Sunday, July 23, 2017

A New Video for Mo and Bird Enthusiasts

Hello there. I'm sharing just one new creation today. I made a video for kids this time. I didn't start out to make a video for kids... I didn't start out to make a video at all, actually, but somehow these things just sort of drop on my lap... or my arm, shoulder, or head, I guess.

It started when I noticed a little hopping bird by our front porch... but I'll let the video tell the story. It is quite short– about four minutes. It will be good to use with your students when you teach about text-to-self connections, birds, wrens, or Mo Willems.

It was fun to make and I know my kiddos will get a kick out of it. I hope yours do, too. Just click on the picture up there and you'll go to my YouTube Channel to find it. While there, you can also see my classroom tour video that I just uploaded a couple weeks ago.

Scoot on back to Monday Made It and find MORE. Thanks, Tara, for your Fourth Grade Frolics link-up where I find so many great ideas.

Thanks for stopping by! Pin, Pin, Pin. And do know that I always comment back if you leave one :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Let Me Eat Cake– Chocolate, Please

Who doesn't like chocolate cake, especially this cake. This recipe has been on the blog for a while now, but it was on the "Other Stuff" page. I had intended to put more topics of interest there, but instead I'm reorganizing, and the "Other Stuff" page will soon become "Classroom Design." I post this chocolate cake recipe so it is not lost.

This is a favorite summer recipe. It can be made any time of year, but for me and my life, summer is the only time I have for random baking. And summer is less stressful than the school year so I can live a bit more healthfully and enjoy a piece of not-too-decadent cake. Like all posts on the blog, this is not written as just a straightforward recipe. Gotta throw in a little fun commentary. Life is lived in the small details after all, right?

Died-and-Went-to-Heaven Chocolate Cake

Yum, yum, yummy chocolate cake

This is a great, easy, low-guilt cake. Great because it is super moist thanks to buttermilk. Easy because it is made in a bundt pan and only needs a glaze to pour over top– not frosting to spread. And Low-Guilt because it only has 220 calories and 5 grams of fat, per slice, which is 1/16 of the cake. Here we go!

Ingredients for cake:
1 3/4 C flour
1 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 C buttermilk
1 C packed brown sugar
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 C canola oil
2 t vanilla
1 C strong black coffee

Ingredients for icing:
1 C confectioners sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 to 2 Tbs buttermilk, as needed so it pours and dribbles

Preheat the oven to 350°

Spray bundt pan with Pam and then flour. I don't have all silicon baking dishes by any means, but with this silicone bundt pan it is super easy to get cakes out.

I was married 25 years before I got my Kitchen-Aid Mixer. I only got it as a poor substitute for a spring break vacation, so it was not without it's sacrifice. But I do love it.

Note the Twin Terrors that live in the bowl... why? you ask... I have no idea. My husband got them for me for Valentine's day and threw them in there, and they just sort of took up residence. I think they are mostly there because the bowl was empty and any empty space in our house forms a vacuum which instantly fills itself. The Twin Terrors are not in ANYway reference to my younger identical twin brothers... nope... not at all... never crossed my mind.

BTW, if you have anyone living in your mixer, take them out before the next steps. grin.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.

Stir together the buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Then add to dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. This is where I REALLY appreciate the ol' Kitchen-Aid. After 2 minutes whisk in hot coffee until completely incorporated. This will for a very thin batter– not to worry!

Pour the batter into the prepped pan. Note I keep my silicone bundt pan on a small cooling rack as it makes the soft pan easier to handle and keep its shape. I lift the cake and rack and leave both in the oven to bake.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean.

Cool cake on rack for ten minutes and then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.

Whisk the icing ingredients until pourable. Pour over the cake on the plate. I make this cake for my health conscious friends, and my not-so-health conscious friends, too... they get ice cream on top! :)

I would happily give credit to whoever I got this recipe from, but I have had it for a long while now and have no idea of the source. Whoever made it up– Thank you! I really think it is the buttermilk and coffee that give this cake its moist, rich flavor. I never buy buttermilk any other time, and can't really imagine that I'd like it straight up, but in this recipe– yummmm. And coffee? Well, everything in life is better with a little bit of coffee. It's kinda funny though, this cake does not taste like a mocha cake. It is just good, straight-up chocolate.


