Made 4 Math #7

Things you should know about me:

– I love sports

– I love arts and crafts

Being a fresh off the press teacher I don’t have much in the school decoration department. Last year when I started my first year teaching I really wanted to cover up the white walls. I spend so much time in the classroom that I wanted to make it feel a bit more homey. At the same time though my decorating sense when it comes to the classroom tends to be a bit more 4th grade classroom than high school. If it were up to me I’d have pompoms hanging from the ceiling and a pendant flag border. As a compromise I decided to make a school spirit banner to 1) take up a bunch of wall space and 2) show some school pride.
Here is the banner I made last year:

It looks like it might have taken a lot of work but it really didn’t. All I did was take a piece of clip art and blow it up to the size I wanted (pixelation doesn’t matter) and projected it up on the screen. I then took a plain white twin bed sheet that I got from Walmart for like $5 and traced the image with a sharpie. From there I just put it down on a flat surface and painted! I even added a pi and an infinity symbol to make it more mathematical. Unfortunately since I was laid off I gave the banner to my bestie in the math department figuring that should would get more use out of an 8ft tall spartan than I would.

This weekend I went through the same process but only used half the sheet to make a banner for my new school’s mascot.

Here is my helper during the process. As you can see where she goes destruction follows.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get him hung up this weekend and will post an updated pic!


Made 4 Math #6

I cannot believe it is already the SIXTH #made4math

This week my post is very inspired from other #made4math -ers as well as all those elementary teachers out there who are always making super cool printables. The post that really got me going was from the MathSmith, she had a great post about ColourLovers and how you could use their patterns for your blogs background (PS Its how I have a new chevron background :) ). This got my wheels spinning on how I could use this to make binder covers. Warning: This does take a lot of patience and time, but I think the fact that you can customize these to be whatever you’d like is really priceless.

First up you need to go to and make an account. Its free and easy!
After you’ve made your account go and look at the patterns – don’t worry about the colours, we can change those later!
Once you find a pattern you like you have three options.
1. Use this one as is
2. Browse similar patterns
3. Color this pattern (for tutorial purposes we’ll be coloring our own pattern)

Now over to the MathSmith’s post she shows you how to go through a cropping process to get the image to be seamless, well after I wrote this post the first time (and cropped everything myself) I figured out how to do it the easy way!!! *facepalm* (PS OMG doing it this way makes it so much faster!!!!!)

Once you’ve created your pattern it’ll take you to this screen. Look over on the bottom right of this picture and you’ll see all the different size options. Click on preview! It’ll take you to the picture, right click and save it somewhere on your computer!

Here are the two patterns I made for my binder cover:

Now onto the binder cover!!!! Open up PowerPoint!!!!

First thing we need to fix is the size of the slide, so go to File > Page Setup…
Change the size of the paper to standard paper size of 8.5 x 11 – your computer might prompt you saying it needs to resize the file that is fine. You can’t print out an 8.5×11 color picture you need to have a little space around the edges anyway.
The easiest way I’ve found to insert your pattern into the file is to use the rectangle tool and place it where you’d like it to go.
Now don’t worry about the sides overflowing it doesn’t matter, the left is what your page will look like. You need to format your rectangle though, so take away its drop shadow and also its line, we need to fill it using the fill effects option.
Go over to the picture or template and browse for your pattern. Click the tile button and press ok and then your rectangle should look like the one I have in the background.
Use a couple more rectangle tools and you should have a basic background. Next I used a rounded rectangle tool put it in the middle and added some text.
Here is my finished product, now just save it as a PDF and print that sucker out!
Here it is all printed out and stuck in a binder!

Well I hope you found this tutorial useful, it can be used for endless things – I just really needed some binder covers!!

Made 4 Math Monday #5

This past week I have been working on everything INB (interactive notebook) that I almost forgot about #made4math, blasphemy I know! So I got to work over the weekend and cranked out two little mini projects.

First Up: My DIY Clipboard

I carry around a clipboard a lot, I have my grades on it, post-its, and whatever other little papers make their way in throughout the day. I wasn’t satisfied with the one I had last year so I went to Staples and got a plain one for $1. I also went to Hobby Lobby where they were having a 40% scrapbook paper sale and got 5 pieces ( 2 for the top design, 2 for the bottom, and 1 piece for the center strip). The only other materials I used were Matte Modge Podge and black paint which I already had laying around my room. Here are the pictures of the process!

The I slapped some modge podge onto the clipboard and put on my paper. Protip: have a credit card handy to push out the bubbles.
My corners were super ugly but instead of using an exacto knife or scissors I…
sanded them down to this. Much better :)
Here is how she looked, nice but I still wasn’t satisfied. (Can you tell somebody learned about the caption tool recently)
I dry brushed the edges to give it a well more edgy effect because, well, I’m super edgy. I finished if off with a coat off modge podge just in case me and my clip board get caught in the rain.

