Thursday, November 17, 2016

Instant Ink - One Month Update

So, I've been using the Instant ink service for almost a full month now.  I have the $9.99 plan for 300 pages currently during the promo period so I can take full advantage.  Which can be changed at any time.

So, checking the price on Amazon, we have saved roughly $70 so far.  The initial starter kit + now we have been shipped refills for both color and black cartridges.  The combo pack on Amazon costs $36.  Plus the ink cartridges are nearly double the size of the standard XL ones!  So, the value is much greater.

Now, if I get referrals, I can earn more free months of printing.  Even if you only get one free month for starting up, the savings are well worth it from the very first starter shipment.  Since the highest rate price is only $10/month.

I will be using this for more than just homeschool.  I have an art business I do from home and can now offer printed services and products.

I've received these extra cartridges and have not yet installed them.  My ink supply isn't even really low.  I've printed so much this month period because I was using the Printables services for homeschool work sheets from places like  The Printable apps ended in October, so there won't be any more automated daily printing.  I can still find things to print, but will have to go to each site and manually choose my prints.

I'm going to be getting rollover minutes, which after I surpass my 300 mins in the month it will deduct from there before charging me for overage prints.

So, in closing, I'm pretty satisfied with this service.  It is even cheaper than buying knock off inks that may not bypass the HP Proprietary filter.  Though, I heard they removed that after several complaints.  This is definitely the most affordable option for us.  If you have an Instant-Ink compatible HP printer and are interested in signing up, please use my referral link.

Try HP Instant Ink

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Epic Foam Explosion

Today's DIY Project - Create a Foam Explosion

Elephant Toothpaste Foam Explosion

We're doing the "Elephant Toothpaste"(kid friendly version) as demonstrated by Steve Spangler Science.


  • 4 oz Hydrogen Peroxide
  • splash of dish soap
  • desired food color (optional)
  • Yeast solution (dry yeast + water)

In a disposable bottle we measured 4 oz of peroxide.  Chase then  mixed in the dish soap and food color before adding in the catalyst.  We used yeast for a kid friendly version.  Chase also wore safety glasses and this was done on our junk picnic table (it needs to be fixed).  Then, explosion!  Much more impressive than the old baking soda and vinegar volcano!  :D  This foamed up real fast and kept erupting.  He was quite impressed.

The project page has member projects and how to's for you to learn how.  Chase is posting up the video of his project now, which may take a while for it to load on  But here it is below:

HP Instant Ink

We've started up with HP Instant Ink to try to save money on our printing costs.  We have an HP Instant Ink compatible Printer, HP OfficeJet 3830 Series (affiliate link).  HP's program will save a lot of money on ink, since it charges per printed page, rather than amount/color of inks used.  And you get rollover pages, up to your plan amount.  We're starting off with the 300 page plan, which is normally $9.99, but we have a promo giving us a free month.  If you want a free month, you can sign up with our link - Instant Ink.  It grants us one month free and new enrollments also get the free month.  

It will send the ink before we run out, there are 3 different plans to fit your budget and you can change them any time.  $9.99 being the highest with 300 pages.  I probably won't be printing anywhere near that much, but I wanted to start with the higher plan while I have it for free.  Also, buying ink costs more than $10.  I'll write up a proper review after I've received it.  I plan to use my printer for both homeschool and professional art projects, like printing out my digital stamps and papers.  So, hopefully, I'll get some good use out of it.  The HP Connected website gives you a comprehensive record of your usage, so you can see how much you're using and adjust your plan accordingly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mayan Book - Grolier Codex - Activity Page

Free drawing coloring page for the Mayan Civilization.  I'm using this as part of my lesson plan to go in Chase's Social Studies interactive notebook.

Recently, PBS published an article finding that the "Grolier Codex", originally thought to be a forgery, was in fact, a true artifact, depicting deities that were unknown at the time of its discovery and therefore could not be faked.

It has several images linked from a gallery of the pages.  For my unit, I am having Chase study the images, watch some videos on Mayan culture and read the article about the "Grolier Codex".  Also, there was an interesting tidbit about the Quetzal bird, a very long feathered and beautiful bird, that was seen as a messenger to their bird deity, Quetzalcoatl.  They used the feathers of the male bird for their headdresses and ceremonial adornments.

