Book Club, Boys’ Edition: Gary Paulsen’s “Lawn Boy”

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Last month the boys read Gary Paulsen’s Lawn Boy for book club.  Maybe this seems like a strange choice for January, because it’s really about just what it sounds: a boy who creates a summer job mowing for lawns, but for our purposes, the winter weather suited us just fine.

In the book, the main character stumbles into a super successful lawn care service.  One of his customers turns out to be a stock broker, who invests his payment for the boy, and he has the golden touch:  soon the boy is rolling in money, more than he knows how to manage, and hilarity ensues.  It’s unrealistic, sure; but Paulsen does a fantastic job explaining some basic concepts in really fun ways.

Book Club

After discussing the book, we headed to the kitchen for a stock market analogy.  Money and numbers aren’t my thing, so I like when we can add visuals to the mix.  Each boy brought a soda, and we compared a large, empty pitcher to the company that I had been building.  Now ready to go public, I was ready for investors, and so the boys took turns pouring some soda into my pitcher.  After I had stirred it and worked it, I was ready to pay out to my investors, who then got some of the contents as dividends.  We worked the analogy a bit more through conversation, and the boys really got into it.  They seemed to understand how the basic process worked, and so the research began.

stock market

We sat down with research sheets I created as part of the Stock Market Challenge project, and each boy chose a publicly traded company and evaluated it’s basic info to see if it was a company in which he’d like to invest.  I have each kid a virtual $100, and they all checked stock prices, business headlines, and the like to make their choices.

By the time book club was over, each boy had done company research and ‘purchased’ his stock.  He’d filled out a purchase sheet that helped him make his money decisions and went home with a graph so that he could plot his purchases’ share value over the following month.

When the boys returned, 5 of the 6 had followed through on this project.  They were surprisingly excited to see how their stock prices compared to the purchase price, and while they knew their individual earnings, they couldn’t wait to see how their friends did.

In the end, one company tanked dismally; a few boys actually lost money, and a few earned, though very little.  Their findings followed traditional market patterns, however, as if they were to continue to follow their shares, they would have made a much more significant profit over time.

After lots of math, one boy was finally crowned the “Stock Market Master,” and he excitedly took home the free drink coupon that our local Sheetz store had donated as a prize.  I hear he thoroughly enjoyed his frozen lemonade after baseball practice that night.  Thanks, Sheetz!

Lawn Boy is a really funny book with some great educational lessons buried inside.  It’s definitely worth a read and venturing out, perhaps beyond your comfort zone, into the world of share prices and the stock market.

What are your kids reading right now?

If you’d like to do a similar stock market simulation, you can find all of the materials we used for this project here.

 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 22, 2017

Saturday was a big day in our family.  My Big Helper and I headed out for a fun, girly day, and she got her ears pierced!  We enjoyed picking out new earrings together, and she’s anxiously awaiting the day when she can take out her simple studs and start wearing her cute new ones.  She’s growing up SO fast!

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Chronicles of Narnia Literature Unit Study Resources.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Little House in the Big Woods Literature Study

DIY Hot Chocolate Recipe

What to Read Wednesday: Space Books for Kids – Lea

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway! So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+. Winners not living in the USA will win a digital prize package, while USA winners will be shipped their prize via the USPS. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

New! Stock Market Challenge Project

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My Little Man is totally fascinated with the stock market lately.

He’s done chores to earn the money to purchase his very own stock, and he’s picked his favorite companies (that have stock he can afford).

Because he’s so very interested in this, however, I’ve been looking for ways to help him understand how it all works – and the potential gains and losses inherent with purchasing stock.

That’s why we read Gary Paulsen’s Lawn Boy – and why I wrote this project.

stock market

The book does a great job of explaining the basic function of the stock market, although it’s an extreme example.  It’s super fun, though, but we wanted to try our hand at it, too.

