Healthy Lunch Alternatives

Healthy Lunch Alternatives

This post is for me as well as for the students. I am so tired of the same things, I decided to do some research to add some “spice” in my lunch! Of course, I want to be healthier, hence, healthy school lunch alternatives.

As a teacher I have a microwave available to me. Students do not  normally have one available. I will try to keep these healthy school lunch alternatives ideas non-microwavable. Let me know how your lunches come out!

Keep in mind, you probably want your children to do well in school and to be happy. Having the coolest lunch at the table will certainly make them the coolest.

Kidding aside, these healthy school lunch alternatives will hopefully be full of vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, shock full of proteins, and great tasting.

1. Mini Corn Dogs mini-corn-dog-muffins-hip2save healthy lunch alternatives


2. Bacon Lettuce Tomato Avocado Wrap BLTA Wrapblta-wrap-646– mix avocado with lime, spread on tortilla, place bacon, tomato chunks, some romaine lettuce, wrap, and enjoy.

A great way to cook bacon to keep the fat content down- fold aluminum foil into 1″ accordion folds, place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until crisp.

3. Chips and Dip- Tortilla chips, with guacamole, salsa, sour cream. Each dip in its own small container.

4. Meatball Sandwich- Using a container that hold hot food, pack meatballs. Send in a little roll.

5. Ham and Cheese Quesidillas ham-and-cheese-quesadillas or any other lunch meat with cheese.

6. Pretzel Kabobs- Lunch meat, rolled up, and skewered with pretzel sticks. Kids will  love these!

7. Cheesy Taco Pockets picOl0PQp

8. Hummus Pizza- picBxbe5RSpread hummus over a pita and add fresh vegetables. Send the veggies in separately so your child can decorate the pizza themselves.

9. Ham and Cheese Muffins 0tjgzQOvRtCllUfv4k8X_ham-and-cheese-muffins-4 I guess you could put other lunch meats or cheeses for  healthy lunch alternatives. How about vegetables, as well.

10. Deli Stromboli stromboli So easy, and freezable.

11. Mini Pot Pies GH0415H_mini-chicken-and-broccoli-pot-pies_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape Don’t they  look delish!

12. Stuffed Crusts Pizza 9f66833a-0ecf-4138-8033-e2ca3a53db0f

13. Cupcake Mold Pizzas DSC05928


14. Meatloaf in a Cupcake Tin- make your favorite meatloaf recipe, but pack the meatloaf in cupcake pans to bake.

15. Macaroni and Cheese in Cupcake Papers macmuffins

16. Walking Tacos walking-tacos Love This!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! School. Picnics. Picnic Dinners in the Living Room! Yesssssssss!!!

17. Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Stick- Make a sandwich. Cut into squares. Put a square on a skewer, separated by a piece of fruit, etc. Could be any sandwich.


I can see that many of you are thinking ahead already. Yes, you make the dishes, freeze them, then just heat up to pack in the lunch box. These healthy lunch alternatives could be a great time saver, yet, the children and teachers are happy.

Please share any ideas you have tried.



Healthy Snacks

Why Healthy Snacks are Needed in Elementary Schools

Teaching in elementary school has its unique circumstances. The children are very young and are leaning how to make choices. Many of those choices are for immediate gratification, especially involving food. Parents are very concerned about their progress in school, but don’t always see a link between what they eat and how they perform. Teachers are concerned that the students are attending to the lessons and making progress in understanding the content.

In several articles and podcasts from the Center for Disease Control, CDC, they say that academic achievement goes hand in hand with health. Not only eating healthy, but healthy physical activity. In NJ there is a state law that mandates 150 minutes of PE, or physical activity each week. Including PE, the bulk of that time comes from classroom time. Recess, unstructured activity, is a big part of our routine. We cover the physical element of health. Healthy eating is primarily on the shoulders of the parents. School lunches are available and try to work towards healthy lunches.

Healthy Snacks Fuel Your Body

Why is eating healthy so important? As cars need gas to move, we need food for our bodies to function properly. Eating the right foods allows our bodies to grow perform better. Eating healthy snacks instead of foods that are rich in sugar and fat inhibit our bodies from health.

