Nov 30, 2010

Birthday Activities - Tot School

So I know I haven't been posting much for tot school and that is because I kind of have been slacking in that area. Oops! It doesn't help when I read other people's blogs and they do all these awesome things every day and it makes me feel like I am doing a crappy job with John. But then I have to realize I am doing the best I can and I am not trying to homeschool the little kiddo! I am just trying to do activities with him so he has some fun things to do while trying to teach him some basics before going to pre-school. So I decided I am not going to stress out about it and I am going to try to focus on just doing two days a week of tot school stuff rather than 4 days a week. I think that might be more manageable for me right now!

Now, let's get back to the actual purpose of this post! John's birthday is this week. My little baby is turning two! Holy canoli- where did the time go??? So here are a couple things I threw together for this week's tot school. Feel free to save a copy and use how you want!

Uses for Cake Numbers:
1. Put the numbers in order.
2. Match the numbers with our set of magnetic numbers.
3. Count out birthday candles and match to the correct cake card.

Cake Sizes- Cut out and have child put in order from biggest to smallest.

Balloon Matching Activity
1. Cut out each balloon and string. (Laminte if possible!)
2. Hang the balloons on the wall.
3. Have child tape the string to the matching balloon.
4. Once matches are complete, child can find an object(s) around the house that matches the color of the balloon.

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Nov 29, 2010

Thrifty Holiday Card!

As I am sure you have heard by now, Vistaprint has some great items for FREE (just pay shipping). I have ordered a couple things from them before (remember my 100 free Happy Birthday postcards? haha!) and have been pretty happy with the results. So, I decided to take a chance and order my Christmas cards from there today!

First I designed my own card on photoshop elements:

Then I uploaded it as a postcard on Vistaprint. Seeing as how I will get 100 of these bad boys, I can send them out to tons of friends and family! As I was ordering I also realized I could put a design on the back of the post card. So I was able to type my return address on it (saving my return address labels that I got for free last week!) AND I could type up a little message that would be printed saying happy holidays, happy new year, etc. So, now all I have to do is address them and put on a stamp (reduced postage for postcards is an extra bonus!) and throw them in the mail. stuffing and licking envelopes either! I had to pay an extra $2.50 to upload my own image and pay shipping. I decided to pay for a faster shipping because I didn't want to be nervous I wouldn't get them before Christmas.

While I was there I also got a rubber address stamp, a mug, and more return address labels all for FREE. Well, I had to pay shipping of course so for all of those wonderful goodies and my cards, I paid less than 20 bucks. Not bad!

And just in case you were wondering, Vistaprint didn't pay me didly squat for this post! But if they wanted to give me some more free stuff, I won't complain! :)

Do you want custom designed cards? Let me know and hopefully I can create something for you!

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Nov 22, 2010

Ruffle Peace Jacket

I have had a plain blue hoodie jacket that I got from Target for $2 sitting in my craft closet for about a year. I just never knew what to do with it. Until last weekend that is! Here is what I came up with...

And before I explain how I did this, I made a ruffle on my sewing machine for the first time. I. am. addicted. to. ruffles. All I do now is look around the house and try to think of what I can add ruffles to! haha! And seeing as how I am the only girl in the house, there is not much that can be ruffle-ized. booo...

So, here are the very unofficial steps to make this jacket. I totally made this up as I went along and I probably would do it slightly different next time.

Supplies: jacket, scrap material, thread, sewing machine, sewing supplies

1. I first cut my scrap material into long strips that were 2 inches wide. Why two inches? It just felt right!

2. Once cutting the strips I realized my 'just felt right' size was too large. Plus I didn't like all those raw edges hanging out ready to fray at a moment's notice. So I folded each strip wrong sides together and sewed down the open edges. I sewed with dark thread thinking it would add to the 'edgie-ness' of the jacket but I probably would have used a thread that blended better next time around.

3. I then sewed my strips into one long strip. Not sure I like how that long strip looked when I sewed the short strips together. I probably should have sewed the strips together before sewing them in half!

4. Now comes the ruffling part. WOOHOO! Setting my machine to the longest stitch length possible and making the tension super tight, I sewed down the middle of the long strip of material. This just ruffled the strip right up like magic! It was so fun! Seriously- if you make a ruffle and that doesn't cause you to want to just ruffle everything in sight, you might be abnormal. Or maybe I am abnormal?

**This picture doesn't quite show how ruffled this is. You will have to trust me that it was ruffled!**

5. Using your ruffley goodness, pin into a peace sign on your jacket. This was just took a little adjusting as I went and I used about a million pins so that way it didn't shift when I went to sew it later. I put the folded edge of the material towards the outside so that way the frayed edge-y part of the material was on the inside of the peace sign.

