Rethinking Classroom Design

It's that time of year again......time to start thinking about next year. If you're like me, you're already thinking about what you want to tweak for next year - whether that's schedule, instructional strategies, or classroom environment. Classroom design is an important consideration. Consider that kiddos spend the greatest portion of the day in your classroom, and you realize just how important it is!

Playful Patches 6" Designer Cut Outs
Your classroom should be a safe haven. Kiddos need to feel welcome and respected, and it ought to be a calming (rather than overly stimulating) environment. I like to make the room as homey as possible so that we're all comfortable. I put a lot of thought into color schemes as well as furniture arrangement when I'm planning my classroom. Colors and textures are as important as the anchor charts that we hang on our walls.

I'm very pleased to be an Exclusive Blogger for Creative Teaching Press. Their products really fit the bill when it comes to effective classroom decor. They have so many wonderful options! The past few years, I've love my Dots on Turquoise...but I'm ready for a change. Enter Upcycle Style! Oh my gosh, y'all!!! Have you seen this collection yet? I promise, you'll love it too! (CTP really makes choosing'll love them all!) I love the rustic, down home feel of the collection. The wood grain and metals, the distressed wood, and the use of textiles like denim, quilts, and needlework just all come together to make a beautiful collection!

And, speaking of down home feel.....check out this matching flameless candle from Zazzle!! Oh my goodness! Can you picture a few of these on your desk or on top of a bookshelf or two? And it even has a TIMER! Love!! Make sure you check out the items over at Zazzle....they match many of the other collections, as well!

Beside candles, you can also find pillows, dry erase boards, stickers, magnetic frames, iPad mini covers, and lots more goodies for classrooms. You can even get matching shoes, earrings, or ties!!
Just a few of the Inspire U posters paired with the Denim Border and Rustic Medallions Border.
Pair Upcycle Style with the Inspire U collection? LOVE!! My school has really been focusing on growth mindset this year along with standards based growth model report cards, & I really appreciate how the Inspire U posters fit in with those!! I mean seriously? Perfect! I truly cannot wait to set up my classroom with the addition of these posters....they fit in so well with what we tell them about growth mindset! (Ya gotta love it when everything comes together like that!)

Pssst! Guess what!! CTP is letting me giveaway the whole Upcycle Style Inspire U Pack!! Yep! Everything you see up above: all of the posters (including Dream It. Believe It. Achieve It.), the patch cut outs, AND the two borders in the graphic!! Make sure you enter down in the rafflecopter widget! (US & Canada residents only, please).
And wait until you see these! Exclusive....COMING SOON!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure you hop over to visit my friend Cassie & see what she's working on! 

Standing for Change #supportDPSteachers

Life's most persistent & urgent question IS 'What are you doing for others?' As we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I hope that you have had an opportunity to hear and think about the words of this amazing man. I'm joining in with other bloggers in hopes of bringing attention to the horrifying and intolerable conditions of the children and teachers of Detroit & hopefully make a difference.

You may have seen some of these pictures illustrating the conditions in Detroit's schools. If you haven't, do a quick'll turn up articles, you'll find posts and pictures on twitter and on Instagram. Search the hashtags #supportdpsteachers or #dpsteachersfightback. I find the images are sickening. I mean...these are not pictures from abandoned buildings. Nor are they pictures from schools in third world countries. These are pictures from schools in the great United States..... classrooms where children are supposed to be doing the important job of learning. Where teachers are tasked with the job of helping kiddos feel safe and welcomed and ready to learn. It's a travesty that children and teachers are expected to perform in these conditions. I am appalled. 
Toilets leak into a Preschool room
Mushrooms grow from a wall
I am appalled that adults are letting this happen. One teacher is quitting over health care concerns (& rightfully so!). Her KINDERGARTEN "classroom is connected to a dilapidated greenhouse that hasn't been cleaned in years. The windows are covered with a black substance & hasn't been cleaned in years. And it smells. The door to the greenhouse doesn't have a doorknob, insulation, or lock. She put bags in the doorknob hole after SQUIRRELS KEPT GETTING IN HER CLASSROOM." SQUIRRELS IN HER CLASSROOM, FOLKS. We are talking about real live, living in the United States kindergarten babies who have squirrels getting into their classroom. It's disgusting that adults are allowing this to happen.

