Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Paper Plate Volcano

As I was walking home from school drop-off, an idea for a paper plate volcano popped into my head. I have no idea why, as it's not like there's a volcano between our house and the middle school. When I got home, whipped up my volcano. It came out exactly how I'd hoped and it was ridiculously fun to do the lava. I love my job. 

Paper Plate Volcano


  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • paint (grey, black, red, orange)
  • paintbrush
  • sponge
  • cotton ball


Use the scissors to cut a straight line to the center of the plate, then cut out a hole a little smaller than a dime. It does not need to be neat or exact. 

Overlap the cut ends of the plate to form a cone. Staple it to hold the shape.

Paint the volcano grey. 

Squirt some grey paint and black paint onto a surface. (I'd normally use my Frisbee, but I needed a second paper plate for another project, so I just used that.) Dip a dry sponge into the paint and pounce it all over the volcano. Repeat until the whole thing has a mottled look. 

There's no precision necessary. You're just trying to break up the grey and add the appearance of dimension.

Now comes the fun! Mix orange and red paint together to make lava. Dip the back of a paintbrush into the paint and drip it onto the top of the volcano. The paint should be thin enough to drip, but not so thin that it runs right down. I used Folk Art paint and the consistency was perfect right out of the bottle. You might need to adjust the consistency if your paint is too thick (add a tiny bit of water) or too thin (add a tiny bit of cornstarch slurry). 

Now walk away from your volcano. The paint will continue to run down and then will dry. You can always add more lava if there's not enough. 

When the volcano is completely dry, pull apart a bit of a cotton ball to make steam. Push it up from the inside of the volcano, then gently pull it out the top. It should be wedged in pretty well and will stay in place. If not, make your steam a little thicker or glue it in place. 

Anyone else in the mood for a Hawaiian vacation, or is it just me?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ms. Muhlbeier

Trevor has been blessed with wonderful teachers during his school career. His 5th grade teacher, Ms. Muhlbeier, was no exception. She cares deeply about her students and puts a lot of effort into building a positive classroom community. She believes in making learning fun and was totally open to having some random mom taking over her classroom every week. Trevor thrived in her class. Thanks, Ms. Muhlbeier!

Ms. Muhlbeier (affiliate link)

To make the layout, I fussy cut the photo to eliminate the ugly background. I layered two black/white patterned papers (the border is actually the back side of the darker polka dot) on white cardstock, glued down the photo, then added the chipboard letters. Finally, I added my journaling. It always makes me a bit tense to journal directly on an otherwise-completed layout for fear of ruining it, but it worked out just fine like it always does. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Paint Chip Bookmark

I found a random paint chip that I no longer needed, so I turned it into a bookmark. 

And then I put the bookmark in Trevor's library book and waited to see how long it would take him to notice. 

As it turned out, it did not take long at all. Within about an hour, he asked why there was a 'pom pom' near his library book. He got the book, opened it, and discovered the bookmark. He loved it. And now he knows the difference between a 'pom pom' and a 'tassel.' 


Paint Chip Bookmark


  • Paint chip
  • Coordinating yarn
  • Black cardstock
  • Black letter stickers
  • Scissors
  • Paper trimmer
  • Adhesive
  • Hole punch


  • Trim the paint chip to the desired size, then cut the cardstock 1/4" larger in both dimensions. Adhere the paint chip to the cardstock. 
  • Punch a hole at the top of the cardstock-backed paint chip. 
  • Add the letter stickers to the bookmark. You can spell out I {heart} U like I did, or use the person's initials. 
  • Make a tassel using the yarn. You can use different colors like I did, or just choose one color. I followed these directions to make my tassel. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Exploring Oregon Through Little Passports

We had a wonderful family reunion in Oregon this past summer, so it's no surprise that Trevor and I had a lot of fun doing the activities in the Oregon kit from Little Passports!

After building the covered wagon model and reading about the Oregon Trail, we jumped right in with the science experiment. It is inspired by The Old Man of the Lake, a large stump that has been floating in Crater Lake for more than 100 years and seems to defy the laws of physics. Through the experiment, Trevor now understands that the Old Man of the Lake has air trapped in the top of its trunk and is thus less dense than water. Therefore, it doesn't sink.   

Next, Trevor did a maze about the beaches of the Oregon coast. (Yea mazes!) We learned about the attractions in Portland through a map activity, then did some measurement to identify fossils from the John Day Fossil Beds that date back to the Cenozoic Era. We read about the most important events in Oregon history, then matched famous Oregonians with their accomplishments. One of my favorite childhood authors, Beverly Cleary, is from Oregon. 

Trevor and I learned how to make origami trees, inspired by the World Forestry Center in Portland. We have plans to transform our origami into Christmas trees. I'll share a tutorial as we get closer to Christmas.

There were two art activities in the Oregon kit. Yea! Trevor and I had a lot of fun following the steps to make swallowtail butterflies. 

Getting the symmetry right is really difficult! We both did our best, but fell a bit short. No matter. We're still really happy with how they turned out. 

On to our favorite part of each Little Passports adventure - the recipe! The cooking project combined Oregon's state beverage, state nut, and state fruit. Any guesses what they might be?

The state beverage is milk. Oregon's state nut is the hazelnut and the fruit is the pear. Trevor followed the directions to make vanilla ice cream, topped with grilled pears and toasted hazelnuts. Delicious!

Trevor and I learned so much about the Beaver State. Thanks to Little Passports for another entertaining and educational kit!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Displaying Perler Bead Creations

This post contains affiliate links. 

Trevor has loved Perler Beads since we were first introduced to them when he was 2. He has made a huge number of items over the past nine years and kept all but the very few he's given away. Storage is getting to be a problem. It was not easy, but I convinced him to go through them all and separate out his favorites and get rid of any that were broken, poorly melted, or simply not special. 

Then we used straight pins to arrange those favorites on a corkboard frame

We hung the frame right next to the shelves of games and toys. 

The plan is that as he makes new creations, he'll display them on the corkboard and get rid of one of his previous pieces that is not as special. Or, we'll eventually end up with a second corkboard hung above the first, as he's really going to struggle replacing an old favorite. 

Do your kids have a lot of Perler Bead creations? How do you store / display them?