DIY Clipboard – Back to School Teacher Gift

 First off, let me apologize for using the phrase “Back To School.” As a parent, you may be super pumped. BUT as a teacher, not so much. But it has to happen!

I wanted to do a project for a friend of mine who just got married. She is a teacher so she is teaching this year with her new last name. Eeeek! I wanted to make her something that she can use in her classroom with her new last name. And you know me, I like to do things as inexpensive as possible. Hello, Dollar Tree!

The Dollar Tree has these clipboard for (yep, you guessed it) $1. When I went to get one for this project, I grabbed 2 extra and thought I’d do this project with my 2 nieces while we were on vacation. Yes, I am that lame aunt. I also buy books and clothes for Christmas and birthdays 😉

I brought my scrapbook paper packs and had them pick their favorite one. They both picked the gold pack. I had also cut out their monogram out of gold sparkle paper to attach on the back. You could do stickers from Hobby Lobby if you don’t have a cutting machine. They have all different kinds of fonts and colors.

Then I had them cut up the paper into triangles, squares, whatever they wanted. We put a layer of Mod Podge on the back of the clipboard and added the paper shapes so it kind of got a mosaic look.

You could do the front side too, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t want the paper to create an indentation when you go to use the clipboard.

After you get all of your paper and monogram or stickers on (I took paper with already straight edges and lined them up on the side. I had to cut my niece’s because I didn’t think to tell them this strategy), put another layer of Mod Podge on top. After that one dries, 2 to more layers, drying in between.

For good measure, I added a sealer over the last layer of Mod Podge.

I love how these turned out! They would be a great back to school gift for a new teacher.

Paint Swatch Number Activity – One to One Coorespondence

 
At the risk of sounding so completely cheesy and cliche, my favorite part of teaching (and one of my favorite parts of parenting) is seeing kids “get it.” Seeing their eyes light up when they understand that 11 comes after 10. Seeing them get so excited when they write their name properly (still trying to find a fun activity to get Dylan to write his name!). The joy in their faces is amazing (to me at least) and the idea that I had a hand in them understanding that is indescribable. I miss it so, so much!

We have been working on numbers with Dylan and he has a book from Usbourne called “1001 Animals to Spot.” Each page has a different habitat and tells you how many of each animal to find. He is currently obsessed with it (he goes through phases where we read the same 2 books every night for a few weeks) and can recognize all the numbers 1-10 (that’s as high as they go). But he doesn’t quite have the one-to-one correspondence yet, which is fine. He has some time!

What is one-to-one correspondence, you ask? It’s the ability to actually count items. Kids Dylan’s age can count, but they’re not actually counting when they learn numbers. They are essentially memorizing the numbers and their order. Children with one-to-one correspondence demonstrate that they understand that this duck is 1, this one makes 2, this one makes 3, etc. Right now Dylan will point to the animals as he counts which is a start, but he does that because we do it. He sometimes skips ducks or counts a duck a few times.

You can also use this activity a step further by adding and subtracting, and I’ll show you how at the end.

I took paint swatches from Home Depot (free, but I always feel like I have to do it discreetly) and leftover glass gems I had from 2 other projects. I wrote numbers on each color and would hand him a certain amount of gems. Then I would tell him to count the gems and show me on the paint swatch how many he had. He started to place the gems on the cards if he could.

(It is impossible to get an in action picture of this kid that isn’t blurry)

If you want to work on addition, you can take two paint swatches and a plus sign (I wrote it on a larger paint chip, along with an equals sign), and find the paint Swatch with the answer. Easy enough, right? 🙂

 
He really loved playing with the gems and even telling me which number was which. He always surprises me when I give him these activities. He goes right ahead and does them on his own – making up his own rules. 

Happy teaching!

Craft Room Art

When we went and saw our new house for the first time, I was obsessed. If I’m being honest, I was obsessed because I knew I could have my own craft room. My “craft room” at our old house was an Elfa system from the Container Store and then an old IKEA desk with a sewing machine and random mismatched bins from The Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby (not without a coupon), Target and Wal-Mart, all crammed into a small, unfinished basement. There was nothing cute about it. 
So when I saw that I could have my own space, I was hooked. But then we moved in. I quickly realized how low if a priority it had become. I had all this super cute art that I had printed out before we even put an offer on the new house. But it just sat in a pile in my craft room, waiting patiently for me.
The room still has A LOT of work to go, but it is getting somewhere. I really want to paint it and get all coordinating furniture and maybe some built ins for storage. But for now, quotes will have to do.
Since I am not a fan of permanency or putting holes in my walls, I bought these 3M clips. They are like the hooks but they clip. 
I eyeballed their placement (they’re not centered on the wall but I did that on purpose) and put 3 clips up. Then I used hemp cord and strung it through the clips.
I love, love, love clothespins,  so I used them to hang the prints up.
These are some of my favorite quotes. This one is probably my most favorite. Words I live by, definitely. 
The lighting in my craft room is awful! But this is how it turned out. I am so in love with it and I can’t wait to get the walls painted and organize my supplies. Maybe when my kids are out of high school 😉

DIY Glitter Magnets

 
I love magnets. I love putting stuff on my fridge with said magnets. We have pictures (some are super old), comic strips, birth announcements, invitations, etc. So I set out to make some new magnets.

