Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Easy Gift From the Teacher and FREEBIE

Only 3 days left before Christmas vacation and you were thinking you might like to give something to your families something for a present? I have an easy project you can do in one day! Make them a memory tile! (or wall hanging or trivet). I took a super cute picture of each child on a day that was very overcast outside. There were no shadows and I took head shots of each child with fall leaves in the background. The colors came out beautiful. For privacy sakes, I am using a scenic photo instead of one of the ones I made for each family.

My son is very into photography and we loved the idea of putting his pictures on something easy to give away. He is taking groups of his photos and making these photo tiles in sets of 4 to give away as coasters. They were surprisingly easy (and therapeutic) to make!

At our local hardware store, we were able to purchase a box of 100 white, glossy, ceramic tiles (4.25 in by 4.25 in) for only $15. In fact, the grand total for everything needed was under $35.

Here is what you need:

Ceramic tiles
Mod Podge
a thin foam brush (thin so it will fit in the jar opening)
a sand sponge (or piece of sand paper)
spray sealant
photos printed on regular copy paper
rubbing alcohol 

Step 1)
Sand off any rough edges

Step 2)
Clean off the tile with rubbing alcohol

Step 3)
Size your photos to 4 in by 4 in on a computer (or manually crop them on a cutter)
Step 4)
Sweep a very thin layer of Mod Podge across the tile, covering it entirely. Try to leave smooth lines to leave less room for troublesome air bubbles.
Step 5)
Place the cut photo in the center of the tile and rub the photo from the center out to all the edges to push away any air bubbles.

Step 6) 
Sweep a very thin layer of Mod Podge over the entire picture, being sure to cover the edges. 
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP: rub your finger from the center of the picture (yes in all the Mod Podge) and across every edge, shoving out any air bubbles. Press and make sure to seal every edge. If you wipe off your finger immediately, no Mod Podge sticks to you. We tried different methods via numerous You Tube tutorials for this project and we still ended up with way too many air bubbles. When we started adding this step and doing it this way ourselves, we had no air bubbles and near perfection each time. This wasted less time and less materials.
Step 7) 
Coat each tile with the Mod Podge. Let each tile dry for up to 20 minutes before you add another coat onto the tile. Repeat up to 3 or 4 times. The Mod Podge dries clear. It goes on white. Even though it dries clear, you will still see every stroke that was put on with the foam brush. It is at this point that you can decide if you want to make the lines that will result on the project in a purposeful fashion. You can see in the photo below that I chose to make the lines go a certain direction on some pictures. Have fun with creating a signature mark for when you use a foam brush and Mod Podge.
Step 8)
Make sure the tiles dry completely before spraying them down with a sealant. This step has to be outside for ventilation purposes.
Here is our finished product: Merry Christmas!

Do you like the frames I used for my post here? They are on sale in my store for $1.50 for 30 frames. HOWEVER, if you leave a comment with your email address and I will send you your own copy for FREE!!! Here is what you would get:

30 colored metallic frames to choose from
10 squiggly squares
10 stars
10 hearts
All 300 dpi
Frames can be flipped, turned, and made to any size without losing quality. Images can also be flipped and turned.
This is a zipped file and will need to be unzipped before use.
If you download this product, please adhere to all terms of use included. These images can be used for personal and commercial products.
If you enjoy these, consider following this blog for other free things that I offer!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things Blog Hop

Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things Oprah style, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends' favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
It's that time of year when you start feeling the weather really change and as you drive around at night, more Christmas lights are coming on each evening. In our home, my son begins to sing Christmas carols in his best Bing Crosby "try-to-be" voice and we giggle because it is funny, but enjoy the merriment of the season and join in. One of the songs that almost always comes up has to do with "My Favorite Things".

As a fellow teacher, I have a few of MY favorite things that I would LOVE to share with you!

My first favorite thing is a product called "Sit Spots". Here are some pictures of them in my classroom. Click on the word above to be taken to their website to learn even more ways to use them than I currently use them for.

Sit Spots do not stick well to the cute, colored, soft plied classroom rugs. Luckily, you can order a sample from them to see if the product will work well on your carpet. I do like to use them on the carpet where they won't stick so that the students can easily move them around to practice patterning and sorting. 

The Sit Spots stick SUPER well to our regular carpet and made a drab area look really bright and fun. The colors really POP and people often compliment me on these simple velcro color spots. Sometimes, I like to teach with the students up close to the board. Typically, I had them sit in this spot near the board and they would fight over who would sit the closest to the teacher. Another problem we USED to have was that they would take a favorite spot or sit too close to another student. When I introduced this product to the classroom, students chose their own color and placed it where I assigned them to sit. They have velcro on the bottom, so they can be placed AND MOVED as needed. These stick very well to the carpet and are easily vacuumed over.

