Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Story Case

This year I am teaching in a multi-age, project based classroom and am SO excited about this change of pace!  Our school year theme is "Rivers" and the first quarter projects will be based on river systems and body systems.  I am leading the body system projects.  

So, today I am working on making some felt body organs as part of my anticipatory set for the projects.  Using felt made me remember this super cute idea that I made for a creative story telling class that I took in college and I had to stop what I was doing and blog about it!  We made these story cases out of old VHS cases.  

I am thinking that I can also have my students use this same concept as book reviews, retelling of a story, making up their own story...etc.  

Start with an old VHS tape case.  {Does anyone remember these?)  You can have families donate them or even ask your local video store for donations.  You could also use the thin plastic baby wipe cases. 

Cover the outside of the case with felt for a background for the story.  This could be a great way to tie in "setting".  Students could make different props to change the setting.  They could make mountains, ponds, castles...etc.  

This is the one I made in college.  It is a simple blue for the sky and some green for grass.  

The characters and other pieces are stored inside the case.  

In a traditional classroom setting this could be a project that students could work on when they finish their regular work early.  Have the materials available in a work station for students to create their story case, characters and story pieces.

Some supplies to have available for students would be:
* vhs cases
* felt
* scissors 
* googley eyes
* glue
* feathers
* gems

Students can tell their story to a friend while placing the characters onto the setting.  Their friend could practice retelling the story trying to remember the important details.  They could make up different beginnings, middles, and endings to the stories.  You could have students practice all of the story elements with this one student made manipulative.  

You can keep all of the finished cases in one place and let the students use them throughout the year or let them take them home.  So fun!  
What other ways can you think of for students to use these story cases?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crate Seat Makeover

Last summer I jumped on the crate seat bandwagon and my hubby helped me make six super cute crates.  The crates were donated and we had scrap wood.  I used a left over piece of plywood that my husband had.

One reason why I like the seat crates is because they are a simplified example of one of the permaculture principles which is "stacking functions".  Instead of only using the crates as storage you reuse some old plywood and make them much more versatile.  You can also use as seats, put them together and take a snooze on them, sit on the floor and use them as a little table, as a step stool...etc.

Last year I used regular cotton fabric and even took the time to sew cute little handle strips out of one of my favorite leaf patterned fabric.  This was a learning experience for sure.  DO NOT USE REGULAR COTTON FABRIC  The cotton fabric didn't hold up and I wasn't able to wash them very well.  Needless to say, by the end of the year they were pretty much disgusting.  They were filthy, someone even smashed a PB&J into one!  Yuck! 

So, I decided to recover them with a oil slicker fabric.  Yep, USE OIL SLICKER FABRIC INSTEAD :)  It's kinda like a cheap table cloth type material, which you could also use, you know how I like reusing!  I didn't have an old table cloth so I bought the slicker fabric.  It is slick so that you can easily wipe it off with a wet rag.  Then I used some ribbon for the handle to save on time and because the ones that I sewed just got all wrinkled and sloppy looking.  

I found the cutest owl fabric at Joann's.  Does everyone know that you can get a teacher discount card there for 15%?  I love those teacher discounts!!!

I have really low light in my house today because it is monsoon season here in the southwest.  I'm not complaining though, I have been LOVING these afternoon rain showers!

For a tutorial on how to make the seats go visit Rachelle @ What The Teacher Wants and see her post from last summer!

I think they turned out pretty dang cute, don't you think?!

In other news, my husband and I celebrated our third anniversary yesterday!  It is so nice to be living together again!  


Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It

    Last summer I purchased this little hardware organizer at a yard sale for $1.  I bought it from a retired teacher who used it for word work.  I wanted to turn it into a supply organizer.  I finally got around to it today!  Yay!

This is not my original idea.  You guessed it, I saw it on pinterest!  Mrs. Rojas has a super cute blog and she wrote a tutorial for this project.  She is also sharing her labels.  


 Here is how mine turned out.  I love it!  I can't wait to put it in my new classroom!  


You can download the labels here.

I am linked up with Tara and 150+ other bloggers at 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It!  Go check it out.  There are so many fun projects to see!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Must Read

This is a must read for all teachers!!
Run, don't walk to your local book store or library to get your copy :)

My new partner teacher lent me this book:  

I haven't been able to put it down all day, until I just finished the last page.  Then, I rushed to the computer to tell my teacher-blogger friends about it!  I'm guessing a lot of you have already read this.  It must be a popular book.  I don't know how I hadn't read it already!  I was laughing within the first two pages and crying soon after that.  Rafe Esquith is an incredibly dedicated and inspiring teacher, not to mention an entertaining writer.  He is known for teaching and producing Shakespearean-Rock plays with the students at the elementary school where he has taught for many years.  The students in his classroom go on several trips and he does a great job explaining what his students learn from these experiences.  He wants his students to become Level 6 thinkers, which is when people have a personal code of behavior and they follow it.  He calls this the Atticus Finch Level.  He has been awarded many prestigious awards including the National Medal of the Arts.  He is the only teacher in history to ever receive this award!  Now that's impressive!       

Among many other things, he gives his students the opportunity to learn how to problem solve, manage money, become musicians, perform, and serve their communities.  I am so glad I read this book, you should read it too!

Has anyone already read this book?  What did you think?  Have you been successful at using what you have learned from it in your classroom? 

I made this little, tiny, mini-poster of the steps of problem solving that are in the book by Rafe Esquith.  I also used these steps with the Saxon math program!  

This is an excellent resource to teach your students the steps to problem solving.  Use it as an anchor chart, during small groups or at any teachable moment!

{Click on the picture to grab your copy for free!)

Fonts and graphics are from Diane J. Hook,