12 Projects for Middle School Organization: Part 2

Middle School Organization

A new Tuesday, a new project is typically how it works.  However, with the Princess Anna Halloween costume in the works, I split up the 12 Projects for Tuesday to cover 2 weeks! If you missed Part 1, check out the post here!

  • “How was school?”5327373397_Brenda_confused20look_answer_4_xlarge
  • “Good” 
  • “Do you have any homework?”
  • “I finished it on the bus.”
  • “All of it?”
  • “Yeah, all we had was math.”
  • “Are you sure? What about your ILA paper?”
  • “Oh yeah, that too”
  • “And don’t forget about your flute practice!”
  • “I think I have a test tomorrow in Science.”
  • “You think? Well, lets find out!” 
  • “I may have some flipped classroom assignments on the computer too.”

Middle school is a time of transition, for both students and parents.  Middle school differs in numerous ways from Elementary school: one of the most apparent is increased pressure on organizational skills.

The above example shows, not only the difficulty in my son’s ability to stay on top of what is due and when, but the reason why!  It is Complicated!

  • 6 separate classes, with 5 separate teachers.
  • Due dates that differ throughout the week.
  • Varying types of work due and assignments to complete.

It is no wonder so many students struggle at the start of Middle School! The previous post mentioned 6 projects for Middle School Organization that focused on the home set up:

1) Homework Station / Calendar

2) Homework Caddy

3) Chore Punch Card

4) Prepaid Debit Card for Allowance

5) Color Coding Agendas

6) Routine, Routine, Routine

 

This week I want to focus on Study Habits and Organization Skills!

 

Middle School Organization Part 2

 

7. Flashcards

I love infographics! I also love flashcards.  While there has been some debate as to whether they work or not, and for how long, it is hard to deny the results.  While cramming before a test is not desirable, the benefits of regular flashcard use is worth the try.  See the following infographic for more flashcard facts!

infographic

 

8. Textmapping

I found out about Textmapping on The Middles School Mouth, a super cool blog by the way! However, Texmapping originated here.   It is a super cool method for reading comprehension that can only be explained by checking it out! Hint: It is all about scrolls!

Middle School Organization

 

9. Planners, Agenda, & Planning Ahead

I love this article from www.thecollegeprepster.com.  She really hits the nail on the head when she mentions that half the battle is paying attention in class.  The other half is homework/ studying.  She advises to look ahead on Friday- even when she thinks she has nothing due.  It is always best to look ahead and make a weekly plan-of-action.  If you can, find out when major tests are due (as they tend to come at the same time!) and plan your study time accordingly, so you are not studying for all tests at once!

Middle School Organization

 

10. Color Coding

I said it last week, and I will say it again: Color Code Everything! Either as the example shows below, or my favorite, a color for each class.

Middle School Organization

 

11. Proven Tips by Science

My favorite? Space it out: A relatively new learning technique called “spaced repetition” involves breaking up information into small chunks and reviewing them consistently over a long period of time.

Especially when dealing with ADHD!

Middle School Organization

 

 

12. Praise for effort, not intelligence!

“When you praise kids for their intelligence, they learn to view their failures as evidence of stupidity” – See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/praise-and-intelligence.html#sthash.5DSjvb6N.dpuf

Kids praised for intelligence often see being smart as something you are born with.  Studies have shown that when kids are praised for their natural intelligence they often choose easier tasks to avoid failing.

In contrast, kids who are praised for their efforts tend to view being smart as something you work hard to be.

So next time you praise your student, praise their efforts!

“Wow! You worked really hard on that! I can tell that you will do well if you keep it up!”

Middle School Organization

 

12 Projects for Middle School Organization: Part 1

Middle School OrganizationIt is no secret that middle school is a time of transition.  Students are leaving the familiar for the new, dependent learning becomes increasingly more independent, and social hierarchies are magnified.

As a mother of a first year middle school boy (with ADHD to boot!), I have learned that the middle school transition also applies to parents!  The homework routines that we as parents have learned to enforce seamlessly during the elementary years, often times do not smoothly evolve into successful middle school study habits.

