing, China.  Now, if that's not God knocking me upside the head and saying, "You asked for this!" I don't know what else it could be.

Thanks, Amy!  What a great Linky idea - you are my inspiration as a second grade teacher, and the first blogger I ever found, by the way.

Whooo Made that MESS???

Ohmyword!  You should have seen my girls' playroom last week.  I told them, the last time I cleaned it up, that I'd never do it again, but just look!

inside the "depths"
the mess continues out into the hall!

Okay, so I "sort of" didn't do it.  I hired a neighbor, who's great at organizing, because even I didn't know where to begin!  Here's what she and I were able to do together:

after FOUR hours, but ZERO dollars spent
can you believe it?
So, this may seem to have nothing to do with school, but here's my take on it...if I can do this at home, granted with some help, I can do this at school!  My classroom is almost always a hot mess, mostly because of ME, but with the help of Adderall and a few tips my neighbor gave me, I think I can get my room to stay the way I want know the way it always starts out, but never ends up.

Tip 1:  Give the children a "tour" of the space, showing them exactly where everything goes, pointing out the labels, especially.

Tip 2:  Tell the kiddos, "If you knew where to get it, you know where to put it." (I just love that one!)

Tip 3:  It's easier to fight the urge to "leave it until tomorrow, (Scarlett O'Hara)," and go ahead and take care of it now.  That way, it doesn't pile up on you, and become so big, you don't know what to do.

Happy Organizing!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whooo's Looking for an Organized Owl-Themed Classroom?

I know I talked to y'all about Big Lots last week, but after hitting the 20% off she-bang, I am super excited about getting my classroom ready, and I'm sure you're at least beginning to think along those same lines.  I found kid-sized saucer chairs, chevron striped rugs, hot pink, lime, and turquoise crates (which I think I'll make into the storage bench here on Second Grade Happenings).

Any-hooo, I was inspired to make a few owl-themed classroom decorations, including a birthday set, A/R tracking set, classroom helpers board, and I'm working on more.  As I posted them on TPT, I noticed just how many owl-themed things are already there, so if you're looking for mine (the cutest hoots out there), go directly to my shop.  I included a freebie for you, too!

With my Dollar Tree locker bins, owl-personalized magazine files, and my leveled library tags, I think I have my classroom library vision, with the cute chevron rugs and saucer chairs for a comfortable spot to read.  I think I'll use the crate storage bench near my learning games station, but might use it for computer seating instead.  I'm such a computer geek, I have my classroom PDF downloaded from my district website, have it in an excel spreadsheet, "under" cells arranged to represent my floor tiles, with all my virtual furniture virtually placed in the room.  Take a looksey:

So, yeah, I have been on an organizing binge lately.  You should see my girls' rooms, their playroom, and even my bathroom drawers, closets, and cabinets!  Do you think it's the Adderall???

By the way, if you didn't get the invite, check out Second Grade Shenanigans for the Carolina Blogger Meet-Up in Cola-town (Columbia, for those of you not from South Cackalacky!).  Join us for a girls' nite out full of "teacher talk" without the hubbies politely saying yelling, "stop talking about school!"
Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 16, 2012

My First TPT Sale!

Just checked e-mail, and I have my very first Teachers Pay Teachers sale!  Thank you, sweet buyer!  I wish I could frame your purchase, like that first dollar in some retail shops and I know just how those shop owners feel!  Here's me doing my happy dance...

Happy, Happy!

Whooo Missed Me?

Sorry, Friends!  I've been taking care of my precious Clare Bear for a few days, while she recuperated from having a tonsillectomy.  What a trouper!  She was eating mac & cheese by day two, and wanted to go "somewhere fun" by day three.

in the recovery room
same day, recovering at home!

While we were resting recovering playing, I did manage to think of a few things I wanted to share with you.  Everybody's probably seen those pins of giant stretchy book-covers being used for storage on the backs of students' chairs, but I saw the cutest thing the other day at Sunday School!  One of the preschool teachers there uses reusable shopping bags upside-down on her chairs (just to look pretty, not for storage).  She cut the straps and ties them to the bottoms of the chairs.  Here's a picture - isn't that too cute?

