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How I Make Printables

Well, it’s going to take me a gobzillion years to get through all of the questions y’all asked me about how I make printables, so…

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Well, it’s going to take me a gobzillion years to get through all of the questions y’all asked me about how I make printables, so I’m going to start with one of the most asked in comments and emails!  {Bear with me while I sort through the rest!}
The short answer: in Microsoft Word with clip art from Scrappin’ Doodles and fonts from all over the internet.
The really long answer for how I make my printables:
Well, first and foremost, I have to be inspired.  I cannot – and do not – just sit in front of the computer and crank out printables all day long.  Usually, inspiration hits me at when I’m browsing through kid lit at Border’s or the library, trolling the internet, and frequently when I’m in the middle of teaching and have an “ah ha” moment.  As in, my kids have never read _________ ?!  I HAVE to do something with that!  Sometimes, it’s at Target {like when I came across the great boxes I used for the Mystery Box!}.
However, I am not creative all the time and I usually don’t create something that someone else has already done.  Like, why make a dental health unit when Cara and Brooke are all over it?! {Please go visit these ladies, they are awesome!}   There are so many ah-mazing resources on the web that if they’re available, I use them.  One of my favorite teacher sayings is “Beg, borrow, steal!” because all teachers should feel at liberty to do such – just make sure you give credit where credit is due 🙂  Our lives are far too busy to try to make something new for every holiday, season, or celebration that we come across during the school year.
{Basically, I just want you to know that I am not super woman, mom, or teacher.  I do the best I can with what God has given me.  And God has given me a busy two-year-old, an awesome husband who’s undertaken our kitchen remodel, and limited time!  Believe me, I do not do it all!  Come see the laundry about to attack me from the bedroom floor!}
But, when I am inspired, I have to do it NOWAnd I literally don’t stop working on it until the idea is complete.  Then, I’m tethered to my lap top and just itching to get into the classroom to teach whatever it is I’m working on.
Here’s my typical set-up…
Okay, and now for the tech part…
I make all of my documents in Microsoft Word.  I took a very basic class for educator’s in college and it has to be one of the most valuable classes I’ve ever taken.  I’m sure there are more refined ways to do it, but it is what I am most familiar with so that’s what I use.
When my document is complete I “save as” a PDF right in Word.  If you have Word 2007 or newer, this is an option!!!  It takes your document and makes it into a PDF.  Super easy.  No trick to it whatsoever.
I purchase almost all of the clip art you see.  Scrappin’ Doodles is where I get most of what you see in TpT printables, as they allow you to reproduce their graphics commercially.  DJ Inkers is another superb site for fun images, but you are not allowed to reproduce her images commercially.  However, you can share your printables containing any DJ Inker art for free with other educators.  If you want to purchase a commercial license with Thistle Girl Designs, you can also produce her images for commercial purposes.  Otherwise, you can use them for personal or free distribution only.  I would also recommend Etsy for absolutely darling clip art, though the terms of use vary by artist.  Just search for what you’re looking for within the site.
The fonts are from all over the internet.  The one I am most frequently asked about is CK Handprint {pictured above!}  You can find it HERE, along with dozens of other cutesy fonts {thanks, Cara!}.  I would also recommend Kevin and Amanda for lots of free font choices.  However, I would have to say the best fonts are those made by DJ Inkers!  Though you can’t use them commercially, they are spectacular – and there’s usually one for absolutely anything you can imagine!  Shamrock Font?  Check.  Candycane Font?  Check.  Soooooo worth it invest in her stuff.  Promise.
Whenever I want to share a free printable with you, I upload it to my Google docs {you have this if you have a gmail account!}.  I make sure I click “Public on the Web” in the Share Settings, which then provides me with a link to copy and paste.
Then, I create a “Screen Shot” of the document by pressing “fn” and “prt sc” at the same time while the doc is pulled up in Word.  I paste this into Microsoft Paint where I doctor it down to the image I want.  I save the image as a jpg and upload it to the blog just as I’d upload a regular picture.  Next, I attach the link given to me via google docs to the screen shot pic I uploaded.  Confused yet?!  {Is there an easier way to do this?  PLEASE SHARE!!!}
As far as time goes, when I put together a big unit with multiple activities, games, and ideas, it usually takes me several hours over a few days.  Like I said, when I get an idea, I have to work with it immediately! On the other hand, a 1-2 page document can take me as little as 15-30 minutes.  Especially if I know exactly what I want.  You can frequently find me before school hours doing this!
I hope that was helpful!  If I missed something, email me or leave a comment and I’ll try to get back to you 🙂
* * * * *
Speaking of units…
The first three people to tell me why my next unit will defy gravity will win a copy of my upcoming TpT activity!!!  I can’t wait to show you 🙂  Guess away!

