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Friday, October 28, 2011

Room Mom Journal - Halloween gifts for the teachers

My favorite part about any holiday is making gifts! I thought I would share the gifts I gave to our teachers this year. Since Halloween isn't a big gift-giving holiday per se, I still like to make a nice gesture to show I appreciate them!

The theme for Kindergarten was the Five Little Pumpkins, so I thought putting 5 candy pumpkins in a snack bag with a label designed to include the poem would be a cute idea. I designed the label, printed, cut out and folded over the bag, then stapled. 

I added the snack bags with some other items and put them in these cute tin buckets I bought at Target's dollar section. I just love the spiders -- not in real life, but these are too cute!! 

Other items included were a Hershey bar, spider ring that I later added a note to and rolled up to put in the ring. Then, I put together a tissue pack, a small bottle of anti-bac from Bath and Body Works in a bag and designed a "germs are scary" label to put on it to kind of tie together the Halloween theme. 

In this picture below you can see the note I rolled up and put in the spider ring. The notes say "Thank you for making school not so scary!" and I signed my kids names to them. 

Here are all the tin buckets ready to go to school with me. I had so much fun handing them out! I gave one to my daughter's teacher and room aide. I also gave one to my son's teacher, the Principal and the principal's secretary. 

Now that they all know how I love putting things together, I got a call this morning from the secretary asking me to help put together some sort of flowers for our special program coming up to show our appreciation for our veterans. I can't wait to be a part of it!! I'm going in today to pick up the supplies! 

Happy Friday!

Room Mom Journal - Getting ready for Fall Party

Yesterday was the day for my first Fall parties that I was responsible for coordinating as a room mom! I was in charge of making sure both of my children's Fall parties had everything they needed; first grade and Kindergarten classrooms. I called parents a couple weeks ahead of time to coordinate snacks, plates, napkins, etc. Then, earlier this week, I sent home reminder notes telling each volunteer what they were signed up to bring.

Thank goodness for the other parents volunteering! I think the parties were a success! I had to run back and forth between the rooms so I could see both of my children and the other volunteers and teachers pretty much took care of everything. It is so much fun to see the kids wearing their costumes. I did the background work and the volunteers took it from there -- it was awesome! The kids in their costumes...I just loved it!

The parties were fun! Here's a little of what went into them (well, one of them) to make it happen. A volunteer was in charge of taking an activity to my son's class, so I didn't need to worry about that. I was in charge of the activity for my daughter's class. I chose to do a mini Five Little Pumpkins book (I shared an earlier post about it). Here's what I did:

 Here is one of my trimmers. I used it to trim the Five Little Pumpkin books that I assembled and handed out to the Kindergarteners. See all the pieces that were trimmed off (they're waiting to be recycled). 

Here are the books after I assembled them. They were time consuming because of the printing, copying, trimming and stapling, but I think they turned out great.

The books were handed out while the kids put on their costumes. 

Here's my daughter's. 

They worked on coloring them while they had their snacks and while a few volunteers and I did our skit (we basically just read the Five Little Pumpkins story to them). I enjoyed it -- hope everyone else did, too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Room Mom Journal - Fall Party

Well, tomorrow is the fall party for both of my children's classes. I'm the chairperson/room mom for both, which is something I am very excited about! I mentioned in an earlier post that for my Kindergartener's class, the theme is The Five Little Pumpkins.

We'll have the children dress in their costumes at the beginning of the party, then go around the other K's rooms for a parade. When they return, they will do an activity that I have planned along with have a few snacks. We have a few allergies this year; gluten and dairy, so the snacks will be 100% juice along with 100% juice bars and Jello jigglers. Not very exciting, but just having a different day at school will be fun for the kids. Then, our last activity planned is a Five Little Pumpkins skit that five other volunteers will help me act out for the class.

I already showed the pumpkin puppets I made for the skit, but I wanted to show you the activity I have planned. It is a Five Little Pumpkins mini book. I'm assembling it ahead of time, due to our time constraints, and will have the children color during the party.

Here's the link where I found the mini book template-- This is a great website for teachers and anyone wanting ideas for child school activities. The templates come in color and B&W.

Enjoy your fall parties!! What are you school fall parties like?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photo wall gallery

Thanks to digital cameras, I have so many pictures that I'd like to display. But I wasn't sure how to display them without looking too busy? So, I went to my advisor, the Internet, and searched for wall gallery. I saw a lot of great ideas.

My husband and I painted our living room and our wall behind our sofa looked too blank. We did have shelves there before, but I wanted something new -- a photo gallery.

After some research, I decided what to do. Thanks to some tips I saw, I traced the size of my frames onto paper and laid out the frames on the floor in an order I thought would work. Then, with painter's tape, I hung the paper on the wall. I also took a picture of the frames that I laid out on the floor so I would remember what went where.

