Sunday, August 23, 2015

WHAT to do when your schedule is a HOT MESS

This is Danielle from Crayonbox Learning popping in to share  WHAT to Blog about when your schedule is a hot mess.  I came up with this topic on the FLY.. why?  I was scheduled to write today, and I hadn't realized I was on THAT schedule. It has been so crazy in my life lately with back to school time, and my parent's BIG MOVE to the new farm next door,  that I didn't have something written in advance. 

When I realized I needed to come up with a topic for today,  I felt like I hit a wall.  My schedule is all over the place. That got me thinking about how that might actually be a common theme for many of you.   

This summer,  I think we all had really great intentions to get organized and be better about blogging. I saw a LOT of posts in Facebook groups asking what to write about. There are posts out there in Google land that are pretty clever,  but I like to keep it a little simplified. Here's my Top 5 things to Blog about because my schedule is a hot mess! 

Number 1 really should start  with "must be accompanied by chocolate."  

Everything will be O.K. :)


Here we go!

Write From your Heart !

Writing from the heart probably sounds like something a chick would say.   A lot of you out there probably sit down to write a post and go through a lot of different emotions, and second guessing yourself trying to make sure that you have "The perfect photo," and the "perfect topic..."   That's where I think many bloggers go wrong.  When you're already stressed, the last thing you need is to add more stress trying to forcing yourself to write something that will produce a predetermined response. What are you passionate about?  What ONE thing really gets you fired up about teaching, or working with kids, (or a relevant topic for the audience you're writing for).

Write about Life Experiences

Some of the best Blogs I have ever read were written from the perspective of a REAL, open and honest person. When you write about your life experiences,  the words will flow because you've already been through it.   Don't worry about how it looks or what others might think of the piece.  Your readers will be thrilled that you shared a part of yourself with them, and know that there really is a real person behind that screen.  

Write about an AHA Moment in your Career

As a teacher, coach, or mentor... I imagine that you experienced a moment or maybe a series of experiences that defined who you are as a teacher and/or role model. One of my many moments came in the mid-90's when I was working as a Director of a youth program. I was given the task of working with a young man that had been kicked out of every school, program, and his own mother had tried to kill him not once but 3 times.  It was up to me to bridge the divide between the state, school officials, and the courts.  I did it.  I won't say that it was easy, but it was something that built the framework for my life. Every one of us has a story in us. What is ONE thing in your career that defined the path 

Write about things that you see around you.

As a visual person, I LOVE to read posts that not only tell a story, but paint a picture.  In this age of Instagram and Periscope,  it is so much easier to snap a quick picture or capture a moment that otherwise would have been overlooked or forgotten about.  I look at Instagram every day,  several times a day. Ok I am becoming an Instagram Addict.  The pictures and notes that appeal the most to me are those that are random.  For example,  a guy I don't know yet from a place I was familiar posted this funny (ok it was hysterical) small clip of a calf that was catching rain drops on his tongue. It was  so random, and funny at the same time.  Who ever knew a cow could tip it's head back like that?  This silly calf had his tongue hanging half out of his head slurping up the rain drops as fast as he could.  That would make a really fun writing prompt or story starter for your students!  (Please tell me, I am not the only one that saw it?)    If calves playing in the rain don't strike your fancy,  take your phone out and just snap at random.  Then when you get home go through them and find something funky, quirky or silly to write about.   Come to think of it, that would make a really cool Link UP Series...!

Write a list of likes and dislikes.

You might think this is a stretch, and it might be.   One page on my Blog that has always attracted a LOT of views and response is about my own likes and dislikes. So much so that I've had other Bloggers contact me and tell me that they were happy to read it because they found out we had a lot of similarities. It starts the conversation. The idea behind any good Blog post is to get people thinking, and talking.  What better way to do that is to talk about what you like and don't like.. it can be about foods you eat (or don't eat), favorite beverages, cocktails, neighbor guy, UPS man, or online store?    The cool thing about this topic is that it can be short or long, and you don't have to spend a lot of time contemplating what to write because you've already had a lifetime of composing it.

I hope that you made it this far, and that these "TIPS" will help you with your Blogging when your own schedule is a hot mess.    If you'd like to follow me on Instagram, my link is:   If you write a post using one of these tips, please leave me a comment. I'd love to check it out!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

5 Donations Every Classroom Needs

It's almost time for back to school, and many teachers are already busy shopping and setting up their classrooms in preparation for greeting their new students very soon. Recently, one of my friends asked for a list of donations that teachers would appreciate receiving during back to school time, and I thought that was so thoughtful of her to want to donate supplies to her son's teacher. Did you know that most teachers spend over $500 of their OWN MONEY every year on materials for their classrooms?? Wow!! I certainly didn't realize it until I became a teacher! Anyway, with that in mind, I decided to share my “top five” list of items I always ask for, along with a few other suggestions that many teachers always appreciate receiving. Be sure to read all the way through for a little bulletin board idea at the end :)

1. Tissue
In my welcome packet, I actually say "if your child has a nose, they will need a box of tissue at school!" Kids go through tissue like candy. Sometimes I think it is just the novelty of getting out of their seat more than the need to blow their nose, but oh my gosh, we go through tissue SO FAST every single year. And I always feel a bit sad and pathetic/embarrassed when I have to tell my students to go to the bathroom to blow their nose when we have run out of tissue.

2. Bandaids
Bandaids are right up there with tissue, the slightest little paper cut needs IMMEDIATE attention in the form of a bandaid. I quickly learned to NOT supply the cute Disney bandaids, because we went through those even faster than a box of tissue! Lol!! I had students picking their scabs to get a Disney bandaid. Live and learn, then buy the plain old Bandaids!

3. Hand sanitizer / soap
This should go without saying. Kids are germy. Classrooms are germy. I made my students use hand sanitizer before using the computers, and every time they used a tissue to blow their nose. I was also fortunate enough to have a sink in my classroom, so hand soap was also used frequently. Some teachers don't have a sink in their classroom, so hand sanitizer is their only option to prevent the spreading of germs in their classroom.

4.  Pencils / erasers
Plain old yellow #2 pencils are the best - kids don't find over colors or designs, and there's no plastic wrap on them that the kids can peel off or that can jam an electric pencil sharpener. Pink pearl erasers are also great because kids tend to go through the small eraser tips very quickly.

5. Clorox wipes
Classrooms are filled with germs! I like to wash down all my desks, tables, and counters frequently, and the students love to help clean their desks! They are often amazed at how dirty the wipe gets just from cleaning their own desk (EWWW!) 

Other suggestions: crayons (16 or 24 packs are awesome!) glue sticks, paper towels, napkins, cups, straws, paper products (for class parties, etc.), copy paper (teachers always need more copy paper!), ziploc baggies (all sizes), notebooks, two-pocket folders, file folders, dry erase markers, sharpies, and gift cards -- check out this darling back to school gift card freebie from by friend Tauni at SNAP Creativity!  As a technology specialist, I would love an APP gift card :)

While working on this post, I came across the cutest bulletin board idea that I wanted to share with all of you. Michelle fromApples and ABCs made a popcorn themed "wishlist" to help parents know what items she needed in her classroom. With her permission, I have created a little freebie that you can download and use at your own back to school open house. I have included some popcorn kernels with school supplies already on them, and also included a page of blank kernels to write your own items on as well. I hope this is something you can use as you prepare for back to school.  Click on the photo below to download the bulletin board set.  Enjoy!