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It took me a little over two years of selling on TPT  to be able to say we have paid off debt (a significant amount) and now only owe money on the basics.

When I first started on Teachers Pay Teachers, my plan was to replace my teaching income. I didn’t even think about the other benefits it would provide, including having extra money when medical expenses come up, a few family trips, and being able to pay off debt.

Pay off Debt by Starting Small

At first, I wasn’t making enough to even cover the time I spent designing and listing products on the site. The money I made each month was enough to cover a few sets of clipart so I could keep designing. Then I was able to cover a few of my business expenses like Adobe Creative Cloud and my blog.

I knew that I was doing really well when I mentioned to my husband that I wanted an iPad to use for drawing graphics and he took me to Best Buy. I paid for the iPad without using credit or having to dip into savings.

A Few Hundred Dollars Adds Up

I had read somewhere that you should start with the credit card that has the smallest balance and get it paid off first. This is the first step that I took when I was starting to pay off debt.

My smallest balance was on a Maurice’s credit card that we used for school shopping. It never failed that I would pay off the balance and then we would charge on it again.

This time, I paid it off and then cut it up.

The trick to starting with your smallest balance and payment is then to take that money and put it towards the next smallest balance in addition to the monthly payment that you already make on that debt.

So I took the $100 a month that I was spending on the Maurice’s credit card and I added it to the payment for the Old Navy card (also an ongoing balance that we used for school clothes).

Move on to the Bigger Balances

Now I had two cards paid off.

We have a garage full of dirt bikes. We are a family of 4 and at the time there were 5 bikes out there. Three of them still had loans on them.

And if you are tracking my pattern, you know where this is going. The next balance was on a bike loan. This time I took the $100 from each clothing credit card and put it towards a loan along with the bike’s monthly payment.

And then an incredible thing happened.

My sales for the month shot up.

They were more than half of my teaching salary.

Instead of using the money for fun things, I put it all towards the bike payment and paid it off. I also was able to put a little towards the next bike loan.

In less than two months, I paid off the rest of our bike loans.

A Great Trick to Pay off Debt

Another thing that I read about paying off debt is to pay off the debt that has the highest interest rate. Unfortunately, I was carrying a pretty large debt on a Discover card. I didn’t attack it first, because I was working on all the little payments.

Now that those were paid off, I had freed up almost $500 a month that I could put towards the Discover card payments. I added to this amount with my monthly TPT earnings and I was able to pay off $10,000 and close that card.

The next card had a balance of $9,000 and it was the next thing I started to attack. In this case, I didn’t start with the lower balance because it was on a card that had 0% interest for 24 months. I wasn’t accruing interest so I knew I could wait and pay it off next.

How I Paid off $30,000 of Debt with TPT

By using my monthly Teachers Pay Teachers payments and strategically paying off cards (and not using them anymore) I was able to pay off over $30,000 of debt in less than 2 years.

I was already adjusting our budget to start working on these different credit cards and loans. I would have pinched pennies and scrimped and saved to pay off all the debt we had accrued.

Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers made it so we could still meet our monthly budget while putting a larger chunk of change toward our debt each month.

It wasn’t easy and I have worked very hard to increase my sales on Teachers Pay Teachers to be able to help our family get out of debt and still have the money to play and do fun things occasionally.

There’s Still More to Go

Working to pay off debt can be overwhelming. We still have things like car payments, student loan payments, and our house payment.

Those are debts that I plan to tackle in a similar way. My next goal is to have a cushion of savings so we can pay for unexpected expenses when they arise without having to use credit. Then I will start working on the bigger debts and see what I can accomplish.

Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers is not a get rich scheme and it takes a LOAD of work. I’ve told my husband that it’s like having a 2nd job, but I get to set my own hours and the pay is way better than minimum wage. The benefits are way better too!

The post How to Pay off Debt by Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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You will hear the term used frequently, but what is SEO and why should you be concerned with it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the words and phrases that search engines use to categorize your content and then show it to people who are searching online.

Content could be anything from product listings on Teachers Pay Teachers, blog posts, forum posts, or descriptions on your Pinterest pins.

That’s great. Makes sense.

But how do you optimize your content for searches on TPT? You are no longer asking “what is SEO?”. Now you are asking, “How do I use SEO?”.

Key Points to Understanding SEO

SEO isn’t really a big mystery. It sounds really scary and daunting. Like it’s the secret ingredient in your “secret ingredient soup”.

Really, it’s very simple. We make it way harder than it needs to be.

Pick a term that you are going to search for. Let’s use “STEM Activities” as our example. You’ve just created a great lesson that can be used as a STEM activity. Now you are ready to type up your title, description, etc.

How do you get people to find your activity out of the thousands of others that are listed? Start by being relevant. Don’t label it a literacy lesson if it’s actually a science and technology lesson. This is misleading and will frustrate your potential customers.

I usually start from the top down on my listings. Ask yourself these key questions:

  1. Q. What did I make? A. STEM activity
  2. Q. What is the general theme of the lesson or activity? A. states of matter
  3. Q. What is unique about my product A. It has task cards to use as a center and worksheets for review.

My main keyword is STEM Activity. I will use that word in my title, but I will also include some of the other key points that I just figured out about my product.

The title might end up being something like this:

States of Matter STEM Activity Includes Worksheets.

Now potential buyers know exactly what I am offering and if they only searched STEM Activity they would still find my product. They might also find it if they searched STEM Worksheets. The title is clear and doesn’t have any unnecessary or untrue information.

The next thing I work on is the “snippet” or the first few lines of my description. I want to use that same keyword again. At least one time, maybe twice.

The description for my STEM product would be something like the following:

This STEM activity uses task cards for student centers and also includes worksheets to help check for understanding after the lesson. Teaching the States of Matter using this STEM activity will get students involved in activities that will help with their understanding of this physical science concept.