Healthy snacks can also help you perform better in school. Children need to be able to concentrate on the learning. If they eat foods that are high in carbohydrates for breakfast, their bodies have begun to digest these foods, leaving the children hungry and unable to focus by the time they get to school. If we can learn how to eat properly, food will stay in their bodies longer, fueling them to focusing and health.

What Food is Good for My Body?

According to research done by Women’s and Children’s Health Network, our bodies need to have protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and water, for it to function properly.

Proteins are important because it helps build your muscles, organs and glands. When you get hurt, it helps heal, as well. You can get proteins from eating meats, nuts, eggs, dairy products, including many plants.

Carbohydrates are sugars and starches. They give us energy for us to use as we move and grow. The carbohydrates are usually the sweets we eat. We need them, but if we have too much, then the carbohydrates make fat. We find carbohydrates in breads, pasta, fruits, potatoes and carrots.

Although fat is also something our bodies need, too much of it is not healthy. Fats help our body store energy to use later. Carbohydrates are used for now, but when the carbohydrates are used up, our bodies turn to the fat in our bodies for energy. Fat protects our organs in our bodies, helps keep our blood pressure steady, helps keep skin and hair healthy, and gives vitamins a place to stay in our bodies. We get fat from meats, cheese, eggs, and many other healthy foods. The problem with fat is that it is also in some of the unhealthy stuff we eat- potato chips, fried food, and biscuits.

Vitamins are found in almost all natural foods- grown from the earth. Our bodies need vitamins to help all of our organs function properly. Minerals accompany vitamins in natural foods.

Water is an essential part of our diets. Water helps all parts of our bodies work. When we don’t have enough water, we get sick.

Healthy Snacks – Edited

The following healthy snacks are listed so you know what our bodies need. Balance is the key word when snacking. Too much is not good, neither is too little. Eating 3 meals a day gives your body the essential needs for your body. Healthy snacks just help us fuel up between meals. I would like to suggest some healthy snacks that could substitute some of the more calorie-laden, fatty, and unhealthy carbohydrate foods.

  • Apple Sandwich- two slices of apple with peanut butter and chocolate chips between
  • Veggies with hummus
  • Cucumber sandwiches- slice the cucumber length wise; place lunch meat on slice and roll up- like pinwheel sandwiches.
  • Shish-ka-bobs- meat chunks, cheese, and fruit cubes on a skewer
  • Waffle sandwiches- use waffles as bread and use anything inside
  • Cottage cheese with fruit- canned pineapple, pears, peaches, etc.
  • Cheese cut into shapes with cookie cutters
  • Lettuce wraps- use lettuce as the bread and roll up meat, cheese, etc.
  • Homemade Trail Mix- you can use almost anything snacky- pretzels, nuts, dry cereal, granola, candy (or not), raisins, craisins, dried fruit, crackers
  • Make your own lunchables- much cheaper but still fun-
  • Mini quiches- make them in cupcake tins, pop them out and keep in fridge
  • Hard boiled eggs- maybe deviled eggs- or egg salad on crackers
  • Rice Rolls- puffed rice- it is in stores- great snack
  • Sweet Potato Fries- sweet treat
  • Tortilla Pizzas- Place nachos on baking sheet, layer salsa and shredded cheddar on the nachos, and bake until cheese melts.after-school-snacks-tortilla-pizzas healthy snacks
  • Muffins- adding vegetables helps make them healthier
  • Homemade potato chips- paper thin slices of potato, sea salt, layered on parchment paper, microwave for 5-6 min. Experiment with zucchini, squash, or carrots.healthy snacks_potatochips_P_new
  • Chocolate Banana Crepes- on flour tortillas, arrange banana slices and smash lightly, sprinkle chocolate chips over bananas, fry in pan with butter, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into fourths.banana-chocolate-crepes
  • Graham Crackers Top Its- spread a dollop of any flavored yogurt and slice bananas, apples, sprinkled with granola, chocolate chips, or anything elsesnacks_crackerscreamjam_P_new
  • Tortillas- brush with melted butter, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture on top, bake for 8-10 min. Cut into fourths, use these sugary chips to dip into yogurt, mixed fruit salad, or anything else you want.
  • Pretzel Dips- Pretzel rods dipped into peanut butter and then rolled into crushed nuts, granola, or yogurt. You could just use the yogurt instead of peanut butter.kid-snacks_peanut-butter-rods– many healthy snack ideas from above came from this web site.– many healthy snack ideas from above

I hope we can share a whole lot more recipes for healthy snacks. Add a comment- what are your healthy snacks?





