Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Classroom Tour: Decorations & Organization

A new school year is almost upon us so I've been busy working to put my classroom together. I originally wrote this post two years ago when I first moved into my new classroom space. Since then, I've added and rearranged a few things to I've added an updated video tour!




Next to the door I have a little shelf with supplies for the students to use (that shelf was free on the side of the road and I gave it a little makeover). I also have a bulletin board with some personal pictures, at which the students love to look!

To the left of the supply shelf I have a little table on which is my 'absent work' bin. Under the table are the recycling & returnable bottle bins. On the wall is my homemade 'Awesome' poster. You can see a tutorial for a similar sign, here!


This room has a serious lack of bulletin boards so I decided that I could use some Command strips to secure three inexpensive poster frames (picked up at WalMart) to the wall. This way I can easily swap out displays throughout the year in or on the poster frames.

 
 On the front wall I have a white board and one of two small bulletin boards...


I used my Silhouette Portrait cutting machine to cut out the letters for my bulletin boards and used inexpensive blue fabric from WalMart instead of paper for the background. I find that fabric is more durable than paper and is often far less expensive! The 'Work Hard' poster can be found here!


I made the pennant flags banner by cutting triangles out of fabric and sewing a simple straight stitch to string them together...


 In front I also keep my little personalized yard sale stool...

In the corner near the window is my desk area...I brought a shelf from home for storage and added a bulletin board, secured to the wall with more Command strips and covered in wrapping paper! I designed that poster and had it printed at Staples on foam board for $10!



 There is room for a little sitting area in front of my desk and the window so I added a comfy chair from Ikea (I also found a small inexpensive lime green rug from WalMart and added it to this area but didn't take a picture). I often stay late at school grading papers and wanted a comfy chair...as you can imagine, this chair is also very popular with my students!


In the other back corner of the room is a little table and library area. I bought the table for $1 at Goodwill and painted it before bringing it to school. The paper lanterns are from Christmas Tree Shops. They are a fun addition to this area...for some reason the boys LOVE to spin the lowest lantern!

I used painters tape to add a jumbo poster...damage free and easily removed! I ran out of tape part way through and am embarrassed to report that, four weeks later, the poster still looks like this! Ha!

 I bought the bookshelf from Target and it was originally in my living room. But, this room also suffers from a serious lack of shelving so I brought it to school to hold my collection of social studies related books and resources.

On the back wall I have another white board...on the top I put a fancier version of a fabric banner...this one has bias tape on top and double-sided pennants! 

 

I had a really large blank space on this wall so I used a $3 vinyl tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops and secured it to the wall with painters tape (over which I taped bulletin board trim). I think I'll turn it into an 'AWESOME' wall where the kids can put things that are...well...awesome!
Classroom decoration ideas

We've come full circle around the room! I think the key to making the room look cohesive is to pick a few main colors to work with. In my room, lime green, hot pink, and teal blue are the colors of choice! Outside of my classroom I went a little off kilter with the colors by adding this homemade 'Hello Sunshine' sign...


I wanted people to walk by my room and be greeted with a little bit of happiness! Subsequently, one of my fellow teachers stops and yells 'Hello Sunshine' every time he passes my room! It's pretty awesome!  So, there you have it, my home away from home! To follow along with my daily shenanigans, come visit me on Instagram!

Classroom decor ideas






Thursday, July 21, 2016

Favorite Children's Sewing Patterns

Summer vacation means lots of time for sewing! Some of my favorite items to sew are for kids as they usually take no time at all to whip up and can be made with the most adorable and fun fabrics! Today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite free and/or inexpensive children's sewing patterns!

Children's Clothing Patterns

One of my favorite sources for kid's patterns is Sew Sweet Patterns (not sponsored in any way, I just like their patterns). The patterns are for beginner/moderate sewers and they often have sales. I've made two adorable patterns including my most recent project, a dress for my friend's daughter which could quite possibly be the cutest darn thing I've ever made! I used the Collette Dress pattern and coordinating fabric purchased from Hobby Lobby. I fell in love with the ruffle details on the front and on the sleeves!



I also made a sweet little girl's romper using another Sew Sweet pattern. The original pattern isn't listed on their page anymore but they have several other romper options.



