Monday, July 29, 2013

STORE WIDE Teachers pay Teachers SALE

Tuesday and Wednesday I will be having a STORE WIDE SALE! Everything will be 20% off and each day there will be a surprise FREEBIE for you!! If you have any items wish listed is the time to snatch them up!!



Here are just a few examples of the things I have in my store! Click on any picture to go to my store and check out more :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Classroom Organization Tips

It's almost time to start thinking about school again! If you are anything like me, setting up your classroom for the year is one of your favorite things to do. It's a chance to start fresh, try new things and change what you feel didn't work from the year before. I love being able to reorganize my room and get things all ready to go for my new class of little ones!!
This is a great idea! I have two of these bins. I label a drawer for each day of the week and one for copying. I put all the papers and smaller books I will need for each day in the drawers and it works GREAT! I also make sets of things I will need a few weeks ahead of time, clip them together and date them. I love the idea of having a "Grade" and "File" drawer as well. Going to have to try that!

I love this! Nice way to keep students from interrupting you while you are teaching.

This is a fantastic idea, especially if you teach younger grades. There are SO many things that we have to get ready for each new little one who joins our class! Definitely doing this.

Click on this picture to take you to The  Classroom Creative for even more fantastic ideas!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you like chocolate chip cookies you are going to LOVE these cookies. My husband cannot stop raving about them!!! Even this girl, who would usually rather have a nice oatmeal raisin cookie, likes them. Since being pregnant chocolate has become more appealing! Wonder if that will stick around...

The original recipe can be found on the blog Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. Love the name of her blog. She adds cinnamon to the dough!! I have never seen that before. While the cookies don't taste "cinnamony"you can tell that there is something special about them. Here is my slightly adapted version.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies     preheat oven to 375
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
1&1/4 cups packed brown sugar (I like to use dark brown sugar in my cookies)
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cups milk chocolate chips
3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups white chocolate chips
*It would be fun to try other chips - butterscotch, cinnamon, peanut butter etc*

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl; add eggs and vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds. Stir in the chips by hand. To make these cookies jumbo sized use a 1/4 cup and drop onto sheets about 3" apart. I went the jumbo route and they took about 15 min to cook. I rotated the pans after 7 minutes. 
If you are going the "normal" cookie sized route, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
Make sure to enjoy one warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk! I had almond milk, of course :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How Can we Curb the Summer Slump or Summer Slide?

As a teacher I am well aware that students lose some of their academic knowledge over the summer. It is one of our biggest challenges as teachers and something we are constantly talking about amongst ourselves. Yesterday I heard an interesting program on NPR which discussed the reading programs at our local libraries and their efforts to curb the "summer slump" or "summer slide." One of the researchers on the show discussed how students from middle income and low income families lose about the same amount over the summer in math, however there is a huge gap in the reading loss. Students from middle income families lose about one month but students from low income families lose about 3 months. Not only is this a big difference, the lose is cumulative over each year and can mean the difference between a student dropping out of high school or going to college. 

Here is a link to an interesting article on this topic: 

There are several ways that the summer slide is being tackled. Summer School, Summer Reading Programs offered by local libraries etc. All of these programs will only help those students who attend, however. That is the real challenge - educating not only the students but also the parents on the importance of reading to and with their children. Scholastic suggests three easy ways to help your child keep up with his/her reading over the summer:

Our local libraries are pairing up with some of the summer school programs in the area to bring books to children who may not otherwise be able to check out books from the library. They also offer exciting programs at their locations, such as magic shows, bringing in animals etc. to get children excited about all the different topics you can read about. 

What kind of programs are in your local area? What are your thoughts on the issue of the "summer slump/summer slide?" I look forward to reading your comments!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cursive Alphabet Line

Quinoa Salad

Today I bring you quinoa, one of our favorite meals. Quinoa is a grain-like seed that is similar in size and texture to couscous but is a complete protein. It's a great alternative for those nights you don't feel like meat or when you need a light meal. My husband and I enjoy it and eat it regularly. This is our favorite way to make and eat it!

Quinoa Salad Mediterranean Style
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 pepper (any color)
1/2 box grape/cherry tomatoes or two Roma tomatoes
1 small jar or 1/2 can artichoke hearts (I get the marinated kind)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped, 1/2 cup un-chopped)
4 scallions (include green ends)
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper

Some people suggest you rinse the quinoa before cooking as it can have a "soapy" flavor otherwise. I always used to until I forgot one time and realized that it didn't make a bit of difference, so I don't bother any more. 
Cook the quinoa as you would rice. I like to use chicken stock to give it a little more flavor, but vegetable stock or water works just as well. 

Chop the veggies etc into small, bite sized pieces. I chop the scallions extra fine. Other than the measurements for the quinoa, the rest is all to taste. You can obviously change the amounts of any of these ingredients, add your own or take away what you do not like. If you choose to add a dash of salt, watch how much you put in as the olives and feta cheese are quite salty. I find that between the two there is no need to add extra salt. 

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy! I go ahead and mix it while the quinoa is warm. We eat it warm or cold, it is good both ways. This quantity makes enough for dinner for the two of us and then lunch the next day. 

I used orange pepper this time. Sometimes I use a mixture which makes it extra pretty and tasty! My husband came home from work  starving and I completely forgot to take a photo of it all mixed together. Next time! 

