Tuesday, August 31, 2010 3 comments

A peek into our first day of homeschooling

If you remember, I mentioned that the church is letting us use a large room in the church basement to do homeschooling this year. It helps us out a lot since we now have two kids homeschooling and we had used the guest bedroom in previous years. That makes it rather interesting when we have so many guests!

So this morning we headed across the parking lot for our first day of school ...

My husband helped carry a few things this morning because I had quite a bit to take over. He and my son were way ahead!

Here's my little kindergartner, excited about school but a little nervous, too!

I don't think I'll require them to dress up all year, but I wanted to make the first day special ... and besides, I was taking pictures today! I've always noticed that kids behave better when they're dressed up, though, so I may just institute a "no denim" rule. We'll see! :)

Let me show you our classroom. It's hard to get it all in one picture, but here's the half of the room that we're using:

From the left, you'll see an extra white board and easel, art supplies (lots and lots of them!), free time activities, a storage cabinet, and the kids' "desks".

This dry erase board on a stand was already there, and it was just the thing to divide a kid-sized table into two individual work areas. A huge bonus: I can write assignments for each child on the board or attach things with magnets.

Here's my daughter's side. My set of charts (secondhand from a friend) was missing this particular chart, so I bought this set of window clings from Dollar Tree and stuck them onto the dry erase board. They work great, and they'll come off easily when I need to remove them!

You'll notice each of my kids has their own small dry erase board. We use these to practice handwriting because it's more fun. They also have their own little trash can. I'm hoping this inspires them to keep the room clean!

Remember this teepee? I have a bunch of books for the kids to look through if they finish their work early. Since both of my kids love books (even though the youngest doesn't read yet), I knew it would be a popular choice, so I wanted a cozy reading nook with few distractions. My daughter agreed to let us take her teepee over, and we placed a kid-sized teddy bear chair and my homemade braided rug inside. They love it!

This is the "free time" station. When they complete their work, they can either get a book to read/look at or they can pick something from this station. I've selected only the items that are on their level at the moment. I'll switch them out with other things as the school year progresses.

We have: tangrams, a patterning game, phonics tiles, Math Shark, a subtraction game, lacing cards, a shoe to learn tying, a View Master with animal slides, a wooden counting/hand puzzle, coloring books and drawing paper, fun workbooks and file folder games. There's plenty to keep them busy!

Now let's peek at my humongous bulletin boards (all of them were here before we ever thought about homeschooling in the room):

I was originally thinking of dividing this into two smaller boards, but this is what I'm going with for now. It's at the front of the room, right behind my desk. I meant to put a background paper up, but I already had the calendar in place by the time I remembered. Oh well! Maybe I'll remember next month!

We'll be posting good work papers under the "Now Starring" header.

The pledge of allegiance poster is from Dollar Tree.

My son's first math theme is pond life, so I made a pond bulletin board to set the scene. Usually I like bulletin boards that have a purpose other than just decoration, but my son really likes it without anything else on it, so I'm happy as it is.

Lastly, this is the other half of that huge bulletin board (originally 4'x8'). His first science unit is about taking care of ourselves, and I copied this idea directly from the teacher's manual. I have an opaque projector that I used to enlarge the tooth patterns onto posterboard.

My kids were really interested in this one, and my daughter even picked out which of the four types of teeth is featured as the biggest (no prompting from me). Hey, if they can learn something from a bulletin board, that's great! :)

Our day went well. We started at 9:00 and were finished by 11:00. Not bad for two kids, right? It won't always be that fast, though. The first few days are an abbreviated schedule with no reading or handwriting plans. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that, but I follow the curriculum guides quite closely and it always works out well! :)

Update: Stretching Dollar Tree bulletin board borders

We are beginning our homeschool year today. (We homeschool Tuesday - Saturday since it works better for our family.) It's my daughter's first day of kindergarten and my son's first day of second grade, so we're in the "fun" years. I never thought I'd enjoy teaching these grades, but I think I like them now better than the grades I trained to teach (high school English).

In honor of our first day of school, I thought I'd update a little on those Dollar Tree bulletin board borders I picked up a week or so ago. Remember them?

Well, even I was surprised at how nicely they turned out when they were cut up!

