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The BEST Pencil Sharpener (Plus a Giveaway!)

Hello teacher friends! Today I am sharing with you my ALL TIME favorite pencil sharpener! I know some people are all about the electric sharpeners-- but I was always so bummed when I purchased one and it burned out before the school year even ended! 

I present to you-- the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener! Once I started using this sharpener-- I knew I would never go back to an electric! 
Here are the pros of these sharpeners:
1) They are QUIET! 
2) They are easy to use
3) You can set it up anywhere in your classroom 
4) They make the pencils sharper than anything I've ever seen (and the lead doesn't break easily after sharpening)
5) They are easy to maintain (cleanliness, lead sticking, etc.)
6) They come in an amazing variety of colors! I got blue to stick with my color scheme :) 
7) Buying in bulk saves you money (and you won't have to buy a sharpener for many years!)

Once I taught my students the proper way to handle the sharpener-- they LOVED it! Don't be intimidated by it's unique look (I promise-- it's super easy!) The website even has videos to show you how to use them! Check out my photos to see how sharp this CHEAP pencil gets (you know-- the ones you give out for holidays and always break in the regular sharpeners???)

Isn't that amazing??? Now to the best part-- the giveaway! If you'd like to win your very own sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies-- check out the Rafflecopter below! You even get your own color choice of green, blue, red, black, or pink! (Please note-- due to shipping costs-- entrants MUST have a US mailing address-- thank you!) 

I'm also going to add a $10 TPT gift card to the giveaway (because I know firsthand how much money we all spend on our own classrooms) Best of luck! 

Bulletin Board Tips & Tricks

I have a love/hate relationship with my bulletin boards! Some years they seem to come together nicely-- and other years they seem a disaster!
Last year was tough because I only had 2 boards-- so I had to make a lot of bulletin board type areas on the bare walls of my room. This year-- I have about 5 boards-- and it came together nicely! Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to getting a bulletin board you LOVE! Please note that this post contains some affiliate links for Amazon. 
One of my favorite trends going on right now is to add 3D elements to your board! This could be any range of items-- but most often I see:
  •  Banners and buntings. This editable pencil banner came from my writing bulletin board set-- found here.
These items do not have to be expensive-- and are usually homemade! I love the depth it gives a board! 
Sticking to a color scheme will add cohesion to your classroom decor! I usually try to do a uniform background paper on each board-- and then change up the trimmer. So even if you have a "rainbow" theme-- your eyes (and your students') aren't being overwhelmed by too many colors at once! 

My all time favorite bulletin board paper is the Pacon fadeless paper from Amazon! I bought this large roll and it went across 5 large bulletin boards (and I have more left). You can also find it at Michaels or  teacher stores-- but the rolls on Amazon are the biggest! They have a chalkboard colored paper that looks amazing! 

Here are some of my bulletin boards-- my color scheme is the wood paper, blues, and green. 
This is such a simple way to save $ on those letter cutouts from the teacher store! Here is the process:
  1. Open PowerPoint (I like landscape view)
  2. Click the "Insert" tab at the top and select "text box". Drag the text box across your page. 
  3. Type a letter you are needing and size it to about 500 (you can play with this sizing after changing the font)
  4. Choose a font you want-- remember that bolder fonts are easier to cut out by hand. Adjust text size again (if too large or small)
  5. Highlight the letter and click the "Format" tab at the top.
  6. Find "Text Fill" and make it white or "no fill"
  7. Find "Text Outline" and change it to black. While under the text outline option-- find "weight" and choose the heaviest option (I usually do 6 pt)
  8. Copy & Paste your letter-- then change it to the next letter you need. Right click the slide and select "duplicate" then change out more letters. 
  9. Print on any color you prefer!
Here is my math bulletin board with  homemade letters for a title: 
I always try to make a board for each topic I teach. This year I'm departmentalized. So I will have a board for math anchor charts and writing work (my 2 topics). One year I had a word wall, but I always forgot it was there-- so my students never used it. I have also put up center rotation boards and never used it. 

Think it over BEFORE you hang it up. If it can wait until after school begins-- wait. I ended up doing my math rotations via my smartboard (it was easier to switch the groups around). 

Here is an example of my writing board-- I also have class numbers on clothespins-- so the students and I can move their clips on the pencil chart to where they are in the writing process: 
Also, try to find things that are relevant to today's culture. A place to "tweet" about their favorite books or "Instagram" something cool they've done or learned today. They will love these boards! 
My last tip is perhaps the most important:Your bulletin boards DO NOT have to be full before the first day of school. In fact, it's best they aren't. 

Give them a place to showcase their work. If you're doing anchor charts-- leave places to hang them up! If you're all about that growth mindset or data growth boards-- wait until you've taught the students about it and THEN hang something up. 

