Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas: Classroom Time Capsules

Thank you so much for stopping by!   I am happy to be joining some of my favorite blogging friends for the July Bright Ideas Link Up!   It's exciting to read through so many amazing ideas! 

Materials needed:
  • Metal/heavy plastic container that will seal completely with a lid.
  • Small ziplock baggies
  • Sharpie marker
  • Paper scraps
  • Miscellaneous bobbles such as small toys, buttons, scrap fabric,
  • Photo of pet and or family

This project is simple, and fun for kids (and adults) to put together and open up at the end of the school year or even years later. Back to School time is perfect to put together a small time capsule to bury in the backyard or put together with other student's time capsules at school. It's optional when you re-open it.

Time capsules are a fun way to preserve something about yourself.   Making time capsules can be a great addition to "All About Me" Units too!


  • Start out by finding a suitable container. In my example, I used a cute tin that I had in my studio. It has a hinged lid so it could remain closed tight. The best containers are those with a tight/secure lid, and the container itself will not mulch down. (Paper or cardboard containers could be used if wrapped in plastic or put inside a ziplock bag.)   You can choose to have your students bring their own container to school as part of an assignment, or you can provide them.
  • Have each student locate small items at home that will fit easily inside the container.  (As a class project, it may be a nice idea to send a note home to help them with their items.)

    For my example, I selected items that would represent me: A small goat figure (because I raise dairy goats), lipgloss (because who doesn't love lipgloss?), a small prism, buttons (favorite colors), a butterfly charm, crayons (I love crayons), a quarter, a toy car, a lollypop, a photo of some barn kitties, and 2 little cards I wrote on and put inside small ziplock baggies.

  • There aren't any rules for making the perfect time capsule. The more creative you are, the more fun it will be when you open it again.
  • For older students, you can add a special twist to have them write a letter to their future self. (Hint: Any items that are on paper or cardstock (and photos) should be put into the small ziplock baggies to protect them from the elements.)
  • After all of the items are gathered, notes written, place all of the items inside a ziplock bag and then place inside the container.
  • Seal the container lid edge with tape.
  • Put container in plastic bag or ziplock bag (optional) to protect it from getting wet where it's buried.

For other "Bright Ideas...." Click through the link up below!  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5 Ways to Keep Kids Learning in the Summer!

Are you a parent or guardian that is looking for creative ways to keep kids learning during the summer month?   Summer time can be somewhat hectic with different routines, activities, and travel plans. To help kids avoid the summer slide (forgetting subjects and routines that they learned during the school year),  I've listed 5 ways to keep kids learning in the summer!  

1.   Visit Local Libraries for Story Time, Arts & Crafts activities, and Reading Programs.
Many libraries will host different events through the summer months.  They are generally lead by guests authors who have been asked to come, and staff from the libraries.  Each library will have different offerings. You'll want to check with your local library, and also libraries in other towns for a variety.  Libraries often host reading clubs through the summer to reward kids for reading books!  Reading practice is particularly important for the beginning readers.  

2.  Cooking with Kids:  
Cooking with kids can be educational as well as a lot of messy fun.  Cooking reinforces skills such as following directions, measurement, and math.  There are a lot of websites, and Pinterest boards that feature kid-friendly recipes and cooking activities.  I came across a cute series of short video clips featuring the children of Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss. (Hosted on TLC).  What I liked about these videos is that the children are explaining how they make the food while demonstrating. I hope that they make more of these. You can find the videos here.  

3.  Interactive Journals:
Interactive journals are "in" this year.  The cool thing about interactive journals is that they can be made out of any kind of spiral bound notebook, composition book, or even folded and cut paper bags.  Interactive journals can be used all summer. Kids can create their own with minimal supervision, and collect post cards and other memorabilia on family vacations.  They can write about their adventures all summer!  It's an inexpensive and fun way to engage kids.  If they are having fun, they may not realize that they are continuing to learn! :)

4.  Travel Activity Boxes:   The cool thing about travel activity boxes is that you can involve your kids in creating them. By doing that, they are more apt to use them.  Printable activities are great for these because you can print off the pages you need/want, and it's less expensive than purchasing a lot of materials. {click the picture above to download  "Hula Bear Tracers" for free!   Examples of items you can put in your travel activities, printable learning centers, file folder games, word searches, coloring pages / pens, flashcards, card games, and more.   Remember, it's summer time and kids will want to have a little fun too.  Activities that are open ended and not all academic are best!   Have fun with it!

