Friday, December 30, 2011

Mega Giveaway

Holy Cannoli!

12 blogs have joined together for a Mega New Year Giveaway from their Teachers Pay Teachers stores!  Head over to

for your chance to win.  There are ton of chances to win so Good Luck!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

11 in 11

Hadar from Miss Kindergarten Love Love and Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher are cohosting a fun linky party.

Let's just jump right into it....
11.  Favorite movie you watched:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
(Note: Yes, my husband and I were the dorks that went to the midnight showing AND saw Part 1 and 2 back to back. LOVED it!)
10:  Favorite TV Series:
Hmm, there are so many that I watch, but my recent favorite has been Once Upon a Time.  It is a great series about fairy tale characters that are trapped in present day time but don't know it.

9.  Favorite Restaurant
I would have to say:
There has not been one thing that I have been disappointed with on their menu, and I have tried A LOT!

8.  Favorite thing you have tried
A favorite thing that I tried this year is Daily 5.  Granted it isn't the true Daily 5 rotation but I did introduce all of the components and the kids love them as well as myself.  It has been a great change up to our Language Arts routine.

7.  Favorite gift you received
It was kind of a gift from myself and my husband. 
Right before our 4 year anniversary, my wedding band broke.  Yup, that's right...BROKE!   It had cracks in it for a few months, but it finally gave way.  As you can see, it broke in three places. 

Needless to say, I was not a fan of that bad karma happening right before our anniversary. 

It took a year or two to save up the money but now I am proudly displaying my new wedding band!

6.  Favorite thing you pinned
Over the summer I found a fantastic art idea using melted crayons.  I just HAD to make one of my own.  Ta da!

5.  Favorite blog post
My favorite blog post would have to be the 9/11 one.  It is so important for me to remember everything that happened on that day so I can continue to keep the spirit of those poor victims alive in my heart.
If you are interested, you can visit that post HERE.
4.  Favorite Accomplishment
Starting up this blog AND receiving my first blog award. :) 
3.  Favorite Picture
We took our children to get their pictures taken this past spring.  As you might have assumed, the patience didn't last long and we were losing them quickly.  In a moment of desperation we threw our own sunglasses on the kids.  We then acted like fools behind the photographer and got this picture as a result.
Mr. and Ms. Cool
Phew!  I feel for any child photographers out there.

2.  Favorite Memory
That would be all of the memories I have of my wonderful Grandfather who passed away two weeks ago.  I love you and miss you so much.

John Aliberti
August 3, 1924-December 11, 2011

1.  Goal for 2012
My goal for 2012 is to work on being a better person, mother, wife, friend, and teacher.  I made a bunch of goals to help me with this during a Teacher's Treasure's linky party.  You can check out my personal and professional goals HERE.

So there you have it, my 11 in 11.
Bring it on 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Handmade Snowflakes

My coworker and I make these with the second graders every year.  The process takes a lot of patience with 50 kids(Yes, we are slightly crazy), but the end product is too beautiful not to do.  I am a visual/hands on learner myself, but I am going to attempt to describe how to make these.    

After doing a demo for the students, we give each child 6 of these templates. Sorry I don't have a scanned copy for you, but it actually isn't too tricky to draw.

The children first cut off the small strip on the side to make a square.

Next you fold the square along the dotted line to make a large triangle.  Make sure these lines are still showing.

Then fold the triangle in half, making sure you still see the lines.

Then, making sure to cut the folded part of the triangle, cut along each of the lines.  Don't cut all the way through though.

Once the lines are cut, open the paper back up.

This is where it can get tricky, so we demoed this step a few times.
First off, make sure you have plenty of tape at the ready.

Take the two center pieces, fold them over and tape them.

Then flip the paper over, grab the next two pieces and fold and tape them. 
They will be taped opposite of the center pieces.

Continue this forward/backward taping pattern for the rest of the pieces.
You will have something that looks like this when you are finished.

The students have to make six of these.  When they have finished, my coworker and I are at the ready to staple the pieces together.  Well, we are not necessarily at the ready.  You know how teachers magically summon 8 arms to handle a number of kids at once?  That's pretty much what goes down.

Take the tips of all six pieces and staple them together.

You then take the outside strips of two arms of the snowflake and staple those together.
(In this photo, I showed just two of the arms so you knew what I meant.)

Once you go around in a circle and finish stapling all of the outside strips together, you are left with a beautiful snowflake!

I also saw this snowflake on Pinterest using wrapping paper.  The color on one side and white on the other looked beautiful!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 New Year Resolutions

A Teacher's Treasure is having a great linky party about your
I love the idea because they are in my head, but unless I write them down I will surely forget!

Personal Resolutions:
1.  Trying to plan out weekly meals on the weekend so I will be more inclined to cook dinner each night and reduce the amount we order out.
2.  Lose 20 lbs. from the previously mentioned ordering out and holiday gluttony.
3.  Listen to my children more and make more time for them despite being exhausted during the week.
4.  Continue to manage our money carefully to help continue to work ourselves out of debt.
5.  Set aside a few date nights for the hubby and myself.

Professional Resolutions:
1.  Try to work all of the great ideas I have pinned into lessons.
2.  Try to be better organized with all the papers that eat my desk alive.
3.  Work on incorporating more technology into my everyday routine.
4.  Attempt to use the two new reading assessments that our county just introduced to us.
5.  Be better about taking annecdotal notes through One Note.

