This year I moved up two grade levels and had to move classrooms.  During the summer, while perusing Pinterest and trying to make plans for how I would decorate my new classroom, I fell upon some super cute melted crayon art. I knew I had to make it for my classroom.  Without further ado, here it is!

I had a couple canvases in the basement that I had been saving to paint some art work for our bedroom.  I never got around to doing that and since we've decided to sell our house later this year, I figured I could re-purpose the canvases.  We've lived this long without art in the bedroom, what's a couple more months, right??  I googled "melted crayon art" and found even more ideas.  Some people peeled their crayons first.  This was not something I was prepared to do; mainly because peeling crayons sucks.

I got out the trusty glue gun and a couple more boxes of crayons that were left over from the crayon wreath project I also made last summer.  I lined the crayons up on the canvas in an order that I liked and started gluing away.  I omitted the gray, white, brown, and black crayons since I wanted it to be bright and colorful.

After the crayons were all glued on, I let it dry overnight.  I didn't want to risk having the hot glue heat up during the next process and have crayons falling off the canvas.  The next morning I taped up an old piece of painter's plastic above the mirror and placed the canvas on top of it.  I definitely did not want melted crayons splattering on our granite bathroom countertops!

I then got out my hair dryer and blasted the crayons at full speed, to soften them up.  This worked well, but the force of the dryer caused a couple of colors to splatter across the canvas.  Ruh row.
The effect was working well, though.

My hubby then mentioned that he had a heat gun.  Would I like to try it?  Yes, please!  Enter Ace Hardware's heat gun:

I used the low setting, since this is significantly hotter than a hair dryer and I did not want splatters all over the canvas.  I was surprised it worked much faster than my hair dryer.  I had to be careful of the plastic behind, though, since it liked to melt under the heat gun.  No melted plastic is allowed on our bathroom mirrors.  I guess that is an unwritten rule of my house.  :)

I love how the crayons melted all the way to the bottom, filling up the entire canvas.  The heat gun made it a quick project and I'm super happy with how it turned out.

Cost Breakdown:
  • 3 boxes of crayons ($0.40 a piece at Walmart) - $1.20
  • White Canvas (40% off at Michael's) - already owned
  • Hot glue - already owned
  • Hair dryer and Heat gun - already owned
  • Plastic drop cloth - already owned
Total cost - $1.20 - Smokin' deal!!

Here it is in my classroom, covering up the ugly cord from my hanging paper lantern lamp.  The kids love it and always ask each other, "Did you know Mrs. Heinlein made that?"  Haha, it makes me smile that they are proud of my artistic abilities!

Do you have any Pinterest projects you are working on?  Maybe you have some other DIY art ideas that you've been dying to try.  Let me know!
To manage transitions in my classroom, I love to use songs.  When I taught kinder and 1st grade, I used songs ALL the time: when it was time to clean up, when I wanted students to come to the carpet, and especially when we were getting ready to line up.  Now that I am in 3rd grade, I still use songs when we are lining up and getting ready to leave the classroom.  It really helps my students calm down and remind themselves of hallway expectations.

My mentor teacher my first year of teaching taught me this song/poem and I made it into a freebie for all of you!  My students love to chant it before we leave the room.  Head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and grab yourself a copy!  While you are there, feel free to rate it leave me some feedback! :)

What do you do to manage transitions?

I teach in a school with a very high ELL population, so teaching highly academic vocabulary is a must.  I use many OCDE Project GLAD® and structured language strategies to help all students learn the words.  We use poems, chants, anchor charts, and practice using the language with guided sentence frames.

Another way I enforce that vocabulary is by tying into my action word.  I used to say, "When I say go, you can..." When I started my OCDE Project GLAD® training five years ago, I started using a highly academic vocabulary word from my current teaching unit as the action word.  Now it sounds like, "When I say evaporation, you can..."  A couple years ago, a colleague learned from a workshop about Total Physical Response, TPR.  We incorporated this by saying the action word and having the students repeat us, say a quick definition and do a gesture or body motion to help them remember the word.  This action is always taught to the students at the beginning of the day or week (how ever long you use the same word) so that everyone does the same action.  For example, when I was teaching a weather unit earlier this year, when our word was precipitation, the students repeated me by saying, "Precipitation means rain."  When they said rain, they moved their fingers down in front of them, similar to the Itsy Bitsy Spider fingerplay "Down came the rain." 