They will be MUCH more likely to look at a board they helped create than a poster you printed and hung before school started. Trust me.

I hope you learned some new tricks today! Don't be afraid to leave it plain Jane for awhile :) 


DIY Tire Seats

This summer project has taken me awhile-- but I'm very happy with how it turned out! Here is the quick guide to how I made my tire seats (which I plan to use in my classroom as a form of seating). These would be AMAZING in a reading nook! Please note this post contains some affiliate links for Amazon. 

First, you must procure a tire (or tires). I found mine via Facebook marketplace-- I got both for $5. But I've also heard a lot of tire shops will give them to teachers for free-- so it doesn't hurt asking!

I rolled both my tires into the driveway and gave them a good wash with a hose and bucket filled with water/Dawn dish soap. You can also use a degreaser-- but I figured Dawn would do the job. 
Then you have to wait for your tires to dry-- including the water that got into the inside. 

After mine dried I decided to prime them using Kiltz (the best brand?) primer-- and a paintbrush. I quickly learned that if I wanted to get into every nook and cranny I should use spray paint. 

After priming (and more drying)-- I picked a color of spray paint and went to town. Make sure to do this on a drop cloth or in the grass-- I always stain my pavement on accident...
After 2 coats of spray paint my tires were ready to go! You could easily stop here and put some round pillows inside the tires (like bucket seats). I decided to go one more step and create cushion tops. 

To make the seats I had my lovely father (who has been so kind and helpful with all my classroom projects!) cut 2 circles out of a large piece of plywood. I already had this piece of wood in my garage because I am refinishing a table. The circles had 2 sizes-- one fit exactly into the middle of the tire-- and the other was about 2 inches wider around the outside. 
Next, we put wood glue between the 2 pieces, clamped them together, and used screws to attach them. Make sure your screws aren't long enough to go all the way through both pieces of wood and stick out. My wood was fairly thick-- so I used 1.25" screws-- and they worked perfectly. 

After a night of drying-- the fun par was left! Decorating! I picked out a 1 yard of thicker fabric (an outdoor fabric would do well) as well as some foam
I cut 2 pieces of foam to fit onto each wood top--
    Put the fabric over the top-- and stapled it to the underside. 
Now each seat fits perfectly into the tire tops-- and won't fall off or into it! I am so excited to use these this year! 
What is a summer project you've been excited about? Feel free to share or ask questions in the comments! Hope you're having a lovely break!


DIY Paper Succulents

Hey everyone! So as I've been prepping for my classroom this summer-- I've absolutely fallen in love with succulents! Not the cacti type-- but the fat, round, and colorful type. As a result every piece of decor I've been making lately has a shiplap and succulent theme! Take a look below:
Most of the items pictured above can be found in my TPT store-- you can find them by clicking here.

Now on to to the real reason you're here. Paper succulents. I'm not going to lie to you-- it is time consuming. And if you have a cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette-- you can save yourself some serious time (plus you can make larger sized plants). 

So here we go! Here are the supplies you need: Cardstock (I bought 2 packs of green cardstock from Walmart for $5 each), scissors, pencil (if tracing), and hot glue. Each larger succulent took about three 12x12 pieces of cardstock, and the smaller ones took two 8.5x11" pieces. 
This first succulent was made from a template I found online for free. I didn't really follow their directions-- so you can make them either way. First, I printed the 2 pages onto the color of cardstock I wanted.
Next, I cut out the pieces. I laid the largest piece aside as a base. Next, I cut all the other pieces in half (and I also cut an extra piece of the smallest size). Cutting them in half let me make a small slit along the bottom-- where I used a small dot of hot glue to press the flaps together (giving them more of a standing look). You can see my process below...
After that I began assembling my succulent: 
I tried to make sure the petals were overlapping in each layer as I glued the pieces together. The very middle is the hardest to explain because I usually played it by ear-- bending and gluing the smallest pieces (sometimes even trimming them) until I was satisfied. 

Succulents 2 & 3 were created using my Cricut-- but I was able to trace a template for any lovers of the "trace and cut" method. If you want to make them larger-- you could always set the largest piece down on some paper and trace a larger figure around it. 

Basically for succulent #2, I used the largest piece as the base and bent all the other pieces upward at the petals.
Then you glue and stack, glue and stack-- and make sure the petals alternate (so you should see the previous layer in between). Here is my finished result with my original: 
The last succulent is my personal favorite! 
Also the easiest (in my opinion). It's the same process as above: Cut out shapes, bend the petals, and stack and glue the layers. 
Here is my original and the new one side by side:
Hope that helped inspire you in your paper succulent making quest! If you have any questions or suggestions please leave them in the comments below-- and I will try my hardest answer them ASAP. Hope you have a blessed day!


