Simple Stuff: The Mighty Binder Clip

Thanks to Jennifer over at The Yellow Brick Road for hosting the linky party I am participating in today! In this blog post I'll share one simple thing I use in my classroom all the time!

Today, I am going to write about four ways I use. . .

Courtesy: Wikipedia
I. love. these things! They are so useful for so many things! When I get a hold of one from, let's say, something that somebody sent to me, I do not let it go. They are like gold in my little world!

Here is how I use them in my classroom:

1. Cable Catcher

I'm sure many of you have seen this via Pinterest, but if you haven't let me introduce you to the beauty of the cable catcher. :-D

Courtesy: LifeHacker
I don't know about you all, but I always have a million cords kicking around (at school and home) that plug into different electronics. I don't always need these cords plugged in the devices, and I hate digging around behind my desk when I finally DO need to use one of these cords. These make my life a little less crazy.  Although. . . I DID see a little LEGO guy holding some cords not too long ago and I want to add at least one of those just for fun. :-)

2. Hanging File Folder Assistant

I haven't used this one yet as I haven't been able to get into my classroom for the year, but I have a couple of file cabinets that I keep all sorts of things in. I like to separate my different files into sections so I have all alike things together.

I don't know about your cabinets, but mine only have one or two adjustable dealios (I don't know what they're called) per drawer. I have more things than that that I'd like to keep separate!

I found this idea through Pinterest and can't wait to try it out!

Courtesy: LifeHacker

Plus, those metal separator things are a pain to move!

3. Calendar (or other things) Hanger

My school is not so keen on paint, nails, etc in the way of customizing our rooms to make them inviting for students. In fact, just getting things to adhere to some of the walls (stone that is extremely uneven) is a nightmare and consists of me cleaning up/hanging back up stuff that has fallen off almost every day. Not even the mighty sticky tack or glue gun is successful in conquering those particular walls! :-P

THANKFULLY not all my walls are made of this material but hanging something like a calendar or a printable that I'd like to change out periodically is still challenging.

Here is a great idea I have found that will be a the "cure all" to at least the problem of being able to hang things I'd like to change out. Or at least I'm going to find out if it works this year!

Courtesy: Imperfect Homemaking

Couple of command hooks on the narrow strip of wood that runs around my room (hopefully I'll be able to get in soon and take pics for you all to see), some binder clips, and voila! I've got an easy to change out wall hanging that won't make a bunch of holes in the wood! 

4. Custom Clips

There are certain weeks of the year where I have lots of piles of assessments to grade or writing assignments to read. While I am starting to have my 3rd-5ths bring a two pocket folder to contain some of these papers and to start practicing responsibility for middle school, I will still have other papers from my PK-2nds. 

I am really horrible about having students turn in papers and then I just move them to my desk as I rarely have a moment to look at things until after school. Sometimes things happen after school (mommy commitments, staff meetings, committee meetings, duty, etc) and I don't look at papers again until the next day or the day after!

I have no problem knowing which papers go with which grade, but as to which papers go with which class? Not so good. I've tried putting post-its on them, but sometimes the post-its come off and I have to spend more time thinking "okay, which class is Suzy in this year?" or looking up each class for a certain grade to find where she goes. (My poor kids. Some of them stay in 3rd grade IN MY MIND for numerous years and I can never remember which class they are currently in.)

These were a life saver last year!

Courtesy: I am a Craft Addict

While these particular ones are not mine, this is where I got the idea. Mine are not so fancy. They're just your standard black and I used stickers and wrote on them instead of the fancy printed out/modge podged clips like she did. You should be thankful that I used her pic instead of mine. My energy to fancify and cutify everything only extends so far. ;-)

They have worked wonders and not only keep my papers organized, but also serve as another tool to help me know whose class "little Suzy" is currently a part of! :-)

I'm sure there are a thousand (maybe not but certainly a lot) more ways to use binder clips in your classroom. Here's mine. I'd love to read about yours! 

And that's my simple stuff for today. Enjoy!

Products For Prep: A Look at Preparing for the New School Year

Today, I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room's blog in talking about "Products for Prep"!

