Back to School...from Home

Tuesday was the first official work day for teachers in my district. For the first time in ten years, I did not set up my room. My name is no longer posted outside of my classroom door. This year I am devoting my whole heart to my own little ones!

Two weeks ago, we welcomed baby Cooper to the family. With three kids under 5 at home, our hearts are full and our hands are busy! It is truly a blessing to be able to spend these precious months with the little ones who need me the most.

When I decided to stay home for an entire year, I was both excited and worried. I absolutely love teaching, and my passion is creating lessons and resources for my first graders. As a creative outlet, I will continue to design resources for teachers. Instead of setting up a classroom this year, I redesigned my "easy office." It's is really a corner of our living room, but I affectionately call it my office and try to keep it clear of trains and dolls as much as possible. My sweet husband has even started humoring me and reminding the kids not to touch things in "Mommy's Office."

The whole space was designed on a very limited budget and fits in a 5 foot space. This set up would also be great for a teacher's area in a classroom! For Christmas last year, I wanted a desk for my teaching and crafting projects. I knew I needed a large surface for creating so I decided to order a dining table rather than a traditional desk.

There is not room for shelving  in our living room so I slid a bookcase under the desk. This bookcase was in my classroom last year, but it's perfect for home too. I ordered some cube baskets to keep my supplies a bit more organized. The large basket from TJ Maxx is perfect for my papercutter and other bigger office tools. I printed some simple burlap labels and laminated them. Each one is hung with a binder ring and accented with ribbon from Michael's craft store.

I got a matching ribbon garland from Michaels craft store to hang above my desk. To personalize the space a bit more, I printed round family pictures and hung them using clear thread. It was a simple project that I love to see when I sit down to squeeze in 5 minutes of work. The storage boxes and spinning craft caddy are also from Michael's craft store.

One of the first projects I created in my "office" was a set of family name puzzles for Lanie. She loves photographs and puzzles so I thought this would be a perfect way to squeeze in a little letter recognition practice. These would also be great for your classroom as children learn the names of their classmates. You could stick a magnet on the back of each piece for an easy center on the side of a filing cabinet or stick them on your fridge at home.

I have gotten a lot questions about how to make the puzzles so I whipped up a little free tutorial and template to share. Just download the template here and open it with PowerPoint. You can choose to make puzzles for any name with 3-8 letters. I cut our puzzles into long strips with a letter at the bottom of each piece.

Have a great school year teacher friends! I am excited to continue sharing my projects that I created in my "office" with you!


How to Make Border Bookmarks!

Each year at Meet the Teacher Night, I try to give my kids a little gift they can take home with them from the event. I just created some new Smart Reader bookmarks so I knew they would be perfect!

I was planning on cutting out my smart reader bookmarks and then mounting them on strips of scrapbook paper. Of course, I was going to have to buy some more scrapbook paper and cut it all, but they would look so cute when they were done!

As I was cutting out my bookmarks, I glanced over at a little stack of borders I bought at the Dollar Spot. I was thinking about how well they matched, and then the lightbulb turned on! I didn't need to buy or cut scrapbook paper- I could just use border! It's colorful, strong, and it comes in the perfect dimensions!

So I printed my bookmarks a little bit smaller (I used an 85% ratio for this job). Then I gathered up a few more supplies, and I was ready to go! In just 3 simple steps, I made durable and adorable bookmarks that are perfect for home and school!

Easy, peasy! For a little bonus idea, you could add a label to the back with your contact information. This is a simple way for families to keep your contacts at home.

You can grab these Smart Reader bookmarks and the matching posters by clicking on the picture below.

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