Organizational Tips for Homeschooling Moms

From lesson plans to test prep to customized classwork and grading homework, a homeschooling mom is busy before the school day even starts. 

While busy is a blessing, organization is key to transforming busy into stress-free productivity. See how a homeschool mom of five plans her way to homeschooling success!

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4 Ways to Creatively Cover Your Textbook!

Getting back in the back-to-school groove is a whole lot easier when your scholastic supplies bring a smile to your face! One of the first tasks all students are given is to cover their textbooks, a project that usually involves repurposing a brown paper bag. We thought we’d take this DIY a step further and add a little excitement with our new sticker sheets!

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What you’ll need:

– brown paper bag

– scissors

– sticker sheets/sticker book(s)/washi tape

How to create your cover:

1. Gently remove the bag handles.

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2. Cut down the side of one of corners the bag from top to bottom, then cut the rest of way around the 3 sides of the bottom to remove the bottom flap. Open up the bag and lay it flat- you should have one long rectangular piece.

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3. Customize the fit to the size of your textbook by placing the book in the center of the paper and creasing the top and bottom excess paper (or you can mark the dimensions using a pencil) to fit the actual height of the book.

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4. Set the book aside and fold the top and bottom along the crease or pencil lines.

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5. Place the book back in the center and wrap the paper across the cover from left to right so that the ends meet evenly.

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6. Fold the overlap over the front cover and crease the paper along the edge. If there is significant excess paper, you can trim it down. You should have enough bag to wrap about 3/4 of the way into the inner front cover.

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7. Insert the cover into the slots created by folding the top and bottom of the bag, slide until you hit the crease, and close to create the final fit. Cover should fit snugly, not to the point of tearing, but not loose, either.

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8. Repeat the same process on the back cover. You’ve now got your blank canvas ready for decorating!

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Block Letters

Against the backdrop of plain brown paper, a cute and colorful design can really bring excitement and style to an otherwise boring book cover! One of the simplest and easiest design options is to spell out the first letter of the subject or topic with designer sticker sheets or the individual sticker sheets (if you prefer to stick to one particular design theme).

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Spell It Out

One of the hidden treasures in our cool for school sticker book are the metallic alphabet stickers hiding in the back of the book! They are incredibly versatile, and are a fun to way personalize just about any paper product for a unique and fresh way to truly make your supplies your own. Keep it straightforward with the title of the book or the subject, or have some fun with phrases: ‘hola’ for a Spanish text, or ‘E equals MC squared” for a clever physics cover.

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Go Avant-Garde

It goes without saying that we love to celebrate creativity, and the beauty of this DIY project is the ability to customize your book covers any way your heart desires! There are a million-and-one ways to customize your covers, so we encourage you to get creative – we especially love the idea of creating an interactive cover with sheets from our coloring book and matching colored pencil set! It’s the gift that keeps on giving for those less-than-lively lectures 😛

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Want more creative ways to use our stylish new stickers? Check out our Pinterest for TONS of DIY ideas!

BLOGGER TAKEOVER: Teacher of the Year Becca Foxwell!

Becca-Foxwell-Headshot-205x300Becca Foxwell is not only the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, she’s the blogger behind foxwellforest.com, an education-based blog chronicling the adventures of teaching in a first grade classroom.

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When I started teaching first grade seven years ago, I knew I was beginning a great adventure, but I had no idea of all that would be in store.

 

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Throughout my life I have been blessed to have teachers who invested in me, believed in my best, and helped give my dreams the wings to soar. Teachers who left Forever Fingerprints on my life and now inspire me to leave Forever Fingerprints on the hearts of my students. When it comes down to it, I think that teaching is truly all about changed lives, changing lives. True life change comes through relationships, and I am so blessed that I get to spend my days investing in and making a difference in the lives of my students. They are the best part of my job! They challenge me, inspire me, and daily cause me to be the best teacher that I can be. Each one of my students holds such a special place in my heart and the Forever Fingerprints they leave on my life have changed me as well.

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Last December, a new teaching adventure began when I was named the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. My responsibilities take me all around the state as I have the privilege of speaking to others about the amazing profession of which I am so blessed to be a part! Starting in January 2017 I will be the Pennsylvania representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition and will be traveling around the country for different engagements throughout the year.