Project #2: Flower Pens

I’ve seen a lot of people doing flumed feather pencils, but that isn’t quite my style (not a big feather girl). My other issue with the pencils, and I could totally be wrong, but that you can’t use the eraser with a bunch of feathers flyin’ around. With this in mind I figured I would make something with pens. I had seen this in an English teachers room when doing my student teaching and I loved them because they double as desk decoration.

Here is what you need if you want to make these:

-Fake flowers

-BIC pens (I used black, red, and blue)

– Floral Tape

– Vase and vase filler

To start out take out all your pens, toss the caps, and pop off the ends (I did this using a pair of pliers to help shimmy them out). Then take your flowers and take off the fake fabric green stem, you should be left with the flower and a skinny plastic stem. Then with wire cutters cut the plastic stems varying lengths. Stick the plastic stem into the pen where you had popped out the back and then use floral tape the wrap them up. Warning: floral tape is super sticky. Another word of the wise is once you are done take baby power in your hands and then rub the pens in them, this will take out the stickiness from the floral tape. VOILA! You are done! Just stick them in the vase and you now have a beautiful desk decoration as well as a bunch of functional pens. My students liked using them but opted out since they were pens and not pencils and they never once stole one, the girls did try to get me to sell them though :P

If you look closely some of the pens on the left and right look at tad odd, that is because when I first started I didn’t put them inside the pen, about halfway through i corrected this mistake. The pen in the middle is a “perfect” one.

Made 4 Math Monday #4

I had a really tough time picking something to make this week until I stumbled across this game I found on Pinterest. Even though the original game was created for a 5th grade classroom I think it will translate really well into middle/secondary classrooms of any content area. The other really nice thing about this is it is SUPER cheap to make.

All you need is:

– Poster board

– Library Pockets

– Cardstock

I went to hobby lobby where they always have crazy discounts plus I had a 40% off coupon as well as using my teacher discount. I picked up a paper trimmer when I was there and it made cutting out all the cards and numbers a thousand times easier!

And here is the final product!

How It Works:

– Separate your students into 4+ groups

– Have a bunch of questions ready to go on the smartboard/powerpoint/etc. Prop your ZAP! game up next to is at well as having a student serve as scorekeeper (or you if you are good at multitasking)

– Ask a group a question, if they get it right they receive one point and get to pick a game card for the poster. The game cards can either be good, bad, or do nothing at all. If a team is ZAPPED! then they lose all of their points. If the team answers the question incorrectly, the question is asked to the next team. You play until the class is over, a timer buzzes, or all your questions are gone. Obviously group with the most points at the end is the winner.

Here are the set of cards I made (printed out on cardstock) if you would like a set!

I love this idea for many reasons – but a big one is that the brightest team doesn’t always win which encourages all students to participate.

As a freebie I wanted to share a recent purchase. I plan on implementing interactive notebooks in my classroom and wanted a date stamp for when I collect them. I found the coolest one!!

Check out all the neato phrases it has!!

You can find it at all craft stores as well as Walmart and Target. It should be in the scrapbooking section with all the SMASH! products. Best part was that it was super cheap – only $4.50!

Made 4 Math Monday #3

This past week all sorts of math bloggers have been posting their school supplies haul ( @druinok, @fouss) and I was getting super jelly. So I overcompensated and went to Walmart, Target, and Michael’s. I got a bunch of great stuff for my classroom! One thing I got, well I got 30 of them, were rulers. Last year being my first year teaching I had zero supplies and I always had to ask other teachers for their stuff. The things I borrowed most were: rulers, whiteboards, scissors, and protractors. Since I’m not teaching Geometry this year I figure I can hold off on the protractors but I did buy the rulers and also a class set of dry-erase pockets. I’m also planning to make whiteboards out of shower board a la @fnoschese.

To keep my rulers together I, along with many other #made4math -ers went out and bought some pringles. After the cans got gobbled up by my family I wiped them clean and put on some patterned duct tape. I picked the checkers because I thought they would be the easiest pattern to line up out of my vast collection of duct tape.

I think they turned out pretty schnazzy!

Next thing I was inspired to do was a teaching binder. I’ve seen a ton on the web but they have all been for elementary until @druinok made hers, so fair warning a bunch of the stuff I have was taken from her post. The thing I like about this binder was that I made everything to custom fit my needs, or at least what I think my needs are as of now. I’m sure the binder will morph throughout the year but for now I’m really satisfied with it.

First off I made a nice cover for my binder so that I could spot it from anywhere in the room if needed.

Then in the first few page protectors I put in the school calendar and all the different bell schedules. Then came my calendar. Although I made a monthly and weekly calendar, which I love still, I redid them for the binder so they were black and white and all one direction.

