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Cool Classroom Themes: Calm Classroom Decor

I love a calm classroom.  You can feel the learning going on when students are focused and engaged.  I’ve been planning ways to make my classroom environment an even more calm and peaceful place using simple classroom decor ideas and management strategies.  I have compiled these ideas on my new blog: Cool Classroom Themes.  I’ll continue to add new themes to help teachers find cool classroom themes that fit their style and motivate their students to learn!  

Loving my GIANT world map!

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Our school is using the theme reading theme “Around the World in a Million Words” to encourage students to read a million words this year.  Together with teachers, students track their progress and work toward mini goal parties throughout the year and one giant party with a GAME TRUCK (semi filled with video games) at the end of the year.  The theme has encouraged me to integrate more world studies into my lessons, and I refer to my giant map (55 x 39 inches) all the time.  For those of you without the giant free wall that I had, the poster site also has a smaller version (36 x 24 inches).  Just thought I’d share!

World Map


World Map

Buy This at Allposters.com

Free BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. until Sunday!

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I just received an email from BrainPop, stating that due to the large number of students home because of Hurricane Sandy, they’ve made ALL of their AWESOME videos free through Sunday!  What a great company.   Just when I thought I couldn’t like them any more.  :)  This is the perfect time to check out their educational videos!  BrainPop for free!

DIY Non Floral Wedding Boutonniere

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DIY Non Floral Wedding Boutonniere

I’ve returned to the USA (and have loved every second of seeing family, friends, and blue skies!) and have taken a nice chunk of time off from teacher planning and directed most of my efforts towards wedding planning for my Oct. 5 wedding!  I just finished my non floral boutonnieres!  I knew I didn’t want to use real or silk flowers, but it was hard to find inspiration for an alternative, so I made my own diy non floral boutonniere tutorial to hopefully help out some craft loving brides like me.  (On another note, I’ll be going back to teaching in a couple weeks, so I promise I’ll get back to school related posts soon!)

Classroom Olympics theme for next school year?

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Classroom Olympics theme for next school year?

How many classroom themes can I have?   They’re so much fun!  Their possibilities are endless.  Can you tell I love classroom planning?  (Hmm, maybe there’s a way to combine several into a SUPER theme?!)

I was gearing up for a camping theme for my classroom, but then I remembered the Olympics are coming and got all jazzed up.  The London 2012 Olympics could have so many educational tie ins.  I started searching for Olympics decor, activities, and materials and…well, it just got out of control!   Check out all the Olympics gear and activities for your classroom and please help me decide: Camping Theme or Olympics Theme?  :)

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A Collection of FUN Learning Activities for Summer Vacation

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A Collection of FUN Learning Activities for Summer Vacation

Summer is here!  (Go ahead, do a little dance in your chair.)  As a teacher, I know we all need (and deserve) a brain break.  So do it!  Take a break!

After you’ve relaxed a little, help your children dive into some fun that they won’t even realize is learning.  (Tricky, tricky, I know!) I’ve seen students make amazing progress during the course of the school year, only to come back from summer vacation having forgotten much of what they learned the previous school year. I’ve seen how it bothers the students when they return, only to realize the things they knew have now been forgotten, and it breaks my heart.

So what can you do to help your child retain (or even advance) what she/he’s learned this year? By providing meaningful, and FUN projects, activities, and experiences to tap into educational concepts throughout the summer! Some of these experiences will not only further your child’s understanding of their world, but offer great opportunities for you to bond as you work together in the comfortable and loving atmosphere of your home.

I’ve compiled a list of the best places to find engaging and unique learning activities for summers at home. (Or anytime, really!) It’s organized by subject area (Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Health), so if you’d like to skip to a specific subject, just use the Table of Contents.

I LOVE digging through educational resources to find the best of the best, so check back often, as I’ll be adding to that site all summer long!

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Cool Literacy Websites

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I just figured out how to see who has been checking out my Paragraph Attack Video on YouTube, and noticed Mrs. Ellis in Michigan (my home state–woot woot!) linked my video to her blog for students.  (Thank you!) You can find several other cool literacy sites there too!  Enjoy!

I also found these 2 videos about how to write paragraphs:

1. A paragraph writing wrap using a burrito and hamburger example (motivated me to have the kids create their own paragraph writing videos):

2. A family of chefs explains how to write a paragraph like you make a hamburger (I’m currently in China, where good burgers are hard to find, and these ladies are making me hungry while they educate!)  I love how this family worked together to create this educational video.  Sounds like a fun choice homework assignment!

Classroom Camping Theme

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Classroom Camping Theme

Cool camping theme for classroom!

I’ve been craving a camping trip, but that’s not going to happen for another 4 weeks at least (that’s how much longer I’ll be living in my university home in China), but hopefully it’ll happen when I return to the U.S. (and my camping gear) this summer!

<—Meet my fiance, Dan.  He’s packing up after a camping trip in N. Carolina last summer.  He’s an efficient packer–uses his head when he runs out of hands.  :)

Anyway, It got me thinking, and I’m now tossing around the idea of a camping themed classroom for next year.  I started searching the net for anything helpful that I might be able to use for next year and found a TON of ideas and listed them here!  Using a few key pieces and a little creativity can go a long way in developing the perfect theme.  I’d love to know if any of you have done a camping theme in your classroom and which ideas worked out the best for your little campers!

News! BrainPOP published my resources!

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News! BrainPOP published my resources!

Woohoo!  I’m totally pumped to say that my Before, During, and After Reading Graphic Organizers are posted on the BrainPOP Community page!  The free resources are designed for BrainPOP Jr.’s Food Chain, Forces, and Solar System videos.  I adore this site, and have used it extensively for the last 4 years.  They have TONS of educational videos based around curriculum content.  The students love it, and so do I!  Check it out!

A Pedometer for a Roaming Student

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I once had a student.  Let’s call him Toby.  Toby was the classroom roamer explorer.  He would get up in the middle of a 5 minute mini-lesson and begin “exploring” the room.  He was rarely aware that he was off task until I called him back to the carpet–he was just taking a walk!  I needed a way to make him aware and put him in control of his adventuring feet.

I tried everything, until one day I walked by the pedometers while doing some classroom shopping at the Dollar Store and half-seriously thought, “I bet Toby could really burn out one of those things!”  And the thought came to me, “What if I challenged him to get the FEWEST steps possible?”

It.  Totally.  Worked.  Man, I love the Dollar Store!

$2.12 plus these 4 sentences made all the difference: “Toby, here are 2 pedometers.  They keep track of how many steps you take each day.  You get to wear one, and you can choose a friend to challenge with the other one.  The person with the FEWEST steps at the end of the day WINS.”  I didn’t even attach a tangible award to it, just the pride of being the winner.  Toby’s roaming went almost to nonexistent in a DAY.  Each day, he chose a new friend to challenge.  Sometimes he even won.  The best part?  After a couple weeks, his roaming was drastically reduced, even when he forgot to put on the pedometer! 

Do you have an explorer?  Try this out and let me know how it goes!  I hope it’s just as successful for you!