Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 50: Parking Lot Sight Word Game

For Day 50, we were supposed to be a minimalist and create something using white materials.  I was a huge minimalist and only used one material... posterboard!! I created a parking lot game, from jugglingwithkids (picture from jugglingwithkids).  I just took white posterboard, drew parking spots on it, and had it laminated.  Now I can write sight words in the parking spots and students drive their toy cars to those spots.  They absolutely love it!!

Pinned Image

Day 49: UCF Wreath

On day 49, we were supposed to work with quantity over quality, or work with a lot of something. I chose to work with a lot of scraps of fabric to make this rag wreath themed around my college, UCF.  This could work for any theme or any school, and I think I might eventually make one for my new Elementary School.

I made Gator wreaths for Christmas last year, and they turned out great!

Day 48: Jack and the Beanstalk Word Wall

On day 48, we were supposed to make something tall.  I made a word wall for my classroom that is 'Jack and the Beanstalk' themed.  I got the idea off of my travels through pinterest.  I just took a long piece of green butcher paper  and crumpled it up.  Then I stapled it to the wall.  I cut out a big cloud to put on the top, and the words say, "Grow with Words".  I then used a die-cut machine to cut out 26 leafs, and added a letter to each leaf.  As we go along and learn new words, we add the words to the letter they belong to.  Perfect for my fairy tale classroom!

Day 47: Musical Flowers in a Number 2 Pencil Vase

Today I was supposed to work with flowers - artifical, real, etc.  I decided to make my own flowers like the ones I made on my musical wreath last year.

To make these, you simply cut out a circle from a piece of paper, cut a spiral in the paper, roll up, and hot glue.

I put them in my number two pencil vase, perfect for a classroom!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 46: Face Challenge

On day 46 we were supposed to do something with a face.

I had NO idea what to do, so I went to summer camp, got out paints, pipe cleaners, gems, markers, and ketchup (!) and explained the rules.

I broke the kids into groups and had them elect a group leader.  Then then had to talk in their groups for 5 minutes about how they were going to use the materials to decorate their group leader's face.

They were not allowed to cover the eye area.  I really didn't give many rules and was expecting mass chaos, but it wasn't too bad! It was nice to see them use their creativity in fun ways.

Here are some pictures of the process:

And here were some of the results:

The kids were having so much fun that the 'adults' had to join in on the action, too:



Day 45: Crayon Melting Project

On day 45, I was supposed to create an image with tape.

Boy, was this a big project!!!

I collaborated a few pinterest ideas together for this one.  One from Craftzine where you take an old thrift store painting, tape letters on it, then paint over it.  I also used the idea that's all over pinterest where you melt crayons to make art, from 52 Kitchen Adventures.

I will have to go through this one step by step. It was long, tedious, and messy.

I started with this canvas painting that I found on clearance at Michael's about a year ago for $6.  I've been waiting to tackle a project I could use it for.

I decided on which quote I would want to put on the painting.  I needed one that I could use in my classroom, and I decided on, "Mistakes are proof that you are trying."

I used painter's tape to start making the letters.  This was very time consuming and the letters weren't coming out as perfect as I would like, so it was time to re-think my strategy.

I ended up sticking a bunch of tape on a piece of wax paper, writing the bubble letters on the tape, cutting them out, peeling off the back, and sticking them on.  SO much easier, and SO much prettier!

Originally, I was going to just spray paint over the letters once I stuck them on there, but at the last minute I was inspired to do the melting crayon thing.  I tried a few different versions.  First, I used an old hot glue gun and put the crayons in there.  This was very time consuming, so once again I had to re-think my plan.  I didn't have room above where it says, 'Mistakes' to put the row of crayons vertically, so I only put a few crayons horizontally across the top.  I then used a hair dryer to melt the crayons completely away and push the wax down to the paper.  This was very messy and took FOREVER.

When I was finished, I peeled off the tape.  The tape actually did a pretty good job of keeping the shape of the letters, but I felt like you couldn't see the letters very well because the background wasn't all the same color and it all mixed in with the colors of the crayons.  This would have been much better on a white canvas, solid colored, or if I had painted it before.

