July 27, 2015

Monday Made It - ThingLink

It's time for another link up with 4th Grade Frolics. If you want to join in on the fun, click on the image below!
Last week I had a lot of fun sharing the things I had made.  
This week was another productive week for me, but most of it was spent on one project.

Technology hack: How to use ThingLink in the classroom. Tips and ideas for classroom teachers and elementary educators.
 My big project this week was to continue working on getting my blog up and running. I've been linking up to other sites, posting about products, and finding others to follow too. But I realized that I had not done anything to the other pages of my site (besides the home feed). 

When I visit other blogs, I read a post or two and if I am interested I next click on the "About Me" page. WHY did it not occur to me that other readers would do THE SAME THING when they came to my blog? Ah, live and learn. So I finally got myself in gear and began brainstorming what I would share on that page.

I'll let you in on a secret:
I actually googled "unique about me pages".
It didn't take me long to hone in on this article in my search results.
Some of the ideas shared were so creative! But I obviously didn't want to just copy something. Also, I know from teaching my fifth graders, that the more interactive something is the more engaged people will be. Suddenly I remembered something my son had done while he was dog-sitting at our house over Christmas break.

So I sent Jon a quick text message and asked him if he would be willing to help me make my own ThingLink. He agreed, since he is superbly awesome. :) His main job was to set up all the "stuff" I had gathered, take a picture that I was willing to share, and do a bit of photo editing. It took about an hour, but here's what he sent me!

Technology hack: How to use ThingLink in the classroom. Tips and ideas for classroom teachers and elementary educators.
I know you just can't stand the suspense any longer, so go ahead and click on the "About Me" tab at the top of this page and you can see what I did with this picture. Just be sure to come back to this post so you can learn all about how to make one of your own because I just KNOW you'll want to!
Okay, you're back! 
It's pretty darn cool, isn't it?!?
Ready for a mini tutorial?
Here goes...

 The website I used to make my interactive image is called ThingLink.
You'll need to visit the website and set up a FREE teacher account.
There is an option to upgrade to a paid account, but I honestly don't know that I would need the features for what I plan to use it for. I might change my mind later.
Anyhow, make yourself an account. It's pretty quick and easy.
 Once you've confirmed your account and logged in, click on the red plus sign at the top that says CREATE to get started on your very first ThingLink.
 Choose an image to use. I uploaded the picture my son took from my hard drive. You can practice with any picture, or  you could plan in advance what you'd like to do.
 Once your picture is uploaded to the site, a pop-up window will appear. This is where you will have the chance to add text and clickable links. Start by renaming your project (the default is My Interactive Image). Then decide which objects in the picture you want to highlight. Click anywhere on the picture to add a tag. A black circle will appear.
The box on the left side of the screen allows you to edit your tag by adding text or changing the color of the dot. You can also add a link if you'd prefer. After typing your caption, be sure to click on the green save button. If you make a mistake or change your mind about a tag, simply click on the circle and use the edit tag box to make changes or delete the tag altogether.
 When you are happy with the tags you have added, click on the Save Image button. 
Now all you have to do is decide how and where you'd like to share your interactive image.
For my About Me page, I clicked on the Share icon and copied the embed code. Then I added that to my post on Blogger (be sure you have it under HTML rather than Compose).

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, you're done!
Time for a happy dance!
Technology hack: How to use ThingLink in the classroom. Tips and ideas for classroom teachers and elemenary educators.
I was so stinking excited!
I was literally jumping around my kitchen shouting that it was exactly what I wanted. 
(Then my silly husband pretended to call Ripley's Believe it or Not to tell them a woman said something was "exactly what she wanted" and ACTUALLY MEANT IT! What a goof!)

So now are you ready to try it out?

Wanna use this to introduce yourself?
If you make your own interactive image, post a link in the comments so I can see the results!

Thinking about using it as a great back-to-school activity?
Check out THIS POST for some tips for using ThingLink in the classroom. 

Have more ideas for using ThingLink in the classroom?
I'd love to hear about how you integrate this technology into other lessons. Share your link in the comments so I can check it out!

