Tornado Relief Fund & Getting my “craft” on!

by becky on December 2, 2013

Happy Holidays! I hope you and your family are enjoying this time of year and are remembering to reflect on what you are thankful for.

I personally feel thankful that the recent tornadoes to touch down in IL did not hurt any of my family or friends. Even though the damaging storms  were about 130 miles southwest of me, my town still had the tornado sirens going off as a precaution because of the strength and speed of these unpredictable winds. Lillie was NOT happy about the storm.

If she could have. she would have sat directly on my lap. She is pretty brave in most weather, but has never been comfortable or calm during tornado “drills”. Since we basically live in Tornado Alley, we have these warnings and watches more often than I like.  For this reason ONLY, I like having a basement to go to during the storms. Better safe than sorry, as you will see from the pictures below.

When I first looked at these pictures, it just seemed like an open field. But, as you look closer you see that this is an actual neighborhood where there *were* hundreds of houses. You can see a border of remaining houses, but the inside of the neighborhood was totally taken out. So sad and scary.

Even though I don’t personally  know anyone affected by these storms, my sister does. Having worked at Caterpillar for many years in Peoria (a town very close to Washington, IL), she has remained friends with some of her former coworkers. The picture below is of her friend Denise’s house which is in Washington. My sister made a good point. In a way, we were all lucky it happened on a Sunday afternoon. *Most* people are home on Sunday afternoon and on this day, most were waiting for the Bears game to start. Had it been a weeknight, there would probably have been a higher amount of injuries and deaths. Food for thought.

Denise and her family were home and luckily they also have a basement to take shelter in. After the tornado was over, she and her family discovered their damage. Even though their house is standing, they can’t stay in it, and had to move out quickly and will not be able to move back in for at least a year. I know they are grateful to be safe and alive, but I can only imagine the stress they are going through picking up the pieces from this horrible day.

To show how there is truly no sense in how/where these winds destroy, here is a picture from Denise’s back yard facing her neighbor’s house. As you can see, in a matter of yards, the tornado completely tore her neighbor’s home down. So sad.

So, why am I showing you all these photos? Well, the other day when I was perusing Teachers Pay Teachers, I discovered that there is a group of teachers who are raising money to help those in need from these disastrous tornadoes. I will be making a purchase and I hope you will to. If you are interested, click the image below and show your support.

IL relief

Now, let’s get my craft on… This weekend I made a new Pinterest craft. The thought behind this craft was that it could actually be a gift that my students make for their families. I used to do a family gift every year, but haven’t for the past few seasons. I’m hoping to try this one with my kiddos, because I know how much their families will love to take them out each holiday. What are they? Drink coasters with their pictures on each one. Here is where I got the inspiration from:

I am going to take you through my adventure creating my own example. Let me rephrase that… I am going to take you through my HONEST adventure creating my own example. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I practiced first. 🙂 I have to apologize about the quality of my photos. They looked a lot crisper last night, lol.

Step one: My materials

What I used:
A mat of some sort- I used (several) sheets of construction paper
4 pictures printed off my computer onto regular copy paper
4- 4×4 ceramic tiles (shower tiles)
4- 4×4 foam squares
Modge Podge
Modge Podge Acrylic Sealant
glue gun 
assorted ribbon
Not shown: 
Gift Card 🙂 – I’ll explain 

Let me start with a few tips.

#1-I went to my local Home Depot and purchased 100 tiles for $13. I have 24 students, and with my own coasters, we will use all 100. Hopefully, we don’t have any “uh-oh’s” because I have exactly enough. If not, I’ll make a quick trip for the extras.  This box is HEAVY. I’m hoping I don’t trip on my way bringing it into the school or I’ll be buying 100 more. 🙂

#2- Don’t use pictures printed from your own computer. The ink will run a little. When I actually do this with my own class, I’ll take the pictures (which will be it’s own blog post… so excited for this part!) to Office Max or Staples and have them print them out. I really don’t think it matters if it’s printed on photo or copy paper. Copy paper is more delicate, but still doable.

