Tuesday, May 31, 2011

cupcake memory game

What do you do with all of your scrap pieces of scrapbooking paper? Well if you teach pre-school, you use it to make a cupcake memory game of course!

Please excuse my poor quality iPhone photo.

Using my paper scraps and my Hello Kitty Greetings cartridge on the cricut machine, I made two cupcakes of each pattern for a memory game. I used the setting "black out" and made my cupcakes 3 inches.

Our theme this week is Birthdays so I thought a cupcake memory game would be cute to play. I plan on laminating them when I get to work. (Surprise, surprise)

I'm so ready for the end of the school year! 7 and a 1/2 more days for the kids!! (Kids aren't the only ones who count down--teachers do too!) Maybe I'll have another lesson or 2 posted before the end!

What do you do with all of those paper scraps you have from your collection of scrapbooking paper?

Monday, May 30, 2011

jamison city, pa

I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend! I had a doctors appointment Friday morning so I went ahead and took the whole day off of work for a personal day. That gave me a 4 day weekend and I was so glad I did so! I feel very relaxed!

I spent the weekend with my boyfriend and his family at "camp" in Jamison City, PA. A house in the mountains where there is no cell service, no AC, no TVs, and way too many horse trail rides. [I'm petrified of horses for those who don't know]

I didn't mind not having cell service. Another trip member, however, spent 75% of the weekend with his phone in the air. It gave us all a good chuckle.

This was my first trip to Jamison and I would definitely go back...next time a little better prepared! Per usual I over packed, wearing maybe 1/4th of what I brought with me. I could have benefited from some hiking boots, and maybe brought along a project or two to pass some time. My chocolate covered pretzels sticks were also a huge hit! Next time I might want to make 4 boxes instead of just 2! I also got a GREAT granola recipe from his Aunt. I promise to share it when I make my own batch!

Here are a few pictures from the trip to share with you. I hope you enjoy! What fun ways did you spend your Memorial Day weekend?

Prepping to go into the Mill Dam, which was ice cold.

Hiking along the Sullivan Falls waterfall.

It's larger than it looks. Boyfriend was dumb enough to jump off of this years ago.

The house we stayed in, which also has an awesome wrap around deck to the other side.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

red velvet cheesecake brownies.

So I made the decision I was going to make red velvet cheesecake brownies for my trip this weekend. I think I made the right choice because they are delicious!

Ingredients for brownies:

1 cup unsalted butter
4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for cheesecake:
2 - 8oz blocks cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

Step 2: Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over the stove. Let cool for a few minutes.

Step 3: Using a large bowl, wisk together eggs, sugar, food coloring and vanilla extract.
(Pay attention to your food coloring labels because I almost wound up with green velvet cheesecake brownies)

Step 4: Add the melted chocolate and butter to your mix of sugar, eggs, food coloring, and vanilla.

Step 5: Slowly add in your flower and salt to the above mixture. I did not take a picture as I adding the flower and it looked almost the same after it was all mixed in. So another picture didn't seem needed!

Step 6: Pour your mixture into your 9x13 greased pan.

Step 7: Now you are ready to mix your cheesecake mixture. In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth. (If you are using a hand mixer like I was, I have a kitchenmaid mixer on my amazon wish list, be prepared to do this for about 5 minutes or more)

Step 8: Using a large spoon, place globs of cheesecake onto of your red velvet batter. (I prefer the word glob to dollop)

Step 9: Using the tip of a knife, swirl together the cheesecake and red velvet. I did mine vertically and then horizontally. I love how the pattern turned out! (Not that it matters once it is all cut up!)

Step 10: Now you are ready for the oven! The website I found the recipe from suggests 35-40 minutes of baking time at 350 degress. I think our oven is kind of lacking so mine were in for close to 50-1hr.

Fresh from the oven!!

Once they cooled for about 15 minutes I stuck them in the fridge to set up a bit more before I sliced them. I'll post another picture once I get around to that step!

