Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It

Teachers started back to school today in my district. We will be in meetings all week and finalizing touches in our classrooms. We will have a meet the teacher night on Friday night, and the students' first day will be Monday. I thought today would be a good time to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics with her Monday Made It.

Teacher Toolbox
The toolbox has been all over the internet.  I wanted to make one that worked for me.  Well, I have a ton of pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, and sharpees that would not fit well in the toolbox that I wanted.  I decided to do the toolbox for small items and have two big containers on each side.  I already love it!

View of the whole thing

View of just the toolbox

Writing Station Bulletin Board
I wanted a bulletin board above my writing station that would not need to be changed much.  I decided to go with this idea from Mrs. Phippen's blog.


I tweaked it just a little and came up with my own version.

I am not sure whose blog I got the signs from around the outside, but if I locate the source I will definitely give them credit.  I created the question word cards for the middle. 

Palm Tree
I have had a blow up tree in the corner of my classroom library for 4 years now.  The tree was an absolute headache by the end of the year, because it would always fall over and run out of air.  I decided at the end of last year that I was going to throw it away no matter what.  I decided that I needed to make a tree.  I was excited when I saw this palm tree on Mrs. Jump's blog.


I just knew I had to make it, and I love how it turned out. 
Well those are my top three things that I have made this summer for my classroom.  I hope you liked them.  Check back soon for pictures of my classroom. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday's Word of Wisdom

I don't know about you, but I have been working nonstop in my classroom to get everything ready for school to start.  In our district, teachers start Monday (July 30) and students start the following Monday (August 6) with a meet the teacher type of night the Friday before (August 3).  Therefore, I have to have everything done in the classroom by August 3, and there is not much time to do it next week because they have it jammed pack full of meetings.  So, I've been putting the final touches on things in my room this week.

Sometimes, work gets overwhelming especially when it comes to getting a classroom together.  You want your room to look the best for first impressions, and you want others to like what they see.  With the rise in blogs and sites like Pinterest, our minds are flooded with new ideas on things to do in our classrooms.  Although these sites are excellent tools (and I use them a lot), sometimes I feel that we  get sidetracked into making our classrooms look the best or competing with other teachers, and we forget about who we are doing our work for overall.  This verse has weighed heavy on my heart this week as I have worked in my classroom:

Colo 3 web Source: 

The Lord has put each one of us in the teaching profession to have an impact on students' lives.  Our classrooms should be decorated in order to bring the most function and educational experiences in the grade that we teach.  It should be our home away from home, because we definitely spend lots of time there in the school year.  It shouldn't be about which teacher spent the most money this summer on supplies, what teacher worked the most hours (We all know that there are some teachers that can spend tons of hours at school, but hardly get anything done.), or who has the cutest directions.  It should be about what makes you happy in your classroom.  We are all built different with different personalities so we aren't going to have classrooms that look the same nor are we going to work the same way. 

When we are working especially in the days to come creating our classrooms, we need to remember why we are in the profession that we are in and who we are working for - the Lord.  It's OK to go next door, talk, and get ideas.  However, it's not OK to go next door and envy what another person has or has done in their room.  Take what you have and make it work.  Do it for the children not for your own glory.

I pray that the Lord will help us create a classroom that will meet the needs of the students we will be teaching this year.  I pray that we are not envious of other teachers, but we are able to acknowledge others hard work and creativity in a positive way.  I pray that we are not overwhelmed with too many ideas from the internet instead we are able to use the ideas to create the most use in our classroom.  Finally, I pray that our works are done for the right reasons so that our students can see the Lord through us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tell Me More

Before I go up to school today, I am joining in on Step into 2nd Grade's linky Tell Me More, Tell Me More! 

Since many of you have just started following me, I thought it would be a great time to share some more about myself.  So here it goes:

1.  I went to school in the school I teach at.  When I attended, it was K-3, but now it's only 1-3.  I have  actually taught with former teachers of mine.  It has been a great experience.

2.  I am an only child.  I know some of you are thinking "you lucky dog".  However, I have always wanted brothers and sisters.  I am one of those people that gets bored easily so it drove me crazy growing up that I didn't have someone to play with all the time. 

