Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FREE Breakfast... This Week Only!

One of the many perks of being a teacher is the outrageous amount of free ChickfilA that comes my way. It seems like every time there is a special occasion such as Teacher Appreciation or joining PTA, a ChickfilA coupon card shows up in my box. Now ChickfilA is one of my favorite restaurants so when these cards show up its like opening the first present on Christmas morning. Nothing better than free ChickfilA!

Now you can have your own free ChickfilA and you don't even have to wait for a coupon card to show up in your box at work. All you have to do is visit this website: http://www.chick-fil-aforbreakfast.com/Start
Then select your local ChickfilA and reserve your free entree for the morning of your choice this week. Don't miss out on this great deal! I'm beyond excited to grab my free breakfast on my way to work today. It will surely be a must-have on a "Monday-Tuesday"!

With a morning starting off right,
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Giving Tree... that Keeps On Giving

Over the past two weeks, I've been consumed in "back to school" mode and blogging took a back seat. Between meetings, planning, meetings about planning and trying to get back into the routine of early to bed, early to rise; I could not find the time to sit down and write. But today I was determined to catch you up on my first week of school goodies.

Two weeks ago we had Open House and I got to meet my fabulous new 5th graders for the first time. Along with meeting my new students, I also met their parents and was able to give them a glimps of what to expect in the coming year. Not only was I put at ease when I met their amazing parents, but I was shocked when they signed up to volunteer for different activities throughout the year without hesitation. Each year, I never know what to expect when it comes to parent support.

At Open House, each teacher on our 5th grade team puts up a wish list of items that we know we will need throughout the year but might not have been on our school supply list. Items such as candy for the treasure box and recess equipment are just a few of the items that make it to the wish list.

This year I decided to be a little creative and have a Giving Tree for the parents to pick an apple from instead of my usual plain old white board with sticky notes. And the Giving Tree was a total success. The first day of school, students bound through my classroom door with bags of tissues, lysol wipes, candy, dry erase markers, and colored copy paper!
How do you go about getting supplies for your classroom? 

With happy cabinets full of school supplies,
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Classroom Library Chaos

Last year I stumbled upon these fabulous classroom library genre labels on Beth Newingham's website. I was getting so frustrated when I knew the exact book to recommend to a student but I had to take 10 minutes hunting for it in the clutter of my book shelves. Not only was it a struggle to try to find a specific book; but the students were unintentionally ruining my beloved books by trying to shove them onto the shelves.

Solution! Book baskets. I used these adorable labels to separate my classroom library into genre baskets. After laminating the labels, I punched a hole in the corner and used binder rings to hand them on the front of the baskets.

For those of you who are worried about breaking the bank on this classroom update... don't you worry. The baskets were from the dollar store so very easy on the wallet.

My OCD is kicking in because first thing tomorrow I'm rearranging this color order!
I need help...
How do you have your classroom library organized?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Class "Pets"... Yes or No?

Yesterday, I spent most of the day hanging up everything in my classroom from bulletin boards to word walls. I decided to stick with my theme from last year to not only save time but to also save some money. Plus my students LOVED my frog theme last year. And my favorite color is green so the color scheme of a frog friendly room works well with my teacher feng shui.

When I started researching ideas for Frog Theme Classrooms last year I came across the cutest of ideas. But before I share the most adorable of these idea, I must give you a little background story. Now two years ago, I inherited two gerbles from the teacher whose position I took over and needless to say it wasn't a total success.

I learned quickly that goldfish and cheerios are not the best things to feed the little runts. They were turning circles on their wheel so fast that it was squeaking through my lessons for hours. Annoying and distracting.

And on top of that... they were let loose into the school building after a mishap in my classroom. They wandered their way through the hallways for a good week eating on everyone's science project, only to show up days later in the boys bathroom on the other side of campus.

So, I resorted to getting a pet "frog" as a class pet for the students to take care of. Not a real frog of course...even though that would be extremely entertaining especially considering one of my coworkers is petrified of frogs.

Instead, I went and bought a Webkinz frog and loaded it onto our classroom computer. The Student of the Week each week gets to take care of the frog online each morning.
At Open House, I put a jug on the back table with voting ballots. The new students get to put their vote in for the class pet's name. Last year his name was "Frogger." We'll have to wait and see what they come up with this year!

Do you have a class pet?

