Monthly Archives: September 2013

October Author of the Month: James Marshall

Happy October!  Time to share October’s Author of the Month.  In my opinion, James Marshall (aka Harry Allard) is the perfect author for October.  His book are hilarious as well as a bit spooky and mysterious at times too.  Here is a list of some of his books and related activities.  Happy reading!

James Marshall Books

James Marshall Books

  • Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Nelson is Back, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day: These popular stories about a sweet teacher with a class full of unruly students and her creepy substitute who whips them into shape are made for October.  Kids might need a reminder of how to behave once the “honeymoon period” of back to school time is over.  These books provide a great opportunity to review those classroom rules.  I always like to have kids write their own stories about their own teacher being missing.  Put their stories together for a cute class book.
  • Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears:  James Marshall’s versions of familiar fairy tales are so funny and silly, and kids LOVE them.  They lend themselves nicely to comparing and contrasting different versions of fairy tales.  It’s also fun to have kids write their own versions of fairy tales after reading these books.
  • Space Case:  This book is just right for wrapping up October’s author study.  It takes place on Halloween and November 1st.  It is about an alien who comes to Earth on Halloween just in time for costumes and trick or treating.  He is then disappointed when things are back to normal on November 1st.  This book is great for helping kids explore the idea of point of view.

Acorn Donut Holes

A couple years ago I discovered the amazing-ness that is Nutella when I made these darling little acorns for the first time.  I can’t imagine how I had missed it up until then, but after making these fall treats, I was hooked!  These little goodies are so quick and easy and are the perfect way to spruce up your run of the mill cider and donuts party.

I first found these on Pinterest.  All you need is donut holes, Nutella, toffee bits, and pretzel sticks.

Acorn Ingredients

Acorn Ingredients

Start by spreading Nutella on the top of a donut hole.  Then dip it in the toffee bits.  Finish by sticking part of a pretzel stick in the top for a stem.  That’s it!

Acorn Donut Holes

Acorn Donut Holes

Short, sweet, and delicious.  The Nutella and donut hole combination is unbelievably tasty.  A fall treat to make any squirrel envious!

Fall Bookmarks

Chilly days, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate… fall is the perfect time to curl up with a blanket and a good book.  (At least so it seems – still trying to figure out how and when to read a book in conjunction with our daughter’s schedule and everything else that needs to get done!)  Anyway, every good book needs a good bookmark, and here is a fun one to make for fall!

Start out with a cute fall punch like this owl from Stampin’ Up or this pumpkin from Martha Stewart.

Fall Punches

Fall Punches

Then choose some nice fall papers like these from Stampin’ Up.

Fall Papers

Fall Papers

Finally get some ribbon.  Love all these fall colors!!

Fall Ribbons

Fall Ribbons

Use the punch to cut your fall themed shape from the paper.  Get a big paperclip (they can be found at Target or office supply stores), and use a glue gun to attach your little fall shape to the top of the closed part of the paperclip.  Finish it off by tying a piece of ribbon next to the shape.  Voila!

Owl Bookmark

Owl Bookmark

Quick, easy, and fun.  And look – it really works!

Owl Babies Bookmark

Owl Babies Bookmark

Have fun bookmarking… just don’t make so many that you run out of time to actually read a book.  Hmmmm…. perhaps that’s part of my problem!  🙂

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on September 11th

September 11th (or Patriot Day as I have seen it called on some calendars) may not be a holiday that puts me in a celebratory mood, but I do believe it is important to take time to remember the events and heroes of September 11, 2001.  I also think it is important to share these memories with children.  Even though it still seems to me like it just happened, it is amazing to realize that children in elementary school and younger were born after 2001 and may not know anything about 9/11 at all.  As the anniversary approaches each year, they may see pictures on the news and be confused.  Fortunately, there is a wonderful book to help.

September 12th Book

September 12th Book

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right was written by first graders in Missouri right after September 11, 2001 happened.  It is beautifully written, and I love it because it focuses on hope and the future.  Be warned – it can be a tearjerker, so practice reading it alone before you sit down to read it with kids.  It so perfectly captures the thoughts and emotions I remember feeling in 2001.  The book transports me back to the end of the school day of September 11, 2001 when I put my third graders (now college students!) on the bus and told them no matter what they saw on TV that night to know they were safe because their parents and teachers loved them.  As you can see, the drawings in the book are so similar to the pictures my own third graders drew.

Page from September 12th Book

Page from September 12th Book

Student 9/11 Drawing

Student 9/11 Drawing

The book talks about taking pride in the USA and being united.  It describes seeing flags and red, white, and blue everywhere.  Those positive patriotic feelings are what I hope to help kids today experience.

I still wear red, white, and blue every year on September 11th, and I always encouraged my students to do the same.  After reading the September 12th book, I would have my students make red, white, and blue posters and write about why we are so lucky to live in America – because we are so lucky!

Even though September 11th is a solemn day, it provides the opportunity to reflect on why we are so fortunate to live in America, a country built on the ideas of freedom and respect for all people, regardless of how different from each other we may be.  I am grateful for that yearly reminder and hopeful that by sharing it with children, they will grow up remembering to live with empathy, compassion, and appreciation every day.

Apple Cake Pops

It’s September!  Time for fall treats full of apple-y, caramel-y, cinnamon-y goodness!  How do apple cake pops sound?

First, some tips for making cake pops in general because they can be frustrating and disastrous.  They take a lot of practice to get right, but they can turn out great once you get the hang of it.  I used this Cake Pops book when I first started making them and then tweaked several of their ideas to make them work better for me.

Cake Pops Book

Cake Pops Book

Cake Pops Tips:

  • Start with your favorite cake recipe or cake mix.
  • I like to bake it in a jellyroll pan at 350 for 15 to 17 minutes.  The cake doesn’t need to look nice, and this is the quickest way to bake it.  Also it will cool faster in this pan when it is done baking.
Cake Batter in Jellyroll Pan

Cake Batter in Jellyroll Pan

  • Let the cake cool and then crumble it all up into a big bowl.  For some reason this is really fun and kind of relaxing to do!
  • Mix the crumbs with about 3/4 cup of your favorite frosting.  You can always add more frosting if it is too dry and doesn’t hold together in a little ball, but if you add too much frosting to start with the mixture will get too sticky and difficult to work with.

Cake Crumbs and Frosting

Cake Crumbs and Frosting
  • Form the crumb and frosting mixture into about 1 inch balls.  Put them into the freezer for a few minutes until they are firm.
  • Melt chocolate or candy coating in a deep bowl.  If it is deep, the cake balls will get a smoother coating.
  • After the cake balls have spent time in the freezer, dip a toothpick or some sort of stick into melted chocolate then into a cake ball.  This will help “glue” it all together.
  • Dip the whole cake ball into the melted chocolate and put it on wax paper to harden.

For the apple cake pops, I like to use spice cake and caramel frosting.  Sometimes I add in chunks of apple too.  I use pretzel sticks instead of toothpicks to look like stems.  Dip them in red candy coating and decorate with green frosting leaves.  Ta-da!

Apple Cake Pops

Apple Cake Pops

Apple cake pops – cute and tasty with all the great fall flavors in one bite!