Friday, 17 January 2014


My love affair with Pinterest began quite some time ago and, if I'm honest, often vies with my children/husband/housework for my attention. I've improved recently, but it's still an issue.

It's hard to not find yourself engrossed though when it's such a treasure trove of ideas. One of my favourite Pinterest ideas of the last few months was the project my year 3/4 class made as a Christmas gift for their families. You can find the pin that started my excitement here.  We made coasters from 10*10cm tiles.
The photos don't do them justice. They looked great.
The process was a little fiddly and time consuming (that appears to be a recurrent theme in my blog lately) but completely manageable.
I introduced the project by having the kids brainstorm (or thought shower if the term brainstorm is too un PC in your part of the world) all kinds of words that relate to Christmas. We covered an entire whiteboard with them. It's quite an interesting exercise in showing family values and culture.

My nearly complete coaster.
I then showed them my 'nearly' completed coaster. They were impressed by my 'artwork' as only 9 and 10 year olds can be. :) I then asked them to rule up a 10cm*10cm square using the corner of a piece of paper as two sides. That was my first mistake. GIVE them the square already ruled up. It will save time, heart ache and a whole lot of 'tell me what you know about squares and then tell me if what you've drawn is one'.

Filling their square with a 'word cloud' of as many of the Christmas related words as they liked was harder than you'd imagine. Lots of 'design issues' (to quote one little gem) and more spelling mistakes than I care to remember.  (How do kids do that? How do they incorrectly spell a word that's right in front of them?)  When we were all happy with their design they traced over it in black pen and erased their pencil.

An example of what each kid
got back from me.
I then gathered the squares and, here's my second mistake, took them home to scan and create a 2 by 2 grid of their design. Why didn't I just run them through the copier a few times? *Sigh* Well, to be honest I didn't do that because we'd blown our photocopying budget and I was trying to be frugal. Ha! Next time I'll just kick in some of my own money and do it because I don't get paid enough to spend an entire Saturday morning scanning, copying & pasting and printing kids' work at home.  (Yeah right, like I won't do it that way again just to make sure their work is exactly the right size/shape etc. Control freak!)

Third mistake coming up... I explained that whist the base of each coaster was, obviously, exactly the same they were going to use colour to make four different coasters. I let them use pencils, pens, coloured markers... Don't. Let them use pencils or ball point pens but NOT coloured markers. You'll see what in a moment.

Thanks LifeStyles!
They cut the four bases and used Mod Podge to carefully adhere them to the tiles. I was really fortunate that a lovely man at one of our local tile shops sold me some 'end of lot' tiles for a very reasonable price. The fact that they were blue and grey didn't matter at all because the art covered the colour completely.
 (I think I paid about $25 for enough tiles for about 200 tiles.)

Even unfinished they look great!
After adhering the art to the tiles came the painstaking process of waiting for it to dry before applying two more coats to the top. It was about now that I discovered that coloured markers were a baaaaaaad idea. They bled into the Mod Podge. It wasn't a disaster but it did mean that the kids had to be very careful about dabbing not painting their coasters with Mod Podge at this stage.

Drying between ooats.
You can see an extreme case of
bleeding near the words egg nog.
For the final coat we mixed a little glitter glue in with the Mod Podge. Nothing like a bit of sparkle to brighten up Christmas coasters!

We applied little self adhesive felt feet on the back at this stage too because the underside of the tiles was a bit rough.

Drying after the lacquer was applied.
In case  you thought I'd finished making mistakes, I have just one more for you. I wanted to seal the coasters with a lacquer to make them water proof - after all, what good is a coaster if the condensation from an icy cold beer water is going to ruin it the first time it's used? Anyway, let's just say that I hope the smell of the lacquer wore off the coasters faster than it did out of the room in which I applied it.

We finished the project by tying the four coasters together with some ribbon. I wish I had a photo of them all to share because they looked so pretty. :(

 So, there you have it.  A great outcome after a few hiccoughs along the way. I'd do it somewhat differently if I did it again, but isn't experience an awesome teacher?

What's your favourite gift to make with your class?

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