Saturday, December 31, 2011

App Review 4

 App Review 4

Bob Books #1- Reading Magic

This app has 4 different levels to choose from.  Level one- drag and drop letters to match.  Level two- learn left-to-right order.  Level three- spell without visual hints. And level four- pick letters to spell words.  A picture comes up in black and white with a sentence at the bottom.  The player can tap the picture or a word and it goes to another picture of just what the player tapped.  Then the player spells the word.  Once the word is spelled, it blends the word and then says the word.  The sentences get longer and longer the more the player plays.  If the player doesn't click anything the picture starts shaking so they know where to tap.  After all the words are complete in the sentence, the black and white picture becomes colored in and the app reads the sentence.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4 stars.  I like the progression this app has.  It also makes the students super excited when they realize they are reading the words. The app is a bit pricey, but I do think it is worth it.

Montessori Approach to Vocabulary- Animal Lite

This app helps children learn animals.  The animal is first presented by their silhouette. When the camera button is touched a photograph of the animal appears.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 1 star.  I do think vocabulary is very important but there is nothing exciting about this app.  The good thing about this app is that it is free (although there is a version the costs money).  Don't waste your iPads memory with this. 

Silly Sentence
Recommended for ages 4-7.

This app has activities that introduce vowels and their letter combinations through flash cards, matching, sound and signs, and silly sentences.  This app builds reading skills and allows the player to decode words, phrases, and sentences.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 3 stars.  I like how many activities there in this app and the progression is good.  I wish it offered the whole app in the free version instead of just __a__e and __ai__ combination words.  I will install the whole version just to be able to get more combinations for words because I do think the app is good.

Picture Dot-to-Dot- Animals

Trace the dot to dot in the proper sequence and a hidden picture will appear.  If the player doesn't go in order the line will not connect.  The dot to dot can be formed with letters or numbers.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 5 stars.  My students and my son LOVE this app.  I like the different settings the app offers.  I love seeing the beautiful animal pictures once the dot to dot is finished.  The student's face light up when they complete their dot to dot and see the animal it has created.  There are tons of animal pictures so the students are always guessing what animal the dot to dot could be before they finish it.

Montessori Crosswords
Appropriate for 3 to 8 year olds.

This app has children use letters to make words.  It has 3 different levels.  Simple words with 3 sounds, words with consonant blends, and words of any complexity. When the child chooses the level a picture is shown to the child, then the child uses the letters at the bottom to pull up to spell the word.  Once the word is spelled the app says the letters, then the word.  There is an answer key for the children that are having trouble.  If they get the word correct, there is a celebration.  The app allows the font and a layout of the letters to be changed.   If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 5 stars.  This app is GREAT!!  I have been using it during center time to work on the letter sounds and spelling words.  It really helps students see how to put the sounds together to form words.  I like the different levels the app offers.  It makes it a great app for all learners.  This is definitely an app you want on your iPad for your class and/or child.

I hope this App Review is helpful to you. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

App Review 3

App Review 3

 iKnow Phonics- ABCs

This app has 3 activities the player can choose from.  Word builder, word match, and word search.  The Word Builder section has the player tap a letter.  Then a silly sentence is made up with an illustration using the letter that was tapped.  The Word Match section has the player make upper and lower case letters then again saying a silly sentence using lots of words with the letter that was tapped.  The third section, Word Search, has the player searching for a specific letter in a word search.  The player earns certificates for completing the tasks correctly.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 2 stars.  This app is boring!  There is nothing about it that makes it fun and keep the student's interest.  The Word Search part of the app is good for finding the different letters it asks for.

k12 Timed Reading Practice

More than 250 short fiction and non-fiction stories.  Lets you track one reader, multiple readers, or whole classes.  Tracks stories read, words per minute, percent above or below average reading rates.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4 stars.  The app does exactly what it claims to do.  It tracks students fluency.  It has tons of stories for them to read and at lots of levels. 