One of my favorite free patterns for little boys is this toddler/baby necktie pattern from Kinzie's Kreations! It can easily be put on and taken off thanks to the velcro closure on the neck loop! The pattern comes with a few different size options, too.


For the babies, I've made a couple sets of knit leggings, bibs, and hats, all using free patterns. Knit fabric can be tricky to sew but there are lots of tutorials on Pinterest that explain how best to sew with knits! If knits are too intimidating, the bandana bib can be sewn using cotton fabric which is easier to work with.


The knotted hat pattern can be found here, the bandana bib pattern can be found here, and the baby leggings pattern can be found here. In addition to being free, I love these patterns because they are unisex (depending on the fabric choice), and can be whipped up really quickly. I've attended a few baby showers recently and have given these sets as gifts!

I'm always on the hunt for new patterns and projects to sew and have quite the collection of ideas on my Sew Cute Pinterest page! Come on over and find me there, too! Now, I'm off to start my next project!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DIY Closet Jewelry Organizer

I have A LOT of statement necklaces and scarves and was finding it difficult to locate and choose the pieces I was looking for when getting dressed for the day or for an evening out. The necklaces were in a pile on my dresser and would sometimes get tangled with one another. I decided to use the space on the inside of my closet door more efficiently by adding some wood and cup hooks! Today I'm sharing an easy and inexpensive way to turn any unused door space into a jewelry and accessory organizer for under $25!
jewelry organization
Supplies:
-5 pieces of primed 1.5"x3/4" pine board (really any inexpensive wood will do and the size is a matter of personal preference). I had my boards cut at Home Depot into 24" lengths. If I wanted to be fancy, I could have painted the boards but the primer was good enough for me!

-Package of 40 plastic coated cup hooks

-Drill and drill bits

-Long Screws (make sure your screws are shorter than the combined width of your door and your piece of wood so you don't drill through your door...I used 1.5" screws)

-Level

-Measuring tape or ruler

Step 1:
Using your screw gun and appropriate size drill bit, drill a hole about in inch in on each end of your pieces of wood. This will be where you will screw the wood into the back of your door. The holes should be large enough for your screws to fit through, without the screw head going through the hole.



Step 2:
Screw the cup hooks into each piece of wood. I laid out all 5 pieces of wood so I could use a pencil to mark where I wanted each hook. I staggered the hooks so that when the jewelry hangs, there is space for each necklace without falling on top of each other. It may be necessary to drill small starter holes into the wood to make it easier to screw in each hook by hand. I also had a pair of pliers ready to help with any stubborn twisting! I used 7-8 hooks on each piece of wood.



Step 3:
Decide where you want your pieces of wood to be placed on your door. I used 5 pieces of wood on the top portion of my door as I also hung a towel rod on the lower portion for scarves. I marked where I wanted my top piece of wood to go as well as where I wanted to bottom piece to go, then divided the space in between evenly and marked where my remaining three pieces would go. Use your level and a pencil to mark where to drill your pilot holes. Then use your long screws to drill each piece of wood into your door. Be sure to stagger your pieces in correspondence with your hooks and make sure the screws you are using are not too long...you don't want them to drill straight through to the other side of your door!


I left some space between the last piece of wood and the towel bar so that my necklaces have room to hang without being hidden. The towel bar was purchased for $10 at WalMart and is a great space to hang scarves and belts. Some hooks could even be added to hang purses, too! In total, the project cost less than $25, including the towel bar, which makes it really economical as well as practical!

For more daily glimpses into the projects I'm working on, come find me on Instagram

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things to Consider During Your Invisalign Treatment

It's been over six months since I've finished my Invisalign treatment and I thought I'd share a follow up post specifically addressing some considerations to keep in mine in order to make the experience a little easier for anyone just starting their journey to a straighter smile! A comfortable, removable, and virtually invisible method of aligning teeth, Invisalign offers a unique way for orthodontic patients everywhere to straighten their smiles. In order to achieve the best outcome, there are some things to avoid while in treatment.

“The clear aligners are removable,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics, an orthodontist and Invisalign provider. “But that doesn’t mean you can take them out whenever you want. To stay on track, the aligners must be worn 22 hours per day. They work by eliciting gentle, constant force on the teeth – and they can only do that when they are in your mouth.” My orthodontist was sure to emphasize that the success of the treatment really depended on how dedicated I was to wearing the trays, so I became very diligent about doing so!


