Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vocabulators and You

The other day, I posted a picture of most of my vocabulators.  What, you may wonder, IS a vocabulator?  Vocabulators are clear containers that are filled with robust words and items, such as small toys, that can be used to jog a student's imagination and help them with their writing.  I first learned about them at a Melissa Forney training I went to at the beginning of my first year as a teacher.  (2010-2011)

They are simple enough to make, once you decide what themes you want to do.  The hardest part was finding small objects to put inside.  If money is no object, there are containers of themed toys you can buy, but I didn't want to spend $15 each.  I did a lot of  running around to dollar and craft stores to find the objects for mine.  There are a couple that I haven't yet finished, I will update this when they are done.  

Get ready for picture overload!
Begin by choosing the themes you want.  I then color coded my words by printing out 2 copies of each word, cut and paste them front and back onto cardstock.  Then, laminate and cut out.
After they were all cut out, I put them in baggies until I was ready to add them to their canister.
To dye the rice to fill my canisters with, I soaked it in rubbing alcohol and food coloring.  Stir occasionally.  When done, I spread it out on a foil lined pizza box and placed it on my porch to air out for 24 hours.  

When dry, fill your clear container with the rice.

Don't fill completely, you need room for all the words and objects, plus room to shake.

Next, add your double-sided and laminate words.
Then add your toys.  This is my safari theme vocabulator.

This is what it looks like pre-shake.

Give it a good shake and mix all the words and toys in with the rice.  Half the fun is searching for the perfect word.
When turned on the side, you can easily see toys and words.

For my color words, I used perler beads.

Color words vocabulator.

Color words vocabulator.

Dinosaur vocabulator.

Dinosaur vocabulator.

Dinosaur vocabulator.

For my ocean words, I used these water beads.  They really expand and I used less than this 1 oz bag to fill my canister.

Water beads after filling with water.

Water beads in the canister.  Be sure to drain them.  They will continue to absorb water.  I left a bit of water and when  I opened the container to check on them, they came spilling out!  If the container is air-tight, they will not dry out.

Math vocabulator.

Math vocabulator.

Happy words vocabulator.  I still need toys to put in this one.

Some of my vocabulators before I took them to school.
I left the dyed rice in the open containers for a few extra days just to be sure it was fully aired out.
Finished vocabulators at school.  I hot glued the tops on so there will be no spilling accidents at school.  The ocean one is pretty heavy and I didn't glue that top, so it's one that stays on the table and can be turned.
Vocabulators on display.
I hope this helped you and inspired you to make some vocabulators for your own class.  The kids LOVE using them and they are pretty fun to make.

*I have added the word lists that I used in these vocabulators to my TpT store.  Download it here for FREE!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finally Making Progress

Today is the first time I actually felt like I accomplished something in my classroom today.  The decorating is what makes a classroom feel like home.  I use a lot of bright pops of coordinated color to tie it all together.  I will undoubtedly be going into school this weekend at some point.  I love when it begins to feel like a real classroom.  Let me know what you think so far!

This is the bulletin board I will be starting the year off with.  

When I got to my room today, look what I discovered!! A match had been found! Headache GONE!

I found this concept on Pinterest.  I was doing my own version of Math Daily 5 last year.  This is basically the same thing, just different names.  I think I'm going to have to reprint the signs though.  I have them outlined in color and it really bothers me that they are not in the same order as my curtains.

Still working on the Writing Resource Center.

These are my Vocabulators.  I will do a whole post on them this weekend.  I also have more pictures of them on Pinterest.

I also found this online and made a poster of it for my class.  I like the fun star border around it.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Whole Lotta Punchin' Goin' On

I decided to stay home to work today.  I really wanted to sleep in on a weekday one more time, and the allure of staying home and just doing some planning was too much to resist!  I did venture out to the teacher store and bought some new letters and extra monsters since I'll have 44 rather than the 22 I had last year.  I have spent majority of my afternoon punching out this never ending pile of letters, while listening to a newly updated iTunes playlist, and thunder from another approaching storm.  In other words, today is a GREAT day!

