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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Organizing a Classroom Library}

I know many of you are back to school so I am posting a combination throwback post with ideas for organizing your classroom library. I found furniture for mine on a budget!
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Grab the button below. Simple!
My Tried It:
Organizing a Classroom Library
When I taught 6th grade, I was teaching social studies for a few years and then math for five.  Having a large classroom library was not a top priority.  Then, eight years ago I switched to fourth grade and slowly started collecting books through yard sales, ebay, and donations.  My library has grown every year and this summer I decided that I really wanted to transform it by organizing my books in bins.

There are so many amazing classroom libraries all over the internet.  I have drooled over them, especially this library from Beth Newingham's Scholastic blog post from way back in 2009!  I just love those bookcases and baskets.  The bookcases line up so neatly and you can tell they are great quality.

In addition to not having as many books as I would like, one of my other problems was that I didn't have  amazing sturdy bookcases that line up nice and neat in my room.  
Last summer I bought a cheap bookcase for more storage from WalMart ($15) and it broke by the end of the year.
Back in the summer of 2013, I found two bookcases at local yard sales and they were both very sturdy.  One was $5 and the other was $7.  However, they were different colors and mismatched, so I knew I would have to paint them.  I decided to go with black because I found some bright bins at the Dollar Tree (for $1 each of course) that would just "pop" against the black.
I got to work priming the bookcases.

These mini foam rollers really do a nice job making the work a little easier.
Next, I used an acrylic black gloss paint.

Then, I went to work in my room painting two other bookcases.  A friend gave me the tall bookcase.  This one is not as sturdy as the other three but it makes a good corner piece.  The other bookcase is school grade quality and super sturdy.
There was one shelf that was not removable in the tall bookcase.  The others were removed and painted on a flat surface using the same foam mini roller.
I am not even sure how many hours I spent painting these four bookcases, but it was many!  Each bookcase took THREE coats of the black paint!  Painting the little nooks and crannies in the "ABCD" bookcase was a complete pain too.  However, they looked awesome when I was done.  So, you can just imagine how disappointed I was when I placed these book bins on the shelves and they scratched the paint and were like sticking to the paint!  The original two bookcases had been drying for like a month and the other two were only drying for two days.  But still!!!  What was I going to do?

My first solution was to spray this Mod Podge adhesive on the shelves to "protect" them from scratches.
It covered the shelves okay but I couldn't spray many coats because it was the stinkiest, toxic stuff on the planet and unless I wanted to haul all the bookcases outside, I wasn't going to be spraying that anymore!  Next, I tried my trusty varnish from my mod podge projects.  I brushed it on the top of each shelf with a foam disposable brush.
I let it dry a few days, went back to school and loaded the bins back on the shelves.  

The varnish has seemed to work and the bins don't "stick" anymore.  I am nervous about how it will hold up to student usage though.  UPDATE: Now in 2015, the bins have held up beautifully! I haven't touched them up a bit and there are a few marks here and there in the paint but nothing major! Those fourth graders can sure be tough on furniture and I will have all fifty 4th graders using my library this year since we are departmentalizing.

My books also have color coded labels on the binding (sealed with shipping tape) according to their AR (Accelerated Reading) level. Each grade level is a different color.
I attached my editable owl book bin labels using shipping/packaging tape and that has held up great except on these small "holey" bins (all my bins are from the Dollar Tree).  I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but the dust collected on the tape through the little holes and the labels started falling off! I am a tad anal and it was very annoying.
My solution?  I went back to the Dollar Tree and bought these replacement bins (no holes!).  I'm just glad I could find some that they had in stock that matched my other bins and were small enough for this shelf.  Now, there are no holes and the labels should stay put! UPDATE: Now two school years later, I haven't had to replace the shipping tape that I used to secure the labels on any of the bins! I know many teacher laminate and hot glue the bins or hook them on with hooks. I just like to have things flat and no curling edges or things poking out. I'm just a little weird like that. :) It is amazing that they have held up so well though!
I was also worried that the bins would end up in a disarray on the shelves.  I snapped these photos yesterday without straightening the bins on the shelves and they look passable by my standards!  I talk to the students about putting the book bins back neatly and they have listened for the most part. :)  
In addition to these owl themed book bin labels, I also have Bright Chevron, Bright Polka Dot, Superhero, and Zebra themed labels in my TpT Store. They all include two sizes of labels and are editable to add labels of your choice!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Start Year Off with This Writing Skill: Post on iTeach 4th

