Monday, June 30, 2014

4 Tips That Are Sure To Save You Time Every Week

Does Your Painting Center Get You Down?

Fear not, my 4 tips will transform your painting center into a "no-hassle" zone! 
Maybe is was a Picasso in the making!

Tip #1:

No more washing paint brushed every day!  Just get yourself some sponges and poke a hole in the center.  

You can cut rectangular sponges into squares.
I tried leaving the sponges as rectangles, but they kept knocking over the
paint cups they were next to.  Squares worked out best.  

Or use these cute ones I found at the 99 Cent Store.
The good new is that these are 4 for $1.00.
The bad news is that these are the only 4 colors they come in.

All you have to do is wet the sponge and place it over the brush handle.
So cute, and they last for a long time.

Pull the brush handle about 1/2 inch up while pressing down with your other hand on the wet sponge to hold the brush in place and keep the sponge from creeping up the brush handle as it dries.  

That's it!  The next morning, just slide the dry sponges off of the brushes and you are ready to paint.  

I like to color match the sponges to the paint colors since wet paint often gets on the sponges and you won't want to cross contaminate!  :)

Tip #2:

Line up your paint bottles in rainbow order. 
I don't know if they still make the Mickey Mouse paint sample cards,
but you can just use squares of colored construction paper.  

 Use Mickey Mouse paint sample cards (or just colored construction paper) to label where each bottle belongs.  
Looks like we have got a supple of every color right now.  

Then, as you are racing out the door to go to the bathroom office, you can glance at your paint rack, check out which paint bottle is missing, and then you can be sure to grab the right color of paint while you are at the supply room.  

Tip # 3:

This one is from my friend, Lauren, who has helped me so much!  She even worked at my booth at the So CA Kindergarten Conference last February.  She told me to line my paint cups with plastic sandwich bags before filling them.  Then, clean up is a breeze.  You just lift the bag out and toss it in the trash!  
Thank you, Lauren, for your cool tip!  

I also rub petroleum jelly on the tops of the concave paint cups.  This helps when I finally get around to cleaning the tops of the paint cups.  
You rub a thin layer of Vaseline on the colored, concave tops.

To be honest, since I have been using the wet sponges, I don't clean out the paint cups too often, but when I do, the Vaseline on the tops of the cups really helps a lot.

Tip # 4:

I cover my entire painting easel with a plastic table cloth.  I like the ones with the felt back the best.  I wait for them to go on sale for $1 - $2 and keep them in the closet until I need a new one.
You just have to slit the tablecloth to allow the clips to come through.  

One large rectangular table cloth is big enough to cover the easel and the paint trays.  I change them only about 4 times a year.  I wait until they look like this:
Holy paint bomb, Batman!  I'm sure glad you keep
extra plastic tablecloths in the closet for emergencies like this!

Well, really, this is what happened when I had a sub one day and the kids decided to paint the table cloth!  Yeah, we had a talk!  A long talk!  

Anyway, my old easel looks as good as new because I just keep changing the table cloth!  I love to match them to the seasons too, so keep your eyes peeled for seasonal plastic table cloths.

Hope these tips help to keep the painting center alive and well in your classroom. 
See you all tomorrow!
Palma :) 

Here is a Color Word FREEBIE you might like:

Click the image for the free download.
Click the image for the FREE download.

And here is our Color Pack that includes templates for creating tons of class books:
Click the image for more info.

Click the image for more info.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Run, Don't Walk to Target's Dollar Spot!!!

Never Hear, "I can't get the glue to come out!" again.

Here are my 3 best tips for managing white glue in the classroom, but read fast so you can get to Target and grab these adorable ketchup & mustard glue bottles and turn them into "clog-free" bottles.
You get 2 bottles for $1.00.

1.  No Clog Glue Bottles:

These bottles are the perfect size for little hands.  But I have a trick that will keep the tip from getting clogged with glue.  So read on!

FIRST:  You should coat the threads of the bottle with petroleum jelly (so you can always get the top off to re-fill the bottle), fill the bottle with white glue, and replace the cap.  

SECOND:  Pick up a package of brush rollers.  Not the self-gripping kind, but the ones that come with plastic pins like these:
These were $4.49 at Rite Aid.

I found these at Rite Aid.  You can use the rollers for painting or you can even pop them into your estimation jar, but the best part of this package of rollers is the little pack of plastic pins.

They fit perfectly in the little glue bottles.   When your students are ready to glue, all they have to do is give the plastic pin a little twist and pull it out.  I teach them to place the pin on their glue tray (see tip #3 below to find out what a glue tray is).  No more clogged bottles EVER!  :)

When they are done glueing, they just push the plastic pin back into the nozzle.

