Focus Walls...and a Freebie! :)

Focus walls are all over Pinterest and teaching blogs lately. The more that I read and thought about them, I realized what a useful tool these are for students...of all ages! I've seen them done for every subject, some even have multiple subjects all on one. However, I already have a pretty big space devoted to math, so I wanted to make my focus wall all about Reading and Language Arts.

My purpose for creating and utilizing a focus wall this year was so that my students would consistently know where to look for help if they got stuck. I'm anticipating that this will be very useful during small group time...whether I'm referring back to it with the group I'm working with, or if my students are using it independently during Word Work or Writing centers. No more "Mrs. Beverly, I don't remember what ___ is!" They'll know exactly where to look every.single.time!! :)

Additionally, it holds mini anchor charts for all of the major points we'll be hitting on that week in Reading and L.A. It will be easy for me to refer to while I'm teaching, so that students can really learn how to utilize it and refer back to it themselves. I am excited about getting this started this year!!!

I created my bulletin some cute headers, made a cute bunting...and then...had no clue what to actually put on my focus wall.

{FREEBIE alert...keep reading to the bottom! :)}
I wanted something that would be consistent with our Reading Street curriculum, and that would be easy to organize and pull out each week when I needed to change it. This is what I came up with:

I love it! I have the first week of school all ready to go. It correlates perfectly with our Reading Street curriculum. We typically follow along with Reading Street for spelling words, phonics, genre, grammar, and comprehension strategies. We don't use their writing guides, but there are writing posters included in this pack!

I didn't want to have to laminate every poster, so instead I just stapled sheet protectors to my bulletin board under the headings. This makes it so easy to slip in the posters as they change every week.

Here's a closer look:
Reading Street highlights two different comprehension strategies each week, so posters are included for both. There are also posters for each grammar or conventions skills for each week. The grammar posters are ones I'm particularly excited for my students to have handy to reference during Word Work.

The genre posters also include some simple clipart that relate to that week's story. I personally wanted these sets to be very printer-friendly, and I think they are! The only clipart you'll find is on the genre and phonics posters, and it prints out just fine in b&w if that is still too much color-ink for you! :)

I've got their high-frequency words posted, which we'll refer to daily. The packs also include the amazing words, but I don't have them posted on my focus wall. There's a poster for the phonics skill for that week as well. (Second grade has one phonics poster per week, but the first grade pack typically has two phonics posters per week.)

The last thing on my focus wall is a pocket chart for spelling words (thank you Target dollar spot!). Another great resource for students during morning work and centers!

I've already got the focus wall posters all set to go for the first that's at least one thing I feel on top of!! I just printed them, put each week's materials in a sheet protector, and used a sharpie to mark the edge with the unit and week number...

...and filed them away! So easy to grab on a Friday afternoon (or a Monday morning if you're the kind of person who rushes out on a Friday afternoon like me!) and stick up on your wall.

I'm so excited about this resource!! Here's a preview of what you get if you want a closer look. Have a great week, friends!
{Second grade}


Classroom Project: Crate Bench Tutorial

Phew, it's been awhile since I've blogged! I've been taking time to enjoy what's left of summer, and managed to sneak into my classroom and get a head start in there as well. ;) I wanted some extra seating for my library area so my students could really use the space. I didn't want to buy chairs or bean bags (too expensive), and I also wanted something that would help define the space. Here's what I came up with:

This project was SO quick and easy! It took me about 30 minutes, and cost less than $20 to make! I had the crates on hand, so that cut down the cost for me. However, right now at back-to-school time, these crates are EVERYWHERE!! I've seen them at Target, Wal-Mart & Big Lots in lots of fun colors. Anyway, on to the tutorial!

You'll need:
3 Crates
2" Foam (I got mine already in squares from Hobby Lobby, but you could also buy a roll and cut it)
2 yards of fabric
Zip Ties
& not pictured: Hot Glue Gun & a lot of hot glue sticks

First, zip tie your crates together. I used three zip ties to connect each crate.

Then, lay your fabric upside down on the ground. Place your foam in the middle. I ended up cutting a little fabric off that I didn't need. I have big plans for the scraps. ;)

I did the ends first - it was easiest this way. Make sure you pull the fabric tight, and just use hot glue to adhere the fabric to the foam. Then continue wrapping the fabric around the foam, just like you're wrapping a present! :) Just keep remembering that the fabric should be tight!!! 

