Tried & Made: Action Figure Lamps

Today is a mix-up of Monday Made It and Tried It Tuesday. Why? Because I tried and made a craft which I kind of like. The idea comes from my friend, Alison, over at Rockin & Lovin' Learnin'.  She sent me a YouTube video on how to repurpose old lamps and turn them into ACTION FIGURE LAMPS (see it below).  She said I'd be a fool if I didn't do it.  She was right.

This was an incredibly easy craft and the total time took me less than an hour (I know).  And I didn't have to bedazzle anything...but I still could.

-A plain old lamp.  You probably have one from IKEA laying around.
-Hot Glue Gun
-Paint Tape (to cover edges and cord)
-Spray paint (color don't matter)

McDonalds toys are excellent choices.  Just check in that Happy Meal you just got.  My girls play with just about everything, so I picked a couple of action figures they wouldn't miss.  Side Note: I okayed it with them first.

I started like this.  Very simple. Pretty boring.
The key (for me) was to start with the big ones, and build up.  

Next, just start gluing the toys on.  
Use as much glue as you want.  
It doesn't matter.  Go crazy.
Don't eat the glue.

Once the glue is dried, take it outside to the garage and paint. I put two coats on.  You can do what you want, but two was plenty. As the paint dried you could really begin seeing all the details of the toys.

It does look pretty cool.  Now, I want one for my bedroom.

We had an extra lamp shade at the house, so I added it on top.  I don't know if I'm crazy about it, but it makes the whole ting pop a little more.  Oh look--it's a chevron pattern!

That's it!  Total time of actual work was less than an hour.  Even the gluing was quick and painless. I'm planning on creating a couple of more.  I'd like to try one with stuff animals...because we have 121,346 of those around the house.  I'll keep you updated.

This lamp is headed for my classroom.  Right now, I've got FOUR more like it in my classroom. I plan on updated all of those too.

***Another good idea would be using old school supplies.  I think I'll do that too.***



Drones In The Classroom

This summer I ended up buying a little handheld drone to use around the house and torment my pets.  So far, so good.  In playing with it, I realized that it’s a perfect toy for school because it has a lot of educational benefits.  Yup, drones are good for school.  With that being said, here are some simple reasons why it could work for you.

-Requires students to learn responsibility and how to follow rules to make them work.
-Allows for problem solving and critical thinking.
-Directional Thinking.  Drones have fronts and backs and students must be able to navigate by placing themselves in the machine.
-Moving video games to real life.  Your kids love video games, so why don’t you move 
 one to class.  Later Minecraft….okay, maybe not.
-The science behind flight.  I’ll guarantee that students will pick up on clues for how the 
 drone moves around using rotating speed, acceleration, and more.  
-Curiousity.  Kids will want their own, they’ll do research, they will learn.

...and here are some reasons why it might not.

-It can break.  Then again, anything can break.
-Unintentional haircuts.
-When the computers take over the world it could destroy us.  Look, we know Skynet is going to happen. 

Drones aren’t just fun toys for pets to chase (I should know).  I've listed some simple ways you could use a drone in your classroom. 

Obstacle Course: Have students create an obstacle course on the floor and then test their speed, accuracy, and efficiency.
Hit the Target:  Have students see how close they can have it land on a target.
Build a Base:  Students love to create.  Let them design a hangar or base for the drone. 

Fly on the Wall:  Simple writing prompt—If they were a drone in the school, where would they go?
Sequential writing:  Control the drone, make it do something, then allow students to practice writing exactly what happened.  Or let them test the drone then write exactly what they did.

Number line fact fluency:  Put a number line on the ground (or have students create their own).  Start the drone on a number, allow a student to fly it along the number line, solve the problem based on where it ends.

Incentive:  An end of the week incentive is a big thing.  The chance to play with a drone and a buddy is kind of a big deal.

Some of these are simple, some are just for engaging students, and some don’t even require a drone to be used.  I know I didn’t even think of the best uses because those come from you (the teachers).  This is just another way we can pull the real-world into our classrooms and make kids want more.
The drone I use can be found here on Amazon.  It costs between 15-24 dollars and I've spend a little more for extra wings and a protective case (in case of crashes, because you know that will happen).

If you need me, I'll be making sure the government isn't using my drone to steal information from me.  


Let's Make a Cake

So, if you follow me over on Instagram (hey, you can follow me here) I threw up a couple of photos as our family worked on a birthday cake for my oldest daughter.  Over the past couple of years this has turned into a nice little family tradition of creation, innovation, sugar, and frosting.  We're probably a little crazy spending so much time creating the cakes, but that's okay.  

Here's the pretty cool thing--anyone can make these.  Trust me, it doesn't take a crazy amount of artistic talent to make these.  Just a little time, a spoonful of sugar, and understanding that you will probably make a mess.  

Somehow, my next goal will be to bring this into the classroom.  I haven't completely thought it out, but I'd like to try it.  It's the perfect blend of project based learning, tying into the real world, and rigorous work.  But look at what the end results could be...

