Monday, September 22, 2014

Hot Wheels Wall Garage

My latest wooden creation. It is a Hot Wheels car wall garage.

This project cost me $3

Supplies List if you want to make your own:
-(3) 1 in X 2 in X 8 ft boards - $0.99 each at Home Depot
-Nails - already had, but cost about $1 for a small pack.
-Wood Glue - already had, but cost about $3 for a small bottle
-Corner braces with screws - already had, but cost about $2 for a 4 pack
      ~Another option would be L brackets to hang it
-Hammer - already had on hand
-Saw of some sort to cut wood- but Home Depot will cut the wood if you need it for a price.

Note: Home Depot gives you 4 cuts for free and other cuts after that are $0.50 each. If you make the one I have above, it requires 9 cuts and would cost you $2.50 to make them cut it. You decide if that is worth it.

Here is the breakdown:
Wood $3
Nails $1
Glue $3
Braces or brackets $2
Total:------- $9

So, if you have a hammer and some sort of saw to cut the wood,  then it will cost you $9.
If all you need is the wood, then it will cost you $3 plus tax.

Personally, I think I would pay $10 for a shelf that will keep those dumb, feet-killing cars off my floor. I got lucky and only paid $3 and now want another one. Maybe I need to add that to my list for tomorrow...

I cut the 8 feet boards into 2 feet strips. I needed 11 total for the project directly above. I ended up making the sides a little shorter and having one less shelf on the final project. My wall had an outlet that was badly placed and required my original project to be modified.

You can see two outlets in the picture and there is another one hidden by the baby. Ish. Why did all the outlets have to be in the exact same spot? And why did it have to be the spot I wanted to hang something?

I got the handy guys at Home Depot to cut my boards in half and then I cut them further once home. I taped all the shelf boards together with masking tape. I then sawed each side to make them all square. It worked pretty well. If you are a real woodworking person, please stop cringing and just do it your way.

I then glued the pieces together and nailed them later for good measure. I attached the corner braces or L brackets to the shelf and wall. Then my kids added the cars and I admired my handy work.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Practice Keyboards

After I saw this blog post by Color in My Piano, I really wanted a practice piano. I liked hers, but I wanted something a little bigger that could be used for overall piano practice.

I was initially scared of the idea and kept putting it off. Now I wish had done it sooner. It is surprisingly simple.

Materials needed:

1. Board of some shape (I bought a 0.5 inch thick board measuring 5.5 inches by 24 inches at Home Depot)
2. White paint and paint brush (or you can buy a pre-painted board for a little more money)
3. 1 Paper-size Black foam (I bought the kind that has a sticky back that you peel off --so worth it!)
4. Scissors
5. Black permanent marker (fine tip)
6. Ruler and pencil for measuring

I didn't keep track of exactly how much this cost, but I will give you an estimate. I already had scissors, ruler, pencil, and black marker, so those were free. The boards I bought were pre-cut and sanded, which means a little more money, but about $6 each. I bought a sample of white paint, about $3. Paintbrush was somewhere around $0.50. Black foam was about $2.

So here is the breakdown of cost:
-- please remember these are estimates --
2 Boards: $6 each ($12)
Paint $2
Paintbrush $0.50
Foam $2
TOTAL: $16.50 ($8.25 each)

As always, the more you make, the cheaper it is.

Also, if you just buy a board and cut it into pieces, it would cost about $4 each for 3 or 4 of these.
Another option is to go to craft store and buy pre-cut slats. They come in packages of 6-ish for around $3. They are quite a bit smaller, but much more affordable. I have even seen BBQ slats at the Dollar Store that could be used. The possibilities are endless with this initial idea.

 So here is the instructions on how to make these:
1. Take board of your choice and paint it white. If you bought a pre-painted board, skip this step.
This step takes the longest and you have to allow it to dry overnight. Looking back, I really should have used spray paint. That would have been sooooo much easier.

2. Once board is white and dry, draw your lines 7/8 inch apart. I did this step with a ruler and a pencil first, then traced with a black permanent marker next.

2.5 (Optional step): You can paint a layer of gloss over your keyboard to seal in the colors, but it is not necessary. Be warned: if your kids decide to draw on these with permanent markers--it will not come off-whether you glossed it or not.

3. Cut out your foam pieces. These should be 0.5 inch wide by 3.5 inch long. If you are using a shorter board (as in from top to bottom, not how wide), simply make your black keys shorter (smaller than 3.5 inch).

