Mason Jar Snow Globe Toppers

Bookmark this idea for next Christmas. In fact, go buy the clear plastic ornament sets at a major discount at Michael’s Crafts right now, so you are ready to make these next year. That’s what I did. Even two weeks before Christmas, Michael’s had already marked down the ornament sets to 50 cents (originally $1.29). I bought a class set, so my students could make personal Mason jar toppers to take home as gifts for their families. They are fun to make, and you can fill the jars with all kinds of treats.

Materials

  • plastic ornament in two halves (2.75″ diameter– fits 4 oz. and pint mason jar lids, regular mouth)
  • full body photo printed on cardstock that shows above the head and below the feet (printed ~1.75″ and then cut down)
  • mini trees, presents, snowmen shapes or other accessories for the scene inside the snow globe (found these at Michael’s in the snow scene section– these materials did sell out close to the holidays)
  • fake snow flakes (sold in bags during the holidays– a little different than glitter)
  • sparkly pipe cleaners
  • hot glue gun
  • Elmer’s glue

Directions

  • Remove the lid pieces from a Mason jar. Separate the ring from the flat lid part. Run a bead of hot glue around the flat edge of one half of the plastic ornament. Quickly and firmly, press the dome to the edges of the lid ring. The hot glue cools quickly, so you have to move fast. If you attach the ornament part off center, carefully pull it apart, remove the cooled glue and start the process over.

  • In small sections, run a bead of glue along the line where the plastic ornament half attached to the Mason jar ring. Press the pipe cleaner into the glue. Keep running a small bead of glue and press the pipe cleaner as you move around the edge of the ring. When you have finished the circle, let the glue cool and then snip the extra pipe cleaner length off.
  • If you want to personalize the snow globe topper, take a photo of a loved one that shows the full body and has space above the head and below the feet. Pet pictures would work well too. To look more authentic, have the subject look cold in the photo or hold hands up like it is snowing. We added props like scarves and Santa or elf hats when taking our photos. Print the photo on cardstock or another stiff paper. Set the height of the photo to 1.75″. You will cut around the shape of the body and may need to cut the bottom part of the legs off too. Cut around the entire figure and when it is time to attach to the jar lid, you can make adjustments to the height of the picture after testing to see if it stands straight inside the plastic dome.

  • Using a hot glue gun, attach the photo and scene accessories like a mini present or mini snowman foam sticker to the flat plate-like part of the Mason jar lid. Attach the objects, so they stand straight, and they should be as close to the center of the jar lid as possible. Test the height of the objects to make sure they will not get squashed down when the ring with the plastic ornament is screwed down. Cut off the the bottom of any little figures as necessary.

  • Drizzle Elmer’s glue all over the rest of the flat part of the lid and around the edges of the little figures in the center. This piece of the Mason jar lid has a slightly raised edge, and it makes it easy to fill the center area. Avoid the edges of the plate.

  • Scoop fake snow onto the Elmer’s glue and let dry.

  • Fill your glass jar with its contents. There are many fun options– cocoa mix, cinnamon sugar, soup mix, spiced nuts, candies…
  • Carefully lift the flat part of the lid with the snow scene onto the top of the jar. Gently put the domed ring over the snow scene and carefully screw the ring down to tighten.

 

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Flavored Popcorn Salts Gift Idea

It’s the time of year where I like to send a small thank you to all the teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who work with my children. It adds up to more than 20 little gifts, so I am always looking for something that I can make in bulk AND will be something that the receiver might use.  I typically go for something consumable meaning the gift receiver can eat the item, or it has a one time use and then is gone.

This year, I made flavored popcorn salts. There are many recipes available and lots of cute ways to package the salts to give as a gift. I found containers that look like French fry boxes at Hobby Lobby. I put one package of microwave popcorn in each container along with a variety of mini bags of flavored salts. Even if our teacher friends don’t use the salts, most people I know will eat popcorn, and it is something that can be a good snack to make at school (although you have to be careful not to pop in a central location because the smell does linger!).

