Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sun, Earth, & Moon Model for Kids

The lunar eclipse tonight is a pretty rare event, so I wanted to explain to the kids what was happening before we watched it. I found this model online. ( 
It was very easy to construct and worked well as a visual for them to process the event. 

The template for the circles can be found on the link above.

I just used yellow, blue, green, white, and brown cardstock paper. Each model takes three brads as well. 

I cut the short strip of brown paper 4 inches instead of the 5 that is recommended. The long strip was cut to 8 inches. Simply connect the circles to the strips as pictured below. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

No-bake Reese's Cheesecake Squares

1 package Oreo's crushed (About 4 cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 packages (8oz) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 (12 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
15-20 mini peanut butter cups chopped
Chopped peanut butter cups
chocolate sauce

Crush the Oreo's and stir in the melted butter. Press into a 9x13 in pan. 

Whip the cream cheese and add the peanut butter. Cream until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Let that mix for about 2 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip and chopped Reese's 

Spread over the crust. 

Top with chopped Reese's and chocolate sauce. Chill in the refrigerator. 

Chicken/Turkey Meatball Bar with Honey Chipotle Sauce

I made chicken/turkey meatballs the other day and the kids loved them! It was such a big hit we decided to put together a meatball bar for the football games. (I made a brown gravy sauce, a honey chipotle sauce, and marinara sauce.) We added mashed potatoes and spaghetti noodles to go with it as well. We will definitely do this again. 

Meatball Ingredients: 
3 lbs any combination of ground chicken and/or turkey. (I had a 1 1/2 of each) 
**This recipe works with ground beef as well. 
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped bacon (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. 

Scoop the mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

I made brown gravy for one sauce. We sometimes add cream of mushroom soup to brown gravy for a sauce, but the plain gravy tasted just as good. 

For the honey chipotle sauce: Mix 1 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 3 Tbsp orange juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper, 2 drops lemon juice. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high. (This recipe came from: It is delicious! If you want it thicker, you could make this on the stovetop and use cornstarch to thicken.

The final sauce was just a simple marinara sauce. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles

I love spending the fall weekends baking with pumpkin! I found these cookies on Pinterest. (

They are so delicious! I will definitely be making these again. 

3 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup can pumpkin
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon-sugar Coating:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice 

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with the white and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Pour the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Place dough in the refrigerator to cool for an hour. 

Mix the filling and let that cool for an hour as well. 

When chilled, place a tablespoon of dough on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Press it down. Add a tsp. of the cream cheese mixture. 

Press another Tablespoon of dough down in your hands and place that on top of the cream cheese. Seal the edges and roll the cookie into a ball. Roll the cookie ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place back on the cookie sheet. Press the cookie down with a glass. 

Bake for 11-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the cookies sit on the pan for about 5 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Detroit Lions Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Stadium

I wanted to try a pumpkin sugar cookie recipe I found on Pinterest ( and the kids wanted to make something for the Lions game today, so we compromised and came up with this stadium. 

The sugar cookies with cinnamon/cream cheese frosting are delicious! 

3 cups flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup Crisco baking stick
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tsp butter, softened
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer whip the butter, sugar, and Crisco together. Add in the egg yolks. Then mix in the pumpkin and vanilla. Place the dough in the freezer for an hour. (This isn't necessary, but it will make the cookies a lot easier to work with if you want to shape them at all.) 
Meanwhile, David worked on his motor skills by separating sprinkle colors so we had the right colors for the Lions and Charger fans. 

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place a scoop of dough on the pan and shape to the size you want. Bake cookies for about 9 minutes. Then cool on a cooling rack. 

For the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese together. Add the cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. We frosted the football shape cookies and the cookies that would represent the stands with the colored sprinkle fans. (We used blue and silver for the Lions and blue and gold for the Chargers.) 

Then I colored the frosting green and blue. I finished the cookies with the green and blue frosting. Even though the Lions are away this week, we still thought putting a Lion on the field would be best. 

They love to have fun with food!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How do you want to be remembered?

Instead of going over rules and course guidelines, I decided to start the first day of school a little differently...  
One of my first assignments for my ninth and tenth grade students is to write a personal goal essay.  Last year, one of my freshmen wrote a paragraph dedicating a personal goal to all of the things he wanted to be remembered for after he graduates. It stuck with me and I knew I had to incorporate that somehow in the following years. It is easy for the kids to write academic and athletic goals, but it is so much more meaningful if they think about character goals as well.
So, this weekend, I sent an email to the elementary teachers in our district. I asked them to look at the list of students I have, and when they recognized a name, write down what they remember about that student. I told them I did not want to know what student they were referring to, I just wanted a list of comments/words that came to their mind when they thought about those particular students. Because I work in an incredible district, my email was flooded with responses within a few short hours (on a holiday weekend).
When class started today, I explained to the students that the way they carry themselves, the way they treat others, and the things they stand for are impacting those around them in more ways than they realize. It is natural that people form an opinion about them and cling to specific things to remember about them later in life. To prove this point, I told them about emailing their previous teachers (some that they had ten years ago), and then I shared this document with them…



Because of the powerful list of comments from the teachers, the students now had words/phrases/impressions they wanted to fit. The documents the students shared with me at the end of the lesson were inspiring. We will continue to revisit these lists and now the students have a starting point when they write their personal goal essay later this week.

However, this isn't just a lesson for students. We all need to think about how we want to be remembered. I really did some serious thinking about the type of teacher I want to be remembered as and they type of parent I want my own kids to remember. This experience is challenging, yet very necessary.

Fruit Loop Fall Tree Craft

We had some stale Fruit Loops, so we decided to turn them into a craft. The kids sorted out what colors they wanted to use for leaves and glued them on a piece of white cardstock. (Rachel loves using glue, so this was craft was a favorite!)                          
Then we cut two slits in the side of a toilet paper tube and stuck the white paper into the toilet paper roll.