Monday, November 22, 2010


    Now is the time for giving, and it just so happens that one of my favorite kids books is "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.  This has brought about a fun tradition that involves both parents and children, and feels much better than telling parents "give us stuff".
    Teachers make a tree out of brown construction paper (the hardest part is making the branches, which just means there is some cutting involved.).  Make a large quantity of leaf cutouts and allow the children to decorate them with paints, glitter, markers, and so on.  Then take a look around your classroom.  What are you missing that would enhance the children's learning experience?
    I tend to ask for mostly cost efficient items and only put a few large items down on a piece of paper.  When the leaves are complete, start writing down the items that you listed.  Display the tree as a bulletin board, and invite your parents to take a look at your giving tree and take a leaf or two. 
    You would be amazed at how giving people are when asked in this creative way!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Polar Express

    'Tis the season to go out and find holiday experiences that your kids will not soon forget.  While going onto the Polar Express probably wouldn't be realistic for a whole class, a family would fit right in with a mug of hot cocoa and some holiday crafts.
    For those living in Michigan, Owosso is hosting the Polar Express train ride.  For four hours you and your family will view Michigan's wintry landscape(whenever we get snow. Not that this teacher, who has to deal with at least 10 snowsuits right out of "The Christmas Story" in order to go on the playground, is complaining.), drink hot cocoa with a cookie, take part in holiday crafts, and meet Santa while shopping in his mart.  The cost for adults is $85 and children ride for $55 (perhaps the mug you can take home contains some deluxe hot chocolate?). 
    If you can forgo the chocolate goodness, then adults ride for $70 and children go for $40 .  The train departs from the Steam Railroading Institute Visitor's Center in Owosso, goes to "Santa's Village", and ends back up at the Institute's Visitor's Center.
    There are also other options for those not in Michigan.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The First Thanksgiving

    It is a job that I have given myself as a teacher to somehow explain Thanksgiving and that part of history to the children in my classroom.  While 3-year-olds might need a bit longer to follow all the history, there is a great interactive site that teachers and parents should definitely check out.
    Scholastic has a web site devoted to the voyage of the Mayflower, the struggles in Plimoth Plantation, and the first Thanksgiving.  There will even be a live web cast from the plantation on November 16th. at 1pm.,  that people can sign up for online. 
    The videos and tours through the Mayflower and Plantation make this part of history more tangible for young children.  Children under five need other resources rather than textbooks and this site appears to be the journey to take during this holiday season. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fresh Halloween Eats

    If you do not have the time to do some extensive baking for you, your family, or your family's school, the Dancing Deer Baking Co. just might be the way to go.
    Their products are made from all natural ingredients, with no preservatives. And with all the processed foods we and our children eat, any natural edibles are good additions to our diets.  Plus they have some scrumptious looking treats for the Halloween season that are under $30!  Like these spooky cookies for $24.95.
    Halloween Cats and Bats Gift Collection owned by Dancing Deer Baking Co.

    But don't forget breakfast! 
    My favorite genre of food (besides desserts of course) are breakfast foods and the Pumpkin Spice Pancake and Waffle mix  looks right up my alley.  
    For more baking goodness (chocolate anyone?), check out their web site.

    Dancing Deer Baking Company Inc.  Boston, MA.  Viewed: October 17, 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Easy Halloween Treats

    As I was looking at recipes for this spooky season, I realized that people must think that we have hours and hours to spend in the kitchen and left over money to buy hefty ingredient lists.
     I have neither, so my search turned into the hunt for recipes that you can include the kids on, and that won't cause you to spend over time in the kitchen and at work in order to pay for it all.
    I love Rice Krispy Treats and so do the kids in my classroom.  I found this recipe on and had to include it, if not just for the chocolate factor!

Candy Corn Halloween Treats:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 9 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 10 cups chocolate Rice Krispy cereal
  • 2 cups candy corn
  • 3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • assorted candy pumpkins
    Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir until smooth. Pour cereal, candy corn, and chocolate chips into large bowl. Pour butter and marshmallows over cereal mixture, stirring quickly to coat. For best results, use a wooden spoon sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread mixture on large buttered jelly-roll pan, pressing out evenly with buttered hands. While still warm, press on candy pumpkins spaced about 1-1/2" apart. Cool, then cut into squares.  Makes about 48 squares