That’s where this project comes in.  You can use it as a simple project or as a competitive challenge between different students or groups.  Included are research guides, hyperlinks for safe research, printables to guide your students through the math, and a graph to track your stock for the duration of the challenge.  There’s even a certificate for the winner.

This challenge will keep your students excited about their investments and will help them understand the basic workings of the stock market.

You can find more about this challenge here.

What are your kids into lately?

A Roarin’ ’20s Book Club: “Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter”

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Some books just scream out for a special event, and that’s exactly what happened when I read Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter.  I knew it would make a fantastic book club pick – not only because it offers myriads of possibilities for a special event, but because Fantaskey did an amazing job writing a book that highlights the danger and turmoil of the 1920s while keeping it kid-friendly and fun.

Yes.  It’s about murder and mayhem, but it’s kid friendly and fun.

Yes, those things are complete opposites.  No, the danger and depth of the topic is not downplayed, and no, I don’t know how she did it, either.  She’s that good of a writer.

So what’s Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter all about?  Check it out:

It’s 1920s Chicago—the guns-and-gangster era of Al Capone—and it’s unusual for a girl to be selling the Tribune on the street corner. But ten-year-old Isabel Feeney is unusual . . . unusually obsessed with being a news reporter. She can’t believe her luck when she stumbles into a real-life murder scene and her hero, the famous journalist Maude Collier. The story of how Isabel fights to defend the honor of her accused friend and latches on to the murder case makes for a winning middle grade mystery.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
With the 1920s as our theme for the evening and murder and mayhem the idea, I set out to create an unforgettable book club experience, and, as soon as My Big Helper started to read the book, she joined in the fun.
 Isabel Feeney
 
Isabel Feeney
 
The girls arrived mid-afternoon with lots of gear in tow, prepared for an all-night book club event (because it just seemed wrong to talk about Isabel’s adventures in broad daylight when so many of them occurred at night).  They immediately changed into dresses and strands of pearls, then were made over by local high school students did their hair and make-up in perfect ’20s style.  With old showtunes playing in the background, they giggled and styled their way through updo’s and mascara until they rivaled Maude Collier for fashion flair.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
Then, with glass goblets of Kool-Aid clutched tightly in their hands (because Kool-Aid was invented in the 1920s, didn’t you know?), we talked about the book, focusing on the plot, the fate of Isabel, the role of friendship throughout the story, and how the girls felt about the events of the era.  All the while, they munched on the snacks researched as time-period friendly by My Big Helper:  salted nuts, carrots and celery, and cheese.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
Next, the girls broke into teams for a rousing game of Pictionary.  I prepared the materials ahead, with all of the items to be drawn chosen from the book and written on slips of paper.  I tucked these into a Mason jar, and, armed, with white boards and markers. the girls tried to draw each one. 
 
They really got into this game.  They played for a long time, until they had drawn out every slip of paper, sometimes asking me for more information about the buildings or terms from the story.  Some laughed until they fell over, and the competition of the game fell by the wayside as they giggled their way through drawing things like ‘crutches’ and ‘the Chicago-Tribune Tower.’
 
