Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness in the Classroom

Hello there!   I have teamed up with my Blogging friends at Elementary Grapevine to bring you this special Happy Holiday Blog Hop!   Thank you to all of the lovely ladies for putting this together!!

I'd like to share with you a little bit about Random Acts of Kindness in the Classroom.   With so much going on in the lives of the little people in your classrooms (and teachers too!), often the only time they hear something positive is at school.

R.A.K. in the Classroom can take the form of a kind word, a small gesture, or even a handwritten note from you to a student.   This year,  I came up with The Secret Elf.  A fun way to encourage students to be kind to one another.

This is an activity that I have actually done with my own little people.  It works a lot like a Secret Santa activity would be, only it's among the students.  There isn't a lot of prep work involved in setting it up.  It requires printing out a few pages for each student, and taking a few minutes to match the students up with their Secret Elf (The instructions are in The Secret Elf packet linked below).

The fun part of this activity is that the students need to keep the secret of who their "Secret Elf" is. With younger students this might be a little more challenging, but fun too!   At the end of the project, each Secret Elf will reveal themselves to their match.  It's a good idea to do this before the end of the term.

There are a lot of fun options how to implement this activity.  There aren't any rules for being kind. :)
I made you a set of "You've been R.A.K.'d Cards"  for this Blog Hop.  Only the sweet friends that hop through this hop will receive the printable cards.  They are provided in both full color and bw to give you printing options.  Print off onto cardstock or colored paper, cut, and pass out to students you see sharing, working well in groups, being a good leader, etc.   The students that receive them can pass them on to someone else in the classroom (or school) that they see being a good friend, leader, etc.  To download the cards, click on the image below!

The Secret Elf packet contains a printable card, and writing papers for The Secret Elf.  I have included some basic instructions too.  To download it, please click on the image below. 

I hope that you enjoy this activity.   The next stop in the holiday blog hop is ......

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Holiday Favorite Things Blog Hop

Welcome friends!    Several Blogging friends came together to share some of our Favorite Things, (A little Oprah Style)... This is an AMAZING giveaway with several prizes!  Be sure to scroll down all the way to the bottom to make sure you don't miss anything.  Are you ready to get started?

Here are a few of MY favorite things:

 Christmas Lights - A holiday tradition!

When I was a little girl, my parents (along with Aunt's, Uncle's, Cousins,) and my brother would all pile in our old station wagon and go out and look at all the Christmas lights.  Ours were strung up on our house the day after Thanksgiving and taken down just after the new year.  It has been a long standing tradition, and one that I continue with my own home.  As seen in the photographs above,  I hang lights around my deck.  

Favorite PENS!  Mr. Sketch, Crazy Faces, and SCENTOS!

One of my very favorite things school related are colored pens - pens of any kind.  I love the new Mr. Sketch, and SCENTOS markers.  I can't pass by the art isle without picking up another pack.  Do they have support groups for that?

 Favorite Beauty products - Bath and Body Works!

Living on a farm, it means that hands get chapped in the winter!~  My favorite go-to products are from Bath and Body Works.  I love these products because I am not allergic to them, they come in many different fragrances, and there is a store not far from here!  (For Arkansas, that isn't bad!)  My favorite fragrance is Blackberry Vanilla but I think they are discontinuing it, so my last trip I was experimenting with different scents.  Sweet Pea, Oahu (yum!), and Carribbean Escape.

  Hobby Lobby Gift Card - Love it!

I am giving away a $10.00 gift card to Hobby Lobby as part of the Favorite Things giveaway!  Hobby Lobby has a huge selection of art supplies, d├ęcor, and more!  Here in Arkansas, a brand new store opened up a few months ago!  I enjoy going there to just look around for ideas, and for some shopping too! :)   The Gift card can be used in store and online as well.

Stop by my TPT Store and receive 50% off of the featured items for the holidays.  

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends' favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Currently - Dec. 2014

It's time for another Currently, created and hosted by Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!  Be sure to click on her link and show her some <3! :)

December.. Wow.. this year has flown by FAST!!!  

LISTENING:   Haha... I came home long enough to toss a load of wash in and to do a couple emails.  I found that Currently was being posted, sooooooooo here I am! :)   I could have said something more fun like I was cranking holiday tunes, but ... it's really my washing machine doing it's version of the Macerena! :)

LOVING;   I am enjoying a more simplified (less stress) life.  It's a long story, but the last month I have been working on de-stressing.  I'm spending less time glued to the Internet working, and more time outside, enjoying the scenery! :)

THINKING:  Even though I have simplified my life, I am still planning out a few work projects.  I have a new laptop which is going to help me be able to create from remote locations. How fun is that?

