Category Archives: teaching related stuff

For All of My Teaching Friends




I have been getting a lot of requests for this, so I am editing the post to update the information and links. 

I have been teaching for a number of years… Won’t tell you how many, but I have done many sets of report cards. In the past, I always knew exactly what I wanted to say, but spent hours trying to write it in appropriate and parent friendly language. So, I spent a few hours compiling all of the comments I had accumulated and came up with a massive bank of ways to politely tell parents that either a) their kid is amazing and works hard, or b) their kid is useless, and does absolutely nothing. 

The comments are organized into six categories; Responsibility, Organization, Independent work, Collaboration, Initiative, and Self-Regulation. I have organized comments in each of the six areas in four levels, Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, Good, and Excellent. I have also included Next Steps, or ways to improve for each of the six areas. So, all you have to do is copy and pate the sentences you want into your report cards. 

I have listed my comments for $6.99 on Teachers Pay Teachers… Feel free to check out my other listings too… 🙂 
Link to teachers pay teachers


What to do with all of those tiny toys?

What to do with all of those tiny toys?

After sorting out all of our toy boxes and the kids rooms, I was amazed at the pile of tiny toy pieces that we ended up with. Some of them were toy parts, some were freebees, and some I swear I have never seen before! I had them all bagged up, ready to donate, when I saw a fantastic idea!
Why can’t I make all of these little pieces into an Eye Spy game? I have these Eye Spy books at school that the kids love, so I thought, why not make a real life one? I am always looking for quiet activities for the kids at school.
Once again, my hoarding tendencies have paid off, because I have carefully washed and saved every sushi platter we have ever ordered! I had this huge party sized platter just waiting for a project like this! It even has a clear lid so the kids can’t pick off the toys.

So I gathered up all of the little toys…

I got out my glue gun, and started gluing! I started with the larger pieces. I had to make sure all of the toys were small enough so the lid would close.


So after I glued all of toys down, I picked off all of the glue gun threads. I was pretty surprised how well the glue gun glue held everything down.
Then, I glued the lid down, so no little fingers are tempted to pick any of the toys off.


Then, I took the tray to the computer and typed out a few lists of things to hunt for. When I ran out of ideas, I listed things like 4 things that start with s, and 3 yellow things.
Here is the finished product. I think the kids at school are going to love it!





Teachers Pay Teachers!


I discovered this website a couple months ago, and it is fantastic! Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where teachers can post lessons, posters, or worksheets they have developed, and sell them. I love it because you can list something that is one or two pages and charge $1.00. In order to begin selling, you also have to post something for free, so there are tonnes of free resources too! So, I have slowly started listing stuff (I think I have 6 or 7 things listed now), and I am really excited about it! I have been teaching now for over 15 years, and I have boxes and boxes of stuff that I could list! I just have to get around to scanning all of it, and posting it.

So, I thought I would share the link, for all of you teachers out there!

Link to Artzcool’s Store on Teachers pay Teachers

Let me know what you think!



Fortune Cookie Raffle Draw Tickets

Fortune Cookie Raffle Draw Tickets

I volunteer at my kids school on the parent council, and this week, the parent council helped with planning for a guest speaker. So one of my jobs was to a design raffle for parents attending. (We were hoping to recruit a few new volunteers too!) Six of the tickets were supposed to be winning tickets, where they would win a prize such as an autographed copy of the speakers book. Anyways, I though it would be fun to do something a little different. So, why not make fortune cookie raffle tickets? I started by drawing the design out in a circle shape, scanned it on the computer, and added a big “NOT” to the non-winning tickets. I designed it so that four circles would fit on each page.

Then, I went down to my partially organized basement (still a work in progress) and I dug up some brightly coloured paper and printed out a bunch of pages. We decided to go with a hundred raffle tickets, so I printed 25 of the “non winner sheets”. Now here is my tip for the day, which took me years to figure out, but has changed my life (OK, that may be a tad dramatic, but as a teacher, it has saved me hours of time!) To cut out multiple layers of paper, just staple the papers together! Duh. This way the papers don’t slide, and your cuts are always accurate on the bottom piece as well as the top! I have found that depending on the scissors you are using, 5 or 6 sheets together is the best amount, any more than that, and your edges start to look ragged.

So, I cut them all out.


Notice that I kept the winning tickets and non-winning tickets in two piles. I did accidentally mix them up and I had to sort through them all, because I made too many winning tickets.
To make the circles into fortune cookies, I started by rolling one loosely around my finger.

Then, I folded the roll in half, as close to the middle as I could.


