Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree

Funko Pops.  They’ve been the thorn in my side for several months now.  When we went on vacation this summer, a few came back with us.  When I arrive home after a long day of teaching, there’s often a Pops-sized box on the porch from Amazon or some other online retailer.  I literally can’t escape them because they’ve become my husband’s obsession.  Usually these little guys stay in his office.  It’s one of those unwritten house rules, but when my husband looked less than enthusiastic about putting up the tree this year, I got an idea and decided to make use of the little devils.

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Pops Lined Up and Ready to Go On the Tree

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The first challenge was finding a way to hang them on the tree without *damaging* them (Mr. Pensive Sloth insisted upon this).  Luckily we had some pipe cleaners around.  I tried wrapping the wire around their scrawny necks, but they just fell over.  The same thing happened when I wrapped it around their torsos.  The little buggers are so top heavy, that everywhere I tried to hang them from just resulted in a Pop facing down.  I thought I was onto something when I decided we’d just hang them all up by their tiny feet and have upside down Pops all over the tree.  I was quite fond of this idea, but it was quickly vetoed.

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Sloth Hangin Upside Down

I’d almost given up when I figured it out.  Cue 90s pop song…”This is how we do it…”  Here are the steps from the photograph (below):

  1. Gather a Pop and a pipe cleaner.  We had white and they matched our tree, but if your tree is green, consider green pipe cleaners so they blend in.
  2. Fold the pipe cleaner in half and put it around the neck with the open part in the back.
  3. Twist the two ends together close to the neck.
  4. Bring the sides up around the head of the Pop, near where the ears would be.
  5. Twist the two ends very tightly together at the top so they don’t slide back and forth.
  6. Hang on the tree!  There is usually enough left to twist around a branch, but if there isn’t you can make a hook out of a small piece of pipe cleaner and attach this to the one around the head.

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth How to Turn Pops Characters into Christmas Ornaments

NOTE:  This doesn’t work for all Pops.  Some heads are bigger than others, some have decorations on their already enormous heads that prevent a pipe cleaner from going around easily, etc.  On a few of the big ones, I did the same thing after twisting two pipe cleaners together.  You just have to be creative if you really want it on the tree.  Or give up and choose a different Pop.  We did that too sometimes.  As you can see, we also have a fake Christmas tree, so the branches are pretty strong and can be bent around to support the pops.  Some of these little guys are crazy heavy for their size, so if you’ve got a real tree, test a few out first.

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Merry Popmas Goonies, Marvel Superheroes, and Robin Hood

Notice how the little Pop families stay together…

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth with Ghostbusters and Regular Show

Getting the pipe cleaner around Slimer wasn’t so easy…

Overall it was a lot of fun!  We got into a rhythm where I added the pipe cleaners and my husband carefully placed each Pop on the tree.  He enjoyed making sure the characters stayed with their bonded Pop families.  Here’s the final product!

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Christmas Tree Ideas

If you’ve got children or a husband with a wild collection of small objects (Pops, superheroes, dolls, toy cars, Beanie Boos, etc.), why not turn it into something fun and make a themed Christmas tree?  Share your ideas and experiences below.

Now, you may be wondering how this is related to teaching.  It’s not, but was so much fun that I had to share!  Of course if you have a bunch of Pops around and want to do this in your classroom, I’m sure your kiddos would love it (make sure to use school-friendly Pops!).  I did get an idea that I plan to have the kiddos start on next week.  A favorite character theme Christmas tree.  More info on that coming soon!

–The Pensive Sloth

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Christmas Tree Theme Idea

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Christmas Memes for Teachers

Thanksgiving break has been delightful!  A whole week to…do laundry, cook, catch up on housework, clean out closets, fix the dishwasher, replace a door, and of course sleep in, Netflix, spend time with the family and eat yummy food.  But on Monday, it all begins again.  Are you ready?

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Brace Yourself Christmas is Coming

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Christmas Crafts Glitter Scrap Paper Glue Everywhere

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme I'm Going to Need You To Line Up Again

Good luck.  May the force be with you.  Stay strong.  We’re all depending on you.  You can do it!

–The Pensive Sloth

Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style: Moon In My Room

Moon In My Room Shut Up and Take My Money Blog Series About Classroom Gadgets from the Pensive Sloth

One of the hardest science concepts to teach well is moon phases and patterns in the sky.  It’s a 4th grade science standard here in Texas and it’s tested on our 5th grade science STAAR test.  Every year my kids struggle with this.  Every. Stinking. Year.  Last week I noticed my father-in-law had a digital clock that also showed the current moon phase.  I’d never seen such magic.  After resisting the urge to “borrow” it, I headed to Amazon to find one of my own, and I found something better–Uncle Milton’s Moon In My Room (On sale and I only paid $15.99!).  It’s pretty much as described.  A model of the moon for your room that you can control with a remote.  Here’s a video you can watch so you can see for yourself how spectacular this gadget is.