WANTING:  I'd really like to finish up my Christmas shopping this next week.  I am almost there!  Whew!   I am not a real fan of crowds, especially holiday crowds.  How about you?

NEEDING:  To get my Christmas tree up. I was debating over putting up a live tree.  Though with the dogs in the house, maybe not a good idea.   The outside Christmas lights have been up for 2 weeks. #onlyoneintheneighborhood  #clarkwgriswold

GIVING:    I am pretty blessed. Even though I am not wealthy by any stretch, I still believe in giving back. For a couple years now, I have given a portion of my sales to the Gary Sinise Foundation.  If you are not familiar with this organization, they build smart homes (and provide other services) for wounded soldiers, EMT/Fire/Police.  Mainly soldiers that have lost limbs and have combat wounds.  What I like about it is that the majority of the funds raised go to the actual building of homes, rather than a lot of admin. costs.  The man who founded it, you might know -  Gary Sinise from CSI NY and Forest Gump.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bright Ideas Round-up

Hey everybody!   Over the last several months, hundreds of my favorite Teacher Bloggers have come together to share their Bright Ideas!  There have been so many fabulous great ideas being shared that we decided to showcase some of our previous posts in this "Bright Ideas Round Up!"   We will return after the holidays in January with fresh Bright Ideas!


One of my favorite posts, is about Behavior Management using Activity Boxes.  This particular post has been viewed over 35,000 times!!! WOW!!!   I have used this technique many years working with kids with a variety of behavioral challenges.  To read the whole post, click on the photo above!

One of my first Bright Idea posts was written about adding to the classroom library by reviewing children's books!  This particular post was a hit. I received so many wonderful comments and letters. I was happy to hear from so many fans that enjoyed the original post, and were interested in reviewing books for their own classroom libraries. To view this article, please click on the image. 

I hope that you enjoyed the Bright Idea posts.  To read more Bright Idea posts from other Teacher Bloggers, you can click on the links below.  

As always, I LOVE hearing from you.  If you have a request, or would like to share your thoughts on previous posts please email me at crayonboxlearning@gmail.com  or leave me a comment below.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Scoop....The week ahead!

I am linking up with Teaching Trio for this new link up, Sunday Scoop!

What a clever way to start the week! :)

This week is going to be a busy one!   Many of you already know that I raise dairy goats.  My herd size had gotten a bit smaller due to selling a few, and earlier this summer I lost one due to a snake bite. :(   My family and I had been talking about improving some dairy lines (mammary) and the opportunity came up to add some new animals to the herd.  It's been a nice experience, albeit a bit long working on arrangements to get these lovely girls home!   They are coming from 3 different farms!  And will be picked up TOMORROW!!!  YAY!

I will post pictures once they arrive!  I can't wait!   My Mom and I will be driving up to Missouri in the afternoon to meet the transport company.  Ordinarily they would drive down to my farm, but their truck is having some mechanical issues.  It's safer to go get them in Missouri ourselves.  So mini-road trip to pick up my new furbabies.  

The weather has really dropped off.  From 90 degree days down to 40 degree nights.  Bbrrr!!!  I am too much of a tightwad to turn the heat on in the house just yet.. so we're shivering here in the morning! LOL    

The goats have fur suits so they are happy in the brisk air.  Will still need to prep the barns for the cooler weather.  I LOVE fall, and all the smells of fresh shavings and air makes me smile! :)

I've been working on my studio/office work space... (whatever you want to call it).  I moved one of my desks over by the window.  I am not sure I will like this configuration, but will work with it for awhile.  Everything in the room is pretty well organized in the right bins and shelves.  I'm hoping in the next few months to acquire different desks (I've been looking for real wood desks... rather than particle/laminate fake wood) to finish off the look.  Work in progress!

I also will be working on a new Blog.  Yep, I am up to mischief this weekend.  I spent the majority of the summer working on client's Blog designs. (Have you seen them?  Check out my portfolio here.  - yep, that was a shameless plug..)  I wanted the challenge of making a second Blog for myself that I can do some different design work with.  For fun, and to introduce some new materials I am working on. :)   Stay tuned!

I am hoping later today to work on finishing up a product I've had in my to-do pile for about 3 months. HA!   Time just seems to tick away, doesn't it? :) 

Last, but not least.. I am hoping to get out today and take some more pictures.  I like taking pictures of deer, birds, the goats, and even SPIDERS! :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently 2014

I am.....