{My fingers were a burnt mess by this point ;)}

This is when I started getting excited!! I NEVER do any projects involving fabric -- I own a sewing machine that was given to me by my grandmother, but have zero clue how to use it. I might be able to stitch up some pants...maybe...if I really wanted to. Anyway, I was excited that this seemed to be turning out okay, since fabric is something I never work with! :)

{Excuse the boxes of books in the background!}
Then, just add it on top of your crates!!! I didn't want the cushion sliding around too much, so I came up with a quick and easy way to take care of that. I just looped some ribbon around the cushion and crate to "tie" it together. It does the job!

Here's the finished product -- complete with the ribbon! I love that it doubled as more shelf space for some chapter books. I'm loving it so far, and I'm sure my kids are going to love it too!!! :)


Classroom Shopping: Ikea Edition

Are you addicted to shopping for your classroom during the summer?! I have a problem, and after this trip to Ikea I've vowed to not buy anything else until pre-plan week, and even then I can only pick up random supplies we need...NO more classroom decorations or just-because items!! It's bad!! ;)

We don't have an Ikea near us in Fort Myers, but since I'm home in Orlando this week at my parents, my mom and I headed over on Tuesday. I took lots of pictures to show you different things they have that could work in a classroom. Maybe it will inspire you to make your own Ikea trip, and if that's the case than tell your significant other that I'm sorry ;)!!

These chairs would be great in a classroom library...personally, I didn't think it was worth the $50, but wanted to include it on here in case someone else did!

I LOVE the color of this bookshelf, and the two cabinets on the bottom. It offers a decent amount of storage and could be used for manipulatives, notebooks, extra supplies, etc. 
As I was going through my pictures, this is one I forgot about and I'm regretting not grabbing one. To me, this seems like a steal!! The bookshelves we have in our school are tall - I always love the look of short, long bookshelves that are at the kids' level.

I love these little tables!! I bought a pink one to go next to my rocking chair for our meeting area on the floor. These would also be great as a writing center or word work table!

I also picked up this cute chair for my small group table. I'm excited to not sit on a plastic kid-sized chair this year! 

I didn't grab any of these, but I thought they were such a great deal!! There are 6 pockets in each pouch. They would be great for Bucket Filling, supplies, headphones...sooo many things! Now that I'm looking at them again, I'm kind of wishing I had bought one to put under my white board to hold markers and erasers. Hmm...

One of the reasons I ventured to Ikea was for that blue cart right there! I'd seen it on someone else's blog and LOVED it!! (It's actually a brighter blue than it appears in the picture) But - the price was too much for me to justify. Plus, I don't really have a need for it, I just thought it was cute ;) They come in white, blue and black.

These are a great deal - they're a decent size too. My first thought was that these would be good for a Word Work center...throw in some letter magnets and you have an engaging word work activity. It could also be a memo board near the teacher's desk or for student reminders.

Most everyone knows about this deal! If you do book boxes or bins, but don't want to shell out the big bucks for the plastic bins at Really Good Stuff, these are a super affordable option. They can be spray painted to cutesy them up, or you could let the students decorate their own.

The other big reason for the Ikea trip was to find a rug. I saw the Button one online, and LOVED it -- it seemed perfect that each student could sit on their own button. However, once I got there and noticed how much of the rug was white all I could think about was how filthy it would get. So, I kept walking and then spotted this deal:
...and then I grabbed one for me and one for a teammate! ;) It's actually folded in half in this picture, so it's a good size and an even better price!

Here's another rug option. They're smaller. I had 4 in my classroom library, and they lasted me for 2 years.

These cushions would be good for students to grab and sit somewhere in the room during Independent Centers or silent reading. They have a grip to them on the bottom so they won't slide either! There were a few different colors.

This was another deal that was hard to pass up, but I managed to because I just do not need it. Still, these are SUCH a great deal and are so versatile in the classroom.

...and yet another deal I had to pass up!! :( Others may see a garment rack, but a teacher sees a CHEAP Anchor Chart Stand!! Teacher stores sell these things for upwards of $80, and this one was only $13. There's even a nifty little shelf on the bottom. If $13 is too much for you, there's a $10 option as well. I loved the idea of having one, but I just don't have the room for it right now.

This last deal is a cheap organization option with a LOT of possibilities!! I'm not a huge fan of the black, but thought with a little bit of spray paint it would be very cute!

That's all folks!! This is only a handful of the things I saw that could be used in a classroom. If there's an Ikea near you, go check them out!! :)

**This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to show some classroom deals that can be found at a good price! :)