Weekly Wrap / August 30

english teacher em

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Hi friends,

How did September get here so fast? I love fall but it really did sneak up on me this year!

Highlights of my week so far:

I got back into my bujo. It felt so calming to just sit down and draw for a while on a weeknight! For the theme, I was inspired by my paint box prop.

I wrote a post all about my current favorite organization supplies.

I released lots of new products in my shop, like this Mid-Autumn Festival Bundle that includes vocab cards, a find a star game, and mooncakes rewards.

I taught my first Level 7 classes! Verdict: awesome. They were right up my alley. I really enjoy talking with older kids.

ON MY RADAR

I signed up for the Poem-a-Day newsletter from the Academy of American Poets, and it’s been a really delightful morning read.

I’ve been pinning back-to-school and fall art projects and inspiration like crazy.

I used my tokens to finally snag some new whiteboard markers! Back in June I wrote a big roundup post of all my favorites. I eventually settled on this two-colors-in-one set and this dual tip 12 color set. I also stumbled upon these cuuute red and blue lined whiteboards and these giant magnetic tangrams when I was browsing school supplies!

We have an abundance of late summer farm share tomatoes! I’m currently eyeing this bloody Mary bruschetta and these burrata and tomato zoodles.

I already caved and bought a pumpkin spice latte candle.

I am so excited to see what Noelle Stevenson is working on! Reading Nimona changed my life.

Have you seen Pen15? I absolutely loved it. ❤️ Definitely a where-have-you-been-all-my-life kinda show.

I’ve been really into the Call Your Girlfriend podcast lately.

How adorable is this play toaster set with honey and butter?!

Happy long weekend!

Em 💕

Current Favorite Organization Supplies

favorite organization supplies.png

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Hi friends,

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite supplies for organizing online classrooms and teaching spaces. With back to school sales all over, I’m looking forward to purchasing a few things I’ve been eyeing for a long time now.

I’ve reconfigured my online classroom setup a lot in the past year or so, and it’s become clear to me that being really, really organized is key, especially if you’re like me and a) teach from a small apartment, b) move a lot, and c) tend to be a pretty disorganized person generally! Also, the longer I work in the same space where I live, the more I realize how important it is to delineate specific spaces for each aspect of my life. I don’t have a permanent classroom area, so I set up my space in our living room each morning before I teach, and if I’m not careful, we can quickly go from having a living room to living in a pile of my props (and feeling like I’m always “at work”). Having the pieces in place to quickly transition my surroundings from “work” to “home” is really important to me, and my goal is to ultimately minimize the setup/take down time of my online classroom. I’m also looking for storage options that I can easily transport with me when I visit friends or family, options that don’t require wall space, and ideally options that can easily break down or be used in other ways when we move or if my circumstances change. At this point in my life, I just don’t want to buy single use storage, especially plastic items, so anything I do purchase has to pass a version of the “how could I use this five other ways in five other places five years in the future” test.

CARTS AND MOBILE SHELVING UNITS

The first thing on my wish list is a rolling cart of some kind. I’ve seen lots of teachers use them on social and I think this would be the perfect thing for moving my props and supplies from room to room or holding all the random things I love to use that don’t really store flat (bubbles, giant sunglasses, balls, etc). I love this pink cart from Darice, the dark blue IKEA Raskog, this white triangular style, and this white more rectangular style.

SHELVES AND DRAWER UNITS

We don’t really have the space right now for more bookshelves, but I am considering buying some sort of mobile drawer unit or flat file to store not only my teaching stuff but my products and packaging supplies for my online shops as well. I’m creating more and more 2D props and flat stuff to sell, and it’s currently kind of just in piles everywhere, so it would definitely be nice to have one contained place to store everything. I love the look of the IKEA Helmer drawers, this five-drawer unit with cutout drawer pulls, this cute three drawer unit, and this modern white three drawer unit with a wooden top.

BINS, BASKETS, AND TOTES

Another solution I’m considering is a bin or basket system. This would be more portable than a cart in some ways, since I could just grab bins or baskets and put them in the car. Right now I use my bike basket and old cardboard boxes or whatever is around to store bigger items. I do like being able to see into a big bin or basket, and I already know baskets are some of the most versatile storage pieces in my home, so I would feel confident if I bought more that I would use them for multiple purposes down the road. My favorite picks currently are these extra large round rope totes, these black and white geometric and white zig zag three piece sets, this cuuute offwhite macrame set, these pretty jute baskets, and this beautiful steel and wood dual handle basket.

DESKTOP AND DRAWER ORGANIZERS

I’m leaning towards some kind of clear desktop organization system that I can keep next to me while I’m teaching and then stow under my coffee table or on our bookshelves at other times. I currently use a combination of cardboard boxes and random clear file folders for my 2D props, which are cumbersome to store and make it difficult to see everything at once. I would love to have one attractive unit for all my random 2D props! I love this MUJI stackable acrylic case, this five drawer organizer, this bamboo paper tray, and this white bamboo caddy.

Happy organizing, friends!