Class Mother Thank You Gifts

Class Mother Thank You Gifts

The end of the year is a natural time to thank your class mothers or parents who have been instrumental in planning and setting up class parties and activities. Parents love to come to the classroom and if they can do something, it warms their hearts. At my school we are limited to having parents for parties only 3 times a year. So I need to strategically plan which parties need to be planned by parents. Because of this planning and support for the classroom I always want to show my appreciation and gratitude for the help.

Of course I do not just want to go the the candle store and get one candle for each parent helper. BORING! I usually want to do something creative and fun. I am going to share some of the class mother thank you gifts I have given over the year. I hope you will find it in your heart to share some that you have given.

Luau in a Bag

At my favorite store, Dollar Tree, I was searching throughout the store for ideas. Low and Behold! I found the perfect class mother thank you gifts in the summer party isle. There were blow up coconut trees, flamingos, parrots, etc. There were the party cut outs, leis, flower barrettes, drink umbrellas, cups, shot glasses, coconut mugs, you name it they had it. So I figured out how many bags I needed to make, and began filling my cart. In each bag I put one decoration- either the cut out or a blow up- a cup- either a Margarita, wine, or drink- a lei, and whatever else was there. I had some cloth bags I had gotten from our teachers’ convention. They were a big hit! I also added some kool aid to the bag.

196245 party-supply-hawaiian-font-b-silk-b-font-flower-font-b-lei-b-font-hawaii-wreath class  mother thank you gifts

Note Pads

I used to rubber stamp and was able to decorate almost anything! I found some blank note pads at the dollar store. Using card stock, I made a cover for it. I stamped and decorated the cover with thank you stamps, added some ribbon or buttons, and I had a great gift. Here are some easy directions.

812c7bd5b09bce3246a7a38d2a33a954 NotepadA 1deb238e3c4d17139f6cc2c610162aa6


Gifts in a Jar

These gifts are not new, but they are most welcome and enjoyed. The idea behind class mother thank you gifts in a jar is that all the dry ingredients of cakes or cookies are in the jar along with the directions for adding the other ingredients and baking instructions. There are a ton of recipes you could use: Here are some links:

The Frugal Girls

Tip Junkie

Both of these sites have some great ideas,not only for cookies or cakes, but for bath salts, dips, etc.

b23065aad80f5318df46cc97fd158240 (1)

I will update this post as I come across more.

Lunch Box Ideas

Lunch Box Ideas

I know….it’s summer! So why not get a jump on collecting ideas now when you have the time? You know in a few weeks children will be bugging you to get their school supplies, including lunch boxes. Hopefully after reading this post you will have some great lunch box ideas so it isn’t the boring lunch boxes from the store. You are only limited by your creativity.

Let’s start with a basic lunch box. I remember what I used when I was in school. My earliest memory of lunch boxes was the metal boxes with the latch to keep it closed. They sell them now as vintage collectibles! Of course they weren’t as plain as the photo below, they had pictures of my favorite TV shows, or super heroes. I remember Gilligan’s Island, H. R. Puff ‘n Stuff!  Go Figure!!!!!!!

Lunch Box Ideas #1

metal lunch boxes lunch box ideasIf I had this one now, Oh the things I would do. Consider your metal lunch box as a canvas. Painting is a great way to personalize them. To begin, use primer on the parts you are going to personalize. You may just want to do the big parts, or all of it. The primer is used to make adhering the acrylic paints easier. You may also want to use Paint Markers. This may be easier for smaller children. With this lunch box ideas post, I hope you are beginning to see the possibilities.

lunch box ideas

Lunch Box Ideas #2

Scrapbooking on a lunch box could also be a great way to decorate. You will need Mod Podge, from any arts and crafts store, sponge brush, decorative scrapbook papers, stickers, etc. Mod Podge on the surface you want to decorate. Premeasure the paper and then place on the Mod Podge. Place all your decorations, including letter stickers for the name, and them put several coats of Mod Podge over all. Let each coat dry before starting another coat.

download (17) images (21) images (22)This one is decoupaged. Looks great!

