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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fill a Bucket

 I don't remember when I first read about "bucket filling" on the web. However, even though this is geared toward elementary aged kids, I knew it could "work" in middle school. Let's face it-kids can be mean.  It can even be "cool" to be mean. However, students can be taught how to be kind and how to be a friend.  Sure, it's not in our official curriculum but how can a student learn when he or she is miserable? Answer-it's hard or impossible. 
To be brief, there are a series of books by Carol McCloud. In these books, it is said that each person and animal has an invisible bucket. When you are nice to people, you fill their buckets and also fill your own. When you are mean to people, you are a bucket dipper.  When people have a full bucket, they feel happy, etc.

At the start of the year, I talked to my homeroom about this. I told them that it was something I did last year and the students found it really helpful.  This group of 19 boys and three girls said that they were interested.  I put two or three students in charge of creating the bulletin board.  We discussed some designed and everyone like the rainbow theme.  I had the library pockets and made all the text on my Cricut Expressions 2.  I used Cursive 101 because students were telling me that they couldn't read cursive. Another teacher lent me another cartridge to create the bucket.  (Maybe a Disney one?)  I went to several websites to download the bucket filler notes. 


I got my first two bucket filler books on Amazon. However, I got more from generous donations on Donor's Choose. org.  They have a lot of support for anti-bullying books, especially from The Townsend Press. To help support our classroom, please click the link below: 
 I copy them on colored paper, students cut them out, and we leave them on the shelf along with the books. I also put a bunch of cool pens in my awesome chalkboard mug. (Amazingly, none of these pens have been "permanently borrowed.") 
When someone does something nice or helps someone, the recipient can "fill that student's bucket." It's really easy.  Every few weeks, I will write each student a note and tape a small piece of candy to each note. 

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children
Published 2008
By Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin, M.A., and Illustrated by David Messing.
For Ages Birth - 7
32-page picture book
Soft cover ($8.95), Hard cover ($9.95)

From time to time, we will re-read one of the bucket books.  However, after setting up the bulletin board and maintaining the notes, bucket filling just takes off.  Although in middle school I have five classes, we only set up the bulletin board for our homeroom.  As my other classes express interest, I will read them one of the books.  Since this is an elementary type book, they often laugh. They might also sit on the floor to see the pictures of the book like smaller kids. However, students get the point and it still makes sense to them.  You will start to hear students say to each other, "You just filled my bucket!" Okay, you will also hear some "kick a bucket" jokes.  However, students are becoming aware of how words affect other people.

There are a ton of great websites on bucket filling.  However, I found the ones below really helpful.




PHILADELPHIA INDULGENCE Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

You know your cheesecake is a hit when you take it to work and none is left.  For a great tasting and fairly easy cheesecake, try this:
What You Need
 LORNA DOONE Shortbread Cookies, finely crushed (about 1-3/4 cups)

cup   plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided

cup  butter, melted

oz.  BAKER'S White Chocolate, divided

pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

tsp.  vanilla


tub  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA INDULGENCE Milk Chocolate

cups  COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

cup  fresh raspberries

Make It
HEAT oven to 325ºF.
MIX cookie crumbs, 1 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 min.
MELT 4 oz. white chocolate as directed on package. Beat plain PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
BAKE 50 to 55 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours. Meanwhile, shave remaining white chocolate into curls.
SPOON PHILADELPHIA INDULGENCE into medium bowl; stir until creamy. Add COOL WHIP; whisk until blended. Spread over cheesecake. Garnish with white chocolate curls and raspberries.     


