Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Made It - July 6th

I am so excited to be linking up today for another Monday Made It! I hope you all enjoy today's post. I know it's a long one, but it is an exciting one for me!

My first made it really started last year when I switched from desks to tables. I made the decision for a number of reasons. First, I can be a pretty OCD person and seeing the constant mess in my students' desks was getting too much for me - I also had no tote trays or any type of containers to hide the mess. Second, I wanted my classroom to have more of a collaborative type feel where my students could sit at different tables and feel like they belonged. So, I made the switch! 

However, I soon realized that I had to come up with a solution for storing student materials, so I began surfing the web and came across Really Good Stuff! When I saw their bright and colorful bins, I knew I had to have them, both for storing student materials and for organizing my classroom library. I bought 30+ bins in green, blue, and pink. I labeled them with my students' numbers and stuck them on the counters in my classroom. My students stored all of their materials there. It worked really well, but I knew that, if I had the bins closer to my students, it would cut down on transition time. 

I thought really hard about how I was going to solve this problem, when the idea came to me: BOOKSHELVES! My next problem, though, was how to pay for affordable bookshelves. Everywhere I looked the bookshelves where $20-40 a piece. I couldn't afford four of them at that price. This was when the secretary at my school suggested I build them myself. 

One of the first calls I made when school got out was to Home Depot. I got a hold of the manager at my local store and asked him if Home Depot would be willing to donate wood. To my surprise, he said YES!!! I was so excited. Not only did they donate wood, but they donated high quality wood and cut it all to the measurements I needed it. I got $200 worth of wood for FREE. Yep, FREE! I cannot begin to express my gratitude towards Home Depot right now!

Once I had the wood, my husband, my brother, and my brother's friend, who is a carpenter, began building them.

After about three hours of labor in the hot sun, they had built and sanded all four of the bookshelves.

Next, I needed to paint the shelves, so I called up Lowe's - are you seeing a trend here? I got a hold of the head cashier, who after talking with me, said that Lowe's would give me a gallon of high quality paint at cost. At cost is what Lowe's pays for the paint, which is about half of the cost their customers usually pay. So, my total cost for all four bookshelves was $30: $20 for the paint and $10 for food for my three wonderful builders! 

The very next day, my husband and I painted all of the bookshelves, painted the backs, and then nailed them all together. Today, we went into the school to set up the tables and shelves. Here are some pictures of the shelves completed and in my classroom: 

Just looking at these pictures makes me so excited! If you are looking to do something similar, I highly suggest you contact Home Depot and/or Lowe's. Without these two companies, I never would have been able to complete this project!

My second made it goes along with my first. Once I had my tables and bookshelves in my place, I made spots for each of my students using black Gorilla tape. I prefer it to duct tape. Then, I taped down my Kagan Cooperative Learning table numbers. These numbers allow me to partner up my students easily and allow for a variety. 

I got my inspiration for these table numbers after reading a post by the Brown Bag Teacher. Catherine has a freebie on this post with her table numbers; however, I wanted to change my from saying "Table 1", "Table 2", etc. to "Gryffindor", "Slytherin", etc. Yes, my students are divided into the four Hogwarts Houses. I even have the Sorting Hat to make the process more fun!

Here is a closer look at how I divided my tables and used the table numbers. Sorry for the poor lighting!

My third made it goes along with one of my favorite purchases I have ever made on TPT: Jen Jones' Shades of Meaning literacy center. I purchased this resource last year as a way to get all of my students, including my gifted students, to think critically and learn how to collaborate and cooperative with each other. I was a bit nervous when I first introduced it, but after seeing my students in action with it, I knew that it was one of the best teaching decisions I have ever made.

How It Works:
This center is all about fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and cooperation skills. To participate in the center, students gather together to order eight words from most _____ to least _____. For example, one week the students need to work together to order eight synonyms for happy from most happy to least happy. The students have to work together to come up with an order and JUSTIFY their thinking. Yes, they have to explicitly state why they think their order is correct or why one word is higher or lower on the list. It is amazing to hear their discussions and, yes, their arguments. 

To help the center run smoothly, Jen uses two posters, Code of Cooperation and Guidelines to Critical Thinking, as well as some explicit rules. I have taken her two posters, which you can find for FREE on the links above, and printed them out so that all my students can see them and use them for various activities throughout the day. I love the rules that Jen has included in this resource, so I decided to take those rules and create a Shades of Meaning bulletin board with them. These are the rule cards I will be using:

Now all I need to do is put them up on my bulletin board!

My fourth made it is also a vocabulary resource. Last year I started teaching my fourth graders two to three root words every two weeks. We would study them, play games with them, and use them to define unknown words. My students and I both loved it! I knew that I wanted to continue teaching root words this year, but I wanted to change it up by introducing one root word per week. That's when I came across Hope King's new blog post series, Set the Stage to Engage. One of her posts was on teaching Greek and Latin root words and, boy, was I hooked on everything she did to make vocabulary engaging for her students.  I knew that I wanted to implement the activities she was doing, especially her song, which teaches 36 root words. I decide that those would be the root words my students would learn. 

To help my students become familiar with how roots can help us break down a word and understand its meaning, I have created posters for each of the roots that contains an example. My plan is to constantly have these hanging in my room, so my students and I can always refer to them.

Here is a closer look at what each poster includes:

The roots included are: min, mort, tele, opt, geo, bio, bene, ject, dict, fac, graph, scope, spect, vid/vis, vac, polis, pose, ped/pod, meter, loc, astro, aud, chron, gon, grad, junct, manu, mis/mit, mega/magna, form, phon, port, struct, script.

If you are interested in picking up this resource, you can find in my TPT store here: Super Roots Posters. It is currently 20% off until Thursday!

Last week I posted about the exit slip bulletin board pieces I made, this week I want to share them with you as a freebie and show you how I put them up in my classroom. I don't have enough bulletin board space to put it on one, so I put it below one of my boards on the wall. 

Not as cute, but it is definitely easier for the students to reach. The pockets are mini file folders that I found at the Target Dollar Spot last year. If you are interested in snagging your own copy, you can download them here at TPT for FREE.

Thanks so much for stopping by even though it was such a long post! I hope you enjoy your freebie. If you want to see what other bloggers have been creating this week, stop by 4th Grade Frolics.


  1. I'm loving all the ideas for roots! Definitely a project I need to work on!

    I also like the exit slip idea. I'll have to head over to your Tpt store.


    1. Thanks! I hope you can use the exit slips!

  2. I used tables when I taught little kids and it just made sense to leave my tables when I moved to "big" kids. I have been teaching upper elementary gifted for six years now and I can't imagine ever going back to desks! I love how your shelves turned out. How awesome that Home Depot was able to help you out so much!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I can't imagine going back either! Love them. Thanks! I am extremely grateful to them!

  3. Wow! Love your awesome shelves. You got a fantastic deal.

  4. I am so jealous! I need bookshelves in a big way for my classroom library. I keep thinking I should just build them, but I don't know how to build anything. Maybe I can find someone to teach me:) Yours look great! I love your root signs too - I think I'm heading over to purchase those. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!
    Are We There Yet?

    1. You should check out YouTube. I am sure there are a ton of tutorials on there! If you decide to build them, I would definitely see if Home Depot would help you out with the wood! I am so glad that you can use the root word posters! Thank you so much!