Saturday, July 27, 2013

APPsolutely Amazing Apps for K-3

I am once again preparing to present at SITA (Summer Instructional Technology Academy) and as usual am struggling with the time frame and everything I want to share. Passion is a wonderful thing but can be a curse when a time limit is involved. I have 2 hours to share all of the APPSolutely Amazing Apps that I have tried. If you've ever been to TIES and seen Mark Garrison's 50 sites in 50 minutes presentation, you'll have an idea of the frantic pace I'm feeling I'm going to need to use. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be sharing ALL of my finds... I had to pick and choose but even that was difficult!! I've also included a few tips and tricks as well as sites to find great apps. 

Check out my presentation and let me know what you think. All of the apps are linked to iTunes for easy access if interested in downloading. If you have any great apps that you have tried with your class please share in the comments section. Click on the image below to view.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More classroom decorating

Where does one stop? I am still having a blast making and revamping items in my classroom to go with the new pawprint theme/fabric.

Ever wonder what to do with Crystal Light containers? Well, I repurposed mine into pencil holders for each of my table teams. I started by cutting the containers down by about 2 inches so that smaller pencils won't get lost in them. I also kept the covers but cut the center section out of them so that I could glue them back on the top edge to avoid any sharp edges and to give them a more finished look. I used black Krylon paint for plastics to spray the lids so they would blend into the fabric better.  I then cut my fabric to fit the containers. I didn't want to deal with edges fraying easily so I cut the fabric extra long so I could fold it into the container which also gave a more finished looks. I then used Modge Podge to adhere the fabric onto the containers and over the top into the container. I gave the overlapping seam and the bottom edge and extra 2 coats for durability and to help prevent fraying. Once this dried, I used E6000 to attach the cut lids onto the top of the containers. These turned out awesome and will complement the colored caddies at the tables beautifully.

I'm now working on creating a "Where are you board similar to the one to the right that I found on the Diary of a Second Grade Teacher's blog. Being an inclusion classroom, there are always multiple students out of my room in multiple locations throughout the day. I needed a better way to know at a glance who was out of the room. I'm still in need of adding ribbon to separate the areas and to get the labels on but it's beginning to take shape. I went to the dollar store and purchased a cookie sheet and the Modge Podged my fabric to it (I'm beginning to love this stuff- I've never used it before but have come to find a gazillion uses for it!). I then added lime green Duck Tape to the edges to really make it pop. I'm excited to finish this up and to put it to use in my classroom this year. I think this is going to be a great management tool for me.

I did Modge Podge some fabric on a few shelves of my writing center. It really brought it back to life as it was a trash to treasure find last year. I wish I had thought to take a before and after picture. I'll post a pic once it's all set up. I still haven't tackled the curtains... maybe week after next. I need to finish getting ready for a couple of presentations coming up. 

One of my presentation topics is all about great apps for K-3 classrooms.  I'll be sure to post it here for all to see when it's finished. 90% of the apps are new from last year's so definitely something to take a peek at.

Friday, July 12, 2013

PAWSitively cool crate stools

So this is not a technology post at all but I am so excited about some of the projects I have been working on this summer to give my classroom decor a bit of a fresh look that I just had to  post about them. My classroom has had a dog theme (hence, the name of my blog, The Dog Blog )for many years now and although it changes every year I've been wanting a new twist for awhile... Well it's happening and I couldn't be more excited! 

I found this fantastic dog print fabric this summer which is absolutely perfect! With it's blend of primary and neon colors, I have lots of options for accessorizing.

My first DIY project was to make crate stools. I saw these on Pinterst last year and couldn't wait to make a set. I bought the crates last summer but didn't have time to do them and couldn't find any fabric that I liked. Fast forward to this summer and I'm ready to go.