With some measuring, eye-balling and a level, I finished this wall photo project in about an hour. Is that good? Not sure, but I'm glad it's finished and I'm very happy with it! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Room Mom Journal - Teacher's birthday

 Ok, I have a big task -- I want all the students to acknowledge their teacher's birthday. But, how do I do that without her knowing beforehand?

I looked up several ideas, but nothing fit my situation. The students in my son's first grade class have folders that they take home and return to school each day. It's a communication folder between parent and teacher and it works great. I was thinking I would use that folder to get the word out about their teacher's b-day. I'll call her Mrs. T for privacy.

So. I decided I would type up an instruction sheet, put in their folder, then have the parents read the note and help their children with the project. First problem: how to get the note in the folders? What will I put on the instruction sheet? It can't be a full blown party because their days are filled with learning. I'll just have them decorate a part of a banner and include a birthday message. Problem solved. Then, I ran some errands. I made a quick stop in the $ tree and found die cut paper balloons. in blue. the teacher's favorite color. lightbulb! 

I bought the balloons die cuts, came home, typed up my instruction sheet and attached the blue balloon to be put in their folders. Here's what the note says:

Mrs. T---’s birthday is October 20th -- Thursday! If you’d like, please have your child make her a handmade card or have them write a birthday message on the enclosed balloon (and decorate it, too). Then, put it in the purple folder so she can see it first thing on Thursday morning when she’s checking folders! Thanks!

I hope most of the students can do this! I think it's a nice, subtle way of letting the teacher know she's appreciated by her students on her birthday since we can't have a party. 

The next thing is to get the message in the folders. I e-mailed Mrs. T and told her I had reminder letter to send out to the volunteers for the fall party and needed to come in to put in their folders (I really do). So, that problem is solved as well! 

Now let's hope everyone can do it! I'm also going to have my son hand her a king-size Hershey bar because chocolate is her favorite. I'll show you a picture of that later. Now, I must run off to take the letters to school! 

Here are the balloons. Thank you Dollar Tree! 

Here are the instructions attached to the ballon and the letter home about gifts and fall party. 

Here are the letters stacked and ready to go to school to be put in folders.  

Room Mom Journal - getting to know you form

As a parent, I like giving and/or making gifts for our teachers, but I don’t always know them personally enough to pick out the best gift. So this year, I asked our teachers to complete a “Getting to Know You” page and made copies to send to all of the students' parents so they will have it in case it will be useful them as well. I also let the parents know that they are not obligated to buy the teacher anything and that we will have three opportunities for a group gift throughout the year. I don't want anyone to feel pressured, but if they're wanting to do something special for the teacher, then they'll have the information. 

Here are the questions:

What is:
your favorite color?

your favorite place to eat out?

your favorite coffee, drink, etc.?

your favorite food?

your favorite season?

your favorite fast food?

your favorite candy?

your favorite snack?

your favorite book?
your favorite author?

your favorite hobby?

your favorite animal?

your favorite flower?

By the end of the school year, my classroom usually needs:

Any wish list items for your classroom?

When is your birthday?

Since I don't want to leave you without a picture, here's a gift I gave to one of my daughter's preschool teacher last year. (I have several others to show as well in future posts). I didn't know her favorite colors or I would have used those -- the "getting to know you" page would have been useful. She still acted like she like it, though. 

Anyway, clipboards are a great idea for a teacher. I'll show the ones I gave for Christmas last year using our school colors in a couple weeks when I start talking about Christmas. Let's get Halloween celebrated first. : )

Have a great day!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family Command Center (part two)

Remember my idea pictures from yesterday? Well, here's what I came up with for my own family command center, thanks to the ideas I saw on Pinterest and around the web.

My husband added bead board and the peg board along the wall in our entrance from our garage. Now the kids have a spot for their backpacks and can grab them on their way off to school.

I added the magnetic calendar and dry erase board from the Board Dudes. I picked them up at Hobby Lobby for 30% off. The top one is a dry erase calendar and the bottom is just a blank dry erase board for messages. I also purchased the locker basket at Staples. This is where I put items that need signed or need taken with us when we run errands. I also noticed that I need to straighten my rug, but I hope you can overlook that. 

Overall, I really love it! This wall was doing nothing but just sitting there blank. Now it's an organized and usable space. It's still not complete, however. I'd like to add pictures or maybe a shelf like my idea picture in the previous post, but the main part is complete and I couldn't be happier with it! A special thanks to my husband for making my "mudroom wall" a reality. 

By the way, here is the before (eeeewwww -- so plain!). I cropped my hubby out of the pic for his privacy. You can see how blank and un-utilized the wall is!