First things first, I cut my pictures out. For my examples, I used dog pictures. I’m going to be giving the coasters to my mom and since we sadly don’t have any grandkids (yet) in our family, we only have granddogs. 😉 Two of the coasters are of my girl, and the other two coasters are of my sister’s pugs, Yoda and Hunter. Yes, that’s Hunter’s real tongue. It’s super duper long and we love him even more because GOD made him extra special. Poor dude.

Okay, once I cut out the pictures, I spread Modge Podge onto the back of each picture and flattened them onto each tile (with my fingers).

Since everything looked good, I did the next step. I applied a THIN layer of MP to the tops of each coaster. Right on top of the pictures.

I let it dry for about 15 minutes so that I could do the second THIN layer. This is where I noticed a problem. In the original directions, the blogger said to smooth out each photo with a credit card so that it doesn’t bubble up. I thought, “I don’t want to gunk up a credit card. I can smooth it with my fingers.” Well, guess who was wayyy wrong??? THIS girl. After the first thin layer, they were all super bumpy but one was way worse than the others. So, since I knew I have exactly enough tiles, I wondered if I could start over.

Luckily, being wall tiles, they are very durable and SUPER easy to clean. I ran them under water and with some semi-serious rubbing, got all the remnants off of the original picture. This is where using actual photos could be better. If I were doing only a few, I’d use actual pictures, but for this craft, that would mean printing 96 pictures. I decided I wanted to do another one over, so I reprinted these two photos and found (oddly enough) a PetLand gift card. This way I had the strength of a credit card, but wouldn’t possibly damage an actual credit card. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a PetLand. I’ve been to PetCo and PetSmart, but can’t say I even know where a PetLand is near me. I was given this as a Christmas gift MANY years ago and obviously have never used it. Lol.

Slide12So, I started over with these two tiles. I cut the photos, applied MP to the back of the pictures, laid them on the tile, smoothed them with the gift card and let them dry. Once dry, I applied the first THIN layer to the top of each tile. I liked it so much better that guess what I did???

I redid the other two tiles.

Yep, that was me… the girl who should have followed directions the first time. Lesson learned. But, I figure, if I am going to do something, I might as well do it right. 🙂

Okay, so after each of the four tiles had three THIN layers of MP applied to the top, I did the next step. (BTW–wait about 15 minutes between layer to let them dry completely. I had a ceiling fan going so that sped it up as well)

For this step, I took the tiles into the garage and applied a generous layer of the acrylic sealant to protect the pictures from wet glasses. I did this in the garage because the original blogger said to do this in a well-ventilate area. I was not about to NOT follow her directions again. So, I sprayed them and let them dry in the garage over night.

Almost done! Once they are totally dry, I warmed up my glue gun and applied a generous amount of glue to each foam square and pressed them to the backs of each tile. This is to protect your furniture from the rough side of each tile.

Some people use felt dots like the picture below while others use foam or felt.

Slide17I did buy these, but I’m pretty sure I’ll save them for something else. I have a TON of foam sheets left over from a project I didn’t end up doing, so I’d rather use that and make sure I’m not possibly damaging some family’s furniture if the dots fall off.

Last step: Tie together with a pretty bow!

Once all the glue dried, I stacked them, and used the green ribbon to tie them together.

Overall, I think it will be a great project to complete with my class. It will take a few days to complete because of the drying, but we’ll make it work. Have you done this project before? Any words of wisdom before I tackle it with my class?

If this isn’t your cup of tea craftly speaking, check  out the other creative teachers who also linked up with a fourth grade favorite of mine–Tara at 4th Grade Frolics! She always has the best ideas that are helpful and most importantly, easy to implement!



Have a great week!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Coast to Coast Kinder December 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Well, you hung with it and got the tiles finished. I enjoyed seeing your errors and letting me know what not to do. Thanks. Merry Christmas.


Alison December 10, 2013 at 1:20 am

I made these one year with my kiddos and the parents LOVED them. The Mod Podge gets to be a little much after doing four tiles for each student. You might need to take breaks! I had a sweet volunteer that helped paint the tiles. Poor thing almost passed out! They are definitely worth it though!
Rockin’ and Lovin’ Learnin’


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