Classroom "Theme" and Initial Projects

Since I have no choice but to have a "fresh start" in my new classroom, I decided that I would overhaul everything. Looking around in blogland, and especially Pinterest, I feel a little pressured to have a classroom "theme." In my thirteen years of teaching, none of my coworkers or I had ever had a theme. Maybe it was because only fourth and fifth grades were in my building, and available pre-packaged themes seemed a little too primary.

But it seems that a theme doesn't have to be things like teddy bears or giraffes. It can simply be a color scheme. When I saw this package of scrapbook paper at Michael's, I thought that it would be a good basis for my classroom. It's bright, it's fun, and not too little kiddish.

So after searching through my pinned school project ideas, I decided to start with making new inserts for my binders. I can't find the online source of my inspiration, but here is the finished project.

To get this to work out, I had to print on the solid paper in the landscape format then trim to fit the width of the cover. Then I cut the patterned paper so that it overlapped with the solid paper by a centimeter or so and glued the three pieces of paper together. The label for the spine is a repeat of the binder title, but in one line.

While I was at it, I made labels for my tubs. Of course, I laminated them and stuck them on using my sticker maker.

 My next project was the DIY ruler holder from Classroom DIY. The only changes that I made to the instructions were to use Mod Podge instead of the spray adhesive (which I didn't have) and I trimmed the paper prior to adhering it. I also used Mod Podge to protect the paper and used the Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer to get rid of the tackiness. I had a bunch of empty formula canisters around, so I decided to do those as well.

Now that I think about it, my scrapbook paper was 8 1/2 x 11, so it wouldn't cover the Pringles can. I took two strips of coordinating paper to use at the top and bottom. The formula can needed one and one-half pieces of paper to get total coverage.

Next up was clothespins covered with the scraps of paper that I had generated up to this point. This inspiration came from a pin from Etsy. I started by Mod Podging clothespins to the scrapbook paper. I lined it up so that two edges were aligned with the edges of the paper so that I only had to cut two sides.

When they were dry, I used my craft knife to cut along the tip and far side. Then I clipped them to my cutting mat and gave them a few coats of Mod Podge.

Once I get into my classroom and scope out my walls, I will decide how many will get thumbtacks glued to the back and how many will get magnets. Maybe some will stay plain :)

So, that's been keeping me busy this summer. Now trying to figure out what curtains fabric will go with all of these bright colors!
Use scrapbook paper and Mod Podge to dress up your classroom clothespins

Classroom Must-Haves

Since I can't get into my classroom, I have been pinning a ton of classroom ideas on Pinterest. More importantly, I have actually done some of them. Before I share those creations with you, I want to mention a few products that have really made my professional life easier (and more fun)!

To begin, I don't know where I'd be without my Scotch thermal laminator (affiliate link). I have found so many uses for it, from laminating schedules to name tags to bulletin board pieces. The one I have will laminate up to letter-sized paper. At home, I've laminated feathers, artwork, school picture composites, homemade bookmarks...

Another fun toy that a coworker convinced me that I needed is the Xyron Creative Station (affiliate link). This little gem will put a sticky residue on the back of anything you crank through it (up to 5" wide). So it basically makes anything flat into a sticker. One type of cartridge is for a permanent bond and another is repositionable. There are also cartridges for laminating and a cartridge to make things into magnets. With this, I've adhered name tags to desks, made flashcards, and just plain stuck things together.

Finally, Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files raved about her circle cutter. I printed these clock numbers that needed a round cut, so I took her advise and ordered one. It worked like a charm! FYI - You need a cutting mat and you'll want to tape down your paper so it doesn't shift mid-cut. Then I proceeded to laminate them and used the circle cutter again to cut the lamination :)

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The Beginning

I experimented with several different ways in which to write this first post, but I'm choosing the direct route. This is my new classroom.

None of what you see is my stuff. It belongs to the teachers/staff members who occupied this room for a year while their part of the building was being built. My stuff is sitting in the gym in my previous building. Thirteen years of stuff. And I report back to work in three weeks. I am freaking out. Because once these piles of stuff move to their new homes, the room has to be carpeted and additional white boards will be hung. Then my stuff will be moved over from my previous building and the unpacking will begin. And hopefully that will happen before the first day of school!

So I started this blog to help me deal with all of the changes in my professional life. And if I get any followers, I'm hoping that they'll be able to help me with the struggles that I will surely face and maybe get inspired by my ideas and successes!