Friday, May 2, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Gifts and Printables - Thanks for helping me grow

Teacher Appreciation Week is next week (May 5-9). 
I think teachers most appreciate heartfelt letters of thanks and appreciation from the kids (and their parents).  But that can always be supplemented with something small and fun, and something flexible like gift cards!
The kids helped me make these fun succulent terrariums as a big thanks for all their teachers last year. The reason for the delay? I wanted to make sure the plants survived - they did, I kept one of the fun planters for us, and I see some of the planters on teacher's desks at school!
It was a big hit with the teachers. 

This is a project in which kids can fully participate. Their hands are smaller than mine, so it helped out. They decided on potted succulents. The kids potted their own succulents a while back, and were familiar with the process. 

I had a hard time choosing containers, and decided to go with different kinds of planters, and loved them all.

In the pictures, you see tear shaped glass terrariums (Amazon) that can be hung (they are meant for air plants, but worked out perfect for my purposes), ceramic cups (Home Goods), wine glasses, and some hurricane lanterns (World Market) meant to be used with candles. Once we decided on the planters, I took the kids to Home Depot and got succulents to fit the planters.

Have these ready before you start.

  • Planter - something with wide opening will make it easier for you to plant and it is good for the plants - it won't accumulate moisture.
  • Succulent (or cacti) - the size of the plant will depend on the size of the planter
  • Gravel or small pebbles/stones
  • Sand (optional)
  • Activated Charcoal (Amazon)
  • Succulent or cacti soil mix
  • Glass beads, pretty stones and other accessories to pretty things up
  • Small paintbrush and straw if you want add sand as the top layer
  • Spray bottle

For drainage, I placed both gravel and activated charcoal. I think one or the other by itself will work, but I did not want to take a chance that the plants will rot and die! If it is a glass container, place colored gravel to pretty it up. 
1 to 2 inch of gravel, followed by a layer of the charcoal. Place a layer of the soil. Get your plant, and gently loosen the rootball a little. Place it in the planter, and cover with soil as required. 
After this, you can place colored sand, and create dunes or waves with the straw (blow the sand) and the brush. This will especially go well with cacti!
I figured with the kids, it might be better to skip this. We went for shells, pretty pebbles etc. Have your child write the teacher's name with a sharpie on a cork or a flat colored stone. For example, Ms. Grace's Garden. The surfaces were too small for my then 5 year old, so I wrote them.

Add a ribbon or bow, some pretty tags, and you are all done! 

We used some fun tags like "Thanks for helping me grow" and "You are my cup of tea" for the tea cup planters.

Please feel free to use the tags. Click here to download. 

Some tips - place your terrarium in a place where it gets direct sunlight for at least 3-4 hours. Don't water it often - check to see the moistness of the soil. When you do water, there should be about an inch of water at the bottom (with a glass container, it is easy to check the visible water in the gravel at the bottom!)

What are you planning for the teachers in your life?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Eggy Games - CVC Word Hunt and Crack the Code

 Prolong the fun with those Easter Eggs! Use and reuse them all throughout the year!

For the beginning readers, have a CVC Word Hunt with the eggs!

I hid the eggs with one letter in each with a good mix of vowels and consonants. Once Spiderman found them all, it was a hop to the finish line.

How many words can you make? Make it more challenging by giving them a time limit.

Make sure to have at least a few letter comibinations that are familiar to your word builder. Spiderman loves to spell fox. I was careful to include that.

He had a blast, he came up with tons of words, but sometimes did not have enough letters.
In my mind, I set it up as a CVC Word Game, but nobody passed that memo to Spiderman - his goal was to make words that are real. 

So he came up with egg when he saw 'e' and 'g', but he had only one g. But at least he knows egg has two g in it!
He spelled frog, another bonus.
He also came up with sight words, which again I did not expect, like no, go, to and the.

So don't be surprised if your kids take the game to a whole another level :)


Batman wanted to play Spy while his brother was off making words. So I came up with a simple code (which turned out to be too simple).

Craft the code depending on the level of your cryptographer. Give him the code cheat sheet, and the first clue/code. He will find the first egg when he "cracks" the first code. The location of the second egg is inside the first egg and so on.

Although the codes were easy, I liked that he did not even have to complete the words to guess the location. So for closet, he only went as far as "CLO---", and guessed the rest. Same for microwave. He only went as far as "MICR------". His logic, it can't be microphone, it's short by a letter, and anyway you can't hide an egg in it. So it has to be microwave!!

I did not expect that bit of deduction!

Some of his clues were written in teeny tiny handwriting, and he had to use his magnifying glass to read the clue.

If you are having a spy/detective themed birthday party, this could be incorporated into the theme.

What eggy games are you upto?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Leprechaun Trap and Pot of Golden Words!

Leprechaun trap for KG class project? Hmm....

The one that Batman came up with sounded complicated, with pulleys and levers and springs. He decided to ultimately abandon it. He was worried that the wily little fellow might get hurt.

So we decided to get some inspiration from Family Fun Magazine, and he liked the Hat Trap!
We put some cotton balls at the bottom of the trap so the leprechaun wouldn't get hurt, lol!

