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Friday, August 31, 2012

5 for Friday ~ School Organization

This week on Gimme Five for Friday ~
Ideas for School Organization

1) School Years Memorabilia w/ Printables
I am looooving this idea, even moreso that there are free printables to get you started!
With three Littles, I get swamped with piles of completed work and projects.
Truly.  It quickly gets out of control, because big folders of papers come home 
every Friday.  I've been trying to save just the occasional special project,
artwork, cute drawings, examples of writing...but I still don't have a system for
what to DO with even the few pieces I pull aside.  This method looks fantastic.

2) Printable School Money Labels
How cute are these?!  More free printables (gotta love it), this time for
labeling misc. money that makes its way into the classroom.  The
teacher will know exactly which student it came from and what it is for.
Great idea!!

3) Checklist Placemat
I think this is a nice version of the morning to-do list for kids -
put it on a laminated placemat that they can use dry erase markers on!

4) Lunch Money Altoid Tin
Another great idea for empty Altoid Tins - decorate them
and turn them into holders for lunch money, school notes, or the mish-mash
of little random items that get lost in the bottom of a backpack.

5) About My Day Printable
I think this is such a cute idea (besides being a free printable, which I love!)
I know in my house, my boys aren't too chatty about their days.  When I try
to pull details out of them, I tend to get the same response - "it was fine."
  This printable may help them open up a bit more,
and be a springboard for deeper conversation between parent/child.
Laminate it or put it in a photo frame with glass, and you can
use dry erase markers on it day after day!

Bonus 5 - 
from Craft, Interrupted's Tips on Tuesday Series

and check out our 
at the top of the blog, listing links to all our
Back to School posts!

Don't miss Tiffany's last 
an AWESOME post about Geocaching with kids!
including:  how to get started geocaching, 
making your own geocache bottle cap magnet treasures, 
DIY freezer paper treasure hunt t-shirt (with free printable stencil), 
and how to make your own geocache!


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Fun Jar Friday #18: The Geocache Edition

Today's Fun Jar Friday~
The Geocache Edition
4 Geocache Activities
collage of geocache projects to do with kids


Now that we have reached the end of August (seriously, where did the summer go?) we have also reached the end of the summer Fun Jar Activities.  Which means after this, there will be no more bonus activities.  But the good news is, next week we start Fall Fun Jar activities!  In the meantime, I am going to end the summer Fun Jars with a classic, totally awesome activity - Geocaching!

For those of you who haven't experienced geocaching, you're missing out.  We've 
beena fan for awhile.  And I am always trying to think of new ways to enjoy geocaching.  
If you don't know, geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt.  All around 
the world, even places you visit every day, people have hidden caches.  Some are tiny 
and hard to find and some are large and filled with "treasures" that you can trade.  You 
can look on the geocachingwebsite to find locations to these caches and hints of how to 
find them.  Then the hunt is on!  It's a great activity to do with kids and 
if you haven't tried it, I suggest you do.

Now on to the Activities!

#1 Go Geocaching
boy holding a geocache

Well, yeah, this one's obvious.  But I'm going to give you some pointers 
on how to make you geocaching experience a positive one.  

If you are new to geocaching - The first thing you need to do is visit the website.  Sign up for free.  Once that is done, you can do a search for caches near your house.  You will be surprised how many there are.  Now to find a good cache.  

You'll want to start with just one or two.  Don't overdo it.  And if you are just starting, you want to make sure you can find it or everyone will feel discouraged.  The caches are listed nearest to your location first.  The first thing you want to look at is the column that says "last found".  This tells you when the cache was found last.  The closer it was found, the more likely it will be that the cache is still there and not "muggled."  Muggled means someone who is not geocache friendly took it or destroyed it.

Now you can click on the cache name and find out the details.  Some other things to 
look at are the comments.  If the most recent comments say they couldn't find it, 
then hold off on that cache.  Also, they now have attributes listed on the side.  If the 
kids attribute is listed, it's a good one.  And as a bonus, read the description and if it says 
anything about being a small or large cache with anything in it, 
you have a winner that the kids will really enjoy.

boy holding a geocache

Now to find the cache, there are clues all over.  First off is the
coordinates.  They will give you the exact area of the cache.  There are coordinate
 apps that you can put on your phone to help guide you there.  Then look at the name,
and the cache summery.  And if you need further help, you can read the hint.  They
provide a decoder hint which is fun for older kids to decipher, or you can just click
the decipher button and it will do it for you.  

I like to make an extreme close up of the map as well in satellite view and print that off to really give you a good view of what you are looking for and it makes the kids feel as if they have a treasure map for their hunt.  Once you are ready, you can head out for your cache.  Bring along a pencil because when you find it, you get to write your name and date down in the log book that is kept with the cache.  Also, many caches have some small toys or trinkets as treasure inside, left by previous geocachers.  You can leave your own treasure, and trade with what's inside!  Always trade the same number of treasures that you take.  

Now, once you've done a few caches and have got a feel for how it works, you can take it to the next step.  I like to look at the map of nearby caches and pick an area that has quite a few close to each other.  Then I plot out a path in order to hit several at a time.  I print out all the clues and map close ups and number them in the order we will hit them.  and now you have a full geocaching adventure.

