Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mother's Day Scrapbook and Gift Ideas

My Mother's Day Lunch Bag Scrapbook is officially my number one selling item to date and I am just thrilled! I've gotten such positive feedback letting me know how adorable the projects turned out! I made one for my mom too and she loved it! If you're looking for a sweet, unique gift idea, you'll have to check it out at my shops! The giveaway on Teacher's Notebook has expired but check back often because I'll have more on a monthly basis!

We are busy crafting away in first grade. The children are painting 4 inch terra cotta pots with their choice of a variety of beautiful, spring-colored acrylic paints. I have decorated pots with my students in every way shape and form over the years and think I have finally come up with the simplest, nicest design of all-plain old white polka dots on a colored pot! I found the perfect supplies for painting at Joanne's. They make disposable rollers with handles! These are great for little hands and cheap too! I also purchased some dot painting sticks. They have a felt tip rather than a sponge. They are the perfect size and won't splat paint when used.

Rather than planting the traditional flower in the pot, I am sending home the gift as a planting kit. I am putting the soil in a ziplock baggie. I purchased large seeds and put them in one of those plastic ziplock earring bags also at Joanne's. I made colored copies of the seed pack and reduced the size of the image to place one in each tiny bag with the seeds. I found colorful shovels and kids garden tools in the dollar aisle at Target. I attached the seed bag to the stake with a ribbon and little cardstock card that read:
Mom, my love for you grows and grows! 

The kit was adorable and I did not have to worry about the plant getting crushed or broken on the way home or dirt spilling inside the bag and making a mess of our pretty pots! Depending on your budget, you could add a pair of garden gloves to your kit. That would be super-cute!

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Earth Day Items and Making Recycled Paper

As a former elementary science specialist teacher, this week's Earth Day theme is one of my favorites to teach! I've posted some new Earth Day Items at my shop!

Here's a cute freebie Poem!

Making recycled paper is one of my favorite Earth Day activities! Here are the directions for making your own paper:

Materials Needed To Make Recycled Paper

  • Newspaper
  • A blender
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons of white glue
  • A large plastic dish tub 
  • One square foot of fiberglass screen (available at Home Depot)


  • A sponge and blotting paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Colored construction paper
  • Colored threads
  • Glitter
  • Small leaves
  • Flower petals
  • Food coloring

Making The Slurry

Slurry is the paper pulp and water mixture. It might remind you of dirty oatmeal.

First, have students tear newspaper into very small pieces. Place one cup of the torn newspaper into the blender with two cups of water and two tablespoons of glue. Use this ratio for each child. Put the lid on the blender and turn it on high. Let the blender run until all of the paper disappears and it appears as if you have a purple-grey, pulpy mixture. ( I try to blend several at once to save time and do this ahead of time, modeling once so the children can see the process. The slurry is ready for straining the following day. I save it all in a bucket).

When you are ready to strain and press the paper, place about four inches of water into a large plastic dish tub.  Add the slurry mixture to the water in the container.

Making The Paper

If possible-do this outside!

Mix up the slurry and water mixture in the container really well. Have the kids use their hands.You will need to mix the slurry each time you make a new piece of paper.

Hold the screen with both hands and scoop it down towards the bottom of the container at a slight angle. Slowly lift the screen out of the water allowing the water to drain out (back into the container) for about a minute. You should have a thin layer of paper fibers settling on the surface of the fiberglass screen.  NOTE: You do not want to have it too thick (more than 1/4 inch) or too thin (you can see the screen in patches) on the screen or the paper will be difficult to work with. Shape the pulp mixture into a square the size that you would like it to be.

Carefully lift the fiberglass screen with the paper on it and move it to a flat piece of newspaper. You can press a piece of newspaper over the paper (you can use a rolling pin to press if you desire), or press a piece of blotting paper over the paper and use a sponge to eliminate some of the extra water. I found square boards to place over the screen and used them to press out most of the water.

You do not want to dry the paper too much while it is still on the fiberglass screen or between newspaper or blotting paper as it will stick.

Gently peel the paper off the screen and place it on a piece of newspaper to dry.

For a more decorative look, add a cupful of colored construction paper to the slurry. You can also add colored threads, glitter, small leaves, etc. to the slurry to make the paper more interesting. Just before it dries, press in a few flower petals. You can also add food coloring to the mix to dye the paper.

In the past, I have attached a Mother's Day poem and placed it inside a frame for students to present as a gift.

Making your own paper can be fun, and it's a great way to teach the concept of recycling!

Let's make every day Earth Day!