A Baking Tangent: The Easiest Muffin Recipe Ever

Today I have a random, baking-based post for you.

I know....did I forget this is a teaching blog? Maybe... but let me explain.

Last week a little cutie in my class brought me a few muffins and I almost died they were so good. Being that I am not the baker, I thought it wouldn't be possible for me to replicate this goodness.
In fact, when my hubby saw me baking yesterday and taking a few pictures he was in shock. I said it's for my blog and he laughed.

As in a real good "LOL"

As in he said... I don't know if it's the best idea for YOU to be telling people how to cook or bake. Sounds like he is being mean, but he is far from it. He is just trying to protect you...my reader. And himself...in case he is asked to eat something horrible {which has happened before.}

But in this case, I can do it... and that is why I am sharing this super-easy, super-delicious and super-perfect-for-Thanksgiving-muffin:

So the mom of the little one who gifted me this goodness is also a fellow teacher at my school and she told me that these muffins require 2 ingredients...what!?!
Ready for the recipe...that's it...above... that's all of it:
*One box of spice cake mix
*one 15 ounce can of pumpkin....that is it!

Oh....except that I add chocolate to all things so ingredient #3 is chocolate chips {if you like}

Um, mix....and bake. No water, oil....nothing else... no add this in slowly and then set this aside, etc, etc... that is when I run into problems...

You do get a little arm workout as you mix because the batter is thick.

I baked them at 350 for 17 minutes {which is what the back of the spice cake mix told me to do}

That is it.
I've decided to bundle these up in these chevron bags, that look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving, but hey, so does everything else right now anyway.... and give these to some neighbors and friends.

I'll be back with some teaching posts soon.... can you tell someone is off work?

But hey, I had to do this baking tangent because this is just the simple type of thing I need to give as gifts to school staff and parent volunteers next Thanksgiving! Or...maybe we can add these to the kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast menu?

I am Thankful Linky!

Today I am linking up with Molly at Lucky to be in First for a Thankful Linky.

So I am going to start serious and then have fun with it.

Here are the things I am seriously thankful for in my life:
Nothing too earth shattering... I bet some of the things you are thankful for too, so I won't go on and on. Just this:
1. My husband is amazing and I have awesome parents and family

My hubby and I a few weeks ago at a wedding.... and below: my family and me for Thanksgiving 2 years ago!
2.  I never want to take my health for granted

3. Shelter and Food... I have a roof over my head every night and food to eat... that is a luxury and I need to remember that!

4. Friends.... none of us can live without them!

5. This blog has been such a blessing and I've made new friends and I like how it challenges me to be a better teacher and it just keeps me thinking all the time.

6. I have the best job in the world...well, besides maybe being a taste tester for See's Candy. I love it!

Here is one reason why:
That's me this little one is thankful for....well, after cats that is.

And here are a few others:

I will say this year I had a lot of kids thankful for a variety of C-V-C words.... hmm, can you tell what we have been working on. I think it is called, "I am thankful for this word because I know how to spell it and I don't feel like sounding out a longer word that I may get wrong."
But too cute!

So now that I was serious... here are few lighter things I am thankful for:
Are you familiar with this? Well, for the sheer entertainment of watching your little ones dance this is the best 99 cents you can spend. Click {HERE} to download it.  I had them perform it for their parents... pure entertainment!
However, I am not thankful for the extra calories as I just get a plain latte the other 11 months of the year!
And last is  a string of other things that randomly came to mind that make me happy:
and THIS is why I am thankful for airplanes... you can go places like this:
Thank you Molly for this great linky and time to reflect on how fortunate we are!

And last but not least....we have a winner! As you many know I was running a giveaway last week.... and I'm proud to announce our winner:

My Truth Monday... The Perfect Vacation

It's Monday, time to link up with Sunny Days in Second Grade for My Truth Monday. Today's topic is the Perfect Vacation....

Not sure I followed the directions, because this is a hard one. I love, love vacation... but who doesn't, right? In fact, I am a little mad because I am home this week....actually I am A LOT mad that I am home this week...don't get me started....

If you have read this blog you know I love to travel and I do it as much as I can! I have to share a domestic and international vacation. I really try to do a bit of both types of trips...some here at home and some far, far away.....
You see what I mean... I didn't really tell you my perfect vacation... I just listed about 80 vacations... sorry I just can't help it!

When I am traveling this is what I look like:
HAPPY! {that is most important} Hair is NEVER done {although that's true at home too}.... and I don't have a small suitcase...ever... and extra bags because I keep buying stuff. Here I am at the train station in Sitges, Spain {August 2013.}

We live on this gorgeous planet with interesting people everywhere... I just want to see it all!!!

And last little tid bit... if you are like me and just want to get on a plane and GO then you should read my post about teaching abroad HERE. I did if for one year and really hope to do it again!

Five For Friday Action

It's Friday!!!  I am so excited that
A. It is Friday
B. I am off for a whole week!

