Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm Back...and an Award!

Wow - it's been a LONG time since I've posted!  Blogging has been on my to-do list for the past several weeks, but with school starting I have been busy and exhausted!  I have barely even had time to look at my favorite blogs, let alone post on my own!
Thankfully, we seem to be settling into somewhat of a routine now.  Getting up and out the door is getting a *little* easier (although mornings will never be my favorite time of day!).  My firsties are starting to get the hang of our procedures and are also settling into a routine.  We're working hard on the Daily 5, and we are loving our new SMART board!  I have never had students so engaged in math and calendar as I do when I am using the SMART board.
We have already had our first celebration in our classroom as well!  At Madison, the whole first grade celebrates Hershey Day - YUM!  On Milton Hershey's birthday (September 13), we learn about chocolate, measure and weigh with chocolate, make Hershey Kiss headbands, and even taste and graph our favorite chocolate!  It's so much fun, and the students just love it.  My Hershey resources are on my school computer, but if you are interested I will post some of the fun things we do!  Any excuse to eat chocolate AND learn works for me :)
Finally, I was surprised and honored to find that in my absence, I had received an award!  Mrs. D over at The Silver Lining awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award!  Thank you so much!
My first award!  Woo hoo!
On to the rules of the award:
1 - Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
Thank you again, Mrs. D!  Check out her blog here!

2 - Share seven things about yourself.
1.  I was shocked to see how similar my personality, likes, and dislikes were to Mrs. D, the person who nominated me for the award.  We both love to read, love our SMART board, are neat freaks, love fall, and are trying to eat healthy.  Scary!
2.  I recently started taking a tap dance class and LOVE it!  It is just myself and two other adults, along with our fabulous instructor.  I always wanted to take tap as a child, but never did.  I have learned 6-7 dances already and can't get enough  :)
3.  I am addicted to Diet Coke.  And ice cream.  I figure they balance each other out!  On a side note, our local Tim Horton's is getting a Cold Stone Creamery!  Yay!  I received 8 separate texts and Facebook notifications from friends as the sign went up.  I think I might have a problem :)
4.  My son and I love to go to the movies.  As soon as a movie is released that I think he'll enjoy, we pack my purse full of Twizzlers (our movie theater doesn't sell them!), order a jumbo popcorn, and enjoy!
5.  I have been teaching for 11 years - all of it in first grade.  I also student taught in first grade, did my practicum in first grade, long term subbed in first get the picture.  I think I am a first grade "lifer."
6.  I recycle crayons and sell them at craft shows and on my website, Plumdoodles.  It's a great way to use up old crayons, and because of working at a school I have an endless supply to recycle!
7.  I am a beginning couponer - I enjoy seeing the savings stack up when I shop!  I am finding that I don't have as much time to devote to couponing during the school year though.

3- Pass this award along to 15 other recently discovered blogs.
15?!?  That's a LOT!  I hate to be a rule breaker on my first award, but I truly can't think of 15 new blogs to pass the award on to!  Here are a few:

Thanks again Mrs. D!  I promise I will be back soon (and more regularly!) with fun resources and more posts.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Linky Party

I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Clutter Free Classroom, for a back to school linky party!
Clutter-Free Classroom
As teachers, we all LOVE back to school time - the start of a new year.  So what makes this one of my favorite times of the year?

  1. Setting up my classroom!  I love tweaking the room set-up, trying new arrangements, putting up new decorations, and almost every year thinking of (and implementing) a new theme!  This year my theme is pirates and I am excited to add some creative touches to my classroom.
  2. Trying new things.  Every year, I change things up in big and small ways.  This year I will be rocking a SMART board (big change!) and adding a clip chart to my classroom behavior plan (smaller change).  
  3. Decorating!  I guess this kind of goes along with setting up the classroom, but I love adding special touches around the room - like this Wordle sign with my kiddos' names on it for outside the door...

Wordle: Mrs. Plum's Class
and my converted spice rack/office supply holder...
     4.  New things!  New supplies (for the students and for myself), new clothes, new containers, new get the picture :)  I treated myself to some new markers this year - my favorite kind!
I also plan on treating myself to a little shopping spree with the profits from my upcoming yard sale.  Why should my son get all of the fun new things??
     5.  A fresh start.  I love meeting new students and their families.  This year I have several siblings of past students, which I just love.  It's so nice to have an established connection with the families.  This year will also be a fresh start for my own little sweet pea!  After 3 years of Montessori, he will be starting Young 5's at the school where I teach!  We are both excited :)
   Here he is rocking one of his new pairs of shoes!