This year we found 6.  We ended at one that was at our nearby Walgreens.  
So we treated ourselves to an ice cream for the way back.  
The result was a couple of very tired, very messy, and very happy kids.

dirty, tired, and happy boy after geocaching


#2  Make Geocaching Tokens
bottle cap magnets

When Geocaching it's always good to have some tokens or trinkets on hand to trade.  This year we made fun magnets to trade that we found in FamilyFun.  All you need are thick magnets, craft bottle caps, decorative paper, and epoxy stickers.

Punch circles out of the paper using a 1 inch circle punch.  Hot glue the circle to the inside of the bottle cap.  Place the epoxy on to the paper.  Lastly, hot glue the magnet to the back.  Now you have cute magnets small enough the place in a cache!


#3 Make the Proper Attire
treasure hunt t shirt made with freezer paper stencil

This year, I wanted to make something for the kids to wear while we cached.  I decided a treasure map would be the perfect image.  If you haven't figured it out, making your own shirts is so easy and a lot of fun for the kids.  

To start with, trace the image onto a piece of freezer paper.  
I've even supplied the image for you!

treasure hunt image for freezer paper stencil on a t shirt

Using an exacto knife, cut the image out.  

cut out a design from freezer paper to stencil a t shirt

Place a piece of cardboard inside a cheap t-shirt to prevent the paint leaking
 through to the back of the shirt.  (I reused the shirts I got for my 
Kool-Aid Tie-Dye Shirts that turned out to be a Fun Jar Fail)  Iron the freezer
 paper onto the shirt until it is adhered firmly.  Using fabric paint, paint the image,
 making sure to cover all the areas where the shirt is exposed.  
For the thinner lines, sometimes it works better to dab first, then brush.

freezer paper to stencil a t-shirt with a hand cut design

Then you let it dry and remove the freezer paper.  It is seriously that easy!


#4 Hide your Own Geocache
peanut butter jar geocache, decorated with label, homemade index card log book, and treasures for trade

Now that you are completely schooled in Geocaching, you are ready to hide your own.  The first step is location, location, location.  You want to find a place that you are near and that you visit often so that you can check it to make sure it hasn't been muggled.  I picked a park we walk to often.  It also has to be at least 500 ft. from another cache.  There are more rules and guidelines that can be found here.  But basically, make it where there isn't a lot of people, not nearby another, and legal to dig at.  Usually, if you've found caches in the area before, you should be safe.

To make your cache, you are going to need a water tight container.  
I chose a peanut  butter container with a good screw on lid.  


I used some nice camo cardstock and made an "official geocache label" for it.  
This isn't necessary but it helps people know they found the cache and not a piece 
of garbage and throw it away.  I simply mod podged the paper to the 
INSIDE of the container.  We don't want anything on the outside since the cache is 
going to be exposed to the elements.  To mod podge, paint the inside of the container 
and quickly press the paper to it.  Wait 15 minutes and then cover the entire inside 
with mod podge again.  Now your container is done.

DIY geocache from a mod podge peanut butter jar

Now it's time to fill it.  First off, you are going to need some paper and pencil 
so people can sign it when they find it.  Here's how I made my paper pad.

making a geocache log book cover

First I mod podged some matching camo cardstock to a 3x5 piece of card board.  When it was dry, I punched two holes in the cardboard cover.  After that, I lined up note cards with the cover and punched matching holes in all my note cards.

how to make a geocache log book from index cards

Put the cover on and fasten the together with metal rings.  You'll need to put the paper pad and pencil in a plastic bag in case for some reason it gets wet on the inside of the cache.  I also included a sharpener because pencils often break.  I made sure to make a note in the summary not to take the sharpener.

DIY log book for a geocache - inside a ziplock bag with a pencil and mini sharpener

After that, we found several toys and our magnet tokens to go in to the cache for trade.  

DIY geocache with a peanut butter jar

After we hid our cache, I brought my phone along and used a coordinates app 
to find to proper coordinates for the cache.  After that, we just had to fill out 
the details onto the website and wait to be accepted!

So that is the end of our summer of Fun Jar Activities.  This summer has been a total blast and I'm sad to see it come to an end.  But I am also eager for a schedule again and can't wait to start thinking of new activities for next summer!  Stay tuned next week for Fall Fun Jar Activities!

Until next time, Tiffany!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back-to-School Traditions {part 2}

A couple days ago I shared with you our back-to-school sleepover we had in 
order to celebrate our last night of staying up late.  Since then, the big day has come.  
My oldest started 1st grade.  And I wanted him to come home after a long day to 
something special.  On a side note, I was not prepared for to excessive exhaustion 
and grumpiness that comes with starting first grade.  
You think you are prepared, but it still catches you unaware.

child holding cute sign for what grade he is in

By the way, I made his 1st grader sign specifically so that it can be used as a 
scrapbook page for his first day images.  Totally killed two birds with one stone!