These animal pairs are adorable:

These were originally intended as an "Armor of God" visual, but they can easily be substituted for regular knight's gear (which my son loves), too:

My son also enjoys all things related to cowboys, so these are perfect for him:

These are so bright and cheerful:

And since we live near the ocean, I couldn't resist these:

I'm saving some of these for making review games about subjects my children find difficult this year. As I use them, I'll try to remember to post pictures!
Monday, August 30, 2010 1 comments

Tigger Birthday Cards

I've had these Tigger cardstock stickers for awhile now. My friend got a good deal on them and gave me four sheets. They were so cute that I wanted just the right idea to showcase them to their best advantage. Wouldn't you know, I recently (within the last few months) ran across the matching paper at Tuesday Morning in one of those 25-sheet packs.

I made three different cards (although they are mostly the same layout):

Supplies: stamps (Cloud 9 Designs); paper (Sandy Lion, The Paper Company, unknown orange); ink (Versamark with gold embossing powder); Sandy Lion Tigger cardstock stickers; Nestabilities Scallop Circles Large; ribbon (unknown).

Supplies: stamps (Cloud 9 Designs); paper (Sandy Lion, unknown orange); ink (SU! Night of Navy); Sandy Lion Tigger cardstock stickers; Cuttlebug wooden frame cut/emboss set; ribbon (unknown).

Supplies: stamps (Cloud 9 Designs); paper (Sandy Lion, unknown orange); ink (SU! Night of Navy); Sandy Lion Tigger cardstock stickers; Cuttlebug wooden frame cut/emboss set; ribbon (unknown).

These are going into my boys' birthday card stash, which was completely depleted after all the summer birthdays!
Friday, August 27, 2010 1 comments

Fuschia dress box favors

Here are the fuschia dress box favors for the ladies' meeting:

I used some metallic ridged paper with the vellum overlays again. I made those mini roses with vellum scraps, and they were perfect as sleeve-toppers.

Fifteen dresses down, thirty-five more to go ... :)
Thursday, August 26, 2010 7 comments

A true friend remembers your birthday ...

... and just in case any of my true friends need a reminder, tomorrow is my birthday! ;) (Just kidding, but it really is my birthday tomorrow.)

I had so much fun making this card! It's a little more dimensional than I usually make, but I love these roses so much I just had to use them on a card.

Supplies: stamps (Cloud 9 Designs); ink (SU! Rose Red); paper (Making Memories); Nestabilities scallop circles large; CB corner die; MS lace edger punch and branch punch; rose quartz Stickles; dimensional pearl paint.

This is in my Esty shop, in case you're interested.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 3 comments

Book Easel Card

My friend brought these gorgeous book-style easel cards to my attention a month or so ago, and I've wanted to make one ever since.

Since I'm not very fluent in the metric system (but I do know that there are 2.5 cm/in), I had to "wing it" on this first one.

My card is a standard 4-1/4 x 5-1/2". To make the easel part, cut the base cardstock to 5-1/2 x 8-1/2". Score the long side at 2-1/8" and 4-1/4". To see how to fold it (a Z-fold), see this tutorial.

To make the actual book part, use your base cardstock to cut a book shape (see the end of this post for a pattern I made) sized to 5-1/2" wide. Cut another book shape out of decorative paper, this one measuring anywhere from 5 to 5-1/4" wide.

Stamp any images you want first, then adhere dimensional tape to the middle of each book page on the back of the decorative paper. Thanks to Valita for that tip!

After you have the book how you want it, follow the SCS tutorial for how to attach it to the base. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the folds until I had done one or two, so be sure you have it just right before you stick it down.

When it's folded up, it looks like this:

Isn't that neat? Before I made one of these easel cards, I always thought I'd have to include a note about how it stands on its own. But if you make one, notice how it kind of "pops up" when you pull it out of the envelope. I don't think it would take a rocket scientist recipient to figure out how to display it. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4 comments

DIY reusable Wet Jet pads

Awhile back, I ran across this tutorial for making reusable Swiffer Wet Jet pads. I haven't gotten any good deals on loads of Velcro lately, though, so I was thrilled to find these at the Dollar Tree last week:

Since they have some nap to them, I thought they might stick to the Velcro on the bottom of the Wet Jet:

(Please excuse the dirt ground into it. I bought this secondhand for $0.50 and haven't gotten a chance to use it yet.)

