Let's face it, purchasing books for a classroom can be ex.pen.sive.  Most schools require the teacher to provide a majority of the books for their classroom.  We want quality books for our students to read, but they can cost up to $25 each!  Is it possible to create a classroom library on a budget?

You don’t need to break the bank to fill your classroom bookshelves with quality reading material for your students. These are some ideas for organizing your class library for cheap!



The answer is YES!  I just added over 100 books to my classroom library for less than $25 total.  Let me show you how.

Scholastic is a wonderful resource.  I send home book orders with my students every month, along with a parent letter.  Parents can order books online (with a credit card) or send in an order form (with a check).  I usually send a variety of three different book orders home with the students, depending on what Scholastic sends me that month.  Usually there is a combination of non-fiction, grade-level and seasonal orders.  

Every time a parent places an order, the teacher receives bonus points.  These points can be used to purchase books or materials for the classroom.  You can also earn book coupons when parents place an order online.  The student receives a coupon too!  Scholastic also offers specials each month, sometimes offering free books.  How awesome is that?  Even if you don't earn bonus points or free books, you can still get some pretty good deals from the company.

I received free books for ordering before the end of the month and also used bonus points and coupons.  I spent $0 on more than 40 brand new books!

Another place to purchase books for cheap are book sales.  I use Book Sale Finder to search for those happening in my state or nearby.  Most of the book sales near me are located at neighborhood libraries.  The books are gently used library books or books donated by the community.  More often than not, they are in very good shape.  The children's books are usually 25 cents each.  I always go the first day of the sale in order to choose from a wide variety of books.  I walked out with 35 books for only $8.00 this weekend!

Another great place to grab books is a yard sale.  Oftentimes, they are selling books that their grown kids don't read anymore.  Sometimes, you'll hit the jackpot and stumble upon a yard sale of a former teacher!  Once you find books at a yard sale, make sure they are in good condition and aren't smelly or moldy from being in a basement.  Also, don't be afraid to bargain!  Most people are willing to give you a better price if you explain that they are for a classroom.  I purchased over 40 hardcover books for less than $15.  This set is worth over $400!

Lastly, check your local thrift stores.  Not all stores sell books, but some have quite a collection!  I like to visit Savers.  Again, always make sure the books are not moldy or dusty.  In my experience, the thrift stores are a bit more expensive than a yard sale or library book sale.  The books range from 30 cents to $1 per book.  Still a lot cheaper than a book store!

I know how important it is to put books in our students' hands, but also how hard it can be to afford a classroom library.  Hopefully you can now fill yours up with wonderful books for your kids!
It's Thursday!  I promised to have a "throwback" on Thursdays to showcase some of my favorite and most popular posts from Smiling In Second Grade.  My Open House post is by far my most popular!  On September 8 of last year, I showcased the activities I did to get ready for parents to come to Open House.  Once you get to the bottom you'll see my latest update to this post!

Thursday night was Open House, so I wanted to share some  a lot of  pictures!  I borrowed a LOT of these ideas from fellow bloggers and Pinterest.  I will share where I got my inspiration from, although it might not be the original source.

Welcome to Open House!


This is the entrance to my room on Open House night.


The banner came from The School Supply Addict for free!  My resource teacher told me I should keep it up all year, what do you think?

This was out in the hallway:

The students created flowers were all of their favorite things in them.  I created the poster with Tagxedo.  Our school mascot is the SuperStar and it has all the kids names in it!

We created a Who Am I board:


I got this bulletin board idea from Surfing Through Second.

Surfin' Through Second


The students wrote a few clues about themselves and then drew a picture:


Underneath the flap, I pasted a picture of the student holding their name:


{another teacher told me the pictures looked like mug shots - oops!}
The kids had the best time making their parents guess which one was theirs.

Check out my information table!

My magnets with contact information from VistaPrint were a big hit!

Open House is always kind of rushed and parents are coming and going all night, so I don't really have an opportunity to make a presentation so I put all my information into a brochure for parents to take:

The apples on the table came from Mrs. Terhune's First Grade.  Here is my version:


The bookmarks idea came from A Place Called Kindergarten.  Here are mine:

Clipart by Scrappin Doodles

I had the students write letters to their parents to leave on their desks:

This came from The Teacher Wife and it was also free!  I was so glad that I had it, because my students desperately needed the prompts this year.  My original idea was just to write a letter from scratch but that wasn't going to happen!

I thought about leaving a paper for parents to write back to their child, but most students come with their parents so I decided it wasn't worth it.

**UPDATE**
I've created two different Open House packets for your classroom! The first one is just the basics.  It has everything you need for a successful open house (or meet the teacher night) for any grade!  Click the picture to grab your Open House: The Basics pack.


Here are a few pictures that showcase {a few} of the items included in this pack!






Your other option is for you owl-lovers out there!   Open House is a Hoot is my owl-themed packet!  Click on the pictures to check it out!






One of the coolest activities that I have ever done was Shelley Gray's Get Up and Move! {A Back to School Gallery Walk}.    We did this the first week of school and it was perfect for my 5th graders.  

The concept of the Gallery Walk is for the students to answer questions that are hung up around the classroom.  This allows them to move around as they show what they know.  The back to school one was pretty basic, in that it asks a lot about themselves.  Everything from their favorite sports to what type of learner they are.

Before we began, we discussed how this is a quiet activity.  They are answering questions about themselves, so there is no need to discuss at this point.  It also allows others to concentrate as they think about their own answers.

All the cards are numbered and I hung them around the room.


Each student had their own packet to record the answers to the questions on.  The packet is numbered so it was easy for the students to follow along.  I had each student start at a different card, but some of the answers took longer to write than others.   I think I need to invest in some clipboards!



I was so impressed with how well the students did with this activity.  They really put effort into all their answers and worked quietly the whole time.  It was really neat to read their answers as well.  It helped me get to know them right away!

I had never done a Gallery Walk before, but I am definitely going to visit Shelley's store to grab some more for the school year!

P.S.  Don't forget to enter my Washi Tape Giveaway!


Today we made lava lamps in Science class - so much fun!  Some of my students had already made them, but they were still excited to do them again.  The best part?  They were super easy to make!
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!
I had each student bring in a water bottle.  You also need vegetable oil (I needed 3 bottles for a class of 23 students), food coloring, a funnel and water.
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

Step 1: Fill the bottle 2/3 of the way with water.  I had the students fill it to the bottom of the label.
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

Step 2: Choose your color(s).  If the students wanted blue, green, yellow or red, they added 2 drops of food coloring.  If they wanted to mix colors, they did 1 drop of each.  Purple was a popular color with 1 drop of red and 1 drop of blue.  I don't recommend yellow because it is a very similar color to the vegetable oil.
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

Step 3: Fill the bottle with vegetable oil (1/3 of the bottle).  I did this part because we didn't have a good funnel to use.  Even I made a bit of a mess!
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

 Step 4: Place the cover on the bottle (tightly!).
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

Check out these bubbles!!
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

The students then move the water bottle around as the bubbles move around.  They are fascinated by the water and oil staying separate.
A fun science experiment for kids!  This diy lava lamp is exciting to make with your students in science class!

I just did some research and discovered that you can take the experiment a step further by adding an Alka-Seltzer tab to really watch the bubbles move!  Here is a link to Science Kids for the complete experiment.
Tomorrow {September 17th} is Constitution Day.  Are you teaching it in your classroom?  Here are some books that I found that could be useful to you!

A More Perfect Union
by: Betsy and Giulio Maestro

Shh!  We're Writing the Constitution
by: Tomie dePaola

We the Kids
by: David Catrow


I also just updated my Celebrate America! pack which includes many resources for teaching about American Symbols.


It includes:
     ~ an American Symbols book for students to read and color
     ~ photographs of American symbols
     ~ Memory Match game {can also be used in a pocket chart}


I'm giving away 2 copies!  Leave me a comment with your favorite holiday to teach {or wish you could teach} and I'll randomly choose 2 winners by 9:00 EST tonight!

P.S. ~ my $50 Really Good Stuff gift card giveaway is still going on!  Click here to enter!

I want to thank ALL of you for stopping by my new blog.  I was super nervous about starting over, but knowing that I have some awesome followers has made it a lot easier!  As a thank you, I have uploaded  a freebie for you to snag!

This is the first year that I have let students take my books out of the classroom, so I created a sign-out sheet to keep track of all the books that are coming and going.  It comes with a cover that can be easily slid into a binder and the sign out chart.  It could also be bound into a book!  Click here or on the pictures to grab the freebie.



Now for our winners!

The winner of the TpT Gift Card is.... Sandy from Soaring Through Second!
The winner of the Target Gift Card is...Kelly Beam Brown!
The winner of the Panera Gift Card is...Bev!

Check your email ladies!

You still have a chance to win the $50 Really Good Stuff gift card!  Visit this post to enter!!
Okay, it's not my first Five for Friday.  It's actually my favorite linky.  It IS, however, the first time I am participating as The Colorful Apple - yay!



1. This is how Wednesday started.  Coffee. All. Over. The. Floor.  And not in my cup.  I was walking out the door and dropped it - not cool!  Luckily I did not get any on me.  Seriously, don't know how that happened.

2.  I went to a state testing training this week.  As a second grade teacher, I didn't have to administer state tests.  Now as a fifth grade teacher, I do.  I got to sit at the training between my principal and my dad!  How cool is that?

3. After a super busy back to school season, I finally have time to create again!  Made some posters for my classroom last weekend.  I'll explain more soon!

4. One of my fifth graders gave me an apple!  They won't tell me who though!  Either that or they just left it on my desk and forgot about it...

5. It's fall!  Ok, it's not.  But it's September and that's close enough.  I've broken out my fall-scents and I am super excited about it!


And here's just one more....

I was at school until 8:00 last night for Open House last night (which went wonderfully!!) and I think someone missed me.

Speaking of Open House, I missed Day 4 of my Brand New Blog Giveaway yesterday, so I am making up for it today!


You can win $50 to Really Good Stuff!!  I asked you what your favorite teacher store was and this was a popular response {and easily accessible to everyone}!

Don't forget to enter these giveaways as well {they end tonight!}

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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