LDS Chorister Activity - Primaryland!

Well folks, I know it's been a while since I posted. I started this blog back in 2007, and by far the most popular post I ever did was in 2011, when I introduced my Primary Singing Wheel. This was a game I made for my church calling as the Primary Ward Chorister. Photoshop made it possible for me to create this fun way of picking songs to sing and way to sing them, and in the last seven years, it's been downloaded literally THOUSANDS of times. Ironically, I only had that calling for about four months, when my twin pregnancy made it too difficult to stand and teach.

Well, what goes around comes around. My twins are now 6, and with three kids in Primary, it was time, I suppose, to let me finish what I started! I got the calling again, and I'm more than happy to do it! I have three girls in there now and it makes it so much fun! Since I started, I have done some pretty fun things, but this--THIS GAME is the BEST. I swear I was like a criminal mastermind while I was working on it! And I could never have done it without Photoshop! YAY PHOTOSHOP! (Where would I be without you???)

So, here it is. The Primaryland game. I have made all the files available for it on my TPT site to make it easier to download, but of course all files are free. The file comes with:

  • 12 Sheets to be printed in color, if possible, on white card stock, then sliced into cards
  • Full step by step directions and a guide to help understand what the games are on each card.
  • The pattern for the box that holds the cards (totally optional but also awesome) 
  • The pattern for three types of dice. Also optional, but you DO need at least one regular 1-6 dice for some of the games.
In order to create this game, you will also need to make the poster as shown. Pretty simple--just poster board, five different colors of construction paper and some glue and you're good. If you can laminate it, even better. 

You can download all the files here:

I  wanted this game to be versatile--I knew it would be a lot of work to create it, so I wanted to be able to play it multiple times. For this reason, I made the board and the cards separate so that the cards can be changed. I also made more cards than needed so that once an activity is done, you can replace it with another one. I wouldn't be surprised if more ideas come to me and I make expansions to this game over time!

The basic game is a bit like Candyland. Divide the class into two groups, making sure that ages are pretty evenly distributed. On their turn, a child rolls the dice (there are three dice to choose from, or you can use a regular dice) and moves their marker (usually a magnet of some kind). There are five different color spaces that do different things:

Red - Get a trivia question
Blue - Do an activity
Green - Movement (go back, start over, go forward, etc)
Orange - Sing a song in an unusual way of some kind
Yellow - Prizes. If a team picks one of these up, they can count for points, a prize, or movement. 

The first team to get to the end wins! Or, the team that gets the most points from yellow cards, trivia questions, or challenges. It's up to you!

LDS Girls Camp - CampCon 2016


This post is directed to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormons) who may be looking for ideas for the annual Girls Camp that we hold. However, if you are not a member of this church but are still looking for ideas, WELCOME! For those who are my regular readers for Digital Scrapbooking--make no mistake. My digital scrapbooking abilities were central in making this awesome camp take shape!

So I've been meaning to write this post of 2016. So it's been like 8 months in the making. But here I am at last. I wanted to share what my ward did for Girls Camp in 2016 and how I used Photoshop to achieve some pretty awesome stuff. If you are looking for a great theme and some fun ideas for YOUR ward or stake, this might be the place for you!

A few details:

  • I was called to be the camp director in mid-June for a camp that was to take place August 8. Thank goodness I'm a teacher and had the summer to prepare! This was my first time ever as camp director and it was awesome!
  • Our stake alternates each year between individual ward camps and stake camps. As this was a ward camp, I had complete control over the theme, activities, and food. That made me a lot more creative!
  • As I am a business teacher proficient in Photoshop, and as I have a high quality color printer, I was able to do a lot of things that many others may not be able to do. I also had access to a Silhouette machine that was very useful for the invitations especially. But never fear--much of my hard work is at your fingertips and you will be able to download some of the stuff I created if you want to use it. However, in order to make the files editable, some of them will require access to Photoshop, even if you don't know how to use it very well. 
Yes, I made a logo. Everything needs a logo! Thank you again, Photoshop!

