Making Crayons, and a Freebie

Hello from Maine!

The hubby and I are vacationing for the next couple of weeks. We've been in Maine for the past couple of days, and head up to Prince Edward Island in Canada for the next 10 or so to visit family. Both Maine and PEI are so beautiful and relaxing, which is perfect for the last leg of mental recharging I need for the back-to-school rush when I return! I've also been able to do some pleasure reading, in addition to my piles of school-related reading; book 1 of The Hunger Games was devoured over the past two days, which leaves the second and third books of that series, as well as The Fault in Our Stars for the rest of the trip!

Before departing home, I worked on my welcome gift for my students. Last year I did a bag filled with all kinds of goodies, but this year, I think I'm going to keep the welcome gift simple, and devote those goodies (i.e., pencils, erasers, bookmarks, etc.) to Birthday Bags. While poking around in my room one day, I came across what used to be the bane of my teacher existence: old, broken crayons. But looking at them this time, I instead thought: new crayons!

So I bagged up the old, broken crayons and brought them home. I also found a silicone mold for heart-shaped ice cubes. Here's how they became new again.

First, I peeled off any remaining wrappers. This is much quicker if you start by slicing the paper with a knife. You'll also want to think about what color combinations you would like. My crayon selection included mostly primary colors, so I grouped my crayons into warm and cool colors.

Next, get chopping! My crayons were mostly the larger variety, and I chopped them into pieces about 1/4-1/3" long. I am crazy, so I kept my color ratios roughly equivalent.

The rest is fairly loose in terms of "rules." I read directions that ranged from 150°-250° for oven temperature, but for the brand and size of my crayon mixture, 250° was about right. I piled my crayon bits about equal to the height of my molds, knowing that the resulting crayons would be about 1/2" thick.

I recommend a foil-lined baking sheet for the baking part. The silicone trays are flimsy, and you never know about overflow. Then pop your tray in the oven and wait it out! Mine took about 18 minutes to melt (I usually pulled them out just as the last crayon chunks were finishing melting), but I read shorter times in my research too. I think it just depends on your crayon brand and oven.

Cool on your countertop for about 10 minutes, and then move to the freezer once they're no longer sloshy. Leave until hardened, another 10-15 minutes. I found my crayons came out most easily when the silicone tray was allowed to come back to room temperature after its stint in the freezer.

Now for the fun part! I'm planning on making little baggies with two crayons in them (one warm color, one cool color) to give as my welcome gifts. I'll fold these tags in half across the top of the baggie, staple, and voila! Cute, practical (and free!) gifts. Get your tags by clicking the picture, and enjoy!



Weekly Schedule, Plus Template Freebie!

Switching grade levels is both exciting and a touch overwhelming. I think I'm past the hard part--this spring, I was juggling report cards and the end of the school year, moving my classroom to a new school, buying our condo, and the home stretch of wedding planning! Now I'm down to just classroom setup and planning (and getting to the gym, cleaning and cooking dinner...), which is WAY more manageable.

So, I've spent a couple of days in my room clearing out some leftovers and beginning work on my classroom library (more on that another day!), and I've also gotten a jump on creating my classroom schedule.

You can click the image to download both pages of the file. My schedule has specialist at three different time slots throughout the week, so it's a little wonky. But, if you'd like to play around with it, at least a lot of the formatting is done for you, and hopefully it'll be a helpful way to look at your week from a bird's-eye view.

I used Daily 5 (<3) for my literacy block in second grade last year, so I plan to make it work in Kindergarten too! So each of those Daily 5 rotations will begin with a QUICK (hoping for 5-8 minutes) mini-lesson, followed by work time. I also like to have a truly dedicated writing time, even though writing is a choice in Daily 5, so the last rotation will always be a writing mini-lesson with an accompanying writing task (which students will at least begin, and possibly finish during a later Daily 5 writing choice).

I also adored Math Rotations, which I modeled after Stephanie's description at 3rd Grade Thoughts. I plan to continue with a similar model in Kindergarten, as I can't imagine differentiating effectively without this model!

After my looong morning, I'll have a much shorter afternoon. We'll usually have lunch, recess, and specialist all after noon. I'm planning to include Science/Social Studies/Open Circle in the afternoon, as well as Daily Dish, a fantastic idea that I'm planning on modifying thanks to Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade.

Of course, we'll have a good chunk of Choice time and Friday fun to end our week since we have no specialist that day. We'll end our day with Stack & Pack and a quick share (hopefully from the Daily Dish!).

How is your summer planning coming along? How do you manage your classroom schedule? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!



Welcome, and Bear With Me!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Hello!

I'm very excited to be dipping my toe into the figurative blogging waters. I have been inspired by so many amazing teachers out there whose blogs get me through the school year and keep my own ideas fresh, as well as by their amazing products. I'm just hoping I can contribute some of my own unique ideas to the teacher-verse and make your lives a little easier and more exciting.

I hope you'll follow along on my journey! I'm sure things will get a little mixed up and messy as I navigate blogging and teaching Kindergarten for the first time, but perhaps some of you have experienced much of the same. For me, the most important thing is keeping the students at the center of what I do, and always looking for ways to make school more fun, more engaging, and more exciting! And secretly, more rigorous. :)

I'm hoping to kick things off with some useful back-to-school freebies, so keep an eye out for those!


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