Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to personalise standard clip art

I'm very proud of myself.  I found this basic clipart picture while I was searching for something to decorate a Power Point Presentation that I was creating for my kids. 

 I inserted the picture and moved on before I had an epiphany.  I didn't like that it said "study time" on the blackboard.  So, I inserted a text box (in Word), typed the text that I wanted.  I then clicked on "shape fill" and chose a brown colour that was very close to the board colour.  I then chose white as my text colour.  All of these are buttons on the top "ribbon" or tool bars that pop up when you "select" the text box/ object you want to edit.  I played around with the font as well.  There were a few fonts that looked good, but the one I settled on was a life without rain. I downloaded it from urban fonts and if you click the link it will take you straight to the download page for that font.

I also created one for my year 8 class.  LNP stands for Literacy and Numeracy Program.  In case you are wondering.  

When I was happy with my colour matching (and I know it isn't perfect) and the positioning of my text box I took a screen shot.  Then I pasted the screen shot into "Paint" and cropped it down to be just the modified clip art picture.  I saved it in my pictures folder and now I have a "go to" decorative clip art picture to place on my Power Point presentations, class newsletters or worksheets.  I am certainly pleased with myself.  Some of you probably do this kind of thing all the time, but it was the first time I did it and I impressed a number of my colleagues at school when I showed them too.  

I often find clip art pictures that I like, but they aren't quite right.  Usually it is a simple corner/ element or word that needs to be tweaked.  So many times I have settled for something "second rate" because I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.  How sad.  

Since my great epiphany, I don't have to settle quite so quickly.  What do you think?

Happy Face :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

The STORY bridge challenge

I think I mentioned a few months ago that I was organising a Story Bridge Challenge for my year 9 classes.  It has taken me three months to get over it.  LOL.

I have finally loaded the photos and have everything sorted to let you in on the fun we had.  I think I should probably start by telling you about the task and the organisation.  I should also mention that the activity was a class celebration of the National Year of Reading.

Two support classes combined to make one large class of approximately 28.  The first 20 minutes of the lesson was spent discussing work place health and safety principles with our Deputy Principal who is also the head of year 9 and the school work place health and safety officer.  His presence had a wonderfully calming effect on our boys... out of 28 students there were approximately 4 girls, which tells you that we had 24 boys.  I also managed to book in a few extra Teacher Aides to help out, so each group had an adult watching over them.  I did this to cover all bases, but I have done a similar activity with less adults before and it was very successful.

Each group was given a bag with all the materials they needed and a task card.  

The TASK: Use only the materials provided to build a "story bridge".  The bridge must be at least 30cm long and 30 cm high.  The bridge must be able to support a book for at least one minute.  

We also told our students that the best bridges would be displayed in the Library.

I invited one of the teacher librarians to come and "judge" the bridge constructions.  He was so excited to be invited to participate.  He spoke to all the kids personally and discussed construction principles.  He tested all the bridges and checked that they met the height and length requirements.  He was very impressed with the student efforts and found something positive to say to all the groups... even the dismal ones.

I know it doesn't sound very good that the "teacher" even says the kids produced dismal work.... but it is true.  Considering the age of the students (14 years) it would have taken only a reasonable effort to create something.  One group pinned together a plastic bag and two plastic cups.  There was no structural integrity to the bridge at all and they knew it.  

The pictures give you a fair idea of the fun and creativity that was unleashed in my classroom.  There were kids everywhere. There were books everywhere.  It was fabulous.

I am having some difficulty organising these photos, so I hope it all works out okay.  I apologise if the formatting is a bit special.

:) M

Friday, July 27, 2012


 I have been having great fun playing around with various avatar builders online this week.  We all like stuff that's free and I have decided that while it is good fun to make these cute little characters, I spend time doing it and I don't need to spend money as well.  So, I have stuck to the free ones out there.  Since I shared some of my other creations I have found a Manga Avatar creator and made quite a few new little cartoon friends.  May I introduce my new friends....
A bit of a crazy lady... I haven't named her yet.
A manga representation of the BFF... who I like to call my angel.
She is the sweetest girl in the world.

Blue and pink hair!  No wonder she is so surprised!
I think we should call her "rainbow" 

This one looks a lot like Number One:
My eldest nephew.  

I didn't realise how much blue and pink I had used.  It must be a subconscious thing.  I have created some others but I intend to unveil them in other blog posts so you will just have to wait and see.  I like to visit these things and sort of "follow my nose" as I play around a bit.  If you don't like that idea, here are some instructions for you. 