5.. Cardboard Box Creations:  Who doesn't love making forts, and playing in boxes? Making things with cardboard boxes builds confidence, helps kids learn team work skills, as well as how to think "outside the box"  (Yep, pun intended!)   Boxes are pretty easy to come by, can be in any shape, and can be RECYCLED!   Here are some inspiring creations that I have been cultivating on Pinterest HERE.

I hope that you enjoyed this post.  If you have questions or have suggestions for other ideas, please leave me a comment below!  Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 30, 2014

July Currently - 14

Welcome to July.

WOW.. I cannot believe how time flies. Thank you for stopping by, for the July Currently. Hosted by the one and only Farley from Oh boy 4th Grade,  Be sure to stop by her Blog and leave her some sweet comments!

Listening:  I am listening to a Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz movie.  It's somewhat funny, but I am cracking up at Cameron's Texas accent. :)

Loving:   I received the wedding invitation for my dear friend Missy's wedding.  (Aug. 9).  She is the daughter of one of my best friends.  I wish I could be there for her on her special day.  It'd be a real long trip and it's just not in the cards right now.  Her colors are purple, teal, and navy.  

Thinking:  About the classroom decor kits I am finishing up on.  My sweet friend, Mel (Graphics from the Pond) made me some exclusive clipart... I can't wait to show it to everyone.

Wanting:  A little motivation. The chocolate ice cream didn't help.  I have a lot of things I need to get done in a short time. I know I can do it.  It would just be nice to have someone here at home that I could share it all with.  

Needing:  Yep... I think I need a little time away.  I think in the Fall, I am going to work it out to leave for a few days.  I just need to DO IT and not talk about it. :)

4th Plans:  It probably won't sound all that interesting to others...  A friend of the family is going to start breeding some really nice Alpines. Her barn isn't done, so her goats that are coming in from VA, and Idaho are going to stay here for awhile.  So my parents are coming over this weekend to help put up a new buck area and barn.  It'll be nice when it's all done.

I hope you have a great month!

Be sure to check out my Custom Designs section.  I AM booking orders for Blog designs.... if you are thinking about a design or make-over on an existing one...  let me know. I'm happy to help.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Throwing away lunch....

This Blog post is going to be a little different than my usual posts. Even though for most of you, it's the end of the school year and probably want to focus on suntans and flip flops... There is a problem that I wanted to address.

School lunches.

There.  I said it.

I am not going to talk today about the quality of school lunches, as that is a topic for a much lengthier rant.  Today, I am going to talk about a growing trend among schools to penalize a student(s) for not having enough money on their account to pay for their lunch.

Yesterday,  an article was posted (here) about a student in Washington state that was .26 short to purchase his lunch.  Instead of the school spotting him the .26, the nitwit tossed the lunch.  I can't even begin to tell you on how many levels this was WRONG.

My first thought was, how much brain power did it take to realize that the cost of throwing out that lunch was most likely over $4.00 (cost of food, employee prep time, and sanitation) and the humiliation that the student had to endure.  You can' really put a price tag on that.

This is the 3rd article I have read in the last week of this sort of thing happening.  Blah blah blah students should be responsible,  schools can't afford to feed all students, etc.  I've heard it all.  What I haven't heard is a solution to the problem.

NO CHILD should ever go hungry.  Period.   If the schools are so tight on costs, then they need to get out a #2 pencil and start going over the budget.  What I don't understand is why schools are making this a student issue?   Why not pick up the phone and call a parent or guardian?   Why not send a note home with the student ?   Heck, why doesn't the school provide a lunch program?  They do fund raisers for sports teams and other activities, why not do a fundraiser to create a fund for student lunches?

Here are some facts:

According to the Federal Education Budget Program,  in 2013 - 62% of student lunches were Federally funded (free lunch program), 8% were reduced, and 30% were paid.   This means that the families, of over half of the student population across the country is BELOW 130% of the annual income poverty level guideline.  (The income level that they look at is $23,850 for a family of 4.)

For the 2012-2013 school year, 30,700 million students in 98,433 schools and daycares were served lunch each day.  Out of that number 21.7 million students received free or reduced lunch.  (Data from the National School Lunch Program)

I spent some time doing a little research to find out how much food the school lunch programs throws away each day.  The numbers that I found were for food that students have thrown away, rather than food that the food services discard either due to preparing too much, or tossing because it wasn't purchased.

