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How To Make A Gift Bag Book

I have been making gift bag books for year with my students.  They are so easy and so much fun to make.  I thought since the holiday season is upon us, this would be a great time to share some ideas for gift bag books in your classroom.  I love to use gift bag books to make class books to display in the room.  Because they have a handle, it is easy to hang them up on hooks under your boards.  The kiddos love to read and they will go to them over and over.

All you need to make a gift bag book is:
  • a gift bag
  • clear packing tape
  • 2 sheets of white card stock
  • scissors
  • binding combs
  • and a binding machine

Pick the bag you want to use.  I selected this Santa gift bag because it had plenty of room on the front to write a title and it was a nice size.

Next, I cut the gift back up the middle of the bottom and the two sides.

Next, I laid the two sides flat with the flaps folded in.  I glued a sheet of white cardstock over the flaps and secured them on all sides with clear packing tape.  This gives the cover extra strength and makes the inside of each cover look neat and clean.
In this demo, I added clean white pages, but you would want to add the student pages.  I then punched the holes on the sides of the covers and the inside pages with a binding machine and then inserted the combs.  Remember to insert the front of the book lengthwise with the handle on the right and the front side up.  Insert the back cover into the machine with the handle on the right and the inside side up!!!  If you don't do this, you will have the holes on the wrong side of your cover!

If you are using student created pages, you will need to cut the pages to fit BEFORE you give them to the kiddos to write in.  Be sure to have them leave some room on the left side of the page for binding!

If your school doesn't have a binding machine,  you can take it to a copy shop.  I have also seen teachers staple along the sides.  I used the school's binding machine for this project, but a couple of months ago, I purchased my own small binding machine to bind some weekend booklets for out of town guests for our son's wedding.  I bought it from Amazon, and I have loved it!

So there you go!  Easy peasy!

These are some other class books I made.  I don't write on the covers, but you could easily do that.  I love the cow for writing about farm animals, or to go along with the book Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type.  I thought the ambulance would be good for learning about community helpers or taking care of our bodies.
I haven't made anything with these bags yet, but wouldn't they make adorable class books about pirates and trucks? 

This gift bag would make a great gift bag book when comparing a book to a movie.  When I made this book, I had to cut the interior pages into circles.  A bit more prep, but what fun!

This is a set of gift bags I picked up at the local dollar store.  The small ones came in sets of three for a dollar and the medium bags were two for a dollar.  You can't beat that.  The kiddos LOVE the smaller bags and I thought they would be adorable for making Christmas ABC books or Christmas counting books for the littles.   When I make the mini books, I let to have each child make their own book. 
Until next time,  remember to always.... Keep 'em Thinking!

My Favorite Story

I do not profess to be a particularly good storyteller. If I am in the classroom with students, I think I do a pretty good job, but put me in a room with adults or on a stage and I freeze! I have; however, been asked to speak on several occasions in front of groups or the school PTA. I try to have a repertoire of stories I can tell which are appropriate for those settings. This is my very favorite one to tell. I do not know the title, nor do I know where I originally heard it, but I have adapted it, and I have found that it is well received. If you have to speak before a group sometime, maybe you can use it.....

It was five thirty in the afternoon and this mother was rushing to pick up her kids from the after school program before she had to pay a late fee. She'd already paid a late fee several times the past couple of weeks, and the last thing she wanted to do was to pay another one! She literally ran into the school, grabbed the kids, and started driving home thinking about all the things she had to do once she got home.... after all, her day didn't end at 5:00, she had another job waiting at home.
The kids were especially restless after a long day at school and couldn't wait to get home and play. They jumped out of the house and raced for their IPADs.  In the meantime, Mom went inside, checked the mail, fixed the kids a snack, emptied the dishwasher, and started getting supper ready. Whew! I'm tired just saying that!
A few minutes later, the kids, tired from the IPAD, came into the kitchen wanting some attention. "Mom, we want you to come and play with us," they cried. Mom looked at them, sighed, and replied, "I can't right now, I have to fold the laundry, cook supper, pay bills and iron your clothes for school tomorrow. You'll just have to wait and entertain yourselves until your dad gets home from work." The kids' faces dropped, but they had heard this scenario before, so they went back to the IPAD to wait for Dad. Mom in the meantime went back to work talking to herself, "I can't do it all!"
After a little while, Dad came dragging through the front door. He walked into the kitchen, grabbed the newspaper and an ice cold soft drink and headed for his favorite chair in the den. He plopped down, grabbed the TV remote control, and settled down to watch CNN and relax. Just as he got comfortable, in barged two energetic kids excited to see Dad. "Hey Dad, come outside and play with us!" they both cried. Now all Dad wanted to do was to come home and plop in front of the TV. after a long hard day. "Not right now," he answered. "Y'all go play by yourselves, and let Dad relax." "I'll play with you in a little while." With long faces, the kids left the room and Dad settled back down to listen to the CNN World Report.
Dad was just beginning to get comfortable again, when both kids came rushing back in. "You ready to play yet?" they asked expectantly. Now Dad was thinking of a peaceful way to get out of this situation when he spied a magazine on the coffee table. "Ahhha," he thought. He grabbed the magazine which had a map of the world on the front cover, tore it into little pieces, and handed it to the kids saying, "Go get some tape and put this map of the world back together. When you're finished, then I'll play with you."
Now this sounded like a good idea to the kids, and they grabbed the scraps excitedly and rushed off. Dad settled back down in his chair confident that he had a good thirty minutes before being interrupted again. In less than ten minutes, no make that five, Dad looked up to see two pair of eyes peering expectantly at him holding the completed world puzzle in front of them. Dad just couldn't believe it! How could they finish that quickly? "You can't be finished yet!" he exclaimed. "Did your mother help you with this?"
"No Dad, we did it all by ourselves," they insisted. "Really! You see we discovered that there was this picture of a kid on the other side of the map and we discovered that if you put the kid together right, the whole world will come out right."
I love that phrase, "If you put the kid together right, the whole world will come out right." That's what we as teachers, principals, and parents are all about. Shaping the kids of tomorrow.  If we all worked together, imagine what a world that would be.
That's all for today!  Remember to always...  Keep 'em Thinking!