Notice that I didn’t repeat the phrase STEM Activity in an unnatural way. I used it in the first sentence and I was able to use it the in the 2nd but it wasn’t awkward. If I had repeated it one more time…that would have been harder to read, it wouldn’t be the natural way I would speak about the product, and it would be considered “keyword stuffing”.

Don’t Practice Bad Habits

Keyword stuffing is when you add the word into your description or post too many times. You are shoving that word in every sentence and it doesn’t read well. It isn’t natural. If you wouldn’t speak that way, then don’t write that way.

The term is also used when you are talking about a topic but you throw in other topics to see if you can get the product or post to show up when someone searches it because it’s more popular than what you are writing about.

You’ve probably come across this. After searching for a key term on Google you start looking through results and not all of them are relevant or pertinent to what you have searched for. Most likely, the term you are searching for is stuffed somewhere in the text.

Search engines are smart. They are getting smarter. You might get away with trying to trick the system for a little while…but it won’t last long. When you get dinged for it later, it will hurt your rankings, sales, and more. Don’t do it.

Description or Blog Length

If you are writing a description for a product, you want to make it at least 3 paragraphs. Give as many details as you can. Use the keyword or phrase in a natural way and paint a visual image of what your product is.

Yes! They can see the images and the preview. You are writing these words for your customers and for the search engines. They need to know how to categorize your product, pin or post so they can show it in relevant searches.

Give them as much information as you can!

Blogs, Pins, and Products…Oh My!

This same format works when you are writing a blog post, a product description, or a Pinterest description. You need your keyword to be the same set of words or phrase and it needs to be in found in the following sections:

  • Title
  • Snippet (first 3-4 lines of your description)/Meta Description
  • Description/Blog Post/Pin description
  • At least 1 heading or key points
  • if it is a blog post you should also be using it in your URL
Picking Keywords to Use

This is the tricky part. You might not always know what keyword or term to use. In your head, it might make sense to call them STEM activities. What if someone searches for STEM lessons? They are essentially the same thing, but to a search engine, they are two different things.

Knowing your audience helps with this one. If you have an idea what they might search or what you would search to find that resource, then use that phrase.

Using the two terms interchangeably in your description or post would work too. Then you cover two keywords at once. If it’s just two, that isn’t keyword stuffing. Don’t use more than two. If you have the basic concept described well and you have used it naturally, your customers will find you.

The key to using a search term and using it well is to make sure it’s something that others would search if they were looking for that resource or information.

There are keyword research tools that help with this if you are writing blog posts. They aren’t as reliable for key terms that are used on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Terms that are searched frequently on the TPT site aren’t necessarily what the rest of the world is searching on the internet.

Take this into consideration if you use a search tool to help you pick keywords. Or use your better judgment and think of how you would talk to your teacher bestie about a product. Most likely those are the same terms and topics that other teachers are using when they search.

Now You Know, What is SEO?

The term SEO can seem intimidating. It really isn’t that big and scary. Take your time when writing out titles and descriptions. Think about what others would type in the search bar to find your product or post. This is your keyword and you want to spread it out through your listing or post in a natural way.

Simple as that.

Like this post? Want to share it with a friend? Pin it to save for later or share with others!

The post What is SEO and How Do You Optimize it for TPT appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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Summer sales are dreadful on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Let me just get that out of the way right now. If you look at any sellers graph that has been on TPT for more than two summers you will start to see a trend. It’s a big ol’ dip in sales.

I think we can all figure out why that is. But sometimes it’s hard to accept.

Summer sales go down because teachers are on break. We are all taking a brain break and have wiped anything school related off of our agendas.

Do You Lesson Plan in the Summer?

There are exceptions to this of course. New teachers are going to be so excited for the next school year that they will most likely be picking out ideas on TPT. Teachers that are switching grades might be doing a little pre-planning.

However, almost all teachers are going to take a 3 to 4-week break from thinking about school at all. This usually happens around the 4th of July.

Picnics and BBQ’s are abundant. Teachers are refueling and getting ready for the next year’s grind. Could you imagine your life as a teacher if you didn’t have the summers (or a summer break) to recuperate? Teachers are already leaving the profession in droves. It would be a mass exodus.

When Do You Start Selling on TPT?

Most Teachers Pay Teachers start in the summer. It’s easy to see why. You finally have a little free time and you can focus on something besides lesson planning, getting your own kids on a schedule, and working all day long.

Teacher tired is a real thing. Summer is when you start “come back to life”. This is a great time to start a new endeavor.

It’s a great time to start selling on Teachers Pay Teachers too. If you keep a few things in mind.

  • You will not make instant sales.
  • Cricuts will be chirping in your store until at least August.
  • Product creation is the key to success on TPT

You will list your first free product and see a few downloads. Then you will list your paid resource and wonder why no one likes it. What did you do wrong? Why aren’t they buying?

They aren’t buying because “they” really aren’t on TPT during the summer. Other sellers are on there, listing their own products and looking around. They might buy an item or two here and there.

But really…the sales don’t pick up again until August.

After selling for at least two years, you will start to see the trends in your own sales. There are also sitewide trends that happen on TPT.

June and July are dead. No hope of resurrection. And it should be this way. Teachers need a break.

August is when the charts start to swing back up.

Teachers are getting excited about new crayons, fresh dry erase markers and Flair Pens.

New student lists.

School shopping.

Clear, clean lesson plans.

That’s when the traffic starts to pick back up and you might see a few sales. A back-to-school site-wide sale usually marks the end of the summer slump.

Even the Big Sellers See a Slump

The level of low sales varies based on how many followers you have, what you sell, and your time selling on Teachers Pay Teachers.

My first summer on TPT I started in June. That’s when I had time to sit down and focus. Work on bigger lessons and my covers and get things started in my shop.

That first month, I made $16. I was working for less than 25 cents an hour I am sure. The compensation for the time I spent working on products didn’t even come close to covering my time.

Teachers Pay Teachers is a long game. It’s a marathon, not a race. If I had been worried about my time and earning a set amount per hour in the beginning, I never would have kept selling.

