Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Dollar Store Fall Decorations

It's Thursday so I'm 'throwing it back' to a popular past post! This post has been 'pinned' on Pinterest nearly 20,000 times! Can you believe it?! Check back next Thursday for another peek into 'The Best of Crafty Teacher Lady'! Follow along with my daily life via Instagram! I'd love to hear from you!

I'm so excited to decorate for fall! Although on a pretty tight budget, I've found creative and inexpensive ways to add touches of fall around my house, mainly by shopping at the Dollar Store, WalMart, and other bargain outlets.



Two projects I'd like to share are a candy corn votive display and a moss candle centerpiece, both have elements found at the dollar store!

Candy Corn Votive Display
Each of the three glass candle holders are from the Dollar Store as are the votive candles and the candy corn!  Simply fill each glass half way with candy, then place the votives on top. I chose to place all three glasses in a long dish, then filled the bottom with candy corn.

Moss Candle Centerpiece
 I placed a large 'apple cider' scented candle from WalMart in the center of a glass cake stand.  Around the candle I placed moss from the Dollar Store as well as pumpkins, berries, leaves, and pine cones found at Christmas Tree Shops (one bag full for $4.99).  I did find bags of faux leaves at the Dollar Store, too! In the pictures above, you can also see the pretty table runner found at Marshall's for $10!  Next up, making a wreath for the front door...stay tuned!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

DIY Closet Shelf Makeover

My office closet was an OUT OF CONTROL mess...


When my house was built three years ago I asked the contractor NOT to build shelves because I thought maybe I'd try one of those 'closets turned desk' nooks I've seen all over Pinterest as the closet is pretty deep! Alas, that never happened and the mess just grew and grew for lack of proper shelving. One of my goals on summer vacation was to fix this problem and DIY some shelves!

Building closet shelves

I loosely followed a tutorial from House of Hepworths to figure out how to start, then went to Home Depot with my measurements and purchased two sheets of partical board. A nice gentlemen who works at HD made all the cuts for me (even the small 'bracket' pieces on which the shelves are set). I then lugged all the boards home to my basement where they received two coats of white semi-gloss paint. Because these shelves are in a closet, I don't mind the sort of 'rough' edges and look of the partical board. If I wanted a more polished look I would have chosen pine. But, the semi-gloss paint did help 'fancy' them up a bit!


To install the support pieces, I borrowed my friend's nail gun and marked all my measurements on the wall, being sure to nail into the studs wherever possible.  I have to say, it felt incredibly empowering using that gun and building these shelves ALL BY MYSELF (all whilst wearing a pink running skirt)!! Once the supports were in place, I placed the shelves on top and stood back to admire my handiwork...


I've since filled the shelves with all of my craft supplies, printer, and other office-related items! It's so nice to be able to walk into the closet and clearly see where everything is! Plus, it gives me a sense of accomplishment!  More pictures of my entire office space can be found here!

Tell me, what projects have you completed that have made you proud of yourself??

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Classroom Organization: Lesson Planning for High School

After having over 24,000 views on my first post about classroom organization strategies I've decided to write follow up posts about some other strategies I use to keep my busy high school classroom organized! I've just entered into my 11th year as a high school social studies teacher and have found that lesson planning can be complicated due to the nature of teaching multiple sections of various courses. Hopefully I can shed some light on how I keep my lessons straight for each class!

High School lesson planning ideas

Every high school has a different bell schedule and set up for when and how often teachers see students in any given week. Last year my school went to a hybrid schedule of sorts where we have 8 blocks total, but only see 6 of the 8 blocks in any given day for 54 minute classes, except on Wednesdays where we see only four classes for 80 minutes (and the Wednesdays rotate 'Odd' classes on one Wednesday, then 'Even' classes on the next). Confused yet??

Lesson planning with this sort of schedule can be very complicated, particularly when trying to keep multiple sections of the same course relatively aligned. This semester I teach two sections of Honors Senior Personal Finance & Citizenship and three sections of Academic Sophomore Modern World History (for a total of 5 sections). I plan my daily lessons in two week blocks and always ensure that all sections of one course are at the same place in terms of lessons by the end of week two (sometimes I have to build in an extra lesson or activity with one section to have this work out).