Em

Handmade Sunday Vol. 4

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s been too long since I shared some of my favorite artists with you. Somehow everything I decided to feature this week ended up being very soft and cuddly. Maybe the slightly cooler weather has me thinking of fall 😊

WOODLAND TALE BY KATE AND EUGEN

Everything in this shop looks perfectly cuddly, from the mini bear pocket friend to the mama and baby fox! I love the sweet expressions on each animal. Kate and Eugen also make beautiful rubber stamps, ornaments, and embroidered birds.

ATELIER MOUNE BY VICTORIA MARTY

Victoria makes beautiful knit fruits and veggies like these darling peaches and this vegetable soup set. I adore the soft color combinations, and each item is so lovingly styled. Check out these cute kiwi!

KAPLUM SHOP

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sweeter expression on a soft whale or a soft turtle before! Designer duo Alper Demir and Anna van Gerve “combine their background in art with a more practical and educational approach, resulting in playful and imaginative designs.” I also love this fox toy and this wooden rabbit brooch.

SPRITELY CRITTER BY RACHEL

I adore these darling stuffed kittens and rabbits made from upcycled fabric! Rachel also makes beautiful blankets and teething rings.

My Favorite Washi Tapes

my favorite washi tapes

This post contains affiliate links.

I think it will probably come as no surprise that I looove washi tape! I recently posted on Instagram that I use washi tape sometimes as a reward for students who love stationery supplies, and I received a few questions about where I buy tape, so I figured I’d make a lil’ blog post about it.

Pictured above are some washi tapes from the new back to school collection at the Target dollar spot. I can’t find a link online, but hopefully if you like them you can grab some near you. They’re modern and bright and play off of classic back to school patterns - I couldn’t resist!

Here are a few more of my current favorites!

Weekly Wrap / July 19

English Teacher Em

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Hi from my mom’s house! I’ve been visiting family for the past week, doing very little Internet-ing and lots of reading, drawing, cooking, and being together. 💕

My shop is still in vacation mode while I’m away, but it will be open again on July 25 with new good stuff for you, like fruit vocabulary cards! My free mini deck of would you rather questions is always available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

on teaching

I had mostly regular students this week, and I set up a teaching area in my mom’s sewing room. I like to put my laptop on her ironing board—it’s the perfect height for me! I had fun hearing students’ opinions on lots of summer-y topics this week: swimming (the best, unless the water is too warm), camping (fun, tiring, there might be bears), watermelon (too sticky but perfect for summer), and of course, ice cream (chocolate, strawberry, and matcha are the best flavors).

I’m wondering if I should get the Starlight certification. Any thoughts?

on my radar

80 (!) rolls of glitter washi tape! I just posted on Instagram about how I love to use washi tape for a quick and easy reward for my students who love all things stationery. I let them choose the colors and rip off a small piece to add to their growing “collection”! It’s also a great reward to use from class to class with a regular student.

Did y’all see this amazing giant jellyfish?

I forgot how much fun Pictionary can be! We have an older version from the 90’s, but I’d love to see what the clues are like in the newer one (with whiteboards!)

Sometimes I go down rabbit holes on Etsy looking at different art styles and processes, and this week it was pressed flowers! I love this pink and mink flower and resin ring from Ann and Joy. I mostly focus on teaching supplies/stuff for kiddos in my handmade roundup posts, but I’m wondering if you’d be interested in seeing a favorite jewelry/clothes/homewares type post?

I’m pretty excited about all the new emojis, especially that cute lil otter.

We Need Diverse Books celebrated its fifth anniversary this week. I really recommend Flying Lessons & Other Stories and Fresh Ink, and I’m excited to read The Hero Next Door.

Happy weekend,

Em 💕

Weekly Wrap / July 12

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Happy Friday! It’s been a slow week over here, but those are just the best sometimes, right? I had a few blog posts planned that I never got around to, I’ve been teaching a lot, I’ve been doodling a lot, and I’m getting ready to travel for the next few weeks, so I ultimately tried to prioritize rest. I’ll be putting my shop into vacation mode while I’m gone, but digital downloads will still be available, and I hope to list digital versions of more of my products while I’m away.

You might have seen on Insta stories that I recently purchased a finetip stylus pen for drawing and writing on my touchscreen laptop. This was the highlight of my week! I can’t afford an iPad right now, but I really want to practice digital art, so I figured a pen was a more affordable compromise. It actually works sooo much better than I had imagined, even on my really old cracked tablet! I’m looking forward to making all kinds of new things for my shop.

Speaking of …

… in my shop this week, I released a new set of number cards! I shared on Insta that these were maybe the most “me” project I’ve done so far. I was a little worried that the color combo or the concept wouldn’t come across as well, but the response has been great so far! I want my shop to reflect the things I’m actually making and using with my students, and sometimes that means there’s no unified theme or color palette. I’m learning to be good with that!

on my blog

Handmade Sunday Vol. 3

on my radar

Etsy’s new shipping policies. An interesting twist right as I’m starting my shop! Basically, Etsy is going to start giving priority in search results to sellers that offer free shipping. This means that sellers will be forced to build the costs of shipping into the prices of their items. So, for example, if I’m selling a 2D prop for $3 plus shipping and handling, Etsy now wants me to include shipping in the cost of the item, and offer free shipping to customers instead. The problem is that shipping costs vary, for lots of different reasons! I buy lots of things on Etsy too, and I don’t want to pay for shipping several times over when I’m purchasing items from the same shop. And as a maker, if you buy three or four 2D props, I want to ship those things together in the same envelope and only charge you exactly what the shipping actually costs for the shipping and dimensions of those items.