The next summer was better. I made it into the low hundreds.

Here’s the thing though. In May, I had made it into the low thousands.

Yup. And then my sales jumped off a cliff.

You shouldn’t panic when this happens in your shop. The more you learn about TPT the more you will realize that this is just part of the ebb and flow.

Supply and demand.

You might still be supplying the lessons. They just aren’t in high demand (at the moment).

How do You Not Get Discouraged with Summer Sales?

There are a few ways to work through the summer and not let the lack of sales bring you down.

  1. Take the time to improve your shop. You are taking a break from school and lesson planning just like all the other teachers. Use this time to make improvements that you won’t have time for during the school year.
  2. Work on the big products. Now is the time to use your brain power for products that you won’t have the energy for during the school year. Think about what you want to use in your classroom next fall that is “big” and get that made.
  3. Start learning about marketing. Once you have at least 50 products in your shop you are going to want to start finding ways to generate traffic to those listings. Pick a platform and learn how to use it. Pinterest, Instagram, email marketing, SEO. Whatever it is you need to learn, now is the time to focus on that.
  4. Stay off your dashboard. Don’t go in and check your traffic, your listing stats, or anything else. List your product and get out! There is no point in dwelling on the deathly silence you will find there.
  5. Go play and relax. If you are staring at your computer and you can’t think of anything to work on, you need to get up and change your routine. Teaching all year is mentally draining. Continuing to focus on things that take mental focus is not doing you any good at all. Walk away. Maybe for an hour. Maybe for a week. You will come back refreshed and ready to crank some things out!
Now You Know What to Expect for Summer Sales

Don’t expect much of anything from your summer sales.

Be grateful for that random “cha-ching” or email announcement about a sale. Don’t dwell on the fact that they may be few and far between.

Spend your energy doing things that you know will “move the needle” when school schedules pick up again. Summer is a great time to be productive and make improvements to your store that will reap huge benefits later. Focus on the things you can control, not the things you can’t.

Want to save this post for later? Pin it and share it with your teacher friends.

The post What to Expect from Summer Sales on Teachers Pay Teachers appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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This collection of the best Valentine’s Day Crafts can be used as STEM activities in the classroom and will provide hours of education and fun. It’s easy to get your kids excited about learning when they have an engaging educational activity that is set to a fun theme.

As a teacher or parent, you are busy. And tired.  Sometimes you need someone to just say, “Hey!! Look at this”.

That’s what this post is for.

Pick one or two of these lessons or crafts to do as an activity for your kids. It will give you ideas for Valentine’s Day crafts, science lessons, math activities, and more. Stem activities for February have never been sweeter.

STEM Activities for Valentine’s Day

Science is one of the obvious components of STEM. It’s really easy to talk about science lessons, but finding lessons that can be done with more than 18 busy kids and still be meaningful gets a little harder.

Separating out the components of STEM can also seem a little overwhelming.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you are covering STEM if you talk about the math involved in an experiment. You are adding technology or engineering if you add in tools or mechanical components. Don’t let the terminology take over your thought process.

This collection of lesson plans for science, technology, engineering, and math can be used to develop a set of great activities for a few kids or a whole classroom. Supplies are easy to locate and use. Science crafts and experiments are always a hit but we sometimes put them off because they can be overwhelming.

Pick one or two of these activities. Have fun with your kids and the process and then let me know what you think.

Light Up Valentines with Electric Circuits

Did you know you can use electrical paint to create a circuit? And then run energy through it to light up an LED bulb? These light up Conversation Heart Valentines are a super easy way to create unique valentines while covering your electricity curriculum.

Check out Left Brain Craft Brain for the complete instructions and a free printable template.

Acidity of Liquids and Dissolving Candy Hearts

Discuss the acidity of different liquids and how materials will react to liquids with this candy dissolving activity. The supplies are easy to gather and kids will love making predictions, setting up the experiment, and drawing or writing about the outcome.

This one isn’t as crafty, but your kids will be love completing the experiment. You can turn it into a math lesson with measurements of the candy hearts before they are added to the liquid and after. Create a diagram the shows the progression of each of the hearts in different liquids. Have fun with it and let your kids lead the direction of your exploration. You can get the complete details and instructions on Lemon Lime Adventures.

Valentine’s Day Physics with Flying Cupid

I think this might be my favorite lesson in the collection. It’s easy to put together and you know the kids are going to freak over it. I can foresee a little craziness and chaos with this one just because they will be so excited about it. Well worth the learning experience though.

This Valentine STEM activity will be great for discussing predictions (how far will Cupid fly?). Force and motion (why is the balloon able to travel down the string?). And then measurements and comparisons after the balloons have been launched a few times. Or you could have balloon races and graph the results. Endless learning and fun!

You can visit Little Bins for Little Hands to find more physics activities and the cupid template. There are a number of fun Valentine’s themed lessons on this site that could keep you busy for weeks! I’m excited to use a few of them in my classroom this year!

Heart Marshmallow Toothpick Engineering

It doesn’t matter what theme you use for a toothpick structure, it always seems to be a hit. This heart-shaped marshmallow STEM activity isn’t any different. The kids will love designing a structure with marshmallows and toothpicks (and probably eating a few marshmallows in the process).

Building with marshmallows and toothpicks gives kids a chance to experiment with different structure types and start to develop an understanding of how structures should be composed to work the best.

Stronger structures have a wider base.

Triangles work great.

These are all concepts that will start to emerge and that they will naturally discover as they are building and playing.

Encourage creativity and problem solving with this fun STEM lesson. It’s adaptable for any age and all ages love to participate (I did a pumpkin toothpick structure activity for a fall family night and the adults had more fun than the kids!).

You can see more examples of more structures on Buggy and Buddy and how her kids created some great geometric designs.

