No Fuss Crockpot Chili Stew

There are summer recipes and there are winter recipes.  Chili Stew is one of my favorite winter recipes.  It takes only minutes to assemble and always has a thick, spicy sauce and oh so tender chunks of meat.  Sometimes I serve it with biscuits for a fancier alternative to basic chili.

Chili Stew – serves 4

Here’s what you need:


1 lb of stew beef cut into chunks

2 medium onions cut into quarters

2 carrots cut into 1 inch lengths

1 16 0z can of tomatoes

2 cans of red kidney beans

2 tbsp of flour

1 package chili mix

Place the onions and carrots in the crockpot.  (I had one large onion that I rough cut and some baby carrots that I cut in half).



Place the beef cubes over the vegetables.


Cut the tomatoes into smaller chunks (I used canned diced tomatoes).  Pour off the juice into a small bowl and put the can of tomatoes in the refrigerator until later. Add the chili mix, flour and if needed some water to the juice so you have at least 1/4 cup.


Spread the juice mixture over the beef, put the lid on the crockpot and cook on high 4 hours (I have cooked it on low for 8-10 hours with the same results).


Now, this is the hard part…….DON’T TAKE OFF THE LID AND DO NOT ADD WATER!!!!!  I know it will be tempting.  You’ll look through the lid and think  it looks dried out, but trust me, it isn’t.  All that moisture on the lid is dropping down on the mixture below creating yummy goodness.

About 30 minutes before serving throw in the reserved tomatoes and the two cans of beans into the crockpot. Give it a good stir and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes.  Then it’s time to serve it up and enjoy. 


This recipe is husband tested and recommended.  He loves this stuff!

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Drowning In A Sea of Photos

I’m finding retirement is a constant battle of what I want to do and what I know I should be doing.  Things I ignored around the house, during the 19 years I worked full time, have filled the void once occupied by work guilt.  I’m not a hoarder…..well, my husband might disagree.  He has NO trouble getting rid of things but I do.  Someone needs to be the keeper of the memories.  What about the family memorabilia ?  Someone has to keep those so they don’t end up in some junky flea market.  To my credit most memories are stored in neatly stacked boxes.

But then there’s the photos…………………….

My relationship with photos began in the 1950’s when I was born.  They were black and white and very small.  They were pictures of different relatives holding me.  It was expensive back then to get pictures developed.  People were choosey about what they took pictures of.  By my first birthday my father had upgraded to a Kodak that took color slides. That’s where the rest of my childhood resides, on slides, in a box.

When my daughter was born we had a nice Cannon that used film.  When our son came along they were offering double prints.  Perfect!  Each child had a photo album for each year of their life and two prints fit the bill.

Then I started working.  The pictures still got taken but writing the information on the back and putting them in the albums didn’t happen.  They got put in a box “to do later”.  Then another box, and another, and another and…….well, you get the picture.

On Saturday, I got brave and got out the boxes.  Yes, I threw some double prints away but mostly I spent time going down memory lane.  I found pictures from when we were first married.  Who were those two young people?  What is a cat doing in our apartment?  Did we almost become cat people?  Why didn’t we keep it when there is proof that it and our puppy got along?

Then panic set in.  Will I ever remember what year these pictures of our children were taken?  Why didn’t the processing put the date on the back?  They put other numbers on them.  Am I missing pictures?  Will I even be able to find a photo album to put these in?  What about the slides that have come unglued?  Is there even a place anymore that can put them back together or will I need to figure out how to do it?

After about 4 hours of going through photos I was a bit overwhelmed so I threw away the doubles and bad shots, consolidated everything into less boxes and put them away until the next time I am photo guilt ridden.

One thing I did learn from my attempt at organization (other that I had an encounter with a pretty black and white cat) is to choose your family photos carefully.  Love doesn’t always last.  Take pictures of just your family.  Then after you’re finished invite the boyfriend from freshman year of college to join you in one.  Take a picture of your son at graduation with his girlfriend then move on to pictures of him and his other friends.  Now that he’s in a serious relationship and almost 30, he probably isn’t that interested in having a bunch of pictures of him and is high school sweetheart.

Divorced?  Your love may not have lasted but your children’s love for both of you has.  If you are both present at an event important to your child take pictures with them and your ex to document it.  The two of you are still their family.  After that you can take a picture of your children and their extended family with the step parents and step and half siblings.  You’ll send a powerful  message that you may not still love each other but you do love them.

A project for another day……figuring out what do to with the pictures stored in the computer. I’m overwhelmed thinking about it!!