The other issue with this new policy is that sellers who offer digital downloads will be pushed down in the search results. Obviously I can’t offer free shipping on digital downloads, but Etsy will prioritize listings that offer free shipping. I’m not sure how this will all work out, but I would love to know how you feel about this policy!

Ok, fun stuff now:

The prettiest summer cake.

The cutest kids suitcases from Meri Meri - rainbows and mini mermaids and astronauts.

Whimsical dinosaur temporary tattoos.

One of my very favorite author-illustrators, Julie Flett, has a new book available for preorder. If you’re looking for sweet, thoughtful, powerful reading, I highly recommend her work. Check out My Heart Fills with Happiness, When We Were Alone, Black Bear Red Fox, and We All Count.

I’m collecting embroidery inspiration here and I reaaally want to learn.

I’m thinking of switching to bar shampoo. Any recommendations?

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

Em 💕

Handmade Sunday Vol. 3

Happy Sunday friends! Today I’m sharing some beautiful puzzles and games with you. I have a few summer birthdays coming up, and interactive toys like these are some of my very favorite things to give. If you like this series, visit the “handmade sunday” tag above to see all the posts, or click right here.

MIRUS TOYs by Suba Jagannathan

I can’t pick a favorite thing from Mirus Toys — everything is just wonderful, from this moon phases puzzle to these number tracing cards to these dinosaur play dough stamps. The color sorting rainbow and the honey bee learning puzzle are really striking.

TINY FOX HOLE

How sweet are these wooden puzzles? I adore everything in this shop, especially the tree and hedgehog puzzle. They also make beautiful rattles, teethers, and push toys — check out this darling little dog!

MIELA SIELA

This shop makes lovely stacking and balancing toys, wooden animals, and even fridge magnets! I’m eyeing the baby wild animals complete with a tiny penguin and a tiny seal, and these wonderful dinosaurs.

PACI CATCHERS BY SARAH SCOTT

Sarah’s shop has all kinds of fun and functional toys, teethers, and pacifier catchers. I was drawn to the sweet wooden climbing bear and the animal memory game.

Weekly Wrap / July 5

This post contains affiliate links.

Morning friends,

It’s been a quiet week for me compared to the last few! I actually took today off from teaching and taught a little extra Monday through Thursday (I still can’t believe that’s an option with this job!) I took a bit of a break from social this week too, and focused on creating new things for my shop. Fruit flash cards are coming soon, as well as lots of new rewards systems!

in my shop

New in my shop this week: pineapple stars and a cats in hearts reward! I designed the cats with a regular student in mind who loves to tell me all about her cat. 😊

on my blog

June Highlights and Favorites

Handmade Sunday Vol. 2

5 Things I Didn’t Anticipate When I Started Teaching English Online

on my radar

We have started playing Baba Is You and it is just the sweetest puzzle game.

I recently watched Memory Games on Netflix, and Yanjaa is so inspiring! I would love to watch a show about or by her. I am so excited she is writing a book!

I just discovered mega paperclips and they are seriously cool. I’m thinking of moving towards a clips/bundles organization system of some kind for my 2D props, so I’m on the lookout for cute options.

Have you seen all the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia kids stuff? I think the breakfast tray is so cute.

Ditto these adorable wooden popsicles.

Talk to me about selfie ring lights. I’ve heard such great things! Do you have one? Do you recommend? How are they for traveling?

for patreon subscribers

I created another summery prop/reward system for my Patreon subscribers this week: popsicle numbers! I publish weekly printables on Patreon that you can access for just $2/month (that’s 4-5 resources a month for the price of just one of the items for sale in my shops!)

Happy teaching,

Em 💕

5 Things I Didn't Anticipate When I Started Teaching English Online

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Hi friends,

Today I’m sharing five things I didn’t anticipate would happen when I started teaching English online. I’ve been teaching for over a year now, so it’s been interesting to look back and see how reality matched up with my expectations! While my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, especially in terms of professional development and personal satisfaction with my work, I’ve tried to identify here a few things that truly surprised me.

EYE STRAIN

Pretty much the first unexpected consequence of working online I noticed immediately was an increase in eye strain. I have pretty poor eyesight to begin with, and bright sunlight and screens have always affected me, but I was still surprised that even spending just a few hours a day teaching online made a difference in my eye health! Over time, I realized that there are actually lots of factors at play, like the early morning hours, the bright lights I turn on while I’m teaching, and the fact that my allergies tend to be worse in the morning.