Disclaimer: Not every single part of our cakes are edible.  Sorry cake purists.  Most of the time we're creating designs that will be covered with fondant and decorated.  Then we add the cake all around it.  I'm sorry of this disappoints anyone, you can stop reading now.  

We always start our cakes off with a general design/theme.  Most of the time we want something elevated which is why we include boxes.  Since this party was a reptile theme I wanted to have something crawling on a branch.  So we grabbed an Amazon box from #PrimeFailDay (which I quite enjoyed) and a wrapping paper tube.  Next, we taped them down.

When that was complete we made our own fondant.  Water and powdered sugar.  That's the entire recipe.  We don't mess around with the marshmallows because that creates a stickiness from the depths of hell that can be impossible to deal with.  

Make it simple; water and powdered sugar.  Mix it up, roll in color, roll it out, slap it on.  So easy....sometimes.  Fondant can suck, but we wanted earth tones and it looks good if it's a little rugged.

Next was the snake.  Two bunt cakes baked perfectly! We cut the shapes so it resembles a snake.  The hardest part was the shape of the face.  After a little plastic surgery it was ready to grow it's skin.  We looked and looked for ideas on Pinterest, we thought about doing fondant, but the end result was M&Ms.  We made the right choice.

My girls separated the M&Ms by color.  They had a good rule too:  For every piece of candy you sort, you eat two other pieces.  It seemed to work well for them.  Penny (our dog) waited for a plethora of items to fall on the floor.  Then we placed every......single......M&M..... Finally, we added in all the details and the reptile cake was finished.  I'll be honest, that snake is awesome.  It turned out so well and my girls were going crazy.

The finished product looked even better than we originally anticipated.  The entire snake is edible, probably close to 3 feet long.  We used approximately 23,456 M&Ms.  Okay, I made that up--we didn't keep track.
And this is how you feel once it's all done.

Below is a cake we made for a Rainforest themed party.  Starting top left and moving clockwise: We always start with a base design.  We wanted trees, so we used a wrapping paper roll and lots of duct tape.  Add fondant to the areas in need.  Lay cake around the base.  Add icing, but make sure you eat at least half of the icing while putting it on.  That way, you just won't eat any of the cake and which euqals zero calories.  Right?
The fun part is adding all the details such as animals, grasses, and textures.  Icing is great, but it can be a little tricky.  I don't try to do anything crazy, because I'd just mess it up--it takes great precision and practice for this stuff (which I don't have).  Instead, I make vines and flowers.  Simple, effective, colorful, yet very stylish (even for an unrefined cake artist).

Superhero Cake:  You'll notice the gorilla is holding Snow White and I added Moe's Tavern to the city, along with the Cheers Bar.  It's the little things. I kind of love this photo.

Bronies, Unite!  

This was our first cake we ever tried.  The Tangled castle.  This was possibly the hardest one we've made because it was our first.  BUT we've learned and grown in this adventure.  This is where I honed my vine skills.


Simple Ideas for Saving Ideas

You know how you get a great idea and then you forget it? Yup--that's me.  All the time.  In an effort to correct this problem, I've started following some simple tips to remember all my ideas (and make sure they stick around).

1.  Put them down somewhere.  
Ideas need to be put down on something.  This is the key.  It doesn't matter if they're written, typed, or saved to Voxer--get them out into the open. 

2. Use your phone and capture moments.
I've started hand writing all my blog post in Notes on my iPhone.  For the longest time I didn't and now I'm a little ashamed.  I've found it's the most useful way for me to keep an idea for a blog post or school idea.......and complete it.  

It seems such a simple thing to do, until you realize it's not.  Practice, practice, practice.

3. Strategically place PD books around your house so you don't blow through them in one sitting.
I know, I know..I'm playing with fire by telling you to pump the brakes on your reading.
I've found that bits and pieces keep me plugged in for longer when it comes to my professional development. Small bites make a larger impression.  They simmer much longer.

These two will take me the entire summer to finish. They're filled with ideas that I don't want to I will take my time.

The coffee table by the TV is not a good place.
The bathroom is an excellent place. 
Don't ask me how I know this.

4.  Tell someone what you're thinking.
Nope, I'm not talking about emotional feelings.
I tell my wife if I have an idea for anything school/blog/kid-centric because she will check-in with me (over time) to see how it's progressing.  Let's be honest--I forget a lot.  I mean, a lot.  So I tell her my ideas and she keeps me accountable.

That's it. I'm sure that behind these reasons are some kind of scientific explanation that deals with a space-time continuum, but I don't know about that stuff. Instead, I've picked four practices that are attainable (also known as easy).  Sure, some of these are rudimentary and cliched, but that's kind of the point. Go with what works.

If anyone has an idea for keeping track of ideas when running let me know.  That's my next problem to conquer.

So the question still remains:  How do you remember your ideas? From simplistic to complex, what do you do?  Does it work?  Why is it effective?

I've got plenty of these too, Dawson.

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