Here, my students stand at their spots. When I ask them to, they each sit on their own spot, territorial provocations disappeared immediately!

One more thing I really love about this product is how easy it is to clean. A simple wipe over with a wet rag can bring the product back to look like new!

As part of this blog hop, one of the prizes you can win from me is a set of Sit Spots to try in your classroom!

My second favorite thing is to find a way to save time while getting ready in the morning on my way to school. I am sharing the beauty products I use that definitely cut down on my crazy hair time.

I have naturally curly hair, that when left a bit untamed ends up looking like I stood in a wind tunnel at the end of the day. OK, I teach kindergarten, so maybe that's the real reason. Ha! After I wash and dry my hair, I like to straighten it slightly with this Remington Pearl hair straightener. I found it at Target awhile ago and LOVE it! In fact, it works so nicely, I went back and bought the same brand hair dryer too. It has real pearl infused into the plate that allows for a smooth glide. The hot pink bottle of spray is called Miss Universe Style Illuminate Chi. It is actually a blow dry spray, but I love to use it RIGHT after I straighten my hair. I only spray a small bit onto my brush and then I brush it through my hair. It puts a slight shine on my hair, tames the fly-aways, and leaves my hair super soft. Finally, I like to spray it in place with the Sebastian hairspray. It is not sticky or hard, so I get great hold, but my hair looks "in place" but moves naturally. It sounds like a lot of work, but I have my crazy, curly hair down to about ten minutes tops thanks to these products.

Finally, another of my favorite things is to support the everyday people that serve in our nation's military. My son is a Marine and my nephew is a Sailor. This is a picture of my son being honored at our school's Veteran's Day chapel this year with one of my wonderful students.

Having a child leave to serve his country three days after a high school graduation takes some getting used to, so I interact with other people who are, pardon the pun, "in the same boat". When he served overseas twice, it was nice to be able to talk with others who understand the fears a mom has, whether rational or not. I especially love the support group called Camp Courage. Click HERE to learn more about what they do, thousands strong, all started by one mom, Mai Christy.

Another way I enjoy supporting the troops is by doing something I already love, I bake!

But now, I bake for Operation Cookie Takeover too. If you want to try this out, it is uber easy. Just give them an email and tell them how many cookies you plan to send out. You get paired up with someone deployed overseas. I happen to have recently been paired with a person who does not usually get mail, so I bet he'll be happy to see 4 dozen snicker/chocolate chip cookies plus some super sweet letters and drawings from some pretty cute 5 year olds. They run different "missions" each couple of weeks, so consider signing up to help them out. The cookies are wrapped individually for a few reasons: to ensure freshness (these ones traveled to the Middle Eastern Gulf region) and so that those who receive them can share and trade. I mail them in flat rate boxes. The medium boxes only cost about $13 to mail and the large ones are about $16....not much to say "Thanks" to someone 7,000 miles away from home.

As part of this blog hop, I am offering all four of my Teachers Pay Teachers featured products at 50% off of the regular price from December 7th, 2014-December 14th, 2014. Hop on over to my store to check them out! Click on the picture to be taken to these products.

A bonus to this blog hop beyond the 50% off product sale is that you have the opportunity to win some of those amazing prizes up top!

I sincerely hope you enjoyed learning about a few of my favorite things. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Crafts You Can Use Right Now

I am pleased to let you know that once a month, I will be linking up with some wonderful bloggers to bring you three of the month's top Pinterest picks that can be used immediately in your classrooms! Here are my top 3!

Click on image to view original Pinterest link

Crystal at has a wonderful tutorial on how to easily make these for your classroom. I started to make these about two years ago. Last year, I even did 24 of these by myself, though it is better to have another adult help if possible. The thing I REALLY love about these is that when the child pulls his/her thumb away from the ornament, it leaves a fuzzy look for the reindeer face. I let the ornaments dry and let the students later add the two eyes, antlers, and nose with colored sharpies. I like that the sharpies seemed to go right through the paint and create a kind of metallic look. Make sure to have the students put their names on the bottom of each ornament BEFORE painting the thumb print.

Click on image to view original Pinterest link.

