Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everybody!  I cannot believe that October is over tonight, where did the month go?  I still have a couple of Halloween crafts to share and I'm debating whether or not I should just save them for next year.  I guess you will find out this week, if they pop up or not.

Did any one guess what I was going to be for Halloween?

Why Ms.Frizzle of course! And my amazing husband was the Magic School Bus!  I wish you could tell from this picture just how curly my hair was, it was almost clown like when I first took it out of the foam curlers.

I missed not teaching today, I just love all of the Halloween costumes.  The Kindergartners are usually my favorite, just because they are so little, but hopefully I will get to see some of them trick-or-treating tonight.  But don't worry, I did see lot's of great costumes this year!  I helped my cousin throw a truly amazing Halloween party on Friday.  Mind you, it was an adult party, but some of the details are just too good not to share.  So here is some Halloween eye candy for you to eat up on this night of sweets and tricks.

The treats table

These babies took my amazing cousin almost 4 hours!  But they are so cool!

There was also great food, creatively displayed of course!  I forgot to take pictures of all of the food, I was probably too busy eating it, but here is some of what we served our guests, including the libations.

I can't take any credit for how amazing it all turned out!  My cousin is the creative genius behind it all, and her very talented and creative friend made all of the labels.  It was spectacular and we had a really great time!

No matter what your Halloween tradition is, just remember to be safe!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Krispies

When I was growing up, my mom would make my uncles Rice Krispie Treats every year for Christmas, because they loved them so much.  When my uncles got older and got married, she gave their wives the ingredients for their favorite dessert, saying it was their turn to make then now.  So, you can see that it has always been a tradition to make these tasty treats.

This year, instead of making the traditional treats, my niece and I set out to make a pumpkin version.  We made the treats exactly like the box said, though Breleigh was much more interested in eating the ingredients than helping.  When the treats were still in the pan I added some orange food coloring.  I actually went out and bought the Wilton food coloring because I wanted especially orange pumpkins and I didn't think I would be able to accomplish that with the liquid drops.  When everything was bright orange, Breleigh and I molded them into little balls, and stuck tootsie roll stems in the top of them.

Then I wrapped them up in glassine bags and tied green raffia on the top to represent the vine.  They were pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.  But nothing was quite as cute as Maddon enjoying them.

At the end he got a piece stuck to the end of his nose that looked like a giant orange booger.  We could not stop laughing.

Warning:  The kid who helps you cook will inevitably go into a sugar coma and start taking pictures like this:

But it is totally worth the sugar highs and lows to be able to gift your friends these cute sugary beauties!  I hope you try them out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can you Guess?

Today was a great day!  Third graders are quite the comedians, even though they don't realize it.   One of them said to me, "You know what's kind of crazy?  People have red hair!  I mean, like, they have orange hair!!!"  Being a red head myself, I made my best shocked face and said "Oh my gosh! Seriously!?!?  That is crazy!  I never noticed that before, except maybe every time I look in the mirror."  They thought that was funny

I also went shopping today for the last few pieces of my costume.  I bought small foam curlers and outer space fabric.

Can you guess what I am going to be for Halloween???

What are you dressing up as?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Super Baby, To The Rescue!

Everybody loves a super hero!  Especially kids!  And what better way to have fun with super heroes than to make your own cape.  I've tried all kinds of capes, and this one seems to work best.  Tying the towel/blanket/sheet around the neck can hurt and it just falls off.  But this cape won't fall off, and you make it with an old t-shirt.

Lay out your old shirt:

Then cut up the sides, cutting in to the neck at about the middle of the sleeve:

Then cut around the neck, leaving a bit of a border.  When you finish slip it on a brave kid and watch the magic happen.

This is an old UCLA Den shirt from my husband's huge collection.  I love that it says "Champions Made Here"

Super Breleigh to the rescue!

I hope that you use this to turn your kids into extraordinary super heroes!
Up, up and away!

This is where I originally saw the idea.  She used velcro, but I figured I didn't need that extra step.  Check it out!

