Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Time for a Sale!

It's those dark, cold days of winter and I sure could use some retail therapy to perk me up!  So I was excited when TpT shared that there would be having their Teachers are Heroes! sale on February 25th (this Wednesday)!






Everything in my TpT store will be 20% off, with an extra 8% off when you use the code HEROES.


So, stop by my store to get 28% off on February 25th!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Content Review and Test Prep Games

Whether you are wanting to review previously-taught content or you need to prepare for state testing, you most likely need some novelty and fun to go with it.  There's just something about making it into more of a game that takes the sting out of it.

I wanted to make games that could be used with any task cards, test questions, or core subject.  So, the result was 4 games that require very few materials and almost ZERO teacher preparation.

       Helps make test review and preparation less painful and more fun
       Has students thinking critically about both the questions and the answers
       Uses collaborative and cooperative learning techniques
       Incorporates Language Arts


This packet includes the following games:
       Beat the Bubbles (Test Review and Vocabulary Review)
       The Answer is ______.  What is the Question?
       Ball and Cup




       Show What You Know Board Game




Pick up a copy by clicking here.


How about you?  What kinds of review games do you use?  How do you make test prep more fun and less tedious?  I'd love to hear what you do!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Recipe Round-Up: Valentine's Day!

One of my favorite perks of being a teacher is the ability to try out new recipes on weekends and holiday breaks.  I'd be lying if I said that food isn't important to me.  It gives me comfort and a sense of satisfaction when I make a dish that nourishes my family.  It brings us together and gives us memories to share.  What better time is there to make culinary memories than Valentine's Day?

In that spirit, I am joining Laurah at The ESOL Odyssey for her monthly Recipe Round-Up.




In the past, I would try to plan a baked surprise for my husband.  BUT... I have a one-year-old now.  That means that it has to be something quick, healthy, and still tasty.  The first thing that came to mind was fruit and chocolate dip.  How about some yummy chocolate pudding that can also be used as a fruit dip?



These directions will make 2 servings:
--12 ounces plain Greek Yogurt.  I buy 4% FULL FAT Greek yogurt because that is the recommended yogurt for our Little Man, but I have used low fat and it still tastes great. 
-- 4 TB unsweetened baking cocoa 
--Sweetener to taste.  I use Stevia crystals because at this point, science claims it's healthy for babies. 
Stir all ingredients until smooth. 
Slice some fruit and add nuts (only for mommy and daddy) to complete the yumminess.  I like to use a banana, strawberries and  almonds.



This dip is so rich and creamy.  I know the whole family will love this!

Do you have a family-friendly Valentine's recipe?  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Recipe Round-Up: Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes!

Sometimes I get so caught up in the curriculum part of being a teacher that I don't stop to think about how equally important food is to the equation.  Yes, food.  So when Laurah at the ESOL Odyssey hosted a Recipe Roundup Linky that involved slow cookers, I was inspired to share how this wonderful piece of equipment saves me as a teacher!



Slow cooker, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways:
1. With a little prep work in the morning or previous evening, a full dinner is waiting for me on those long, dark days when I have zero energy to plan and create a meal.
2.  It allows me to buy healthier/unprocessed foods that take a long time to cook usually.
3. If I use both of my slow cookers (yes, I have TWO), I can make dinner and a side or dessert.  For example, I might have meatloaf in one and mashed potatoes in another.

And speaking of mashed potatoes, I'd like to share the slow cooker recipe that changed my life:

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes



Wash the potatoes.  My slow cooker is about 5 quarts, so I used most of a 5 pound bag of Russets.

If you want "lumpy" and "authentic", peel them and leave the potatoes whole and/or halve them and leave the skins on.  If you want them creamier, peel them and halve them.

Sprinkle generously with salt. 

Fill crockpot to within 1/2” of the top of the potatoes.  I've read that the water needs to be hot before putting it in the slow cooker, but I have always just used cold tap water.

Cover it with the lid.

Use the high setting for 4-6 hours OR low for 8-10 hours.  Since slow cooker temps vary, check the potatoes at the lower end of the time frame and adjust cooking times according to your cooker's temps.

Drain the potatoes.

Add butter, salt, and milk or cream to taste. I also like some pepper, but I've started adding that to my own serving instead of the entire slow cooker because my Little Man isn't quite ready for pepper yet.

Use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes right in the slow cooker.

Cover with lid and set to “warm”.  Don’t keep them on this setting for too long or the potatoes will become pasty.


Voila!  The perfect compliment to just about any meal.