    Go to:  http://www.manga.com/content/avatar-face-maker and scroll down the page until you see this: 

    Choose a background colour, by clicking on the coloured rectangles.  You can also click on the skin colour rectangles.

    Look at the top line of buttons and choose a feature (hair, pony tail, eyes etc)

    Each feature then has a menu of options  like the one above and you can select by simply clicking. 
    If you add a feature that you don't like, simply click on the X button at the top of the menu and it disappears.  Some menus have small yellow triangles at the bottom which leads you to an extra page of options for that feature (there are several pages of hair).  

    At every  menu you can choose the colour of the accessory or facial feature.  

    To save your avatar creation you need "screen shot" or "print screen" and paste into a paint program.  In the paint program you can crop (and resize or edit as you wish) and then save it as any other picture on your computer.  

    I really enjoyed using this application and once I started playing, I got quite good at it.  I think my students would be even more proficient in even less time.  Given the opportunity, they could create some fairly cool characters in my mind.  

    There are several applications for this in the classroom and I'm sure if you are a teacher your mind is about to explode with them all.  Feel free to share in the comments.  I wonder if there is a "Harry Potter" version? 


    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    A Tip to be Thankful

    Considering it is Thursday, I had better get some thanking happening.  This week I want to share a few things I learned about being thankful.

    1. When despair is overwhelming, while it might be difficult, finding even the smallest source of joy uplifts your spirit. It also reminds me that God is bigger than even the most overwhelming despair.
    2. I am often disappointed by the actions/ failures of other people.  Remembering that they are human doesn't even help.  When I feel the disappointment grow in regard to a specific friend or family member, I thank God for every time I have disappointed them and they have forgiven me.  I thank God for His forgiveness.  I thank God for the particular person and that they are in my life. 
    3. The small things that we often take for granted (food in our fridge, water in our taps, electricity, a place to call home) should be the first thing we appreciate.  
    4. Being grateful for God's provision of the "small stuff" helps us to see that the big stuff is in His hands. 
    5. Saying Thank you to other people goes a long way towards making friends.  It also helps others to see their own value and spread some of the love.  
    These points may be "old news" to you.  You might be skimming over it and saying "der".  Some people, including me, take a little longer to learn these things.  So, forgive me and forgive those who are even slower than I am.  

    So, here are some things that I am grateful for:   
    • God is so patient with me.  He continues to teach me.  Everyday He is with me. 
    • My parents talk to me like a grown up.  
    • My bestie is an angle. 
    • I have a job that I love, that is challenging and rewarding and exhausting and fun and real all at once 
    • God is always with me.  He gives me the right words to say.  He tells me when to speak and when to listen.  Sometimes I don't listen to Him... but that's my fault.  
    • Children in my life.  Children teach me too.  Children are so curious, happy, creative and playful.      They see things that grown ups can't and we need to look through their eyes.  

    God loves me and God loves you.  
    :) M

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    A Great Title meets The Best Ending

    I just discovered a great blog.  I have to share!

    I was reading the latest from Jen at The Teachers' Cauldron when I saw a button on her side bar that intrigued me.  So I clicked the link and found myself at The Best Endings.  This is a book review site which tells you all about some great books from a range of genres and then tells you how to get them for your own reading pleasure.

    Today, I am what is known as a "happy blogger"!  I love finding new blogs to read.  Although, I have to admit that the time it takes me to catch up on the blog roll is getting longer and longer.  Sometimes I spend so much time reading what all my blogging buddies are saying that I don't have time to get my own ideas out into the ether.

    Cest la vie.
    la vie.

    :) M

    PS I'm not as technologically clever as I would like to be, and the buttons shown here are simply pictures NOT LINKS.  I'm sorry to the blog owners.  If you would like to visit either site, you can click on the links in the first paragraph of this post.  I will be adding these buttons to my side bar, when I remember how.  

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    We Won... almost.

    I informed you that the BFF and I were going to a Trivia Night last night.  Mum came too.  My sister, her eldest child and youngest child came too.  Nudge (another good friend of mine) and another friend of Mum's made the rest of the team.  We had lots of fun and as I said last night, we dressed up as Smurfs. We won the prize for best dressed team so I would say we did well. 

    We didn't even break the top ten on the scoreboard for the General Knowledge questions.  I maintain that they were stupid questions.  Actually, not all of them were stupid.  The questions that I couldn't answer were the stupid questions.  Of course, I jest.  

