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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Painted Rock Memory Holders

     I am on vacation at my family's lake house.  One of the kids' favorite activities each year is to paint rocks.  The beach is covered with nice flat rocks and the kids love collecting rocks and then sitting on the dock painting them (I like doing it too:).
      Last year the kids painted the entire alphabet for me (read about it here). They were played with all year long in my classroom.
        This year we decided to use the painted rocks as the base for photo holders.  We held a beautiful memorial service for my parents at the tiny chapel on the bluff and then family and friends came back to the cottage for lunch.  The day before the memorial service we were looking at pictures of my parents and decided that we wanted to put photos on the tables rather than create a poster.  We found large colorful plastic clips at the tiny stationary store in town and then hot glued them to the beautiful rocks that the kids painted.
Materials are simply rocks, paint, big clips and hot glue.
       Voila... perfect 2-sided picture holders for the tables.  We put 5 or 6 on each table around the flowers.  It was wonderful because the guests loved looking at the fun candid shots. It would also be a great decoration for a Thanksgiving table (maybe with fall colors and big gold paper clips). I like that the kids painted things my parents liked such as flowers, dogs and Cornell:).
      At our house, painting rocks almost always ends up involving some body painting.  This is my Mom with grandson Brandon (who is now 15 years old). It was one of her favorite pictures.
      Lots of guests asked if I make these photo holders in my classroom.  The answer was "not yet."  I am having my nieces and nephews collect rocks for me to bring home so we can do something similar in school  this year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Organization Linky Party

This picture was taken before I made labels for all of the bins. The missing ABC books are out on the bookshelf ready for the first day of school.
        Last August I reorganized my classroom materials in two large metal cabinets.  For each unit I put all the sample projects, project templates, manipulatives, special small toys that relate to the unit (ie. mitten and little animals for retelling The Mitten), bulletin board materials and my notes about the unit in a plastic bin.  I then put all the books that I use for the unit in magazine holders near the bin. The books/bins are also organized according to our schedule.  So the top bin has back to school/apples, the next is fall, etc.  It worked beautifully.
          At the start of a new unit, I put the books out on our classroom book shelf and organized the materials in the bin for my use during the unit. Some units required a large bin (for example Winter/Snow) while others fit in a small bin.  I have 3 units that have so many books I had to keep the books in bins too (dinosaurs,  fairy tales and art). In past years I had kept the books in the boxes with the rest of the unit materials and others in bins according to genre.  This did not work nearly as well.   I love being able to easily see and find books and the magazine holders made that easy. When I reorganized last year, I donated a lot of books that I had collected for my former kindergarten class that didn't fit within any unit or qualify as a favorite.  I figured that other teachers would actually use them and my Pre-K'ers really do better with a more limited number of books that rotate frequently. The boxes on the top of the cabinet hold materials in general categories that don't fit within a unit such as ABC's or math materials.  I do have magazine holders for ABC books, number books, and a few other categories that don't fit within a unit.  The largest of these other categories is my pretty substantial collection of Mrs. Goff's Favorite Books (books that don't necessarily fit within a unit but that I love and will certainly be using during the year).
       This system is not without flaws.  Of course, I started the year with the cabinets very organized but also very full.  Because I'm a teacher :) I added new units throughout the year.  For example, we loved Pete the Cat so I needed to add  a new bin and magazine holder for my great Pete the Cat materials.   It worked okay last year because I could store some of the extra materials in our school storage room that has now been converted into a classroom.  I think I will have to bring home more of my extra "stuff" this year.
        I haven't been able to get into my classroom because it was used for a summer program through July and I am now about to go on vacation with my family.  However, I know that my materials are well organized and ready for me once I get there.
        I am joining Miss Kindergarten's Organization Linky Party.