LISTENING: I am sitting here listening to TITANIC while I am finishing up a few Blog Designs.   I like to listen to movies while working.   There is one scene in this movie where Rose steps out of the car before boarding the Titanic that I like.  She steps out and then lifts her head revealing her face.  I also like the scene where Rose and Jack go "party" with the people in the steerage.

LOVING: I am so glad that it's almost fall.  I am really looking forward to the cooler weather, falling leaves, and all of the wild life.  The deer are already banding up.  It's coming early this year!

THINKING: I am thinking about the Blog design jobs I have to complete.  I love designing because I enjoy putting different colors and patterns together. No 2 are a like.  

WANTING: I seriously need a vacation.  I have had this DVD from Disney hung on my "thinking wall" to be my inspiration for me to reach milestones (as a seller on TPT))  A few weeks ago, I passed a pretty HUGE milestone.  I'd been so busy that I hadn't noticed until now. HAHA!!  This weekend, I'm featured in the TPT Newsletter.  I'm thinking I need some mouse ears, and a ticket!!!  

NEEDING: I really need to... re-configure my office space because I spend so much time in here now that I need to move the furniture around.  I find myself looking at Pinterest a lot for inspiration... I have found a few desk styles that I really like.  Pottery Barn has their new catalog out as well... *drool*... I found a collection that I would love to have.  I think I need to win the lottery first though...*sigh*...

Since I haven't been on a vacation in so long... I am not sure where I would go first.  I do want to see the Atlantic Ocean,  go to Scotland (my ancestors are from there), or Hawaii.  If time and money were no object, I would be go to all 3 destinations.  I have several places on my Bucket List, and am hoping this next year to be able to start crossing them off.

Thank you for visiting my Blog as part of the CURRENTLY link up.  If you haven't already,  stop by Farley's page and show her some Bloggy love.  Click the link below! :)  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Ideas: Empowering Students through Art

Welcome to the August Bright Ideas Link up.   A huge shout out to Shelley Gray and all of the wonderful teachers that have come together this month for the new installment of Bright Ideas.

When I signed up for this event, I was right in the middle of several projects. My "bright ideas" seem to come to me when I am either eyeball deep in "stuff" or late at night when I am trying to go to sleep.   This month's idea came to me while I was driving down the road.  My mind was free of clutter, and I was reminiscing about a group of students that I worked with.  They were a pretty tough bunch initially.  They'd gone through several teachers and program leaders before I was transferred in. Their trust and confidence levels were about Defcon 4. They didn't trust anyone because those that came before me had let them down by leaving. Because of the behavioral issues, the homeroom teachers had referred them out.  There goes the self esteem! I used art, in many different forms to break through their barriers.  These were students that had been acting out in classes, having to be medicated for ADHD with weekly therapy sessions.  I had my work cut out for me.

"Empowering Students through Art!"   

First and foremost, students need to feel like they are important. They also need the security of knowing that somebody cares, and that they are good at something.  For many kids, the only encouragement they receive is at school.  

Art, in any form, can be a way for students to express themselves freely.  There are no right or wrong answers when creating art.  Helping students find their voice through creative (art) expression helps build their confidence.  Confidence is empowerment. 

Empowerment comes from giving students tools that they need to succeed.  Art, regardless of the medium or forum will provide your students with a foundation that they can take with them throughout their life.  

1.  Verbally praise student for their artwork.   Taking the time to acknowledge that the student created something can make the whole difference for that young person.  Whether the "masterpiece" was a drawing, or art project, genuine praise is good.  It can set the tone for the whole school year, and beyond.  

2.  Display student artwork.  When words aren't enough, having a classroom gallery is an excellent way to boost the confidence of your students. Everyone likes to have their moment in the spotlight.  If you have limited space, switch out artwork weekly or monthly. Special pieces that perhaps a student took a lot of time creating, save for conferences or reserve a special space for display.  

3.  Join in creating with your students.  You do not have to be an artist yourself to work with your students.
 I always carried around a backpack with art supplies in it.  I worked with students that had severe behavioral issues, as well as learning challenges.  One of my most memorable breakthroughs with students came after I began sitting down in the middle of my "kids," pulling out paper and pens and start drawing.   Pretty soon the kids were all joining in trying to see if they could draw too.  Starting out with shapes, and moving on to more geometric patterns, and so on. You might even whip up a batch of play dough the night before and hand each student a portion to see what they will create with it.