Middle School Organization

Last Friday marked the end of the first 6 weeks of 6th grade, and upon reflection I realized that my son was not prepared for the level of organization needed in order to succeed.  More importantly, I was not prepared to help him become more organized! During the last 6 weeks, there have been tears, frustration, and anxiety, as we hastily prepared for major tests.  Moving forward, we must become more organized!

The following is a list of organization tips and tricks for school and chores.  Some I have tried, and others I hope to implement as soon as I possibly can!

1. Homework Station

There are so many wonderful ideas on Pinterest for homework stations.  So many, that I could hardly choose the best one for my family.  We have had many different stations over the years.  Often times they start out beautiful and seem to work wonders, then, a few months into the school year, the station resembles a junk drawer instead of a system of organization! In my opinion, the best implementation for homework, chores, and general schedule organization has been the magnetic or sticky calendars and daily planners for the refrigerator.  That way, you walk past it numerous times a day!

martha-stewart-home-office-11

 

2. Homework Caddy

The homework caddy is a brilliant idea.  It takes the mess of the drawer and makes it portable! No more multiple trips to the cabinet to “get a pencil”, everything you need is all there! Determine the supplies your student needs and make sure the caddy is stocked!

middle school organization

 

3. Chore Punch Card

While this is being carried over to the middle school years, this is especially fun in the elementary years as well.  This is tried and true and has made doing chores fun in our family!

Middle School Organization

 

4. Prepaid Debit Card / Debit Card

After reading the post “Why Using Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens is Brilliant” on mycrazygoodlife.com, I went out and got my son a debit card.  I opted for a regular debit card, tied to my account, so that I could monitor what was spent and make easy (and free!) transfers from my account to his for allowance and rewards.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.  No more searching for cash.  No more delaying the reward.  It can also work in the reverse if money needed to be taken back as a consequence (however, we tend to focus on positive rewards for positive behaviors).  It also helps my son to develop a sense of responsibility and money management, as we go over the charges monthly and he transfers money into his savings as well.

Middle School Organization

5. Washi Tape Color Coding for Agendas

What can’t you do with Washi tape? Washi tape is so fun, it will make planning enjoyable for anyone! Each subject  has its own color, so you can see at a glance what is due when. This is something I have been doing since I was in middle school! Except, I used highlighters!

Middle School Organization

 

6. Routine, Routine, Routine!

This is my own tip for the day! Routine, routine, routine. Pick a time of day either in the morning, after school, or after dinner.  The timing doesn’t matter as much as consistency.  Surprisingly, more than anything else, this has cut down on the amount of homework resistance! Pick a routine and stick to it (with just a smidgen of flexibility) :)

12 Fall Projects: DIY Decoration

12 Fall Projects

It is that time of year again! It is hard to pinpoint exactly why Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Perhaps it is the lovely change in weather, or the prospect of so many family Holidays on the horizon, but there is one thing I know for certain: I love Fall!

Now that Fall is finally here, I have begun collecting all my favorite decorating  inspirations.  As my first post in my new campaign, 12 Projects for Tuesday, I am more than thrilled to share my Fall inspirations with each of you.  The following is a list of 12 Fall Projects that I have handpicked.  Each project is linked to the original source, many of which have excellent tutorials.

12 Fall Projects

1. Easy Fall Hydrangea Wreath

This beautiful wreath can be made in minutes with step-by-step instructions from anightowlblog.com.

12 Fall Projects
2. Front Porch Pumpkins

These front porch pumpkins offer beautiful color combinations to decorate your home and garden with for Fall. As soon as our local pumpkin farm sets up, I am grabbing these unique pumpkins for our front porch!

12 Fall Projects

3. Transitional Fall Front Porch 

A Fall front porch that can easily transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving and all your other Autumn desires.  What a lovely concept.

12 Fall Projects
4. Autumn Home

Simple touches and feminine charm make this site a must see for unique Fall decorating ideas.