Lunch Box Ideas #3

If you don’t want to use the metal boxes, the cloth, insulated ones are great. Using a permanent marker, you can personalize them with their names. Duct Tape has come out with some colorful and printed tape you could apply to the cloth. How fun!

download (18) images (23) images (24)


Decorating lunch boxes could be a great summer activity. Let the creative juices flow. Here are a few others- beaded, shirt, map! Wow!

Decorating Insulated Lunch Bags

bag_beads2 bag_flag2 bag_glam2 bag_map2 bag_shirt2Directions at the link above.

Lunch Box Ideas #4

Recycled Milk Jug Lunch Box

I just found a great idea for children who are recycling conscious. You will need two plastic gallon milk jugs. Cut them both in half, and use the bottoms. They will be the top and bottom. Punch holes so string can be laced to hold the top and bottom together. For the front, you will also need a piece of string with a bead on both ends so you can lace it to be able to open the top when you need to take food out. This link will give you more directions. Great throw away lunch box for field trips.


Decoration Trend

Lunch Box Ideas #5

1. Of course you always have the old standby- the Paper Bag! However, it doesn’t have to be plain! Your children can decorated them before they leave the house. Markers, crayons, pens, colored pencils, stickers, rubber stamps, anything you would use on regular paper. Although, chalk may not be such a good idea.images (25)images (28) images (30)

2. Write a riddle on the outside and put a note with the answer inside. Mom It Forwarddownload (19)

3. Add a marker along with their lunch so they can decorate at the lunch table when they are done eating.

4. Of course adding love you note adds a whole lot of interest in the plain bag. Here is a link for some free  printable lunch notes. The Peaceful Mom

5. Make a puppet out of the bag after lunch. 86 Lemons

images (26)

6. Make a turkey- Martha Stewart

images (32)Can you imagine the stir your child would create in the lunch room eating their lunch out of a paper bag turkey?

7. Turn the bag into something else- pumpkin, apple, shirt, etc.

images (27)

8. Use different kinds or ways to close the bag-

decorate-brown-paper-lunch-bags images (29) paper-bag-bowls_thumb

9. Take a hole punch to the paper bag:

images (31)


There are a plethora of other ideas that I am hoping you can share!


Dollar Store Life Hacks

Life Hacks for Teachers

Have you ever watched the TV Hack My Life? It’s great show that tests these hacks they advertise on the Internet. Some of the ideas they try seem like great ideas, others, not so much. So, I thought, as teachers, we could certainly use some hacks to make our life easier. There are some dollar store life hacks I would love to share with you.

Which Dollar Store Do You Use?

There are a ton of dollar stores out there. Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, General Dollar, Target’s Dollar Spot are four that I can think of off the top of  my head. My favorite is the Dollar Tree. I like the merchandise they have in their stores. I have been shopping there for many years now. I know what works and what doesn’t.

The Dollar Store has a great teacher resource section. There are name plates, alphabet strips for the bulletin board, posters, certificates, and stickers. There is much more, just not enough room here to list. The bins, toys, and snacks are great. It certainly saves a lot of money for something of quality for a buck! Most of the stores are set up in the same way, so as I travel, I can go into a Dollar Tree store and know where to find things.

What can I do with Dollar Store Treasures?

I was just searching a link from another site that mentioned using dollar store finds to decorate their house. I click on it and it opened up a whole new world for me. (It doesn’t take much!) Dollar store life hacks are made from the products from the dollar store transformed into a completely different object that what the products were made for. The first project I saw was a display tray using:

187845 life hacks

dollar store candleholder


dollar store plastic tray


Make Up Storage Tray using dollar store products

Trends and Ideas

Hot glue the tray on the top of the candle holder. Some versions have two tiers, or three. Spray paint the tray a metallic paint. And you have a great display tray.

Isn’t that great!