    There was a lot of fun and we raised quite a tidy sum of money to fund the Kitchen Upgrade at the church.  Not my church, a neighbouring church.  They cater many events and they need a much better kitchen.  So, it was all for a good cause.  

    It was quite interesting to me how many people attended.  The concept of a Trivia Night is basically a multi-player board game.  We had sheets of paper and pens.  Of course, we made our own fun and a bit of healthy competition doesn't hurt anyone.  However, I was truly baffled by the enthusiasm and gigantic response to such a simple activity.  There were not just old people there either, I might add.  My nephew who is 12 yo loves Trivia Nights and there were two-three "youth" tables.  Many other teams had a mixture of demographics in an attempt to cover all "trivia" bases.  So, you never really know sometimes.  Even the simplest things can amuse even the most complex of minds.  

    That's that then. 

    :) M

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Avatar creation

    I have been kicking around the idea of making an "avatar" for AGT and really, for me.  So, One and I had a bit of a play on a couple of sites one weekend when he was over, but today I visited squidoo and found a few very exciting websites that were lots of fun to play with.

    The first and rather excellent website is called http://www.wimpyourself.com/ and is an avatar building site that gives you options of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" type cartoon features.  Male and Female avatars are possible.  You can save your Avatar both on the site and on your computer.  This means it is displayed "anonymously" on the website and you can use the picture just like any other picture on your computer.  Very cool! Here is my "wimped out" self.  

    Wimpy Teacher Chick

    One (eldest nephew) shares a love of DWK so I had to create a Wimpy Version of him too.  

    Then I visited http://www.reasonablyclever.com/mini-mizers/classic-kid-safe-mini-mizer/ which is a very simple LEGO avatar creator.  I was having so much fun playing with this one, that I now have a several LEGO characters to match each mood.  Check these ones out.
    Teacher Me... although, this shirt would probably make my kids dizzy. 
    My tribute to Dr Seuss.  I think if I had the opportunity, I would  definitely wear one of these hats. 

    Drummer me.  I think it could also be teacher me... if you imagine that the drum sticks are  pencils.
    You can tell that I like that red top! 
    Tonight, we are going to a Trivia Night.  I will let you know if we win!  The BFF is going as Smurfette and I'm going as Brainy Smurf.  My sister is going as Vanity!  One (the nephew) is going as Papa Smurf.  Very funny.  So, in honour of all that, I made the next LEGO avatar for the BFF.

    I know that Smurfette is supposed to have blonde hair but the BFF is a brunette, so you will just have to deal with that I'm afraid.  

    So, that describes the weekend I think.  

    I am still transferring files and weblinks from the school laptop to my new one... so there are lots of things happening that will be shared eventually!


    Friday, July 20, 2012

    New and improved

    I bought a new laptop last night.  Yay! Actually, technically it is not a laptop.  It is an acer ultrabook and I think I'm in love!

    I am so excited about my new purchase and I'm very please with my awesome decision making (this is something that I am usually very bad at).  Now we have only one small problem.  Actually, I'm not sure if it is small, minute or actually huge.

    My new little friend needs a name.  What to call the little darling?  I am just not sure.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to read them.

    See pictures here.  Cheap and proud.  That's us.  You have to follow the like to get that last sentence.

    Anyway.  I will check the comments.

    M :)

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    10 signs it is time to shave your legs!

    I will add that obviously shaving one's legs is not the only hair removal option these days.  Also, some people choose no to shave their legs at all and that's okay.  Most blokes don't shave their legs and it is usually a practice reserved for chicks who feel peer pressured into having skin that is smoother and silkier than a baby's bottom.  I would also like to add that once you begin shaving your legs... you have to keep up a regular routine of leg hair removal.  Without further Adieu.... 10 signs it is time to shave your legs!

    1. You don't remember the last time you shaved your legs.
    2. The hair on your legs is so long you can cut them with scissors.
    3. When you get the hair dryer out you need to aim it at your legs instead of your head.
    4. Random little girls ask if they can plait your leg hair.
    5. You bought new razors three months ago and they are still in the packet.
    6. Your legs could be confused with those of a muppet (you know... the furry puppets).
    7. The hair on your legs has started to curl.
    8. When you wear pantihose the hair sticks out the tiny holes.
    9. When he runs his hand up your leg, your boyfriend says "it's so fluffy"
    10. The long pants you wear when you haven't shaved your legs have worn out. 
    There you go ladies and gents.  10 signs it is time to shave your legs.  If you can tick off any of these it is time to run a bath and find a couple of razors (because let's face it, one is not going to be enough). 

