Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Gifts for Parent Volunteers

I love my parent volunteers!
Without them my classroom would be a little more chaotic, I would be a little more frazzled, and my kids might not get to do all the fun crafty things that require a zillion cut out pieces.
Every year I would try to find something cute yet inexpensive to give these parents for Christmas.
I am slightly obsessed with Bath and Body Works.  So last year I decided to go a little cheaper than my usual gift cards and get hand soaps for all of my parent volunteers.  I am slightly snobby when it comes to soap and the gentle foaming hand soap from Bath and Body Works is my favorite!   Around this time I also happened to see some super cute Christmas themed bow frames by Ashley Hughes on TpT and a cute poem on Pinterest.  So I thought, why not make some super cute little gift tags with the poem, to go with my soap.
I love random inspiration!
These little soap gifts were such a hit last year, I knew they would be a repeat this year.
First stop was Bath and Body Works!
Hand soaps were on sale 5 for $18. 
Yes please!

I purchased an assortment of my favorite scents:
Twisted Peppermint
Snow Kissed Berry
Iced Gingerbread
Winter Candy Apple
Vanilla Bean Noel
I also bought some of their super cute glittery gift bags. 
I bought 5, but these are the only colors I have left.
They are the perfect size for one of the soap containers.

And I bought some lip gloss too. 
Bath and Body Works sell my favorite lip gloss.  I have this lip gloss everywhere.  One in my purse, one beside my bed, one in the bathroom, one in my car, and one on my desk at school.  Slight obsession, I know.
I used to have a stock pile of them in a tub under my bed, but my stock pile was down to 0.  So I bought 6 more; they were having a deal to buy 2 get 1 free.

Next, I printed and cut out my gift tags.
Blue Glitter Small Gift Bag - Bath & Body Works   - Bath & Body Works
Blue Glitter Small Gift Bag - Bath & Body Works   - Bath & Body Works

Then attached them to the soap with curling ribbon.

I used a single hole punch to punch 2 holes side-by-side at the top of the gift tag. 

Then I weaved the ribbon through the holes, wrapped the ribbon around the back of the soap, and tied it into a bow.

 I love the finished product!
So cute, yet inexpensive and easy peasy.
I decided to give all my soaps away this year.
1 went to a parent volunteer
1 went to my piano teacher
1 went to my figure skating coach
2 went to people I "elfed" at school
That means none left for me :(
Guess I'll just have to go back to Bath and Body Works and stock up on more!

Check out this freebie in my TpT store here!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Organizing my Classroom Computers

Santa came to my classroom and delivered my Christmas presents early in the form of new Chrome books for my kids!
They were delivered the week before Thanksgiving and I was so excited!!
We'd been using some very old MacBooks for awhile.  These things were so old that I couldn't even open up a PDF file on them for my kids to use these fun Computer Center Sheets I got from TpT.  Bummer.  And when I had our technology person download the latest software, they all crashed and I couldn't even open up a web browser on any of them.
So the MacBooks went back on the cart and my kids have been using our Promethean board, plugged into my computer, during center time instead.
This was not a good thing.  What if I needed to type up a quick note or answer a parent email during centers?  Well, I couldn't.  Then I'd have 3-4 kids with no center to go to.  Bad idea!
My administration listened to us and used some Title money to buy each kindergarten teacher 3-4 new Chromebooks.  No they aren't Macbooks, but they were cheaper.  So it came down to the difference between one MacBook per classroom or 4 Chromebooks.  Well you know which one we picked.
I opened up my new goodies, plugged them in to charge, and realized they looked a mess.

Pretty bad, huh?
This image is wrong on so many levels. 
  • I'm sure all those cords bunched together is against some fire code
  • Stacking laptops is usually a bad idea because they can get overheated
  • And it just looks like an unorganized mess
I just couldn't look at it any longer.

So while I was at Staples Tuesday night, I picked up this hot pink file sorter!
$20 of pink, organizational awesomeness.
(I love Staples, but my wallet cries every time I walk in the door.)
I thought it would be perfect to help me organize my new mini laptops.

This is how it looked right out of the box.