Thanks so much for stopping by for this non-typical, non-teacher post. I hope you'll swing by again... though you are not likely to find another cake recipe, there is a great oatmeal bake recipe hiding somewhere in these pages if you search. Next up on Monday, will be a new video I made. It's just a short one for the kiddos. Good for viewing to learn about fledgling birds and text-to-self connections, and Mo Willems There's a Bird on Your Head.  You just never know what the next post will hold.

See you next time.

This post first appeared on the Other Stuff page as Died-And-Went-To-Heaven Chocolate Cake on

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ants, Squirrels, and a Little Freebie

Hey ya, hi ya. We are moving right along with our Teacher Book Talk Tuesday posts. Today I have a couple nonfiction goodies to talk about, and a freebie, too.

Squirrels and Their Nests by Martha E. Rustad

Each year we do a science unit on neighborhood animals. Although we talk about many different animals common to our area, we focus on squirrels. I mean, if there is one kind of animal we can count on seeing around school, it is squirrels.

I don't have to go out of my way to give the kids authentic experience with squirrels, but I do. We take a walk in our nearby woods to see them and their nests. We take several walks in our woods but for the squirrel finding walk, I wait until the leaves have fallen because you can see nests so much easier. I put out bird feeders at the classroom window, which never fail to attract a squirrel or two. Usually people don't want squirrels eating from the birdfeeders, but the main reason I put any food out is to let my kiddos observe nature up close, any nature, and I am thrilled when the squirrels stop by. We all are. The first day this guy came calling I didn't think we were going to get anything on our schedule done– teachable moments are worth it.

I have a love/hate relationship with squirrels– they are cute and funny to watch, but oh, how I hate when they pull up newly planted impatiens in my flower boxes. They've been doing it less since I starting sprinkling cayenne red pepper power about– you might try it if you have the same problem. 

One day on my way out of school I stumbled upon this guy and happened to have my phone in hand. He had found some student's uneaten sandwich and managed to get it out of the baggie. Cheeky little thing kept right on munching as I stood taking photos, which I later turned into this gif.

That squirrel is eating some child's lunch!

Anyway, by the time we start our animal unit in class my kidpeople are quite familiar with squirrels and it is time to focus on recall and new science learning. Squirrels and Their Nests is a great informational book. There are engaging photos.

Awwww... say all the children

And just the right amount of text with picture support throughout.

Martha E. Rustad is a very prolific writer. You can find one of her books on SO many different nonfiction topics. Here is a list of titles in the Pebble Plus series alone.

If you don't have this on your shelf now, I recommend getting your hands on it. It could even already be in your school library just waiting for you. I like it so much I did an interactive read aloud with it for an observation. It was easy for me to find content and process goals to teach to. And I focused on the vocabulary word hollow. Our district went deeper into interactive read alouds and vocabulary instruction last year so this observation went really well. I found a great two minute video clip to go with it, and had my poor husband scrounging around in the wood pile for a hollow piece of lilac trunk that I knew was back there. The kids loved playing with it and some beanie baby squirrels afterward. All early childhood students benefit from rich and extended language activities. With a third of my class being beginning English Learners, it was a daily goal to build in as many opportunities to use academic language whenever I could, including play.

Quick tip: When doing an Interactive Read Aloud, put sticky notes on the outside back cover of the book. With just a fast glance they can help you remember the points you want to teach, and the language you want to use. Transfer them to the inside back cover when you reshelve the book so you have a quick refresher the next time you get the book out.

You may download the lesson plan I wrote if you like. Even if you don't use it exactly as is, it may prove useful to you. It includes the link to the BBC Squirrel video snippet, too. Click on the thumbnail to get it.

Are You An Ant? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

Most years we do a mini-unit on at least one insect. I found this book on ants and both I and the kids love it. Even though this one reads like a story, written from the ant's perspective, mind you, it has lots of factual information about those fascinating little creatures. It also has beautifully rendered scientific illustrations. They speak for themselves.