4. Encourage students to create an art journal:   Art journals can be created from composition notebooks, or 3 ring binders. It can be something that the students will want to share with you or not. They may start out not sharing it, but eventually will gravitate toward wanting to show off their creativity. Don't worry if the students don't want to show you their art journal.  If you aren't familiar with art journals, they are similar to sketch books and some can take the shape of a scrap book. There are other terms for them like smash book, slam books, etc.   {The large notebook in the photo is one of my own art journals.  I have several of them}  There are a numerous tutorials on Youtube on the subject of creating art journals. I generally start out by giving the students sheet protectors to preserve some of their best work, and then the students can add their own pages and whatever they want to their journal.

5. Free art time.    This can take place a few minutes of the day.  This type of activity can be really effective when the students are not really connecting with what is currently being taught. {I'm not referring to students that want to get out of their work.} For moments when there is nothing else really planned, and the students are restless.  Free art time is golden.  It can even be used as a reward or incentive for finishing work completely, or while waiting for the rest of the class to finish up an activity.   Free art time can take place either in a designated area or at their desk.  (Supplies will vary based on age group.)

The idea behind empowering students through art is to encourage creativity in all forms.  If you over think it, or stress over it, the purpose becomes lost in translation.  

The positive ending to my story of "my kids..."  I worked with them every day until the end of the school year.  Art was used in one way or another every day.  We started out at the ground floor and worked our way up building the student's confidences.  By the end of the year, the 3 students that were on medication were able to be taken off of their medications.  The toughest cookie graduated from his therapy sessions and didn't need to go back. All of the students had made enough positive progress to be able to move on to the next grade level for the following year.  I am not saying that it was always easy, it wasn't.  Art was the one thing that we could all have in common.  The students worked hard.  They became empowered.  That little bit of encouragement made the difference between them being held back and having their records filled with notations of behavioral issues, and being excited again about going to school and learning.   That's what it's all about!

If you have questions pertaining this post, please feel free to leave me a comment.  Below, you'll find a link up with over 100 wonderful teachers from all over the globe sharing their BRIGHT IDEAS!   Even if it takes you a few days to make it through, it's well worth it. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's Under Your Cape? Book Study

If you haven't had the opportunity to read Barbara Gruener's book,  "What's Under Your Cape, Superheroes of the Character Kind" it's a MUST read!   

I first heard about Barbara's book in a teacher group that I am a member.  She had been understandably, very excited to share information about her book being finished.  The more I read about the book, the more I wanted to get my hands on a copy to read it!  I purchased it from Barbara's site which was cool because she wrote me a little note in the book just for me! {You can purchase her book from Amazon too, but it isn't as much fun because the Amazon people don't write sweet notes!}

As I began to read the book, many of the examples she provided rang true to me.  Having worked extensively with children with behavioral challenges (many of which were severe), often times they didn't have role models or any positives in their lives.

In this book,  S-U-P-E-R-H-E-R-O-E-S stands for....
Unconditional Love

 "It's all about giving someone approval, support, confidence, and hope."  Barbara Gruener

Encouragement is an area that a lot of students don't have a lot of outside of the classroom.  Many students come from a diverse home setting (foster care, single parent homes, etc) where the only consistency and possibly the only encouragement they receive is at school.  I am sure you've all experienced students in your classroom that had less than desirable behaviors.  Sometimes the smallest gesture of a word or phone call home can make all the difference in the world in the child's life.  

How do you encourage your students?

Barbara shares examples of encouraging students from making a phone call home to share with parents about a student's positive behavior, to "when a child gets out of the car with a greeting, a compliment, or a smile." One of the examples that I gravitate towards is that of the written word.  I'd like to share with you a little story about how the written word can change a life of a kindergartner.

This little girl had gone through a lot in her young life.  Along with their father, the young girl and her brother fled the state they had lived in after their Mother had been involved in a crime and was later incarcerated.  They had left a pretty awful situation, and came to a part of the country where they didn't know anyone.  When I met these 2 children, they were guarded, and demonstrated a lot of negative behaviors.  You could tell by some of their conversations and actions that they were acting out due to seeing and hearing way too much for their young age.  Even though the father tried hard, they often went to school in dirty or torn clothing, hair a mess. They also didn't always have balanced meals to eat at home. Their main meals were ate at school.  This also contributed to their behavior issues. They were always hungry and tired.  

Slowly,  the young girl began to let her guard down and enjoyed school. Each day, we would interact with these children, you could see subtle improvements in the behavior.  Every day that we interacted with the 2 kids,  we were consistent in how we encouraged them when they did something positive, and downplayed the not so positive behaviors.

Midway through the school year,  the little girl began smiling more. This is something that was a HUGE thing for us because she was always so sullen and her eyes looked sad. She began taking more of an interest in what she was wearing, that she was clean and neat, and her hair combed.  The key to unlocking this little girl was encouragement.  