4. I found the middle key on my keyboard and decided that was middle C. I did not write C on my piano, it is just on the picture above for your benefit. I then placed the black foam accordingly around that spot. I did it first without sticking anything, then slowly attached each black key.

5. Find some resources of things to do with your fancy new keyboard:
 Come back another day and I will make a post about things that can be done with a practice piano.

For a time frame:
Painting: 20 minutes (but overnight to dry)
Draw on lines: 20 minutes
Cut out foam: 20 minutes
Attach foam: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 15 minutes

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Science Experiment for kids

What do you do when you need an activity indoors that will keep your kids occupied for more than 10 minutes? Enter the science experiment.

All you need to make this happen is baking soda, vinegar, food coloring (optional), pipette droppers, and a big pan.

I simply dumped some baking soda inside a 9 x 13 clear pan and shook it around to get an even layer. I used the kids' three-compartment plates and filled them with white vinegar. I dropped some food coloring into each compartment for added fun.

I gave each kid their own pan, plate (with vinegar), and a pipette. I found the pipettes at Walmart for $1.49 for a two pack. They were near the pharmacy.

Simply drop some vinegar into your pan of baking soda and watch as your colors fizz and turn into crazy creations.

This would be lots of fun on a rainy afternoon or a hot summer day when it is too hot outside. OR you can do this just because it is lots of fun. This is something we will definitely be repeating.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Egg Craft

 "Stain Glass" Easter Eggs is a fun craft for all ages.

This craft requires:
1. tissue paper 
2. clear contact paper 
3. scissors
4. 1 sheet of construction paper (per child) for the egg outline.

I found the contact paper and the tissue paper at the $0.99 Store.
So this craft cost $2. I like that kind of craft. 
I have lots left over that can be used for future crafts too.

1. Fold your construction paper the long way (We call it the Hot Dog way). I used black, but any color would be fine.

2. Cut out an egg shape and cut out the center leaving just an outline of an egg (see the black outlines in the picture above).

3. Cut up your colored tissue paper into small manageable pieces. I found smaller pieces are better for older kids who have more patience, but you know your kid (s). Cut accordingly. I used some scrapbook scissors for fancy cut-outs.

4. Cut a piece of clear contact paper and remove the paper backing. This gives you a piece of sticky clear paper. Place it on the table with sticky side up. Place your egg cut out on the sticky part.

5. Let the kids put the cut up tissue paper on the contact paper until they are satisfied.

6. Cut another piece of contact paper and remove the paper backing. Place the sticky side to the decorated piece of your "eggs." This is like laminating the eggs. I cut out around the eggs to remove some of the extra tissue paper that got stuck.

7. Hang your creation and enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

English Essay Lapbook

 I did a favor for a friend and made her a lapbook for
language arts (English). This is more for the high school,
possibly college level writer. Even I learned a thing
 or two making this. I love it when that happens.
 Here is the inside.
I have a more detailed list of what each mini book is below.
 Another view of the inside. 
So, here is the breakdown of the lapbook:

1. 4 Types of Essays: Narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive. Each tab had a little explanation about that type of essay.

2.  Run-on Sentence cards: I made cards with run-on sentences and stuck them back to back and laminated them. They can be corrected using a white board marker many times for practice. I also made "correcting cards" to help understand how to correct a run-on sentence.

3-5: I made an outline for a 5 paragraph essay with
specifics on how to break it down into manageable pieces.

3. Introduction paragraph: This is broken down into three parts: Hook, Body, and Thesis Sentence.

Hook: Something catchy that makes your audience
pay attention to your topic. This is usually just one sentence.

Body: Review the main reasons why your topic is important and
which will be reviewed in the body of the paper. You can also
give necessary background. This is usually 2-4 sentences.

Thesis Sentence: the controlling statement that serves as
the backbone of the paper. Try to make this just one sentence

4. Body (3 paragraphs): This section is to help move the essay along and give more information. Each paragraph should be written using the S. E. E. method.

Statement: A topic sentence states a paragraph’s main
idea. When answering a question or responding to a prompt,
make your answer or response part of your statement.

Examples: Also known as supporting sentences, strongly
support the topic sentence and form the support every
paragraph needs to have. Whenever possible, directly cite a
published source to provide the necessary examples to support
your paragraph’s topic sentence or statement.

Explanation: Closing sentences which bring your paragraph
to a logical conclusion by clearly explaining how the cited
examples strongly support and prove the topic sentence.

5. Conclusion: This is broken up into three sections: Restate thesis, summation, and concluding sentence.

Restate thesis: Restate your original thesis to remind
the reader of where you started and the point of this essay.