For this activity/coloring page, I have adorned the borders with Mayan styled drawing, using the apparent number code from the codex as the side borders.  The Mayan culture revolved around the stars and the dates, so those would be recurrent themes as well.  The sheet is 8.5" x 11" but can be shrunken down for interactive notebooks.  I set mine to print as 8" x 10" and deselected "fit to page" in the Windows print options.  Your printer may need adjusting, run a test print.

This could be used for guided drawing.  Tell them to draw a one sided figure, like in my drawing and to exaggerate the nose.  Tell them to draw an animal on top of their head with big eyes, like a funny hat or headdress.  Then they can choose what the character is doing.  Holding corn or a snake by the tail, or holding a spear.  Then, they can decorate the empty spaces with patterns from lines and dots in elliptical shapes, kind of like a rounded rectangle.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Latest Arty Project - Texas Auction

My family is holding an auction and fundraiser to help my Uncle after losing his wife to cancer this year and he has fallen into some financial strife.  I'm making a new mixed media painting, which will be going to auction.

Spent half the day yesterday and today assembling roses and making petals.  These will be attached to the canvas with gel medium and all painted and incorporated.  I may not be able to send it to Texas in time for the auction, but perhaps as an online auction instead.  I'll have to contact my Aunt for details.  I would prefer to send it directly to the recipient.

I wanted to make something special for the auction, rather than send an existing work.  I may be sending prints of my other works for the actual auction.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tosanoides Obama Pyle Fish

Next assignment for Chase is on the newly discovered "Tosanoides Obama Pyle Fish" from the genus Tosanoides.  They are named after our President for his conservation efforts to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

So, I've decided to release a little clip art of this cute little fish.  One b&w version with just the lines and another of the colored version.  JPG and PNG version of each.

I used a photo reference from National Geographic's website, taken by Richard Pyle, the man who discovered this new species.  As such, this is a completely free resource with share and share alike permissions.  As in, any products made with this should also be free.  It is an educational resource from a news source and I am uncertain if it is in the public domain or not.  This is, of course a hand drawing that is watercolor painted on card stock paper.  So would fall into fair use, however, I feel this little fish should swim freely.

Don't know what his non-Scientific nickname will be, I am guessing "Obama Fish"  ;D

Download on TeachersPayTeachers

This fish will be named in honor of President Obama for his commitment to protecting nature through the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Bonus!  Free Coloring Page!  Just randomly decided to make a coloring version print page.  You can give guided instruction for the colors of the fish, or use print outs of my watercolor version as example, or let the students color however they like.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Digital Stamps

I have several digital stamp files, wondering if they would be useful clip arts for TeachersPayTeachers.

Just printed some out onto watercolor paper as a batch of Patron rewards.  Debating whether or not I should color them with my shimmering watercolors or send them blank for them to paint/color as they please.

These can be attached to a card face as focal images of greeting cards, or added to art journals, scrapbook and mixed media collages.  I've tested my printer ink and it doesn't seem to bleed with a light amount of watercolor.  Not sure how it would do with a heavy wash yet.

These are currently available on my Patreon and also my Gumroad as digital downloads.  Print on paper of choice and they are ready to go.  If you have a laser printer, you can do image transfers, just remember to mirror the image first.  That is the ideal method of transferring digital stamps into art collage/art journals, as it gives it a perfect blend.  But you can also print onto tissue paper, attach it to card stock securely first, and then, print and it can be decoupaged into the project and the paper will fade into the bg.

So, opinion poll, painted or not?

Friday, September 2, 2016

First Weeks in Review + Dungeon Crawl!

PBS Learning Media Storyboard for new school year
Friday and gave Chase a test and storyboard assignment this morning to review what we've learned so far.  I made my own storyboard to highlight a few of the things.  Just a good way to keep track of what we've learned.  Don't see anyway to embed these.  It is similar to the Glogster posters, though those you can embed.  However, Glogs take a long time to load, I think it is all flash or something.  This could also be used as a presentation for projects.  Though Windows 10 has a built in app that might work better.  It's called Sway.  I'll have to play around with it a bit to see how useful it would be.  The storyboards are simple, and that can be good enough.