Our theme was CAMPCON 2016, Adventure Awaits. We chose five different stories, or "fandoms" that we divided our girls into. If I were to do this on a stake level, I would choose a different fandom for each ward, but since it was a ward level, the girls were each divided into one of the five houses.

The five fandoms we chose were deliberate--we specifically chose fandoms that use the "archetypal journey." If you had to choose more than five fandoms, you would need to select carefully a well-known story that follows the path shown here. Our fandoms were:

  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Hunger Games
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Harry Potter
  • Star Wars. 
Each of these stories follows that journey--someone seemingly insignificant that meets a wise mentor who helps him/her leave home and go on a journey that changes the world. This same journey was taken by many characters in scriptures, as well as Joseph Smith. It resonates with us because it is also the journey that Christ took in his earthly ministry. 

For our experience, the leaders were all Narnia, and the girls were divided into the other four houses. 


Anticipation is everything. I wanted it to be really clear that this was going to be an AWESOME camp. We don't have a lot of girls in our ward and I wanted ALL of them to come! So I created a really fun invitation. It's a little much--but I only had to make 9 of them so it wasn't that big of a deal. If you would like an editable copy of this invitation, please email me and I will send it to you. But be warned--you WILL need access to Photoshop and you will also need to install the correct fonts. Contact me for more details. 
I took care to include elements of all five fandoms in the in the invitation--the Narnia door with the Hobbit sign on it, the Hogwarts envelope (containing their permission slip) the information text in a Star Wars scroll perspective, and of course the famous line, "May the odds be ever in your favor."

This invitation was, I admit, a ridiculous amount of work. But...I'm a nerd and creating stuff like this is just fun for me, so don't judge. :) But it did get the girls excited and--did I mention I put a magnet on the back? It went very nicely on the fridge!


The next document I created was also a real study nerdiness that makes me good at my job. I made each girl...wait for it...a marauder's map! It included their schedule, rotations, the camp theme song (I'll get to that), scriptures to memorize and a few other goodies. I adapted it from this site, though in the end I kept very little of the original work. 

This thing was also a nightmare and a lot of fun to create. It required me to print on the back as well. The scriptures fold up and go on the empty scripture panel, and the center area is the contract that is folded and glued there. Then it folds up and has a little ribbon bringing it together. Super cute, but unfortunately I don't have a good picture of it all together. I just have this shot of me showing it to the girls. You can kind of see how it looked and what the outside looked like from the ones the girls are holding. They really were freaking awesome. Could you do this idea without the map? ABSOLUTELY. I'm just a nerd.

However, here is an up close shot of our schedule:
(please ignore the fact that I put July instead of August...)


Now, if I lived in a ward with LOTS of girls, I would have had each year be a different house--the first years are Harry Potter, and so forth. And each tent would be to that theme. But as we only had 9 girls, this wasn't going to happen. But it could definitely be done that way!

After tents were set up, we gathered in the pavilion for the "sorting." We had acquired a Harry Potter Sorting Hat. Each girl was called up one by one to be sorted. Prior to putting the sorting hat on their head, I put a colored bandanna with a badge on it that had a symbol for their house inside the hat. (Oh yes, I also have access to a badge machine, MOST useful.) Then we put it on their head and they got to take it off and take out their bandanna. Later, they got a t-shirt in the same color.

Yellow - Hunger Games
Red - Harry Potter
Green - Lord of the Rings
Blue - Star Wars
Purple  - Narnia (this was just for the leaders, but we all got them too!)


Each girl also got a colored shirt. We did a craft where we used a silhouette on paper, pinned it to the shirt, then use bleach in a spray bottle to spray all around it. Then you remove the silhouette. It looked super awesome. I also have the silhouette files if you want them! (cutting them out with my Silhouette machine was MOST useful. I just wish I'd cut out several of them instead of using the same one over and over. It got pretty beat up.)


Of all the things on this site, this section might be the most use to you if you are going to try and do this theme. This is the heart of the entire theme and IT. WAS. AWESOME. If you look at the schedule, you'll see that we have five challenges scheduled--one for each of the five houses. Four of them were purely for fun, and the fifth one was the spiritual experience.