One thing I can say is, at least we already had the idea to use our metal door for our kids' pictures -- just not too handy for keeping us organized. I also replaced the rug in front of the door. I like the new one much better!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Family Command Center (part one)

I don't know about you, but I am forever trying to come up with a better solution for organizing my family's items, such as bookbags, totes, coats, etc. As well as a place for hanging a centralized calendar. We have a hall closet for coats, hats and mittens, but there's usually one main jacket or coat each of my children like wearing the most. It would be a lot more convenient to have a spot to hang their jackets along with their bookbags for school. I also have a calendar hanging on the fridge, but don't always remember to look at it. My husband usually leaves before I get the kids ready for school and to have something to look at as we're leaving for the day would be a helpful reminder to see what the other has going on.  I always say that if I had a mudroom, organizing would be much easier!! However, no mudroom for me. So, it was time to plan something. I needed ideas, so I checked out Pinterest.

Ever heard of Pinterest? It's an amazing place where you can find picture ideas for just about anything you can think of. If you're planning a wedding and need invitation or decorating ideas -- go to Pinterest. If you need ideas for a family command center like I did -- go to Pinterest. If you're looking for teacher gift ideas -- go to Pinterest. If you want playroom ideas -- go to, well, you get the idea. Pinterest is pretty cool!

I'll give you an example, I searched for family command center and found this:

Pinned Image

Isn't it cool? It's not a mudroom, but it's a great idea for me -- someone who has a wall that I can definitely use as a "mudroom" of sorts. I don't think I would have thought about this on my own. Sad, but true.

And this:
Pinned Image

I talked my husband into helping me out with this project. It took a while, but he finally had time to help me out with it. I'll reveal the almost-final picture tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Compartment snack ideas by Muffin Tin Mom

If you have a picky eater like I do, sometimes you have to get creative with your snack and meal presentation. That's where this blog I'm about to tell you comes in. I have loved checking this blog, Muffin Tin Mom for a long time for snack inspiration. Not only is it fun for the kids to have snacks served in muffin tins or in trays with compartments, but it's also fun for us who serve the snacks. It gives me a chance to be creative and do something different from time to time. I also love having a theme to build on and using that thought with snacks can be helpful when I've run out of ideas for getting my daughter to try new things.

Here is a super cute and yummy Halloween muffin tin meal.

or how about the adorable apple theme? Too cute!

Both of the above images are from the Muffin Tin Mom's blog. Check it out and be ready for fun ideas!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cutest classroom ever!

Seriously, this classroom makes me want to go out and get my teacher's licensure! Too bad it would take me three years and that's just too long right now! Did I mention, I'm a teacher-wanna-be? I've always had it in my heart to teach, but working full time 'back in the day' made it hard for me to take the daytime classes it required. I finished my undergrad in Visual Communications by taking classes in the evenings. I took as many education classes as I could that were offered at night, but had to stop short by about 12 classes because of the time of day they were offered. My plan is to go back when my kids are a little older, but I may start next year with one or two classes a year. Anyway, enough about that!

Check out this adorable classroom. I'm so giddy to have found Melanie's website. I say her first name like we're best buds, but of course I've never met the lady, but she appears to be super talented and I love the ideas on her web site. Even though I'm not a teacher, these ideas can come in handy elsewhere I'm sure! The colors, the organization -- everything is just too cute!!

Movie and Family Fun Night baskets

Our school is having a carnival in November and during the carnival will be an auction to help raise money for teachers so they don't have to come up with so much out-of-pocket to buy classroom supplies. My son's class is putting together a movie night themed basket and my daughter's class is putting together a family fun night basket.

My contributions will be popcorn buckets from Dollar Tree, popcorn and movie candy. I've also made movie night and family fun night dry erase boards and lunch box reminder notes. Hey, if you like the posters, just let me know and I may send you a free printable just for asking!

Check these out! I purchased 8x10 frames at Hobby Lobby for half price ($3.50 each). I designed and printed the 'poster' to put in them. Using a dry erase marker, the information can be updated. I attached a dry erase marker to the side with stick-on velcro. The dry erase marker just wipes right off the glass! I think it looks really cool, but that's just me! I hope you'll agree, though. And also importantly, I hope the auction-goers agree as well! Sorry my pics are a little dark -- I'm working on that!

                                                                     Family Fun Night

showing velcro holding dry erase marker

lunch box reminder notes for putting in the child's lunch to remind them that it's the night for the movie night! I think these will work best for K through 3rd or 4th graders. I know my kids get excited for movie night and seeing a reminder of it in their lunch would be special.

Movie night 

Room Mom Journal - Fall Parties

I am a room mom for both of my children's classes. It sounds crazy, but I'm so excited about it! I have my first party(ies) to organize. It's the fall/halloween party! For the Kindergarteners, the theme will be The Five Little Pumpkins. Part of their party will be spent outdoors where the kids can have a parade while wearing their costumes. I love that! The only thing is, that doesn't leave much time for the fun crafts and treats. The kids won't mind, though. It just makes it a little harder to organize.