If you want to join the linky, click here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Math is Real Life: Preparing a House for a Toddler

Jamie at Miss Math Dork  hosts a monthly "Math is Real Life" linky in which teachers share their real life experiences with math.  I am proud to be participating in the January link up.



The biggest news around our house lately is that our little man (Noah), who turns 11 months old on January 12th, is speed crawling and acting like he could learn to walk at any time.  What an exciting and crazy time!  What that means for us is that we need to baby proof our house ASAP because you can't have a toddler running around with free access to the stairs.

Here comes the math!  The first thing we had to do was use a measuring tape to measure the entryways that needed to be blocked off.  That part wasn't too hard.  We just made sure to measure EXACTLY from one side of the stairway to the other (no rounding to the nearest inch or 1/2 inch).


My hubby measuring the entryway.  It was 35 1/2 inches wide.

Next, we had to find a baby gate that fit the entryway without being to large or small.  Believe it or not, it's not that easy to find a baby gate that is exactly 35 1/2 inches wide.  So, we decided that we wanted to buy a gate that would expand to fit the entryway, called pressure mounted.

Target, here we come!  We shopped around a bit online and found that the one below.




We made sure to look at the details mentioned in the description just to make sure the width/length was wide enough.



The gate will extend to 38 inches, but we only need 35 1/2 inches, so we are good to go!

I have to admit, it took me awhile to fully understand how to properly use a ruler growing up once I was required to measure things to the 1/4 inch.  So, I came up with a visual to help my students understand how to measure to the nearest 1/2 or 1/4 inch.




It takes students step-by-step through the process of measuring an item by instructing them to:
~Find the nearest whole unit (inch)
~Find the nearest 1/2 inch
~Find the nearest 1/4 inch
~Determine if the object is closest to the nearest 1/4 or 1/2 inch
~There is a blank ruler and paperclip on the last slide so students can practice on their own

I still use this process in my head when I'm measuring!



You can pick up a copy of this visual by clicking here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Shout Out: Customary and Metric Measurement

Today, I want to give a big shout out to Jamie at Miss Math Dork !  She is a math specialist that creates fun resources to help students learn and practice math concepts.

In particular, I would like to highlight her Measurement Wars series of resources.  One, because it perfectly suites my needs to review standard and metric measurement.  Two, because I love to make learning more of a game, and task cards almost always fit that bill.

She has a length, capacity, and Mass bundle:



She also has posters that provide a handy reference guide for students while they are using the various units of measurement.  I plan to have these posters available to students as a review while they are playing the Measurement Wars games.



If you're looking for a specific measurement concept, she has the bundle broken down into:

Length Measurement Wars



Capacity Measurement Wars



Mass (Weight) Measurement Wars



I have been trying to have stations available to students for what I call "Experiment Day/Week."  I break the class up into groups of 3 or 4 and have them rotate through various stations.  They record their findings at each station on "report sheets" and turn the report sheets in at the end of the week for a grade.

I float through the stations to check for understanding and correct any misconceptions.  If I see that a group has completed the assignment, I sign off on their report sheets and allow them to get the materials for the next station.

I always make the station that requires the lab equipment the "teacher station."  That way, I can supervise the ssquirrels  students so that they use their time and the equipment properly.

I can't wait to make these task cards part of the game station!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

STEAM, Social Studies, and Language Arts! Oh, My!

In January, I will be teaching a series of Saturday Enrichment Program classes.  Teachers get to pick the topic of their class, and I chose STEM.  I also love art, so STEAM was my inspiration.  It was from this inspiration that my "Solve Architectural Problems in a Science Lab!" unit was born.  It's a 5-part unit that's designed to be taught in 2-hour increments.




The first lesson introduces students to what technology really is.  I call this one the "Paper Bag Technology" experiment.  A lot of students think technology is only things that require electricity.  This lesson shows that anything that is designed to solve a problem is technology.



The second lesson focuses on the concepts of team-building and engineering.  I call this one the "Build an Index Card Tower" experiment.  It is the first experiment in the unit in which they fill out the "STEAM Planning and Report Sheet" that follows the five steps of the Engineering Design Process.



The 3rd lesson is the "Build a Longhouse" experiment in which students work together to build a scaled longhouse.



The 4th lesson has the students building a scaled covered wagon in the "Build a Covered Wagon" experiment.



The 5th lesson has the students building a bridge of manila folders in the "Build a Bridge" experiment.



Each lesson has enrichment questions and/or activities.  All of them include research suggestions and reading titles.

I'm so excited to use this for the SEP!

You can pick up a copy by clicking here.