I had these glass gems left over from a sensory bag activity I did with Reagan and wanted to do something with them. I have a whole bag so I will probably do another project as well 😉 I also had glitter leftover from that activity. And who doesn’t love glitter?! Well, most people don’t. My sister leads that pack.
This was so crazy easy. You actually could use Elmer’s glue instead of Mod Podge if you wanted to. I tried it out and it works.
First, brush some Mod Podge onto the backside (bottom) of the gem.

Dump glitter onto the Mod Podge and let dry. Mine took about 15 minutes.

Once it’s dry, tap the gem on your work surface to get rid of the excess glitter. Brush a little bit more Mod Podge onto the glitter layer to seal it all in.
Then when that is completely dry (about 15 minutes), take your extra special glue (I used glass glue. It was about $4 at Hobby Lobby), and dab a little bit on. You don’t need a lot because it spreads out quite a bit when you put on the magnet. Stick the magnet on and let it dry according to the glue instructions.

This is the glue I used…

Ta da!
These would be a super cute housewarming gift. You could also use paper to put on the back!  Just lay it on your paper and trace with a pencil and cut it out. Glue it to the stone picture side up on the bottom.

Here they are holding up my favorite comic. I think I cut this out before we even had kids. It is 100% us. I feel like everyone should have a comic strip on their fridge that relates to them.

And because it wouldn’t be a normal blog post without chubby little boy hands….oh, and Hulk.

Happy crafting!

DIY Polymer Clay Pens

 Last Christmas (“I gave you my hearrt!”) I had an obsession with polymer clay. I made some ring dishes, Christmas ornaments, thought about jewelry (probably the only craft I haven’t done). So I have tons of it in my craft room.

I also love pens. I think I pick some up each time I go to the office supply store. Pencils too. I saw somewhere that you could put polymer clay onto pens, bake them, and bam. You have these super cute pens!

Supplies:
*Polymer clay
*Ballpoint pens (where you can remove the ink)
*Sharp knife
*Wax paper
*Cookie sheet
*Aluminum foil

Directions:
First you need to choose the colors you want to use for your pens. I had Dylan choose the first one so of course, it was purple. I had some clay that was already mixed together from previous projects so I used some of that or added a solid color to it also. They turned out so cool that way.

Remove the ink barrels from the pens.

I used Sculpey III clay. When you take it out of the package, it is already scored in 4 different quarters. Cut one quarter in half and start rolling it in between your hands.

 
You’re going to feel like it’s not getting soft, but with the heat of your hands, it will. Roll it into a “snake” (as we call it here). Make it about the length of the pen.

Now take your second color and do the same. Lay them next to each other and grab the ends.

Now twist the ends as much or as little as you want. The less you work your clay, the less intricate your designs will be (I’ll note at the end how I did each one).

 
After you are done twisting, roll it on the wax paper so it smooths out.

 
Fold it in half and twist again. Now roll it until it’s smooth. Again, the more times you twist and roll, the more intricate your design will be, so do it as much or as little as you’d like. Once you have it where you want it, roll it out to the length of about 2 pens. 

Take your super sharp knife and slice off the end; about 1/16 – 1/8 inch. Now make slices that same size of the rest of the “snake.” You should get about 2 pens worth.

Once you’re done slicing, push them onto the pen until they stick. Place them randomly along the pen. (Don’t worry about white space. We will work on getting that closed next.)

Once they’re all placed, roll the pen on the wax paper. You’ll notice that the white space gets filled in with the clay pieces.

Keep rolling until there is no white space. Lay them on the foil lined baking sheet (not touching each other) and bake them for 20 minutes at 275 (or whatever the directions say on the package). Remove from the oven and let them cool before handling.

And of course, since I’m “playing” with my clay, Dylan needs to do the same. He loves this stuff.

I am OBSESSED with how these colors came out!

These orange and red ones – the top one I twisted and smoothed out one extra time than the bottom to show you the differences.

This is from leftovers of 2 of the other ones.

The top one I didn’t twist and roll. I just sliced up a solid purple and a solid teal and placed them on the pen. The bottom one I twisted and rolled once.

This is leftover from a ring dish I did so it was already twisted and rolled and flattened, and then I twisted and rolled it once. I love how this one turned out!

This is my “bacon pen,” haha. It was a piece of red and white left over from a ring dish and then I twisted and rolled it with a pink one.