I'm planning to have the kids color a book from DLTK that I'll probably already have put together for them and place on their desks. They can color in it when they're done putting on their costumes and waiting to be lined up for the parade. Then, after the parade, they can finish coloring while we hand out the treats and treat bags. I'm also planning to have 5 parent volunteers help me put on a skit for the kids about the Five Little Pumpkins. I made pumpkin 'puppets' for them to hold in front of their faces as they say their part. I think the kids will really get a kick out of it, even though the adults will probably feel silly. I already called the parents who have volunteered for the parties and they all seem to be for it!

We have a couple food allergies - gluten and dairy so we'll hand out orange juice pops and jello jigglers.

I'm also hoping I can decorate at least a table or something!! Just need to ask the teacher. I don't want to overstep my boundaries or appear too pushy.

For the First grade party, I'm pretty much just a chairperson. I'm responsible for calling all the parents who signed up to bring treats and coordinate what they'll be bringing. We need to be mindful of a peanut food allergy, but it shouldn't be too hard to work around it. I'll plan to bring treat bags for any leftovers because we have about 8 people signed up for treats! Cheese sticks, sugar cookies, rice crispies, veggies, fruit, crackers. I need to talk with two others about what they'd like to bring We have two volunteers bringing drinks and two bringing treat bags. We also have one signed up for the craft. She'll bring in pre-made craft kits so that should be nice and quick for our short time period.

Here's the poem for The Five Little Pumpkins in case you've never heard of it. It's a favorite of mine from when I was little.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate;
The first one said, "Oh my it's getting late."
The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
The third one said, "But I don't care."
The fourth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
The fifth one said, "Let's run and run and run."
"Wooooooo" went the wind,
And out went the lights.
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Here's a pic of the pumpkins we'll be using.

Jumbo bookmark paperclips

I so wish I had seen these for my daughter's bookworm party. Oh well.

When I see something cute, I like to share it. I especially like to share it when I think it's clever yet easy to do! I found this on another blog called altered to perfection. It's not one I normally follow, but what a great accidental discovery! This would be a fun gift for a teacher or teacher's aide or for students.

These were just made using colorful jumbo paper clips and ribbon. See, ribbon does make things look prettier! : )


Idea for serving ice cream at a birthday party

This is a follow-up to my previous post about my daughter's bookworm party. Usually for birthday parties, the one thing I really am not crazy about doing is dipping the ice cream. Cutting the cake, fine, but dipping the ice cream -- really? If it's too hard, it's a pain. If it's too soft, it's messy. So hard to get it just right. So I planned ahead this year. I bought waffle cone bowls from the grocery, lined them up on cookie sheets, filled them with ice cream, covered them in plastic wrap and put in the freezer until it was time to serve them at the party. I was pretty proud of myself for that idea! : ) These kind of ideas don't happen everyday, so when they do, I'll get on my blog and toot my own horn. : ) Just kidding. They did work out great, though!

Hope the idea may be useful to you someday!

Bookworm birthday party

A couple months ago, it was my daughter's 5th birthday. She loves books so I decided to have a bookworm party.

Here are a few ideas for those who may be thinking about it.

For taking home favors, I used small totes from Hobby Lobby that come in packs of 4. These were the "reading totes." I designed labels and attached them with ribbon. I displayed them on a bookshelf with a couple of vintage children's books. Inside the bags were my daughter's favorite candy bars with personalized wrappers I designed and printed; a worm or other bug wind-up toy; a sticky hand (my kids love those things); and a book.

I designed the invites myself for e-mail, but I also mailed some I made by hand. They turned out really cute. I need to find a picture to show you -- if I get a picture, I'll have to add it later, but you can at least see the one I e-mailed.

We had bookworm cupcakes made from a local cupcake shop. I took my bookworm design and they matched it on the cupcakes!! The cake and cupcakes balanced each other out and my daughter was happy with everything. Mission accomplished!

I also designed my daughter's t-shirt. I came up with the bookworm on a stack of books design, printed onto iron-on transfer paper (found at Hobby Lobby or any other craft store, I'm sure) and it was very easy to transform her white t-shirt!

By the way, our colors were orange, blue, green, pink and brown.

Here are the pics! Ok, so I'm not Amy Atlas, but I do what I can. Anyway, I hope you like the pictures and the idea!

What's inside the favor totes:

Personalized candy bar wrappers

The display with sad-looking cake -- it's supposed to look like a book

adorable cupcakes

mommy-made t-shirt

Invitations. I blacked out all personal information.  I even marked over my daughter's sweet face to protect her privacy. It's not so cute now, but hopefully you'll get the idea.