  • The kids will love mixing the ingredients, pouring the mixture onto the pan, and pressing the candies into the mixture.  And don't forget to designate someone to lick the spoon!  
    Speaking of what kids will like, my husband loves pigs in a blanket!  My husband is my gauge on what kids want to eat, so I thought this twist on an old snack would be great to try at home. 
    Make the pigs in the blanket how you usually would, but wrap the crescant rolls loosley around the mini sausages so that after they have cooked you can put a face on the sausage.  This way you've made a mummy cute enough to eat!  Check out the Pillbury website  for this recipe and a mustard dipping sauce.
    Cupcakes are wonderful little desserts, especially those from the package that are so quick and easy to make.  There is a recipe from  that turns your favorite cupcake into a Jack-O-Lantern!  Just make the cupcakes following the back of the box, then have the kids roll out a piece of orange fondant big enough to cover the top of the iced cupcake (I would recommend dark chocolate or yellow icing so that the features of the face are more distinct).  Help the children cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth of the jack-o-lantern with a small round cookie cutter.  
  •  Wilton Ready to use rolled fondant can be found at Joanne fabric and craft stores in the craft section with the cake decorating supplies. The product runs about $7 for 24 oz.
  • I have been told that Walmart carries the same product in the same section.
    Halloween treats are fun to make and eat, especially when children get in on the festivities and take a sense of pride out of their creations!

    Alicia's Recipes.  Copyrighted 1996-2009
Viewed: October 12 2010.
    Halloweenies with Mustard Dip from Pillsbury.  Copyrighted 2010 General Mills.  Viewed: October 12 2010.
    Jack-O-Lantern Cupcakes.  Sandra Lee.  Copyrighted 2010 Television Food Network G.P. All rights reserved.  Viewed: October 12 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I suppose there is such a thing as too many pancakes

    I digress from my Autumn extravaganza to look into a problem that my friend and preschool parent told me about. She has had mornings where herself, the kids, and husband are full, but there is still quite a bit of pancake batter left in the bowl. Could there be an alternative use for the leftover batter?
    I found the answer on Most recipes are for savory dishes, although there are a couple desert options. 
    There are some people I ran across online who swear that pancake batter can substitute for flour, eggs, and milk, in cookie dough recipes. I find this hard to believe, but I thought I would share my favorite recipes that I found on the BettyCrocker website.
    Big-Batch Cheese-Garlic Biscuits:(Which got me to thinking of Red Lobster...mmmm...)
  • 8 Cups Original Bisquick Mix
  • 2 2/3 Cups of milk
  • 2 Cups shredded cheese
  • 1 Cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
     1.   Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a 3 1/2-to-4 quart bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, and cheese until soft dough forms; beat 30 seconds.
    2.    On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by 40-48 spoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
    3.    Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  In small bowl, mix butter and garlic powder, brush on warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheets.  Serve warm (  
  • Try adding the butter and garlic right into the batter
  • Remember that the biscuits may take a few more minutes or a few less minutes to bake, in accordance to the kind of oven you use
  • Remember to get the kids involved by showing them how to measure(math) and letting them pour and mix!   

    Pies are another idea that the web site throws around.  The thought of this chocolate pie makes my mouth water.
    Impossibly Easy Chocolate-Coconut Pie
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1/4 Cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 Cup coconut
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Original Bisquick Mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs, slightly beatened
  • 1 Cup frozen (thawed) whipped cream
    Look under recipes, click on the main ingredient icon, and then choose Bisquick from the sidebar to get to these and other great looking recipes. 


    Betty Crocker:Expertise from our kitchen to yours.  General Mills and associates. <://>  Viewed:October 11, 2010.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Mumpkin, Pumpkin, make me a bat!"

    If you do not know of "The Great Bear Scare" movie, then you missed out on some of your childhood and have no idea what the title of this post means.  If you remember being scared for Ted E. Bear, then you know what I am talking about and can reminisce.  I would suggest watching either that movie, or "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!", bust out the pumpkin carving kit, and go to town with the kiddies because it's October!
    Hopefully you have kids that will enjoy the feeling of the pumpkin innards.  I had a few in my classroom that when asked if they would put their hand in the pumpkin, gave me a resounding, "No!".  We took out long metal spoons for those who were a bit squeamish when it came to the old adage, "No guts, no glory".
    No matter if your children want to get down and dirty or not, they can still help out with the toasting of the pumpkin seeds!  This was my first year undertaking this tradition.  Which means I got many people saying, "I've never had pumpkin seeds like this!".  Now whether that is truly good or bad, you be the judge.
    Personally I have quite the sweet tooth so I made cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds, but I have been told that the salty options are the best.  Here is the recipe I used, although I did steer away a bit by adding the cinnamon sugar mix to my oiled seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt(I added the cinnamon sugar mixed)
  • Remember to separate the seeds away from the pumpkin innards

 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt or desired seasoning.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted.

  • Substitute cooking spray or fake butter spray to have a healthier snack.
  • Use melted butter for a more decadent snack.
  • Let your children sprinkle the seasonings on the seeds to get them involved.
  • Remember, there are infinite possibilities when it comes to seasonings. Just use seasonings you and your children love!  
    References/Resources     1.  Toasted Pumpkin Seeds  2010.