Friday, November 29, 2013

Missing Homework Record Sheet with Cute Mouse

My students are starting to have a lot of missing assignments.  What can I say... it's that time of year.  So, over my Thanksgiving break, I made this cute little mouse missing homework record sheet. I figured others might be having the same problem, so I posted it in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Big Kid Math Holiday Bunny Color By Number

So, I've finally had time to make a color-by equation activity I've been thinking about for a while.  You can find it HERE in my TPT store.

It's a winter holiday color-by-number for 5th-7th grade math students. This activity has numbers represented by equations. For example, the number 12 might be represented by the square root of 144; 2 squared times 3; 3 to the second power plus 3; 48/4; or just the number 12.

In order for kids to enjoy this activity, they should understand exponents and square roots, as well as order of operations and different ways to represent multiplication and division (dot, x, fraction, slash, division symbol). This activity should not be used for students with trouble seeing small numbers or for children with dyslexia or dysgraphia.

Picture depicts a bunny rabbit bringing presents to put under a decorated pine tree in the snowy woods. File includes worksheet, colored key, and copyright page. Roughly 1/2 of the numbers are hand-written and the other half are in a hand-writing font.

Common Cores Standard 5NFB3: Interpret fractions as division of the numerator by the denominator

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How to keep your pant legs from dragging on the ground

If you're short, or you like long pants, and you're not into high heels, you might find yourself with your pants dragging under your heels and getting wet when walking through grass.  Or, maybe you're into buying too-big pants for your kids so they can grow into them, but you don't want them tripping over their pants legs... whatever works... Here's a quick tutorial for how to make magnetic strips that keep your pants rolled up.  They're cheap and quick to make, and if you color-coordinate them with whatever you're wearing, you'll look super-awesome as well (I made that last part up).

You will need:
-A piece of felt in whatever color you want
-Coordinating thread (and a needle if not using a machine)
-Four super strong round magnets

Cut a strip of felt about an inch to an inch and a half wide.  Make sure your magnet can sit on it and have a border around it.  The strip should be as long as you want it, plus about 2"-3" extra.  I think mine was about 7" long.

Fold over about an inch and sew up the sides.  I did this by hand, thinking it would be faster than dragging out my machine. In retrospect, I would use my machine and use the small zigzag stitch that locks edges.

Do the same thing to the other side, so you have something that looks like this:

Pull out your magnets.  This is the type I bought; they come from Joann Fabrics.

Slip a magnet in each pocket.  Before you go any further, make sure the poles are set so that if you folded this in half, the magnets would attract each other as opposed to repelling.  

If you want to keep the magnets free to put them in other strips later, then you are done with the work.  If you want to wear these in places where they might get hooked on something and may fall off, I'd recommend putting single stitch right below the magnet so that it does not fall out of the pouch.

Roll up your pant leg and clip the strip around it, holding your pant leg up. Done! (I can't take a picture of the back of my leg to save my life)

Other things you could do with this:
  • Make four of these of the same color, and use them on the sides of your pant legs when you cuff them
  • Make a tube of cotton fabric in a pattern you like and sew the magnets inside it.  I'm only using felt because I didn't want to hem.  You could make really funky ones to make you super popular (I made that part up, too).
  • Make nice ones out of fabric that matches your dress pants so that you can wear flats to work with your high-heel-only pants.
  • Sew a strip of ribbon up and down on the fabric before making the pouches.  You'll have a heel racing stripe!
Hope it works out for you as well as it does for me!  It helps me when I'm taking my dog out in the morning and there's dew on the ground and I'm wearing my super-fantabulous Blitzen Crocs and my pants drag in the grass and get all wet.  Have fun. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rubber Ducky Themed Nameplates Turquoise / Teal Lime Black

As a fun little side project, I created some Rubber Ducky themed PDF printable nameplates.  I may actually use these in my classroom this year, as my theme colors are turquoise/teal, lime, and black.  If you're interested in having these in any other color combination, please feel free to contact me on the teacherspayteachers comment section for this item! :)  I may turn this into a whole theme at some point when I have more time.