July 24, 2015

Five for Friday Linky Party - July 24th

It's already been another week!!!
Time to link up with Kacey from Doodlebugs Teaching for a fun friday linky party.  Click on the picture below to join!
 This is my first time joining, but I have LOVED reading others' posts so I felt it was time to "give back".
 This week has been another whirlwind week for me. I feel like I have gotten so much done and accomplished more than the rest of the summer combined. Quite frankly it's probably because I know I only have a little over two weeks until I have about 100 fifth graders ready to learn.
Part of me is excited to go back and part of me is feeling some A LOT OF anxiety and stress. I still haven't found a really good way to deal with this, so I just plow ahead and work, work, work! What do YOU do when that feeling in the pit of your stomach starts up?!?
On Tuesday, I got to go to our breeder's house and meet the puppies in her current litter of Goldendoodles. I have been stalking her on Facebook, watching for new posts about their weight, coloring, coat type, and just darling pictures!
As soon as I got the ok from Kimberlee, I made the trip to Nashville to see them. This litter has NINE darling puppies. They each have such adorable personalities. I had my eye on a couple of the male puppies specifically, and after my visit I KNEW which one I wanted. 
 His litter name is Samuel. And he is such a beautiful light cream color. His coat is going to be a curly teddy bear type coat. I absolutely adore him!
 After being held and cuddled and loved on, he just curled up for a little nap. He's still so very tiny!
I almost lost it when he stretched out next to my pad of paper. 
Look at that adorable little puppy bottom!!!
BUT the family in front of me on the pick list can't visit until Sunday.
So I have a couple more days to wait until it's official. Kimberlee thinks I'll get him.
Fingers crossed...
Third on my list of randomness for the week is actually a project I've been working on.
I've been trying to update my store and products in anticipation for Back to School. I've had this simple Photosynthesis Recipe Card available for a couple years now. 
It's a popular product, but it was in desperate need of an update.
As it always goes with me, when I start updating a product it turns into a full blown re-do.
I'm not only "cutifying" the recipe card, but I am adding several other activities that will be perfect for adding to students' Interactive Science Notebooks! I'm super excited about it because I always struggle to find more interactive ways to teach/learn about photosynthesis and I feel like I've finally been able to come up with a couple different options.
I'm actually sitting in my sister's kitchen right now with all of my things getting ready to finish and upload it. It should be ready by tonight.
I'll update this post to link directly to the finished kit later today. :)
All set. Just click on the picture above to head directly to the product.
 The day I went to see the puppies, I dragged my oldest son out of bed and took him with me.
To be fair, he DID say he wanted to spend the day with me.
But he's a college kid and sleeping in is part of his lifestyle.

Part of what we did was stop at a little hole-in-the-wall music shop. Jon is an amazing guitar player. The coolest part is that he is self taught. One thing he really likes to do is perform for family and friends on command try out different guitars and pedals. So we spent about an hour in the store while he jammed on different guitars and tried out different settings on the pedals and amps.

 I love this guitar. It has such a cool, vintage feel with the aqua color and "worn" look.
See all of those guitar pedals back on the floor?!? Crazy! They each do something different. It was so neat to have him demonstrate how they changed the sound and explain some about how they worked. I admit I was a bit out of my element, but I love learning. Plus it gave me a chance to hear him play. 
And just in case anyone wants to get him a gift, his favorite one was this Black Fountain pedal. It was so cool sounding. He's been eyeballing it for a while. I totally wanted to buy it for him, but $200 is a little much for an impulse buy. Maybe for Christmas...
Did you know that this week was SHARK WEEK?!? 
I admit that the only reason I know is because my silly son is obsessed with the Sharknado movies.
If you've never seen them, you MUST. They are so incredibly ridiculous that you can't help but laugh at them. Just be sure you're in a silly mood.

Jon planned to invite a bunch of his friends to his apartment and watch Sharknado 3 on Wednesday.
So, being the totally cool helicopter mom that I am, I made him a batch of shark cookies.

Could they have turned out any cuter?!?
I even added a "bloody bone" to their mouths to look like they had just finished eating a diver.
I didn't stay to watch the movie, but he assured me that it was stupid awesome!

July 20, 2015

Monday Made It - July 20

Every week I watch all the blog posts for Monday Made It and I think to myself, "I make things. I could join this linky party. I'm going to do it...next week..."

