Thursday, October 18, 2012

Animal Print Classroom Headphones

          How cute is this for an animal print themed classroom?  Look through your school catalogs and websites when you need headphones for your computers. They had these in 3 different animals but I wanted them to match.

         The kids love them! They noticed as they came into the room on the first morning. The orange really caught their attention.  The students say they are comfortable and are working well. (They are advertised as headphones for very young children but I used them with some 5th graders, just to give you an idea of how that would work and everything worked out fine.)

         It's all in the details. This classroom continues to grow and change and just GET BETTER, just like the students in this animal print classroom.

         How's your classroom? Is it  space that makes you happy? Is it functional? Does it keep your attention? Do you want to be there? Do your students want to be there?  If not, change something; make a plan; get in there on a week-end - it will be worth it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching - Rules Minutes Board

This is what I came up with to help me remember which students owe me a minute or two for Whole Brain Teaching Rule Practice.

It is a picture frame so I can use a whiteboard marker each day. The numbers represent the class student numbers. This way it can be used each year, since it doesn't have names on it, AND it promotes confidentiality in case of walk-throughs or guests. I have it in the corner of my whiteboard, attached with magnets.

Inside is 2 sheets of computer paper, (you could use tagboard, etc.) zebra-striped ribbon, marker, magnets, and puffy letters, all bought at Hobby Lobby. You could probably make this completely with things you already have, but I wanted to match my animal print themed classroom.

This is working very well with our procedures. Our state does not allow students to miss recess, so they have to practice their rules for me while we are outside. They can walk back and forth near me while practicing. This work better than the little slips of paper as reminders to practice a rule for a minute.

I just look at it before we go out for recess and the kids cooperate!
Could this work for you?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Dog Theme Student Work Display


          This display shows student book reviews for My Brother Sam is Dead or The Keeping Room, with a Student Rubric at the top. Students wrote and typed their book reviews, choosing their own fonts, and striving for a Distinguished score. They were to tell about the story and hook the reader in the first part of their book review. The second part consisted of their opinion of the book. All 20 students scored their own work, and the top 6 papers went on this board. We love the bones and paws on the border, too.

          The black paws are from the Ellison machine and compliment the Dog Theme classroom environment. Students wanted a dalmation on this board - I found one in a magazine!

          I planned to put the title, "PAWS-itively Perfect Papers" on the board, too, but there just wasn't room. I realize now that I could put it above this small bulletin board, so when I do this I will replace the photo.

          Displaying student is very important. It should be celebrated, and changed often. Students should sometimes have a say in what gets displayed. I always have many things in the hallway display but this area is right beside my desk and the students know that I look at it often! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

War Timeline of Soldiers

                                                      REVOLUTIONARY WAR SOLDIER

        My PLC team had been talking about how the students sometimes get the wars mixed up and there's a lot of Social Studies to learn!  So, that got me to thinking about HOW we could impact their retention on what war happened when and how it relates to other wars.
                                                             CIVIL WAR SOLDIER

        I talked to the students about this and they wanted to do research AND art. That sounded perfect to me. We started researching wars covered in Social Studies. We had a couple of students interview the teachers who are known as the "Social Studies King or Queen." We decided there were too many wars and we needed to choose the most important. We voted.  We then had students doing Google Image searches and choosing their favorites.
                                                          WORLD WAR ONE SOLDIER

                                                     WORLD WAR TWO SOLDIER

        Then the students had concerns about "drawing so large!" I asked them what was the worst that could happen and they said, " We mess up.....and we start over?"  Exactly!  I drew the first one and they painted it with "Biggie" watercolors.  They loved it and after that they had no more fear!
                                                      VIETNAM WAR SOLDIER

        This became the project the students were most proud of, especially when our teacher who had served in Iraq for a year complimented them, along with several other parents and grandparents.
        I don't know if it helped them keep the wars straight, but they all thought it would. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Double Fudge by Judy Blume

        One of my classes is reading Double Fudge by Judy Blume. We are working on character details and this is how they used what they've learned. I told them that each day, after they had read, if they'd paid attention to details and could answer my questions, we would do a piece of a special project. Their attention to details was impressive!

