Five for Friday - Organization

This week I headed back to work and started organizing my new room.

When I entered my new classroom I found an awesome surprise! Two student computers.  I'm excited to finally have a technology center after nine years of teaching.  This little computer corner is just perfect!

I'm in love with my new shelving!! It's from Ikea :-) I can't wait to organize all our classroom materials in here!

I'm reorganizing all my curriculum and found this beautiful mint/teal binder at Walmart. It's my favorite! As you can tell, I really like this color :-)
Link to covers HERE

I'm redoing my book bin labels.  I ran out of time and did numbers last year but I'm excited to use kids this time!
Link to labels HERE

I went out with a friend to get ice cream at this place called Creamistry.  They make the ice cream from scratch and freeze it in front of you with Nitrogen. It was pretty crazy!

Make sure to head over to Doodle Bugs and link up for Five for Friday!

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Printers You Will Love!

Teachers love to print. We love things to be in color or on color paper, but let's get real...toner and ink are expensive!!!

I get asked all the time about what kind of printer I use.  I finally have two printers that I absolutely love and that I highly recommend. Keep on reading to learn about the two printers I think all teachers should own! This post includes affiliate links for your convenience.

I've always had two printers ever since I was in college.  A black and white printer and a color one.  My black and white printer is the one that I used the most. I had the same little Brother laserjet for years (from 2005-2014) and it worked great. I used it heavily and I only got rid of it because it began to jam after printing 20+ pages in one print job. I replaced it with the new model you can see below:

I was worried that I would lose quality, speed, or that I would get less prints out of my toner, but I was wrong.  It's much faster, the quality is great, and the toner lasts a long time.  This is my go-to daily printer.

The cost of the toner is typically around $40 on Amazon and I replace it once a year, sometimes every other year. Since it's a laser printer, it does not smudge or streak (unless it's running low on toner). You will see cheaper knock off toner, I used it a few times and I don't recommend it.  The black wasn't solid and I would have ink leak out onto the pages here and there.  It wasn't worth the $15 savings. 

I've had mine for two years and they've since released a new model that you can see here:

My color printer was also a Brother laser jet.  I would not recommend the color ones from my experience :-( The toner was a pricy and the quality wasn't great.  I recently made the switch over to an HP printer and I love it!

When shopping for my printer I had a set of criteria.
  • Prints in actual size
  • Print/color quality
  • Qualities for Instant Ink
  • Wireless

As you can see, my number one criteria was that it prints in actual size.  What does that mean?
When I create resources, I usually create them using PowerPoint. When you create in PowerPoint the dimensions are in inches and I plan for things to be printed the exact size I design them to be. I was a little hesitant about going with HP because I have found out that some (a small portion) of HP printers can't print in actual size.  I asked at Office Max and Staples and the staff knew of this issue but didn't know why it happened.

When I brought my printer home I was a little scared I had picked one of the machines that would have trouble, but I did some test prints right away and it printed perfectly!  Some HPs cut big pieces off the bottom or shrink pages all together when you try to print in actual size.  I want my projects to print the way I designed them to be, so that is why this was my first priority.

My second priority had to do with color quality.  My husband and I went to Best Buy and searched and searched for the right printer.  We ran test prints with every printer they had! Then this picture convinced me!

Do you see how close the colors are to the real life gift card?  The other printers (even other HPs) printed close, but some had some graininess or the colors were just flat.  My old printer couldn't print any shade of blue except regular boring old blue. I was so excited to find that this printer can print shades of teal.

The next item on my wishlist was that it qualified for Instant Ink.  What is instant ink? It's a program where HP sends you ink based off of your membership. You sign up for a membership depending on how much printing you want to do each month.  Lots of these printers come with a trail membership for you to try out.  For my trail I signed up for the $9.99 plan which includes 300 pages per month.  If I find that I print less than that, I can switch over to a less expensive plan once my trail period is over.

Shortly after I set up my printer, I received my very first replacement ink package.  That was several weeks ago and I still haven't needed to replace the original toner, so it's there in my office until I need it. I love that I don't have to panic last minute and run out to buy ink in order to continue my projects, or have to stop and wait until my ink arrives.