How to Make Birthday Cups

This idea has been around for awhile-- so it's totally not my original idea-- but I thought I'd share what I bought and how I assembled my "birthday cups" last summer! Especially because I plan on making more this summer! (Please note this post contains some affiliate links for Amazon.)
Materials needed: 
1) Plastic coffee cups (with lids)-- I ordered mine from Amazon. It was a little pricey--but I really got enough to last 2 years! I've also heard that some coffee places will donate these cups to teachers for free-- so it may be worth inquiring! Just make sure it's the kind for iced coffee and has a hole in the lid! 

2) Shredded white crinkle paper-- I bought a few packs from my local Dollar Tree. You can still find this on Amazon though. You also don't have to use white, but I wanted mine to resemble whipped cream. 

3) Suckers-- I used different colored Tootsie Roll Pops (because a bag of just red cost a little more than I was willing to pay). You could easily use Blow Pops too. I bought my suckers in a large quantity from Walmart. 

4) Pencils-- I use pencils to look like the "straws"-- I found some cute rainbow ones at Walmart for very cheap! 

5) Whatever you want to use as a filler-- This is where you can be as creative (or not creative) as you please! Here are some ideas for your cups:

  • Candy (if you are making these during the summer keep in mind that some candy lasts better than others over time-- like bubble gum)
  • Erasers
  • Bookmarks
  • Emoji pencil sharpeners
  • Emoji bracelets
  • Glow bracelets
  • Play-Doh
  • Packet of Koolaid (or other drink mix)
  • Stickers
  • Brag tags-- My kids LOVED these last year (click the pic to see in my store)

6) Full page label paper (or sticker paper). I purchase mine from Amazon-- but I believe label paper is cheaper than sticker paper. You will need this type of paper to make the stickers for the cups! 

7)Labels for the cups-- I have created a set with 19 different labels-- here are a few closer up:
How to assemble:

  1. Fill each cup with desired goodies/candy-- leave a little space at the top for the white crinkle paper!
  2. Top goodies with white crinkle paper and put on cup lid
  3. Use a hole punch to punch a hole in the cup lid (for the birthday pencil) and put pencil in-- I had to almost do 2 punches side by side to slide the pencil in more easily
  4. Put a sucker in the top hole of the cup lid
  5. Choose your birthday sticker label and put label paper in the printer (make sure you put it in the right way-- I had to put mine in upside down)
  6. Print birthday cup stickers on the labels, cut out, peel, and stick onto cups
Now you are ready for the year ahead! Here is a quick post about how I keep track of student birthdays-- if you need help remembering! Plus it's a fun way to store birthday gifts! 

I hope you found this to be helpful! Best of luck in preparing for next year! 

How to Manage Student Rewards

Hello everyone! I don't know about you-- but I LOVE rewarding students for good behavior, positive attitudes, effort, and other fine qualities all teachers admire! Today I want to share some ideas for managing the rewards you give to students! (Please note this post contains some affiliate links for Amazon)

First off, make sure your reward system matches your management style. For the past 5 years I've used ClassDojo in my room-- and I love it! Here is a post I wrote a few years ago about how I use it in conjunction with a classroom economy. Basically I hand out "Dojo Dollars" every Friday based on how many points my students have earned.
Then they can use those dollars to pay for prizes and rewards.

I had to decide what types of rewards to put on each poster-- you don't want your best rewards to be worth $5! Make them save for it! I usually switch the prizes up every year based on popularity or if I get tired of it... Here are the posters I use:
Sometimes I forget what the student has paid for-- so this year I am going to give them a coupon after they pay. Then they can trade the coupon in whenever they want to use it! Here is how I will manage my coupons:

1) I bought an "Iris Photo Keeper" from Amazon (you can also get them from Michaels and other craft places). I created labels, printed, and hot glued them to the boxes to help me keep track.

2) I had to figure out how to sort my coupons...

3) I decided to stick with the point system-- so I sorted the coupons by my point system:
Below you can see an example of some of the coupons that will go in the "10 point" box. The best coupons go in the "50 point" box!
I also love the holidays-- so I provide a "holiday tub" for students to purchase a prize from (I usually made this cost 5 Dojo Dollars) I store them in small sterilite tubs with latches (found also at Walmart, Big Lots, Target, etc.)
Then, whatever was leftover I could easily save for next year. Also, after each holiday be sure to stock up on the little toys, pencils, erasers, etc. that go on sale (Hobby Lobby, Mardels, Walmart, Target are excellent places to look) and save them for next year!

What types of rewards do you use with students? Click here or on the picture below to visit my reward coupons in my TPT store. The preview has a full list with explanations-- most of the rewards don't cost anything!
Download also includes black and white versions-- which look amazing on Astrobright paper! It's a great way to save on colored ink!
Lastly, I included the labels for a photo keeper-- as well as an editable version of the coupons-- so you can make your own!

Hope you have a blessed day!
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