Welcome Back Poem Filled With Goodies

Over the years, I've seen many versions of the welcome back poem that goes with a goodie bag. It's one of those, "Oh, I want to do that next year," projects that I forget about by the time the next year rolls around. But since I'm super motivated to make big changes this year, I finally decided to hop on the wagon and do a goodie bag for the first day. Instead of grabbing an already created version and using it to create my shopping list, I went a little backwards. Instead, I thought of all of the things that I would like to put in the bag, bought them, then sat down with a version of the poem a teacher gave me a few years ago. I don't think anyone knows who the original author is since it's been around for so many years and edited to fit everyone's needs, but whoever began this, teachers around the world adore you and if the creator happens to be you, send me a message so I can credit you for the years of inspirations! Anyway, since I now had the items and a poem that only fit a few of them, I sat down to revise the poem for my classroom. That seemed easy, and perhaps I should pretend it didn't take me hours to get it just right, but it did. I'm very happy with my final poem and of course, it wouldn't be right if I didn't add some polka dots as well! I've used the polka dot borders for EVERYTHING this year! You can get them at Free Polka Dot Classroom Labels.

So for my bags I included the following items:

white lunch bags (Target)
fifth grade specific pencils (Really Good Stuff)
Welcome bracelet (Really Good Stuff) - These were a big hit last year
Lifesavers, Smarties, Laffy Taffy, Starbursts

You can grab the poem here: Welcome Back Poem for Back to School

I can't wait to surprise the kiddos with these on the first day!



Last Year's Classroom

Since I'm not quite ready to share my new classroom set-up, I thought I'd share some ideas from last year.

On the doors are plastic sleeves/sheet protectors. I attached them with Command strips and they stayed up throughout the year. I placed student work in them and then changed it weekly. 

My last school was older, and it still had chalkboards. Since I won't use the chalkboards and we had a Promethean board, I covered the board with fade-resistant paper and used it as my calendar/birthday/homework area. It stayed up all year long!

An inviting student library is the key to reading success. I've stocked up over the years, and each year I invest in updated collections. I also use book displays and label all books by genre. I know you are looking at the stuffed animals and wondering why I would have them in a fifth grade classroom? Well, it's because fifth graders are still children, and if you successfully make reading with a stuffed animal look cool, even your most mature students will do it. I promise!

Also, I always put an opening soon sign across my library and wait a few days to open it, and then use a classroom meeting to talk about our new rules, and how we can apply them to the classroom library. I have a contract that I have students sign to say they will be held responsible for any books they sign out. This is helpful for damaged or missing books. 



Rejuvenated Chairs, Relieved Mrs. O

I have had a reading stool for a long time. It's just your basic wooden bar stool from Target that probably cost me around $20 when I first started teaching. It's that light wood, and I use it constantly, so suffice it to say that after 7 years in the classroom and two moves across the country, it was in rough shape.

When I was teaching in Washington, a lot of teachers would put things they didn't want in the teachers' lounge. Actually, that's happened everywhere I've taught, but this short story takes place in Washington. Anyway, someone left high kitchen chairs (or a stool with a back as I refer to it) for the taking. I took one and used it in addition to my stool, mostly in my carpeted area where I did a lot of whole group lessons. Anyway, that was the same wood as the stool, and when we moved to Virginia I didn't have room for both in my classroom, so naturally the trusty old stool got to come to the classroom and the chair became a nuisance in our baseball rivalry room at home.

Since it's summer time, I've had nothing but time on my hands so I decided I'd take my skills, or lack thereof, to repainting the stools. (Thank you Pinterest for making me think I am a do-it-yourselfer.) So I decided I would paint the stools to my blue theme and bring them both in to my much larger, new classroom.

