Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Girl Scout Sit Upon Gets a Face Lift!

I'm home sick today with a little tummy bug that has been raging around our school. I am feeling a little better but being a teacher, I feel guilty not doing anything so I decided to blog. Looking around my blog posts, I found this one I started but never posted. Can we say SQUIRREL?! That's my husband, Kevin's term for my habit of getting distracted and moving onto another project before I finish the first. Guilty. This is a great project and one that was not too hard-I made twenty of them for my class!

When I was eleven, my best friend, Donna Kay was a Girl Scout. Wanting to be just like her, I decided to join. My fondest memory of Girl Scouts was the first meeting when we made Sit Upons. 
For those of you who were never a girl scout and have no clue what I am talking about, a "Sit Upon" is a 2 X 2 foot piece of vinyl table cloth that you fold in two, hole punch on three sides, "sew" with yarn and stuff with folded newspaper. It keeps your behind dry and cushioned when you are sitting around the campfire or your troop leader's backyard during meetings. Here is a link that has a little history on the sit upon and a tutorial on how to make an old fashioned one:  If you want an easier, more modern take on the Sit Upon, keep reading.
 In May, when I chose "Camping" as my kindergarten theme for the 2014-2015 year I remembered that long ago Sit Upon and decided I would make one for each of my students to sit on during circle time and lessons on the floor.  I was really excited but then a few days later it occurred to me that kindergartner's fine motor skills might not be up to making a Sit Upon and that I would have to make 20 by myself! Well, I may have better dexterity than a young kindergartner but I also have arthritis. The thought of all those hours punching holes and sewing made my hands hurt. 
An easier version of the Sit Upon occurred to me when I was in the check out at our local grocery store and saw plastic tote bags. I thought "genius!" Turns out I didn't invent that one. Of course on Pinterest there was a tutorial that looked like someone had plucked it right out of my head. Although I was a little deflated at not having invented the modern Sit Upon, it was nice to see how someone else did it. 

 Now all I had to do was find the perfect sized bag. The last day of school I walked into Michael's and found these large lovely tote bags and bought every one they had. They were a $1.99 each but with my Michael's teacher discount and school tax exemption, they cost about $1.50 each. Here's what you need to make these cute sit upons:

Sit Upon Supplies: 
  • Vinyl Tote Bag-these are about 18"X18" (perfect size for kinder behinds)
  • Color duct tape
  • Newspapers
  • Washi tape
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Poly-fil quilt batting

My niece, Devon is a writer for Oklahoma City's best little newspaper, The Oklahoma Gazette. I asked her to save me any old issues she had. She hooked me up. You can use any newspaper you have, but free are always best. Because the Gazette is a small sized paper, I used masking tape to put them in the shape I wanted. The newspaper gives the sit upon support. After they were taped in the shape I wanted, I opened the bag slightly (you want it to stay in a folded position) and slid the taped newspapers in.

The original sit upon I made as a Girl Scout only had newspaper but Seth tried out my modern sit upon and said it was too hard. Hmmm. To hard or have today's kiddos become too soft? Oh well. I knew if he thought that, probably the kinders would too. So I looked through my class storage room and found the perfect solution: Poly-fil quilt batting. It comes in a huge roll. You roll it out and cut out the size you need. I put an 18"X18" square layer in each totebag on top of the newspaper for a little cushioning and Seth gave it a thumbs up.

Once I had all the sit upons "stuffed" it was time for the real work. Sealing them closed with the blue duct tape I had chosen.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I probably duct taped too much. I laid an 18 inch strip of duct tape along one edge of the bag. I centered it so that the edge of the duct tape length was hanging off the bag by 1 inch. Once I pressed the tape onto the front of the bag, I flipped it over, folded the duct tape and pressed it along the edge on the back side. This sealed the edges. For cosmetic reasons, I did this on all four sides. Next, I put another layer of duct tape on each edge so that the tape was flush with the edge of tote bag. This gave it a neat and tidy look and hid any imperfections such as wrinkles in the tape I had folded over. For the handles, I just duct taped the tote bag on either side of each handle and then put a  strip flush with the edge all the way across.
Cool Tip: When your scissors start to get gunky from cutting the duct tape, wipe the blades down with baby wipes and it comes right off!
 When all the bags were stuffed and sealed it was time to decorate. You could get really over the top and use patterned duct tape or washi tape. For my first one I accented it with some owl Washi tape. It is the new craze and there are so many cool things you can do with it. Pinterest it and you will see. I picked this up at Hobby Lobby for $2:

And here is the finished project:

Though I liked the Washi tape I decided to get rid of it. I didn't think my kinders would sit still until they had picked every shred of it off. As for the sit upons, the kinders love them.

I have discovered an added benefit to the sit upons: the handles. This epiphany came to me after I attended a teacher's conference in Oklahoma City in August. One of the merchant booths there was selling "Fidgets." It was a little tube of material with balls sewn inside that children can fidget with to keep them calm and able to focus. Although they are intended for children with Autism or ADHD, they help other kiddos too. Similar in texture, I figured why couldn't the tote bag handles serve the same purpose? It worked. Observe my class during lessons and you'll see some of my little ones fiddling with those handles and listening to my lesson!

On my classroom floor, I put down lines of duct tape in three rows in my whole group area. Each morning, the kinders lay their mat on the line where their name is. At the end of the day they pick them up and put them away in their cubbies on a hook. Simple.

I will make new sit upons each year.  However, I will make one change: buy white or solid tote bags and let the kinders decorate them with colored permanent markers. Kinders will love it.  Expect a future post next August when I do exactly that. As for the durability of the sit upons, we have been using them for almost five months and they have held up great. Well, until my next post, be safe and healthy!

My Seth giving the new and improved modern Sit Upon a try in his favorite reading spot in our library.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The View from the Couch

I’m seriously considering starting a new blog entitled, "The View from the Couch." I've been sick with pneumonia  the entire Christmas holiday and have spent most of my time-on the couch. As a kindergarten teacher, I am always on the go and never seem to have time for myself. A  doctor ordered rest time was initially, a treat. However, as my mother was fond of saying, too much of a good thing is never good. So after almost two weeks of rest and relaxation, here is my view from the couch.

We live in a day and age when you don't really have to leave the house to be entertained. On my iPad the world can come to me. Books, movies, music, games are all available at the click of a button and a little cash. Oh and if you are feeling the need for a little company, there is that to. Facebook is always waiting.
In the past few days, I have experienced something that previously, I had only read about in historical romance novels.   “Ennui”.  For those of you who have never read a historical romance novel and are scratching your head, saying,“En-whut?!”, Webster defines it as, “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.”
And so there you have it. My pneumonia has been replaced by this new malady. From the couch I have discovered that though "pin therapy" is occasionally good for what ails you, it can leave you feeling a bit of a failure. In recent days, I've had to be honest with myself.  I'm never going to make that lovely embroidery hoop wall montage that I bought the materials for two years ago.  I think my lowest pinning moment came New Year’s eve when I realized I had consecutively pinned 10 cat pictures onto my, "You've Cat to be Kitten Me" board. Clever title, huh? It screams crazy cat lady.

I’ve read some. I won’t apologize for that. Mostly though, I have watched Amazon and Netflix.  I've fallen head first into entire seasons and years of T.V. shows that I previously never had time for. With nothing to distract me,  I got a little overly "invested" in the characters. I was  bereft for days when I said goodbye to Woody & Matthew on True Detectives after finishing an eight episode binge.  

I revisited favorite movies. I watched the last seven Harry Potter movies. That’s quite a time commitment, though well worth it. Though, I have read the books repeatedly and seen the movies countless times, I still cried, "Nooooooo!" when Dumbledore fell backwards from the Astrology tower. Seth thought the tears on my cheeks were quite silly. Of course I watched the movie on my ipad so he hadn’t been a part of the emotional rollercoaster I had been on for all those days.
Whenever I needed a break from movies, games, etc and wanted to reconnect with people (The irony of that statement is not lost on me), I checked out Facebook. My friends are a diverse group and I love them all.  Some friends pepper their newsfeeds with happy little memes meant to encourage and they do. Others share their views, left, right and otherwise.  As for me, I hit my notifications after having ignored them for a while and found sweet encouragements to feel better. Initially this warmed my heart but then I looked over my posts of the past weeks. All were me obsessing about my health.
This spurred a mortified look at my life over the last two weeks. Is this what my life has come to? Pinning things I will never do, crying over fictional characters (It's true Dumbledore isn't real. I know…sort of) and obsessing publicly about my health?  

Despite my alarm at the turn my life has taken, I must admit I was hoping for a snow day tomorrow. Just a day to get off the couch and  prepare for school. Who am I kidding?  Though sitting on the couch for two weeks is not good, it has made one thing perfectly clear: I can never retire.
One of Kevin's Saturday morning surprises.
This is what my days would become. And Kevin—both of us retired? I would never see him! He has a routine he does every weekend and every day off. He works on some project in the house (I'm not complaining) and then when he gets bored with that, he rearranges things. It is not unusual to wake up on Saturday mornings to find my morning cereal or under garments have been reorganized for the greater good of a smooth running home.  He, of course, is asleep because he didn't go to sleep until five am. I realize to those of you whose husbands are slobs or just not domestically inclined, I sound like an unappreciative brat. I concede that point.

So anyway, school is looming tomorrow and there's not a snow flurry in site. Anyone who has ever taught kindergarten knows the importance of a well prepared classroom. My kiddos walk into class and my Christmas tree is still up (the kids weren’t the only ones who ran out the door that last day of school) and there's nothing ready and I'm going to have a very tough day. Kevin offered to go get it ready for me. While that is sooo sweet I can’t let go of the image of Kevin making a sizeable donation  to the school dumpster. The teacher hoarder in me cannot allow that even if it is for my own good. No, I will gladly accept his help but not unsupervised. I WILL get off this couch and allow the blood to painfully return to my butt and lower extremities. I will probably feel better than I have in two weeks.

I have found motivation in an old friend- Facebook. Yesterday I saw a post by the parent of a student in my class. Smiling at me from my iPad was a picture of one of my little kinder munchkins. The blanket of “ennui” that I had wrapped myself in these past weeks fell away a bit upon seeing that sweet face and I longed for the craziness of my kindergarten class. I miss my kinders and I miss my coworkers and the satisfaction that comes from work. Goodbye couch! We’ve had a couple of nice weeks but this is for the best. You look better without the dent of my butt marring your lovely length and undoubtedly my butt will benefit from this break as well.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Game!

Well darlings it has been a long time since this gal has blogged. Long story best told  later. As for now, I have decided to upload a game I have been finished with for months but wouldn't upload on to Teacher's Pay Teachers because I just kept redoing it. However, my one resolution this year is to not second guess myself. So here it is. This game was inspired by a couple of adorable little girls at my school who are obsessed with snowmen and a certain  popular movie. I can't wait to show it to them when we go back to school on Monday. Click on the image below to check it out on my Teacher's Pay Teacher's Shop. Happy New Year!