Monday, September 16, 2013

Tooth Fairy Pocket and a Bit More Hungry Caterpillar

 Submitted by Linda
When I posted the Kindergarten Classroom Upgrade, featuring Eric Carle's Hungry Caterpillar, I forgot to share the coordinating apron that we made. In case you're wondering, the food fabric is a big pocket for my keys, phone, and other 'teacher stuff'. Here it is:
But, onto other things. In the past, I've given my kindergarten students a little tooth pocket made of felt to commemorate the first tooth lost while in kindergarten. It was pretty lame - a white felt tooth pocket, glued together, with a face drawn on with a Sharpie. But the kids loved it. In fact, if they were a late bloomer and didn't lose any teeth until first grade, they would come back for a visit and to get their tooth pocket.

So a couple of weeks ago (as the beginning of school was approaching), I asked a sewing friend if she had a fancy machine that could embroidery faces on 24 teeth. No such luck. I had pinned a darling tooth from Etsy, that cost $12, and looked something like this:
 I showed the pin to my mom, to get her input, and she said (as she has said to me on many occasions), "We could whip them up so fast your eyes would spin!"

So off I went to JoAnn's. With my coupons, I ended up spending under $4 to get a big chunk of white felt and a couple of small pieces of the colors. I had the tiny black eye beads on hand, as well as the embroidery floss.

We got to work, and cranked them out in about a week. Here's the back, with the pocket:
 As we finished more, we piled them together in a little 'chorus line'. Aren't they cute?

I took them to school and pinned a few onto my tooth graph.
And today I was able to give away my very first one!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kindergarten Classroom Upgrade: Part II

 Submitted by Linda
This darling Hungry Caterpillar made of paper lanterns was the vision of my partner from last year, Alisha. She built it last fall, and left it for me. I think it adds so much to the theme. On the window behind it, you can see I bought the Hungry Caterpillar Birthday stuff, which is so stinkin' cute as well.
 From year to year, I've seen that most of my students love, love, love the housekeeping area. I know that in this era of higher standards and expectations that sometimes the housekeeping must go. I feel pretty strongly that our young friends need that pretend play as much as they need the strong, rigorous academic instruction. And thankfully, I'm at a school where the whole child is valued. My housekeeping area got a little upgrade as well. I removed a big ugly shelf, and replaced it with a smaller white one. Then I laminated green fadeless paper and cut a hole for a window (I was dreaming of wallpaper, but I love how this green echoes all the caterpillar colors).
 I then made a simple curtain (with my leftover Eric Carle fabric), added a mirror, and a "Home Sweet Home" made out of a 99 cent tray, some scrapbook paper, and some Thickers letters. The area also has a kid table and four chairs that aren't pictured, and all the supplies to set a table and 'cook'.
 One of my all time favorite Pinterest finds is pictured below. When I saw this, I knew it would solve all kinds of problems for me. This system is for kitchens (I believe), and is from IKEA. Craig installed the rods and hooks, and now my various types of markers and other teacher supplies are off of the ledge under the whiteboard. It's been working like a charm. I was worried that the kids would get into it, but so far so good.
Another idea I saw on Pinterest (yes, I've become one of those people who mention Pinterest in every other sentence), was to use this Nail Sorter Spinner Thingy from Harbor Freight. I actually snapped this picture so that I would know how to assemble it, but thankfully my dad did that for me. On Pinterest, it's painted lime green, and has cute washi tape on it, but I think it's really cute in plain old black.
I did "upcycle" some cans by covering them with Stampin' Up's polka dotted designer paper, for my pens and pencils and such. Now, I'm sure you want to comment about that lampshade, right?  Years ago, we learned that incandescent light is helpful to learning, and that fluorescent light isn't always the best. So off and on throughout the years, I've tried to add some warm lighting. I knew I wouldn't have room on my dest for a lamp, so I snatched this old floor model from my house. The lampshade was cracked, so I ran to Target to buy a freshie for a few dollars. No such luck - the shade I wanted was $24.99. But time is money, so I bought it rather than taking a trip to Walmart to keep looking. Then I decided it needed a bit of whimsy, so I headed to my local JoAnns.