So what makes you giddy and excited about a new school year?  Link up with Clutter Free Classroom and share!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Creations!

I have really enjoyed reading and seeing all of the Pinterest posts in my Linky Party!  There is still time to link up, click here to join the fun!
I have been getting my craft on today, inspired by projects I found on Pinterest.  I have seen these cute clipboards on several pins, so I decided to try my hand at making them.
Aren't they cute?
I have never used Mod Podge before, so making my clipboard was an adventure to say the least.  I am freakishly somewhat of a perfectionist, so the little wrinkles and bubbles in the paper I was adhering were driving me CRAZY!  Thankfully, after it dried it was much better.  Here is the finished product...
I really like it, but when I lifted the clip, a teeny, tiny piece of paper stuck to it and ripped, which will also probably drive me crazy.  My husband pointed out that if I have paper on the clipboard it won't even show, so I guess it will always have something on it :)
The other project I saw was to make a paper sorter using the flat rate boxes from the post office.  And of course, more of the Mod Podge.
This project didn't have directions or a finished photo, so I just had to wing it.  Owen and I picked up a few boxes today, and I put them together, leaving one end open.  I cut the extra box flaps off, and then hot glued them together rather than using duct tape (I didn't know how well the Mod Podge would adhere to that).  Then I chose some patterned and solid scrapbooking paper, and used the Mod Podge and a foam brush to adhere it to the box.  I tried a tip that I read online and waited about 10 minutes before putting the Mod Podge over the paper, which seemed to help the wrinkles.  To finish the shelves off (and to cover up the writing) I used a tape runner to stick black paper on the inside of the sorter.  It turned out really cute, and seems pretty sturdy.  I will probably use it to store reading group materials or unfinished work from each table group - I haven't decided yet.  Here is the finished sorter:
I could not get a good shot without getting glare from the Mod Podge.  
Another shot of the sorter (please ignore the clutter in the background :)
So there are two more projects to check off of my list!  I still have my behavior clip chart, name tags for desks, welcome signs, and a banner to make, along with a few pirate accents to jazz up my bulletin boards.  I have not been able to get into my classroom so far this week because they are waxing the floors in my hallway, but when I can get in, I will post pictures!  It is coming along - our open house is Tuesday the 30th, so it needs to be finished by then.  
One last friend Erin at Kleinspiration was nominated for Parent's Magazine "Best Mom Tech Blog."   What an honor!  She could use your help and your votes - click here to help her out!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party

To go along with my guest post on Kleinspiration about Pinterest, and to share my latest addiction, I'm hoping you'll join in my Pinterest Linky Party!
Share your favorite pinboards, Pinterest inspired projects, or just share some great ideas you've gathered!  
Here is one project that my son has been begging me to make (even though his birthday is not until November!).  Behold...the birthday treat box!
Using a craft organizer, fill each section with a small treat.  Add a label and voila!  Instant gift.  I thought this would be cute for the classroom - instead of giving the whole box, students could make a little baggie of mixed treats.
Another great Pinterest idea that I will be using in my classroom this year is a student file box.
As students complete work throughout the week, they file their papers in their folders.  When I am ready to grade or pass out papers for students to take home, everything is in one place.  Plus, it teaches students to be responsible for their own work.
No Pinterest post would be complete without sharing a recipe.  I swear, I can't go on Pinterest without becoming ravenously hungry!  All of the delicious recipes posted have given me plenty of ideas for things to make.  However, before pinning a recipe I look carefully and make sure it is not too hard (my cooking skills are just so-so).  So, anything you see posted on my food board is relatively easy to do and usually won't contain any crazy ingredients.  Here is one that I just can't wait to make...
Taco stuffed shells!  I *love* Mexican food, so this is right up my alley!

I hope you'll join in the fun and link up some of your favorite Pinterest finds!  Click here to follow my Pinterest boards.  Don't forget to become a follower of my blog as well - I am always posting my latest Pinterest finds and projects, along with freebies and fun links!
Need a Pinterest invite?
Feel free to email me at and I would be happy to send you one.  
I can't wait to see all of the Pinterest links!

Guest Blogger!

I am so excited to be a guest blogger on my dear friend's blog!  

