Saturday, July 19, 2014

Classroom Organization on the Cheap

This is the time of year when I start to get an itch to gather new items for my classroom, be it from garage sales, dollar stores or the queen bee...IKEA.  My husband has pretty much banned me from visiting this store during my paycheck-free months, but it. is. really. tempting!

Here are some super affordable IKEA finds that I use in my classroom!

Cheap Organization Idea # 1: Frames

Tolsby Frames are a must have for easy display of center directions, table numbers, rules and reminders.  I've even used dry erase markers on these as mini-whiteboards.  The best part? These things are a STEAL!
Tolsby 2-Sided Picture Frames with Center Stand...99 cents each.

Here is the entrance routine that I would like my students to learn in September.  I plan to post these mini signs on my student tables. 

Ok...not 6th grade classroom-related but I can't resist...

(I also used them for my son's Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party....It was so stink'n cute.)

Cheap Organization Idea # 2: Shoe Storage Boxes

Ikea shoe storage boxes have (very strong) velcro and one see-through side.  I used these to organize colored paper and magazines.  One box can hold A LOT of stuff and they are a very sturdy nylon material.   They come in a 4 pack for $7.99 and can fold flat for storage in-between uses and they are sturdy enough to stack on top of each other.  

Cheap Organization Idea # 3:  Cardboard File Folders

These sturdy cardboard magazine files are 5 for $1.49.  I wasn't sure how well they would hold up, but I've had these for 2 years.   The edges are getting a little beat up, but I think they will last at least one more round with my 6th graders.  

I couldn't make up my mind about how I wanted to label these, so I got crafty and painted a  stripe across the top using chalkboard paint.  It worked out well because I've changed the labels numerous times with ease!

Thank you for stopping by my blog for some "Bright Idea" inspiration.   I love comments, so please leave me a note and say hello!   If you enjoyed this post, consider joining me on Facebook for future updates!

For more bright ideas from some awesome teacher-bloggers please browse through the link up below and pick a subject/grade level that interests you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to School Bundle Pin-a-thon

Would you like this bundle of 5 back to school printable activities from my classroom?

Follow these steps when you comment HERE on Kate's Classroom Cafe for your chance to win!

1) Pin any product from my TpT store and include the pin url in your comment.
2) Follow this blog...and leave me an email contact so that I can send you your prize.

For an extra entry...Tell me something you are loving about your summer break.  We really shouldn't be focusing on school yet anyway!

(Three winners will be drawn at random.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Science Journals and Spelling...Argh! Freebie

Is it me....or do kids completely forget how to spell when they are doing science? I just spent the last hour going through old science journals looking for the most commonly misspelled words.  I feel like my 6th graders this year struggled with spelling when writing experiments and I'm looking for ways to give next year's crew a little extra support. of my summer goals was to create a small printable that can be glued into the front cover of my interactive science notebooks as a spelling reference for my students.  It can also be glued into my file folder bookmarks!

Summer Goal:  Work on a bookmark that will help my students with spelling in their science journals....CHECK!

Think this might help your students?  Go ahead and grab this document for your classroom by clicking the image below!

Graphics credits to

Happy Teaching!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Flash Firecracker Freebies! Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!  Check out these Facebook Firecracker All Day Freebies!  TODAY ONLY-Go  to the Facebook page and grab the link to these limited time freebies!  Starts at 9am EST.

Kate’s Classroom CafĂ© Knight
Juggling ELA
Teaching High School Math 
The Classroom Sparrow

My one-day-freebie is perfect for those of you who recently downloaded my free QR Code Trait Tags! Wishing you all a great holiday weekend.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Free QR CODE TRAIT TAGS: Be Tagged Doing Something Terrific

I'm working on some creative new ways to encourage my students to become not only amazing scientists, but amazing people.  As teachers, we have the important job of guiding students in daily decision making which with the help of parents can slowly craft a child's character.  Let's face it...When all is said and done, the kids will probably not remember what I said about science but instead they will remember how I made them feel about learning, about collaboration, about life. 

So, I'm working on these QR code trait tags for my 6th graders.  (Very late on a summer night...yup...I'm officially CRAZY!)
I'd like to teach my middle school students more about how these character traits and impact their success:

I'm thinking that it makes sense to teach them one at a time, using small group discussion, literary connections, and personal stories.  After we have learned about the trait, then I will start rewarding students who display the trait in the classroom, using the corresponding QR Trait Tag.  

Should students be able to recommend their peers earn a ticket if they witness genuine examples of the trait in action?  Hmmm...I need to think on that one. 

For each trait, I created two identical trait tags.  One has a prize message, the other an inspirational message.   Neither the student OR I will know if the tag is a "winner" until it is QR scanned. 
(The prize messages match the classroom coupons that I already use)

I'm on the fence about exactly how I want to implement this.  (Maybe because it is JULY and I should be working on my tan and not my lesson plans...ERG!)  One thing I know is that I don't want to make students feel as though they should have all these traits already.  They are kids!  (To be honest, I don't know any adults who aren't working on improving a handful of these.)  I'd like to emphasize the traits that individuals DO have so that they can learn by example from one another.    Hmmm....Lots to think about.  (Luckily I have 2 months to finalize this idea!)

Do you think you might use this in your upper elementary or middle school classroom?  If so, grab the free file here to print on card stock.  All I ask is that you leave me an idea/suggestion/success story from your classroom in exchange :) 

Click the image to grab this document from Google Docs:

Questions for all you talented teachers out there:

How do you feel about the element of luck with these reward tags (some have prizes others don't)?  
Do you think students should be encouraged toward earning a particular number of tags? 
Do you think the tags could be laminated and recirculated? 
What would be the best way for students to store the tags? (I have 140 students in 5 classes.)
Do you think students could be involved in distributing the tags to their peers?

I look forward to hearing your ideas on how you might use these in your classroom!!!

Happy Teaching...

Get to Know Your Science Class Poster

I know, I REALLY should not be doing school work on my first week of summer break, but I'm that teacher who needs their bulletin boards done and first week of plans set before I can soak up the sweetness of summer break.   So, I recently revised this poster that I have used with my classes for years.

When kids come to my class they are new to middle school and pretty much on the verge of tears from the stress of navigating a new (huge) building.  This printable helps kids get on task and comfortable in my class right away.  While they work, I go around and chat with students to learn their names and a little bit about them.

I use this poster as a discussion tool relating to our preconceived notions about scientists.  When students have finished their scientist picture, I circulate and collect data on my clipboard.  I then post a graph on the board showing how many students had scientists with crazy hair, glasses, male vs. female, pocket protectors...etc  We discuss what is "REAL"science?  Does it require any of these characteristics?  Ok...its a bit deep for the first day, but it works!

Did I mention these make a great display for middle school open house?


Thanks for visiting Kate's Classroom Cafe today.  I hope you were in time to grab this as a flash freebie.  If not, be sure to follow my Facebook page so that you will be notified next time!

Happy Teaching...well...actually SUNBATHING!


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