Isabel Feeney
 
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After a short break, they moved to the kitchen for dinner.  Again, my Big Helper had planned the menu after researching popular foods of the era, and while this meal wasn’t something eaten by Isabel in the story, we think she would have enjoyed it.  The fancy dinner she planned required similar decoration, and so, with the incredible help of good friends, the girls ate under black and gold streamers, with gold lame curtains in the doorways, foil confetti on the tables, candles everywhere, and jazz playing softly in the background.  We served baked ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, Jell-O salad, and bread with peach butter.  The giggles continued as the girls pretended to be Maude’s counterparts but couldn’t look at each other without bursting out into laughter.  Dinner wasn’t over quickly, but it was a most enjoyable meal.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
Afterwards the girls got down to business.  With full tummies and the fall of night, it was time to be like Isabel and solve a murder mystery.  After so much time researching, planning, and prepping, my brain was exhausted by this point – and so I purchased a for-kids mystery online.  The girls broke into two teams and scoured fact sheets to find clues.  They answered questions, made charts, and came up empty – so they shared their information, and, as they talked it out, they solved the mystery.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
That success deserved a treat, so we served dessert next – ice cream sundaes with warm chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles – because, you guessed it, they were popular in the 1920s!  Having a kid who loves research is a beautiful thing.  The giggling continued as they downed the ice cream and moved to the living room, where they settled in to watch the original Cheaper by the Dozen.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
After a much-too-short night, we served bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast.  We cleaned up quickly, because Isabel author Beth Fantaskey was available to Skype!  This was a real treat.  I love when authors not only choose to write quality books for kids, but they’re also willing to invest some time in connecting in a real-world way with them.  The girls were nervous heading into this experience, but they had prepped questions in advance and were eager to ask them.  The time delay caused by the technology threw them for a loop at times, but they persevered and asked every question.  They wanted to know about writing history, story experience, personal experiences, and more.  The best part – to me – was when Fantaskey shared that there might be another Isabel story in the future.  As Isabel is smart, brave, and has big dreams for the future, I’d like to see another story featuring her.
 
Isabel Feeney
 
Our last activity was to attempt the Charleston.  While Isabel only got a glimpse into a speakeasy and didn’t live the glitzy life of the ’20s, she knew it existed and wanted parts of it for herself.  Armed with a YouTube tutorial and more giggles, the girls attempted to nail the steps while understanding the gist of the whole thing.  Nobody got very far, but it was fun!
 
Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter is the perfect book for someone teaching about American life in the 1920s.  It made a great book club pick and introduction to our history unit of that time.  Because Fantaskey sets the scene so well, I wrote a unit study to accompany this book.  My Big Helper worked her way through that as she read Isabel, and she was well prepared for both book club and our historical studies.  If you’d like more information about this unit study, can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  There’s much to be learned from this book, but it’s great fun, too, and includes many deep questions about culture, gender roles, and friendship.  It’s suitable for tweens, but I can see people much older reading and falling in love with Isabel.  Give it a try!
 
What are your kids reading right now?       
 
Check out these resources to get your Isabel Feeney party started!
 


 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 15, 2017

Blog Hop

If you look outside, you’ll see that spring is on the way – even though it’s only mid-February!  The temps are soaring (it was 77 here on Sunday!), the trees are blooming three weeks ahead of schedule, the daffodils are blooming (and looking beautiful in a vase on my kitchen table), and … the bees are busy.  My Big Helper found that, with these high temperatures, her bees are zooming through their winter stores, so she fed them pollen patties this weekend.  We’re seeing them everywhere, too, as they excitedly gather pollen and look for food in this spring-like weather. 

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Homeschool Hack:  Unit Studies.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Syncopated Mama: Passport to Fun – China

Running Belt DIY

Sausage Cheese Dip

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 


Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway! So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+. Winners not living in the USA will win a digital prize package, while USA winners will be shipped their prize via the USPS. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey

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Dani Pettrey’s latest is out, and it’s a winner ….

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Pettrey’s latest work in the Chesapeake Valor series is an action-packed winner!  If you enjoy romantic stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, then Still Life is most definitely for you.  Between the danger that Avery faces as she tries to find her friend, the romantic tension between her and Parker, and morbid photos that keep popping up of dead beauties, you won’t be able to put Still Life down.

Avery is a fascinating main character to me.  With her rough background and gritty determination to overcome it, Avery’s journey to healing and love is a page-turner.  With Parker’s fun Irish accent, who wouldn’t be enthralled? 

I enjoyed the ties Pettrey created between Avery’s past and her present, between the art world and the real one.  As my daughter and I enjoy playing with our cameras and trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot – though only of things like flowers and butterflies – reading about real photographers and their work was a fascinating angle of the story.