 

What I like and how I plan to use it:

  • The plastic moon is 3D, bumpy, and looks pretty realistic.  We’ll have to pass it around so the kids can feel the surface.
  • It’s easy to use.  You push a button on the remote to change phases and you can cycle through several times to help the kids see the pattern (much more important than just memorizing phase names).  Or, you can push the automatic button and the moon will cycle through all phases on its own.
  • I think we’ll hang a chart beside the moon for the kids to use to help identify the phases, then turn off the lights and quiz ourselves to practice.  Waxing gibbous, first quarter, waning crescent…oh the fun we’ll have!
  • Students can draw the moon they see at night in their moon journals, and we’ll match our classroom moon to the current moon phase.
Teaching Moon Phases for Science STAAR with Moon In My Room Gadget

Here’s a few photos I took while playing with the moon! First, before I unboxed it. Second, the full moon lit up with the remote beside it. Third, a waning crescent moon with the remote.

What I don’t like:

  • The model moon lights up.  This is only a problem because I worry my students will think the real moon makes it’s own light.  Not true.  This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the limitations of models to students.  Teachable moment!
  • I will probably lose the remote and it won’t work without it.

I’ll come back and post an update in a few weeks to let you know what my students think.  If you’re looking for more Shut Up and Take My Money posts on cool things to buy for your classroom, hop on over and read about the Amazing Moving Plant and the Circuit Scribe.

–The Pensive Sloth

 

***NOTE–I was NOT paid and am not affiliated with any of the above groups.  I’m just a teacher-consumer interested in new tools to make learning fun for my students!***

5 Things That Happen When You Drill a Pumpkin

Ok, I know this isn’t teaching related, but it was fun and is relevant for October and Halloween!  I decided to try something new with my pumpkin this year, and I discovered pumpkin drilling!  Here’s what it looks like–

Drilled Pumpkin Halloween Pumpkin Carving from The Pensive Sloth

Should you want to try this on your own, you should know a few things.

1. Your forearm will hurt.  Power drills are heavy.  You have to hold that thing while you drill hundreds of holes.  Be prepared.

Drilled Pumpkin Halloween Pumpkin Carving from The Pensive Sloth

2.  Pumpkin bits will be everywhere.  I didn’t realize the power of the drill, and I may have been a little over zealous at first, sending chunks all about my dining room.  If you push that button ever so slightly and slow down, it’s not bad.  Maybe you should do this outside?

3.  If you have dogs, they’ll eat the pumpkin bits they can reach.  They took care of the floor, but I’m going to have to wipe down the walls myself.  Fun fact:  Pumpkin improves your dog’s breath.

4.  If you have people in the room, they’ll be annoyed when they get hit with flying pumpkin for the 4th time.

5.  You’ll look up at the clock and notice it’s past midnight, you have to teach tomorrow, and wonder how in the world putting holes in a pumpkin can take you three hours.  THREE HOURS?

FUN DISCOVERY–An avocado slicer will get your pumpkin crazy clean on the inside.  In that kitchen drawer filled with strange utensils I never use, I found this thing and WOW.  Try it next year.  NOTE:  Avocados are easy to slice.  Why does this thing exist?  They should call it a pumpkin cleaner-outer.

Drilled Pumpkin Halloween Pumpkin Carving from The Pensive Sloth

This is an avocado slicer, but it is much more useful for scraping the guts out of pumpkins.

 

Drilled Pumpkin Halloween Pumpkin Carving from The Pensive Sloth

Never have I been able to get a pumpkin so clean, so quickly. I suggest using an avocado slicer to remove the guts. Very efficient!

Have a happy Halloween my teacher friends!  Eat lots of chocolate.

–The Pensive Sloth

Back to School Blog Hop and Giveaway: Do This, Not That Tips for Teachers

5th Grade Back to School Blog Hop and Giveaway August 2015DO THIS:  Assign your students numbers.

NOT THAT: Label everything (cubbies, mailboxes, lockers, etc.) with student names.

My big tip for heading back to school is to assign your students numbers at the beginning of the year.  Here’s why:

FIRST:  You can easily number your student mailboxes, cubbies, folders, and more and not have to re-label everything each year.  It saves a lot of time!  Plus, you don’t have to wait for your class list to label stuff.  If you teach upper elementary, consider using roman numerals.  Then students HAVE to learn what those mean!  Imagine NOT having to peel name stickers off of everything at the end of the year and instead just putting up those circle dot stickers they sell at Walmart once every few years.

Colored Dot Stickers for Teachers

You can get these guys at Walmart for about $4.00. There’s tons of them in a pack and they are a lot cheaper than individual name tags.

SECOND:  Finding out who is missing an assignment is so much easier.  One of my classroom jobs is “paper manager.”  Their job is to collect all papers and put them in number order.  I teach students to write their number very large in the top left hand corner of every paper at the beginning of the year.  The paper managers can quickly find who is missing an assignment and gather it from the student.  If the assignment isn’t done, or a student is absent, the paper manager writes a list on a sticky note and puts it on the stack before paper clipping the bundle of assignments together.