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Young Writers and Inventive Spelling

Once upon a not too distant time I had a parent who felt her first grader should be taught only second grade work.  She felt he was way beyond our first grade curriculum and as proof she brought to our conference a paper he had written in kindergarten.  Keep in mind that I had been working with this child for a few weeks and knew his writing style which included, at that point in time, no capitalization or punctuation and sprinkled in were some misspelled words.  What she shows me is this beautifully written story with no mistakes.  There was nothing in his present work to indicate that he had written the story by himself.  It looked as if he had dictated it to someone and they in turn sat by him and told him exactly what to write so it looked like a masterpiece.  It gave a false indication of his level of work and his level of developement. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen this done.

As an early childhood teacher I want my students to love to write just as I want them to love to read.  I want them to be creative.  I want them to enjoy what they are doing.  In my experience, I’ve never had a student that loved to correct and rewrite until they had a perfectly written product.  I’ve seen correcting and rewriting stop them dead in their tracks  and they never finish which made me rethink the way I was teaching writing.

Young writers should first learn to love writing and what they write should be celebrated without question.  This is why I feel inventive spelling is a huge part of creating a writer.  Its a foundation that eventually leads to the more sophisticated writing process of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.  Inventive spelling is part of the writing process.  I see it as the foundation.

When a young child is learning to explore creative writing, they need to feel in total control of it.  It needs the same freedom as learning to draw.  Great parents ask their child to tell them about the scribbles and shapes they drew on a piece of paper.  They don’t ask, “What is it?”  The same should apply to something a child has “written” in scribbled lines.  They see you writing grocery lists, reminders, etc.   They want to be just like you so they imitate you.

As a child matures, their drawings mature.  They go from scribbles, to a single crayon of choice person with no neck and arms probably coming out of the head, to a person with arms with fingers.  By the time they are in 1st grade most of them draw people with clothes in detailed color.  Being able to “draw the man” is an indicator of developmental maturity.  On the first and last day of school my students draw me in their journals.  I’m always amazed at the progression of maturity and detail when I look at the first drawing and the last drawing of the year.

That same maturing pattern is true in their writing as well.  Their writing starts out as scribbles, just like their beginning drawings.   Eventually, as they learn the alphabet and start to associate the written symbol to the letter name, the scribbles turn into random letters.  Parents should now be asking them to tell about what they wrote.  Even though the answer might be just their name, the random letters show they are beginning to realize they can put their thoughts on paper.  When they put sounds with the symbols inventive spelling begins.

When inventive spelling starts there are 3 things I want my students to learn before they learn to spell correctly.

* to recall events

* to order the events

* to write in complete sentences because they speak in complete sentences

One of my favorite examples of watching a child to naturally mature in to a writer was a 1st grade girl that entered into my class with very few writing skills.  In late September, after being in school for over a month, it was time to celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday.  We watched the Disney movie, peeled apples using an apple peeler, measured the length of  the apple peels, tasted red, green and yellow apples, and made apple crisp.  Later they wrote about the experience in their journals.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 2.42.51 PM

“We celebrated Johnny Appleseed’s birthday.  My favorite activity was when we tasted the apples.  My favorite was the red apple.”

By looking at her account of the day you can see that she knows how to spell a few words and knows the beginning and some ending sounds of most of the words.  Her inventive spelling tells me I need to work with her hearing and identifying ending sounds.

About three weeks after this was written we began teaching spelling as a subject.  Learning to spell along with rhyming and reading leads to becoming a proficient speller.  Each week I teach the children to rhyme other words with their spelling words.  If the lesson is teaching cat, bat, and hat, rhyming will teach they can also spell fat, mat, pat, rat, sat, vat, flat, plat, etc.  So instead of learning to spell 3 words they now can spell 11 or more. Spelling rhyming words greatly increases their spelling vocabulary.

 By the end of the year we reach the “ou” and “ow” words.  One year I gave my students the assignment to use their “ou” and “ow” words to write a story.  My same little girl that somewhat struggled at the beginning of the year as a writer wrote this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 2.43.27 PM

It wasn’t edited and as you can see she progressed through out the year to become a excellent first grade speller.  She also learned to love writing and in second grade she won and essay contest.

When she first started her writing journey inventive spelling gave her the luxury of focusing on what to write and not having to focus on how to write it.  The rest came naturally as more was taught.  When we ask a 4, 5 or 6 year old to rewrite their work until it is perfect we are not teaching them to love writing.  They view it as what they wrote is not good enough and rewriting it as a punishment.

