DIY Classroom Labels


I love having my classroom organized and being able to quickly know where something is located which also helps my students stay organized. I am lucky to have a science classroom with drawers around the perimeter instead of bookshelves for storage. 
I saw a short video of this method on Facebook labeling jars in the pantry. I thought there is NO way that works. Well, first day of pre-planning while staring at a sea of drawers with no labels got me thinking. These labels have held up for two solid years already and aren’t going anywhere. These labels work on any smooth surface! This could be done on plastic tubs, windows, dry erase boards, desk tops, etc. 

Printer, Clear packing tape, Scissors, Craft Stick, Water, Bucket or Sink
Step 1:
Create your design in Word or PowerPoint. You can insert clip art and use any style of font you want. I kept the same style of font and set up for each label. Print out your document on regular white copy paper. *Tip: Create a table in PowerPoint or Word to keep your designs around the same size and layout. Eliminate the table borders before you print.

Step 2:
Get your clear packing tape and carefully tape over the words on the paper. If your design is larger than one width of the packing tape you can overlap the tape just a little. Be careful not to have any bubbles or creases in the tape.

Step 3:
Use a craft stick or the handles of scissors to rub over the words. This is super important! You will see the ink “sink” into the tape’s adhesive. The ink goes from cloudy to super black.

Step 4:
Cut out your label. I like the label to be rectangular.

Step 5:
Put all your labels in a bucket, sink, or cup of water. They will curl up all together. Let the labels sit in the water for about 3 minutes. This step is important because the longer you let the label sit the easier it is to get the paper off.

Step 6:
Start rubbing the back side of the label (the side with paper) with your thumbs. The paper will start peeling off. Keep rubbing at the paper until it is all off and in the water and you are left with a clear label with all your design transferred! The label will not feel sticky from the tape while wet, but it will after it dries. 


Step 7:
I go ahead and place the label on the drawer and smooth out any bubbles or creases before it dries. I like to wipe off the label with a paper towel.

-->Here are some awesome things about these DIY labels:

  • They look like vinyl labels but without having to use vinyl.
  • They are able to be moved. Easily pull them off without leaving any gross residue on your cabinets, walls, desks.
  • I can use any font and clip art I want in any size I want!
  • It looks professional on your things instead of handwritten labels.
  • Students know exactly which drawer something is located in.
  • Kids do not mess with them. (Maybe I should knock on wood…!)
  • You only have to buy clear packing tape which you probably have sitting in a drawer somewhere so they are super cheap.
Here is another quote sign I made using A Perfect Blend's Font for the corner of my dry erase board!

I hope you have fun creating and labeling all the things this super easy DIY way! I’d love to see any labels you make for your classroom. Tag me on Instagram @activityaftermath
Let me know if you have any questions! Happy Teaching!

Celebrating Pi Day in Secondary Math

Taking an entire class period away just to celebrate Pi Day? That sounds crazy right? You don't have to take an entire class period if you honestly cannot make up that time but here are a few ways you can easily incorporate Pi Day celebrations into your routine that can be as simple as a warm-up or as an early finisher activity.
Here is how it went down in my classes this year:

I displayed this quote from Albert Einstein in my lightbox. Click here to get these for your lightbox!

1. A Read-Aloud
The first thing I did was get out this awesome book from my elementary teaching days. You may think it is silly to read a picture book to older students but you would be surprised at how attentive they are! I walk around my classroom and hold the book up high so all can see. I get really expressive when reading the book which seems to keep them engaged. It only takes a few minutes to read this book and you can have this as your warm-up for the day if you are crunched for time.

2. Discovery of Pi (How is it derived?)
My Aunt has been a math teacher forever! She even taught me in middle school! She handed down this giant box of wooden circles to me 10 years ago! Can you find the carving of 1985 with 2nd period in the picture? I have students work with a partner to derive pi using these circles and yarn. You simply give each group some yarn, a wooden block, and a pair of scissors. Students will wrap the yarn around the circumference of the circle. They will then see how many diameters of their circle they can cut from their circumference. The students will find that they can only get 3 full diameters and will have a small piece of yarn leftover. This represents the 3.14159...Each group will get the same thing no matter how big or small their circle. They will discover that the formula for pi is circumference divided by the diameter. You can use any circular object you can find in your room (Pringles lids, coffee lids, cup bottoms, cans, etc.) or have students bring in something round! I unwrap some yarn and roll it around my fingers so it is quicker for students to grab.

Watch this quick video of how to complete this activity!