Well, let me warn you: this wasn't cheap. I had thought a can of paint, a brush, and voila! No, no, no! This was a process, one that had me at Home Depot more than I've ever been. It took me two days just to decide what paint I would use. Then I researched on line to determine what I needed to do. I got two conflicting reports. One said that I could use bonding primer without sanding and the other confirmed that sanding was necessary. Since I live in a condo, I don't really have an outside area to spray paint, so I decided it best to get a can of paint so I could complete my work on the balcony. I decided to do the stool first, without sanding and just using the bonding primer. I also had the fantastic (read as: overzealous) idea that I would paint the legs and rungs two different colors! Ah yes, that was indeed a treat!  I had to do one color one day, then wait for it to dry, then wrap the whole thing in painters tape to paint the rest. FYI: The paint still dripped down the side. It was, in fact a challenge. Then, 4 days later, I had to apply a sealant, because if I want the paint to last and not chip, I need to seal it. I don't know how much money I spent, but let's just say that by the time I got to the chair, it got painted one color. I also sanded the chair and to be honest, I don't think it made that much difference since I applied the bonding paint. In the end, it was a lot more work than expected, but I am thrilled with my new chairs and I know they will be a wonderful addition to my classroom.

Here's the short list of this process:

1) Sand object down. If you don't feel like doing this part, get a bonding primer and apply a coat or two. Let it dry completely before painting.
2) Paint chair using whatever paint color you choose. You will want at least two coats. If you decide to paint in two colors, though not my recommendation, be sure to get some painter's tape and wrap quite a few times after it's completely dry. If you can spray paint, go for it, but be sure to research how to spray evenly. If you use a brush, it will look like you used a brush. If you use a mini-roller, you will get those little hard bumps. I used a brush on the stool and a roller on the chair and I liked the brush outcome much better.
3) Use paint sparingly and look out for drips. This was my biggest problem in the final product. I have some areas that dried in drip shape. After painting, go around the item and be sure it's evenly distributed, especially if you are doing a darker color.
4) If you plan to use what you are painting often, put a clear coat sealant on top. If it's just for decoration, you probably don't need it.
5) One additional suggestion, because Home Depot has everything you can think of: get the felt circles for the bottoms of your chairs so they don't scratch your floors. They can be bought in square, circle, or as a sheet. But be careful the adhesive on them is STRONG! You will peel paint off if you don't place it right the first time. Trust me!
6) Pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a refreshment. Your chair has new life and you've completed a do-it-yourself project!

I wish I had taken pictures pre-primer, but I didn't. So here's the chair with primer:

The stool before I added the second color:

The completed stool!

The completed chair!



Mailbox Makeover

In the early spring, I found Pinterest, which has easily come to be one of my biggest obsessions. I've been pinning like a madwoman. Now that I have been offered and accepted a position in a new district, I feel like a whole new teacher. Of course, in the past seven years I have spent lots of money on this and that's that just had to be a part of my classroom. This time, though, I am trying to be a bit more savvy. So when I saw an idea for rehabbing my mailboxes, I couldn't wait to get a roll of duct tape and some binder tabs and get to work! 

I bought these mailbox sorters from Office Depot my third year of teaching. Here's what they looked like after five years of use: 

I went to Target, bought blue and white polka dotted duct tape and hot pink duct tape. I wrapped the tape on the ends of each row, and then added a light blue binder clip, which I would use for their names, much easier than ripping the labels off. 

For whatever reason, after three days, the pink began to peel. I noticed that the two tapes didn't feel the same, even though they were both Duct brand, so I wasn't completely surprised, but it was a quick fix. Since I'm going with a theme in blue this year, and the polka dotted tape wasn't doing any peeling,  I figured I'd just pull the pink off and calm it down. To be honest, I'm happy with the calmer outcome. 



And so it begins...

Well here I am. Creating a blog has been on my to-do list for about three years now and since I'm all about being fresh and new this year, I figured I would finally get it started.

Welcome to my blog! It is my goal to use this blog to share the many ideas I get from my own brewing brain, from the brains of others, or a combination of both. I am an avid Pinner, so I'm always looking at other ideas and thinking of ways to adapt them for my classroom. I will always give credit where credit is due and if you find that I haven't, let me know right away!

This will be my eighth year of teaching and I'm starting at a new school. I've been doing fifth grade for five years now. I'm an Air Force wife, so moving isn't new to me, but for the first time I changed districts without actually moving. I've spent 7 years of teaching, plus two years with AmeriCorps in Title I schools. This will be the first time working in a small district, one with just one 3-5 building for the whole area, 6 fifth grade classes total! I am so very excited for all of these changes and delighted to share my ideas with visitors to my blog.

Off we go!

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