Friday, July 11, 2014

Working on the Blank Slate

I don't know if you've ever felt rushed. Not like, "Oh, I need to hurry," but "OH MY GOSH I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO AND SO LITTLE TIME TO DO IT INNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!" Because that is me, and yes I have thought it and said it in all caps. Every time I walk into my classroom I have to stare at things for an hour before I can finally make up my mind to do something, and then when I decide to get goin', it doesn't work. For example: my first chalk painting experience. I have two bookshelves in my classroom that totally don't go with my color scheme.

I have heard the wonders of chalk paint, so I made up my mind to try mixing my own, based on a formula from a friend (and she's a pro, so I know the result is not because of the paint!). I read and read and read about chalk paint before trying, and supposedly it sticks to anything. Well, I am here to say that it DOES NOT. I spent two hours painting. TWO HOURS. My butt was tired and my knees ached, but I knew I had to finish. After applying my second coat to the last shelf, I went back to the first shelf (which had already dried) and ran my finger along the inside in admiration. This is what happened:

WHAT. THE. MESS. I was in shock. I called my crafty friends, and they, like me, couldn't believe the paint had peeled. Bless their souls, because they both headed my way ASAP and worked with me to scrape the paint from both cabinets. I tried sealing the paint with wax just to make sure that it wasn't a lost cause, but it was no use. The constant push and pull of books would make a mess in no time, so we gave our arms a good workout, and by 8:15 PM, the bookshelves were semi-clean.

In the spirit of being positive, I will say that the day was not a lost cause. I learned a lot about painting. It's not easy, and it's expensive. If you want something done, you need to fully research before beginning. I also learned about a special primer for hard-to-coat surfaces. Before leaving school that night, I slapped some of the primer on the top of the shelf. I knew that if it wouldn't stick, painting was a complete waste of time. After going back this morning to check, it seems as if the primer will work! Believe me, I scraped with everything that was sharp in that classroom and not a speck of paint flecked off. So, I vouch for this.

Next Monday, I will start the painting process again. I am leaving for the beach on Thursday, and won't be back until the next Saturday, so getting this project completed is a must for me! Despite this setback, I have completed one super cute bulletin board! I used a single tissue paper border on the completed side you see completed, and a double tissue paper border on the side that is unfinished. 

My advice is to staple horizontally on the sides, and staple vertically on the top and bottom. Does that make sense? The staples need to fit inside the folds of your ruffle for them not to show. I have lots of work to do before August 5th! Wish me luck!

What are you working on this week?

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I am running out of time to get things done. When did it become July?!? Seriously, I have so many ideas in my head, and not enough hours to do them. What have I completed?
  • I have finished The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. It reminded me why I love reading and why I love telling students about books. I got so many wonderful ideas from this lady. I definitely recommend the read!
  • I have read Smitten by Coleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter. I am participating in my church's summer reading challenge and this book jumped out at me. It had a pretty cover, and, well, I like pretty covers. The book wasn't the best I've ever read, but it was light, and fun, and I finished it in record time. 
  • I have cleaned out my closet AND all the other closets belonging to people of this household. It was tedious, but I did it. Sigh of relief that that is over.
  • I organized my bathroom cabinets. Boring. 
  • I have washed enough clothes to sink a ship. I hate washing clothes, but do you know what's worse? FOLDING THEM. I know, I should just hang everything up, but as referenced above, we don't have the closet space for t-shirts, so those go in drawers.
  • I took a mini-vacation with the family to Chattanooga. It was awesome. I cannot wait to get back!
  • I have played, and played, and played with my kids. We have been to our local splash pad, restaurants, the zoo, church, and just about everywhere else in this town. We have read all the books on our bookshelves more than once, and I have taken more than enough pictures. More than anything else I accomplished, this was the best thing I did with my summer! Babies get big quick!
As much as I enjoyed most of the activities listed above, one thing I haven't done much of this summer is organize my classroom. Floors needed to be waxed and furniture arranged before I could move in, so I've done what I could around my house first. Tomorrow begins my complete classroom makeover phase. I'm excited, but I'm also daunted. Blank slates can be a bit intimidating.

Along with making over my classroom, I'm also working on some ideas I got from TBW and Pinterest. I am currently participating in the BlogHoppin2014 challenge, and this whole concept made me wonder why I had never thought about a photo scavenger hunt for my kids. First, I set up a classroom Instagram account (#mrsriversroom). Next, I thought about how I could encourage my students to just get their hands on books. In keeping with the scavenger hunt idea, I came up with this challenge:

The number one priority of this challenge is to have my students looking for books that might normally be outside of their typical reading zone. The second priority is to have them get their hands on books. I know I have a few people asking, "What does that even mean?" I simply want my students to touch books. I figure if they sort through enough, they'll eventually find one that might interest them. 

The rules of this challenge are simple:

  1. Follow #mrsriversroom on Instagram for monthly challenges. (2-3 per month)
  2. Take a picture of you completing the challenge, caption it, then add the hashtags #mrsriversroom and #weread1415.
  3. Completing each challenge earns bonus points and homework passes. 

SOOOOO easy! 

I hope you and your classroom will participate too! Obviously, only the teacher needs to follow my account in order to see the challenges and their deadlines. If you haven't created a classroom Instagram, go ahead and do so. Have your students use your classroom hashtag instead of mine, but keep #weread1415. How cool would it be to show your students that kids across this great nation are all reading?!? 

I will post more about this challenge in the next week or so. Would anyone want to start off with just a small challenge for the teachers? 

Hope your Sunday was wonderful, and here's to a great week!

P.S. If you want to follow my classroom Wordpress blog, click here.