Thursday, August 29, 2013

Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition

My husband is my principal. Yeah. It works for us, overall. There are some hairy times once in awhile, but in general, it goes pretty smoothly. We agree on most things, academically speaking. He is a great husband and father. He's also one of the best teachers I've ever known. His classroom, however...not so much. I didn't really help him out this summer because I wanted him to do it himself. Hmm...does that sound like I'm talking about my child???!!! Anyway, now I can barely enter his room without shuddering. Here's what I mean:

It's so sad. I hate it. So last night I said to him: "This weekend I'm redecorating your classroom." He was totally silent and stared straight ahead at the TV. A deer in the headlights, I tell ya. So today I put on my beer goggles and went in to have a little look-see.

I have my work cut out for me. These are the before pictures. I'll keep you posted.

It's a room that is used for grades 5-8 during various periods of the day. There are between 6 and 19 students in it at any given time. It is TINY. And full of STUFF. The pictures just do not do it justice, and they're from my phone, so forgive me.

I'll show you the after pictures as soon as it's done. Or at least "done enough". So my next post should be coming to you in about February.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dollar Store Decorating and a $20 challenge!

I grew up in the midwest and now I live in Phoenix. One of the things I miss about living in Michigan, Chicago, and Minnesota is FALL. I love fall. The colors, the cool air, the hot chocolate. There's something about fall that comes with a sense of nostalgia. What is it about fall that makes me feel like I'm 8 years old and have nothing better to do than read "Anne of Green Gables"? I don't know. But it's always been my favorite season. I wanted to live out East where all those trees make fall a little bit of heaven. I wanted to get married in the fall. Can you imagine the pretty wedding you could have? And on the cheap!!! I could spend ALL  DAY looking at fall pictures on pinterest. If I could find a job that would pay me to do that, I would be QUITE the expert in my field.

So last Saturday here in Phoenix it was cloudy. Those of you who don't live here cannot understand the importance of that statement. A cloudy day in August is a breath of fresh air. And it makes all of us fall people yearn for our beloved autumn even more. So I started to decorate. I told myself that I could only decorate the dining room, and not even the whole dining room. Just part of it. And that I had to come up with something that my girls could help me do, and that I could re-create in my classroom, especially on the door.  And that everything I bought had to be from the Dollar Store and I could only spend $20. So here's where I started:
This is what I bought that day.

$23. Okay, I went over. But to me, that was alot. I'm a teacher with a husband and 4 kids. My budget is tight. That may not be a lot to you, I don't know. Now, not everything I bought has been used yet, so my $23 can be stretched a little further.

I want to also say right off the bat that I know that using the fake stuff can be a faux pas. But cut me some slack, I live in Phoenix. Once the real stuff is for SALE (yes, sigh, I'll have to buy some of that stuff that many of you can just go outside and pick. But I don't have to buy sunshine!) But I think it's really important to use nature in decorating. The REAL stuff. I may have to head up North for a weekend to pick apples and plunder some obliging field full of cattails and fall foliage to finish my decorating.

I decided to focus on the light and the window sill.  Here's the finished product:

 I have a long way to go, but next weekend is a long weekend, so I'll pull out the rest of the fall decorations and force my daughters to bond with me. Check back to see what gets added! I'll put some candy corn in the vases to anchor the berries and mini-cattails. And some squash and mini-pumpkins. The holders that the little pumpkins are sitting on are candle holders that we painted brown and put a glass plate on top. They turned out pretty cute!

I know this isn't about my classroom, but I want to incorporate some of these decorating ideas into my classroom. Watch for that in the weeks ahead!

And take the $20 Dollar Store challenge!! What can you come up with?

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crepe paper...who knew??!!

I LOVE crepe paper. You can do a million things with it. Have you seen some of these great ideas? And cheap! 2 rolls for a buck at the Dollar Store! Can't beat it! Have you seen some of this cute stuff? This is not your twisted crepe paper streamers of old!

One of the main uses I find for crepe paper in my classroom are ruffles. They add texture and dimension, but don't look too feminine. They really give a bulletin board some  pop. Here is a set of cabinets I have in my room. The ruffle definitely adds some dimension to a flat surface.

The kindergarten teacher at my school has graciously agreed to be a guinea pig for me and my decorating fetishes. This is her word wall that I came in and took over one day. Again, the crepe paper ribbon adds a bit of texture without being overwhelming.

And how could you have a classroom without table number poms! Don't you get a set now with your State Teaching Certificate? I love tissue paper poms, but I wanted something a little different. And to me, these were less labor intensive. There is a lot of cutting involved, but much less "foofing" of layer upon layer of tissue paper. I just don't dig the fluffing of the tissue poms. But like I said, be prepared to cut. I used 60-70 strips of crepe paper. And if you want bigger poms, you'll be using upwards of a hundred. So grab that remote and settle in for some HGTV. But really, it's not bad at all. Just cut into strips about 8-9 inches long, lay them out flat (piles of 10 works well), scrunch tight in the middle, and stick them together! I tied the middles together with fishing line. 

                   The ruffle around the table number label is also...yes! Crepe paper! Here it is:
I just taped it onto the back of the table number sign, and then used glue dots to adhere another sign to the back.
And speaking of table numbers, remember the kindergarten teacher next door? She let me invade again to make HER some table number signs. She has a popcorn theme, so here's what I came up with:
Crepe paper popcorn! 
You could use all yellow or all white. I was running out of both, so I combined them.  
If you need more ideas for this cheap, old-school chic product check out my pinterest board! 
Thanks for reading this super long post! I'll be back in a while to talk about wrapping paper!