Ever heard of DonorsChoose.org?
I'm sure the majority of you have, right?!
It's pretty.freakin'.awesome.
If you've never experienced this amazing site- here it is in a nutshell:
You ask for classroom goodies...
Tell the world why you need them....
Talk about your little people for a minute...
And then super kind, generous people donate!
DonorsChoose orders and ships your requested items.
You send thank you cards and smile!
It's super easy and super awesome...and can at times, super complicated.
The application isn't complicated {at all!} but the project itself can be if you don't know the tricks to getting it funded. There's nothing like seeing donations come in for your project and then go quickly away because you didn't get enough donations.
Trust me- been there, done that.
I've been lucky enough to have 5 projects granted- 3 of those just in the past 2 months!
How'd I do it?
I got extremely lucky the first time around and my classroom library project was fully funded in 4 days with just one donor!!
Like I said, it was luck.
That instant success gave me a false sense of how the site worked.
I requested 3 iPods for my second project, totaling over $400...and it sat and sat and sat on the site- eventually it expired.
Sad face.
Then I posted a third request for a white board- nearly $500.
That expired too.
It got me thinking.
Why didn't it work?
I've learned {through trial and error} a few tricks to help my projects get fully funded and fast.
I thought I'd share in hope that it helps you with your next project if you're a sad face like I was.
1. Try to request smaller dollar amounts. There are additional fees and charges that get added to your request so keep that in mind. I've had the most success with projects around the $200 range.
2. If you have a large request, break it into multiple projects. For example, instead of asking for 300 reams of printer paper- try posting 3 projects for 100 reams each. If your project says "$74 to go with 5 days left" and the next person's project says "$323 to go with 5 days left"... someone if more likely to finish off your $74!
3. Set an expiration date! I know that seems scary- you want it to stay on the site as long as possible- BUT- projects ending sooner get the most publicity on the site's main page. I only leave mine up for 2 months, max!
4. If you teach at an inner-city school, you'll often qualify for a "half-off" donation. It's not guaranteed- but I haven't posted a project yet that hasn't qualified! There are large companies out there in your corner and willing to match 50% of donations!
That's like getting half your project instantly funded!
5. Be honest. Tell people what your needs are and be open.
I don't sugar coat my reality.
6. Don't overuse teacher lingo. Put it out there in layman's terms.The average person doesn't instantly know what AVID, Title 1, ESE or ESOL mean. They don't speak our language day in and day out. However, people do understand "inner-city","economically disadvantaged", "special needs" and "second language learners".  
7. Spread the word! Use the facebook, twitter and email templates to send your project out to friends and family. Even if they can't donate, they certainly can pass along the email to their friends and co-workers!
Like I said, these are just a few tips that have helped me gain momentum with my projects lately. They aren't guaranteed to work every time-
so don't send me hate mail, pretty please.
Hope it helps turn that frown upside down!
I love that Fall is so stinkin' close!
Like, next week, close.
I started to fill my house {indoors and out} with autumn
goodies this past weekend! 
If you follow my on Instagram then that's old news to you.
The hubby swears it's too early.
I sort of ignored him and did it anyway.

There's something about pumpkin lattes and
cinnamon brooms that just make me happy!

What can I say?

Who cares what the neighbors think of my scarecrows in September...in Florida.

As a classroom teacher, I loved this time of year because of all the fun stuff we could learn through thematic units like apples, leaves, pumpkins and such.

Since I no longer have a classroom full of "my own" kids- I'm offically jealous of all the fun that's brewing!
At least I get to live out my love of fall themed literacy centers and math games through blog stalking! 
To curve my craving, I might just have to do some apple painting with my Kinder groups soon.
Just sayin'.

So- just for fun, I'd like to do a lil classroom throwback.
Indulge me?

You may remember this post about pumpkin sequencing...
What about this post all about apple thinking maps...
We also had a blast last year with apple journals
You can read more and grab a freebie here!
And I can't forget about all the wonderful learning that happened because of my favorite little old lady who swallows everything!
You can read that post and grab a few graphic organizers here.
If you're looking for a fun reader's theatre or a few more literacy centers to add to your collection, check out both of these fall packs on TpT- just click the pictures and download the product preview for details!
So much fun to be had this time of year!
Start sharing your autumn fun so I can live vicariously through ya'll! 
I love how excited the kids are to come to my class! 
Since our little school hasn't had an art program for a few years, most of my babies are dying to get their hands on some color!
They are so eager to learn how to be perfect little artists.
Bless their sweet hearts. 

