Sep 30, 2011

For ME Friday - Halloween Mantel

Woohoo for Friday! I am super excited about this weekend because my best friend is in town and we are partying it up this weekend! (which means I will be up past my usual 10pm bedtime!)

Anywho, I have another For ME Friday post. A couple weeks ago my neighbor threw away this perfectly good shutter:

I am talking this bad boy had it's price tag on it still and was in perfect condition. It was also huge! The shutter was sitting by the garbage for a couple days before I was brave enough to take it back to my house...while taking Matthew on a walk so I had to tuck it under my arm while pushing the stroller and hoping no one saw me!

Anyways, I painted it white and distressed it with Brad's power sander. Very very easy! Brad attatched it to the wall above the mantel and I added some other randomly aquired Halloween/Fall themed items. Some items were from garage sales, some from the dollar store, and some were gifts from my mom over the years. I made the boo bunting last year for my Halloween party and thought it looked cute on the shutter.

I usually don't do a whole lot of decorating for holidays, but I like how this turned out and when I see it, it makes me happy! Now if I can just get the rest of the house in order...

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Sep 28, 2011

Quick Toy Bin Facelift

I have a niche in my living room where we store some of the boys' toys. I LOVE the shelving that I found at Walmart. I was shocked to find them there and they are actually made of real wood and look great. They look very similar to ones at Pottery Barn Kids but for a fraction of the cost. I also got fabric bins for some of the cubbies to store the hundreds of small toys we have. (Do they just multiply at night?! I swear I didn't buy all of these!). After seeing bins in catalogs such as Restoration Hardware that sport numbers and seeing lots of inspiration in the crafty blog world, I gave the bins a quick facelift.

Here is the before: (with a bit of a mess!)

and here is the after:

I used the Sure Cuts Alot and my Cricut to cut out the numbers onto freezer paper. Then I ironed the freezer paper to the fronts of the bins as best as I could. The fabric on the bins wasn't flat so I couldn't get a really good seal.

Then I painted with white paint. (Truth be told, I ran out of white fabric paint so one of the numbers is painted with...ACRYLIC!!! shhhhhhhh).

Once I removed the freezer paper, I was done!

The paint bled a little in a couple spot since I could get the freezer paper to iron very well to the bins, but if you are using regular fabric you shouldn't have the bleeding. And unless you are examining these bins up close, you can't tell they aren't perfect. And if you are the type of person to examin toy bins, you probably aren't my friend and won't be at my house anyways. issues there!

The next time John saw these, he immediately said 'Hey! You put numbers on these!'. So, they definitely make an impact on the least to a 2 year old.

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Sep 22, 2011

Teaching Thursday - An Ah-Ha Moment

Can't believe it is Thursday already...I haven't posted anything in a week! Oops. :( Been one of those weeks I guess. So, on to our Teaching Thursdays post we go.

Some of you may think that stay at home moms get to just sit aound all day watching tv. Brad even asked me if he was going to come home to me watching Oprah every day. Well, let me assure you I hardly ever watch TV during the day. Mostly because John will want to change the channel to one of his {educational} shows, but that is besides the point.

However, one day John was at Nana's house and Matty B was a little baby who wasn't even crawling yet. So I flipped on good ol' Oprah for the first time in about a year to see what was going on. This happened to be an episode about two sisters who were sexually abused every day by their dad and brothers. I tried so hard not to start boo-hooing while reading Matty B some books during the show! One girl commented that no one at school had any idea (they were too afraid to tell someone) and that she wasn't doing great at school because all she was worried about was what was going to happen when she got home.

Well, that really made me think. I had a student come up to me one time to confess being abused at home, which was really sad and of course nothing happened to her dad. Besides that, I really didn't know what was going on with these kids at home. It is so easy to forget that some kids have major issues outside of the classroom. I feel bad that I may have been too harsh on kiddos when they didn't turn in homework, attend tutorials, make up a test, etc. Maybe that student had something more important on his mind. Not that teachers should be lenient, but maybe more questioning to see if there is something else causing the student's actions.