It sticks wonderfully! I took this picture at an angle so you can see how well it works:

The only drawback is that it's a little smaller than the bottom of my Wet Jet:

I'm not complaining, though! If I can pay $1.00 and get 2 reusable Swiffer Wet Jet pads with no effort, I'm happy! :)

I plan to refill the Wet Jet bottles when they're empty, too. (I got a good deal on a 2-pack at Ollie's a few months ago, and I'm hoping to not have to buy any more refills.) I'll try to remember to let you know how that turns out.
Monday, August 23, 2010 0 comments

Stretching Dollar Tree bulletin board borders

You know I love Dollar Tree, right? Well, I discovered a bunch more versatile bulletin board borders the last time I was in. They were stuffed in a bin at floor level with a bunch of charts that have been there for ages. The funny thing is that I don't remember seeing any of these before, so I wonder if they've been hiding there for months and I just didn't know it!

So what can you do with these? You can cut them into game pieces for file folder games or make-your-own instructional card games. I cut apart a different set and came up with 14 of each image as seen below:

I already made up a mini file folder game with one of these cut-outs (rhyming/non-rhyming words), and I anticipate many more fun learning games with these!

Since there are 14 borders per pack, you should get 14 of each section. Some of the borders I got have as many as eight sections on a strip, while some have as few as five. That means you're getting anywhere from 70-112 cut-outs per pack. Not bad, considering the shaped cut-outs at Dollar Tree come 25-30/pack (which is not a bad price, either, considering that teacher stores sell shaped cut-outs for about $4/pack).

I'll try to remember to share our projects as I finish them. I'd love to see any educational games that you make with these, too!
Friday, August 20, 2010 2 comments

Quick and Easy Kids' Sticker Books

I wanted to make each of my kids a sticker book to put their "good work" stickers in for the schoolyear. Otherwise, they don't get to enjoy the stickers because they're either filed away on work papers or thrown in the garbage. (Don't ever tell my kids, but all teachers have to throw away some paperwork!)

I don't know about your kids, but mine never take their stickers back out of their sticker books. So, as I was thinking about how best to make these little sticker books, I realized I could just use some of those 4x6" spiral-bound notebooks I got really cheap at the back-to-school sales. All I had to do was make a custom cover, just like I do for larger spiral-bound notebooks.

My daughter loves Hello Kitty, which is usually pink. But I had yellow scraps, so she's yellow on this notebook:

I used my new Sizzix Bigz die for this one, and I love it. I'll be getting lots of use out of this die!

Sorry about the quality of this picture, but it just didn't want to photograph well. I used some of my new Sizzix paper doll accessories to outfit this guy in a firefighter's outfit. (I let my son pick, and he wanted the firefighter.)

I think my kids are going to get a lot more mileage out of those cute "good work" stickers this year!
Thursday, August 19, 2010 1 comments

Black Dress Favors

I finished the black dresses for the church ladies' meeting favors I've been commissioned to create. At first I wondered what to do for black, but then I came up with this, and I really liked it:

It's the same basic idea as the other dresses, but I embossed the black dress and vellum overlay with my new Cuttlebug Kassie's Brocade embossing folder. I love that folder!

Ten dresses down, forty more to go! :)
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 0 comments

Look what I'm getting for my birthday!

Pretty awesome, isn't it? :)

My birthday isn't for a little over a week yet, but when I saw these at my Michaels store, I told my husband he'd better get one before they were gone. Everyone else has been reporting these as flying off the shelves in their stores, especially since each store only got an average of three at a time. My store was no exception. The day after he bought this one, they were all gone.

So what's the big deal about these? Well, it's a scaled-down version of a professional framer's tool. It takes 1/4" adhesive that's the stickiest around, next to redline tape, and the refills are also the cheapest with a coupon (thanks to Michaels). Add all of that together, and I think you'll understand why I really, really wanted one. The fact that it's PINK is just the icing on the cake, so to speak! My cards will stay together for sure now!

It's a bit bigger than I'm used to, and I have small hands. However, others have reported getting used to them after one session of using them (even with small hands), so I'm sure it won't be a big deal.