So what are other considerations to keep in mind while wearing your aligners?

1) Avoid eating with the aligners in. One of the biggest advantages of Invisalign is that the aligners are removable, meaning you don’t have to alter your diet while in treatment. But it is important to remember to always remove the aligners before eating. Chewing places too much pressure on the aligners, which can distort them and alter the fit.


2) Do not drink anything but water while wearing the aligners. Dark drinks, such as coffee, tea, or red wine can stain the aligners, making them more visible in your mouth than you’d like. Hot drinks can distort the shape of the plastic, affecting how they fit and therefore how effective they are at moving your teeth. Drinking sodas, juice, and other drinks with sugar may cause cavities since the liquid sugar sits close to your teeth under the aligners and the buffering capacity of your saliva isn’t as effective.


3) Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush. It’s important that you brush your teeth after every meal or snack prior to placing the aligners back in the mouth. Not doing so can increase the chance of developing cavities because the aligner can trap food particles and bacteria under them, keeping them in constant contact with the teeth. I kept a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk at school to keep up with brushing!


4) Don’t change aligners early unless indicated by your orthodontist. You may be itching to speed up your treatment time, but every move your teeth are making has been precisely planned out by your doctor. Moving to a new set of aligners too soon may damage the roots and/or the supporting structures of your teeth. Dr. Gire advises "To be safe, follow the recommendations of your orthodontist. If you use Acceledent (the accelerated treatment option at Gire Orthodontics), we’ll guide you on the proper frequency of changing the aligners."


5) Every time you brush your teeth, be sure to brush the aligners as well. Brush the inside and outside thoroughly. You can also use a simple antibacterial soap rather than toothpaste to ensure they get clean and stay fresh if you prefer. If they develop some build-up and brushing alone doesn’t remove it, soak them in clear white vinegar while you’re having dinner, for example. Soak them for 20-30 minutes, remove them from the vinegar, brush them normally, and they’ll shine like a brand new aligner.


6) Don’t be afraid of attachments. Some patients have more complex orthodontic issues that will require attachments and/or rubber bands to correct using Invisalign. These have opened up the kinds of cases Invisalign can treat, allowing more people to reap the benefits of the technology. I did have several 'buttons' as I called them on my teeth but they were still less noticeable than regular braces.

7) After treatment ends, don’t forget your retainer. You took the time to get your perfect smile, so don’t let that hard work go to waste by forgetting to wear your retainer. At some Orthodontics, your set of retainers are included with your treatment. I wear my retainers virtually every night, which doesn't seem very difficult after having to wear the trays all day every day for almost a year!



“Invisalign is a wonderful treatment option for many patients,” says Dr. Gire. “But it does require more work on the part of the patient than other treatments. It’s up to the patient to remember to wear the aligners and to properly care for them throughout treatment. But with following all directions properly, patients can enjoy their beautiful new smiles in no time.”

For more insight into my decision to get Invisalign, please check out my previous post detailing my experience as an adult with braces! If you have further questions, please feel free to email or leave a comment!


*This post was written in collaboration with Gire Orthodontics. All opinions and thoughts are my own, however!



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Planning a DIY Circus Party

It's May and that means PROM time! I'm advisor for the Class of 2017 and it was our turn to plan this year's prom. I've been thinking about this event for over a year and even started a Pinterest board to gather lots of ideas. We decided on a circus/carnival theme and had lots of fun crafting and getting creative with a tight budget! Below are some ideas and resources to create your own 'Night Under the Big Top' event!

DIY Carnival Party Ideas

We hold our prom each year in a spacious waterfront venue with gorgeous views. The room has sloped cathedral ceilings and is pretty much a blank canvas, which can be a bit overwhelming to try and fill. My initial thought was to try and create a circus tent of sorts on one end of the room under which would be the DJ and dance floor. After doing some research to find something affordable, I purchased several red and white plastic tablecloth rolls from Oriental Trading Company. These long rolls of tablecloth, along with some rope and duct tape, became the basis of our tent! It really defined the space and added that 'wow' factor as kids walked into the room! They had a blast dancing under the big top!



