Image Map

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: teacher toolbox

Welcome back to Teacher Tuesday!

Have you seen these teacher toolboxes floating around Pinterest? I saw a pin like this one last spring and knew my teacher's desk needed one of these:

Teacher Toolbox (Lowe's hardware organizer)

There are quite a few posts on various teacher blogs about how they fancied theirs up, but basically it is made from a toolbox that you can get at Lowe's, Home Depot, and a few other stores and adding some labels to each drawer. 

I went the easy route with mine. I cut out pieces of scrapbook paper to fit the size of each drawer and taped it in on the inside of the drawer. A lot of others either print or use stickers to label the drawers directly on the paper, but I wanted to be able to change the contents of my drawers without re-doing the entire label, so I wrote the contents on the outside of each drawer with a permanent marker. 

The writing doesn't come off in regular use, but if I want to change it I can scrub it off pretty easily since the drawers are made from a slick plastic. 

This thing has been an awesome addition to my desk. Besides adding some cute color to my work area, it has made it so much easier to find the things I need quickly, especially in the middle of class when I don't want to dig through a desk drawer. I have also found that it's easy for me now to send a student to grab a paperclip or band-aid and just tell them to find the correct drawer. 

Have you made one of these teacher toolboxes yet? I am really happy with mine- it is an organizational work horse for sure!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mommy Monday: nail polish kit

Welcome back to Mommy Monday! Today I'm excited to show you how much I love this little bag that sits in my bathroom storage:

I was looking for something to corral my nail polish supplies a while back and found this little bag sitting in my parents' attic from years ago. I used to keep everything in a ziploc bag and that just got really annoying. It was way bigger than what I needed, looked ugly, and it still took forever to sift through and find what I needed. 

Just take a look at the storage compartments inside this beauty:

I love having lots of little pockets and zippered storage to keep things separated and organized. So inside this bag, I am able to keep everything I need to make my nails colorful and pretty:

I have 4 colors of nail polish in regular bottles, 3 nail polish colors in a "pen" shape, 1 clear top coat bottle, nail polish remover, and cotton swabs. The key to creating a little kit like this is to find the small, travel/sample size nail polish remover. Does anyone else get super annoyed with how large and bulky the nail polish remover bottles are? And does anyone ever actually finish one of those bottles? Those things are just waiting to be spilled on grandma's antique wooden furniture and I could never understand why the bottles were so huge. So I practically broke out in song when I saw these small ones at the grocery store! Now THAT'S reasonable. And it fits in my little bag with everything else, so I only have one thing to grab if I am changing my nail color!

Here's how it all fits in the bag:

The cotton swabs are in the zippered pocket. The nail polish bottles fit perfectly in the small little side pockets, with the pen-size ones in the larger side pocket. The nail polish remover fits right in the open space in the middle. 

And there you have it- the perfect little bag to grab any time I get the urge (and the time and energy) to paint my nails! I love having everything together so I can find things easily without cluttering up my behind-the-mirror storage or sifting through other toiletries to find what I need.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: an organized clipboard

Welcome back to Teacher Tuesday! Today I want to show you some simple things that I did to make the organizational powerhouse- the clip board- even more powerful (and prettier too). I wrote a post before on the music stand where my clip board lives most of its life.

Click on the picture to read about how I organize the stand as a whole- I really love this system! But let's talk about the clipboard for a second. I use it to hold the seating charts that I keep for each class- so I use it every hour of every day while I'm teaching- but it has been bothering me for a while that it looks so sad and beaten down! I inherited these aged but sturdy clipboards when I started in this position last school year. They have obviously been around for many years: lots of graffiti, cracks, and bent pieces. But they are definitely sturdy! I decided it was time for mine to get a little love.

Believe it or not, this was my first venture into the world of modge podge. Trust me, it will not be the last! I used it to cover the front and back of the board with some pretty scrapbook paper (I used this tutorial to help make sure the paper stayed flat). I feel happier already! Because the clip is so big, I couldn't get all the way to the edges with the paper, so I put some black painter's tape (left over from many other projects) around the edges. I wasn't sure how well it would hold up but so far it has been fine! I figure if it starts to wear down it's an easy fix. Then I decided it was too much black at the top (the part I stare at the most when it's in use), so I added some musical washi tape (you knew there was going to be washi tape, right?!?) across the top. I even added some modge podge on top of that to keep it down, and so far that seems to be working well.