Super easy to put together.

Wait for it...

So pretty!
And so nicely organized.
I don't have to look at the cords anymore, because they are plugged into the surge protector, which is now on the floor behind the cabinet.

View looking down behind the cabinet.

I'm not sure if it would be strong enough for our old super heavy and thick MacBooks, but for these mini sized laptops, it works perfectly.
If you do have the bigger, thicker, heavier laptops, I would suggest a black mesh metal file sorter like the one I used to use for my MacBooks.  (I got mine from Walmart or Office Max)
How do you organize your classroom laptops?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Countdown to Christmas

The first week of December has come and gone.
So I thought I'd share a neat idea I pinned on Pinterest last year.
When I checked back to my original pin, the blog was no longer found.  Sad day.  This is such a neat idea that I wanted to make sure and share it with others.
The original pin was from a mommy blog.  Before the end of November each year, she'd collect 24 of her children's favorite Christmas books and wrap them up like a Christmas gift.  Then, each night, one of her children would get to pick out a book, unwrap it (the best part), and that book would be their nightly read aloud.
Great idea!!
And so easy to modify for a kindergarten classroom.
I tried this last year, with some modifications, and my kids LOVED it.  So of course I knew that I'd be doing it again this year.
I have 20 students.  So I chose 20 of my favorite Christmas books.  I purposely did not choose ones that I like to use for special projects, like most of my gingerbread books were reserved for gingerbread week and I didn't wrap How the Grinch Stole Christmas because I knew we'd be having a Grinch day. 
Our last day of school before Christmas Break is December 19.  So I'd have only 15 days of school and 20 books. 
No big deal.
Some days if we have a little extra time, I'd pick two names.  Other days that were a little bit busier, I'd only draw one name.
The biggest thing for me was that I wanted to make sure my kids understood that these were my books.  I just wanted to have a fun way of letting them pick out books for us to read.  So even thought they were choosing and unwrapping the book, when we were finished reading, it was going back on my shelf.
(I actually bought each of my kids a book for Christmas so during our Christmas party they will get to unwrap a book that will belong to them.  They don't know that yet, of course.)
First thing I did was type up all my students names on a word document and print it out.  The names then went in a little container I bought at Dollar Tree this summer.
I could've just written the names on scraps of paper, but typing the names in Word was probably faster and they look a little nicer.
Then I picked out my 20 Christmas books.

I brought them home over Thanksgiving to wrap.

I found all of these wrapping paper rolls at Wal-Mart last year.  They came 2 or 3 to a pack, I can't remember.  But there was enough to wrap last year's 23 books, this year's 20 books, and a little extra left over for next year.  I'm sure I'll have to buy more next year though.
I just love the bright fun colors!

I am actually a terrible wrapper.  So I commissioned my mom to wrap for me. 
I bribed her.

Finished and ready to go back to school!
There are no embellishments on these book gifts.  No bows or ribbons, just wrapping paper.

  I wanted my students to be able to tear open these books pretty quickly and the books probably wouldn't have all fit in my little Disney shopper tote with bows and such. 
I love this little tote from the Disney online store.

Fits perfectly between my cubbies and rocking chair.
Before starting, I explained to my kids that these were my books.  They would get to choose which one they wanted, unwrap it, I would read it, but then it would go back on my bookshelf.  I explained that I thought it would be a fun way for them to get to pick out which Christmas books we read each day.
They were cool with it and totally understood that even though they unwrapped it, the book was still mine.
I was a little worried about how well my students would understand that concept last year when I first introduced this idea.  I was fully prepared for tears and questions of why they couldn't take their book home.  But they all understood and we had no issues.
So I knew my kids this year would understand as well.

This little guy's name was drawn first!

He was so excited!

This was a brand-new book I just received from Scholastic, so I was excited to read it too!
My kids are loving this Christmas tradition.
When I get ready to pick out a name, my kids are the quietest I have ever heard them.  They are anxiously waiting for me to call their name.
And if I don't pick out their name, they are perfectly okay with that, because they know that their name is still in my basket and they will get a turn, just maybe not today.
Try it in your classroom and let me know what you think!