Thursday, March 28, 2013

Heads up! Mother's Day project is here!

It's time to post something new! Here's a fun project for Mother's Day. It takes a while to complete so you better get started now!

 A shout out to my sister for this project. She's a teacher also and taught me how to do this probably 20 years ago! This sample is made out of salt dough but I have also made a ceramic version (we have a local ceramics shop that sends an expert to take over). The ceramic hand will last longer and is my favorite, but I have had years when I couldn't afford the cost and the salt dough is less expensive. This turns out well also.  Here goes...

Begin with your favorite salt dough recipe (leave a comment if you need the recipe).

Mix small amounts because it dries out quickly! I can only manage to make a few of these per day so I usually mix up enough for 4 or 5 hands. Make sure it's kneaded enough so that it feels as soft as skin!  The consistency of the dough is very important. If it is too soft it will droop. Keep the extra in a bowl and cover with a damp towel.

Flour the cutting board and roll the dough to about the same thickness as their hand. I wear an apron but somehow manage to be completely covered in flour all day. Nothing new, I'm a mess every day - paint, glitter, chalk dust...

Anyhow, once you have it all rolled out, have the child gently lay their hand on top of the dough. You don't want them to press down! Trace around the hand with a pencil and cut it out with a table knife. The hand will look rough, with square fingertips. Let the kids help with following steps:

Using a dab of water, smooth the hand edges and round the fingers. Don't use too much water or you'll  end up with mush. Work on this for a while to make the edges more rounded so it looks like a real hand.

Next, flip the hand over and soften those edges as well. Press in fingernails with the end of a table knife. Flip it over again, palm up.

Press a wooden skewer into the palm of the hand.

Now fold the fingers over the skewer, ending with the thumb. Using a sharp pencil, press in the child's initials and year.

I take the hands home for next few steps. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them at about 250 degrees until they turn light brown (it takes a long time!). Watch carefully and twist the skewer inside the hand every once in a while or it will bake into the dough and stick. Let cool completely. Your family will think you're baking bread! Ha!

Remove the skewer.

To make it look supple and skin-like, I am going to try applying a modge podge type application. I'll get back to you soon. This is a different technique than I usually use!

Next,  slip some flowers through the little tunnel you created with the skewer. Use glue to secure. I really like straw flowers and hate all things plastic, but in this case I recommend the plastic; they'll hold up better in the hands of a five year old!

I help the kids wrap the hands in bubble wrap, tissue and a ribbon. We make a little purse out of colored lunch bags and jewels. Wa-lah! Mommies love these keepsakes.
 I always love seeing how someone else makes it their own. Often the little changes that are made make it so much better! Be my "someone else" and please share!!! Comments appreciated!
My card is fun but I will save that for another day.  I'm exhausted! What do you do for Mother's Day?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted - Person/Place/Thing

I'm linking up again with Latoya from Flying into First Grade for the Let's Get Acquainted Linky! These are so much fun.. You are supposed to name your favorite person, place, thing and animal. Hmmmmm.

Person: That would have to be my husband. He is the most patient person in the world. We have known each other for over 32 years and have been married for 26. He is a slow decision maker and I always tease that it took him 6 years to propose (buying a house with him was a process too and his patience waiting for the perfect home to come on the market about killed me but was well worth it!). He runs a rafting company and has taken me on the best adventures of my life. An  amazing father to our sons, he made sure they were raised outside on the rivers and gave them the opportunity to be little Huck Finns every summer, falling asleep under the stars and waking up to a day full of skipping rocks, catching salamanders, and running rapids. I thank God for him every day. He is the best thing that ever happened to me! My boys have to be included in this list. They are amazing and I am VERY proud to be their mom.

Place: There is a place on the Rogue River called Floradell
that I love. It has clear pools filled with salamanders, a waterfall you can sit under and a big rock to jump off of into the river. It is stunning and brings back lots of happy memories of my little boys trying to get up their courage to jump off that rock. They are grown now so when I go there I become very sentimental. I miss my little boys!!!