My original plan was to staple them, but I had made them a little small, so my stapler wouldn’t fit. So, I decided to break out my trusty glue gun.
I added a tiny drop of glue to the fold to hold it in place.

And, that’s it! Tada! As I said earlier I ended up making over 100, and I easily cut them out, and assembled them in a night.


They went over pretty well, we even got a couple new recruits for parent council!
Thanks for reading!


Sequinned Ornaments!!!


I have been making these ornaments for years. I have made them with Dylan and Sam, and they are amazing to do with a class too. The materials are cheap, the results look amazing, and it keeps the kids quiet for hours….win-win for everyone!
All you need is a styrofoam ball, a scrap of tinfoil, some pins, beads and sequins.
Start by wrapping the styrofoam ball in tin foil. I have even used the wrappers from the Ferrero Rocher Chocolates (did I spell that right?) Anyways, people I know are used to my hoarding tendencies, so when I walk around at Christmas asking for their chocolate wrappers, people are usually pretty good about it. Either that, or it’s a good excuse for pigging out on chocolates…once again, win-win for everyone!

Then, after you have wrapped the styrofoam ball, add a bit of glue and stick in a pin to hold on a loop of ribbon or string to hang it from.

Then, start adding a pattern of beads and sequins onto the pin, be sure to leave about a half to a third of the pin open, because if you don’t leave enough space on the pin, it gets really hard to handle and won’t stick properly.

Then, dip the point of the pin in white glue. I find it is easiest if you pour the white glue into a little container.

Then, stick the pin into the styrofoam ball…

And repeat about 100 times… Here is a little more done…

and a little more…

and some more…

Almost done…

And….. finally…. finished!

Here it is what it looks like on the tree…

And, here are a couple different colours, using different sequins and beads…




Good luck!


Recycled book banner!


Here is how to make a simple, yet really cut banner out of an old book. In the library, I sometimes have to let books go. There is only so many staples and so much tape you can use one one book. So, no new or useful books have been harmed in order to make this craft!
You need some markers, string, a stapler, and an old book.

I started by planning out what I wanted to say. For this banner, I was kind of ambitious in wanting to spell out “2013 kids choice book award winners” to showcase some of the new books we got in the library, picked by the students. I decided to put stars I between the words instead of spaces because I thought that might make it more legible.
Use the markers to draw each letter on each page. I left a little extra space on the top to fold over.

Once all of the letters were coloured in, I folded over the top edge of each page. It was easy to make them even because I folded them between the second and third line of text.

Then, I tucked the string in the fold and stapled each page twice.

Repeat a few times, and you end up with a pretty nice looking banner!






Never have your pens stolen again!


I have seen various versions of this in schools, classrooms, and offices, so I finally decided to try it myself. At work, in the library, it is such a public space that I can’t keep pens or pencils for long…they disappear! So I figure that my pens will be harder to walk off with when they look like flowers, or does that make them more tempting to steal….?
To make your beautiful pen flowers you need:
Some floral tape, some silk flowers, a glue gun, pliers, and a few pens (I used the Bic style of pen because I thought if the ink ran out, you could just pull out the center part with the ink, and replace it with ink from another pen)


I started by using a pair of pliers to pull out the stopper at the end of the pen.

Then, I pulled the heads off of the flowers, which left enough of the stem to stick in the end of the pen. I used as much hot glue as I could squeeze in to glue the flower heads on.

After the glue had cooled, I started to wrap the pens with the floral tape…

I learned a few things about floral tape… the first thing I learned was that is doesn’t become sticky unless you stretch it, like an elastic…and the second thing I learned was that it stays sticky. If you take a close look at the pen on the left side (below), you can see it has a grip. If you can get your hands on pens with a grip like this, I would recommend using them because the floral tape does make the pen a little sticky.

After wrapping a few, I decided that they would look better with a leaf, so I pulled a few leaves off the stems.

Then, I trimmed the leaves so that the had more of a stem…

The I glued the leaf to the pen with my glue gun…

And, wrapped the pen with some more floral tape…

I ended up making a bunch…they were quick and easy and I figured they would make a great end of the school year present for teachers, office gift…etc. I think what I need to do is make a vase or stand to hold them…As usual, I’ll keep you posted!






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Turn your iPhone or ipad into a microscope for less than $6.00


I have heard that these microscopes are available online, but I was so excited to find them on amazon for $4.99 each… That’s right, a microscope for five dollars!