Teacher Humor Teacher Meme Lost Assignments

THIRD:  By about week three I have my numbered list memorized.  It helps a ton during emergency drills and field trips.  I can call my class list out from memory to see if anyone is missing.  Yes, most of the time I have my gradebook and can look at my list, but if I’m ever without it, I’m fine!

You might be saying, “But I want my classroom to be personal.  Students should have their names on cubbies!”  I have used this system with success for over a decade.  Even with first graders!  A veteran teacher shared this tip with me and I’m quite grateful!  Some students truly want their name on stuff and here is my suggestion:  Let them!  Students can decorate an index card with their name and use a piece of painter’s tape to affix the name to the cubby/locker/desk.

Now for the giveaway stuff… you’ve worked hard setting up that classroom!  Would you like to win a $25 Amazon gift card from The Pensive Sloth to spoil yourself (or buy something for your classroom)?  Of course you would!  Click the link below to be taken to Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

My giveaway terms:  To be eligible to win, you must be a teacher or homeschooling parent in the US or Canada.  Verification may be required.  Once a winner is chosen and contacted, he/she has 24 hours to respond by email.  If a response isn’t received in the time frame, a new winner will be selected and contacted.  If something seems fishy, I reserve the right to use Rafflecopter to select a new winner.  Only one $25 Amazon gift card will be given away.

 

More great giveaway stuff…Click the NEXT STOP image below to see what Miss Stefany has to share and giveaway!  There are nine teacher bloggers in this hop, each giving away something fantastic, so don’t stop here.  Keep going!  You can do it!  After you hop through, you’ll land at the Lesson Deli page where you can enter to win a $100 gift card to TPT.

5th Grade Back to School Blog Hop and Giveaway August 2015

Click the NEXT STOP button to head over to Interactive Learning with Miss Stefany!

My Classroom Isn’t Cute

Back to School Classroom Decor Ecard Teacher Humor from The Pensive SlothWith all the photos of cute classrooms making the rounds on Pinterest, I’ve given some thought to what my classroom looks like. It isn’t cute and I’m OK with that. It’s organized, most of the bins match (because I only buy the same semi-indestructible ones), and my students and I can find what we need quickly. But it isn’t decorated. I don’t really have a theme. And I don’t think cute is an adjective anyone would use to describe it.

I guess the reason I’m writing this post is two-fold. First, for those teachers out there that don’t have cute classrooms, I want you to know that it is OK. You’re in good company. There are plenty of us in the teaching world—even in elementary–with functional, student friendly rooms that don’t look like they came out of a teacher’s version of “Better Homes and Gardens.” The second reason for writing this post is a little more controversial. As professionals, how we spend our time and money setting up the classroom matters. It speaks volumes about what we hold important, and frankly it worries me when I see classrooms where more energy was placed into pulling off a jungle theme than building a classroom library.

Here’s why I don’t stress about decorating at the beginning of the year:

  1. BOOKS—If I have spare money, I use it buy books rather than decorations. In my classroom we call it “Book Christmas” when the Scholastic box arrives, and it’s a pretty big deal. Last semester I spent a small fortune building a cryptozoology section in the classroom library because my kids were crazy about bigfoot, aliens, vampires, ghosts, and monsters that year. I went to every Half Price Books within 60 miles of my house and wiped out their crypto collections. Right now I’m working to beef up my graphic novels tub, but that’s another post! Personally, I’d rather spend money to build readers than buy labels, borders, and notepads that match.
  1. FUNCTIONALITY—Everything in my classroom serves a purpose. Supply tubs have everything students need so we don’t lose instruction time during activities. The posters and anchor charts that line the room are relevant to what students are learning. Our classroom shelves hold tons of books, reference materials, and science supplies. There isn’t space for anything else.
  1. WE DECORATE TOGETHER–In fact, the walls are pretty bare when the students come in. I have a cursive alphabet chart up, but that’s about it. It’s our job as a class to fill that space with our learning. If you come back about 3 weeks later, it’s not bare anymore and students have ownership of what’s covering the walls.
  1. TIME—They say that we make time for what is important to us in life, and decorating is not at the top of my list. When it’s time to head back to school and set up the room, I revise systems so that my classroom will run more smoothly this year, or I plan and prep for lessons. In my mind, there’s more important things to do than put up colorful borders or paint all my tubs the same color.
  1. DISTRACTED STUDENTS—There are plenty of articles out there about how too much color and bling can take the focus away from learning for students who already struggle to pay attention. Check out this one from Scientific American. Food for thought! The article talks about kindergarteners. I teach upper elementary, but trust me, they get distracted too!

Now, if decorating is your thing and it makes you truly, deeply happy, then go for it. Just please don’t give the side eye to those of us who do things differently. We have our reasons.

And for you brand new teachers stepping into your very own classrooms for the first time, seeing blank walls and empty shelves, I offer this advice… Focus on the shelves first. If you’re lucky enough to have a little cash, buy a few books. Resist the urge to spend your hard earned money on jungle-themed décor.  Purchase the essentials, a few tubs, some desk supplies, anchor chart paper and markers. Make peace with your bare walls and know that they won’t be bare for long.

–The Pensive Sloth