So I changed my way of thinking to ease my young student’s writing frustrations. I now feel in the beginning of their writing experience a young child needs to be able to enjoy the content of their writing and not worry about the mechanics.  We shouldn’t stifle creativity for the sake of a perfect finished product.

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What Do You Mean You Don’t Understand?

Sometimes TMI is a good thing especially when it comes to directions. Often important pieces of information are missing for the audience reading or listening to the directions.  I don’t think it’s on purpose.  It’s more a causality of doing something so many times that what was once necessary information, in the beginning of learning something, becomes so routine it goes to your subconscience the more you do it.

Why the interest in thinking I need TMI?  Knitting!  I recently decided to knit a baby sweater for one of my daughter’s friends. I searched Ravelry (if you knit or crochet and aren’t on Ravelry, you should be!) and found a free pattern for a Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys.  Seamless….quite appealing to me since my finishing details aren’t very refined….yet.  As I’m reading the directions I had the feeling that something was important was missing.  I got back online to read the comments on Ravelry and found that I wasn’t the only one confused.  The directions told you to cast on 4 stitches under the arm without telling you to place the arm stitches on a holder first….a very important detail, especially for a beginning knitter.  There were some other assumptions in the pattern so as I knitted I wrote down some notes.  As a result of the comments I read on Revelry and my own trial and error I made corrections to the increase rows.  Then followed another knitter’s suggestions to row 43 and finally trusted my own instincts. I’ve actually made this sweater a couple of times and each time I’ve added more corrections to the pattern.  It’s definitely taught me that written directions need to be tested several times!  My version is a work in progress so please let me know if there is something you don’t understand so I can make it better.

Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater

This experience took me back to the classroom. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have taught a lesson where after the introduction, instruction, practice and wrap up, I asked if there are any questions and not one hand goes up.  Then, as they were doing the follow up, only about 25% of them “got it”.  There weren’t questions but there should have been.  So then I would dig deeper and reteach hoping that I remembered to add a step that would help them grasp the concept.

For some reason we haven’t taught our children to ask questions.  Could it be because we get tired of hearing “why”, “why” and more “why”?  Or when we are at the height of frustration we say, “don’t ask questions, just do it!”.  And then we turn around and tell them that if they don’t understand what the teacher is teaching to ask questions.

We teach children the question words but I think, as teachers, we sometimes forget to teach them how to use them.

How do you go about this?  My suggestion is to start with modeling questions for them to answer.  You probably do it all the time.

        “Do you want milk or juice with your lunch?”

        “Which story do you want to listen to before you go to bed?”

        “Can you find your shoes?”

You can also set up specific situations:

“What do I need to do first to get your bath ready?  Do I need to plug or unplug the tub?   How full should I fill the tub?  Should I use hot or cold water or both?”

“Can you show me how to make chocolate milk?  How much chocolate should I put in it?  Should I stir it?”   Then add, “I don’t understand why I should stir it if the chocolate is already down at the bottom”.  This is a important statement.  It lets your child know that it is OK, when they don’t understand, to tell the person teaching them.

You can also let your child be the teacher:

After reading your child a story let them be the teacher.  They can spin the Question Spinner or choose a Question Word Card and then ask you a question about the story that begins with that word.  In the beginning you will probably have to help them form the questions until they get the hang of it.

Question Words and Spinner

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Other ideas you can try:

Play 20 Questions – perfect for older children needing more practice

Go to a museum and pick out objects for your child to ask you a questions about using two or three different question words.

Look at I Spy books – they are full of objects that could generate questions

Something to keep in mind, while you and your child are having these question and answer sessions, is to be sure you are answering the questions they ask in complete sentences.  Past the age of 4 your child should be answering you in complete sentences.  In the beginning you might have to remind them to answer in a complete sentence, then state your question again and help them find the right words to answer you correctly.  You want them to restate the question in their answer.  If your question was, “Who ate the cookies in the story?”, then their answer should be, ” The mouse ate the cookies in the story”.  If your child can verbally answer your questions in a complete sentences then it will be a breeze for them to answer in complete sentences in their school work……teachers like that and as they go on to higher grades, they expect it.

After all this practice your child will go to school knowing what words are used to ask questions, will feel comfortable asking them and not be this child……..

The visiting fireman asks if there are any questions.  The unexperienced child says, “One time we had a fire and we roasted marshmallows and mine burned”.  Nope, yours will be the child asking……..”What should I do if I see someone playing with matches”?