As back to school is in full mode, do you use this important writing skill throughout the year with your students to help them master answering questions? Check out my post today at iTeach 4th for some ideas!
Click on the logo below!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tried it Tuesday {Glitter Stenciling}

Hi everyone! It's Time for Tried It Tuesday!
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Grab the button below. Simple!
My Tried It:
Glitter Stenciling
I am still trying to knock items off my to-do list before summer draws to a close. Many of you are back at school but we start officially after Labor Day. Maybe I can even get in a Monday Made It before the end of summer. I will be working on updating classroom curtains this week and making a curtain for under my daughter's loft bed. That brings me to this week's Tried It. My daughter is now 8 years old and her room needed an update. She wanted a more "mature" color on her walls. Sniff sniff. :( This is her room before.
So, I sanded the old stencils before repainting and patched some things.
I painted the walls in Glidden "Mushroom Cap" matte. Then, I bought a pint of Glidden "Bonjour Beige" in satin for the stenciling. It is just a shade darker than the wall color. I knew I wanted a glitter effect in the stenciling and bought this extra fine glitter at Walmart. 

 At first, I wasn't going to add the glitter directly to the paint but was going to try a put a glitter glaze over top of the stencil. However, I decided to try it. What was the worst that could happen? I poured a small amount of paint in a 1 cup measuring cup and started adding glitter.
I used about half of the bottle of glitter for about 1/3 cup paint. I had a lot of paint left over too from the measuring cup when I was done stenciling.
 Glitter mixed in paint:
 Stencils I bought. I only used the large one but may add small flowers later.
 My daughter helped out too! Here she is stenciling a flower with a stencil brush.
You don't need much paint on the brush.
 Here is a picture of her room. I am sewing a new curtain for under the loft bed. I will post pictures when that is done. :)
 Another view...
 Stencil up close with glitter
 Bedding is Paige Quilted bedding from Pottery Barn Kids.
 Rug is also from Pottery Barn Kids and has flecks of gold sparkle!
If my maintenance staff allows it, I would like to try some paint with glitter stenciling in the classroom! It was so easy and I love how it turned out! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {No Reply Blogger and Spam Comments}

Hi everyone! It's Time for Tried It Tuesday!
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Grab the button below. Simple!
My Tried It:
No Reply Blogger and Spam Comments
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what that a "no reply blogger" existed.
What is a "No Reply Blogger"?
A "No Reply Blogger" means that when you leave a comment on someone's blog and the comment goes to their email, the person who receives the comment cannot reply to you through email. Your email is hidden. Most of us would agree that it is nice to reply to comments through email rather than reply back on the blog. Who remembers to go back to every post they comment on and see if they blog owner replies there? Not me!
In the email, no reply bloggers look like this and in Gmail are found under the "Social" tab.

See the "<noreply-commnet@blogger.com> next to the sender's name? That means you can't reply to this email. 
Here are wonderful directions that I always use to help fellow bloggers fix this problem like I once did. Also, even if you have fixed it once doesn't mean it stays fixed. That happened to me too and it had to do with Google plus. Click the image below to see how to fix it even in Google Plus.

This leads me to another problem I have been experiencing. Everyday I have been getting spam comments. See?
My BBB Diane at Fifth in the Middle suggested this fix and it is working to at least keep the comments off the blog. You can go to settings and under "Posts and Comments" select comment moderation "sometimes". I selected it for posts under 30 days.

Then when I open Blogger, I can see if I have any comments awaiting approval.
I hope this post helps someone else that might be having these problems! :) Have a great week!