It has been suggested that the velcro may make the cape more safe.  So true!  As we learned from the Incredibles, capes are not the safest choice in the super hero uniform.  So be safe out there super heroes!

Friday, October 21, 2011


So I had a blog planned for today, but now it will have to wait until next week.  My husband took the day off and told me we are going to go stay in a hotel and go apple picking!  I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!  I can't wait to take pictures and share with them with you!

To make up for my extreme lacking today, I will try and post something on Sunday.  I have some great crafts and activities coming up, so I hope you will stick around.  And now I'm off, being whisked away by my amazing husband for a great adventure!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween, it Depends on Your Point of View

So far I have shared several kindergarten ideas, which is pretty strange because I'm really more of an upper grade teacher.  Don't get me wrong, I love kindergarten!  I have a great time subbing for them, and had an even better time when I taught a group of kindergartners for the YMCA.  But my teaching niche is really in the upper grades.

One of the things that I love best about the upper grades is that they really start writing.  It's a lot more than sentences once they hit the third grade and I love that!  

Something that you can do with your students to help them practice adjectives is have them brain storm both the good things and bad things about Halloween.  Then assign each student a point of view to write about.  Have them write all of the adjectives that they can think of that go with their point of view and color them.  It makes a great display board, and it's always funny to see what they have to say.  I had pictures, but alas, I lost them.  If I can find them then I will be sure to post them on another day.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kinder Pumpkin Science

I had a very interesting day today.  I taught sixth grade, which is always a challenge, but these kids were pretty great.  One of them was hilarious, but at all of the worst times, and it took every ounce of control that I had not to laugh.  Then when I left, my car wouldn't start.  I called a friend, who lives down the street from the school I was at, and she came right away and helped me get my car started.  If that wasn't enough, I had planned to come over and do a craft with her son but because of my car we decided to reschedule.  So not only did she rush over to help me, she also invited me to come over tomorrow and she is going to cook dinner!  Wait a minute, shouldn't I be the one making her dinner?!?  I seriously have the best friends!  I will make it to her somehow.

So today I wanted to share a worksheet that I made up for a Kinder/first grade science experiment.  This is all about getting to know the pumpkin in new ways, and focuses on estimation and prediction.  It is designed to do in small groups, with an adult.  I'm not entirely happy with the worksheet yet and I would love feedback, if you have any!  But I do think this is a great start.

Just click on the picture and it will to take to a site where you can download it for free!  Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kindergarten Activities

Hey everyone!  I'm so sorry that I wasn't around yesterday, it was completely unintentional.  You see, there is this AMAZING blog/site called Once a Month Mom, which is all about dedicating a day each month to preparing freezer meals for your family.  That way when things get busy, you always have something to serve for dinner.  The first time I had followed their plan was last month and I loved it!  Everything we ate was delicious and even my very picky husband like it.  So this month my mom decided that she wanted to do it too.  We opted to try the diet version of the meals, since both of us already have enough fat to keep us warm for winter.  I figured that with two people it would maybe take 5 hours.  Boy, was I wrong!!!
This is what we started with!!!!

 It took us the entire day and into the evening.  I didn't get home until almost eight, but it was so worth it!  My freezer is stocked full with great breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and the best part is that they are all healthy!  Needless to say, after a long day on my feet, I was exhausted and frankly not coherent enough to blog about anything, especially education!  But I am back and today we are going to talk about a couple of kindergarten art activities.

As a sub, I'm in different classrooms almost everyday and so I get to see what everyone is up to.  The sad truth is that art is often pushed aside in favor of test practice.  But in Kindergarten there are several standards that go along with art, so you still see cute projects decorating the rooms.  Please keep in mind that if I mention a standard, I am referring only to the California State Standards because those are the ones that I am the most familiar with. If you ever have a question specific to your state just let me know, I am more than willing to do the research and find out.

