Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to School: Teacher Survival!

We officially started back to school today! As a little back to school gift for my grade level I made everyone teacher survival kits. We have a lot of school supplies as it is, but I wanted to get them a couple special things for the upcoming year.

I hit up Big Lots and Dollar Tree to get these baskets filled. It wan't too expensive considering I made 6 of them!

In the baskets:
Water Bottle
Sticky Notes
Initial Sticky Notes
Black Pen
Mini Snickers
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Hand Sanitizer
Crystal Light

Hopefully this can get them through the school year. Except for the candy, that lasted a few minutes. :) Do you have any back to school gifts or crafts you do for your coworkers or teachers? I'd love to see other ideas!

Happy gifting!

Monday, August 10, 2015

French Toast Casserole

Today was the first day back for the new staff in our district. One of the things our district's Texas Classroom Teachers Association does is make breakfast for the new staff on their first day back. I'm not gonna lie, it's one of my favorite days because there are sooooooo many good dishes that line the table! For the past 3 years I have made french toast casserole. This year I changed the recipe I use and I think I'm going to stick with it! I cook my eyeballing it, so bear with me on some of the measurements. Playing around with ingredients is one of my favorite things as far as cooking is concerned! :)

This is the recipe for french toast casserole, but I use pretty close to the same egg mixture when I make regular french toast.

1 loaf french bread (see below for recipe)
1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 cup half and half
6 medium eggs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt

Cut french bread into cubes and scatter in cooking pan. Beat eggs together, then stir in wet ingredients (milk, half and half, and vanilla). Once the wet ingredients are combined, add dry ingredients (cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt). 

(I forgot to take pictures after this, so I'll just have to make it again and take some more!)

Once all ingredients are combined, pour over bread in the pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap or foil and let sit in the fridge for about 8 hours (or over night) to let the egg mixture soak into the bread.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix together optional praline topping spread. I like to use Paula Deen's topping, but cut it in half. I usually have some left over.

Praline Topping:
1 stick butter (1/4 lb)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or pecan pieces)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cut butter into cubes. Add brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together (I like to use my ninja). Once those are combined, add light corn syrup and mix again. It will only take a few seconds. Spread over the top of bread and bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is golden.

That's it! It's super yummy. I'll make it again sometime soon and get more pictures up. :) Enjoy!

Easy French Bread Recipe:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water and let sit until it begins to look foamy (about 5 minutes). Add flour and salt. Mix ingredients together and knead for 15 - 20 minutes, or until dough passes "window-pane" test. Cover and store in a warm place (I put mine in the microwave or oven while they are off). Let rise for about 30 minutes. Punch dough down, cover and store in a warm place and let rise again for about another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden brown. (You can also use this recipe for baguettes. Instead, set oven to 500ºF and bake for 5-7 minutes).

Happy baking!

Crepe Paper Curtains

Last night and this afternoon I spend some of my time sectioning off my library center even more so than it already is. The huge tree that is in the corner of my library already makes it cozy, but I wanted it a little more cozy inside. So, I made crepe paper curtains! After trying to put them under the ceiling tiles one by one like I've done with vines in the past, it occurred to me to just make a long piece of tape with crepe paper attached. Duh!

So that I wouldn't have to lay my tape and crepe paper across a table (and so I wouldn't have to clean off a table), I measured off some masking tape and hung it up with push pin onto the wall.

Then, I placed the end of my bright green on the tape, followed my the end of my dark green.

Once those 2 strips were in place, I lined them up with a previous strip I had cut, and cut them to the same length.

I repeated the pattern over and over until I reached the end of my tape.

Once I had my first strip finished, I hung it up along the metal frame that holds the ceiling tiles using packing tape. I hung the second set after I finished it. I still have some trimming to do to get it as even as possible, but it turned out pretty neat!

It's a pretty sweet set up inside. I'm a little jealous of my kids that are coming up next year. I may have to sit in the inside when I get overwhelmed from decorating and unpacking my room!

Happy crafting!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Doggy "Gate"

As some of you know, I am a proud mama to one of the most adorable furry children ever!

I mean ... am I right!? But along with his adorableness comes the I-like-to-chew-on-everything-when-I'm-bored-ness. And by everything, I mean mommy's shoes. Which I have a lot of. (It's part of my matchy-matchy personality.) So to keep John out of the closet when I'm not home, I made him a little fabric doggy gate. I used the same method as in my post about my classroom under sink curtains, just with one sleeve on each end. So now, somedoggy can't get into mommy's shoe's when she stays at work too late.

