July 22, 2019

Birthday in a Box (A Birthday Themed Care Package)


Birthday Care Package

I can think of no better way to shake things up from a birthday card to a birthday in a box when it comes to wishing a friend a celebratory day who live far away! Recently I put together this care package, and here's what I packed inside:

Birthday Care Package

  1. Supplies to make a banner: bakers twine and scrapbook paper-made pennant triangles pre-hole punched
  2. A birthday candle
  3. A handful of balloons
  4. Box filler of your choice
  5. Party noisemaker
  6. Confetti washi tape
  7. Chomper (cable accessory)
  8. Crazy straw
  9. Glowstick ball
  10. Silly string


Birthday Care Package


Birthday Care Package

Small wrapped candies and a miniature pinata were a must! I found this unicorn one here. 

Birthday Care Package


Birthday Care Package

Layer up the items! I like to put heavier things on the bottom and make sure to add plenty of filler so that there is as little crushing as possible.

Birthday Care Package

And don't forget the birthday card with lots of confetti!

Birthday Care Package

Before shipping it off, I like to take time to decorate the inside flaps, so when the recipient opens the box there's that "wow" element to it.

Birthday Care Package

Birthday Care Package

July 18, 2019

My 8 Favorite Beginning of the School Year Activities

8 Beginning of the School Year Activities

#1. All About Me Posters: This is the most basic idea in the books, but it really works well regardless of the elementary grade level--and I've done this one in at least three different grades. All you do is give each student a big piece of paper (I always used anchor chart paper for this because the students were excited to be using my "big teacher paper"), access to markers, crayons, and colored pencils, and these simple instructions: Make a poster telling me everything you want me and your classmates to know about you. At the end of the time given, we take turns sharing them throughout the first couple of days.

About Me  Posters


#2. All About Me Bags: Much like the posters, only the focus is more heavily on the sharing with classmates and the teacher. Before school starts, either in a letter or at back-to-school night, send home a brown paper bag and tell the student to fill it with up to 5 items that are important to them and be prepared to share why. Often students put in small toys, photos of family members, and souvenirs from their summer trips. Again, students share throughout the first couple of days their bags with the class. (Here's a free instructions template I found that you can staple to the bag when you initially give it to the students.)

You're Finally Here

#3. You're Finally Here: This is an activity packet I picked up from Teachers Pay Teachers by Linda Kamp. The packet has anchor chart pieces, a write around the room activity with embedded math pre-assessment, a goal-setting craft booklet, printable games, and lots of other activities and resources you can use alongside the children's book You're Finally Here. My students really enjoyed working through all the different activities during our first week back to school. The book itself is hard to track down at a reasonable price, so be prepared to do some hunting for it ahead of time. If you have no success finding a physical copy, I'd just use a YouTube video of another teacher or parent reading it (such as this one).


Growth Mindset Flapbook

#4. Growth Mindset Flip-Flap Books: For the first week of science I always took that time to teach the students about their brain and growth mindset. While we do a variety of activities with this, one of the favorites are these flip-flap books from Sam Van Gorp. I have a Pinterest board linking to some of the other activities we do as well here if you want more ideas.

Math in My Life Activity

#5. Math in My Life: I used this activity with older elementary students to assess their writing skills even though it was about math. Each student gets a piece of paper and has to draw where they see math in their life. I always show them my example of a recipe card and measuring cups to show that I like to bake and cook, and I use math when I do so. Then on the back, they have an index card where they have to write a paragraph explaining what they drew, why, and how it relates to math. I also like this activity because, for the students who are not always as enthusiastic, this is a softer way to ease into the beginnings of our math classes and curriculum.


The Day the Crayons Quit Activity

#6. The Day The Crayon's Quit: This activity involves doing a read-aloud of The Day the Crayon's Quit followed up with a mini-response (free TPT download here) where the students draw a picture using only one color crayon and writing a sentence. It's just a simple activity, but I used it as a way to gauge the class's listening and participation skills during read-alouds at the beginning of the year. I'd note what were some strengths and things to build off of moving forward with read-alouds throughout the year. 

#7. All About Me Index Card Houses: I used this activity from TPT when I taught 4th graders, and they loved it! Usually, older elementary students are not quite as enthusiastic about posters (they do them every year nearly... why?), but this is a different take on sharing about themselves and they get to go home with a 3D Tower instead.

Kid President Book

#8. Kid President: Can you ever go wrong with a well-timed kid president video? I think not. Your students think not. Each year I've always shown the video on how to be awesome, then I'd have students brainstorm different ideas on how to make the year awesome in our classroom. I'd make a poster out of their ideas, and then we'd periodically go back and review it throughout the year when we needed the reminder. 

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

July 10, 2019

Oh My Lemony Goodness! A Lemonade Inspired Care Package

Lemonade-Inspired Care Package

In my previous post about snail mail I shared my goal to send a package this year to my friends who live long distance, and here is package number two! The theme for this summer box was all things lemon. Here's a look at what went inside:

Etched Lemonade Tumbler

With the summer months, we all can use a cute glass to sip those thirst-quenching, like iced tea and lemonade, drinks in. I found this mason jar glass at Hobby Lobby and then etched a lemon onto it and filled it with lemon ice tea mix packets.