All we needed were one oatmeal type container, felt sheets (green, black, and yellow), and some pipe cleaners.
I had some green and gold coins from an older sensory bin.
And the sparkly green and yellow gems as well.
On a previous visit to Michaels, we collected some clover cutout and stickers, which were our embellishments. 
Now all I needed was to remember where I put my glue gun.


So why a hat? Those who make it a point to stay on top of Irish legends (like our intrepid JoEllen from Family Fun) know that these guys might be little, but have big egos! A giant version of their hat will reel them in them for sure. And why the "DO NOT CLIMB" sign in my son's best handwriting? Well, they like to break rules, so another bait for them if you will.

Batman got to work. I cut out the rungs of the ladder, and he twisted the pipe cleaners while I held the sides for him. Some more pipe cleaners in the right colors, some twists, a few drops of hot glue, and voila, a pretty rainbow to tempt the leprechaun into climbing up. 

The hot glue gun, being "hot", was handled by me. But Batman was the scissor master, snipping away at the felts to cover everything up. We decided to glue some feathers to hide some rough edges pretty up the hat!
Now for the bait, some shiny gold and green coins right next to the rainbow. Once the leprechaun climbs up and reaches for the gold, he will fall through (see the hole in the center) the green felt covering and land on the cotton balls we placed in the container.

 We decided to add the sparkly gems as a path to the ladder, and for some bling! Can't have too much of it if you want to tempt a leprechaun!

Some lucky clovers, some more gold coins placed strategically, a few stickers, a pretty stand for the DO NOT CLIMB sign, and we are ready for action.

But while we wait for the trap to bear fruit, so to speak, how about a game of "Pot of Golden Words".
Get your free copy here.
Teachers, please see my TpT Store. This is for personal use only. The set is on sale till Monday, March 17th :)

It is part of a 8 game board package. Two boards are provided here for free.

The first one is to practice your blends, and the second one for digraphs. 

The Level2 included in the package is more challenging. The kiddos will never realize they are learning to spell.

The rules for all games are the same. Collect the gold coins for that board, grab a partner, and roll the die. Make a word with the letters on the shamrock where you land, and find the coin with the matching picture. If you make a mistake, you lose a turn, and don’t get any gold coins. If you cannot make a word, your partner gets a chance to try, and gets to keep the corresponding gold coin if he/she succeeds. The one with the most gold coins wins.
You can use a timer – players have to come up with a word before time is up. 

Do you have any plans for trapping some wee little leprechauns? Do let us know!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day - Mustache Soaps and Game Boards...

The day is almost over, but better late than never!

Please enjoy the free Valentine themed Game Boards for Short and Long Vowel Sounds at my TpT Store. You can find it here. It has two game boards with 20 cards each, so hopefully, the kiddos will get plenty of practice.

Here's an image of one of the boards,
and the cards to go along with it...

While on TpT, everything in the store is on sale till 17th. So hurry over!

I saw these wonderfully fun VDay 'Stache tags from +Jenae Jacobson (I Can Teach My Child), which appealed to the boys (& their mom!)

I decided to add these fun mustache themed personalized pencils from Oriental Trading, and conversation hearts eraser.

I was cross eyed from making 30 Valentines, and that was just for the younger child!

To go with the theme, for the teachers and other adults the kiddos wanted to give Valentines to, I decided to make some mustache soaps - a wonderful combination of goatmilk soap base, honey soap base, and ground oatmeal, basically, a soft creamy gently exfoliating soap fit for breakfast! The flecks in the soap are the oatmeal!

Then I raided World Market for some fun stuff to go with the theme - clips, pins, magnets, wine markers, beer bottle markers.............

.......... and made some fun labels, and gave them all homes!

Let me know if you have a 'stache theme going on as well!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

100th Day Shirt

Happy 100th day!

Batman needed a t-shirt for school to celebrate this milestone. I suggested something like googly eyes(I have a stash with stick back, just peel and press on the fabric) - we could make monsters out of them, or add 1 in front and make a 100.

But of course, my Kindergartener thought that was too baby-ish!
He wanted tally marks. So I googled it, and saw this lovely post on tally marks t-shirt!

But I don't own a Silhoutte. And don't trust myself with "non-erasable" fabric markers. 

So what to do....

Iron-on transfer paper to the rescue!!
A quick trip to Michaels, and I had the t-shirt and the transfer paper!
I made the tally marks in Word, printed it out on the trusty inkjet (just select glossy paper and print quality as high in the settings), and just ironed it on. Easy.

 Here is the t-shirt still on the ironing board after I peeled the paper backing off...

 The beauty of the tally marks is that you don't have to do a mirror image!
You can see the outline of the paper in the picture. If you don't want that, trim off the excess paper.

Here is the proud owner of the t-shirt on his way to school!

My only mistake? Not doing the whole thing after the kiddos were in bed!
Now  I have requests for Ninja shirts, Star Wars shirts, Angry Bird Shirts..........

Did you decorate a shirt for this milestone as well?  

Here is the link for the pdf file with the tally marks.