Month: July 2017

Bulletin Boards – Brilliant or a Bust?

With school just a couple weeks away, I have been focusing on putting my bulletin boards together. The plan for this is usually to make as many pieces as possible at home, so when I do get the chance to get into my classroom, I can grab my stapler and go to town! (That is, if my children that I must take with me are occupied enough. And my stapler actually has staples in it. And I manage to remember to take all the pieces I need.) It’s always a good plan…

I will admit, once the school year starts, I am terrible at changing bulletin boards. I just forget! Summer always brings good intentions and great ideas: big plans to have awesome, interactive bulletin boards for students in my class. But, then I get involved with the activities, lessons and assessments throughout the year and don’t have much extra time and energy for the boards. And so these plans go from being brilliant to being a bust.

 

School Theme

I have one large bulletin board in my classroom that I divide into two or three sections, depending on the year. One of the sections is for our school spiritual theme. I keep this one up year round. This means, I usually put a good amount of effort into it before school starts so it actually looks good! Our spiritual theme this year is Fruit of the Spirit, so here is what I came up with. I enjoyed putting together all the different fruits!

 

Student Work

Another section is used for displaying student work. I put a poster or two up at the start (since I don’t have any student work to display yet!) and then as we do projects, put them up. I do change this throughout the year, but probably still not as much as I should.

All three boards. The posters will soon be replaced with student work!

The Third One…

 

The third section is where I always think “I’ll do better with it this year!” Well, this is my 8th year teaching, and I’m pretty sure I get worse changing those boards. One year I did a “Scientist of the Month” section where students learned facts about a different scientist. That one was pretty successful! It had QR codes students could use and occasionally I would include an extra credit question about that scientist. Two years in a row I thought I would keep up with a “Science in the News” board where I would post articles and news of current science events. Fail. Both years. I think I changed it once. Or maybe there was just nothing happening in science those years!

This year, I am hoping to pilot Chromebooks in my classroom (more on that later). So, because of my lack of board-changing abilities and necessity to emphasize digital citizenship even more, I decided to do a “THINK” board. I had seen this on Pinterest a few times and we even had different mini posters and sheets that had similar ideas on them displayed in several classrooms. I think reminding students the importance of thinking before posting, videoing, tweeting, etc. is necessary more than ever! And the words are not only true with social media, but with the words we speak as well. So I’m hoping that my “brilliant” bulletin board will be a hit. It’s already better on my end because it will be applicable throughout the year!

 

With my classroom boards complete for the school year, I can move on to other things! (Like actually lesson planning…) We do have a few other bulletin boards in the hallway that I will have to create this year. It is the big science fair year at our school = lots more work for me! Also, the teachers will be looking at curriculum more closely to make sure we are aligning to the newest standards. Anyway, I may have to post a few more sciencey bulletin boards as I create them for our hallways throughout the year! 

Make Ahead Pizza Crust – Perfect for a Last Minute Dinner

This is the time of year (unfortunately) I start thinking ahead to the beginning of school again! But rather than getting into my classroom, I start thinking about what I can do at home. Preparing a few make ahead meals is always my goal! Doing this saves me loads of time and stress, especially those first crazy weeks of the school year.

One of our family favorites is homemade pizza. We have pizza at least once a week, but we rarely order out. Occasionally we have frozen pizza, but we really love to make our own. I grew up making pizza. My dad would buy frozen dough, let it thaw, then roll it out to make a few pizza crusts. Everyone could personalize their part (or whole) pizza and make it with whatever sauces, cheese and toppings they chose!

Although those pizzas were delicious, they required a long time in the oven to make sure the dough was fully cooked. We also had store bought crusts, and these were quicker, but not quite as good in my opinion.

Then I found a recipe for make ahead pizza crusts that was simple, easy and delicious!

MomsByHeart.net shared this recipe for make ahead crusts. (There is also a recipe for sauce that I’ve not tried, but would like to!). I’ve adapted the crust recipe slightly here.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
Instructions:

1. First, combine the yeast, warm water and olive oil in the bowl. Let the yeast sit in the water for just a few minutes (while you prep the other ingredients!)

2. Then, add the flour and salt and use the paddle attachment on the mixer and knead for 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a mixer, you can do this by hand… consider it exercise!) 
  • Sometimes I find that it is too sticky and needs a little more flour, and sometimes it is too dry and needs a few drops of olive oil or water. The dough should be sticky, but not so much so that it won’t form a nice ball!
3. Put it into a bowl that is lightly covered in oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it about doubles in size (about 45 minutes to an hour).

