October 17, 2019

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

I have always loved old vintage and folk-style candy buckets, and while these are by no means replicas of those antiques, I wanted to try my hand at making my own papier-mache treat buckets with my own spin on them. Turns out it was a fairly easy process with a little patience and a whole lot of messy hands. 

Items to gather...

  • Plastic pumpkin candy buckets
  • Celluclay
  • Elmers Glue
  • Masking Tape
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Drill with bit

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

I used these plastic buckets as my form to keep the pumpkin shape which you can pick up for a dollar at many craft or dollar stores. Before covering them with the paper mache, I did a layer of masking tape in order for the pulp to adhere better to the form (the plastic pumpkins).

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Follow the directions to mix the celluclay, and then add a couple of tablespoons of elemers glue. I've found this help everything to stick and stay in place while working. The first layer of papier-mache was just a thin layer to cover everything...

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Then I went back and did a second layer to add all the dimensional and definition aspects to it based off of a couple sketches I made:

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Next, I painted them! 

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

The final step then was to drill holes on the side and thread in the ribbon to make them into candy buckets.

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

Viola! All done!

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets

DIY Papier-Mache Pumpkin Candy Buckets
Pin Me! -Pumpkin Candy Buckets 

October 1, 2019

Scaring Away Germs At Halloween +A Free Halloween Printable

Halloween Hand Soap Gift

Autumn weather brings with itself so many exciting things: pumpkins, cooler weather, hot cider drinking. But it also brings some not so exciting things, like heightened germ weather--colds and the flu. If you're a teacher you enter the beginning stages of I'm-trying-to-not-get-sick-from-all-these-kids-weather. AKA: Don't touch me with those hands--I've seen where they've been. 

Instead of sending in a Halloween sugary treat to your child's teacher to celebrate the season, might I just put forth that you lend him or her your support in this battle of germ-killing? Send them a festive hand soap. You can easily pick these up at Target or Home Goods (amongst other places).

Halloween Hand Soap Gift

Attach a little tag with some ribbon or twine. Click the link below to download this one I made for you to use for free!


Halloween Hand Soap Gift

If you use these tags, do me a favor and leave a link below for me to see it in your diy projects! Happy germ scaring!

Halloween Hand Soap Gift

August 5, 2019

Managing a Classroom Nature Center or Space

Classroom Nature Center

One of my favorite spots, no matter the room or grade level, in all of my classrooms was my student's nature centers. I pretty much spent my childhood days running barefoot in my backyard since having parents who were less than enthusiastic about having kids "plugged in" to devices or glued to the TV. While I've always had an appreciation for nature and being outside until I actually found myself in a school that actively promoted nature-based learning and play, I had never imagined that I would be integrating it as heavily as I did into my curriculum. This is also my apology right off that bat at how long this post is, but I wanted to make sure that I covered all my bases and shared everything I've learned over the last few years with this teaching practice. 

Classroom Nature Center

Two books that heavily swayed and influenced my love of nature learning: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv--anyone, and I do mean anyone, who has even the slightest interest in child development needs to read this book. It is an in-depth look at the importance of being in nature and all the incredibly positive benefits there are to having kids outside on a regular basis. Louv is an excellent writer, both from a research standpoint and storytelling; there are many real-world stories shared throughout the pages to hold your attention all while taking in the scientific knowledge. Second, The Sense of Wonder by the renowned naturalist Rachel Carson. A very short manifesto for experiencing nature alongside children with beautiful prose--it is just an inspiring book to have to help you to spur on your teaching or parenting with an emphasis on the natural world. 

Classroom Nature Center

Having prepared, managed, and taught with nature centers in differing grade levels (1st through 4th), I've formed some key beliefs about how to use this important space in the classroom.

Classroom Nature Center

Nature Centers Evolve and Change. Just as the natural world does, so do the centers and their evidence of learning as the students grow in their own knowledge. It is also reflected by the curriculum units and the very seasons themselves changing through the school year (summer, spring, fall, and winter). The above picture is my 4th grader's nature space at the end of September, which is right around the time when we started using it heavily. You'll notice that it is actually pretty sparse and that there is not a lot going on. That is done on purpose and intentionally because they are prepared to be student-led. The following two pictures show you a more "filled" nature space; these are from 1st grade, right as we were getting into winter those first winter-days:

Classroom Nature Center

Classroom Nature Center

Nature Centers are Student Owned and Teacher Guided. That is, I believe that they function best when managed as such. In many of these images, you'll notice that I mostly just provided the skeleton for these spaces--books, empty jars and basked, clipboards... essentially the tools to be used. However, it is the students who provided the specimens they were already interested in or had a connection to. On occasion I'd bring something in to share with the class and model how we interacted with each other's "artifacts," but for the most part, they had free range of what went into the space. Additional guidance would, at times, come in when I'd have them bring in something that went along with our specific unit curriculums.

Classroom Nature Center
Lots of Jars, trays, and clipboards--staples to a nature center
Classroom Nature Center
Seashells from a student's trip 
Classroom Nature Center
Other treasures brought in--don't worry, no wildlife was ever harmed 
Classroom Nature Center
...more backyard finds
Classroom Nature Center
...and more, some repeats in there as those are items that students either donate at the end of the year for future students or come from my personal stash.
I'd put out smaller bulletin boards for the kids to attach things to, or as a class, if we found something online, we could print it out and have out for everyone. 

