Category Archives: Classroom Decor

Silly National Holidays {and how to use them in the classroom}

chocolate covered bacon!

Anyone want to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day?

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

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Thanksgiving and Christmas may be over, but that’s just fine by me because I recently discovered a new favorite holiday. And although I’ve been celebrating the spirit of this day for many (many) years, I didn’t know there was an “official” holiday for it until recently. It can be summed up in one glorious word: CHOCOLATE.

That’s right, December 16 is “National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.” So of course I celebrated it with gusto this past month. And it got me thinking: what other lesser-known holidays are out there languishing without celebration?

A little digging led me to discover the answer: quite a few! Many of these holidays are silly, most are funny, and almost all are downright perfect for a teachable moment. Here are a few lesson ideas, based on January’s wacky holidays:

January 10: “Peculiar People Day”

Look up the word “peculiar” in the dictionary. Have students copy the definition and then write their own definition in their own words below it. Younger students can then draw a peculiar person, and older students can create a description of a peculiar person.

Since peculiar people aren’t boring in the least, be sure to brainstorm a list of colorful synonyms and adjectives to describe peculiar people. For example, you could ask children to consider what would make a basketball player peculiar from his teammates (height, or lack thereof), or what might make a ballerina peculiar (clumsiness, huge feet, a mohawk, etc.). They can write a “peculiar person paragraph” and illustrate it. Or, better yet: have them trade paragraphs with a classmate and illustrate each other’s based on the descriptions! 

January 15: “Hat Day”

Provide magazines and have students search for hat pictures, cut them out, and make a “wacky hat” collage. Older students could research styles and fashions of different eras and see what types of hats were popular in each era. What was the purpose of each type of hat? For example, why are cowboy hats so different from baseball caps? Why did women used to wear hats to church? Why are Kentucky Derby attendees famous for wearing hats? Or add in a little math: What’s the average hat size in your classroom?

January 23: “National Handwriting Day”Girl writing with colored pencil

Practice using your best handwriting to write thank-you notes to people in the school. Brainstorm a list of seldom-thanked staff members (media specialist, janitor, cafeteria workers, front desk receptionist, etc.) who might appreciate a well-penned note.

January 25: “Opposite Day” 

Have fun with this one! Students can practice talking in opposites, or you can give instructions in opposites (“Stand up,” “Put your books away,” “Don’t write this down”). Give a sticker or small prize to the student who most successfully figures out and follows the correct instructions all day.

Here are some other wacky January holidays to get your creative juices flowing!

January 1: First Foot Day and Z Day

January 2: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

January 3: Festival of Sleep Day

January 4: Trivia Day

January 5: Bird Day

January 6: Bean Day

January 7: Old Rock Day

January 8: National JoyGerm Day and Man Watcher’s Day

January 9: Play God Day

January 10: Peculiar People Day

January 11: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day

January 12: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day (couldn’t find a good explanation of this one…but it sounds fascinating)

January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day (love this!)

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

January 15: Hat Day

January 16: Hot and Spicy Food International Day

January 17: Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day

January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

January 19: National Popcorn Day

January 20: National Buttercrunch Day

January 21: National Hugging Day (awww)

January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (bizarre-o!) and National Blonde Brownie Day

January 23: National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day

January 24: Eskimo Pie Patent Day

January 25: Opposite Day

January 26: Australia Day

January 27: Punch the Clock Day

January 28: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day

January 29: National Cornchip Day

January 30: Escape Day

January 31: National Popcorn Day (just in case you missed it on the 19th! :)

Whichever holiday you choose to celebrate and integrate into the classroom, we’ll be excited to hear about it! Leave a comment about what you’ve already celebrated, or the holiday you plan on bringing into your classroom in the new year.

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Filed under Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Crafts, History, Holidays, Multicultural Community, Uncategorized

best scarecrow we’ve seen all fall

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Does your school hold a scarecrow-decorating contest between the classes each fall? Well, if it does, here’s a little lovely that’s sure to win the blue ribbon. And if it doesn’t, this idea will still turn your classroom into the talk of the town (or school).

Here’s the gist: rather than creating the typical man-of-straw out of a predictable flannel shirt and old jeans, why not turn your entire door into one? We love this idea from Laurie Butler.

Photo by Laurie Butler

supplies:

bulletin board paper in orange, yellow, brown and black

directions:

1. First, cut a large floppy hat from a piece of orange bulletin board paper. Don’t worry about making it perfect– lumps add a nice rumpled scarecrow touch. A band of lighter orange and a sunflower complete the fall look.