Click on the photo or here to get to the link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to make a storage / panel / divider screen with virtually no tools

That pile of "stuff" in the corner


If you live in a tiny place or just don't have enough storage in your home, you may end up with a pile of "stuff" in a corner. OK, it's neatly stacked up and it's in storage bins, but when it's in a room you frequent every day, it might ruin the visual appeal of the room.

Here's how to make a quick fabric storage panel / curtain (also works as a freestanding headboard for a bed!), with no tools, little time, and if you plan it right, for under $45. You can probably put the whole thing together in under 20 minutes, which is great for the "instant gratification" DIY set (of which I am part).

What you'll need:

-A fabric shower curtain (72"x72" is standard)
-Shower curtain hooks (will not be visible, so buy the cheap kind)
-A rolling garment rack that stands at least 72" high and extends to about that wide (less is ok on the width)
-A scarf at least 6 feet long that coordinates with the colors / design of your shower curtain
-Three small binder clips (optional)

Set up the garment rack to full extension

First, set up the garment rack according to the directions in the package, but do not install the wheels. If you do install them, you'll be able to see under the curtain. If you prefer to have that look going, put them on and nothing terrible will come of it!

Extend the side bars at the top of the garment rack to make it was wide as possible.

Hang up the curtain

Next, hang up the curtain, using the curtain hooks. You may have to spread out the hooks on either side of the vertical support poles in order to make the curtain lie flat or close to it.

At this point, you can adjust the vertical poles to fit the shower curtain size if it does not look "right" or lie how you would like it to do so.

Put up the scarf and adjust everything

Finally, lay the scarf across the top of the bar, draping it to cover the bar and the curtain hooks completely. Adjust it so that it looks appealing to you. If you are concerned that the scarf will fall off, use binder clips to attach the scarf to the curtain on the back side of the panel. 

Drape the bottom of the curtain so that it covers the feet of the garment rack. Position the garment rack so that it hides everything you need to hide in the corner.

Finished! Junk pile: secured.

Uses in the home:

Use this in the home to conceal any of the following:

  • Your junk piles
  • A bicycle inside a small apartment
  • Your recycling
  • Messy shelves in a wall
  • Wires
  • An ugly wall
  • An ugly window if you can't put up curtain rods
Use as a freestanding headboard for a bed
It's light, it's easy to move around, it's not permanent, and it's easily washable. If you get tired of the design, shower curtains and scarves are cheap and plentiful in thrift stores and online.
Happy concealing!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Covering Classroom Shelves (relatively) Cheaply

I've been working on ways to cover my shelves and make my room look more unified, all without spending too much money.  Here's how I've been doing this:
  • Take black butcher paper and cut to desired size.
  • Put a cute picture from a calendar in the middle (Dollar Store calendars rock)
  • Put a border at the bottom.
  • Laminate the whole shebang.
  • Attach with a strip of color-coordinated duct tape to the shelf above.
If you're working with a very wide shelf, it might be a good idea to make separate "doors" that are half or 1/3 of the width of the shelf.  That way, you don't need to lift a long, heavy flap.  Just lift the little door you want to move.

As an added bonus, you can say, "Hey, Joey, go get a dictionary.  They're behind the tiger!"

The side of my cheap utility shelves that make the side of my classroom library area:

Covered back side of my (sagging) utility shelves.  I store class library books on the other side and mini-books on this side.  So, I'm covering the shelves on this side, since the kids don't need to see the mini-books.  I'll eventually cover the top shelves as well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Easy Felt Curtains for Classroom Storage Crates and Cubes.