6. I then sewed the peace sign right down the middle line where I had previous sewn to make the ruffles. Don't forget to reset the stitch length and tension your machine!

7. Since this jacket was obviously for a girl, it needed a little something for the front. So, of course I thought 'MORE RUFFLES!'. So I made another ruffle strip and sewed it around the edges of the front, including around the hood. I am not totally in love with how the front came out, but I think it is because I don't like the color pattern I chose. I should have used more colors like I did on the peace sign.

And there you have it! A ruffle peace jacket just as sweet as can be!

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Nov 19, 2010

Teaching with Board Games

Way back when I started teaching, I tried making a board game for students to play while reviewing for a test. It was REALLY tacky since it was four sheets of paper I taped together and I had hand drawn the game board. Very ugly. Embarassingly ugly. Then I realized I could just use real board games and modify them!

The best ones I found (well, my mom found at garage sales!) were Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. I had a whole shelf of them in my classroom and even my 18 year old students liked playing with them!

What I did first was use a permanent maker to number each space on the board. Chutes and Ladders are already numbered 1-100 so that was done for me. Awesome! I think Candyland had a random number of spaces so I numbered up to 100 and then started over again from 1.

I then made a packet of problems. Since I used this for reviews, it was relatively easy to get 100 problems put together. If I was to do this activity for a single lesson, it might be more difficult to gather that many problems or questions! (One modification is to not number so high on the boards. Maybe only number to 30.)

The students were grouped into three or four and the rules were simple:
1. The student would roll die/draw car/spin spinner/etc and whatever space he landed on, the ENTIRE group had to work that problem from their packet.
2.If the group agreed the person was correct in their answer, he got to stay on that space.
3.If he got the answer wrong, the group would find his mistake and fix it and the person would have to go back to previous place on the board.
4. Winner would get some sort of prize.

When the students played the game, they usually had fun and were engaged in the activity. I liked that the game itself helped them have little 'brain breaks' instead of working on a worksheet for a solid 30 minutes. I LOVE cooperative learning in a classroom so I like that everyone was working the whole time and they were finding and correcting mistakes before moving on to the next question.

I told the students up front that if they played the game and worked well as a group, they might work 15-20 problems out of the 100 before there was a winner or we ran out of time. However, if they chose not to work as a group, misbehaved, etc, the game would be put away and they would work out every problem in the packet. I can't think of one group who ever had to work out all 100 problems in the 8 years I used this activity! :)

This idea can easily be modified for young children or even homeschoolers who only have one or two students working together. Of course, this is where mom comes in to play with the kiddo! :) The boards can be numbered less than 100 to make up less questions. John is too young to play board games now, but when he is older, I could easily play this game a variety of packets we could use:

1. have a list of words for him to read aloud
2. have a list of simple math problems (addition, subtraction)
3. have a list of list of shapes or colors he has to say
4. pick out what doesn't belong in a group of items
5. have a list of states/cities/countries he has to pick out on a map (ummm...I can't even do that though!)
6. have a list of patterns for him to complete

Already have a worksheet ready for today's lesson? Well, just use that instead of making up a new packet! You may have to number your spaces accordingly, but that is easier than making up 100 questions! :)

Can you think of more ways to use board games to teach your child or students?

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Nov 18, 2010

Paper Bag Scrapbook

Did you guys see me at Crafty Cierra ? If not, I showed how to make these easy and cute paper bag scrapbooks!

I made these little mini paper bag scrapbooks a couple years ago when I was a cheer coach at my school. I made one for each of my cheerleaders for Christmas. These are super easy to make, but making 15 of them at one time was a daunting task and I wouldn't recommend it! :) {and check out the one my sisters made for me when I turned 30. They secretly had my family and friends write me letters and put them in the book!} The book that is pictured above is one I made was for my mom's birthday that was last month. She of course loved it and it was a great way to make a personal present without spending a ton of money.

Let's get started!! Woohoo!

Supplies you will need:

1. paper bags (can be any size although the bigger bags will give you more space for making each page)
2. pictures
3. scrapbook supplies (paper, glue, embellishments, etc)
4. ribbon
5. binder rings (optional)
6. hole puncher

1. Cut the jagged ends of the paper bags (if your bags have a jagged edge!). This is an optional step for those people who really want their books super neat. I only did this for one bag to show a picture but didn't do it for the rest- didn't seem all the necessary with the bags I had!

2. Fold the bags in half.

3. Along the folded edge of one bag, punch 2 or 3 holes for binding the bags together. Then use this bag as a template to mark where to punch the holes on your other bags.