My husband offered to let me have it early since I know what I'm getting. (I guess he feels like that "spoils" it a bit, but I don't mind a spoiled surprise if it's something I really, really want!) I'm trying to resist the temptation, though, and wait for my birthday. Self-control, you know ... we'll see if I'm up to it! :)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 1 comments

Cheap kids' gift

My niece is having her tonsils removed today, and I sent her a care package to keep her occupied while she has to be still and quiet. One of those items were little 6-piece puzzles made with my new Sizzix puzzle die (#2).

I started by cutting out four magazine pictures of animals (1 cat, 3 dogs). These were all from ads and measure around 3x4.5" or so. She loves puppies, so I got as many dogs as I could and rounded it out with Morris (the cat) in a chef's hat. :) I had already cut that one, which is why he's not in the picture.

Then I cut four of the same size cardboard rectangles (from recycled cereal boxes), ran them through my 5" Xyron adhesive machine, and stuck the pictures to them. I centered them on the Sizzix die and ran them through my Cuttlebug machine.

See? It's easy and really cute! I put them into tiny little plastic bags so they don't get mixed together. Since there are only six puzzle pieces, even my 3-year-old niece should be able to figure them out with a little help.

These would be really cute inside a kid's get-well card, too, since they don't take up much space.
Monday, August 16, 2010 0 comments

More $1 Homeschool Supplies

On Saturday, I had the day off from entertaining our VBS company, so I went out for a little bit by myself. I wanted to stop in at Target since I read online somewhere that there were some pretty neat school things in the $1 section. Here's what I got:

  • a pocket chart for sentence strips
  • foam blocks for counters (math manipulatives)
  • 2 dry erase class schedules (1 for each child) - I really like the clocks on these because they help to teach time while they help to schedule our days.
  • 3 sets of flashcards: Animals, US Animals, Insects - I plan to use these for bulletin board displays.
  • Time and Math Bingo - I really like this concept, and I think my kids will, too. This will be a nice incentive activity.

Since Michaels was on my way across to the next place, I stopped in there. They were clearancing a ton of things, but I only bought these:

  • 2 paper mache house boxes - $0.79 each (for an art project)
  • 3 ocean inflatables - $0.20 each (for a future ocean theme)

Then I stopped in at Dollar Tree because I needed some lemon juice and crackers, and I happened upon these other things for schooling, too:

  • 1 pack of black 4" bulletin board letters - I had a set previously, but it must have grown legs and walked off.
  • a bug kit - for when my son studies insects up-close ... with his father!
  • straws - to illustrate groups of 10s
  • plastic tablecovers - for bulletin board backgrounds (not all $1 Trees have such a great selection, so you may want to shop around)

I also saw a few new bulletin board elements and banners that I knew I could use:

  • "Now Starring" - for a "good work" section (maybe a bulletin board, maybe just on display on the wall)
  • "Learning is a Treat" - I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this one yet, but I knew it had lots of potential.
  • "Our Country at Work" - I liked how it showed pictures of the different buildings. I'll be using this with our patriotic theme, and I'm sure I'll be getting lots of mileage out of it in future years.

I had a lot of fun and felt like it was a profitable trip.

Just one more quick note: I haven't seen bulletin-board-style calendars in Dollar Tree for awhile, but there were some very nice (new) ones on Saturday. The actual calendar grids come 2/pack and you buy the numbers and other visuals in another pack. They're really cute, so if you need one, check them out!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 0 comments

Sporadic posting this week

Hi all,

We have Vacation Bible School going on this week at the church. I'm in charge of hosting the workers and feeding them, so I won't have much time to post. However, I am getting time during VBS to work on my homeschool room, so maybe I'll have some pictures to share by the end of the week! :)

In case you missed it, Melanie posted a comment to the last Dollar Tree posting. Apparently, Walgreens has Crayola colored posterboard on sale 5/$1 this week. That's a great price, and I'm planning to get some when I head out this afternoon.
Monday, August 9, 2010 6 comments

Homeschooling bargains at Dollar Tree

I'm gearing up for the new schoolyear at the end of this month, and I'm especially excited about this year. My daughter starts kindergarten, so that means I'll have two kids to homeschool now.

Our church has agreed to let us use a large room in the basement of the church for our homeschooling, so I'm excited to get to make it into a "real" classroom. We've been using our guest room as our homeschool space, but it gets a lot trickier when you have two kids to homeschool and company comes (at least) three times a year for a week at a time.