My favorite thing: It's a toss up of a couple of things: I love my beautiful antique engagement ring that I can no longer wear because I've put on some weight and have piggy fingers (I visit it often- it's in the safety deposit box). I also love my home. It is over 100 years old, with a wrap around porch and beautiful hardwood floors. We spent a whole year remodeling while we lived across the street. What fun! We still discover neat things from the old days in the yard- coins, ornaments, bottles. The other thing I love is my Keuring coffee maker! Ha!

Animal: That would have to be my son's dog, Luke. He died not long after my boy left for college, as if the job of raising his child was done. Saddest day ever!

I have to go and visit all the blogs now to see what you
said about your favorites! I had to include the picture of this tree! Beautiful!! I would love to hear from you!!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Five for Friday

It's Saturday and here are my Five for Friday-a day late. No surprise ...

1. The  bonnets and bunny disguise projects got done. Whew! The kids had a blast but wouldn't you know it, I was soooo busy supervising that I didn't take a picture of them. So sad. I can't believe I didn't capture the moment for their parents. We had a child moving away and had a little graduation ceremony for him. Too much going on!

2. We've been working with number bracelets for addition and subtraction. I tried to make a larger version to help with the visuals. The pipe cleaner version is great but hard to show/teach whole group. The kids loved it and could easily see as we worked through problems. It works well for decomposing numbers as well. The hula hoop comes apart and you can slip on or off however many ''beads'' you may need. The "beads" are pool noodles that I cut with a steak knife. I also made a straight version with a dowel. We screwed in tennis balls at either end so that you could add or remove beads.

3. I'm excited to see my lilacs!
 4. Time to sew some aprons!

5. Spring vacation is here and I have some serious weeding to do! THAT'S OVERWHELMING!

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Time for Bunnies and Bonnets!

We have  a very busy week ahead. It's a whirlwind of bunny noses and bonnets. Directions for these silly projects are on earlier posts.

I'm also going to make one of my layered positional word books for Easter. It's similar to the book we just put on TPT for St. Patrick's Day. Here are two of the rough draft pages:

Then of course there's report cards, the Easter egg hunt and a goodbye party for a little boy moving away! Not to mention all the academics!!

I had to include this precious letter from one of my ex-kinders. I love that she calls me the "Queen Pretty!!" I want to be called the "Queen Pretty" from now on!! I don't know if you can see the writing but she also said she loves me "all dag." I had to ask for clarification-she loves me all day. So sweet. Then check out that picture. The effort was magnificent (look at all the stroke marks, no white showing) and it's probably a bigger show of love than the note! I'll keep them forever!

Have a great week! I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Best Teaching Advice

I'm doing yet another linky!! This one is with Traci of  Dragonflies First.

The best advice I ever got about teaching is short and sweet and has served me very well for almost 30 years: Be good to the secretaries and janitors! Fewer parent surprises and cleaner classroom carpets. I'm lucky that our two secretaries are truly good buddies of mine!

2nd good piece of advice: Every day, no matter what grade level, make sure that  children sing, dance, and listen to a poem/ a good piece of literature.

Thank you! Now I have lots of really good advice from all of you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky

Yipeeeeee! Another Linky! I'm linking up with Lotoya Reed of Flying into First Grade. I am supposed to share three things about myself using the initials of my name.  After a whole lot of laughter,  I came up with three that sort of work...

S is my first initial and I have decided I'm a "Stuffer"; (I got some help with that one). Yep, I stuff my cabinets, my car, my desk, my closet, my husband's closet, my mouth and my jeans. However, on the bright side, I also think I stuff my Kindergarteners with knowledge and love.

T is my middle initial. Stands for tub - as in bathtub. Every evening. Sometimes more than once. And, yes, sometimes at 3:30 in the afternoon. God I love my tub. Lavender oil, candles, bubble bath, iPad... hang on, I'll be right back.

W stands for water. High water, low water, water releases, has it rained too much? Too little? Water, water, everywhere. My family's life revolves around water because my husband runs a whitewater rafting company and both of my boys have worked for him and every summer we get to go on an amazing vacation to a beautiful place.

Can't wait! And thanks for the linky!

St. Patrick's Day Cooking Magic

So, St. Patrick's Day is almost here. I know this because the kids are going bonkers. They're positive the little Leprechaun is hiding in the clock/intercom on the wall and we can't get anything done because they hear him giggling.

