DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

This DIY nebula in a jar necklace tutorial is a fun and easy way to get your daughter involved in STEM based crafts. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace Tutorial

We’re pretty big on STEM learning here. With a passion for sharing the love of science, technology, engineering, and math with our kids, we’re always trying to figure out how to incorporate STEM activities in our daily lives. 

This craft was great for STEM learning because it opened up the doors of communication with my kids about space, stars, and constellations. Not only did we talk about where stars came from (nebulas – which lead to a whole other conversation about the birds and the bees) but we waited until dark to count the stars and find constellations. We also talked about the full moon and moon cycles since we just had a full moon. Let’s make some nebula in a jar necklaces!


DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace with stopper

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

What you’ll need: 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace supplies

What you do: 

1. Cut cotton balls into small strips and set aside. 

2. Add water to the jar, about 1/3 of the way up. 

3. Using the small stick, add a few drops of one color paint to the jar then add some cotton ball pieces to fill up 1/2 of the jar. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace - use a syringe to add water DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace - use a stick to add paint and cotton ball

4. Sprinkle some glitter into the jar. 

5. Add a few drops of the contrasting color paint and some more cotton. 

6. Fill with water but not to the top. Leave room for the stopper. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace close up DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace add glitter DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace glue stopper to bottle

7. Grab the glue and the stopper with eyelet. Add a dab of glue to the eyelet and screw into stopper. 

8. Add glue to stopper making sure to cover all around the bottom 1/2 of the stopper that will be touching the jar when inserted in. 

9. Place the stopper in the jar and let dry for 24 hours. 

10. Add jar to necklace cord and put on! 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace craft

How do you promote STEM learning with your daughter? 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

Interested in more science-based crafts and activities? Check out these fun projects: 

For Preschoolers:
DIY Bouncing Ball Craft

DIY Bouncing Balls

For School Agers:

How to Inflate A Balloon Using Science

How To Inflate A Balloon Using Science

For Older Kids:
How To Make A Glass Vase Out Of A Coke Bottle with roses

How To Make A Vase Out Of A Glass Bottle

This article first appeared on A Crafty Spoonful on July 22nd, 2016. 

Tips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser

Today we’re sharing tips on securing volunteers at your next fundraiser with help from our sponsor, VolunteerSpot. You can read on to find out our success at our most recent Fall Festival fundraiser. 

Tips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser

As I’ve mentioned, over the past few months I’ve worked on the committee to plan and run the Fall Festival at my children’s school. Over the span of 6 months we worked hard at finalizing all of the details about the festival, including how to secure volunteers for the various game booths, food booths, and more. From the beginning we knew that our volunteers would make the event a success.

And they did! From the parent volunteers who manned the booths, to the church volunteers helping to sell raffle tickets, to the teacher volunteers who helped sell tickets and everyone else in between. Our event was a success because of those supporting and helping run it. Along the way we learned a lot about what we did right, what we did wrong, and how to make next year amazing.

Tips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser - make it easyTips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser - checking in

Tips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser

1. Make It Easy –

It all starts with signing up volunteers. And that needs to be easy. Early on into our planning our Volunteer Coordinator set up a VolunteerSpot account and was able to set up shifts for all volunteers for each day of our festival. We were able to share the link via email, posters, social media and our website to allow volunteers to choose a shift and sign up. It also allowed us to keep track of each volunteer and send them reminders before the event. Plus? It’s easily accessible on mobile and desktop!

2. Have A Point Of Contact – 

At the event we printed off our volunteer list from VolunteerSpot and as volunteers came to the event they checked in with our Volunteer Coordinator 10 minutes prior to their shift start. By having the Volunteer Coordinator share her contact information (email) with the volunteers, she was able to field questions, pass along information, and create a smooth and easy experience for all. She was also a friendly face to check in with at the event. For those who were new to volunteering at the event, they didn’t have to search for yet another person they might not know when they arrived.

3. Give Clear Instructions – 

Communication really is key so we would also give the volunteers a run down on how each booth was running and if we ran into anything in the previous shift. Along with checking in, each volunteer was given written instructions on what was expected and how the area they were in was being run. We not only had clear signage at each booth sharing how to play each game but also instructions for the volunteers on how to take care of game tickets coming in as well as what prize tickets to give out.