About six months into online teaching, I discovered blue light filtering glasses from Zenni, which I think have really made a difference! (Psst - you can get $5 off a pair of glasses with my referral code by clicking here). I also make more of a concerted effort now to rest my eyes from screens for a few hours after teaching, and limit my blue light intake throughout the day. Other things that have helped are wearing glasses instead of contacts, not wearing makeup, closing my eyes for a few moments in between classes, and getting up early enough to shower before I start teaching. In the winter especially, I use a light therapy lamp to help myself feel more awake.

TAKING CARE OF MY VOICE

It sounds silly now, but I hadn’t realized how important my voice would be for every aspect of this job! When I first started, my voice would be very hoarse by the time I was finished teaching, even just from a few hours of speaking at a normal volume. During most lessons I sing, change the speed and tone and volume of my voice for variety and pronunciation practice, make silly voices, etc., which quickly adds up! I have started paying much more attention to how my voice feels, and researching ways to keep it healthy, like doing little warm-ups before I start, using my breath to support my voice, and keeping a humidifier in my teaching space.

BODY FATIGUE

I didn’t anticipate that working online could cause fatigue just like any other job! I’ve actually never really had a “desk” job before, and I’m used to working with kids in more active environments. Teaching online results in a different kind of fatigue for me, where my upper body and neck feel sore and my lower body and legs feel restless or fall asleep. My arms get a mini workout every morning from all the TPR, and my legs get tired from sitting in the same position. I’m still figuring out ways to manage this, but I try to work in much more physical activity throughout the rest of the day, teach from different positions, and do little ankle or calf movements while I’m teaching. I also try to resist the temptation to sit back during my breaks and take a walk around the room or do some stretches instead. I have tried teaching everywhere from my yoga mat to the couch. I’d really love to try a standing desk!

FEWER PROPS, BETTER TECH

When I first started, I really focused on the props and rewards and decorations side of things rather than the tech, which I feel like I’m still figuring out over time as requirements change or as I understand my own preferences better. I got lucky and already owned a touchscreen laptop, which ended up being so incredibly helpful for writing and drawing and circling on the slides! I don’t have an iPad, so my laptop is the only way I teach. I don’t know what I would do without the touchscreen feature!

I quickly learned the importance of having good lighting, a comfortable headset with a mute button, backup power and backup wifi, a way to cool down my laptop, and a digital camera for good profile photos/intro video. I have heard really good things about a selfie ring light and an external webcam, as well. I think having a more professional looking photo helped me get bookings in the beginning, so I really recommend borrowing a digital camera or having a friend take photos when you start, if you can! Public libraries are also a good place to look for tech to borrow for the interview or setup process.

CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS

I had heard teachers talk about this before I started, but I honestly never expected that I would feel so connected to students I’ve never seen in person! I am so grateful for this chance to meet so many different students and hear about their lives and experiences. It has really broadened my worldview and continues to be one of the best parts of my day.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear what surprises you about working online. Let me know on Instagram!

Happy teaching,

Em 💕

Handmade Sunday Vol. 2

Happy Sunday, friends. Today I have four more beautiful shops to share with you. (Psst … if you missed last week’s installment you can find Handmade Sunday vol. 1 here!)

KATE DURKIN ILLUSTRATION

I am smitten with the illustration work of Kate Durkin. Her style is clean and playful, and her design choices are delightful! I love the foods she included in these food alphabet cards, and her mini pillows are really charming. I especially love her New York City collection.

KID OF THE VILLAGE

Hayley makes truly lovely, playful art prints like this whimsical Alphabet Print with Colorful Shapes and this charming Apples Print (wouldn’t that look perfect in a classroom or nursery?). I just adore her color choices, especially the muted bright palettes with a bit of a retro feel. Hayley writes that her shop “is inspired by the fun and magical memories of my childhood, growing up in a lovely small village in Surrey. It's this fun and magic which I very much hope my own children and others will share through my prints and artwork.” How fun is this Types of Rainbows Print?!

PEPITA CALABAZA BY Abril Millán

Abril makes the sweetest fabric dolls and wall decor. I am in love with this little bunny! Her dolls wear beautiful clothes and scarves, too. Abril writes (translation my own):

Compagino mi trabajo de restauradora de objetos antiguos con la creación de muñecas de trapo y otras pequeñas cosas hechas a mano. Mis muñecas están cosidas con mucho amor y con el gran entusiasmo que me produce hacer lo que me gusta: el trabajo artesanal unido a la libertad creativa. Me gusta el mundo de la ilustración, del papel, de los trabajos textiles hechos a mano (bordados, tejidos, ganchillo...) y también todo lo referente a reciclar y reutilizar materiales.

I combine my work as restorer of old objects with the creation of rag dolls and other small handmade things. My dolls are sewn with a lot of love and with the great enthusiasm that makes me do what I like the most: artisan work combined with creative freedom.

I like the world of illustration, of paper, of handmade textile works (embroidery, weaving, crochet ...) and also everything related to recycling and reusing materials.