In the afternoon, we did our first dungeon crawl.  Only made it to the first room of the Old Aqueducts, though.  We had a random encounter with 4 tiny scorpions and they kicked our butts because we couldn't hit them!  Hahaha.  Well, after Kai (Chase's fighter) fell into a floor trap that nearly killed him, we took on a huuuuge centipede and destroyed it.  Then there was lewts.  Emberlyn (my pirate/rogue) found some gold and split it (evenly, of course! ---- not!) and Kai found a glowing gem and a cool sword.  Our NPC, Asila, a second year Healer student, found a small silver ring.

That is as far as we got, had to have them take a short rest...  Guess we're combining 3.5 and 5 rules to try to simplify things.  Rather than make us spend the night in the dungeon when it should really take one night only.  We're exploring a tunnel under our school and they would probably have to send a search party after us if us first years didn't make it back.  But hey, we did sign the waivers that adventurer's school could mean our deaths!

Chase has no problem solving math problems on the fly as he rolls his saves and attacks.  He did well with the roleplay part, with a character afraid of bugs and our first encounters....  My character flaw has a fear of ghosts.  Kevin wanted us each to have a flaw to make our characters more interesting and have fun to roleplay with.

For our table, we bought a shower curtain as it is cheaper than a large vinyl mat, cut it to size and we're using overhead markers to write on it.  He made a dungeon map to go under it and drew on all the features and added tokens as encounters.

The DM notes and encounter tokens!

New miniatures for our characters from Reaper Mini.

The full table view of the dungeon.
Oops, just remembered, forgot to do school pictures today.  Well, maybe we'll take them on Monday.  We were still discussing what to do with them.  Last year it was Minecraft themed, where I used a green screen to superimpose him into a Minecraft scene he composed.  I think he wants to do that again, but after looking at the portrait of Benjamin Franklin with his favorite things to present himself as a person who believed in the Age of Enlightenment, he might want a tailored portrait.  Maybe styled as a painting.  Only my Wacom isn't compatible with Windows 10, plus I managed to lose my stylus!

Last year's pictures!  2015-2016 School Year - 3rd Grade

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dual Challenge - DIY

This week's DIY, I have a double challenge set up for Chase.  Both of these should be pretty easy but as an extra bit of work, I want him to use the Storyboard Tool on PBS Learning Media to do the assignment portion, where he adds in his media, text, links and details with a bg and on a timeline style layout like a blog post.  It's similar to Glogster which he is already familiar with, but has a much cleaner design and an easy to use template for drag and drop and rearrangement of elements.  Actually, it's like a website builder.

I'm going to be having him use this for 'week in review' type of assignments.  Where he'll be adding what he has learned through out the week to his storyboard.  So I want him to practice with it so he is prepared.  I'll have to make one as well so he has an example to work from.  Do our own, homeschool so far story.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I feel super accomplished.  Just finished setting up assignments for next week via PBS Learning Media.  This site really is brilliant.  There are many ready made lesson plans as well as media resources to build your own.  I really like the Lesson Builder, it makes everything a snap.  Chase is enjoying the ease of it as well.  It is way more interesting than Scootpad or any other lesson resources we've used in the past.  I can export all his handed in work to Google Drive.  So grading his work should be a snap.

I still need to come up with the DIY project and an art project, but otherwise, the next week has been prepared.  Last week we did storyboarding and character portraits.  I want to keep everything related to his gaming project for now.  Perhaps we will do some pixel art for art class, I know he'll really enjoy that.  I'll probably have the two assignments be relevant to each other.

Here's my PBS Learning Media Dashboard.  It is looking pretty spiffy.  I have assignments, a puzzle, a quiz and a storyboarding assignment readied.  For the storyboard, he'll be making a pictorial of things we have learned so far.  I'm only asking for one key feature of each topic.  Just to familiarize him with the storyboarding mechanics.

Real Math

I have gestational diabetes and have to keep track of my blood sugar levels.  Chase is, of course, aware of this, so it is something he can feel more a part of helping me keep myself in my goals.  I've created an assignment with my real data in it for him to plot on a graph, and calculate my averages and use reason to determine if my numbers are improving or getting worse or staying the same.

