Monthly Archives: January 2014

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

I attended schools in the same district from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  During that time, I had a total of 4 – maybe 5 tops – snow days.  So far this year, that very same district is on its 6th snow day and counting… and it’s only January.  Needles to say, Groundhog Day has never been more important.  In an effort to butter up the little critter and persuade hime to predict an early spring, this week’s project is Groundhog Day Cupcakes.

To make these adorable treats, you will need a brownie mix, a cake mix, chocolate frosting, white frosting, red hot candies, mini chocolate chips, and regular chocolate chips.  These special baking pans work perfectly for this project:

Groundhog Pans

Groundhog Pans

The bowl shaped brownie pan on the left makes perfect groundhog burrows (although you could also use regular muffin tins if you can’t find one of these pans), and the mini muffin pan on the right makes the groundhogs.

Make the burrows with brownie mix.  They will be much more sturdy and come out of the pan much better than if you make them with regular cake (learned that the hard way!).  When they are cool, frost them with white frosting so they look like snow covered burrows.

Then make the groundhogs with cake mix in mini muffin tins.  After they cool, frost them with chocolate frosting.  Add red hots for the mouths and chocolate chips for the ears.  Use white frosting with mini chocolate chips for the eyes.

Groundhog Cupcakes

Groundhog Cupcakes

Finally nestle the groundhogs in the tops of the burrows and enjoy… and cross your fingers for an early spring!

Painting on Snow

We have certainly had more than our share of cold snowy weather this year!  Personally, I’m pretty much over it!  But there are fun activities for kids (or adults!) that can help brighten up the winter doldrums.  One of my favorites is painting on snow.

It couldn’t be easier.  First gather some watercolor paints or food coloring.  Then go outside and have the kids scoop up bowls of snow.

Bowl of Snow

Bowl of Snow

Bring them in and begin coloring the snow with the paints or food coloring.  It’s so neat to watch the colors spread and feather out on the snow and blend together.

Painted Snow

Painted Snow

If the kids really get into the activity, take the paints or food coloring outside and color the snow right on the ground.  A splash of color will only help brighten up the cold winter days!

Holly Has a Place – Just Not in January

I’m always a little sad when it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations at the end of December.  So to lessen the sting, I like to decorate the house for January instead of just going back to the regular non-festive decorations.

Snowmen

Snowmen

Finding the right decorations for January can be tricky.  They should look wintery but not Christmasy.  I have a very strict rule to help navigate this fine line: NO HOLLY!

No Holly!

No Holly!

Snowmen make perfect January decorations.  As long as they don’t have a speck of holly (or the stray candy cane, star, or present) that would make them look Christmasy, I figure they are acceptable to use all winter!

January Snowman

January Snowman

It’s fun too look for and collect these non-Christmas snowmen too because it becomes a bit of a challenge to find them.  The best part is, lots of times you can find these snowmen at a steal at after Christmas sales.  Stores must not know my no holly rule!  They lump all the snowmen together on the same sale table – even the holly-free ones that would be perfect for January.  Their loss is your gain.  Happy hunting!

 

January Author of the Month: Jan Brett

Brrr!  Winter is here!  Time for January’s Author of the Month – Jan Brett.  An obvious choice perhaps, but her books just can’t be beat – especially for January.  I love her winter books like The Mitten and The Hat so much, I even decorate my kitchen with red and white mitten themed decorations for January and February!

Mitten Decorations

Mitten Decorations

In addition to winter decorating inspiration, here are some fun activities to do with Jan Brett’s books all month.

Jan Brett Books

Jan Brett Books

  • The Mitten – Make a chart of the animals in the story.  Discuss how they survive in the cold weather.
  • The Hat – Practice making text to text connections with The Mitten.  Also, use this book to introduce Jan Brett’s character Hedgie.  Follow it up with Hedgie’s Surprise and Hedgie Blasts Off!  Then make Hedgies out of brown construction paper circles and toothpicks.
    Hedgie

    Hedgie

    Have kids use the Hedgies they made to imagine new adventures for Hedgie.  Then have them write their own stories about these adventures.  Over the years I’ve done this with kids, these stories are always some of the best writing I see each year.  Hedgie is such a fun character, he sparks great creativity in the kids.  He’s been a superhero, a detective, you name it!  Also Hedgie appears at least once in every Jan Brett book.  Kids LOVE hunting for their little buddy in the illustrations of all her books, usually making them the most popular books in the classroom each year.

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Snow Bears – Compare and contrast the two versions and make text to text connections between the books.  Also discuss the polar habitat and forest habitat and compare the two.
  • Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends – Compare and contrast them with the original “Gingerbread Man” story.  Make and decorate gingerbread cookies.  Perhaps even stage a runaway gingerbread cookie hunt in your classroom!