Dollar Store Life Hacks for the Classroom

How can the dollar store help us in our classrooms? I know there could be thousands of ideas out there. So hopefully we can all add to this post with more ideas. Please, share as much as you want. Dollar store life hacks are win/wins. Great ideas with out going through the roof with costs. I don’t always come up with the ideas, but I can take the ideas as it is and change it up to make it suit me.

1. Popsicle Molds hacked into crayon or pencil holders- Popsicle-Tray-Crayon-Holders-600x374


2. Vase transformed into a pencil holder- great gift for Teachers’ Appreciation-

162354 98cd2565b291bec90f999dc8a0c83e07download (16)or for gifts for parent helpers.

3. Dinosaur Phone Stand- great idea for Fathers’ Day- iPhone-Stand-450x450

Eat Sleep Make

4. Transforming composition or notebooks into personalized notebooks for the children’s writing and reading notebooks-

Notebook Glitter-Notebooks-338x450


The first picture is just using scraps from any decorative paper- Bursts of Creativity

The second one is gluing glitter onto the cover. How about using washi tape or the decorative duct tape? Possibilities are endless!Madigan Made

5. Cups with Animal Handles- How adorable- Animal-Party-Tumblers-580x580 dollar store life hacks It may be cool to paint the cup with chalkboard paint.

Dollar store life hacks can make our lives easier. Who doesn’t want that? There are going to be more posts like this on my blog. Keep posted!!!!



Animated Alphabets

An Old Obsession- Animated Alphabets!

For many years now, many years, I have been collecting Animated Alphabets. You may ask,”Why!”, or even, “Who Cares!” Well, because I like them. Perhaps you don’t know what I am talking about, so let me show you what these alphabets are!



My alphabets are graphics, either animated or non animated, attached to letters made into graphics.

How did my obsession with alphabets begin?

I started collecting animations- or animated gifs. I  had seen a couple of really cute animations, like above, on a website. I began saving them with the hopes of using them either on my own website, or to use them in MSPowerPoints I make in my class. I would spend hours each night after my children went to bed searching for animated gifs. I still have my cherished collection and use them in my school class page.

One day as I was searching for the gifs I saw the name of the website spelled out with moving letters. The above letters have the animated gifs attached to them. Some letters themselves are filled with animations, or even move like the gifs. From that time on, I began collecting them.

I collect animated and non animated alphabets. I have them stored on an external hard drive. It is now more than 100 gigs of alphabets.

Is there a cost?

Of course, I do not buy the animated alphabets. You can find places to buy them online. The good thing about buying them is that you then have the rights to use them without paying royalties, or having to chase down the creator and ask permission to use them on a website.

The great thing about collecting them free is that they are free!! It is the thrill of the search to find them. I have joined some email groups that even email them to me, no searching whatsoever! I have been in these groups for many years and know the creators of the alphabets by name. Many times I usually drool over the animated alphabets and laugh at the creative way the creators have used the graphics and letters. Yes, I have even created an alphabet or two. But that’s all, just two! I will share them with you and even give you permission to use them on your websites!

How do you make them?

The program that I used to make the alphabets was Paint Shop Pro. It has been known as the poor man’s PhotoShop. There is an Animation Factory plug in included in some versions. If you are using the Animation Factory you need to learn a few things about the animations first. I use it because the cost is so much less than PhotoShop. If you have PhotoShop it can be used, as well.

You may want to search for some fonts that allow themselves to be changed. Again, there are fonts that can be used without paying for them, but you need to get permission.

Are all the alphabets the same?

Yes, they are the same, in that they are alphabets. There are different ways they are made. I am going to show you some of the different kinds or categories.

The alphabets above are alphabets that are next to graphics.

There are filled alphabets:NL75_DiceJellies_AThe letter itself is still, but the things (the fillings) inside it are moving. This has also had a 3D effect.

AHere is a moving letter alphabet. The letter itself is moving. Knowing about animations helps here. Isn’t it cute?

There are also glittered alphabets. AInside the letter a glitter filling has been added.

What do I do with them?

As I mentioned before you can use them in powerpoints, on websites, email, etc. You can substitute the first letter of a paragraph like they do in books.

