A Photo Collage Tutorial, a Freebie, and a Giveaway

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  We had a very merry one around here.  Time with family, my kids are still at that magical Christmas age, and my hubby proved he knows me well.  A Loft gift card, a Barnes and Noble gift card, and a Wacom Bamboo tablet for fiddling around in Photoshop were waiting for me yesterday.  Cute clothes, reading, and techy nerd stuff-all my favorite things!

Moving on, I promised a collage tutorial, and here it is.  I love a good photo collage, but even in Photoshop, it's not a quick process. Thankfully, my good friend Pixlr has decided to make it a much easier job.

I made this one in less than two minutes!
Awwww.  Aren't they cute?

Want to find out how?  Watch this video (sorry if I sound manly, I've had a cough since Thanksgiving.)


Not a good listener?  Here you go.
•Go to pixlr.com and choose Pixlr Express
•Select Collage
•Click on Layout and select your collage style
•Moving your mouse over any of the boxes will activate the blue plus button.  Click on it and select your picture.  You can click on the picture with your mouse to move it around and adjust it inside the box.
•Use the Spacing tool to change your border size, the Roundness tool for an Instagram rounded corner effect, or the Proportion tool if you want a more wider/tall layout.  Click on the color box to change the background color.  Unfortunately, there is no color picker.  But it is free, so I can't complain too much!

You can edit pictures from within your collage layout too.
•Hover over the picture you want to edit.  I chose to edit the large picture because it had so much background.
•Click on the little paintbrush.
•You have lots of options, but to crop a picture, click on Adjustments, then Crop
•Use the blue handle bars to make your adjustments
•When you're happy, click on Apply, then Save

Collages are super fun to make.  Even my 11 year old has had a blast playing with them.  They're also very practical if you're a blogger.  Instead of uploading eight pictures for my tutorial (and hogging up my precious free storage), I only uploaded two.  I saved the photos at 200 KB.  Nice enough for the Internet but not so giant as to use up space unnecessarily.

And here's a little Valentine freebie for those of you that plan ahead:
Click on the image to download.

Enjoy your holiday!!!
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Keeping Up With Franklin

We've had much fun with Franklin at school and Teddy at home.  Here are a few last minute elf ideas if you're not feeling so creative right before the break.

(And to all my bloggy friends who are already out, I hate you.  I will love you again on Friday at noon.)

This is my favorite part of having Franklin with us:
Franklin takes these notes to Santa each night.  The kids put up post-its when they notice a friend doing something kind or good.  Some of my favorites:
J let me use the big scissors even though he wanted them.
C shared his crayons with me.
E was reading quietly even when everyone else was loud.

And three were put up in one day about a student I have that has some extra challenges.  This student was having a great day, and my student's classmates really wanted to encourage him.  {Heart melting}  It's been a blessing in the middle of all this holiday craziness to see these sweet notes.  You can download the editable version here.

More Franklin fun:

Cannot believe I forgot to get a picture our toilet papered tree.  After toilet papering the tree, he managed to wrap himself to the base of the tree, and the sock monkey was trying to free him.

A couple from Teddy, the elf residing in our home.
**You can't really tell, but he has chocolate smeared on his face.  
That messy elf!**

Really hoping that Teddy will surprise us with this at my house tonight:
                                                                Source: overthebigmoon.com via Megan on Pinterest


Need more ideas?

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Survival. {Also know as 7 days left until Christmas break}

I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  Yikes! These last two weeks before break are so hard.  My students are good, sweet kiddos.  But, they're just 8 and 9 years old and Christmas is almost here.  What do you expect?

I have a give a little, get a little philosophy at this time of year.  Meaning, I'll slow down the pace some academically if you can mostly keep it under control.  One of the things I switch up are our stations.  We do one a day for the last 15-20 minutes of class.  Sort of a Weekly 5 thing instead of the Daily 5.

Independent Reading & Buddy Reading

I put out a big ole basket of holiday books for these.  Love their squeals of delight!

Word Work

Finding smaller words in holiday words for the first week, and building words from scrambled holiday words the second week.  You can download the activities here.  Both activities are two sided.




Writing
Normally, we use whole class journals for this, but we set them aside for these last two weeks.  The first week, we do a holiday traditions writing.  The second week, we write about a gift.  You can download the activities here.



Computer

Shannon over at Technology Rocks. Seriously. has a seriously rocking post with a million holiday games together on one Google Doc.  You can read the post here.


We also do my most favorite writing activity of the year during this time.   I read the class the book How Santa Got His Job.

Then, we brainstorm together what a Santa help wanted ad would need to include-the requirements, the duties, and the benefits.  After we brainstorm as a class, they brainstorm on their own for an elf help wanted ad.

The next day, they write their ad.  Although this is a really fun activity, it's also a great chance to talk about commas in a series and varying sentence beginnings.

On the third day, they create their final copies.  I'll post some pictures after we get them all finished!

In other news, I finished up a blog design for Jen at Teaching, Life, and Everything in Between.

And I have a few new designs available:

Annie


Sophie

Polly

Jeanette

Happy surviving!