Pettrey excels at building suspense, and part of that is the way that she adds suspects to the list and then sorts through them.  She keeps you guessing for much of the story while she drips details into your brain.  I was a good two-thirds of the way through the story before I had even a hope of pinpointing who the killer was, and even then I wasn’t sure I was right.  I love when an author can keep me guessing ’til the end!

If you’re a fan of Christian suspense fiction, hurry and get your hands on a copy of Still Life.  You won’t regret it.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

 

Field Work Friday: Route 11 Potato Chips

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Sometimes it’s possible to stumble onto great educational experiences without really trying, and that’s what happened when we stopped in at the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory.

The Route 11 Potato Chip Company started out on its namesake road, but it has since moved to a newer, bigger location just off Interstate 81 in Mount Jackson, Virginia.  The warehouse is the home to the entire company:  offices, gift shop, and factory itself.

Route 11 welcomes visitors, but what makes the site really unique are the windows built into the walls of the gift shop.  From that vantage point, you can look into nearly every part of the factory and see how the chips are made.  On the day that we stopped in, the kind woman at the counter came out and explained the process to us.  We learned about how the potatoes are purchased from individual farmers across the Eastern seaboard and how they’re turned into yummy potato chips. 

The process is fascinating, and by moving from window to window you can see almost everything (the potatoes are washed and peeled in a separate room).  By moving to a second-floor balcony, you can see into the seasoning room, where we watched two workers salting a batch of lightly-salted chips and turning them by hand. 

The machinery that fries, flips, drains, and bags the chips were was fun to watch.  Conveyor belts move the chips throughout the factory in batches, and although they start with 100 pounds of potatoes, 75 pounds of water cooks out!

The gift shop area includes a sampling table, where you can try many of Route 11‘s unique flavors.  My Little Man loved that part the best!  My Big Helper spent her time in conversation with our tour guide and admiring the t-shirts, jewelry, and other items on display in the shop.

Route 11 employs sustainable business practices, and this was especially interesting to us after touring TS Designs last week.  They, too, recycle their frying oil.  We were particularly excited about the picked-out chips, though.  After frying, the chips are sent along a conveyor belt, where a worker inspects the quality of them all.  If chips are found that are slightly under- or over-cooked, they’re tossed into a bucket.  A nearly farmer comes by at the end of the day and collects those chips, and feeds them to his cows.  I never knew that cows like potato chips!

Field Trip

If you’re ever driving through that section of Virginia, stop in and check out Route 11.

If Route 11 isn’t available in your area, you can try them out here:

 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 7, 2017

We’re having a super busy week here.  The kids are busily working on their unit studies while we prep for a very special book club event tomorrow.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was 11 Fun Valentine Activities for Kids (WTRW).

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Restaurant-Style Chipotle Salsa

Raglan Zippy Pattern Release

Romantic Dinners for Valentine’s Day

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

An InLinkz Link-up

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+. Winners not living in the USA will win a digital prize package, while USA winners will be shipped their prize via the USPS. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

“Conspiracy of Silence” by Ronie Kendig

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Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers–and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague–but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem–but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

Conspiracy of Silence is the fastest paced thriller I’ve read in years!  I couldn’t put it down.  It’s a winner on so many levels – the growth and redemption of Tox, the Biblical artifact mystery, and the team that travels the world trying to save it.

I love that mix.  The combination of military action, good-versus-evil, and Biblical artifacts coming to light is exciting.  It’s like reading a paper version of the best kind of action-adventure movie, and if you’re a lover of books, what could be better?

The depth of character to Tox is exhilarating.  He’s a military man through-and-through, but the faith, regrets, and love interests add multiple facets to his character that make him a wonderful leading man.  You can’t help but cheer for him on all levels even when things are going his way. 