WILD STAMPS BY DARIA FREUNT

Last but not least, I am enchanted by Daria’s hand carved stamps. These seashells of the world put me in the most summery mood. She has dozens of intricate, magical designs inspired by anatomy, life cycles, and the natural world. Have a look at these pine cones and these leaves from common trees.

June Highlights and Favorites

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July already?! I know everyone says that but I really can’t believe it. We are really in the swing of summer. I am so grateful for longer nights, our farm share, the nearby lake, and fans!

Highlights of this month were visiting my family in three states and opening my Etsy shop! I was able to launch with coloring pages, flashcards, star rewards, and some digital art downloads. I also started working on a Teachers Pay Teachers page and a Patreon account. It feels good to have done all the work of setting up each platform, syncing social media, etc. so now I can focus on adding new products!

TEACHING HIGHLIGHTS

I mostly saw regular students this June. I got my Grammar Advanced certification, and have been enjoying teaching and making props for the grammar lessons (honestly, it’s a great refresher for myself, and a bit more of a teaching challenge). As always, with all the traveling I did this month, I was so grateful I could teach from anywhere with a good Internet connection. I had fun setting up a little classroom in my mom’s sewing room. I enjoyed hearing about how my students celebrated Dragon Boat Festival (and using these wonderful stars from Teacher Lisa!)

SOCIAL

I got back into the swing of things with Instagram this month, and it continues to be my favorite way to connect with all kinds of teachers! Although I could/do spend way too much time on there, I am trying to set limits with myself so it continues to be a place of joy for me. This month, I focused on creating posts about my new products, and making fun arrangements using things from around my house and classroom. I also started a new account with my shop name where I hope to mostly highlight my products. One of the best moments on social this month was when The Introverted Online Teacher colored my printable name tag! I am consistently inspired by her posts.

Also … I’m getting close to 1K on @englishteacherem and I’m looking forward to doing a giveaway, so stay tuned!

EVERYTHING I MADE THIS MONTH

Here’s a little list of everything I made this month and where you can find it. Eventually, I do hope to have most of my products available on Etsy and TpT, with both digital download and physical versions, but I’m still new to the TpT format (creating a good-looking preview of each item, etc.), so I just haven’t had time to make everything available everywhere yet.

Alphabet Song Printable - 2 Versions (Patreon)

Bloom Where You Are Planted Printable Art (Patreon)

Color Cards - 12 Colors (Etsy)

Floral Alphabet Classroom Decoration (Patreon)

Floral Coloring Page (free download on my blog)

Floral Inspirational Art Prints (Etsy)

Marble Stars Reward System (Patreon)

Paint Box 2D Prop for Teaching Colors (Etsy)

Pansy Patch Coloring Page (Etsy)

Pastel Rainbow Stars Reward System (Etsy)

Planner Stickers (free download on my blog)

Pool Floats Reward System (Etsy, TpT)

School Supplies Reward System (Etsy, TpT)

Succulent Garden Coloring Page (Etsy)

Vegetables and Herbs Flashcards (Etsy)

Watermelon Stars Reward System (Etsy)

Would You Rather Questions (free download on TpT)

JUNE FAVORITES

NEW WHITEBOARD MARKERS

I am still in the market for new whiteboard markers! If you’ve been following my #whiteboardlettering adventures you’ll know I’ve been using the same fine tip wet erase set since I started. I still love those, but some of them are starting to fade and I want to have more colors to choose from (and my boyfriend probably wants them back, lol - I originally borrowed them from him!). I posted a roundup this month of some sets I’m considering buying, like this fun double sided (!) set from The Board Dudes and this fine line set from Crayola that includes some pastel shades.

ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER

I always use lavender essential oil on my wrists when I’m teaching (and, let’s be honest, all day long) and I’m finally getting a diffuser! I love this ceramic one and this white wood pattern with changing colors.

TEACHING SUPPLIES

This month I’m loving:

  1. The simple pastel look of these upper and lowercase letters (and the pretty wooden box!)

  2. This adorable pita pocket play set

  3. Beautiful play food in a market basket from Ikea

  4. Dry erase circles! I just discovered these and I’m dreaming of all the ways I could use them in my classroom - and of course I love the variety of color options. This set also comes with some hard-to-find whiteboard marker colors!

Goodbye June, hello July! Happy teaching, friends.

Em 💕

Weekly Wrap / June 27

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s been a busy week in my little corner of the Internet! I usually do Friday roundups on Instagram stories (join me there!) but I thought I’d start doing them here too, especially to share some favorite links from the week.

in my shop

This week I focused on adding new rewards systems for online teaching: school supplies and pool floaties themes! The floaties are my favorites :) I also opened a Teachers Pay Teachers account - a brand new platform for me! I am really enjoying it so far. I can definitely tell it was designed with teachers in mind. I designed 60 free mini would-you-rather game cards (pictured above) and made them available for free on TpT!

on my blog

This week, I published a big ol’ roundup of my favorite whiteboard markers, since I’m in the market for some new ones! Check it out here, and let me know your favorites - I’m partial to those Erin Condren ones! Last week, I published a one week update of my Etsy shop, how I style and edit photos for Instagram, and Handmade Sunday Vol. 1. Also new on my site: a growing collection of my favorite art supplies.

on my radar

Have you seen the new Sesame Street postage stamps?