2. Next, cut several strips of yellow paper in varying lengths. Glue these under the hat to make the hair.

3. Once dry, mount the hat/hair to the door frame.

4. To make the face, add two black circle eyes and an orange triangle for a nose. Cut a wobbly, lopsided “u” shape for the mouth, and add a few “stitches” to the mouth and around the nose. Adorable!!

To finish off the decor around the door, create a wooden “fence” out of brown bulletin board paper and add a student-created pumpkin patch below. Voila! Blue ribbon, fo’ sho’.

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Filed under Bulletin Boards, Classroom Decor, Crafts, Fall, Thanksgiving

Best Teacher Organization Ideas, Part II

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card. Just for sharing a lil’ ol’ comment. 

Every teacher knows that trying to manage a classroom without organizational systems in place is just plain foolishness. So, we’ve been compiling our favorite classroom organization ideas to share with you during this series. {To see the ingenius idea from the first post, click here.}

In our quest for the best ideas, we found creative uses for over-the-door shoe holders. Now these magical pocketed do-alls can be used to organize just about anything, but we loved how Miss Kindergarten (adorable blog, btw) used a shoe organizer to categorize the mountains of stickers that were taking over her classroom.

“As a Kindergarten teacher I have a ton, and I mean a TON of stickers! More and more keep popping out of random places in my room,” she says. “It was driving me absolutely nuts finding adorable stickers that I didn’t even know I had after said holiday. So I decided to face those stickers and show them who’s boss!”

Here’s her shoe organizer-turned-sticker file:

Here’s how she did it:

Step one: Tackle Those Stickers

Pile all of your stickers into one huge mountain. :)

Step two: Categorize

Organize the stickers into broad but relevant categories like encouragement, sports, Christmas, fall, culture, letters, stars, hearts, reading, and science. Once you have your piles organized, label each pile with a sticky note.

Step three: Make Cute Labels

Create labels on the computer in a cute font (one for each sticky note), mount them on construction or scrapbook paper, and laminate them.

Step four: Attach Labels

Attach labels to your shoe organizer with cute ribbon and a hole punch.

Step five: Fill the Pockets

Put stickers in correct pocket and never forget about cute stickers again!

Miss Kindergarten found her shoe organizer in the Target dollar section, but we found some pretty inexpensive versions online here and here.

Source:

www.miss-kindergarten.com

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Filed under Classroom Decor, Classroom Organization

Best Teacher Organization Ideas, Part I

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card. Just for sharing a lil’ ol’ comment. 

Every teacher (and parent) knows that trying to manage a classroom (or home) without organizational systems in place is just plain foolishness. So, we’ve been compiling our favorite classroom/home organization ideas to share with you, and in the next three posts, we’ll share the very best.

Favorite Idea #1: Teacher Toolbox

This idea is simple but genius: use an organizational toolbox (as in that big ol’ thing with tons of drawers that your grandaddy used to have parked next to his workbench) to stash all of your small supplies. Star stickers, paper clips, post-it-notes, first-aid kit, desk supplies: you name it, it can find a place in your teacher toolbox. This box also makes it super easy for subs and para-pros to find your essentials!

Search “teacher toolbox” in Pinterest to see a slew of examples, but here are a few of the very best we found in teacher blogger world:

Toolbox One: Down the Learning Road

She details the fonts and papers used in her blog post here.

A similar toolbox can be found at Amazon.com for between $25-$35. Try this one or this one.

Toolbox Two: Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher

Here’s the post about how to make this one. And here’s a link to the toolbox on Amazon.com.

Toolbox 3: Apples and ABC’s

LOVE the step-by-step pictures on how to assemble this one!

Here’s an in-process shot:

Happy organizing! Check back for the next post on another fabulous organizational idea in Part 2 of this series.

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Filed under Classroom Decor, Classroom Organization

FRESH Bulletin Boards for Back-to-School!

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. and Diane Burdick, M.S. Ed.

Back-to-school time is upon us! Just look around any grocery store and you’ll be reminded that school will be starting up any day. So, we’re here to help you come up with a few new ways to welcome your students into your classroom–and into the new school year–with style and, well, class.

Bulletin Board #1: Getting to Know YOU

As the teacher, you’re interested in getting to know your students, but your students (and their parents) are equally as interested in getting to know all about you. So why not help them learn more about you with a YOU-themed bulletin board?

Title the board “Mrs. Smith welcomes you!” Include a brief biographical paragraph, pictures of yourself and your family, and pictures of you at the age of the students you teach. Create a list of your likes and dislikes, a list of the fun things that you did this summer, a list of your favorite things about school (it’s okay to put recess on there :).

Doing a YOU-themed bulletin board helps the students feel less intimidated by you as the new authority figure in their lives and sets the tone for a cheery new school year.

Bulletin Board #2: Look Whooo’s In Our Nest!