Do you have any questions about this post?  I do.  Do you have any more suggestions for teaching child how to ask questions?

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Do you believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns or the Tooth Fairy?

My worst nightmare is when a child comes up to me and asks, “Is Santa (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns) real”?

No matter how you answer, the next words out of their mouths are……” Tommy says Santa (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Leprechaun) isn’t real!”  It is a no win situation, no matter what I say.

I respect your right to tell your child what and what not to believe whether it is for religious reasons or you don’t want to lie to your child. But when it comes to school it is a difficult situation for the classroom teacher.

Last year I had a little girl that has always known the truth about Santa.  I wouldn’t have known if her mother hadn’t told me.  This year I have a boy that immediately, as soon as we started doing seasonal activities, announced on the playground to most of the first grade boys that Santa wasn’t real.  Many, many unhappy parents.

What is the difference?  Jane’s parents, in respect for the other parents, have always told her at each and every holiday to be sure not to tell the other children and she hasn’t.  Samuel, however, hasn’t been reminded. Even though both his mother and I talked to him at Christmas, he has already tried to inform a child that the Easter Bunny isn’t real either.  Luckily it was the first thing in the morning and he said it as the other child was walking away.  I don’t think they heard him but I did.  I was able to speak to him immediately to remind him not to talk about it.  Then I sent out an email to all of my parents to ask them to remind their non believers to not ruin it for the others.  I got several emails back reminding me that Samuel had told the children about Santa…..unhappy parents still not happy.

When its your own child you know when the time is right. I must have really done a great job keeping Santa, Leprechauns, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy real for my children.  One day when my daughter was in 4th grade I picked her up from school.  Thankfully, her little brother was not with me because she immediately asked “Mom, is the Tooth Fairy real”?  Gulp!  I told her no, but not to spoil it for her brother.  She never asked about the others.  I’m sure she figured it out.  Her brother never asked either so I am sure at some point either she or a “Samuel” told him or he matured enough to figure it out on his own.   Or maybe, he was a mini me……….

I personally kept my parents believing that I believed in Santa for a couple of years after I found my Santa present hidden in their closet.  Until Christmas morning I thought it was just a present, but when it was under the tree from Santa, I knew.

Is believing in Santa and other seasonal characters bad? Recently, I  saw an article about believing in Santa and creativity. Believing in Santa is one of the earliest opportunities a child has to imagine.  You can’t believe in Santa and not try to imagine him coming down a chimney or the elves in his workshop.  Or what does the Tooth Fairy do with the tooth?  When you imagine you’re making movies in your head.  If you can make movies in your head, you can comprehend what you are reading.  If you can make movies in your head, you can write about what you are imagining.  Better readers and writers are better students.

So, what do I say when a student asks me if Santa, Leprechauns, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy are real?  I tell them that some children believe and some don’t and if they have questions, they need to talk to their parents.  If they ask me if I believe, I tell them yes, I believe in what they represent and they have never questioned me further.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

photo-1A few weeks ago I was sitting in the garden behind Notre-Dame in Paris waiting for my daughter to finish climbing to the top of the Cathedral towers.  All was peaceful until two boys decided they were bored and started running around several benches, including mine.  School was still in session in Paris so they must have been waiting for classmates to finish whatever they were doing.  Soon two boys turned into three, three into four and finally there were five of them chasing each other and generally disturbing the serenity of the Square de Jean XXIII.  At no time did the first two boys stop long enough to ask boys 3, 4, and 5 to join them.  They just did.

This happens a lot with young children.  You’d like to think that when they are choosing to follow the behavior of another child, they are being discriminate about what behavior to mimic.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  They are young children and it is in their nature to be a part of the “monkey see, monkey do” syndrome.  As parents and caregivers, it is up to us to teach them which behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable for them.

Some “not acceptable for them situations” are stickier than others.  Your definition of acceptable behavior might be different than those around you including family, friends and strangers.

These are techniques I’ve used with my own children, with my class or have learned along the way.

The easiest situation is when you are in a public place and you and your child observe inappropriate behavior of another child or group of children from a distance.  If I had been sitting on the park bench with a young child I would have said something like, “I’m glad you are sitting on the bench with me.  I know the people around us appreciate it too. Do you think the boys should be running around?”.  Then you can quietly talk about why they shouldn’t be running around……’s noisey and people are trying to read….there’s a lot of people walking around and someone might get hurt…….the list could go on.