Now I know some of you homeschool moms like spontaneity and schooling around the kitchen table, and that's great. It's just not my style. See, I used to teach in a private Christian school, and I love the classroom atmosphere. My children, never having been to regular school, are quite enamored with the idea, too. It will be more like "real" school to them, and for some reason they like that. Now if only I could have a school bus pick us up at our door and drive us across the parking lot each morning, they'd be in heaven ...

I made a visit to the local teacher's store with my friend last week, and I got sticker shock. Schooling in any form can get expensive fast! So while I'm getting my classroom all set up, I thought I'd share some Dollar Tree bargains you might want to look into if you homeschool, or even if you teach in a regular school.

1. Counters (math manipulatives) - You can find all kinds of little critters in the toy section, and they usually come 8-10 in a pack for $1. (I got frogs since our first arithmetic theme this year is pond life.) You can find these at teacher's stores for a similar price per item, but what homeschooler do you know of that needs 120-200 counters?

2. Bulletin board visuals - The selection varies, so if you see something you like, snatch it up. These go fast, and it might not be there when you go back. Some of these items include:

  • wall charts (some of them are pretty cheesy, so be picky; I've been pleasantly surprised at the nice charts I've found when I dug through the bins)
  • bulletin board borders - If I remember correctly, there are 21 feet of border in each package. Some of these are designed in such a way that you could cut them apart into squares and use them in file folder games. You get a lot of decorative squares that way! Compare to 25 feet for $2.99 (and up).
  • 4" die cut letters and numbers - Great for bulletin boards, these include only uppercase letters and numbers. You may need to buy two packs to spell out your chosen title, but it still beats the $8 my local teacher's store sells the name brand for!
  • entire bulletin board themes - these include bulletin board toppers, bullet points and full-color diecuts. They currently have Community Helpers at my Dollar Tree, which is perfect since that's one of our themes this year! For $3 or so, you can have a complete kit that would cost $15 and up at the teacher's store.

3. kitchen timers - great for timed exercises, if you don't already have a stopwatch.

4. word strips (30 ct) - one pack will last you a child's entire schooling if you use them for nameplates; they can also be used for sight words, spelling words, etc. Compare at $3.49 for 75.

5. alphabet wall borders - I think they use Zaner-Bloser, but the manuscript is easily adapted to Abeka (I just changed the direction of a few arrows with another color marker). Compare at $10.99.

6. posters (motivational and instructional) - There are some cute ones that emphasize doing your best, trying more than once, etc. There are also some educational ones about preventing colds and flu, which is perfect since we have a unit on that in health this year. These posters come two in a pack (two different ones), so that's only $0.50 if you'll use both.

7. posterboard - 2/$1, including some nice colors. These are nice and sturdy, and you can't beat the price! The white ones go for $0.97 at my local Wal-Mart, and they don't even carry any colors. I like these for making my own charts, which I'll share with you another day (when I get pictures taken).

8. large wall stickers - These aren't advertised on their website, but they're the ones from Chartwell Studio that are a lot like the vinyl word art everyone is putting on their walls nowadays. Personally, I love the script ones with quotes about family and home. But they also make some really cute child-themed ones that would be fun to use in decorating otherwise-boring charts. It's not a necessary thing for schooling, but one that can make a big difference in your kids' interest.

9. party and seasonal themes - These aren't in their school section (or even advertised on their website, that I can see), but they are a gold mine for classroom decorations! If you've stepped foot in a Dollar Tree in the last few months, you've surely seen the luau-themed decorations. Well, one of our themes this year is jungle, so I picked up some jointed figures to decorate with: two 36" palm trees, a 28" parrot, and a 26" toucan. They also have some thin plastic wall/door/window decorations that are quite large. (I used one for Cousin Camp pictures.) You can't beat that price! As fall nears, you'll likely find a jointed scarecrow. If you're lucky, he might even be cute. :)

10. plastic tablecloths - These are found with the colored paper plates and party supplies. I checked, and they're the perfect size for backgrounds on even my 4'x8' bulletin boards. If you're careful, you might be able to get a few uses out of them.

11. wrapping paper - These are also good for bulletin board backgrounds, although you may have to "piece" them, depending on the size of your board. Again, if you're careful, you might be able to get a few uses out of them.