Heart Bingo

This one is a classic. You can adapt any math concept into a BINGO game and kids will love it. The supplies are easy and if you already have a set of math BINGO cards, you can adapt it by using Conversation Hearts as the markers.

You can play BINGO as a whole group or break them into centers. Rolling a set of dice and then asking them to perform a math operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication) will create an engaging learning lesson where they are enjoying the game and not even noticing they are working on math concepts.

You can download a ready-made BINGO card and ready about some different variations for the game on Science Kiddo.

Inflating Conversation Hearts

How about a lesson that is super easy to set up but produces a major amount of excitement and engagement? This inflating conversation hearts lesson is sure to inspire your little scientists and be a great addition to your science lesson plans.

The supplies are minimal on this one and will make a great discussion about the states of matter, especially gasses which are sometimes a little harder to incorporate or display.

You can find the directions and supply list on Playdough to Plato.

Build a Tower with Hearts

Looking for another great hands-on activity with Conversation Hearts. This one is great for math (measurement, graphing, estimation) and they can eat their project when they are finished. Kids always love getting a chance to eat the lesson supplies!

Little ones can work on making patterns, build hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Older students can work on estimation skills and challenge each other to build higher and higher structures.

You can find other ways to differentiate this lesson and a free recording page on Math Geek Mama.

Lego Valentines

You can use this lesson to add a little engineering and create gifts at the same time. Students can make valentines for their family members. If you are doing this activity at home, your children can make a set of valentines for their closest friends.

Math discussions can be about patterns, counting rows and how they increase as the width of the heart grows, and how many Legos are needed for each heart. Multiplication can be used if they are making multiple hearts.

You can grab the printables at I Heart Naptime for free. Give the gift of STEM and the joy of Legos at the same time to your favorite Valentine.

Valentine’s Day Crafts and Science

There are so many resources available for STEM activities and valentines crafts. This collection is just a few of the ones I thought would be fun to add to my science lesson plans. My students will love the variety and the fact that we get to experiment.

Whether you are are a teacher or you homeschool, teaching your kids to problem solve, experiment, and continue to love the areas of STEM is important. Why not have a little fun in the process.

The post Easy Valentine’s Day Crafts for STEM in Your Classroom appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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Are you interested in selling on Teachers Pay Teachers? Maybe you need to make money to help with the monthly budget or you want a source for your “fun money”.

It could be that you want to start a side hustle? Whatever your reason for selling on TPT, you will need to start at the beginning. That’s where this post comes in.

You already spend hours making things for your classroom and pouring your heart and soul into lessons. It doesn’t take much more to process those lessons and add them to the site.

Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers is a great way to make a few extra bucks a month (or more if that’s your goal).

It’s amazing how making a few dollars on something you created for your classroom validates your efforts and time. I think it’s just knowing that it wasn’t time wasted. Someone else values your time, your creativity, and your knowledge about best educational practices.

Getting started on Teachers Pay Teachers and selling teaching resources online can seem a little overwhelming. You get frozen by the “where do I start”, “when should I upload it“, and “will it even sell” questions. Well, you start here. And you won’t know if it will sell unless you try. Ready?

1. Sign Up To Sell

You may have already signed up for a standard buyer membership. Now you need to switch your account to a Seller account. Before you click off this post, keep reading and see why you should sign up for a Basic or Premium Seller account. Signing up for a Teachers Pay Teachers account is easy, similar to signing up for any other account on the web.

2. Open a PayPal Account

Most likely, you already have a PayPal account. If you don’t, now is the time. You need to have a way to collect payments. TPT will payout once a month via PayPal. Just now signing up? You will need your bank account information handy. PayPal will make two small deposits to your account (really small: .06 or .04). This is to verify that you are indeed the owner of the account. You will check your statement and then enter the amount of the two deposits on PayPal so they will really know it’s you!

3. Sign up for Premium (if you are serious)

Here we go. Are you going to test drive this for more than a few months? Try it for a year? Ask yourself how serious you are about making money on your lessons. Investing up front in the Premium Seller account will save you money in the long run! It might take a few months of selling on Teachers Pay Teachers to make your money back, however, if you are selling units you might as well be cashing in on as much of that sale price as possible.

The Premium membership is $59.00. You keep more of each purchase and only have a transaction fee if the buyer has less than $3 in their cart at checkout. ie. your item only and it was $2.99 or less there will be an additional transaction fee. Similar to using your bank card for purchases less than $5 at the store.

4. Invest in Commercial Fonts and Clipart

Now we know you are serious. You have your PayPal account and your Premium Seller account. It’s time to get some things created and listed.

Don’t worry about investing too much money in this side hustle right off the bat. You are selling on Teachers Pay Teachers to make some extra money, not to spend your whole budget just to get started. There are ways to spread it out.

You can find free fonts for teachers as well as free clipart for Teachers Pay Teachers products. That will offset the initial fee. (Later you will want to invest in premium fonts and clipart though…just FYI).

Like any business, you need to do a little investing eventually. When and how much you invest is entirely up to you and what your budget and comfort level will allow. Buy a few commercial fonts and clipart sets to jazz up your resources.

There are loads of people selling on Teachers Pay Teachers who make graphics, digital papers, frames, clipart, and fonts for teachers to use in their resources. Some even offer free samples and that is a great way to start too (if it’s quality and has a Terms of Use/TOU that allows selling).

When you have accumulated a number of Teachers Pay Teachers purchases, don’t forget to leave feedback and earn credits. You can use those points to purchase more Teachers Pay Teacher clipart and commercial fonts!!

5. Choose a Design Program for Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers

Making all these great products is going to take time. You might know how to create materials for Teachers Pay Teachers already, or you may need to take some time to learn some design basics and programs that will make you proficient. If you are already tech-savvy, it might take a little less time. A learning curve on this process is normal. Don’t give up just because it’s a little difficult and time-consuming. You will get better and faster.

Which program do you use?

