Friday, July 25, 2014

Funny Kid Friday, Finding Bargains, and Classroom Nooks

Happy Funny Kid Friday and Five for Friday! Laughs and tips and pics of the room ahead!

1. I have more than a month before kids come back to school here in Michigan, but my mind wanders toward the classroom more and more. I'm thinking room set-up today– some things to keep from last year, some things to tweak. This week's Funny Kid Friday story came to mind as I thought about my classroom.

I use a long, taller-than-the-kids shelf, which runs about four feet out from and parallel to the wall that is closest to the classroom door. It forms a sort of coat hall, with an entry at either end. I well remember proper coat halls from my own elementary school days back in the time of the dinosaurs. My makeshift one works pretty well to keep the backpacks, coats, and boots contained within a designated space. However, my happy feelings about the coat hall are not always shared by my students, apparently, as one day a mom shared this story with me–

Last night at bedtime prayers, little Miss S. prayed,

"Please, God, give us more room in the coat hall."

Her mom said she almost lost it right there in the middle of the prayer, and it's a good thing I was out of sight of the kids when she told me, because tears were running down my face. I guess our little miss learned at an early age that you take all problems right to the top Man!

Don't forget to link up your funny kid story below!

2. There are certain nooks of my classroom that I really like... like my coat hall, even if it could be a bit bigger. Here is a photo of another area that I love.
My library nook in my classroom
Jonathan installed a "fireplace" for me in the classroom library! When I moved to the school that I'm at now, we went on the hunt for a mantle that would fit and we could afford, which was not easy. When we finally found it, Mr. J put a facade in the middle opening, using floor tiles and black foamcore. I arranged some logs, LED twinkle lights for embers, and an old bookend for a grate. I plug it in every morning and the kids love to gather in the chairs or on the floor in front, usually with books. This spot gets a lot of attention from visitors who love the welcome feeling, to which I reply, "It is my second home!"

3. Another nook in the room is over in my block area, where my wooden block animals live.
Wall storage becomes classroom decor
These zoo animals have chunky dimensions that go with classic unit blocks. They are pretty classic themselves. I like them so much I wanted storage that would show them off, entice the kiddos to use them, and provide easy access all at once, and I think I found it. I used two by twos, painted the same color as the wall, to make perfect custom shelves. The animals became decor, as well as building accessories.

4. When thinking about pretty much anything for my room, from toys to storage, I think first think Garage Sale, Baby! I know there are people out there– surely not teachers– but other people who would never go to garage sales. I am here to tell you that those people are missing out, because from these humble sources I've found some of my best treasures. One example is those fine wooden animals I show off up there in number three. When  I asked the lovely woman how much she was selling them for, she answered "five dollars." I truly thought she meant five dollars each, and although that is a good price, I debated a couple minutes, wondering if I needed all of them. When she realized what I was thinking, she said, "No, five dollars for the whole set..." then she went digging in the box and found four more to add to the four in my hands! All EIGHT for FIVE DOLLARS!!!!!  Man, I was doing the HAPPY dance. It was THE find of last summer. WHOOT!

And THIS summer, Jonathan and I pulled up at a garage sale and before the car was even fully stopped I was up the driveway and claiming this!
This photo is not of the one I got at the garage sale, as I already broke it down and hauled it to school, but mine is just like this one sold on Etsy, except my particular one has more accessories and another level. Beautiful, right? I looked at them many times, but this one is over two hundred dollars. What did I pay at the garage sale, you ask?  TEN BUCKS.  I was doing the happy dance so much this time I almost peed my pants.  I can hardly wait until this is set up in my classroom and kids are playing with it.

So although there is no guarantee that you are always going to find booty when you go out "sale-ing," you're never going to find treasure if you don't at least drift by those garage sales and skim over the wares. I HIGHLY recommend it! Look for me on Saturday mornings!