Challenge #1 - Hunger Games

You could do the challenges in any order, except that it's important that Hunger Games is first and Narnia is last. Hunger Games sets up all the other challenges. It will require a bit of planning before hand but it's none of the items needed are expensive or difficult to obtain.

What You Will Need:

Two items for each house, so eight items. If you have a large group you may want to do more. (Keep in mind that Narnia was the leader house, so I only did this with four houses)
  • Squirt gun
  • Spoon (just a regular old spoon)
  • Plastic shovel (like at the $1 store)
  • A ball of some kind, medium sized
  • A gun that shoots projectiles
  • A sponge
  • Small bucket
  • A syringe 
You will also need a small table of some kind. I just used a camping fold up one. Find a big open area and place the table in the center with all the items on it. This is your "cornucopia." You will also need to come up before hand and bury an item for each group. I just made a little box with a badge in it--it doesn't really matter what it is. Just something they can dig up. Make sure to mark it with a rock or something to help them find it. 

Line the girls all around the table, about 10 feet away in a circle. When you call time, they will all run to the center and grab what they can. Each house gets two items, so you will only want two representatives from each group--or if you have more items, you can add more reps. Now, they have NO IDEA what they will be using their items for. This is why it's hilarious.

Challenge A - Water Torture

Now that they have their items, instruct them in the first challenge. Place four small tubs along a path or a table. Then put a bucket across the way. Tell the girls to choose a tribute to complete the task. Using one of their items, they must move the water from their tub to the bucket.

It's pretty hilarious to watch someone try to empty a tub with only a spoon, or a water gun. The small bucket and the sponge definitely worked best. Note that I also have plastic cups with the bad guy from their house on it--this was just to identify which house was at which station. I used those cups again in a later challenge.

Award points for the one who gets it transferred first. 

Challenge B - Shoot It

Next, the girls will need to kill the villain of their story. Using the cups pictured above, place them along a table. The girls, using whatever items they have, have to knock the cup over of their villain. This was also hilarious. The squirt gun worked ok, but actually I think the bucket won in this challenge! Award points to the group that kills their villain first!

Challenge C - Dig It Up

The last challenge, the girls had to dig up a prize in the ground. Using what they have, they need to dig up the prize for their group. I told each group a general direction and that it was marked with a rock. If they struggled I did the hotter/warmer game to help them. Whoever digs it up first is awarded points.

We had a place on their Marauder's map to score points, but do it however you like!

Challenge #2 - The Lord of the Rings

For this one, I combined the challenge with the required hike. When the girls went on their hike, they took with them a small paper bag with a handle that had a list of items they needed to find. Each house had a bag, so they worked in teams. When they came back from the hike, I awarded them points if they got each item. I also allowed them to take pictures of the items with their phones.

Challenge #3 - Star Wars

For Challenge 3, we had a Minute to Win It challenge, with all the challenges themed for Star Wars. This was SO FUN. But it did require quite a bit of prep. Here are the games we played, and if you want it in a file, click here:

