Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of Our Veterans

The Four Lego Guy Salute

On Veterans Day we honor all,
Who answered to a service call.
Soldiers young, and soldiers old,
Fought for freedom, brave and bold.
Some have lived, while others died,
And all of them deserve our pride.
We’re proud of all the soldiers who,
Kept thinking of red, white and blue.
They fought for us and all our rights,
They fought through many days and nights.
And though we may not know each name,
We thank ALL veterans just the same.

Happy Veterans Day!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trick or Yummy Treat

I love this time of year! Halloween decorations are my favorite. Decorations you can eat? Even better! If you are having a Halloween party at school or at home, these spooky treats will WOW your ghosts and goblins...

 Come on now! These treats are to die for! Who would not want to eat a Marshmallow Zombie? This creative idea came from Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie.

We are definitely making Monster Mash Popcorn Mix this year! I found this fun recipe In Katrina's Kitchen. So easy to make and very Halloweenie. The creepy mix-in possibilities are endless!

These Shrunken Apple Heads are from Our Best Bites. You may not want to eat them, but they would make a fun science experiment. Check out lots of tasty party treats on their site this month!

Also from Our Best Bites... Mummy Dogs! 
I could see making these little guys for an Indiana Jones party too!

Cut crescent roll dough into thin strips and wrap around hot dogs. Bake according to crescent package directions and use ketchup or mustard for eyes. I cut my hot dogs in half to make them bite-sized.

These Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are from the Betty Crocker website. The spiders are made out of Rolo candies, m&ms and black string licorice. These would be great on cupcakes too! 

 Ahhh... Nutter Butters. Dip them in white chocolate to make ghosts or dip them in melted green candy wafers for goblin feet. For this recipe, visit Family Fun!

 My son requested a Halloween-themed birthday party... in June! We hauled the decorations up from the basement, found favors at Oriental Trading, and took advantage of the "Over the Hill" tableware at the party store. We even went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood (yes, the neighbors were in on it). 

Instead of a cake, we ate Graveyard Dessert...

Fill a cup 3/4 full with chocolate pudding. Top with crushed Oreos and gummy worms. I used Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for the tombstones with RIP written in frosting. 100% creepy!

Trick or Treat! 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


September 23rd he first official day of fall! This is my favorite season for many reasons... the leaves change, the days get shorter, pumpkins decorate the front steps and the smell of autumn fills the air. Of course, I also love fall because there are so many fun books to read and fall-related crafts to create.

Everyone loves a good picture book! The following selections will inspire kids of all ages to jump into a pile of leaves, write poetry, carve pumpkins, admire the trees, and design a leaf creature!

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson
 One cool day Mouse and Minka venture out to play. From leaves of all colors — red, yellow, orange, and brown — to leaves of all shapes and sizes — from pointy to round — Mouse learns that fall is a season full of fun! And before the day is done he just might take the biggest leap of all.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein
It’s a young bear’s first autumn, and the falling leaves surprise him. He tries to put them back on the trees, but it doesn’t work. Eventually, he gets sleepy, and burrows into the fallen leaves for a long nap. When he wakes up, it’s spring—and there are suddenly brand-new leaves all around, welcoming him.

It's Fall by Linda Glaser
Simple text and bold, beautiful paper sculpture cover the animal life, plant life, weather, a night scene, clothing small children would wear, as well as the general feelings and sensibilities associated with the fall season. 

Autumnblings by Douglas Florian
This collection of poems and paintings welcomes fall with all the crisp energy of a joyful tumbling run. A companion volume to the highly praised Winter Eyes and Summersaults, Autumnblings proves once again that Douglas Florian is a poet for all seasons.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one's quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows.  

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
As all the other leaves float off and fly past, Little Yellow Leaf thinks, I'm not ready yet . As the seasons change all around, Little Yellow Leaf holds on to the tree. Still not ready . Will Little Yellow Leaf ever be ready? This is a story for anyone who has ever been afraid of facing the unknown—and a celebration of the friends who help us take the leap.

It's Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall
A brother and sister get ready for Halloween early- by planting their own pumpkin patch! Readers will discover the simple joys of gardening and enjoy watching the exciting transformation from pumpkinseed to jack-o'-lantern.

The Reasons for the Seasons by Gail Gibbons
A scientific explanation of how the position of Earth in relation to the sun causes seasons, and the wonders that come with each one of them.

What is your favorite fall picture book?

Enjoy the season!

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Sunday, September 11, 2011


On September 11, 2001, I was teaching on an army base in the south. At 10:00 a parent came into my classroom and said, "I think you need to go to the library." She watched my class as I walked into a dark office in the school media room.  I was shocked at what I saw on the tiny televison screen. Replays of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the South Tower collapsing, talk of lost planes, and the uncertainty of what was coming next.

My fourth graders were sent home early, as many parents were preparing to deploy. I was seven months pregnant and wondering if I would be alone in the delivery room, without my soldier. I remember that day like it was yesterday and the feelings still make me shiver.

I couldn't make it to school the next day. Security was so tight on the base that I waited in line at the gate for 4 hours before turning around and heading home. School was cancelled and I worried about my students.

Finally, on September 13, I was back in my classroom. The kids were eager to talk about the recent events and what it meant for us, the military families. I thought it would be appropriate to let the kids write and draw about what was on their minds. One student was concerned about her relatives in another state. Others wrote about their morning or plans for the weekend. Of course, most wrote about the bombings and the video clips they had seen on the news over and over and over again. I took all of the pages and made a book for myself. It was as therapeutic for me to read through the thoughtful responses, as it was for my students to share their feelings with me...

