Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Story Behind the Logo

Hi All!

I'm excited to link up with Art with Jenny K.  to learn more about the stories behind some of the many blog and TpT logos I see everyday!

If you look closely at my logo you will see you might notice clues to how it links to my blog name: Literacy Loves Company.  When trying to pick out a name for my blog and TpT store I was given the advice to think about what makes me special and my ideas unique.  Then pick a name and logo that shares that message.

I have my masters degree in art integration which is an AMAZING program!  Not only were the two years I spent taking the program courses such fun, I also got a true appreciation for how important the arts are in classrooms!  Integrating the arts not only raises the engagement level of students, but it also helps you reach those learners that might struggle with traditional teaching strategies!

Along with my masters degree, I also consider myself somewhat of an artist myself and I work in a school that is very art centered!  I am very lucky.

Since art and art integration is what I am passionate about I thought about how literacy (and other subjects) are enhanced by the arts.  They "love company".

I am also something of a wordsmith and love to play with words, so Literacy Loves Company is a play on Misery Loves Company.  Not many people get the connection, but every time I say Literacy Loves Company I chuckle at the little inside joke.
I came up with and drew my logo myself.  Someday, I may get a professional artist to help me out with it, but for now I love it.  It instills everything my name means to me.

My blog and store name and logo have gone through some changes over the last year...

This is the final (for now) logo that you would see at my TpT store:  
So, that is the story behind the logo for Literacy Loves Company!  I hope that you will take some time to hop over to other bloggers on the linky and learn about the stories behind their logos!  

Thank you for stopping by! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Containing Classroom Clutter: Cubbies

Hi All,
Almost my entire career I have had tables instead of desks in my classroom.  I like tables.  They foster a sense of teamwork, cooperative grouping is easy, and students get a lot of surface space to work.  I do not like tables, however, because unlike desks, they do not give students a place to keep their notebooks, pencil boxes, and various other supplies.  I teach 4th grade, so instilling a responsibility for one's own belongings is a big thing.  We don't do community supplies, so where do students keep all of their "stuff"?

I have tried many things.  When I first started at the school I now teach at I used these plastic stacking bins.  They worked well, until they broke.  They stuck out at the end of the tables so they took up space in the aisle.  When I only had 6 tables in class that wasn't much of a problem.

Then class sizes grew.  Last year I had 9...  yes, NINE student tables in my classroom.  That is a lot of tables, chairs, and bodies!  As class sizes started growing and space became more and more limited, I looked for other alternatives.  One year, I was able to get each students their own Sterilite drawer similar to this one:

Students kept them on their desk along with a magazine box for their spirals and papers.

This drove me CRAZY!!!   I can't handle clutter all over 9 tables.  At the end of the day, I felt frazzled just looking at all of the boxes covering the surfaces of the room.

About 5 years ago I tried wire racks.  I put together sets of four and they sat at the end of each table.  Each student got their own space.  They took up a lot of room, but it was the best I could do.  Then they bent, the connectors broke, pencils and erasers fell through the grids.  I kept them on life support for the last 3 or so years with the help of zip-ties, but this winter I finally had had enough.
Just a note that this is what the wire racks looked like AFTER the students had cleaned them up before they left for winter break.  It is not a TRUE representation of how messy they were on a regular basis.  :)  

What I really wanted was something similar that would slide under the tables, up against the legs.  This would get rid of wasted space and make more room in the aisles.

I had been talking about this for years.  I searched online, I searched Ikea, Target, Walmart, AAAAHHHH!!!   Either it wasn't the right size or it would cost me an arm and a leg...  and I need both of my arms and both of my legs.

Over winter break, as I was going on and on about my cubby dilemma and showing pictures on the internet to my husband, he jumped on board and started looking up plans to help me build custom cubbies.

I secretly think he just needed an excuse to buy a table saw, but hey...  whatever it takes right?!

It took us about a week from customizing the plans, putting together and testing the table saw, buying the materials, construction, sanding, and painting.

But now I have beautiful new cubbies!

 I have 8 tables in my classroom this year and these cubbies have made a HUGE difference in the space we have.
AND...  at the end of the day, when students leave the tables are completely cleaned off and I can breathe a sigh of relief!  
In all, building the cubbies cost about $300 for materials: wood, screws, glue, and paint.  I know that is a lot of money and it was a lot of work, but in the end it is totally worth is to me.  They fit perfectly where I need them to fit, they match my color scheme, and they will last for a very long time.  

Do you have Containing Clutter advice?  I'd love for you to share your tips, just leave a comment.  

Thank you for visiting!  