5. Okay, it is late Thursday night as I write this and I really gotta get to bed... so because Five for Friday is supposed to be about random things, I'm just going to say I'll have a little surprise for Made It Monday, and you are gonna want to stop by then. Jonathan and I have been very busy on a special project which I bet you find inspirational.

Thanks, as always, to Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!  Click the button to find more great ideas.

AND I hope you'll grab my Funny Kid Friday linky button here and then link up below to share YOUR funny kid story. Do YOU have a coat hall???

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Farmers' Market Day!

The only thing I like better than reading books is writing about books– especially books that have good teaching points for us teachers. Today I am talking about Farmers' Market Day, written by Shanda Trent, and illustrated by Jane Dippold.

First of all, this delightful book makes a great extension to a field trip to the farmers' market, or an introduction to harvest or healthy eating. All the wonderful happenings in and around a farmers' market are found in this book, from vegetables, to honey, to kittens. There are even prompts on the dos and don'ts of a farmers' market.

The little girl in this book is on a mission to spend her money, and oh, what fun... and mishap... she has along the way. But you won't hear of the mishaps in the text of this story, but in the details of the illustrations... a bit of a story within a story. What better way to call readers' attention to details than by soliciting answers to the question, what else is happening? The illustrations not only hold more of the story, but they are colorful and kid friendly, too. Even the endpapers hold teaching points for the teacher to draw out. I love fun endpapers.

I'll let you in on a little secret– I've known Shanda for over twenty years! We have lots in common, including the writing bug. I remember hearing the drafts of this story years ago, and saw her attention to and debate over each and every word of the rhyming text. What a delightful result to her years of work! I am happy to say that more from Shanda is coming down the pike, too. So after you fall in love with this book, keep your eyes open for the next ones.

And there's more! Farmers' Market Day is published by Tiger Tales Books. If you click here on their icon you'll find some follow-up activities to the book.

While you're there, be sure to cruise around the site. Not only will you find more great books, but several accompanying teaching guides, and interviews with authors and illustrators.

Whether you have students who have never been to a farmers' market, or a group that frequents them on a regular basis, you'll have fun as this book leads you on a little explore.

As always, special thanks to Deanna and her Book Talk Tuesday. Click here to find more great books!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Peasy Classroom Wreath

I sat in my kitchen the other day looking at the wreath on my backdoor and thought to myself– duh– I should make one for the classroom door!
Easy-to-make ribbon wreath
This is about as easy to make as can be– if you can tie a knot, you can make it. And you can easily get it done in a day.

1. Gather together favorite ribbons. Choose a color scheme, and mix em up– solids, stripes, dots and patterns. It's all good in the end. They have adorable printed ribbons now, so if you have a classroom theme of owls, or apples, or whatever, keep your eyes open and pick up a roll or two. I am a black and white nut, so I went through my ribbon bin and found all sorts left over from projects. It's a good way to use up smallish lengths. I used about ten different patterns in the end, though maybe about seven rolls worth total– it depends a bit on the widths you use.

2. Pick up a wreath frame– styrofoam or lightweight material. The wreath in the photo is eleven inches across. You can find both the wreath and ribbons at your favorite crafting store– be sure to clip coupons and check the sale bins.

3. Cut ribbons so that they give some nice "tails" after being knotted. Most of my tails were about four inches long, so I got a nice fluffy look. I can't tell you how long to cut your ribbon pieces because it depends on how wide your wreath shape is. Experiment a bit until you get it as you like it. Be sure to notch the cut ends of the ribbons in an inverted 'V' shape– it will stop fraying and give a more finished look.

4. Tie your pieces on, using just a simple knot. Keep the ribbon smooth in the back to cover the wreath mold. Randomly stagger where the knots line up on the front so the whole finished wreath has an overall even look.

5. I tied a thinner ribbon loop at the "top" of my wreath so I had something to hang the wreath from, then tied my final big bow on top of that, leaving the loop sticking out. Choose one special wide ribbon for the bow. A nice contrasting color works well, as you see the big red bow on my otherwise black and white wreath. This final one you tie in a bow with multiple loops, not tails like you did with the rest.