With No Pet Food Needed,
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Miss Out

This week there are some great deals on every day classroom necessity that you must not miss out on. The first of these deals can be found at Office Depot. I knew I jumped the gun a few weeks ago when they had their paper folders on sale for 5 cent but my impatient nature wouldn't let me wait until they had their penny sale on folders.

Oh well, I can always use some more folders. Needless to say, the penny sale I've been waiting all summer for is here. Office Depot has their paper folders on sale for a penny. Now they are limited the number of folders to 10 per purchase. But at this deal, grab every friend you know and make a trip out of it. Especially because there is no minimum purchase needed. I've already recruited my mom and her coworkers to make a pit stop by Office Depot on their lunch break tomorrow!
Another deal that I took advantage of today was on notebook paper at Staples. Staples has packs of college ruled and wide ruled paper on sale for a penny a pack. They will allow teachers to get 25 packs per purchase (now that A LOT of paper.) The only downfall to this sale is that there is a $5 minimum purchase needed; but I'm sure there are some other supplies that are lurking on your wish list. With my school cutting back on the number of copies allotted to each teacher this year, we are in desperate need of notebook paper to save copies.

Good luck with your shopping and I hope you're getting geared up for the new school year. Here's a sneak peak at my classroom rejuvenation that I'll share tomorrow...

With Savings and School year beginning,
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Frenzy

Sadly, yesterday I made the plunge into the school year and stepped foot into my classroom. When I first walked in, I was giddy as a school girl to see that the floors were so clean (they were polished last week) but that moment of joy quickly faded when I realized that the air wasn't working in my room. Not a happy camper at that point.

I had such big plans to get everything hung back up and the desks put in order but I couldn't stand much of the heat. Needless to say I got the desk arranged and that's about it (beside chatting for a few hours with a teacher on my grade level... love catching up on the summer.) Looks like I'll be heading back to the school at least once over the weekend to get some work done.

But I did get a few pictures of the "before" of my classroom so that I can share the final "after" project with you next week.

Look at those clean floors!! If you would've seen them at the end of last year then you would totally understand where my excitement comes from.

One thing that I'm hoping to get completed today while I'm at home is my Independent Math crate. I picked up a few of these fabulous crates at Target when they were on sale for $3... but don't you worry if you're still wanting one because the regular price is less than $4.
Fabulous crates from Target... great for hanging files!
I picked up a box of multicolored hanging files from Staples when I had to reach my $5 minimum on penny sales and plan to filled these crates with them. Each hanging file will be full of leveled math activities.

Last year I had a huge problem with students finishing their work early during math and the rule in my class is "early finisher are the first to read." Well it dawned on me that early finishers in math need to be improving their math skills instead of losing themselves in a good book. Therefore this year they will have the opportunity to grab a math activity that will challenge them beyond our everyday classwork.

I will post finished products on Monday. I cannot wait to have this piece of my classroom complete.
What are some final touches you are making to your classroom??

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thrift Thursday: Crayon Monogram

After finding this classroom decoration on Pinterest, I had to give it a try. I'm nothing short of obsessed when it comes to monogramming; and a chance to add my monogram to my classroom was a must have. This is the simplest of craft projects and can be completed for a very wallet friendly price.

Materials I used: 
picture frame without the glass (or shadow box), white scrap book paper, 2-3 boxes of crayons, hot glue gun, letter template, thin point Sharpie marker

How I did it:
Trace the backing of your picture frame onto the white scrap book paper. Cut out this outline from the scrap book paper so that it can fit into the frame. Glue white paper to cardboard backing.

Trace letter template onto the white paper.

Lay crayons on the template and mark where they need to be broken. Break or cut crayons to fit the letter template. Place crayons so that they cover the entire letter outline and rotate your colors to look cohesive.

Hot glue each crayon pieces.

Add your name with the Sharpie marker to complete the project.

Finally hang your masterpiece up to be admired by all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wardrobe Essential Wednesday: Comfortable Wedges

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm vertically challenged. Standing a smidge shy of 5'3", most of my students are eye level with me or towering above me. One of the blessings in disguise of being a 5th grade teacher is that I have an excuse to buy adorable wedges to wear to work. If I were teaching any lower grade level I would be more than tempted to wear flats EVERY day to work.

