Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Colored Rice for Sensory Table, Class Project, and Decorations

20 pounds of rice in 6-1 gallon baggies

At the school I work at we do Math Integration- basically this means that our specials teachers come into our math classes and we co-teach, integrating both their subject (Spanish, PE, Music or Art) and math together.  Having only 4 specials teachers and 12 regular classroom teachers, we rotate them through our classrooms.  I have had a lot of fun with this.  With PE we played a super fun game the kids named "Mathsketball", I have a great song the Music teacher and I are going to teach the kids and Art just naturally lends itself to this model, but how do you integrate Spanish and fractions?  Today, Senora and I came up with a super fun idea.

It starts with this idea on Pinterest (doesn't everything these days?) on how to color rice.  The lady on the blog layered it into a red, white and blue pattern for a centerpiece at her 4th of July party.  Hello flag idea!

We have decided that we are going to give the kids directions in Spanish to create a flag pattern of a Spanish speaking country in a jar using layered colors of rice.  They will use either measuring cup measures or fractions of the jar in the directions.  This is going to be an absolute blast!  Our student have limited vocabulary in Spanish so they will have to find and translate words they know and take the math vocab (in English) they are learning to try and figure other words out.  For example, un medio is 1/2 and the kids just learned that the median is in the middle; it may seem like a big leap for these kiddos, but somehow I don't think they will have any problem.  They will use the information they have to draw a rough draft before they are allowed to fill their jars.  Not only will they need to add fractions with unlike denominators to create a "whole" jar, they hopefully will gain an appreciation of how difficult it is to be somewhere and understand few words of the language.

Coloring the rice was SO easy.  Put rice in a bag, add food coloring and a bit of rubbing alcohol, and shake up.  When it is evenly coated, spread out on cookie sheets to dry.  We heat our house with a pellet stove, so I set the cookie sheets on top of that and 10 minutes later the alcohol had evaporated and the rice was done.  Click this link if you want more specific instructions.  The best tip: when you can't smell the rubbing alcohol anymore, the rice is dry.  I dyed 20 pounds of rice into 5 colors (+ white which I obviously didn't have to dye) in less than 2 hours while eating dinner and bathing the baby; the most difficult part was waiting for it to dry.

I'm very excited to see what the kids come up with and when I'm finished I'm going to pour the rice into a plastic box for my kiddos at home to use as an indoor sandbox.  This is going to be a winning activity all the way around.  I will update after we have completed the activity.

Both the flags and the rice sandbox are a huge success!  We had so much fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I LOVE Photoshop...

I began a relationship with Photoshop a few years ago when I started getting creative with photography.  Since I really didn't know what I was doing behind the camera, I learned how to fix some mistakes on the computer.  It was then that I realized all the wonderful things that you can do in Photoshop and print out at Costco.  (I like Costco because their colors are great and they are cheap!)

I just started messing around with it and over the years (and many Google Help searches later) I have figured a few things out.

You can do just about anything with Photoshop.  I have made business cards and printed them out at wallet-sized photos, thank you cards:
    (Print as a 4x6 and write with a Sharpie on the back.  We did these with a Wedding Photo as a Thank you then too.)
Valentine's Cards: 

     (Print at 8x10 and frame.  Letters can be found here.)
Digital Scrapbook pages (Costco will print these at 12x12 for $2.99 in Colorado):

and latest, Birthday Invitations (of which I will make matching thank you cards after the party)  

I love that you can personalize everything and print out a 4x6 for $0.13.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Cleaning Stove Top Drip Pans....

I found this idea on Pinterest in a very round about way.  I was looking further into the blog where I found the Carpet Spot Cleaner and I found a link to The V Spot and her exceptional way of cleaning cooked on crap off of your stove top drip pans.

Of course I forgot to take pictures, but when I do it again I will update this post with photos!

Take your drip pans, put them in plastic zip top (not zipper/slider top) baggies.  Add a bit of ammonia, seal them up, and let them sit for 12-24 hours.  You don't need to soak them, it is the fumes that gets the crud off.

I put mine in bags yesterday after dinner.  I put them on the enclosed porch, in case they leaked I didn't want the smell in the house, and I let them sit until this afternoon.  I opened the bags and removed the cast iron burner things and the drip pans and scrubbed ever so slightly and almost everything peeled right off.  Mine weren't perfectly clean but it was below freezing last night outside so I'm thinking it didn't work as well as it could have had the bags been warm in the slightest bit.

My plan is to do this again this summer and let them sit in the sun all day to heat up, I'm thinking this will activate the fumes much better than the cold.  I will let you know how that goes when I do it again.

In any case, my stove top is much cleaner and I didn't have to use much elbow grease.  A success in my book!