Hope you have fun with this project.  Your finished classroom wreath will be cheery and beautiful. I'm off to do one for my classroom now. Happy Start of School!

Special thanks to Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It linky. Click on the button and head over for some great ideas!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Funny Kid Friday– Glue Sticks, Oh My

It's Friday... Friday, Friday, Friday. Today is Friday Day... Friday Day! (Does anyone else remember that song?) And Friday means my Funny Kid Friday and Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday link-ups!

So here we go!

1. Check out these shoes!!!!  So happy to be a K teacher who can get away with Hello Kitty shoes!
The shoe-sion-estas!
And the only reason I found them– at Target, no less– was because I was shopping for my soon to be five year old niece. I found a pair for her, covered in pink sequins, and happened to walk around the corner on the off, off, off chance that there were some for older "kids" and there they were! I usually wear a seven and a half and the biggest size they had was a size six, but they fit, even a little loosely. They were a huge hit with the niece and that made them a huge hit with me. Just wait until the day I wear them to school... I truly will be the Queen of Kindergarten! Run, don't walk, to Target and grab yours... on sale for SIX bucks! ONLY kindergarten teachers can get away with shiny sequin Hello Kitty shoes :) Yesssss!

2. So I was out in Colorado visiting family this past week. My dear brother, knowing that I like antiques (aka reused stuff, aka castoffs, aka junk), took me to this great store. I had very little space in my suitcase for purchases, and told him so, but in we went anyway. And there it was! The Black Thing. At a price I couldn't pass up. I knew it would go wonderfully in my black and white kitchen... no matter what it was. And as my brother said, what a perfect souvenir of my trip to the Rockies... not! It must have been meant to be because it fit in the suitcase just fine wrapped in several layers of dirty clothes. Love it!
The Black Thing– The perfect souvenir from Colorado, yes?
3. Sometimes you meet the nicest people on airplanes. On my recent gallivants I met a retired first grade teacher, from Michigan no less. Retired or not, she was on top of the current issues, and we got along like a house on fire. And then I met a single dad looking for ideas on how to help his three year old daughter get ready for preschool... nope, nothing to share there on that two hour flight... ha. And then on the last leg, I sat next to an 18 month old and his mom and dad. How nice to be reminded of how all my little kiddos start out. "Car!" he squealed in toddler-ese, which was the perfect proclamation looking out the window as we cruised on into the Motor City. Delightful.
I actually rode in this Frontier ram airplane
4. Can you believe the weather in Michigan! It is usually well up into the 80s and 90s and HUMID, but this has been our weather thus far.  LOOK at that dark orange line... absolutely WONDERFUL. Yessss!

5. And now for my Funny Kid Story! One day, we were doing a center project with glue sticks, and one little guy twisted up the glue stick all the way- a full tube of glue about to be wasted.
This was not a first time for this impulsive kiddo, so when he saw me, he guiltily and silently handed it over. I sighed and said, "Oh my," as I began to slowly twist and push the glue stick back into the tube.

As the rest of the kids looked on, one of them said, "Mrs. Wright, what does oh my mean?" I paused, then said, "Well, people say oh my when they are surprised... for a good reason, or... for a not so good reason."

The guilty glue twister looked at me and said, "My mom says, oh sh*t."

I told this story to my teaching colleagues and at future staff meetings we heard Oh my several times :)

Now it's your turn for some fun. Grab my button below to link your kid tale post. Be sure to link back here so everyone finds our stories. Oh, and as with many linky parties, let the rule of three apply (comment on three of the other linkies.) Or, as one of my teacher friends did last week, just leave your kid story in the comment section, instead.

Don't forget to go back to Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday link-up to see what other bloggers are up to.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Funny Kid Friday- Honk, Honk!

It's time for...

Are any of you taking a road trip this summer? Yes? Good. That reminds me of a story... 