This morning (well actually this afternoon since I ACTUALLY slept in almost until NOON) I started reading the posts again and decided TODAY IS THE DAY. So, for the first time EVER I am going to link up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. Yay me!
 I'm honestly not entirely sure of the nitty gritty details of this linky party, so hopefully I don't step on anyone's toes or break any rules. I figure I'll share a few things I've made (for school, for TpT, and for my family). Here goes nothing...
Last summer I got a little crazy with white canvas shoes and sharpie markers. I designed all kinds of shoes for people I work with, myself, my sister, and even my nieces and daughters. 

These were for a friend of a friend who wanted shoes for her school spirit day.
 These were for a coworker at MY school. I love the compass on the left shoe!
 These ones were for my academic coach's middle school daughter. They are definitely one of my favorites!
 These are mine. I honestly wear the ALL THE TIME and they are starting to fade. 
Maybe I need to grab another pair of shoes and get creative...
 These ones were painful to make since my husband and I are NY Giants fans, but a teacher at my school begged me to make these so she could wear them on game day.
Here's a picture of my daughters sporting their custom shoes.
My younger daughter loves her shoes (she calls them her "happy shoes"). She is always careful to wear them when the weather is nice so they don't get dirty.
(Love them.)
Making the shoes was fun! But eventually I ran out of steam (and ink in my markers) so I took a break. But since Abbie is only seven, her feet are still growing. Her shoes from last year are officially too small. So I promised her a new pair. I finally got to work last night and got them done!
I love the way they turned out. I added one of my favorite quotes...
My second "made it" is a platter I painted for my husband. 
 It took over a week and a lot of bending over to see the details closely, but it turned out JUST like I had planned.
He is THE BEST "griller of meat" that I know. He has a GIFT with spices. I honestly hardly ever ate meat until I met him. Our first date was him grilling ribs in December in a foot of snow! He just shoveled a little path to the grill and got to work. So, yeah, I married him! :) And yes, his apron and hat were made by me too.
My next item is a TpT product I just updated last night - CSI Cell Investigation.


It is one of my best selling items and also one of my oldest as well. In fact, I really only planned to give it a little face lift (change the cover, update the fonts and add a TOU page) but once I opened it I couldn't stop there.

I started out by adding some fun elements that I wanted to implement when I do this activity with my class this year. I plan to give each group a file folder with the information they need to "solve the crime". So I made (yes actually made) a "CONFIDENTIAL" seal - my first attempt as a type of clip art since I couldn't find what I was imagining anywhere. This makes the whole challenge feel more "real" to the kids as they pretend to be CSI Agents. I also altered the scenario just a little bit so that students have a chance to feel like they "solved" the crime.
I added three suspects (with a little information about each one as well as a mug shot). Some of the cell images I had originally used were difficult to see and identify, so I added 14 more images as well as a teacher answer guide.
 I am so incredibly happy with how it turned out! And I cannot wait to do this with my fifth graders this fall! If you'd like to grab a copy, it's in my TpT Store here!
Lastly, I thought I should include something I made at The Pottery Room.
It all started with a box of clay. MY clay. :)
 I wedged about four pounds of clay together and started centering it on the wheel. This is probably my least favorite part of wheel projects. I can never quite get my clay centered. And with so much clay it was really difficult. But slowly I was able to start pulling it up into a large cylinder. See? Proof that I really DID make it!
 I made a smaller bowl shape to be the lid. It was WAY easier to do this than to throw a closed form. Mine always end up looking like eggs. Using a caliper I could make sure the two pieces were the right size and fit together nicely.
 Next was the fun part! I had to make all the pieces to attach it to the form. 
Horns, eyes, a nose, arms and hands, teeth, and a cookie!
Finally he looked like a monster! Hahahaha. It still makes me laugh looking at him!
 After the greenware was fired, I got to paint him. I am kind of obsessed with the color green for monsters, but I added a bunch of other colors to make him a cheerful monster cookie jar. 
I love how I added "A Coker Monster 2015" on the back side.
  And here's the finished piece!
I LOVE him!
The M&M chocolate chip cookie was the BEST. I even put little Ms on each one.
And that, folks, is my Monday Made It!
There's a chance I might join in the fun again next week. This was fun!