Because a standard planner wouldn't work, I took our bell schedule and created an individualized version in Word, graying out my prep and duty periods so that I can easily visualize which blocks need lessons. I put the date at the top of each day and whether it's Week #1 or Week #2 in my two-week lesson plan scheme.  Often times I'm teaching two or three different lessons on the same day because sections of the same course are at different places (all due to our lovely complicated schedule) so mapping things out on paper helps me keep things in order.


On my lesson planner sheets I write only the lesson number and a brief note indicating the topic of the lesson. Then, I use the Stickies app on my laptop to write out the more specific details of my lesson plans for each day. I find having my lessons right there on my computer desktop only a click away is very convenient and allows me to make notes and changes very easily. I will often add notes to myself about what to change for next year using italicized fonts on the same Sticky. At the end of every unit, I copy and paste the information in the Stickies to a Word document and save it so I can open it again next year and have a running list of my exact lesson plans.

Classroom Organization lesson planning

The lesson plans for each unit, as well as all digital copies, links, and resources for the unit, are kept in a digital folder on my desktop. Then the unit folders are 'nested' into a larger course folder. Everything is easily accessed and at my finger tips! I've used the 'Sticky' app for keeping track of daily lessons for the better part of 8 years (ever since being provided with school-issued MacBooks) and it has proved very convenient and easily updated! My next post in the classroom organization series will addressed an issue that plagues every secondary teacher's classroom...ATTENDANCE!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School Thrift Shopping

I spent today doing some 'back to school' shopping with a friend, hitting up Goodwill and a high-end second-hand store. I love looking through the racks at Goodwill, which does take some patience, but usually produces at least one or two steals in the form of high-end brands for less. It was my first time at Forget Me Nots, a local second-hand store.  I found some awesome deals at both places!

Steal #1: Cole Haan Sandals
These sandals retail for $100+ and I found them at Goodwill for $29!! I love the patent leather and pop of color! The warm weather we've been having lately will allow me to wear them a bit before it gets too cold!

Steal #2: Abercromie & Fitch Shirt
I don't normally shop at Abercrombie & Fitch as I find them to be overpriced and they cater to a younger crowd, but I really liked the colors of this plaid as well as the fun floral detail on the underside of the cuff. It was $9.99 at Goodwill so I bought it! It'll be fun to layer with some colorful fall sweaters.

Steal #3: LL Bean Tank
I saw this tank at the LL Bean retail store for $35 dollars but I was able to pick it up at Goodwill for $4.99! I love the pattern and can layer it with a cardi for work or pair it with shorts during the summer!

Steal #4: J. Crew Skirt
I LOOOOVE the mod pattern and colors in this skirt!! At $24.99 it wasn't the least expensive skirt but I would expect to pay $65+ for it at a retail J.Crew store. I found it at Forget-Me-Nots, an upscale second-hand store. It was far too cute to pass up!

Steal #5: Old Navy Dress
This dress was $12 at the second-hand store! The colorful pattern and fun ruffle detail are fun and flattering! The hot pink Cole Haan sandals just happen to match, too! 

BONUS STEAL: WalMart Accessories
Have you checked out the jewelry section at WalMart lately? They have so many cute necklaces, most of which are only $5-$10!! Such fun statement pieces for a steal!  

What awesome deals have you found lately??


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I Wore Wednesday: Nautical Preppy Style

School is back in full swing which means playing lots of dress up! I've been posting lots of outfit ideas as well as back-to-school projects and home decor ideas on my Instagram feed! I tend to post there more often then creating new blog posts so join me there between posts!

Gone is my summer wardrobe of tanks and shorts and back are dresses, cardigans, and lots of fun jewelry! I'm linking up today's outfit with Lindsay over at The Pleated Poppy! It's one of my favorites because it combines navy with a pop of glittery gold...
nautical preppy style
teacher style outfits

The top (and underlying tank) is from Forever 21...it's such a pretty navy color with a delicate lacy detail!


The white skinny jeans are from GAP...I'm short and pretty curvy so it's difficult to find skinny jeans that fit just right. These have just enough stretch and are a thick material so they aren't see-through!


The gold braided wedges are from Sperry (I picked them up on sale at the outlet last summer but just saw them again recently) and the watch is from Francesca's.


I picked up the fun hammered gold chain at Forever 21 as well! They have such inexpensive, albeit cheap, jewelry pieces! Fun to spice up my wardrobe without breaking the bank! I'm off to school! We started last week but this is really the first week where I'm actually teaching lessons! Stressful but fun to be back with my kiddos!