It was also frustrating when I might say something to a counselor or principal or parent and they would say 'oh, yeah, but this students is dealing with XYZ'. Hmmm, that would have been information that would have been very helpful to a teacher! So if you are a parent, or administrator, please keep those teachers in the loop!!

Anyways, so that was my Ah-Ha Moment. It is a nice reminder to be patient with students because we really may not know the full story on them.

Hope you all had a great week!

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Sep 15, 2011

Teaching Thursdays - The Wave

Well, it is Thursday, so you know that means it is Teaching Thursdays here! Woohoo!

Today I am sharing an activity that can be used for Algebra I, Algebra II, and Math Models. It is great for graphing scatter plots, finding linear regressions, extrapolating info, solving equations, comparing equations, and determining changes in graphs when the slope is changed. Plus the kids have fun which is a double bonus! is The Wave activity! This is just like when people do the wave at sporting events except we are obviously doing this on a much smaller scale.

Using this worksheet, the class will do the wave with increasing number of students added to the line and time themselves. Then the class graphs the scatterplots, gets an equation and makes predicitions. I make the kiddos stand in the front of the room and make noise as they are doing the wave. Some kids think they are too cool but most students have fun with it. You can get the worksheet HERE to use in your classroom.

Here are some tips:
1. Make sure the students do the wave the same way each time. So if an individual decides to do it super fast, they need to do it super fast at each trial to keep it consistent.

2. If you are short on time or have a large class, have the students do the wave in groups rather than adding individual students to the line. So maybe at each trial 3 students are added to the wave instead of one.

3. Set behaviour expectations up front. I told my students if they couldn't handle this activity, they would be sent to the hall with a worksheet to work on rather than have fun with the class. The worksheet would practice the same things we were doing in The Wave but would be much more boring!

4. Keep all the data in your calculator so that you can graph the different waves on one screen. It shows a GREAT comparison at how the different slopes shifts the line.

5. You can add in changing the y-intercept by saying the first person in the wave has to wait 4 seconds before starting the wave. Or waiting 10 seconds.

6. Maybe another class is doing this the same day. Then you can go in the hall and see if your prediction of 50 students is correct.

7. If it is a nice day maybe you can do all the data collection on the football stands outside. Or in the gym if no one is using it. :)

What other ways could we make this activity run smooth in the class or make it a better activity? Have you done this in class and have modifications to it? I would love to hear about it!

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Sep 13, 2011

Toddler Art Tuesday - New addition

If you hadn't noticed yet, I didn't put a post for Toddler Art Tuesday. Last week my sister and I had the kiddos do a Grandparent's Day craft that I haven't taken a picture of yet. I have been really busy the last couple days with random house stuff and Etsy orders.

However, more importantly, we have a new little baby to add to our Toddler Art Tuesday cousin gang. My youngest sister, Emily, had her baby on Sunday! I am so excited for her and Jeremy. Here is the only picture I have on my camera that was decent (hospital lighting isn't flattering!). This is Baby Emma and Aunt Jen (that's me!). Emma is my third niece so we now have 5 little ones to plan for on our Toddler Art Tuesdays!

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Sep 12, 2011

Subway Art Present

Remember the Subway Art Tutorial post a couple weeks back where I made this cute piece for Brad?

Well, I made another one for my dad for Father's Day. Yes, I realize Father's Day was a couple months ago, but I hadn't posted about it yet. This is mainly due to the fact I took first pictures of it today when I was at my parents' house. My many apologies for my tardiness.

Anywho, I made this for my dad using two posters since it had my grandparents listed, where they are from, my parents and their original address when they were married, my sisters and where we all live now. I did this the same way I made Brad's. My dad is super handy and made the frame for the artwork. I love how simple the frame is and it looks great with the subway art. Don't you agree?

Should I feel bad he worked on his own present? Oh well- he loved the present so that is all that matters!

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Sep 8, 2011

Teaching Thursdays - Open House

Welcome to another Teaching Thursdays post! So glad you stopped by!!