Letter Rip
The player of this app can choose uppercase or lowercase letters to play with.  Once they pick a letter, the player has to trace the letter ending up at the star.  Once the letter is traced, the player receives a ball with the letter that was traced in it to burst bubbles of pictures of items that begin with the same letter.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 2 stars.  I rated this app lower because I don't like how the player doesn't have to trace the letter correctly to receive a ball.  My students could just draw a line to the star and it would pass for whatever letter.  This wouldn't help them learn the letter.  I do like the sling shot and I know my students like the sling shot.  There isn't a lot to this app beside tracing letters and bursting bubbles. 

Alphabet Board

Teaches students how to write letters and sounds for each letter.  Has a setting that the font of the letters can be changed.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 3 stars.  I do use this app in my classroom to practice handwriting and it is one of the few apps that have D'Nealian handwriting.  The downfall I see to this app is that the student doesn't have to stay on the letter to trace it.  They can just write where ever they want.  The app does come with options to erase, show how to write the letter, and hear the sounds the letter makes.  The student can move at their own pace through the letters and decide on the order they want to go in.  They can choose to practice uppercase or lowercase letters. 

Animated Rhymes

This app is the free version of the app so it only has one song available.  It has two versions of the song to watch.  The first version is a picture, movie like version of the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  The second version of the song has the words written out to the song and are highlighted when the song sings the words.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give this app 3 stars.  I gave it 3 stars because it only has the one song.  My students do enjoy watching the movie and the word part of the song.  It is great for introducing the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  Plus it is a free app!  I always like free apps.

Clever Kids First Puzzles
A learning game for 2 to 6 year olds.

This app has jigsaw type puzzles.  After the child puts the puzzle together a word comes up describing the picture that is made.  With the free version of the app, just the farm pictures/puzzles come up.  There are other puzzles/pictures but they cost money to add them.  Once the puzzle is complete, the image becomes colored in on the main puzzle page.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give this app 3 stars.  I think it is a great app for free time since it works on a child's strategy skills.  I like how it shows the puzzles that have already been completed but coloring them in.  Plus the farm puzzles are free!

Dora Rhyming Word Adventure

For this app Dora and Boots want to cross a bridge but a troll is guarding it.  In order for them to cross it they have to pay a toll.  They can earn coins by playing games to pay the toll with.  They can choose from rhyming, first sounds, last sounds, and inside sounds.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 5 stars!  My students LOVE this app and so does my preschool son.  It is great for rhyming, beginning, middle, and ending sounds!!  This is definitely worth the $2.99!!!

Meet the Vowels

This app talks about vowels.  Three letters appear on the iPad at a time.  They can be upper and/or lower case letters that appear.  The voice on the app says a name of the vowel and the player taps the correct letter.  Once the correct letter is tapped, the letters turns into a character from Meet the Letters.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 3 stars.  A plus about the app is that it is a free app and does introduce the vowels to the player however it never says the word vowel so the player doesn't know the letters they are finding our vowels.  I like how the 3 different letters come up and the player has to find the letter the voice says.  I like how it uses a variety of letters.  I like that once you find the letter, it has a little celebration.  I wish it would talk about the vowels and say what vowels are.  This would be great to introduce vowels during whole group and then use the app to reinforce the skill. 

Flash to Pass Math Flash Cards

This app has addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and mixed sets of questions.  It has numerous levels.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give this 4 stars.  This app is great for elementary students to get their math facts quickly.

 Starfall ABCs
This app is just like the ABC section on  Students can interact with letters and sounds in words, sentence, and some games.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4 stars.  This app is so hard to rate!  My students LOVE and so does my son! And I love too!  I am only giving this a 4 because the app is expensive and it is only one section of  When I first installed the app I thought it would be more like the website.  I didn't realize it was just the ABC section.  Now with that said, the ABC section and the app is very enticing for kids and interacting with them.  They love checking out the letters and singing the songs to the letters.  Sometimes my students have to be reminded to sing quieter because they are screaming the songs. :)

I hope you enjoyed this round of my app review.  I still have more apps to share with you so I hope you are finding these reviews helpful. 