    I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.  I think I will just go and run a bath.  My muppet length leg hair is starting to reach the floor. 

    oooooo.... that can be the 11th sign. 

    Bye :)

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Back to School... Brilliant

    Hello Everyone,

    Its Hagrid here. 

    M has been beary busy on holidays for two weeks.  She hasn't had time to type any blog entries for me the last few months, so I took my opportunity today to get to the keyboard.  
    Laying on the couch with Six.
    M has had two kids over these holidays.  Two, who just kind of likes to have a cuddle here and there but generally lets me be, came on the weekend.  But before that we had Six over.  He is a bit odd that kid.  He likes to make things.  He makes lots of things.  But that is not why he is odd.  He is odd, because one minute he is chillin' on the couch with me and the next he is biting my nose.  Yes, he was biting my nose!  I was rather annoyed as you can imagine.  M sorted him out for me.  I love M!  

    Six brought along his friend Teddington.  We instantly became friends.  Teddignton looks beary much like me, only smaller.  He looks like he has been dipped in chocolate.  YUM! We had great fun playing together. 
    Haaving a rest after Six went home. 
    After Six went home, M and I had a big rest.  We were super tired!  Then M had to go to band practice (that is a whole other story).  When she came home she found a stow away hiding in her bed. 
    Teddington caught in M's bed. 
    That's right, it was Teddington. That meant that I got to have my own special sleepover too. I think this holiday lark is wonderful. 

    M is back at school today.  She is feeling a bit sad about it.  I have been getting lots of cuddles from her the last few days.  I like it when she is home with me.  The BFF has been home with us as well.  She has a bad back.  While I enjoy their company, I am looking forward to having the house to myself again.  There are some things a bear needs to do on his own.  You know what I mean?  It is much easier to have one's arms open for a cuddle when one has had some alone time. 

    Anyway, that's it from me.  Nice to share with you again.  I will try to get back on the blog wagon again soon. 

    Smiles and Snuggles

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Last Day

    It is the last official day of my holidays.  I think I am just as bad as the kids when it comes to holiday mourning.  I like my pyjamas.  I like sleeping in.  I like going shopping and taking hours to decide which top looks best.  I enjoy going to silly movies and laughing out loud.  Cooking mac and cheese and browsing pinterest is a wonderful way to pass the time.  I don't wanna go back to school. 

    Unfortunately the fun stuff doesn't happen if I don't have any cash in the kitty and the cash disappears quite quickly when one does not go to work. 

    Usually, by this point in my holidays I am chomping at the bit to get back into the classroom.  But this time around I am sort of dreading it.  Perhaps it is due to the marking that I have been doing this week.  Perhaps it is because I have not done nearly enough planning. Perhaps I can't decide what values are the truly important ones.  Perhaps I have lost my way as a teacher.  Perhaps the little muppets have finally got the better of me. 

    Perhaps (and this is far more likely)... I just like my pyjamas. 

    M :)

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Blocks, Blocks, Blocks

    After my rather exhausting sleepover with Six, I decided it was time to invest in some blocks.  I went shopping with one of my colleagues last week and we ended up at Target.  We love Target.  They were having their annual toy SALE.  I happened to walk past the toy aisle and found a bag of 200 Mega Blocks that were 40% off.  Needless to say when Two (who turned 8 a few months ago) came over on the weekend, we had blocks to play with.  Unfortunately I was having too much fun during the construction of our magical castle to take progress photos.  But I'm sure you can imagine the conversation we had as we decided to add on a barbeque and courtyard inside the castle walls. 

    Two did such a great job that I have contracted him to construct the castle that I will build when I am rich.  There will be rooms for Mum and Dad and all the kids to come and visit.  Grandma and Grandpa can come too.  We will need lots of bathrooms.  I must have a library and we need a gymnasium so that the kids can play handball with the BFF.  I suppose we will need a room for the BFF too.  There will be a media centre, movie theatre, games room (for the Xbox etc), a living area with board games and card games and comfy chairs.  We will have to include a sewing room for Grandma and a music room for Grandpa. An art studio for me and the kids would be great as well.  We can dream. 

    Oh, I should mention that building a castle wasn't enough.  We had to build a castle with every single block in the bag.  There was one piece that is not actually attached, but it is parked in the driveway. 

    See the pictures of our finished castle below. 

    :) M