Do it yourself craft and gift expert Sandy Sandler, founder of non-profit http://www.c4k555.org/ and creator of the best selling Bowdabra provides simple, budget friendly tips for preparing to go back to school.
Between new clothes and backpacks, supplies and shoes, back to school time can really put a dent in your budget. Fortunately, with a little forethought and creativity, you can save money on your back to school supplies and still start the school year off right.
School supplies are often at their cheapest in mid summer. Call your child’s school and find out if you can get the supply list a little early and take advantage of those sales. Find out when your state has its tax-free days and plan your shopping around it for extra savings.
When you do hit the stores, keep an eye out for the simpler alternatives. Instead of glossy, photo covered folders and binders buy plain white and then let kids decorate them with magazine photos, fabric and paper scraps. Cover blank notebooks and journals with fun fabric and make your own book covers out of wallpaper or contact paper. Decorating their own school supplies isn’t just a cost cutting measure; it will also boost confidence when they can show off their own creations to their friends.
Take advantage of all the online tutorials out there and make your own pencil cases, gym bags and even back packs. Look around the house, at thrift stores or even in the recycling bin for items you can reuse for interesting projects like this fun pencil bag – http://www.skiptomylou.org/2008/08/13/aecycled-pencil-bag-for-the-first-day-of-school/
Clothing Face Lift
- Allow the glue to dry completely before wearing. Wash according to the instructions on the glue.
Plan No-Waste Lunches
A reusable lunch bag is a great first sewing project that children can feel proud of every day when they sit down in the cafeteria to eat. But before you rush out to the fabric store, look through your sewing bin and check outgrown clothing. An old cotton shirt and a fleece sweater can give you all the fabric you need for this fun project.
- (2) 12×24 inch pieces of cotton fabric
- (1) 12 x 24 inch piece of polar fleece
- Velcro dots
- 10 inches of ribbon
- On your work surface, layer first the fleece, then a cotton rectangle, right side up, and finally the last rectangle, right side down. Pin across one of the long sides and sew using a straight stitch.
- Fold the top layer of cotton up and press the seam open with your fingers.
- Now fold this new, larger rectangle in half the other way. Pin and sew along the edge.
- Fold the cotton only side down over the fleece to create a shorter tube. Trim the raw edges of the fabric to be even and sew across the bottom of the bag.
- Turn the whole thing right side out. Fold the corners of the bottom in and stitch into place. Add a handle to the top using the ribbon and attach the Velcro dots along the top edge of the bag to hold it closed.
For more creative ideas, visit http://www.c4k555.org/ to download free projects at Crafters 4 Kids.
You don’t have to have a trust fund, sing soprano in the choir or even be in high school for that matter to get the look from your favorite TV shows. This “back-to-school” season, Company Kids is helping teens and tweens affordably dress like their favorite on-screen idols with a wide assortment of clothing, most ranging in price from $20-$40.
Featuring some of these season’s hottest styles for boys and girls, the new Moby Goby Collection by Company Kids offers dozens of celebrity-inspired looks that will help make the ideal first impression on the first day back to school.
Whether you live in the Midwest or on the swanky Upper East Side of Manhattan, you can achieve the Queen Bee’s posh school girl style for less.
Girls Menswear Blazer: $42.00
Plaid Skirt: $24.00
Hooded Sweater Coat: $59.00
Metallic Leggings: $29.00
Available online at:
Not content with blending into the crowd? Embrace your inner superstar as you hit all the right notes in these trendy styles that will have everyone asking, “Who’s that girl?”
Ruffle 2-fer Tee: $25.00
Ruffle Skirt: $32.00
Knit Top Boot: $49.00
Jewel Dress: $36.00
Denim Legging: $26.00
Available online at:
JUMP into the school year with fashions that work as well in the choir room as they do on the court. One thing is for sure – both looks will have the spotlight shining down on you as you play leading man of your school.
2-In-1 Hoodie: $26.00
Scrunch Jeans: $56.00
2-In-1 Henley: $26.00
Cargo Pant: $32.00
Available online at:
Regardless of which zip code you live in, showcase your West Beverly style with these dressy casual options that will give you the swagger even before you’re old enough to know what that word means.
Vintage Tee: $20.00
Sweaters Vest: $22.00
Boys Plaid-Trim Jeans: $34.00
2-In-1 Check Shirt: $28.00
Cord Trim Pant: $ 34.00
Bomber Jacket: $46.00
Available online at:
Leighton Meester: http://vincentpark.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/blair-is-cute1.jpg
Jenna Ushkowitz: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm11308288/ch0146069
Cory Monteith: http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/The-Complete-Glee-Character-Guide/4
Tristan Wilds: http://www.kcwi23.com/shows/bh90210/tristanwilde.jpg
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For me, doing the back to school shopping just started last year and I can tell that it will become more and more of a larger chore as my girls get older. I have to say though that though I am sometimes amazed at the number of supplies that one can find, Walmart makes it easy and their prices are great! Being a member of Collective Bias I was excited to find that they were working with Elmer’s to help Adopt-A-Classroom make a difference in classrooms across the country by donating up to $10,000 in school supplies!
