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Brainy Apples: My Favorite Mother's Day Gift EVER!
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My Favorite Mother's Day Gift EVER!

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and every day I stare at the best present one of my children have ever given to me….and it came home from school. When my oldest son, Alex, was in Kindergarten, he came home with this little present wrapped with tissue paper and mostly tape. He also had a little card he had made. He had handwritten it, so it wasn't typed, which made it even better. It wasn't much, but when I read the card and opened the clumsily wrapped gift, I cried. Want to know what simple gift it was and what the card said?

"You may hold my hand for a while, but you will hold my heart forever"

Simple but touched my heart! To think this was actually his little hand! I started having my students make these little magnets for their parents, and I have my students report back on whether or not their moms shed a tear…..and in most cases they do, which is my goal! Hee hee hee :) I have had many moms email me that this is their favorite gift for Mother's Day ever, and I definitely concur. This was 5 years ago, and I still have it handing on my fridge during the summer months and on my desk during the school year.

From the teacher's end, they are relatively easy and cheap to have your students create. All you need are:
Shrinky Dink paper which you can find at Michael's or any craft store. I think I ended up buying 3 packs just because I wanted some extras in case we made mistakes. How many packs you buy will depend on the age of your students…bigger hands = more paper. The oldest grade I did this with was 3rd grade, and I could fit 2 kids' hands onto 1 sheet. This is the pack I bought. You get 10 8"x10" sheets. I think they were about $6-7 per pack. Oh, and make sure you get the "frosted" version. It has a rough side that "grabs" the color. I like this kind the best. They have "clear" paper, and these work great if you want the hands to be sun-catchers.

Magnet strips which you can find at Michael's or any craft store (and Michael's does give a teacher discount with ID- score!). You can cut the magnet strips to fit the back of the hands, or you can hot glue real magnets onto the back. The magnet strips do tend to fall off over the years, though. I did recently find these magnet dots and I bet they would work great!

Colored pencils or paint pens or permanent markers. Crayons will NOT work! Colored pencils work well enough, paint pens and permanent markers work even better, but can be harder to use especially if kids use multiple colors to keep them from smearing. Use the fine tip ones! Probably use colored pencils for younger kids.

And your oven at home (or if you have one at school you can use).

Paper for the card

Coloring utensils for the card
That's it!!!

Here's the process I followed. You will want to get started at least a day before your kids will need to take them home.

*Trace your kids' hands onto the shrink dink paper. Be sure to trace on the correct side! You will want to trace and color on the rough side. Not the smooth side! DON'T cut out the hands yet! It is far easier for kids to color the hands before they are cut out. Learn from my mistake :)
*If you have more than one hand on a sheet, bubble cut around the hands. If there is one hand per sheet, just give each kid their hand.
*I write each kid's name at the bottom of the hand where the wrist begins. That way I can tell whose is whose after I bake them, and so mom will remember whose hand it belongs to :) If you want to also write the year, you can do that, too.
*Kids can now color their hands. I have my students draw a heart in the palm first, but for younger kids who can't draw hearts, I drew it for them.
*Once they have colored their hands on the ROUGH side, they need to be cut out. If you have young students, you will probably want to cut them out. You don't want them to cut off their fingers (of their shrinky dinks, not their real fingers!) and the edges of the plastic can get quite sharp. I even cut out my older kids' hands, too, because I didn't want to have to buy more paper. But if you have older kids, you may trust them to be careful and meticulous :)
*Collect them to bring them home to bake.
*That night, I follow the directions included with the shrinky dink paper to bake them. My first time doing this, I messed up a couple of hands because I panicked when I saw them folding up on themselves and pulled them out of the oven to fix them. Well, apparently this is quite normal (It has been a long time since I made shrinky dinks as a child!) So guess what we did the next day at school? New hands were made! Give yourself a few days to get these done and you will save yourself stress! Again, learn from my mistakes! :)

Follow the directions!!! Make sure your oven is hot enough, and keep an eye on them! It will take what seems like FOREVER for them to start to move and shrink, but once they do, it happens quickly! Don't burn them because then your oven is a little stinky for quite some time! The first batch I baked, I panicked when the little fingers started curling into the palm. I pulled them out and tried to straighten them. Don't do that! Just leave them alone! Don't touch them! After several seconds, the fingers will jump back to their normal positions and all is well. I promise! Also, when you pull them out to remove them from the baking sheet, if they stick AT ALL put them back in! They are not finished baking. When they are done baking, you can easily remove them with a spatula. I think the longest it took was maybe 7-8 minutes.
Oh, and I used a non-stick baking sheet. Then I put them on a cooling rack to cool.

*All that's left is to put the magnets on the back and have the kids write the cards. I put the words up on the board and let them create their own handwritten cards. I had my students write the little poem on one side and a letter to mom on the other side. I even had my younger students handwrite the message because that is what made it so special for me :)

*Then have your kiddos wrap them up and take them home! Pretty easy, cheap, and non-messy. Just the way I like 'em!

I have also had my own children make these for their grandparents, too. And I got tears from them, as well. Score! :)

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Until next time!

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**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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