We gave a mix of 3 salt flavors– Bacon Parmesan, Buffalo Ranch, and Mexican Hot Chocolate (my favorite). I read through a handful of recipes by doing a Pinterest search and then clicking through to the websites. I used recipe ideas from THIS WEBSITE and THIS ONE. For our popcorn packets, I bought “light” microwave popcorn because that type usually has the lightest amount of salt and butter flavor. You need the least amount of salt and butter as possible to start because the flavored salts are SALTY, so use sparingly. Of course, you could always pop your own popcorn from scratch and control the salt amounts that way.

I printed THESE LABELS for the mini bags. I used my favorite 3″ x 5″ bead bags that I get from Michael’s Crafts and Avery labels 8160, size 1″ x 2 5/8″.

The salts can be sprinkled on meat, eggs, or anything to which you would normally add salt. Based on the few blog posts I read, it is really easy to create new combinations so think about flavors you enjoy and start mixing! If you want to take this idea and make the gift a little more substantial, add a movie gift card for your local theatre or a gift card for Redbox.

Blow Out Tween Birthday

Gone are my glory days of major theme birthday party planning. I am no longer building full sized pirate ships out of refrigerator boxes or sewing doll sleeping bags for every guest. My kids are officially tweens, and our birthday party celebrations are much more subdued and simpler to plan. We typically send an e-mail to one or two friends a few days before the birthday and do something like swim at the neighborhood pool or go to a movie. No theme. No major prep. I am a little sad but also a little relieved.

One low prep option we tried this year is to take a friend to a blow-out hair bar to have hair styled and then home for a late afternoon tea. It is a perfect party for a small group, is easy to plan, and is a great option for girls ages 11+.

The Activity

Book appointments at a BLO BAR like THIS ONE. It is a franchise and has locations in several cities. Even if you don’t have this specific brand near you, there are blow dry salons popping up all over. Pay a flat fee and clients choose from a menu of hair options. Appointments take about 45 minutes, and the group can usually sit in side by side seats and visit with each other. Following the hair styling, return to the birthday girl’s house for a tea or go to a nearby cupcake or ice cream store for a birthday snack.

The Tea

For an afternoon tea, we like to serve THIS DILL DIP and veggies. Find shot glass sized plastic containers with a pedestal foot (they look like miniature trifle dishes) and put a dollop of dip at the bottom. Stack red and yellow pepper strips, celery sticks, and cucumber slices in the cups. This is a great way to prep the servings ahead of time. Make small, triangle tea sandwiches on squishy bread with the crusts cut off and offer a berry fruit salad with fresh mint cut in chiffonade and simple syrup drizzled over the top.

The Cake

Serve individual sized cakes, so guests can serve themselves. We have a new cake shop near us called Nothing Bundt Cake. It is a franchise too, so I have seen locations in other cities. Try their bundtinis, which are the mini size and stack several bundtinis on a cake stand. Have one bundtlet size for candle-blowing-out and singing.

The Party Favor and Decorations

My local party store has a new line of paperware made by Meri Meri. It’s the Liberty line, and it has pretty floral patterns and other options that look like a lady’s tea. Create place cards to match by printing on cardstock. Set the place cards in the bristles of travel hairbrushes. Bed, Bath, and Beyond, CVS, and WalMart have many hairbrush choices.

If you need an idea for a group of 2-3 girls who are upper elementary or middle school aged, this is an option that works well. A similar idea would be to book appointments at a nail salon and have pedicures or manicures. Walk-in type salons like the blow out bar and nail shop do not usually book weeks in advance, so it is a party you can plan just a few days out if you have a small number.

BTS Night Parent Handout

It’s back to school season. For most of us with school aged children that means some sort of meet-the-teacher night with lots of handouts. Since I am a teacher too, I know the handouts have valuable information in them– when to wear PE clothes, lunch procedures, HW procedures, acceptable pencils… We all receive these pamphlets with key information that get dumped into that junk drawer in the kitchen. For the past few years, I created a flip book and attached a magnet to the back, so parents could hang the booklet on their refrigerator in plain sight. I still like that idea, but I was getting tired of making them, and my pages never lined up correctly (which bugged my OCD nature to no end).