3.  I dated my husband in high school. We broke up before my Senior year, because I wanted to enjoy my Senior year.  (My husband is older, and I definitely broke his hear.)  We went years without talking even though we both lived in the same town.  (Yes, we attended some of the same events and did not speak. Crazy!)  My grandmother passed away during my first year teaching which led me to text him, and it was happily ever after ever since.  Check out this post on my personal blog to learn more.

4.  My husband and I left the church after our wedding on a John Deere tractor.  I had a vintage car all lined up, but my husband had this crazy idea to leave on a tractor since he was a farmer.  The groomsmen spent all day before our wedding cleaning it up so it wouldn't get my dress dirty, and we hid the tractor up until the end of the wedding.  It was a huge hit.  We had people pulling over and honking the whole way to the reception.  I am so glad that I gave in on this idea!

5.  I completely remodeled my home.  I bought my house before my husband and I got back together.  My parents and I worked on the house for six months before I moved in.  It was a foreclosure so it needed a lot of work.  It is still a work in progress.  Here's a post about some of the process.

6.  I love water!  My 2011 resolution was to drink only water.  Before that, I was addicted to Dr. Pepper and Sweet Tea.  I went the whole year drinking water.  I was so excited to accomplish this!  This hasn't been my resolution this year, but I have pretty much kept the same lifestyle.  It is such a great feeling.


7.  I teach private piano lessons.  After school three days a week, I run home to teach private piano lessons.  I have around 8-12 students every year.  This side job started as a way to make money in college, and it has just continued.  My first student is actually still taking lessons from me.  I am so fortunate to have understanding parents and students, because occasionally I have to text and cancel due to last minute school meetings and events.

 One of my students playing during a church service.

8.  My monogram has never changed.  Actually, the first 5 letters of my last name has never changed.  My maiden name was Lovell, and my married name is Lovelace.  It's all about Love in our family...haha.  The joke in our house is that I just married my husband so I didn't have to change all the L items that I owe, but this is far from the truth.  


9.   I have a pet bird (Padro) and dog (Izzy) that does not live with me.  I got the bird when I was in 3rd grade (over 15 years ago), but I never really wanted a bird.  However, my mom fell in love with it so the bird stayed with her.  I got the dog while I was remodeling my house.  When it was time to move out from my parents, I didn't think they would do well loosing me from home and the dog so I left her with them.  Plus, they had a better schedule to letting the dog out at lunch and such.  Now, my house is just the vacation home.

10.  I love to travel!  We actually went to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  I have also traveled to Honduras, Germany, Canada, and much more.  However, due to time and money I don't get to travel as much as I would like.  

Hope you have enjoyed getting to know me a little more!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back To School Eve Linky

We just got back from probably our final trip to our river house before school starts. Sad day! :(  However, I am very excited to start back to school in a week.  With that being said, I thought it would be great to join in Love of Teaching's Back to School Eve Linky.

1.  What grade do you teach?  - I teach 1st grade and absolutely love it!

2.  How many years have you been teaching? - I am starting my 5th year teaching.  All 5 years in 1st grade.

3. What is one thing you are doing different this year? - I am going to have an iPod station.  I received an iPod last year, but I never used it in the classroom.  I am excited to have this as part of my stations, and I think the kids will love it too.

4. What is something you do every year for your new students? - I always send a letter to my students.  I not only do it for the new students in my classroom this year, but I also write letters to my former students. It takes a lot of time and some money, but it is so worth it!

5. What is your theme this year? - I can't seem to stray away from the theme I have had forever - the jungle!  I love monkeys and it just fits.

6. How do you feel the night before school starts? - The night before school starts I am always excited.  I don't sleep much, because I am scared that I will sleep through my alarm. 

Looking forward to getting some more stuff done in my classroom tomorrow.  I am hoping to have it all done this week.  Teachers start back July 30, and students start back August 6.  Check back to see how it goes.

Elizabeth L.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop

I thought since I am a new blogger that I would join my first blog hop today.  This seemed like the perfect one for me - Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop hosted by Grade Three is the Place for Me!  So here it goes:

1.  What State You Are In - I live and work in West Tennessee in between Jackson and Memphis.

2.  Your Current Teaching Position - I will be starting my 5th year teaching 1st grade in August.

3.  Your Teaching Experience - I have only taught 1st grade and have loved every minute of it!

4.  When You Started Blogging - I started blogging back in January.  However, I didn't do so good keeping up with it.  I just really got on board with it in June.  I have loved every minute of it!  Check out my first post to see why I started blogging. 