Love all these colors! You can do many colors, fancy designs, whatever! There is no right or wrong way!

DIY Baby Headband

 
We love headbands in our house for Reagan. I even got Dan on board with picking one out when he gets her dressed – and he’s pretty good at it!

My best friend had a baby in June and when she posted her big reveal picture of her, she had the sweetest headband on. It was tied into a perfect little knot. I knew I had to have that for Reagan!

Beautiful Baby Brooklyn! Welcome to the craziness!

So, of course, I set out to create an easy, cheap DIY. The elastic that I used can be purchased at the fabric store, but I grabbed mine at the Dollar Tree because I pretty much live there, and I didn’t need to go to the fabric store because I already had the fabric I wanted to use.

Could you die with this fabric? It was a fat quarter bundle from my new favorite fabric store – Wal-Mart! And I am obsessed with it.

Here are the elastic ties….(I just untied the knot).

These are just basic black, but if you’re looking for super cute colorful ones, look no further 😉 (Promise, it’s not a shameless plug for myself! Use coupon code UNDERCONTROL for free shipping!)

You can do this with a yard of fabric, but I wanted to do the tutorial with a fat quarter. It’s totally up to you. Here’s what you need:

*Elastic (the kind for headbands) at least 7 inches long (these are 8.5)
*2 pieces of fabric – 3.5 inches x 11 inches each (pressed and ready to go)
(Fat quarters say they’re 21 inches, but they’re 22)
*Sewing machine and all its components

Directions:
So, to get that size fabric pieces, I cut one of the quarters 3.5 x 22 inches, then cut it in half.

Take one of your pieces of fabric and fold it with the right side in, long ways.

Pin it along the open side and put your last pin in about 2 inches from the end. This is where you’re going to bring your seam inward toward the fold to make the ends pointed.

Start sewing and curve in when you get to your last pin (about 2 inches from the end) and pull it in just under the corner. Back stitch over it.

Cut off the extra so it’s not keeping the inside bulky when you flip it right side out.

Flip them right side out and fold the seam about 1/4-1/2 inches in. Put 2 pins on the elastic so that you have 2.5 inches showing in the middle.

Sew along the edge to sew it shut.

Now you can decide where you want the knot at the top of the headband. Wrap it around her head and knot it. I went based off of her other headbands – they are 14 inches.

I have already made her 2! Such a fun way to get some more color into her outfit 🙂

DIY Paper Plate Bird Feeder

We have tons of critters in our backyard. Mice (shudder), chipmunks, raccoons, squirrels….and birds. OHMYGOD the birds. They are everywhere and they are always in the back. I can hear them and see them. So, in hindsight, this is probably not the best idea. But they don’t bother me. We like watching them.

I wanted to include Dylan in this because if I don’t, he comes running in halfway through and demands that he be included and he can’t believe I would do something without him! True story.

I found a 3 pound bag of bird seed at Dollar General for $2. They had bigger bags too but I knew I didn’t need that much.

The paper plate, paint, toilet paper roll and hemp cord were already in my house. So that was no problem!

I started with asking Dylan to pick 2 colors to paint the plate. He chose purple (it’s always purple) and blue. But a light purple and light blue.

The painting actually brought on a lot of conversation. He told me the paint was smooth and we talked about how mixing the 2 colors kind of looked gray. All brought on by him. He’s definitely my kid.

I let him paint the top and bottom of the plate. To be quite honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do after and how I was going to put this thing together. So while he painted, I brainstormed.

After the plate dried (we let it sit outside so it would dry faster), I took a pair of scissors and poked 4 holes around the plate.

Then I took the hemp and threaded it through the hole from the front so that it was supporting it
under. I used 2 different pieces so they crossed over on the bottom and tied up at the top.

Then with the toilet paper roll, I punched 2 holds opposite each other and measured how long the string had to be to just have it sitting on the plate. The birds will stand on the plate and eat off of the plate or the toilet paper roll.

Smear peanut butter all over the toilet paper roll.

Give your “helper” some peanut butter to snack on. Because, peanut butter.

Sprinkle some bird seed out onto a paper towel and roll the peanut butter covered toilet paper roll in the bird seed.

Re-string the roll and tie it up at the top so it sits nicely on the plate (full disclosure, mine was too short so I hung them on different branches which ended up being perfect.)

Now we sit back and watch the birds fly in for a snack!

Baby Sensory Water Bag

REAGAN IS CRAWLING.

I use capital letters to yell because it makes me sad. I am that crazy lady who cries while packing away her kids’ clothes or picking up diapers in one size up. I don’t like it. I want my kid to stay babies forever.

Now, she isn’t fully crawling, but she scoots on her stomach and army crawls all over the house. Everywhere. Her favorite things to play with are the DVD’s, brother’s super heroes (which he is actually really good about and doesn’t care), shoes…basically anything that’s on the floor that isn’t meant for her. Pretty standard, right?

