Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tinny McTinTins

I am an avid lover of the "free" concept. If not free, then it must be as close to free as possible in order to warm my heart completely. If I can find something that is 'free' AND 'pretty' then I am on cloud nine for several days.

These tins really tick my boxes. They are recycled tin cans donated by a commercial kitchen (thank you mummy), covered in the prettiest paper that I can possibly find and then coated in decoupage finish. Marae kitchens are also a great source of the big tins.

First, find yourself a collection of empty, clean tin cans. The ones that I use were once 2kg tins of fruit, so there is no staining on the inside.  The 2kg cans are ideal for class or group sets of equipment. However the average family does not eat 2kgs of tinned fruit very often, so also try to collect other sizes- kidney beans, pineapple, condensed milk, and single serve beetroot also make great tins for covering and give a variety of sizes. The labels remove really easily, and it does not need to be a perfect job.
Wrapping paper is perfect for this job.I scour the wrapping paper stands at dollar shops whenever I am there, and have collected a variety of papers for this purpose. Of course you could use coloured paper from the classroom art supplies, newspaper, magazine pictures etc. Lucky Book Club catalogs make great Literacy themed tins. I have done these tins on the cheap and used PVA glue to attach the paper and give it a clear coated finish. However the tins seem to rust underneath the coating, and spoil the look very quickly. Decopage finish (like Mod Podge) is available from Spotlight for $17.99 and will last you a very very long time. Just give the tins a quick coat in Mod Podge, attaching the paper and smoothing it on in sections. Once the paper is wrapped around coat the tin again in Mod Podge. This will give it a protective coat and will mean that you can wipe the tins clean with a damp cloth from time to time.
Some quick labels printed off and glued on with Mod Podge finishes off these tins. If I was really pedantic I would cut a circle of felt to go inside the bottom of the tin, to prevent the equipment from making a loud clanging noise when dropped in. However, I am not that pedantic... yet.

I use these tins a lot in my classroom. As you can see they make great stationery holders, containers for group activities, worksheets, taskboard tags etc. I use a tin as a drop box for my students to post notices for me to collect, rather than them bugging me in the mornings. The one thing they are not suitable for is holding paintbrushes etc, as the bases will rust when wet and will leave huge rust rings on your bench. If that happens, just make sure that you don't EVER move the tins until you move classrooms.

Once you start making these tins you will become addicted. When I go grocery shopping I now scour the shelves for interesting tins I can use in my classroom. Duraseal is a quick and easy way to cover the tins as well, but that is the easy solution.

I will leave you with an example of patience and the extreme desire for the free and pretty. This tin is covered in pictures of material cut from a Spotlight catalog that arrived in the mail. It created a really cool patchwork effect. I love it to pieces!

Free, Printable Bookplates

Teachers spend ridiculous amounts of money on resources for school. With most resources I just name on the front cover with a black permanent marker, so everyone can see that it is mine at a glance. One particular vice of mine is to purchase beautiful, beautiful picture books. And when I spend all that money on a new picture book I want to keep it in pristine condition and ensure that it comes back to me if it is borrowed.

There is something about a bookplate that makes a book really special. Try going to for the cutest printable bookplates to put inside your favorite books. The artwork on each book plate is divine, and the plates come in both color and black and white. Happy printing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mrs Pancake

I love this website, and not just for the pancakes. I love it for its aboslute, unequivocal awesomeness (I hope I used 'unequivocal' correctly, i've always wanted to use it in a sentence). , home of the most beautiful printables you can possibly find on the internets. And they are free (although the website creators do accept kind donations). Fire up the color printer and the laminator people, because you are going to be here a while.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Crafts

Easter is really really close now and I am getting extremely excited. It could be the crazy sugar highs that are hitting me in that direction, but I think that it is mainly the Easter sales that I get excited about (and the copious amounts of chocolate, but that is another blog altogether).

Last year in the Easter sales I picked up an Easter egg mould for $1 from Spotlight. Totally exciting, this bad boy means I can mould 12 (half) eggs at a time. So as we approached Easter this year I started wracking my brain for a little moulded craft idea for my class to complete. I came up with Easter plaster of paris magnets.
Having only one mould and 25 students, I decided that I would mould and dry the eggs myself. This turns the activity into a definite craft rather than art activity, but was very managable and easy to complete in a short space of time. I also wanted the magnets to be an Easter gift to my students, rather than several weeks of tedious work. I made up 31 eggs, which gave me a couple of spares and a couple to decorate as examples for the children to see the process.

 The children were given the option of two types of decoration- painting the eggs in layers, or decoupage. Painting the eggs was tedious at some points, as the children had to wait for each layer of paint to dry. However, normal school acrylic paint dried really quickly and I had a selection of Easter activities (word-searches etc) for the children to complete while they waited. To create the decoupage look the children were given stacks of magazines (donated to my classroom by a friend) to cut out interesting patterns and color schemes and a pot of PVA glue. Each piece they glued on needed to be really small (about the size of my fingernail) to create a smooth finish.
Each egg was left on top of a milk bottle top to dry. This stopped the eggs sticking to the newspaper. The upturned milk bottle tops also made a great cradle when completing the back of the magnets. Just write their names on the newspaper next to the egg so you can tell them apart. 

After the eggs were completed I spray painted the eggs with a clear coat of varnish. Being budget conscious I use car spray paint from Super Cheap Auto for $7.50 a can. Super cheap and super long lasting, a really good buy. This gave the eggs a beautiful shininess. The magnets came from the $2 shop (12 for $2, and they need to be quite strong). The magnets were glued on the back with a hot glue gun.
So there you have it- a relatively quick and easy craft activity that we all really enjoyed. The eggs were sent home in little Easter baskets that the children made. They made a quite inexpensive gift for the class and a fun activity as the term drew to a close. A win-win situation if ever I saw one!

Plaster of Paris 3kg= $13.50 on TradeMe (you really only need a small amount- maybe around 500g?)
Magnets= $2 for 12 from the local dollar shop
Hot Glue gun
Clear spray paint= $7.50 from Super Cheap Auto