So, this year, I'm trying really hard not to spend a ton of money on my classroom.  I think last year, I spent well over a thousand dollars, which is kind of silly.  This year, I want to totally change my color scheme (from every color known to man in a dizzying melange guaranteed to induce hyperactivity) to teal/lime/black.  I'm hoping to accomplish this with spray paint made for plastic (Rustoleum in light blue and lime green) and black background paper.  I reallllly want to buy black fabric, but I don't want to spend even more than I'm already spending.

This is part one of how I am uniting my color scheme for (somewhat) cheap this year.  I will do more posts when I can actually get into my classroom, which is currently being used for a summer academy,

I've been asking around for those cruddy wire shelving storage cubes that get put together with the corner connectors.  Everybody seems to have some to give away because they fall apart.  The trick is to use zip ties to connect them together.

The other issue is they're ugly and you can't hide anything in them.  So, I wanted to make curtains for them, but I didn't want to sew.  I came up with these easy, fuss-free felt curtains you can use to cover junk in any shelves, crates, or storage cubes.

You will need:

  • template paper
  • felt by the yard in at least two colors
  • fabric scissors
  • Tacky Glue (I got some in a jar with a little paintbrush - so much easier than squeezing)
  • stencil or template for appliques if desired
  • ribbon, trim, or bias tape for edges
  • twine, ribbon, or zip ties to fasten the curtains

First, measure the opening or side you'd like to cover.  Most wire storage cube like this are 14.5" x 14.5".  Make a paper template this size. Cut it out.

Next, place it on the main color of felt you are using, and cut around it.  You should now have, surprisingly, as piece of fabric that is the same size as your template.

On the contrasting fabric, use the sharpie to stencil the designs you want to put on your felt curtain.  I would suggest putting the template on the side of the felt you don't want to see, so that any leftover marker lines are on the back.  In other words, put the stencil backward from the way you want it to show up.

Alternatively, you  can freehand some letters or a picture.  I really didn't feel like trying to make the letters backward, so I just made sure to really get rid of the marker lines when I cut them out.

Lay the cutouts onto the felt and try out different layouts until you find one you like.  I suggest leaving the outside 1" of each side empty in case you need to trim off some edges.

Once your layout is how you like it, take the Tacky Glue, paint it on the back of each piece, and stick the pieces where you would like them.

Using the Tacky Glue, apply the border to the edges you would like to cover.  I used double fold bias tape.  If you decide to use this, and you put the edge inside the tape like I did, I highly suggest gluing the back side first, as it is harder to do the first side and it will get messy.  After that, the tape will be stuck in place and it will be easy to do the front.  Using ribbon or that trim with the little balls hanging off of it would be easier.

Make three slits in the top edge of your curtain.  Be smarter than I was... mark the proper placement for the slits first.  I randomly did it, and they were too far down, and not the right distance apart.  Hence, the wonky look.  You do not want this wonky look... :)   Using ribbons or zip ties or fancy cord, connect the top edge of the curtain to the top opening of the storage cube or milk crate.  If you have a solid shelf with nothing to attach it to, make a small loop of ribbon for each slit and pass a strip of matching colored duct tape through the loop to tape it to the shelf.

As you can see, I used cheap twine I found in my bedroom closet.  Why?  Because this wire shelf is actually in my bedroom closet and I am not keeping these curtains in here, and I don't mind throwing away the twine later after I cut it.  Those curtains in my closet would be weird, let's face it.  I tried to crop my drawers of unmentionables to the right in the photo. I think it worked well!

Continue covering the openings of the shelves and crate with more curtains.  Again, measure carefully when making the slits at the top.  Look at how silly the top looks!  So silly that I tried to mask it out with the lovely, artsy film layout!!

If you're low on cash, you can also make these out of posterboard or those large rolls of butcher paper, and put it through the laminator if you have one to use for free at school.  I have a large utility shelf from Wal-mart that is freakishly ugly but holds a ton.  I will be using butcher paper with paper cutouts, laminated, as my covers for that, just because it would cost a fortune in felt to cover it. 

