Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Class Syllabus Infographic

Handing out a paper syllabus is so 2008... haha! I thought I'd try something new and creative for my students this year and appeal to their visual sense as well as make the information easier to understand and process for students and parents. Here's where I got my "pinspiration":

I decided to try to build one from scratch and it took just as long as you think it would! I ended up using Piktochart, just as the owner of the above syllabus did. Making an account was easy. I just used my work Google account and signed up for the free account immediately. It took less than a minute.

They have pre-designed templates that you can choose from, so I found one that seemed like it would fit my purpose. I chose the Minimalist template and got to work! I opened my traditional syllabus and began conveying the information that was already available onto the template. I decided that I wanted the information to be chunked in blocks like the one I found online, but I wanted to use a bit more color. See for yourself:

I'm really proud of how it came out! While it's not perfect, I don't think it's too bad for a first try! I really wanted to print a big size from my classroom, but I had to get a little creative because the poster maker at work can only print from PDFs... so I Googled "JPG to PDF converter" and used the first site that came up to convert it! It worked great. If I had the Pro version of Piktochart I would have been able to simply download it as a PDF, but they only give you the options of low to medium resolution JPG or PNG files. You also have to put up with having their logo on the bottom. Not a big deal really... especially since I just cut it off on my poster! 

When you opt for pro, you also get access to their full library of templates, no logo on the bottom, and way more upload space. I'm fine with the free account for now, but if I use this much more, I might ask my school district to look into it for me. Pro is priced at $29 a month (!) but if you're an educational institution or non-profit organization, you can get it for $39.99 a year.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

No-Sew Fleece Blanket

I love giving handmade gifts and I especially like giving ones that can actually be used in some kind of practical way! Fleece blankets are warm and durable and great for the park, camping, the baseball game, or wherever you go (even if it's just your couch)! I've made a couple of these for friends, family, and even myself! I, of course, learned through clicking on a bunch of pins, but this one is closest to the method that I continue to use. (She has way cooler tools than me though!)

Disclaimer: I hate measuring, so all measurements given are approximates and you can do with that what you will. Measuring is for suckers!!! (I say until my stuff doesn't work out... haha!)

I picked out a Sanrio character print for one side and a somewhat-matching pink for the other side. I don't usually like to do a print on both sides, because it just looks too busy. The little girl this blanket was for was having a Hello Kitty party, so I wanted to keep with the theme! A few years earlier, I gave her brother a Yankees-themed blanket for Christmas, so I wanted her to have her own similar, but distinct, blanket.

The first step is to cut all of the selvages off of the edges of the fabric. It will be on two sides. Usually one side has printing on it, and the other will not. It can be kind of tricky to see where to cut on the side that doesn't, especially on fleece.

If you look closely at the side opposite the printing, you can see two tiny rows of punctured dots. This is actually on the printed side, too. When I cut off the selvages on my fleece, I use these dots as a guide. 

My pile of selvages!

The next step is to stack your two pieces of fleece together so that the edges match up and the two wrong sides are facing each other. Rarely are they exactly the same length. To maximize the usable part of each piece of fleece, I match one corner exactly, then smooth the rest out. I used my bed to get a big, flat surface to work on. When I felt like they matched up as closely as I could get them, I cut off the excess to make sure they were the same size.

Next comes the cutting! Now, when I was learning how to do this awhile ago, one blog (not this one I pinned) suggested using a ruler and measuring all of these cuts in advance. WAY TOO MUCH WORK! Especially when after you tie it all up, the edge is going to be kind of messy anyway. If you're the measure-y type, try cutting a 5" x 5" square off each side, then measure each cut to be 1"-1.5" wide and 5" long... or just wing it like me! Either way, I'm sure you'll get good results.

The "thumb" method of measuring... just made that up.

Here it is all cut up and ready to tie!

So, the thing about these knots is that however you decide to tie them, you've got to stay consistent. I like to tie my knots so that a bit of the color from the other side of the blanket shows. I've seen versions on Pinterest that have the knots showing the same fabric as the side you're on. Just try it out and see what you like. I do two overhand knots in a row.

Here's the second pass.

...and all tightened up!

I make my way all around the blanket, tying the knots the exact same way each time. It's helpful to have a movie or some guilty-pleasure TV show to hold you over as you tie all these knots! I stop in the bottom corner and leave myself a foot opening so that I can embroider the child's name on the blanket. It's a nice extra touch, if you have the time. I think it also makes it more special for a kid than just any old blanket. I clearly remember a towel that my grandmother bought for me when I was 5 or so that had my name and ballet slippers on it. I loved that towel more than any other towel we owned, through there were better quality ones in the house, simply because it had my name emblazoned on it.

I used about four strands of embroidery thread and an embroidery needle to make her name. I used the chain stitch. I didn't make a stencil or anything. I never do really. It's kinda like measuring. I think I probably could have done a little better on the cursive here, but for winging it, I think I did alright!

All done! A front/back view.

All tied up and ready for gifting! I used the extra part of the printed fabric that I had to trim off (because the two pieces of fabric were different sizes) to make a pretty bow. I rolled up the blanket so that her name was on the top. I really enjoy making personalized gifts for children, especially when they're practical! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Generation Good and Seventh Generation's Healthy Home Baby Party!

Hey everyone! Long time no blog! I've had a super busy-but-fun summer and I have lots to share with you all over the next few days. I've got back to school coming up and of course, there will be pinning involved! Something that I've been into for awhile now is product sampling. There are lots of different websites that offer to send you complimentary products, either trial or full size, in exchange for some reviews and buzz about their products, usually through social media. If you have young kids at home, I want to share with you a great opportunity to sample a whole big box of goodies with your friends that have little kids, too!

Generation Good is giving parents the opportunity to host a Health Baby Home Party for free! Seventh Generation's Healthy Baby Home Parties are fun and informative for you and your guests, and together you will create a healthy environment for your families! They will send you a big box of goodies, both full-sized and sample-sized, as well as coupons and information on how to keep your home and family toxin-free.

The Healthy Baby Home Party kit contains educational information from non-profit partner Healthy Child Healthy World, a fun party game to help you share tips, and products and coupons from Seventh Generation, bobble, Zarbee's Naturals, and other brands. Hosts and guests will also be invited to join Seventh Generation in asking our U.S. Senators to reform chemical policy.

"How do I sign up", you say?
  • Sign up at generationgood.net to join the Generation Good community first.
  • Accept the Healthy Baby Home Party Application offer on your Generation Good dashboard and complete the application.
  • Applicants will be notified in mid August on whether or not they have been selected to host a party via an email to the email address assigned to their Generation Good member profile.
  • All selected applicants will then be asked to confirm their participation by accepting the Healthy Baby Home Party Mission and confirming their shipping address before they are sent the Healthy Baby Home Party Kit. 
  • Full terms and conditions are available within Generation Good in the "Healthy Baby Home Party Application" offer.

This is a great opportunity for you to get some really cool stuff for your little one and to spread the love to your friends and family, too! The party doesn't stop there though! Once you're in Generation Good, you'll occasionally get opportunities to sample other products from Seventh Generation, sometimes before the products even hit the shelves! 

If We Can Get Monsters Out of Closets, Bring Toys Back to Life, and Heal Scrapes with a Kiss, We Can Get Toxins Out of Our Kids.