I'll have to let you know what the reviews on them are. Hopefully everyone else thinks they are as good as I did! I know my friends at work are disappointed I'm not going in tomorrow because that mean's they don't get any brownies! BUT I'll have to make them again soon!


Monday, May 23, 2011

my favorite food website.

I love this place! www.foodgawker.com is an awesome website for your foodie/recipe fix! They have the best ideas and I always find that when I come across recipes on stumbleupon.com, they are from foodgawker.

So why the sudden talk about foodgawker? This weekend I am going to Jamison, Pennsylvania with my boyfriend and his immediate and extended family. He is originally from PA and while I have visited his hometown, I've never been to Jamison. His family has a house here, which I believe is a large cabin in the woods/mountains. (I could be wrong- I've never been there!) My boyfriend informed me that everyone typically brings different baked goods to the cabin and that I should have something to bring.

First thought- his mom is an excellent cook. What on earth am I going to bring that could even be considered edible in comparison?!

Second thought- do I want to bake something I have made in the past, or do I want to go with something that has been on my list to make?

Third thought- should I go with 2 items? 1 I have made before, and then 1 new?


Here's where foodgawker came in. I began browsing through to make a top five list of what I would consider making. 

These I had actually come across previously and knew I had to put on the list to consider. They seem pretty easy to make and sound DELICIOUS!

Who doesn't love Oreos? Well, I'm not a fan of the cookie part, just the icing. Which by the way, why doesn't Oreo start selling that stuff in jars? But, you can't go wrong with a cookies n' cream mix!

Who doesn't think of s'mores when you think of cabins in the mountains? Here's a variation on the theme, with the added twist of peanut butter. I'm not a big chocolate fan, but can do it if you mix peanut butter in too!

Do you know what else comes to mind when I think cabin, mountains, and hiking? Trail mix and protein. This makes my #4 option a little more on the healthier side with the use of trail mix.

I don't really need a link to post for this idea, but thought I would keep that trend going! I love making these and I think that I will probably make them as 1 option, and then make something else to go with them. This particular website has great photos of them, but here is a photo of ones I made in the past!

Here's where I need YOU to come in! Please pick a favorite and help me make this decision on what I should make! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that enough people actually do pick a favorite. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

shell necklace 2: Part I

I don't want you all to think that I made one shell necklace with my shells and then called it quits. I've had this idea in my head for my next one for some time now, it has just taken me a while to get started on it. My idea for this one is a little more involved than the first. Hence, the "Part I" in the title.

I found these really great coral charms at Michaels a while back and knew I had to use them in my next necklace. I have a lot of shells with grey, black, and red tones in them so there has to be something to match.

I decided to go with black, red, the coral charms, and then I will pick out matching shells to use. I want the look of multiple strands and I was hoping at first that I could buy something of this sort. I quickly realized that a) they didn't offer what I was looking for at Michaels and b) it would probably be cheaper to do this myself.

I've begun to string multiple strands of tiny little beads.

The task is not quite as daunting as it might seem and I actually fill up strands quicker than I expected. I think they sell a machine that strings these tiny little things for you, but at $24.99, I wasn't quite ready to make that purchase. I've only completed 4 strands so far and would like to make at least 4 more.

Here are the two coral charms a little closer up.

Who knows when Part II of this necklace will come along, but hopefully soon. Once I start something like this I usually get pretty eager to finish it. Just keep your fingers crossed that the thought of stringing teeny tiny little beads after spending 7 hours with 4-year olds doesn't overwhelm me!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lesson Resources List

Long time no post! I have been so exhausted by the time I have gotten home from work this week that I haven't been inspired to make anything! Since I have been so busy with work, I thought, why not do a post on some of my planning resources!

There are excellent pre-k resources out there on the web. Especially sites that offer free printable activities. They are perfect for small group time. All I have to do is print them out on card stock paper and laminate! I have found sites that are MUCH better than others, and ones that I find are more resourceful for certain themes and not others. **P.S. I have not be paid in anyway to talk about these sites. I am simply sharing out about some great resources I have found.