 *On a side note, whenever I go shopping, I always wish that things were 50% or more off.  (Don't we all?!)  Well, I discovered that some of Amazon's top music is available for $0.25!!! I feel much better about that then paying $1.29 which is what they usually cost!  12 new songs for $3.00? Don't mind if I do!  :o)

I have also been planning my Writing instruction.  I brought home my Writing Curriculum and some indispensable books that I have.  I am so excited about this school year!  I have a really good feeling about what is yet to come!

I LOVE these letters and numbers.  They are so bright and fit right in with my classroom decor.  They are the 4" 'Furry Friends Patchwork' Ready Letters from Trend Enterprises.

My cute monsters!  I put them outside of my door.  Their hands overlap and hold the coordinating nameplates, that the teacher store didn't have, for each of my students.

Bright and fun new numbers for my calendar!  These make me ridiculously happy!

I use a bunch of different teacher bags.  This is one that my Aunt Lee bought me a few years ago for Christmas.  It has a bunch of pockets to hold random little things. LOVE it!

Files and my Curriculum Guide that I brought home to begin planning.  My bag was so heavy!  Ugh

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Setup Day 2

It would appear, to the untrained eye, that I have not accomplished much today.  I admit, I have a bit of room setup ADD.  I start on one thing, and find something that reminds me of another task I want to get done.  I then begin side project #1 which gets me started on side project #2, and so on...  Today was one of those days.  I began by going through my file cabinet and purging.  That lead to me getting distracted and working on what you see in the pictures.  Since I looped last year, I still had many papers and files from 3rd grade.  I made the executive decision to get rid of all that clutter! 

I moved some more furniture around today.  Still not 100% sure of how I want things.  My student desks are in a big cluster in the middle of my room, when I  get those situated my room will look vastly different.  I think I figured out what to do with that rectangular table that was unsettled yesterday.  Now, I have a mismatched pair of trapezoid tables that are giving me a headache.  I could just leave well enough alone and leave them where they were last year, but... That would be too easy!

Picture time!

These bookshelves are just smack dab in the middle of a random part of the wall.  Those are my troublesome trapezoid tables. :o/

I saw this on Pinterest.  The kids will move their magnet whenever they leave the room.  This will be great  to have during a fire drill.  

These are the curtains I made for my classroom.  They are single panels.  I cut them in half lengthwise and then  folded them over and hot glued them.  (I don't have a sewing machine! haha) 

I think I'll leave my listening center in my Book Nook this year.  I had it set up at a table last year.  This way they can be comfortable sitting on the pillows while listening.

This area is far from complete.  I imagine it being a Writing Resource Center for the kids.  I want to have everything easily accessible for them so they can be efficient and get their own materials.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Setup Day 1

Well, I didn't get as much accomplished today as I had hoped I would.  (Happens a lot I guess, but I enjoyed catching up with some of my co-workers who were also working in their rooms!)  With the help of our wonderful Custodial staff, I was able to get the bulk of my furniture in place.  I am still thinking about how I want the desks arranged for the start of the year.  This year, I have decided to put a kidney table next to my teacher desk.  This way, I can work with my small groups and be able to use my computer at the same time.

Here are some pictures of my room when I first walked in this morning and right before I left this afternoon.
Let me know what you think.

What I originally walked into.  They had recently finished waxing all of the floors and today was the first day of arranging furniture.  I am glad I was able to get a true 'before' picture!

Looking toward my desk from my Book Nook.
Looking across from the corner by the window.  The two tables in the foreground are not suppose to be in there.

One of my favorite and least favorite aspects of my room.  LOVE all of the storage space, but do not love the lack of bulletin board space.  It just means I have to get creative and take advantage of the cabinet doors!

My corner of the room!

I am very lucky to be in a district that puts a lot of emphasis on technology in the classroom!  We all have document cameras and some type of interactive device. (SMART Board, SMART Slate or Mobi.)  I have a SMART Slate but would love to get a SMART Board one day!

I'm not really sure what to do with that table right now.  It was next to my desk where the kidney table is now.  I want to make a writing center out of it, but don't really know where to put it yet.  Any ideas? 

Book Nook... Coming Soon!

You can't see too well in this picture, but a nasty storm was rolling in.  This was about the time I decided to head home.  I still had to stop at a couple stores to get a couple school things.

So, this is where my room stands as of now.  I managed to put up my bulletin board outside of my room, but I forgot to snap a picture of it.  I'll post more pictures of my progress and some new projects I'm going to be working on tomorrow!