Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Made It >>>> Marquee Letter!

My first ever Monday Made It link up project!!! (except that I made this last Thursday... ha!)

A few weeks ago I was wandering through Hobby Lobby and happened upon these marquee letter light kits. I thought about how great they would like in my classroom library to spell out "READ"... buuuttt I already have letters hanging that spell that out next to my bulletin board. So, that seemed wasteful. Still... I really wanted to do something with one or some of them....

It was only $12.99 for the kit.. which includes everything you need except the batteries. Oh yeah - IT TAKES BATTERIES! Only two AAAs.. which means you can put this baby anywhere you want! No restrictions to outlets or an ugly cord to hide! I pulled up a 40% off coupon on my phone, grabbed an 'M' for my last initial (Morrison) and I was sold.

It shows you on the back of the box that you can decorate it to look however you like because it comes with a template of the letter that you can decorate or use as a tracer and insert into your light. So, I grabbed a sheet of orange glitter cardstock (orange is my favorite color!) and headed to the checkout.

When I got home, I unpacked everything and got to tracing!

 Here's everything you get (minus the hole puncher....)

Here, I traced the 'M' onto the back of the glitter cardstock, cut it out and traced the circles...

But then, I encountered a DIY FAIL! My hole puncher would reach ANY of the holes. So, I had this beautiful 'M" but no way to get the lights to come through. I couldn't locate my xacto knife (I think it is sadly packed away at school.. sigh) So.. I put the project on hold until I got more supplies.

I finally made it to Target one day, and bought some Modge Podge and glitter. I decided instead to just use the template they gave me (that you can see above) and would glitterize it to put back in so I wouldn't have to worry about making those pesky holes.

Here are all of my supplies.. (the Modge Podge was only $1 in the Dollar Spot - just sayin'!)

I started with a small paint brush and just started covering the template in the glue. I didn't want it to dry too quickly, so after I covered the right half with glue I quickly glitterized it and then started to glue the other half.

After I glitterized the entire thing, some of it wasn't quite heavy enough on the glitter compared to other parts, so I touched them up with more glue and glitter... 

...and then finally decided to cover the spots and let the whole thing set and dry for a while.

It still wasn't as perfect as the glitter cardstock would have been.. but oh well, it's good enough!

Once it was dry, I put it all back together.. here are some pictures for you to check out of the finished product!

 from the back, installed and turned on..

A small shot of how it looks if you choose to leave it white... still looks good to me!

I know there are some teachers & DIYers out there who despise glitter.... I'm so sorry for you. I just LOVE glitter. I don't care if it makes a mess. I can vacuum and wipe it up a few times. The clean up does not out weigh the beauty of the sparkle. But, if you really feel that way and want to make one of these sans glitter, the box gives you lots of ideas. You can use duct tape, washi tape, spray paint, you could even color it if you wanted to! You can totally have fun with it and make it what you want!

My new glittery version is going to sit on my bookshelf in the classroom. I am going without a desk this upcoming year and saw a great bookshelf at Office Max that I can stand at with my laptop on the top, and keep my supplies down below. I am low on outlet space over there between my laptop charger, intercom, and CD player, so this battery operated beauty can sit anywhere I want and shine some orange sparkles on me :)

What did you make today!??

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The TpT Seller Challenge!

For the past two weeks now, I have been working with over 900 (whoa! that's a lot!) other TpT sellers to better ourselves, our stores, our products, and our following through 4 weeks of challenges!

As soon as I saw it, I said "Challenge Accepted!" in my best Barney Stinson voice, and got to work!

The first thing we had to do was collect some data for comparisons... I will tell you, I am SO glad I had to do this. I am terrible about collecting data. I can record grades and keep track of things in the classroom, but as for my business and blog here, I am terrible at it. I try, but I just don't keep up enough. Hopefully, this will help me do a better job of keeping track of stats a long the way.... we'll see.

So, here are my beginning stats from when the challenge started....
I'm excited because just looking at it now, I have already made so many gains! How cool is that!?

Next, our first challenge was to makeover a product in our TpT stores. We could makeover covers, entire products themselves, whatever we felt we needed to do. This was perfect because making over all of my embarrassing old products has been on my list.

