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Sunday, January 15, 2012

How I Make My Classroom Creations

     I have had several people ask me what programs, graphics, etc.  I use to create my products for Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook.  So, I decided to take a little time on my blog to answer this question and to encourage those of you who are hesitating to join TPT or TN as a seller.  What can it hurt to give it a try?  I am not aware of any business that you can start that has such little overhead.  It's awesome!--especially if making things for your classroom is already your hobby!  Plus, it is so rewarding just knowing how you are helping save someone else some prep time and making great educational items that are being used all over the world!

    Anyway, I have been making items since I started teaching back in 1997, although things have gotten a little more sophisticated since then.  I started out drawing my own little books.  The first ones taught long vowel sounds, then I went back to do short vowel sounds and sight words.  In 2005, I wanted 4 or 5 sets of the Bob Books to use in my guided reading groups, but they are so expensive!  So, I just started writing and illustrating my own (this set of 30 is now for sale on both sites).  I wanted to make as many copies as I needed and give them to whoever I wanted without worrying about copyright.  Of course, the only way I could do that was to be the author and illustrator!  But, I have to admit that I was hooked from there.

    Back to the question:  What program(s) do I use?  I just use plain old Word.  I put everything (text, pictures) in a text box and just remove the outline of the box.  Sometimes Word seems to have a mind of its own as to placement of text and pictures, so this makes it possible for me to put everything exactly where I want it or even overlap the pictures (png files).  After I have it created, I go to print and choose PDF, "Save as PDF" to make it a PDF file so it cannot be changed and the graphics cannot be extracted (because they are no longer my own). UPDATE: I started using iPages in 2014. It works almost exactly the same as Word, just better. There is no need for text boxes for graphics since you can drag and drop your graphics. I know that a lot of other teacher authors use powerpoint, but I found that this program did not work for my purposes.

    Next question:  Where do your graphics come from?  I have a Bamboo tablet to draw with and I create some of my own graphics with a program called "Rita."  Sorry, but it's Mac only, although plain old "Paint" on the PCs does pretty well.  "Rita" costs $20 to download online and it is SOOOOO easy to use and the graphics look pretty good.

   But, drawing my own graphics took way too much time.  I still draw some, but now I purchase most of them.  The 2 main things I look for on the graphics terms of use page are:  1) Can I use these graphics for my freebies?  and 2) Do I need to purchase an extra commercial use license?   (There are many other things to think about, of course, such as giving credit to the artist, but just read all the terms of use and follow it and you'll be okay.)  I like these 5 stores:

Educlips:      I absolutely LOVE her work! This is my favorite clipart shop! The terms of use are easy, too.

KPM Doodles                      She has some really cute stuff.  You
                                             can use it in your freebies and you can buy sets with full color & line art.

Creative Clips:     This is another favorite shop of mine! I really like to have the full color and black and white versions available in the same set. I also appreciate the clear, bold lines of the blacklines.

From the Pond                     She's a teacher-author-illustrator on TPT.  She recently started making more             graphics.  I just purchased some today!  There are a lot of freebies, too!

openclipart.org                    This site has clip art that is all public domain.  There are some great pics on here, the only problem is that they do not enlarge well.

     My suggestion to you is to invest in some graphics.  The more I sell, the more graphics I buy, then the more things I create and the more stuff I sell!
     And fonts . . . well, that seems a little trickier to me.  I have purchased a huge set of 10,000 for $20 from Ultimatefontdownload.  It has some cool ones, but I have not yet found THE font for me.  I looked into others, but they appear to be about $10 each and I'm not prepared to pay that just yet. You can find some fonts available on TPT for good prices. I have a couple of free fonts in my shop, too.

    Well, that's an overview of the program(s) I use and the clipart I buy.  If you have any more questions, just ask away below and I will try to answer them!

     There's an apple icon to your right that says "Sell on TPT with me."  Here's what would happen if you click it:    TPT gets at least 15% of your sales.  I would get 5% of their share (not yours) for the first two years that you sell on TPT.  If you decide to sell on TPT, I would love it if you joined me!  And don't worry:  We have a very active sellers community on TPT.  Lots of people contribute to the seller's forum so there are many teachers to answer questions and offer advice.  I have learned a great deal from just reading and participating on the forum.

Thanks again for reading and I hope you found this helpful!
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  1. WOW! What a helpful post :) I'm a newer blogger and loved ready about new resources :) THANK YOU :) Have a happy rest of your day!

    Lisa :) (new follower)
    Made In The Shade In Second Grade

  2. Thanks for the shout out to the hubs (Mr. Bubblegum) Your stuff looks great! I haven't ventured out into the TpT or TN world yet but would like to. This is so helpful!

  3. Thanks for the info - just what I needed. I was hoping there was some really easy program out there that I could just plug stuff into and turn out awesome-looking printables, but perhaps I just need to learn Word. :)

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment. I hope I can help. Check out my free tutorial video on Word here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Getting-Started-on-TPT-Making-Products-Video-1-FREE
      Good luck!

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