         One day we drew the head of our chosen character from the book, using markers, and then cutting it out. The next day we choose colored paper and learned to accordion-fold. Another day we wrote in important details about our character. The last day we made arms and feet from the scrap paper and hung them in the hall.

                                        This is what I drew on the board for their example.

  One boy had already read this book, so he was reading Island Book One: Shipwreck. He made his favorite character, too. This could work for any book! I hope you try it.

        I was surprised that everyone chose a boy character, even all the girls! We have Peter, Fudge, Mini-Fudge, Jimmy Fargo, and the shoe-store salesman. The students love them and I even saw one mom come in and snap a photo of her son's with her iPhone.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dragons of the Red Dawn - Magic Tree House

My second grade class has just finished reading Dragons of the Red Dawn from the Magic Tree House series.  We have had a wonderful adventure with this story. A couple of days I had Japanese parasols, fans, a black gi or two, several  lengths of red shiny fabric printed with a Japanese garden motif. I let the students dress up however they thought would look good and add to the story.

The day that we were to read chapter eight, this dragon head and green fabric was on one of the classroom tables as they entered the room. That got them wondering about the chapter! We enjoyed it so much.

I made the dragon head from the box my Mac came in. The box opens up and has a handle - I thought, " What a great box - this should be turned into something....."  I literally opened it up and put it on my head with the long part stretching out in front of my head, on my arms. At that moment Ii could see the dragon head in MY head!

I covered the box with green paper and cut green foam for the ear-horn sections, the teeth, etc. I cut two styrofoam balls flat on the bottom so they would sit on the snout, then cut off the back of them, flat, so they sit against the forehead part better.

The foam came from Hobby Lobby - 12 x 18. I also had to have that little feather boa. Part of it is on the top of the head and part of it is on either side of the head.

The large green fabric is bright green felt, with pom poms in a pattern on either side. This can be put on a table, like in the pic, so that "Jack and Annie" can sit up on the table and rifde the dragon, OR it can be used to move around the classroom. If you put a student under the head and 3 or 4 students under the green fabric, you can have the dragon move around the classroom!

 Have fun, and make every book you read MEMORABLE!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dog Themed Classroom Student Work Display

This is the display for student work in the hallway. I used the red border with the little white bones and put the words on top of it. I printed out "Dog Gone Good Work" on tagboard. I used two bright blue and white dog prints on the ends.

The dog silhouette is one I drew on black construction paper. I looked at a little picture of a Scottish Terrier and did the silhouette.  One of the students cut it out. I mounted it with heavy-duty double-stick tape.

You could draw your own. It's easy if you Google "dog silhouette" and pick one you like. An artistic student would love to do it for you, too. Some of ours are student-drawn.  You could do any kind of dog you like. This breed is very distinctive and the students like how it turned out. It's a big deal now to have your work in the hallway with the Learning Target. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Animal Print Classroom Banner, etc.

This banner hangs above the whiteboard in the front of the classroom. It's 6 feet long and hung with hooks in the ceiling as close to the wall as possible. I taped a small dowel rod on the back of it so it wouldn't bow too much.  It comes from You should check it out if you haven't already - they have lots of different banner choices. I looked at other sites like this one, too, but I loved this one the best. It's durable and came in the mail in just a couple of days!

This is the beginning of the Super Improver Wall in my animal theme. I'm on hold here until I get a bulletin board bought and the maintenance guy to hang it for me. (darn concrete wall)

The student numbers had to match, too. This is just printing out the numbers, attaching them to cheetah print paper, and running them through the laminator. I thought they turned out very nice!