Of course the teacher in me was sitting there trying to control the urge to say ” Garçons, s’il vous plait arreter de courir, il vous est perturbateur”.  Yep, I had translator, but didn’t use it to say, “Boys, stop running, you’re being disruptive”……but I wanted to!

What if your child was part of the pack causing the disruptive behavior?  Easy.  You ask them to sit or stand with you.  You tell them why and that when the group has calmed down and changed back to acceptable behavior they can rejoin the activity.

Play dates unfortunately are a little more sensitive especially when it might affect your friendship with the parent.

Sticky Situations:

1. The host child begins to exhibit bad behavior, you watch your child beginning to follow, you hesitate, hoping the host parent will step in, they don’t and it’s time for you to take action!

Actually, before you arrived, you should have been proactive.  You’ve already taught your toddler that “no” means to stop what they are doing and if they don’t there will be consequences.  Why not teach them the equivalent for play dates by having a sign that only the two of you know?  Say their name so they are looking at you and tug on your ear (the comedian Carol Burnett used this after every show to tell her grandmother she loved her).  The key is if you used it, stick to the consequences for not changing behavior.  The play date might end early, but your child will know that you mean what you say and that will serve you well when they are teenagers!

It works in the classroom too.  Let me give you an example.  I have a necklace at school that I can easily take on and off.  If I have a child with difficulty controlling behavior I tell them I’m going to wear my necklace.  If I take it off that means their behavior is not appropriate for the classroom.  When they are back on track I put it back on.  That student and I only know the meaning of what I am doing.

2.  The play date is at your house………………… the guest child begins to exhibit bad behavior, you watch your child beginning to follow, you fear something will be broken, you hesitate, hoping the guest parent will step in and they don’t.  What do you do?

The experts would tell you to redirect their play.  If they are throwing blocks, then you pick up the blocks and direct them towards another activity.  That should work.

What if it doesn’t, it continues and the guest parent still ignores the situation?  First, make a note to yourself………..don’t invite them back.  Next, and this is entirely my personal opinion, it’s your house and if you have to step in, you should.  If a parent is watching their child be unkind, mean, reckless, poor table manners, etc and they do nothing to stop it, then, frankly, they have no respect for you, your family and your home.  If it was my house, I’d ask the offending child to stop and ask my own child to help me clean up, telling them that I am afraid something is going to be broken and they can play with it again after guest child leaves.  Look at the particular situation facing you.  Be creative in what you say to keep it general and not point fingers.  Take your child out of the situation first and then it seems less offensive when you take the guest child out of it.

Finally,  the most important thing to remember is that you want to stop the situation before your child becomes a follower.  When you acknowledge appropriate play your child then becomes the good host and guest.  As they get older they might take care of the problem before it becomes one………..  “We can’t throw blocks because if we do my mom will make us put them away”………..  Music to a parent’s ears!

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Valentine Bags

Love me some Pinterest!  The other day I was checking out some new pins and I saw some really cute valentine boxes for the classroom.  Being late to the party, or in other words, waiting until the last minute to think about valentine bags, I didn’t have time to collect boxes and cover them in red paper.  I had to improvise with what I had.

get-attachment.aspxValentine Bags 2014 version

This is what I did.  I used my iPad to take a picture of each child’s face from the shoulders up.  I printed them on card stock.  I cut each of them out.

Our school orders us white 6″x12″ bakery bags.  I folded down the top edge about an inch (it helps if you stretch the bag top out as you fold) and then folded it again.  This keeps the bag open and gives it some stability.

I stapled each head to the back of the bag.  Then I gave each child a set of  valentine arms to cut out.  I had a variety of ethnic tones available.  After the arms were cut out I stapled each one to the back of the bag facing forward.  I creased where the hand would come over to the front of the bag to keep them from pulling the arm too tight across the side of the bag.

Each child glued down a big heart on the front of the bag and then glued down the hands over the heart.

They turned out really cute and the heavier heads has helped them to stay upright instead of toppling over.

I’ve seen many valentine bags torn into like it was Christmas morning.  We make Valentine Memory Books for them to glue their valentines in.  It makes them actually look at who gave it to them.  The book has enough blank white pages in it for each valentine.  If they get a candy, then they just write about it.

IMG_4418 Valentine Memory Book

Valentine Memory Book

And that’s a pin!

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Potato Soup

I had a wonderful mother.  She was an excellent cook, especially when it came to comfort food.  One of my favorite things she made was potato soup.