1.       Game #1 -  Like a Trooper
a.       Storm troopers are known for two things: shiny white armor, and terrible aim! In this challenge, prove you have what it takes to be a storm trooper by shooting rubber bands at the cards set up on clothes pins. Points for every one that you make—but if you hit it,  you are NOT cut out to be a storm trooper!
                                                               i.      Playing cards
                                                             ii.      Clothespins
                                                           iii.      Rubber bands
2.       Game #2 – Heart of the Light Saber
a.       The heart of any light saber is the Kyber Crystal, a mysterious mineral from outer space that gives the light saber its power and its color. In this challenge you must sort and line up the blue, green, and red Kyber Crystals from the bag of candy so that you can build light sabers in all three colors. 
                                                               i.      Sort Skittles by color into different plates using a straw
                                                             ii.      Paper Plates, straws, large bag of Skittles
3.       Game #3 – Shoot! We’re in the Garbage!
a.       You have fallen into the garbage shoot! Using limited materials, you are trying to brace the walls, or keep your bodies higher, as the garbage compactor starts.  You are waiting for C3PO to stop the walls, but he’s taking forever. Will you make it? A stack of 30 cups each, plus one C3PO cup on the bottom. Stack the top cup on the bottom until the C3PO cup is at the top.
                                                               i.      60 Cups
                                                             ii.      2 C3PO Cups
4.       Game #4 – Get to the Control Panel!
a.       You are racing through the Death Star with a host of storm troopers on your tail! You open a hatch, only to discover that there is a giant cavern below and a narrow bridge running across it. Can you get across the bridge and not fall off? Begin the game by placing the popsicle stick in your mouth. Then start the clock. Using your hands, begin building a tower of dice, one by one, on the end of the stick. To win this game, you must have a vertical stack of six dice on the end of the stick, and it must be freestanding, all within one minute.
                                                               i.      Dice
                                                             ii.      Popsicle Sticks
5.       Game #5 – Starving in Carbonite
a.       You are Han Solo, and have been frozen in carbonite a long time. You are SO hungry. You only have a little bit of movement in your face. Move the cookie from your forehead to your mouth. If you make it, use your hand to start again. See how many times you can get the cookie to your mouth in 30 seconds!
                                                               i.      Cookies
6.       Game #6 – Shoot the Target
a.       Luke had to have superior aim to reach the critical weak point in the Death Star. With perfect precision, he shot the target and blew up the giant ship in a matter of seconds. Can you do the same? Aim the marshmallows at the cup on your partner’s head—whoever gets the most in 60 seconds wins!
                                                               i.      Tupperware (2)
                                                             ii.      Headbands
                                                           iii.      Tape
7.       Escape the Death Star!
a.       You are trying to load the tie-fighters and escape through the narrow opening before it closes! Get as many people out as you can! Place 8 tennis balls in an empty tissue box. Belt it around your waist in the back. In one minute, get as many out as you can without using your hands.
                                                               i.      Tennis balls
                                                             ii.      2 Belts
                                                           iii.      2 empty tissue boxes

Challenge #4 - Harry Potter

For Harry Potter, we had a game of charades. We gathered around the camp fire, and each girl was given a magic wand--I got them for like $20 on Etsy--totally worth it. They are also a great craft you can do with the girls, but it required hot glue so you'd have to do it before you go up to camp.

Out of a bag, they drew slips of paper with actual spells from Harry Potter on it. Then they have to act it out for the other teams. The guessing teams don't have to know the name of the spell, but the do need to guess what the spell does.
Challenge #5

This one KILLED me. I can make things fun and exciting--but the spiritual side always scares me to death. I knew I wanted to make the last challenge Narnia, because of all the stories, it is the one most aligned with the story of Christ. I had prepared passages of scripture that go along with passages from the book--I knew many of the girls might not know this story as well--but I honestly did not know what I was going to do other than that. I kept thinking it would come to me and it never did. And then, only about an hour before the Narnia challenge was to begin, the girls all went on a spur of the moment hike. I was left behind with one other leader. And it just CAME to me. We combined the third year challenge of using a compass (thank goodness I had bought one for each of them!) with a scavenger hunt. 

The other leader and I frantically made two scavenger hunts, dividing the girls into two teams. They each had a starting point, which was a piece of paper with a scripture (one of the ones I'd previously looked up) and a compass direction. They'd follow that direction until they found their next slip of paper with the direction and the scripture. We made two different routes that both ended at the pavilion. The girls raced to see who could complete the challenge first. This is a challenge that you really can't prepare until you are up there anyway, so I know it was the Lord that lead me to do it! It was awesome!

After they got back, we gathered around the table at the pavilion to read the scriptures, and I read along the same story from Narnia. We discussed each step the Savior took to save each one of us. It was actually really, really amazing.

*Note: All but one of the scriptures comes from the Bible. There is one scripture that comes from The Book of Mormon. If you are from another Christian church who does not use the Book of Mormon, you can omit that scripture or find another to replace it. 


Ok. Now I'm seeing why I put this off so long. This is SO LONG!!! But just two more sections left! I did actually have an amazing theme song for this camp. I used a song from the obscure but amazing musical of Lord of the Rings. I took the song, called Now and For Always, and I rewrote the words to fit our theme. I found a piano version of it and cut the music so it could have seven verses. You can download the song below--this is the version with me singing it. 
*Note: There is one verse that talks about Joseph Smith. If you are from another Christian church, you can omit this verse. 