So, once again, I had to re-think my plan.  I went back to the glue gun, inserted a white crayon in there, and started pumping away again.  I filled in all the letters. I also made them drip a little to look more like mistakes.  Again, this took forever.  And, as you can see it took awhile for the red to phase out and the wax to be completely white, so some of the letters were pink.

Overall, I am glad I finished the project and didn't give up, but I also think I could make it better next time. I'm glad I finally tried out that crayon melting thing.

Look at the mess!!!

Day 44: Inspirational Lamp

On day 44, we were supposed to make something that lights up.  I worked with a mini lamp that I got at goodwill and cleaned up a little.

I got this idea from pinterest a looong time ago... it's from A Little Glass Box.  You just take a boring white lampshade, and write on it with sharpie.

I wrote some Dr. Seuss quotes on this lamp in cursive (I know the younger ones won't be able to read it, but I can tell them what it says if they ask) and put it over at my listening center.

The quotes I used were from Dr. Seuss' I Can Read with my Eyes Shut! and they were: "The more  that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go...  You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut."

It adds a nice little homey touch to my classroom!

Day 42: DIY Alphabet Strip

Ooops, I forgot to post about day 42 before posting about day 43.

On day 42, I was supposed to turn the day's junk mail into something more appealing.

I really enjoyed this one, because I do get so much junk mail and it's nice to know I could use it for something in the classroom.  Before I get started, I just want to point out that we actually did an activity at my NASA PSTI Conference using math and numbers that would work for this... read about that here.  I could have used that, but that would be cheating, so I came up with my own, ORIGINAL, idea.

In my idea, students flip through magazines, catalogs, old books, etc, to find pictures of items that start with every letter of the alphabet.  They then make their own alphabet strip (like the ones hanging in the classroom) using these pictures by gluing the pictures in the box of the letter it starts with, and writing the word below it.

For younger grades, this could be an all-year project, and you could do a new piece every time you learn a new letter.  For middle grades, it would be a cute project for a review and maybe even a good way to learn cursive.

I know those strips take up a lot of space, so another thing you could do is paste each letter on a separate piece of a paper and make an alphabet book out of it.

There's my idea!!!  How would you use it in your classroom???

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 43: Crate Seats

The challenge on day 43 was to learn something new by asking a friend for help.

I needed help making these wonderful crate seats for my classroom.  I try not to go to my dad for everything, but I had no choice when the workers at Home Depot refused to cut my wood to the right size for me.

Now I've learned a lot from my dad... if there's any problem, he can fix it.  So about 10 minutes after I asked if he had a saw I could borrow he had his work horses and safety goggles out waiting for me to show up.

To make these, crates, I bought filing cabinet crates from Target in blue (3.49 each), plywood from Home Depot ($11 for a huge piece), padding (I used throw pillows from goodwill, $2 each), and fabric (old pillow cases in different colors $4 goodwill).

I got the wood cut to fit perfectly inside the ledge of the crate (with the help of my dad of course).

 I then put a pillow on top of the wood and wrapped it with a pillow case.

I then hot-glued the pillow case to the other side and added a piece of colorful duct tape over the edges to make it look nicer.

They look great in my classroom!  My original plan was to make them to use at my kidney bean table so students can put their supplies in there, but for now they are over in my reading area [in progress].

My dad and his tools help me out with a lot of my projects, including my ticket stub frame, wedding hanger,  and all kinds of things around the house!

Day 40: Feel Better Bug

Today, the challenge was to make something out of yarn.

It would have been easy to knit something I've done a million times before, but instead I decided to try something different.

In coming up with crafts for camp, I came across these yarn bugs from and decided that one of the weekly projects would be making these feel better bugs for children in the hospital.

These bugs are adorable, extremely easy to make, and can be made for anything!

I didn't have any green yarn, so I made a feel better bug out of blue yarn and made it a sad/feel better bug for someone who is 'blue'.

How adorable, right?

There are tons of ways to use these little bugs in the classroom... they could decorate the classroom for different themes, the kids could make them as a fundraiser or as a gift to students who are sick.

What can you come up with?

Day 38: Homemade Sugar Scrub

On day 38, I was supposed to work underwater.

I was stuck on this one, and a few weeks later I tried something else from pinterest one night.

It is a DIY sugar scrub that you use in the shower.

Look at that... UNDER WATER!!!