I like this book so much that I have another one from the Backyard Books series on spiders, too. There are many titles on common bugs– Lady Bug, Bee, Butterfly, Dragonfly, Grasshopper and Snail... is a snail a bug? Well, no, but you know what I mean.

I would be remiss not to mention here that our bug mini-unit begins in April when the bugs just start to come out, and it kicks off with my April Showers June Bug informational poetry packet. Yes, I combine science with a new twist on an old poem for some learning and fun. You can pick it up for a tiny price on my tiny TPT store. You will find all sorts of free stuff– I literally have more free than fee resources there, and I think you'll find it worthwhile to stop by. Click on the button to go.

Whew. If you hung on through the post to this point, you get a little reward! There are only five more posts to the Teacher Book Talk Tuesday summer series. The last THREE posts, August 8, 15, and 22, will each have a book and Amazon gift card giveaway. Yep. I'm going in with some of my faithful book review blogger friends to give away prizes. You'll get as many chances to win as ways you choose to follow us.

In the giveaway posts I'll be highlighting three books from Flash Light Press– one of my FAVORITE children's publishers. Some of you might remember the book reviews I've already written for them and you can find them by clicking on Flash Light Press in the right sidebar searches. THANKS to Flashlight Press for donating the books to be given away!

And teacher bloggers, here's special news for you. If you link-up to this Teacher Book Talk Tuesday linky THIS WEEK, you can get in on the giveaway, too. Wouldn't your readers like to win a book and an Amazon gift card? Just use the link-up link below, then grab the Teacher Book Talk button and put it on your post with a link back to this post. If you can't join us this week to get in on the giveaway, still consider linking a book review in the last three posts of the series as we are likely to have a few more readers.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope the freebie and the book information you picked up today is helpful to you. Be sure to check out the other book reviews from my fellow bloggers below.

 See you later!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Catch Up and a Trailer

Between the By Design series and the Teacher Book Talk Tuesday series on the blog this summer, I'm keeping plenty busy.. maybe TOO busy. Snort. It is a summer frenzy that will come to a screeching halt once the school year starts swinging, though. Such is life.

So here's what I want to show you and tell you about this month, in case you missed a post. Loyal followers, if you already know about #1, #2, and #3, never fear– there is a brand new fun little something in the second half of #4. hee

I made a Classroom Tour video and opened a new YouTube channel. You can read about and see the video by clicking on the next icon.

I consolidated all my Classroom Design posts into one post. It is going to be a page on my blog later. You can see it by clicking on the next icon.

I refreshed my Back-to-School linky page which has posts about the start of school, including several freebies! Find it by clicking on the next icon.

I gotta say that image up there is one of my favorite buttons. Those are my own two daughters on their first day attending OUR new school. All three of us transferred to a school that was being reopened. The photo was taken by Jonathan, my DH, their dad, and the flowers were on their way to me. They are grown now and no longer living at home but on the other side of the state and the other side of the country...  silly me, getting misty eyed. sniff.

And WAIT! Two more news bites: 

I've got stuff to give away! Three different contests. Three different books and Amazon gift cards are going to three lucky winners. Keep your eye on the Teacher Book Talk Tuesday posts.

And, especially for you who have read all the way down the screen, here is a little trailer for a video I'm working on... stop that chuckling. I really am not going into video production. This one just sort of fell into my lap... or rather jumped onto my shoulder... snort. The video will be for kids when it's done. It will be short, and can be used when teaching about text-to-self connections, backyard birds, Carolina wrens, or even a Mo Willems' book... not saying which one... Click to see a 21 second raw snippet.


All for now! Thanks to Stephanie at Forever in Fifth Grade for today's linky. Click on back to see what else is going on.

Thanks for stopping by!

Student Bobbleheads for Display: How-To

Hi Folks! Happy Monday! I'm here with a Monday Made It to share. I am particularly fond of these little bobble head displays. My students are cute anyway, and the bobblehead style shows them off even more. They were a BIG hit with all our hallway visitors!

I have a long strip of hallway in which to show off what we do in the classroom. I like to make a yearlong spot for each student so I can swap out student work, without having to create a whole new display each time.

I saw a Pin that showed little boy and girl bobble head clipart, and it got me thinking about how I could use real photos of my students in a similar fashion. Because I am a somewhat low tech kinda girl and I didn't want to have to crop and alter photos, I took the photos for this project with the end project in mind.

