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Friday, April 3, 2020

Quiet Book Pages with Spray Paint {and a neighbor page exchange!}


A few years ago a neighbor friend asked if I wanted to participate in a quiet book page exchange. I had never heard of anyone doing this and I instantly loved the idea.

I love to create. I love to collaborate. I love to teach. I love kids.
It was the perfect project for me.

One of the other moms in our group went to Joanns and got a giant piece of white felt (using a coupon to help cut costs) and I volunteered to cut it in 8.5"x11" pages for everyone, then we distributed the appropriate number of pages to everyone. I think we had six people in the group and each person made duplicates of their own two pages for a total of twelve pages total, six copies of each page.

I liked to sew, but I wasn't crazy about sewing elaborate details over and over again since we were each making several duplicates. I also didn't want to glue my page pieces together because I was confident in my kids destructive abilities 😆 and knew if I invested the time and money into making it I wanted the pages to last.

I also didn't want to add extra cost purchasing several sheets of several different colors of felt for each page (in hindsight at about $0.50 a sheet this seems like a small expense, but at the time I guess I was feeling frugal 😄).

I had lots of spray paint on hand already from several various projects so I decided I was going to try spray-painting felt. I had never seen it done before and honestly, wasn't sure how it would turn out, but in the end, was really happy with the unique results!

Solar System Page

Space has always been one of my favorite subjects to teach. There's something really mysterious and exciting and intriguing about this vast, expansive world beyond ours that we know so much and still so little about. When I taught preschool and elementary I had a set of glow-in-the-dark planets that hung from the ceiling, and I always found a way to squeeze space into our curriculum, so when I contemplated what pages I wanted to make and exchange with our group it was easy to settle on a Solar System page.

How I made it: 

First I collected circular objects of various sizes from around the house - a water bottle lid, a milk lid, a mason jar lid, a plate for the sun, etc. Then I laid out all my circles on my white felt page where I wanted them. With my circles in place I sprayed the page with black spray paint followed by a few mists of white and glitter spray paint for star galaxies.

Next, using my collection of circular items I traced a bunch of circles on my extra white felt and cut them all out by hand. I sprayed all my duplicates, 6 Earths, 6 Jupiters, 6 Mars, etc. at the same time. I added velcro to the page and each piece, hand-wrote the name of each planet for emerging readers, and viola! Easy-peasy.


Shape Matching Page

The concept behind this page was similar to the solar system planet matching page, except instead of simply matching to the correct size circle I wanted to add in colors, shapes and shape names.  I noticed it was easy to practice common shapes like circles, squares, and triangles with my kids because they are easy to spot in our environment, but less popular shapes are trickier, so I was excited to incorporate a page with other shapes too - kind of like those wooden-shape-sorting block-boxes. 


How I Made it: 

First I cut all of my shapes out of cardstock then I laid them out on my white felt pages similar to how I did the solar system page. Then I simply sprayed the page gray with spray paint. 
Botta bing, botta boom! 

Next I cut my shapes out of felt, using my same cardstock pieces as my template for each shape. I double layered each one, stitched them together and added a smile and two buttons for a face. How fun would it be to make all different expressions on each shape?! Then I used whatever craft or kids paint I had on hand and a set of stamps I had for my preschoolers to stamp the name of each shape in a corresponding paint color. I messed up on the spelling on trapezoid and had to fix it by sewing a white trapezoid over the top of the mishap. But that was only 1/7, not too bad. 



 

Camping Pretend Play Page

Back in my sewing days (I sold my sewing machine, custom-made sewing cabinet that Colby made, and serger before our world travels) 😓I used to always shop the remnant fabrics. They're like 50% off and an additional 50% off that. They're small pieces of fabric, usually less than a yard, but since I usually didn't have projects in mind, I would just go browse and see what I fancied. It was like a treasure hunt for hidden gems! I think that's actually how I came up with this page design - I found the fabric and it made me think 'tent material' and it all exploded from there. 