Some of you may be having Open House soon. So I wanted to share three quick tips on making Open House slightly more bearable for parents. AND...I stole two of these ideas from non-math teachers! See- you can totally learn from other teachers outside your subject area. :)

Message to the Students
When I was teaching in Lewisville I was lucky to have met Mr. Serge Moreno who taught Spanish. (Hola, Serge!!!). He is the sweetest guy you will ever meet...and funny too! He is probably one of the best teachers I have seen and he truly cares about his students. I am so sad I only got to teach with him for just over a year. Randomly, I had two of his sweet nephews in my class when I was teaching in Frisco! Anyways, I stole this idea from him and did this almost every year for Open House.

I put a large piece of butcher paper on the back wall and set out a box of markers. As parents stopped by I told them to leave a message to their student on the back wall so the students know they are supported by their parents. Some parents were hesitant (and some didn't do it which still baffles me) but by the end of the night there were tons of messages to students. Well, tons means about 15 because high school parents don't seem to attend Open Houses. Some messages were really funny, some serious, and some were from younger siblings. When the students saw the messages the next day you could just tell they were excited even if they were trying to act cool in front of their friends. I left them up most of the year and even I still liked reading those notes at the end of the year.

If I did this again, depending on the schedule of Open House, I might have out small sheets of colored paper on the desks, have parents write the notes there and hang them up later. I wonder if they would be more apt to participate this way??

Open House was always later in the evening for us and around dinner time. So I always brought candy or snacks to Open House and set them out near the sign-in sheet. Probably deep down I did this for myself because I love candy but let's pretend I did this out of the goodness of my heart. I think one year Open House was on my birthday so I even had cake in my classroom. Either way, those snacks were readily eaten by parents.

I think I saw Casey Wohlers do this one year. She had pictures of her students working in class, doing projects, etc and put them into a slideshow. She had it playing through the projector while parents were waiting their turn to visit with her. I think this is also a great personal touch so parents can see their precious babies in action.

Do you have any creative or unique things you do to spice up Open House nights?

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Sep 7, 2011

Teacher Present

I decided to go ahead and give John's preschool teacher a gift the first week of school. I really don't want to be a brown-noser, but I thought John's teacher might like to feel appreciated the first week of school. Plus I used materials I had at home so it just took up a little of my time to put together.

I saw a monogram made of buttons on pinterest and thought it would be easy enough to make. Here is how mine turned out.

This is how I made it:

1. I took a piece of cardboard and used spray glue to cover it with a scrap piece of fabric. I know cardboard is kind of weird to use, but when I was teaching I always hung things on my wall with pushpins. (My principal wouldn't even allow staples in the walls so think he would crap his pants if he knew I used nails to hang some heavier frames!) So I thought it would be good to use something light to hang in the classroom.

2. I printed the outline of an L, cut it out, and traced it onto the fabric. I eyeballed the center which means of course it was off center.

3. Then I used my handy dandy glue gun and went to town gluing buttons in the traced area.

4. I used a piece of scrap ribbon to tie in a bow and hot glue to the back of the board for hanging.

See, I knew this would be easy to create! I think it is pretty (minus the glue everywhere. I was kind of sloppy). It also reminds me of something you would find in a baby nursery so this project is quite versatile. Hopefully John's teacher likes it. If she doesn't, we can just pretend John made it instead of me.

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Sep 6, 2011

Toddler Art Tuesday - ABC book

If you saw my post on the Build-A-Library baby shower, one of the activities we planned for the guests was to help create an ABC book. We had the letter pages printed out and the guests were to draw a picture and sign their name on a page. When we got home, there were a couple letters that weren't completed so Allison and I had the kids help create pictures to finish up the book. Here is what we came up with:

N is for New York (by Bella and Lilly)

J is for Jungle (by John)

X is for X-ray (a tracing of Lilly's hand)

E is for Emma (by Bella)

Once all the pages were complete I laminated them and bound them with binder rings. I added some ribbon to make it prettier for Miss Emma. I think it is a very special book for Emma considering so many different people had a part in it. I also like that we used binder rings so Emily can use them as flash cards or use them for games with Emma later on. Quite the double purpose present!