 Students and teachers in Detroit are most assuredly suffering an injustice. Are we as a society okay with that? We better not be! As Dr. King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." And the quote that really resonated with me today as I read more about the educational system in Detroit: "Life's most persistent & urgent question is 'What are we doing for others?'"

So, what CAN we do for the students and teachers in Detroit? For starters, we can educate ourselves about the issue.

Take a virtual tour of a Detroit school.

Take a look at this news coverage which details Detroit's Mayor Duggan's tour of a Middle School Building.

Read the article linked above, or this article in which the author implores us to not turn away from this issue, believing that because we don't live in Detroit that this educational travesty doesn't impact us -- it does!

Do a quick search on twitter or Instagram for the hashtags #supportdpsteachers or #dpsteachersfightback.

Sign the petition.

Letters from Santa!

This is such a magical time of year...letters TO Santa...letters FROM Santa!! Magic!
It's not too late for your little ones to get a personalized letter from Santa

The last couple of years, I've ordered letters from Santa for my little from Educents, & I have been so pleased with the letters we've gotten! There's always just a little bit extra 'magic' packed in their envelopes. This year's is not exception! It comes in a special, large red envelope.....

inside, your little will find Santa's letter, reindeer food he's sent to be put out on Christmas Eve....AND a recipe for Mrs. Claus' Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies! So exciting.

I really, really like the way that you can personalize these letters: you fill out a document with your child's information (name, etc), AND three accomplishments. Potty training, wonderful job at your dance recital, helping a baby brother, doing great at swim lessons....I LOVE that Santa can specifically address your child's accomplishments! I'm telling you...that really makes the letter all the more magical!
It's not too late to order letters for your littles! You have until Thursday, December  17th to order! Just hop over to Educents, fill in the doc, place your order, & wait for the mail to be delivered!
Happy Christmas to you & yours!

Create More Wall Space!

Welcome to the Bright Ideas Round-Up! If you're looking for a way to maximize wall space in your classroom....I've got a Bright Idea for you!

Wall space is a hot commodity in my room. One wall is half window (yay!), the second is one-fourth SmartBoard (yay, again!), the third is all coat rack...and I completely opened the fourth so what could have been usable wall space is all gone! I desperately needed some additional space to post anchor charts, schedules, and the like.

I had seen this image on Pinterest, & was inspired to give it a try in my room. A quick trip to WalMart to buy the oil drip pan from the automotive department, & Command Strips from the hardware section, & I was in business.

I LOVE the added space that it gives me to post rotation charts, as well as the I Cans and the learning posters and charts that we're working on. If I decide to move it to another space (or heaven forbid...move to a different room! Gasp!)'s as simple as removing the command strips! Voila!
BONUS!! It's also a dry erase surface!! How cool is that?!

What would you use this extra surface for in YOUR room?

Like this Bright Idea? Follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, & Twitter for more!

Halloween Math FREEBIE

"Halloween is Saturday this year!" And the teachers all shouted, "Yay!"
I'm not gonna lie...Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year...but it does make for a high-energy day in the classroom! Why not join in the holiday madness with a little academics? We made our Fact Family Haunted Houses. LoVeD it!! My kiddos had so much fun & it was a fabulous activity for them academically since we've just been sort of dabbling in multiplication.  Of course, you can also do them with addition!

They turned out super cute! I do have one little pumpkin who does not celebrate Halloween. Easy adjustment...different color for the house, and people instead of ghosts.

Looking for a super fun Halloween activity that's also academic? You can grab the FREEBIE-- just click the cover!

Happy Halloween!