Happy crafting!

Indoor Bench DIY

Since I'm usually making things for my TpT store and trying to come up with cool station ideas for my class during the school year, I do most of my DIY projects I find during the year in the summer. The year, I tackled making a bench, redecorating John's room (yes, my dog has his own room), making a fabric doggie gate and making makeup brush holders. My favourite DIY of the summer was definitely my new indoor bench.

I have 2 chairs from my dining room table that sit in John's room because there's not enough room to fit all 4 chairs around it in my apartment. I figured I may as well put them to use!

There was a desk sitting in John's room that was just collecting dust and holding things I needed to throw away. When I took it apart, I saved some of the pieces to use for other projects. Because I wanted the bench to be a little wider than the chairs, I took one of the pieces from the desk and screwed it into the fronts of the chairs to hold them together and lengthen my bench. (I did this AFTER sanding and spray painting my chairs a really pretty gray. I used Rustoleum's Winter Gray Paint & Primer.

Once they were spray painted, and screwed together with the scrap from the old desk, I started in on the cushion. I took another one of the scrap pieces from the desk (a tad narrower than the first) and screwed it and the seat together to make one long seat using 90 degree angled brackets (see picture below) and fastening all four corners together.

Once my seat was in one piece, I wrapped it in a few layers of poly foam pad and stapled it into place as I went. Once the pad was set, I wrapped my yellow fabric I bought from Hobby Lobby around the pad and stapled it to the back of the seat. I slid the seat on, put some white baskets underneath as an accent and added a gray and turquoise Relax pillow I got on sale at Hobby Lobby. And DONE! I love my new functioning house bench! :)

Happy hobby-ing! :)

Dry Erase Center

Let me just start off by saying ... Easiest. Center. Ever! I don't know about your classroom, but in mine, I have a specific section for everything. Dry erase materials are no exception. Last year I had a space for dry erase math materials and dry erase reading & writing materials and dry erase science materials. It was too much! I loved each being with it's content area, but things were never put back where they were supposed to be.

This year, I'm using a plain old dish drying rack as a dry erase center. I got my dish rack at Dollar General for $7.50.

As of now, there are 5 large white boards, 15 regular sized white boards, 4 double sided lined boards and 4 gallon sized bags of different activities. I can still fit a couple more bags in it, too! I have 11 markers in the utensil holder, a roll of paper towels (that wasn't used from last year) and a bottle of dry erase board cleaner (it's just water with a little soap, the kids will never know the difference!)

In the baggies I have number writing and representation, beginning sounds, letter tracing and letter finding. I'll add some science and social studies activities once we get into the swing of things. I may also put the baggies in colored folders that match each content area (I'm a little anal like that!) and of course, being a label queen and all,  I have to put a label on the front. I can't wait for the kids to use this center once school starts!

Happy teaching!

Assess Me Linky: Week 2 This or That

I figured I was too far behind for last week, so this week I am linking up with The Tattooed Teacher for week 2 of getting to know me with Assess Me Linky!


This week is ... This or That!

  • I like being close to the city, but not IN the city. I'd much rather have a 2 minute car ride to work than an hour.
  • I like staying at home ... but I end up working around the house or on things for school anyway. After all, I am a Busy Bre :)
  • All of the good shows are on at night! I'd much rather stay up all night then get up early in the morning.
  • If I know I'm going in public where I'll see people, I HAVE to be done up. Not all fancy shmancy, but hair make up and outfit with coordinating clothes and jewelry.

Under the Sink Curtains

I love, love, LOVE the end of July/beginning of August because it means being able to get back into my classroom! I spend the summer thinking up all these ideas to try in my room and things I want to make, so I can't wait to get back and do them! The other day while I was unpacking cabinets and going through lockers I found a good 20 or so boxes of unopened Kleenex (there are classes that have more than that!) That combined with all of the Kleenex that's going to come this year ... I needed to find another place to store all of it. Cabinet and locker space is precious. However, under the sink space is not. In our classrooms there is a little niche that is wide open. Why not store all of the Kleenex under the sink and make some curtains to cover it up!? Then the kids can get to the boxes whenever they need a new one.

Here are my under the sink curtains and they were super easy to make.

Hot Glue Gun/Glue Sticks
Tension Rod ($3.50 at Family Dollar)
Binder Clips (optional)
3M Hooks (optional)

The first thing I did was measure out my fabric to see how wide and long it needed to be. Once I got it all measure out, I folded the edges and pinned the open side down with binder clips so I didn't cut too crooked on my fold.