Vegetable Chowder

Vegetable Chowder

Today I made a lovely lunch for my son and I (although he is in a phase that he doesn't want to eat anything I make him).  I made Vegetable Chowder.  It is my first time making a chowder.  I am surprised at how easy it was.  I got the recipe from Once a Month Mom (one of my favorite recipe websites), but I did switch a couple things (Items in red). 


  • .5  cups bell pepper, red, chopped
  • .5 cups onion, chopped
  • .25 cups margarine
  • 1 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cups carrots, diced  (1 1/2 cups of carrots, chopped)
  • 1 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 3 cups Vegetable Broth (3 cups of chicken broth)
  • .5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoons parsley, fresh  (1 tablespoon of dried parsley)
  • 3 cups cheddar, shredded (4 cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded)
  • salt, to taste  (Added a 1/2 teaspoon)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 cups milk
Chopping the veggies.


Directions from: Kristi @

1. Saute pepper and onions in butter until tender. Add remaining veggies, vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Combine flour and milk (I didn't combine the flour and milk before adding it into the pot.). Stir flour/milk into pan. Bring back to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. mix in parsley and cheese.
Sauteing onions and peppers.

Added the rest of the vegetables.

Final Product.  Yum!!     

Very tasty lunch!!!  Thanks Once a Month Mom for the recipe!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

App Review 2

App Review 2

Here are some more reviews of Apps I have tried with my son and/or my kindergartners.


A silly alphabet story about noisy animals.  The reader can tap a button to have the sentence read to them and they can tap the other button to hear the animal.  If I had to rate this story out of 5 stars, I would give the story 2 stars.  Yes, it is a silly story that the students will laugh at, however that is all it is, a story.  It does have an animal for each letter of the alphabet, but it doesn't track the print.  This is a good story to have on the bookshelf for the students to look at once and a while or at the beginning of the year to gain their reading interest.  The price is a plus for it with the app only costing 99 cents.

ABC Alphabet Little Book

This is an alphabet book.  It has the letter and a picture to match the letter on each page.  Then it also has the words ___ is for ___ on each page matching the letter and the picture.  This app is wonderful!  It gives the player numerous options.  The player can choose read to me, read myself, or autoplay.  Plus (the BEST feature) you can even customize the story meaning you could record yourself or have your students record themselves reading the story.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4 stars because it tracks the print and it is customizable.  

ABC Alphabet Phonics
Ideal for ages 0-6. 

Helps children learn letters quickly by sight and sound.  This app displays however many letters you choose and then has the child find the one it says to find.  This app gets harder throughout game play.  This app allows the adult to set the minimum and maximum items to display.  It allows the adult to customize items and game sounds.  The adult can also turn on and off uppercase letters, lowercase letters, animals, kids, monkeys, and sketches.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 5 stars.  This app is great for learning the letter rapidly.  Plus the customizable features are great!

Toddlers and Preschoolers
This app allows students to explore letters, words, and vehicles!  For each letter of the alphabet, vehicles are shown.  When the student clicks on a vehicle, photos and videos are shown for each vehicle.  This app does need internet access to get all the videos to work.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 3 stars since you have to have internet access to get all the videos to work.

ABC Magic Phonics

This app helps children learn the sounds of the letters. This app has a page for each letter, followed by a picture.  When you tap the page to come up it says the sound of the letter a few times then says the picture.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would rate it with 1 star.  Yes, it goes over the sounds for the letters, but the app is boring.  It has a picture for each letter, but nothing to keep the children's attention.  It is a free app but I don't think it is worth installing.

ABC Magic Reading Short Vowels

Teaching children how to read using phonics.  The app says it would like the user to do the blending part first, then the segmenting, followed by the reading part.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 2 stars.  The app has a lot of potential, but sometimes the voice making the sounds is hard to understand.  Also the buttons for the user to advance to the next question look like they are unusable because they are lighter, making it confusing for my students who used this to know what to do after they blended the word.

ABC Phonics Rhyming Words Lite
Recommended for 4-7 year olds.