If we can have policies for what the students have in their lunch, there should be a cohesive plan to make sure that no student goes hungry. This isn't an issue that is just going to go away.  It most likely is going to get worse as the income levels go down, and it becomes harder for families to make it paycheck to paycheck.

If a school is going to throw food out, they should make sure that ALL students (whether they can afford to pay or not) can get something to eat.  How can they be expected to sit in class and learn without proper nutrition?

I'd love to hear from you to know what happens at your school.  Feel free to email me or leave me a comment below.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Currently....2014

Isn't it amazing how time flies?   I have this great Blog, wonderful fans and followers, and the best of intentions to write more often but I find myself becoming side tracked and here it is "Currently" time again. :)   This month's Currently is sponsored by 4Mulafun which is owned by the wonderfully talented Jennifer Smith Sloane.  Be sure to show both Farley and Jennifer some Bloggy love today.....

As I type this,  I am listening to 48 Hours (I love crime shows) and the whir and hum of the AC.  It's about 90 degrees out.  We've had some rain this week, which has made the barn entry way look like a huge mosh pit. -rolls eyes-

I am feeling  MUCH better than I was last week.  I have a tendency to worry about things and I guess all that worrying got the better of me.  I was having some ticker malfunctions and felt like I had no mojo left at all.  Not good.  Thanks to a good friend, and my Mom letting me hang out at their place I think I am doing much better.  I plan on spending more time goofing off this summer (not working all the time) and getting out and doing fun things instead of working.    I also need to stop worrying about the things I cannot change and roll with the flow a little better.   

I do want to dive back into creating, but nothing that is going to make me feel claustrophobic. I was thinking of doing some more DIY projects.  That's creative, right?   Maybe do some water color painting out on the deck.  A few weeks ago I got rid of some furniture and miscellaneous other c.r.a.p. that was on my deck.  Now it's like a bright new canvas.  I was thinking tiki bar... with maybe some colorful lights? :)

I have been wanting to do some remodel to the big goat barn.  Because of the winter and spring storms it's now moving up the to-do-list.  I need to get the end pulled off the barn, gutted, with fresh shavings.  I may be having a 2nd kidding season from July on so I have to be a bit more ready. :)

Who has time to clean their house?  lol  I love my house to be neat and tidy, but dang......... My kitchen right now looks like something exploded in there.  I'm thinking about working on that this week.  We'll see how that goes. ROFL!!!   

My Summer Bucket List consists of reading a good book (or two...), taking a little drive over to Jonesboro which is where all the good shops are (hour and a half drive) and then taking time off to sleep late and do as little as possible.  I kept my list to 3 so that I have a better chance of actually accomplishing it.

Does anyone need a Blog designed?   The summer is a good time to get a blog face lift!!!   Hint hint!    I do have some time in my lax schedule to do some more design work.  Believe it or not it relaxes me.  :)

Thank you to everyone who popped around to read this.  I love hearing from you.... I do read all of the comments!  (Even the spammy ones that wind up posting... ;)   

Have a great day!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chalkboard Message Center - Classroom Decor

I am happy to be a part of the Bright Ideas Link Up this month!  A huge thank you to Shelley Gray and the fellow participants for making this link up possible.  

My "Bright Idea" is creating a message center using chalk board paint, and a (cork) bulletin board.  The reason for the bulletin board is that you can use push pins to put messages on the board, AND the chalk board paint will allow the surface to be written on.

For this project,  I chose to use a smaller bulletin board because it is easier to handle  for an example.  Plus, I have a perfect place for it after I am done. :)

Materials Needed:

• Chalk Board Paint (either spray paint or acrylic paint)
• Paint Brush
• Painters Masking Tape
• Push-pins 

Project time under 2 hours.
Cost:  $5.95 for the board, chalkboard paint $2.95, paint brush, 2.95, painter's masking tape: free (got it from my Mom.)  

Step 1.   Using the painters masking tape, go around the edges of the bulletin board.  It doesn't matter if you use the acrylic chalkboard paint or the spray paint.  You'll still want to use the tape on the edges so that it doesn't get paint on it.

Chalkboard paint can be found at most craft supply stores. Manufacturer is Plaid. (Which also has a lot of craft paints, and adhesives).