And the regular cap on these bottles can be snapped onto the base to create a loop.  If your tables get cluttered, you can hang the bottles on hooks attached below the tables or attached below a shelf in your classroom.  Just use the hooks with the sticky back.

2.  No Sticky Fingers When Gluing Tiny Pieces Together:

The Dollar Store usually has these little cube-shaped containers, but you can use any small air-tight container.  Fill it completely with a sponge.  I like the cube-shaped containers because I have lots of thick foam which I can easily cut into cubes that fit perfectly in these containers.
The popsicle molds hold 3 fat crayons or 6 small crayons in each section.
The small rectangular box holds broken and peeled blue crayons for use, on their sides, as background crayons.
Wet the sponge and place it in the container.

Add white glue to the top of the sponge and allow it to soak into the sponge.  

Cover the container.  

When your students need to glue a tiny piece of paper down, all they have to do is open the container, press the tiny piece on the gluey sponge, and it is ready to glue down on their project!

Each Friday, I open the containers and add a little water and more glue.

3.  The No-mess Glue Tray:

I got this idea from a colleague.

I collected plastic lids for each table.  
I like to put green lids at the green table, red lids at the red table, Etc.  :)

When the students need to use white glue, they squeeze a little puddle of glue onto the glue tray.

Using their pointer finger, they dab it into the glue and apply the glue to their project.  

Then, they scrape off any excess glue onto the edge of the glue tray and just rub their thumb on their pointer finger to rub off any residue.  That's it!  :)

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
PiNtErEsT:  Click Here to see my Pinterest Boards.  (Oh, the ideas on these boards!)
TeAcHeRs PaY tEaChErS:  Click Here to see my TPT Store (Did you say, "15 freebies?!")

I'll see you all tomorrow for more tips!
Palma ;)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Don't Know How I Survived Without These 3 Teaching Tips

My Most Pinned Idea:

This idea gets re-pinned on Pinterest several times each day!  I use these every day in my classroom.
Each child gets their own mat and cup filled with dry erase mini markers and a mini eraser.
You can find lined dry-erase contact paper online or at educational supply stores.
Last year I found lined dry erase charts and just cut them into quarters.
Click HERE to see a 30 pack at a pretty good price.  

Attach one to each laminated sheet of construction paper.  To keep the edges from coming up, I tape them down.  
Even the teacher gets her own mat
with lined dry-erase paper attached to it.
Now, when I'm working with a small group, I can model a letter or write an entire word for a student to copy.  All I have to do is pick up my dry erase marker and I can help a student with a math problem or anything else I might need to write down for that student.  When we are done, we just erase it!  

Last summer, I grabbed these cute little erasers at Target's Dollar Spot.  They were 2 for a dollar!

My Next Best Idea Is...

... not my original idea.  :)  It's from Rick Morris' web site.  I tried this idea and my students love it:

I hang my "Ringing Pen" on a hook so I can always find it.

You just tie a bell to a dry erase marker.  (The square bells work better than the round ones because the round ones tend to swirl the clapper around in silence.)  Then, each time you want your students to really listen and watch what you are writing on the board, you use the marker with the bell.  You don't have to say a word.  They hear the bell and they know that whatever you are about to write is super important.  

My Last, Best Idea:

Take each child's photograph when you first meet them.  This might be at their pre-test time before school begins or it might be on their first day of school.  
I smudged out her name, but you would normally see it at the bottom of the photo.

I use the same tablecloth for the background so everyone's picture looks somewhat uniform.  

I create a template in a word processing document with a place for a 5" X 7" photo, three 2" X 3" photos, and two 1.5" X 1 " photos.  I type their names into a text box which is placed at the bottom of each photo.

Now, I can use these great pictures all through the year.  I laminate the larges one and place it in their cubbies.  
Photos inside the cubbies before adding the names.
The red checkered background goes perfectly with my
picnic bulletin board and with my farm theme later in the year.

I place one of the the smallest ones on their record folder where I keep all of their ESGI flashcards, testing results, and work samples.    If you haven't checked out ESGI yet, do yourself a favor and try it for 60 days for FREE.  This is the perfect time to explore their website, their ready-made tests, or try your hand at creating your own custom tests.  And if you teach T.K., you can grab the tests I created by searching my name, Palma Lindsay.   Then, if you like it, use my discount code, B2174, for $40 off of your 1st year.  I guess this is one more thing I can't live without! 

I use one of the medium size photos for our classroom graph by laminating it to card stock and adding Velcro to the back.  
Photo on the front, name & Velcro on the back.