Here is the poster outside our classroom door in the green pod. It shows where we are to be found if we are not in the classroom. One student a week has the job of moving the elephant every time we leave and return. An elephant NEVER forgets! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Animal Print Classroom Rules (whole brain teaching)

Bamboo paper for the background and zebra border make a nice bulletin board for Whole Brain Teaching's Classroom rules. All the bulletin boards in the room have this background. Some have the zebra border and some have a tiger border. It looks good with the green on the seat pockets, too!

Here's a pic showing the tiger border. I have an entire wall above the built-in cubbies covered with the bamboo paper and tiger-bordered! This wall was a bit of an eye-sore from hot-glue and various tape and adhesives. We decided to just cover it all up. It's beautiful and soothing now. The cheetah print is from home and looks nice in the corner of the shelf on an easel. Students love all the details of their classroom.

Don't be afraid to make your own calendar if you can't find one that matches your classroom theme! We could not find an animal print calendar that we liked, so we made this one and it wasn't much trouble at all.  We used different animal print paper from Hobby Lobby and glued on the months and numbers. On the poster machine we made the background. We attached velcro dots and that's it! Nice, huh? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dog Theme Data Wall

       This is the beginning of our data wall. The students love the slogan, "Hot Diggity Dog Data."

       The 4th and 5th graders (and maybe the 3rd) will be tracking their SuccessMaker math scores on the bottom chart.  We are adding a little chart that shows that one year we had one student FINISH the SuccessMaker sessions - it shuts off with an 8.99 grade level, so this is a very big deal. The next year we had one student finish, and last year we had THREE people finish! This year's section will be blank until the end of the year, but we are going to try for 3 or more.    The 4th and 5th grade classes keep track of which class had the most gain on the group average from the gains report, weekly. It keeps them working! (and tracking more data!)

       We talked about what data to track for reading classes and decided on AR goals because it seems that as our elementary students get older, they don't take their AR goal as seriously as they once did. ( even the gifted and talented!) So, we are tracking it on the data wall this year, to see if it makes a difference.

       We may track tests, or exits, MAP score increases, etc. Students love to help with the planning of a data wall. They add their data to the wall.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Animal Print Seat Pockets!

When doing an animal print classroom, or jungle, or safari, you may find that the blue seat pockets just don't match. We found these beautiful animal print handmade ones on Pinterest, followed the link and ordered them on Etsy.
They are beautiful. They were delivered more quickly than promised. The students love them and are being very careful with them. They are fabric and may not last as long as those blue plastic-y ones, but they are so gorgeous, I think it's a fair trade-off! If the students don't overload them, I think they will last a long time, anyway.  The lady who made them even accommodated the size of the chair a bit on the order.

Update: They only lasted two years. My daughter is ordering again from the same source and has texted with the lady that makes them to insure that the fabric choice is more sturdy this time: the animal print sections were fine but the green fabric was stretchy and didn't hold up.
We'll post a photo as soon as we get the new ones on the chairs!

We were playing around with  making them ourselves out of pillowcases and I've got on my list to still get this figured out and posted on this blog!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Animal Print Themed Classroom Reading Area

       So, this classroom made an animal print reading area that's cozy, kid-friendly, affordable, AND upcycles! The upcycling is from taking these 4 old Saxon Phonics tubs with lids and using them as seating in this area! ( I sat down on them so I knew the kids would be fine sitting on them...)We covered the Saxon sign on each of the four sides with different animal print and map print tagboard paper. This paper came in a booklet that was just the right size. We covered all four sides so the seating can be moved around and all sides will still look good. Two of the tubs have wheels.

       We measured the top of the tubs and cut memory foam to fit them. I had a memory foam twin mattress pad from my son's college days - that's what I cut up. The pillow cases for the memory foam were sewed up quick and easy. I used fabric from two polyester shower curtains from Walmart. They were inexpensive and vibrant - one leopard, one zebra. There was lots of fabric left, too, enough for tablecloths for the top of bookshelves, or curtains for cubbies. I'm sure we will use it somewhere. (They had animal print sheets sets, too, but I liked the print on the shower curtains much better.)

