How To Create Your Own Light Box Inserts

I have had so much fun playing with my light box over the last few months. When I saw it at Wal-Mart for less than $10 I knew that I NEEDED it! I had seen the Heidi Swapp light box at Hobby Lobby but it was close to $30 on a good day and that was enough to keep me from buying it. So I was so happy to see it for a 1/3 of the price and grabbed it!

I started researching online how to create your own inserts because the boring black letters weren’t cutting it and there weren’t always enough of each letter to say what I wanted to say! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that clearly laid it out for me. So through a lot of trial and error I perfected it and now want to share it with you!

Slide1

Step 1. Get A Light Box

You will obviously need a light box. If you already have one GREAT! If not you can run to Wal-Mart and see if they have one or you click on these Amazon links to see the Leisure Arts light box that I purchased or the Heidi Swapp light box if you prefer that one! (It is a bit larger)

Light Box

Leisure Arts Light Box

Heidi Swapp Light Box

Step 2. Find The Right Paper

You can print the inserts on regular white printer paper, but if you want it to have more of a transparent look you can use transparency paper. I really thought transparency paper was a thing of the past. The last time I had seen this stuff in person was probably in 4th grade! When I discovered that I could print on this paper with my printer at home I was so THRILLED!  I read a million reviews on different types of transparency paper and how they work with printers. Here is the most important thing to know before purchasing your transparency paper. Do you have an INKJET or LASER JET printer? The transparency paper prints VERY differently on these two types of printers so make sure you know which kind you have before you buy any paper.

I have an INKJET printer. This is the transparency paper I bought and it has worked super well. It’s dry before I even walk from my computer over to the printer and never smears.


Inkjet Transparency Paper

If you have a LASER JET printer. Lucky you. The transparency paper is quite a bit cheaper for laser jet printers. Here is the same brand of paper. I can’t say how well this works on a Laser Jet printer because I don’t have one so read some of the reviews before purchasing!


Laser Jet Transparency Paper

Step 3. Create or Purchase Designs

Once you have your paper you can get to work creating! I create mine in power point. I initially printed my sayings on paper and cut them out to get the sizing right and when I felt I had it as close as possible I went ahead and printed them on the transparency paper.

If you don’t have the time or simply don’t want to create your own you can start out by trying the free pineapple set in my TPT Store or grab the whole bundle for year-round fun!

 

Bright Pineapple Back to School Light Box Freebie -Heidi Swapp or Leisure Arts

Light Box Mega Bundle - Heidi Swapp or Leisure Arts (Growing)

Step 4. Print

This can be the intimidating part because you don’t want to mess up on that precious transparency paper! However, it is REALLY simple! If you are using my inserts you simply hit the print button and you should have a dialog box that comes up that looks like this…

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 11.41.16 AM

First choose which pages you want to print, or you can print them all!

Next, I’ve found that selecting custom scale and setting it to 103% gets them to the EXACT size you’ll need for them to fit. If you do actual size or fit to page they may be slightly smaller as the program tries to shrink them to fit to the page when printing.

Last, make sure you put your transparency paper face down with the white strip towards the back of your paper tray so that it will be the first thing to be pulled through. I believe the white strip is there to enable your printer to grasp something more sturdy when pulling it through but I could be totally wrong.

If you aren’t sure how your printer feeds paper through, test it out on a regular piece of paper by writing with pen on one side and placing it in your tray and printing your page and then see which side the pen ended up on.

Step 5. Cut Inserts & Place In Your Light Box

IMG_1248

If you are using my inserts all you need to do is cut along the dotted lines. It doesn’t really matter if you can still see that line after you have cute because I found that portion is usually covered up once you insert them into your light box anyway.

IMG_1252

It really is so fun to change these out once a week! Hopefully you have found this to be helpful! Let me know if you have questions!

If you would like the Spring inserts displayed in this post you can find them by clicking HERE.

They are also included in my Light Box MEGA Bundle that contains over 180 designs! You can see them all by clicking HERE.

Enjoy!

-Ashley

 

cropped-logo1.png

*This page contains affiliate links.

Free Valentine’s Day Activity Book

If you are looking for something to help your students fill up that extra few minutes of free time between lessons or for a class reward that is FREE for you, you have come to the right place!

This Valentine’s Day activity book is a perfect activity that gets students excited but still helps them learn at the same time!

Slide1.jpeg

I created this to work with a variety of different grade levels spanning from 1st-4th. It includes 7 pages that really focus on being grateful and kind to to others! I made sure to include a page with all of the different words they might use int their Valentine writing to help them with their spelling. It also makes a fun color page!

Slide2.jpeg

The prep is super simple. Just print the pages you want your students to work on and staple them together! I think your students will love coming up with ways to be kind to others and keeping track of it in their activity book.

Slide3

Think of all the good that will be happening in your classroom! You can download the free printable by clicking on the link below!

Valentine’s Activity Book Freebie

I hope your class enjoys it!

Ashley

 

Modern Christmas Bulletin Board Ideas

Sometimes I will scroll through pinterest looking at bulletin boards for fun and it seems like the majority of the photos are from so long ago! So many are adorable and are great ideas but if you like to incorporate a more modern feel into your classroom, the look can be hard to find.

Take a look at these bulletin board ideas I found in my way too long pinterest search plus a couple of bulletin board kits I made on my own!

Slide1

1. Grinch Bulletin Boards

I saw this board and fell in love. While the Grinch isn’t exactly “modern” the way this board was put together looks amazing and modern! I love the 3 dimensional aspect! I wish I knew who originally completed this board so I could give them a high five and some well deserved credit! Well done!

 

2. Buffalo Check Bulletin Boards

Buffalo check Christmas decorations are EVERYWHERE this year….and i’m not even a little bit mad about it. There is something about that print that makes me feel like I am in the middle of a woodsy cabin, drinking some hot cocoa by the fire with a book in my hand…I could keep going but I’ll stop for your sake.

I decided to create this buffalo check bulletin board kit a few months ago when I came across some clip art that I knew I’d want to incorporate into it. I love how it turned out!

Slide2

It is super easy to put together. All you have to do is cut out the letters and the trees and the car and staple or tape them up to your board or your door and you are pretty much done! It comes with a few different sayings for your choosing! You can see more of this board by clicking HERE.

3. Bright Christmas Cactus Bulletin Boards

I did it. I found a way to continue my cactus obsession over into the Christmas season. I really wanted to create a classroom decor kit this year that was in the cactus theme but just didn’t have the time so this was my way of getting the cactus bug out of me! You can see it by clicking HERE.

Slide2

4. “Elfie” Bulletin Boards

Elf Christmas door decorating contest!

This is another super cute idea! It is used on a door here but could easily be used on a bulletin board as well. Students would love the play on words!

You can see more of my bulletin board creations and how I make them on my Instagram account by clicking HERE.

 

Birthday Party! Freebie :)

Slide1

When I first heard of Scoot games I thought that my 1st graders would love them. They love moving their little wiggly bodies so much and this was a game that would allow them to do that and learn at the same time? Sign me up! I’ll admit that my first attempt at playing scoot with them was kind of a mess. (Like most things you try to do with first graders for the first time right?) However, after we reviewed the plan and played it a few times they were pro’s and begged me to play it over and over.

I thought of a fun way to incorporate this into our birthday celebrations for them because of how much they loved playing it. They were getting tired of the traditional heads up 7 up game and skeleton in the closet wasn’t stumping them anymore so I needed something new that was easy to do and could be done in 15 minutes or less.

Slide1

Slide1           Slide2

Enter…the birth of Birthday Party Scoot! If you haven’t played scoot before let me walk you through the main steps. I would play this differently with k-early 1st grade than I would with late 1st-5th. I’ll describe both ways.

Kinder-Early 1st

(until they can read most words on their own)

As the teacher I would have the birthday student come up to the front of the room with me and I would tell them the task that was on a card and they could announce it for the whole class to do together. Or you could do it in a smaller group setting like a center.

Late 1st-5th

I would play this the normal way Scoot is played!

  1. Cut the cards out and place one on the desk of each of your students.
  2. Students start at their own desk and when you give the signal they perform the task on the card. (Or the birthday boy/girl could give the signal if they’d like!)
  3. After 10-15 seconds give them the signal of your choice (bell, buzzer, music, yell happy birthday, etc) for them to move to the next desk. It’s important to clearly line out how they will move from desk to desk so mass hysteria doesn’t happen in the middle of the game!
  4. Students move at your signal to each card until they have completed all of the tasks.
  5. You can play it over and over!

This is a rare game where there are no winners or losers which is nice every now and then! Also a great game to leave with a sub who may have a few spare minutes in her day.

What are your favorite games to play with your students on their birthdays? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Click the link below to download Birthday Party Scoot! I hope you have fun!!!

Slide1

Birthday Party Scoot

I also have a ton of other scoot games in my store, some are holiday themed and others are geared towards a review of concepts. You can check them out by clicking the link below.

 Punctuation Scoot! { !, ?, . }    Halloween Party Scoot Game (30 cards!)   Christmas Party Scoot Activity (30 Cards!)  Synonym Scoot Game-30 Cards!

Other Scoot Games

 

Lessons Learned as a First Year Teacher

 

lessonslearnedblog

 

I was extremely nervous for my first day of school and felt totally under qualified and under prepared. I had nightmares about that first day. These kids were going to be 100% my responsibility! Was I ready? Turns out I wasn’t and  at the same time I was. I had no idea what I would be going through the next 9 months but I had been properly prepared to survive it! Here are a few things I learned during my 1st year teaching.