4. Provide Childcare – 

One bit of feedback we had received in years past was that our parents could not volunteer their time because they lacked the proper childcare for their shift. So this year we reached out to the preschool staff to ask if they were willing to provide childcare at the event. Not only would we be able to help our parent volunteers, but we were also able to market our preschool to potential families looking to send their little ones to our school.

5. Thank Your Volunteers – 

After any fundraiser, there’s nothing more powerful than a heartfelt, handwritten note. Now while it may sound like a lot of work, thanking your volunteers personally will let them know just how important they are to your cause and how much you appreciate them.

Tips On Securing Volunteers At Your Next Fundraiser - offer childcare

Have you had success when recruiting volunteers? What are your tips?

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

This post is sponsored by First 5 California but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

Ever since my kids were babies there’s one thing we always do. And that’s bedtime stories. From the time they could crawl into our lap for some last minute snuggles before bedtime, they’ve soaked in the time we spend right before shut eye exploring a new book or story. From simple baby board books pointing out different animals or places to go, to us reading them classic Dr. Seuss or Robert Munsch books, to them reading us their first books, this time with our children is cherished.

Books are important. And reading to our kids are just as important. Did you know that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, simply reading to your child every day will give them a higher success rate in school? And by simply having books in the home that are easily accessible, you can encourage your child to read more. We believe in this so much that we have a bookcase in just about every room in the house… including the kitchen!

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - promoting early reading

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

By not only having books in the house but reading every day to your child (even just 10-20 minutes a day!) you can encourage literacy in your child and set them up for success. Even if they aren’t reading yet, having the love of hearing a good story from you, and bonding with them in the process, will help them in the long run. Here are a few great stats to prove the importance of bedtime stories:

1. Practice! 

According to the National Education Association, having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently. By practicing at home with those who love them, they can have a safe area to practice reading without feeling like they’ll be judged for not knowing a word or a letter.

2. A Partner In Education

As a parent, I want to play an active role in tehir education. By starting to read to them young and creating a a time for us to read as a family during our bedtime routine, we’re sharing our love of reading and learning with our kids. The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Where parental involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average!

3. Finding A Love For Reading

I remember when I first started to love books. The feeling of starting to read a good book that whisks you away into another world, another time, another universe. It’s an amazing feeling. And I cannot wait for my kids to jump in as well and experience that love. The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. Finding that love of reading can impact their future education.

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - preparing for new situations

Great Bedtime Story Books (4-8 Years Old)

Adventures

Freddy & Frito And The Clubhouse Rules – Introducing the adorable pair – Freddy, a fox, and Frito, a rart – in a story about the joys and struggles of friendship. In her exuberant debut as author/illustrator, Alison Friend illuminates a truth about friendship: showing that best friends stay together both in fun times and in frustrating ones, too.

The Big Ideas Of Buster Bickles – No one appreciates Buster Bickles’ big ideas until his uncle invents a machine that turns his imagination into reality! Robot dinosaurs and ice cream mountains are only the beginning in Emmy-award winning animator Dave Wasson’s debut picture book – with a “What-If” machine, anything is possible!

School Time

Just a Teacher’s Pet – Join Mercer Mayer’s classic and loveable character, Little Critter, as he learns a special lesson about being a teacher’s pet in this I Can Read story!

Goose Goes To School – Goose is back in an all new school adventure! In this heart-warming follow up to GOOSE, readers will delight in Sophie and Goose’s next fun-filled adventure.

Eva and Sadie And The Best Classroom Ever – Sadie teaches Eva all about school in this adorable follow up to EVA AND SADIE AND THE WORST HAIRCUT EVER! Sadie learns that even though she’s a great teacher, it’s okay for Eva not to know everything before she starts school. After all, that’s what Kindergarten is for.

All About Pets 

Itty Bitty Kitty – Ava wants a pet, but Mom and Dad say she’s too little. So when she finds a kitty, Ava decides to name him Itty Bitty and keep him a secret. There’s just one tiny problem: Itty Bitty starts growing and growing and growing… until he’s neither itty nor bitty!

