Classroom Trash to Treasure: DIY Decoupage Storage Cabinets

In my last post, I told the story of my first classroom “trash to treasure experience” and what it resulted in, which were these ahhh-mazingly fun and functional (I might be just a tad biased) plastic storage cabinets:

IMG_4376 IMG_4375 IMG_4374 IMG_4373 IMG_4372Now, I know you are going to find this hard to believe but these were old, dusty (that’s putting it lightly), plastic storage cabinets that were left in my new classroom (which I’m not able to move in to yet) by the last teacher. Just so you can comprehend the “trash to treasure” transformation that went down in my garage today, here are a few pictures of them in my classroom before I got my hands on them:

IMG_4363 IMG_4361 IMG_4359This project took me about 6 hours in total (but I spent a lot of time waiting for things to dry) and it cost me $0…. Yes, it cost me NOTHING because I had leftover scrapbooking paper and Mod Podge from my projects that I’ve done over the past few days! Read more

Trash to “Travel Treasure”: Teacher Edition

I set out to town today with a specific goal in mind: I need to make/force/learn to be the most organized teacher there is… Now, I know what you’re thinking – there are teacher’s out there (you can find some of them on their blogs – like The Clutter-Free Classroom) that are truly the EPITOME of classroom organization…. Anyhow, as the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars 🙂 Isn’t that just the most encouraging, “2nd place is okay!” saying out there? [Insert sarcastic nod here]

I see all of these veteran teachers on sites like Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s that create and sell classroom labels/signs, custom binder covers, and everything else you can imagine related to the classroom…. and get this… ALL of it is drenched in a specific theme! I absolutely love seeing this but could never imagine having the time to find and execute all of this “fluff” during my last two years of teaching. Well, I have realized that you can use your summer vacation one of two ways: 1) Wine.Dine.Repeat OR 2) Prepare yourself and your classroom for an AWESOMELY ORGANIZED school year! I have obviously chosen number 1 for the last two summers, but this summer is a “#2 Summer” ALL THE WAY 🙂 Read more

I Hit the “Travel Theme” JACKPOT Today!

So if you’ve been following my recent posts, you know that I’ve made an executive decision to transform my new classroom into some sort of “Travel Haven”. If you haven’t, check out these two posts to catch yourself up 😉
My “Travel Themed Classroom” Adventure
DIY: Name Decoupaged on Wooden Letters
The inspiration for a “Travel Themed Classroom” came from reading a myriad of books (classic and modern) and feeling like I was in a new place while I was reading. To say that I LOVE to read would be an understatement.

ANYHOO – don’t let me get off on a tangent – today I went to Michael’s and the ONLY thing I was going to purchase was some “burlap-ish” string/twine/ribbon so that I could put the finishing touches on my “Reading Will Take YOU Places” bunting extravaganza. Yes, I promise, I was just going to get some “twine” and boogie right on home! Read more

Flash FREEBIE: BACK TO SCHOOL Instagram “Task Card” Activity

Back to School Instagram Activity

I just used an activity that I created this summer for the first time with a summer school intervention (reading strategies) class. I had such a great experience that it made me want to share it with other educators! The students were diggin’ it and we’re highly engaged the entire time. Discussion was meaningful and it seemed to really spark some critical thinking!

With all of that being said (Can’t you tell I’m excited?), I am now offering my Instagram Task Cards for “Back to School”- 33 Cards and 5 Answer Sheets as a FREE download for a limited time!

Back to School Instagram ActivityThis is 22 pages filled with different strategies to use with task cards, unique Instagram-style task cards and differentiated student response sheets! Enjoy!



P.s. I would love to know how your experience with this activity went… So, if you feel compelled, drop me an email or a message after using it in your class! I would greatly appreciate it 🙂


“Creating a Travel Themed Classroom” Project #2: Name in Decorative Wooden Letters

So after taking a “decorative tour” on Pinterest decorative wooden letters seem to be all the rage right now. And if that’s the case… I NEED them in my new classroom! Since I am on a mission to create a “Travel Themed Classroom” to accompany my “Reading Will Take YOU Places” anthem, I first created “READ” wooden letters, which were covered in maps.

After I completed the “READ” letters, I was HOOKED on “decoupaging”! Trust me when I say: I AM NOT AN ARTS ‘N CRAFTS kind of person…. but this just might be the “craft” that changes that 🙂 I decided I wanted to do a more “chic” set of paper mache letters sportin’ my name (I go by “Ms. G” but my new love for decoupaging compelled me to create all 12 LETTERS of Ms. Groeneveld)!

Drum roll please…..

Classroom Decoupage Letters IMG_4323I followed the same process that I did when making the “READ” letters (which you can find here) except that I only applied the paper (different patterns and textures) to the front of the letter. In order to do that with precision, it’s crucial that you carefully trace the shape of the letter on the back of the paper that you plan on applying to it. It’s also very important that you take great care when cutting the letter out. Crooked edges and the like will not produce the greatest letter. I painted the sides of the paper mache letters with plain, black acrylic paint. This really made the different patterned paper “POP” out!

Are you trying to create a “Travel Themed Classroom” as well? Check out some ideas I’ve found on Pinterest!


My “Creating a Travel Themed Classroom” Adventure… Ready, Set, Go!

I was teaching 8th grade English at a small country school for the past two years. During this time, I was overwhelmed by the “crosswalk” from the old California State Standards to the new Common Core State Standards and failed to give the “look” of my classroom the proper attention. Yes… I said it… “I neglected to freshen up my bulletin boards, etc.”!

One of my goals this summer was to come up with an actual “theme” for the year and decorate my classroom accordingly. I just accepted a new job at a prominent high school in one of the top school districts in California…. Yes, I am EXTREMELY excited and anxious all at the same time! I will be teaching English 9 and am directing the “Peer Counseling” co-curricular club on campus! After much thought and hours and hours of searching for “the best classroom themes” online, I finally found the ultimate theme for my new classroom (and now I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier): “Reading Will Take YOU Places” – which is a fancy way to say “Travel Themed Classroom.”


I have a zillion ideas related to this theme and only hope that I have enough time left this summer to get them done! The first thing I wanted to do is create a few things that I found on pinterest. I created these “READ” wooden blocks to display on top of one of my bookcases. I felt like they were perfect for “Reading Will Take YOU Places” theme! I didn’t even look up the “directions” for this project…. That’s right – I just went for it!

Travel Map READ Letters IMG_4319


1. 1 Large Road Map

2. Wooden Blocks (from Michael’s)

3. Mod Podge (matte)

4. Some Type of Paint Brush

5. Scissors

Directions (my own):

1. Cut out different sized strips of “map”.

2. Cover a portion of the wood block with mod podge.

3. Lay a strip of “map” on the area where mod podge was applied.

4. If strip is larger than surface area, bend it around the block (as if you were wrapping it).

5. Apply a “good” coat of mod podge over the map strip that was previously applied.

6. Repeat this process until the entire block is covered in map strips.

7. Let block dry for a few hours and VIOLA!

I plan to create similar wooden letters sporting the name “Ms. Groeneveld” tonight, but they will be rockin’ a slightly different “look”! Cross your fingers because I’d love it if they turned out similar to the vision I have in my mind 🙂 Come back soon to check them out! That’s all for now!

You can see my “Name” Classroom letters here!



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