Two years ago I had my eye on a pair of wedges that I'd been wanting for years. So I finally caved in and bought them with the justification that they were going to be my new "teacher shoes." Now I loved these shoes and wore them every day for about 4 months. But one thing I will say is that they were not comfortable enough to wear for 8 straight hours of walking around a school building. Cute but not so comfy.
I have the brown Coach emblem wedges... not a fan of plaid.
 Now last year, I had learned my lesson so when I went to buy a new pair of "teacher shoes," I was looking more for comfort than cute but I managed to find both. I had been seeing all of my friends and coworkers sporting TOMS every day to work but once again I need a little height on my shoes so I wasn't smitten with these colorful frocks. But when I found TOMS wedges, I was SOLD! They are so fabulous. Look great with any outfit and are actually quite comfortable.
When I bought my wedges, there weren't as many choices in color so I went with these neutral wedges and they literally match everything! Now TOMS has come out with more colored wedges than I can count so you can pick the ones perfect for you.

Do you teach in wedges, flats or heels??

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

To Do Tuesday: First Day of School

I've finally let reality kick in that the first day of school will be here before I know it. I am slowly crawling out of my summer slump of sleeping in late and laying around all day. Now I'm getting back to the work grind and preparing activities and data sheets to be ready for the first week of school.

I'm not sure who is more nervous on the first day of school; the students or myself. You only have that first few hours to make a first impression which can base your classroom atmosphere for the rest of the year.

During those first few hours, I try to make my classroom feel as much like home and a family as possible. I want my students to get to know me as I get to know them. Also, I want my students to get to know one another and realize that every person in our class has something special to add to our little family.

Today I am putting together several activities for those first few important hours:

1. Get to Know the Teacher Power Point- I created a power point last year with my hometown, college, family, favorite sports team, favorite food, favorite movie/book, etc. This year I'm just going to change up a few things... such as I prefer Diet Coke to Cheerwine nowadays. The students loved the PowerPoint last year and after we finish with it, I allow the students to ask any other questions that they are curious about... except "are you single/married?" and "how old are you?"

2. Classroom Tour- I've got my destination planned out, now all I have to do is write up a tour guide for the students to follow along. I love acting like we are going on an adventure and I am the tour guide. Students follow along on their sheet to see where each location is and what they are to do at each location.

3. Textbook Scavenger Hunt- It can be rather intimidating to receive a stack of huge text books on the first day of school. To ease this panic, each student receives a scavenger hunt that leads them to find different elements of each textbook. Examples: Science Vocabulary Index, Reading Contents page, Social Studies Chapter Titles and text boxes, etc.

4. Autograph Mingle- Students receive a checkerboard of details that could describe a person. They are to silently (key) walk around the room and find someone who matches each description and have they autograph their checkerboard. Each student can only sign another student's paper once. First student to have all squares signed wins! Examples of descriptions: Right handed, From another country, Sings in a choir, etc

5. "School Name" I Have, Who Has- Students are each given a card with a sentence on it. (make sure you have only enough cards for each student to have one) The student holding the card with the star on it stands up and reads their card first. Then the student with the answer to that person's question on their own card will then stand and read their card. Example: Student 1- "Who has the name of our school?" Student 2- "I have ________. Who has the name of our principal?"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Before School Even Starts!

Two Teacher Appreciation Days in one year... and one before school even starts!?! Who wouldn't want to know more about this!

Staples holds a Teacher Appreciation event each year at the beginning of August. Every area's appreciation date is different so visit your local store to find yours or check for your area on their website. This year, they are offering free breakfast to teachers (or at least mine is) and exclusive in store deals. Plus the first 100 teachers get free gift bags! *You had me at "free"

I'm actually getting together with some of my coworkers to make an outing of it before school starts back. I'll definitely be sure to share my fabulous finds from the day on August 13th.

Let me know how your Staples Teacher Appreciation Day goes... and best of luck to those of you who are starting the new school year next week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hello, Tax Free Weekend...

Hello Tax Free Weekend! 

Right now I'm having to fight the urge to shop because I know that there will be some amazing sales in the next two weeks. But just the idea of not having to pay pesky little sales tax tugs at the shopaholic in me.

Hopefully you've been able to find a shopping cart full of good deals on school supplies this week. I apologize for my lack of posting over the past few days, but several things have kept me from the blogging world. First, I moved into my new house and have been in unpacking overdrive for the past 5 days. And on top of that, I've been living without cable and Internet until they come hook it up this afternoon. The need to blog has been worse than my need for a daily Diet Coke.

