Sunday, August 24, 2014

A (School) Year's Worth of Interactive Bulletin Board Inspiration

Since I was 6 years old, I have always had an outside connection to the world of education. My mother became an Elementary School Paraprofessional when I entered first grade, and I loved it. My best friend's mom was a parapro and several of our other friends were too. So, it's safe to say we got a lot of exposure to what goes on after the students leave! Fast forward to my first two years of college where I thought I wanted to be a teacher as well, but turns out it's not for me. That didn't stop me from getting some hands on experience with at an elementary after school program! We had a bulletin board to be decorated and this is a collection of seasonal and monthly boards I used with the kids. They're interactive and a hodgepodge of inspiration from Pinterest and TeachersPayTeachers and a thousand other google searches. These boards can be adapted to many K-5 grades/after-school programs/daycares/etc. and can be used as a reward board/behavioral incentive for older students or simply a month long activity for younger groups. Enjoy!

Cover board in a checkered tablecloth with any number of paper plates (you can also include napkins/plastic cutlery!). Cut out paper ants to make a trail across your "table" with. Have kids draw, color, and cut out their favorite foods to glue onto the plates.

Cover board in your choice of paper. Cut out stalks of corn and a scarecrow outline (think a burlap sack body with a complete head and face). Attach a paper basket next to the scarecrow and insert cut out clothes for him (overalls, straw hat, boots, gloves, handkerchief). Have a student pull an item of clothing and glue onto the scarecrow.

Cover board in orange/black paper and cut out a large trick or treat bag. Cut out 20-30 simple-shaped candies and keep in a baggie at your desk/office. Have a student glue a candy into/onto the trick or treat bag. When the bag is "full", give an award to class.

Cover board in paper and cut out a featherless turkey (body, feet, head). Cut out feathers in different colors, enough for each student to have one. Have a student write what they're thankful for on the feather and glue to the turkey. 

Cover board in red paper and use a black sharpie to draw lines on it to make it resemble a brick wall. Can also just do a red wall. Cut out a large piece of white paper and curve the edges to look like a scrolled list. Have student's with good behavior write their name onto "Santa's List". Can be adapted for if a student completes a task/project.

Cover board in blue/white paper and cut out a simple penguin to place in center. Cut out snowflakes, enough for each student to have one. Have a student write their name on the snowflake to glue on the board.

Cover board in red/pink paper and cut out a simply frame outline to place in center. Cut out a large question mark to place inside frame. Cut out several large conversation hearts in varying colors. Secretly choose a well-known person to be the secret admirer. This can be a student, celebrity, book character, person students are currently learning about, etc. Every so often, place a conversation heart on the board with a clue as to who this person is. On Valentine's Day/at the end of the month, ask students who they think the secret admirer is. Reveal by placing a picture of the person inside the frame.

Cover board in green paper and cut out two simple leprechauns and a large, empty pot of gold. Cut out 20-30 gold coins from yellow paper. Have students add a gold coin to the pot for task completion/good behavior/etc. When pot is full, reward class.

Cover paper in light blue paper and add clouds to background. Using a marker/string/paper, make clothes lines going from one side of the board to the other. You can determine how many by breaking your class up into groups by tables/birth months/first letter of name/class teams/etc. Cut out a plain shirt for each group and write the group name on each. Start all shirts at the left side of board. If a group does something well/completes task/etc., move that group's shirt closer to right side of the board. First team to reach the right side gets a reward.

You made it! Cover board in a fun color. Cut out pictures of four destinations students might go for summer. I chose home (could also be a friend's house), the pool, the beach, or out of town. Cut out small cars, enough for one per student. Throughout the month, have students place a car with their name on it at the destination they plan to go to this summer. Have them talk about their plans.

I hope you enjoy this and please let me know if this gave you any ideas for your boards!

**Also, for my own personal use, I created a word template for each month and blank ones for more ideas and compiled them into a slim folder to take to school. Let me know if you guys would be interested in free printables of the templates and I'll post them up!**

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DIY: Flower Embellished Sunglasses

Hey y'all!
So, I mentioned in my Sunglasses Case post that I would share a tutorial for making my funky flower sunglasses, and here it is! This DIY was inspired by my all time favorite blogger Emily Schuman's tutorial you can find here. She's a fantastic blogger and her content is so easy to read. You should definitely check her out if you haven't already!

So, here is how I went about making my version of her embellished sunglasses.

1. You'll need:
~a pair of sunglasses with area to glue on
~any embellishment you want
~hot glue gun

2. Decide how you want your embellishments placed. 

3. Start gluing! Word of warning: if you drop a glue covered flower on your hand, don't try and fling it off while screaming. Glue burns are a serious hazard, people. 

4. Admire your work while you ice your blistered palm and four fingers....

5. Voila! An easy, five minute update to cute and personalized sunglasses!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Hey Guys! Yesterday I was challenged by my best friend to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This time last year the ALS Association raised $1.9 million with their campaign. This year, the challenge has generated a staggering $31.5 million in donations and over 600,000 new donors! This is why people should do this challenge, to spread awareness! Use the link below to find out more about what ALS is and to donate!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DIY Fabric Sunglasses Case

The other day when cleaning out my bathroom I found an old glasses case. The liner had become unattached and it wasn't being used. It isn't much of a change from glasses case to sunglasses case, but giving it a cute facelift (for almost nothing!) was reason enough for me to break out my glue gun. I also don't have a hard case sunglasses holder for my purse so this is also a functional craft!

To begin, you'll need:
~ decoupage glue
~ fabric (fat quarter at Walmart for 97 cents!)
~ old glasses case (check goodwill)
~ pencil
~ scissors
~ glue gun

I started by removing the liner from my case. Easy work since it was already coming off ;). 

