Bright Ideas Blog Hop ~ Shower Curtain Rings and PVC.

I'm coming to you today with the Bright Ideas Blog Hop:

My idea today is for quick, inexpensive chart stands. In my classroom I had exactly 1 chart stand. There were no extra ones in our building or in the district's warehouse, so I looked into buying one. Wow, talk about pricey! Well my husband makes his own target stands out of wood and sometimes pvc, so I asked him if he could come up with chart stands too. My needs were simple - light-weight, easy to move around, able to be put on a table or floor. He ended up making them out of pvc since it was the simplest, most cost effective option that didn't need a whole lot of tools.

He used four t-joints per frame, and two elbow joints. He cut the pvc with a hack saw. I had previously bought 2 different sizes of pocket charts at the Target Dollar Spot, so he made the charts to fit those sizes. Of course it could be made bigger or smaller, depending on your own chart size. Coincidentally, we had just switched out our shower curtains and I had saved the old rings "just in case" (teachers never throw anything away, right?). Well they are perfect for holding up the charts! If you don't have shower curtain hooks on hand a simple s-type hook from a hardware store would work too.
Here's my first stand, just plain pvc. He made me three stands for less than $20 and I immediately took them to school and started using them. Then my husband said he could spray paint them, to make them look nicer. I loved the idea, but I already had them in my classroom, so I told him it was no big deal and we'd get to it whenever, I was just happy to have the chart stands as they were. That week, the week before Valentine's Day, we had an evening program at school. As we were leaving my husband grabbed the stands out of my room, told me he could spray paint them that weekend and they'd be ready to go Monday morning. I didn't think anything of it, until on Valentine's Day, I walked into our hotel room and saw this:
 How sweet is my man?!

Here's one of the stands in action, post-spray panting. It's the perfect size to fit on my table and when centers are over, the feet get turned sideways and it leans against the wall behind my big chart stand. Its light-weight enough that the kids can carry it to the table and set it up, but with the feet its sturdy enough that it sits securely on the table and we never had one fall off.

Well there's my idea for shower curtain rings and pvc, so now go find some more Bright Ideas at this month's hop!

Let's Talk About Books Linky ~ With FREEBIE!

As I was thinking of books to share with you this week, I was reminded of a day back in the spring. It was one of those mornings - woke up late because the alarm didn't go out, my boys were slowpokes getting ready and then the baby needed an outfit change right before we went out the door. In the midst of the chaos I ended up forgetting the book that I needed for my lesson that day. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just grab it from the school library instead."

Unfortunately, when I went into the library, our sweet librarian had never heard of the book! I was floored, flabbergasted, dumbfounded! This is the sweetest book, that lends itself so well to the classroom! It's followed by another book that might even be better! I thought that it must be a popular, well-known book that we'd for sure have in our school library! Once I had enthused about the book to our librarian and got her to add it to her wishlist of books to be bought when we get money, I headed off to adjust my lesson plans. I ended up doing the lesson the next day (I packed the book in the car the night before this time!) and my kids loved it, as expected.

Anyways, because of that experience, I thought that maybe some of you out there hadn't heard of this book yet either, and I decided to share it for my linky book! How Rocket Learned to Read:

It's about Rocket, a reluctant learner. He's reluctant because he was just looking for a place to take a nap lol! But the little yellow bird assures him that he must be a student because she is his teacher - that's the kind of logic a dog can't argue his way out of!

The little yellow bird had hung a banner in the meadow, "Ah, the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet," she marveled, "Where it all begins."

The little bird starts to read a story, and soon Rocket is listening instead of napping. When she pauses at an exciting part, Rocket calls out, desperate to know more:

But the little yellow bird was gone! The next day, Rocket shows up early and asks to hear the rest of the story. The little yellow bird gives him a name tag and then begins to read. Each day she teaches him a new letter and then they start to sound out things like Mr. Barker's growl:
They do a whole lot of sounding out of words like F-A-L-L and R-E-D and WHOOSSHHHHH which is the sound the wind makes. The little yellow bird reads him stories about dogs, and about birds flying south for the winter. Then one day she flys away and reminds him "Words are built one letter at a time!"

Rocket spends the winter practicing his letters:

Spelling out words:
Spelling his friends' names:

Until finally it is spring and the little yellow bird returns! They read his favorite story, and then they read it again, and again and A-G-A-I-N!
Isn't it precious?! I love the illustrations and I love that Rocket spells out things in his everyday environment! Rocket was a hit with my students too, they asked me to reread the story over and over. The next book in the series is Rocket Writes a Story and is great for a writer's workshop!

I made this alphabet game that can go along with Rocket's story as a freebie for you! Just click the picture to go download it!

Now head on over to Mrs. Jump's Class for other book ideas!

Mo Willem's Pigeon Books in Kindergarten

On the last day of school, at the very end of the day, I gathered all of my firsties around for one more read-aloud. Well, it was supposed to be one more. But, when it comes to Mo Willem's Pigeon books, well it's kind of like Lay's potato chips ~ you can't read just one! Even though we had read these books previously - me aloud and most of my kiddos individually - they were still so involved in the stories and enjoyed them immensely. I'm happy that was their last memory of their first grade year!

The Pigeon was on our mind because in April, Mo Willems came out with the 6th installment of the Pigeon series, The Pigeon Needs a Bath! If you haven't introduced the Pigeon to your classroom, you're going to want to, and if you already know and love the Pigeon, make sure you check out his hilarious bath time book! Look to your right and you'll see links to the Pigeon books on Amazon on the side bar, as well as some of Mo's other books - I've got almost every book he's written and I can say he hasn't written a bad one yet!

My kiddos loved this latest book and we did some fabulous writing - unfortunately I forgot to take pictures before I tucked those writing pieces into their cumulative folders. I was so tickled at the thought of them reading their stories in 4 years when they leave 5th grade that I forgot that I wanted to share them here too! Luckily I didn't forget to take pictures of our art:
In order to make these, we practiced drawing the Pigeon on our whiteboards first (Mo's tutorial is here) and then drew the Pigeon again on a plain piece of copy paper. Next we used the torn paper technique to cover our pigeons with blue and orange construction paper, and used a black marker to outline eyes, collars and wings. We added chenille stems for the legs and bent them to make the feet. I think they turned out super cute - and they were all so unique!

The best part about the Pigeon series of books is that they are so interactive - the kids respond to every single page. It is great to see them take on an authoritative role - and to hear them parrot the same phrases their parents probably use on them when they want to get out of going to bed or taking a bath!

The other great thing about the Pigeon series is that it lends itself to a class book so well! One year we made "Don't Let The Pigeon Be a Substitute Teacher" through Student Treasures:
I could go on and on, but why should I when I can send you over to Pigeon Presents, Mo's site that has a ton of cool stuff, including games, posters, coloring pages and teachers guides!

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