Well, you can start with what you have. PowerPoint is a big one. Google Slides works similarly and is free. I prefer Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Adobe offers a Creative Cloud subscription that you can get a discount on as an educator. You will need Adobe Acrobat or something similar to secure your PDF’s.

6. Make It and Use It

This is a big one. Don’t just make it and sell it. Why? Because you won’t be really invested in it. That secret ingredient will be missing. You need to use it. Your students need to look it over and point out your mistakes (yup! happens all the time). It makes your product better. If you don’t have a classroom to experiment on, I mean implement your lessons with, then ask a teacher friend to try it in their room and give you feedback.

My best sellers are all resources that I made because I couldn’t find a resource or material on Teachers Pay Teachers that was already made. This usually means that others are probably looking for something similar. If you find a need, someone else most likely has it too. Fill that need for them!

7. Products, 1 Free, 1 Paid

You only need two products to start. One free. One paid. Make that free one something worth paying for. And less than 10 pages. I’ll discuss the 10-page minimum in a later blog post for more advanced selling. Just keep it in mind for your free product. You have to list your first item on Teachers Pay Teachers as a free listing. It’s all about giving to the community.

8. Create Covers with Large Titles

Many sellers end up going back to their first listings and redoing their covers. It’s all part of the learning curve and growth as a seller.

If you can pinpoint a design/style that you like at the beginning of the process it will save you loads of time. Make them square. Make the title large and clear. Add your logo or copyright so it’s recognizable as yours.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t seem to come together smoothly or if you have to go back and redesign your images a few times. Designing your brand and cover really is one of the more difficult parts about selling on TPT. There are whole courses designated to just finding your brand!

Bonus Pro Tip: When you are making your cover for the product, take the time to make a Pinterest worthy pin for that product as well. You will save time and it will make your brand more cohesive.

9. Secure IT!

Based on the TOU of the creators of clipart, graphics, and fonts; your product needs to be flattened. This means it’s all one layer and a hacker can’t pick it apart and take that paid for art off it and reuse it somewhere else. There are different ways to do this such as saving your whole slide as a jpg and then placing that jpg in the file instead. If it’s a PDF, you can set security levels and password protects the file. This is a great option if you, as the owner, need to go back in and edit the file because of a mistake or an update you want to add. Save your original files!! That way you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make an edit.

10. Selling on TPT is Fun: Enjoy the Process

This whole process takes time. You won’t become a millionaire overnight. You might not even make enough to buy a coffee with each month. Especially in the summer months. Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers is often referred to as a marathon, not a sprint. You will grow and learn through this process. In more ways than you can imagine at this point. And it’s all worth it. Sort of like teaching.

Give it more than a year. Make it through a Teachers Pay Teacher Back to School sale. Make it more than 12 months so you can start comparing similar months (June to June) and see your progress. You will be so happy that you kept working at it.

11. Bonus Tip: Create a Credit Page

Give credit where credit is due. Most artist will specify that you need to give credit for using their clipart, borders, fonts, etc. Make a page to add to the end of your products that gives credit to the artists whose work is represented in the resource you just created.

There are so many things to learn, about selling on TPT, along the way.  There is a lot of information out there on how to make products for Teachers Pay Teachers. Everyone has their own style, technique, and method. It’s a little mind-boggling at first. Familiarize yourself with the Teachers Pay Teachers site. There are resources for sellers, a handbook, the forums, and many other resources to help you along the way. Of course, you can always shoot me an with questions and check out new posts. Looking for the next set of tips for selling on Teachers Pay Teachers? Check out this 2nd post.

Read These Posts Next:

10 More Tips for Selling on TPT

Market Your Site While Getting Your Hair Done

Increase Your Sales With These Courses

The post Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers: 10 Steps to Help You appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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What is STEM? You might hear it referred to as STEAM as well. The term is actually an acronym and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

STEAM also integrates Art into the acronym. In our school, we use the version with art incorporated because we felt like we are able to target that just as well as the other disciplines.

*this post contains affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more information

Previously, the United States was one of the world leaders in these areas. Unfortunately, as educational demands have changed, testing has increased, and the demands on educators have steadily grown, these topics have taken a back seat in daily instruction.

Reading and math are the core topics. When your room is full of students and desks and there is no place to set up labs, science experiments and engineering supplies (building projects and concepts) aren’t as easy to integrate.

Why Do We Need STEM

As a nation, we have noticed a decline in student interest in STEM-related fields. Students aren’t introduced to these topics or they don’t have time to build competency. This is most likely a direct result of not having enough interaction with these topics in an educational setting.

Children are less likely to be playing with science supplies and experimenting on their own time. Experiments in the backyard with lumber, buckets, and cardboard just aren’t as common!

In 2009, the Obama administration created a campaign called “Educate to Innovate” that was intended to motivate and inspire students to excel in the STEM or STEAM subjects. The hope is that American students can become more advanced in these areas and become leaders in the international arena again.

Why the huge push for STEM or STEAM education?

The job market for positions that require knowledge in these areas is starting to experience an alarming shortage. Reports and predictions show that computing jobs and traditional engineering will make up more than 85% of the job market. The workforce just isn’t there.

It isn’t just the United States that is facing these shortages and lack of a knowledgeable workforce. Other nations are experiencing the same issue.

Why is STEM different than a regular science or math class?

The idea behind STEM is to blend the learning environment and show students that you don’t learn these topics in isolation. The scientific method and higher order thinking can be applied to problems in everyday life. Finding a unique solution to a problem is enhancing the process of becoming a more innovative thinker.

Starting STEM programs at an earlier age helps children become aware of the different processes needed to solve problems, increases their interest in the scientific method, helps bridge their in-school and out-of-school problem-solving abilities, and begins to show them the possibilities for future careers.

A typical school day is filled with learning. The emphasis on techniques for reading and the process of math processes takes up the majority of the day. Arts, science, and engineering are sometimes pushed to the side or given the most minimal amount of time possible. Technology is used to deliver content. An example would be using Google Classroom for Math. It isn’t necessarily broken down into processes that show students how the technology actually works but the technology is another way to access the information.