Since I just began the trail I can't tell you just yet if it's better to do this program or just buy the ink on my own.  The starter kit (which is never full) has lasted me quite a while now and I haven't needed to change the cartridges.  If I only have to replace it a couple times a year, it may be more cost effective to pay for the ink outright, but I'm happy to do the trail and figure it out ;-) If you want to try out Instant Ink and you have a printer that qualifies for the program, you can get a free month using my referral link HERE.  But honestly, I suggest it's worth getting a new one because they typically come with a few months of free Instant Ink and you can use a referral code on top of that!

____Update 2018____
I've now been using Instant Ink for two years and I can tell you that it has absolutely been worth it. I tend to use between 100-300 pages per month so the 300 page membership works for me. You can even change the plan throughout the year if you print less some months. I do like having the largest plan because I don't ever  have to worry about printing in color! My printer is constantly used and the quality is just as great as the day I got it.

My old printer (Brother laser jet) used FOUR drums of toner at $40-$70 per drum and I had to replace them all two or three times per year. If I was lucky to find them on the low price point it still cost me about $480 per year to print in color. This meant I tried to not print in color unless I absolutely had to. With the most expensive Instant Ink plan, I'll pay $119 for the entire year printing 300 pages per month (which I don't think I'll ever need to do).

With the pages being counted and knowing that regardless of the fact that if I stay in the Instant Ink plan or not, color printing definitely costs more money, so I go to my B & W printer to print the majority of my master copies and use my color printer for things that I need to print in color.

My last criteria was wireless capabilities.  This is a good time to mention that you MUST have wifi in order to use Instant Ink or it won't work.  HP constantly monitors your printer to see how many pages you've printed and if you don't have wifi hooked up to it, it won't allow your printer to work.  Now having said that, the printer sets up with it's own email address and wifi connection (I'm not the techiest of people so I'm not sure how it does that).  You can print wirelessly or send documents to the printer's email address and it will print!  On top of all this, this printer copies, faxes and can print double sided.

You can check out this printer by clicking below:

Better yet, wait for Best Buy to put it on sale! The original price tag is $200 but I've seen other people get it for a little over $100 from Best Buy!  Honestly though, I do think it's worth every penny even at the full retail price.

I received the XL cartridges with the Instant Ink program and found out that they have WAY more ink in them than the standard ones.  So if I leave the program, I will definitely stick with the XL ones.  They might cost more but they will last much longer. 

If I HAD to pick one printer, I'd go with my black and white one because I depend on it so much for every day printing. I know that it will be very cost effective and the quality is great.  But if you are interested in going my route, both of these printers are terrific to have!

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5 Ways to Make Decodables Fun

Do you incorporate decodable readers into your daily reading block?  I know I struggled for a while to make them fun for my students to read. Today I am guest blogging over with Mrs. 3rd Grade to share five ways to make decodables fun!

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Water Bottle Labels Plus a FREEBIE

Did your summer break just begin? Or are you starting to fix up your room for next year?  I'm in the second category on this one.  I moved classrooms which means that I need to set up my whole room from the ground up again.

This means that I need to start planning and getting ready for open house.  As I was beginning to plan for open house I had an idea.  It is beyond hot in AZ and I want my parents to get comfortable as they walk in.  I thought about having treats and some water for the parents and children to enjoy while they watch the BTS presentation, check out our classroom, and speak with me. I then thought how perfect it would be to welcome the families with special water! Take a look at my idea below:

Pass out these cute bottles on Meet the Teacher Night!

Once I got started with these I got on a roll and thought of some other labels that would be great for the classroom! I'm already picturing the "smart water bottles" on student desks during testing days!  

I put all my designs together in this resource:
Editable water bottle labels for your classroom events!

All of these labels are editable so that you can choose your wordings.  They also come in color and black and white so that you can print them on some nice Astrobrights!  I will be adding to these so if you purchase, make sure to check for updates.  You will get all the new labels that have been added for free even if the price goes up!

Want to try one for Meet the Teacher Night or Open House?  You can use this editable freebie below:
Pass out these cute bottles on Meet the Teacher Night! The labels are FREE!!

I hope these make your Meet the Teacher Night a little extra special for your little ones :-) 

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Monday Made It Hosting!

Hello friends!!

I'm so excited to tell you that today you can find me over at 4th Grade Frolics hosting my most favorite linky ever...Monday Made It!! Make sure to check it out and pick up a little goodie while you're at it ;-)

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