12. dice - These are found in the toy section (about 8 dice to a pack), and they're great if you're making file folder games that require them. I've also seen a spinner in the teacher section, if you prefer those.

13. science fair boards - These usually show up around the beginning of the school year. (My store has had them in for a few weeks.) They also usually disappear pretty fast. They're slightly smaller than some of the bigger stores carry, but they work just as well. Sometime I'll share another school project I made with one of these.

14. craft supplies - They have the best price around on fun foam, and you can usually find some decent (for kids) art brushes, paint, ribbon, kids' aprons (for smocks), beads, and wooden/plaster projects to paint. Keep an eye on this section, too, because you never know what they might get in. I was able to snag two sets of Paintastics (5/pack) a few months ago, and yes, they were the Paintastics brand.

15. plastic trophies - You can find these in the party favor section. I mount them onto wood blocks and use them as incentives for all kinds of things. My son especially enjoyed getting to keep it on his desk if he kept his desk neat.

16. books of stickers - These are great for grading papers or using on charts. You usually get a mix of large and tiny stickers, so check what you're getting first.

17. writing prompt books - I don't know if these are a permanent fixture or not, but my son likes them better than the Abeka creative writing assignments. They have a writing prompt at the top of the page and space to write underneath. When they're done, they can color the picture at the top. I'm pretty sure they are primary-lined.

18. mini file folders - These are in the stationery section, and I'm not sure how often you'll be able to find them. They were stacked next to recipe cards, so I'd guess they were meant to organize recipe boxes. However, I made a few mini file folder "games" with them. I'll have to share those with you another day.

19. library pockets - That's not what they're called, of course, but that's what they look like. You'll find them in the teacher section. They're great for charts and file folder games.

20. clear "Contact" paper - Just because I couldn't end at "19", I included this. I'm not sure if they always have this, but I know I've seen it recently. Personally, I prefer to get my clear Contact paper at thrift stores and yard sales (I see it all the time), but this is a decent option in a pinch.

So I hope you've enjoyed my little list. Do you have any great homeschool supplies from the dollar store that you'd like to add? I'd love to hear them!
Friday, August 6, 2010 2 comments

Homeschooling: File Folder Games

Yesterday I worked on some file folder games for the upcoming school year. I've always wanted to make some, but most of the ones I found online seemed to be pretty pointless ... until I found this site.

File Folder Fun has oodles of free printable file folder games that will keep your kids busy (and happy) for hours on end. I plan to use them primarily when I'm teaching one child and the other is finished with his/her work. Judging from the reaction of my kids last night ("Mommy, can I play one more game? Can we play with these tomorrow?"), these will work as good behavior treats, too! :)

How effective are they? Well, I'm completely sold on the concept after my son played with just one of them last night. It's the Chick-n-Place folder that focuses on place value. In the past, he's had trouble with trying to write 156 like this: 10056. He always wants to put those extra zeroes in for the hundreds. Well, this particular file folder game limits him to just three digits. At first he was stumped and asked me how to do it. I was tempted to tell him, but I decided to let him figure it out for himself. All I said was, "You can only use three numbers. Think about it." And he did. In less than a minute, he had figured it out by himself. Success!

If you browse around on the site, especially looking at the pictures of the games other people have made, you can see that the sky is the limit as far as how creative you want to get with decorating these folders. There are colored and patterned file folders you can buy, small colorful die cuts from Dollar Tree to make them look professional, and on and on.

But they don't have to be complicated if you're like me and trying to make more than a dozen of them before school starts at the end of the month ... and trying to keep them as low-cost as possible. I chose to use plain heavyweight file folders we had gotten for free at Staples sometime last year. They're very sturdy, and I found that the printable patterns decorate them very nicely! I also printed the patterns in black and white onto colored cardstock to save my more expensive color printer ink.

Just a quick design tip: I've been using some Dollar Tree pocket cards (like library pockets) to store the little manipulatives for each game.

