Category Archives: teaching related stuff

Encyclopedia Tree!


I am the librarian at my school, and I have been on a quest since I started to find uses for our numerous sets of Encyclopedias. The fact is that kids just don’t read encyclopedias anymore, why would they? They are challenging to navigate, out dated, and can’t even compare to the information available on the internet! Anyways, I tried to give them away, begged teachers to take them for art projects, but at the end of the year, I still had a couple entire sets. So it has been a personal challenge of mine to see how many different projects I could use them for. I have already made jewelery, flowers, vases, origami….
I was going to buy a tree for the library, but then I thought, why not make one?
All you need is….
a cardboard tube (the one I found was from a roll of fabric)
A few old encyclopedias
lots of tape
I didn’t have a tree stand either, so If you want to make your own, you need some screws, four encyclopedias and a drill.

To make the stand, I set up the encyclopedias the way I wanted them. I found that a pinwheel design seemed to be the strongest. So I predrilled all of the holes about an inch away from the top…

Then, I screwed in on encyclopedia at a time, until I had a firm base…



To make the tree, I started by cutting out four circles of cardboard, four different sizes. Then, I cut a hole in each of the circles…

I put the rings on the base…

Then, I started rolling cones of paper (ripped out pages of the encyclopedia) and I attached on to each level of the tree. I wanted to make sure the rings were spaced out the right amount.

Once I was sure they were in the right place, I taped them securely in place. Then, I started rolling and rolling cones. I used a strong tape with filament to tape each cone onto the rings.


Next time I make one of these, I will start from the bottom and work up! The next step was to fill up all of the spaces with cones.
Then finally, to make the top of the tree, I taped six cones together…

Then, slid the cones over the top of the tree. Tada!

Here it is, in my library…


I think I am going to give the kids some red construction paper, and have them make some origami ornaments.
A couple people have asked if I am going to paint it, but I like the way it looks, I would also be concerned that the print would show through the paint. I might add some sparkles or glitter glue though!


How to cut out letters


As a child, student, and teacher, I couldn’t even begin to count the thousands of times I have had to cut out letters for title pages, art projects, or bulletin boards. I always use the same strategy for cutting out letters, I do it this way because I would never have the time or patience to draw out every letter first, I just cut…
The first and most important trick is to start by cutting a bunch of rectangles all the size as letters you want. This will ensure all of your letters are a uniform width and height. For rounded letters like O’s or G’s, you round the corners of the rectangle, like in the following picture.

Here is a sketch I did showing the positive and negative space of the capital letters of the alphabet. When cutting, you are basically trying to cut out the shaded areas, or negative space. This part isn’t the most difficult, but the trick is to make all letters even and make each line of the letter the same width.

For basic letters like, E, N, or P, here are a few examples to look at…they are the easier ones, because you just have to cut out chunks from the edges.

Here are a few of the rounded letters…a little more difficult because you have to cut the oval shape first,


The most challenging part to cutting letters is the holes in the center you have to cut out, like O, P, or A. Depending on the finished product, you can cut out the holes in three ways. You could poke your scissors through to make a hole, then cut around.
Or, you could fold the letter in half…try to do this carefully without making too much of a crease in the paper…
Or,you could cut right through the letter. This is definitely the easiest way, but can also show in the finished letters. Do a test letter before you cut all of your letters to make sure you won’t be disappointed. I used this method for the letters I was cutting out today because I knew I was going to laminate them, and it wouldn’t show…
I used the letters I cut out here to make some signs for the library. I actually cut out the letters from sticky notes so I didn’t even have to glue them down because I was laminating them. (I brought this project to the cottage with the intent of cutting the letters out while sitting in a lawn chair by the lake, so i thought the sticky notes would stop my letters from blowing away…turns out it was a little too windy for it, but it did save a lot of time gluing!) I stuck the letters on to some brightly coloured paper, and recycled pages of text from my old encyclopedias…(project number two for the encyclopedias…more to come…)

Then, I thought I wanted the letters to stand out a little more, so I outlined them, then added a little scribble shading around each letter…

Then I laminated each page…

Here are my finished signs, laminated, and ready to go!