I usually make words with them. All you do is insert the letters into whatever program you are using.When I find my alphabets I will post them so you can have them. I just cannot find them right now. I put them in that special place so I knew where they were when I needed them. You know that spot! So I will show another one-

Animation9 animated alphabets



I enjoy sharing things that make my job easier. When I add these to my class web page it adds a bit of interest to the page.

Where can I find Animated Alphabets?

Below are some links that I did a basic search for animated alphabets:

3D animatedalphabets

Seven Oaks Art


To find these animated alphabets online do a search for animated alphabets. As you search you can see other names to search for. There are many creators that have their own websites that allow you to download. They are wonderful people.

If you ever find some please share where and what you have done with them.

Teacher’s Job Description?

man-person-people-emotions-large-teacher's job description

What is in a teacher’s job description?

Without really tallying up how much teachers should get paid (I’ll save that for another post), have you ever thought about the different roles we need to perform in a day? From the moment the children enter the classroom each day we need to switch from role to role depending on what is happening in the lives of the children at that any particular moment.

Many people don’t know, and probably don’t remember, what it is like in a classroom with children on a minute by minute basis. As parents, think what it is like during one day in the life of your family, from waking up to going to sleep. Teaching is very similar to that, times 25!

The following information was taken from  America’s Job Exchange.  I looked at this posting and said to myself, “Self, is this what I do in a day?” I answered myself and said, “Yes, yes it is, but so much more!”

Elementary School Teacher’s Job Description


Responsible for instructing students in an elementary school from grades K-5. Creates lesson plans, administers praise and constructive criticism, instructs students on subjects such as science, literature, and math, and creates a well-rounded, comprehensive instructional program.


  • Create instructional resources for use in the classroom.
  • Plan, prepare and deliver instructional activities
  • Create positive educational climate for students to learn in.
  • Meet course and school-wide student performance goals.
  • Participate in ongoing training sessions.
  • Create lesson plans and modify accordingly throughout the year.
  • Maintain grade books.
  • Grade papers and perform other administrative duties as needed.
  • Write grant proposals to gain funding for further research.
  • Create projects designed to enhance lectures.
  • Read and stay abreast of current topics in education.
  • Create lesson plans.
  • Utilize various curriculum resources.
  • Integrate competencies, goals, and objectives into lesson plans.
  • Utilize curricula that reflect the diverse educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of the students served.
  • Develop incentives to keep participants in class.
  • Develop professional relationships with other agencies and programs.
  • Utilize public library resources.
  • Work with program coordinators to ensure initiatives are being met.
  • Tutor students on an individual basis.
  • Establish and communicate clear objectives for all learning activities.
  • Prepare and distribute required reports.
  • Observe and evaluate student’s performance.
  • Manage student behavior in the classroom by invoking approved disciplinary procedures.

If only parents, students, and administrators would realize, teaching is not just curriculum disbursement. It is not just record keeping and assessment. If I was able to perform everything in the above mentioned teachers’ job description in a day, and only that, there would be a whole other side of the teaching experience ignored.

Roles in a Teacher’s Job Description

1. Air Ground Traffic Controller– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $60/hr  Walking in the hallway, directing students to where they need to be at any time, lining up, noise control, classroom coordinator of jobs, crowd control during heavy traffic. Have you ever lost half of your class as you were heading to an assembly or lunch? Is this in a teacher’s job description?

2. Judge/Jury/Sentencing– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $50/hr  Listening to both sides of a story, knowledge of state laws, knowledge of school policies and classroom rules. I should wear my graduation robe all day because it feels like I need to listen to stories all day! Is this in a teacher’s job description?

3. Psychologists/Counsellor– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $33/hr Children can be so cruel to each other, counselors need to mend the broken hearts. Most of their little skirmishes are misunderstandings that they neglected to talk about with their adversary. Is this in a teacher’s job description?

4. Law Enforcement– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $28/hr  Patrolling hallways, cafeterias, playground, and classrooms, enforcing school and classroom policies. I have a favorite quote, “OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!!” (from the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland movie) when I begin my role as the cop! The detective in me comes out at the first mystery, “Someone stole my pencil!” Is this in a teacher’s job description?