How I Made it: 

I used my same cardstock overlay technique for spray-painting this page. I cut a page in half using an uneven zigzag and then laid it over the bottom half of my page, spraying the sunset sky first. With my "mountains" in place I placed my mini start stickers and then sprayed away with orange, pink, purple, whatever colors I had on hand that fit a sunset. It was fun! 

Then when that was dry I removed the star stickers and covered up the top half with the opposite zig-zag jigsaw piece and sprayed the bottom. From there it was just a matter of sewing my detail pieces - the tent, rocks, campfire, etc. There was a little person with a roasting stick and sleeping bag at one point that they kids loved to put in and out of the tent, but those have long since gotten lost. 


Buckle the Dog's Collar Page

Are all little kids obsessed with doing buckles, or is that just mine? As I thought through various skills I wanted to incorporate in my quiet book I settled easily on a buckle page. The dog was just a fitting afterthought. Feeling thrifty again I hunted through my house for a buckle I could use and found one on an old, dilapidated backpack I was ready to donate and repurpose anyway. 


How I Made it: 

I sprayed my page green first, using a letter D cutout to leave a silhouette of the letter behind. Then it was just a matter of cutting out all my dog pieces and sewing them together. I intentionally left my pup's tongue and ears flappy so he could give some slobbery kisses or bashfully hide his eyes and play peek a boo. 

Truthfully I wish I had thought of more skills or activities to incorporate with this page, but my kids definitely didn't care. They love to do the buckle time and time again and as my older two have gotten older I've celebrated that they're able to undo it themselves and don't beg for me to undo it every 2.5 seconds. 


Feed the Monkey Page

When Crew was a baby he had a little sock-monkey carseat toy that stretched and vibrated and I thought the thing was adorable. Maybe it inspired this feed-the-monkey-page, I don't remember? But I also loved the idea of feeding the monkey fruits and it brought back reminiscent memories of wild monkeys jumping on my kayak to steal our fruit as we rafted through mangrove forests in the ocean in Thailand so many years ago. 


How I Made it: 

Making this page was much like the making of the dog buckle page - I sprayed painted the page blue but instead of adhering a D to it I painted over a stencil of the letter M in pink to coordinate with the monkey's polka-dot shirt. I was sure to include a few more skills on this page than I had with the dog buckle page too. I cut out all my monkey pieces, sewed my zipper, pocket, and button holes for her shirt, then layered everything and sewed it in place. The fruits I included - an apple, an orange, and a banana, I made out of scrap pieces I had laying around. I put some velcro on her hand so she could hold them or they could be stored inside her mouth. All three gives her a nice big mouthful. 


Piggy Bank Page

This page is one of my favorites because it's so interactive, educational and you can shake up your change and hear it rattle inside just like a real piggy bank! 


How I Made it:

This was one of the few pages I left white. Making the pig was fairly simple, just a matter of cutting and stitching, with a button-hole for the coins and velcro on his underside to remove them. I added some of my trademark spray paint for a finishing touch and left his curly piggy tail loose for little fingers to twirl. 





I didn't make this apple-picking page with snaps on the back, but it's also one of our favorites. I had wanted to incorporate a page with snaps, but silly enough, was too intimidated by them to do it! I'm amazed we still have all five apples almost five years later. A neighbor friend made it and I had to include it in our roundup because it's SO dang cute.

To see more of the pages my neighbor friends made (minus the ones we lost in our latest move), plus a demo of my pages and tutorial for how I made them check out the YouTube video below:

https://youtu.be/ePfbJKiX0k4

If this post inspires you to make your own quiet book pages I would LOVE to see yours!!!
Please leave me a comment, send me a message with pictures or tag me if you post about it. It makes my heart happy to share with others.


xoxo,
Emily

PS - Looking for something else? Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store with 70+ educational resources for parents and educators with hundreds of reviews, many of them FREE.





















Monday, March 2, 2020

100th Day of School Valentines Candy Shirt



Every time I’m back in an elementary school I’m rocked by a wave of happy nostalgia - so many happy memories of teaching! Teaching is truly a passion for me and like an athlete revisiting his old stadium, field, or court, it comes flooding back the second I step in the doors and remember being at the top of my game with an audience of mini-super-fans. They were the reason I loved what I did. Them, and my love for all the subjects and all things learning. Those little learners made my day, every single day, five days a week, 36 weeks a year. 