OK, that's fine for it to look pretty, but didn't I promise increased productivity?!? Yes I did. So the first thing I did was something that I may be the last person on the planet to figure out, but it was a revelation for me nonetheless- there is a perfect spot for my mechanical pencil inside the giant clip!

Before I figured this out, I was considering adding a pen loop to the top edge to keep the pencil with the clipboard, so if you don't have this kind will you please try it and let me know how it works? :) But this little spot was just too perfect to replace with any additions.

I made one other change to the clipboard that has had the biggest impact on my day-to-day use: some self-adhesive pockets on the back!

(Can we stop for a second and admire that paper on the back? *sigh* OK thanks.)

One of the main components of my behavior management system is giving "happy notes" to one student who does a great job in class each period, and send home "behavior slips" to students who demonstrate poor choices in class (you can read more about those in this post). I used to keep those in one of the pockets on my music stand (see the picture above). The problem was that I would often walk to the opposite side of the room with the students to line up at the end of class and forget to bring the note with me to fill it out, which meant leaving the students to run back and forth to retrieve the note. I now keep a few spares in that pocket just in case, but I have most of the notes attached to my clipboard! The nice thing is I have gotten in the habit now of carrying my clipboard with me to the line because I mark behavior notes, and their progress on the class behavior board, directly on the seating chart. Now I can just pull a note out of the back pocket and away we go!

Sometimes it's the smallest things that have the biggest impact- my clipboard makes me so happy now! :) What are the little projects you have taken on that have made your home or school life more streamlined (or prettier)? Share your ideas below :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mommy Monday: toddler's closet organization

Now that the weather has settled into colder temperatures, I've gone through my girls' closet again and stocked up on long sleeves, pants, and sweaters. While the closet is nothing fancy, I have found a system that works well for our busy mornings.

As with everything else, my starting point in planning the closet was to find a way to allow the girls to maintain it themselves (put clothes away and pick out their clothes without my help). So the first thing I needed to do was have everything in clear view and low to the ground. I ended up using a small hallway closet and using the floor and the bottom shelf to keep their current wardrobe (clothes they wear infrequently, or things that are mostly out of season, are on the shelves above). I found these storage bins at IKEA to keep on the floor, and these smaller bins for the shelf. Each child has all of their clothes in one bin.

All of their tops are in one bin in front, and all of the bottoms are in the bins behind that. Every time we get dressed I ask them to go get one top and one bottom, and they know to pick one from each of their bins. Because the bins are roomy, they can throw their clean clothes in there and still be able to see everything when they are picking out their clothes in the morning.

The smaller bins have their socks and underwear. The green and red ones match the bigger bin's colors, so they each have that small bin for their underwear, and the blue one in the middle is a communal sock bin. I have found that, even though they are different sizes, I can fudge on sock size and get away with having them share. These have worked out well because they are small and light enough for the girls to pull them out, get what they need, and put it back on the shelf very easily.

One of the biggest drawbacks of this hallway closet is that it is very dark. It is usually still dark when we are getting ready in the morning (especially in the winter), but none of us wants to turn on the overhead light nearby when we're still waking up. I recently added a small push light inside the closet so the girls can turn it on themselves and see what they need without having to turn on anything super-bright. The girls love being able to push it on and off themselves!

So there you have it- my nothing fancy, but very practical, closet for two toddlers! How do you organize your kids' clothing? Do they pick out their own clothes? Leave a comment!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five Favorite Pins of October

I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share some of my latest favorite links from Pinterest. Thanks for hosting, Aileen!

1. DIY bouncing ball sing-alongs
DIY follow the bouncing ball videos

This idea from Midnight Music is just really cool. She has very clear instructions for making your own bouncing ball videos for sing-alongs! I am thinking this would be a great resource to have for subs- students could learn a new song without needing the sub to sing it for them! 