Oohing and aahing over this intricate leaf crochet art.

I’m currently coveting this beautiful candle.

The Sibert winners were announced this week! Check out all the wonderful nonfiction picture books that received awards.

This sticker book made me feel nostalgic. Anyone else have Mrs. Grossman’s stickers as a kid?

I wish I had known about this hypoallergenic play dough when I was running sensory playtimes! It comes in such pretty naturally dyed colors too!

I’ve been pinning my favorite animal crafts and art projects this week: how adorable are these Perler bead cats?

Speaking of Pinterest, I have several boards devoted to all things VIPKid: Dino, classroom inspiration, Mike and Meg, rewards systems, grammar concepts, etc. Check them all out here.

for Patreon subscribers

New this week exclusively for my Patreon supporters: printable ABC songs! I created a fun visual way to teach (and remember for myself haha) the Chinese and American versions of the ABC song. If you’re new to my blog, I publish weekly printables on Patreon that you can access for just $2/month (that’s 4-5 resources a month for the price of just one of the items for sale in my shops!)

That’s all for now, friends. Happy teaching and have a lovely weekend!

Em 💕

Whiteboard Markers: The Ultimate Roundup!

The Ultimate Whiteboard Marker Roundup - English Teacher Em

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m in the market for some new whiteboard markers! If you’ve been following my #whiteboardlettering posts you’ll know I rely on my Expo Vis-a-Vis fine tip wet erase set, but it’s about time for some new colors and widths, so I’ve rounded up some of my favorites! Which ones would you choose? Let me know on Instagram!

AMAZON BASICS 12 PACK - I love the variety of colors and the affordable price.

INAMIO DUAL TIP 12 PACK - I think I will probably end up purchasing some kind of dual tip, and this set has great colors! I prefer whiteboard markers that are the size and shape of regular pens and markers - they just feel better in my hand when I’m writing.

BIC INTENSITY FINE TIP 12 PACK - These look really durable and high quality. I also love how you can see the ink supply!

ERIN CONDREN FINE TIP WET ERASE 4 PACK - Who knew Erin Condren made whiteboard markers?! I am drooling over these hard-to-find colors (and the super fine tips). They come in three sets, Gem Tones, Earth Tones, and Essentials, and are of course color coordinated with lots of other Erin Condren products.

Crayola makes dry erase markers in all their familiar colors. I especially love the fine tip sets!

SKKSTATIONERY MINI DRY ERASE 36 PACK - I mean, these are just adorable. Mini anything, I’m sold!

I also love the colors available in the UBRANDS MINI MAGNETIC SET and THE BOARD DUDES MINI 6 PACK.

QUARTET CHISEL TIP BOLD COLORS 12 PACK - I love the colors, especially the blue shades, and the chisel tip would be great for lettering.

Shuttle Art makes a pretty CHISEL TIP 15 PACK with multiple shades of pink, orange, green, and blue!

BOAO 24 PIECE MAGNETIC SET WITH ERASERS - This would probably be too much for just me, but I love the light colors!

I am intrigued by the STAEDTLER LUMOCOLOR SET OF 8. You guys have probably seen in my Instagram posts that Staedtler makes my very favorite pens of all time, so I would love to try these! The description says they can be used on almost all surfaces, including overhead projections, so I hope they would show up well on my whiteboards!

U BRANDS DOUBLE ENDED 6 PACK WITH ERASERS I’m really digging the idea of two colors in one! And these are magnetic and have erasers on the caps, such a plus. Expo also makes a good CHISEL TIP TWO-IN-ONE SET.

Finally, my favorite Expo products at the moment: I’m leaning towards purchasing the NEON 5 PACK since I haven’t seen anything quite like it! I really like the sound of the LOW ODOR ULTRA FINE 8 PACK, and my favorite color combo pack that they offer at the moment is the VIBRANT COLORS 16 PACK.

Handmade Sunday Vol. 1

Happy weekend friends! Today I thought I’d start a new series sharing my favorite independent art shops with you. It is so important to support independent artists, and these four women are making such beautiful work that I would love to use in my classroom or share with the kiddos in my life!

MAFRUITS SHOP BY KRISTINA BUGYNINA

Kristina makes the most charming, lifelike polymer clay fruits and vegetables for imaginary play. My students would adore these! I love her story too: “On my maternity leave I became fond of modeling from polymer clay and I finally found my true self. At first I made mini fruit and vegetables for educational games with my daughters and then I simply wanted to make the kids of friends and family happy. My friend’s son liked to plant potatoes and carrots into kinetic sand and my niece likes to play with toy figures in an imaginary shop.”

THE LULLABY ROOM BY LAUREN

Lauren makes magical felt garlands and wall hangings - wouldn’t these stars make the loveliest backdrop for teaching? Here is part of her story: “When my daughter came along, I was determined to create a beautiful nursery full of magic and fun so set to work creating plush softies and garlands to adorn her room with. She loved them! and so I decided to share them with others.” I adore this panda bunting!