This assignment is still marked Private, as it does have more personal information in it.  But I wanted to share it here as it may be useful to others to either create their own lesson plan based off of it by customizing it, or do something similar with their own data that their student(s) can track.

I think real world information is more effective than random numbers from some questionnaire.  This is something he sees me checking every day.  I poke my fingers 4 times a day and send my numbers to my doctor every week.  So, he knows it is important and we have discussed carb counts of food and what is in my allowance and what foods still spike my numbers even though they are in my allowance.  So, he can help me be aware that my numbers are not as good as they were a month ago, closer to when I first started tracking.  I think I've been doing this for about 2 1/2 months now.  I have been slipping lately and allowing myself to get out of the range and eat foods I know will spike it.  Tonight, I had a banana mashed with peanut butter as my fruit side.  Bananas are really high, but since I had a low main course, I thought it would be okay.  Nope, it rocketed my numbers to 140.

So, here are my numbers and my graphs.  Check out the lesson "Blood Sugar Graph" on PBS Learning Media.  I think it is under the CCSS Math 4.MD.B - Represent and interpret data.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Watercolor Zen Doodle Printable

Free Download on TpT
Finished scanning and uploading my watercolor doodle from last night.  This was a great way to wind down after boning up on lesson plans for Chase.  I stayed up way too late.  This seems to be every night.  These are now available both the freebie and the complete set of full resolution images as clip art with permissions for personal and commercial use.

I've also made the download for the entire set available to my Patrons on Patreon who pledge $1 or more per month.  I have about a year's worth of free download content exclusive to my Patrons, and access to all of that is only $1.  Patreon is a crowdfunded platform where people subscribe to creators at a pay-what-you -want model.  Some creators offer rewards.  I offer all my digital downloads to various levels of my Patronage.  Higher tiers have access to everything.  I also offer more rewards, like Artist Trading Cards.   I mostly have artwork there, but will also be sharing my teaching resources.

Join me on Patreon

The complete Zip set of files on TpT

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top Hat Dude Storyboard

Overall, today was a great day of school.  He got a little behind on worksheets, but made up for it by doing his 'homework' (finishing anything he didn't complete before he is allowed on the computer) and doing an excellent job with everything else.

We did the PBS Learning Media lesson I made on the Pledge of Allegiance.  He followed directions and wrote down his notes and vocabulary and made his own conclusions at the end.  I'm pretty happy with how that lesson went and he liked using the website.  Found it easy to use and likes it more than other sites we've tried.

So, I used their Lesson tool to create an assignment for his challenge for the week.  I chose storyboarding as his topic, as it falls in line with his school project.  He will need to know how to storyboard as he plans out his game.  It will also help him take notes and visualize the D&D sessions.

I had him do a practice storyboard for fun.  He made this little day in the life of type of story for one of his stick men characters, "Top Hat Dude".  Yes, that is his name and he is rather dapper.  He is a hero sporting a rather fancy top hat and has no super powers, just a good guy.  Without further ado...

Top Hat Dude by Chase C. 2016

These aren't posted on the website yet, but will be soon.  This is under the 'animation' category, though it is also under 'filmmaking'.  There seemed to be more things he is planning to do for his project under the animation challenges.  Perhaps he can animate his scenes next week.  :D

Tomorrow's agenda is some epic Bill Nye in the morning and D&D in the afternoon.  I have some flats to color for Kevin's inks and need to upload all my plans to PBS Learning Media before school starts.  I was up too late working on it last night.  :B

Watercolor Doodling

It's late and just finished doodling.  Planning to make some digital graphics from this as a freebie.  Maybe as cut outs and as a whole.  It measures 2.5" x 5".  So, not even a proper bookmark size.  ;P  Wishing I had a paper punch to make some awesome circles or something out of it.

This was inspired by a Pin on Pinterest.  Shared it to my homeschool board.  Think we might do this next week.  I like to do paint doodles.  Ultra fun.

I'll scan these up tomorrow.  In the meantime, enjoy the preview ;D

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Character Portrait - Kai by Chase

Kai - Human Fighter
After computer lab and worksheets in the morning, we got to do a much more fun art class in the afternoon.  Chase got to design his character portrait for D&D.  We demonstrated how to use a stencil template that Kevin had made to speed up character sketches.  Then we measured out proportions of where all the facial features would be.  Kevin drew a few variances of character design using the same template.