There is a prequel novella to this story.  It’s short but maintains the same high-octane level as this book.  It’s not necessary to read that story before this one, but it will help you to understand the attitudes of the characters in the early chapters.

This is the first Kendig book I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.  I loved this story.  If you’re a fan of Joel C. Rosenberg or other realistic action-adventure stories, you’ll definitely want to read Conspiracy of Silence.

I received a free copy of Conspiracy of SilenceAll opinions expressed here are my own.

Field Trip Friday: TS Designs Makes Revolutionary T-Shirts

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My husband has been fascinated with screen printing for years, and that’s why I was so excited to find that TS Designs would be open to having us come and tour their facility.

We soon learned more than we ever expected.

TS Designs

Eric Michel, Chief of Tech and Logistics, kicked off our tour with a history of the company.  TS Designs started out as a standard screen-printing company back in the late 70s, and business was strong as they printed shirts for companies like Gap and Nike.  When these major companies began taking their business overseas after NAFTA, president Eric Henry knew he had to make changes.  He and fellow founder Tom Sineath changed their focus to what they call the 3 Ps:  People, the Planet, and Profit.  With this as their motto, they jumped on board the green movement.

TS Designs

That’s when the Cotton of the Carolinas line was born. This new line features cotton from local farmers, and it’s processed into shirts locally, too.   Eric passed around samples of the cotton at each stage of the process so the kids could feel and examine it.  There are more steps than I had imagined!

This is a really fascinating process, and TS Designs works with experts.  Want to know more? Watch this clip of their UNC TV Special here.

TS Designs

Now printing for a smaller customer base, TS Designs no longer needed to print hundreds of thousands of shirts at a time.  Instead, they needed to be able to keep a smaller amount of inventory on hand.  Since most screen printers print on the color of the shirt desired, this caused a problem, as TS Designs didn’t want to keep shirts in every color in storage.  Instead, they developed a new technology that would allow them to dye the shirts after being printed.  Even now, they’re the only printers they know of using this REHANCE technology.

TS Designs

Then we were on the move:  out onto the factory floor, where we learned about how the giant screen printing presses operate.  In full production mode, each one takes several people to operate and can print a shirt every six seconds.  Wow!

TS Designs

The kids were full of questions about the printing presses, the screens, and the large drying machines we saw on the floor.  Who knew screen printing required so much equipment?

TS Designs

After that social media queen Jen Busfield took over.  She taught us about the variety of ways that TS Designs employs to keep their company sustainably minded. TS Designs not only prints t-shirts that are completely local, but they use their property to benefit the community in many ways.  They’re a drop-off station for fuel recycling, and they have a garden manned by the staff, too.  Outside of the garden area is a bench that becomes the home for several bee hives come warm weather, and they’re tended by local beekeepers.  The honey they share with TS Designs is then enjoyed by the employees.  While the staff has enjoyed fresh eggs from chickens kept on the property in the past, a new local law made the hens relocate, but they have hopes of returning soon.  They even have solar panels on the roof and an outside patio area for staff!  It is obvious that TS Designs is working hard to be friendly not only to their customers and to their employees, but also to the planet as a whole.

I’ve never heard of a business diversifying in so many ways to be friendly to their environment.  TS Designs might have started making these changes to stay afloat many years ago, but it’s obvious that it’s become a heart decision since that time, and we learned many things from them.  Seeing a business care about its employees and environment in such concrete ways was refreshing. 

TS Designs

Of course, at the very end of our tour, we headed to the Breakroom Boutique, where TS Designs sells extras and overruns for $5 each.  We were able to find some great shirts – some designed by Mindful Supply, which are all super cute, and all featuring the REHANCE technology that makes even the printed area soft and pliable.  This company is definitely doing good, and we’ll be hitting up this shop again.

TS Designs

Where have you field-tripped to learn something new?

While TS Designs is definitely the way to go to print shirts for your youth group, business, or special event, you can learn more about small-batch printing at home!  Check out these resources: