Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Frog Prince, A Children's Play (Annotated)

Actors, backstage, waiting for their entrance.

Teachers, do you have a favorite play that you use with your students? Does it encourage good reading skills, listening skills, teamwork, and Humanities core content? 

It's a lot to ask, I know.

When I was a gifted and talented teacher, NBCT, and jack-of-all-trades, I loved to do a good play with good students - sometimes within the classroom schedule, and sometimes as an after school workshop.  Either way, students need an authentic audience, which could be parents, or another classroom, or a big school wide event.

I have The Frog Prince, A Children's Play (Annotated) on Amazon for Kindle.  It's a humorous rendition of the old standard and is geared toward learning about drama vocabulary and our state Humanities core content.  
The play explains how to perform with 9 characters, or a whole classroom of students. (adaptability is  important)

It has great ideas for the production on a practically nonexistent public school budget, which is very helpful for any elementary school production. 

After the script comes the quizzes and practice pages and ideas for working with drama vocabulary in fun ways that help students to retain what they are learning, to be creative, and to enjoy putting on a great play. It's a bargain, ha!

See how much fun they had? I hope I can find photos from the other productions, too. 
Any questions, please email me at

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cat Themed Classroom Ideas

When I talked my daughter into decorating her 2nd grade classroom with a Domestic Cat theme, I didn't realize how little there is out there in "teacher-land" to buy, so I just started making decorations. I did several black cat silhouettes. I drew this cat, on his back paws, for the window. I liked him, so I drew a pattern before I taped him to the window. 

Here he is, looking out at the playground above the yellow ruffled cafe curtain. (from Amazon) He's no longer alone in that window- this cat is raising his hand, or at least that's what the students say...

Here are the two cat silhouettes in the other window. The students love them. They have a bigger purpose than decoration - they help to block what's going on out on the playground without blocking all of the natural light. (The short curtain blocks most of what the students would actually be able to see out the window)

These black cat silhouettes don't have to just be in the windows though. There was a perfect space above the doorway for this little beauty!  ( and do you see a little one on the sign on the left?)

This grey cat is made with grey poster board and a black Sharpie. She is part of the classroom rules section.   

The calico cats here brighten things up above the corners of the whiteboard at the front of the room.  I drew one pattern, then flipped it to make another. This gave me mirror images.  I drew in cat features and used yellow, brown, and rusty orange for the calico spots.  

I drew in some wise and calm features for this fat cat on a light grey poster board. He is the guardian of the weekly learning objectives for each subject.

My daughter found these cute cats to print out for student cubbies and center designations, so I made this poster for just outside her door.  Ms Sasser's cool cats love it. 

She also has placed some cute items around the shelves from her Cat Lady box items.  The kids love the big beach towel with a cat photo on it that reigns behind her desk.  I'll get a photo when I'm out there next.  

Here is the other cat silhouette from the window - the kids said it looks like he is raising his hand in class to answer a question!

If you would like to purchase these cat patterns for $25 through PayPal,  email me at  You can easily tweak them to match your ideas for your unique classroom. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Teacher Aprons

How cute is this? Teachers need to keep up with so many things. These teacher aprons can be a great help with efficiency. ID, keys, pens, highlighters, phone, hand sanitizer, and so many other things can be easily in reach with these aprons.  I know I was always laying the remote to the projector down and having to look around for it. This apron can fix that little problem!

 You can make them to match your classroom theme, holidays, or use seasonal fabrics. 

The photo above is a Spring-inspired teacher apron. My daughter and I make them in the themes and colors that our colleagues ask for. We looked at some patterns and some other aprons on Pinterest, but then we just jumped in and made them with the needs of teachers in mind.

This apron is worn in a Superheroes themed classroom and the prints match the curtains in the classroom.  The students noticed immediately when the teacher first walked in with this apron on. Pow! Blam!

One of the classroom instructional assistants ordered this Frog themed apron. She was always on the go between various classrooms and was forever misplacing things, but this apron kept her organized.

This one was made for a teacher who wanted UK Blue and dark colors that wouldn't show dirt too quickly - elementary schools can really keep you busy with laundry, right?  She also wanted the taller row of pockets big enough for an iPad mini. (not shown in photo, but it works!)

This one is one of my daughter's favorites and matches her new Domestic Cat themed classroom. The print is Choco Cat, Hello Kitty's friend. 

The first thing you need to do is decide what size you want the apron to be. Most of ours are 22 inches wide by 18 inches long. We cut two of these, one for the front and one for the back. (They do not have to be of the same print) 
Next,  we make the taller set of pockets in a contrasting fabric. We cut it the width of the entire apron but double the height we want the pocket to be. It's usually around 8 inches high so we cut this piece 16 inches high with a width of our 22 inches. Then we fold it in half and press the fold. 
We lay this fold-side-at-the-top, over our front piece of the apron, lining things up at the bottom and the sides, and pin.
Then we stitch from the bottom to the top of the pocket, maybe 3 times; this makes 4 separate pockets.
The shorter set of pockets are made and attached the same way as the taller pockets.  If you want a 5 inch pocket, cut the fabric 10 inches tall and 22 inches wide. Press. Stitch onto the taller pockets. You can stitch them in the same place, or in different places.  Stitching close together will give you great "pen pockets."

