As Myla’s 2nd grade school year comes to an end, I wanted to send her teacher out with a proper thank-you gift. Teachers work HARD, and although there are a million ideas online for teacher gifts, I try my best to give something functional that someone can actually use. So here’s a quick and easy project that I hope will be a special gift…
First, I went to our local craft store, and got an inexpensive blank tote bag, They have all kinds of canvas totes–I chose this thicker one with a strong handle and a blank canvas pocket on the outside.
Next up, I grabbed a handful of Sharpie permanent markers, and had Myla draw all over it. Since her teacher had a running Dr. Seuss theme all year, Myla filled the front with some of her favorite characters.
First, she drew the outlines in black, then filled it all in to make it colorful…and don’t forget to sign it!
*Artistic dog assistant optional.
Next, you could put in some stationery supplies, pens, and folders, but we chose to put a signed copy of our “Share With Me” book of collaborations. If you don’t have time to order one of ours, you could maybe throw in a few kid’s books to donate to the teacher’s next classroom.
And there you go! Easy peasy, simple to do, and hopefully a good, functional gift that will be a lovely keepsake reminder to show teachers how much their hard work is appreciated.
So show your teacher some love before the school year ends! And here’s to a great start of summer, and the hopes that we can keep our kids busy and active til next school year begins! 🙂
Last year, at the end of first grade, Myla told me “I have an idea for a backpack.” She drew out a doodle that sort of looked like Yoda hanging on Luke’s back, but with her own little character she created: an arctic fox in an orange sweater.
(I drew it on a napkin in her lunch once:)
Since I have no magic skills in patternmaking on my own, I found a beautiful little backpack pattern from a website called Birch that was functional, not too complicated, and adaptable to the idea Myla had. (The free tutorial I used & altered a bit is HERE.)
Then I gathered supplies at the craft store. The idea of a WHITE backpack–especially for a kid–is daunting, but thankfully Myla gave me some artistic leeway by at least letting me choose fabric with pattern–a thicker canvas with stripes, and another with zigzags. I had some orange fabric in my own stash, and purchased everything else I needed on the pattern’s supply list. I bought extra, because I decided to add a little extra to the measurements to make it larger all over (it’s perfect for a smaller kid, but I needed to really make sure I could fit her school folder and her lunchbox in there).
The cool thing about this pattern was that it closes & opens with velcro with an elastic bunched opening under the flap–no crazy buckles or zippers to deal with, and even an intermediate amateur like myself was able to figure out the elastic situation pretty easily.
The tutorial itself was very easy to follow (like I said, I’m no pro) and I made little tweaks as we went along. She chose the inside liner herself, which was a brown pine cone pattern…
And BOOM here it is! She wanted to be sure there was a little white fur tail at the bottom (which lines right up with her pants, making it look like SHE has a tail, which is fun). I added a face & ears to the flap (she initially wanted the flap to be the face but cut to a point like an animal nose, but we met halfway, so it could be functional). Admittedly, I got a little confused with the strap situation, but it’s probably because I was trying to alter the straps a bit to make part of them look like paws, lying over her shoulders.
She drew the little body on the back in pen, and I painted it with acrylic paints. One reader thankfully suggested sealing it in Scotchgard, which was a VERY good idea, so it’ll hopefully protect it a bit from dirt and stains for as long as possible.
Sometimes people think working together is some sort of ethereal, magical situation, but it does take some patience that I don’t always possess. I got pretty crabby near the end of this one, because she was trying to explain the arm situation and I wasn’t understanding what she was wanting, but we finally worked it out, and overall it turned out to be another good collaboration!
I may not always be rosy and cheery working through some ideas, but I always consider it a fun challenge when she has an idea she wants to make. I’m working on teaching her a little bit of sewing here and there so that one day she might make things herself, but at this age, she doesn’t always have the attention span for it, and I don’t always have the patience. So we start of sharing for a bit, then she runs off and does projects nearby, while I work at my art desk. But at least she can say she was part of building it!
So, yeah. BOOM. We made a backpack. Yay!
We’re at a countdown in school to the last day–and at our school, they’re doing an alphabet a day all the way until Z for Zip up and go home! The countdown started this past Wednesday with Awesome Art Day…and I was so happy to be asked by the teacher to help with a project!
At first, I considered a sort of collaborative project (which is what we have so much fun doing together), but the teacher asked if we could have it relate to ecosystems or nature in some way. So I thought it’d be fun for the kids to have a take-home, and with the help of ideas from artist friends, I drew out these little paper dolls, with the idea that they could create a predator and a prey.
I let Myla give it a try at home first–I had the pieces cut out for her, so all she had to was punch holes where she wanted them, and put in the little brads. Then, she could decorate and color them whichever way she liked.
So I cut out 20 pages of the creatures and pieces in the template above (WHEW!), and put them in individual baggies for each kid. I had decided to pre-punch holes in the bodies where legs & arms would be to save a little time, and brought my hole puncher in case they wanted more punches.
And it was so much fun! Their teacher had talked to them earlier in the day about predators and prey, so it was fun for them to create a creature and then a creature that gets eaten by it. I had them each open their baggies and start putting their creatures together, and I walked around, offering more punches and extra brads, asking them which creature was which.
The teacher brought out markers for them to color with, and a couple of them used construction paper to make extras to add on.
They had fun coming up with unusual creatures!
So if you’re looking for a fun little project to do, grab some brads at your local store’s office supply section, use a hole-punch, and feel free to download and cut out the critters from my template above. I’d love to see what you come up with!
Last year, before the beginning of preschool, we performed the ritual of Gathering New School Supplies. I know getting new school supplies is fun, but the most fun (probably for me) is getting a new backpack and lunchbox. So I asked Myla what sort of backpack she wanted, and without hesitation, she insisted “NIGHTCRAWLER.”
She had first seen him during a kid’s Superhero Summer Camp, where she was introduced to X-Men Evolution–a Saturday-Morning-style cartoon, apparently about the teenage versions of some of the X-men. Kurt (aka: Nightcrawler) was goofy, jokey, silly and had a tail. She loved him instantly.
But since the X-Men aren’t really the height of current backpack fashion–let alone a Nightcrawler version–we decided to make our own. I ordered a cheap plain navy blue backpack from Amazon, and I got out some acrylic craft paints. I let her paint the main portion of it (since she practically begged me).
And she was ecstatic. She was so proud of that obscure backpack! I tried to casually prepare her for strange looks by telling her that most kids might not know who Nightcrawler was, and she said, “Well, I’ll just have to teach them.” I had some red puffy paint, so I added the “circle x” X-men symbol on each side, and although no kid in school knew who he was, she was so willing and happy to tell them all about the wonders of Nightcrawler.
Her Nightcrawler obsession lasted for quite awhile. We even turned her into Nightcrawler for Halloween…
Sadly, the cheaply-bought backpack was short-lived, as the zipper on it died before the school year ended, so it was promptly replaced with a Ninja Turtle-shell backpack (strange choice, since she’s never even WATCHED the Ninja Turtles…but she thought the turtle shell was cool). Ah, the fickle obsessions of a kid.
Her interests have evolved as quickly as the X-Men’s powers, and Kurt has now paved the way for Minecraft, Phineas and Ferb, and all kinds of other creatures. But I know she’ll always have a soft spot for Nightcrawler.
In any case, if your kid (or you) has a great love of a character you know will never be seen on the school supply shelves of your local stores, painting one on might be a good option! Or if painting skills aren’t your thing, there are iron-ons, patches, and transfers you can order online or get at the craft store.
And for all of you that have kids starting new adventures, good luck, and happy school year!