Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amazingly Easy Ledges

I've been really obsessed with Ana White lately...  She has a ton of building plans for household furniture & decor.  The main thing I love about her plans is how easy she makes everything look!  As I was perusing her site a few weeks ago, I discovered her plans for Ten Dollar Ledges.  When I saw them, I immediately thought of my large stack of mostly unused cook books.  I picked the perfect spot for them beside our wide kitchen window.

I went to Home Depot to buy the wood.  I needed (2) 1x4 boards & (1) 1x2 board.  Each of the boards was 8 feet long.  The 8 foot 1x4s were $4.43 each & the 8 foot 1x2 was $3.98.

The original plan was mainly for one long 8 foot ledge (which I will be making for my library asap), but I wanted 4 smaller ledges, so I cut my boards to 24 inches each.  If you don't have a saw of your own, Home Depot will do the cuts for you. 

I used wood glue to attach the 1x4 to the 1x4 in an L shape.

Once the glue dried, I used 2 inch wood screws to permanently affix the boards together since the wood glue alone wasn't sufficient.

Then I attached the 1x2 front piece with some 2 inch long finishing nails.

I filled in the holes in the front (left by the finishing nails) with some wood filler.  

Once they were all complete, I painted them with some leftover paint I had from a previous project.

Once the paint dried, I sealed them with this clear matte spray paint.

Nothin' left to do but install!  I affixed my shelves to the studs to make them as sturdy as possible.  That is definitely the way to go!

Done & so easy!  Where could you use some of these awesome ledges in your house?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Soft-Close Cabinets Made Easy

Every time I go to IKEA, I love going through the kitchen section and testing out the soft-close feature.  It's like magic, I tell ya!  I thought I was going to have to replace all my cabinet hinges to have this fancy things in my kitchen... but behold!!!

You can buy soft-close adapters by themselves!!!
I never knew this was a possibility!  I found these puppies at Home Depot for about $4 a piece.  I only bought 5 so I could try them out and see how I like them.  You can find them other places as well.  I found a ten-pack on Amazon that comes out to about $3.60 a piece--the reviews of this style seem really good!  There are also several different types.  Do some searching to find the ones that are right for you.  I went with these because they were the style available in the store at the time.

These are supposed to be installed in the top corner of the cabinet on the side with the hinges.  

Installation is simple with two parts: The adapter & the screw.

You're going to need to pre drill the hole for the screw so you don't split the wood or strip the screw.  It only needs to be predrilled 1/4 inch so I taped off my bit at the necessary depth.

Stick the adapter into the corner and pre drill your hole.

Pre drilling is super simple once your adapter is lined up properly.  These adapters are screwed in at an angle.

Switch your drill bit for a phillips head & screw in the adapter.

And you're done!
So simple!!  Happy adapting!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quick, Cheap, & Easy Photo Collage

I love pictures! But it has become very rare for me to actually print my pictures. They tend to live on my computer. When my husband and I got engaged (and subsequently married), we had two AMAZING photographers take pictures for us. The pictures were just too awesome to leave on my computer. I'd been hanging on to a beautiful empty 28in x 34in frame for a long time. I mean look at this thing...
I love the blueish-green patina.  Would this be categorized as a patina?  I have no idea.

So here's how to create your quick, cheap, & easy photo collage:

Step 1: Print out some of your favorite pictures.

Step 2: Find a really cool old frame. It doesn't need to have glass in it. Just the frame!  Go to the thrift store, find a cheap, ugly picture & dissect it if need be!

Step 3: Get some of this blue painter's tape.

Tip: Go with the name brand stuff (this is Duck brand).  It'll stick better.  I've learned from experience.

Step 4: Figure out how to hang your picture frame.  I just used two screws in the wall.  (ignore the pics for now-that's the next step)

Step 5: Pick your favorites and put blue painter's tape (roll-style) on the back, like so.

Step 6: Keep rearranging until you're happy.  Then it's super easy to change pictures out as desired. The painter's tape doesn't hurt the wall or the pictures but the pictures will stay up without a problem (these have been up for at least 4 years).

Here's the whole, finished product!

Happy collaging! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

EASY Document-Based Opening

Want to learn a quick & easy way to inject document-based learning into your classroom every day?  Then keep reading!

This idea goes really well with collaborative learning teams (you can read more about that here & here) but can be done in any classroom where kids are encouraged to work together.

Step 1: Find a document (political cartoon, reading passage, newspaper article, picture, graph, chart, etc.) and either project it onto the board or give students printed copies.

Step 2: Tell students to ANALYZE.  They'll know what that means.... PSYCH!  They probably won't.  So, you'll have to teach them.
Here's how I did it:
The first day you do this, write the word ANALYZE on the board & ask students to tell you what they think it means.  As they throw out their ideas, write them on the board.  If it's a lower level class, let them talk about it amongst themselves before you ask in the whole group setting.  After they have given you their answers & you have adequately explained what it means, tell them your expectation for analyzing the documents you give them.  What is my expectation?  I want them to be able to answer:
WHO-Who is the author of this document (or at least who do you think it could be-this can be general, such as what country could they have been from)?
WHAT-What is this document?
WHY-Why was this document created?
WHEN-When was this document created?
WHERE-Where was this document created?
HOW-How does/could this relate to you (your country, your life, your world, your family, etc.)

*This year, I plan on giving all students a handout with my expectations & asking them to keep it in their binder all-year for easy access.

Step 3: Set a timer for student discussion.  I usually do 5 minutes, but some documents might take a little more/less time.  Adjust as needed.

Step 4: Walk around while the students are discussing. This will accomplish three things: 1) You can "encourage" them to discuss if they are off-task.  2) You can ask questions to create deeper understanding. 3) You can help guide students who are veering off-track content-wise.

Step 5: Once timer goes off, grab your stick cup (it's a cup with all the student's names on popsicle sticks) & pick a kid to explain their analysis.  After that kid is done, pick a few other eager students (or use the stick cup again & again & again) to explain OR you could ask some open-ended questions to discuss a little longer.  Try to keep it under 10 minutes, unless the discussion gets really good.

Step 6: After doing this for a few days, you will not need to remind students what ANALYZE means. They will see the word ANALYZE on the board & they'll know just what to do!

Step 7: Pick a random document (that you went over) & include it on a future test or quiz.  You'll be reinforcing what they learned & also making the original analysis more meaningful.

That's it!  Happy document-based questioning!!