Here's a peek back at my week...Five for Friday Style:

It's GIVEAWAY Time... I  hit 1,000 followers on Instagram! Yay!! And to celebrate I am giving away $100 gift card to Amazon!! Could really help with some holiday shopping :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next up... It's FREEBIE time... This is a fun little gingerbread freebie I jut got up on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Here's some of the pieces you get:

And I provide you with 3 different recording sheets ranging in difficulty. Snag this freebie HERE!

 I got to see these sweet faces for dinner on Tuesday:
In order from left to right: Christine {from xoxoChristineMarie}, Hadar {from Miss Kindergarten}, me {from right here :)} and Michelle {from Apples and ABC's}

It was my first time meeting Christine and she is too cute! And so fun to see the other girls. I {LOVE} all the fun friends I have met because of blogging. LOVE it!

I taught my little ones a new sight word game called, "Gobble, Gobble!" And the best part {besides the fact that they are learning without realizing it} is when they say, "Gobble, Gobble" in their best turkey impression. It is entertainment!

Read more about that HERE

Today was the kindergarten feast! Such a fun, fun day! We make cornbread, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

The kiddos also get to eat fruit and .....popcorn. A bit embarrassed about the popcorn, as if that was served at the First Thanksgiving.....right? But we talked a lot this month about how the Native American introduced corn to the Pilgrims as well as how to plant it {Did you know putting a fish in the soil helps the corn to grow?}

Here are a few pictures!

Thanks to Doodlebugs Teaching for hosting this fun linky! Happy weekend everyone!


Sight Word Games

I try to fit sight words in wherever I can! They are a staple part of any kinder language arts program. You can read an old post where I explained several sight word ideas HERE.

Today I want to share two easy games that get your little ones engaged and are easy for you to prepare.

Because let's be real.......

Sometimes you don't have time to color print, laminate, and cut out some cards to make the cutest sight word game ever! Right? Don't get me wrong, I am all about cute, but sometimes I am all about doing it FAST and meeting the exact needs of my kids.

So...first up... Gobble Gobble Sight Word Game:

Target Dollar Spot is my BFF. That is where I got the felt turkey purse/container thing.... then I used my school's die cut machine to die cut turkeys {and while we are on time savers... I have an aide or volunteer...or me... go down to the workroom and die cut A LOT at the beginning of each month. Anything that will fit with the seasons or themes I am teaching. Then I have access to die cuts all the time.}

In this case I used the top 10 Fry words... and then 3 cards say, "Gobble, gobble."
 Here are my little ones playing it:
Here's what you do. A group of 3-5 kids can play at once:

1. Pull out one turkey. Read the word.
2. If you can't red the word then have a friend help you read it.
3. If you read the word on your own, keep the card. Otherwise, put it back in the turkey purse.
4. If you draw, "Gobble, gobble!" you have to say, "Gobble, gobble" in your best turkey voice...and sadly lose all of your cards you have collected from previous turns.

The winner is the person to have the most cards when the purse is empty... but to be honest, this little game can last a long time with those "gobble gobble" cards in there.

I always play this game at my reading table at first - just 5 quick minutes before we jump into our guided reading lesson. Then after about a week, I will put it out for them to do on their own.

One reason I don't laminate the cards is because these words were chosen for this year's class... or maybe just this reading group - sometimes different groups have their own words.... So these aren't for use year after year after year... because I have no idea what levels those kids will be. To be fair at this point in the year, I  could probably make a good guess, but the point is, I can personalize this game.

The second game...well, spoiler alert.... it is really the SAME game, but we have just "December-fied it"
The rules are the same...it's the same... but the kids are so excited because it seems new.

December's word game is called, "Ho, ho, ho!"

In this case I don't have a cute Target Dollar Spot container... but my eyes are a lookin' for one! So we just go with an envelope! And that is okay... I feel like before I would have searched eight million stores for some type of cute Santa holder ....seriously, stop it! Time is more valuable than that... and one will turn up at some point.

And if you were thinking above... I don't have a die cut machine...well, don't fret, here we are using a notepad Santa made by Carson Dellosa.  I bought it from a local teacher supply store a while ago and don't see it on the Carson Dellosa site, but you can purchase it {here} or just check out Target or an office supply store for a themed notepad.

This set of words is the Fry words 20-30 {with a few in the previous list for review} I try to stick to 10 words per game, plus 3 of the surprise like, "Ho, ho, ho!"
If they draw, "Ho, ho, ho" they have to say it in a deep, deep voice just like Santa would.... this is serious business! {oh....and still put all their cards back inside the envelope.}
And before I let you go... last comment is... sometimes I hand write. I just had to get that off my chest... it isn't as cute, and to be honest I think the labels are faster for me. But sometimes it just needs to happen.

And why am I telling you that?

Well, because not only was this post about teaching sight words... it was about making life easier for you, the teacher! So please don't deal with labels if you think it is a hassle....
I am having a giveaway for $100 gift card  to Amazon!!!  Scroll down to the next post or click HERE to enter!! Hurry it ends Monday, November 25th!

One Thousand Instagram Followers.... Oh My!

So this happened....

What is that you say? That would be 1000 followers on Instagram!