Here is my top list so far in my teaching career:

1. Kids Soup
       * This site is actually a membership site, but it is 100% worth every penny. The site advertises a free trial period and then a rate of $2.15 per month, which comes out to be $25.80 for the year. I've been very fortunate that a co-worker of mine already has a membership and she allows me to use her log-in! (Go halves with a co-worker if $25.80 is too much for you!) This place is great. There are crafts, activities, games, resources and more. There is no limit on what you can print and they have a ton for each theme! They offer coloring pages which are great for our table time. It's nice to find a coloring page that I don't have to copy and paste and re-size myself! There are also great worksheet activities for your higher students. While visiting, click a theme on the left. They do offer a small selection of free activities for each theme as well!

2. PreKinders
      * PreKinders is a free website that I cam across during my college years while looking for some lesson ideas. First, the appearance of the site is great. This is a big deciding factor for me. If a website doesn't look like it is put together well or things do not line up, I don't usually spend the time to look around on it. I know that might sound like I'm missing out on a lot, but I'm a very visual person and I need things to look nice. PreKinders offers a handful of themes, most of which I did this school year, along with the seasons and holidays. They have free printables under each theme and they even offer a list of books for each theme. A lot of their activities remind me of something you might see in a Montessori classroom because they use a lot of small manipulatives.

3. Pre-K Fun
       * Pre-K Fun is a site I came across this school year. It seems to be still in the works. They have two sections under their themes. One for Pre-K and one for Toddler. They have a huge list of themes, but unless the theme is linked, you can't click on it. Which leads me to believe the site is still in the works. Some themes offer more than others, but I have come across some pretty neat things on this site. Some themes even offer a free printable bulletin board boarder. It would be a little tedious printing them out and cutting, but some are pretty cool. I would definitely keep this site on your radar even if you don't find anything the first time you visit. I really hope for them to be excellent once they have all of their themes together!

4. abcteach
      * I have mixed feelings about this site. They offer about 50/50 free and then membership activities. I do not have a membership, so I am just "shopping" their free items. The reason I have mixed feelings is because I typically turn up empty handed, but I feel that is just for my age group. I've come across some things here and there such as file folder games that are good for my guys. I would definitely check it out of you are a kindergarten teacher. There are a lot of writing prompt work sheets under the free section!

5. Hummingbird Educational Resources
       * A friend of mine found this website while we were in college. She shared it with one our classes as a resources. It really does offer  A LOT. The only reason it made the bottom of my list is because it is very wordy. There is a lot of read through. I prefer the themes they have listed that offer pictures to go with their activities, but not all of them do. So if you don't mind sitting through and just reading the ideas, this is an excellent source! They do offer a list of books for each theme, and then a few other activities that I believe their website sells!

I hope you find these resources to be as helpful as I have my first year teaching. With only three weeks left for the students I'm nearing the end! It's so hard to believe the year is almost over with. AND I SURVIVED! There are going to be a lot of changes into our pre-school program next year and I won't be teaching just 4 year olds again. Once I understand what exactly I will be teaching, I'll be sure to share out!

I'm off to shower and get ready for a round of golf with my boyfriend this afternoon. Wish me luck because it has been FOREVER since I even touched my clubs!

Friday, May 13, 2011

toffee chocolate chip cake batter cookies.

About two weeks ago I was trying to think of some cookies to make with what I had at the house. I knew I had a box of yellow cake mix so I thought, CAKE BATTER COOKIES! I googled this simple thought and found a simple recipe. I looked in the cabinet for something to mix into my cookies and decided on toffee bits and mini chocolate chips.

Introducing.... toffee chocolate chip cake batter cookies!


- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 2 eggs
- toffee bits
- mini chocolate chips

**I did not measure out the toffee bits or chips, I simply dumped in what looked like a decent amount!


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Dump cake mix into a bowl
3. Add in oil and eggs
4. Once combined, fold in toffee bits and mini chocolate chips
5. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes

** I was able to make about 36 cookies with this recipe.


 I would recommend these cookies to you, BUT, only if you like the taste of cake batter. The taste is definitely there! Maybe next time, I would make them similar to the cake batter blondies with sprinkles and white chocolate chips in them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

bug word clips.