Kraft Kitchens Tips
Need a sweet treat to serve a crowd? Try this rich, creamy dessert! Since it serves 16 people, it easily fits the bill.
Try preparing with PHILADELPHIA INDULGENCE Dark Chocolate.
How to Press Crumb Mixture onto Bottom of Pan To Make Crust
Use bottom of dry measuring cup to easily press crumb mixture onto bottom of pan.
My grocery store didn't have the white baker's chocolate so I just used white chocolate chips. 
I made the cheesecake in a cheaper and easier way by using premade pie shells. Plus, you can use the clear plastic cover as a lid to transport, if needed.  I used one dark chocolate and one regular graham cracker shell.  I got two cheesecakes this way.  However, if you follow the recipe exactly, you will only get one out of your springboard pan.
I crushed up the cookies for the crust using a candle. 
 These cookies were almost $5 alone. The premade shells are much cheaper.
 I realized I have two springboard pans.  Next time, I should probably make two cheesecakes.
 Here's the crust with the butter.  I just mashed it down with a fork and then baked it 10 minutes.
 Out of the oven.  Thanks to aunt Patty for this beautiful glass cake holder.  I love it.
 With the "mousse", white chocolate, and raspberries.
Ready to be transported over to mom's for the party.

Sew What?

So I finally got a sewing machine for Christmas.  After a bad experience with this horrible little "Tiny Tailor" I gave up on my sewing dream.  I used to hand sew little sachets and small bags but that gets pretty tedious. So I set up my new Singer 7467 up in my dining room.  I watched the DVD that came with the machine on my laptop. It was so easy.  I threaded the machine and was immediately sewing. I don't know why I picked forest green but I am a little afraid to re-thread the machine so forest green is here to stay.

I couldn't find my stash of material in my garage so I started sewing dishtowels.  I am lucky that that my mom used to sew and quit. I have her old sewing storage thing and all of her old thread, needles, electric scissors, and all this other random stuff.

I ventured into my garage and under some boxes under some other boxes, I finally found my cloth stash.  Soon, I made my first sachet using floral material from my friend @Gretchen. I had some lace in my art room.  I also found a bag of lavender and chamomile.  I then stuffed the sachet with lemon basil from my Aerogarden. 
My aunt Bonnie brought me some more fabric and gave me many new tips.  I learned that I need to iron fabric before sewing. I washed all the fabric because it seemed odd from being in a garage for say five years.  Then I busted out the iron and went to work.
I made a few more sachets and a really hideous- looking scarf.  Right now, I am just practicing sewing straight and not so fast.  I realize that it is going to take a while before I am making my nephew a little suit. (He would look adorable in a little tux.)  I do hope that I can make his next Halloween costume.  My cousin Julia, who also got a machine for Christmas, and I are planning on taking a few sewing classes at Joanne's.  I have a lot to learn!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Smash Book

I've been eye-balling these K& Company "Smash Books" for a few months.  They are simply a sketchbook with some cool pre-designed pages for you to write things in.  I have spent many hours of my life staring at the horrifying "blank" page and thought this was a great way to avoid this.  However, the original price was about $16.  There was a display at my local grocery store. I didn't buy due to the price plus I felt like these were marketed to high school kids.  HOWEVER, one days I was cruising through Giant Eagle and noticed that these Smash Books were 50% off. I bought one of all from the whole display and everyone of the types of "list pad." The list pad is like a journalling starter with an image and prompt to write on.  Now, I could KICK myself for not buying all of the Smash Books because I love mine.  I've turned mine into a HAPPY BOOK.  Why a happy book? Why not? I have a lot to be happy about so I like to write about it.  It's easy to glue things in because the cool sharpie like pen also has a glue stick on one end.  I've been sticking in smelly stickers, post-its, tabs, and collage images.  It makes me feel inspired.  Why didn't I buy more?  

I will post more of the "finished" or "in progress" pages.  I've kept a sketchbook and journals for as long as I can remember.  However, I just down write as much as I used to.  Now, I'm back to writing down book ideas.  I'm going to start writing the next bestseller today!  

I've been coloring over my cover in marker.  I'm not quite sure how to handle the textured cover.  I'm so used to collaging things but I don't think that would work well here.

I couldn't resist buying one or more of each.  At 50% off, they were pretty cheap.

These huge rubber bands go around the cover and then you stick things in them.