3. Investigate Pi 
I created some quick anchor charts for each class period and drew a big pi symbol in the corners (a different color for each class). I displayed this awesome Pi Day Investigation FREEBIE from To The Square Inch on my board so I didn't have to make copies. Students were given time to use tablets, computers, or their phones to find answers to the questions. Each group had to choose 3-5 questions to answer from the list and then write their answers on the chart paper. I hung the charts in the hallway so other students could read about Pi Day! Click here to get this free activity!

4. Pi Day Coordinate Graphing
If there is time left I have students work on the Pi Day Coordinate Graphing Mystery Picture. These make great classroom or hallway decorations and give students the chance to work on their graphing skills. Click here to get this for your students!

See time lapse below of the Pi Day Mystery Picture!

Here are a few more ideas from my math teacher friends to get you going on celebrating pi day in your secondary math classroom! I hope you and your students have fun celebrating the most popular irrational number!!

Adorably Math-y Pi Earrings (perfect for pi day!)
Pi Earrings
(Pi day)  Creating a Chain of Pi
Chain of Pi
Pi Day Challenge - Math in the Upper Grades
Free Pi Challenge
Pi Day Activities Bundle
Pi Activities Bundle
Pi Day Activity - Task Cards
Pi Task Cards

How I plan my seating arrangement for my secondary classroom

Seating arrangements........dreaded topic for some. There are tons of different ways to create a seating chart out there-especially for elementary classrooms. What does one do in the secondary classroom?
I am going to give you my quick rundown on how I do a seating arrangement for my secondary classroom from Day One!

I DON'T! Crazy right!? I do not put my students into a seating chart or an assigned seat from day one. I stand at my door and greet them with a smile! I have a roster printed out on a clipboard and I ask them what their name is and check it off. I tell them to go sit wherever they want! My students look at me like I am crazy! "Like any seat?" I say "Yep!". Here is how I do it.

1. Print out a roster. 
If you have an attendance program (we use Infinite Campus) that will allow you to print out pictures with the names do this as well. This is how I learn names really quickly. I also am sure to change any names if a student goes by their middle name or a shortened version of their name. "Deondre" might go by "Deon", or "Elizabeth" goes by "Liz". Make those changes on your roster.

2. Stand at your classroom door! 
I cannot stress this enough. Back in my first few years of teaching I made a bad habit of using class change as a moment to get caught up with emails, organize papers for the next class, etc. Don't do this! Stand at your door and welcome your students with a simple smile and a "Good Morning Hayley!" On the first day, I ask students to tell me their name before they walk in.

3. Check off names on your roster.
This gives me a chance to make sure that schedules are correct and students are in the right room before class change is over. I make a simple check mark beside their name if they are present. If you have a student who is not on your roster. Check their schedule and try to get them in the right place before class change is over!

4. Tell students to sit where they want!
Why do I have students sit where they want? I explain after everyone is sitting down my reasoning. Now I know who they are friends with! I can see the groups that are naturally formed based on previous acquaintances. I tell them that I also like to sit with my teacher friends at staff meetings and events so I want them to be able to sit with their friends as well. Here is my main line I tell them: "It's fine to sit with your friends, until it's not fine...!"

If I have any problems with students talking when they are not supposed to or not paying attention because sitting beside their friends is something they cannot handle, then that student is moved to a new location. This has never caused a huge issue in my classroom. I have students tell me thank you for letting them sit where they want. You only have to make an example once if a student gets uncooperative. I use proximity control a lot when doing whole group instruction or guided practice. This eliminates most problems.

So, this is how I do it in my classroom!

How do you organize your students? Alphabetically? By ability? Let me know in the comments!

Free Redbox Code Free Printable Christmas Tag

Are you needing a quick gift for your neighbors, teachers, friends, and family? Did you wait until the last minute like I always do! Our family loves movies! I love the idea of a movie night because it brings the family together or is a great date night!

I give a Redbox code(or more!) to each of my child's teachers. It is an inexpensive way to show your appreciation and it makes a very quick and easy gift! Go to the Redbox website and purchase however many codes you need. I have them sent to my own personal email. Simply print the tags and write one code per tag. There are 6 tags per page to save paper and they fit very nicely into an envelope!

I write a quick thank you card or message and insert the Redbox code tag into the envelope. You can go one step further and attach it to a bag of popcorn and candy. Or make a movie night gift basket. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest. I don't want to get the wrong candy so I opt to give more codes than spending that money on candy!
There is a color version as well as a black and white. You could even have your child color the black and white version before giving!

Redbox Code Free Printable

Click the picture or here to download this FREE printable!

I hope you enjoy and have a blessed Christmas! :)