Total Pageviews

Monday, August 4, 2014

Margaritaville Party Plane and Surfer Van Props

For the office's 2014 Margaritaville party this year,  we decided to go back to the Jimmy Buffet surfer theme.  I found this clipart and decided to make it in fun foam mounted on wall insulation.  It is over 4 feet long and over 3 feet tall.  Notice the company's name on the license plate.  I used my water-color markers (which I love) for the windows and the waves on the surf board.  I had to cut the 8' x 2' wall insulation in half and duck tape them together to get the height.  Because all of the pieces I've made before only use permanent sharpie pens, using the watercolors mean that this can not be an outside prop like the other pieces.  It will be placed on the dessert bar.  I found crab and starfish cookie cutters.  I am going to make a crushed vanilla cookie sand beach for them.  

There was no Grumman Goose plane clipart on the internet.  So I downloaded three photos and 1 painting.  I combined different elements to make this piece.  I will make it like the bus above in fun foam and insulation.  I will include a photo once this prop is made.

I thought you'd like to see my Key West boardwalk houses.  We'll print them up to fit the glass on the kitchen doors in the office.  Once the props are all in place, I'll take photos before the party starts.  What am I doing for centerpieces?  I have six stuffed parrots I am placing on my mercury candlestick holders (they are square and chunky).  I'll add some grape vine around the bases with small fresh flowers tucked into them.    

Monday, July 7, 2014

Patriotic Party at the Beach

My family all gathered at Bethany Beach for the week of the Fourth of July.  Since there would be a dozen of us on the holiday, buying patriotic hats for everyone would have cost too much money.  Having made hats with first graders for so many years, I took my fun foam skills and applied them to this holiday.  We started with long strips for the headbands.  I cut the large 11" x 17" strips into thirds (the long way).  Then I cut one of those strips into thirds (the fat way).  Then I glued the smaller strip onto the longer strip to make a headband long enough for an adult's head.  I brought my stapler and tacky glue with me on the trip.  This took the intimidation factor away from everyone.  We just helped measure each others' bands around their heads and stapled them for the correct fit.
Here is one of my "adopted" kids.  My daughter's friends have become so close to our family, that one by one they've become an integral party of our family.  Trevor married into the family and is now the father of my "adopted" grandson.  He is wearing my original hat pattern.  I cut the white foam strip in the same manner as the red band, gluing on the extra strip for head circumference.  I simply then folded the longer extended white foam piece in half (the long way) and cut into the fold to make a lantern.  Once I had opened it and refolded it the opposite way,  and glued and stapled it into the red band. I then folded the top half of the lantern down into the red band to make the loops.

I didn't have enough white fun foam to do this for everyone.  I bought out all the red, white, and blue sheets our Michael's sold, but Uncle Sam took a LOT of foam.  So, I folded the white sheets (the long way) and cut them in HALF this time.  I again folded one of the white strips into THIRDS for the extensions and glued them onto the longer strips.  The family could cut these strips in any manner they liked. They just had to leave a 3" wide edge that had glue on it.  This edge was glued into the top half of the red band.  I took a small glass and added water to the tacky glue in it--so that they could "paint" the glue onto the foam.  

If you look at the second hat from the right, that is Trevor's WAVE pattern.  His wife Rachel took a pen and curled her white strips, while my niece Valerie cut her strips into thin grass-like strips.  She and her fiance, Steve dropped by for the afternoon for the festivities.  They left to have dinner with their friends in Ocean city. I double-dog-dared them to wear the hats out to dinner.  See below.

Val texted me this photo with the message that everyone in the restaurant was taking pictures of them and wanted to know where they got the hats.

I bought glittery stars, flags, Fourth of July  foam stickers at Michael's.  I also pre-cut lots of fun foam stars.

We had a hat contest and asked people walking on the beach past us to judge.My daughter Maryanne was the winner. 

My husband, Buzz, the architect, only came in second.  He was sure his multi-tiered hat would win with it's hand cut "Happy Fourth" sign on the front.  My daughter Annie's hat had stars on strips.  She's an interior designer and thought she had a shoe-in win.  What she did do was cause a one-up-manship for the rest of the crowd.

                                              Even the baby wore a hat.

            Are you too cool to wear a hat?  Even my son got into the spirit.

I thought my Uncle Sam was so tall, but my future nephew Steve is even taller.  Because Sam is made with insulation and fun foam, he is waterproof.  We took the shark I made last summer right into the ocean.  