What is STEM? STEM is the blending of different educational elements. It’s the process of showing children how things work.

How do you rebuild a structure that is made of cubes, spheres, and toothpicks using words and drawings? Can you tell your friend how to recreate the structure using only words and not touching it yourself? What words can you use?

You would be amazed how fast 2nd graders pick up the language of math (vertices, edges, faces, sphere, and cube) when they need to communicate using only their words and not their hands or pictures.

The idea is to start building up their language base and their understanding of processes. As they get older the concepts advance, the projects get more dynamic, and their understanding of how the parts of STEM can help them with their other school projects and topics increases.

Now You Know “What is STEM”…What Do You Do?

There are many different ways to implement STEM or STEAM in your classroom, as a homeschooler, or as a family project. It can be a complicated series of lessons and projects or a simple lesson that involves just one or two of the STEAM components.

  • States of matter using Minecraft
  • Physical properties of matter using slime
  • 3D printing elements of a project
  • Creating electronics with MakeyMakeys or other tools
  • Lego creations that include a pattern or a discussion of area and perimeter
  • Area and perimeter or patterns using Minecraft blocks
  • simple circuits with play-doh, LED lights, and batteries
  • building a city with cardboard and fastening pieces (store bought or 3D printed)
  • drawing on an iPad or on a computer
  • Google Earth tours in the classroom
  • so many more!!

The biggest takeaway when answering the question “what is STEM” is that it is an integration of different educational disciplines. It’s not just math. It’s not just science. It might not be all 4 or 5 components of STEM or STEAM at the same time, but it isn’t just one topic singled out.

Create a batch of slime and you are not only using tools and technology to mix and measure the ingredients, but you are also using math to measure and science to explain the chemical process and reaction that generates the goo.

Drawing a diagram of the process of making slime or writing out the directions with pictures for others to follow is integrating art and language arts into the process as well.

The idea of blending the disciplines isn’t a new concept for education. Years ago it was called a “unit of study” or a “theme” and when a class was learning about a new idea or concept the whole day, week or month was filled with that theme. Math problems related to the theme or unit. Reading was centered around the unit or theme. Science and social studies and art were also integrated. It was immersive learning.

The Truth About STEM

STEM isn’t a new idea. It’s just a new way of saying blended or integrated education. Topics are tied together to show students that you don’t learn math on its own just for the sake of learning math. It has an application and a purpose in their future education and their everyday life. What is STEM for you? I’d be interested to see how you have integrated STEM or STEAM into your education practice and what you think about the process.

Want to save this post? Pin this image:

The post What is STEM? Easy Explanation for Parents and Teachers appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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Kids are always raving about slime and unicorn slime will get them even more excited. I have one former student who set up a “slime station” in his mom’s kitchen. He used to write down all the recipes to take home after watching DIY slime video tutorials on Epic during free time.

Glitter slime is one of the easier (and cleaner) versions of slime to make. It only takes 3 ingredients and they are non-toxic which is another bonus.

Capturing a child’s interest will go a long way in helping them be engaged in a lesson. It’s also a great way to help them retain the information. Being part of the process places the information in their long-term memory bank way easier!

Glitter Slime and Science Standards

Before we get to the glitter slime recipe and directions let’s discuss how making unicorn slime fits into your curriculum. The states of matter are one of the main standards that are covered by a multitude of grades.

Understanding the difference between a solid and a liquid starts as early as Kindergarten. The process of identifying and classifying becomes more complex as children get older. By 3rd and 4th grade they are expected to predict what will happen if there is a change in temperature. Fifth graders are expected to predict what will happen chemically if another substance is added.

Making glitter slime fits the curriculum for all of these grades. Younger students will need more guidance and you can meet your standards by having them play with the slime and exploring it’s physical properties.

Older students will be meeting the science standards by measuring, observing, making predictions, and recording results.

 

How to Make Unicorn Slime - YouTube

*this post contains affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more information

Hands-On Learning with STEM

Hands-on science has a huge impact on a child’s ability to understand the content they are learning. It’s always fun to “disguise learning” as play. We know they are learning…they think they are just having fun!

Making unicorn slime with your child or your students is a great project to add to a class unit of study or as a learning component to a party. Creating individual servings of this glitter slime would make great party favors or unicorn slime valentines with this fun unicorn box.

Integrating STEM lessons into your curriculum is a great way to meet your lesson requirements while engaging your students in math, science, and the language arts. Check out this post about “What is STEM” if you are unfamiliar with the term or would like to learn more.

If you would like a step-by-step STEM lesson on making glitter slime you can check out my resource in the shop.

MAKING UNICORN SLIME (GLITTER SLIME)

The recipe and directions for this glitter slime are very simple and easy to follow. The step-by-step images below will walk you through the whole process.

Unicorn Slime Supplies
  • 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS of contact solution (I used a Bauch and Lomb brand…it has to have boric acid and sodium borate in the ingredient list to react with the glue)

Optional ingredients: 

  • 2 TABLESPOONS water if you would like a stretchier glitter slime

You will need 3 different bottles of glue and colors of glitter. Choose your favorite colors or the ones that make you think of unicorns if that is the theme you want.

1. Pour the glitter glue into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the contact solution to the glitter glue. The borax and sodium borate will start the chemical reaction that makes the glue into a polymer.

3. Mix the glue and contact solution to begin blending them together. Just a few quick stirs.

4. Add in the baking soda and mix again. If you want a stretchier glitter slime you can add water at this stage as well.

5. If you are adding extra glitter for more shine to your glitter slime you will add that in next.

6. Mix everything together until all the liquid and glitter are combined into the unicorn slime.

7. Once the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl you can take it out and knead it with your hands.

Repeat the process for your other two color choices.

Stretch out each glitter slime and lay them next to one another. Now you can twist or braid or swirl them together.