We do all the usual things that I'm sure everybody else is doing; itsy bitsy notes with hints about where to find him, we make traps, tiny footsteps across the tables, messed up class, little treats left behind. He even leaves worksheets for math and reading with teeny writing so they must use the magnifying glasses.

But there is one thing we do that makes them true believers; a magical cooking project that fools them every year. It's very easy but you really have to put on a show!

So, here's what you need: a box of white cake mix and all the ingredients
                                          2 eggs
                                          green food coloring
                                          two identical cups
                                          paper towels
                                          a paper grocery bag

Before the kids arrive, make a nest with the folded paper towels in one of the cups. Take one of the eggs and carefully tap around the upper portion. Remove the top and pour the egg into a bowl. Reserve the shell top and bottom. Put a few drops of green food coloring into the egg and mix well. As carefully as you can, pour the green mixture back into the egg shell and place the cap back on. Put the egg back into the cup and gently tuck a small piece of paper towel around and over the egg. Set aside while you get the cooking area prepared. This egg cup goes in the grocery bag last before the kids arrive. It spills very easily.

Set the cooking area up before the kids come. Place the grocery bag with the ingredients in a safe area where you will be cooking. The kids have to be kept away from this bag. I put the bag on a bench  next to the place where I sit for calendar. The kids know they can't bother that particular spot-we call it "Teacher Land." Put all the ingredients in the bag but be very careful with the egg that has already been mixed; if it spills, your magic will be ruined!!  The bowl, mixing spoons and cups are out in view. As the kids arrive, have them sit on the floor. Make sure they are back a few scoots from the bag.

Now put on your drama hat! Really ham it up! I tell them that I want to do a magic cooking project but it won't work if there is ANYONE who doesn't believe in the Leprechaun. We always invite a young man from a prior kindergarten year whose name is VERY Irish to come assist so that we have good luck. He sits in a place of honor and waves the wand over the egg mixture when needed ( he's in 8th grade now and I don't know what I'm going to do when he heads off to high school).

Ask for some magic words that they will use in the cooking project. Practice saying them with great enthusiasm while you or a helper waves the wand. When you think you couldn't possibly get them any more excited, move on to actually making the recipe.

I begin with the cake mix and pour it in the bowl ( use a clear Pyrex type bowl).Now for the fun! Do the egg next.

Tell them that if all goes well and there is Leprechaun magic in the room, the egg will turn green. Take the empty look-alike cup and make a nest that matches the one you did earlier while the kids watch. Make a big deal about it. Place the egg into the cup and cover it to match the other one with another piece of paper towel. Tell the kids that as you or one of the kids wave the wand over the cup, they need to say one of the magic words that they have practiced. Repeat with four or five different words. Really overdo the enthusiasm.

Uncover the egg and crack in a similar way to the already dyed egg. In a VERY disappointed voice, show them how it didn't turn green. DON'T pour it out or remove it from the cup. Carefully replace the lid and pack it with the paper towel. GENTY place it back in the bag away from the other cup so you don't get them mixed up. Tell them that you can try again in a minute after you add all the other ingredients. Be disappointed but hopeful and move on to the other ingredients.

Once you have finished adding all the other ingredients, very carefully take out the first egg cup that has already been dyed. Of course the kids think this is the egg that you had tried to change earlier. Ha! Tell them that their magic must not have been strong enough and that it is time to try again! Really act worried. Repeat the magic words and wand waving even more enthusiastically than before!. Very slowly remove the top paper towel. Expose the egg and take the lid off. Once they see the egg has turned green the room explodes with excitement. Settle them down (good luck!) and add the magic green mixture to the cake batter. Bake later! Time for recess!!!!!!!

Put the bag of ingredients up immediately! One year I had a very curious student who made a bee-line for that bag! I almost had to tackle that little rascal. He was bound and determined to figure out my trick and came back for years asking me about how I did it. He's probably in college now and the next time I see him maybe I'll confess! I hope you have as much fun with this silly activity as I have! You're going to be remembered for this one!

It's only Tuesday! You can be ready to go by tomorrow!

What do you do that's a little different for St.Patrick's Day? I would love to hear from someone!