2. Stop Motion Animation Tutorial

Easy Set-up for Stop Motion Animation with Kids |

I do a project with my 5th graders on music in video games. Last year I just had them make puppets on popsicle sticks and videotaped them "acting it out", but of course it was hard to avoid seeing their hands and the students thought it was a little dinky. This year I think I will try stop motion animation- just as easy but the results will look much more like "the real thing". PLUS I have 2 iPads this year (last year I had none), so I can have 2 groups working on it simultaneously. Score!

3. Angry Birds Rhythm Practice

Last year I used a similar video with Mario Brothers and the students (especially the boys) went absolutely nuts. The notes flash to help follow along, but the "flashing" is a little bit off. I just told the students to follow me and I pointed to the notes. Nobody seemed to really notice. They just love hearing the music and seeing the images, and feeling like they are "playing along" with video game music.

4. "Monkey Business" activity

Beth's Music Notes: Monkey Business: Monkey songs for copying and steady beat

Beth's Music Notes strikes again. I happened upon this song/game while searching for something else and it was a bit hit with my 2nd graders to review rhythms at the beginning of the year. I did it at the last minute so I didn't have time this year, but I am definitely getting a mask for headband to give the featured/leader student to look like a monkey when I do it next year. 

5. Too funny


I don't usually re-pin random funny pins- I usually just laugh to myself and move on. But come on. I seriously spit out my coffee when I saw this and I still chuckle every time I see it. That face is so perfect.

You can follow me on Pinterest here.

Don't forget to head over to the linky party here to see what other music education bloggers are pinning!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: color coding (part 3)- instrument edition

Time for Teacher Tuesday, and we're back on the topic of color coding! Will the marvels of color coding never cease?!? Methinks not. Color-coding has made all of the transitions between activities and in and out of class so much easier for my students and I this year. If you haven't already, take a look at the other posts on color-coding to see how I use color-coding to group and seat students, as well as manage behavior:

Now that the school year is in full swing, we are using more and more instruments in class. The 4th-6th graders especially are doing a lot of ensemble and composition work with Orff barred instruments and percussion. To avoid confusion and arguing over who gets what instrument (and to help me make sure I am spreading the love by giving different students opportunities in each instrument throughout the year), I have color-coded many of the instruments as well! Some of the instruments were pre-colored:

*Sigh*. Aren't they beautiful? I got these djembes last year through DonorsChoose. The students LOVE having these drums and the colors make them even more special. I don't actually have a pink group, but in some classes I have 4 students in a few of the groups (and I have 3 sets at the moment) so I use the pink ones as "extras". To be honest it didn't even occur to me until the first time I pulled them out, and the students asked me if they would be using the ones for their team color. Why yes, yes of course!! ;) I'm so glad my students understand me so well :)

The xylophones have always been the biggest headache to assign. I used washi tape to label each instrument so that each team has 1 soprano and 1 alto xylophone on which they have "dibs". I have 2 "spares" in each of those sizes that I use for groups with more students etc. It has cut down tremendously on the time I spend figuring out who should play what, and has virtually eliminated the arguments over which one is for whom.

Although I am blessed with a nice set of xylophones, I have about half as many glockenspiels. Since I don't have enough for each team to have 1, I put 2 colors on each one- one on each end of the instrument. It was a little confusing for students at first but after 1 or 2 classes they all figured it out. I try to make sure it's not always the same team using soprano vs. alto glockenspiel, but I don't worry too much about that.

I also labeled the mallets with matching washi tape so that when a stray mallet goes rolling across the floor (not that that ever happens... cough) I know who is missing one, and it prevents them from getting off-task trying to switch mallets (not that that ever happens either... why do they even do this? It makes no sense to me). I got the idea for that from this link on Pinterest:

Washi tape to color code mallets with Orff instruments. Also helps students know where to put their fingers on the mallets!