Store in an airtight container or separate out into little containers for sharing. I found some great containers at the dollar store work great or you can use food storage containers or condiment containers. If you are in a pinch or want to keep the cost down you can also use snack baggies.

If you would like a free page of Unicorn Slime snack bag printables, check out the member’s only resource page (you can access this by signing up for the newsletter).

Facts About Glitter Slime

1. Slime can also be called Oobleck, Gak, Floam, or Flubber (depending on its ingredients). It was first created by Mattel in 1976

2. Slime is a polymer. A polymer is unique because it has characteristics of both solids and liquids.

3. Polymers are like liquids because they take on the shape of their container. They can also be picked up and held like a solid. Gelatinous substances like Jell-O are considered polymers.

4. Polymer molecules chain themselves together. In the case of unicorn slime, it is the borate ions (the slime activator in contact solution is boric acid and sodium borate). They react with the PVA (polyvinyl-acetate in the glue) and together they form the cross-link or chain with each other.

5. A non-Newtonian Fluid is a fluid that doesn’t behave like a normal fluid. Glitter glue is this type of fluid. It has an unusual physical property such as flexibility or strength. Slime is stretchy which is what makes it fun!

Sign up for my mailing list and access to the member’s only library with lots of free downloads:

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The post Easy to Make Unicorn Slime That’s Mess Free and Safe appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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What is STEM? You might hear it referred to as STEAM as well. The term is actually an acronym and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

STEAM also integrates Art into the acronym. In our school, we use the version with art incorporated because we felt like we are able to target that just as well as the other disciplines.

*this post contains affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more information

Previously, the United States was one of the world leaders in these areas. Unfortunately, as educational demands have changed, testing has increased, and the demands on educators have steadily grown, these topics have taken a back seat in daily instruction.

Reading and math are the core topics. When your room is full of students and desks and there is no place to set up labs, science experiments and engineering supplies (building projects and concepts) aren’t as easy to integrate.

Why Do We Need STEM

As a nation, we have noticed a decline in student interest in STEM-related fields. Students aren’t introduced to these topics or they don’t have time to build competency. This is most likely a direct result of not having enough interaction with these topics in an educational setting.

Children are less likely to be playing with science supplies and experimenting on their own time. Experiments in the backyard with lumber, buckets, and cardboard just aren’t as common!

In 2009, the Obama administration created a campaign called “Educate to Innovate” that was intended to motivate and inspire students to excel in the STEM or STEAM subjects. The hope is that American students can become more advanced in these areas and become leaders in the international arena again.

Why the huge push for STEM or STEAM education?

The job market for positions that require knowledge in these areas is starting to experience an alarming shortage. Reports and predictions show that computing jobs and traditional engineering will make up more than 85% of the job market. The workforce just isn’t there.

It isn’t just the United States that is facing these shortages and lack of a knowledgeable workforce. Other nations are experiencing the same issue.

Why is STEM different than a regular science or math class?

The idea behind STEM is to blend the learning environment and show students that you don’t learn these topics in isolation. The scientific method and higher order thinking can be applied to problems in everyday life. Finding a unique solution to a problem is enhancing the process of becoming a more innovative thinker.

Starting STEM programs at an earlier age helps children become aware of the different processes needed to solve problems, increases their interest in the scientific method, helps bridge their in-school and out-of-school problem-solving abilities, and begins to show them the possibilities for future careers.

A typical school day is filled with learning. The emphasis on techniques for reading and the process of math processes takes up the majority of the day. Arts, science, and engineering are sometimes pushed to the side or given the most minimal amount of time possible. Technology is used to deliver content. An example would be using Google Classroom for Math. It isn’t necessarily broken down into processes that show students how the technology actually works but the technology is another way to access the information.

What is STEM? STEM is the blending of different educational elements. It’s the process of showing children how things work.

How do you rebuild a structure that is made of cubes, spheres, and toothpicks using words and drawings? Can you tell your friend how to recreate the structure using only words and not touching it yourself? What words can you use?

You would be amazed how fast 2nd graders pick up the language of math (vertices, edges, faces, sphere, and cube) when they need to communicate using only their words and not their hands or pictures.

The idea is to start building up their language base and their understanding of processes. As they get older the concepts advance, the projects get more dynamic, and their understanding of how the parts of STEM can help them with their other school projects and topics increases.

Now You Know “What is STEM”…What Do You Do?

There are many different ways to implement STEM or STEAM in your classroom, as a homeschooler, or as a family project. It can be a complicated series of lessons and projects or a simple lesson that involves just one or two of the STEAM components.

  • States of matter using Minecraft
  • Physical properties of matter using slime
  • 3D printing elements of a project
  • Creating electronics with MakeyMakeys or other tools
  • Lego creations that include a pattern or a discussion of area and perimeter
  • Area and perimeter or patterns using Minecraft blocks
  • simple circuits with play-doh, LED lights, and batteries
  • building a city with cardboard and fastening pieces (store bought or 3D printed)
  • drawing on an iPad or on a computer
  • Google Earth tours in the classroom
  • so many more!!

The biggest takeaway when answering the question “what is STEM” is that it is an integration of different educational disciplines. It’s not just math. It’s not just science. It might not be all 4 or 5 components of STEM or STEAM at the same time, but it isn’t just one topic singled out.

Create a batch of slime and you are not only using tools and technology to mix and measure the ingredients, but you are also using math to measure and science to explain the chemical process and reaction that generates the goo.

Drawing a diagram of the process of making slime or writing out the directions with pictures for others to follow is integrating art and language arts into the process as well.

The idea of blending the disciplines isn’t a new concept for education. Years ago it was called a “unit of study” or a “theme” and when a class was learning about a new idea or concept the whole day, week or month was filled with that theme. Math problems related to the theme or unit. Reading was centered around the unit or theme. Science and social studies and art were also integrated. It was immersive learning.