Head over to Kleinspiration to read my post about Pinterest!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Still Working...

Wow, I can't believe that we are already into the second week of August!  School will begin before I know it.  I have been working diligently on projects in my classroom and for my classroom - and don't worry, I am still working on the book-based substitute plans!  I want them to be top notch for my followers (and free!).
I went to Lowe's the other day and purchased paint for some shelves in my classroom.  I chose "sauteed mushroom," which is a nice, darker tan color.  Three coats later, they are finished!  Here are the before...
Chipped, flat ivory paint.
And after...
A nice, satin beige finish!
I do love the way they turned out.  They now match and look so much nicer, and fit with my color scheme.  Speaking of colors, have you seen these on Pinterest?  
I think these would be great for Daily 5 word work, so while I was at Lowe's I picked up a stack.  All I need to do is add the chunks and make some letter & blend strips for the students to use with them.  Great idea, huh?  Pinterest has really inspired me to create some cool things for my home & classroom.  If you're not pinning yet, you should be!  If you'd like an invitation, leave a comment with your email and I'll send one your way.  You'll thank me later :)
Finally, my husband did come to my classroom the other night to help me rearrange.  He was VERY helpful (that is, after I convinced him that *12* first graders at a table was a bit much!!!).  Coming soon I will post pictures of my layout and progress, but it is just too much of a mess to take pictures of right now.  Owen has set up his own "Lego office" in one whole corner of the room, along with all of the boxes of orders and clutter that comes along with the beginning of a new school year.  I'll keep working away!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Target Card Giveaway!

My sweet friend Erin over at Kleinspiration is giving away a $25 Gift Card to Target in celebration of 500 followers!
Who doesn't love Target?  Head over to her blog and enter for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Crafty!

Well I'm back (as promised) with some photos of what I've been working on for my classroom!  Pinterest has really inspired my inner crafter :)  I've had so much fun making things!
I saw this on someone's blog (can't remember where!) - using a shower tote for money and notes, and hanging it near my desk.  I added the vinyl and ribbons!
A Pinterest inspired craft!  Vinyl to decorate hand sanitizer (or hanitizer, as the students always seem to call it!).
This project was super easy!  All I did was peel the labels off of hand sanitizer bottles and add some vinyl and a ribbon.  I saw the "germ juice" on Pinterest and thought it was adorable...but when I showed Owen and he said "Germ juice?  Cool, you can drink it!" I rethought that label!  I really don't want to inspire any students to drink the hand sanitizer!  I used a really large pump and just put my name and some polka dots on it instead :)
Of course Owen had to jump into a picture!
Inspired by Herding Kats in Kindergarten, I made these name sticks with fancy stones on the end.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but they are light blue with darker blue swirls in them.  I got the stones (a big bag!) on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics for only 97 cents.  Now I just need to make a cute container for the sticks!
I think this is my favorite project - post it note holders!  I saw this on Pinterest as well, and decided it looked easy and the final product was really cute.  I made the blue one for myself, which is why it is the only one with an initial on the tag.  I have the other ones ready to either sell at a craft show or give as gifts - I can easily add a cute sticker or letter to the tag to personalize them!
Here's a close-up of the one I made for myself.  Truly, I like the polka dotted one better, but this one matches the colors in my classroom better :)
So there you have it - my evening of easy crafts!  I think I am going to head over to Pinterest and start an "I Made It!" board!  Which craft is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Classroom Progress & a Giveaway!

So...Owen and I went into my classroom today to start setting the room up.  I have not been in all summer (which is pretty unusual for me) and my room is a hot mess.  But, with the SMART board installed, I was inspired to go start on my new layout.  The problem?  I was NOT inspired.  I moved a few things.  Then I moved them back.  Then I moved the same few things again.  I think I made it worse.  Finally, Owen and I went to a few stores for some retail therapy.  Here are some pictures I snapped with my phone before we left to document the chaos...
Looking in from the door - new SMART board on the left, former gathering area/library in the back corner.
Looking in from the door again - this time a view of the right side of the room.
Another looking in view - do I want my teacher table there?  I'm not sure...
Not pretty.  I am dragging my poor husband in later this week to help me think of ideas and move things around.  He complains a lot, but the labor is free :)  In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas to inspire me, suggestions, etc. please leave me a comment!  I am really struggling with the gathering area/library.
Now, onto the giveaway!  Jodi from Clutter Free Classroom is having a giveaway!
Her blog was the first educational blog I started following, and is still one of my favorites!  She is giving away a set of back to school books, a pocket chart, dry erase schedule and her Ultimate Teacher Organizer Tool.  Just the name of that makes me want it!  Check out her blog for a chance to win.
I haven't forgotten that I promised pictures of the projects Owen and I are working on.  They are on their way - hopefully in the next post!  I just had to go get some more supplies to complete them :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Exciting News & a New Addiction