Once my fabric was cut, I headed over to glue my opening at the top. It's much quicker and easier for me to glue things that to sew them. I measured again to see how much I needed to fold over to get my rod through. I decided to make 2 set of sleeves so I could have the curtains hanging higher or lower depending on if they get in the way for some kids.

For the first sleeve, I folded the fabric over to where it would just touch the floor if it was hanging the highest. The, I folded that section back about halfway.

I glued just under the fold all the way across the fabric and folded it over to press my fabric to my glue.

That made my first sleeve.

For the second set, I glued along the bottom of the remaining folded over fabric, then folded it down and pressed it down.

So I have 2 sleeves to choose from if I decide to move the curtain at any point. That way, It wont gather on the floor.

I put the 3M hooks on either side of the sink to hold the tension rod since it doesn't stick out any for me to be able to just place it there. I may add some ribbon or trim to the top later, but for not it looks just fine to me!

And there you have it! A new place to store all of the Kleenex I have and will be getting more of soon! I'm sure I'll have enough space to store baby wipes, as well.

Happy crafting!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pool Noodle DIY

One of my "projects" this summer for my classroom was making pool noodle letters and numbers.

 I saw a picture of pool noodle phonics at Common to the Core. I did mine a little different than hers, but it works the same way.

Click here to see Dana's pool noodle phonics

I made 2 sets of pool noodle letters. The letters are 3 inches wide (and could even be cut smaller if needed). I was able to get 13 chunks out of each noodle and used 4 noodles in all. I am going to have my kids use them to put letters in alphabetical order, spell their names and their friend's names, make sight words and CVC words and practice any spelling words we will have toward the end of the year.  I wrote my letters on each noodle piece. I underlined some of the letters that may cause confusion (b,d,q,p,f,t,m,w) so the kids will be able to tell where the bottom is. They are sitting in a plastic storage basket in our reading and writing games center.

I also did a set of place value pool noodles. Since I didn't take pictures throughout the letter noodles, here are the number noodles!

2 pool noodles
Box Cutter
Permanent Marker

I measured my pool noodles first to see how long they were so I could make sure my chunks would be the same size. I'm a little anal like that. :) Once I cut the first chunk of pool noodle, I used it as a template to cut the rest of the noodles.

 I found it easier to turn the pool noodle while slicing the box cutter back and forth through it while I turned it.

Once all of the pieces were cut out, I wrote my numbers 0-9 on the side of the noodle.

After all of the letters wee written on my noddles, I took the scissors and cut a line straight across the back of the noodle, opposite the letter I had just written.

There is a slit in the back of the noodle where the kids can slide it on the side of the table.

And that was it! I made 2 different colors. One set is green and the other set is orange. The kids will use one color to represent the ten's place and the other color to represent the one's place. You could also make a set of numbers in one color and a set of dots in another color and have the kids match the numbers and dots. Or numbers and words. There are so many things to do with these!

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mini Chart Stands!

Every year, I have examples that I make for the kids that I hang on an elastic rope above one of the tables so they can see what it looks like. The only problem is that the kids are constantly craning their necks to get a look at what they are supposed to be doing. If I just place the example on the table, they fight about who gets to look at it first and who it stays next to on the table and so on and so forth. 

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across ...

... this adorable mini anchor chart stand from Stephanie at Falling Into First! I tweaked mine just a little from the way she did hers, but it's practically the same thing.

PVC Pipe (10ft cut to 10 in.)
2 slip elbows per chart stand
2 side outlet slip elbows per chart stand

I bought my PVC pipe from Lowe's and they cut it for me to the size I needed. I also bought my elbow in a pack of 10 and it was much cheaper than buy 10 elbows separately.

The first thing I did was spray paint all of my PVC pipe black. I know it's kind of hard to see in this picture with the black trash bag underneath.

Then, I fit the pipes together by placing a PVC pipe on the end of each elbow and making a "u" shape. Or "n" shape depending on how you're holding it. :) The pipe that was open on the bottom went into the side outlets so they could act as feet to hold the chart stand. Once that was finished I make a polka dot pattern with some neon dot stickers I got at Target.

I made 5 chart stands so I got 2 of the 300 pack of stickers. I used the entire first pack and a few sheets from the second pack.

Ignore the date, it was the only piece of scrap paper I could find. :)

A coat of mod-podge to keep the stickers from coming off and they'll be finished! I can't wait to use them this year!
Happy crafting!