OK, chances are that if you have ever worked in Kindergarten or with a kindergartner then you know this poem:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late!"
The second one said, "There are witches in the air"
The third one said, "But we don't care!"
The fourth one said, "Let's run, let's run!"
The fifth one said, "Isn't Halloween fun?"

Then WHOOOOO went the wind
And OUT went the lights.

And five little pumpkins rolled out of site.

Great poem!  They use it in Kindergarten to practice counting, coordination (with the movements) and rhyming which is so important to speaking and reading!  But here is a great craft that I recently saw:

Here is what I love about this activity:  The students practiced their cutting with all of the pieces, which is a standard.  They also practiced counting, and writing with the numbers.  And the best part?  The glittery stickers!  I mean, come on!  If you are five and the teacher says that if you follow directions that you are going to get five glittery stickers, you are going to pay attention.  The kids there were also so excited to tell me the poem that goes with it.

If you are interested in exploring this poem more at home I would highly recommend googling it!  DLTK's is a great resource, and youtube even has some people that show you the movements that go with the poem.  WARNING: The videos are really cheesy!

One last thing I want to share for today, just because they are cute:

I love these cute spiders, and they would be great to make at home.  Most teachers make these "I see" pages several times a month, and then put them together in a book for students at the end of the year.  It is a really great teacher gift!

See all tomorrow!  I am hoping to share a pumpkin science experiment!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspired by Teaching and a Giveaway

I've never done a giveaway on this site, and this one is sort of impromptu.  You see, today I was inspired by what happened in the classroom.  Today I taught fourth grade, which is a grade that I teach frequently, and I familiar with all of the curriculum.  The students I was working with had a test on the story Tomas and the Library Lady, and what they didn't realize was that the book is actually based on a true story.  It is this an almost magical tale about the son of a migrant farm worker and how a librarian inspires a deep love of books.  Tomas, the boy in the story, is a real person who ended his life as a chancellor of UC Riverside.  They even named the library after him!

I happen to be a huge fan of reading.  I think it was my mom who got me interested because she was reading all of the time.  We would even read books together.  I remember sitting on the kitchen floor, while she did the dishes, and reading The BFG by Roald Dahl to her.  I think everyone should read and really to learn to love it, which is why find this story so inspiring.  After the test, the kids who had finished were reading books and one of the students, who is not a big reader, showed me his book and said, "Wow, I'm really into this book.  I'm kind of like of Tomas!"  And that's when I knew that one of you needs to own this book, and I'm going to give it to you.

To win a copy of the book Tomas and the Library Lady, by Pat Mora, you just have to leave a comment stating what your favorite children's book is and why.  This is not a sponsored post!  I don't know Pat Mora, or the publisher, I just like this book.  This contest ends at 5pm Pacific Standard time and the winner will be chosen randomly and announced Monday.  Good luck!

I hope that you love this book as much as I do, and use it to inspire an avid reader.  Have a great weekend!

The giveaway is officially closed.  I will announce which of you has won the book tomorrow.

The winner is Jamie with comment #1.  I entered all the comments into a random number generator and that's what came out.  Just send me an email with your address and I will send the book your way.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Love of Fall and a Halloween Inspired Wreath

Oh, how I love Fall!  The cooler weather, the apple cider, the scarves, the fires in the fireplace and the holidays. Somehow, Southern California has forgotten that it's Fall.  Today is was over one hundred degrees here!  To convince myself that it really is Fall, I made a Halloween inspired wreath.  So far, it's not really working, the heat is way more convincing than a wreath, but it sure is cute and it does make me smile.  Because it so cute, I wanted to share it with you!

Here is how I made it:

To make this wreath I bought a foam wreath (WalMart has them the cheapest!), black yarn, a 3 inch circle punch, pins, scissors, and a scary book.  Yes, I am completely obsessed with the yarn wreaths that are so trendy now and wanted to try it out, only to cover up all of my hard work.  And no, I guess you don't really need a scary book.  It could technically be any book, but how cool is it to make a scary wreath from a scary book?  Well, I think it's cool!  I used the 3 inch circle punch to punch out about 300 hundred circles (WAY too many!).

Then I tied a knot in the yarn, and started wrapping.  And wrapping.  And wrapping.  And wrapping.  Yeah, I pretty much wrapped my life away, but I was pretty impressed with myself when I was done.

Getting those tight strands with no space between took some practice, but it all kind of blends together, so mistakes are easily covered.

After I had my yarn wreath, and was thoroughly impressed with myself, I started pinning the paper circles on. I found that if you pinch the circle in the center, they make a pretty flower shape, and look much better on the wreath itself.

This is the wreath after I finished all the paper circles:

Then I used some stiff felt that I had leftover from the wedding and cut out a couple bats and pinned them on.

Cute, right?  It's even better on the door!

I hope that you think this wreath is as adorable as I do.  Now, please excuse me while I turn the air down enough to enjoy a glass of hot apple cider without sweating.

This blog is linked to:
 and The DIY Show Off

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Truth About Jack-o-Lanterns

I had quite the day today, not a bad day, just hard.  It was the kind of day that just reaffirms why I want to be a teacher.  It's the students who really struggle with focus and behavior issues, that need a teacher who really cares and is going to make them a priority.  Today I saw those kids written off, and it's only October.  I spent my day making sure they knew they were capable, intelligent and caring.  In fact, I kind of played the Aibileen card (from The Help, great book).  I could almost hear myself saying, "You is kind, you is smart, you in important."  I know that I didn't exactly change a life today, but hopefully I changed their day.

So here I am, driving home, complaining to myself about teachers, and I come home to this:

Poor pumpkin!  You see, in my Pinterest obsession I saw a post that said putting Silica gel packets in a pumpkin would make them last longer.  Now, I tend to be skeptic and a scientist, so  I decided to try it out for myself.  I did some research on the best way to preserve a Jack-o-Lantern and set up an experiment to put them to the test.

The first method I tried was the silica gel packets.  After I had carved the pumpkins, I placed three packets inside in hopes that they absorb any excess moisture.  This is the pumpkin after four days:

Starting to wilt, for lack of a better word, but not too bad.  But this is the pumpkin after nine days:

He has completely collapsed on himself.  But on the bright side, the silica gel packets have ensured that it didn't shrivel into a mushy moldy mess!  In short, silica doesn't work!

I also tried a method where after cutting you rub bleach on the cut parts and then rub some petroleum jelly over the cut parts.  The theory is that the bleach kills anything living in the pumpkin and the petroleum jelly keeps in the moisture which keeps it fresh.  This this that pumpkin after 4 days:

Not so bad, and the droopy lip kind of adds character.  But this is the same pumpkin after 9 days:

Yeah, that's gross!  Keeping in the moisture just made it soggy and it bred mold like crazy, despite the bleach treatment.  Don't do it!!!!!  This method is too  much work, for no reward.

Now in defense of these two pumpkins, they were older than the last pumpkin, but I was hoping that the different treatments would preserve them.  Here is the plain old Jack-o-Lantern, my control, now:

Looking good Jack!  So the moral of the story is that a young and fresh Jack-o-Lantern is the best, no treatment necessary.  That little guy made my day, because as bummed as I was feeling on the way home, a Jack-o-Lantern reminded me that it's only fall and things can change.  For the sake of those sweet, but misguided children, I may have to be that force of change and I can handle that.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

5 tips to the perfect babysitter/nanny

As more and more of my friends become moms, I am constantly asked the question, "How do I find a good babysitter or nanny?"  Having been on both sides of the interview multiple times (I have hired my replacement several times), here are the tips I usually give them:

1.) Look into a service, but don't be afraid of Craigslist!
Every single nanny job that I have ever gotten, I have gotten from craigslist.  I usually write an ad about who I am, and what I have to offer, and I'll often include a picture.  This usually gets me several interviews.  Trust me, craigslist is full to the brim with trustworthy college kids who would love to work with you and your family.