This app has children match rhyming words.  The description from the App Store says it helps children recognize word patterns and understand how the initial, middle, and ending sounds affect pronunciation.  After the children match rhyming pairs they earn jewels.  After they earn so many jewels they get to play a bonus game.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 1 star.  My students are great at rhyming but with this app they are not.  I think it is too difficult with the word printed on the fruit and not very enticing.  I think this app would be better if they used pictures to rhyme with first and then build up to words.  For children that can't read the words it is too difficult for them to play.

ABC Pocket Phonic: Letters, Sounds, & Writing + First Words
Recommended for 3-6 year olds.

This app introduces children to letter sounds.  Then it introduces them on how to write the letter, first showing the children how to do it then giving them practice.  Then it puts the sounds together to form words. This app has numerous setting that you can adjust.  For example, at my school we use D'Nealian for handwriting.  In the setting part of this app you can change the handwriting to D'Nealian or Zaner Bloser.  You also have the option of lowercase, uppercase, or cursive. If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4.5 stars.  It is great for my preschool son and my kindergarteners to use.  I like how the kiddos have to practice the handwriting with it and if they are too far off on their tracing they have to keep doing it.  I like how it asks them the sounds and they have to pick the letter.  I like how it blends the word and helps the students see the relationship of letters/sounds and words.  This is a great app!! :)

The ABC Song All In One Activity Center

This app plays the famous ABC song.  It also has four spelling activities and games within the app.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 2 stars.  My students do love listening to the ABC song.  The letter formation part of it teaches the wrong formation of the letter for the handwriting my school uses.  This app is really way too easy for my kindergarteners.  It is more for toddlers.  It really isn't a learning app, I think it is more of a fun playing app. 

Well, that's all folks!  I hope you find these reviews helpful.  Stay tuned for more reviews.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

App Review 1

App Review 1

This year I was very lucky to have a parent buy my classroom two iPads.  Once I found this out, not only was I super excited, but I also wanted to start researching what apps would be the best for my class.  My students always love being on the computers during center time and with this amazing parent I knew I would have another center using the iPads.  I knew I would have to come up with a way for all the students to be able to use them and find apps that the kids would enjoy but also learn something from while playing them.  So, I wanted to share some of the BEST and not so great apps out there (at least in my opinion) for kindergarteners and preschool aged students.  

 Big Kid Life Fire Fighter

Says it is appropriate for 4-7 year olds.  It helps children with color and shape identification, number sequencing and sorting, greater than and less than recognition, counting by 10's, and numbers 50-100.
For this app, children have to move the Fire Fighter throughout different obstacles to the star door while saving animals and putting out fires.  The goal is to go through each level as quick as you can.  Throughout the level there are different math questions.  When the questions come up, it asks the question with four different answer options.  The child has as long as they need to select the correct question.  If they select the wrong answer it beeps but then has you try again.  When you first start playing the game, it shows you exactly how to play by telling and showing you what to do.  If the Fire Fighter runs into fire, it makes the Fire Fighter glow and have stars around his/her head but it does allow them to keep playing.  After each level it tells the child how good they played and encourages them to play again, seeing if they can play it faster.  This app has numerous levels.  My son really seems to enjoy this app.  He can sit and play it for awhile which is a big sign to me that it is a good app.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4 stars.  I like how it tells and shows the player exactly what to do.  I like how it is a game but does have learning questions throughout it.  I also like how parents can set up for player information to be sent to them so they know when their child has passed a level. 

Big Kid Life Vet

Says it is appropriate for 3-6 year olds.  It helps children with Logic and Geometry, Letter Identification, Shape Identification, and Phonics