I have these nifty steering wheels in the classroom. I don't know what kind of vehicle they came off of as they are rather small, but they are just the right size for the kinders. The kids love getting them out to take all sorts of fanciful trips. 

One day the topic for imaginative play was a field trip we had taken earlier in the week. The kids lined up some chairs to form the "bus" with kids sitting in rows, and the driver sat in the front with the steering wheel. I was only half listening, but they were indeed acting out how we had been caught in a bit of a traffic jam while on the road.

A minute or two later the "bus driver" started honking his horn and yelling out the "window" right over the noise of the classroom, "What'cha doin' up there, Mister? Pickin' your nose?"

Hmm... I somehow missed that part of our trip...  Parents beware– somebody is always listening!

Now share your story by dragging the Funny Kid Friday button from the top of this post to your post and add the link back.  Then click on the linky button right down there and it will walk you through the steps so your thumbnail appears here. OR leave your story in the comments or on Facebook! I'm looking forward to your chuckle!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dad is Fat... and Other Funny Details of Life

I'm starting with a question... What book makes YOU laugh? To answer my question I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class and Sugar and Spice for an *almost* wordless review of a book I haven't read! Yes, I wrote that correctly. I haven't read the book. But Jonathan did. Here is his review:

And basically this laughing cycle repeated itself all the way through the book. I believe he gave it two thumbs up and ten stars. (Sorry the photos are fuzzy, but I only had my iPad ready and it was jittery because I was laughing just watching him laugh.) (And yes, those fuzzy pointy ears in the bottom of the picture belong to my personal trainer... she's taking a nap in one of her favorite spots after giving me a workout.)

Finally! He got done and it's my turn... nope. The next thing I know, Delaney's got it.

Oh, for heaven's sake. I bought the book for ME. So I could have a laugh!

What book is it, you ask. Well, it's Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan... a title which is based on the first sentence his son learned to write.... should he thank his kindergarten teacher for this?

Jim Gaffigan is a great guy.... Well, I don't know him personally, but he seems like a great guy. He is a stand up comic... but he's not the TYPICAL stand up comic. He and his wife and their five kids live in a two bedroom apartment in NYC, and when he's not looking for open space or peace and quiet he is doing the funniest, fall over, pee your pants, get a hernia, clean, funny stuff!  The small moment details of life are his specialty... that, and talking to himself as if he were an audience member. When I saw this book in the bookstore it was a no brainer– into the pile it went.

WHAT????  You don't know JIM GAFFIGAN??  Well, here you go, Wonderful Reader, meet Jim Gaffigan doing Cake... one of my favorite things in the world :)

I recommend you go empty your bladder and sit down before pushing the start button.

And if you chuckled with that, you might want to click here to see his take on McDonald's... I've still got tears in my eyes.

Oh, oh, here's my already dog eared copy left alone... I'm going to take a peek before Delaney gets back....


Thanks to Deanna from Mrs. Jump's Class for her Let's Talk About Books linky.

And Christina from Sugar and Spice for her Wordless Wednesday linky.

Clink on their buttons up there to find more great reviews and more stuff from bloggy world!

And if you're a person who loves to laugh, be sure to stop back at the end of the week for Funny Kid Friday... better yet, go right up to that Funny Kid Friday tab at the top of the page and click on the archives... you know you need to laugh... it's good for you!

The post Dad is Fat... and Other Funny Details of Life first appeared on

Friday, July 4, 2014

Five for Friday– Twitter, and Bargains, and Stuff

Five for Friday– Yeah! I've had Five for Friday on my mind all week. Here's random, useful (well, maybe useful) stuff to share.