Owen had preschool camp at my school today - and boy was it hot!  He loved it though :)  After his camp, I decided to take a peek in my classroom since I have neglected it all summer.  I walked in to find not one, but *two* surprises!
My SMART board has been installed!
AND I got a new computer!!!
That was a super exciting discovery!  I really love how they installed the SMART board too - instead of hanging it over my white board, they moved a bulletin board over and put it in between the white board & bulletin board on the wall (see above).  Now I can still use that board for instruction and I think my gathering area will be much more do-able as well.  Owen & I are going to go work on setting up the classroom tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have more pictures to post soon.
Also - have you discovered Pinterest?  OH.  MY.  WORD.  I could spend ALL day on it!  It is basically an online corkboard where you can pin any and all of your ideas - and peek at all of the cool ideas others are posting too!  I think you still need an invitation to join, so if you would like one just leave me a comment with your email address and I will send you one.  You will love it!  Don't say I didn't warn you though :)  If you are already on Pinterest, I added a button to my blog so you can follow me there as well!
Owen and I are going to work on another vinyl Cricut project (inspired by Pinterest!).  I'll post pics when we finish!  Happy pinning :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Snack Time Success Stories Linky Party!

Mrs. Bainbridge is hosting a Snack Time Success Stories Linky Party!
Over the years, my snack time method has evolved.  I began my career with no snack (our lunch time was really early!).  Then I moved on to having students bring their own "healthy" snack, but I always had students who forgot their snack or brought something horrible, like candy or doughnuts.  Since they were first graders, I felt like too much of a meanie to just say "too bad" so I ended up buying about a zillion bags of animal crackers that year for the students who had either forgotten their snack or brought something too unhealthy.
Then I moved on to a monthly snack calendar, which I still use.  Each student is assigned one day per month, and if there are extra days, I cover them or we have "leftover days."  I send home a note in my parent packet at the beginning of the year explaining our snack procedure, asking about dietary restrictions, and also giving parents the option to not participate (I have never had anyone take this option though!).  I have even included a list of approved snacks for the past few years, and asked parents who would like to send something that is not on the list to please contact me.  I know this sounds a little control freak-ish, but our school is trying hard to move toward healthier eating, and it is a long list of healthy and inexpensive options.  It has worked really well for me.  Do parents always send something from the list?  No, and that's ok.  I had a parent this year who was an *amazing* baker and if she wanted to send baked goods for every snack, that was just fine with me (in fact, I may or may not have begged for suggested some sweet treats from her this year!).  I believe in teaching students that it is healthy to indulge in a treat now and then.  But it does give parents some ideas for snacks that are kid friendly and healthy, and mostly eliminates the Little Debbies and cookies on a daily basis.  If you take a look at my list and think of something that I can add to it, let me know!  I'm always looking for new options :)
The part of my snack that I am most excited about though, is the procedure.  FINALLY, after 10 years of teaching, I feel like I have a good system - and I copied it from my son's Montessori classroom!  I always loved observing in his preschool, watching the little 18 month old students serve themselves snack.  They had learned the procedures and were so well trained that there was virtually no mess, and no fuss.  They served themselves snack, ate it, and cleaned up - without any help from the teacher.  I had an AHA moment - if children under two can serve themselves snack, why can't my first graders?  So, that's what I moved to this past year, and I absolutely loved it.  
We didn't have a set snack time where all of my students were eating; rather, during their Daily 5 "Read to Self" choice (which had to be done daily), they were allowed to serve themselves snack and eat it while they read.  I would place the snacks on a designated table, and the students knew where to get their snack from.  If it was pre-packaged they knew to take one; if it was something like goldfish or pretzels I would put Dixie cups and hand sanitizer out and the students could scoop one cupful.  They were responsible for cleaning up after themselves when they were finished, as well as reading AND eating (if they weren't reading, they knew they'd have to get rid of their snack - this was threat enough to inspire multi-tasking!).  If we had an especially messy or involved snack (like cupcakes, or meatballs - we had both!), we would just revert back to eating all at the same time for that day to avoid damaging our books, carpet, etc.  
Like I said, I loved my snack procedure for so many reasons.  Most importantly, it took much less time, as the students were reading and eating at the simultaneously.  I used to allot 10 minutes for snack, which never seemed like enough time.  Now, students had their whole Read to Self time to eat, and could choose when they were hungry to complete their Read to Self choice.  It also put the responsibility for the snack on the students, rather than on me, so I was free to work with groups instead of monitor how many goldfish crackers each student was taking.  I really did not have any problems with students taking too much, or trying to get seconds - and I think if that happened, the other students would have let me know :)
I know this is a long post, but I hope it helps inspire some of you to turn the responsibility of snack over to your students.  With good modeling at the beginning of the year, I am sure you can teach your students to self-serve and save yourself TONS of time!  If you have a unique snack idea, or just want to read more about other snack procedures, visit Mrs. Bainbridge's linky party!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Creative With My Cricut!