This app is based on what children want to be when they grow up.  Some want to be a Vet, so the children get to be a Vet when playing this app.  There are animals that are hurt so the children have to rub the animals and then take an x-ray of the animal.  Once the x-ray is taken, the children have to listen to the different questions and answer them while the clock is counting down.  If a child misses a question they get a red x and may try again.  After a few second the correct answer flashes to help the child get the correct answer.  Although my son found this game kinda boring with the rubbing and the x-ray, the questions are pretty good.  The question section does focus on numerous skills but I think what I like about it most is that a child really has to listen to the questions to be able to answer them and stay focused on the question in order to answer them.  The app does have 3 different levels.  Also, another thing about this app that I do like is you can set it up to get feedback on what your child is playing.  After my son passed a level I received an email saying he had passed the level and I was able to send him an email (through the game) back to him saying good job, I love you, etc.  I did think this was a cool part of the app.  If I had to give this app a rating out of 5 stars I would give it 3 stars.  I think the app would be fun for kids for a little while, but I do think they will get bored with it.  I am also giving it 3 stars because it is a free app.

Big Kid Life Fairy Princess

Says it is appropriate for 4-7 year olds.  It helps children learn comprehension and plot and sequence.

This is another app by Fingerprint.  The name of it is Fairy Princess, however it isn't just for girls.  When first playing the app you get to choose who you want to play with.  There are different boys and girls to choose from.  Then you get to pick the level you want to play with.  Once you pick the level then the narrator tells a story.  Throughout the story the narrator pauses and has the player complete different tasks.  Once the story is complete, it asks the player comprehension questions.  If the player makes the wrong choice during the questions, the app just beeps and says try again.  After the questions are over the story is retold.  This time the story is written out and each word is highlighted when it is read.  This app also has the parent reference set up so you know what your child is doing.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 4.5 stars.  I like that there is a parent reference part although that doesn't really help me with my classroom, it is good for when my son plays it.  The stories are entertaining and keep your interest by having you complete tasks throughout the story.  I like how it has three parts to each story.  (The story being told to you, question part, and the rereading of the story with highlighted words)  This app is great for my kindergarteners too because it helps them with comprehension.  This one is my favorite from Fingerprint. 

Approach to Montessori- Numbers

Learn full comprehension of numbers zero through ten.

This app has six different games in one app.  This app is pretty basic since it only deals with numbers through ten, but it does help children learn number recognition, writing numbers, quantity, and sequencing numbers.  This app is great for my three year old son and it would be great for kindergarteners who don't know numbers through 10.  Since the app has six different games, it works with children's learning styles.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it 3 stars.  My son and my kindergarteners seems to really enjoy this app.  I do think the app is a great app for numbers through 10, I just wish it would deal with numbers all the way to 20. 

Counting Caterpillar

Says it is appropriate for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Teaches basic counting.

My students really seem to enjoy this app.  This app has 3 different levels. Easy- counting 1-100. Medium- count by 2, 5 & 10. Hard- random counting.  The player has to catch aphids in the correct order sequence and feed them to the caterpillar.  If the player feeds the correct number the caterpillar eats the aphid, but if it is the wrong number, the caterpillar doesn't eat it.  After the caterpillar's belly is full, the player earns butterflies.  The player can look at their butterfly garden to see all the butterflies they earned.  If I had to rate this app out of 5 stars, I would give it a 2.5 stars.  The graphics are great with everything is this app.  I gave it a lower score because when you feed the caterpillar the aphids, the caterpillar is crawling and I find it distracting.  My students do love this app, however they never play it too long because of how it is moving.  I think it would be much better if the caterpillar just stood in one spot while you feed it. 

I hope you find these reviews of the education apps helpful.  I know when I go to the App Store, it can be very overwhelming with how many education apps there are.  Plus, with most of the apps being $2.99, I know I don't want to waste money on an app that I would not use. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

An aDEERable painting Tutorial

A few weeks ago I saw this amazing idea to use feet to make reindeer.   I thought they were so adorable, that I just had to try it out.  I thought if I liked it so much that the parents in my classroom would also like it.  With that thought, I got started having my students make the reindeer.  They turned out so well that then I wanted to have my son make one.  When I went to the store to make the deer on a canvas my creative mind wondered and I ended up getting a bigger canvas to make a family reindeer picture.  Here is a picture of the final product.  I LOVE it! 
What you need:
Brown Paint
Blue Paint (I forgot this)
Red Paint
Sharpie Marker