5.  Share a Blogging Tip / Blogging Resource - My blogging tip would be that it is not about how many followers you have so don't feel like you have to do things to gain more followers.  Although it is great to know that many people are following you, it is about reaching out to others.  My blogging resource would have to be Google, because you can Google how to do just about anything that you want to do.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Extreme Classroom Organization

I have been very lucky this year, because I have been able to be in my room since June. I had to be out at different times for various reasons, but I have had lots of time this summer to work in my room. This has been a first, because we typically do not get to work in our rooms until right before school starts. Let's just say that I took advantage of this extra time.

My goal this summer was to get extremely organized. Now for anyone that already knows me, they know that I am organized pretty much all the time. However, my classroom was never organized like I wanted it to be. I replaced a teacher who retired 5 years ago, and she left LOTS of things behind. Most of these things were great and useful. However, I did not know what I had, because I had never went through it all. So I got busy this summer. I can actually say that I have been through everything in my room. Take a look at my organization:

First step: Clean everything out!
Next: Designate a purpose for the storage. This one is now my Math cabinet. I still have some labels to make and a overview sheet to put on our Math box (top shelf).
I have another cabinet right beside this one that is devoted to Science and Social Studies materials, test-taking materials, technology stuff, and indoor and outdoor recess equipment. (I forgot to take a picture of this cabinet.)
Since I was able to devote a cabinet to Math, I was able to make my closet all about Reading. This will make it extremely easy to find materials.
When I started teaching, I was given this hideous, huge brown shelf. I mean this thing is gigantic, and it is very old. (If I move classrooms again, I don't think I could pay the other teachers to help me move this thing again. We have done it so many times, and I'm not even sure if it would hold up another move.) However, I am able to cover it up in the corner of my room by putting a curtain on the front. This is probably one of my favorite pieces of furniture that I own in my classroom, because on the outside it looks like this:

On the inside it looks like this:

That's right it holds bulletin board sets on the bottom as well as big books, charts, poster boards, etc. Whatever you can imagine, it probably holds. I took out some of the top boards so that I could use it for personal things that I use daily since I don't have a desk. (As you can see, I have a toolbox started but it doesn't have labels yet.) I love this piece of furniture! My kids thinks it cool, because I can hide things behind it. :)

Last I tackled all my notebooks. The previous teacher tore everything out of books and grouped them in notebooks with dividers. This has been very helpful, but I never use all the worksheets that she had. Plus, she had worksheets from the past two Reading series. Yes, sometimes these are very helpful, but I didn't need all this stuff. Do you have things like this?

I was able to get my notebooks all organized. This is just a picture of a few of the notebooks. There are plenty more! I am very excited to be able to go straight to worksheets and activities when I need them.

Well that's a look at the classroom organization that I have been working on. Check back next week for some sneak pictures of my classroom. I can't wait for school to start back!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday's Word of Wisdom

Sorry for being MIA lately.  My internet hasn't been working since the weekend which has thrown my whole week off.  AT&T finally got the outage back on today.  Hopefully, I will get to post what I was wanting to post on Monday tomorrow so make sure to check back.

Thank you for all the encouraging comments about the new series, "Wednesday's Word of Wisdom".  I really look forward to this post each week.  It's strange to say that the verse for this week came to me in a devotion that I read on Thursday morning right after posting my first post in the series on Wednesday night.  I felt reassured that I am doing the right thing with this series.  So here it goes...

"Pray that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." - Ephesians 6:19

As teachers, we have to watch everything we say and do.  Sometimes this does not only go for at school but out in the community as well (Especially if you live in a small community like I do.).  There are little eyes watching everywhere.  I think it is sometimes easy to watch what we say in front of the children.  However, we forget that our words can really hurt when it comes to speaking to our colleagues as well.  This can create disharmony in a school if we do not think before we speak.