Who Wants Broccoli? – Meet Broccoli, a lovable but rambunctious dog who wants to find a home. Broccoli lives at Beezley’s Animal Shelter and dreams of playing in a yard with a boy. Will Broccoli find his perfect home? A story inspired by Val Jones’ own adopted labradoodle, Fergus!

Two Girls Want A Puppy – Cadence and Emi desperately want a puppy, but their dad isn’t quite sure they’re ready for all that responsibility. With a little determination and a brilliant plan, the girls show their dad that they are ready to adopt one. Based on a true story abou two sisters and their creative plan to adopt a puppy!

The Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears: When I Grow Up – It’s Career Day at the Bear Country School, but Sister isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. A friend of the Berenstains, Professor Actual Factual takes Sister and Brother Bear on a special Bear Country job tour. Whether it’s firefighter or artist, farmer or astronaut – there is sure to be a career to capture Sister’s imagination.

The Berenstain Bears Are Superbears! – When Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear pretend to be their favorite superhero characters, they use their imaginations to find adventure all around the house. But when a neighbor falls off his bike, the SuperBears discover the true power of lending a helping paw in this brand new I Can Read story!

The Berenstain Bears Get Ready For School – It’s a busy morning in the Bear family house. Brother and Sister are getting ready for school, and they need lots of help finding their backpack, books and pencils in time to catch the bus. Share in the hustle and bustle with this exciting new lift-the-flap storybook.

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - finding new interests

Start Reading Early

Need more ideas on how to interest your child in reading OR to find great resources on the importance of reading to your little ones early? First 5 California is on a statewide mission to inform, educate and inspire parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing to their little ones starting from the day they are born.

Science tells us that 90% of the brain is formed by the age of 5, and recent research also reveals that more than 80% of a child’s brain is formed by age 3. As you know from being a parent, these early years are the most formative and life-impacting. You want your child to have a larger vocabulary not only do better in school, but are significantly less likely to make poor choices in the future.

The experts at First 5 California refer to the brain as a muscle that needs exercise – and that means “working out” through talking, reading and singing regularly. Talking can be as simple as narrating the day; reading doesn’t always need to be via books; recipes, newspapers and road signs are great (aim for 30 min/day total – can be broken up into 5-10 min increments throughout the day) and singing doesn’t require carrying a tune (First 5 California has a great children’s radio station on Pandora that can help!).

You can rely on First 5 California as a free trusted resource and partner to help give their children the best possible start to life. First5California.com/parents is full of informative tips and activities – everything from brain development facts/myths and brain-stimulating activities for ages 0-5 to healthy, easy-to-make recipes and general wellness information.

Need a comfy spot for your little ones to read in? Check out my Kids Reading Nook Ideas (and other great ways to encourage reading) by clicking on the photo below!

Kids Reading Nook Ideas

What’s your child’s favorite book? What’s yours?

Raising Money For Schools: Where To Start

Raising Money For Schools Where To Start

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I joined my son’s school’s PTG board. But I’m not sure if I mentioned what I’ll be doing. As someone who has made social media and this blog her job over the past few years, I’ve decided to use the skills I’ve learned – networking, promoting, and marketing myself essentially – for something good. And with that I’ve stepped up into a brand new role for the school – the sponsorship coordinator. Basically I’m reaching out to local and national businesses and asking for their support.

But in addition to reaching out to local businesses for donations, there’s a lot we can do for our school by simply signing up for programs that already exist out there. And there are way more than just the “known” programs we’ve seen.

In an effort to make things easier on me, I’ve decided to do a little research and ask fellow parents and teachers to share what programs their schools are using – public and private – to raise funds. And, of course, I’m sharing that with you! Below is a list that I’ll continue to add to and update with ways schools – teachers, parents, students, the community – can raise money easily and with little effort.