By the end of the school year, she was excelling in her school work.  So much so that she was awarded "Most Improved Student" and was given this award in front of the whole school at the end of the year assembly.  She brought home her certificate.  By the end of the day it was a little wrinkled and, but she carried that piece of paper around showing it to anyone who would look at it.

I gave her a special binder (with a cover with her name on it) that I hand drew, and sheet protectors to put her awards in so that she could save them.  That small gesture was that little girl's whole world.  The SMILE on her face when I presented it to her, was priceless.  I don't think I have ever seen her eyes light up like that.  She giggled and hugged me and told me that I spelled her name right. :)   She has carried her binder around with her ALL SUMMER LONG.... she sleeps with it under her pillow.

Yesterday,  she sat down beside me with wiggles and grins like FIRST GRADERS do.. and told me how she can't wait to go to school.   I asked her what the best part of school is...   she smiled and she said.. "I LOVE MATH!     I want to count things." ;) 

From a little girl that didn't have much of an interest in anything to a SUPERHERO.... all because she was given encouragement!   That little positive nudge in the right direction has changed her life, and set her on the right path to LEARN!   

Traditionally in a book study,  a common question that is asked what did you like the best about the book? I can't say enough, everything about this book is the best part.  It is a book that any teacher can pick up and find something that they can do to implement.  "What's Under Your Cape,  Superheroes of the Character Kind"  is a book that you will refer back to often.  My copy already has post it notes, and book marks in it to refer back to.  

I have created this SUPERHERO freebie for you to download and write little messages
of encouragement when seeing them demonstrate positive behavior.  They are provided in blackline instead of color to save on ink!  *Note* The superhero graphics featured in this freebie were custom made for me by Mel from Graphics from the Pond!

Click either image to download file.  There are 2 sheets of 4 cards each as seen below.

Would you like to WIN a signed copy of 
 "What's Under Your Cape?   Superheroes of the Character Kind"?
Barbara Gruener has graciously agreed to give one of my wonderful fans a signed copy of her book. How cool is that?  Fill out the Rafflecopter below. A winner will be chosen on Sat., 8/9/14 at 12:00 am

The next stop in this book study journey.....

Runde's Room will be hosting the chapter on Self Discipline on August 7th.  Be sure to pop by and show her some Bloggy love. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas: Classroom Time Capsules

Thank you so much for stopping by!   I am happy to be joining some of my favorite blogging friends for the July Bright Ideas Link Up!   It's exciting to read through so many amazing ideas! 

Materials needed:
  • Metal/heavy plastic container that will seal completely with a lid.
  • Small ziplock baggies
  • Sharpie marker
  • Paper scraps
  • Miscellaneous bobbles such as small toys, buttons, scrap fabric,
  • Photo of pet and or family

This project is simple, and fun for kids (and adults) to put together and open up at the end of the school year or even years later. Back to School time is perfect to put together a small time capsule to bury in the backyard or put together with other student's time capsules at school. It's optional when you re-open it.

Time capsules are a fun way to preserve something about yourself.   Making time capsules can be a great addition to "All About Me" Units too!


  • Start out by finding a suitable container. In my example, I used a cute tin that I had in my studio. It has a hinged lid so it could remain closed tight. The best containers are those with a tight/secure lid, and the container itself will not mulch down. (Paper or cardboard containers could be used if wrapped in plastic or put inside a ziplock bag.)   You can choose to have your students bring their own container to school as part of an assignment, or you can provide them.
  • Have each student locate small items at home that will fit easily inside the container.  (As a class project, it may be a nice idea to send a note home to help them with their items.)

    For my example, I selected items that would represent me: A small goat figure (because I raise dairy goats), lipgloss (because who doesn't love lipgloss?), a small prism, buttons (favorite colors), a butterfly charm, crayons (I love crayons), a quarter, a toy car, a lollypop, a photo of some barn kitties, and 2 little cards I wrote on and put inside small ziplock baggies.

  • There aren't any rules for making the perfect time capsule. The more creative you are, the more fun it will be when you open it again.
  • For older students, you can add a special twist to have them write a letter to their future self. (Hint: Any items that are on paper or cardstock (and photos) should be put into the small ziplock baggies to protect them from the elements.)
  • After all of the items are gathered, notes written, place all of the items inside a ziplock bag and then place inside the container.
  • Seal the container lid edge with tape.
  • Put container in plastic bag or ziplock bag (optional) to protect it from getting wet where it's buried.

For other "Bright Ideas...." Click through the link up below!  Enjoy!