  If you want to see how I made Uncle Sam and missed the post, go to  Uncle Sam HERE

I hope all of you had as much fun on the Fourth of July as we did.  The hurricane blew through, but we didn't let it bother us.  I saw a sign in one of the shops over there that said, "DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE FORECAST.  LEARN TO DANCE IN THE RAIN."





Monday, June 23, 2014

Seven Foot Uncle Sam

I found this clipart of Uncle Sam on the internet.
I decided he'd be easier to make in fun foam without all of the stripes on his pants.

So I bought a 1" thick by 2' x 8' piece of wall insulation and decided to make him seven feet tall.  I used my Print Master program to enlarge the clipart to 88" x 24," in black and white to save color cartridges.  I then cut up the pattern and started laying the pieces onto the fun foam.  To form the pants it took me 3 full sheets of the 12" x 18" pieces, plus 5 more inches for the cuffs.  I used them landscaped.  
     In the picture above, you are seeing the masking tape I used to hold the pieces together.  I placed them on the wall insulation piece and outlined the entire thing. 
Michael's sells a "Styrofoam Cutter."  It is kept over on the wall where they sell the styrofoam.  It is an electric burner that melts the pattern away.  I just follow the pencil lines I've drawn.
                                         Here is the back of the cut styrofoam after I painted it.

I will darken the black sharpie lines and add some white stars to his pants.  The lines of the fun foam aren't as obvious when you look at him, as they are in the photo.  I am taking him to the beach for the holiday.  He'll make a great photo op.

(How do I duplicate his face?  I put the paper pattern right onto the funfoam and punch holes with a pencil.  I just connect the dots.  Easy peezy.)  

Have a happy Fourth of July, everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Boom Town 2014--or How to Build a Cardboard Town

I haven't posted for a while because I have been so busy.  Here is a photo of this year's Boom Town.  We read this crop of first graders the book of the same name and then built a town of our own.  I had previously subbed in all the classes and discussed ecosystems and habitats and how important it is to keep them in balance.  Because just one thing being out of order, everything can be off. The kids had been learning about natural resources in science. That's why we made the frog hats in a previous post on "frog day."

I have been researching City Planning for four years while doing this project every year.
The most important information that I found (and it made this year's project go even better) was that there are FIVE AREAS of a town:  residential, commercial, industrial, community (schools, libraries, etc.) and green space.

See the brick factory above.  That was built because the only ore or natural resource we could find on our pretend land was clay.  So the kids shouted, "Let's build bricks."  I had made the box beforehand, so our town had a beginning place.  We pushed 24 desks together and covered them with brown paper.  I crumpled up three big pieces for "rocks."

I started with the residential area.  After discussing what a municipality was, we had our first town meeting.  The kids got to vote on everything that was placed in the town.  There was some yelling happening, but we all just laughed and told them that people did get mad when their neighborhoods were concerned and businesses might be built too close to their houses.  I had put the river along one edge of the town with the lake in the middle.  I placed these two natural resources differently for the next session.

I described two cities that I had visited.  The first was Charleston, S.C.  I told them it was one of the first cities built in the United States and that George Washington had visited it.  I told them that their were houses built all along the riverfront.  Then I described Willmington, N.C. where the shops were built along the riverfront, and that it was a big tourist attraction.  The planning meeting had to make their first big decision.  As you can see in the picture above, they chose to put their milk carton houses along the river.

The second group decided to build their residential area around the lake.  In four years, not one of eight groups ever decided to build their houses around the lake.  (I think the ecosystem talk had really worked).  I built the little dock last year.

I will update this more tomorrow after I mask out the kids faces.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Wet Way to Learn Liquid Measurements

BACKGROUND: Don't look at my messy deck.  As you can see my 14.6 year old dog is enjoying discovering what I am making.  You can see the tail end of my other dog on her blue mat by the chair.  The photo is  of a SPLASH PAD for the school.  The rug underneath is outside because I brought it outside to air it after cleaning it.  I have "grayed" out some of my supplies so as not to distract you.
CREATIVITY:  The splash pad I made for myself was originally filled with multicolored foam puzzle pieces.  Hubby said, "NO."  So, I bought plain blue ones that are each 2' x 2'.  When I was trying to arrange the multicolored pieces into pints (eight small 1' square pieces.  They will each sit two kids (each child represents one cup.  I wanted everything square to fit into the GALLON SPLASH PAD.  My friend has the extra blue piece in her classroom.
I tried for hours and hours to get the system to work.  No luck.  Finally I came up with the idea of using four of my big pieces to complete the grid. 
BUYING:  Another teacher friend on the same first grade team is going to HomeDepot with me today to buy four 10' pieces of pvc 1/2" pipe.  We will cut these down to eight 4' sections with straight  pvc connectors holding them together.  We are doing this to make them more portable and storable.  The outside perimeter of the mats measures 8' x 8'.  We will also buy four elbow pvc connectors for the corners. One of the connectors will be a three way with grooves to connect the hose connection.
The white piece on the left is the pvc connector.  You need to cut off a small 2" piece of pipe and glue it inside.  This end will fit into the three-way T connector.  The hose connectors are on the right.  You will need a male and a female connector.  