MADE BY CLARIE LOUISE BY CLARIE gillam

I think I have food on my mind today! Claire Louise has some of the most beautiful felt food I’ve ever seen. I especially love the sushi set, the rainbow chard, and the colorful fruit. She also makes lovely felt garlands and wreaths! From her story: “I love creating fun, functional yet visually appealing play food and toys. My felt food range is a great learning tool. Teaching kids of all ages about different foods, cultures, cuisines, shapes, sizes, colours and even textures. Most importantly they are encouraging pretend and imagination play.”

HEART FELT POLAND BY Joanna

Joanna makes intricate quiet/busy books, toys, and dolls. I can’t get over the detail on her work! I would love to use this weather sensory board in my classroom. And look at the beautiful dress up outfits on those dolls! Joanna has a fascinating story: “Since I was little I like art (my family can confirm). For many years I've been going to the art classes. I have done a lot of modeling clay figurines, I was paining, drawing, I sewed the dresses for dolls (I decorated them with glitter). Once I made an advent calendar for my sister, which had the Christmas lights attached. I tried to go to art school, it didn't work. Today I know that one of the reasons why it didn't work is that I didn't believe in myself. I finished geography with teaching specialization. Later I worked with kids of different ages and I was doing a classes that they were aimed to teach and entertain. I liked it very much, but I wanted to do something about my artistic passion. My husband and I decided it was time to change. At one meeting with my college friend, appeared the idea of the quiet books. She told me they were starting to form. When I was coming home by the bus, I started looking for information about it. From that moment , I knew I want to do it. I want to sew the quiet books that will help the development manual skills of children and imagination, which is so important.”

My Etsy Shop Journey: 1 Week!

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Hi everyone,

I thought it would be fun to document my Etsy shop journey here on my blog, both to keep myself accountable and to remember the little things. I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

It’s been a little over a week now since I opened TeacherHappyMail. I chose the Etsy platform vs. Teachers Pay Teachers because I’m just more familiar with Etsy, but I am hoping to sell things on TpT too. I’ve been thinking about selling my designs for a while now and everything just came together time/money wise over the last few weeks.

NAME + LOGO

I’ve known I wanted TeacherHappyMail to be the shop name for the longest time! I just love the idea of getting happy things in the mail, from one teacher to another. I drew a few quick logos for practice when I was still in the dreaming phase, and ended up using one of them. I’m still refining it though - I think I want it to look a little more complementary to the logo I drew for my @englishteacherem profile pic.

HARDEST PART

For me, pricing has been the most difficult part of this process. I have used several online calculators to try and figure out the real cost of my own labor, and it’s honestly always more than I’m charging. Add to that the fact that I don’t own a printer, and I’m committed to using my local print shop (they’re so helpful and kind!) rather than a big box until I can save for a printer of my own. But at the end of the day, I am an independent contractor in the gig economy. I have several part time jobs, student loans, etc. I only want to charge a reasonable amount for my items - the kind of prices I could afford to pay every so often. So in short, I’m still figuring it out.

EASIEST PART

Creating! I have a huge running list of things I want to make, and it just keeps growing and growing. I decided to start with some things I already use versions of with my own students: the veggie flash cards, tools for teaching colors, and the star rewards. I also created two coloring pages, and it turns out those were my very first sales! That was really heartening for me.

GOALS

My goals for the next few weeks are:

  • Try to strike a balance of digital downloads / physical items (I have no idea if people prefer one over the other!)

  • Learn more about / offer some downloads on TpT

  • Host a giveaway

  • Create more designs of course!

Thank you for reading! I would be delighted if you checked out my shop and I would love to hear your feedback.

Em 💕

How I Style and Edit Photos for Instagram

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This post contains affiliate links.

Hi y’all,

Today I thought I would share some behind the scenes: how I style and edit photos for Instagram! I’ve learned a lot over the past year about composition and lighting especially, and my approach has really changed since my first few posts!

Today I shot yellow props for my #proprainbow series. This series has been a really fun way to connect with you guys, as well as challenge myself creatively. I can’t remember how it started - I think I just wanted to create the kind of image I like to look at - bright overhead shots with lots of little details - and it went from there. So far I’ve done green, pink, blue, and purple!

PREP

I shoot anywhere in my apartment with good natural lighting that day. Usually this means the coffee table or the kitchen table, but lately we’ve had day after day of rain, so I ended up pushing two chairs together underneath a kitchen window to get the most light. Early morning is usually best for where I live, which works out great since I finish up tutoring at 10 a.m. and usually have lots of props out anyway. It’s been frustrating for me to accept that I’m always happier when I wait to take photos when the light is good. So often I just want to take something in dark or harsh light and post it, but then later I think oof, I want to retake the same picture in this nice light. Balance, right?