What to do:
1. Decide on who's feet you are going to paint.  I choose to have my whole family paint their feet.
2. Paint the bottom of one foot and place it on the canvas.  Be sure to press down on the foot and toes to get a better print.
3. Paint the other foot and place it on the canvas making sure to press down again.
4.  After you get all the footprints on the canvas that you want, let the paint dry.
5. Once the paint is dry, paint the thumb of each person you had make a footprint red.  Have them press their thumb half way on their foot and half way off the foot creating a nose.  (I also think a different shade of brown would look good too.)
6.  Once the noses dry then use a fine tipped paintbrush and create the antlers.
7.  Next use the blue paint (or blue Sharpie) to make a circle for the eyes. 
8.  If you use paint you will need to let it dry, but if you used a marker, go ahead and trace around the eye with the black paint.  I ended up making eyelashes for the girl in my family.
9.  Then add the year at the bottom so you never forget when this aDEERable painting was created. 
10. Last, I added a ribbon around the frame to make it looks more finished.
11.  Enjoy your painting!

You have been RACKed

The day before Christmas Eve I was checking out Pinterest and I saw these great ideas of Racking.  I wasn't for sure what it was so I kept researching it.  If you don't know what Racking is, Racking stands for Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  I know at my school we talk about Random Acts of Kindness all the time, but seeing these ideas of kindness around Christmas time just brought a tear to my eye.  I loved, loved, loved this idea!  I was so bummed that I had just found it the day before Christmas Eve.  There are other people who counted down the days until Christmas with a RACK each day.  I wish I would have found this at the beginning of December so I could have counted down the days to Christmas, but since I didn't, I still wanted to take a part in Racking.  Plus, I think this is so important for my son to see the random acts of kindness to help him appreciate things.  He is at an age that I don't feel like he appreciates a lot.  Yes, he says thank you and such, but I truly don't think he understands.  Anyways, I wanted to include him on the Racking.  So, after looking up different ideas, I made a list up of what we were going to do on Christmas Eve (since that was the only day we had left before Christmas).  Here are some of the acts of kindness we did.  
Liam putting the present in our mail box.

*Put a thank you Christmas gift out for our mail carrier.
*Went to a parking lot and put candy canes with a tag of what we were doing on random cars.
*Go up to people at a store and give them a candy cane. (We did this at a few stores)
*Tape a candy cane to a newspaper stand.
*Give cashiers a candy cane and smile and say Merry Christmas to them. (Again at a few stores)
*After eating at a restaurant, leave a GREAT tip with a candy cane.
*Pay for the person's toll behind me.
*Pay for someone's coffee.  
*Leave a candy candy and tag on the Redbox.  

Here is the tags we added to our candy canes. 

I enjoyed this so much.  It was so interesting in seeing the different responses we would get.  Some people were so thankful and appreciative, while others gave you a funny look because they didn't understand why you were talking to them.  My son was very shy when going up to someone, but then would be bouncing up an down after he gave a candy cane to a person.   I could tell it made him feel good to be giving something away.  I know it made my heart feel good too.  We will definitely be doing this again next year and making it a tradition.  I just don't have words for how it makes you feel.  I also plan on trying to do a Random Act of Kindness weekly.  I don't think this just has to be at Christmas time, it can be everyday!  Think of the kind of world we would live in if everyone did a Random Act of Kindness each day!  Wouldn't it be amazing??!