preschool candy shop
In the same room, there's a "Candy Shop".  I'll show you hers, and mine.  I don't get the dum-dums, so I left those out of my candy shop.  Do you think she gives those out when someone's being dumb???  Surely not!  Here's how I made my box:
1.  Got the hubby's biggest shoe box (hinged lid is best).
2.  Covered the main box part inside and out with paper of your choice (I used wrapping paper outside, and scrapbook paper inside).  Cover that with clear Contact paper.
3.  Used the lid to cut out a semi-circle (leaving it attached if you have a hinged box) and two rectangles (from the scraps of the semi-circle.  I cut the rectangles from a side that was against the folded-over part, so that it had some extra cardboard and was pre-scored for easier folding.
4.  Covered these with paper and contact paper, too.
5.  Got my glue gun ready!
6.  Made sort of a frame back, from one of the rectangles, and hot glued it near the top of the semi-circle and to the top of the box.  Glued the other rectangle to the top of the box for the first rectangle to rest against.  This contraption holds the semi-circle upright.
7.  Using die cut letters, or stickers, decorated the semi-circle.
my candy shop
8.  Added three plastic or acrylic jars with lids.  Filled one with Starburst, one with Smarties, and the last with Sweet-Tarts.  Added decorative ribbons, ric-rac, etc. to box and jar lids, and labeled the jars with "Bursting Stars", "Such a Smartie", and "You're a Sweet-Tart".  Last year, my attempt at making this box was horrendously UGLY, but my kiddos loved it, all the same, and pointed out when they had been sweet, smart, etc.  I also had Tootsie Rolls last year, and labeled the jar "You're on a Roll", but most of my kiddos didn't like the tootsie roll candy, so this year, my box looks prettier, and my hubby won't steal all the tootsie rolls every time he visits comes to slave for me at school!

So, that's all I have ready for you today, but I have a list at least a mile long to get ready by the end of the week.  Be sure to check back, and be looking for more items on my store at Teachers Pay Teachers by next week, I promise!
- Brooke

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pennies in Heaven

Whooo's noticed that the Staples Penny Sale has begun?  This is my favorite time of year!  My daughters and I swung by the local Staples a couple of days ago to see what fab items I could buy for just pennies - this week it's Staples brand glue, Bic pens, and RoseArt 24 box crayons.  We were all very excited...Callie said, "Mommy, I just LOVE buying school supplies!"  What a cutey!  I was SO disappointed to find that the Teacher Penny Program is different this year, but I can live with it.  In case you haven't heard, this year, we can only buy the "regular" penny limited quantity (usually 2) for a penny, rather than up to 25 at a penny each.  We can still buy up to 25, with the rest at regular cost, but Staples will send us our Teacher Rewards Certificates for the difference in price (so, you really get all 25 for a penny each, you just have to wait for your coupon in the mail and go redeem it later).  Make sure you have your Teacher Rewards Card, and have it activated online.  They can help you with that in the store.

So, no, I don't work for Staples part-time.  They don't pay me to write about their sale.  I just think it's amazing that one week those perfect hole-punched poly two-pocket folders I dream about are $1.99, and the next week, they're a penny!  I'm a Staples, Office Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart stalker this time of year.  I look at all the weekly ads almost every day - what about you?

This year, I've added Big Lots to my stalking list for back to school.  I noticed on Pinterest last night that  Maria at had a follow up to her fancy Sterilite organizer drawers, and had bought a chair at Big Lots.  She was kind enough to include a link, which I followed to more Pennies in Heaven!  Check it out here.  The variety of supplies, decor, organization tools, etc. is FAB, as are the prices!

Happy Shopping,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Whooo's On Track for Back to School?

Okay, so I have to be honest.  When my principal announced our theme for next year, "On Track for Learning", I just about gagged!  I told him, "Girls don't like trains," and he said, "Brooke, you always make my job so much easier!"  I had my heart set on all the precious new owl decor, and wanted my room all pink, green, turquoise, and, well...ME!  After last year's "All Hands on Deck", I thought we could be a little more girly!  After racking my brain on how to make the owls fit the theme, I came up with "Whooo's On Track for Second Grade?", and I love it!  I added owls to the cutest busses and VW bugs you've ever seen and put them on a road, okay a track.  Anyway, hot pink, lime green, bright blue, orange, even lavender and yellow work together and make me SMILE!  The next day, I went to school just to let him know I had it all figured out, and could continue to let him live another day.  I'm sure he was relieved, after losing countless hours of sleep over my dismay...I've tried to tell him my real job there is to be a pain in his rear!  I'm just glad he puts up with my smart mouth, and realizes no matter how hard I try, the filter DOES NOT WORK!

Rant over.  My "Whooo's On Track for Learning" Back to School Activity Pack is finally ready, and posted on TPT for only $4!

The owl theme is so cute, thanks to graphics by KPM Doodles, and the common core aligned activities are perfect for those first few hectic days of school.  I'm working on math and literacy centers, and will have them posted as soon as possible.