Summation: Tell the reader what they should have
learned in this essay, why it is significant, and how
it relates to the real world.

Concluding sentence: The is the final thought. This is
a chance to leave the reader with something to think about.

Close-up of the middle blue match-books.

6. You may be noticing that the center of the lapbook looks like I just duplicated everything. You would be kind-of right. The left side has the explanations and the right side has empty lines with one word or letter to help prompt the writer. This is meant to be a worksheet to help write one essay.

7. 4 Kinds of Sentences: Statement, questions, command, exclamation. After reading online, these names are the easy version with the real names being fancy words that I will never repeat. So, I stuck with things I would understand and called them the easy names.

Statement: A Statement sentences tells about something.
It ends with a period.
Example: She ate pizza for lunch.

Question: A questions asks something.
It ends with a question mark.
Example: How are you?

Command: A command tells someone to do something.
It ends with a period.
Example: Eat all your vegetables.

Exclamation: An exclamation shows strong feeling.
It ends with an exclamation point.
Example: I just won 100 dollars!

8. A fun pencil-shaped book for punctuation. Don't be fooled into thinking this book will teach you about punctuation, but rather it is a fun add-in. It has examples of sentences that have different punctuation that change the meaning. Please see the example above. Punctuation can save lives! he he

So that is my attempt at teaching language arts. Hopefully, by the time my kids get that age, I will get better at this.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

So, Dr. Seuss had a birthday on March 2nd. We are celebrating all week long just because Dr. Seuss is that cool. I drew a giant Cat in the Hat for my daughter's classroom bulletin board. I thought I would share because I'm proud of it.

Join us in a week of fun activities celebrating the craziness and wonderfulness of Dr. Seuss.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sight word practice

I made a sight word game with sight words I found at the Dollar Store. I taped the words in a path around the room.

We read through them many times before we started playing the game. The point is to get to read the words well and fast enough that they are memorized. We started at the starting point and walked the "path" until the end.

 I tried to make the first words make a sentence, but after that it just sounds like babble.
I made the last word be "Stop." 

Here's our rules:
If you miss a word, you start over.
You have 1 minute to read them all

We are still working on it.

**Update: This activity is a great way to practice sight words, but didn't work for us. After two days on the floor, half the words were eaten or chewed by little brother. He dominates the floor right now and eats everything he can get into his mouth. We ended up pulling all the words up. I need another way to do this instead. Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Butterfly Garden: Live caterpillars that change into butterflies

After we received the box, we ordered the live caterpillars.
I thought I would share our experience with pictures.

 These are the caterpillars on arrival and the day
before they started making chrysalises.

Take a note if you do this, read the instructions and
don't put the caterpillars in direct sunlight. They die.
We received 5 caterpillars and only had 4 survive.
Don't tell my kids.

 The caterpillars didn't form their chrysalises all on one day.
It took about 3 days for all of them to make their chrysalises.

According to the order they formed their chrysalises,
they all hatched. It took about 3 days for them all to hatch. 
We got extremely lucky in that we caught a butterfly just
as it was coming out. My son sat and watched the miracle of this
tiny bug crawl out all slimy and spread out its wings.

One of the last butterflies to hatch didn't get its wings out
all the way before it dried. So, it had a deformed wing
that was curled outward. We were worried about it,
but it flew just fine and took off when we let them go.

I admit that it is pretty cool to watch.

About 2 days after all the butterflies hatched,
we set them free in a good grassy, flowery place. 
My son tried to chase them. They are too fast.
Definitely a great thing to do with your kids. 
I recommend this as a fun summer activity.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Butterfly Unit

To continue with the Butterfly lapbooks, here are some fun activities to do with your butterfly unit.