Wonderful Christmas

What a Wonderful Christmas!  
I had such a wonderful Christmas this year.  I feel so blessed.  This year I really thought about family and how important family is.  Although some of our family lives in Ohio and we were sad we couldn't be with them, I am fortunate enough that my Mom and Dad live in Florida a few hours away.  I was so excited because they were coming to my house this year for Christmas.  My mom just got back from my sister's house in Ohio on Christmas Eve but she still wanted to come down to visit me on Christmas Day.  I had planned this grand meal for Christmas.  We made a Honey Ham, Salad, Cheesy Potatoes, and homemade Apple Pie.  Prior to them coming down I had been busy making Buckeyes, cookies, and homemade Chex Mix.  I had never made Buckeyes or Chex Mix before so it was very interesting to make them.  I did learn that the next time I make Buckeyes, that I need to make them smaller and figure out how not to have a toothpick hole in the middle of it.  Plus, I think some of the chocolate tastes funny so I need to figure out what chocolate is the best to use. (HERE is the recipe I followed for the Buckeyes)  I also learned that Chex Mix isn't hard to make at all and it is even better homemade than buying it.  Plus it is cheaper to make it.  I used the recipe on the box of the Chex box for the regular Chex Mix.  Here are some pictures of the Buckeyes and Chex Mix.  It is too bad that you can't smell them through your computer because they smell delicious.

Homemade Chex Mix
 We were so lucky to have Santa visit our house this year.  I guess that means we were all nice this year. :)  We got a new tree this year.  I just love it!  I love how it has the fake snow on it.  I think it helps it feel more like winter since we are still having 80 degree weather.  We actually have 3 trees in our house.  This gorgeous one is in our Family Room.  I call it the pretty tree because it has all matching decorations on it.  Then we have another tree in the extra bedroom.  The extra bedroom could also be called an Office or the "Man Cave."  I love this tree too, but it has random ornaments on it.  Plus all the ones I had when I was growing up, Snoopy ornaments, and the homemade ones that Liam has made.  I love decorating this tree every year because it brings back so many memories.  The final third tree is in Liam's room.  It is the Charlie Brown tree.  I love this tree too because I love Snoopy.  Liam has also starting liking Snoopy so it is the perfect tree for his room.

Our Family Room Tree (matching tree)

Liam and Dad playing with the Black Car that Liam asked Santa for.  I guess, Syde the Elf, didn't tell Santa about the last few days.  :)
Opening more gifts.

And opening more presents.
Play with Play Dough he received for a gift.

Liam making a silly face when he posed with Grandpa G.

Gg, Liam, and Grandpa G

 Oh my!! I love the picture above.  I think it is so adorable. 

Gg, Liam, Me

What a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nutcracker, Elf, and Reindeer Gift Bag

December is always a very busy month in my classroom.  There are always so many Holiday activities that I love to do and with so many great blogs, I get more and more ideas every year.

Another favorite activity I LOVE to make is the Elf.  This elf turns out pretty big so when we make it I spread the students out and some even work on the floor so everyone has enough room.  When I first started teaching, my classroom was beside a great teacher, Denise Roth, and she is the one who came up with the elf creation.  I love this elf so much I even made one for my son that I hang up every year for Christmas.  Plus, with the Elf on the Shelf this year the students are really into elves.  I have a parent volunteer trace all the pieces, but then the students cut them out and put them together.  I use a whole page picture of each student's face (8 by 10) that I cut out for them around their face. I have included the tracers for this wonderful project.

Thanks again Denise Roth for such a fantastic creation!

Every year I have my students make a present for their parents/grandparents.  This year I choose to have the students make an ornament with their handprint.  I just love this project.  I love it so much that now I make one for my own child every year to hang on the tree.  I paint the students hand and place it on the bulb.  Then after it dries, I give the students some Sharpie markers and they create their snowman face.  I love how different each bulb comes out.  Attached to each bulb is a poem and then on the back of the poem I have the students write their name. 

 Once all the bulbs are made I have to decide how to have the students take them home.  I love being able to wrap their gifts for their parents so their parents have something to open on Christmas too.  This year I found a brown bag idea on Pinterest and switched a little bit of it around to add my own touch.  For this gift bag the students glued on a brown circle and then a smaller red circle to the center of the brown circle.  Then they added the white eyes a little bit behind the brown nose and added with a black crayon the eyes.  Then their hands were traced on brown paper and then the students cut them out.  Then I put their bulb in the bag wrapped in tissue paper and then I folded down the gift bag and stapled it.  Then I stapled the antlers (hands) to the deer's head.
 Here is how it came out.  This will defiantly be on my list to make every year.  It was easy to make and so adorable.