She is losing interest in being in her walker because it confines her. And (say it with me now) “nobody puts baby in a corner.”

I always said I would do fun sensory activities for Reagan because honestly, I think since she stays home with me, she misses out on all the fun school stuff that Dylan got to do when he was a baby. But unfortunately, I have been slacking big time. I did her sensory board and the hair gel bags but that occupied her only for so long. So, back to the drawing board.

She loved this one! She could pick it up and I didn’t mind because she was still getting the experience. This also gave her some time to work on her trunk strength by lifting up her head and using her neck muscles.

All you need is:
*Gallon sized ziploc freezer bag (you can use the storage kind but freezer bags are more sturdy)
*Baby oil (I used 6.5 oz from the Dollar Tree)
*Food coloring
*Glass vase fillers (got mine at the Dollar Tree)
*Glitter (3 pack at the Dollar Tree)
*Water
*Duct tape (also purchased at the Dollar Tree)

THE DOLLAR TREE ROCKS!

Here’s the glitter:

And here’s the gems:

Place all items into the Ziploc bag in this order: baby oil (I used the whole bottle), food coloring (I used 50 drops of green), water (3 capfulls of the baby oil), glass gems, glitter.  BOOM.

Seal the bag while removing as much air as possible.

Seal the edges with duct tape.

Ta da! Let baby go to town. Please, please supervise because you never know if they can rip this open with their little nails and you do not want those gems in their mouth! You could “double bag” it if you wanted to.

DIY 4th of July Party Decor

Before I get into this one, I have to confess.

These decorations were not used for a 4th of July party. They were for our Memorial Day party. Almost the same concept, right? I mean, it’s not, but the color scheme is the same.

Anyway, they were super easy and pretty cheap.

The smaller mason jars I had on hand from freecycle (if you’re not on freecycle, you should be) and the larger ones I bought (Ball jars) from Wal-Mart for less than $1 a piece. I think it was $10 for a box of 12.

For the sand layered candles, I just bought 3 containers of sand at Hobby Lobby and layered them in the jars. Also, a tip about buying colored sand from Hobby Lobby – I am not sure if craft sand ever goes on sale, but the wedding sand does and it is exactly the same thing, but cheaper if it’s on sale. So if it’s wedding sale week, check out the wedding aisle first. This also goes the same for other wedding stuff – ribbon, tulle, organza bags, table runners, etc. Always check the wedding aisle first. You’re welcome.

The candles were bought from Wal-Mart – also super cheap; and the hemp cord was brought up from my basement. Like most of my craft items. It is a mini Hobby Lobby down there, I kid you not.

When you layer your sand, be careful not to let it brush up against the side. It will stick. Then you’ll have to brush it down with a paint brush or pastry brush. I didn’t brush mine down because I didn’t realize it rubbed on the side until after I added the white. And I used all my sand. So once you start this, you can’t start over.

Then I just plopped the tea light candles in and tied the hemp cord on. Storing these bad boys until next year’s party is going to be a pain because you really can’t shake them up. Right now they’re just sitting in a spare room in the basement.

For the utensil jars, I found some ribbon at Wal-Mart (their craft section is awesome) and just hot glued each layer to the next. So simple!

I plan on reusing these every year for our Memorial Day party. The table cloth was just 2 yards of fabric (from Wal-Mart!) that my talented mommy added more fabric to and give it some extra length.

Sensory Play with Hair Gel

 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I love sensory play. I also love to add it into our daily routine because Dylan loves it. I can tell when he needs it and usually when he gets it, his attitude changes. I’m always the first to suggest it in my mommy groups for toddlers who misbehave. People who aren’t in education usually think I’m crazy (among other reasons also, I’m sure) but I often times hear people come back and say how it was a great idea. When I taught, the sensory center was always my most favorite center to plan. Kids could get lost in there! Heck, I could get lost in some good sensory play!

Like most of my projects, all of my supplies were purchased at The Dollar Tree except the sandwich bags and food coloring, because I already had that on hand.

All we did was squirt some hair gel into some sandwich bags and added a few drops of food coloring.

 

 

Then you let out all the extra air and zip it shut. After I pried it from Dylan’s hands, I taped them up on the back door. The sun will look so cool shining through the colors!

 

He loves to write letters in them, squish them, put his hand prints in them.

 

 

 

 

 

I also propped Reagan up to check them out. So not only does this allow her to do sensory play, but it is working on her trunk strength and core muscles to attempt to stand on her own. And she is none the wiser 🙂

 

 OHMYGOD CHUBBY BABY HANDS ARE SO CUTE!

 

 

 

So, this is a great activity for both ages. I often times see Dylan running over there to get some sensory things going. Reagan needs help, but she loves it too.