 Butterfly Symmetry game.
I take no credit for this except I made my own set.
I got this from All Our Days blog. 
She included a free printable that makes this so easy.
All you have to do is print, cut out felt pieces, and you have your own set.
She also has a toddler version of this if this is too hard for your little one.
 Water color caterpillar.
I took a plastic cup and dipped it in black paint to make the original circles.
I did this the day before and let it dry.
Then, the kids colored with water colors in each circle. 
This is a great opportunity to teach about primary colors and secondary colors.
 Life cycle of a butterfly. 
I just cut out a large circle and let the kids glue on the parts.
For the parts: I have white small beans as eggs.
I have Fusilli pasta for the caterpillar (I had to look that pasta name up.).
I used acorns for the Chrysalis (or cocoon).
I have farfalle pasta for the butterflies.
 I found wooden butterfly cut outs at the Dollar Store.
I hot glued a Popsicle stick on one side to make puppets.
We colored the butterflies with markers, but you could paint too.
We stuck these outside in the garden once they were done.
 Coffee Filter butterflies.
For further pictures and instructions go HERE.
You can color the filters with washable markers and
then get them a little wet to blur the colors. 
You could watercolor them or even paint them. 
Once colored and dried, take the wooden
clothespin and bunch the filter in the middle. 
Take the pipe cleaners and make antenna. 
You could attach goggly-eyes to the clothespins too.
I forgot to take pictures of the completed project.
Beaded pipe cleaner caterpillars.
I stuck a bead on the end and twisted the pipe cleaner around it.
Then I gave the kids each a box of beads to make a caterpillar.
This is a great way to practice patterns, colors, even shapes.
The beads stay on pretty well and this would be great for younger kids too.

Have fun with butterflies!

Sight Word I-Spy Bags

I made these using felt, clear plastic material, large lima beans, and colored pasta.
Each one of these took a piece of felt which was
half (hamburger end) of an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of felt. 
I took a regular size piece of felt and cut it in half (8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inch)
and then folded it to make the bags. 

I cut out a rectangle piece on the front and sewed a piece of
clear plastic material (it is the material you use as a clear table cloth or shower curtain).
 Here is a close up of one bag.
I took large lima beans and wrote on them with permanent markers.
I then put colored pasta as extra stuffing.
I sewed a letter or number on the back (before you stuff or sew it together). 
This helps me remember what sight words are in each bag.
P = Preschool, K=Kindergarter, 1=1st grade, 2=2nd grade, 3=3rd grade.
I also made a laminated list that goes with each bag.

Butterfly Lapbooks

 I thought I would share the Butterfly lapbooks I made for my kids.
The one on the left is for first grade and the one on the right is preschool/kindergarten level.
Keep in mind that these are the duplicates I made for my sister's kids.
 This is the 1st/2nd grade level lapbook cover. There is a diagram of butterfly parts on the top.
The butterfly ballad (song) is in the green border. I got that from SuperTeacherWorksheets.
The red pocket contained pictures of butterflies for a game inside.
 This is inside the folder.
There is a life cycle of a butterfly circle that turns to reveal each stage in the cycle.
I found this on Super Teacher Worksheets too.
The strips of paper on the right are for practicing measuring.
Each strip is to the nearest inch or nearest centimeter. 
The life cycle of a butterfly flip book (red and yellow book on left) is for each stage in the life cycle.

The caterpillar has sight words and I made a set milk jug lid sight words to match.
This is a simple matching game of matching sight word to caterpillar.
And this is only a few sight words, not all of them.
See below for the lids and painted box I made to go with this.
Notice I made a set of numbers and capital letters to go with this too.
 Here is another view of the inside of the 1st/2nd grade folder.
The book I'm holding up in the picture is just pictures of the
progression of a caterpillar to a chrysalis and the coming out of a butterfly. 
I found those online by using a search engine (keyword: butterfly metamorphosis).
A great site is
Look up their life cycle page for these photos.

The cards on the left are what was in the blue pocket.
They are sequence cards of the stages of a butterfly.

The clock cards are on the bottom right and go with the clock face.
 I cut up a large index card into strips and put three different times on them.
I put three times that are easy, medium, and hard.
 This was a stand alone sheet that I laminated and stuck inside. 
This has room for math problems that can be used with a white board marker.
It can be erased and used many times.
 Here is the back side of the laminated sheet.
This is to be used the butterflies that are in the red pocket
on the front of the lapbook. The game is to pick several butterflies
and sort tally up how many have a certain color.
Then graph the results on the graph below.
 This is the inside of the Pre-K/K lapbook.
I made a caterpillar with lower case letters of the whole alphabet.
I made matching lids with capital letters to match for tactile work on letters.

I have a colors book on the left that is a flip book for the rainbow colors.
The book below is for the basic shapes and is also a flip book.

I made sequence cards, life cycle circle, and easy clock cards like the other folder.
The red pocket contains number practice cards. See below for more information.
These are the counting cards and I made a set of lids
that have the numbers 1-10 on them to go with these.
I used a butterfly stamp and different colors to make these.
I made a set of lids with each stage of the butterfly cycle for tactile arrangement too.

If you want to see the rest of the butterfly unit, check the label "Butterfly unit."