I do not glue any other pieces together on the set, so that I can take it apart to store it.
Once the outside frame it connected, drill holes slanting into the middle 8" apart.
 MISTAKES: I just got back from my friend's house after trying to help her make the splash pad for school.   If you go to Home Depot you need a garden house adapter LFA-665 3/4 X 3/4 "(male).  You will also need a garden hose swivel pivot 3/4"  LFA-662 (female).  These two pieces are on the metal plumbings aisle, not the pvc aisle.  The white adapter above is a 3/4" one.  We had to put 3/4" to 1/2" adapter in for the 1/2"  small piece of pvc to go into. Item 437-101HC.

When we got home, her husband drilled holes that were too close together and too big.  It didn't splash up at all.  Use a 1/16" bit and only drill the holes EIGHT inches apart.  

If you want to see how it works go HERE.
MATH:  The kids are to compare the Gallon House verse to the Gallon Square verse.

The Gallon House

The gallon house—it has four floors.
Each one’s a quart, it has no doors.
Each floor has two pint-sized rooms,
Cleaned with tiny pint-sized brooms.
Each room has two windows, dear.
Each one’s a cup, I hope that’s clear.
There’s sixteen cups in the house in all,
The gallon house is really tall.
And if you cut the house in half,
It’s really hard to take a bath.

The Gallon Square—it has four rows.
Each one’s a quart—where water flows.
Each row has two pints of a different hue,
And each pint holds TWO of you.
Each child represents a cup.
It takes sixteen of you to fill the gallon square up.
And if you cut the square in half,
That’s okay, you don’t have to take a bath….
  Because we know that you will get…
  Really, really, really WET.
Gallon House 

1.     Compare the two verses.  How are they the same?
2.   How many quarts are in a gallon?
3.   How many pints are in a half gallon?
4.   How many cups are in a whole gallon?
5.   How many cups are in a pint?

6.   How many pints are in a whole gallon?
7.   How many pints are in a quart?
8.   How many cups are in a quart?
9.   How many quarts are in a half gallon?
10.  What happens in the splash gallon that doesn’t      happen in the gallon house?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Frog Hats

I taught in three first grades this week and last.  The teacher's told me I could do anything creative I wanted.  So....I tied onto their science plans teaching about natural resources and expanded it to ecosystems.  I discussed how important it was not to waste the natural resources and how balanced our systems were.  I told them a story about a stream in Panama that researchers were studying.  Four hundred frogs came down with a amphibian fungus and died.  The next year, all that species of frogs were gone, along with snakes and lizards.  The river was muddied because there were no tadpoles swirling it up.  I explained about the medicines we get from frogs.  We talked about underwater ecosystems, and how man was stepping on coral and ruining it.  The kids really got into this.  They voted that if you cut down a tree, you should get 30 days in jail and a fine.

ANYWAY...I had them join my frog club.  They had to understand metamorphisis, they got a frog ring, a pledge, and a hat.  

I had made this origami hat fold last year using my hubby's bumwad tracing paper.  It is the bishop fold.  The art room had large sheets of construction paper (at least 26" x 22").
Below are the folding directions.
Directions for party hats   but we only went through step 6.  At first the folding seemed intimidating to the first graders, but when a few children had caught on, they helped their friends.  I let them use clear tape to hold the hat during certain steps.

Once everyone had a hat made, I gave them each a plastic cup.  They traced the rim of the cup twice for the dark green eyes.  They traced the bottom of the cup for the white eyes.  Since frogs have FIVE different shapes for iris, including hearts, they got to choose which one to color on their frog.  Then they got to use black sharpies (a big deal for them) to draw the dots for nose and the smile.  Strips of red construction paper were curled around pencils for the tongues.  I had pre-drawn the leg patterns on a piece of folded green construction paper, so that they only had to cut once to get two pieces.
They got to glue the legs on any which way they chose.