Step 2.   Put an even layer of the chalkboard paint on the bulletin board.  Make sure that all of the cork is covered completely.  Let the layer of paint completely dry before moving on to the next layer.  It takes about 45 minutes or so to completely dry.

Step 3.  Put a second layer of chalkboard paint on the bulletin board.  This layer of paint will go on a little bit easier because the first layer completely covered the cork.   It will take a little longer for this layer to dry.  Leave it over night if you aren't in a hurry to use it.

Step 4.  Once the bulletin board is completely dry, remove the painter's masking tape.  Be careful how you pull it off to make sure that none of the paint lifts off.

Step 5.   The last step is to use chalk to write the names of students, or other information.  To clip messages,  what I did was use small binder clips and used flat thumb tacks to attach it to the board.  The binder clips will hold a few notes/papers.   You could use a board like this to hold schedules, or attendance notes.  The edges of the board can be painted with bright colors too.  I liked the dark frame, so I did not paint mine.

I hope that you enjoyed this project.  I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment below!  

To see all of the other projects in the Bright Ideas hop, click the links below!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Booking Across the USA - Travels with Charlie Down South - Arkansas

I am excited to be a part of the "Booking Across the USA"  Hop.  Each of the 50 U.S. States are represented.  The Travels with Charlie series was chosen as there are 4 separate books covering each state. Travels with Charlie was written by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg. The publisher, Blue Apple Books provided each of the participants with a copy of the book representing their 

The book I received is called Travels with Charlie Down South as I live in Arkansas.  This book is colorful, and fun.  It's similar to the "I Spy" game played as kids, with a hint of "Where's Waldo or in this case, Charlie!"  For each state, the pages open up to show a map with different landmarks and places to visit.  On the other side of the map is a list of locations in question form so that the person reading it can locate those places on the map.

This book, as well as the others in the series are a great addition to any classroom library to share with students about the state they live in as well as other parts of the country.  

Meet Charlie.  He is the main character in the Travels with Charlie books.   He wanted to learn more about Arkansas!

Arkansas was the 25th state to join the union on June 15, 1836.  The state capital is in Little Rock. The state is known for it's natural beauty.  It was nicknamed "The Natural State" because of this.   The state bird is the Mockingbird.  Would you like to learn more Arkansas facts?  Click here.

Even though I am not originally from Arkansas,  I was engaged in looking at the map in the book too!  I learned something new!  I didn't know that the state of Arkansas had a sanctuary for Elephants!!!  I just love elephants and it made me happy to know that there is a retirement home for them right here in my own state! I didn't get a chance to visit the elephants, but I did find their website online and hope to make a trip there in the future! {The link is below in the virtual tour!}

It isn't uncommon to see the white tailed deer walking around along roadways and in yards.  {This picture was taken in my own driveway.  I thought it was nice of the deer to pose!}

One of my favorite places to visit in Arkansas is Lake Norfork.  It is approximately 45 minutes from my home.  I share these pictures because I think it is one of the most scenic areas in Arkansas. There is a large bridge that spans the middle of the lake.

This picture shows one of the bridges (in the background) that spans the lake.  

Arkansas is located in the Ozark Mountains.  There are locations like this one in the picture where you can see the rolling hills.  In other places, it doesn't feel or look like you're in the mountains at all.

This picture was taken to show the water tower.  Water here in Arkansas is stored in big water towers.  Many smaller towns have these, and they hold millions of gallons of water that are pumped into the towers by wells.  The water towers are symbolic of the south.

There are many other locations in Arkansas to visit.  It's a friendly state that welcomes travelers like family.  Below is a virtual tour of my state to accompany the review of the Travels with Charlie book series.

Virtual Tour of Arkansas

I created a printable booklet for students to research states.  The cover is made to look like a small suitcase.  The writing sheets fit inside. I left the design a little generic so they can be used for any state.  The file includes instructions, and the 3 template pieces. 

I created this because the whole time I was reading the Travels with Charlie Down South book, I was thinking about how fun it would be to visit each of the states included in each book.  What is one thing that you take with you when you travel?  A suite case! 

Click image to download booklet file.

There is going to be a  giveaway of a set of all 4 of the Travels with Charlie books - Travelin' the NorthEast, Way out West, Down South, and Across Midwest!    This is a MUST HAVE collection for your classroom!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To visit the other states in this hop...