Here are the words:


And FINALLY, the song book. I HATED the song book that was leftover from the last camp. I don't think it had been updated in like 20 years. There were songs in there that made NOOO sense. So I made a new one. Now, this thing is big. It's like 70 pages, though that's only 35 pages front and back, right? So it's big. Print it front to back, cut it in half, and bind it. Then use it every year. But I added some new songs to it and took out any songs that I could find no record of anywhere on the internet. I mean, if no one knows the tune, why is it in there?

Well, this has been a NOVEL, let me tell you. Please, if you use any of this, comment below so I know it was worth the hours it took to type! Please contact me if you need files not provided here.

Talent Show Posters - A Look Back

As I finished up the poster for this year's Talent Show at my Middle School, I sat back and thought, "Damn. These people are lucky to have me."

Maybe a little arrogant, but seriously. I love the one I did this year! So I thought I would post it here, with a few tips on how I did it, along with some of the ones I've done in the past. I've been in charge of the talent show at my school for over ten years, so its fun to look at each of them and see how much I have improved in Photoshop!


The challenge of this one was making the text neon. I tried SO MANY THINGS. And finally, I found the simplest solution of all--an AMAZING and FREE action that you can find here:

Here are a few tips and tricks on how I created this:

  • The brick and the wood floor are separate pictures. I added a gradient to make them black in the center. I also used the transform tool "perspective" to make the floor look like it was heading forward. Finally, I used desaturate on the brick and made it darker than the original image.
  • I used Filter>Render>Lighting Effects on the microphone to change the light source. It's not perfect but it works.
  • For the circle, I drew a shape circle that I wanted, then CTRL+Clicked on the that circle (after I rasterized it) and added a new layer. Then I did Edit>Stroke and added a thick stroke. Then I deleted the circle. I then just used the erase tool to cut out the parts of the circle I didn't want, and then used the Neon Action on it. 
  • I used the fonts Warnes and Automotive to do the title
  • To give the brick a more lighted look, I created a white shape then used Filter>Render>Difference Clouds. Then I changed the style from normal to color dodge. Then I used a thick feathered eraser to get rid of the edges so it was only in a circle behind the sign. Finally, I changed the opacity to make it transparent. 


Tips & Tricks
  • The paper in this is an actual piece of paper that I took a picture of. The brown desk behind it is actually the desk in my classroom! I did add the lines to the paper, however, and made them a pale green with high opacity so they weren't too obvious.
  • I used my good old Atomic Cupcake actions on these--I'm so sad you can't buy them anymore! The one on "talent" is Rough Lighograph, on of my favs.
  • The pictures in the background are actually photographs from previous talent shows--I just used a filter on them to make them look like that. First I chose the color green in my foreground palette that I wanted, and the background color was white. Then go to Filter>Filter Gallery, and under artistic, choose Photocopy. Then play with the toggles until you get the look you want.


Tips & Tricks

  • I created the title with the border and the microphone (from this free photoshop brush kit) and merged it. Then I used an Atomic Cupcake action, Stencil, to make it look...well, stenciled.
  • The background is actually a bunch of brushes. I made a solid blue background and added a pattern to give it that grainy look. I found some free Photoshop brushes online (can't find them now!) I used a lighter color and lightened the opacity, and just sort of threw it wherever looks good. 

To be honest, it's been a few years. So I'm not TOTALLY certain how I did some of this--namely the Elk Ridge title. I know I followed an online tutorial on how to do it but it's gone now!

Tips & Tricks
  • I used a similar trick in this one as I did above with filters.
  • I used an Atomic Cupcake action called Gel for the title and the box at the bottom


I feel like there was a giant leap from the previous year to this one. This was the year I really started to go all out on these posters!

Tips & Tricks

  • I still love this one. All the delios in the background are free brushes I downloaded from Adobe and just sort of went crazy with. 
  • For the star, I had to use a tutorial I found online to get the shading right.
  • I used an Atomic Cupcake action, "Simple Gloss" to do the title and small star.