I was super inspired by the cute things made by Ashley of The Polka Dot Patch!  I am entered in the giveaway to win some vinyl lettering - but I know my usual luck (not good!) so I decided to try making some lettering of my own.  I bought some vinyl at Hobby Lobby (love that store!) and dug out my trusty Cricut.  The process could not have been easier or more fun!  My 4 year old even helped me :).  Here are the finished products:
My very own clipboard tub!
Finally!  No more ugly frosting containers :)
I bought the containers for super cheap at Big Lots, and all total it took me less than an hour to create and stick the letters and dots.  Honestly, the hardest part was trying to scatter the polka dots randomly - those who know me know that I am more of a pattern kind of girl!  Thank you so much for the inspiration, Ashley!  Now look at everything a little differently - and think "hmm...can I put vinyl on that?" :)
All of that blue will look great in my classroom, and reminded me of some little blue creatures that Owen and I went to see on Friday...
The movie was very cute, and definitely brought back some childhood memories.  Although, there were many Smurfs that I don't remember from the cartoon back in the day, like Panicky, Gutsy, and Narrator Smurf.  Maybe they are new to the Smurf Village?
And to add to the randomness of this post (first vinyl, then Smurfs), I wanted to let you in on what I am currently working on.  I have seen several posts about "Sub Binders" and "Sub Tubs" and I am a BIG fan of those.  I have definitely experienced days when I have been too sick to drag myself into school to prep for a sub, or Owen has thrown up on me as we were walking out the door.  In addition to information for the sub (schedule, procedures, etc) I like to have several book-based lesson plans on hand.  I base all of the lessons for the day on the book.  I then place the book and all of the copies and activities ready to go inside a large ziploc baggie.  My colleagues know where these are located and can just put one out in a pinch (and they have also borrowed one in a pinch!).  The thematic worksheets from "The Mailbox" magazine are great for these baggies, but I am working on creating some of my own as well!  Look for those soon - just in time for back to school (and back to germs) season :)
Finally, a HUGE thank you to Kathy of First Grade a la Carte.  I actually won a giveaway and received her fabulous addition games to use in my math workstations this fall!  I am so excited!  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Engineering is Elementary

Wow!  I just spent the last two days training teachers from across the county where I teach in the program "Engineering is Elementary."  What an amazing opportunity!  If you haven't heard of this program, also known as EiE, check it out here.
I was offered the opportunity to attend a training for trainers late this past school year, and I have to confess that before attending the training I didn't know much about engineering, and I certainly had not thought of teaching it to my first graders!  After spending two days learning about the process and experiencing two units, I was hooked!
EiE is a great extension to the math, science and literature curriculum that you currently teach.  It integrates multi-cultural literature, problem solving, science, and hands-on experiments in a fun way for students (and no, I don't get paid to sell the program!).  It takes students through the engineering design process in a simplified form.  The Museum of Science in Boston has worked to develop the many units for K-6 (in our county).  If you get a moment, this program is definitely worth checking out!  For those of you who are local to Lenawee County, I will post when the next training is available.  I know you will love it (and not just because I teach it!) :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Year Resolution Linky Party

I'm linking up with Clutter Free Classroom once again for another linky party!