I still have the book and I read it every year on September 11. My students are now high school graduates and living all over the world. I think about them as I do all of my former students, but the brave class of 2001-2002 will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011


As you may know, this summer I read a bunch of girl recommended books. I enjoyed the challenge and added amazing new books to my library! Thank you to everyone who shared their favorites with me! All of the recommended books can be found in the margin to the right, if you are interested.

Now, it's time to move on to my favorite topic: Boy Books! As the mother of boys, I am an expert on this subject. I can have thoughtful conversations with my male students on the topics of cooky cavemen, Vikings, demigods, time-warping, Muggles and robots. I can even recommend books based on their interests. Yes, I'm that good.

One concern I hear from parents on a regular basis is, "My son does not like to read." My advice is this...
  • Let boys choose books that look interesting to them. Many times we tell boys to put down the comic book and read a "real book." Well people, READING is READING. Graphic novels, magazines, comic strips and science reference books require reading too.
  • Read with your child. Choose books to read and discuss. Kids are never too old to listen to a good book. Pick the first book in a series and they may become hooked! Plus, your child will benefit from listening to your fluency and expression, hearing new words in context AND sharing time with you!
  • Ask what other boys are reading. Ask a librarian, a teacher, the boys hanging out at the bookstore. Check online, read blogs, read reviews on book sites like Amazon, Library Thing or Shelfari. There are great books out there and people are talking about them!
Here are a few of my favorite resources on the topic of Boys -n- Books. If you have another site to add, or a book to recommend for boys, please add a comment below!

For a selection of tried and true boy books, check out the "Recommended by Boys" list on the right.

Happy reading!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Behold... The S'more Cookie Bar!

Okay, I will apologize in advance. This has nothing to do with teaching, but it has everything to do with kids... and adults who love delicious treats. Plus, if you double the recipe to fit into a 13x9 pan, you will get a nifty math lesson out of it. 

This is the BEST summer cookie treat EVER! Heck, make them in the winter too for all I care. I found this recipe at Baking Bites and made it immediately. It got the A-OK from my boys who were all about helping with the assembly. These cookie bars are delicious and gooey when they are warm and chewy good the next day. They will take you back to summer camp and leave you asking for s'more.

S’More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized Hershey bars (as in GIANT movie size)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars
Makes 16 cookie bars.

*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, whizzed in the food processor until fine.

Now you're talking.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Mega-Fun Math!


So, I took my kids to the local science museum the other day. We decided to visit the gift shop and (as usual) I went straight for the books. That's where I found the BEST math book EVER...

By Michael S. Schiro

This book is chock full of games and puzzles that kids will love! It's perfect for classroom and home use. The cooperative learning games are creative and fun. The best part is, the materials you need can be found around the house.  

Part One is divided into the following categories:

Paper and Pencil Games
Egg Carton Games
Cube Games
Tongue Depressor Games
Card Games
Board Games
PE Games

Part Two contains hands-on problem solving puzzles that reinforce basic concepts while developing mathematical reasoning skills.

The ideas in this book are perfect for grades 1-6. If you have a child who is having a hard time with multiplication, play a game of Operation Hopscotch or Call It. Need to entertain the kids on a road trip? Whip up a game of Number-Tac-Toe or Hangmath. The descriptions in this book are easy to follow and the nifty chart at the front makes it easy to find the concepts/grade-levels you are looking for:

I've had fun playing Mega-Fun Math Games with my kids and I can't wait to share them with my students in the fall!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Laundry "Treasures"

When I do laundry, I am always surprised at what I find in my boys' pockets. Where do these things come from? What makes them pocket-worthy? More importantly, what are they being saved for? 

Here is a list of ten items I found in pockets this month:
  1. rubber bands
  2. paper clips
  3. tiny pencil-top eraser
  4. clam shells
  5. rocks
  6. twisty tie from bread package
  7. coins
  8. random hardware items (screws, bolts, nuts, etc.)
  9. gum wrapper
  10. Lego Guy helmet
The weirdest part of it is that if I leave these items on the washer and they spot them... back in the pocket they go.

What's the strangest thing you've found in a pocket while doing laundry?

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Reading... Girl Edition

Now that I have two boys, I'm completely out of the loop when it comes to girl books. My goal this summer is to read as many girl-recommended novels as I can. In order to reach my goal, I've solicited book suggestions from my students, my neighbors, my sons' friends' sisters and random girls spotted with books out and about.

Each novel must meet the following criteria:
1. It's appropriate for 4th-6th graders.
2. The main character is a girl.
3. The book was written by a female.
I've read quite a few, and I already have favorites that I know my 4th-6th grade girlfriends will enjoy. As a young lady, I attended the Beverly Cleary School of Realistic Fiction. I still enjoy novels about kids who act like kids, even when overcoming life's obstacles. The books below made my list of favorites because they are innocent, touching, character-driven stories with a thoughtful storyline. Most importantly, the main characters are unique. When you put each book down, you will feel like you have made a new friend.

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo  


I will continue to add information about the books I read this summer... if they are worthy of sharing, that is. If you would like to share a wonderful children's novel or if you would like to comment on a title listed above, feel free leave a comment!

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