One of the shopping deals that I took advantage of this week during my unpacking breaks was actually at Office Depot. They have their two pocket folders on sale for 5 cents and if you're a teacher, you can get 20-30 folders per visit (depending upon the store.) So of course I made multiple trips.

I actually needed at least 125 folders for this school year because we use a different folder for each science unit that we study in 5th grade. Plus I can always use extra folders for Guided Reading groups.

It only took me 2 trips and my amazing mom 4 trips... but we successfully got bags full of folders. Now if I was smart(er) then I would've waited until today and saved another 3 cent per 10 folders on sales tax. Oh well!

Happy shopping to you on this tax free weekend!
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Where Abouts... Major Deals!

This weekend I am actually in the midst of moving into my new house in this dreadful heat. To take a break from the smouldering sun, we took a trip to my favorite store and found this wall of goodies!

Can you guess where we were?

Weekly Deals

Composition Notebooks- 10 cent (25 max for teachers and $5 spending minimum)
$5.99 SanDisk 4GB flash drive (GREAT deal!)
5-6 drawer rolling cabinet- $14

Office Depot:
2 pocket folders- 5 cent
Vinyl Pencil Pouch- 5 cent
Metal Storage Bins- $1 (love love these)


6 pack Elmer's glue sticks- $1
3 drawer rolling storage cart- $10 (these are great for storing station games!!)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fashion Friday: No Limit to Your Wardrobe

I am the first person to jump to the occasion of any sale... but a discount on top of a sale... nothing will get in my way. Luckily there is such a clothing company that will actually provide teachers with an extra discount on any purchase; even sale items. The Limited offers a 15% off discount on all purchases (full price or sale items) for teachers. This is very beneficial because The Limited has constant sales, including semi annual 50% off sales. With an extra discount, you can add some flare to your wardrobe and bring it up to date without making a dent in your wallet. What are you waiting for? Get in the car and go get some deals... and don't feel guilty for treating yourself.

With Style and Savings,
The Penny Pinching Teacher

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Pinterest Inspiration

I just might deem myself the title of Pinterest Princess... and I'm sure you're not far behind me if you've already joined in on the Pinterest Party Craze that has taken over the world.

Okay, I might be exaggerating just a bit but it seems that everyone and their sister (maybe even brother) has jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon lately and I'm loving it!

Recently I posted on my personal blog, Mimosas on Mondays, the projects that I've completed for my new house with some help from my Pinterest inspirations. Now I have a few Teacher Pinterest inspirations to add to that list. Ever since I started following Pinterest, I walk around constantly saying, (insert sarcastic tone) "Oh I could make that..." And usual I actually can.

Has anyone else fallen craze to this amazing world of ideas? I hope so! Here a few Pinterest inspirations that I plan to complete before the school year begins.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wardrobe Essential Wednesday: Not So Little Black Dress

I'm sure you have heard from every fashion magazine and What Not to Wear too that every female should have a little black dress in her closet. Well ladies, the new little black dress is not so little anymore. As Oprah's fashion team said so well on one of their specials, a black dress does not necessarily need to be little, instead it needs to fit YOU (not the girl sitting beside you). 

You know your body type; and you know what dress silhouette fits you perfectly. So why would you buy a "little" black dress that doesn't flatter you?

When searching for that perfect "little" black dress, you need to first look for fit. I am rather petite so I know that I need to look for a dress that is covering at the top and a little shorter in length. That way I can extend my leg line to add "height."

After you find the perfect fit, match that fit with a style that will match your life. If you are a socialite, you might want to buy a dress that can be worn to a cocktail and then transformed into work wear with a touch of color from a cardigan. If you are not one to go out on the town, then buy a simple dress that is timeless. The less the embellishment, the more years wear you will get from it.
Not So Little Black Dress

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Target Dollar Spot Spree

Target's Dollar Spot is a teacher's dream come true right now... especially if you teach lower elementary. Being a 5th Grade teacher, I have to be a little picky with the classroom decorations that I buy so that my room doesn't look "uncool" or "babyish" for my older big kids.

I find myself grabbing things that I know are too young for my classroom and I always have to send pictures to my teacher buddies so that they can snag these amazing deals. So far this week, these are the fabulous finds that I've come across.