Hope this works for you!  Feel free to link up your curtains so I can see how they turn out! 

(Hopefully the tops looks better than mine...)

Monday, August 5, 2013

French Basic Greetings, Intros, Numbers Unit

Here are several days' worth of activities and plans that are compatible with Lessons 1 a,b,c of Discovering French Bleu (lesson numbers are for Nouveau edition, although it is the same vocab as in previous editions).


Includes the following topics: basic greetings, introductions, number 0 to 69, how to ask from where people originate.

This PDF has 17 pages which include:

-3 pages of instructions, plans, and games
-3 pages of interactive notebook printables
-3 pages of keys for the notebook
-Printable "I have, Who has?" game
-4 pages of vocabulary flash cards
-A vocabulary crossword puzzle
-Key to the puzzle

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Civil War - Sherman's March to the Sea printable task card / center

I spent most of this morning creating a new printable center for my teacherspayteachers store.

This item features a Sherman's March to the Sea / Civil War printable file folder center activity that doubles as a worksheet. The questions on the worksheet are compatible with pretty much any book (trade or text) having to do with Sherman's March. This center activity is perfect for independent research in a trade book- and internet- based classroom.

This center is a self-checking riddle sheet. If the students correctly answer each question, they will solve the answer to the riddle. If it is not correctly completed, the riddle reply will not make sense.

The Common Core requires students to analyze primary sources, including photographs and art. Included in the center is an essay involving a series of three images / photos of Sherman's March. Students are asked to evaluate Sherman's tactics and methods and the ethics involved, while using details from the images as support for their replies.

A sample answer sheet is included, so that students can make a replica on a sheet of notebook paper, eliminating the need for any sort of photocopying. 

In our school district, this topic is covered in the 5th grade portion of U.S. history, but some schools cover this in 4th grade or even 6th.

Printable includes 8 pages, including cover and answer sheet, as well as directions on how to assemble the center should you go that route. Teaching ideas are also enclosed. Great for use with a sub!

Images are used within permission stated from the Library of Congress.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to build a free-standing cat / dog / pet gate with virtually no tools

I've been a good and prolific little writer as of late.  Today, I wrote an article on my Hubpages about how I built a free-standing pet gate with no tools and under $25.  I actually came up with the idea just by wandering around and around in Home Depot until the moment came to me.

Click here to read the article.

Here's what the finished product looks like:

                                                  Foiled by the beautiful homemade cat gate!

I'm rather proud of it.  My cats have not found a way to jump over it or move it in the week and a half  I've had it up.

The best part about all this is that I can now have my bedroom door open again... haven't been able to do this since M-the-bed-peeing-cat moved in 5 years ago.  Now, in winter, my bedroom won't be 20* below zero at night!  The humidity level from the shower won't make the room turn into a mini-Jumanji-style jungle atmosphere.  Hooray!

I hope this helps those of you who have been having issues with this sort of thing.  Happy cat-foiling!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Article on weight loss and the French Paradox (a.k.a.: Eat Real Food)

One of the topics about which I'm very passionate is that of real food.  I mostly eat "junk" only when I'm out somewhere and eating for entertainment value as opposed to nutrition.  Almost everything in my kitchen is a basic ingredient that can be turned into a meal: millet, rice, barley, vinegar, oil, vegetables, fruit, etc.  On the occasion that I have boxed foods (I have a secret addiction to plastic-pouch Indian foods), I make sure every ingredient is easily identified.

I think one of the main issues in this country is that of fake / faux foods.  I've seen coworkers or friends proclaiming they need to be "good" and eating nothing but iceberg lettuce sodden with low-cal, low-fat ranch dressing.  This is actually not good; there's practically no nutrition in that.  At best, you'll end up hungry, and at worst, you'll end up with cravings (which tell you you're missing some actual real nutrient) that will drive you to an eating binge later.