5. Nurse PractitionersNurse Practitioner– $50/hr  diagnosing illnesses, bandage installer, hand washing, determining when last bowel movement was which will eliminate most of the the other duties. One time a student came up to my desk and said, “I don’t feel well.” and promptly vomited on my very crowded desk!!!! I had to throw away a couple of teacher editions, my plan book and grade book!! Is this in a teacher’s job description?

6. Coach/Umpire– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $76/day  Knowledge of rules of every single game you can think of, dispensing words of encouragement, teaching good sportsmanship,

7. Human Resource Manager– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $48/hr  Managing absenteeism by taking attendance and passing excuses to administration, distribution of classroom rewards earned, assess job performance of students.

8. Administrative Assistant– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $17/hr  Record keeping of assignments and assessments, communications with administrations and parents, keeping track of things- anything- misplaced items, etc. “Who did their homework?” “Who is buying lunch?” I need to email about 4 parents each day, while clarifying questions from those parents with school administrators and secretaries. Is this in a teacher’s job description?

9 Technology Specialist– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $60/hr  Day to day use and maintenance of classroom technology- computer, document camera, promethean board, FM system, wrestling with the copy machine, phone repair, searching for the one just right lesson for tomorrow, updating my class web page. Is this in a teacher’s job description?

10. Teacher– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $53,000/year  Oh, do I have to do more?

11. Transportation Coordinator (also known as Travel Agent)- Bureau of Labor Statistics  $16/hr Directing which students go where after school- bus, parent pick-up, child care, after school clubs.

I once had a boy who didn’t particularly like school. He decided it would be better at home. I had delivered the class to the library when I was paged to the office. This child had left the library, gone out the side door, walked all the way home, to be brought back by his mother. Oh, my!!!!!

Or the student who went home on the bus but was supposed to go to child care. Or the student who fell asleep on the bus and didn’t get off the bus at their bus stop, with parents freaking out!!!! Is this in a teacher’s job description?

12. Maintenance Coordinator– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $17/hr  Directing students to clean inside desks every couple of days, cleaning up messes around desks hourly, cleaning up toys, scouring tops of desks. A quick tip, I use shaving cream to have the use as finger paint to clean their desks. It’s just soap! I wipe their desks after it disappears. Is this in a teacher’s job description?

13. Entertainer– Bureau of Labor Statistics– $21/hr  Presenting content in a fun and meaningful way, cheering up sad students, keeping students awake, keeping a straight face when I spy a peculiar behavior. It seems like it’s a song and dance during some lessons!

Although these “extra” jobs we do are not in our job description, they are sometimes the best times of a teacher’s day! It is these small interactions that reveal what the children are really like. These are also necessary activities we need to do to keep the little ones safe.

I wouldn’t trade my job for any other, except the job of a retiree!!!!

I know there are many other roles we take on in the classroom. Please share the ones that come to mind.


Mystery Book Clubs Online Resources

Mystery Book Clubs

As I was preparing for my Mystery Book Clubs Unit of Study, I was searching for resources that I could use in my classroom. There is so much available, most of it free, but great things! So I thought if I could put together a post about links of useful resources of this topic it would be so helpful. So here it is.

Mystery Book Clubs Printalbles

Scholastic-Exploring the Mystery Genre at Scholastic

Scholastic- Investigating the Mystery Genre

What is a Mystery?

Character Traits


Mystery Book Club- Pinterest


Mystery Book Clubs

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One of the Units of Study in the third grade Readers’ Workshop is Mystery Book Clubs. Of course, I added a few “extras” to the the unit. I just can’t contain myself! I really like to gets the children motivated and excited about what we do in the classroom. I know with the information included in the units of study they will have great instruction and will deepen their knowledge about the mystery genre. I also want to get the children involved in their learning.suspect1

I know the children watch many television mystery shows. Some of the ones they watch, I don’t usually watch because they are scary. But, they at least are familiar with the genre. I found this Crime Scene tape that I used the day I introduced the unit. I taped it across the top of my door, so everyone could still walk in. I then staged a crime scene. I knocked over desks, put eaten food wrappers on the floor, hid a significant object, etc. I then gave the children time to observe what they see. They will then need to infer how many people were involved in the crime, what the crime was, and who they think committed the crime. I had them do a written response in their reading notebooks where they needed to show the evidence and proof of the crime. They needed to show their thinking of the crime.