With the school year lurking around the corner (I'm still in a bit of denial that summer is almost done), it's time to start thinking about where I left off with my students and what I need to be doing to get students where I'd like them musically for this year.

Before I start telling you about some of the things I've been working on and wishing for this summer, I want to tell you about the site-wide sale starting tomorrow on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Everything in my store will be marked down 20% AND when you add the code "BTS14" in the checkout, TpT will give you another 8% mark down! I'm looking forward to getting some of the things that have been sitting on my wishlist waiting for this sale. :-)

Now back to prep. . .

As I said, I have been in denial that it's almost that time of year, but I do have some things I've been preparing for my students.  Some of them are available in my store, and some I've found elsewhere.

It is never too early to get my 4th grade students working on the treble clef staff. In our District, this is the year that students play recorder, and I like to have them feeling secure in their understanding of the staff before I put the playing of the recorder and the reading of the staff together.

Last year, my 3rd grade students began to learn some of the notes on the recorder (we got to B, A, and G) and I started the staff as well but we never put the two together.

This year we are going to begin with treble clef staff activities to review and one of the activities I'm going to use is my Dragon Letters activity I recently posted in my store!

This group of pages has numerous suggested activities for your students to review and practice the treble clef while also having fun! I also included all pages in black and white as I know printing in color is a luxury some school districts do not have for teachers.

This group of pages pulls double duty as I also included pages for your students learning about line and space numbers!  I, personally, think it's so important students understand line/space numbers as well as the letters so we can have an intelligent musical conversation when discussing a line or space note they are unsure of. 

Another group of pages I am making sure are ready for my students right off will be my Old Mister Rabbit song to review quarter note and eighth notes with my 2nd graders.

I've actually gotten these all printed up and laminated as I used them with my Kinders last Spring in an ABA form experience where they used the pictures to create a rhythmic B section. They loved it!

For my 2nd grade students and their review, we will use the pages with the vegetables linked to the standard notation of quarter note and eighth notes so my 2nd grade students will be able create rhythms and review the standard notation they learned last year in 1st grade. 

If you can't tell, I love things that can pull double duty! It makes my prep and to-do list a little less clogged. 

Now an idea that I've been throwing around and preparing that is NOT in my store!

Toward the end of last year I purchased and laminated these super cute paper manipulatives I picked up at Dollar Tree.

I think I need to put my children to work with the cutting! ;-)

I was thinking that students could use these to do some creating of four beat rhythms like "Milk-Milk-Cookies-Milk" or "Scissors-Scissors-Glue-Glue". Awesome, right? 

Then I had a "D'Oh!" moment and you are now going with me on the ride through the conversation I've had with myself on this: I realized (AFTER laminating things separately) that I don't like when my pictures don't match the syllables/notes I'm trying to prepare. For example, "cookies", in my opinion, needs to have two cookies to show those two syllables. Then came the wonderful post by Jennifer over at The Yellow Brick Road with her Rhythm Monsters idea. 

Credit: The Yellow Brick Road
Idea saved! I already use fuzzies for melodic writing. I don't know why I didn't think to use them for rhythm!

Now, after my first grade students (who will be presented with "Ta" and "Titi" about a month into school so this is another prepare acitivity) create their four beat rhythms, they can place one fuzzy on "milk" or "glue" and two fuzzies on "cookie" or "scissors". My need for students to see one item or two items that equal the sounds is satisfied! 

Finally, something I've had my eye on and will probably snag tomorrow from Cori Bloom's Rhythm and Bloom store!

I love her listening mini-lessons! Our school is really pushing for our students to have more experience with writing and justifying answers. I've purchased a couple other sets of her listening lessons and really enjoy the variety of genres represented. I also like that her questions make students think but are also appropriate for students from the 4th grade on up. Finally, I like that while they can be shorter lessons, they also have the potential to be fleshed out and discussed more in depth. 

I've been using them as a short starter for my 4th and 5th grade classes, but these could also be appropriate for a sub day with a little extra preparation by leaving instructions of musical terms used in the questions, etc. I'm hoping she comes out with more soon! :-)

Well, I hope these ideas give you an insight on some things that are available for you as you prepare for this coming school year whether you're still in denial, like me, or you are starting up soon!

Either way--enjoy! :-)