It’s been so fun to have Zoe be in school this year learning Chinese and yet it ignites a flame in me that burns to be back in a classroom teaching and itching to be a fly on the wall following her learning adventures. I feel a little sheepish to admit that I always leave her school scheming ways to land a part-time job teaching art or music or science or something and I may have even contacted her school administrators and my old ones about such opportunities without telling Colby first. 🤫 Shhhh.

Alas, I know the time isn’t right with my health endeavors and everything we have going on, but it’s fun to conspire and relive those glory days for a minute. I've decided maybe I'll fuel some of my unspent passion here into the blog! :) Thanks for being here and reading! 

Today was the 100th day of school in Zoe’s kindergarten class. I had signed up to volunteer and Zoe was allowed to decorate a shirt or hat to wear for it and I completely spaced both until mid-way through the morning! (Thank goodness for afternoon kindergarten in this instance). Fortunately I’m pretty quick on my toes and we already had an idea tumbling in our brains and were able to pull something together. 

If you, like us, happen to have these few easy supplies on hand you can whip out a Valentines- meets-100th-day candy-heart-filled-dispenser-shirt too :) 

What you'll need: 
  • White or Plain Colored T-Shirt
  • 1 or 2 Sheets of Craft Foam or Felt
  • 1 Giant Googly Eye (we got ours around Halloween and repurposed it for this project)
  • Applesauce Squeeze Twist Lid
  • 1 quarter
  • 100 Conversation Hearts
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue
Assembly was pretty straight forward. We googled a picture of a candy machine to get an idea of the shape we liked. Then we cut out the craft foam, painted the applesauce lid gold, counted out hearts and placed them in the googly eye to see how many fit. We fit about 75 inside, scattered the rest around and glued everything in place with hot glue.

I reminded Zoe that this shirt probably wouldn't last forever and not to melt down at school if something fell off or fell apart. Fortunately it held up and is still in tact today, a few weeks later now, although it obviously hasn't taken a ride through a wash. 

Once I got Zoe out the door, looking adorable in her hand-crafted shirt (it took us less than an hour to whip together) I had 45 minutes to figure out what activity I was going to do in her classroom for the 100th day celebration rotations. I had intended to exercise that morning and then the last minute remembrance of her 100-day shirt hijacked that plan, so deciding to combine purposes and exercise with 27 kindergarteners instead was easy! Boy did I get a good workout too! I whipped out my computer, crafted a quick plan, stayed in my exercise clothes and headed to the school. 

My goal in designing most learning activities (based on what I learned in graduate school) is to engage as many senses and learning styles as possible, so that's what I went for here. I wanted physical learning (hands-on, gross motor, strength & flexibility), plus wanted to throw in some literacy with reading, writing, repetition and sentence structure, and a little math. Some deep breathing, mindfulness, and spatial awareness were a bonus. 


The kids loved it. I loved it. And I felt especially happy about the 100 exercises we did (well 500 for me after 5 rotations! And yes I was sore the next day) since the kids made froot loop necklaces in another rotation and got handed several treats as they were leaving. 

Click here if you want to print this FREE activity for 100 exercises.

Please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store! I have lots of amazing products for parents, educators and homeschoolers - teaching and creating are my passion and I love sharing with you! If you feel so inspired please pin or share anything you find here.

Sending you lots of love friends!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Becoming a Student (of life) Again & My Hardest Test Yet



This might be a new record for the last five years; I'm updating this blog TWICE in one year! The last time I wrote we were traveling full-time as a family - living in a new country each month, sometimes moving locations every two weeks and all five of us living out of four suitcases. It was a wild time in our lives, one that we look back on with so much fondness and nostalgia now. (Check out our videos here).