Corrina Gandara at Surfin' Through Second Grade created this awesome template and directions for a very cute ornament you can have your students make. The template does have some tiny pieces. I teach kindergarten, so I had some parents cut these pieces out ahead of time and had our 4th grade Buddies help us assemble these. When the Buddies left, we colored our elves and added sequins for buttons and tiny scraps of cloth for decoration. We also added tiny pompoms to the tips of their hats. I made these a few years ago and hope to make them again with our class. When I hung them up, I hung them so that their hands were all touching so it looked like our elves were holding hands across the wall. They LOVED it. I later punched a small hole in the top and strung thin Christmas ribbon and sent it home as an ornament with the year written on the back. I highly recommend this project.

Click on image to view original Pinterest link AND get a bonus snowglobe project idea too!

Is that picture not ADORABLE? ARTventurous has a directed drawing/painting tutorial on how to make this picture with your students. I love that even though this is a directed drawing project, it uses three different mediums and every single child's project looks different! This project uses pencil, oil pastels, and paint. This project was made with first graders.

It is my hope that you have found something wonderful here that you can use immediately with your students. I know each of these projects brought happiness and class bonding to my room.

If you liked these ideas, look below and follow the linky's to other great ideas times three at each of these blogs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Snowmen at Work: A Christmas Book Inspired Craft

I’m joining in with a few of my friends to bring you an amazing collection of holiday themed books and some inspired crafts and activities.
December is always a wonderful time of year, full of joy and wonder for young children.  To capture this, I recently read Snowmen at Work by Caralyn Buehner to my kindergarteners.

The book takes place at Christmas time as it begins to snow. A little boy went to bed after making a snowman and woke to find it had snowed a lot overnight. He wondered if his snowman could have shoveled the walkway and then began to imagine about what jobs snowmen might have. Jobs like a dentist, a mechanic, a grocer, a baker, and even a teacher. The illustrations are very colorful and the snowmen look as though they are lit up from inside. The expressions on the snowmen/women/animals are so priceless. Each page has a hidden mouse to find. He is so tiny and does something different on each page. Each page is so completely full of detail, you could spend minutes on each one. I especially love that the story is written in a rhyme format which helps the readers to predict what the author will say. Each page highlights a different community worker job the snow people can do. The author creatively found a way to fit the job description exactly to something only a snow person could do on the job. I especially love that this plays on the idea that little children can understand that snowmen might be able to come alive like Frosty the Snowman, but it takes it one step further by imagining the jobs a snow person might be able to do. My students thought it was a clever book and I'm sure your students will too.

After reading Snowmen at Work, we then completed this fun craft: A Sock Snowman
My son made one of these in his preschool class. It turned out so cute, we still have it fifteen years later and he always insists I put it out with the Christmas decorations. His is still packed away in our decorations for a few more weeks, so I have created another one to teach you how to make one with your students/children. 

Here’s what we did:
1) Get a white sock. I would recommend a tightly woven cotton sock over the cute, fluffy, fleece one I used here because the ends of the rice can pierce through the fleece (though only a little came out).

2) Fill it almost to within 1.5 inches of the top of the sock.

3) Put a rubber band SECURELY around the top of the sock. Place a second rubber band midway through the body of the snowman. You can make the head smaller than the bottom of the snowman. You could also make the snowman body have three spheres instead of just two, but I like the way it looks with two. (By the way, at Easter, if you slice this top extra part from top to the rubber band on two sides, they will turn into floppy bunny ears. You can round them a bit and the look JUST like bunny ears.) In this case, just kind of roll the top down and inside out to the bottom of the first rubber band to form a cap.

It begins to kind of resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy. You can find a large ribbon or use cloth of your choice to make a scarf. Tie it around the middle rubberband and fashion it the way you would like your scarf to look. Choose another color sock for the hat.

I rolled the sock inside out halfway. I then re-rolled the bottom of the sock inside out so that it formed a hat.

I placed the hat upon his head and added eyes and a mouth. You can use just about anything to create a cute little face. I did not, but you could also add buttons down his front. 

The hardest part of making this snowman was filling the sock with rice. You can use a funnel to make the process easier. You may need an adult to help hot glue on the face and tummy buttons, but as you can see, this is a project that your student can do most of by themselves.

Students also enjoyed completing my Winter Math Journal.   
Students are given a prompt and have a space in which to draw their math problem. After completing the drawing, they fill in the number sentence under their picture. Early finishers are encouraged to go back through the journal and add an extra phonetic sentence to each picture.

To celebrate all things Christmas, I am giving a copy of my Winter Math Journal.

You enter via this Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You might also enjoy.... 

Click on the links below to see what book inspired activities my friends have created for you.

Don’t forget to enter their giveaway too for your chance to win.


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