 

4. Divide the dough. If you plan on freezing them, you will want to make sure they fit into the plastic Ziploc bag! The recipe makes six “equal” sized balls of dough which turn into about 10-12” crusts (but no matter how hard I try, they never come out the same size!)
5. Set the sections of dough back in the bowl and let rise for another 5-15 minutes.

 

6. Preheat the oven to 500 ℉ (Yes that hot!)

 

7. Roll each crust out

 

8. Bake for 3-4 minutes until they can hold their shape well.

 

9. If you want to freeze them, make sure they cool completely, place in a sealed bag. They will stay good for several months!

When making the pizza:

1. Preheat oven to 425℉

 

2. Take the crusts out of the freezer (the crusts do NOT need to thaw ahead of time) and add any toppings you want!

 

3. Cook the pizzas for 7-10 minutes. Usually, the more toppings, the more time. Just watch carefully!

 

We love to customize our own pizzas with different toppings. I usually like to have crusts on hand for when guests come too. It’s a great alternative to ordering out, and people have fun making their own pie! You could even have a BYOT (bring your own topping) party and enjoy exchanging flavors! The possibilities are endless!

Blueberry Picking Means Blueberries for Breakfast!

Blueberries

Every year near the beginning of July, a blueberry farm near us opens for U-pick! 

We like to jump at the chance to pick our own! These berries are always bigger, juicier, and some years even cheaper than what you can find in the store. This year, I braved the farm with the two kids on my own. Although it was not a super productive picking session (it didn’t help that my son was fascinated with the porta potty), we had fun and brought home a couple pounds of blueberries!

 

 

The next week meant several blueberry treats! 

Top three recipes:

  • Blueberry Muffins – This was the first (and most obvious) choice. My son really wanted to make them and “helped” bake some delicious, bursting with flavor muffins. I used the recipe here  from Once Upon a Chef. Using just a touch of almond extract when baking tends to give the treats a little extra delicious flavor! I added a few more blueberries and about a half cup of oats (because that is all I had and obviously adding oats makes it healthier) and didn’t use any of the turbinado sugar. The muffins still turned out great! 

 

  • Blueberry Pancakes – We had these tasty cakes a few times before our stash ran out. Typically, we just use a pancake mix and add the blueberries to the batter, however if you want to make your own pancake mix, you can use the recipe here.

 

  • Blueberry Bars – I made this recipe from AverieCooks.com with the intention of them being a dessert, but actually ate a few for breakfast too! One thing about this recipe: if you plan to cut them into bars, make sure to WAIT until they are cooled. I tried to rush things and the first bars ended up being a complete mess. However, the bars taste delicious warm! Add ice cream or whipped cream for extra indulgence. It’s got fruit, which puts it on the healthy side, right? 

Also, you can simply add a handful of the juicy berries to any type of cereal or oatmeal. Quick, easy and still awesome.

There are so many more recipes out there for blueberries that would be great too! We even drove out to the farm again. My husband came with, so we managed to pick a few more pounds than I could the first time! You can bet that we will be making more blueberry treats!

Happy 4th of July!

A Roundup of Toddler 4th of July Hand print (and foot print) crafts!

Most people enjoy the middle of summer holiday with some good food on the grill, time off from work, and watching some fireworks. But if you have littles at home, fireworks may be too loud or too late to see! Instead, you could make your own holiday crafts. And of course, include the hand or foot prints of the kids! Here is a quick round up of some 4th of July handprint (or footprint) crafts for your littles! Why not try one of these for the holiday?

Flag and footprints

House of Burke has some great ideas for flags or footprint fire crackers! Super cute!

From houseofburkeblog.com

Patriotic Hand

Krissy from B-inspired Mama shows a super cute patriotic hand print. If you can get your child to sit still long enough to paint it, do it!

Patriotic Hand Print Craft 1
From B-InspiredMama.com

Hand wreath

Really, you could do this project for any holiday! For the 4th, use patriotic colors and arrange the hand prints around in a wreath. You could do different hand prints of all your kiddos! Thanks for the idea, Decorating with Dodi!

From dodi47.blogspot.com – Decorating with Dodi

Hand print fireworks

The blog Ava’s Alphabet shares step by step tips on how to get a great hand print with a youngster. I LOVE this fire work idea and will have to try it!

Handprint Fireworks
From avasalphabet.com

Hand and Footprint Canvas Flag

And lastly, this adorable idea from Sewing for Sanity. I love the hand and foot print combo! Super cute.

From http://littlethingsbybeth.blogspot.com/2011/07/american-flag-art-4th-of-july-kids.html (Sewing for Sanity)

Try these out! Create a keepsake for your family! If you like these hand print ideas, you can check out some of my other holiday hand prints here!

Here is how one of our projects turned out (my son painted the background fireworks!)

Happy 4th of July!