I don't think that I have "champagne tastes", but it seems I always happen to like what is more expensive. The solid colored pom poms were so much cheaper, but just didn't give the same effect. So I whipped out my coupon and my teacher discount card, and I don't mention to Craig how much that lampshade ended up costing me. But isn't it worth it?
My seasonal upgrade is these paper lanterns made into apples. I'll be adding orange pumpkin lanterns when October comes.
So here's a parting shot of my entire classroom (though you can't see the desk in the front left corner. It is shown above with the apple lanterns.  The mess on the desk in the foreground was work for parent helpers and is all done and put away!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kindergarten Classroom upgrade

Submitted by Linda
This past spring, my kindergarten team and I agreed to transition to a 'full day' kindergarten program at our school. This meant that I would no longer be sharing a classroom with my a.m. teaching partner. This actually was one of my biggest concerns about the change, because we were able to provide so much support for one another on our off times, both academically and with managing the surprises that occur in kindergarten (potty accidents, runners, criers, etc.).

As the summer progressed, and I finally got going on Pinterest, I began dreaming the dream of a new reading nook, along with making some other changes in my classroom. Though we always kept it tidy in the past, I found that I have a new energy to make things efficient, streamlined, orderly, and cute, now that it's completely my space. Well, mine to share with 24 little friends.

Since I believe that Eric Carle's Hungry Caterpillar is a cornerstone of kindergarten, I finally succumbed to the urge to buy the fabrics. (I actually found this all while on my Carolinas trip, though I had seen it before).

I found this plastic adirondack (kid sized) chair at Lowes, along with the tiny garden bench.

This yellow bookshelf (here shown on the back of my driveway), has been a mainstay for most of my teaching career. My father-in-law built it, and I just kept repainting it yellow. This time it's going to be green, to help create the gardening vibe. The brown formica covered bookshelf is also going to get a facelift.
Craig, who is the fastest and neatest painter ever, is always happy to help when he sees me sloshing paint around. Primed and ready!
Here it is, now 'Kiwi' green!
And old 'formica brown' is now an 'almost black' color. You'll notice in the back left corner of this picture is a wagon wheel. Craig also repaired and refreshed several of our kindergarten bikes and wagons over the summer. I really wish those toys had an odometer on them - I'm sure miles and miles are put on them on the kindergarten playground.
When August came, my mind was officially ready to think about school, and as soon as I was able to get into my room, I got to work. When I wasn't in my classroom, I was sewing with my mom. We used one of the Hungry Caterpillar panels to make this pillow for the chair.
 And the butterfly panel fit perfectly for the bench.
 I bought a giant leaf from IKEA (meant to go over a kids bed, I think), some green leafy butcher paper, and some fake (from the teacher store) picket fencing. I had originally wanted real fencing, but I decided that I had already made my husband do too many school projects for me. Maybe next year. You can see my stapler and tape, as I'm trying to figure out how high I want to hang the fence.
I added clouds, sun,  my stuffed caterpillar, and the butterfly, found on clearance at Barnes and Noble. And...Voila! Reading Nook! My listening center is tucked in the corner, so they can listen to stories in there as well.

The caption in the cloud says, "Grow Ideas in the Garden of Your Mind" (another Pinterest find).
You can't see it very well in the picture above, but I also have a tiny stuffed caterpillar up in the leaf. Remember...."In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf".....
Soon each child's book box will live in that garden and we will start working on reading!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Crafty Scissors Fob

 Submitted by Linda
 When it comes to birthday gifts for one another, we have evolved into giving a 'birthday box', rather than just one gift. Usually, all the gifts in the box are wrapped individually, to extend the fun of opening. Throughout the year, we keep our eyes and ears open for gift ideas that would be a perfect addition to the box.

This last June, when we went to Remnants of the Past in SLO, I noticed that Michelle had brought an embroidery project, and with it she brought her giant Stampin' Up ribbon scissors.  This would not do! So I decided to find her a nice tiny pair of embroidery scissors, with a cute fob. Though the fob is mostly decorative, it helps me from losing my scissors down in the bottom of my project bag.

This darling dolly fob belongs to my mom and my wish was to find a darling dolly for Michelle. I went on Etsy, and found one for $24, so I had to pass on that one.

Next I went to to the "Hob-Lob" (Hobby Lobby, for those of you who don't know my lingo), who usually never fails me. However, these fobs were too blingy and too cutesy for a class act like Michelle.
I ended up wandering around at Michaels, looking at their giant section of jewelry findings, and again, nothing felt quite right. Until I found these felted balls in the stitching area. The bag of balls is actually a bracelet kit.
I pulled out all the Autumn colors, since I know that those are some of her faves, and I simply used a big fat needle to pull the ribbon through. I didn't even need the clasps that I had bought.
There were enough leftovers to make one for myself, in the more jewel-tone colors. And now Michelle doesn't have to drag around her giant scissors anymore.