Formula is for teaching. Sort of!

"I bet I can use those for something!"

Those words are familiar for every teacher in the world - and for me, they came-a-calling once again.  And thanks to this fun Jo-Ann #teachcreativity Blog Hop, I get to share my creation with you! I knew I wanted to make something to hold my word study centers - word sorts, picture sorts, word building - all those activities that can make a big mess if they're not organized. And mine never are.

As you know, I'm a new mom.  That means I'm going through formula cans like a chemistry professor goes through pocket protectors.

I'm also a teacher.  And as a teacher, I look at all those beautiful, empty, lacking-sharp-edges-when-you-reach-into-them containers and I think, "There has to be something I can do with those cans."

Turns out, there is.


I mean, why should the containers we put our centers in be boring? Why can't they be crafty and adorable?  Why shouldn't you have something to show for all those spit-up covered onesies you changed and washed at three in the morning so you're reminded of your adorable little vomit monster inside the safe confines of your classroom walls?

You shouldn't. You can. And you will!

Here's what I did.

First I got to do some damage at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores!

I got a few extra items in case I needed a Plan B - teachers are always prepared!

I don't know about you but for me, shopping for fabric can sometimes be overwhelming. There are so many choices and I always have a hard time matching patterns. Plus, for classroom crafts, you don't always need a ton of fabric.  

So I was so excited to find this!  

It's a bundle of various matching fabric squares! Wha what? I snatched up that hot little number before the two teenage girls looking for glitter glue could say, 'text message'!

Once I had my supplies, I needed to clean the formula dust from the inside of the cans. I simply wiped them out with a dry microfiber cloth.

I kind of made a mess.

(Don't, you know, make a mess.)

Then I stripped the labels from the cans.

Before I moved on, I got set up to spray paint.  I used spray chalkboard paint rather than the brush-on kind because the associate at Jo-Ann said it will work better on plastic.

She recommened I spray on four coats.

So I did five.

Okay, seven.

In between waiting for my lids to dry, I began cutting my fabric strips to wrap around the cans.  I needed six strips measuring 4 1/4 x 13 1/2.  I did have to do a little bit of trimming to get the exact fit.

Next, I used the hot glue gun to make a row of 'buttons'.  I firmly pressed the fabric on each button and then very tightly wrapped the fabric around the can.  I didn't add glue as I wrapped because I wanted the fabric to lay very flat.

Instead I added another row just before the first, and then a third row of glue 'buttons' to close the fabric on top of itself.

It helped to lay the can flat to get started. 

Repeat with the rest of the cans. I used a different fabric pattern for each one.  Luckily, they all matched because of that bundle!

I wanted something to add on the front so that the cans could be labeled in some way. So I used cork roll. I cut rectangles with rounded edges from the cork.  Then I hot glued them to the fabric.

Finally, my lids were dried! I did notice I missed a couple of spots, so I touched up those areas with a Sharpie.  Easy peasy!

The best thing about having chalkboard paint on the lids is that what's inside the cans can change! In second grade, what we learn changes quickly.  I need containers that I can label easily. 
Using a chalkboard marker, I wrote the focus for the activity that each can contains.

When I'm ready to change out the centers, I can erase the lid...

 and write something new!

The final step was adding numbers to the cans so I can keep them organized.  I decided to number them so that students could 'check out' centers and I wouldn't have to constantly change the management system of that.

I thumbtacked the numbers on the cork board.  I can see which centers are being used and which ones are not.  (Disclaimer: Using thumbtacks depends on the age group of your students and your judgement. Some students will leave them alone while others won't.  Another option is hot gluing the numbers to the cans - the cork still looks adorable!)


And the students can look at the lid to see what's inside.  I just love re-purposing things! And the beauty of this project is that there are a TON of ways you could use it.

Voila! Mommy's still got it - #teachcreativity.  Even if she is covered in formula.

If you've got an idea in mind and you'd like to snatch up the supplies needed to create this project on your own, you're in luck!

Jo-Ann is offering a great coupon for MLK!

And did you also know that Jo-Ann also has a teacher program with exclusive discounts for educators? Click here to get signed up!

Be sure to visit the other blogs in this Blog Hop and see what kind of projects they created.

January 15: Buggy for Second Grade

January 17: Kleinspiration

The following review is part of a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores® campaign. I received compensation for this review; however, this is my personal, honest opinion based on my experience.


  1. I have done a similar project (less fancy, of course). I cover the cans with scrapbooking paper. I have used them for storing items in my teacher cupboards. I have never thought of using chalkboard paint. That would help with labeling.
    Thank you!
    Stories by Storie

  2. Those turned out beautiful! I agree that it's so much more fun to have pretty containers like that. Thanks for sharing your "how-to".

    First Grade Found Me

  3. I love the DIY part of teaching. Thanks for sharing the adorable storage containers. Ummm.... any HOW do you find the time to do this while being a new mom?! You are amazing!


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