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An Elf Freebie & T-Shirt Goodness

Franklin's here! Franklin's here!  He surprised us by showing up this morning.  I try to not do too much holiday stuff until the last two weeks before our break.   I find that as soon as I acknowledge Christmas is coming, my kids starting getting a little nutty.

I'm going to put up this sign:
And let the kids put post it notes underneath about classmates they've seen behaving nicely.  Also, I was obsessed with these elf legs from KPM Doodles and needed a reason to buy them.  So, it's a win-win.

You can download the sign in an 8.5x11 or 11x17 (get it printed at Office Max/Depot for $1.50!) from my TPT store.  Obviously, you may not have an elf named Franklin.  I put it in an editable PowerPoint with instructions on how to change the name.

Here's our Franklin:
He's hanging out with some of Skippy Jon Jones' friends.  Do you notice the cards that showed up randomly during the day?  He's a popular guy.

Switching gears . . . .
I teach at an awesome school.  One of the many things I love it about it is Spirit Day.  Every Friday we wear jeans and a school shirt.  I love me some jeans days.  Anyway, I wanted a long sleeve school shirt.  So I ordered one of my favorite t-shirts from Lands End, whipped up a little magic on my Silhouette, and ended up with this:



I used heat transfer vinyl from Vinyl Expressions.  It's hard to tell, but it's actually a very pretty metallic silver.
It was super easy to use.  (FYI-This is not a commercial for anything.)  I actually thought it cut even better than regular vinyl.  The letters for my school name were pretty small, and it was a curly font.  Not always a good mix.  You definitely need one of those weeder thingies that look like something a dentist would have.  You can get two out of a single 12x12 sheet of heat transfer vinyl.  $2 to personalize a shirt is pretty awesome.

Have a great weekend!
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I Teach Revising. Again.

I'm on a revising kick.  Can you tell what we worked on this week?  I started off by putting out my revising cards for the kids to use to support their writing.




They were a big hit!  One of my supremely reluctant writers came to me afterwards and showed me the revisions he had made and told me which card helped him with each one.  I had a big happy teacher moment.

It was also time to bump up the revising expectations.  At the beginning of the year, I was just happy that I could get them to realize it wasn't the same as editing and actually change anything.  However, now they're more comfortable with it.  And a few were getting complacent.  I'll use complacent instead of another word.  I require them to revise their age (if you're 8, you revise at least eight things, etc.)  So, some of my little friends replaced eight different words and were calling it good.

Um, no.  

We had a spur of the moment lesson (don't you love teachable moments where something comes out of your mouth that you weren't planning but works?) on the three levels of revising.

Level 1: Change boring words

I was happy.
I was overjoyed.
That's good, but . . . .

Level 2: Add descriptions

I saw my trophy.
I saw my green and gold trophy.
Nice, but don't stop there.

Level 3:  Add in comparisons

(This one is straight from a student's revisions)
I was nervous
I was so nervous I was sweating like a pig.

Level 4: Help your reader visualize

I opened the present.
I ripped the red and green snowman paper off the tiny box I hoped would be my new iPod.

Is this all there is to revising?  No way.  But, it's something concrete I can refer to with my kiddos.  It also helped me focus when I checked in with them on their writing.  I could talk with them about where they were and discuss some ideas for taking it to the next level.

If you've been reading my blog for even a small amount of time, you know what's coming next.  I had to spend a little quality time with Photoshop making a poster.  
You can download an 8.5x11 here from my TPT store or an 11x17 here from Dropbox.  I was using Scribd for my posters, but they betrayed me and went with a paid subscription thing.  Now I have to move all of my stuff over from Scribd to Dropbox and fix the old links. Nice.  I guess nothing lasts forever!
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5 on the 5th

I see so many great ideas out there in blogland that I think are genius, use in my classroom, and want to share.  So, I'm introducing:

I've been wanting to start a series like this for awhile.  However, I wanted to figure out a way to make it work but I know I can't make a weekly commitment.  Way too much going on in my real life for that!  I can handle monthly, though.  I think.

It's even got its own Pinterest Board.  Ooooh.  I know, right?  You can follow it here.

I know I already blogged about this, but it deserves a second look.  Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts shared a tutorial for turning your posters into mini posters for your kiddos to have on hand at their desks.  So smart!

Those posters ⤵    became these ⤹mini posters.

This next bit of bloggy genius helped me address my name tag OCD.  See, I like the kids to have name tags, I just can't handle how the name tags look after five minutes in elementary school.  So Angie over at Timeouts and Tootsie Rolls rocked my world with this:

A dry erase marker removes paint pen?  Crazy!!!

Mel at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations is having a great linky party for Elf on the Shelf fans.  Our elf will be showing up this Monday, and I can't wait!

Lisa at Fourth and Ten shared a tip for encouraging kiddos to be on their best behavior at specials.  A great positive encouragement situation to address the disconnect that can occur between their behavior in the classroom and with their specials teachers.

And finally, iintegratetechnology blogged about this fun cursive writing app over at Technology Tailgate.  I want it.  I begged our school's tech diva for it, so cross your fingers!

Thanks for the great ideas, ladies!
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