Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back-to-School Giveaway: Centers, Stations, Tubs, and More!

In honor of back-to-school season, I thought I would host my second giveaway!

Today, I am sharing my TPT product "Centers, Stations, Tubs, and More!"

I created this to use in my classroom because the visual rotation system I used for centers last year drove me crazy. I wanted something that would be a pleasant, but efficient tool for my classroom this year. 

For my classroom, I used the materials in this center pack, as well as a couple of additional materials, such as burlap ribbon (from Hobby Lobby) and plastic magnetic pockets (from Dollar Tree) to create this organization system: 

Aside from the ribbon and pockets, you can find everything you need (and much more) in this bundle of materials! Here's a little preview of the goodies available in this product:

This packet contains stylish labels to help you organize and manage your learning centers, math tubs, literacy stations, and more! In all, this product includes 40 labels/signs for your classroom. 

These include:

* Generic Signs of various designs for: Stations, Centers, Math Tubs

* 10 literacy center labels with generic small group or independent activities. These center labels include, but are not limited to: Word Work, Guided Reading, Write About Reading, Shared Writing, Reading, Writing, Computer, and Desk Work. Here's an example:

* 6 corresponding blank literacy center labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs

* 5 numbered group labels, as well as 3 corresponding blank labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs 

* 6 numbered math tub labels, as well as 2 corresponding blank labels, which can be formatted to fit your needs

* 3 "I Can" posters with blank space for learning goals

I really like the "I can" posters. I plan to laminate them so I can use dry-erase markers to write the skills for each center. That makes it easy to change the skills from week to week.

So, if this product looks appealing to you, please feel free to enter the giveaway! Simply choose any of the Rafflecopter options below to enter! This giveaway will be available through Friday August 2nd, and a winner will be announced on Saturday August 3! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Open House!

I really cannot believe it is already time to go back to school. Where did the summer go?!? Regardless, it's that time of year again! We had our Open House for Kindergarten and First Grade last night, and I think I had more fun than any of the kids. I thought I would share a few pictures from night with you here! Don't you just love the way classrooms look so tidy before the kids come in?? ;)

If you need materials for your Open House or Back-to-School night, all of my sign-in sheets as well as the templates for my "Bursting" treat bags are available in the Tally Tales TPT store! You can access them in the product "Back to School Packet." Here's a little preview of items included in that product:

Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY: Cute, cheap, no-sew cubbie curtains!

I have had this dilemma in my classroom for quite some time now: bare cubbies. These aren't really cubbies the students use; they are a bit above their heads. They are mainly storage space for me. I would never complain about having storage space, but I will complain about the way it looks. All year long last year, I kept thinking about how I could cover those cubbies without spending a fortune on fabric. You see, these cubbies line the entire back wall of my classroom. That's a lot of space to cover with material. Fabric, as we know, is not exactly cheap. I'm not opposed to spending money; I just want to spend as little of it as possible. ;)

Originally, I looked for sales on fabric. I thought it was possible that I could come across something that would fit the colors/style I wanted and not pay a fortune for it. It seemed like everything I found was the right colors, but the wrong style or the right style, but the wrong colors, or the right style/colors, but the wrong price. In the end, I found nothing.

I thought about using bed sheets. So for a while, I looked for cute sheets that might serve as curtain-like material. However, aside from thick cotton sheets (which all seemed to be solid colors and more costly) sheets were generally too thin to create the appearance I really wanted. So, again, nothing.

Finally, the idea crossed my mind... What about table cloths?? In my first visit to Wal-Mart, I found a striped vinyl tablecloth that contained colors that would fit my classroom nicely, and an 84-inch cloth cost just under $5. Based on the width of the tablecloth (60 inches), I thought I could fold it in half and actually make two strips of curtains, both of which would be 84 inches long, using only one of those table cloths and spending less than $5 on the material.

I picked up two of those tablecloths, for good measure.

During my next visit to Hobby Lobby, I found a cute ribbon to use as trim. You know, Hobby Lobby offers great half-off sales on ribbon. Two spools for $3.99 isn't bad at all. That brought my total cost for the curtains to under $15.00. 
Some of you may think I'm extremely cheap. Others, teachers, will understand that a classroom is a costly investment, and any venture that costs less that $15 and adorns an entire wall of cubbies is just a blessing.

Follow these four simple steps to create your own cubbie curtains!
I used velcro rounds to secure the curtains along my cubbies. The teacher before me used the same ones for her curtains, and one side of the adhesive was still attached to the cubbies. So half of the job was done for me! Here are some before-and-after pics:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How Coffee Became a Tree...

Well, okay, I didn't really turn coffee into a tree. (Had you fooled for a minute, though, didn't I?!?) This is another DIY idea, and it has probably been one of my favorites so far. Do you remember, way back when I designed my business cards? (If you missed that post, you can check it out here.) Well, at that time, I mentioned that I wanted to display my cards on some type of tree. That's really where this whole idea began. I needed a tree... sort of.