My cell phone cannot handle the lighting.

Kevin demonstrating different characteristics added to same template.  The template was made from a plastic container, he cut it, ironed, cut out forms, sanded it smooth.  Originally from a peppermints bucket.
So, we had Chase start with some preliminary sketches until he was happy with his character.  Then he redrew that using the template, and inked it.  He's not really into coloring much, but we'll get him a program on his computer so he can color digitally if he likes.  

Five Day Lunch Plan!

I saw a brilliant idea to take the argument out of lunch.  Every day it is, "What do you want for lunch?" "What do we have?"  *list every item in the house* "I don't want that!"...  It gets so frustrating to make him pick a lunch and eat it too.  So, the solution?  Let's see if this works.  This is our first trial of it.

If I can find the link again, I'll share the original idea. (cannot find original blog, searched my history all the way to the 9th and it is just too much)  But it's pretty simple.  Chase will have a grocery budget, which he will plan his meals for school days for breakfast and lunches.  It must meet all the food group requirements and be within his week's budget.

He has made his list, and I must say, I'm pretty impressed by it.  He even has a dessert for the week, a pre-made cake!  lols!

We're a bit behind schedule for school today.  He took to long getting ready so lost his computer privileges for after school.  So, that sets his tone for the day.  Wah wah wah...  :B  Well, he cooperated writing his list after a bit of prodding.  Then, took too long with his busy work.  Now, he's taking an eon to have his lunch...  Sigh.

The afternoon plan was to do his RPG Maker VX Ace tutorial for the school project.  But it looks like we may not have time for it.  It was going to be some computer time for him as part of school.  Maybe tomorrow will see better behavior.  We have no time to dilly dally.  I have an ultrasound around 11 and he has to be all the ball for getting ready.  And Kevin wants to do gym class with him afterwards.  I suggested at the park.  We'll see how that goes.

*Update*  Ultrasound in the AM went very well.

Chase had just a half day's lessons, Gym class and daily worksheets.  He had reading time while he waited with Kevin at the Doctor's office.

But Wednesday, I've got a full lesson plan readied for him and made another for Thursday!  Wednesday will be an ELA assignment on Peacocks using this lesson plan shared on PBS Learning Media.

Using the same tool, I created my own lesson on the Pledge of Allegiance.  It even includes a crossword puzzle that was generated using their puzzle tool.  My lesson isn't shared publicly, when I'm ready to do that with materials that meet all community guidelines, I will share the public links here.  From there, teachers can "quick assign" to get a student link to track the answers and assign to their own students.  As I'm still learning these tools, I'm not ready to make public lessons.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Watercolor Borders for TeachersPayTeachers

Three new borders for TeachersPayTeachers.  All are hand painted with watercolor.  Available in my store, "Watercolor Borders".  

Patrons who pledge +$3 per month will receive these as part of their rewards, as well as everything in my Patrons only feed.  Monday, August, 22nd is the One-Day Sale on TpT.  All my items will be 20% off, including these!

These can be used in personal/commercial art projects as well as your TpT products and class materials.  Full permissions is granted, for everything other than redistribution as is.  Hi-res scans and png images are included of each.  These can be enlarged by 200-300% without loss of quality.  May be suitable for poster sized printing.

For art class, try printing these on watercolor paper if you are able.  Test your printer ink for smudging once it is completely dry.  Sometimes, heat setting will prevent printer ink from bleeding.  It may have a desirable effect.

Possible uses: Class fliers and worksheets, classroom posters, bookmarks or hall passes (add text and laminate), task cards, use online for digital layouts, and more.  These can be printed at smaller sizes to be used as digital stamps in your art projects.  Just reduce the print sizes and add text/etc you like, print, cut out and add to your collages and greeting card embellishments.

Available on TpT or Patreon

Saturday, August 20, 2016

D&D School Has Begun!

