Thursday, August 2, 2012

School Supply Cakes

I'm WAY late getting this post out because I did this project as an end-of-the-year teacher gift. But, this is actually the PERFECT time to buy supplies for this project because of all the back-to-school sales. It was so much fun to make a school supply cake for the teachers, so I made a cake for both of the girls' classrooms.

You see, I do enjoy showing appreciation for the girls' teachers because I believe that teachers in today's society have a VERY tough job. With all the regulations and requirements, it is exceptionally difficult to cover everything AND make sure that each child is learning and grasping the content, especially children have different learning styles. I mean, I have come to terms with the fact that Sassy has a different learning style than I did as a child. She has a better grasp on the material when non-traditional methods are used, but teachers simply do not have the TIME to adapt the curriculum to each individual student's specific learning style and still cover the massive amounts of material they are required to cover . And I totally get that.
But I fully appreciate and respect the teachers that try their hardest to make learning fun and make sure that their students are doing the best they can. And Sassy has been blessed with a string of teachers that understand what she struggles with and use all available resources to help her do better. I am so thankful that I am able to work with these professionals instead of working against them. When I have been freaking out about specific issues, they have given me perception to understand that that specific issue is super minor and will likely be resolved, or they give me tools and suggestions to help address the issue.
And this is just my experience with Sassy's teachers. Diva's teachers have also been great throughout Pre-K and Kindergarten, keeping her interested and motivated to participate and be an active member of the class. So overall, the teachers my girls have had have been pretty kick-ass the last few years.
In order to show appreciation, we usually will do a small gift during the holiday season and again at the end of the year. I know that the teachers appreciate anything that they receive, but I also know that they must run out of places to keep mugs and little knick-knacks, especially when so many children brings those types of gifts. And I know many families give gift cards, but I always worry I will get a card to a place they do not go and it will go to waste.
So I have given those gifts in the past, but also try to find unique gifts. Like the year I made homemade chai tea latte mix for Christmas gifts. I bought cute containers from the dollar store that held about 2 cups of mix. They were clear with red and green dots and stripes, then topped with a screw lid that also had a part that popped open, so they were perfect to spoon out the mixture. Those were a big hit. I also have given the teachers books that are favorites or have a special message, then write an inscription inside the book from our family.
Then, Pinterest came along. And I found so many craft ideas. I had seen pictures of diaper cakes before, but I had never even heard of doing a "cake" made completely out of school supplies. And I thought that it would be a GENIUS way to give the teachers a cute gift that would be super useful to them, inside and outside the classroom. I made a cake for Sassy and Diva's classrooms and presented it on the last day of school. They were super easy to make and cost about $25 each. But if I had purchase all the supplies during back-to-school sales, it would have been even cheaper.
I started with a simple file box that can hold letter-sized folders:
Then I wrapped the file box in tissue paper and turned it upside down to make the "base" of my cake:
The reason it is turned upside down is that the lid of the file box is wider than the bottom, so turning it upside down creates the shape that is needed for the cake.
Next, I used tape to attach tissue boxes to create feet and the 2nd "layer" of my cake:

You could use any tissue boxes, but I picked the small flat boxes because: 1) they had cute designs that matched the color scheme I had picked for each cake 2) they were the perfect size to create small feet for the cake, but then tape 2 boxes together to create a 2nd "layer" that was a good size compared to the bottom "layer" for the file box.

Looking back, I should have invested in some double-sided tape. Instead, I used packing tape and rolled the small pieces into a circle so that it was sticky on both sides when flattened. This worked, but double-sided tape would probably work better.

Then it was decoration time!

First, I lined up an entire row of pencils and put a single layer of tape in the middle, front and back, so that they would be stable once taped to the file box. Although you cannot see it, the left side also has a line of markers and the right side has a line of pens that I did the same thing with. I then used packing tape and attached all the different items to the file box. The front has pencils and short fat markers, the left side has the fine-tip markers, the right side has pens, and the back has stickers. The nice thing is that the cheap education-themed bulletin board border from the dollar store is the SAME size as the packing tape. So after securely taping all the items to the bottom layer of my cake, I then taped the border over it to hide the tape.

For the second layer, I taped items to the tissue boxes, again using packing tape. Crayons and glue sticks are on the front, then I added a box of staples and paper clips on the left, then a package of index cards on the right. On the back, I added a cute thing of assorted Post-It type notes. After I taped these items on to the second layer, I added scissors to each side (the blue/green items shoved between the items and tissue boxes). Then I completed the layer by adding the border on top of the packing tape.

For the final layer, I filled a mesh wire cup from the office supply section of the dollar store with a bunch of erasers. I taped 3 Post-It pads together, then taped the pads to the bottom of the cup. I created a lid for the cup from scrap piece of border taped over the top, then added the bow. I put a circle of border on the outside of the cup and taped the entire piece to the top of the tissue boxes, then added 2 tape dispensers to either side of the final "layer."

Here is a shot of the back of the cake:

After it was all said and done, each teacher received the following: 
  • 1 File Box
  • 4 Tissue Boxes
  • 24 Pencils
  • 10 Fat Markers
  • 24 Fine-Tip Markers
  • 10 Pens
  • 2 Sticker Sheets
  • 1 Crayon Box
  • 1 Index Card Package
  • 1 Paperclip Box
  • 1 Staples Box
  • 6 Glue Sticks
  • 1 Post-It Assortment
  • 4 Scissors
  • 2 Tape Dispensers
  • 3 Post-It Pads
  • 1 Mesh Wire Cup
  • Eraser assortment
 The girls LOVED giving these to their teachers. Their teachers LOVED them and sent thank-you cards. Other teachers ooh'd and ahh'd over them. The other students in the classroom were super excited about them.

And it cost less than $50. As far as time goes, the first one took about 1.5 hours, but that included figuring out how to attach everything, where it would all go, and lots of trial and error. The second one took about 20 minutes.

So, now is the PERFECT time to hit up the back-to-school sales and snag some deals for your family AND for a creative teacher's gift that will be sure to please. I'm actually going shopping tonight to make another school supply cake to donate to a silent auction that will benefit some organizations in the area in their back-to-school campaigns as they raise money and collect supplies for families that need help obtaining them. I'll be sure to post a picture of the end result in a later post. Hopefully not 3 months later, like this post.

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