I had a very busy end to the school year! I was asked at the last minute to fill in for a teacher who was having a baby. The last few weeks of school are a very busy time filled with lots of activities. The first week, I went on a total of three field trips (two with my own children and one with my substitute class). The second week, we traveled to the middle school for two move up days and had a school-wide fun day. Finally, we ended with three half days. I had a really great class and I enjoyed spending time with them. Teaching can be really hard these days. There is a lot of pressure to help the students perform well on standardized tests. Common core is not only new to the students, it is new to the teachers as well and can be difficult to teach. The wide academic range of students within the classroom means that you have to teach to many different levels at once, making sure advanced students are challenged and struggling learners are supported. Behavioral problems are undoubtedly worse and some students have emotional needs that will bring you to tears.
Watching that light bulb moment when a student finally gets it, having former students rush to hug you in the hallway, seeing their faces light up with happy news after dark days, seeing the class get excited about learning... those are the things that make it all worth it. One thing that I remembered this past school year is how much I have missed teaching.
On our next to last half day, my 9yo and I decided to make some gifts for their elementary teachers. One of them had a particularly challenging class this year so I came up with the idea of making a microwavable neck wrap to help ease some of the tension from a long school year.
I happened to have a layer cake of the fabric line "Elementary" by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics. How perfect is that? (Although, the math on this fabric is at a much more advanced level!) So, we chose 5 fabrics that went well together and carefully cut them to make two neck warmers at once. The back is made of a solid black strip for a nice contrast and easier topstitching.
I snapped some pictures as we were making them so I put together a little tutorial.
To make two rice bags, start with five 10" squares of coordinating fabric and a 13" cut of fabric from the bolt for the back. For each 10" square, cut 6.5" off of one side, then cut that piece in half (5"). The longer rectangle can be put in your scrap bin. :)
Repeat for the other squares so that you end up with 10 pieces of fabric measuring 6.5" x 5" each.
Sew the fabric together on the long sides with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seams open.
Next, cut your back piece. I like to wait until the top is pieced in case my seam allowances were off. It should be 23" x 6.5" but measure your front just to be sure and adjust if needed.
Sew the front and back together, leaving a two inch opening in the center of one end. Clip the corners.
Flip right side out and poke the corners out carefully. Press well with the iron. These steps make all the difference, so please don't skip them!!!
Now, it is time to fill the bag with rice. I mix mine with a few drops of lavender essential oil in an old ice cream bucket before funneling it into the rice bag. For this project, you only need to fill one section at a time, so add about 1 cup of rice and then carefully topstitch between the first two fabric squares to hold the rice in place. I used black thread to match the back.
When the last section is filled, carefully machine stitch the opening closed. You can do this by hand if you prefer.
TA DA!! These really don't take too long to make. I made it an assembly line with my daughter. She would hand me fabric, iron, or fill rice as I sewed the other one. I thought it was nice that she got to help with the gift for her teacher.
Finally, we made some printable gift tags and the girls signed them. I printed them double sided on brown card stock to coordinate with the fabric. Everything was tied with bakers' twine to make a neat little bundle.
You can download the free printable gift tags by clicking below...
If you want to pin this for later...
The kids are of course being rambunctious already, but I am enjoying the slower pace of summer vacation. I hope the teachers are enjoying their break, too! I know these two really earned it this year!