So, I quickly got to work and started to improve my products. Something Jen Jones of Hello Literacy said at a conference I attended in May echoed in my mind.... how can I make my store more appealing on first appearance?   So that's where I focused. When a customer comes to my store, I want them to see bright covers that attract their attention. Of course, one can never judge a book by its cover.. but first impressions are important too and customers decide within 6 seconds if they will purchase something or not. My store needs to be prepared.

I started making a cover for my top-selling product and revamped a few other too. Here's what that best-seller makeover looks like..

It is much more eye-catching this way. The color draws your eyes in better, and the product itself is still featured on the cover. I updated the fonts just a tad and left it the same. Now, as the first product customers see.. it's so much nicer. I updated a few others and will take time all summer to make over all the products I can! Excellent challenge.

On Monday came challenge #2 for us... the tell about our dreams... our BIG dreams with TpT. It took me some time to really think about this (hence I am blogging on Thursday and not Monday)... but if I was going to write down my dreams, I wanted them to really be my dreams and not just something I wrote down on my blog to complete a challenge. So, here they are...

1. become a presenter.... I have always wanted to be someone who presents and shares ideas with others in professional developments, conferences, wherever. Maybe it's the teacher in me, but it's something that has been on my heart for a while now, and I think with TpT and all that is has and will continue to equip me with, I could very well be speaking and presenting somewhere, someday.

2.  travel to Europe.... I have ALWAYS wanted to see Europe. Specifically, Italy. My dad's mother is from Italy, as is her entire family, and it is a place I have always wanted to see. Recently, I began using a free app on my phone to teach myself how to speak Italian, and I can never eat enough pasta or seafood.. or cheese! It's a dream and I want to make it happen someday! Even if I don't see the rest of Europe (though how could I not being that close!?) if I just make it to Italy someday, my dream will be fulfilled.

3. adopt a child.... This is something that begins to become difficult for me to talk about. So, for the most part, what I can say about this right now is that God has put on my heart that I need to be a mother.. but to whom I am a mother and how I become a mother is different for me that the world's point of view. My dream is to adopt a child because there are so many children in the world who have absolutely no one. They are God's most precious gift and I know that I have to save these little ones and give them love, safety, and hope in knowing Jesus Christ. I have been so blessed in life and I need to give back and God as shown me that this is exactly His plan and purpose for me and my family.

4. let my husband retire early.... My husband works so incredibly hard every day. He is a plumber/pipefitter by trade and has recently begun to experience a mini "mid-life crisis." [Though, at 32, it's more of a quarter-life crisis! haha] He is tired. He went to college for a year and knew it wasn't for him. He joined the union at age 19 and has been working hard ever since. He completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman after 5 years and now spends at least 40 hours a week doing hard labor in construction/industrial settings. I am so proud of his work ethic and the Godly example he is to his coworkers, but if I could somehow make it happen that he could retire early, I would. I'd gladly continue to work full-time if it meant he could stay home and do something he enjoys every day. I am already so blessed to truly LOVE what I do when I go to school every day. I don't really "work" a day in my life. But he does, and that is my biggest dream of all with TpT.

What are your dreams? You don't have to be a TpT seller to write down your dreams for your life! What has God put on your heart? I am praying that you find those dreams and lean on our Lord to fulfill them!

Monday, June 15, 2015

One Bulletin Board... all year long!

There is one common thing a lot of teachers seem to dread about their classroom.... BULLETIN BOARDS.

Now, I may be crazy... okay, okay, I AM CRAZY. But I don't mind bulletin boards one bit. I LOVE decorating them, finding fun colors and items to use, and thinking of a creative play on words for the title.

I think the one thing teachers get hung up on is hanging the paper and border every time. (you see what I did there!? #punnerd)  and for me, I only dislike it because I have a GIGANTIC bulletin board and an affinity for patterned wrapping paper. So recovering it every time takes about 2 rolls of paper and seems wasteful.