BREAKING NEWS! I just uploaded my first two TPT projects! Only took me 6 weeks and cost me $6 for borders, $14 for fonts and almost my marriage. If I sell 10 of my Lucky the Leprechaun on a stick book, I'll break even.

This is a layered book, with the pictures building upon one another to create a landscape scene. Use Lucky the Leprechaun on a tongue depressor to look all around for his pot of gold! It supports the common core for positional words in kindergarten.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five for Friday

I'm excited to link up with Kacey of Doodle Bugs for my Five for Friday!

1. This week I had a sub who doesn't normally work with the little ones.  I knew something was up when one of the kids said, "Wow! Thanks for that teacher yesterday!" They had a blast and asked when she could come back! I met her the next day and she IS adorable and way younger than 'Ol Mrs. Welch!

I use a money reward system where they get to go shopping if they earn 25 cents. I also take money away if they have a behavior blip. She rewarded them heavily because their jars were FULL. I'm going to have to find some reason to penalize them or I'm going broke!

2. I have a few older kids who come to help in my class every morning. It gets particularly crowded on cold days. Today, while they were sharpening pencils and passing out journals, I overheard one of them say, "I think I'd like to be a kindergarten teacher because you don't have to be smart. An eighth grade teacher has to know lots of stuff."

3. I am about to submit my very first TPT project. It's a positional word book about the Leprechaun looking for his gold. The way I work, I'll probably finish it AFTER St. Patrick's Day... I can't believe how much work this one little thing has taken. I'm very picky and I want it to be super easy to use. I'm scared to death that no one will like it. 

4. The Leprechaun made himself known today. I told the kidlets that I had forgotten a treat that I baked for them. After they got over the moaning and groaning and my sincere apologies, I sent our special person to the office to get something. When she got  there, our wonderful secretary handed her a cute little container all wrapped in green to return to our class. She arrived screaming that something had arrived from the Leprechaun. May-HEM!!!!!!!! Inside there was an teeny note with a poem about how he had been listening to the sad story of the forgotten goodies and that he had saved the day. There were little, itsy-bitsy brownies with mint frosting in the box. Well, the day was shot from that moment on but what fun!

5. My lilac bushes are about to leaf and soon to follow there will be lots and lots of flowers. I live on a piece of property that was gardened for a hundred years prior to our moving in. I have ten lilac bushes, some that are 9 feet tall. They are my absolute favorite flower. I am sorry they don't last very long but I deliver big bouquets while I can to all my friends who aren't allergic!

That's it for me!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Spring Bonnets


I have been making bonnets forever. We have a big Easter parade with the boys wearing the bunny disguises and the girls wearing one of these bonnets. I allow everyone to make both. The boys often like to make mom or grandma a bonnet and personally, I would be proud to wear a bonnet that my son made for me!

The bonnets have evolved from being very labor intensive and unique, (made when I was a young teacher) to super easy and quick. I'm going to show you all three versions but I'll start with the easy and quick so that you don't have to read through the whole blog post if you're happy with simple!


Buy bonnets and lots ands lots of plastic flowers, (the larger the better) at the Dollar store. Take off any ribbons on the hats and remove the stems from the flowers . Cut off the small plastic nubbin that remains so that the base of the flowers will lay flat when you glue them.

Have the kids pick out a hat, flowers and a ribbon (set a limit for the number of flowers or you'll get Beach Blanket Babylon bonnets). Have them place everything in the upside down hat and put it in a designated spot. I love calling them one at a time to design their hat! Using glue, follow their directions. This is an easy job for a parent to do. Cut slits in the side of the bonnet and slip in the ribbon. Attach a bow in the back of the hat. Done!

Happy medium bonnet:

[Do this ahead of time]: Buy a sturdy type of paper bowl and paper plate. Trace the upside down bowl edge around the upside down plate. Cut out, leaving a little bit of an edge. Glue the bowl down to the back of the plate.  Now you have a bonnet!

Let the kids paint. After it has dried, cut a vertical slit on each side of the hat, near the transition to the brim, for a ribbon that we'll add at the end. Next have them pick out flowers and a ribbon and put them in the upside down hat until you or a parent calls them over to make the final creation. Done! This is the hat I prefer because the kids are involved in actually making the hat.

