Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Bit of a Look Into My Profession...CraftyCroc Liquid Chalk Markers Review

Hello, again, everyone! Being a product reviewer is fantastic for those on a budget, because often, you can get something that you normally wouldn't be able to buy in exchange for your honest opinion. This can serve you well when it comes to finding new solutions to your problems (example: pet odor cleaner), experiencing new conveniences (portable battery chargers, travel pillows, etc), and even in the gift giving season (essential oils, beard conditioners, and so on).

However, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compares to having to budget for a classroom. It's difficult. Typically, state frameworks say "do this, this, and this" and the school decides how much money you have to do that with. Let's consider my class sizes. They range anywhere from 10-25. For the purpose of this example, we'll say 20 students is average. Daily, I have a class of 5th and 6th graders that come once a week. That's a different class every day. That's ten classes of 20 kids. That, alone, is 200. 7th and 8th grade are a bit different. They come to art every day, but for nine weeks. I get a new group of each 7th and 8th grade four times a year. Take 15, and multiply it by 8 classes. That's 120. This gives us a rough estimate of 320 kids. The budget that my school gives me has to provide daily and weekly art for 320 kids. As a product reviewer AND teacher, when I see the opportunity for us to try something new and exciting, on as little cost as possible, I TACKLE IT!

Another thing that I've learned as a product reviewer is to NOT GET MY HOPES UP. Often, there are thousands of people who are vying for the same items, all trying to have better stats and scores than the other. The way I've come to see it is this: if I'm selected to try something, AWESOME! I'm so excited! If not, that's ok...because I didn't have anything to lose in trying. Sometimes, when I'm very interested in reviewing a product, I will message the company and let them know what I can do that would be above and beyond what other product reviewers will do. Hence, this post! When I saw CraftyCroc's markers, I KNEW I had to try! A marker that writes on so many surfaces would have SO many applications in my art class and would open doors to SO many projects that we wouldn't be able to do this year (because, at this point, my budget is essentially gone).

I messaged the company, thinking that a pack of markers would go far! Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted when they asked me HOW MANY packs I would need! Ideally, in the art classroom situation, there's one set of everything (crayons, scissors, glue, markers, etc.) at each table. This eliminates the need for students to be up and wandering around the room, looking for materials. This also keeps students from tripping and falling over backpack straps, pushed out chairs, etc. As I have five tables in my classroom, five packs were perfect, BUT, I mentioned that I could manage with three packs if I were to review the markers with a smaller class. Being the extraordinarily generous company that they are, they provided me with FIVE boxes of CraftyCrock markers! Woo hoo! Teacher dream made reality!

When the markers arrived, we were, unfortunately, in the middle of our yearly session of being iced in. I couldn't WAIT for school to be back in session so that we could catch up on what we were working on and begin our stained glass unit (what I had planned especially for these markers!). For a week or so, I'd been asking the kids to bring their own glass or plastic jars from home. Some of the students did and some didn't. For those who didn't, I have large, clear plastic sheets that I've been cutting into strips. When they are finished creating, they will roll it into a tall cylinder, and we will hot glue it to make a vase. We'll add a bottom made out of the same material.
 For those of you who are wondering, this lesson fits national frameworks for 7th grade. You can find those standards, here. I typically select one or two standards from each category (Creating, Presenting, etc).

Being the art addict that I am, I HAD to try these things out before the kids got ahold of them! I set myself to work and labeled my film canisters that I bulk load myself (instead of buying rolls of film, I make them). It was VERY easy to create cute designs, and, I discovered that if I let the bottom layer dry, the top layer went on easily, and the colors didn't mix or smear. The colors are BRIGHT, extremely pigmented, and glide on easily. The instructions on how to change out the tips and get the markers going were easy to read. I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't messy. I figured that it would take a LOT longer for them to dry! CONVENIENCE! Faster drying is GREAT in art class (where you only have 55 minutes, tops!).

The other thing that I really liked about these markers was the design of the package. It's very kid-friendly, neat, organized, and eye-catching. I mean look at those little 'gators! :) The back of the package shows the range of colors included with the set. You also get 2 spare tips. I expect those to come in handy when we're activating the markers for use. It never fails...someone ALWAYS goes *BAMBAMBAM* "MRS. DAVIDSON! THESE (insert random item that they've decided to bang on the desk instead of work with) AREN'T WORKING!". Overall, I couldn't more highly recommend CraftyCroc for your decorating and crafting needs! They're SUPER fun to play with, and, if I'm not careful, I'm going to end up with a car like this guy! If I do, there's no need to worry. CraftyCroc chalk paint markers are washable and wipe off easily. :)

Buy your CraftyCroc markers here

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