2.) Look for an ad that states your specific needs, or write your own and wait for the responses to flow in.
 One of the families that I was a nanny with for almost 4 years wrote in their ad that they wanted a creative person, who knew how to bake, was crafty, and was familiar with all of the Disney princesses.  This is exactly who I am, and I just knew it was the perfect fit.  In my response to this ad I made sure to touch on each of those requirements and why I fit their needs.  I was hired by that family, and those girls were in my wedding!

3.) Interview them with your child present.
This is your chance to find out if you like them and the way they interact with your child.  If your child is cowering the entire time the person is there and never warms up, then that person is not for you.  On the other hand, if your child keeps interrupting the interview to share things or play with the person, then they deserve to move on to the next step.

3.) Be brutally honest
Don't be vague about your expectations.  If you want them to go to the park three times a week then you need to say that.  If you think it is important that they be able to prepare homemade baby food for your child, then you need to state that during your interview.  If you are looking for a person to become a part of your family, tell them.  In one of my first interviews the mom told me to leave my drama at the door.  She also told me that if I was late more than three times without calling, to just not bother showing up the next time because I had fired myself through my actions.  I was never late to that job, and I never came in crying no matter what.

4.) Talk about payment up front
Please do not put the babysitter in the awkward position of asking how much the job will pay.  Just be forward with them, but open for negotiation.  As I got older and more experienced, this part got easier.  When I first started, I never would have negotiated my fee.  Now I go into an interview knowing what I want.  If it is too far from what the family is willing to offer, then I know that we aren't a good fit.  On the other hand, if what they are offering is close to what I'm looking for, then I know that we can work together.  Just try and be fair, ask friends what they are paying, and go from there.

5.) The first time you have someone babysit you should be there
I don't mean you should be there to greet them and then take off, I mean you should be there the whole time.  This allows the babysitter the opportunity to ask questions and the children to get used to the new person in your presence.  This tip is seriously invaluable!  And just remember, even though you are there, you still have to pay the sitter this time.

The most important tip is to simply trust your gut!  If there is anything you don't like about a person, then don't hire them, it is as simple as that.  I hope that this helps, and that you all find your perfect babysitter or nanny.  I have formed invaluable friendships with the many families that I have been a nanny for, and even have fond memories of my own childhood babysitter.  She's the one that taught me how to blow a bubble with chewing gum!  Best of luck finding the perfect fit for your family!

Already have the perfect baby sitter or nanny?  I want to know what makes him/her perfect for your family.  Please tell me in the comments.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Halloween Tutu

You should know that I am a little bit obsessed with tutus.  They are adorable, and so easy and inexpensive to make.  Plus, my niece looks adorable in them!

Here is what you need to make your own:

3 yards of each color tulle you are using
Ribbon that matches your color scheme

Yep!  That's it!  Like I said, easy and inexpensive.  Next I laid out each piece of tulle and cut them in half at the fold.  If you don't do this then you are going to have ridiculously huge pieces of tulle to work with.  I then wrapped my tulle around a piece of cardboard that measured 15" and secured both the top and bottom with rubber bands.  Then I cut the fabric at both ends so that it measured 7 1/2 inches and looked like this:

The next step is hard to photograph and the photos that I did take turned out horribly because, well because I'm white! Ha ha ha, my white skin reflected in the lens and they just look horrible and white and blurry.  Please excuse my whiteness and the resulting lack of photos.  But, all you do is fold a piece of tulle in half so that it has a loop at the top.  Put the loop behind the ribbon that you are using, and pull the bottom up over the ribbon and through the loop.  It's called a slip knot.  It should look like this:

Then just keep adding pieces until it is the right size and looks like this:

When you are done, tie it around the waist of a cute little girl and just giggle at how cute it is!

It doesn't get much cuter!  And the best part is that you can make them in any color!  I am currently working on an Angel's tutu for Bre and I can't wait to see her in it.  For now I will just enjoy how cute she is in this one.  Happy Monday!

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