You Will Have Good Days & HORRIBLE Days

Teaching is kind of like riding a roller coaster. Some days your students are angels, your lesson plans go well, you remembered to pack a lunch, and you think your students actually listened to what you were trying to teach. Then….there are days where you want to crawl under your desk and hide until 3:00pm and it’s only 8:15am. Your students have destroyed your room while you were out on bus duty, two of them keep fighting, your lesson got interrupted by an impromptu fire drill where you lost one of your students, and then you get a call after school that one of your students never made it home…and it’s Halloween. PERFECT! (Thor decided to get off the bus at a friend’s house instead of his own.) Just be ready to handle to the roller coaster. The good days will outweigh the bad and hopefully you have a bucket of ice cream waiting for you at home to make the bad days not so bad!

You Will Be stretched

I think my first year of teaching was one of the most difficult/rewarding times of my life. Every day seemed to bring new challenges and opportunities for growth (like how I phrased that like it’s a good thing) ;). I never imagined I would have a first grader punch me in the stomach while pregnant, or need to bring the reading rate of a student up from 2 wpm to 60 to meet the benchmark, or that our first common core math test would end in 1/2 of the class in tears. YES, all of those things are true! But I will tell you that the student that punched me is the one I ended up missing the most, the struggling student’s reading rate did make it to 60 wpm by the end of the year, and we didn’t have any more tears in my classroom after that horrendous test! Things will work out but be prepared to be stretched.

Teaching Isn’t Always About Teaching

I don’t think I was prepared for the weight of the responsibility that comes with being a 1st grade (or any grade really) teacher. These kiddos were incredibly dependent on me. I needed to make sure they had a good breakfast, they had their coats on for recess, that they ate lunch, that they had friends at recess and weren’t being bullied, and that they got on the right bus or into the right car after school!

I wasn’t a parent at the time but these students became my children for 8 hours of the day. I loved them like they were my own. I would have done anything for them. One student in particular had to brave horrendous circumstances at home. Mom was in jail, the man he was staying with who he thought was his dad was actually his uncle and dad hadn’t been seen or heard from since birth. He lived in a trailer and wore the same outfit every day and hadn’t brushed his teeth in YEARS. I wanted to adopt this boy and help him have the life he deserved. But a wise college professor taught me that there will always be students you want to take home and save them from their reality. You can’t do it for all of them. You can only try to make their 8 hours a day with you one’s where they feel safe and loved. I became that boy’s biggest advocate. Learning his letters and numbers were NOT the priority with him. He had major behavioral problems but I knew that it wasn’t his fault. I would bring him breakfast every day and he would come into my classroom to eat it before school started, then I would have him brush his teeth with a toothbrush I bought him. How could I expect him to behave or learn when his basic needs weren’t being met? No it wasn’t my job to do that but it was the right thing to do. Turns out that once his basic needs were met he proved to be one of the smartest students in class.

Communication is Key

I was very intimidated by parents when I first started teaching. Did they hate me? View me as under qualified? Wish their child had been placed in a different classroom because I was new? All of these questions ran through my mind. When we had back to school night I was a mess. ALL of my student’s parents were going to be looking to me to tell them how I was going to take care of their children and help them learn what they needed to in order to advance to 2nd grade. I decided the one thing that would make them feel like I was going to do okay at my job was to let them know I would work hard for each one of them and I was going to have an open door policy. I gave them my cell number and  email. I know some teachers don’t like that but I was ok with it. I sent out weekly newsletters to remind parents of activities, assignments, and let them know what we had been learning in class that week. By the end of the year I had parents telling me how much their child loved me and how grateful they were. I think the only reason that happened was because I was open and communicated with them whenever there was a problem. Yes, there were parents who didn’t and may not have cared for me. But knowing that some of them did appreciate the hard work was amazing!

Co-Workers are one of your BEST Resources

Starting the year is overwhelming. What should your schedule be like? What kind of curriculum will you be using? Where should you get your supplies? Field trips? Classroom rules? The questions that need to be answered are endless! I had amazing co-workers that were so willing to help me! One in particular saved me. She took me under her wing and would bring over fun activities that she was doing and shared with me all year-long! When I was sick she would prep for my sub and I would do the same for her. I would cry on her shoulder on the days where I felt defeated and she would encourage and uplift me so that I could come back the next day ready to try again! Hopefully you can find someone like that at your school, because I honestly don’t know if I would have survived that year without her!

If you take anything away from this let it be that teaching is much harder than the world depicts it to be. But you are stronger than you think and you will be great at it if you love the children and work hard to give them your best! If you are starting your first year soon good luck to you! If you just finished your first year you probably have some great stories of your own to tell!