Sometimes I am that mom that forgets to send back permission slips on time. I have also, on occasion, forgotten to dress my son up on dress up days and send in show and tell. I’m not really that frazzled in the morning, but those important pieces of paper are notoriously lost in the pile of items that are pasted on the fridge door. My 4-year-old starts JK this September and my 2-year-old will be in preschool two mornings a week. Improvements to our school organization system have definitely been on my priority list. Thankfully, the Michael’s Back to School Challenge was just what I needed to jump start this project.
Launch pads for school related items are definitely not a new trend and because my children are still young, there isn’t a lot of organization required. A little magnetic paint to hold artwork and calendars, some giant letters to define each child’s zone, a special spot for library books (because if they escape and get mixed in with our own books, I will spend a minimum of 10 minutes looking and will drop at least two f-bombs before I find it) and some hooks pretty much covered our needs.
I used Martha Stewart magnetic effect paint. I only used it where I knew we would place magnets and I went with 4 coats. The hooks are giant clothes pins from Michael’s that we drilled into the wall (you can easily take them apart). The pencil case and library book holder are made from eco-fi felt (colour: smoke). I went with a no-sew option and used adhesive iron-on tape. The letters are felt peel and stick.
The catch with these types of spaces (as with most things in life) is that you actually need to use them properly for them to be effective. That means a little repetition, some gentle reminders and some goal setting. Goal setting for a 4 year old may seem out of place, but I think it’s important to plant a few seeds and get the conversation going about what my son can expect from his new environment this fall. The trick is to make it fun, attainable and visible. Dale Ho, author and founder of Share A Story, an organization dedicated to providing literacy programming for all families, suggests that younger children benefit from weekly goal setting exercises that are geared towards their skill level and that can be accomplished in a short period of time. Ho suggests that skills such as doing up buttons or zippers or learning one sight word during the week are good examples of appropriate goals for a younger child. Keep in mind, that the exercise can be adapted to all age groups. I even set some goals for myself!
I wanted to incorporate our goals into our school organization system in a fun way. I also wanted my son to participate. I channeled my inner 4-year-old and decided that making paper airplanes would probably get his attention…and it did!
Here’s what you will need before you begin this project:
80 lb smooth and textured card stock in your favourite colours and patterns. I recommend using 12 x 12 inch sheets to accommodate the template
Needle nose pliers
Glue and/or adhesive tape
30 gauge wire in the colour of your choice
Assortment of black buttons (note: they don’t need to match!)
Pencil and eraser
String or fishing line
- Back To School Goal Setting Template (click to download pdf) – or create your own
Step 1 – Templates
Trace out body, wings and windows of the plane using a pencil and cut as you would for any paper craft project.
Step 2 – Main wings
– Create folds as indicated on the template.
– Create a small pinhole approximately 3 inches along the back of the wing (curved edge).
– Feed the jump ring through the underside of the wing and until the end reaches the top side of the paper.
– Create another small pinhole at the location where the end of the jump ring meets the paper. Feed the jump ring through to reach the other end. The distance between the pinholes will depend on the size of the jump ring you use. Clasp the two ends of the jump ring together.
– Glue the two sides of the wings together, leaving the anchor exposed.
– Glue the two sides of the anchor together.
– Press firmly.
– Add adhesive strips or glue to the outside of the anchor and secure to the inside of the main body of the plane. Fold the two sides of the plane together.
– Use glue to affix the windows to the plane on either side of the cockpit. Attach an appropriate length of string to the jump ring to hang up the plane once completed.
Step 4 – The Tail Wing
– Glue the inside of the body of the plane at the tail only, leaving a 1 centimeter opening at the top without glue.
– Cut a horizontal opening halfway down the tail of the plane. The cut should be 1.5 inches.
– Create a similar cut in the tail wing. The cut should be 0.75 inches.
– Feed the tail wing into the opening until the two cut lines meet.
Step 6 – The Propeller
– Use a needle to create a pinhole in the center of the propeller.
– Feed the bead through the propeller
– Use a needle to create a pinhole in the nose of the body of the plane. Make the opening slightly larger by rotating the pin on an angle through the opening.
– Feed the bead through the pinhole in the nose of the plane. No glue is needed to secure the propeller.
Step 7 – Landing Gear
– Cut an 8 in. length of 30-gauge wire. Feed 1.5 inches of wire through the backside of a black button and loop back through. You should have about 1 inch of wire remaining to wrap around the longer section.
– Tightly wrap the two sections of wire together.
– Secure any excess wire using pliers. Be careful to not twist too much as the wire may break.
– Repeat the process on the other end using a second button. Bend the wire so that you are left with two equal lengths. Wrap adhesive tape around the top 1 inch of wire.
– Insert the section of bent wire into the bottom of the main body of the plane. Apply pressure to ensure the wire is secure and then adjust the placement of the exposed wire and buttons as desired.
Step 8 – Plane Banner
– Create the plane banner by cutting strips of white card stock in 1 inch by 8 inch strips. Use your scissors to scrape the paper to create gentle curves in opposite directions starting from the center of the strip. Create two pinholes in one end of the banner.
– Cut a 6 inch length of 30-gauge wire and feed through the pinholes and secure the two pieces of wire following the same technique used for the buttons.
– Wrap the remaining length of wire across the tail of the plane (remember that you needed to leave the top of the tail unglued) and feed through the main body back up to the banner to create a circle.
– The end of the wire can be attached to the banner by hooking it, or wrapping the excess around the existing connection at the pinholes.
– Help your child to create their goals. This step can be completed before (as seen in step 5 of the above photo), or after the banner has been secured to the plane.
Step 10 – Hang ‘em Up
Hang the plane(s) in a prominent location to remind you and your child about your goals for the school year.
Do not forget to check out some of the other great back to school ideas from the Michaels Back To School challenge.
Anne from Zephyr Hill created these great personalized binders for her kids.
We were provided with a gift card to cover the expenses of this post.