Bleh. I hate this one. At the time I thought it was awesome. But now I am NOT a fan. The images are of actual students, so that's cool, but--meh. It does show how much better I have gotten at design work since then! Keep in mind--I am NOT a designer and have no formal training. I am somewhat of an artist (I can basically draw Disney characters and that's pretty much it) but Photoshop is my new art form. I love it! ONE of these days, I might just bother to learn Illustrator, and then I'll be hitting myself for not using it all these years and saving myself a lot of day...

Tear Drop Fascinator DIY - For Costumes!

Hello everyone. I know, I know, it's been awhile. Know that I AM still scrapbooking all the time, but I haven't had much new to share in the digital scrapbooking realm. However, I thought I would write a tutorial on a project I've been working on. No, it's not EXACTLY Photoshop, though I did use it in the project, but it's still a fun DIY so I thought I'd share!

As you may know, I have an after school ballroom team at my school. We've been getting our costumes together in preparation for our first performance next month. The dresses are done, but I have a lot of extra fabric and as I was thinking about the hairstyle we could use, it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a little hat--which is, apparently, called a fascinator. Did not know that before yesterday. Anyway, as I was looking online for tutorials, I couldn't find what I was looking for. Many of them required the use of a fascinator base. I, however, have to make 12 of these on a budget, and didn't want that extra expense. As making them waterproof is not a priority, since it's for a costume, I felt that using paper would work just fine. And they turned out great!

Now, I am going to take you through my process--and know that I used Photoshop and my Silhouette machine to do it. But you don't need to take those steps--you can do it by hand. But let me tell you, there are times when my Photoshop skills really do make things easier and more exact, and this is one of them! (If you keep scrolling down you will see the links to the video tutorials on Youtube.)

What You Will Need:

1. A piece of white cardstock paper
2. The fabric you want to use (I used a satin)
3. Tulle fabric
4. Glue gun
5. Needle and thread
6. Thin elastic
6. Photoshop and Silhouette machine OR a marker and cardboard to make a pattern.

Step 1:

First I determined the shape and size of the fascinator I wanted to create. At this point, if you are just going to draw it, do so on a thick piece of cardboard or on cardstock. I suggest you fold it in half and cut one side, so that it's even on both sides.

For me, I opened up Photoshop (Illustrator would be better but I don't know it very well!) and drew the shape I wanted using a circle shape and tear drop shape, then meshing them together. Then I did a CTRL-Click on the layer to highlight the shape and then did edit>stroke and make a 3px black stroke. Then I made the colored layer invisible and saved the file as a .png. If you want the .png file I created, you can get it here.

Step 2:

I pulled the png file into my silhouette machine and traced the shape. I also added a short line at the base where I could over lap it to give the hat a rounded top. Going to this extra effort--instead of just cutting it out--was worth it to me because I had to make 12 of them! It also came in handy cutting out the fabric. I then cut out 12 of the hats on white card stock paper.
If you have a Silhoutte, you can use the file shown left as well. Get it here.

Step 3:

Using a glue gun, I overlapped the cut section to give the hat a popped up look. But I kept it very slight.

Step 4:

Next, I cut out the fabric I needed. I used my Silhouette for this, too! I took the same shape as above and deleted the line for overlapping. Then I made it a little bit smaller and cut 12 of those out of the fabric--this would go on the inside of the hat. I then made the teardrop bigger than it had been originally and cut those out--that would be for the top of the hat. Again, you don't have to have a Silhouette for this, it just makes it easier--especially when you have to make 12 of them! (Remember to use a different blade with fabric than with paper.)

Step 5:

Using a glue gun, I took the larger fabric and glued down the tip of it onto the inside of the hat. Then I pulled in the two sides. I found it was easier to stretch it over the top and glue the back of the hat, so I knew how much I needed to work in. Then, I glued it all around the edges, slowly easing it in with folds until it was even.

Step 6:

Next, I glued around the edges of the smaller fabric, one bit at a time, and glued it to the inside of the hat.

Step 7:

Next I added thin elastic to the sides to help hold it on, though we will also use bobby pins to get it just right. I just hot glued the elastic on.