I've really been working hard to teach them that in order to be an artist, they have to learn to take risks.
They are so worried about being wrong.
My goal this year is to change that fear.

Exhibit one.

I introduced this project with my third graders. 
I could have gone younger and they would have still looked just as great, but my third graders were struggling with being "perfect" during our hand print murals and I want to break this habit early in the year. 
The first day I introduced this lesson they were all begging for rulers and circle tracers. 

I demonstrated freehand and encouraged risk taking and pretty much said to suck it up kiddos and try your best. ;) 
Okay, so maybe not in those exact words...

I knew that if they just struggled through it, they would love the end result.

I gotta say- once they learned to let go they did so great!!
I adore how perfectly imperfect they are.
Sir Kandinsky himself would be proud. 
Don'tcha think?

It was a simple project that you could easily do with any grade level, really.
This project really allowed us to focus on vocabulary as well! 
"Quarters", "dividing" and "layering" were being thrown all over the place!
Love bringing vocabulary to life for the kids in such a tangible way!

We started by dividing our 12x12 white paper into quarters.
You could do sixths or eights, but I wanted the circles to be really large to avoid additional attention to detail on the kids' part. 
The larger the circles, the more freedom that ensues.
I allowed them to add as many or as few circle as they desired.
We used oil pastels to provide a rich smooth pigment.
Even though pastels can get a little pretty messy- I love how forgiving they are.
Students can color out of the lines and the next color will blend right over the mistake.
It took the kids a few minutes to adjust to the necessary pressure of the pastel since they're so used to wax crayons- but once they caught on, they really loved this medium!

I love that art lessons can teach lessons beyond art.

That's about it for tonight ya'll.
I'm working hard to get my visual plans posted soon- so stay tuned!
Even though the rest of the school is well into the third week of school, I'm still on the first two days. It's a technicality due to our special area schedule. 
I get to start over soon and that means familiar faces, a new project and no more dramatic discussions about how many pencils belong at each table. 
Wrapping up my first rotation means I get to share with ya'll our first finished project...I call it: Our School-wide Handprint Mural! 
Creative. I know.
For the very first time in my teaching career, I do not have a curriculum to follow or a manual to abide by.
I get to use the district's art standards and create my own lesson and projects.
Talk about extreme freedom and fear rolled into one giant ball!
What if I mess up?
What if my lessons stink?
What if the kids hate it?
The publishing company?
Oh--wait. That's me.
When I really sat and thought about how I wanted to plan out my year- I knew I wanted to work through the elements of art in an order than made most sense to me. The elements of art are not a required standard for our district, but every artist will tell you that it's the foundation- so that's where I started.
Line, to me, is the easiest element to start the year off with.
Basic enough for all grade levels.
I was told by veteran art teachers to always start the year off with markers, crayons and paper.
Keep it simple.
I listened.
They know more than me.
It's true.
As I thought about our first project I had a list I wanted to check off...
1. I wanted it to be personal for the kids.
2. I wanted it to involve team work.
3. I wanted it to introduce the element of line.
4. I wanted it to be quick and easy for our first experience together.
I stumbled across my inspiration on Pinterest and knew instantly that with a few tweaks, this was my going to be our first art project for the year!
I'm so happy with how it turned out!!!
I don't think the picture really does it justice, to be honest.
From here, it almost appears that every hand is a solid color.
Don't be fooled.
You should see all the line details the kids added!
I've got some fantastic artists on my "hands" ya'll!
Each one is so unique!
I really love them.
The best part is that every student is represented.
Because, together--we really do achieve more!
Each grade level was responsible for a color.
Kinder is red, First is yellow and it continues on in suit.
Each afternoon, I added more hands to the wall.
It's been "live" art for 3 weeks.
Every day I added a little more.
I'm impressed it's lasted this long without a scratch!
Our hallway bulletin boards live in a cruel world ya'll.
I guess that goes to show that student's take pride in what they create!
Makes my heart happy.
So there ya go...my first project as an art teacher.
Whadda ya think?
Do ya love it as much as I do?!?