In my devotion this week, Lysa TerKeurst stated "Don't let your lips or typing fingertips be the first thing that walks into a conflict."  With the start of school quickly approaching, many of us are back in our school buildings working alongside other teachers trying to get our rooms ready.  Some of these teachers are ones that we have made great friendships with throughout the years and some may be new to the grade, school, or community.  It is easy to get back into our little cliques that were formed from the year past, but we have to remember how it would feel if we were on the outside looking in. 

Additionally, teachers are use to working with children all day long.  We do not have to put up with other adults for very long in a traditional work day, but with the start of school we are forced to collaborate and work alongside other teachers to make sure everything is back in order for the school year to run smoothly.  This may mean that you have to work with someone that you just do not get along with or one that gets on your last nerves.  We have to make sure that we pray before speaking that the right words will come out of our mouths in order not to stir up conflict at the start of a school year or at any point in the school year.  This is sometimes easier said than done, but hopefully this verse will be a good reminder.  We have to remember that just a few words can really hurt someone and that we are in the school for the children.

I pray that God will guide us with the words that come out of our mouths in order that we can be an example for Him and that we are able to grow a bond with the new faculty and staff in our schools in order to be a positive role model for the children.

Elizabeth L.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday's Word of Wisdom

After prayerful consideration, I have decided to start a series called "Wednesday's Word of Wisdom" that will feature a weekly scripture verse and personal devotion.  I am very excited about this new adventure and hope you enjoy it.

Before I jump right on in, I want to explain briefly why I feel the urge to do this.  At a very early age, I knew I was called into ministry.  However, I knew off hand that even though I loved to do foreign mission trips and such that God was not calling me to be a missionary or even to be a pastor's wife.  He was calling me to work with children in my community.  Therefore, I have filled my life with all avenues of working with children from babysitting all the way to coaching cheer.  I started my blog a few months ago in order to remember the good and bad times and share with others my journey.  The past few weeks I really have felt God calling me to do this weekly series.  I don't create a lot of things therefore I don't have a TPT or TN store, although I love to try to win stuff from giveaways I don't participate as a host to any events, and I'm not the best teacher so I don't have all the rights and wrongs to teaching but I do have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ who is leading me in the journey of teaching 1st grade. 

I pray I do not drive any of my readers away, but instead I pray I encourage you as you serve as an important role model to children all over the world.  I pray the verses God leads me to each week are ones that not only apply to areas that I need but ones that you need at certain times throughout the year.  I pray that from being open in my spiritual journey as a teacher that you can relate and be motivated to keep up the good race!

For the first week, I feel that it is only appropriate to start with my theme verse for the blog:

Image Source:

This verse was written on a train that use to hang above the toilet in my bathroom as a child.  (I know a weird place for it, but it must have been a good place because I still remember it.)  Therefore, I saw it a lot, because everyone has to go to the bathroom.  I use to think that this verse only applies to parents, but when I began my career as a teacher I realized that it applies to anyone that plays an influential role on a child's life.

As teachers, we spend almost 7 plus hours a day with our students.  For some kids, they spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents during a school year.  Therefore, they are obtaining more training from the teacher than they are from their parents.  It is our duty to do exactly what this verse says and train the children up right so that they know what is right from wrong and are able to make right choices in life.  This is a huge responsibility but with the help of God we are able to do it!

Even though religion and education are suppose to be separated, you don't have to teach religion to the kids in order to apply this verse.  Instill good manners, show them right from wrong, be an encourager, and demonstrate how to be good citizens are just a few of the ways that you can push a child in the right direction.  As most of us are on summer breaks, now is a good time to pause from worrying about your classroom setup, working to incorporate the Common Core Standards, or stressing over what challenges you are going to have this year.  Use your time to begin thinking of how you are going to help your students head in the right direction and what changes you can make to be more of a positive influence on the students, faculty, and staff at your school.  

I pray that God gives you a peace about the upcoming year and ideas that will let His light shine through you in your school!

Elizabeth L.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teacher to Cheer Coach

Having the 4th of July in the middle of the week really threw me off. I felt like Wednesday was a Saturday. I just couldn't get my routine going that I wanted. Was I the only one that had this problem? Hopefully, I am back to my A game now.

Everyone knows that teachers have many roles they play in the classroom. Well that is not where it stops. Principals have a way to talk certain teachers in being in charge of extra curricular activities. I guess you can say I am one of those teachers. I have a hard time saying no. I try to work as many things as possible into my schedule. Do you have this problem?