How can you help?
It’s easy to join in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward – all you have to do is write a post on your blog to donate a virtual bag of school supplies. For every post written before 12pm EST on August 12, 2010, Elmer’s will donate $10 to Adopt-A-Classroom, up to $10,000. You can give as many virtual bags as you want!
ELMER’S VIRTUAL BAG IT FORWARD RULES
- Copy and paste these rules into your blog post.
- Create a blog post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
- Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
- Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
- Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.
- Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by August 12, 2010).
- Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.
I’d like to send virtual bags of school supplies over to Kristi from Wheelzboyz, Kevin from My Spelling Sucks, Chris from SAHD in Lansing, Chris from Paparocks6, and Adam from DaDaRocks. I hope you will all join in to help #bagitforward with Elmer’s. And please, if you’re reading this and have a blog – join in as well!
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- The first step is to create a list of intentions with your child. What are their hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year?
- Next, collect visual images to go with the list of intentions.
- To accompany the images, add decorative handmade paper scraps, pretty stickers, and attach with Clementine Natural glue.
- Decorate the vision board using Clementine Art Natural Paint, Markers and Soy Crayons and Crayon Rocks to add shading, doodling and drawing and your child’s personal touches and creative expressions.
- Let the board dry overnight, then hang in a place where your child can view everyday, reinforcing their intentions for the year!
| For more information and images of the Clementine Art Back to School Vision Board project, visit the Clementine Art Blog. For additional information on Clementine Art, visit www.clementineart.com, follow Clementine Art on Twitter at www.twitter.com/clementineart, and find Clementine Art on Facebook at www.facebook.com/
Clementine Art was founded in 2008 by Diana Mercer, a former teacher with over 20 years of experience in the field of education, arts education, and child development. Diana created Clementine Art to encourage open-ended art explorations for children. The process of creating art is a powerful developmental tool for children, and Clementine Art products encourage children to dream, imagine, experiment, create, problem-solve, and above all, express themselves. Explains Diana: “Real art is about creating. Early childhood educators know that the process of creating art is just as important to a child’s development as the outcome. I wanted to create products that not only engaged children in an open-ended creative process,but that could also become an everyday part of a healthy and creative lifestyle.”
Throughout preschool and her early elementary grades, Emma was sunny, confident, and engaged in school. Now 12 and in Grade 6, her teacher’s comments paint a different picture:
Emma enters class pleasantly and she seems to get along nicely with the other kids. During class, however, Emma never participates and it seems that her mind is elsewhere. Emma’s work reflects a general lack of effort. It’s almost as if she doesn’t care.
What happened to the sunny, confident and engaged Emma?
Jacob, age 9, loves playing with Lego and other hands-on materials. Building elaborate cities and complex scenes, he is confident and very capable. In class, though, Jacob is unenthusiastic. An observer watching Jacob’s lack of connection and energy in class would probably think his “light bulb” was dim. Often, Jacob actually looks pained in class – particularly during open ended writing assignments.
A recent sample of Jacob’s writing about a school experience offers insight into Jacob’s in-class struggles:
While both of these children are quite different in style and personality, both manifest the signs of a shut-down learner. The signs of a shut-down learner typically start to emerge in the upper elementary grades, and become much more pronounced by high school. They include:
• A sense that the child is increasingly disconnected, discouraged, and unmotivated
• Fundamental skill weaknesses with reading, writing, and spelling, leading to diminished self-esteem
• Increased avoidance of school tasks such as homework
• Dislike of reading
• Hatred of writing
• Little or no gratification from school
• Increasing anger toward school
Understanding the formula of shut-down learners
Shut-down learners are children who become academically discouraged and disconnected from school over time. A simple formula helps to explain how kids become shut-down learners:
Cracks in the foundation + Time +Lack of Understanding + Strained Family Communication = Shut-Down Learner
Understanding this formula will help parents of children like Emma and Jacob to be in a better position to take appropriate action.
Cracks in the Foundation: Cracks in a child’s learning can usually be identified as early as preschool and kindergarten age. Indicators during this period are easily identified. Does your child have trouble learning letter names and their sounds, for example? By first grade, is your child taking steps toward blending sounds? In middle to upper elementary school, is writing a laborious, often agonizing process for your son or daughter? If the answer is “yes” to these questions, it does not necessarily follow that your child will become a shut-down learner. However, like cracks in your house that expand if unaddressed, it is important to act to prevent academic cracks from widening. Otherwise, they will contribute to discouragement over time and a child ultimately shutting down.
Lack of Understanding: In my evaluation of shut-down learners, I have found that many receive work on a daily basis that they simply cannot handle, causing them unnecessary frustration. Too often, parents and teachers do not understand the skill deficits that are causing a child difficulty. For example, I recently tested a fourth-grader who struggled to read certain words presented in a text, including “porcupine,” “passage” and “amazement”. Since most fourth-graders read silently to themselves, her teacher and parents mistakenly believed that the student had a comprehension problem, when she was actually experiencing difficulties with wordeading and decoding. Additionally, many children who struggle in school simply do not have problems deemed to be “severe enough” to warrant special education. For those children, parents will need to seek outside remedial help in the form of tutoring, where available.