So this year, I decided to try putting up my paper and border ONCE and leaving it up all year, no matter what I changed it to for the season. I did this last year too, and it seemed to work well, so I thought I would document it for you and see what you think about it. It miiiight just make the task a tad less daunting for you... hopefully!

Here's some tips for how I did it...

Choosing a neutral background is the most important.. which is why I listed it first. Something neutral is going to be able to go with a variety of themes, colors, and seasons. I chose this navy blue striped wrapping paper from Target. It's simple with clean lines and has the potential to match a lot of things.

The year started with a super hero theme, so I matched it accordingly with my borders and other decor::
This went up in August and stayed until November-ish.

I use white thumb tacks to put up my borders. This makes it easier for me to change them down the road if I want to, because removing staples is a pain. It is also super easy to hide them in the border and then they aren't really even seen then! Like the polka dot border above... I just put a tack right on top of a dot and boom.. camouflaged.

Bonus: less holes in your border when you take it down compared to staples.
Double Bonus: you don't need to use a staple remover, so you're less likely to rip it!

..and then change ONE of them. I changed the bulletin board a tad late into the year... and when it started to snow I used this idea I found on Pinterest. I left up the red polka dot border that I had used before and just changed the yellow chevron to gray chevron.... same background but a much softer look for winter with the gray. I changed one piece at at time and it was so simple, compared to taking it allll down and putting something new up.

This stayed up November-ish until March. Winter is long in Ohio!
Click the picture to download the writing prompt paper for FREE!

To make the snowglobe, I traced the clear plastic plates I bought at a party store and drew on the bottom part for the globe freehand. I traced them on cardstock and the students cut them out.

I took their pictures all bundled up in their winter gear in the hallway. By taking them horizontally so that my students' entire bodies were in the picture and printing them as a 4x6" photo, they were able to JUST fit perfectly inside the plate!

I let my students decorate the inside to MATCH their story (so we did the writing process and activity first) and then we made the snow globe.

I mixed white glue and shaving cream for puffy paint for the snow and we broke out the glitter to decorate the bottoms of the snow globes (if they wanted... which they all did, of course!)

After they were completely dry (this took a few days) I hot glued the edge of the plate the cardstock snow globe. It's important to leave a small edge beyond what you trace so that there is room for the plate and paper to attach well. Beware: this uses a LOT of hot glue!

To hang them, I attached a small loop of yarn to the back of the globe with hot glue as well, but that is completely optional, depending on how you want to display them!  This has been one of my most favorite craftivities to date! I highly recommend it!

It's not always easy... so think about it. I had to kind of plan before I could make this bulletin board. I needed something to keep the blue. It reminded me of the sky so that idea led to finding something with clouds, and a Pinterest search led me to the balloon idea, which inspired the title. A little planning goes a long way, if you take a bit of time to do it. So don't rush the bulletin board change. It's okay if you don't change it immediately. Your board is still cute if you wait a week!

Here, you can see I just changed the inside border but left the gray. I went from red polka dots to hot pink on the inside. A few white thumb tacks stand out, but still look cute.
This bulletin board stayed up from late March and into May.

 Don't try to overdue it. I let the borders and background colors speak for the design the most and add just a few touches. A few fun fonts for the title and that's all I needed. The bright yellow pops against the blue and the cloud from the last board stayed up.. then I just added in my students' writing craftivity and that was that. I put this up in May and it stayed up until the end of the year.

and that was that. I made it last all year. I bought those two rolls of wrapping paper for about $6 at Target and made it last all year. I strategically covered any tears or worn out spots with the other items I put up and it didn't look bad through all 9 months... and I didn't have the headache of putting up new paper every time I did a new one.

What do you think? Would this solve your frustration with bulletin boards? Would you try it!?
Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Long Overdue!

Oh dear is this post looonnggg overdue! About a month overdue, if not more.. but who's counting??

On May 1st I had the amazing privilege to attend the Northeastern Regional TpT Meet-Up in Binghamton, New York, hosted by the Western New York TpT Team. I was invited by the sweet and talented Literary Sherri, and honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into! I Googled Binghamton when I got the invite and when I discovered it was only a 5 hour drive away, I asked my husband what he thought. He said he would drive me and was up for it if I wanted to go... so (of course) we went!