As teachers, adhesive is our friend.
It's true.
At times, it holds our classrooms together...literally.
But what's the best glue for your needs?
That's a great question.
And I just *might* have your answer!
Now, I'm not a "glue-ologist" by any stretch of the imagination...I'm just a crafty art teacher that has had my fair share of classroom glue experiences over the years.
Disclaimer: the photo's below are simply used as a reference for the material.
I am not endorsing or reviewing any of these brands.
It's only for your visual benefit.
So here's my opinion on the following...
1. Good 'ol liquid school glue
Best for gluing heavy items to paper {beads, buttons, pasta etc.}.
Great for paper and art crafts.
Cons: Messy when used by inexperienced gluers.
Also, the lids can get clogged easily.
Here's a tip to keep tops from getting clogged:
Unscrew the lids and dip them in cooking oil.
Easy as that!
Make sure to wipe off the outsides before use.
You're welcome. :)
2. Glue Sticks
Great for adhering lightweight paper projects.
The fading color versions are helpful for younger users!
It's super easy cleanup in the classroom- very little mess!
Cons: It dries out quickly if the lid isn't on tightly.
3. The almighty Mod Podge
This stuff works wonders for giving your projects a finished coat.
Comes in a ton of versions for your every need.
Goes on easily with a paint or sponge brush.
Think of it like a top coat of clear fingernail polish!
Just with...glue. It's a two in one! 
4. Super Glue
This stuff sticks like krazy. Pun fully intended.
Use caution...Parents don't like picking up their kids from school with a chair attached to the backside of their new school clothes.
Those thoughts should only live in your head...
no matter how much sugar they had in their cereal this morning. ;)
You are a professional. 
Just sayin'.
5. Spray Adhesive
Great for projects that you don't want glue to "bleed" through.
It's perfect for adhering photos or patterned paper to scrapbooks.
Caution: watch out for the over spray!
Anything that gets spray on it will remain sticky until it's dry.
That includes your fingers.
Wear gloves!
Depending on the brand- your average hand soap won't do the trick.
6. Hot glue
Perfect for attaching classroom d├ęcor to brick walls or fabric to a chalkboard!
It also works really well when adhering weighted objects to each other as well.
Higher priced glue guns have temperature options- which are so great!
Lower temp settings allow the glue to be easily removed from most items. Higher temps ensure a stronger bond and make removal very tricky.
Con: It's super HOT no matter what setting it's on!!
I'm pretty sure your finger prints are important pieces of information.
Be careful people.
7. Tacky Glue
This stuff works really well on fabric!
It's great for the every day craft project too!
I've found that it holds more weight than the average liquid school glue.
It's thick but dries clear.
It's the perfect glue to adhere pom-poms and pipe cleaners!

Any glue tips that I missed?
Leave a comment and share your tips!

September is here??
That's a bit crazy.
But, I kinda love it to be honest.
September means Fall is right around the corner!
That means pumpkin patch visits, spiced scentsy smells and cozy scarfs are on the horizon.
I love it more than summer, people.
Unless you're near water during the summer, Florida is brutal.
Just sayin'.
I welcome Fall with open arms.
In true fashion, here's my CURRENTLY for September.

I'll explain.
Listening- yesterday was not very productive which was nice and relaxing, until it got dark and I realized that I didn't get much done for the day. Today I'm kicking it off right! I had laundry going before the hubby got out of bed. Score!
Loving- ETSY!
Personalized  Kissing Bird  with Coral Necklace, Branch Necklace - Birthday Gift Necklace, Girlfriend Gift, Mom Gift
Mine has a K for the mister. LOVE.
Thinking- maybe I should eat breakfast before I sit down to blog.
Wanting- a fancy machine that will vacuum my floors everyday.
Needing- a fancy machine that will vacuum my floors everyday.
*cough* Hubby, are you reading this post?!?
"Heart" yourself- My goals this month are:
Use my planning time wisely....
Blog more frequently... and hit up the Y for Pilates at least twice a week.
That's it for me...now on to you! :)
I've gotten a few email requests to share one of my favorite classroom creations.
Since sharing is caring- I'll oblige.
Click {HERE} to download.
Don't forget to leave a review!

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