Days of the week= $1

Calendar Set... each component is $1 so $3 for the whole thing... NOT BAD!

Weather Chart= $1

Class Dry Erase Schedule (currently in my classroom) =$1

"Welcome To Our Classroom" Banner =$1
If you're a lower elementary teacher then get to Target ASAP and grab these fabulous finds! What have you found in Target Dollar Spot lately?

To Do Tuesday: Hand Signs

To each their own and to every classroom its own... but sharing your classroom management ideas and learning from others is the best way to get a near perfect classroom management system...for you.
Classroom management doesn't just consist of rules and rewards; it is a combination of all of the components that make your classroom run smoothly. Along with my classroom rules... or rule rather (RESPECT)... I have classroom hand signals that help make my day easier. You might be thinking to yourself that this sounds sketchy but I am here to say that it is one of the best things I have ever implemented in my classroom. Plus my students LOVE it and my principal seems to like it as well.

Have you ever been frustrated to the point of wanting to pull out your hair because students are constantly interrupting your lessons? Do you see numerous hands fly up with a plea to go to the restroom right in the middle of your teacher input? Are you tired of having to stop your directions so that students can sharpen their pencils? Does it frustrate you when students ask to get water in the middle of your explanation of key concepts?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then I have your solution... HAND SIGNALS! In my class, we have 3 hand signals. One to sharpen pencils, one to use the restroom and another to get water. I teach these hand signals at the beginning of the year and they catch on quickly. Instead of stopping my lesson to listen to a student's request, I just nod my head as an okay when I see a student hold up a hand signal and they know that they can go ahead with what they need to do. My to-do for today is to make a hand signal poster to hang in my classroom.

Hand Signals:

W = Water
O = Bathroom
Pencil = Sharpen

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plan It Out... Writing Style

My 5th Grade students had to complete a science research writing prompt last year. The hardest part of this process was not the actual writing, it was more of the research and planning. Two tools that I believe helped my students the most were Alpha Boxes and Prompt Plans.

I use Alpha Boxes in both my teaching of reading and writing. During Guided Reading, I have my small groups keep an alpha box for each book that they read. The students record the book title or topic in the middle of the alpha box. As we progress through the book, the students add 5 vocabulary words each day that I have pulled from their text. These are are key vocabulary that we discuss and use context clues to decipher the meaning of. Students then can add more important words to their alpha boxes as they read independently. Not only is this a great tool to keep the students refreshed on their vocabulary, but it also is a running record of the key words from each book.

In the writing process, alpha boxes can come in hand when the students are researching. Instead of jotting down pages of notes in their writing notebooks, I often have students write down key words that they find in their research on alpha boxes. This tool is great when students are beginning their rough drafts so that they have a "thesaurus" so to say of the key words that they need to use in their own writing. 

This planning graphic organizer is another helpful tool for students in the pre-writing process. It is especially helpful when there is a specific prompt given to students for a writing test.

Monday Deal: 114 Items for $2.75

Please say I'm not the only one who is jumping at every opportunity to find a good deal on supplies this summer! Are you having any luck finding extreme deals?

Today I hit the jackpot thanks to some fabulous bloggers. I stopped by Staples on my errand run this morning to get the 2 pocket folders that are on sale for a penny this week. The only downfall to Staples penny sales is that you have to spend $5 in order to get the items for a penny. But on the plus side, they will allow teachers to get 25 of each of the penny items instead of just 10.

The only penny sale items that my Staples store had in their sales ad this week were folders but thanks to Rebecca at Create.Teach.Share I found out that other Staples had pencils, notecards and highlights also for a penny. Well this happened to be my lucky day because they price matched the other store's deals. I ended up getting much than I had planned to but spent very little.
sidebar: I wish you could've seen my face when the sales clerk rang up the sales promo wrong and the register said that my bill was $26,457.00!!!

Here's what ended up in my shopping cart:

25 packs of 100 index cards = $0.25

4 Sharpies= $1

25 packs of 2 Sharpie Highlighters= $0.25

4 White Outs= $1
25 Pocket Folders- $0.25
25 packs of 8 pencils= $0.25
Big Purchase of the day: Hanging Files for my Target Crates= $10
Without the hanging files, my total for 114 items was $2.75!

The Penny Pinching Teacher