Recent resources added to my teacherspayteachers.com store, Literacy Loves Company:

Glacier Grab 2!  - 5th grade

Glacier Grab! - 4th Grade

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top Ten Classroom Finds for 2014

Top 10 list of my favorite finds for the classroom!  Products, gadgets, office supplies, and routines.     Some are clever and some are life savers!  My favorite are #3 and #4!

Hi Friends!

It has been an amazing school year so far!  Busy, busy, busy for sure, but every year I get to know some amazing young people who touch my life.  This year I have also come across some great products that have been a blessing in the classroom.   I just wanted to take a moment to share them with you.  Some are TpT products by other sellers but most are just things I have happened upon and have made an impact on my sanity.

Here they are in no certain order:

1.  Patterned contact paper!  WHAT?  I would wall paper my entire classroom with it if I could!  The pattern, color, and ease of use have made me one happy camper/teacher!
 2.  Card stock...  Um, yea...   Sorry to say I did not discover that you could get this gorgeous stuff for $2 (on sale) at Joanns and Michaels.  Task cards, posters, cards... OH My!
 3.  Homeworkopoly!  My students LOVE this!  On Fridays all the students who have turned in their homework for the week get to roll and move their clip.  Some spaces have prizes like use a rolly chair, pick a song to play during clean-up time, or a homework pass.  I found the template online and then customized it for my needs.  You can get it free HERE.
Top 10 list of my favorite finds for the classroom!  Products, gadgets, office supplies, and routines.     Some are clever and some are life savers!  My favorite are #3 and #4!
 4.  I found these amazing pen and pencil holders at Walmart.  They are a lifesaver!  My students sign out on a clipboard to use the restroom and trying to tie the a pencil to the clipboard with string was ANNOYING!  Then I found these self adhesive rubber holders and they have changed our lives!  A little hyperbole there, but you get the point!  GREAT FIND!
Top 10 list of my favorite finds for the classroom!  Products, gadgets, office supplies, and routines.     Some are clever and some are life savers!  My favorite are #3 and #4!
 5.  My school uses Fountas and Pinnell for our reading assessments.  They can take a LONG time to administer, especially when you have 32+ students in your class.  This product by Hello Literacy has been a big help!  The product is detailed and comprehensive (I would expect nothing less from Hello Literacy)!  It is so good that we talked my principal into getting a school license.
 6.  Okay... these aren't really classroom related, but these rain boots make me happy and a happy teacher makes for a happy class!  I live in the Pacific Northwest, so it rains A LOT!
 7.  So...  this may be cheating a little bit, but I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES!!!  and this year, through my relationships on Facebook and Instagram, I was introduced to SCENTOS and sticky note glue sticks!!!  Yep...  you heard me...  sticky note glue sticks!  You can use the glue sticks on any paper and the paper is repositionable.  Great for anchor charts, projects, planning, etc.!
 8.  Keeping track of all of the common core standards for math can be tricky and I am so glad that I found this resource from Mr. Math Coach.  It was only $1.50!!!
 9.  This next resource has my kids buzzing!  They all want to work on a CSI math project!  I have several math students who are early finishers and this resource has been a huge help!  The whole premise of being a detective and trying to catch a suspect by solving problems is intriguing for students!  The product is kind of spendy at $25 dollars, but it is 127 pages and I will be able to use it year after year, so it was money well spent.
 10.  My laminator isn't new to me.  I've had the little ole thing for a few years, but this year it has gotten a work-out!  I love the quality of the lamination film and I can buy generic sleeves from Amazon for a decent price.  I got the laminator from Costco a few years ago and it is working like a champ!  I've laminated precious recipe cards written in my mom's handwriting, resource covers for my products to add to my binders, table group signs, and much more!  I love my laminator!
So, that's it folks!  My 10 favorite classroom finds for 2014!  Have you discovered an amazing resource, item, or idea that has made your classroom a better place?  Share in the comments section!  

Thanks for visiting!  
My newest products on Teacherspayteachers.com :
Poetry, Plays, and Prose {CCSS RL.4.5} Step back and let your students be the detectives as they investigate what structure and elements make each type of writing unique!  Hands on and collaborative for students.  Assessment opportunity and art integration activity included! 
FREE!  Compare and Contrast is a HUGE CCSS for elementary students! Give your students more practice with this important skill while they are learning about Martin Luther King Jr. 
2015 My Life Planner for TpT teacher authors, bloggers, and all people in need of a little organization in their life! 
Looking for a way to support your students understanding and application of Mathematical Practices in just minutes a day? Welcome to “Word Problem of the Week”!