Monday Made It DIY #2: Organizing My Year and Sensory Boxes


My personal and professional mantra this year is going to be organization, organization, organization!

With my new little baby at home, I will be spending less time at school and more time at home playing with this little cutie pie!

Unfortunately, I am not very organized by nature–I have to work really hard to stay organized! So I have a few things that I’ve been working on to help me be as efficient as I can. The first thing I started working on to get organized for this upcoming year was a year-long curriculum map that I bought from Dragon Flies in First Grade. Of course I have always made a year-long plan, but it never turns out to be as useful as I need it to be. But this layout is brilliant! I made a few tweaks to the original template to make it work for me:

I’m so excited about this! I really think this will help me stay more focused when planning. The coolest thing is that it is planned out in days and weeks. That means that what we do in the first week of school next year will be similar to this year, so all I have to do is change the dates, make a few adjustments, but it will be basically the same. That will make planning for next year easier too!

Next I needed to update my plan book & add my new curriculum map. I started with dividers. I never seem to have enough! I was looking through what I had at home, but I didn’t have enough tabs that went in order, so I decided to make my own. I got the idea from the Organized Classroom Blog. I just used really heavy cardstock for the 8 1/2 by 11 binder page and cut 3 inch circles out of the same cardstock. Then I cut 2 inch circles out of white cardstock and cut those circles in half. I modge podged it all together including some pretty paper on the front, and I love how they turned out! I’ll never buy dividers again!

I also tried mixing and matching colors, and instead of just pretty paper, I decided to add the standards onto my assessment dividers. Every year I have all this data, and I’m constantly flipping back and forth to figure out which standard each assessment fits, and which standard goes with which grade on the report card. (Since the standards keep changing the district keeps changing our report cards!) But now that we have the CCSS, they won’t be able to change things too much, so I put the standards on the front of the dividers along with my district’s report card language for easy access!

Be sure to check back for more organization updates I’m making to my plan book. I’m planning on making them available in my Teacher’s Notebook store soon! Here’s a preview of the pages I’m creating for a sub binder :

Teacher Mama DIY #2: Sensory Boxes

I can’t seem to stop pinning cool ideas on pinterest to do with my son. Even though he’s not old enough to do many of them yet, I was excited to get started on some projects for him! The teacher in me got so excited when I found sensory boxes from Our World-Wide Classroom. These are SO cool! Because young minds grow and develop best through unstructured play, sensory boxes give them an opportunity to use their imagination. The picture above is a sensory box I made, and the theme was “space.” I used black beans as the filler, and I hid little “space” objects inside. There are marbles (planets), lots of different stars–fabric stars, glass stars, wooden stars, etc. The little koosh balls are astroids, and there are purple and blue pony beads mixed in with the beans to make the milky way. But the coolest things are the Star Wars guys! They were a free download from Toy A Day. I just printed, laminated, and folded. Doesnt it look like fun? Since my son is not big enough to play with it yet, I made the following note and gave it to my 6 year old nephew. It was a big hit!

The best thing about sensory boxes (for me) is having a place for all the little “stuff” to go. Sticking with the organization mantra, one of my home organization projects this summer is cleaning the basement–and the graveyard of stuff that collects there! When I found sensory boxes, I decided to organize a lot of the “stuff” in my art room into themes for sensory boxes. I already have supplies to begin a sensory box for the ocean, the pond, the forest, the arctic, pirates, 4th of July, Christmas, Birthday, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving! I’m excited about the idea that the little toys that my son will undoubtedly collect (from happy meals and birthday parties) will now have a home. We can put them away, then bring them out by putting them in new sensory boxes to keep them novel. I’ve already got a few more sensory boxes in the works to share with some friends. Hopefully by the time my cutie pie is big enough to play with them, we’ll have a good collection started!

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7 thoughts on “Monday Made It DIY #2: Organizing My Year and Sensory Boxes

  1. Love your binder organization and that sensory box is just adorable! You little one is precious:) Thanks so much for sharing and linking up:)

  2. Just curious – I just recently downloaded the same curriculum planner, but how were you able to edit and “tweak” yours so much? I love the fonts you use, by the way!

    • Well to be perfectly honest, I ended up creating my own template in excel. After I bought the one from First Grade Dragonflies & it was locked in so many places, I decided to remake it. I really liked her set up & the idea of how she created her plan, but I wanted different categories (I don’t use a basal, so I needed more space to write my readers workshop plans), and I wanted to make mine bigger because all of it on one page was too small for me! Even though I ended up remaking it, I’m really glad I bought it. I would never have thought of doing that, and I had to refer to it constantly to get mine set up correctly. I didn’t mention that in my post because I wanted to give her credit & I didn’t want to encourage anyone to steal her idea & make their own without buying it! I am glad that I took the time to remake it though because I think it’s going to be really useful & I will be able to use it year after year without redoing everything again.
      I believe all the fonts I used were from Kevin & Amanda (free!). I used turtle club, mtf cupcake, smiley monster, & lemonade (I don’t think that’s Kevin & Amanda). Good luck! Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Emily,

    I love how you created your curriculum year planner. I have also bought the year planner from First Grade Dragonflies, however, I love that you have two month per page. Is there any chance that you have the planner on line for sale or would mind sharing how you created it?

    Thank you!

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