12 Fall Projects
5. Fall Centerpiece

An upscale, country kitchen centerpiece is on my list of DIY projects this season!

12 Fall Projects

6. Painted Pumpkins

Painted pumpkins can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  This lovely shade of blue is perfect for a Fall centerpiece.

12 Fall Projects
7. Fall Wreaths on Etsy

If you need a wreath, but don’t have the time to do-it-yourself? No need to fret! This Etsy shop has some of the most beautiful Fall wreaths I have seen!

12 Fall Projects8. A Farmhouse Door

What beautiful statement colors are found here! This front porch really showcases the colors of Fall.

12 Fall Projects9. Fall Entryway

Often overlooked, yet equally important: the entryway.  This is definitely on my to-do list!

12 Fall Projects

10. Tiered Pumpkins

I cant get enough of beautiful, uniquely colored and shaped, pumpkins! The tiered look is something I would like to try on my own sloped front walkway.

12 Fall Projects11. Fall Home Scents

In decorating for Fall, we can’t overlook the wonderful aroma of Autumn scents.  I love the smell of Apples, Cinnamon, and Oranges to brighten my mood and make my home feel special.

12 Fall Projects12. Mums in Pumpkins

This decorating tip is just the cutest thing ever!

12 Fall Projects

 

More…

For more elegant Fall Project ideas, make sure you check out my very own Fall Porch Makeover and Autumn Flag Banner Tutorial Here.

Fall Flag Banner

 

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DIY Rabbit Hutch: A Project for the Whole Family

Rabbit HutchPlanning a Rabbit Habitat

When we decided as a family to adopt rabbits into our life, the first and foremost decision we had to make was: indoors or outdoors? In the house or in a rabbit hutch? There seems to be a philosophical debate on whether or not rabbits are indoor or outdoor animals.

DIY Rabbit Hutch Blueprints

Get your tutorial here!

Rabbit Hutch Blueprints

Indoor Rabbits:

There are numerous websites dedicated to the philosophy of “house rabbits” detailing the reasons why indoor environments are vital to the well being of bunnies.  Many of these reasons are related to social interaction, harsh outdoor climates, and an increased lifespan in the home.  The philosophy of house rabbits tends to be very adamant that keeping a pet rabbit indoors is the best possible outcome for both the pet and the pet owner.

Outdoor Rabbits:Rabbit Hutch

The other side of the debate tends to agree with all the positive aspects of indoor habitats, yet recognizes that rabbits are rabbits and, if properly cared for, can live a happy life outdoors in a rabbit hutch.

After careful debate, we decided that we would keep our rabbits outside – with the resolve to play with them outside every day.  However, we wanted to make sure that they had ample space and excellent accomodations, so we recruited my father to design and build  a DIY Rabbit Hutch: what we now refer to as the “Rabbit Mansion”.

DIY Rabbit Hutch

My dad’s philosophy is “use what you have”.  In the case of the DIY Rabbit Hutch, we used wood left over from our newly assembled fence, hinges from old cabinet doors, and scrap wood from various projects for the top addition flooring and stair case.  The DIY Rabbit Hutch is built in two pieces: the top piece fitting on the bottom piece like a lid to a pot.
Needless to say, the kids were thrilled with the new addition!  The rabbits were too! For more woodworking projects by my dad, please see our “Tufted Headboard Tutorial” or visit his website, Masterwork.

Rabbit Hutch
Rabbit Hutch

 

A DIY Rabbit Hutch Blueprint Printable PDF is here! Visit our products page for more information!

Get your tutorial here!

DIY Rabbit Hutch

Rabbit Hutch Blueprints

 

Figgy’s Scirocco Dress

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Figgy’s Scirocco

Figgy’s Scirocco dress pattern has been one of my all-time fav0rite patterns to sew.  This dress is a playtime, summer favorite that is easy to make with a  designer quality look.  I fell in love with the pattern as soon as I saw it.  I loved the design, the grey and white Polka Dot Dress Fabric by Moda, and the red boots to match featured on Figgy’s website here.   As it had been awhile since I had sewn a dress, I did some research and found that I was not the only one who loves Figgy’s Scirocco Dress! So many pictures and blogs dedicated to the Scirocco Dress!