So, which ones am I making for next school year? My kids will be in kindergarten and second grades, so I'm making these:

Some Odd Pumpkins
Squirrel Stash
Turkey Feathers
Alpha Animals
Pumpkin Phonics
Space Rhymes
Five Senses
Working 4 Peanuts
Dino Bones
Krafty Koi
Monkey Money
Skipping to Oregon
ASL Alphabet

If I get those done and still have time left, I may go back and add in some that my daughter can work with right away. I chose most of these to reinforce concepts we'll be learning this year, but my son can easily play around with the "younger" ones right away.
Thursday, August 5, 2010 3 comments

101 Dresses ... not quite!

Did anyone else ever read the book 101 Dresses when you were a kid? My grandmother gave it to me for Christmas one year, and I can still remember the pictures and storyline vividly all these years later.

The premise is this: a poor little girl brags at school that she has 101 dresses hanging in her closet. Most of the kids don't believe her and make fun since she wears the same dress (or two) to school all the time. One little girl befriends her, and then suddenly the poor girl's family has to move away. She gives her friend one of the 101 dresses that were in her closet - dresses she had drawn on paper herself, all of them very pretty.

Well, I'm not making 101 dresses. I'm actually making 50 dress favors for another church's ladies group this fall. There are 10 different color groups, and I'm making 5 of each color. I started with the red group.

This was my first one. I used vellum for the overlay and added details with a red Zig Writer. The sleeves were edged with a MS Eyelet Lace corner punch, but it didn't turn out exactly as I had envisioned.

Here's the back - just plain paper (although it is decorative paper).

I changed a few things on the second one, and I liked it better. I eliminated the punched sleeve edging, and I added pen details around the edges of the overlay. Much better!

Then I really experimented with the third design. (It was my favorite, and I made three just like this.)

First of all, I ran the vellum overlay through my Cuttlebug with the Swiss Dots embossing folder (after I added the pen detailing). Then, instead of the punched circles for the tops of the sleeves, I made a mini rose out of the same paper and attached those as puffy sleeve tops.

I'm going to be making more in this style!

As far as the dress boxes, there is a template available online to buy. But why do that? Dollar Tree carries them in packs of 10 in their wedding section:

They look exactly like the template that's being sold. This is so much cheaper (in materials and time) than making them from scratch!

Notice that these are sleeveless. I simply added my sleeves to the front panel, making them double-sided. That way, you can see them from both the front and the back. Easy!

I'll be sharing more of these dress boxes as I get them made over the next month.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010 0 comments

Etsy shop is updated - finally!

I thought I'd let you know that I finally got a few minutes to update my Etsy shop. Feel free to take a peek!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 1 comments

Look what I found yesterday!

I haven't been to our local thrift shops in a few weeks, so we took the day and went thrift shopping yesterday. I found this old slide projector with no power chord at Salvation Army for $1:

(Sorry about the awful picture, but I didn't realize my flash wasn't on, and I can't easily take another picture.)

Other than the fact that it's missing the power chord, I bet it would work if I found one. :) Since that probably won't happen, I'm sure you're wondering why I spent $1 for it.

Well, look at this:

And this:

It still doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? It's hard to explain it by pictures alone.

The fact is that it has both the necessary lenses (concave and convex) for a homemade projector, and they're even set into metal for me already. All I have to do (hah!) is take it apart, mount it to a wooden beam, and add a light source.

I'm still looking into sources for a regular projector, but I'm going to see if I can make one of those DIY ones. I like a good challenge! :)
Monday, August 2, 2010 4 comments

A Homemade Projector?

Sorry, no project pictures for today. I'm working on some homeschooling ideas, since it looks like we're going to have a bigger room to homeschool in this year. That's a definite "plus" since we're adding my daughter this year!

While I was coming up with ideas, I remembered how easy it was to make nice, big bulletin board visuals when I had the use of a regular old classroom projector. I would just trace a shape onto a projector, project it onto the wall, and make it as big as I wanted it. (Of course, I had to draw the shape onto paper and cut it out, but I figured that was a "given.")

I don't have access to a classroom projector now, though. And I've checked most of my local sources for thrifted ones to no avail. They're going for $50+ on Ebay, and I don't want to spend even that much. So I did an online search for "DIY slide projector." It's the same basic concept that I would need to be able to enlarge patterns.

I came up with this link that looks interesting. I'll think on it for a few more days, but I'd really like to give it a try and see if it's feasible. It certainly looks cheap enough! :)

Any thoughts? I'm open to any inexpensive ideas, including any place you can think of that might even loan out regular projectors.