Next, I cut out two rough squares of fabric larger than the size of my case. I used my case as a guide to mark notches that I cut out for the hinged part of the case. Your cuts don't have to be perfect, just make sure you have enough to wrap around the outside of your case and into the inner side to secure. 

Cover the outside of your case with decoupage glue (Mod Podge). I did one side at a time so the glue wouldn't become tacky. Cover the side with your fabric and smooth out any wrinkles. Make sure your cut out notch edges match up with the hinges on your case.

You should end up with something like this. At this point, I used my scissors to trim the excess material from the inside. 

Next, I glued down the edges of the fabric to the inside of the case to make sure they were thoroughly secured. 

Now I could reattach my liner. Simply use hot glue to secure it. 

Here is the finished product from all sides! I'm very pleased with how it turned out, especially since I only took about ten minutes to fix it up. 

Just pop your favorite sunnies in and throw them in your bag or car! This is a really quick and cheap DIY (or facelift) that still lets you be creative. You can find these cases at goodwill ALL THE TIME for cents. And the Walmart fabrics are endless with some really cute options. You could even use scrap fabric if you have some. The case kind of reminds me of the fabric cases you can buy at Vera Bradley! But for a huge fraction of the cost! Like my funky sunglasses up there? Check back next week for a tutorial on how to make your own, inspired by my favorite blogger!

Monday, August 11, 2014

6 Real Tips to Surviving College that No One has Bothered to Tell You: From someone who has attended THREE colleges!

College. It can be both the best and worst experience all at the same time for many different reasons. With school starting back for a lot of us, I'm going to share a couple of tips that might make your experience a little bit better for when you start college or for those of us already there. 

1. Your advisor is the ONLY person who knows what is really going on. Befriend them. Love them. Bring them cookies. Know that this person holds the key to you advancing to the next stage of your education. A past advisor of mine had a funny plaque in her office that said, "I don't care what 'they said', I care what 'I said'." And it's true. Other department advisors/teachers/custodians might have an idea of what to tell you about classes or pre-req's but your personal advisor knows the most and is the only opinion that will count at the end of the semester. 

2. Perform regular check-ins about your classes. Drafted up your schedule for every semester until you graduate? Great. But things change. Things ALWAYS change. Each semester, it's a good idea to check that your classes are still the ones you should be taking with your advisor midway through and at the end of the semester. I didn't do this my freshman year and ended up with 18 credit hours of social sciences that have served no purpose other than draining my HOPE account. Do this every semester until you have a diploma in your withered hands. 

3. Know your pre-requisites. This is kind of a no brainer but still, it gets overlooked so often in the heat of signing up for courses the day registration opens. Most, if not all, upper-level courses require other classes to be taken before you can take them. Don't plan on getting into these courses only to find that a pre-req is holding you back. This can royally screw up any perfect schedule. Pre-req's are listed online under the upper level course you're wanting to take. 

4. Know WHEN classes are offered. Many of us have gotten excited at the prospect of graduating early. You know you can split the hours you have left over three semesters and you'll finally be done! However, college is always there to suck the joy out of your logical plans. Certain classes are only offered during certain semesters. Because you need to take them in a certain order. Because every student started college at the right time, in the right order, and has no deviation from the student sitting next to them, whatsoever. Makes sense right? No. It doesn't. Neither do the programs that only accept students once a year but such is life. This means you have to be careful mapping out future schedules. Make sure you know when your classes are offered so you don't get to senior year and find yourself needing one more summer class to graduate. 

5. Check your work. No, this never goes away. I've seen several students sit back and let their advisors plan their whole college career and never look twice at their schedules or paperwork, only to find halfway through that their beloved advisor made a boo-boo, paradigm shifting their entire schedule for semesters to come. Muah ha ha. Yes, I know I said to listen exclusively to the all powerful advisor, but listen up. They are BUSY people. They are also shockingly human, so they will make mistakes. And it is up to you to catch those mistakes after you walk out of their office. 

6. Update your contacts. Save every number to every important person in your phone. That way, you can contact said people anywhere at anytime if you have questions or your roommate scares the bejeezus out of you by telling you you've missed registration by twenty-minutes (true story). Just remember these people have lives and the best time to contact them is early in the week (so you have more consecutive business days to handle your problem) and before or after lunch (yes, they need to eat unfortunately). Emails work wonders too. Be very descriptive in them so as to lessen back and forth correspondence, wasting precious time. 

Bonus! Records. Please, for the love of Christmas break, buy yourself a bunch of folders or binders or trash bags, just SOMETHING to store every important and relevant school paper that comes under your nose. Later I'll be doing a post of how to organize for school including important paperwork. Having all of this organized at your fingertips means you can easily give info to advisors/registration/bursar's office/teachers/financial aid or anyone else without a problem. It's your arsenal of proof. For now, some things to keep and not toss are all of your receipts (tuition payment/fees/books/online courses/programs), registration cards from advising, a current copy of your transcript, a current copy of your program's advising worksheet, etc. Take it from someone who has changed colleges THREE TIMES, yes three. It makes any transition a whole lot easier when you know your stuff better than your advisors do, which unfortunately happens quite often. 

There are many tips out there to surviving college and all that comes with it but these are the behind-the-scenes bull-honky that I've personally dealt with and come to find most helpful. Random students and faculty will tell you all kinds of things that aren't actually true. More than once a thousand times you'll have to rework your schedule. But if you try to stay flexible and contact the appropriate people, you shouldn't have all that horrible of a time. Enjoy college while you're still in it. :)