I know, I am just as shocked as you! Seriously... that is beyond crazy! I am happy and thankful!

Click Here to follow @crayonsandwhimsy on Instagram

I want to show my appreciation with a giveaway!

So taking just one of those zeros off of 1000....{drum roll please.....}

we have $100 gift card to Amazon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a fabulous week and thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I {puffy heart} all of my followers!! And one last thank you to a little sponsor who helped me with this giveaway!

Where is the Turkey?

I {heart} that handprint turkey! I actually {heart} all handprint art items. I teach kindergarten so I think that is sort of mandatory...right?

On the day we paint their little hands we do two handprints: one for a Thanksgiving card to their parents and one for this fun project:

Let me back up a bit... These are three of my favorite turkey themed books:
There are an endless amount of activities you can do with these. I like to chat about the various settings we find the turkeys in.

Some are funny such as:
And some are a bit more realistic:
{The 2 above pictures are from either The Great Turkey Race or The Amazing Turkey Rescue...and I regret to admit I can't remember which one! But you probably just need both of these in your library anyway!}

We discuss how cool it is that when you are the author you can pick any setting you want! Those lucky authors :)

In math we are focusing on positional words: behind, between, above, below, next to... You know good ol' Common Core Standard K.G.A.1

So that is where our friend the handprint turkey makes his appearance.  When the volunteer or aide does the handprints I tell them to plop that hand down in a different place for each child. Some at the top or side...basically setting the stage for us all to have different sentences later on.

This year I had them all stick to a "farm-ish" type theme and we took inspiration from the above mentioned books that we were already very familiar with.  Next year I may allow them to do an ocean or jungle or other "crazy" setting.

The had to choose a position word from the chart and tell me the rest of their sentence. I helped them to write it. Here are a few more to see:

This may be my favorite....turkey ON a pig.
 And this little smartie wanted to use right/left which weren't words on my chart... but hey, that is a positional word, so let's do it!

The Night Before Thanksgiving

The Night Before Thanksgiving?

In reality that would be when I starve myself in order to be ready for the gluttony that lies ahead. But maybe that is just me.

One of my favorite stories to do with my littles is the old poem The Night Before Thanksgiving {author unknown} This is not to be confused with the story 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by, Dav Pilkey which is another fun one for this time of year.

This story/poem is one I learned from my master teacher when I was student teaching and it has become one of those activities that is just special and holds many memories. However, that wouldn't be enough to keep it in my arsenal of tricks... oh no. I have revamped it many-a-times since my student teaching days and am happy to say it hits on several Common Core Standards.. and I am also happy to say it is FREE!

First of all... here is the poem:

The Night Before Thanksgiving

The night before thanksgiving when I had gone to bed,
I heard three turkey gobblers and this is what they said:
The first turkey said, "I think that I will go--
and hide behind a haystack, where no one will know."

The second turkey said, "I think I'll find a tree--
and hide up in the branches where no one will see."

The third turkey said, "I think it would be fun--
to take the farmer's hatchet, then run, run, run!"

Then on Thanksgiving morning when the farmer looked around,
those three turkey gobblers could not be found!"

I love to use this story for retelling {Common Core standard RL.K.2/ RL.1.2} but it is also good practice for ordinal numbers and sight words {I have the kiddos search the story for all the words they know.} And of course.... rhyming practice.... because we just can't get enough of that.

After hearing the poem/story many times the little ones get to make their own. Each child will get
*Their own copy of the story {this is glued onto an envelope which will keep all the pieces together}
*The 3 turkeys, a haystack, a tree and a hatchet

I like to do it this way because the kiddos are excited about having all the pieces as props for the retell. They set them up {as shown above} to be ready to start and as they tell the story they hide the turkey behind the haystack and tree. And the third turkey grabs the hatchet and I have them put it behind their back {to imitate the run, run, run.}

While we are chatting about the hatchet real fast. I find this to be an excellent vocabulary lesson since this will be a new word for them and they will want to call it an axe {and maybe even a synonym lesson} but I know some people see this as a weapon and is therefore not acceptable. I can understand that and have thought about it myself, but this is one of those poems from long ago and I have never had a problem with having a hatchet in the poem, but use your best judgment for your class and community.

Last year, my little ones weren't as good with keeping pieces organized {not that any of them are experts at it..nor is their teacher that organized} but I just thought that group wouldn't get much retell practice in if we had too many little things to keep track of..... so....

I put the kids into cooperative groups {about 10 groups of 3 kids... yes, I have 30!} and each group made one page of the story. I put the pages together for a giant book for our classroom library. I don't have any pictures of that... just one of my sample:

The only problem with the class book version is this:
Their families don't get any of the fun! Let me tell you - I ask my little ones to retell this story to their families on Thanksgiving Day! I make it a BIG deal... you have homework to share this tale with your family.... and they do! And I have had several parents tell me that the entire family got to enjoy a "show."

Plus, the kiddos are so comfortable with the story that by the time it goes home they think they can read it.

So if you think this is something you want to incorporate in your classroom, just hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and download it for FREE!