Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Tree Sandwich Kabobs

I've eaten and enjoyed many items on a stick. But I don't think I'd ever had a sandwich on a stick until Trevor and I made these adorable Christmas Tree Sandwich Kabobs for lunch.

                                    (Mine)                                                   (Trevor's)

The idea for this cute treat came from Open House Merriment, given to me by Leisure Arts to review. This is post has affiliate links, meaning I will get a small commission for any purchases made through the links. 

Open House Merriment

Open House Merriment is packed with ideas for holiday decorating and entertaining! There's something for everyone. And the photography is beautiful. Each time I flip through it I find something else I want to try.

The Christmas Tree Sandwich Kabobs are from the 'Santa Stop Here!' chapter, which features 7 kid-friendly snack recipes. The other chapters include:

  • Oh-So Delish! - 10 recipes for delicious appetizers and desserts
  • Christmas Is For Kids - 13 simple crafts that kids will love
  • Gifts from Nature - 14 decorations inspired by, or incorporating, elements of nature
  • Cheerful Touches - 7 more craft ideas for decorating your home for Christmas

Trevor and I used the book for inspiration, but used different ingredients to make our kabobs. I used nested biscuit cutters to cut a large round from a piece of sourdough bread, then put it on a skewer. I layered Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce, and summer sausage (known in our family as hamaloni) in increasingly small sizes. I used a small star cutter to cut two stars from cheddar cheese and pressed them together around the tip of the kabob. Here's my work in progress:

Trevor also used a sourdough base. He layered cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickle, hamaloni, and more lettuce, then formed the rest of his tree with a vertical pickle. He made his star the same way I did. Here's his work in progress:

We really enjoyed making these sandwiches together. Bonus- they were delicious! These would be fun to serve at a party or playdate, but they were just as fun for us to do at home to make an ordinary lunch a little bit more special. 

Thanks to Leisure Arts for letting me review Open House Merriment. We've started another project from the book that we'll be sharing soon! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hand-Sewn Felt Stockings

Back in my teaching days, my fifth graders would sew felt stockings by hand in December. The project coincided with our unit on Colonial America, as the students were studying a time when people made virtually everything they owned by hand. The colorful stockings the kids made hung on our walls to decorate the classroom throughout the month. Then while the students were at lunch on their last day before winter break, their stockings would be magically filled with small treats and gifts for them to discover when they returned to the room. It was a wonderful way for us to celebrate together.

I had a class set of stockings cut and ready to go that I never used. I offered to teach the lesson to Trevor's 5th grade class and his teacher accepted enthusiastically. It was so much fun and the stockings turned out great.

I've done a lot of volunteering in Trevor's classrooms over the years, plus I've worked with lots of small groups and even done a bit of whole-group teaching, but this was different. It was the first time I had taught a whole class of fifth graders (33 kids) in ten years. I loved every minute. In fact, it was so much fun that I'm going to be teaching in Trevor's class once a week for the rest of the year! I'll be sharing all of my favorite hands-on history activities, starting with the pre-Columbian Native Americans and continuing through European Exploration, Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, Independence and Westward Expansion. I'm sure that I'll share many of my lessons here.

Anyway, back to the stockings. Each child got two pieces of felt (their choice of red or green), a needle and constrasting thread. I showed them how to thread a needle, tie a knot at the end of the thread, and hold the needle so that the thread wouldn't come out with every stitch. Then I demonstrated the whipstitch, emphasizing that they'd start from one top corner, continue down around the toe, and work back up the other side, leaving the top open.

Here's a close-up of the stitching:

For many of the students, it was the first time they'd done any sewing. There were some struggles, but they kept at it. They were so proud of their work!

Once their stockings were sewn, the kids could choose from among a huge pile of ribbons, trims and/or sequins to decorate their stockings. Trevor has a minimalist aesthetic:

So does Avery. (FYI, I have permission to publish Avery's name with her photo. I never identify other people's kids by name until a parent has said I can.) 

T was more typical in his decorating: three trims, a ribbon hanger, and sequins. 

D, like many others, used sequins to make her initial.

Great job, fifth graders! I can't wait to share my next project with you all!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Peppermint Candy Holiday Card

We always send photo cards each Christmas, but if I didn't, I would probably send something like this:

I'd punched some white circles for a project and had a few left over. Inspiration struck and I grabbed a red pen. 

In a few minutes, I had this:

I cut a rough circle of wax paper and wrapped it around the cardstock circle, taping it in the back. Then I cut two rough triangles of wax paper and crumpled the tips. 

I assembled the 'candy' and glued it to a black background. 

I photographed the project, then digitally added the frame and text to the image using PicMonkey. It literally took less than five minutes and it's ready to send. Have I mentioned how much I love PicMonkey? (Yes.)

Of course, you could also add a cardstock mat and use a white or silver pen to write the sentiment by hand. I think this would make a really cute gift tag to pair with a peppermint-scented candle (affiliate link) or other peppermint item. Great for a neighbor, teacher or your favorite blogger!

Friday, December 2, 2016

US States and Capitals Game

Trevor has been studying the states and capitals in school. How fun to be able to go to the cupboard and pull out all the US geography games and activities from my teaching days! 

This is one that I made myself. 

I started with 101 pieces of white cardstock, about the size of a deck of cards. On 50 cards, I wrote the name of one of the states (in blue). On the next 50, I wrote the name of one of the capitals (in red). The final card was for our nation's capital, Washington DC. I colored the backs of each of the cards to make the flag pattern. It didn't take all that long and was easy to do while watching TV. In fact, I made multiple sets for my classroom and laminated them for durability. It worked; some 20 years and 500 kids later, the cards still look good.

There are a few ways to use these cards. Spread them all out on a grid and create a huge game of Memory, with the Washington DC card being wild. Or, use them for an Old Maid type of game, where the winner is the person who is holding Washington DC when all the matches are made. Set aside the Washington DC card and use the rest of the cards for an epic game of War. The first to see a match yells it out and keeps those cards. This works best with 4+ players so that matches occur more frequently. Or, for solitaire fun, time yourself to see how long it takes to pair up all the states with their capitals. Try to improve your time!

Here are some of my other favorite games and activities for learning the states and their capitals. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

50 States Album - Utah and New Mexico

We visited two more new-to-Trevor states recently (Utah in June and New Mexico in November) which means more pages to add to Trevor's Little Passports 50 States Album!


I took the pages out of the album to scan them rather than photographing them in the album. I think it looks a lot better, so I scanned all of his completed pages and replaced the photos in the previous posts

This brings Trevor's total to 16 states visited. Number 17 is coming up in January!