Anyway, while the big guy was at school, me and the little guy got busy
 setting up our back-to-school party.

decorated table for back to school party

To start off, the table cloth I bought at the dollar store.  In order to 
make it look like ruled paper, I used a yard stick and a paint pen 
to draw the red and blue lines.  You really only have two choices for drawing
 tools here.  Paint pens and sharpies.  Pretty much anything else will smear.  
When using a dollar store tablecloth, it drives me crazy how transparent they are.  
I solve this problem by putting white material or sheet under it.  

Next, I made the popcorn ball apples.  My original inspiration came from Gourmet Mom on the Go.  And I used the popcorn ball recipe from 
Gracious Rain only cutting it in half and adding red food coloring.

You Will Need

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
3-4 quarts of popped popcorn
mini tootsie rolls
green candy melts
butter flavor cooking spray
ziplocks (optional)

Heat brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a large pot.  
Boil at a rapid boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add several drops of red food coloring. 
Pour over popcorn and mix until every kernel is red.  

Spray your hands with cooking spray or place ziplocks on your hands and spray the ziplocks if you don't want to get messy. Form the popcorn into a ball about the size of an apple.  Make the bottom a little smaller than the top and press your thumb into the top to make a small well.  Place a tootsie roll in the well for the stem.

cute apple treat made from popcorn ball

To make the leaf, put candy melts in a ziplock and microwave in 30 second intervals
until melted.  when melted, clip a small corner.   On a piece of paper, draw a leaf shape.
It doesn't have to be perfect.  Leaves rarely are.  Place a cutting board under your paper
and a piece of wax paper on top of your drawing. Use the ziplock to draw your leaf shape
with candy, tracing your drawing.  Fill in the drawing and give your cutting board a few
taps until the chocolate smooths out.  Then pop it in the fridge for a few minutes until
hardened.  When it's hard, use a toothpick to lightly score leaf veins.
Then place next to the stem.


For the plate, I used a bendable straight edge on a white plate to make
the lines.  But you can use anything that has a straight edge to it and is flexible like a
placemat or cardstock.  This time I used a Sharpie to make my blue lines since it was a
thinner tip.  But the same goes here are with the table cloth.
Anything else but a paint pen or sharpie will smear.

For the place mats, I used cardstock and freehanded the shapes.
Currently they are just taped together on the back.  But my son said he wanted
them to be real place mats so I will laminate them.

The snack ropes were next.  I simply used some embroidary floss and a needle to thread the grapes on.  My string was a good 8 feet long.  I tied a couple knots at the end and strung them all on.  Then I laid them out to say abc.


And for the final touches, I made two more ropes.  One had orange slices and the other had candy.  I strung these from the chandelier.  The kids loved that they got to cut their food down from the chandelier.  


I wanted to use a variety of different fruits, but it takes about 30 minutes to get to my son's school and I had to pick foods that would keep that long out of the fridge!  But it was a big hit despite my new first grader's grumpiness.

And just to warn you, popcorn balls are great at pulling out wiggly teeth!  
My son took a couple bites and spit out his tooth!  
So in all it was a pretty exciting day for him!


Until next time,
Tiffany

Currently {v.11}

This week on CURRENTLY
Cooking, Reading, Wishing, Considering, Looking for 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Currently Cooking... not a whole lot.  Still.  I have an awesome Hubs who likes to cook, and he's been taking on dinner several nights a week lately.  He makes Chicken Marsala and Chinese Garlic Sauce from scratch with chicken and broccoli, and my fave of his are sauteed tilapia bites with rice, steamed broccoli and chili-agave sauce.  When it's my turn, I...um...whip up pancakes.  Or heat some sauce and pasta.  What can I say?  I take the easy route.  I currently (there ya go) have a can of pumpkin waiting to be made into pumpkin bread.  I think this one looks good, from Be Different Act Normal.

Currently Reading... Fire Along the Sky, by Sara Donati (book three in the Wilderness Series).  Still good!  Think Last of the Mohicans meets Gap Creek.

Currently Wishing... that several of the incredible photo apps I've seen around Instagram were also available for Android instead of just iPhone.  I got the bug big time, and I'm thoroughly enjoying photo editing as a new creative outlet!  I wish I could use Vintique, BubbleFrame, and Rhonna Farrer's Instalovin' Kits!  I'm starting an Android photo app board on Pinterest to hunt down good ones.

Currently Considering... giving running a go.  Little Man's new preschool is past a park that has a walking path around a pond.  I believe it's about a mile around.  I could stop there on my way home after drop-off...start with brisk walking and work my way up.  I've never been a runner.  Heck I've never consistently exercised in any form (unless raising three babies in under four years counts - which can sometimes be on the level of Olympic sports).  Hubs started biking every other day and he is up to ten miles per session now.  I need to start doing something.  I could stop at the park and do a few laps around the pond.  I should. But it will eat into my precious few hours of kid-free blog and etsy work time...still, I should.

Currently Looking For... a fabric scrap pack that I could use to make some sort of pennant/banner/garland for the screen porch makeover I've been working on.  I currently (ha!) have a vinyl tablecloth scalloped banner hanging out there, but it's red, white & blue from July 4th.  I need to replace it with something lime-y greens and neutrals, with navy blue.  Have you been on Design Seeds??  It's fabulous.



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