Thinking about our limited budget, we got creative and crafty with our centerpieces. For the larger tables, we purchased some striped fabric from WalMart to drape over our rented white linens. We looked all over for affordable 'cake dummies' as they are called to create tiered centerpieces, but they were all far to expensive. So, one day over February vacation I played around with some poster board sheets and was able to create my own by cutting long strips for the sides and using some kitchen mixing bowls to trace three different sized circles for the tops! The circles were taped to the strips with clear packing tape (but any tape will work) with a little overlapping to help stabilize each layer.



The prom committee students decorated the cakes by using gold spray paint and painters tape to add stripes to the poster board. Then they glued on strips of tickets and ribbon to add some color. We used wooden skewers and scrapbook paper to create the flags for the cake tops. I found lion and elephant toys at WalMart for $1 each and spray painted them gold for a playful nod to our circus theme!


For the smaller tables, we decorated large mason jars with ribbon and paper rosettes then added cotton candy bouquets (we rented a cotton candy machine and a popcorn machine and had a table with food, too). Large gold stars were cut out of wrapping paper and fabric pennants were made by cutting out several triangles then sewing them together with a simple straight stitch! We used sewing pins to secure the flag banners to the table cloths. The candles were purchased in bulk from Amazon.



In addition to the cotton candy & popcorn tables, we rented a photo booth, had a caricature artist, and built a kissing booth, mostly just for fun pictures and to add to our carnival theme (no making out allowed...ha ha)! We filled a large jar with Hersey's kisses and had attendees guess how many chocolates were in the jar...the winning guess took home the jar!


We also built a large ticket booth for the entryway into the event. Both booths were built out of inexpensive wood paneling and 2x3 boards from Home Depot (I actually found the wood paneling 75% off in the 'damaged' section). We used red and white spray paint to fancy up the booths!

 (Me...hanging out in my backyard with the unpainted kissing booth)

To create the lettering for both the booths, we used our projector at school to trace the letters onto foam board from the Dollar Store and cut out them out with an Exacto knife. Then the letters were spray painted and stuck to the booths using Velco (Command strips or duct tape would work, too)!


Our kids eat dinner before they come to prom, however, we did have a table with some finger foods and drinks. We created a fun vignette using several plastic table cloths ($1 each at WalMart), some more fabric pennant banners (I sewed these at home), and some paper fans. The red striped tablecloth and the paper fans shown here were all purchased from Oriental Trading Company. We used Command strips and painters tape to secure everything in place without damaging the walls.

The paper rosettes in the image below were actually handmade using a combination of scrapbook and wrapping papers. Here are some tutorials to make your own if you don't want to buy them!


Instead of paying to have tickets to the event printed, I actually found an inexpensive digital design via Etsy and printed out the tickets onto card stock at school. The Etsy shop owner was really easy to work with and customized the design for our event. We used the same design and turned it into a giant poster to put on the wall at the event using an Adobe program which takes the design and prints it out onto several pieces of regular sized printer paper. Then you cut and glue each piece of paper together like a puzzle to create a giant poster. You can also use this free site to create posters using the same process.

I designed the small 'circus' signs in Photoshop then printed them on 11x17 regular printer paper (two signs per sheet). The students glued the paper to foam board to make them sturdy then we taped them to a wooden coat rack I keep in my classroom (the spokes to hang coats can be unscrewed leaving just the stand). You could probably design your own signs using Powerpoint since that program allows you to layer images on top of one another. I used free digital scrapbook papers for the patterned backdrops found on Pinterest.


No prom would be complete without a little treat and reminder for the students to take with them as they leave! These were designed in Word and glued to Dum-Dums lollipops! The kids got a kick out of it anda little reminder to make safe choices! These could easily be made with any variety of sayings to correspond with your own event and make fun favors for party guests!

(For more daily pics of my crazy teacher life, find me on Instagram)!

Organizing an event like this for 450 students was no easy task while also juggling my normal teacher work load, but having students come up to me during and after prom to tell me 'thank you' and that this was 'the best prom EVER' certainly made all the hours spent planning and creating and emailing and decorating and cleaning up TOTALLY worth it!