I discovered about a week before we went that the genius herself, JEN JONES, was going to be presenting and I was flabbergasted!! I immediately knew I truly had NO CLUE what to expect from this meet up and the butterflies started to flutter the more I thought about it! A few days before we left I received my shiny new business cards and matching pen & notebook from VistaPrint, so I was all ready to go in that department. But mentally, I still had no clue what to expect. I was actually still reeling, at that point, from an unexpected shout out on Instagram and Facebook from TpT for my Healthy Test Treat Notes.  It's still surreal to me to think about that... they hand-picked my IG photos of the healthy snacks and notes I left for my students all week and turned it into a collage photo they posted on IG. It was super cool..

.....until they posted it on their FACEBOOK PAGE the next day and I about died. You can check it out here if you want. It went a tad viral. Well, in my eyes it was viral. Nearly 3,200 likes, 1,500 shares... that's insane. I'm NOT Deanna Jump, or Moffatt Girls, or Babbling Abby, or Amy Lemons., or Jen Jones... that's expected for any of the top sellers. I'm just little ol' seller me with 500 followers on TpT and minimal sales to feed my shopping addiction. It even circled back around to my friends. Someone in our area shared it and tagged her in it and she commented that she's a good friend of mine and tagged me in her comment. I mean, seriously...that doesn't happen.

SO, needless to say my mind was already BLOWN after those two days of insanity. Then, we hopped in the car and drove to New York... and my mind exploded AGAIN!

The meet-up was a mini version of the awesomeness and mind-blowingness to come in Vegas next month. It was fantastic. I learned so much, met so many AMAZING people, and networked a lot. I learned a lot about myself as a teacher and a seller, and had an all-around blast. The only thing I can say about it in a negative way is that it was too short. I could have stayed there so much longer. We all felt that way - it was THAT great.

We started the morning off with breakfast, meet & greets with fellow sellers through a selfie challenge...

 Look at the awesomeness of this greeting when I walked in the door... just adorable.

I met this sweetheart, Connie...

and hung out with Shelly, from Appletastic: Blossoming in 5th Grade

and we got some pretty amazing SWAG too!

unbelievable... this doesn't include the Google Drive link with over 3,000+ pages of donated resources. WHAT!?

THEN... JEN JONES (yeah, THAT Jen Jones of Hello, Literacy!) presented...

She taught us so much about being a better seller and providing great customer service to our buyers. I am forever grateful for her willingness to share her expertise!

I'll be sporting that proudly like a dork in Vegas! ;)

We had our own photo booth and photo sesh..

I could totally rock a stache...

We spent time collaborating in a variety of groups throughout the day. We talked about social media, marketing, collaboration, blogging, and so much more. My favorite session of the day was when we talked with other sellers in small groups about key components to a good product. We passed around a product of our own we had brought and commented on what we liked about them. It was so encouraging. I loved it! That is something I would love to do with other sellers more often. I guess I could organize that....

I couldn't resist spicing up our poster with fun fonts and colors... #nerd

There were also giveaways... and EVERYONE won something. How sweet is that?! I won some Blair Turner Paper goodness and $10 to Teaching in the Tongass. That was cool. Her clip art rocks. So does Blair Turner.

And we did a Teacher Tool Exchange. Susan from The Math Spot is my Flair Pen soulmate. As soon as I spotted that chevron cup and the pens.. I was done.

Don't let this picture fool you. I took pictures much too late. This table was PACKED.

My tool was some Creative Paper goodness, and Ticonderoga neon pencils. Because, duh!?

Every detail was impeccable.

I also got to meet AMY from TEAM TpT!

 She was in my collaboration group all day.. so we're basically besties now.

I got to ask her who orchestrated that insane shout out I mentioned above... she told me the gal's name and I can't wait to hunt track her down in Vegas and give her a giant thank you hug!

Overall.. it was wonderful. It was inspiring. It was encouraging. I was blown away... and it was only a fraction of the size of Vegas... so can you imagine what THAT will be like!?!

Just one more reason my blog/store is named the way it is.. I am truly O-H SO BLESSED!