Strained Family Communication: The beginning of homework time often marks an increase in the household temperature, as screaming and arguing become part of the landscape. Strained communication around homework can be overwhelming for families and can contribute to a child’s becoming a shut-down learner.
Addressing (or preventing) shut-down learners
- Trust your gut: If you believe your child is experiencing difficulties at school, listen to yourself. Don’t wait, or fall for such oft-used statements as, “You know how boys are,” or “She’ll grow out of it.” Act on your feelings even if your child has been deemed in eligible for school services. Consult a trustworthy, competent person outside of school whom you feel comfortable with, to assess your child.
- Know what you are targeting: If your child’s assessment has identified issues of concern, chances are an area in your child’s reading needs addressing. There are essentially two types of reading problems in the first, the child has trouble decoding words and reading fluently. In the second, the child can read fluently, but experiences great difficulty understanding what he or she has read. Get clear on the exact issues that you hope to resolve. Don’t scattershot remediation.
- Take the heat out of the interaction: Try to step back a little bit and turn down the heat within the house. The daily ritual of yelling, pecking or nagging never leads to positive change. When was the last time your child said, “Thanks for yelling, Mom, I see your point. I’ll get down to business”? Right. Never. Why persist? Your kids are probably feeling overwhelmed by homework that they can barely handle. In raising the heat, you’re simply adding stress to their lives. Turn down the temperature. Kids need emotional fuel to tackle their school difficulties, especially those kids who derive little gratification from their efforts. Look for the small things that your child is doing well. Statements, like, ”Wow, I like the way you took out your work tonight without my asking,” can really mean a lot to a child, especially one who might be a bit discouraged.
- Find someone to connect with and mentor your child in school: The shut-down learners I know do not feel very good about themselves and they do not see their true strengths. If your child is of middle-school age or older (those preteen and teenage years when the development of a sense of self is critical), it is particularly important for him or her to have at least one person in school who really values him or her and will rally on your child’s behalf – even if he or she isn’t succeeding academically.
- Maintain a sense of equilibrium: Do something fun and enjoyable with your child. Play aboard game or do an arts and crafts project together. Most kids would enjoy doing an activity like that with you. Try not to let school problems set the tone for the entire household and all of your interactions.
- Support your child: Academic discouragement is debilitating to children and families. Connecting with your child’s natural strengths and letting him or her know that you are both on the same “team” can make an enormous difference in preventing your child from becoming a shut-down learner.
Do something fun and enjoyable with your child. Try not to let school problems set the tone for the entire household and all of your interactions.
About the author
Dr. Richard Selznick is a child psychologist and the director of the Cooper Learning Center, Department of Pediatrics, Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey. He is the author of The Shut-Down Learner: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child www.shutdownlearner.com.
A native of Staten Island, New York, Dr. Selznick lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Dr. Selznick is an experienced media guest and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows to discuss a variety of children’s issues including things like whether same-sex schools were advantageous and the current trend of “redshirting” kindergarten students. He recently wrote feature story for Exceptional Family, Canada’s Resource Magazine for Parents of Exceptional Children www.exceptionalfamily.ca.
Since January, Diva-J’s class has been learning about Mastodons and how they are not Dinosaurs but Mammals. This concluded with a Trip to visit a Mastodon at the University of Michigan’s Natural History Museum and a special Mastodon Dance and performance form the kids. They all did a great job (sorry about the blurry pictures above, but moving kids and our camera do not always work well together).
This was the first year that we had to even think about the whole school portrait thing for Diva-J. What should she wear, what type of background, would we purchase additional pictures and how many, the questions were endless. When we got the pictures back, they were ok, but we are planning on retaking because they were not as good as we would have hoped. It is completely a shot in the dark when it comes to these pictures and to be honest the quality is somewhat what I remember from school pictures as a kid.
Recently I heard about a company that was working to change this so I thought I would look into it further and share it with all of you.
Linda Russell, of Mugshots School Photography, is using her skills and counting on her team of photographers to fix the current way school pictures are taken. The website itself states that:
Mugshots School Photography has parents excited once again and by taking personalized pictures worth framing! Russell is a pioneer in a monopolized world where one company has most of the market share.
After reading this and checking out the wonderful pictures on their website, I wanted to know more so I contacted Linda Russell herself and asked her a few of my own questions to get a better feel for what her company was all about, and I was happy to get a quick response.
3) What sets your photos (or your process) apart from other companies
4) Why should a school district change to your product over other companies that are out there
Because kids and parents deserve to have a valued product. Our students learn how to make GREAT photos which increases self esteem as well as reinforces cooperation and positive results. When you create images of value kids learn to value the process as well as the results. Plus great looking portraits of students and faculty reflects well on the school district’s values. Parents are the purchasers of school photos shouldn’t they get portraits that they value?
I don’t know how much pull I have but I would love to have high quality pictures like this in my own daughters’ school, maybe its time for a revolution, all parents rising up in support of better pictures! Ok, maybe I am going too far on that one, but really, I think we can expect more and it sounds like Linda is paving the way toward this new frontier.