Phew, let's hope I can keep these up all year.

Now it's your turn.
Create your resolutions, head to
and link up!

Rainy Day Chowder

Warning:  This post has NOTHING to do with school.  Enjoy!

Since Christmas, I have had a ton of ham left over and it is just not moving along as quickly as I would like.  I knew I wanted to try to make some type of soup with it.  I searched the net and found the perfect recipe.  It was perfect because I had all of the ingredients for it. :)

via Taste of Home
50                Ingredients
  • 10 bacon strips, diced (I did not have this, so I added my Tastefully Simple's Bacon Bacon at the end)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 cups water (I replaced the water with chicken stock)
  • 2-1/2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules  (I nixed this since I used stock)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham


  • In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. In the drippings, saute onion and carrots until tender. (Note:  Since I didn't have bacon, I sauted the onions and carrots in vegetable oil.) Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add milk and water(chicken stock). Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add the potatoes, corn, bouillon(didn't use this) and pepper. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Add cheese and ham; heat until cheese is melted. Stir in bacon(Bacon Bacon). Yield: 10 servings

The final product? 
A DELICIOUS ham chowder that hit the spot on this cold, rainy day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Parent Gifts: Sledding Bookmarks

This year I came up with a fun alternative for a parent gift I used to do.  A bunch of years ago, we found these small sleds through Oriental Trading, the dollar store or someplace like that.  We had the kids get all dressed up in snow gear and took a picture of them pretending to slide across the black top.  Once developed, the children cut themselves out of the picture and we glued them to the sled, making a really cute ornament.

Well, of course we haven't been able to find those mini sleds since, and I finally came up with a solution.  I took the same pose of the kids.

When I FINALLY got the photos back(Snapfish took 4 weeks! Minor panic sweats came over me as I checked the mail each day during the last week of school), the children cut them out.

I gave them this sled to color and decorate.
(Next year I am definitely going to revamp this sled.  Between my grandfather's funeral and the pictures not arriving on time, I was just not on my A game.)

After decorating, the children glued themselves on and I showed them how to add the tassel.
Voila, our student bookmark presents for this year!
They each made two since it was so quick and easy.  That way mom and dad both had one.

The only other thing I wish I could have done was laminate them. We have been out of laminant for over a month. Our secratary had ordered new laminant about 4 weeks ago(supposedly), and I thought: "Surely, we will have it in by the time I need to use it." Nope. Of course I was out of contact paper as well, so these little puppies went home au natural.  Next year, the final step will be laminating these so they last for the parents longer.

The other night I was doing my regular evening pinning ritual, when I saw another cute idea for bookmarks.   You have the children pose like they are reaching up to the sky trying to hold something.  After the pictures are developed, you cut them out and add a tassel to their fist and it looks like they are hanging from it.  Very cute!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and are still enjoying the wonderful holiday break!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Message from Santa

Portable North Pole is a great website where you can set up a personalized message from Santa to your child.  If you haven't tried this, you really should.  The video is so cute.
Here is my daughter's for this year:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

M.I.A. and December Currently

I'm sure some of you may have been wondering where I have been.  Sadly, a wonderful man whom I was very close with has left this Earth.  My grandfather passed away last Sunday.  I spent the week up in New York with my family as we said goodbye to him.  He was an amazingly loyal family man who took the place of my father at many points in my life.  I will always miss you and love you...

Ok, enough of the sad news.  I know he wouldn't want me to dwell on circumstances out of our control.

I was VERY excited to see that Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade was having another Currently linky party.  What a way to pick me back up again!

So without further ado, here is my December Currently:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

4 Square Freebie

I was shown the 4 Square Method to paragraph writing a few years ago. I believe it was developed by Judith and Evan Gould.

The only problem I had with the way I was introduced to it was that there were a ton of steps to the process and my second graders lost their "momentum" for this strategy after a few steps.

I still loved the idea but I decided to shorten the process a bit so my students only had three steps to complete.

Day 1:  The first step to the method is identifying their topic.  Then they draw and label the supporting details.

This week's topic:  My Favorite Holiday(which lends itself to soooo many).
Click on the picture for a copy.

Day 2:  Step 2 involves taking their labels and creating a sentence for each. I tell the children that if they would like to add another sentence in each box to support that particular detail, they can.
Click on the picture for a copy.
Day 3:  Step 3 is when they take their 5 sentences and copy it as a paragraph.
Click on the picture for a copy.
After the paragraph is copied, we sit down and practice editing it together.  I had them copy it onto nice paper so we could display them in the hallway.   They did such a wonderful job with their first paragraphs!
As they become comfortable with the process, I take away Step 3 and they edit their work during Step 2 before copying it onto nice paper.

Friday, December 2, 2011

ANOTHER Giveaway

The spirit of giving is definitely in the air!A Teacher's Treasure is giving away a chance to win a $20 gift card!  Besides checking out her blog, I also highly suggest you follow her Facebook Fan Page.  She is constantly posting about giveaways and freebies for a number of products from popular companies and websites.

So head on over to her page to enter a chance to win. 

12 Days of Christmas Party

Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade has set up a really fun holiday party for everyone.
Each day you visit her blog, one of these great bloggers will have a really great giveaway waiting for you.  So be sure to visit often for your chance to get in on some Holiday Cheer!