The Truth About STEM

STEM isn’t a new idea. It’s just a new way of saying blended or integrated education. Topics are tied together to show students that you don’t learn math on its own just for the sake of learning math. It has an application and a purpose in their future education and their everyday life. What is STEM for you? I’d be interested to see how you have integrated STEM or STEAM into your education practice and what you think about the process.

Want to save this post? Pin this image:

The post What is STEM? Easy Explanation for Parents and Teachers appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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Creating a colorful and whimsical unicorn Valentines box is super easy with this fun printable and easy set of directions. Dress up an everyday box 

Children are in love with unicorns. Students in my classroom were decorating pumpkins as unicorns! Every chance they get, they turn a craft into a unicorn. They also love to work on math and spelling when unicorns are involved.

Now you can help them add a Valentine’s Day Unicorn to their craftivities.

With the unicorn printable you can choose to have your child or students color the elements of their unicorn box or you can print pre-colored designs. Either way, this unicorn Valentines box is a quick and easy project.

Ready to get started. There are a few supplies you need to gather up. Most of them you should already have on hand!

*this post contains affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more information

Unicorn Valentines Box Supplies
Wrap the Unicorn Box

Start by tapping up any extra edges or flaps on your box. You don’t want them popping up in places after you start wrapping it in butcher paper.

Choose the side that will be the front (the smoothest is your best option). The other sides won’t be as visible so they aren’t something you really need to worry about other than covering them with white paper.

Cut a hole in the top of the box toward the back edge. This will be where friends and teachers can drop in Valentines. Make it about 3/4 inches wide by 3 inches long. It doesn’t need to be specific it just needs to be large enough to fit Valentines cards and candies through.

Now wrap the box like a Christmas gift in white paper. You can use butcher or freezer paper or if you have gift wrap that has a solid white backside, that would work great too.

You might have to wrap the box twice to cover up the design underneath depending on the thickness of your paper.

Make sure the face of your box does NOT have a seam across it. I made the seam go to the back and the ends were on the top and bottom so they could be hidden.

Cut the Paper for Valentines

If you cut a triangle at each end of the opening and then slice across the opening, it will be easier to wrap under and glue. This will make a nice smooth edge that won’t get caught on envelopes and cards as they are adding them to the box.

Wrap the Unicorn Horn

The cone for the unicorn’s horn has a space for you to add glue and then fold it under to make a cone. I would recommend shaping it and getting an idea of the size you want before adding any glue.

You can follow the dotted line and make the cone larger, or tuck that edge in a little further to make a smaller unicorn horn. This will depend on your preference and the size of the box you chose. 

After you have the size you want, add glue down the seam to hold the cone in its shape. Place the cone in the center of the box and if you need a guide-line, trace around it with a pencil.

Now run a line of glue and place the horn down on the box. If you need to run another line around to hold the horn down, that is okay. It will be covered up by unicorn hair in the next step.

Beautiful Unicorn Hair

Use ribbon, string, yarn, or fabric to create beautiful unicorn tresses. I used yarn and ribbon after I glued the horn down. First I ran a piece of yarn around my glue seam. 

While the glue around the horn was cooling, I wrapped a strands of yarn into clumps. Fold the yarn or ribbon back and forth 5-6 times and then loop the yarn through one of the ends. 

Tie it in a knot and then cut the strands so it looks similar to a graduation tassel. Make 5 or 6 of these bunches and then cut some ribbon or other colorful strands to place in randomly.

If you are using a thicker yarn, ribbon, or fabric, take a long strand and glue it around the top of the horn in loops. I had a thicker fuzzy sea-foam colored yarn that made perfect unicorn curls so that is what I chose for the “hairline”.

Tack down the top of each loop. then create another loop and keep going around the horn until you reach the beginning. I skipped the loops by the whole in the back so they wouldn’t be in the way of cards and get snagged by edges or corners of envelopes.

Make as many loops or passes as you want. Switch up the yarn or string. It is up to you how much hair you want your unicorn to have!

Next, add in the tassels of yarn that you created and some random colors and ribbon. Sparkly ribbon, raffia, or gift ribbon would be fun to add for some different colors. Rainbow ribbons or colors. I also thought about adding in little strips of embroidery floss in a rainbow of colors. Or you could add a few braids. Make it fun and cute!

The Face of Your Unicorn Valentine Box

The final touches go on fairly fast.

Print the black and white or color version of the unicorn printable. Color and cut them out as needed.

I added the ears to the corner of the box. You could also think about folding the base of each a little and adding them to the top of the box so they get covered by hair and appear to be popping out of the top of the box.

Adding a touch of hot glue to the bottom of each ear and attaching them in the corners was quick and easy and I know they will stay stuck where I placed them.

Next, add the muzzle or nose to the box. I placed it toward the bottom of the box because a unicorn has a long face like a horse and you need space for the eyes and some flowers if you choose to add a “headband”.

Next, choose the style of eyes you want. I chose the ones with pre-printed eyelashes, but you could choose the other set of eyes and draw on your own eyelashes. 

If you want to add your own eyes or embellishments to the unicorn’s features, this is a great time to do that.

Finishing Touches

There are flowers included in the free printable. I printed out the colored version to use. You could also use craft flowers or fake flowers to add across the front of the box as a headband or garland. 

Add details to give your unicorn Valentine box character. Glitter or rhinestone stickers will add a whimsical touch. Stickers or a quick doodle with colorful markers. 

You can add your name or your child’s name to the box on a side with colorful markers or alphabet stickers. 

This project is quick, easy, very affordable and makes a super cute Valentine’s Day box. It would also be great for unicorn birthday parties or other unicorn themed events as a decoration (just skip adding the hole to the top). 

It would also make a great kids craft for a fun afternoon of project making. I know my daughter would have loved this as an activity when she was younger. I’m thinking about taking supplies to my nieces so they can each make a unicorn Valentine box as well!

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The post Quick Whimsical Unicorn Valentines Box for Students and Teachers appeared first on Rhoda Design Studio.

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