A few years back I was asked to help with the high school's football cheerleading squad. I was just suppose to be helping, because I had been on the same squad when I was in high school. The next year I was asked to be coach. After much consideration and talking to my husband, I agreed as long as one of my friends could co-coach with me. (It really didn't matter that there was another coach added, because cheer coaches do not get paid extra in our district. We do it from the goodness of our heart.) Needless to say, the administration agreed.

So, I am a first grade teacher Monday through Friday and high school football cheer coach on the sidelines. My first grade students think this is cool except for when I have to leave early on Fridays to attend the pep rallies. Yes, it comes as a challenge, because numerous times during the football season I am running to the high school across town during my lunch or planning times to do business. However, I do appreciate having an impact on the high school girls.

With that all that being said, my 4th of July week was spent mostly working on cheer stuff. Our squad takes the month of June off to give the girls a break from each other, but we hit cheer head-on in July. This is what one corner of my home office looked like:

Varsity boxes were taking over my office.  So, I sat down and divided all the stuff up by girl in order to give it out at last night's meeting.  Before it was all over, it looked like purple paint had been spilled all over my floor.  (Our high school is the purple and white Tomcats with our mascot being named STACMOT - Tomcats spelled backwards.)

Before the meeting, I was able to have all the girls stuff in individual bags ready to pass out.  Even though it took a lot of time, it was so worth it to be able to just hand out the stuff last night at the parents' meeting.

So here is to another football cheer season!  What do you do to help our your school system?  I know there are so many side jobs to do in a school system, and it takes all teachers helping to make the year run smoothly. 

Check back tomorrow for a new series I am starting.  I am very excited about it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Classroom Library Basket Label Holders

Yesterday, I was able to get back into my classroom.  I was excited, because I was looking forward to digging into my new finds from Really Good Stuff.  I had just pushed the package aside when it arrived at the house since I knew that it wouldn't be of use until I could get into my classroom.

One of the things that I had ordered were these Universal Basket and Bin Label Holders with Labels:

I had made basket labels last year for my classroom library, but I had just taped them to the baskets.  This worked great for awhile, but a few of my students weren't very easy with them and they kept falling off.  Overtime, I got tired of taping them back.  I was happy when I saw these in Really Good Stuff at the end of the school year.

One of my tasks on my Classroom To Do List yesterday was to get these holders on all of my baskets.  My OCD kicked in when it came to writing the name of the baskets on the labels (I really don't like my own handwriting.), and I really wanted to somehow use what I had created last year.  So, I measured the white space in the middle and resized my files from last year to fit in the area.  I printed them off, cut them, and taped them in the middle.  This not only gave my students a word description of each basket, but I also put a picture on each one for my nonreaders.  Wouldn't you know that right as I was printing them, my colored ink ran out!  I couldn't leave them this way, and I was lucky enough to find an extra ink cartridge in my office.  So I had to reprint them.


I loved how they turned out!
They clipped right on my baskets and made them looked nice and organized.

What to you use for your Reading basket labels? What are your favorite products from Really Good Stuff?
Can't wait to show you in the upcoming week what else I bought to help me be organized during the upcoming year. :)


Monday, July 2, 2012

Skippyjon Jones & A River Trip

My husband and I finally got to go to dinner lunch for our anniversary.  He was off on Friday so we went to Olive Garden to eat on our way through Jackson to go to the river.  They are definitely having a deal with their 2 for $25.  We had more food than we could eat and was able to take our leftovers with us.

(Sorry for the picture being so dark, but I didn't want to ask the waitress to take it again.)

I also talked my husband into letting my swing by Kohl's to pick up some Skippyjon Jones stuff.  I was excited to hear that they had this earlier in the week, because one of my reading baskets at school is devoted to Skippyjon Jones books.  Here is what I grabbed:

I was able to enjoy a nice relaxing, but hot weekend on the Tennessee River.  It really helps to see this view on the weekends to remind us that we need to slow down and enjoy life.  

However, we are back to the duties of the week.  We got an e-mail this weekend saying the halls are done being waxed at our school and that it is open to work in again.  I am very excited to see what all I can get done.  Check back to see what I accomplish.