Just to recap, one year ago we left our home of five years in northern Utah, with our three little kids, ages barely five, three, and five and a half months. We flew to Florida where we said hello to some friends and spent a few days before settling into an Airbnb in Punta Leona, Costa Rica. After celebrating a sunny and very sandy Christmas we headed back to the runway and landed in LA for a few days. Then it was off to Hawaii for a month.  After celebrating Crew's fourth birthday and spending a month basking in aloha and cherishing ohana we skipped over the international dateline to time travel and flirt with Fiji for a month. It was our hardest month yet, but we fell fast in love with the people. After, settling into beautiful New Zealand was like bobbing to the surface after a storm. Our hearts were won over instantly. We split our time on the north and south island and dream almost on the daily of one day relocating there. After New Zealand it was Australia (Melbourne and Brisbane) that made us feel at home. Our time there passed too quick before it was time for another long redeye flight to Taiwan. Colby and I were delighted to be back after 11 years since I lived there and he came to visit. The owners of the school I taught at were so gracious to host us for half of our month there and the other half of the month we stumbled through the culture and Chinese. The next month we were happy to be back on US soil on the big island of Hawaii and soaked up the sun after a few weeks of being sick in Taiwan before heading home to Utah for a happy reunion with my little brother, affectionally known as Uncle Jake, who was returning from serving a two-year mission in Mexico.



We planned to continue exploring the world, hopping country to country, carried by the wind and following wherever our hearts pulled us, Colby working remotely and all of us constantly adapting to a new home with eyes full of wonder, but God seemed to have other plans when I was diagnosed with breast cancer just a week after our return to Utah. I had felt a mass in my breast change and grow during our travels (especially after our brutal month in Fiji where we all got fifth disease and parasites) and getting it checked upon our return was one of my first items of business. Our world came crashing down as we faced the unexpected and learned that life goes on even after a cancer diagnosis.



So what next? The question we have asked ourselves time and time again and are still asking. We have learned a few things through our travels and my diagnosis though. Here are 7.

1) Faith over Fear. Fear = What IF thinking. Faith = EVEN if thinking. Whatever country we're in, whatever path we're walking, whatever obstacles we face we want to choose to face them with faith!

2) Power is in the Present! The only thing we really have power to change this the very moment we're in. We can heal the past and learn from it and we can create the future but we do it all by living in THIS present moment! So we don't need to know what we'll do in one month, or three months, or six months. We just need to know what we're going to do today.

3) Our bodies are miraculous with amazing potential. Our minds are powerful tools. We dishonor both when we allow destructive, critical, thoughts to control us. Instead, we can choose to love ourselves and heal from shame, grief, guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Loving ourselves will bring peace to our hearts and quicken healing.

4) Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves! Forgiveness is definitely a process and it's not something that can usually be achieved overnight, but even the desire to forgive will put us on the right path to actually forgiving.

5) Gratitude is transformative. Gratitude literally changes our brain and the way we think. It can heal our hearts and minds. Focus on the good in your life - are your eyes reading this for you right now? Is your heart pumping for you? Your lungs breathing? Do you have a roof over your head? Is your belly full? Is the sun shining? Do you have parents who love you? Children? A job? Talents? Friends? There is SO much to be grateful for!

6) Less is more. We lived out of 4 suitcases in small 2 bedroom rentals with just enough food in the fridge for our family. Living simply and intentionally showed us what we REALLY needed and helped eliminate the distraction of the things we didn't. We also found that the people we met who had the least seemed to be the happiest and the most generous.

7) God is in the Details. The more we look for evidence of his hand in our lives the more we see it. Seek and you shall find. God is still a God of miracles.



Writing is therapeutic and I do it for myself as much as I do it for anyone else. Truthfully I have no idea who will stumble across this blog, but I hope it can help whoever does in some way.

If you're interested in the latest updates find us on Instagram @lostbells or @tangledwithtinkering and read my more regular musings about my diagnosis and our travels on Medium or visit our website www.thelostbells.com.


Thank you for being here!!!






Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Lost Bells - That one time when we left everything we loved to travel the world with our 3 little kids...



Holy Cow. Where does the time go!? This poor, sad, little neglected blog. Once upon a time I put so much love into you. Sorry little buddy.