Clutter-Free Classroom
This Linky is all about New Year resolutions.  But, it's not January!  Well, like all teachers, the "New Year" for me begins in September!  I can SO relate to making a list of resolutions as long as my arm to begin the new year with!  I won't bore you with the long version - instead, I'll choose my top 5!
1.  Use my *new* SMART board to its fullest potential!  

This is a fun resolution :)  I have been begging for a SMART board for years, and my dream is finally coming true!  I have already been hard at work on creating presentations for our Everyday Math curriculum, as well as our Houghton Mifflin reading, and calendar.  I want to maximize its use for sure!
2.  Give Debbie Diller's Math Workstations a try.  

I ordered her book and have started reading it.  I also followed the book club postings on several blogs throughout the summer.  Here's a little confession...I hate teaching math.  I'm almost embarrassed to say it (hence the smaller type), but I could teach reading and writing ALL DAY and never touch math.  I'm hoping this will help!
3.  Be consistent with conferencing - this includes reading, writing, and math!  

I have a snazzy notebook all set up, and I am usually very good about meeting with students regularly at the beginning of the year.  Then, things get crazy and it becomes more sporadic - I want to make sure to meet with every student regularly!
4.  Maximize my time at school.  This year, my own little sweet pea will be joining me at my school in our Young 5's program!  That means no more private preschool tuition & after school care bills (YAY!!!), but also less quiet work time after school.  So...I am going to need to be very efficient and organized with my time during specials and breaks.  Otherwise, this little tornado will be ripping my room to shreds after school every day (all in the name of "help").
5.  Find balance.  That sounds a little Zen, but it is a goal of mine. 

Balance between home and school, between working and playing, between having fun and learning, between Starbucks & coffee from home...balance is good.  Let's hope I can achieve it.

So there they are - my resolutions for the 2011-2012 school year!  Head on over to Clutter Free Classroom to read more resolutions and share your own!

Flippy Give Away!

Mrs. Bainbridge, one of my favorite webpages/bloggers, is having a flippy give away!
What is a flippy, you might ask?  Head on over to her blog, Mrs. Bainbridge's Class, to find out!  While you're there, browse through her awesome blog and even enter for the chance to win a set of flippies!  Good luck (although I'd really like to win!).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shiver Me Letters!

Hello friends!  I hope you are staying cool during this giant heat wave!  Owen and I have been mostly indoors, with the exception of a super fun trip to a water park with friends.  That has given me plenty of time to work on a Pirate ABC pack freebie for you!
As you may remember, I am going with a pirate theme in my classroom for the upcoming year.  In my last Scholastic order of the year, I just happened to have ordered the book "Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC" written by June Sobel and illustrated by Henry Cole (this was even before I had decided on a pirate theme!).
I *love* this book!  The illustrations are adorable, and it is a great review of the alphabet for the beginning of the year.  Plus, it will help set the stage for our pirate decor.  BUT...even if you're not decorating like a pirate, your students will still love this book, and hopefully the activities that I've created to go with it!  So, here it is!

Shiver Me Letters
I hope you enjoy these activities and can use them with your students.  If you download, all I ask is that you please follow my blog (more freebies are coming, I promise!), leave a comment, and/or pass the word along to others!  I appreciate your support :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recipe Linky Party

Once again, I am linking up with Clutter Free Classrooms for her week of Linky Parties!

Clutter-Free Classroom
Today's assignment is to share a recipe that you make often during the school year - bonus points for freezer friendly or crockpot recipes.
Well, you're in luck - and I'm getting all kinds of bonus points today!  I do NOT enjoy cooking, so the crockpot is my BFF during the school year (and the summer, whenever we do not grill!).  I'll share two of my favorite recipes, but here's a little something I have learned...boneless frozen meat (chicken breasts, pork chops, roast, etc.) plus 1 cup of water and seasoning of your choice = yum.  I have not made one combination yet that I haven't liked.  Some of my faves are chicken & taco seasoning to make quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, or taco salad; chicken with garlic salt & seasoning salt - remove from crockpot & shred, add bbq sauce for sandwiches; roast with beef stew seasoning. I don't do a lot of chopping, braising, browning, or anything else for my crockpot recipes.  Mostly open & dump :)
The first recipe is one that freezes well - just omit the baking at the end if you'd like to prepare ahead and freeze.  It makes a LOT so unless you have big eaters or a giant family you can make 1 batch & split it into two 8x8 pans.
Pizza Casserole
1 lb. ground chuck
1 26 oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup elbow noodles (uncooked)
2 - 8 oz bags shredded mozzarella
50 pepperoni slices