Figgy's Scirocco
In my version, I opted for a Kona Cotton in Mustard by Robert Kaufman and Large Orbs in Lighter Grey by Tomotake Muddy Works. However, I cannot take credit for this lovely combination  I first saw it on Probably Actually: here modeled on an adorable Oliver + S pattern.  I paired the girly dress with ‘Troopa’ Boots by Steve Madden.  

During my research for Figgy’s Scirocco, I found an incredible tutorial here.  If it were not for this tutorial, I may never have made the twisted back on the first try! I also found a trend: the gaping side back! I had to study many pictures to determine why so many of the finished dresses had gaping sides.  At first glance, I assumed the dresses were too large for the subject, however, after second thought, I determined that there was too much fabric on the sides of the dress back for the size of the waist.  

Figgy's Scirocco

In order to overcome this minor detail, I decided to adjust the pattern to fit each measurment of my little girl.  In addition, I tapered the bottom side diagonal line to 1 inch so that with a 1/2 inch seam, the finished side back would measure 1/2 inch before the side seam at the bottom.

 

In the end, I think Figgy’s Scirocco dress turned out wonderfully.  After all, it was the dress that got me sewing again.  The dress that would eventually enspired me to blog about my sewing and DIY projects, and create Lark + Wren. You can see more images of this dress here.  

 

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Sidewalk Chalk Photography DIY

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Sidewalk Chalk Photography

We love you to the moon and back!

Earlier this year, the kids and I succumbed to yet another pinterest phenomenon: Sidewalk Chalk Photography.  In the heat of a Texas June day, we decided to make chalk paint, paint the driveway in the likeness of the Dallas skyline, and make one of the most adorable Father’s Day cards ever!

need 2

 

Chalk Paint:

  • 4-5 cups Cornstarch
  • Food Coloring (we used gel)
  • 4-5 Cups of water

To make: Mix roughly 1 cup cornstarch to 1 cup water with 10-12 drops of food coloring (or until the desired color).  We had no problem washing away the color when we were finished.  However, we used Tempura Paint in black for the outline, and that took about 2 weeks to fully disappear.

 

Additional Supplies:

  • Camera
  • 4-5 Large Sponge Paintbrushes
  • Ladder
  • Patience

 

We only had a few hours to create the chalk surprise, so unfortunately we had to deal with the sun and very hot concrete.   I made the outline of the Dallas Skyline and the kids painted it in with the freshly made chalk paint and sponge brushes.  The kids lasted about 30 minutes (which is 20 minutes longer than I thought) and I continued on.  After while in the sun, I decided that to leave some of the buildings empty was artistically pleasing.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact I was drenched from had to toe and ready to call it a day.  It was an artistic choice :)

Sidewalk Chalk Photography

 

We were ready to pose for the photoshoot! All I needed to do was position the ladder in the alleyway in order to get to a perspective where the driveway was flat.  I never was able to find this position, but it was close enough!

Posing the children was the most enjoyable part of the whole event.  The kids loved coming up with silly poses and trying them out.  However, we had to wait until 5:00 to get the shots as the concrete was so hot! Which gave us only 30 minutes before dad arrived.  We quickly added stars and a moon to create the look of night and took photos in 30 second bursts! Oh the joys of a Texas summer.  Hot enough to fry an egg! In the end, with a little photo editing to darken the photos and some text from a beloved book, we had a magical gift to give a wonderful father.

Sidewalk Chalk Photography

Sidewalk Chalk Photography

When we were done, we just washed the chalk away. 

Sidewalk Chalk Photography

Tufted Headboard Tutorial

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DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Tufted headboards are a little girls dream, and in my case maybe an even bigger dream to make one.  When I saw the Eliza Tufted Headboard from Pottery Barn, I knew that I must have one for Cadence.  But with a price tag near $1,000, I turned toward my inner creativity (and my father!) to make one from scratch.  I had never made furniture or reupholstered anything before, but I knew with the countless tutorials on pinterest that we could succeed.  My favorite tutorial came from The Idea Room.  While I knew I wanted a deeper tuft than the one shown, I loved the step by step instructions, not only for the tufting, but the headboard frame as well.  

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Originally, a tufted headboard was all we were going to attempt.  However, once I involved my dad, we got a whole entire bed frame! As I was not the one to make the bed frame, I cannot explain in detail how it was done.  However, I can show step by step how the headboard was constructed as well as do over points along the way.  Note: While the bed frame was made and prepped by my loving father, I had the pleasure of painting the bed which ended up with 3 coats of paint! My husband, of course, occupied the children during this process.  

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

 

need 2

  • Piece of MDF board cut to your specifications
  • 2 – 3 inch foam (we found ours at JoAnn’s)
  • Drill and 3/8 inch Drill Bit
  • Quilt Batting (Joanne’s)
  • Pillow / Doll Stuffing (Joanne’s)
  • Waxed Thread (JoAnn’s)
  • Upholstery Needle 
  • Spay Glue
  • Button Making Kit with enough buttons for your project (JoAnn’s)
  • Material for the tufted headboard
  • 2 sawhorses or 2 tables
  • Staple Gun and Staples

 

Make the frame.  Follow the instructions from The Idea Room and cut the MDF board to your own specifications.  We opted for a squared off look to offset how girly the tufted headboard is.  Decide how many tufts you would like and how far apart you want them.  Decide between square and diamond tufts We chose square to match the square frame.  Mark where each button will be and drill holes all the way through the MDF headboard with a drill and drill bit  We used a 3/8 inch drill bit.  Our headboard is 39×28, we have 4 rows of 5 totaling 20 buttons spaced 7 inches apart horizontally and 6 inches vertically.  

Step 2

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Line up the foam (which may be more than one piece depending on the size of your headboard) with he MDF board.  With a pen, mark through the holes onto the foam.  Cut holes in the foam about the same size as the buttons with a pair of scissors or a knife.  Once the holes are made, line up the foam and the MDF and glue together with the spray glue.  This will ensure that it does not move!

Step 3

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

 I found that to get the perfect tufted look it was best to add balls of fluff in the middle of each tuft.  I carefully added the quilt batting on top, adjusting the balls of fluff accordingly.  

Step 4

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Now is a good time to make the cloth covered buttons.  I ended up having to hand sew mine on as the fabric was so thick- taking me about 2 hours!  In the beginning, we tried following the instructions of sewing the buttons to the headboard to make the tufts, but they kept breaking.  Eventually we ended up sewing smaller, shirt sized buttons on with the waxed thread and upholstery needle to make the tufts, and then sewing the decorative buttons on afterwards.   

Step 5

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Step 5 – shaping the tufts, was by far the hardest part.  My dad ended up helping more than he thought he would as it needed so much strength! We placed the foam topped headboard on two sawhorses so that we could get underneath.  After gently smoothing and softening, we pulled the button into the foam hole with the upholstery needle, and wax thread. My dad, being the strength, pulled the wax thread underneath the headboard until I told him the depression was sufficient (and eventually, evenly depressed with the others – as this is no easy feat) and he would then staple the excess thread to the headboard in a W pattern.  Surprisingly, the quality of the tufts was not determined by the depth.  In fact, we barely pulled the buttons into the foam.  The extra fluff and quilt batting is what made the tufts look full and round.  The 20 tufts took about 3 hours to make, but it was worth every minute! 

Step 6

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

After the tufting, assembling the headboard was a breeze!  After a little more smoothing and softening around the edges, we trimmed the excess fabric and stapled it to the back.  The headboard was complete!  All we had left  was to assemble the rest of the bed  and marvel at our masterpiece.

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

 

DIY Tufted Headboard Tutorial

 

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