Labor intensive and unique:

Whew! Here goes. I'm tired already...

Mix up a bowl of flour, water and glue. It should be pretty soupy. Using a large paint brush, thoroughly cover a sheet of newspaper with the paste. Get every corner. Try not to use newspaper with color or pictures; they are hard to cover with paint. Lay another sheet of newspaper on top and "iron" down with your hands. Do this until you have three layers. Take the glued together sheets and place them on top of the student's head and smooth down. Giggling will begin.

Tape the newspaper sheets around the circumference of their head, then slide the hat off and place it on a flat surface. Trim the brim to form a circle. Shape the brim and place newspaper balls on the inside of the hat so it keeps its shape. Flatten the brim with heavy books and let it dry overnight.

Paint with white paint to cover the newsprint. When dry, paint with a chosen color.


I have let them drop watercolors onto coffee filters to make flowers. After they have dried, cut different sized circles out of the coffee filters and place the small circles inside of the larger one. They are pretty but a lot of work. Use liquid water color paint for more vibrant colors.

Another option is to cut circles of colorful tissue paper and do the same thing. This is easier and much faster.  If you cut the tissue circles in advance, the kids can learn to make the flowers. Glue the flowers and ribbon on to the hat. Done. Finally!

You need to begin this project in December!

Saturday, March 2, 2013



I realize that Leprechauns will be arriving before bunnies but I happen to have some of my spring things here at home. So, I'll post St. Patrick's Day things too, but it will be later. I think that the St. Patrick's Day units that I've seen on TPT are amazing and very hard to beat! I'll be headed there later!!

Bunnies. We make bunny disguises that are sooooo easy and the kids like them. Usually, everyone makes one, but some years it's just the boys because the girls make very elaborate bonnets. Here is a picture of the bunny disguise. They are made from cardboard egg cartons!

Cut the bottom portion of the egg carton cups apart. You have to sort of turn them until you can determine which side will work best and then bend the teeth forward and trim the edges. Be careful because any sharp edges will hurt! Be sure to cut a slit for the bridge of the nose. Next, with a hole punch, make two holes on each side of the cup (see picture). These will be for the whiskers and head-strap that we add later. For now, paint the outside of the cup white (I use a non toxic tempera paint). You can even have the kids just color the teeth with a white crayon. Draw on a black line.

Once it has dried, glue on a bunny nose, then thread three pipe cleaners through one of the holes on one side of the nose and out one of the holes on the other side. Curl the pipe cleaners. Last, use elastic string to tie the head-strap. If it is too tight I guarantee that you will hear about it! And once it breaks the hole on the side of the nose, you have to start over. It pays to do it right the first time.

Top it off with a bunny-ear headband. I use the brads-and-rubber-band method (see picture) so that it fits all sizes.

Carrots for lunch!

Art Portfolio

So, this is what I brought home to work on this weekend. I keep walking right by and conveniently find other things to do! Anything. Scrubbing the sink looks more attractive than tackling this mess. It's actually worse than it looks because there's more stuff behind both chairs!

One of the things I have to do is file art work. I've piled things under my desk for a while now and thought I'd better get to work.  I wanted to show you the paper bag art portfolio that has served me well over the years. Once again, I have no idea who taught me how to make them! I really would love to give credit to the right person!! Anyway...

Get paper grocery bags that have handles. Begin by cutting down the side seam and around the bottom of the bag. Toss the bottom aside. Turn the bag inside out and pull the handles up so they are showing. Using clear strapping tape, go around the open edges to secure the side and bottom. I add strapping tape to the other side as well just to make it look better. Put the child's name on the handle and label the front. Easy!

I write "Kindergarten Art Portfolio" but our second grade teacher writes "Second Grade at a Glance." I am sure you will come up with something clever. I have had parents make these with me at the beginning of the year at the Meet-N'-Greet. It's a great way to get them made ahead of time. They're sturdy and easy to carry. I store them in a copy machine paper box. If you have a student aide, filing art work is the perfect job for them. Hmmmmm, I wonder if I should be worried that no one signed up to be my aide this year...

I hope this helps someone! What do you use to store classwork treasures? Please leave a comment and let me know if this post has been helpful!! I think I'll go bake cookies...

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