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I also made a Top Secret folder for the children to keep all of the handouts for our mystery unit. I found quite a few printables from Scholastic that were easy to download and were free!! I just printed the Top Secret page and had the children glue it to the front of the folder. I included a page on Mystery Vocabulary, fingerprints, graphic organizer for mysteries, mystery reading log, and  a bookmark. As I presented the unit of study to the children we would refer back to these pages.


One of the most popular activities was to fingerprint themselves. Without going to the Crime Scene Investigative Store and spending lots of money, there is an easier way to show fingerprints that is way less expensive. All you need is paper, pencils, and transparent tape.

1. Have the children scribble on a small area on paper with their pencils. They will then rub the pad of the finger tip on this area. The finger will become quite black.

2. Take a piece of transparent tape and place the blackened finger tip on the sticky side. Stick the tape onto the fingerprint page for each finger. They will then have an image of their fingerprint to see. This kind of mirrors how they find fingerprints at crime scenes.

3. Compare their fingerprints with the finger print analysis page to see what kind of patterns they have. FingerprintRidgePatternsAndCharacteristics mystery book clubs


Mystery Book Club Series

There are many mystery genre series that the children can read and participate in book clubs, or literature circles. Some of the series are:

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There are more, which is such a great thing. When I was little, all I knew were The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew! We have come a long way, baby!

In my district, we use Lexile Levels for the children to choose books. If you can get several copies of the same title, that would be great. If not, get several books in the same series for the mystery book clubs. There are a whole lot of ways to run the book clubs, so you can do some research on the way that works for you.

Videos- Mystery

YouTube has some old mystery shows that you can watch with the children so those children that have never seen a mystery can see one. We actually watched a Hardy Boys episode from the old TV show with Sean Cassidy. It was great! I had them use their “Detective Notebook” and they wrote down clues they found as they were revealed. I stopped it in the middle to have them make a prediction of who they think the suspect is. At the end we talked about the clues they found, evidence in the show, and how they came to the conclusion of their suspect.

Scratch Off Drawings

Scratch Off Drawings

In college, I had to take an art class in which I was given a list of art activities that could be made by children in my class. I had to make them in my dorm room, so I can testify that they are easy enough. One of my favorites is the scratch off drawing. Since I made the one in my dorm room, the World Wide Web has allowed me to find different versions. I will try to post as many versions as I can.

Version 1- Scratch Off Drawings- Etchings

The most simple version is just using crayons. On either white or manila construction paper, have the children color the whole paper. I make smaller squares because the children don’t usually have that much stamina to do a whole sheet. They need to color dark.

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After they complete that stage, they need to color over the whole sheet with black crayon. It needs to be even darker than the colors underneath.

Once the sheet has been colored over with black crayon, the children can begin scratching off the black crayon in any design they want. I suggest they use the tip of their scissors opened. It should be a sharp tool. Have them experiment with different tools- nails, finger nail files, popsicle sticks, pencils, pens, etc.

scratch off drawing- crayon

Scratch Off Drawing Using Crayons


Version 2- Crayons and Paint

This version only changes after the colored crayons have been completed.

Instead of using black crayons black tempera paint is used as the over coat. This is a little messier than the crayons. Make sure the children cover their clothes because I am not sure if the paint will come out in the wash.

Just paint over the crayons and allow to dry before scratching off.

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Scratch Off Paint using Tempera Paint

Version 3- Crayons and Paint Mixture

Instead of using tempera paint, acrylic paint is used along with dish detergent.

Equal amounts of acrylic paint and dish detergent mixed in shallow bowls is painted over the colored crayon drawings. This mixture is similar to the scratch off lottery tickets. You can use any color, even silver or gold.

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Scratch Off Drawings Using Acrylic Paint

Version 4- Pre-Made Scratch Off Paper

You can also purchase sheets of scratch off paper. All of the mess is done for you. Just scratch off and it’s ready to go.

The colors underneath are usually brighter. These papers can be found in arts and crafts stores.

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Have fun!


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