Color-coding strikes again for organization, justice, and peace throughout the land! Have you tried labeling your instruments in color groups or another organizational system? Tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mommy Monday: organizing art supplies

Welcome back to Mommy Monday! Today we're talking art supplies. This has been one of those constantly-evolving projects. Mostly because we seem to keep adding new art supplies. Hmm. Anyway, here is the little creation area we have in the corner of the living room:

I have a few hanging lanterns to add some light (I have no overhead light in the living room... go figure that one out), and a small table and chairs. We colored together on some large packaging paper one time and the girls insisted on hanging it up so that's what's on the wall. The art supplies are all underneath the table:

I had a plastic tub that I had gotten to use for something else before, so I keep everything in there. Inside I have paper, colored pencils, markers, and crayons, each in their own container. Paint brushes and some other random little things like stickers hang out in the bottom, wherever they feel like:

The little file-size container I have for the paper is something I got in East Asia, the motherland of cool stationary and accompanying accessories. It's nice because it keeps all the paper contained but it's easy for my girls to open and close on their own.

I try to keep some different sizes of white paper, plus a few of each color of construction paper, stashed in there. I keep the extra paper stored away so nobody gets too carried away with one project ;)

I have three containers from the kitchen section at Walmart that I use for everything else. One container has colored pencils, one has markers, and the other has crayons.

These are nice because they're made of a light plastic so they're not too heavy for the girls, and they stay closed but the girls are able to open and close them on their own.

I like this system for now because it keeps everything out of the way and contained, but allows the girls quick and easy access to whatever they are in the mood for when creativity strikes. It's a fairly simple clean-up process when we're done, too- once I convince them that they have to stop, that is! (Anyone got any ideas for that?!?) :)

How do you store your children's art supplies? Leave a comment!

Friday, October 10, 2014

World Music Resources for free and on sale today!

I'm so excited! 29 different music sellers on TeachersPayTeachers have been giving away free and half-off files each day in October, and today it's my turn to share with you! Have you been downloading all the files this month? I have gotten some awesome new resources for my own classroom. If you haven't, don't worry- you still have a few more days. There will be new free and half-off resources for music teachers every day until October 13th. Just search for "13nights" on TeachersPayTeachers to see the files available that day. Along with mine, there are some great files from Music Teacher Resources available today too!

My free file today is a collection of resources for teaching the Japanese folk song, "Donguri Korokoro". This song is a really fun one because of the song of the words (just try saying "korokoro" over and over again). I learned it in early elementary school, along with every other child in Japan, and still love it! The song has the "syncopa" pattern in it, which makes it a great way to practice syncopation, or subtly introduce it in the younger grades without overtly presenting it.

My other new file is 50% off and it is another Japanese folk song called, "Akatonbo (or alternatively phonetically spelled Akatombo...)". This song is near and dear to my heart, as I know it is for many other people in Japan. I learned this one in elementary school as well and it is a beautiful, peaceful song about a dragonfly at sunset, and fond memories of childhood. We used to sing it in a round around the campfire at dusk- just hearing it now makes me feel cozy. This song lends itself nicely to several teaching concepts, for which I have included teaching resources: the song is pentatonic, in triple meter, and can be sung in a round. I've also included some percussion accompaniment parts to create an ensemble performance in your classroom.

Both of these resource sets include recordings of a native speaker speaking the words from the text for you and your students to practice and singing the song with the original text, slides to use as powerpoints or interactive whiteboard files to teach the song and a variety of concepts, and fully editable worksheets to accompany the song. I hope you find these to be a helpful addition to your classroom library and that your students enjoy them as much as mine do!

Did you ever get a chance to go see my guest post over on The Yellow Brick Road? My post was all about my thoughts on teaching world music. Go check it out here and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: notes from subs

It's Teacher Tuesday! Yesterday I told you about my daughter who was sick last week. Naturally, I had a substitute in for me for 2 days. Whenever I write sub plans, I always leave a section for the teacher to leave specific feedback about each class: how many letters did the class earn (see my post on my letter system for behavior management), any particularly difficult students, and additional notes. When I see the class next, I discuss their behavior with them to reinforce the expectations I have for any time I am out.