My hubby was a big help and cut some left over plywood we had laying around to fit my crates. I decided to put my plywood on top of the crates rather than on the file folder ledges in hopes that they will last longer and be more durable. More on that later.
Last fall we put new carpet in our home and had left over carpet pad. Knowing I wanted to do these stools, I saved the pad to use for the stuffing. I figured it would wear well (it has a 15-25 year life expectancy- my stools may make it to retirement! Ha ha ha!!)  and be easier to clean in the case of spills or accidents. It also made it very easy to assemble as I could cut the pad to the exact size needed and it didn't slip around while putting the fabric on.

Next, I placed 2 carpet pads on a piece of plywood (I had plenty to use and wanted them to be extra thick)  and then cut my fabric to fit.  I then used my husband's hammer stapler to attach the fabric to the plywood. 

When I was done, my husband cut 4 more pieces of plywood approx. 1 1/2" x 5 inches long and then screwed them to the bottom of the seat. He placed these in just far enough (approx 1/2") from the edges to keep the seat from sliding around on the crate. I may paint the bottom yet (hindsight) so they look a little better, but I might just leave them like they are- who's going to see the bottom anyway? 

An Viola! The finished product! I absolutely LOVE how these turned out. I made 4 of them and am now debating if I want to place them around my room for Read to Someone/ Listen to Reading stations (I can keep my CD players inside of them!) or if I want to put them all at my guided reading table.

My next DIY project was to recover my lamp shades with my new fabric. I had 2 to do and they both turned out great! I wasn't crazy about the way the white base looked but when it sits on top of my writing table it actually looks really nice as it tones the area down a little bit.

Next, (yes, I went a little crazy with my new fabric and color scheme- I'm still pondering what else I can make) I redid my learning target frames. The picture doesn't do them justice as the colors and textures of the colored paper just pop on top of the paw fabric. I can't wait to use these this year to write my daily learning targets.

And last but not least, I recovered these cups that I got from Highlights magazine years ago. I love this picture as it truly shows the color of the fabric. I also made wiggle eye reading sticks to match my color scheme.

So those were last week's projects. I think this week I may tackle using some of my fabric to make curtains for my room and maybe modge podge some fabric on my writing center organizer which is looking mighty shabby. I think a little paw fabric would be PAWfect on it! 

I think my hubby and kids will be glad when the paw fabric is gone or when school starts and the paw fabric gets put away - whichever comes first.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plant growth and iMovie

Oh how I wish I had remembered to save a copy of one of the finished products before I cleared off the iPads this summer. Grrrrr... 

One of our science units in first grade is organisms and as part of that unit we plant seeds and observe their growth. This year we added a bit of a tech twist that really turned out nicely. Every other day when the kids would come in they would get their plant, water it if needed, and then take a picture of it. If there were any substantial changes they would also write about it in their Plant log. At the end of this adventure, we used the iMovie app to document our plant's growth. We started by using Max Doodle to make the covers for our movies. Students came up with a title, added a background and drawing and of course their author information they then saved their image with a screenshot so they could import it into their iMovie. Next they imported their plant pictures.  This was a great way for kids to practice sequencing of events. They then checked their transitions and added music to their creations.
Their projects turned out well and they were very excited to see their plant's growth from start to finish in fast forward. 
This is a project I will definitely do again next year. We may use Haiku Deck next year instead for something different and not as time consuming but we'll see how next year's kiddos are.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mom's Day

I just love the way our Mother's Day project turned out! I saw a similar idea on Pinterest - oh how I LOVE Pinterest- and tweaked it a little bit. 
We took our pictures with the iPad while signing the phrase, "I Love You".  Then during Writer's Workshop time, we wrote 3 reasons why we loved our mom's and typed them up to attach to our pictures. We also added a handprint, which I cut out using our Ellison diecuts, and glued the fingers down to match the I love you sign. Once the kiddos were done assembling their project, I laminated them and added magnets to the back. 
I'll definitely be doing this project again next year as it blends the technology usage and writing together beautifully while letting us write for an authentic audience.