Happy kids.

 They started the day by making a cone frog for their desk.  I found a pattern on the internet for another frog project, but decided to use it with a cone.  They colored their pieces after I read them a book about frogs and showed them how varied in colors the different species could be.  Above sits a happy little tree frog.  

These were printed out on 8.5" x 11" paper.
One little girl from last week told me that her mother had taken a "hundred pictures" of her in her hat.  I am sure she exaggerated just a little bit, but it warmed my heart.

Happy frog day to anyone using this idea.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

S'more Cookies in a Jar

I went searching online for a recipe using peeps in a cookie recipe.  I have previously made a chunky chocolate version of this for shower prizes.  I found a Pinterest post at this blog. Go here to see the original   I don't have the machine she uses that cuts shapes, so I built mine from clipart which you are welcome to use.  On another post this morning, someone mentioned the waltograph font.  I downloaded it for free from    The recipe at  Michelle's website in the link above does not use any flour or other dry cookie ingredients.  Since the chunky chocolate cookies are a given, I decided to go with what I know works.

I didn't want to give the young adults coming for Easter a lot more candy.  But, I thought that they'd like to make these cookies sometime, and there IS candy in them.  

My cookies use cake mixes.  I am using quart size jars, so  I measured exactly and they use 1 cup + 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup of the cake mix.  I replaced the 1/2 cup of cake mix in the above recipe with crushed graham crackers.  I could only find pink peep bunnies.
Below is the photo from the above web site to give you a visual image of the jar.

Here are the jars I made with their labels (recipes) on them.   Since I made twelve of them, I am going to give you the amounts of ingredients I used.  In the post I got the idea from, she had her peeps at the bottom of the jar and used eight.  I put my peeps at the top of the jar and only used six.

  • I used one quart jars. I put 1/2 cup of Nestle chocolate chunks (11.5 ox bag) bottom of each jar.  It only took two bags to fill up the 12 jars.
  •   I used 5 boxes  of cake mix for 12 jars.  (2 boxes will do 5 jars).
  • I put 1/2 cup M & M's in next.  1 large bag filled 4 jars.  I used 3 bags.
  • I crushed up 1/2 cup of graham crackers (not finely) and used three sleeves.
  • I put 1/2 cup brown sugar in next.  One box filled 8 jars.  I used 1 1/2 boxes.
  • I put 6 peep rabbits in next.  They come 12 to a box.  I used 6 boxes.
  • I filled the space in the middle of the peeps with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. The bag was 11.5 oz.  One bag filled 4 jars.  I used 3 bags.   
 I  am giving mine to my daughters, nieces, and nephews.   I wish I had known ahead of time to buy the fabric squares.  But my jars are going inside insulated lunch sacks I got the kids.  Very practical.  Last year I gave them candy inside Tervis Tumblers.  They're all ready for a picnic or beach trip now.  I'm ready for a trip myself.  At least it's stopped snowing on the East Coast and they're not calling for rain this weekend.  I told the kids that if they didn't want to search for eggs, I'd give them each a square of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  They could hunt for finger prints.  The person with the dirtiest square would win a prize.  One of my nieces actually thought this was a good idea.  Ha ha.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pirate's Boat, Hat, and Map for Pirate's Day at School

     I bought a new camera to take blog photos, but I haven't figured it out yet.  They still come out blurry.  But...we are making over 85 pirate boats with the first graders at school for the 130th day of school.  I have another post where it shows you how to make one out of a pizza box.  If you want to see it go here to see cardboard boat
       But, I couldn't do that with four first grade classes.  I worked and worked and worked on a pattern, so that the pieces would all fit on on 8.5" x 11" piece of cardstock.  I removed the color from the previous pieces I made to glue onto the cardboard.  I added more windows and cannons.    Why?  Because I made up a math counting sheet where all the answers add up to 130.
     There are 66 square window panes, 12 canons, 5 railings, 11 windows, 35 spindles, and 1 bow on the boat.   Of course, you could ask other questions to add up other things.
After getting so close in pattern making 101, I decided I had to have a bigger piece of paper.  So, I went up to the 11" x 17" size.  I know they have those sizes at school, but they don't normally have cardstock in that size at office supply stores.  Kinkos might.
I knew my husband's office did.  They use it for the front of  brochures.  

If you are looking at the bottom of the pattern, do not worry about the missing lines.  Those are flaps that tuck behind the back piece.  Just cut along the boxes as if the lines were there.  Cut out the entire outside of the shape.  Also cut out the two narrow triangle spaces on both side of the back piece with the three windows.  At the top, make a small cut to separate the two flaps at the bow.