Thanks to The V Spot and One Good Thing by Jillee

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bath Tub Paints

I found this idea on Pinterest (why do all of my posts start like that?) and I knew that I needed to try it immedately.  I found some shaving cream and put it into a cupcake pan, added a few drops of food coloring and stirred, and found two kids and threw them in the tub.

We had a blast!

A few observations:
1- The paint brushes were fun, but finger painting was much more fun.  
2- Wash hair and bodies first, the water gets yucky fast and it is much easier to use the shower head to just rinse the kids when they are done than to try to wash them (especially when you have a slow draining tub like mine.) 
3- As a bystander, be prepared to play with the paints too.  They are too much fun.  By the time we were finished, I was as covered as the kids were and I wasn't in the tub!  

When you are finished rub the shaving cream all over the tub (or have the kids do it) and rinse off.  It sprays off quickly and lightly cleans the tub on the way down!  

Thank you, Meet the Dubiens

Snowman Themed Day

We got quite a bit of snow recently and decided that we needed to build a snowman. My older daughter had a the great idea of building a snowman family. Needless to say we got started immediately.

While the rest of the family was putting the finishing touches on the family I went in the house and decided to continue the snowman building of my own. Using hamburger buns, spaghetti sauce, cheese, tomatoes, and turkey (we didn't have pepperoni or ham). I baked them on our pizza oven and there you have the perfect winter lunch!

Salad in a Jar

Two week old lettuce washed and packed on the same day- one in a plastic container the other in a vacuum-sealed jar.

I found this idea on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it. I have been trying to eat better but it seems that the better I try to eat, the harder it is for me to pack a healthy lunch. I don't have time every night to make a new salad and it seemed like if I packed them for the entire week, then on Friday they were just nasty. So when I found this idea, I was all for it. It works SO well!

I clean an entire package of 6 heads of Romaine Lettuce that I get from Costco (less than $5.00). I cut it with a plastic lettuce knife (highly recommended, it keeps the lettuce from browning so fast), spin it dry in the salad spinner, and package it into the jars.

The picture above has grated carrot in the bottom of the jars. I have tried vacuum-sealing the lettuce with broccoli and grape tomatoes but both of those get really gross by the end of the second week. So for now I'm sticking with carrots in the jars.

Once the lettuce is in the cleaned jars, I place the flat lid (without the ring) on the top of the jar and attach the Food Saver Wide Mouth Jar Attachment over the flat lid. I turn on the Food Saver and let it do it's work. I usually leave mine on anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. When I take the attachment off, I check for a good seal by pulling on the flat lid gently. I then screw the ring onto it and put it in the fridge. From cleaning to last jar in the fridge is about 30-40 minutes; not bad for 2 weeks worth of healthy lunches.

In my experience as long as the lettuce is fairly fresh, the jars can last about two weeks. Each night, I add a small container of bacon bits, dressing, and other pre-cleaned veggies to my lunch bag and assemble in seconds the next day at lunch. I throw all the parts of the jar into the dishwasher.

There is nothing like a homemade lunch that didn't take forever to make!

Thank you Salad in a Jar!

Valentine's Day Cards

This year I decided to make my own Valentine's Day cards. I found this idea on Pinterest and instantly fell in love with it.

I took the photos, Photoshopped the text onto the pictures and then uploaded them to Costco Photo Center. For $0.13 a print, I had a very personal Valentine greeting for my daughters to give to their friends and for me to give to my students.

They turned out SO well that I'm planning a variation for Mother's Day, both from my daughters and my students! Yay!

Cute Hair!

Valentine's Day Hair
Cage Braid

Cage Braid

I hate doing my own curly hair because by the end of the day it is a frizzy mess regardless of what I do. But I LOVE doing my daughters' hair. I went in search of a website to help me find cute hairstyles and that is where I came across www.CuteGirlsHairstyles.com. She is amazing and the videos that she posts are SO helpful.

Both are SO easy to do. Check out her website and let me know what you think.

Carpet Spot Remover

I came across this post on Pinterest a while ago and have wanted to try it. After the week my carpet has had, I knew it was time.

We heat our house with a pellet stove, while I love our stove I do not love the ash stains that appear around the stove on our white carpet. We have tried EVERYTHING to clean them; I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent scrubbing these stains. I decided to try this and see what would happen.

I took an old spray bottle and put equal parts of lemon-scented ammonia and hot water. I sprayed it very liberally on the carpet, put the towels over top and got to ironing.

HOLY COW! It totally worked. The top of the photo is where I have tried it, and it was the worst part of the carpet. The bottom of the picture is where I still have to clean and iron. The results are amazing.

The smell is strong, so we ventilated very well. But I do think the lemon scent is deodorizing the carpets as well.

I'm excited to try this and see if it works on my husband's work clothes!