If you are reading this THANK YOU for being here!!! I have loved being able to share my love and passion for teaching and creating through this little blog.


Since the last time I posted here we:


1) Had another baby!!! We love her to absolute pieces. She is a little miracle baby and her birth is SO near and dear to my heart.






If you want to watch her 3 minute birth story you can find it here

If you're interested in reading ALL the details, including the journey to conceive her and then the difficult decision to labor unmedicated again and some of the miracles along the way find that here.






2) Started a YouTube Channel for my cookie & cake decorating business hobby - See my artistic creative outlet come to life on my Instagram @tangledwithtinkering ...





...Or on my YouTube Channel - TangledwithTinkering





3) We went mentally insane decided to abandon the sweet sweet comforts of home to travel the world. Colby is still working full-time while we travel and I care for our three little ones, all under 6 years old.




The first stop on our adventure was Costa Rica where we spent all of December 2018 living. We celebrated a sunny, sandy Christmas there that we will never forget. Our 18" tree branch was bare but our hearts were SO full as we got to know some of the people in the community there and were able to provide a modest Christmas including food, clothes and a few toys for several families. See some pictures on our Instagram here.





Our second stop has been Oahu, Hawaii where we have spent the last month and where we were able to get a tiny glimpse into the lives of some of the homeless community here and make a small donation. We have loved it and are looking forward to heading to Fiji in just a few days.


Does it sound like a dream? Well the warmer weather and proximity to the ocean has been! But my goodness it is A lot of work and a huge challenge too. Sometimes living in paradise isn't always paradise and parenthood is never easy, wherever you go!





But challenges aside, we are determined to see the beauty and magic of the world hand-in-hand with gratitude in our heart, love for each other, and a resolve to see the good around us and strive to be the good as we go.




If you want to know more about who we are come follow along with our journey -- you can read more and find everything on our website www.thelostbells.com or look us up on Instagram @LostBells or on YouTube - The Lost 

Bells.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Well hello there internet universe. It's been a while, and let's be honest, it might be an even longer while until you hear from me again, but while I'm here I'll offer you full disclosure that my throat has a literal lump in it and my eyes might be a wee bit wet after reading my last blog post from, oh, just 2.5 years ago. Two and half years! I have not one, but two sweet babies and boy are they growing fast.

My three year old has recently and suddenly caught on to reading and is trying to sound everything out, and I'm melting into a puddle of mommy/teacher pride, but also overwhelmed with an emotional wave of teaching nostalgia and passion and love and a weight of sadness that time is such a thief and so many good times and memories are behind me. It's like, blink! My once first graders are in jr. high and my first third graders are graduating and my first baby is reading. (insert bawling emoji) Before I know it I'll be sending her out the door with a boy I'm not so sure about. (more tears of hysteria...) But enough of those unnerving thoughts...


 So... why am I here? I've neglected this little blog for a couple years now, why come back? Well... I guess, because I was touched. I'll be honest that I haven't really kept up with my Teachers Pay Teachers store either, but I happen to follow Erica Bohrer  on Instagram and noticed that there's a valentines sale going on. Back in the day I was all over that and made sure to join the fun. So I figured, my computer is out, why not?! And you know what I saw when I logged in? I saw that thousands, literally thousands and thousands of people have viewed and purchased things from my shop and my jaw kind of dropped. If you are reading this, or have even viewed or purchased something from me, thank you!

 I feel so blessed and grateful for the support of so much family, friends, and strangers. It makes me so happy that teachers and students and parents have benefitted from my teaching resources. Teaching is and always will be a passion that gets my blood running hot through my veins.

So, what have I been up to in the last 2.5 years since I last blogged? Well, if you happen to follow me on instagram (Tangled with Tinkering) you know I stay very busy. I'm a mama and wife to the people I love and cherish the most. I'm a preschool teacher to the cutest bunch of kids that I love almost equal to my own. And I bake. Lots and lots of cookies (and occasional cakes and cupcakes). But the baking is the fast part! I spend hours and hours decorating. Why??? Because I can't stop and I love it. It's like the same fire in my blood as all those late, long hours at my schools prepping for all those little people that I miss and adore so much.  So... that's my life in a nutshell. I love it and I'm so incredibly grateful for it.