Step 8:

You could decorate this a million ways, but this is how I did it. I got the tulle (it was a 6" roll) and glued a segment on to the back side of the hat, pressing down against the hat. I left a tail behind big enough to make a loop. Then I pulled it across the front and around the back, and glued it down in the same spot.

Step 9:
I made two loops, and made a third loop with the tail I left behind. Using a needle and thread, I sewed throughout the bottom of the 3 loops to hold them in place, and knotted it. All done! So easy! I made all 12 in only a couple hours--the "extra work" of using my Silhouette was totally worth it and saved me tons of time, plus they were all exactly the same size!

Watch it step by step with my easy Youtube tutorials!

Part 1 - Photoshop and Silhouette Tutorial

Part 2 - Making the Hat Tutorial

2014 Yearbook has Arrived! Another Success from MyPicTales!

So I got my new 2014 Yearbook. One of my favorite days of the year! Once again, I got it printed through the company MyPicTales. You can read my review on last year's book here.

I am thoroughly impressed with this company and their products and price. NO THEY ARE NOT PAYING ME TO SAY THAT!!! I just want to encourage anyone who is looking for a good place to print to consider this company. My 8 1/2 x 11 book is 120 pages. I was able to get a coupon for 30% off, and the entire thing only cost me $75 to print! Unbelievable!

Here is my review--even though it's not that much different from last year's--though it is BETTER.

Price★ Being accustomed in the past to paying over $120 for a book with 100 pages, I was once again blown away by the price. The original price was about $90, but I was able to get a 30% discount and got it for $75! When you sign up for their mailing list you get a 25% off coupon anyway--so that alone is worth it! 

Ease of Use★ I love the editor that comes with this site. You download it and upload your stuff to it. Now--I don't use it to DESIGN my pages. I just upload my pages that are already created in Photoshop. You can upload them as a two-page layout, which I really liked. I make my pages in Photoshop as 11x17, and design the entire full page layout. Then I can just upload it a 2-page layout. The best part? Once I upload it, if I make a change to it in Photoshop and then save it--it AUTOMATICALLY changes it in the MyPicTales editor. I don't have to re-upload it. Saves me boatloads of time during my final editing phase. Because my book is so big, I was unable to submit it directly. I had to contact the company, but was able to place it in a shareable Dropbox file and it was super easy.

Shipping★ In the past I've had to wait some 2-3 weeks for my book. This one I ordered on the 1st (which was a Friday) and it arrived on the 8th. Not bad! Shipping price was also reasonable. 

Cover: ★ The cover is awesome and the wrap-around part is my favorite! It looks so great on my shelf with all my other books! WAY more interesting than the plain one-color option I had with my old company. I will say that designing the cover in Photoshop to fit correctly in the editor took many tries, but I got it eventually.

Binding Last year I did not give four stars to the binding, but this year it gets full marks! No glue showing, and you can't see the stitching at all when you open the book.

Margins: ★ The margins are great. The inside margins taken are pretty large--but I knew that from last year and prepared for it. One thing I did this year is that before I did my final upload, I change the page size from 11x17 to 11.25x17.25. Then I just made sure that the margins looked alright. This pulled in all my margins quite easily, and I actually had larger margins than I needed. Every page turned out perfect!

Color The color is dead on. It looks exactly the same as it does on my screen when I open the file in Photoshop.

Thank you so much for a gorgeous book! And stink! It's MAY and I haven't got more than 3 pages done in my 2015 book! The work is never done!

Candy Bar Awards Template--and using Photoshop to Advertise your Program

Today I thought I'd share my experience this year using Photoshop to help advertise the after school ballroom program I started at my school. I also want to include a template to create candy bar awards, which turned out so cute! Continue reading and scroll down to find the template!

Sometimes I wonder how people function without Photoshop. I freaking use it for EVERYTHING. By day I am a business teacher in a junior high. But in my past, I was a big fan of ballroom dancing. I did it all through middle school and high school, and then in college. As my husband is not a dancer, I put the talent away for a long time. But then decided to start an after-school ballroom program at my school back in 2007. It was SO FUN, and for three years I ran the team. Then I took a four-year break while I had kids. This year, I was happy to take up the reigns again, and it has been so fun! For this post, I wanted to talk about how my experience as a business teacher really helps in the arts arena! Some of the stuff I will talk about is in Photoshop, and others in Microsoft Office. But I thought it might be a fun thing to share! Photoshop skills can be used in more than just digital scrapbooking--whatever your occupation, you can find ways to use it to make your experience richer, and make yourself more indispensable. As a teacher, there are MILLIONS of ways to use it in the classroom!