Sticky-back Velcro holds this on our graph. 

I attach one to a copy of their name for our writing center.  Then, other students can find the picture of their friend and quickly see how to write their name. 
Add caption

 That leaves me with 2 more photos to use throughout the year.

That's it.  3 (or 4) ideas I simply can't live without.
Come back tomorrow for more classroom tips.

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
PiNtErEsT:  Click Here to see my Pinterest Boards.  (Oh, the ideas on these boards!)
TeAcHeRs PaY tEaChErS:  Click Here to see my TPT Store (Did you say, "15 freebies?!")

Palma :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

1, 2, 3, Classroom Set-up: Year-round Bulletin Boards That Will Change Your Life

The Same Board That Keeps Changing:

If you are tired of putting up new bulletin boards every month, but you want your classroom to stay fresh, new, and updated then read on!

These boards can be set up at the beginning of the year and, with very little effort, they can be quickly and easily updated so your classroom always looks seasonal, fresh, and new.

Board #1:  (The secret to this board is in the binder clips.)

Each child has their own writing board.  Their name plate is below their writing samples.

This board goes up before school begins and stays up.  You just laminate construction paper (12"X12") and add a binder clip to each one.  You can find these at office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot.  
Click the image to grab the Instant Writing pack.
Each time your students complete a writing page, just double hole punch it & add it to the top of their writing stack.  The current theme is always displayed &, at the end of the year, all you have to do is pull the pages off of the binder, staple them together with a cute cover sheet, & you have a progressive sample of their writing & a great take-home book.  

I created an Instant Writing Pack similar to the one pictured here.
You can grab it by clicking HERE.
You can also add additional art projects around each child's writing board.

Board #2:  (The secret to this board is to just "let it go" for the entire season.)

We made our little trees with
toilet paper tubes and sticky-backed Fun Foam letter.

I have one tree trunk and 4 tree tops (1 for summer, fall, winter, and spring) that I put up each year. 
We start with the palm tree and the students make "Chick-a-chick-a-boom-boom" trees that we pin up under my big palm tree.
We also made flat trees which fit nicely
 in their memory books.

When fall rolls around, we take down the palms and put up the brown branches which stay up the rest of the year.  The students make fall leaves (that have a fall poem on them with a dotted font so they can trace the letters) that are quickly pinned up to the tree.
Our fall leaves were copied on red, orange, yellow, and brown.
Then, we added them to our memory books with their fall photo.

When winter arrives, we put their fall leaved into their memory books and I pin a little bit of snow made from cotton balls that I stretched across the branches.  The students make little snowmen after "buying" the parts during a small group math lesson and we pin them up below the winter tree.
You can find cute receipts for this project and more shopping activities by clicking HERE.
Each student was given 20 cents and they got to "buy" hats, scarves, eyes,
a carrot nose,coal for the mouth, snowflakes, arms, and even a bell.

This guy lost his eye!  Oh, no!

You can find out how to make the butterfly life cycle
out of pasta by clicking on the image above. 
Fast forward to spring.  The cotton snow comes down and I pin little pink squares (2"X2") of tissue paper pinched to look like cherry blossoms.  The students place their butterfly life cycle (made out of pasta) leaves on and around the tree.

You can always change out the seasonal are during each season, but I just leave the projects mentioned above up for the entire season.  

Click the image to find out how to create this life cycle out of pasta. 

Board(s) #3:  (The Secret to these boards is to use it as a tool all year long.)

Your alphabet and word wall stay up all year, but consider numbering your alphabet either with small calendar numbers or, like I did this year, match the numbered ten frame to each letter.  This not only helps to teach letter order, but often students recognize the numbers 1-10 before they learn the names of the letters.  This is especially true for most of our English Language Learners.  Then, all I have to do is say, "Look at the letter below (or above) the number 3."  

I just used calendar numbers here.

As for your word wall, jazz it up with t-shirts.  I have a letter on each t-shirt, its Zoo-Phonics animal, and any sight words we need to master hanging from each t-shirt.  The word wall stays up all year, but we can add any words we might be using during the year to any of the t-shirts.
Last year I hung the t-shirts from a clothes line by the window.
The fire marshal did NOT like that so....
This year, I hung the t-shirts below my front board.  
I liked them better hanging from a clothes line.  

I hope these bulletin board ideas help to make your life easier.

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
PiNtErEsT:  Click Here to see my Pinterest Boards.  (Oh, the ideas on these boards!)
TeAcHeRs PaY tEaChErS:  Click Here to see my TPT Store (Did you say, "15 freebies?!")

See you all tomorrow with more 1, 2, 3 Classroom Set-up tips.
Palma :)