Thursday, July 31, 2014

Library Overhaulin' {on a budget!}

Okay, so I've been pretty good about sticking to my back to school budget even when redoing all my bulletin boards and library. Today, I worked on getting my library organized. I thought I'd share a few tips to help save some money if you're hoping to build out or reorganize your classroom library.

First, shop around for what you're looking for. I knew I needed some new book bins. After looking at several online "teacher stores" like Really Good Stuff and United Art and Education - I realized those book bins just were not in my budget. Some were nearly, $2 each. {$ Tip: Check Retail Me Not or Google for coupon codes that may help you save money online!} I have over 375 books in my classroom and about 40 book bins currently. That wasn't happening. So, I had to get creative.

After shopping around, I found these great mini-crates at Walmart. I measured my book shelf and then purchased 40 crates at $1 each. {$ Tip: Buy sturdy. $40 isn't "cheap" but my last bins lasted eight years.} Walmart also lets you order online with free in store pick up for those of you that don't love to go searching around Walmart for supplies!  Dollar Tree and Deals also have a phone number you can call and order from if you're willing to buy in bulk. That's how I scored my previous buckets about 8 years ago....

Here's a snapshot of my haul from Wal-mart! 

Second, build your library gradually on the cheap! Last summer, I went to several Friends of the Public Library sales and bought lots of great nonfiction all for under $1 each! Check your local library's website and see if your branch offers any sort of "brown bag" deal or annual book sale. That's a great time to stock up! This year, I noticed that I had slim pickin's in a few favorite authors and genres due to old age or "missing" books over the year s. So, I set out with a list to Half Price Books. I know I don't need to tell teachers about Half Price Books but take a list! It'll help you shop for what you need and not over spend... also, always, always go to the clearance section first. Often you can find a lot of great books for $1.

Here's my shopping list... {Fairy Tales are more like Fablehaven in my classroom}
Today, I walked away with $25 novels for under $25 before tax. I also stuck to my list! I bought three books not from one of these authors because they were only $1 but otherwise, I stuck to the list!  Also, sign up for a teacher discount card that will save you an additional 10% {even clearance} plus you'll get some sweet coupons in the  mail! You can also sell back old books - don't expect a fat wallet but it could help you purchase a few "new to you" clearance books for your room!

Third, waiting pays off. If you're able to wait - do it. Stores like Walmart and Target always have a great clearance after school starts back. Often you can get what you're looking for 50% off the original price. This year, I couldn't wait on my bins since I needed 40 of them... but last year, I found great poly folds from Target for less 10 cents. This year, my students will have study plastic homework folders... Half Price Books also does an educator appreciate weekend where all school employees get 20% off their entire order. Use these strategic times to stock up and save some green!
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to my fellow Ohio Blogger Lisa from Fourth & Ten! If you want even more back to school tips and tricks, you should definitely hop over to Fourth & Ten where Lisa has even more fabulous tips about how she saves money for back to school. I got so many great ideas from her... and we all know that I love being as frugal as possible.

What are some of your back to school shopping tricks?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Table Essentials?

I absolutely love Wordless Wednesday! Plus, there are some great conversations going on all from one photo! So, this Wendesday, I'm once again linking up with Miss DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday.
What supplies do you have out for students to use on the desk or in table buckets?

This year, I'm having as few supply trips as possible. Although, I liked the idea behind a drawer of supplies and it did keep them out of sight -- it was a time sink for getting things out, putting them away, putting things in the wrong drawer, and then running out of items when we needed them. So, I'm back to table buckets. This year, I'm going with tape, glue sticks, scissors, markers, and white out in my bins... Plus, I'm adding a small Thesaurus, Dictionary, and 50 States Map to each table as well. 

Here's the Pinspiration behind it all...

Still no sign of my crates so I haven't fully put together the entire look. I'm hoping this will save some time and energy of passing out folders and supplies! Maybe, I'll make it to a Made It Monday this yet this summer! Here's hoping!

Please don't forget to comment with your "Table Essentials." Also, don't forget to link up your #HotMessClassroom! {You can also join the fun on Instagram!}

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: Engineering Prints

Okay, it's better late then never to link up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday linky. I love this link up and always get so many great ideas! Thanks Holly!

I'll admit, I know engineering prints aren't a new thing. I've seen them on Pinterest for a while now with numerous projects but I've never actually tried to "make" one. OMG, it is the easiest thing in the entire world! I needed to create several posters for my classroom and I just couldn't find what I was looking for and although, I have good handwriting, I didn't want to be handwriting out posters when I have a huge collection of font! Come on!

I created my posters in PowerPoint and then saved them as a PDF file which is needed for making an engineering print. You can either upload via the web or you can take your flash drive to Staples {or any other office store}. After making my creations, I headed over to Staples with my flash drive in hand!