The first day of D&D homeschool sessions has begun.  The hardest part, character creation.  Chase's character is a human fighter named Kai.  We started with character rolls, using 4 six-sided dice and taking away the lowest.  The other three numbers are added up for your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence and Wisdom stats.  Looking at the Player's Handbook, we check the recommended builds for Fighter class, Strength and Constitution being the most important traits.  Chase chose to put his highest roll into Constitution to give his character more fortitude in combat.

Each roll is given a modifier, for example +3 on the roll of 17 for Constitution checks.

He did all the math himself.  Adding and modifying, customizing his character.  Moving on, we have Inventory after rolling for gold.  Our DM gave us some basic items to start with, but we bought the rest of our items, weapons and armor with our currency.  The Player's Handbook has a guide for the cost of each item.  Some items are only silver or copper, so the conversion works like this:  1 gp = 10 sp, and 1 sp = 10 cp.  Chase only bought his weapons and armor, but I spent nearly every coin my rogue had on adventuring trinkets to fill her pack.

Choosing skills and feats is the most time consuming part.  For this sets your character's abilities and will affect game play as we go on our adventures.  All told, the complete character creation process and a little bit of intro narration to place us in our setting, this took approximately 3 hours.  And he wasn't bored for a single second of it.  He sat in rapt attention as he did basic math, came up with creative stories for his character's personality and background and had quite a lot of writing to do.  He hates writing, but this was not something he hated at all.

Besides his character sheet, he also has a notebook, where he will be keeping track of his numbers, writing in notes about our adventures and adding background story for himself and other characters we encounter.  We're going to use his notes when we work on his school project, to build his own Role Playing Game (RPG) via RPG Maker VX Ace.  The story and characters from our D&D sessions will be featured in our game.

Not sure how long this will take us or how much we can finish, but perhaps we'll release the game for free at the end of it.  We'll be following tutorials to begin with.  RPG Maker Web has enough posted to give us about 11 weeks worth of lessons.  He can also earn badges for his progress via, they have several categories for game design, character creation, and table top gaming.

I may make resources for this game engine, releasing content for others to use.  He may be doing a lot of the pixel art characters, but I may work on portraits and tile sets.  He should have no difficulty with the character sprites.  He really enjoys that style of art and can do it with most basic programs.  I think we have GIMP 2 on his computer, which he can use to work on this.  Any support for this project is appreciated.  I will be releasing content here and exclusives on Patreon.  Some resources may be released in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

We didn't unroll the map yet, that will be revealed next Friday.  Kevin made the map via Pyromancers, and simplified the textures for ease on our printer.  He had to use a program to do poster printing so the pieces would print actual size as our game mat.  Each square in the grid is 1"x1".  Then, he added texture with a crayon and I helped taping map pages together.

He made the cover for his notebook.  And he'll be adding pages in the Table of Contents as we go, just like all his other subject interactive journals.  Hopefully, his handwriting will improve.  It is pretty rough and we struggle getting him to write in proper case with legible spacing.  He loathes writing, though he loves to read.

This summer, he read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy after having read The Hobbit.  Currently, he is reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 'trilogy'.  I think he just started book 3.  I believe I own all 5 books, 4 are in a collection along with the short story Young Zaphod Plays it Safe.  His reading is on a high school level, but his maturity is on a juvenile level.  So, finding appropriate books is becoming a challenge.  Suggestions are always welcomed.  Our limits are on sexually mature content and darker themes.  A bit of violence is okay, but not too graphic or cruel.

For our upcoming art class, we will work on character portraits.  We plan to also select and paint miniatures.  Kevin plans to make tokens, which he may release on Roll20's marketplace.  So, there will be a lot of focus around gaming day this year.  Kevin isn't currently working, so we can maintain this for a while.  Plans will need to be adjusted once he does get a job and the baby is born.  For now, there will be plenty of motivation to keep school interesting.  Besides being cool, it is something we are all doing together.

I don't think we will be streaming game play.  One, our camera isn't very good and our lighting is awful.  The whole ceiling fixture doesn't work.  Secondly, Twitch has rules about underage persons appearing in a stream.  Even though I think there would be plenty of interest in D&D homeschooling, I agree that children should not be on that site.  We could use YouTube, but for the same reasons, moderation, etc...  Finally, there is Skype for the Classroom, however, we kinda hate Skype and it's a terrible program.