My Erin Condren LifePlanner™ has been a lifesaver as I have had to balance my teaching schedule, my traveling schedule for Teacher of the Year events, and my personal schedule. Even though I love technology, when it comes to organizing my life I need to be able to see and physically touch my calendar. When I was named Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year I knew I was going to need an effective tool that would help me streamline everything so that I could still have time to focus on the important relationships and things in life. I love Erin Condren’s mantra “Let’s get it done so we can have some fun!” Time is our most precious commodity. Erin Condren’s planner is a must have tool that I use to manage my time so that I can work smarter and not harder!

While there are many life planner options, the one that I love the best is the vertical planner. It allows me to see all of the 3 main areas of my week at one glance.

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  • Top Row is for my teaching/school dates–meetings, deadlines, student birthdays, school functions, etc.
  • Middle Row is for my personal dates–doctors appointment, date nights with my hubby (a weekly favorite!), hair cuts (yes please! Does anyone else besides me just love getting your hair cut?) church activities, time with friends and family, etc.
  • Bottom Row is for my teacher of the year responsibilities–speaking engagements, phone calls, newsletter/blog deadlines, etc.

The awesome thing is that you can make your LifePlanner™ fit your needs! Some ideas on how to use the 3 rows in the vertical planner are:

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  • Bottom Row: Meals for the Week
  • Middle Row: Home Schedule
  • Top Row: Work Schedule
  • Top Row: Morning Schedule
  • Middle Row: Afternoon Schedule
  • Bottom Row: Evening Schedule
  • Top Row: Work Schedule
  • Middle Row: Kids/Sports Schedule
  • Bottom Row: Exercise Schedule

Truly the possibilities are endless!

I also LOVE that you can personalize your planner and change the covers of your planners. While I loved my “and so the adventure begins” planner cover last year, this year I decided to put my theme for Teacher of the Year “Leaving Forever Fingerprints” on the cover. I can’t tell you how much I love how it turned out! Isn’t it pretty?!

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All of the accessories and options that Erin Condren has to accompany our planners are so beautiful and inspiring!

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As a teacher I adore the colorful pens, stickers, and dashboards!

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Thank you Erin Condren for designing such organized and practical, yet beautiful and inspirational planners! I’d be lost without mine! Click here for $10 off your first purchase!

Lunch Tote Lovin’ for Back To School!

Let’s face it: some days, packing a lunch for yourself or your kiddos is an exercise in creativity. Even if your pantry is looking a little bare, nothing spices up a played-out PB&J quite like a tote-ally adorable lunch tote! Suddenly, lunching just became a lot more lively.

Let’s digest a few reasons to love your lunch tote:

Neoprene = easy to clean! We’ve always loved the stretchy, sturdiness of neoprene for our carry-all clutches, which is why we stuck with this marvelous material for our lunch totes! In addition to being dishwasher/washing machine safe for easy cleaning, neoprene is also great for temperature control, meaning your snacks will stay within a certain temperature range- pretty cool!   

Expandable accommodates all your eats! Don’t let the first glance fool you- these lunch totes were made for serious snackers! The bottom expands, as does the material, making it easy to pack all the essentials without bruising your banana.

 Secure Snacking With a Velcro Tab! There’s no crying over spilled milk when it comes to these tough totes- we made sure of it! The zipper extends all the way across the top, along with a velcro tab below the handles for added support.  

Personalize to Your Taste! Keep it minimalist with a monogram, or go quippy with a fun, food-inspired quote! Any way you slice it, your personalized (or non-personalized) tote can be tailored to your taste.

We want to see what sorts of snacks you’ve been packing in these terrific totes! Snap a photo & tag us on Instagram for a chance to be featured.

FriDIY: Little Tikes Car for My Niece

Being an Auntie is one of my proudest roles and of course, I am occasionally guilty of going overboard on gifts for my nieces and nephews. Twelve years ago, when my twin nieces were born I bought TWO Little Tikes cars and decked them out with DAISIES! The gifts were such a hit, so when my brother and his wife were surprised with a baby girl named ROSE, (after two boys) I knew exactly what to do for her first birthday….make a “Rose Royce!”