This week our theme is bugs. (Insects for those specifics out there)

I came across this idea in a Mailbox Magazine and I loved it. Since I have a large variety of skill levels in my classroom with the majority of the students being special education I thought this idea was perfect to be adjusted to meet all different levels.

Introducing...bug word clips!

I only made six of them, but the activity also had pictures of other bugs that you could use. I figured if I had trouble identifying the bug, the students might too. I cut out the pictures, colored them, and glued them onto a sentence strip. Next I wrote the bug name next to the picture and laminated the sentence strips. With the six words pictured above, you will need 84 clothespins. (I made the mistake of not counting prior to going to the store and the 72 that I thought would be plenty...turned out not to be.)
** NOTE: 84, if you are making 2 sets of words like I do. Obviously, only 42 if you are making one set!



For the activity the students will have to either match just the capital letters, or match all of the letters, depending on their skill group. 

They will get good practice on their fine motor skills by having to clip the letters onto the sentence strips.

Here are some of the different skills that came to my mind when I saw this activity. 

1. Great fine motor practice with the clips. I have several students who receive OT services, but that aside, every little guy could practice strengthening their fine motor!

2. Letter recognition, both uppercase and lowercase. To adapt the activity, one group will be working on just the uppercase letters, while others will be doing all of the letters.

3. Matching! The students will have to match the letter to the clothespin with the correct letter. Can't put a capital for a lowercase! 

I know there is so much more, but these were my top 3. For older students you could extend the activity to have them make one of their own! Have you done any activities similar to this?


Monday, May 09, 2011

very hungry pre-k.

Last week when I said my class was doing butterflies and caterpillars for the week I mentioned an activity we would be doing for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I got this idea from my friend Meghan who teaches at a school in Maryland. One day she posted pictures of this activity and I thought it was so adorable!

After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the students were asked what they would eat if they were really hungry. Some had ideas like those in the story, some had other ideas. The students wrote what they would like to eat and then drew a picture of it.

We painted paper plates green and then glued on our pictures. I took all the paper plates to make them into a caterpillar. One for the AM class and one for the PM class. The students love finding their work in the hallway when we walk by and the caterpillars came out super cute! 

I'm going to try and blog more this week. Getting back into the swing of things after being off of work for a week is a little challenging. Not to mention having a gazillion...and two...meetings gets in the way too!

Friday, May 06, 2011

teacher appreciation week.

First, I apologize from being M.I.A. from my blog this week. It's been an INCREDIBLY busy first week back to school! It's finally the weekend and I figure I'll be able to squeeze in a couple of blog posts before another busy week next week!

This week was teacher appreciation week. We had a catered lunch today from a local restaurant. They even brought pretzel salad! We got some small little things in our mailboxes throughout the week which I found thoughtful. It's nice to get something in your mailbox aside from your breakfast sheet and returned excused absence notes!

I have come across SO MANY adorable gift ideas for teachers for teacher appreciation week online. I don't have any kids of my own, but one day, I hope to put together some of these great ideas for my kids' teachers! In honor of teacher appreciation week, I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas I came across.

1. These adorable door hanger water bottles! How clever! The door hanger fits perfectly on the water bottle and you can add a sweet little treat like a candy bar!

2. This cute little gift pack with 3 essentials: coffee, markers, and paper!

3. I think my favorite thing about this one is simply the saying attached to the bag. How adorable is that!

4. I saved the best for last! What teacher wouldn't absolutely LOVE opening up this goodie! Not only is it adorable and the colors used really catch your eye, but it's filled with things I would be sure to get great use out of in the classroom. I love how they are all organized in this one little box. Excellent idea!

I certainly love all of these ideas, but even a simple "thank you" can go a long way for a teacher! I can't wait to try my chocolate raspberry coffee that I received today!
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