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SUPPLIES

Camera (I have had my Nikon D3300 for years and love it; they have since come out with a D3400)

SD Cards + SD Card Reader

Laptop (I love the touchscreen feature on my HP Spectre x360 for zooming in on photos)

Phone + Editing Apps

Props

Backgrounds (I love this double sided cardstock pack!)

Foam Core Boards

STYLING TIPS

BACKGROUND

I start by creating a background, usually by layering pieces of card stock or scrapbook paper randomly on a piece of foam board. It would be nice to work on big sheets of poster board so I wouldn’t have lines where the pieces of paper meet up, but I try to work with what I already have (although I’ve been eyeing these lately!) I create compositions on a piece of foam core board so I can easily move them from place to place when the light changes or if I want to take a standing overhead shot to get more into the frame.

PLACE BIG OBJECTS OR GROUPS OF OBJECTS FIRST

I place larger objects first, somewhat randomly, just to get something down and get the process started. It often works well to have three objects or groups of objects at first, or one central object with three smaller objects around it. In this case, I knew I wanted to emphasize the yellow card from my new color deck, so I started with that and built out from there.

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RULE OF THIRDS

Similarly, it can help create visual impact to divide your image into a grid of two parallel lines and two vertical lines, and placing objects at the points where the lines meet.

CREATE AN S CURVE

Another photography rule of thumb is to style objects along an imaginary S curve. You can literally picture a big S over your setup if that helps! I also included ribbon throughout this shot to create a sense of movement.

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INCLUDE VARIETY (COLOR, TEXTURE, SIZE, SHAPE)

There’s not too much variety color wise in my #proprainbow, but typically I do like to have contrasting colors in my shots. The little pops of blue in this image are doing so much work to create resting points for the eye. You’ll also notice that there’s variety in the height and size of objects, but not too much. If I had real bananas, for example, or yellow flowers in a tall vase in the center of this image, the rest of the props would go out of focus. Sometimes that’s the effect I’m going for, but here, I wanted subtle variety to force the eye to look at lots of different objects at a similar height. Similarly, it can be really striking to layer and overlap objects, and place them at random angles.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

ADJUST YOUR WHITE BALANCE FIRST

Before I take any photos, I adjust the white balance on my camera. I think this is the single most important thing you can do to make images that look true to life. You can adjust the white balance in editing, but it’s just not the same. On my camera, manually adjusting the white balance means taking a photo of something white or light gray as a reference image.

TAKE SHOTS FROM VARIOUS ANGLES

Zoom in tight, zoom out wider than you think looks good (you can always crop later), take shots from straight above and from the side, focus in on the center of the composition and on random spots. For whatever reason, I often end up using shots I take towards the end of the process, and I’ve just kind of accepted that this is how my eye works, so don’t be afraid of taking tons of shots and then batch deleting later. It’s nice to have a variety to choose from during the editing process. The bird's eye or flatlay view still tends to be really popular on Instagram, but I also try to include other angles in my feed.

CLEAN YOUR LENS REGULARLY

I always forget to do this and it makes a big difference!

REFLECT LIGHT BACK ON YOUR IMAGE

As you can see in the pictures above, my white refrigerator was doing this for me today, but usually I prop a piece of foam core board up to reflect light back over my image. It’s amazing how many shadows you can eliminate doing this. Even holding up a piece of white paper next to something you’re photographing with your phone can make a huge difference.

BORROW A DIGITAL CAMERA

Before I got my DSLR, I tried out a few friends’ cameras, and then I was hooked. It’s a big investment, and it’s a big game changer. Also, my phone just isn’t that great at taking photos! I think there are definitely better camera phones out there. Here’s the same shot with my phone. A lot of that stuff, like the glare and the grainy green tint, I just can’t edit away.

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EDITING TIPS

After transferring images to my Google drive so I can access them across my devices, I use VSCO and Lightroom on my phone for pretty much all my editing, although if I’m adding text or otherwise manipulating product photos for my Etsy shop I might use Photoshop too. Although I almost never use them, VSCO has a ton of great free filters. Lightroom is an Adobe product that lets you do a lot of the same editing functions as Photoshop but for free. A lot of photographers create their own Lightroom editing presets, which can be fun to play with.

MAKE IMAGES BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO

Pretty much the first thing I do when I’m editing is up the brightness/exposure, even more than I think I need to. Obviously I’m going for a really bright, colorful feed, though!

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CROP IN INTERESTING WAYS

Pretty much all the images I post to Instagram are cropped to squares or portrait mode - landscape tends to never work, at least on my phone. After I decide the general orientation I want, I like to zoom in in an unexpected way, like leaving corners off or tilting the entire image along a diagonal. I think this is just more fun to look at, and also makes straight overhead shots look more striking when I do include them in my feed. There’s a limit to how big of an image you can share on your Instagram feed, so often I show you guys the bigger image in stories.

That’s about it! Sometimes I will adjust the white balance in editing too if something seems off, or increase the sharpness or contrast a little bit, but exposure and cropping are the main things for me. My only other tip would be to take breaks! Stare at the same image for long enough and you start to lose the ability to make editing decisions.

Thanks for reading and see you on Instagram!

Em 💕