The nice Staples lady did the rest! I had three posters printed and one for my teaching partner. The cost for {the smallest} 18 x 24 size was only $1.75 each! For under $8 dollars out the door I had four new posters! Engineering prints are amazing! The downside is they are only black and white but if you were feeling crafty you could color with markers or colored pencils before laminating. I opted to leave the completely black and white so they would not fade over time.

Here's the finished products:

My teaching partner's awesome poster!

Our school laminator was locked up. So I had them laminated at United Art & Education.
I'm pretty proud of my handiwork on this one! I had several people on Instagram express an interest in the Money Menu and Reading Heiroglyphics Poster. You can click the names or the images above and they are free from my Google Drive! An additional shout out to Graphics From the Pond for the amazing clipart, borders, and fonts! #I'mobessed!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

What's my Teaching Ingredients?

Yesterday, was a long day of working in my classroom. Just a few of the countless hours to come. Even though I dread the unpacking, organizing, and sorting. I know I do because I take pride in my classroom and my job. Although, it's tiring and HOT... I also feel excited to start a new year with a new group of students! It {mostly the heat and exhaustion} really got me thinking about why we do it all. Why do we spend countless hours setting up? Laminating? Decorating? Although our "ingredients" for success may differ our objectives are the same. 

So, of course, when I saw that the lovely Miss DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice posted a linky about teaching ingredients, I just had to join in! Everyone's dashes and pinches are a little different but
 we all spend countless hours perfecting our recipes for the success of our students.

Here's my recipe for a happy year....

Also, don't forget to link up with photos of your #HotMessClassroom on the blog or Instagram! It's open for two weeks so you still have plenty of time to capture your progress!

Happy Monday,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Show Me Your #HotMessClassroom

Today, I spent most of my day up at school sweating my fanny off with no power and no AC. We had a big storm roll through and it seemed to take out the school's power. However, the generators kept a few lights on and that's all I needed to tackle my #HotMessClassroom! I worked for several hours all the while Nelly's voice rang out in my head, "It's hot in herrre. So hot in herrre." Nelly's never seemed so profound- it was literally and figuratively a hot, hot {mess} up in therrre! I took some photos to document my progress as put up new floor to ceiling bulletin boards and tried to make sense of my piles of stuff from last year.

Here's some photos of my hot, hot mess.... Let's start from the beginning.

We'll call this progress..
Nothing would make me feel better than to see your #HotMessClassroom so link up below! Share your photos, horror stories, or anything else you feels deserves that hashtag #HotMessClassroom! If you're on Instragram please play along add the tag to your photos! I know I can't be the only teacher hoarder trying to dig her way out for Open House!

Grab the button and let's see those messes! The link will be open for two weeks so stop by and check out everyone's #HotMess & #HotMessClassroom!

Can't wait to see these photos!

Happy Organizing!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Pen Problems

I got 99 problems but finding a pen ain't one! It appears I have a pen and marker weakness. This is just a few of my stash. I have two full pencil pouches {really make-up bags} full of more markers... Mr. Sketch, Infinity, Flair,  Sharpie, Frixion, Pentel, Crayola... I never seem to have enough markers. After adding a Pentel 36 count felt marker set {with a snap case} to my Amazon Wishlist, I was ready to admit that I have a problem. Hi, I'm Amanda and buying new markers is my weakness. 

Check out Sugar and Spice for more photos that say it all! 

What's your school supply weakness?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's {almost} Christmas in July!

I'm not Santa but I do have a treat for any teachers reading Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts. It's my first real-deal- something to proud of- teachers pay teachers novel study! I've had a few things on TPT but nothing really special or really "stellar." But, I finally finished my Kizzy Ann Stamps novel study! Yippeee! To celebrate it's 20% off through July 25th!

I'm also working on a general historical fiction novel study as well with similar but more general handouts. {We'll see how much I can get done before school starts back!} But in the meantime,  here's a sneak peek of the Kizzy Ann bundle...

Click on the images above to visit my TPT store or search for MsAPlusTeacherBe sure to download the preview for a Reader's Notebook Freebie!

I don't know how so many of you create so many wonderful products. It was a labor of love but I seriously thought I'd never finish!

Merry Christmas in July!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Oh, Snap! It's Five for Friday!

It's FRIDAY! Wooo-whoo! Who would have thought I'd be so excited for a Friday over the summer? However, this just happens to be the Friday before vacation. I haven't been on a vacation longer than a weekend in a very, very long time. I'm so excited to be get away for a week to eat yummy foods, relax with the boyfriend, and hopefully take in some touristy sites! But before then, I thought I'd get back to blogging and link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her amazing Five for Friday linky!