Raising Money For Schools: Where To Start

eScrip –

eScrip is a simple and easy way for schools to earn money by selling gift cards and receiving rewards by having parents and individuals register their reward cards and their debit/credit cards. Every time a purchase is made, depending on the retailer, a percentage of the sale is given to the schools. An added bonus? You can buy a gift card to the store you’re using your rewards card at and receive double the bonus (rewards for buying the gift card and then rewards for using your rewards card). You can find out more on how to register – like less than 5 minutes and you’re done – by going to their site here.

eScrip also has a program called ForgetMeNot™ that you install on your computer to remind you when you visit one of the shops online that gives back. You can also click when you see the ForgetMeNot™ reminder to activate your earnings and to access all available coupons & offers. Save money while earning for a great cause.

Box Tops for Education –

Now most schools are already utilizing this program but it does take a little extra work. If someone on the PTG or PTA board isn’t already in charge then this might be someone you’d want to reach out and find to act as the Boxtops coordinator. Once the school is set up, its as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!

  1. Find Box Tops on hundreds of products.
  2. Clip Box Tops from each package. Do the school a favor and make sure you follow the edge carefully and trim all Box Tops before turning them in. While doing this check to make sure the Box Tops haven’t expired.
  3. Send the Box Tops to your school.
  4. Box Tops are each worth 10¢ for your school.

Fore more info, visit the Box Tops website.

Campbell’s Labels for Education –

Labels for Education a fun and easy program where families and members of the community work together to “Earn Free Stuff” for their school.

By collecting UPCs and beverage/sauce caps from many participating products and supplementing your earnings with bonus offers, your school earns points that can be redeemed for Arts, Athletics, andAcademics merchandise.  Explore the online catalog to see what your school can earn.

If your school or organization is not one of over 60,000 registered with the Labels for Education program, you can help your school enroll by contacting your school principal and asking them to appoint a coordinator, or you can volunteer to be a coordinator. The school coordinator helps by managing the school’s account, program communication, point collection, and redeeming points for merchandise for the school.

America’s schools and organizations have earned over $114 million in merchandise over the Labels for Education program’s 42 year history. You can find more info here on their website.

Target REDcard Take Charge of Education® –

I don’t know what it is about Target but every time I go in, I come out at least $100 poorer. Sure I *needed* that dollar spot notebook, and those throw pillows for the couch, but if I could also be benefiting my son’s school while shopping there too I’d feel a LOT better about the amount I spend there. If you have a Target REDcard, choose your kids’ elementary school, the neighborhood middle school or any other eligible K–12 school and they’ll donate up to 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target stores in the U.S and at Target.com. More info can be found here to find out how to sign up.

Amazon Smile –

Do most of your shopping online when you’re not shopping at Target? Amazon has a program that’s just for you! By shopping through your school’s Amazon Smile link you can help earn 0.5% of the purchase price for your school. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets you enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the eligible charitable organization of your choice. More info can be found here if your school isn’t already signed up.

* I must note that when shopping on Amazon through eScrip, it looks like Amazon donates 1.2% of your purchases back. So I’m not sure if it’s better to go through Amazon Smile or eScrip when shopping on Amazon. Maybe it’s possible to take advantage of both? Please comment below if you have any experience!

Shoparoo –

Oh yes, there’s an app for that. Shoparoo is a quick and easy way for schools to earn money by having the user scan receipts from any store, big or small, that sells grocery items to earn Roo Points (cash donations) for your school. Whether you’re shopping at a supercenter, dollar store, or local convenience store – it doesn’t matter where you shop or what items you buy – Shoparoo will make a cash donation for every receipt! Submit up to 20 grocery receipts within a rolling 7 day period. Here are some examples of grocery retailers:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Convenience Supercenters
  • Club Stores
  • Drug Stores
  • Liquor Stores
  • Dollar Stores

There’s even a program for non-grocery stores. For more information, check out the Shoparoo app website and download the app today!

Do you know of a different program that supports schools or offers funding?

How to Help Your Preschooler Learn The Alphabet

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How to Help Your Preschooler Learn The Alphabet

One of the biggest things we’re working on right now with our kids is learning the alphabet. From their curriculum at preschool to what is done at home, we’re always thinking of how to help your preschooler learn the alphabet.

Since my son is entering kindergarten in the Fall I want to make sure that he has every opportunity to explore the alphabet and get a head start on what he’ll be learning in the classroom.

I also need to make sure I’m making it fun for him too. Because if he isn’t interested, he isn’t going to participate at all!  [Read more…]



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