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!

Day 35: Heidi the Hedgehog Book

This is a very, very special post that I am extremely proud of.

The challenge of day 35 was to create instructions to have someone else make something and try it out.

Now, I do this pretty much every day at camp, but this particular day was something special.

You see, one of our other camp counselors had read the book, 'The Giving Tree' to the kids and we had a discussion about inspirational stories.  On the fly, I decided to have the kids make up their own inspirational story.

The kids went around and each added to the story.  Of course, since I had happened to bring in my hedgehog in that day, the story started with, "Once upon a time... Miss Amy brought in a hedgehog..."

Shockingly, the story did end up turning inspirational (through the help of the counselors) because Heidi the Hedgehog got her head stuck in a tube, and had a cone shaped head.  She didn't think anyone liked her because of her cone head and was sad.  At the end, her friends threw her a surprise birthday party and threw a cake at her face, which made her head return to a normal shape.

Although this story is a silly children's story to an outside eye, we had a blast making it up and listening to the kids each add their own pieces.

Unfortunately, later that day the other counselor got hurt and had to go to the hospital.  She was okay, but of course we had to have the kids make her something to feel better.

A stack of construction-paper cards can only go so far, so the next day I did an activity with the kids.

I wrote each sentence from the story on a small piece of paper (with the page number) and shuffled them, then gave each student a piece of paper.  The students were instructed to write the sentence and illustrate it.  When everyone was done (some counselors and other workers added a few pages in there, too) we put them all together by page number and laminated the front and back cover to make a book.
It was absolutely amazing seeing the silly story turn in to a piece of work that really showed a lot of effort. The best part was seeing each child's individual picture on their own page (with their name).

I gave the book to her parents later that day, she loved it!

It was amazing, and my favorite part of the whole summer.  What a great way for a class to take pride in their work.

Day 34: Wire Words Bracelet

For day 34, I was supposed to work with wire.  All I could find on pinterest was this pretty love bracelet from etsy.

I had some wire left over from making Tiffany's wire hanger from her wedding, so I decided I should attempt this bracelet.

Easy enough, right?

Well, apparently I still need practice on the whole wire-bending thing.  It didn't turn out quite as pretty as the one on etsy, but it's a start.  I tried to do my name in the beginning, but couldn't get the A quite right, so I just went with the 'love'.

In the classroom, it would be cute to use wire to label things and add a 3D effect.  Once I get the bending letters part down anyways.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 39: Haiku

The challenge of the day was to write a haiku about something that happens that day.

Of course, I was working at camp, so here is my haiku:

Working with children

keeps me grounded to the things

that have true meaning.

That's it for today, enjoy!

Day 37: Homemade Die

The challenge of the day was to make something with a stapler.  I really enjoyed this challenge (even though I had to actually google this one) because I learned how to make something useful out of everyday materials.

I used this tutorial to learn how to fold tape around staples to make a cube - just add dots using sharpie to make a die!

Here's mine:

It's a great thing to teach students for those times there aren't dice around.  You could also write different things on the sides (names, etc) than the numbers.

Day 33: Flag pen

The challenge of the day was to make something using pens.

I researched a little bit (yes, I was lost and didn't want to settle for just writing with pens) and found a really good idea for weighting down pencils/pens in the classroom by putting washers on the end.  This will be helpful for students who are learning to press down or have orthopedic problems.  It's also a good scaffolding tool because you can take the washers off one by one to grow with the student.

But I didn't do that.

Instead, as I was packing up my stuff for my classroom, I found little felt flags that a student gave me in a valentine's day goodie bag.  They have holes on them that are made for pens/pencils.

I realized how easy that would be to make, and the felt can be designed to say anything including the child's name, holidays, or celebrations.

These are extremely simple extremely cheap crafts to make!!



Day 32: Magic Color-Changing Drinks

The challenge of the day was to make something ephemeral that disappears quickly.

For this day, I tried out making Magical Color-Changing Drinks.  This is a really cute magic trick to wow students at a classroom party!  It would also be great for holidays, such as Saint Patrick's day.

To make these color-changing drinks, you simply put a few drops of food coloring in the bottom of a cup (I used a solo cup) and let it dry (I left it overnight, I'm sure you only need to leave it a few minutes).  Then, when you're ready to party, you put ice in the cups to hide the food coloring.  Serve clear liquids (sprite, water, club soda) and giggle as your victims are wowed and amazed as their drink turns color before their eyes!

See the video below.


Did you miss me?

I'm still alive, I promise!  Like I always say, too many crafts, too little time.

But don't worry, I've still been crafting!

Here's a quick update:

I was behind anyways on my project 365 because of our mini-vacation over by Disney in late May.    Then, last month I was in Texas for a week for a teacher's institute at NASA (read all about it at my other other blog,  I also got a job (!) as an ASD teacher, so there have been a lot of classroom-centered projects.  Besides that, I've been working at my summer camp and pretty much spending all of my free time working through my second Master's class and heading a fundraiser for Autism (more about that later).

So that is why I'm on my couch in my pajamas at 9:00pm on Friday night. I finally have a little time to update!

Just a little disclaimer: it may take more than 365 days to complete my project, but once I get out of the crazy summer I should be able to play a little catch-up, so I shouldn't be too far behind!

So, here goes!