Owls are all the rage currently, and given their tie-in with knowledge and learning, why not incorporate them into a “Look Whooo’s In Our Nest” bulletin board?

Use strips of brown paper to create a large nest at the bottom of the bulletin board, and then fill it with owls. {Download printable owls here or here or here. Or create your own using this printable template from CraftJr.com.} Write each child’s name on an owl.

To vary this idea with photographs, ask parents to bring a fairly recent picture of their child with them to meet-and-greet or orientation (or the first day of school). Glue a child’s head over each owl face. Can’t you just picture a big brown nest filled with your new lil’ owlets?

Check out some of the great downloadable and purchasable owl items from Teacher Pay Teachers {an online marketplace for educational ideas}, too.

Bulletin Board #3: Heroes of the Class

Since hero-themed movies were so big this year in the box office, consider creating a bulletin board celebrating the different heroes in your classroom: your classroom helpers! Assign fun names and pictures to your different classroom jobs to help invoke a spirit of helpfulness, and post them to the bulletin board for all your students to see.

For example, students might not want to be on trash duty for the week, but they probably wouldn’t mind being called the Royal Rubbish Remover.

Other fun classroom helper names: 

• Inspector Desk Inspector (for the student who inspects desks for cleanliness)

• King/Queen of Calendars (for the student who helps mark things off the calendar)

• Mr. /Mrs. Clean (for the student who helps others at the sink to wash their hands)

• Professor Paper Passer (for the student who helps distribute papers)

• Agua Man/Woman (for the student who waters the classroom plants)

• “Bat” Man (for the student who helps collect sports gear)

The possibilities are almost endless! And if you have the time (and creativity), consider allowing students to wear a special pin or badge that denotes their assignments for the week. For more creative ways to display classroom jobs, check out the free resources at thecornerstoneforteachers.com.

Have fun planning out your inaugural bulletin boards!

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Filed under Academic Success, Bulletin Boards, Classroom Decor, New School Year, Welcome

Recycled Ocean Bulletin Board {with how-to pics!}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

This fabulous idea was found organically (no pun intended) when my son’s pre-K class was learning about both recycling and the ocean. His {wonderful} teachers Lindsey Allman and Ariana Hull combined the two units in this uber-creative bulletin board, featuring an array of marine life made by the children out of materials pilfered from their recycling bins.

Check out the pictures below. This bulletin board is too cute not to share…and recreate!

How to build your own recycled ocean: 

The bulletin board was covered in white paper and then topped with crinkled blue cellophane wrap. Add a sandy ocean floor made out of textured scrapbook paper, white paper painted sandy tones, sandpaper, or a roll of craft paper. You could even get creative and have the children glue on dry grits: Paint white glue (thinned with a bit of water) over paper with a large brush, sprinkle on grits as you would glitter, allow to dry, dump off the excess, and hang.

The items can be attached to the board with staples, strong tape like Mavalus Mounting Tape, and/or a glue gun.

Add some yogurt-container ribbon jelly fish. The children loved painting their “trash!”

Check out the empty detergent-bottle Shamu!

Here’s how Shamu was attached…a little ingenuity, a little ribbon, and some staples. :)

How cute is this cardboard sea turtle with an egg carton head?

This empty container was inverted, painted, and given eight streamer tentacles with bead suctions. Adorable octopus!

A school of water-bottle fish is happily swimming in the corner. The bottles were cut by the teacher and their “tails” were stapled shut. The children customized their own fishies.

Some empty bottles cut into strips and painted green became seaweed. (Others were painted orange and assembled into coral.)

Paint and streamers transformed this drink bottle into a giant squid.

These three little egg carton clams may just be my favorite.

I like the idea of including a “what was learned” paragraph with the bulletin board, especially since this one is hanging in the hallway outside the classroom:

See why I had to share this idea? This bulletin board epitomizes a great culminating project: it combines two units of study, allows the children to utilize their creativity, and results in stunning student-made decor. Fabulous!

And…the class had loads of fun building this “recycled robot” out of their leftover trash:

credits:

Many thanks to Ariana Hull and Lindsey Allman with Primrose Schools for these awesome ideas. Your creativity is inspiring!

Click here for more ocean-themed activities, courtesy of The School Box.

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Science, Social Studies

More Pinterest Classroom Finds!

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card. (Who couldn’t use that?)

Once spring break is over, it’s a mad dash to the finish of the school year. But it’s also a great opportunity to make a lasting impact in your students’ memories with relevant, hands-on activities. Here are two of our faves–found via Pinterest. (Yes, we’re addicted, too.)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Printables!