I took a snapshot of each student's head with their head pretty much filling the entire frame in my camera.

No, this is not one of my students. This is my long suffering husband demonstrating how the student's head should fill the photo frame. Yes, he's wearing his yellow lego head and standing against a yellow wall in our kitchen because I wanted it to be a plain wall... we have no plain walls in our house...

Then I took a photo with the student's entire body in the frame... well, actually, I didn't. This first year I took the photo half way through their head– it helps if you have their entire neck to attach the big heads to later– down to their knees. This coming year I am going to take photos of bodies all the way down to their feet. I think the bobblehead element will be more obvious if the body is a little bit smaller in proportion than it was this year.

Next time the body photo will go all the way down
to include their feet

I printed the head and body photos in the standard 4 x 6 size. Then I recruited anyone I could... again, ever patient Jonathan, and we sat and cut out the heads and the bodies. Be sure to cut these out right on the outer edge of the figures– you don't want any excess.

I glued the big heads to the little bodies and laminated the whole thing as one piece. Then there was more cutting– this time I cut around the laminated figures with a quarter inch border because I wanted those little guys to last. You can laminate at school, of course, but I used my home laminator to do this... I tell you those things are great. They laminate with a thicker, stiffer plastic which keeps them flat and sturdy.

The trickiest part of the cutting was cutting into the bodies and around the fingers. You need to do this so that the display sheet can slide up into their hands and look like the figure is holding it. I laminated black sheets of paper, slide them under hands, then taped them to the back of the figure with Scotch packing tape– you know that wide, crystal clear kind that this teacher can't live without.

The laminated display sheet is there so the student work can easily be taped onto the sheet. Otherwise the student work itself has to be removed from the hands each time it is switched out. The fingers on those little figures are very tiny so you don't want to have to mess with them too much.

I discovered a great new wall hanging system through this project, too. I don't know about your school, but at ours, stuff likes to leap off the walls. Some kinds of poster putty work, but it is expensive and students have been known to take it. And masking tape works sometimes, especially if you hit it with a rubber mallet... ah ha! I bet you didn't know about the old rubber mallet trick, did you? Yep, I keep a rubber mallet handy and give posters a little pound after I put them up with masking tape. You can find rubber mallets like this one at the dollar store.

The Old Rubber Mallet Trick

This time, though, I knew I was going to be touching those little figures each time I swapped out the artwork and I really wanted them to stay put even when monkeyed with. So after a little exploring online, I found these tack squares.

These little double sticky squares work wonderfully!! Just two or three of them held each little bobblehead figure to the wall all year!

And the best thing about them is that they are repositionable and reuseable. They came right off the wall with no problem when I took them down at the end of the year. None of them tore or clung, even though they were still very sticky... SO sticky in fact, I kept them! I put them on the back of one of the black display sheets– yep I kept those, too– and I'm going to see if I can reuse both of them next year. It can't hurt to try.

And let me tell you, my kiddos LOVED getting to take home their own bobbleheads at the end of the year, too. They were one of the most favorite end of school "gifts" that they got. I wouldn't be surprised if they are up in bedrooms right now holding treasured masterpieces.

So there you have it! A brand new display idea to start the year and use all school year long. I hope you like it! If you do, would you please Pin It!

For more classroom display and set up ideas, keep scooting by. I am doing a series this summer on classroom design. I put together a page with links to everything from standing movement centers to valances to a classroom tour video. Click on the button to see!

One more thing... there's going to be a GIVEAWAY here in a few weeks... three giveaways to be exact! It is part of Teacher Book Talk Tuesday. More details will be on tomorrow's post. And teacher bloggers, if you would like to be part of the giveaway, then link up tomorrow with a book review!

Now, it's time to head on back to the other Monday Made It posts to fine more inspiration. There is always great stuff to be found at one of my favorite linky parties. Thanks, Tara!!

Don't forget to PIN today... if you're like me, you'll get ready to make the Bobbles and think, now what did she do again... and then forget where the heck you saw the idea! So Pin, Pin, Pin! And do feel free to share any way you'd like.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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