Hanging Out with Seventh Grade

Hangin' Out with 7th Grade
Close up of some t-shirts

Side view of bulletin board

Classroom view

September 2012
This is a great beginning of the year project for language arts.  Every year I do this "Bio-Poem" project before our Open House.  Parents always like to read their child's poem.  All I did is:
1.) Google a template for a bio-poem.  I've used a series of them.  My favorite is Laura Chandler's.  You can find her work on Teachers Paying Teachers.  I downloaded her handouts for free.
2.) Download a t-shirt template that you like.  
3.) Make a simple rubric for assessment:
   -Followed template
   -Checked spelling
   -Proper capitalization
   -Appropriate design
4.) Make copies for students. Show examples of prior student work or teacher made sample. Tie-dye or school colors always look great.  Students can use any design for their t-shirt as long as it is school appropriate. Some students may cut off the sleeves or re-design the collar.
5.  After completing the prewriting, I have students spell check.  Before they begin their final project, I check spelling and capitalization.
6. PUBLISHING:  We hang these shirts on a "clothesline" made out of yarn.  We staple them and then put little clothes pins on them. Students make a sign that says. "Hangin' Out with 7th Grade." Early finishers can make a pair of "Summer Shorts."  (Also found this for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sesame Street Font Hand-Colored

My nephew Jackson loves Elmo and Sesame Street.  I bought Sesame Street Font to make him some decorations for his room.  The images on the LEFT are just made using the Cricut.  Strangely, I noticed that some images are unavailable.  So I drew them in using a sharpie.  I decided that I liked it better.  I like the images outlined plus it was easier.   The images on the RIGHT are cut in red and hand-colored.  I had to use my chalkboard marker for the white.  The black is sharpie and the other colors are Martha Stewart opaque markers.  

Jackie also likes Cookie Monster.  I got him the one that eats cookies at Target.   Again, the shape is cut from blue Color Block paper ($5 at Walmart) and colored with markers.

I think the hand-colored images look better because they are outlined.  Another thing you could do would be to use the Cricut markers to outline after cutting.  They are pretty easy to use.  I don't know why they don't mention that in the manual though.  I just thought of it.

Here's Jackson in one of his Elmo shirts!  He is very proud to be able to see in a chair by himself.  Mom and Uncle Joe are pictured.

Jackson doesn't sit much but he really likes Aunt Bonnie's favorite chair.  

Here's Jackson first Elmo when he was a few months old.  I bought him the zipper/button Elmo before vacation.  He loves it. Today in the car we were feeding Elmo puffs!  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

School Daze

This is a hallway information display.  I put the school bulletin here and other important information daily.

I love this DCWV Tie-Dye stack. I've already used all my favorite papers. I hope there is not an Imagine Cricut cart with tie-dye or I will have to go out and buy one.  ( I don't have an Imagine!) The font in TYPE CANDY.

I got this idea from Pinterest. It's an exit slip poster where students can stick a note of "where they are."  I used Mac Pages. The font I used is Chalkduster.

I cleaned out my closet and labelled EVERYTHING!  Half of the stuff is from Really Good Stuff.

I changed this but I wanted to put up some important posters as we discuss procedures.

I hate the desks in rows but it will be fine for a few weeks.

Front of room

Another Pinterest idea of exit slip post-it notes.  You can post the exit slip question on the top.  Each student will post their note on their student number.

More Tim Holtz

I ordered a Tim Holtz shadow box "thing" off of Ebay.  It is a bunch of different boxes that you put into the larger box. I painted it with chalkboard paint, then arranged the boxes how I wanted them. I coated with matte gel.

I used ultra matte gel to get my images in the boxes.  I used vintage family pictures and some found objects. After watching the Tim Holtz video on YouTube, I decided to use the tissue tape on the edges.  This looked better and kept all the boxes in place.

As I glued in objects, I also kept adding images.  Each little box has a different "theme."

The final projects and details are below.

This is my great-grandmother, an old nib, and a tile with sign language on it.

This is a picture of my grandfather during WWII.

Detail of a keyhole, a faux flower with a Tim Holtz pearl inside. The photo is a vintage woman.
This is the full box without the clear screen and lid.