       I already had the black rug that fit into the corner.
       The green pads are made from heavy cardboard ovals, covered with quilt batting and then covered with green cotton twill fabric. That's all stuck down on the back side with duct tape. The kids move them out and lay on them when they have time to read. These green things used to be the front and back of a turtle costume. They have a turtle back and belly drawn on them in black Sharpie.

       The kids love the area and it cost very little indeed. I hope this inspires you and your classroom!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Animal Print Valences From One Curtain

      We all try to make a great classroom on a budget, right? Check out this idea.
        I bought a curtain at Walmart for $9.97. ( yes, just one curtain) It seemed to be the best deal for the fabric. I'd looked at sheet sets and fabric, but neither of them had the substance that this curtain had. It's also got a great, bright zebra print.
       So, the top of the curtain had a rod pocket that was the same size as the hem, and the hem was exactly like the rod pocket. You could have hung the curtain up either way. This gave me the idea of how to make the most of my fabric!
       The next thing I checked was whether the fabric looked different if hung upsidedown beside the right-side-up. (sometimes it looks different in color or texture...) I needed to know this because I planned to use the hem as a rod pocket, which would have that part up-side-down.....

       I folded the curtain in half, putting the top and the hem together and cut the curtain exactly in half. Where the cuts were, I folded the fabric down and made 2 more rod pockets the SAME SIZE as the others. Now, I had 2 pieces of curtain with a rod pocket on the top AND the bottom. This may sound wierd, but it worked perfectly.
       Next, I folded each of these exactly in two, laying the top and bottom rod pocket sections on top of each other. ( I did this one at a time)  I cut along the fold line of both pieces. These cuts were where I stitched a tiny little hem on all four valences.
      There! Done! This Animal Print classroom now has four beautiful valences for $10.
       This idea would, of course, work with any classroom theme if you find a curtain that coordinates with your theme.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dog Theme Classroom Reading Corner

          This is my reading corner in my Dog Themed classroom. I have a rug and two floor pillows. My colors are red and what I call "Cookie Monster Blue." The pillow cases are new towels from Wal-Mart - $3.97 each. They were exactly the right size to just fold over and stitch up the sides. I left the other side open and stuck it together with double-stick tape. This will make it easy to take the pillow cases home to launder.

       I brought in my dog crate and put a nice dog puppet inside. I think the kids are going to get a kick out of this space!

       On the wall is the start of our Super Improver Wall. (Whole Brain Teaching) The levels on the left are seven different dogs, along with a picture and a different color construction paper. I have a student who is our resident "dog expert" and she volunteered to pick out the seven dogs, from small to large, and printout pictures. She did an excellent job!
       The students will work their way up from a Tea Cup Yorkie, through Jack Russell Terrier, Beagle, Schnauzer, Border Collie, Newfoundland, and up to a Mastiff! I don't think my boys will want to be on that Tea Cup Yorkie for very long!

       I will have the title "Best in Show" at the top of the wall.

Whole Brain Classroom Rules

"And How are the Children?" We ask ourselves this at my elementary school. It's a great question as I prepare for the upcoming school year.

Last year our classroom had a Hollywood theme. I loved it but had tired of it after 2 years.... so, what do I love? I love my dog. So, there's my new theme!

I'd been to a Whole Brain Teaching conference in July and wanted to implement some of their best practices into the mix in my classroom. The classroom rules are on my wall, with a dog-themed twist. I put "dog silhouette" into the google box and clicked images. I choose a couple of dogs I liked and quickly drew them onto black construction paper and cut them out.

I typed and printed the rules out, glued them onto bright sky blue paper, and added the read and white dog-bone border. Then I placed my dog silhouettes. I especially like the way the hound's tail overlaps the border!
Here it is with the slogan at the top. "Off The Leash" means that if you go by the WBT rules, then you are off the leash! The class voted between this slogan and "Leash Laws," but "off the Leash" won by a good margin.