Lemonade-Inspired Care Package Treats

Lemon and yellow treats were next!

Lemonade Cross-stich

How cute is this tiny little lemonade cross-stitch! That obviously had to go in this box too.

Lemonade Stamps

Stamps make for a great package stuffer. I really like the mini sets that Lawn Fawn puts out. They go great with a Tim Holtz's Mini Distress Ink Pads. Both are just the perfect size for snail mail. 

Lemonade Craft Destash

Every girl needs a good summertime washi tape to use. This package also got some craft de-stashed goodies too like my previous one. Lastly, I sometimes like to throw in a window crayon--they're washable crayons for your windows--so doodle away!

Lemonade-Inspired Care Package

This year I've been in the habit of finding practically ever use out there for a bandana that's possible. I used this teal one to wrap all the items into. And it can double as a headband later if she wants to use it for that. 

Lemonade-Inspired Care Package

Here's how it looked before it was sent out! Always remember a note of some kind, and I think it really makes everything feel more personalized when you take the time to decorate the flaps. It just adds to the excitement a little bit more. 

Lemonade-Inspired Care Package

Check out my previous post if you want to download a free printable of ideas of how to fill your own care package. If you have any of your own tips for care package, please leave them in the comment section below--I'd love to hear them! Happy mailing!

July 8, 2019

Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Ideas

Free Printable with 50+ Ideas to Pack and Send in Care Packages

One of my community building goals this year was to celebrate my friends who live far away with care packages and snail mail throughout the year. So I took myself to the local post office and purchase a couple packs of packages and stamps to prepare for the year. Today I thought I'd share one of the packages I've already sent to a friend this past spring. Each package I'm sending this year has a different theme, and hers had two: wildflowers and faith journaling/art. Here's what I put in it and how I decorated it:

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

To prep the actual package I covered each interior flap of the box itself in this wildflower scrapbook paper I picked up at Hobby Lobby, followed by a few layers of tissue paper to hold everything in. 

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Here's a little look at the main items I collected for this box...
  1. Book/Journal
  2. Sticker Book Plates
  3. Traveler's Notebooks
  4. Flower Seeds
  5. Window Clings
  6. Bag of Cookies
  7. Twinkle Lights
  8. Blackcurrant Tea

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Since I didn't want to send an actual journaling Bible with this box, I thought a prayer journal book, such as The Weekly Prayer Project, and some travelers notebooks would be good substitutes and starting points for illustrating faith projects. And I had to include some twinkle lights in this box's theme!

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Care packages and snail mail of any kind are a perfect opportunity for crafters such as myself to share bits and pieces from our stash. I often overbuy on craft materials so if someone can get more life out of them, then I'm all for that. I also really enjoy it when others snail mail me pieces from their craft stashes too. It broadens the variety for everyone. For this box, I gathered up a variety of items that could potentially be used with Bible journaling for the recipient. 

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

I had some of these leftover plastic honey bears from a previous craft night so I package up some of the supplies to go inside of it. My latest craft supply obsession, watercolor pencils, made it in this box too. 

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Washi is another favorite of mine to send and receive. I seldom go through a whole role but like to have a variety of patterns to pick from. To send washi, I usually make a tag and use it as a panel to wrap the removable tape around. The bigger the tag the more different types I can send.  

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Antique Candle Co. is hands down my favorite candle shop and whenever I place an order they always send a small sampler along with my order. I hang on to those and mail or gift them to others because they are the perfect size for snail mail and it lets me introduce my favorite candle company to others too. I also don't feel like you can go wrong with a nice room freshener--for those my favorite brand is J.R. Watkins.  

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Time to pack everything up! I got creative with my filler on this package and used fake flowers and flower petals to snuggle everything up together.

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

That's when I decided to throw in a mini-wreath from my floral craft materials, with the thought that she could use the flowers and make a window wreath if she wanted to for the spring and summer season. 

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

The last step is to decorate the flaps around the box. It really makes a package pop when it is opened and adds some fun decorative elements.

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

When I send a package or make care baskets like these I like to always have a note explaining what is in the package and why certain items were chosen if there was a specific reason. 

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

Another flap got a favorite quote of mine...

A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas

and the final flap is a pocket with a printable on bible journaling that you can download for free on illustrated faith's website here, and the paint card from my craft destash earlier. Tape it shut, and off it went! 

I have a little free printable goodie for you in honor of my snail mail goals this year! When you click the link below, you can download this list of 55 Care Package Gift and Tread Ideas to use to help you get organized and inspired to send your own snail mail. Since I keep a container with all my mail supplies in my craft closet currently, I just printed this out and taped it to the front of the container so I can see it and use it regularly. 


A Wildflower Themed Care Package + 55 Care Package Packing Ideas Free Printable

Happy mailing friends! Share your favorite things to send to friends in the comments below!
© Natalie Grimm. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.