So here's what I've been up to this week...
Okay, so the awesome collaborators over at Blog Hoppin' have set up "Oh, Snap!" an Instagram scavenger hunt with some amazing prizes! I love a good scavenger hunt and seeing everyone else's photos via Instagram. You should definitely check out the contest, rules, and, of course, the fabulous prizes! The contest runs until August 6th... so there is still PLENTY of time!

I'm working on training my crazy Italian Greyhound to ride in the back seat for vacation. He is very accustomed to riding up front but I can't ride in the back of the car for 6+ without an unlimited supply out Dramamine. He's been not so pleased about his new seating arrangement. We bought a pet hammock and it does seem to help when he's not trying to crawl under it to get up front... Suggestions?

Took some time out this week to check out the new African  Painted Dog exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. Pretty amazing! The ostriches get sooo close! The painted dog himself was rather shy but the rest of the African Velt was out and about! If you live in the area follow @CincinnatiZoo on Instagram and check out #cincyzoopic for some awesome Kodak Moments.

Back to school shopping already? I've hit Target twice already for some teacher back to school necessities. I just need a few packs of colored pencils and a fun new binder and I'm ready {supply wise} for this new school year. However, I'm looking hard at investing in a laptop. I haven't had an actual laptop since college {9 years ago} and I had a netbook in between but it's just so slow. I really want something small and portable but I also want to be able to use it for Teachers Pay Teacher or blogging... Not looking to blow the budget either. Decisions, decisions!

Okay, so I've been working on my Kizzy Ann Stamps novel study & more general historical fiction novel study. I have a letter to the parents, about the author, and common core standards done. Now, it's time for the calendar, teaching points, and student handouts. Many of them are made but I just need to make them look much, much cuter to put them on TPT. What would you want to see in a novel study? I've never created anything quite like this before so suggestions are welcome! My store is a hot mess.... Wish me luck!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!
Please follow me on Instagram so we can scavenger hunt together!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Farewell Summer, Hello Back to School!

This short summer is a killer. I haven't even been the pool once yet! With summer school and then starting back at the beginning of the August. I'm not quite sure where my summer has gone. I've already been shopping Target for back to school supplies. Really Target, was putting everything out this early necessary?

But, with the start of school about a month away for me, I decided to link up with I {Heart} Recess to share my 2014 - 2015 Teaching Goals. I can't be in denial about school starting any longer so setting some goals should help me get ready for a new year and new kiddos.

Here's last year's goals...

So, my personal goal failed miserably. I never left by 3:45 (totally unrealistic) and made it to the gym on the week days only a hand full of times. It's my own fault but I really do need to be better about saving some time for me. However, everything else I met with optimism and success! I had a lot of fun reading some new novels and trying out new activities like our Lemonade Day!

And this year...
My biggie this year to to get myself organized. We're collecting all this data and I have be at a million meetings. Last year, I had a huge binder with all my data, graphs, student tests, etc. It was great for me but a total pain to take to meetings. It was just way, way, way too much to bring to a student meeting. This year, I'm hoping to split my data binder into my evidence, forms, tests, benchmarks, etc. and then have a smaller binder or notebook for my gradebook and current student/classroom data. Then, I can bring evidence as needed to meetings and not an entire 3'' binder! How do you keep yourself organized in the age of RTI, MAP, State Testing, and Guided Reading Levels?

I also hope to really hone in all my vocabulary practice this year. Our district is making vocabulary in the content areas the prime focus and I'm ready to jump on board. I've read several of the "gurus" and they make some great points. This means redoing some of my "morning work warm-up" activities and creating new root and prefix based spelling lists. But I'm ready! {Okay, almost ready!}

What is one goal you have for next school year?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Star Spangled Currently!

This is the first breath I've been able to catch this summer! Whew! I've had only about a full week of "real" summer since I've been teaching summer school through the end of June. I've seriously been an absentee blogger. But since I have a few free minutes (and everyone is sleeping), I thought I'd link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for July's Currently.

I love the Fourth of July! I love the summer foods and fireworks. Although, this year, I think we are going to try and see if we can see our local fireworks from our porch instead of fighting the crowds. However, we may cave in and join 100,000 of our neighbors...


To get into the Independence Spirit, I've been labeling my planner with  my new awesome Frixion Markers! They are erasable! And the colors are beautiful. Love them! If you have a marker or pen addiction (like yours truly) then you need to add these to your Amazon cart.


I have so much work to do in my TPT store. It's really a sorry sight! I've been working on several novel/genre studies but I'm still in the early stages. My goal is to really buckle down next week and get some new products up in my store! Here's a little peek at one project I'm working on...

Whew! I have a lot of work ahead of me! I hope everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July! I'm ready to make some breakfast before checking out the movie times for today. Nothing says, "I love this country!" like watching a Channing Tatum movie, right?

Don't forget to checkout Oh' Boy 4th Grade to see everyone's plans for the fourth!

Happy Independence Day!
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig