I haven't done a Throwback Thursday in a while!  This one is perfect for Back to School though, so read on!

When I taught second grade, I needed something for my students to do when they first walked into the classroom in the morning.  I wanted it to be meaningful, but not a lot of prep.  I also needed the students to be fairly independent with it, so that I could take care of attendance, lunch count etc.

That's when I created my Writing Journal Prompts!  There is a calendar for each month of the year with 25 prompts - one for every day of the month.  It is un-dated so I can use it from year to year.  For some students, I would hand-write the date on the calendar to make it easier for them to follow.  If there was a holiday, vacation or day off, I would either white-out that day before I made copies or have students cross it off to avoid confusion.

Each month I would create a packet for my students.  I made a cover, a calendar page and enough lined paper for the whole month.  The pictures show the journal spiral-bound, but I would just staple the packets together.  This allowed the students to add extra paper at the end of the month if they needed it.  In September, we would start with a large picture and few lines.  As we went through they year, the picture box would get smaller and there would be more lines.  I eventually wanted more focus on the writing than the picture.

I have to say, this was one of my absolute favorite things I did in my classroom.  I learned a lot about my students and they enjoyed sharing with me!  These Writing Journal Prompts are a best-seller in my store!

It's coming!  It's coming!  Back to School time is on it's way (it might already be here for some of you!).  This time of year is always a mix of emotions for me - excitement, nervousness, anticipation, you know what I mean.  How do I calm those nerves?  Shopping of course! With an infant at home, it's harder for me to go out and peruse the teacher stores.  What's a girl to do?

Educents to the rescue!


 I am so excited to announce that Educents.com is having a HUGE back-to-school blowout sale and I am going to be featured in one of the curriculum bundles! From July 30 - August 2 (Wednesday - Saturday), they are bringing back all of their favorite and most popular bundles for INSTANT download at up to 77% OFF! There is something for everyone and it is their BIGGEST sale of the year! Take a peek into what is on sale! Tell your friends, because there is something for everyone who teaches children in PreK-8th grade!

This first bundle has my BEST-SELLER included!  That's right, you can grab this school-year bundle with my Writing Journal Prompts, as well as 14 other amazing products!

School Year Curriculum Bundle (Grades 2-3) - 74% OFF


Up next is the one that I'm going to grab this year!  I'm new to teaching in the upper grades, so this is going to be a huge help for me!

Complete Full-Year Curriculum Bundle (Grades 6-8) - 77% OFF

Make sure you check out all these other bundles as well!

Preschool Full-Year Curriculum Bundle - 72% OFF


Kindergarten Full-Year Curriculum Bundle - 75% OFF


K-2 The Write Stuff ELA Bundle - 68% OFF


First Grade Literacy Bundle - 74% OFF


Poetry Curriculum & Activities Bundle (Grades 2-6) - 75% OFF


Tricky Math Curriculum Bundle (Grades 3-5) - 69% OFF


Management, Decor & Organization Bundle - 76% OFF


Don't Miss It!

Happy Wednesday!  If you stopped by on Sunday, you saw my review of some pretty awesome Book Bead Bracelets created by the Trashy Crafter.  Now I'm back with the crafter herself, Kim, to share her story!  After you finish reading, be sure to head to Sunday's post to enter to win one of her bracelets!

Books are magical, they give you the ability to go on a jungle safari one minute and a deep see dive with mermaids the next, but what happens when books has gotten lots of love from years of use? The pages get creased, dog-eared and ripped, the bend or even start to fall off.  That’s where my Mom Helen and I come in, and this is where the story of Trashy Crafter begins. 

My name's Kim, and I have pretty much been a crafter since I was old enough to hold scissors in my hand and not eat the Elmer’s glue.  As a little girl I would come home from school each day, and as long as my homework was done I could create crafts all afternoon at my Grandmas house until my Mom and Dad came to pick my sister and I up after work.  My Grandma made beautiful crafts and sold at lots of holiday craft shows, crafting ran in my blood and it was bound to become a part of my life some way or another.

One day while I was in my senior year of college and my Mom and I went to the local thrift store. While there we noticed they had these auction bins out front of the store full of damaged and outdated books.  We found out that when books would not sell at the thrift store because of being damaged or outdated, they auctioned them off, and if the folks sifting through the auction bin thought could not sell the book or it was too damaged it was just thrown away. 

Needless to say my Mom and I were heartbroken that all those beautifully illustrated children’s books were just thrown away… so we grabbed about 25 books each in our arms and took them home.  I was really busy with school at the time, so the books sat in the corner of my room for about 3 months.  I was trying to think of a useful thing to turn the books into when it hit me!  I was very lucky to have a 3rd grade teacher that was very crafty, her name was Mrs. Bryant.  She had taught us how to roll magazines pages into paper beads (I’m sure many of you have done this in girl scouts or grade school).  I made my first few beads and knew from then I was hooked, the most magical part about it to me is that you not only create beautiful, colorful unique beads made from something that was going to be thrown into a landfill, but you know what book or item it was made from!

Everyone has stories, and connects with them so well, the reason we continue to create recycled book beads, map beads and sheet music beads is that when people purchase a set at a local craft show or online they have a story behind what they wear…. Perhaps they went on a road trip across the country, and that map bead bracelet they wear reminds them of the fun they had, or they had a band teacher that taught them to play an instrument, so they give them a sheet music bracelet as a token of appreciation… or even a gift for a mom or teacher that read you a book as a child that connected with you and stayed in your memory to this day.  As humans we all connect universally with stories, and it’s a beautiful thing to throw away, so my Mom and I plan on fighting the good fight and continuing to turn old books into beautiful, wearable works of art.

Our Process:

My Mom Helen and I gather the books from a lot of different places, sometimes we find them in cardboard boxes outside of library’s, in thrift stores on the clearance shelf or in the bins, and even get books, maps or sheet music donated from folks that love and support our mission. Once we gather all of the books we measure and hand cut the book pages into long narrow triangle strips and roll them one at a time onto lollipop sticks.  Once they are on there we coat each bead 3-5 times depending on the thickness of the paper.  Once that is done we spray them with a matte finish and then we start to make them into the finished jewelry.  We purchase damaged necklaces and bracelets from the local thrift store and strip them apart to repurpose the beads.  We create the jewelry with a mixture of the paper book page beads we made along with the repurposed beads. Once that is finished, we hand cut recycled cardboard bracelet holders and place the book labeling on to each set so folks know what book their bracelets were made from.

A recycled diy project for the classroom!  Reuse old containers and spend less money on classroom decor.  So easy!

This week's Monday Made-It is all about recycling containers for your classroom.  I am all about fun baskets and boxes from the teacher stores (and the Target Dollar Spot), but those dollars start to add up!  So I've started taking empty plastic containers from around my house and sprucing them up a bit.
Ok, I have a confession to make.  This was actually last week's Monday Made-It.  I worked hard on it all weekend and then the blog post just never happened.  A sick husband and a sick puppy made for a busy day (everyone's all better now)!

I posted this picture to my Facebook page a few weeks ago, asking how I should use it.  Obviously I couldn't just throw it away!  There had to be some use for it in the classroom.  We got some great discussion going and there were some awesome ideas!  Check it out here.

I decided to go with the plastic bag holder since I have so many bags and they are just thrown willy-nilly into my closet and I can never find one quick when a student needs one (which is often).

Of course I had to make it cute!  The wonderful Ladybug's Teaching Files had a container cover all made so I grabbed hers!  You can get it here for free!

I couldn't stop there, could I?  We had some empty baby formula containers that I knew could be put to good use.  My husband tried to throw them out, but I rescued them from the recycling bin when he wasn't looking.  I'm going to use them for raffle tickets in my classroom.  Stay tuned to learn more about this!

Again, these labels are from Ladybug's Teacher Files and they are free!  You can grab the black editable ones here.

Am I done yet?  Nope!  The boxtops label will go on the next can of formula that I empty and the notes label will go on a basket in my classroom.

If you notice, I have a bit of a theme going on.  My classroom will be black and neon this year!  I can't wait to decorate and share the results with you!

Have you made anything for your classroom?  Link up with 4th Grade Frolics to share!
When my sister and I were little, we had this cool kit that allowed us to turn paper into beads.  Anyone else remember these??  I thought it was the coolest thing, however, I'm not the most artistic.  More often than not, I ended up with a glue-y mess.

Kim from the Trashy Crafter, on the other hand, is very artistic!  She makes these beads from recycled books (be still my reading teacher heart)!  How awesome is that?!

Her bracelets even come wrapped in a recycled map!  I'm not going to lie, I didn't open it for a few days because I thought the package looked so cool.

In her Etsy store, you can choose specific books or genres.  I chose Where's Waldo!  I may need to go back for the Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss ones though.

Since the beads are made from paper, I was a little nervous to put the bracelets on.  They are super sturdy though!

I am really looking forward to wearing these at school this fall.  What a great conversation starter they'll be with students and teachers!

Kim makes bracelets, earrings and necklaces.  You can even do a custom order with a book or map that has a special meaning to you!

I'm going to be featuring Kim's story on the blog on Wednesday so make sure you stop by to read it - very inspiring!  She is even going to give away a set of 2 bracelets to one lucky winner!  All you need to do is enter below and I'll announce a winner over the weekend.

Also, Kim is offering my readers a discount in her store this week!  Just use coupon code: tc2014 to get 15% off until the end of the week.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
It's that time of year again!  Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved back-to-school.  I don't know if it's the anticipation of seeing my friends, the excitement of learning new things or the thought of brand new school supplies.  But, to this day, I get super excited when August starts to roll around.

To celebrate, I'm going to share some of my tried and true, tips and tricks for the new school year.

The first tip is an idea that my sister shared with me last year.  She has her students create a summer brochure.  They choose something that had significance to them over the summer, whether it was a trip to Disney World or going to soccer camp or learning how to bake.  There are endless possibilities, but it is something that is special to them.

The brochure works for a variety of age levels and can be easily differentiated.  My sister uses it with her sixth and eighth graders, while I've used it in my fifth grade classroom.  Students could draw/write their brochure or they can type it up on the computer.  This could be a quick 45-minute activity or students could work on it for a few days.  It's up to you!

You can grab this activity here!  It comes with teacher and student directions, as well as templates, graphic organizers, examples and rubrics.

Stay tuned for more back-to-school ideas!

It's Friday, so I'm sharing 5 random photos from my week with Doodle Bugs Teaching linky!  {these cute numbers are from Ron Leishman Digital Toonage}

It has begun.  I still have a month and a half but the school shopping has already started!  Seriously, I love to shop for school supplies.  I hate shoe shopping.  I hate clothes shopping.  Not a fan of food shopping.  School supplies is where it's at.  I stopped by the Target Dollar Spot {of course} and picked up a map, a book on the Constitution and some pretty cool sticker sets.

I had my blog redone before I headed to Vegas and purchased some coordinating business cards.  I LOVE them!  However, I realized after I ordered 1,000 of them and passed some out in Vegas...I have the wrong Pinterest link on there!  Follow me here to make me feel better!

One week ago today, I was here!  The conference was amazing.  I shared my favorite parts here and be on the lookout for a post on what I learned!

Speaking of school supplies, the Really Good Stuff catalog has been sitting on my desk and I really want to get new book bins for my classroom.  I like the neon colored ones.  What do you think, do I need them??

 I uploaded two new products this week and one is free!  I'm getting ready for my first week of school and these are some of the activities that I do with my students.

First, they create a brochure that highlights one of their favorite parts of their vacation.  It's a great way to get to know my students and what is important to them.  It's perfect for the first week of school before we delve into our lessons.  They also make a nice display in my classroom for open house and parent conferences.  Check it out here!

 I also have my students write me a letter.  In the letter, they tell me about themselves and their habits as a learner.  I also give them the opportunity to ask me questions about my life as well as about our class.  They are so much fun to read!  You can grab this activity here!

Have a wonderful weekend!
...is beyond words.

Seriously, I've been staring at my pictures for an hour now, trying to put into words the amazingness that happened last week.  I've been looking forward to this conference since it was announced months ago and it surpassed all my expectations.

How do you explain to someone that you are going to "meet" your friends for the first time?  I tried saying they were my online friends, but that made me sound like a geeky 14-year old boy.  There wasn't really a way to explain because no one else really gets it.  

Then I got to Vegas.  Where everyone gets it.  It was so cool to be surrounded (and I mean surrounded) by fellow bloggers and TpT-ers.  We could talk about Paul and powerpoints and clipart all day long!

We (I dragged my husband along) got to Vegas on Wednesday afternoon and, after a  lost luggage debacle, I made it to the blogger meet-up a little late.  The room was packed!  I think even the wonderful women that organized it were overwhelmed by the turn-out!  It was a lot to take in, but I quickly learned that all I needed to do was introduce myself to the person standing next to me.  Then our conversation would take off!

Friday was the big conference day!  Of course, I had to get a picture with the sign.  I love that the hashtag was at the bottom!

We started the day off with a breakfast and some keynote speakers - Paul, Amy, John and Deanna {I don't think last names are necessary here, right?!}.  Amy is absolutely adorable and I wish I got to talk to her more.  Paul is, well, awesome.  Learning about his life story was so interesting.  And his support for teachers is amazing!  I didn't get a picture of Deanna, possibly because her story brought me to tears.  It was wonderful to hear.

I spent all day meeting new friends and chatting with old ones!

Corrina from Surfin Through Second
Jennifer White from First Grade Blue Skies
Kristen from Chalk and Apples
Vera from The Tutu Teacher

 I got to eat lunch with some awesome bloggers inside The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian.  Such a cool place!

Um...this happened.

And what's a party without a little swag??  I picked up some awesome stuff from the blogger meet-up, TpT and the wonderful Melonheadz!

On our last night in Vegas, my husband and I ate dinner at the top of the Stratosphere.  What a beautiful view!

On the (long) plane ride home, I started to go over my notes from each session.  I learned so much!  I am still processing it all and can't wait to share with you!

Deirdre, who is a fellow New England blogger, is hosting a Vegas link-up to share all our pictures and stories!  Come join the fun!

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