Years ago, I wrote an article about this entitled "Weight Loss and the French Paradox."  I had it in my Hubpages account, but never published it.  I'm not sure why.  It just languished there in cyberspace for roughly two and a half years.

I published it this morning.  I guess it could be controversial, to some degree, but truly, it's not just about the French or the Europeans.  Americans used to eat like this up until the late 1960s.  Somewhere along the way, boxed and uber-processed foods became the norm, and real cooking was out.

Click here for the article.  It's a little wordy, but I kind of like it!  Eat real food!

(image courtesy of

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Everyone wants to come in


I was sitting here at home minding my own business when my cats began dashing back and forth across the patio slider door, slamming themselves in to the luckily cat-proof pet gate I had created for it (click here for directions).  On the other side of the gate, this crazy chipmunk baby was not only eating my green beans but also slamming into my screen door as the cats slammed on it from the inside..  So they were pretty much slamming noses across the screen, which, had the screen not been there, would have been bad news for the chipmunk.  There was a whole lot of slammin' going on over here, if you can't tell.

Total wildlife trying to get in through my patio: 

many worms (who manage to slide under the closed glass patio door; 

one bullfrog who also liked to slam repeatedly into the door to try to get in (my Prince Charming maybe??);

one chipmunk; 

and one raccoon (who wouldn't let me IN one day when I went out with the dog after we had exited via the patio door). 

Party at my place!!  It's like The Wind in the Willows over here.

Full view of patio screen panel (requires no tools except for scissors and a sewing needle):


Friday, June 14, 2013

How to make your own no-pull dog harness - an older article

Several years back, I wrote an article on Hubpages about how to make your own no-pull dog harness.  I had actually forgotten much about it until I happened to log in to Hubpages and noticed quite a few comments and views on it.


Click here or on the picture to get to the article.

It's not ok, according to Hubpages, for me to repost the post here, but if you're interested, the information is in the link above.  From all the comments I just noticed (today), it seems that it has helped a lot of people.  Hopefully it works for you, too!

Sock Monkey Classroom Theme - Black Red Polkadot - 45 pages

Click here: Sock Monkey Classroom Theme in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Tired of creepy-looking sock monkeys? They always kind of look ready to leap out of your closet late at night, don't they? This file hopes to remedy this by giving you 45 pages of cute, non-scary sock monkeys waiting to decorate your classroom instead of giving you nightmares. (OK, so there's a possibility they might still be a little creepy, but probably a little less than some others.)

This theme revolves around boy and girl sock monkeys with different hats, and is based on red and black polka-dot and hearts backgrounds. All children's materials are suitable for both boys and girls.

Heart and polka-dot background is used under the terms of use of and provided by All other artwork is mine except letters and numbers are from D'nealian. 

This file includes the following:

Table of Contents ….................... p1
Name tags..................................... p2
Circle labels.................................. p3
Blank posters................................ p4-5
Number pennants......................... p6-15
Alphabet pennants....................... p16-41
Grade book cover........................ p 42
Incentive chart............................ p43
Square labels................................ p44
Plan book cover........................... p45

Alphabet and number pennants can be used for groups, word walls, and alphabet lines. Square labels can be used for calendar squares.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Microwave Brownie Lava Cake

I figured out how to make this almost-instant microwave chocolate brownie lava cake a few weeks ago and have been eating (far too much of) it often lately.  In order to share the happiness, I made this little tutorial. :) It's a great and impressively delicious dessert to whip up when friends show up unexpectedly.  Keep some brownie mix and ice cream on hand, and you can have instant dessert in less than 5 minutes!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Harriet Tubman Research / Note-taking Trade Book Center / Interactive Notebook

Need something to do with a class full of trade books about history? Looking to guide your students' independent note-taking and research? Interested in using interactive notebooks? Need an emergency sub plan that aligns with the curriculum and is always ready to go?

If so, these printable centers / task cards may be just what you need. This particular one focuses on Harriet Tubman, and answers to research questions can be found in most trade books or on related websites.