A Baby And A Wedding!

A proud grandmother
A baby and a wedding...sounds like the title to a movie doesn't it?  But it's not.  The last two weeks have been a whirlwind at our house.  On October 17th, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Mills.  This was her second boy and I was thrilled to be there to share in the big event.  I love being a grandmother and I must admit I can think of nothing more sweet than a little baby.  Big brother Hutton, who is two and a half,  and I had a great time as well playing with toy cars and watching Mickey's Clubhouse. Baby is doing great and is eating and sleeping well.  What more could you ask?   I stayed with them for 6 days and then my husband picked me up and we were on our way to Nashville, TN for our eldest son's wedding.

Big brother and baby

I didn't have to do much preparation for the baby, except be there, but I have been busy for the past year helping with the wedding.  Since I can do calligraphy, I addressed both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner invitations.  I love making things on the computer, so it was especially fun to make the table signs and the placecards for the wedding.  Being an October wedding, we went with white pumpkins and mercury glass candlesticks.  I also bought miniature champagne bottles and made a label and tied them with a ribbon as a giveaway for the rehearsal dinner.  Finally, I made the weekend wedding booklets we put in goodie bags at the hotel for all the wedding party members and out of town guests.  I took a little picture to show the things I made.

champagnes, table signs and weekend booklet for the wedding

The wedding was beautiful and everyone had a great time.  It was a mid-morning wedding at a venue called Legacy Farms outside of Nashville and the weather could not have been more perfect!  My grandaughter Cadence was the flower girl and all the family was there except my daughter with the newborn of course.  So many friends were able to come from Montgomery for the weekend, which meant so much to us!  Of course what would a southern mid-morning wedding be without mimosas, bloody Mary's, eggs benedict, and shrimp and grits?  The food was great, the cakes were beautiful, and everyone had a great time.

The couple went to Scrub Island in the British West Indies for the honeymoon and my husband Roger and I came home and crashed!  It was a busy and hectic two weeks, but I wouldn't have missed a minute of any of it for the world!  We love our two newest additions to the family and look forward to spending Christmas with them.

Now, I am back to work and trying to finish up on some new products which I hope to have posted soon.  That's all for now!  Remember to always... "Keep 'em Thinking! 

Perfect Square is a Perfect Book to Introduce Geometry

 Recently I bought the book perfect square by Michael Hall.  It is the story of a square who was perfectly happy, but throughout the week things start happening to him - he is shattered, crumpled, torn, etc., but each time the square turns lemons into lemonade and transforms himself into something wonderful.  I loved this book.  I bought it because we are teaching a unit on geometry this year, but when I read it, I realized there was so much to this very simple story.  It's a story about overcoming obstacles,  turning bad situations around, persistence and so much more!  I loved all the art and things the square turned himself into so much that I made my own versions which then led to creating a unit integrating art, math and literature using this one simple book. 


The images on the front of the unit are the pictures I created from the book.
This unit contains:
  • How many shapes can you find? activity page
  • Vocabulary cards for word sorts
  • Comprehension question cards
  • Cause and effect graphic organizer
  • Sequencing cards
  • Templates to make the squares for each day of the week
  • Template for creating your own square
Click on the book to download a FREE copy!  I hope you enjoy using this unit with your students.   Also look below for a YouTube video which is great to use with this unit!

Always remember to Keep 'Em Thinking!  -