Next I have my lesson plans. I will be teaching Algebra 1 and Math 3 (an Integrated Alg. 2 course) next year so it was nice that I made this template myself instead of having one that was meant for 3+ preps.

After my lesson plans, I have a place for my to-do lists because I’m obsessed with them. I always have a trillion post it notes flying around the room because I need reminders, hopefully with this I can just stick them on the page and hopefully have an easier time remembering everything I want/need to do.

All that’s left are my parent communication logs, my meeting notes, and then a section for miscellaneous items because I know I will have some.

Well that is my binder as of this moment! Tips I have are print your section covers out on card stock to make them sturdy and on the other side put a master copy of whatever goes in that section, that way when you need to make a copy you don’t have to run to your computer and print a new one out you can just go straight to the copier! Also if you do a calendar you might want to print it out on thicker paper since if you are like me you get a little rough flipping back and forth between the pages.

Now I will leave you with my favorite purchase! I had a 40% off coupon to Michael’s as well as them having a teacher discount, so I snagged this poster of my main squeeze. Seriously I would go back and forth between him and the pink ranger for my Halloween costume every year.

A lot of people have been asking me to email them my files – I figured just posting them might be easier!!!

To-Do List

Parent Contact Log

Meeting Notes

Lesson Plans

And then here are my dividers: (Click on the image to make them full size)

By the way check out this post to see how these were made :)


Made 4 Math Monday #2

For over a year I have been envious of the “Teacher Toolbox.” When the #made4math creation happened I knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to actually make one. From what I can tell the first one ever comes from create-teach-share. I’ve pinned probably over 5 different versions of these because I’m so in lurve with them. It’s great for me because organization is what keeps me sane. I love how knowing where things are can literally save me hours in the long run. Last year I bought little drawer organizers but I didn’t like the fact that I still had to group things together because of limited size options of the organizers. The teacher toolbox is the perfect compromise. It allows me to organize everything I have in it’s own little space without taking up too much room. I haven’t seen my new classroom but I’m sure I’ll have a place for it, ideally it will go on a table against a wall behind my desk so that everything I need is just a chair spin away! Not to mention it gives me an excuse to twirl around relentlessly. “Oh I grabbed a pen – silly me I wanted a pencil *spin spin spin*. ”

Want to make your own teacher toolbox?! Then keep reading!

Step 1: Get in yo’ car and head for the home improvement store!

I know for a fact that both Lowe’s and Home Depot both carry the 22 stack on drawers – they also have 2 other sizes but I liked this one best. It costs about $16 so try to get a coupon before heading out. I had a $10 off $50 which meant I had to spend $50 (keep tuned in to see what else I bought in another #made4math post).

Step 2: Make some labels!!

There are 8 large drawers 2.12″ x 4.25″ and 14 small drawers 1.38″ x 2″. I made them on photoshop but another option is scrapbook paper, construction paper, microsoft word, etc. I made the labels based on my particular needs. For example in a lot of the elementary examples I had seen they have a space for brads. I don’t use those (I had to look them up to figure out what they even were :P). Below is a pdf of my labels in case you want them! Tip: I printed them out on cardstock – this makes them extra sturdy!

Stick your labels in using double stick tape and you are done! Another cosmetic option is to spray paint the skeleton, this blogger has photos of the process.

I chose to keep mine grey for now but if I were to paint it I would go with white, I’m just a little worried about wear and tear with white. Here she is in all her glory – my teacher toolbox!

I love it!!!

So what do you think #made4math -ers will you be making a teacher toolbox???

Made 4 Math Monday #1

So on twitter a bunch of us have been super envious of all the creative elementary teachers as well as their Monday Made It posts. On twitter yesterday @druinok and @pamjwilson announced Made 4 Math Monday (blog posts can be found here or here) and I got superrrrr excited!

I was inspired by these as well as some other calendars I’m sure I’ve seen on the internet or in store. I go through calendars like crazy, so I decided instead of buying one (what a joke! I probably still will) that I would make one. I am in love with the chevron trend this year and I cannot get over how great white and grey look together. I put in a splash of color also, I think this will also be the theme of my binders and labels this year (These things might be another #made4math craft down the road). Here it is all my nonexistent followers! I used photoshop the first time around but I didn’t like that I had to wing all the spacing so I went back and redid it through word.

So without further ado here is my DIY #made4math calendar!

The nice thing about this is you can print it out multiple times! You can put them in a binder, you can hang it on the wall behind your desk – the possibilities are endless!!! If you would like the word version of the calendar to put in all those special dates like Christmas or whatnot, just DM me on twitter @mathtastrophe with your e-mail and I can send it to you.

– ashley