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Sep 5, 2011

Cleaning is Pointless with Kids Around!

I think of all the frustrations that come along with having children, cleaning the house is the WORST. I find this to be the most defeating thing...ever. I finished another month of my chore calendar, and I did pretty well. However, one day I was cleaning out the inside of my fridge (and doing an AMAZING job if I do say so myself. That thing was spotless, neat, and organized). I put away the last fast food ketchup (does anyone else save those?!), closed the door, and this is what I find next to me.

Hmmmm...that wasn't there when I started cleaning the fridge. Thanks, Matthew!

But surely the rest of the house stayed clean while I was knee deep in left-overs needing to be thrown out. I mean, I just folded a load of laundry and straightened up the living room.

Nope. Thanks, John!

But hey, if you come over to my house, it may look like a mess, BUT the inside of the fridge is PRISTINE. Soooooo, there's that.


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Sep 2, 2011

For ME Friday - ruffle apron {tutorial}

Thanks to John being in preschool and my MIL kindly taking Matthew for the day, I had time to craft FOR ME yesterday! Looky what I made!

So, here's the deal. I hate regular aprons. For some reason when I am in the kitchen my hands are ALWAYS dirty or wet. So I need something that actually absorbs all that mess. Normal aprons just don't cut it. I also seem to use about 235 dish towels while I am cooking and baking. Mostly because I set one down, can't find it in the mess and grab a new one from the drawer. By the time our meal is cooked and the kitchen is cleaned up, 5 dish towels have been added to the laundry. Soooooo, I decided to make an apron out of a dish towel so I knew where it was at all times and it was the nice, soft, absorbant material I was looking for. I got this particular towel in February from my mom, thus the Valentine's hearts print. So I have been sitting on this idea for a while! :)

Now that you have been sufficiently prepped on the back story, here is how to make your very own ruffle dish towel apron!

1. Gather supplies: Dish Towel (duh), ribbon (wish I had wider on hand today), scrap fabric for ruffles, normal sewing items (double duh).

2. Measure how much ribbon you need by wrapping it around your waist. Fold in half to find center (long ways). Fold dish towel in half (short ways) to find center. Pin the ribbon along the top edge (long ways) of the dish towel, making sure to line up the center of the ribbon to the center of the dish towel.

3. Sew your ribbon onto the towel. I did a zig zag stitch down the center. I also zig zagged the ends to keep the ribbon from fraying in wash.

4. You could stop now and have the easiest apron EVER. I decided I don't get to sew girlie stuff often considering I have two boys, so I added some fun ruffles to my apron. To do this I cut two strips of coordinating scrap fabric and sew them into one long strip. I needed two strips since the fabric piece was small. You may only need one long strip!

5. Fold in half and iron.

6. Sew along the edge of the folded side to give a nice finished look.

7. Time to ruffle! Sew along the open side using the longest stitch and tightest tension. That should make a cute little ruffled strip of fabric.

8. Pin the ruffle to the right side of the bottom edge of the apron. Pin it sew the ruffled seam is at the edge of the apron and the finished edge is toward the center of the apron. Then sew. DON'T FORGET to reset your machine!! I always forget to do

9. I then flipped the ruffle down so it was facing the correct way and sewed on the right side of the apron to keep the ruffle laying flat and not flipping back up. You can see that seam in the picture- I sewed on the dish towel itself.

10. Put on the apron, have your husband take 500 pictures in attempts to get one that magically makes you look thinner, magically puts make-up on you and magically makes your hair look decent even though it is 7:00 at night so it is pretty crazy. Good luck with this step. It is a challenging one.

So, I haven't used this apron yet but I KNOW it is going to be awesome the next time I am cooking. And yes, Mom, I have been cooking!

I think I like the apron so much I need to make some more...but maybe without the ruffles.

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