This year I folded mini pocket folders with card stock and inserted individual cascading pages by modifying my old flip book file. You can see the headings of each page of information and pull out that insert to get the information you need. I think these folders will still get dumped into the kitchen junk drawer, but I like the construction of them, the final size, and the way you can view the information headings.

To Make the Folders:

  • Use 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock. Cut cardstock to 7 1/2″ x 11″ size. I found Astrobrights cardstock paper that was double colored, so each side has a coordinating color. It makes the final pocket folder more interesting.

  • I have a paper scorer to make guidelines where I need to fold. You could use a ruler to measure and fold by hand. Set the paper in landscape direction. You will fold along the long edge of the paper at 5 1/2″ (bottom of the paper folds up 2″). You will fold the paper in half at 5 1/2″ down the center.

  • After pre-folding, open the paper flat and cut a skinny triangle along the 2-inch flap. The tip of the triangle will be 2-inches into the paper at the 5 1/2″ fold. This will allow the bottom flap to fold up neatly without bending or buckling in the center.

To Make the Printed Inserts:

  • I created THIS TEMPLATE in MSPowerPoint. There are 10 slides (plus one slide with teacher notes) with editable textboxes in different sizes.
  • Fill the textboxes with the essential information for your classroom.
  • Each slide page is 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. I printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, so lots of cutting is involved. Print the pages and cut to the correct sizes with a paper cutter. All pages will be 5 3/8″ wide. The heights vary by 1/2″. The tallest page is 5 1/2″. The shortest pages is 3 1/2″. You could add one more pair of pages for a total of 12 pages (6 on each side), and the shortest page would be 3″.

  • I cut the width of the pages first. Then, I cut near the header next. For me, if I lined up the paper at 7″ on the paper cutter, it would cut at the perfect place above the header for all pages. After that cut, I would flip the page and cut my varying heights beginning with my largest page (5 1/2″is the tallest; 5″ is the next height; 4 1/2″ is the next… down to 3 1/2″).

  • Cutting the pages down to size is time consuming, but I think the final result is well worth it!
  • As a final step, print or write a title on the front of each folder. I printed a label on 2″ x 4″ Avery shipping labels and then cut the labels to 2″ x 2″ because I liked the square shape on the folder covers (and I happened to have that label size in my massive paper supply).

Tiny Books

Kids love to self-publish and there are so many fun ways to make booklets with materials you already have in your classroom or at home. One easy booklet I like to make with students uses one piece of copy paper and scissors. I call it a Tiny Book. After it is finished, the book will have six interior pages.

There are many ways students can fill the Tiny Books. I have students use these little books to practice procedural writing and make “How To” instructional manuals. When we read Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, the students create a step-by-step guide for one of the poaching methods.

While practicing Helping Verbs and Verb Tenses, the students re-write and illustrate nursery rhymes in past, present, and future tense using a Tiny Book.

When we study colonial life, students research a specific role in the settlement and describe the colonist’s life in a tiny book. They write about clothing, food, housing, and jobs for a specific person and add illustrations with captions. It does not take too much time to complete and reinforces non-fiction text features.

For back to school, you could have students create a Tiny Book that shares facts about the student as a way to introduce each other to the group. Students could create a Tiny Book promoting any favorite summer reading they completed. I love the books because they do not involve a lot of prep and can be used for many different lessons… and they are mini, and I am a sucker for anything mini.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, (one per student)
  • scissors

Directions:

  • Step 1: Gather your paper and scissors.
  • Step 2: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Repeat two more times. Unfold the paper and make sure you have 8 rectangles on the paper.
  • Step 3: Fold the paper the hamburger way again, one time. Your paper will be 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ with 4 rectangles showing. From the folded edge of the paper, cut down the middle along the fold line to the center of the paper.

  • Step 4: Open the paper flat. Fold it one time the hot dog way. Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

  • Step 5: Press down, so pages line up into the booklet shape. The finished booklet is 6 pages.