Because you are folding the paper up along the sides of the large triangle which makes the bottom, you can do this along the edge of a desk or table.  Then fold up the three back boxes.  With the flaps turned up, use a glue stick and rub it along the plain flaps and fold those over each other.  Fold the back up and it will stick to the top flap.  Fold the two front flaps in, glue, and stick together.  The teachers were delighted that it was such and easy project.  The team ordered 18" dowels from  We are going to write pirate stories on the sails.

 If you punch a hole in the middle of the top and bottom of each sheet, it should slide right onto the dowel. This will be printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.

I love, love, love this clipart

Landscaped lined sail with smaller more lines for eager writers
If the kids want to make patterns on the sails, I would have them write their stories in their journals, then do final copies in INK on the sails, so that they could lightly color over their printing. Or they could print on one side and color the back.

 I tried to hold a dowel up with clay the team already had, but it did not work.  One of the teachers suggested gluing marshmallows into the boat.  I have thin styrofoam sheets I might cut up.  If you have a suggestion...please leave a comment.  I could use your ideas.
Surprise:  there's an extra.  I found a pattern for a pirate's hat on Pinterest.
8.5" wide if you're printing it

I folded a piece of 12" x 18" black construction paper in half (the fat way) and printed out the pattern so that it fairly fit the one half. (I had to make it smaller than an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper).  When I cut it out by placing it on the fold, i cut the slit open in the middle.  It fit exactly on my head with a front and back.  It's an awesome design. I  AM going to make them in foam for the Fourth of July, but add ribbons to them.,  but since we are making 85 of them, it was too expensive. I am using sentence strips for the bands. We can just measure them around each student's head and staple. So...I folded ANOTHER piece of 12" x 18" construction paper in half the skinny way.  I cut the first hat in half by continuing the slit until I had just a front and back piece.  I put that piece on the second construction paper and enlarged it with a pencil freehand so that it was 2" bigger on the top.  This way the sentence strip doesn't show. 
                 I edged the hat with a white crayon.  You could have the kids paint the edges or glue them and sprinkle white/colored glitter on the edges.

 I glued the two hats together ONLY on the ends, then slipped it over the sentence strip hand and stapled the paper to the bottom to the sentence strip band.

You only need one skull and bones per hat.  The kids can color the scarf any color they choose.  Just glue it on the front of the hat.  I ordered turkey feathers from in bulk.  Just like Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his hat, so will we.  By the way, when they called him a "macaroni" it meant he was a "dandy."  I love telling first graders about that expression.

    I used two lengths of 6 foot brown paper glued and taped together to make the map. I already had the pirate icons from the office Margarita/Pirate party last September.  So I enlarged them.  It was my hubby's idea to use the blue painters tape (1/2") to make the 12" square boxes.  I numbered the bottom row 1-6 and the left hand side A-F to make a grid.  I will explain the the first graders how to use the grid to find things on a map.  
    I am also going to tell them a story about how the island was overcome with frogs and the pirates had to figure out a way to deal with them.  Since we've discussed simple machines, I am bringing in my two stomping catapults to have them fling bean bag frogs onto the map.  They will earn points for their class by landing on the icons--which are worth different points.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Four Carnival Games

The four carnival games for our office party are displayed here.  There was a LINE to play them.

     Here is one of four of the carnival games I am making for the State Fair Rodeo Chili Contest party.  I found the fish balls (they are stuffed) on  I didn't want bean bags because they'd be too easy to throw.  These little guys are lightweight and make the game more difficult.  
     As usual, I love to reuse party props.  You've seen my wooden wagon at four other party's being used as a serving piece.  So, when I needed a target for my "Gone Fishing" game, it seemed perfect. was too big for the space, so I used one of my wicker boats as the target.


I also wanted to reuse my woven boats from the Margaritaville party.   I have molded chocolate fish.  I also found the mold on  I bought three sheets that mold eleven goldfish each.  No carnival is complete without someone winning goldfish.

Here is the individual package.  I added some blue cardstock waves and secured the little cellophane bag with a topper.  If you look carefully, the blue dot has a tiny company logo on the left.

We got the bracelets in the tube to glow.  The guests loved throwing the light rings.  This game was very difficult.

Flinging frogs with a net.  Small basket.  Hard to do, but fun.

Each gun held FIVE rubber bands, so you got 5 chances to hit the targets in order.  See the whole bucket of rubber bands.