So, this scrub is amazing.  You just take sugar, oil, and citrus juice and mix it together.  The way it was instructed to be used on pinterest was to scrub your legs after shaving, then shave again to get the dead skin off. It totally worked.  My legs have never been smoother, and I have not asked more people to touch my legs in a day.

But how can this be used in the classroom?

Hahaha... I've got this one.

Gifts! Parent appreciation gifts, coworker gifts, gifts to parents from students.

At Christmas, my aunt made everyone bath salts and put them in adorable packages from the dollar store:


Whip up a batch of the sugar scrub, find adorable little containers like this, and you will appreciate everything out of those people.

Any other ways you can think to use this sugar scrub in the classroom?

Win a free t-shirt quilt!!

As many of you know from previous posts, I am participating in a fundraiser to try to earn an iPad for the students with autism in my ASD classroom... read more about that here.

I am about halfway to reaching the 60 sales I need, and am trying to get over the hump and get those last sales.

I was trying and trying to figure out how I can use my crafting skills to help out with this fundraiser, and originally I was thinking about opening my own craft shop to raise the money (but realized that ThePuzzlingPiece fundraiser will be a much better program because they donate the proceeds to autism awareness).  I finally figured out... I could do a raffle!

So, here's the deal.  If you purchase a puzzling piece by Friday, July 27th, 2012 at 12pm EST, you will be entered in a drawing to receive a FREE customized t-shirt quilt, much like this one:

I will pay for you to ship 12 of your t-shirts that you don't wear anymore, I will pay for all of the materials and do all of the work to make the quilt, and I will ship it back to you.

You can order a puzzling piece necklace, such as this one, for only $20:
And you will also have a GREAT (hint, hint) chance at winning a custom-made t-shirt quilt, as well as help students with autism directly, and donate your money to autism awareness.

To order a puzzling piece, you can contact me directly or you can follow the instructions here:

We will now return to our previous scheduling.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 36: Upcycled Candle jar

The project for day 36 was to take something old and make it look new.

I have been hanging on to this jar that had a wonderful smelling candle in it.  I've been meaning to clean out the wax, but just never got around to it.  This was the perfect time!

I found a pin on pinterest that taught me how to do it, it was found at yellow brick home.

Just add boiling water to a used candle and let sit overnight until the jar is completely cooled. The wax all ends up floating at the top and you can get it right out!

I cleaned up the jar and added a ribbon. It's a cute jar that says, 'Sweet things in life' because the candle was cake scented!  Now I'm using it as a candy dish and could also use it for cookies, desserts, etc.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Puzzling Piece Fundraiser

Good evening everyone!

I'm writing tonight to share a very important cause that I am taking part in.

I recently accepted my first teaching job as an Autism Spectrum Disorders teacher in a local Elementary School.  While researching technology that is available to help students with autism, I just couldn't ignore the prevalence of studies that show a strong benefit of the use of an iPad in the classroom, especially with students with disabilities.

After contacting numerous organizations, I found a great program called The Puzzling Piece which helps raise money for Autism Awareness by selling gorgeous necklaces, keychains, corkscrews and more.

The best part is, teachers and families who work with students with autism can participate in the program by doing their own fundraising.  If participants sell 60 pieces, The Puzzling Piece will provide that classroom (or home) with an iPad!

I began participating in The Puzzling Piece just over a month ago, and I am already almost halfway to receiving an iPad for my students!  I am now reaching out to people beyond my close circle to try to get those last 30 pieces.

I am asking you to help out by purchasing a Puzzling Piece to raise money for Autism Awareness and help provide the students in my ASD classroom with their own iPad.  If you do decide to participate and order a piece, PLEASE let me know through a comment on here that you have done so so that I can be sure to thank you personally.

I need as much help as I can to reach 60 sales, so buy a piece for yourself, your family and friends, and pass on the word!!!

To buy a Puzzling Piece, follow the instructions below. The most important part is to enter my full name (Amy Spears) before checkout!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 41: Human Body Letters

On day 41, the challenge was to create a large version of something that would normally be much smaller.

This was another activity done at summer camp that turned out adorable.

We had the kids pose on the floor to spell out the word 'Riverside' (the name of our camp).  We also had the whole camp pose to make an R.

The kids needed a lot of help with this, but it would be a great activity to do with students to teach them to make letters.  Fun, too!