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I bought fake roses at Michael’s and used a hot glue gun to stick them on the roof of the car. I believe everything is better when personalized, so I used a paint marker (also from Michael’s) to write her name in fancy lettering and added polka dot details to the side door.
slack-imgs.comI found a mini license plate at Toys R Us with peel and stick numbers that called out her birthday on the back. (sorry, forgot to get a photo of that!)
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The gift was once again a huge hit and we couldn’t get Rose to leave her car for the rest of the party! The best thing about this gift is that she didn’t grow out of it for a couple years. Two years later Rose was still taking her “Rose Royce” for a ride around the neighborhood and at the ball park during her brother’s baseball games!

Want to see more DIY projects, product sneak peeks and exciting news around the EC office? Follow us on Instagram!

Making Memories – Eighth Grade Gift

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One of my favorite projects at my kids’ school is the annual 8th Grade “gift” that is presented to each 3rd grader at our school. It seems like just yesterday that my twin 3rd graders came home BEAMING about their special day with the “big kids.” Now my kids are in 8th grade and I think they may have enjoyed their part even more this time around. I thought it would be fun to post the details in case you want to present this idea to your teacher or principal.

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Here’s how it works: Every 3rd grader is given an “All About Me” questionnaire (click here to download). This helps the 8th grader get ideas for a story that relates back to the 3rd grader that he/she will be matched up with.  The 8th graders write a story for credit in their Language Arts class and attach photos or drawings that make it more fun to read at the 3rd grade reading level.  Our Hermosa Beach Education Foundation donated the funds to have the books bound into a colorful assortment that looked so nice on the tables on presentation day.

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The day of the event, I volunteered with a few other moms to bring cookies and juice to the outdoor auditorium at our school. It was a precious gathering of students and it was amazing to see the size difference between all the 3rd and 8th graders together! (Just look at my son’s legs in this photo!)

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They found a quiet spot to read the stories aloud to their 3rd grade buddies and I must say, I got a little teary-eyed! It really is such a wonderful memory for all, hope you can make this happen at your school too.

Erin Condren & DonorsChoose.org

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We’re honored to announce that we will be partnering with DonorsChoose.org during this year’s Back to School season.  For every Teacher’s Lesson Planner sold now through August 31st, we will be donating $1 to projects of YOUR choosing.  At the beginning of September, we will open up a nomination period in which we will ask you, our customers, to nominate projects on the DonorsChoose.org platform that you think are deserving of being funded.  The Erin Condren staff will then select projects from those nominations and other projects near and dear to our hearts to fund using the money raised.  

We selected DonorsChoose.org based off of feedback we heard from our customer base and because we love that they make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need.  Ultimately, they are helping move us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.

Stay tuned to our blog and social channels for more information on how to nominate projects in September.  We’re so excited to hear from you, and make a difference in classrooms across the country!


$1 of the purchase price from the sale of each Teacher’s Lesson Planner sold in the continental United States will be contributed to DonorsChoose.org. This contribution is not tax deductible by purchasers. The promotion shall last until 8/31/2016, and will have a guaranteed minimum contribution amount of $25,000.

A peek at the NEW Teacher’s Lesson Planner!

Teachers have always been near and dear to my heart. My mom & dad were both teachers and many of my besties from grade school went into the field of education. A few years ago, some of my teacher friends were complaining about how few choices they had for lesson planners and classroom decor…. “all we have to choose from are covered in googly-eyed apples and dancing rulers!” It was then that I knew my team could help…EC Teacher’s Lesson Planner to the rescue!

Each year we launch a new edition and here are just a few “sneak peeks” inside! We updated the inside pages, refreshed the designs, added more pages for notes in between the months and added more options (like metallic!) After all, these gals are stylish and inspirational, so should their Lesson Planners be!

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I’m so excited about this newest edition of the Teacher’s Lesson Planner – I love listening to customer feedback, having focus groups with my friends and getting to the bottom of exactly what changes can be made to make it even better. I hope you agree, but I think this year may be the golden* (wink) or even the rosy* (wink wink) year for the #ECTLP!

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Check out our latest video debuting the newest version of the Teacher’s Lesson Planner!