4. Using your scrapbook supplies, decorate each page and add pictures.

5. Using card stock, you can also make little cards that slide into the open flaps of the paper bags. Attach ribbon to the side of the card so you can slide it in and out of the bag.

6. To make the edges look nice, I glued any random flaps together and then inked the edges.

7. Once all pages are done use your binder rings to bind them together. Then add ribbons to the rings to make it extra cutesy! If you don't have binder rings, you can just use the ribbon to bind the pages together. (notice I only used two binder rings even though I made three holes. I should have thought that one through a little more. oops!)

Done and done! I love easy little gifts that are so personal to the recipient. These are perfect for Christmas, so get those pictures ordered so you can start putting yours together! :)

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Nov 17, 2010

Monogram Canvas Tutorial

Today I am going to show you how to make an easy monogram accent piece for your home. The one I made is for the fall season but this could easily be made for any season, any holiday, or any color scheme. The good news is it is relatively inexpensive to make! Awesome!

Supplies you will need:

-canvas (be sure to look for one at a garage sale or at a thrift store. It can be painted or blank- we will cover it with fabric so it doesn't matter!)
-fabric (enough to cover your canvas)
-mod podge
-paint brush
-staple gun
-and in my case, a group of friends to make this for a Mom's Night In! :)

Steps to make a fabulous and personalized accent piece:
1. Cut your fabric to size so that it will cover your canvas completely, including the sides.

2. Pulling the fabric tight, staple around the back of the canvas. Fold over the corners and pull super tight to make them nice and neat!

3. Brush a layer of mod podge on top of the fabric to make it sealed and stiffer. Don't forget the sides of the canvas! Be sure to make it a nice even coat. Also keep your brush strokes going the same direction! Let this dry for about 30 minutes.

4. Draw the outline of the letter for your monogram. One way to do this is to print out the letter in the font and size you want, cut it out of the paper and trace around it on your canvas.

5. Now, you have two options. You can either fill in your letter with paint (which is what I did) OR you can paint outside the letter and leave the letter 'blank' thus letting your fabric pattern become the letter. Apply as many coats as needed to reach desired color.

Here are some of the other ones we made that night. I was the only one who painted inside my letter so you can see what it looks like to have the pattern become your letter.

...and that is it! How easy, right? I placed my finished monogram on my buffet table. What do we think?

I think this was a fun little project and could be used in so many ways. How cute would it be for a nursery or kids room? Or instead of monograms, what about silhouettes? The options are limitless!

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Nov 11, 2010

Household Chores - so FUN!

Ok, so I don't think chores are fun. I have found that keeping my house clean with two kids under two is almost impossible. I looked online at The Fly Lady but still feel that is way to intimidating for me since the first task is to keep your sink all pretty and shiny. Um. Yes. My sink would stay clean for about an hour and then John would want a drink or snack and before I could clean it all up Matthew would want to be nursed or changed. And then John would want to play or be changed. By the time I MIGHT have a chance to clean up the sink, John would add his millionth sippy cup of the day to the pile. I am sure I am the only one who has this problem, right?! :)

I looked at one other site that boasted giving you a daily calendar with different tasks to keep you on track with your cleaning. However, they listed about 10 things A DAY to do. I sincerely hope that list wasn't for people who have itty bitty kiddos...or maybe I am just the world's worst housewife! That is always a possibility.

So, this is what I came up with. I decided to break down what the bare necessity chores that needed to be done each week. Then I split them up to a daily schedule which seems more manageable to me:

Monday: dust and vacuum living room
Tuesday: laundry and clean master bathroom
Wednesday: clean small bathroom, dust boys rooms, empty all trashcans (trash gets picked up on Thursdays!)
Thursday: laundry, vacuum all bedrooms
Friday: clean dining room and craft area
Saturday: dust master bedroom
Sunday: laundry, mop kitchen

Notice I don't have 'clean kitchen' listed because that has to happen everyday. Well, it should happen everyday even if it doesn't get done. And I have to pick up everything off the floor to be able to vacuum so those rooms inevitably get cleaned up on their 'vacuum' days.

I would like to think I get 75% of my chores done each week. It just depends on how motivated I am, how much time we spend out of the house, how well the kids nap, etc. But now that Matthew sleeps through the night, I don't usually take naps with the boys take a nap (IE not in total survival mode anymore!) which gives me time to straighten up a little bit. My goal is obviously to get 100% of my chores done each week, but baby steps, people!

I will say, though, it is quite defeating to clean up one room just to have a two year old follow behind you and tear everything apart again in about 5 seconds! So maybe I should expect to have a clean house again when they are in elementary school? high school? college???????


Do you have any tips or hints on how to keep up with chores? Or how to simply DO chores each day?!

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