I don’t have the store name or link to where I bought it, the receipt is on my desk at school. Email me or post a comment if you want to know where to get them and I will dig it up.
Anyways…the microscope is actually supposed to be used as a currency detector, but when they re attached to your ipad, or iphone, they work well as a microscope!
I bought them to use at school, but the thing is we have already bought cases. The idea I saw online was to crazy glue these to the case. But, I want to be able to remove them, and it has to be something that is easy for the kids to do. So, my friend at work suggested Velcro.
So, to make a removable solution to hold the microscope to the ipad, you need sticky backed Velcro, a case to stick it on, a pair of scissors, and your mini microscope.

I started by cutting holes in the center of both parts of the Velcro.

Then, I attached the soft side to the ipad case to fit around the hole for the camera lens… Be sure the Velcro is slightly bigger than the hole so it doesn’t block the camera at all.

For the microscope, I cut the hole in the center, then I cut V’s all around the outside so it could fold over the camera. The Velcro is very sticky, so make sure when you peel it off, you are ready to stick it.


So now the microscope can attach, and be removed easily. The other option of course is to super glue it to the case. But, if you were doing this to your phone, Velcro is a non-permanent option.


I have no idea how many times this actually magnifies, but here are some of the pictures I took. When you first stick it on, your screen will look something like this. You will have to play around with the focus a little…

But when you zoom in using your ipad/phone, you can get even closer….

Here is what john’s hand looks like magnified

Here is my desk..

And our clothes..


Like I said, I am not sure if this actually magnifies sixty times, but it definitely magnified enough times to be interesting and make stuff look cool!


Samantha’s Magnetic Magic Show

Samantha’s Magnetic Magic Show

Samantha’s homework this weekend was to make a toy with a force. Part of her homework was to share how she made it. The kids are constantly saying, “You should put this on your blog!” For this project, Sam had to explain how she made it, so I thought, why not let her write a blog? So…..I would like to introduce my special guest blogger for today… 8 year old daughter……SAMANTHA!!!! So I’m passing control of my ipad over to her…From here on… it’s all Samantha!


Hi my name is Samantha and I am going to tell you how to make a magnet magic set (that uses forces). The plan i came up with was to use a magnet wand to magically pick up a spoon, but then I realized that spoons are not that magnetic. The spoon kept dropping from my magnet so I put it into a container to catch it. Then I decided not to use a spoon at all, just to use two plain old magnets. But then, we decided to decorate the magnets to make it more like a magic trick, so it looks like something is flying.

So here is how you can make your own magic trick. First you will need: tape,magnets, markers, sticks made out of wood, and also a container.
To make the wand, place a magnet on the top of the stick and wrap the tape around.

This is what it looks like!

The next step is to design what you want to make fly, and i drew myself.

Then you cut your figure out like this…..

After that you glue or tape your figure to a magnet.

When you are finished that, you draw a picture for the background and colour it.

The next step is to tape the background on to the container…

…After that place your figure inside and the wand at the back and PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To make it move you just drag the wand around the back of the container where you want your figure to move. To make it seem like magic, you could say some magic words.

Remember I told you that this magic set uses forces? Now I will explain what forces it uses and how. The first force I knew was magnetic force or magnetism because we are using magnets to make it move (and so it’s magical). When I was playing with this magic set, I realized it has two other forces. It has friction because the magnet is rubbing against the background and it has gravity because when when you hold it up, the magnet pushes the gravity so the magnet goes up against gravity.
I hope my class likes my magic trick when they get to see it!
Guess what? Dylan made one too! He made a race track and it looks like this:

Here is mine…

Oh, I forgot to mention that if you want to make different tricks, you can just draw another background.



SEW Easy Letters!


I know the “sew” pun is a little cheesy, but I couldn’t think of anything else….sorry.

I have been working on decorating the library, and I wanted to make a few signs so I thought I would share the lettering technique I used.
So here goes, start by writing what ever word you want in large capital letters, be sure you space them out evenly. Write lightly so that when you erase them, the lines won’t show at all

Next, trace around the letters to make block letters. I used an 07 drawing pen…

Then, erase all of the pencil lines…

I use a thinner pen (03) to draw a line of stitching, basically a dotted line a couple millimetres away from the line.

You could stop there and colour them in…or, you could make patchwork, or quilted letters. All you have to do is draw a few squares inside the letters then add stitching. You can even do a neater stitching like the S, or more of a patch, like the Y

If you want to get really fancy, you can even add some appliqued flowers!

Or, just leave the letters plain…

I coloured the letters with marker…I really have to start scanning in my drawings and adding colour on the computer…one of these days… anyways, I coloured in the letters with markers.

I also made a big sign for the library using this same style of lettering…