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29 comments

  1. Okay – here's my guess…
    Because you're awesome and it seems like everything you do defies gravity! Did that butter you up? HA!

    Okay I'm guess that you took all the suggestions about the doubles math from your previous post and put together some kind of amazing unit.

    Anyways I'd LOVE a unit of yours!

    Edlink123.blogspot.com
    mrs.edwards2@gmail.com

  2. Is your next unit a unit about the planets? 🙂

    I LOVE your blog! I am a first year teacher and teach first grade in Texas and I am always trying to find great ideas and you have so many of them. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them!!

  3. Space is a definite possibility. This is a big shot in the dark…I'm just thinking Defying Gravity–Wicked–Wizard of Oz…you could be going for an Oz approach and doing something rainbow related with the upcoming St. Patrick's Day? Yeah. I'm probably way off. I tried.

  4. I just thought I might offer some other possibilities for making printables. I use Microsoft Publisher which is far easier to manipulate and I can turn out a document very quickly since it allows for text and graphics. It is the best of what is out there…I promise! I am teaching this program to my entire staff since they ask me all the time how I create all the stuff I make.
    I love this site. You make me laugh and remind me not to take myself too seriously. I am new to blogging but it's my latest addiction. I think your next unit will be on Space! Who knows but I can't wait to find out.

  5. So I know that you have already been awarded the Stylish Blogger award but I also gave you this awards. I think you are very creative and thanks for sharing how you are inspired. I am usually inspired when my students are having difficulty with a skill and I know that they need a little more help. Also, Target is an inspiration to me as well….the scrap booking section and games department.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kitten's First Full Moon is coming up in Treasures (We use it too – this is our first year with it), so I'm guessing some moon/space activities based off that.

    Morgan
    FantasticFirst.blogspot.com

  7. I don't use Treasures or Everyday Math- We do our own reading with Debbie Miller and Kathy Collins and we use Investigations so I'm clue—less! I do love your ideas though. Everything I put in my TpT is stuff I'm using for centers. I'm trying to make them more hands on this year. After 10 years I've been though more centers than Taylor Swift has boyfriends. But I will give you a little tip if you didn't know… which I'm sure you already did (Because you are SOO SMART). The coupon code for Scrappin Doodles is usually always the month and the year. This month FEBRUARY2011. GET YOUR SAVE ON!

  8. I am guessing that you're teaching about forces and motion. My first guess was space, but there are too many space guesses ahead of me. I teach both of these units, so I'd love to see what you come up with for either.
    Thanks for your great ideas!!!

  9. Wow!!! I can say you are amazing at whatever task you put yourself in!! I'm a recent blogger and I've become a huge fan of your site.

    Wonderful resources!!!

    My guess is a unit in Science about our Earth and moon. Just to share we use Reading Street for LA and Envisions for Math so if you know of any blogs that provide info…please let me know!

  10. Hi Abby,
    I know you work in Word but I suggest you try Microsoft Publisher if you want quick and easy. It is much more user friendly than Word and accepts both text and graphics. My staff asked the principal to let me teach it to them for two hours in our computer lab. Take a look on my blog and see what you think.
    I love your blog and at the end of the day I can't wait to read it. You can always make me laugh!

    Fran: kindergartencrayons.blogspot.com

  11. Love your blog and your TpT store! Does your unit have to do with an egg being dropped from high places? (I'm thinking it's something Eastery) Thanks for all the ideas!

  12. I am going to guess that you are defying gravity because you will be doing a math unit and you do not enjoy math. It also most likely has to do with Dr. Seuss since his birthday is right around the corner. So maybe an activity with Ten Apples Up on Top…? Hope so! LOVE beg borrowing and stealing your stuff! 🙂

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