Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School...

So it's been a few weeks since our last blog and finally things have calmed down a bit from the past two weeks for me to be able to find some time to blog again. It's been back to school for both my mom and I and as we always do, we're trying to get back into the routine again of waking up early, going to lots of meetings, eating at a certain time, and of course synchronizing our bathroom breaks with our lunch time. Since we spent most of this month getting ready to go back to school, I figured this blog could have an entire back to school theme to it and I can share some things I've created for my classroom this year (Some of which I can give thanks to Pinterest).

TRAFFIC LIGHT ($2) - As we started out the year, I found out that we have now implemented electronic device use into the classroom and in order to control when my students can use their devices I created my very own traffic light for $2. Yes, that's right I said two whole dollars. I thought up this idea when thinking about my students trying to use their cell phones at a time that is not allowed. This way, there is no confusion as to when they can or cannot use it. I began creating the light by using a long rectangular piece of cardboard, I cut out two holes for the green and red lights. I then painted the entire piece black and covered the holes using green and red tissue paper. Since I wouldn't be using the yellow light, I just painted it in one solid color. The key to making it light up is to purchase two $1 book lights from your local dollar tree. It's easy enough just to clamp them onto the side of the sign and then you're all finished.

IPAD WORD WALL ($0) - Along with our going digital in the classroom I decided to create my very own IPAD word wall to creatively display our vocabulary. Each word has an app button with an example for easy reference that displays the Elements of Art. It will cost you next to nothing to create this word wall because all you will need is a color printer, big piece of cardboard, black and white paint, and some glue. First cut out the cardboard into an big rectangle with rounded corners. Paint the entire IPAD black and paint a single line of white going all the way around it along with the circle home button at the bottom. Next, create your own custom apps either on a word document or through publisher. Finally, just attach all the apps in the order you will teach them and you are finished. If you want to add extra detail you can add a label to the top and even a WiFi and battery meter.

CREATIVE OBJECTIVE WHITE BOARD ($35) - I'm always having problems switching back and forth between my PowerPoint/Prezi and displaying my objective. I had no board left to write on after my smart board was installed in my room and in no way was I complaining, however I had to brainstorm a way to either buy an expensive big white board or create my own somehow. Therefore, I came up with my own way of creating a custom board. I first had to buy a big sheet of Plexiglas which was in no way cheap ($25), but was actually cheaper than if I bought a whiteboard that size. It's about 2x4 ft. Then I bought some canvas which I painted to look like a huge sheet of paper and then doodled in the columns as well as writing my grade levels with fabric markers. Once finished, I adhered it to a big piece of cardboard and then secured it to the Plexiglas. Now I'm able to change out my objectives daily and still keep the creative background. Overall the project cost me about $35, but was definitely worth it because I will be able to reuse it year after year. 

Lastly, I finally had some time to finish the painting I began of our school for one of our Assistant Principals. It's been painted from an old post card that included a photo of the original look of our school. It's one of the bigger paintings I have painted in a while and am glad it is finished and hanging in one of the offices of our building now. And yes, it's been noted that it closely resembles Hogwarts. Sad to say we don't have animated artworks in our hallways. However, this is where I'll leave you with the image (below) of our school, and as always, stay happy and stay crafty.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Where do you really come from?

So during the end of this summer I decided to sign up again on Two years ago I saw their commercial and as usual was wondering if it actually was worth it. I was afraid it might turn out like those silly infomercials you see all the time, but I figured I would at least try it and if I didn’t find out anything then I could just cancel my subscription and only be out a few dollars.  It turns out it is extremely helpful with everything from finding your relatives, stories about them, their occupations, and what country they came from when arriving in the United States. Even with our family, we found out that on my mother’s side we are related to Roger Williams who began the very first Baptist church in the U.S. and has plenty of books written about him. We also have relatives that were King’s and Queen’s of Scotland and Sweden. On my father’s side we found that some of our relatives came to the United States from Ireland in the 1700’s and that's only some of the information we found. You’re probably asking, how did you find it so easily? Well, I’ve listed below a few of the really cool things they have to offer, and no I'm not getting paid to advertise. It turns out it's one of those things you purchase that actually works.

  1. HOW MUCH? You can sign up either through either the Monthly U.S. Discovery ($22 per month) or the World Explore Monthly ($35 per month). They have a few other options as well, but these are specific ones where you can opt out at any time. I signed up for the U.S. Discovery and it was great because when I was finished searching or didn't have time anymore I just canceled the subscription. *TIP* What they don't tell you is that you can either download a file that contains your family tree or even continue to sign online and view your family tree even after cancelling your subscription. The only catch is that you cannot make changes to it once your subscription is canceled.
  2. All of the census records have been uploaded in digital format as well as the original version. When you're researching census records you can either view the digital format or click on the original handwritten census record that has been uploaded as a pdf file. I prefer viewing the actual census record because a lot of the interesting information is not on the digital file such as occupation. *TIP* When looking at the file that pertains to a certain relative make sure and attach it to that person specifically. Once it's attached it will add it to that relative's timeline and you can come back to view it at any time. 
  3. THEY HAVE AN APP FOR THAT! Yes, has an app that is available for viewing your family tree. Just today I went to the library to look up some information on one of our relatives and was using my app to view specific information such as names, birth dates, death dates, etc. 
  4. *TIP* Make sure that the person you are adding to your family is in fact the correct person. Your tree..err train could get derailed pretty easily if you don't fact check first. A few things to check includes: birth date, birth place, death date, death place, or any locations they have lived. It's best to set up a time line in a word document to keep track of the people and where they lived at what time.
  5. What's absolutely great about is that there are sometimes other people that have been doing this genealogy thing a lot longer than you and their tree may be connected with yours. The good thing is once you get to a point where you are related to someone else who is also on then you can look at the progress they have and after making sure it matches your tree you may copy their work. YES, I said it, it's OK to cheat on this website. An example: I have a great uncle who had added family photos and relatives that I did not know about. I linked our tree with his and voila it instantly added his progress he had made to our family.You can also contact these people in search of answers via e-mail. *TIP* Don't worry if you hit a snag because clicking on the little green leaf will give you hints about your relative you didn't find on your own.
  6. The final awesome thing about this website is that you can also share with other family members who do not have a subscription. They only need an e-mail address.  I have e-mailed our tree to a few family members so they could view it online for free. They cannot add anything, but they can view it as much as they want and see all your work.*TIP* You can even publish your family tree in a book, poster, or calendar for your family.
So we can only hope a few of you decide to take the plunge and it works out as well for you as it has for us. Also if you have ever done genealogy for your family we would love to hear some tips or interesting news you've discovered about them. OR if you have any questions about please contact us through our "Contact Us" tab at the top of our blog and as always stay happy and stay crafty.