The hardest part of making potato soup in my house is the challenge of keeping my husband from eating the raw potatoes.  Before you judge……we both grew up eating raw potatoes.  As disgusting as that is to some of you, including our children, it’s normal to us.  So, with a few unkind words spoken to him, the soup finally gets made.  It is a combination of my mother’s recipe and my own touches. It’s rich, thick and so delicious!

Potato Soup



1 small onion diced

1/2 cup chopped celery diced

2 tbsp butter

4 cups russet potatoes, pealed and diced into 1 inch pieces

8 cups chicken broth

1 tsp Nature’s seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 package of tri colored coleslaw mix

2 cups whole milk

1/4 c flour

1 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a heavy pot. Add the onion and celery  and cook until the onion is tender but not brown.  Add the potatoes, seasoning and chicken broth.  Cook until the potatoes are fork tender (don’t cook too long or they will get mushy).  With a potato masher break up the cooked potatoes so you still have big pieces and smaller pieces. Thicken the milk (make sure it is whole milk, the others just don’t have the same results in making it thick and rich) with the flour and add to the potato mixture.  Add the cream and coleslaw.  Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat until soup thickens. I freeze the leftovers, if there are any ,to grab as I go out the door to work.  I let it sit out all morning to thaw and then microwave for about 4 minutes.  It makes a great lunch.

Serves 6

Enjoy. It’s the perfect dinner for a cold winter night!

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Snow Day, Part II

Winter weather hit the south with a vengeance this week.  Snow in the forecast along with low temperatures.  But, for once, the school districts didn’t announce school closures 2 days in advanced.  They actually waited to see what the weather was going to do and waited until the day before.  The problem was that they believed that the weather would follow the predicted path.  Ouch, it didn’t. Unfortunately, it showed up with its ugly brothers, sleet and ice.

Just like all of the children in my class I was wishing for snow.  I love watching it fall.  I love walking in it.  I love how pretty everything is.  But if I can help it, I don’t like making up snow days.  Our head of school doesn’t either so we took advantage of the weather arriving around noon and came to school with an early dismissal.

My coworkers were busy hitting Pinterest to find snow related ideas to make our short day educational but fun.  It was a busy enrichment day for my class so we only concentrated on one theme.

Snowmen: Two activities, one sheet of paper.

The first activity was to label a snowman.  Perfect!  We started off with me giving verbal “how to draw your snowman” directions.  It turned out to be a great listening activity.  Then I gave them the labels which they used their independent reading skills to correctly place them.  They really had a lot of fun doing it because they had an investment in the snowman they were labeling.


After they finished labeling their snowmen I had them turn their papers to the other side and they made a snow picture with a snowman worksheet.  The purpose of this wasn’t the cut and paste snowman but using a horizon in the picture.  We have been talking about drawing pictures with a horizon to give the picture some depth and to correspond with their lesson with the art teacher and vanishing points.


Before we knew it, the weather had change and freezing rain had arrived.  Early dismissal was moved up an hour and we all got home safe and sound before it got really bad.

Then we all waited……..for the snow to come and this is what we got.

IMG_4378It was just enough to make it pretty, test my dogs that aren’t used to it and along with the icy roads, enough to keep us home for two more snow days.

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Calling All Turkeys

I’m pretty sure most of the parents hate me on the day we get out for Thanksgiving vacation.  The children love me though, for on that day we finish up our Thanksgiving activities and we make …………………Turkey Callers!


Imagine a rafter of turkeys, both hens and toms, in an uproar all at once, and you have a room full of children with turkey callers.

I honestly can’t remember where I got the idea from but it’s been a staple from the first time I saw it.  Luckily I had a Kindergarten aide that created the pattern for me.

Turkey Caller Pattern

To make one you will need a large plastic cup, a sponge, waxed dental floss and a blunt needle.


Drill two holes in the bottom of the cup.


Cut the sponge into 4 pieces.  They should be approximately 1″x 2″.


This is the tedious part and I always do it ahead of time.  Cut a piece of dental floss that is about 1 1/2′  to 2′ long.  Thread it down through one hole and back up through the other hole.


Tie the floss off onto what is now the top so there is a short end and a long end.  Then take the long end back down into the cup.


Next tie the piece of sponge at the end of the long piece of floss.  To get it tight it helps to have the sponge slightly damp.


Now you are ready to add the turkey features.  I always have the children cut the pieces out and I staple them to the cup.  I fan the feathers out like the NBC Peacock and staple to the back and the body and legs to the front.


To make the turkey talk, slightly wet the sponge and wrap it around the top of the floss.


Pull the sponge in short, jerky movements down the floss and let the noise begin!


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