There really isn't much to this project, but I just love the way it turned out. Unfortunately, I don't have the most thorough tutorial to offer. The truth is that I attempted this a bit blindly... I just made it up as I went along. I wasn't really sure that it would turn into what I had envisioned, so I didn't really plan to create a tutorial for this one ahead of time. Now that it's finished, though, I just have to share it with you! I have several pictures to help the process, so I am pretty confident you'll still follow the process pretty easily.

Step one: Start with a large coffee can. Strip the labels.
Step two: Cover the can with a material of your choice. I used scrapbook paper because that's what I had at the time, but you could easily use fabric if you wanted. Secure the material along the edges with hot glue.
 Step three: Add embellishments.

Step four: Add tree stems.
These are literally dead sticks from our yard.  My husband was kind enough to gather them for me, and they were just perfect. I used the floral-arrangement foam from Hobby Lobby to secure the stems. Then I covered the top with a scrap of burlap.
Step five: Prepare business cards to hang! This is the really fun part. I found these cute little paper envelopes at Hobby Lobby. My business cards fit into them perfectly. I punched a hole in the top of each one and looped twine through the hole.
Step six: Hang business cards on the tree! This was almost as much fun as decorating a Christmas tree. Almost. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Few Things on A Thursday: Favorite Freebies!

This week, I thought I would share some of my favorite freebies! These have been particularly helpful to me in my back-to-school preparation, and I am sure some of you could benefit from grabbing them as well! Below, you will see a brief list of my recommended freebies. I tried to provide enough description with the link so you will know whether or not you want to check out the freebie before clicking! I hope this is helpful!

I have been so excited to snag these resources, and I hope you will visit each blog to take advantage of these wonderful freebies as well!

Have you found any share-worthy free resources for fellow back-to-schoolers???

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On the Menu: Oatmeal Berry Muffins

I originally ran across the idea for these at Yum Pins, and while they looked delicious, the recipe was vague (lacking cooking temp/time). So I modified the recipe a bit and opted for a trial-and-error method.

I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome! These make a fantastic breakfast option or healthy snack. (We even ate them for dessert one night.) As with several of the other menu options I have shared here, this recipe is simple, but adaptable; so if I used an ingredient that doesn't fit your tastes, feel free to change it up a bit! I have included a few optional suggestions at the end, in case you want to experiment a bit! Enjoy! :)

3 mashed bananas (the riper the better!) 
1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 eggs 
1 tbsp baking powder 
3 cups oats 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin pan with baking cups. Set aside.
Mash bananas.
Add almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat wet ingredients until well blended.
Add oats and baking powder. Mix well.
Fold in berries.
Fill baking cups generously. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.

In case you would like to make these a little sweeter, you could also include the following in your recipe:

  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
If you experiment with these muffins and have any suggestions for me, please let me know! :) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIY: Burlap Wreath Step-by-Step Tutorial

Wreaths are among my favorite things to make, and I just couldn't resist creating one to display in/outside my classroom this year. We typically decorate our doors according to different seasonal themes throughout the year, so I'm not sure if I will actually hang this on my classroom door or not. It may go beside the door, or even in the classroom. Regardless, it will have a place at school! :)

So here, we go...
What you need:

Wire wreath frame : Various sizes are available, but I chose the 12-inch frame
Burlap ribbon (30 feet)
Patterned Ribbon (with wire edge) : I chose the burlap ribbon with red chevron pattern, which you see here. (30 feet)

*Optional* Assorted ribbon pack (will be used for embellishments): Included in image.
*Optional* Hot glue gun (if you choose to add embellishments): Not included in image.
What you do:

Begin weaving the ribbon in and out of the wire frame. I alternated between the plain burlap ribbon and the chevron-patterned ribbon because I wanted them to be mingled in together. You could work with sections, using one ribbon at a time. It really depends on the type of look you want. 

Leave any "tails" of ribbon hanging loosely in the back. You can tuck those in nicely to fill any gaps after you are finished with the full frame.

Once you have finished, use those "tails" to tuck into the back of your wreath. You may have some gaps to fill, and those loose ends serve as great fillers as needed.

Now you are ready to create a few embellishments! I chose this measuring-tape ribbon. Simply fold the ribbon over into loops and hot-glue in the center to hold the loops. This creates a flower-like pattern. I added a baby-blue ruffle twist in the center (also secured with hot glue). Then I used a solid red ribbon to create a bow and attached the flower to the top using hot glue.

Using the same red ribbon, I simply wrapped it around my wreath and tied a nice, secure knot. I let the ends hang loose to create a little extra texture around the embellishment.

Last, I attached the embellishment over the knot. I used hot glue, again, to secure the embellishment on both sides. 

That's all! It's finished!
To see additional hand-made wreaths in a variety of colors, styles, and themes, please visit the Tally Tales Etsy store!