Classroom Nature Center

Nature Centers are Learning Hubs. Depending on the unit of study, our nature center would morph and change. Depending on what the students were personally interested in would also cause the nature center to morph and change. It functions as both. 

Classroom Nature Center

In first grade, we did a year-long phenology study (how a selected tree changes through the seasons) where we documented changes and made observations. The journals were kept in the nature center so students could look back on them and keep their reflections going.

Nature Study
Focused nature study for our plants unit.
I would put up different activities throughout the year where students could interact with the nature center as a morning activity when they first came in until the bell rang (thinking routines). Usually, they were simple open-ended exercises in practicing observations skills. I'd often have this worksheet printed out for them to have evidence of learning for that time. 

Classroom Nature Center
Seed thinking routine

Thinking Routine
Rock thinking routine

Shell Sort

Another idea for our tidepool unit (which could be done with others) was a shell sorting activity. 

Classroom Nature Center

In third grade, we did a study on natural history using Cabinet of Curiosities. Students collected artifacts and build "cabinets" using miscellaneous cardboard. 

Classroom Nature Center

Another morning work option that was a part of our nature center were class journals. Students could write stories either about our class pet (Frodo, a frog) or about their nature experiences outside of class. Students could also go back and read each other's entries since they were all housed in a couple of notebooks only.

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What tips and tricks do you have for your classroom nature centers? Leave them in the comments below--I love getting more ideas and suggestions!

Classroom Nature Center

July 15, 2019

A Gnome-Inspired, Sensory Playscape + Free Printable Tags

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

Increasingly, giving sensory play based gifts, are becoming my favorites to give my friends little kids these days. I like how I can personalize them to fit the child's interest and that they're building important fine motor skills while playing with them. With gardening season in full-blown, so are days spent outside with kids running barefoot and imaging dozens of imaginative adventures in the given hours. This is a little DIY for a playscape kit I made for a child who's really into fairy gardens, insects, and gnomes. A pretty perfect way to spend your summer if you ask me!

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

Beginning with a container, I picked up this galvanized metal seed storage bin to keep with my garden theme from my local Michaels. 

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

For sensory fillers, I wanted to keep things on the less messy side, so I went with dried beans, some floral moss, pebbles, and natural fiberfill. Most of these can be picked up in your local craft/hobby store, the dollar store, or grocery store. 

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

For play cups and containers I got a craft tin can (it has no sharp edges), flower pots in a variety of small size, and some Mason jars.

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

The great thing about sensory bins as gifts, in my opinion, is that many of the items you may already have in your storage or around your house (especially if you're a crafter). I found wood pieces, mini-twig wreaths, wood thimbles, and acorns in my floral bin that were left over from previous craft projects. 

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

I also tracked down leftover buttons and craft petals. My local dollar store had a variety of fairy garden accessories that I picked up to add to this kit. 

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

Finally, I added in the gnomes. A lot of what is on the market are ceramic, making them easily breakable. I found this plastic set from Safari LTD. on Amazon that I think will have more wear and life to them.

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

Then layer everything up in your bin. I like to have various items peeking out and hiding throughout the box for when it is opened.

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

Another additional item to include potentially is a couple of these gardening drainage dishes. They're rather shallow, but I'm sure they have their uses in all of this imaginative play.

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

I'm all about pairing a new book with all my gifts, so for this one, I picked up a copy of the new story Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl. It was too perfect to go along with the sensory box.

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

The final step is to stack everything up with some twine or ribbon and add on a tag. I went ahead and designed this gift tag below, which you can download and print for your personal use here...


Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

If you use my tag on a project or gift and you share it be sure to tag me on your social site or link it below so I can see how you used it!

Gnome Sensory Playscape DIY with Printable

June 24, 2019

Just Add Mud! Bug-Inspired, Sensory Party Favor for Children +Free Printable Gift Tags

Bug Party Favors Printable

Summer--the season of children running free (maybe even wild)! No doubt many of you may find yourselves hosting a playdate or party for littles, and might be in need of a fun favor for them to take home with them or enjoy during the party/event. This was one of my go-to favorite favors to make for my younger students at the end of the year because it was affordable, non-candy, kept them occupied, developed sensory-motor skills, and got them interested in a nature subject: insects and bugs. Here's how I made them...

Bug Party Favors Printable

Each favor includes the following: floral twigs, a box of pudding mix, a handful of plastic/rubber bugs, and floral stones. Most of these items you can get through your local craft/hobby store or the dollar store at fairly cheap prices, which is great if you're working on a budget or having a large passe of children at your event. Also, can we just agree that children do not need any more overly sugary treats in their diets? Their long-suffering mamma will thank you that you sent them home with an activity to occupy their time rather than another bag of candy that leads to them jumping off her walls. 

Bug Party Favors Printable

Divide up the materials into either glass jars (again, local craft or dollar stores--or buy in bulk online) or small plastic containers:

Bug Party Favors Printable

Here's the cool thing: You're now going to click on this link to download and print the gift tags I've designed and created for your favors!

Bug Party Favors Printable

Adhere them to your jars, stack your jars on top of the pudding mix boxes, tie everything together, and you're good to go!

Bug Party Favors Printable

If you use these in your next party or event, snap a picture and tag me on Instagram: ngrimm07 I love seeing how you use my printable goodies! Keep it creepy and crawly!
© Natalie Grimm. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.