Thursday, September 25, 2014

DIY Classroom Hanging Wall Pockets Using Soap Boxes

For many years I have been using these little pockets on my classroom walls.
     I don't like clutter on surface areas.  I like having what I need at my fingertips.  If I have a chart tablet hanging in one part of my room away from my desk, I like having the markers at my fingertips.
     I don't want to waste time walking across the room.  I know where things are and stuff is organized and up, away and not creating clutter on my shelf or on the floor or on the desk.  We know, teachers, how cluttered our rooms can get in just a few minutes.  No one wants to spend their lunch hour organizing and putting stuff away.  (Oh, I'd much rather stand at the Xerox machine with a cheese sandwich in one hand and making copies with the other ;)  - not really - but sometimes I do)

      These are so simple to make.  They're so cute, too.  This year I jazzed them up with little denim pockets from Ashley Hughes and incorporated amazing clipart from so many of our talented artists on TPT.  
      Here's how you make them.  In September I buy a couple of six packs of dove soap.  I suppose any soap would do, but I think the dove boxes are sturdy and I use the soap.  I love the soap.
      If you buy individual boxes, you tend to get the lettering on the side.  I prefer no lettering, so I buy the cartons.

    When you open the soap, be careful to open it at the correct end.  One end has straight tabs, the other end has irregular tabs. I open it from the end where the tabs are straight and I cut off all but the tallest tab.  I hang the boxes from that tab. 

      Next, I copy the pockets on cardstock (or you can use regular copy paper) and laminate them.  I cut them to size and I like to leave a little bit of a white edging.  It just looks neat to me.
       As you can see, I made pocket labels for every imaginable object you could hang in your classroom.  Not only for markers and things like that, but for your flash drives, glasses, keys and lots of different flashcards, word cards and activity cards. 

       After cutting out the pocket labels that I want and trimming the soap box tabs, I hot glue the labels onto the boxes.  It's that simple.  Make sure the tops of the labels are aligned with the top of the box opening.

     Then I have fun hanging them up and filling them.  I use a heavy duty stapler to staple them into bulletin board frames, wooden closet doors, window frames, old chalk board frames, or anywhere I can think of where I would need my supplies.  I even have a pocket for my reading glasses.  They're always there when I need them. 


      What to do with all the bars of soap?  Put them in a lovely bowl and display them in your bathroom. 

     Well, if you do use these, and you find that I forgot to include something, please let me know.  I'd be happy to add it to the set.  Have fun organizing!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Craft for First Grade: Salt Art Flowerpots

Many years ago my friend Nancy taught me how to make these fabulous Mother's Day crafts for the kids to bring home to their moms.  I don't do it every year.  The  projects change from year to year, but this is always a big hit and one of my favorites.
It does require a lot of organization on your part, if you are doing it with the whole class.  I split the kids into two groups and I only do it with 12 or fewer kids at a time. 
I include a picture tutorial on how to make the flowers after I explain how to make the pots. 
This is what you need to make the flower pots (plus sharpies for them to write their names on the bottom of the cups).

First, hand out the plastic cups and have them write their names with sharpies on the bottoms of the cups. I spread lots of paper plates out on the long table and put a piece of colored chalk on each. I pour salt on each of the plates.

The kids can choose a color and take a plate. At my signal, the kids rub the chalk around in the salt
and the salt changes color. 
When I signal them to stop, the kids fold their paper plates and pour the colored chalk into the cup (remind them to keep the cups on the table). 

 The kids do this process with three different colors. (Discourage them from handling the cups during the process).  
Then they take a pencil or chopstick and make indentations down the sides of the cup (I tell them to count 8, so they don't overdo it). (Do I sound a little bit like a micromanager?? Maybe I am. I could just say that I'm very "structured".  Hmmm.)

Then I pour Elmer's glue on top of their salt.  This will dry in a day or two and the salt will set and not come out of the cup.

Add green tissue paper to the top of the glue
while the glue is wet.

I used paper, not tissue, in the above photo. 
Use tissue, because it has a better look.
When the glue dries after a day or two, you can poke two holes (for two stems) in the top and they can insert their flowers.  (The glue is very hard and it's difficult for the kids to poke holes into it themselves).

Making the Flowers

To make the flowers I use a multitude of colors.  I cut long strips, approximately 5" wide by 12" long. 

I lay the tissue strips by color and let the students pick four strips for each flower.  They also choose a pipe cleaner for each flower.

First, place all four strips in a nice neat pile.

Next, fold the strips of tissue into an accordion.  I demonstrate this part several times, then do it with my students.

Then, place the pipe cleaner behind the middle of the folded tissue paper strips.   Make sure the pipe cleaner is in the middle.  If one end is too short, it is very difficult to separate the layers. I tell them to make a 't" with the pipe cleaner. 

Next, twist the pipe cleaner tightly, but not too tightly so as to crumple the paper. 
The fun part is last.  Carefully spread the accordion folds and then gently start to separate the layers, beginning with the bottom layer. 

You may want to make the flowers with small groups of students.  The folding, separating and twisting are not easy for little hands.  The children may get frustrated and need a little bit of your help. 

They came out great and the kids were so proud of their creations.  I'm sure the moms loved them, too. 
 Happy Mothers Day!!

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