Cook elbow noodles as directed on package. Brown the ground chuck and drain off the grease. Mix together the cooked elbow noodles, ground chuck, and spaghetti sauce. Put half of the mixture in a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Top with one of the 8 oz bags of cheese and half of the pepperoni. Then, put the other half of the mixture over the previous layer. Top with the other 8 oz bag of cheese and remaining pepperoni. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This is delicious! Very filling, makes a lot, and re-heats well. It reminds me of lasagna and pizza at the same time :)

The second recipe is a perfect one for a cool evening - my son LOVES this one.  It tastes just like the chicken tortilla soup at Max & Erma's.  You don't make it in the crockpot, but since I shared all of my meat cooking secrets above, I thought that was ok :)
Tortilla Soup
1 can nacho cheese soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can enchilada sauce (mild)
1 soup can full of milk

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, whisk until smooth, heat until warm. Add more chicken if desired (Owen doesn't like chunks, so I don't!). Serve with sour cream & tortilla chips.

I told you - easy! Truly, just open & dump. I usually serve it with a cheese quesadilla, or a salad of some sort. It also reheats well.

I can't wait to read some of the other recipes in the Linky! I love my stand-by's, but it is always nice to add in some long as the recipes are easy! Head on over to Clutter Free Classroom and link up!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Favorite Children's Author Linky Party

Once again, I am linking up with Clutter Free Classroom for a Linky Party!
Clutter-Free Classroom
Today's writing assignment is: Open Response
Respond to this prompt in a complete sentence. Who is your favorite children’s author? Add details to support your answer.
So, yesterday I wrote about my favorite illustrator(s) - I broke the rules and chose two instead of just one :)  Today's assignment is even, I am going to cheat again big time and do my top 5!  I really don't think there is an early elementary teacher who can choose *just one* favorite author.  So, here goes!
5.  Barbara Park
I know Junie B. is sassy.  I know she says "bad" words like stupid and dumb bunny.  But, I still love the Junie B. books by Barbara Park, and so do my students.  Every year I read at least some of the books, and some years I have read the whole series to my students.  She always inspires students to want to read, which is what is important!  There are very few books that can make me laugh out loud during a read-aloud - Junie B. is one of those books.
4.  Mo Willems
Mo could have (and should have!) made it onto my favorite illustrator post as well, but I was trying to follow the rules and only choose 2 illustrators.  So, it is only fair that I include him on my favorite author post!  I love his books for my classroom, as well as for my little one here at home.  This is a BIG favorite at our house:
His books are deceptively simple, but so entertaining and fun for kids of all ages.  We also love the Pigeon books, and the Elephant and Piggie series.  You can't go wrong with a Mo Willems book!
3.  Eric Carle
No list of children's book authors (or illustrators!) would be complete without Eric Carle.  His books are beautiful, simple, and always a class favorite.  I love that he writes about a wide variety of subjects and topics within his books - other than The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I think my favorite might be this one:
Or, this one...
2.  James Marshall
James Marshall is both a talented author and illustrator.  His George and Martha series was one of my very favorites as a child, and I love to read it to my students as well.  The short, sweet little stories seem like they could be written by children, and it really inspires students to try their hand at reading and writing "chapter books."
Another thing I love about James Marshall is that he writes and illustrates such a wide variety of books.  The Miss Nelson books, The Stupids, fairy tales - he does it all.  I love his humor and the detail he puts into his work.  
1.  Laura Numeroff
Who does NOT love the "If You Give a" series?!?  It all started with the little mouse, and has grown to include a pig, moose, cat, and coming soon - a dog!  Those books might be her best known series, but I also love her "What ________ Do Best" series, as well as some of her lesser known books such as "The Chicken Sisters" and "Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers."
This book comes out October 4th!  I can't wait.

So there it is - five of my favorite children's book authors.  I was going to say my top 5, but then I kept thinking of more and more authors as I was making this list (Kevin Henkes, Dr. Seuss, Mercer Mayer, H.A. Rey...).  For the sake of those reading this, I'll stop here.  I can't wait to see the authors that others choose as their favorites!  Who are some of your favorite children's authors?  Feel free to share - I'm always looking for new authors to add to my classroom library :)  And don't forget to link up with Clutter Free Classroom to share!


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