1. I'm gonna be gone for a week and am trying to figure out if there are any hinderances to using an iPad to post. I am going to post something this weekend just to experiment. In fact I might post twice to see how the "scheduled posting" feature works on blogger, too... something else I've never done. Otherwise I'll be writing the Funny Kid link up early and leaving it in the hands of Mr. Jonathan... oh lucky him, oh lucky you :)

2. Something else new– I was busy Tuesday night so couldn't get to the Twitter Party hosted by Debbie Clement from Rainbows Within Reach.  #TeacherFriends
I enjoyed reading the tweets afterward though. I just recently joined Twitter, much to the amusement of my YA daughters who know ALL about it. Apparently I can only make it on Twitter if I am funny or post a bikini pic... so they've written me off... imagine. I know actually tweeting something would be a good first step :P Maybe soon... I barely use Facebook, so I don't think this will be a big thing with me, but anything once, right? Are any of the rest of you newbies like me and want to experiment? I think Debbie is doing it again on Tuesday at 9:00 EST.

3. Speaking of Twitter, you gotta see the movie Chef. Pretty good story and definitely worth the cheap tickets. It highlights Twitter in fun ways– it gets the hero in big trouble AND saves the day, too. And it has the cutest ten year old you've ever seen.

4. While doing the not-actually-tweeting-Twitter stuff with #TeacherFriends, I came across a teacher blogger who posted about her finds at Harbor Freight Tools... I have tried backtracking, and browser history, and everything else I can think of, and cannot find her now. Aarrgh! I want to thank her for the post and add a link-up to her here. If you are the person who posted about Harbor Freight, or know who did, can you please comment and let me know!

Neither Jonathan nor I had ever heard of Harbor Freight Tools, but after a quick google search we found one ten minutes down the highway. It is definitely a dad/man kinda store... more shop equipment than I had ever seen and we are frequent flyers at Lowe's... I mean hydraulic lift tables, and Star War-esque welding helmets, and a million types of little rubber tires! Jonathan could have spent the day in there.

But lo and behold, just as my mystery blogger teacher friend pointed out, there are some NEAT things for teachers. I start with the best bargain of the day! I purchased this three tier rolling cart- I have a few ideas for it in the classroom. It was $50 and with the coupon I found on line, I got it for $40! Yessss!

And I got the key fob labels which were on sale 79 cents for twelve. Again, just as the mystery blogger said, I'll find a use.

And SURPRISE I found a neat Bingo game! (How that fits in with hydraulic tables and welding helmets I don't exactly know, but I didn't question a good thing.) I've had the numbers-in-the-ball style Bingo game for several years in the classroom ever since I found it on a curb for free. There are a lot of number concepts that get practiced when playing a real game of bingo. The kids also love turning the ball, getting the number when it falls out, and putting it where it goes on the peg boards– more great learning for the "Bingo Managers" who I choose for each round. I often leave this Bingo for substitute guest teachers in case my plans for the day don't last the whole day. However, the last time a guest teacher was in the room, the little trap door on the turner broke somehow, so it was time for a new set. I decided this one was worth the $8 (a third the price of other stores) as it also came with the clear colored magnetic tokens that can be used for lots of other neat centers.

I also got some strong magnets for 50 cents and a soaker hose for home. They had flat dollies which come in handy when moving stuff around the room– I think they were $12. I have a big plastic bin bungee corded to a dolly like this at school so the weekly lunch luggers can push the lunch boxes down to the cafe each day without scratching the floors.

There was an interesting four tiered lazy susan which I know will be good for something, so I have it on my wishlist for next time. I don't remember how much that was on sale for. They had other great organization bins and boxes, too... also for next time.

The guy at the counter got a chuckle when I told him I heard about his store on a teacher blog... now, you've heard it, too. Check it out- they had some of the best prices we've seen anywhere.

5. And speaking of "dad" stores, I shared a dad story on Funny Kid Friday just now. You'll get a grin... and maybe a new song for your classroom :) Jonathan added a new tab to the top of the page so readers can get to the Funny Kid Friday archives... okay, so there are only three... more ARE coming.
Click here to read the stories and add YOURS!

Then click here to go back to Kacey's Five For Friday to hear what's goin' on with everybody!

The post Five for Friday–Twitter, and Bargains, and Stuff first appeared on