I also like to reinforce highly academic vocabulary by changing my cooperative table names to vocabulary words about every 3-4 weeks.  When I taught Kinder my tables were named after the 2-D shapes.  All of my kids knew all 6 of the shapes that were required to learn by the end of the year!  When I looped up to 1st a couple years later, I changed the tables to 3-D shapes to go along with our new standards.  When I moved up to 3rd this year, I was searching Pinterest and found the perfect idea: Pom Poms! I made colorful tissue paper pom poms and hung them above each table.  I then attached a vocabulary word to the bottom of each pom to hang above the table.
See this pin for making pom poms
You can see that each table has a different color pom.  The first table has a blue pom, so their vocabulary word is also mounted on blue construction paper.  I put the word on one side, then the kid-friendly definition of the other and laminated it.  Table two has a green pom, so their word is mounted on green construction paper.  I planned the colors of the tables around Lesson Plan SOS' freebie table signs, since I use those on each table's "math crate" of folders, packets, and such.  

To attach each pom to the ceiling, I put a step ladder on top of each table (any safety professionals out there - stop reading here!) then climbed to the top and screwed a cup hook in the ceiling directly above the center of the table.  I then tied some clear fishing line to the cup hook and looped it around the pipe cleaner I used to attach all the tissue together.  See the link above for how to make the poms.  To attach the word card to the bottom of the pom, I punched a hole in the center of the card, tied some clear fishing line to it, then tied it to a large paper clip.  I then threaded the paper clip through the pipe cleaner inside the bottom of the pom.  Now I only have to kneel on the tables in order to change out the words each month and never have to get on that step ladder until the end of the year when it all has to come down.

What other strategies do you have for teaching vocabulary?  Do you have table/group names, too?

I've linked up with Charity from the Organized Classroom Blog and declared myself a 5 Star Blogger!  head on over and check out all the other amazing bloggers and their unique ideas!
I am in the middle of my fraction unit and I realized that my students need more practice with ordering fractions.  Finding which ones are bigger, smaller, and the same size is tricky!  In addition to practicing with fraction strips, like this one from Super Teacher Worksheets or this one from Nyla's Crafty Teaching, I created a game that pairs of students can play that focuses on Greater Than and Less Than.

Greater Than/ Less Than Monster 

I created a printable and glued it to strips of black tagboard, then laminated it.  With my game, I am using the fraction cards from The Teacher Wife's Fraction Fun unit that I am using to supplement my curriculum.  The game is played like war. Students will move the monster mouth to show who ever's card is bigger.  Since "the little one eats the big one" whoever has the less than card gets to keep both.

You could play this game with playing cards for single digit numbers or make your own cards for double and triple digit numbers, percentages, or decimals.

What other ideas do you have for teaching this skill?  What other fraction activities do you do?

I love using labels in my classroom.  I label my book bins and put corresponding sticker labels on each book so the students know where to put them.  I put name labels on glue sticks, so a rogue stick can be returned to it's owner quick and easy.  I put labels on my word work shelf so students put the supplies back where they go.  I even plan to put labels on my new cubbies that are coming TOMORROW (woo-hoo!) so students will remember where to put their coat and backpack.

To make labels, I usually use address labels (on the book stickers and glue sticks) or I use a labeling machine, like this one from Amazon:
From Amazon
However, I needed some labels to put on my classroom technology so students and other teachers would know it belonged to me in case it ever walked away from my classroom.  Enter Oliver's Labels.  They make adorable labels that you personalize with a name and a picture.  I chose to have my name put on them and chose the school pictures.

From Oliver's Labels
They make the labels in tons of sizes: Original, mini, shoe, iron-on clothing, large bag tag, mini bag tags, date labels, and Stickeez (TM) clothing labels.  I ended up liking the original and mini the best for tagging my technology, but used the shoe ones, too, because they are cute! :)

Here they are on the back of my DVD players, iPod Touches, and iPod Nano.

Here they are on my computers.  This way, when the computers get stored for the summer, there will be no question as to who's room they belong in once fall comes around.  

I love the smooth feel of the stickers and the professional look.  They stick well to multiple surfaces and won't ever smudge, like my computer address labels tend to do.  And at $19.99 for 40 labels, I would be ready to go with just one order. 

What do you think?  Do you use labels in your classroom?  Where would you put Oliver's Labels in your room?  Head over to their website and order a set today!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.