We love this idea from Teaching Heart Blog of making a Very Hungry Caterpillar paper bag and then using the provided printables to “feed” the caterpillar. So cute! It would make a dandy spring activity, and it has some good center possibilities, too. Think of what else your students could categorize, count, and feed to that hungry caterpillar: cotton balls, paperclips, small manipulatives. Or, search “snacks” or “food” on Google images, like we did here, and then print an array of snackies for your students to cut out and feed to the caterpillar!


Fingerprint Tree

We love any idea that’s both aesthetic and artful. Here’s a beauty! This could have two purposes: 1) What a fabulous Mother’s Day gift idea for students to make for their mamas! And 2) You could make one as a class, and then reproduce it for each student to keep, as an end-of-the-year keepsake.

The idea originally came from Carolina Pad products. All you’d need are paints and a heavy duty piece of paper or canvas (one per class if it’s a class keepsake or one per child, if it’s for Mother’s Day). For Mother’s Day, each student would repeatedly make their own fingerprints to cover their trees. For a class keepsake, every child in the class would add their fingerprints to one class tree. Either way, this idea is preciousness!

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Holidays, Reading

Happy Educator’s Day {because we’re all teachers in some way}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 gift card to The School Box! Winners are drawn monthly. 

January 28 is National Educator’s Day. Know what this means? It means time to celebrate YOU! Whether you’re a classroom teacher, homeschooler, Sunday school teacher, mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent…you’re a teacher. Little eyes are watching you. Little hands are holding yours. Little minds are being shaped by your instruction, your example.

So, really, this day is for all of us.

As a thank you for all we ALL do to guide and inspire, we got wind that The School Box is offering special discounts on Saturday, January 28, for EVERYONE. Storewide discounts, giveaways, School Box bucks ($10 for every $50 spent, no limit)– AND free lamination on everything bought that day!

And did you know they offer free giftwrap year-round, now? Yup.

So go stock up on gifts, games and supplies for the little ones in your world. I think my birthday closet is about to get restocked. :)

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Filed under Classroom Decor, Free Stuff!, Organization, Teaching

Pinspiration: Pinterest Finds for your Classroom

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

Comment on this post to be entered to win a $20 gift card to The School Box! 

So, you’ve heard of Pinterest, right? It’s a virtual pinboard where you can “keep” all of your online inspirations–from recipes to decorating pics to travel plans to–yup–teaching ideas. Here are our favorite Pinterest-found classroom inspirations…so read, enjoy, and pin to your heart’s content.

And, if you haven’t been formally introduced to Pinterest, yet, you’ll find a good article from USA Today on how to get started here.

Pinsirpiation: Look What We Found On Pinterest

Runde’s Room: The Queen of Measurement

This cute Pinterest pin, left, led us to discover the blog of teacher Jen Runde, who offers a wealth of creative teaching ideas. We love this idea for teaching the metric system by declaring yourself the Queen of Measurement– tiara included.

Mrs. Schmelzer’s First Grade: Sensational Space

The image from Pinterest, below, led us to the classroom of Mrs. Schmelzer, who’s always got a great idea up her sleeve. Love this idea for teaching the moon phases and other facts about the solar system.

One note about blogs, though, should you choose to begin one: make sure you use good judgment and secure parental online photo releases for any children you feature. You never know whose Pinterest board they may end up being pinned to….

Disney FamilyFun

This adorable paper tray, below from Disney FamilyFun, caught our eye on Pinterest. Can you believe it’s just three boxes (think: cereal boxes) taped together and then wrapped with wrapping paper? What a cute idea for art papers at a writing or crafts center!

These examples hardly scratch the surface of the fabulous ideas found on Pinterest. We’ll be sharing more of our favorites from time-to-time. We thought you might appreciate some help narrowing down the really great ideas, since it’s tough to ferret through the good, the bad and the pretty on Pinterest without losing several hours of sleep.

So rest up…and happy pinning!

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Filed under Activities, Art, Centers, Classroom Decor, Math, Science, technology

favorite {free} downloadable fonts

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Write a little comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! We’ll draw a winner shortly. 

Looking for a way to spruce up your classroom reproducibles? Here are some of our favorite free downloadable fonts that would look just dandy on your next parent letter or student activity sheet (or party invitation!). Happy Holidays from A Learning Experience!

Circus

This one looks just like good ol’ Barnum and Bailey’s. Super cute!

Image

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Chalkduster

Looks like, well, you know.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Pea Lovey Dovey

Adorable curlie-q font with a whimsical vibe.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Elegant

Appropriately named, this font is elegant but not frufru.

DOWNLOAD HERE. 

Orange

Fun, whimsy, feminine.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Earwig Factory

Gross name. Cute font.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Holidays, Organization, Teacher Inspiration, Teaching, technology