I used to just keep the page with all the notes on my music stand next to my clip board and check them off as I talked to each of the classes. The problem was I would inevitably forget to talk to one or two, and by the following class the discussion was pretty much useless because too much time had gone by. Enter washi tape!

I cut out the notes for each class and stuck them straight onto the seating chart for that class with a piece of washi tape. When that class came in, the notes were right there on the seating chart to remind me to talk to them. After I talked to them, I took it off and tossed it.

In case you don't know about washi tape, the beauty of the stuff is that it leaves no residue, is repositionable, and still sticks like regular tape. So I can stick things onto paper and know that I can take it off again without ripping the paper. I use it for so many things, but this is another great way to use it in a practical way! The system worked perfectly. I remembered to talk to every class, and I never had to worry that I had forgotten which classes I missed.

Do you go over notes from subs with your classes? How do you keep track of them all? Are you as addicted to washi tape as I am?!? Leave a comment :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mommy Monday: organizing medicine for multiple children

So last week one of my girls was sick. It's been a while since either of them was really sick (thank goodness)- I was reminded again of how sad it is to have a child who is sick! Watching them in any discomfort is no fun, and my daughter had 2 nights in a row with a fever of over 103. Thank goodness she is fine now, and I was reminded of a few organizational things I have done that help a lot when I am taking care of a sick child (or two!).

One of the problems with having multiples is the high likelihood that any disease will automatically be shared between the two. Yes, it's true, they really do share everything. And when they are young enough to still be putting things in their mouths and fingers in their noses, the germs spread that much faster. I learned quickly as a new mom that I needed to be prepared to take care of two sick children, not just one.

One of the things I have done that has made taking care of two sickies a lot easier is to keep their medicine droppers organized.

For infants and young children, medicine usually comes in liquid form with a syringe. And each type of medicine comes with its own syringe with measurements markings specifically for the dosing of that medicine. At first, when they were both taking medicine at the same time, I would wash the syringe between each child. But that takes precious time away from screaming children. When I ran out of the first bottle of Tylenol and quickly opened the second back-up, I realized I was now the proud owner of TWO syringes. Score! I quickly opened all of my back-up packages of medicine so I would have two of each syringe.

I had already gotten some little stickers with each child's name on it to use as labels for daycare, so I stuck them on each of the syringes to keep them sorted. You could easily use plain stickers in two different colors, or write on them with a sharpie. and get the same effect. But being able to quickly grab a syringe and know that it hasn't just been used by another sick child is a huge relief!

The next thing I realized was that I now had lots of syringes and bottles to keep track of, and in the middle of the night I do NOT enjoy sorting through the syringes to see which one says "ibuprofen" in tiny little letters. So my next solution: keep each bottle, with its respective syringes, in a small ziploc bag.

I even got some bags in different colors! The infant medicine bottles will fit in the snack size bags, but I have found that the children's medicines will only fit with the syringes in the sandwich size bags. No more hunting through the cabinet in the middle of the night! I keep all of the bags in a larger bag with the thermometer and first aid kit so I know exactly where to find what I need quickly, and the whole thing is in the top drawer inside the cabinet doors of my tall armoire in my bedroom where my children have the least likelihood of reaching it.

Maybe this is something everyone else is already doing and you're all sitting there going, "duh, when are you going to get to the idea?!?", but this system has really made my life easier so I figured it was worth sharing either way! So tell me: do you use this system? Or do you have another system to keep track of your medicine for multiple children? I would love to hear your ideas! Leave me a comment.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TpT Giveaway and Sale: 13 Nights of Treats and Frights!

I have exciting news! Starting today and running through the 13th, 29 music teachers on TeachersPayTeachers are going to be giving away free files AND offering another file for a whopping 50% off!

Click on the image above to go directly to the free and sale files of the day, or search for "13nights" on TeachersPayTeachers. Don't forget to check back every day- there are going to be so many wonderful resources available for your classroom. All of them are fall or Halloween themed, so you will be able to turn around and use them in your classes right away! I am excited to get downloading myself!

Here is the schedule of which stores will be offering their files each day to help you keep track:

You will note the very awesome store that is participating on October 10th (wink wink cough cough).

Happy shopping!