Sunday, October 23, 2011

Story Stones

I spend hours on end, reading other people's blogs and being inspired by their brilliant ideas. Recently, I came across Story Stones TWICE in one day, on Red Bird Crafts and on Fairy Dust Teaching. Fate, I decided, was telling me that Story Stones must be made. Fate was right.

A pleasant trip to the beach followed, with a couple of zip-loc plastic bags stowed in my handbag (I always keep zip-loc bags in my handbag, just in case I can gather something for my classroom from nature). I collected a set of small, flattish beach pebbles to create my Story Stones. Once home, they were washed and dried, just in case of nasties or grit, which would prevent the smooth finish I wanted.

I printed off a series of stock clip-art from Microsoft Word. They have some awesome clip-art, and to begin with I started with some standard fairy-tale characters- princes, princesses, etc, plus a few animal characters too. Each character was then carefully cut out and matched to an appropriately sized/ shaped stone.

I then glued the images onto the stones using Mod Podge. A sprinkle of glitter and an extra coat of Mod Podge and the tops were ready to dry. Once dry I did coat the rear of the stone with a layer of Mod Podge, to give the stone a consistent look front and back. After a couple of hours to dry, I spray painted them all over in clear varnish. This really made the stones look super shiny, more like a polished rock.

The stones have been introduced to my class as a 'fast finisher' activity- if they finish their writing assignment early then they can continue with a 'free choice', imaginative story using story stones. We also made an extensive list of other characters they would like to have, and I have since made some of them into story stones. These, in particular, have really hooked in my reluctant writers. Now they are writing way more, and with better quality- if their work isn't 'best work', they don't get Story Stones! Some students were really inspired by the stones, and made some of their own at home.

Although I have exhausted my current supply of stones, I hope to make more characters shortly. I also have plans for some alphabet stones, number stones and some stones to use as game-pieces in board games. Can't wait!

Handy Dandy Glue Pots

Crafting almost always requires glue. Hot glue, paste, PVA... we school teachers love them all. However, they can be a messy wee substance to manage. So here is a teeny tiny tip for keeping your PVA manageable... milk bottle tops!

Milk bottle tops are plentiful, free and don't take up much storage space. They are easy to collect, and are darn useful. When using them as mini glue pots, I like them because they don't hold much (less waste), you can throw them out after one use (easy clean-up), and they are easy to prepare, so you can have many of them scattered around the room if necessary.

In the photo, I have used cotton wool buds (new ones) as glue applicators, and found them really good. In the past, I have also used scraps of cardboard, strips cut from ice-cream container lids... almost anything, except paintbrushes. Glue tends to ruin paintbrushes very quickly.