There are lots of different ways to make quinoa. I'd love to hear how you like to make it or how you like it if you try it out for the first time! Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

ABC Handwriting Books and Morning Worksheets

Here are my latest projects in my TpT store! These sets make great Handwriting Books for the beginning of the year or they can be used individually as morning work papers or in Literacy Centers.
There are two different sets available in either Print or D'Nealian:

Set 1 has pictures that the students color a certain color based on whether the picture is next to an uppercase or lowercase letter. This is a great way to help them learn their color words and to reinforce the use of the word wall.

Set 2 has a place at the bottom of the page for the students to draw their own picture of something that starts with the letter on that page. This helps them with their beginning sounds.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

FUN Fine Motor Activities for your Preschooler or Kindergartener

Do you have an energetic little preschooler who will be going to Kindergarten soon? Here are some great activities that you can do with your little one to help get him or her get ready for all the writing they will be doing in Kindergarten. 
These are also great things to do with your current Kindergartener who may still be struggling with his or her fine motor skills. 

*Hide beads in play dough and have your child pick them all out
       *to make this more educational use alphabet beads         
*Use a turkey bastor to blow ping pong balls into a goal
*String pony or alphabet beads/dyed pasta onto pipe cleaners
       *to make this more educational have your child make patterns
         or spell their name with the beads/pasta
*Use fingers/tweezers to pick up pompoms, buttons, dried beans...
       *move from one dish to another or sort by size/color
*Work puzzles
*Pour sand, rice, dried beans etc. from one container to another
*Use broken crayons to color - this encourages children to pinch
        instead of grasping with the whole hand
*Sort your snack! When eating colored goldfish or the like have 
        your child use their thumb and pointer finger to pick and 
        sort their snack before eating
*Cut a whole in the top of a bottle and have your child push
        pennies, marbles etc, through the top

These are all activities I have done with my Preschool and Kindergarten students. Make sure to have fun doing these activities with your young ones! You don't want to push them or stress them out. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Waffles - Great for Busy School Mornings

This morning I made waffles. Delicious, whole grain, healthy waffles! As with the spanakopita we ate some and the rest went into the freezer. I have frozen these before during the school year for a quick breakfast and they freeze very well. Just pop them in your toaster and they are ready to go! I love that this recipe uses whole wheat flour, flax seed, applesauce etc. 
Seriously, these are delicious! They have a nice  nutty flavor to them and are just slightly sweet. A must try if you like waffles or need something quick in the mornings that can be eaten in the car if necessary - I cover mine with peanut butter and wrap them up in a paper towel for those especially busy mornings. Click on the picture for the link to this recipe.

This morning I covered mine with greek yogurt, some 
thawed berries and of course, maple syrup - REAL 
maple syrup, not that maple flavored corn syrup. YUM!! My husband loves these waffles too, although he goes the more traditional butter and syrup (maple - he's been converted!) route. 

These waffles are now in the freezer just waiting to be eaten! 
I hope you enjoy this recipe! They are great for busy school mornings so keep this recipe in mind for when the school year starts and things get hectic again.

A Gummy Science Investigation

These look like such fun investigations to do with your kids at home or school! It could be a great science lesson or a fun summer project to help with the "Mom, I'm bored..."

I found both of these ideas on Pinterest. You can click on the link for the gummy bears and the picture for the worms to head over to the original blogs for complete directions. I know my Kinders would especially love the gummy worms! I would combine the two and use the materials in the gummy bear project and use the worms instead of bears if I were making this a lesson.

Let me know if you have a chance to try this out, either with your own kids or students! 

Friday, July 12, 2013


My husband has been asking me to make spanakopita recently so Wednesday evening I did - not that it took much convincing. I love the stuff! After dinner the rest of it went into the freezer for "emergency" meals for when the baby comes, much to his disappointment! He wanted to eat more the next day :) Now I am no expert in Greek food and have no idea how close this recipe comes to traditional spanakopita, but I do know it is delicious! Click on the picture to go to the recipe I used. 

The recipe calls for cottage or ricotta cheese, along with feta of course. I used cottage cheese (we both prefer cottage over ricotta, even in lasagna) and it worked wonderfully. Now if you know me, I tend to cook by the seat of my pants so to speak, generally don't measure things and have a hard time staying true to a recipe without changing something. At this point I must confess that I did add a few mushrooms that needed to be used up... I actually don't usually use recipes but cook by instinct instead. It has rarely let me down. 

However, I am SO glad I looked up the recipe for this spanakopita and took the time to compare it to several others, because there were two things that I would never have added had I not read through several recipes. Can you guess what they are? If you are familiar with cooking Greek food then I'm sure you  know, but they surprised me. Nutmeg and dill. A lot of dill. And boy did following the recipe pay off. It was absolutely delicious!!! This will definitely be added to our list of favorite meals :)

This recipe makes TWO 9x13 pans, so I cut it in half. When you buy phyllo dough the box comes with two packages. By cutting the recipe in half I used only one package, so I am currently debating on whether or not to make a second pan next week or to make some baklava. Mmm, both such delicious choices! Hope you enjoy this spanakopita as much as we do if you try it out! 
Happy cooking :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Check out this cute freebie in my Teachers pay Teachers store! Welcome your students to class with this Welcome postcard. Enjoy!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog! I am very excited to share the teaching materials I create and discover with you! As I love reading and cooking I am sure to share books and recipes with you as well. I am about to have a baby boy so there will most likely be parenting discoveries too :) Enjoy!