For ballroom this year, I first needed to make sure I had a good advertisement. Advertising is EVERYTHING. Ballroom is dependent on convincing 14-year-old boys that dancing is cool--not an easy thing to do. First, I created these awesome memes. I created them free online, but then I pulled the artwork into Photoshop, where I enlarged it and also added a QR code--though you can't see it in these pictures because I added it after I created this little graphic. Still, it was cool to have the ads up all over the school with the QR code so kids could find my ballroom website and all the needed information.

I also created some other ads in Photoshop--simple ones because I had no real photos to work with, so I went with humor. Very easy to create in Photoshop. I used another program, Print Shop, to print them on 4 to 9 sheets and then taped them together to make a giant poster.

I put these ads all over my school. After three days of signups, I had 78 kids signed up to take the 3-week ballroom workshop, twice a week after school. And yes, half of those WERE boys!

After three weeks we had auditions to choose my team of 20, who would go on to learn the Latin medley I had choreographed over the summer. For three months we worked very hard to learn the new dance. How AMAZING they all are!

Then I got really nerdy. It's quite difficult to choreography a routine for 8 couples in your head and see where each of them will go from formation to formation. So I first used Photoshop to create this page:

This helped me envision each couple, coordinated with a color, and where they would be.

Then...then I got A LOT NERDIER.

I created a PowerPoint and used the animation features to make each dot move as it was supposed to, coordinated with music. It took forever, even though I'm pretty awesome at PowerPoint--I mean, I do get paid to teach it. But it helped me envision the routine, and more--it's helped the students envision it too.

For three months we worked on that routine. It was awesome. The kids worked so hard. And soon it was time to advertise the Talent Show--the performance we would be working for. Here is the ad I created in Photoshop and put up all over the school, to advertise the auditions--I am also in charge of the talent show!

A week after the talent show, we had a Parent Night where we showcased their hard work to friends and family. I invited other ballroom groups from around the area to come, too. Here is the ad I created for that!

And then, of course, I made an awesome program for the evening. As I quipped to the audience that night, "I'm not actually a dance teacher. I'm a business teacher. That's why your programs are so awesome."

And then it was time to create the DVD's for each couple.I know. WHY do I do all of this? I think it's because I'm awesome. Each kid got a DVD with their picture on the cover and DVD, and then also on the inside menu. There were also CD's with pictures on it from the experience, and I made a CD envelope for that using my Silhouette machine and a template purchased from their site. Pain in the butt. But also adorable. Making a DVD cover case, by the way, is not so difficult if you can print onto legal sized paper. It's just a matter of trial and error to get it the right size.

On the night of the show, we had a little party in my room. And this is where I gave out the candy bar awards, mentioned at the top of the post. They were a HUGE success. When I was deciding how to make them, I was looking at all the names of existing candy bars, trying to find a reason to make that bar's name fit the student, and I kept thinking, "if only there were such at thing as a "surprise" bar or a "superstar" bar. That's the one I'd get for so-and-so." And then I was like--hey. I know Photoshop. If I want a superstar bar, THERE WILL BE a Superstar Bar! I designed each bar to fit a standard mid-size Hershey bar. Designing them was SO MUCH FUN. I was up till 1:00 a.m. doing it, and loved every second of it! I also made a certificate in Publisher that went with it, explaining why they got it. When we handed them out, the kids were so excited to get something so personalized.

 UPDATE: Here are some Candy bar Awards I did in 2016 and 2017!

If you would like the template to create your own bars in Photoshop, click here:


Wait...what's that you say? You read this entire post and you are now DYING to actually see my team perform? Well, ok. Here they are at the parent night. The lights randomly stopped working that night, so sorry the lighting is so bad!