And in case you missed the hint above, everything in my store is 28% off today and tomorrow only.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Seuss Classroom x3

It's been a while, I know.  Well if you've perused my most recent (not-so-recent) posts at all you'll know that I've been busy with mommy things.  And SURPRISE! My little girl is not even a year old yet, but we are adding one more to the team.

Can't. Believe. It.
I'm 21 weeks pregnant and have been sick, sick, sick for, oh, the  last 4-5 months.  Ug. But I would rather not dwell on that, so let's get on to the real reason I came to the couch: I'm starting a preschool! (Big cheesy, plastered on grin with deer-in-the-headlight eyes). Am I insane? Yes. Yes I am.  But it makes me happy! So that's what I do. I do crazy and I like to think I do it pretty well.  I'm starting a preschool and mid-school-year I will be the momma to not one, but two babies under the sweet age of 15 months.  Heaven help me.
To the credit of my questionable sanity, I should add that I decided to quit teaching elementary to teach preschool from home BEFORE I found out that I was pregnant with baby #2.  I already had a full class enrolled, so here. we. go!

Anyway, if you made it this far you really deserve a ticket, or a token, or a sticker, or something. Good job! And don't let my candid apprehension fool you.  Let's get one thing straight: I love to teach. I was born to be a teacher. It's in my blood. Just like I know I was made to be a mom. I'm so happy and grateful to do the things that I love. What a gift.

Alright, alright already. Pictures, yes, the reason you visited my obscure, neglected, little blog in the first place. Can I get a drumroll please? And thanks for visiting! Come again.
Months ago, before I knew I was pregnant {again!} I deliberated long and hard about what to name my preschool. If you know me at all you know I've been kickin' around the Dr. Seuss theme for a few years now (Dr. Seuss Classroom x3 - yes it really is my THIRD Dr. Seuss classroom. 1st grade. 3rd grade. Now Preschool.) Finding a name was not an easy feat! But eventually I decided on 'Thinkin' Things.'

My handiwork sign I'm not such a fan of, but check out my little helper. Could she be ANY cuter? 
(Okay, fine, I admit I might be a little biased.)
So we had a little Open House and here's my front door...

And here's your view as you descend the stairs...
 And here's a little-bit fish-eyed attempt at showing you what the whole place looks like...
...and the other half. 
Have you ever taken an iphone panorama? 
I hadn't, (guess I need a little practice - those stripes really DO line up on the wall) but what a cool little feature! 
Here's the hooks and alphabet (an awesome baby shower gift from a friend!) where the kiddos will hang their backpacks.

 The snack/art/craft/science table AND our pull-down maps. Probably my FAVORITE feature. I convinced my old principal to let me buy them from the school. :)


Our Thing 1 Buddy to "watch out" for everybody and make sure we are all playing safe and be a "model student" for us too - sitting on the special "Thing of the Day's" chair. 

(My "Thing of the Day" is basically like a "Student of the Day" or "Teacher's Helper". It does WONDERS to help with behavior and keep kids motivated) 
 Our writing/listening/reading/drawing table with student cubbies and the special Thing 2 chair cover for my "Thing of the Day" (see how I made it here). 
The AWESOME Dr. Seuss shelf facade my husband made way back when but that didn't get assembled and painted until just now! And a $5 thrift store chair I sanded, painted, and recovered.
 And the playroom! $10 door from the thrift store, easily cut in half by my handy, handsome hubby with a perfect puppet-show ledge stained and added to the top.  
Too bad the lighting makes it near impossible to get a good view inside the playroom. Just take my word. It's pretty awesome. Imagine one blue wall. One bright pink. The rest is a chalkboard. And filled with toys, games, puppets, dress-ups and more. Is it obvious I love it?
 And last, but not least, we have our math wall complete with calendar, shapes, months, days, and color-coded hundreds chart (Want a free copy? Check it out here)

And that's just about it.
 But wait! I want to see pictures of your classroom! Leave me a link so I can check it out!