Next, we put the back piece of the apron on top of the section with the pockets, right-side-together and stitched around the side, bottom, and other side in one continuous line, leaving it open at the top. Then we turned it right-side-out and trimmed the seams. 
Then we pressed it, pushing at the corners to make them look nice.

Then we cut a long piece of fabric to be the waistband of the apron and the ties, maybe 6 feet long, depending on the size of your teacher, and 6 inches wide. (See photo below)  Sometimes we stitch the contrasting fabrics here - as long as it measures around 60+ inches long, this can give your apron a nice effect.     
We press it in half all the way down the long piece, then open that up and press the edges on both sides to touch the middle, as if we are making a custom piece of bias tape.  We ironed 22 inches  by 1  1/2 inches of interfacing into the center of our waist band so that it would be a little stiffer just about the apron.

The last thing we did was place the apron's top (where it is open) into the center of the waistband and pinned it all the way to the ends of the ties.  (look at the photo below, where we are putting the apron up into the waistband so that we can pin it, then sew it)
Once we sewed this, we were done!   They really don't take long at all once you make two or three.  

I like to run the ties around to the front and tie a knot.  Some like to make a bow in the back. Either way, you could make a teacher very happy with a custom apron that matches the classroom theme!

           This owl print made an interesting apron for an owl lover.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thank You Booklets

This creativity project can work for many times of the school year - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Veteran's Day, and many more.  Appreciating others is an important piece of student growth.

Students chose a piece of scrapbook paper. They chose who they wanted to make a Thank You Booklet for.  They were given a few minutes to plan what they would write on each of the pages.

I walked them through how to fold and cut the scrapbook paper to make the booklet.  Here's a link so I won't have to try to explain - One Sheet 8 pages!

Then, their creativity took hold of the room! My favorite part of this project was how different they all were. Some were professional, some were funny, some were heartfelt. All of them seemed to bring up memories of events they were truly thankful for.

Make sure your students are given time to make a quality product. They also love to have time to share their work with their peers so plan for this.

After doing this project with gifted and talented students identified in Creativity, I began to hear from parents, siblings, and other teachers about how much the Thank You booklet meant to them.  I have a feeling many of them will be kept and treasured for years to come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Historical Overview of Inventions Bulletin Board and Unit Ideas

If you teach the Seven Habits in your classroom and happen to be fortunate enough to have a huge bulletin board, you might want to set it up like this.  This 15-foot  bulletin board was in the Gifted and Talented wing where I taught the last 3 years before I retired. My team teacher and I set up the right end of the board with the word LEADERS. Under that we switched out each of the seven habits every few weeks, and focused on them in all of the study and research the students were involved in. The rest of the board always held current projects from 4th or 5th grade district-wide gifted students.

(SOMEWHERE in all the tubs of things I brought home after retirement are lots of my big watercolors of the characters. Watch for them on Ebay - the plan is to get lots of my decorations on there for other classrooms to enjoy!)

Here is just one sample of the many great uses for student work on the big bulletin board. (This idea took up so much room we had to put the current habit on the other board across from this one.) In this photo, we see the board almost finished - as students shared their inventor of choice research, they added it to the board in the timeline section.

My team teacher and I threw this Unit together so that it fit our student needs from several sources. This one, on Amazon, might be a great place to start if you want to do the same:  Inventions Thematic Unit 

This is what the students viewed at the beginning of the unit. The title "Historical Overview of Inventions" was at the top, timeline chunks of years were left to right, Inventor cards were in groups all around the edges, and (not in photos) to the left of the bulletin board was a color-code chart that explained, for instance, technology - green, etc.  Students were given a reasonable amount of time to explore the categories and inventors on the board, then took the name of the one they wanted to research.

When the research was done and students had written up a paper to share with the class, they gave a speech and then put their writing on the board in the correct timeline section with construction paper coordinated with the category behind it.   

The students who were listening to each speech had a short rubric to fill out. This kept them engaged and reinforced our study of the things that make good speeches. Each student also did a rubric on themselves, to self-assess. 

We all learned a lot, and when the parents came later for student-led conferences, this board was great  way to share knowledge. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This ANTicipate Challenge Bulletin Board promotes teamwork through The 7 Habits of Happy Kids


Take a look at our new bulletin board idea. If you want to promote teamwork among the students in your classroom you can't go wrong with The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Our students wrote about how the ants connect to them as students who work together to achieve more. They get a kick out of these big personality-rich ants and how they are stepping on each other and the ones on the bottom are struggling. I've heard them talk about which ones are most like themselves.  

Click here to see all the details:    READ MORE HERE

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Use Creativity and Math to Make Perimeter and Area 3D Animals

These 3D Perimeter and Area Animals are a great way to assess student knowledge while giving them a chance to make choices and use their creativity in math class. My students had a great time with this activity and I was able to make sure that everyone held deep understanding and was able to put it into practice and then write about it in their math journals. We were very happy with the finished products! Click here to see more photos and our procedure:  Perimeter and Area 3D Animals for the Classroom