I Almost Made it!

At the end of the school year, I swore that I would avoid school during the ENTIRE month of July. Well, faced with a number of appointments next week, I decided it was time to go in and begin to plug away, bit by bit, at my classroom. I spent Monday and Tuesday in the classroom, planning a new set up for the classroom and unpacking a little here and a little there.

Here's what I started with on Monday: 

Look how clean and shiny those floors are! 


We have to pack everything up at the end of each school year, so even though I didn't move this year, I still have a ton of unpacking to do. I hate the idea of packing and unpacking every year, but it does force to me to clean things out, which I like. I found hand sanitizer under my sink yesterday that had expired in 2007, which means that it's been sitting in that classroom for many more years than I have been there since I only arrived last year. Adios expired hand sanitizer! 

I don't know why, but for me, the bulletin boards are always the first thing that I must do. I feel a terrible anxiety with unfinished bulletin boards. Needless to say, Monday's focus was unpacking, which meant that Tuesday's focus was, you guessed it, BULLETIN BOARDS!

After 8 years of teaching, I have an extensive list of bulletin board trim. This should stop me from purchasing new ones each year, but it doesn't! Since I'm doing an owl theme this year, I just HAD to have some owl border. Then I wanted new Dots on Turquoise Paisley Borders. Oh, and then I found this really cute border for my other board...

Five new bulletin board trims, plus the other 30+ sets that I already had, and I swear, the decision process was grueling! Since I don't like to have the same colors year after year, but wanted to stick to my theme in blues and greens, that meant buying new fadeless bulletin board paper. I don't change my paper during the year and fadeless paper seriously does not fade so I think it's worth the investment. In fact, when I went to take my awesome teal paper from last year down I realized that it still looked pretty awesome, so I just changed out the borders. I put five different borders up before I finally came to a decision. Boards decorated...check! Deciding what to put on them is a decision for another day...

Since I made a day of it, I also began to reorganize my classroom library, and as I was working on it and staring at the wall space above my ottomans, I had an epiphany! The open space would be PERFECT for my new owl posters. I can't begin to explain just how excited I was when this idea popped in to my head! I grabbed my command strips and got to work. I am thrilled with the results! See what you think:

 Whooooooo's ready to read? 

After a couple of days in the classroom, I feel a bit less anxious about the upcoming year. I have a LOOOONG way to go, but at least I left yesterday with a sense of accomplishment and a really cute reading area!

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Did I Just Leave The Dollar Tree With That Many Bags?

Ok, let's get back to talking about school stuff. I bought at a lot of items for the upcoming school year at the end of last year, as a way to not end up in August panic mode. However, no matter how prepared you think you are, I am sure that all of my fellow teachers know that there will still be a list of items you need. If you are like me, this means 50 post-its in random places, each with one item that you think of as you are watching TV, working out, etc. Oh, the post-it notes that we find around the house. My husband loves it  It drives my husband crazy!

Anyway, as I was feeling ahead of the game, I figured I'd take a trip to The Dollar Tree to pick up a few items that are still on my list (the one that I made from my stack of post-its...lol). I grabbed a basket and began my shopping. I mean, how much can you fit in a basket, right?

How about THIS MUCH?

Yes, ladies and gentleman, for the first time in my life, I spent over $50 at The Dollar Tree! Thank goodness for TpT earnings!

I'm sure you are wondering...is there a NEED for each of these? The always correct answer would be YES! I am going to break my purchases down below in hopes that you might see something that you NEED as well and then you can be savvy and grab it from The Dollar Tree too! Are you ready for my breakdown and justifications? Here we go: 

Super Blow Pops 4-Packs
These are a part of my birthday gift for each student throughout the year. You can read about my birthday rewards here:


Computer Paper (40-packs) for Homework Superstar Rewards, Birthdays, and whatever else may come up. Office Depot charges $6.99 for a pack of 100. Though these are a bit thinner, I still consider them to be a great deal and I should be set for the year, maybe even next year too!

If you were to use your inferencing skills, you might think I make my students brush after every meal all year long. However, this is for our first week Toothpaste Activity. Students work in groups to squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste out as fast as they can on to the paper plate. Then, the next task is to take the toothpicks and try to get as much toothpaste as possible back in. I maybe give them 10-15 minutes before they realize that they aren't getting it back in. That's when we have a discussion about words. I let them have an open discussion about words or phrases that have been said to them that have hurt them. I write all of the acceptable words and phrases on the board (and if an inappropriate one comes up, I don't freak out, I just tell them that the word is so hurtful that I can't even write it on the board). Then I take a step away from the board and say, "Students, these are toothpaste words. When I asked you to squeeze the toothpaste, it was like the words that sometimes come out of your mouth, some of which are hurtful. Then I asked you to put those words back in and what happened?" Students will recognize that they can't take the words back and a discussion begins about how carefully we should choose our words, even when we are angry. This is an amazing lesson, and my students referred back to it often. You can grab a print out of the directions and a reflections sheet here: 

Squeeze toys! 

Gosh, these are so fun! My students loved them last year. In my class, these are used to identify the person in the group who is sharing. The only person that is talking is the one holding the toy, and they pass it around until everyone has held it and shared. Great for group discussions. Bonus points because they look forward to discussions because they get to touch the toy. They do get a little icky after a year, which is why I got these replacements. I love the caterpillars and wish they had more than just those two!

Mini Tote Bags in packs of 2!

I have a strict policy on signing out books from my library overnight. I keep a separate sign out sheet and everything. My biggest concern is that the students don't ruin or lose my books. I am going to decorate these and call them the book overnight bags. I'm even contemplating adding something else to the bag, like a little bear or something. I'll post them when they are ready for use! 

Smarties

Smarties are part of my Welcome Bag, which you can read all about here: Welcome Back Bag. They are also great for use with test motivator notes. In other words, I like to have them on hand at all times. Why pay $3 for a large bag at Walgreens when I get can get the same amount in two bags for $1 each? 

The snack stock

Seasoned teachers will probably know right away why I bought these. There are always going to be kids who skipped breakfast and then feel sick around 9am because their bellies are empty. Instead of sending them to the nurse, give them a pack of crackers. Problem solved, no learning time missed. You're welcome new teachers!


The basics: bright, neon colored index cards and colorful eraser caps. Items teachers can never get enough of! Enough said on that!


Stickers, stickers, stickers! In my Coupon Reward Post, I talked about a great rewards system that I use where students earn tickets that can be used for different items. I've decided that sticker sets can easily be worth 40 tickets. I love that I found stickers that will appeal to boys and girls. I also love that I can still find Lisa Frank stickers. What a throwback to my youth! 


Sets of 2 Posters! That's right, TWO!
These posters were a great find in the teacher section (yes, The Dollar Tree has a teacher section) since I am going with an owl theme and I am going to be teaching science this year! Score for Mrs. O! 

Now you know why I left The Dollar Store with more bags than ever before. I might have spent more than $50, but I came out with so many wonderful items, I felt overcome with joy for only spending $1 on each item I needed had a reason found a reason to purchase! If you aren't hitting up your local Dollar Tree, you are probably missing out, and spending way more money than you need to! 

I know it's still July, but the store ads are out, and I'm getting up early to find the best deals on scissors and pencil sharpeners. I think I'm officially in back to school mode! 





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