Just So Ya Know…..

here are a few things i think ya outta know about:

FUNDRAISER: YES! you may turn in your order tomorrow WED JAN. 20th!  our cookie and pizza dough fundraiser ends today, but we will accept the orders tomorrow morning as well.  the cookie dough is so de-lish and they even have valentine cookie kits that are perfect for class parties!   this is our only pta fundraiser this year, so we’d love your support!

the order forms were sent home in monday folders on jan. 4th.  if you need another one, they have some at the school.  thanks to everyone who supports this fundraiser.  it helps pay for so many “magical” programs at manila!

DISNEY GIVE-A-DAY, GET-A-DAYhttp://disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyparks/en_US/WhatWillYouCelebrate/index?name=Give-A-Day-Get-A-Disney-Day

as most of you know we are celebrating the disney way this year at manila.  it’s been pretty magical so far and when i heard about disney’s give a day, get a day promotion i was all over it!  i’ve been trying to work out a deal since last october on getting every student and family member a free pass to disneyland through a huge voluntEAR day where we all join in the fun together, but unfortunately it can’t be done on a large scale as one group.

it’s still possible for every person to earn a free ticket to disneyland but you are required to sign up your own family and pick your choice of voluntEAR hours.  they have tons of different companies that need volunteers or donated items (food, house hold goods, blankets, etc)   so i’m sure you can all find something that works for your family and age groups.

volunteer hrs average 4hrs of work per person or donate a certain number of items per person.  i love the idea of so many manila families making a difference in the community AND getting rewarded with a free disneyland ticket.

once again, there are lots of charities to help, but here is an example of what the habitat for humanity options are to earn your disney ticket voucher:

All kit items need to be gathered (bought or donated) by volunteers. Please make sure these items are new, and not used.

Move in Kits: collect cleaning supplies, paper towels, tissue paper, detergents, and other house hold items together in kits that will be given to Habitat families who will be moving into their new homes.

Landscape Kits: kits need to contain shovel, rake, garden hose, bag of grass seed, and hand garden tools.

Cupboard kits: 25 cans of non perishable/non expired canned foods per kit

Recycling cans and paper: Once cans and paper have been collected, you will need to drop them off at the Habitat ReStore which is located at 340 South Orem Blvd between Monday and Friday from 9am-5pm.  On the north side of the building there is a large green paper container that has “Green Fiber” printed on it, that is where the paper needs to be dumped.  There is also a small can house, where you can drop the cans.  When you come to drop off the cans and paper, please come into the office to fill out a slip describing what you have recycled, this is how your hours are verified.  Please keep in mind, this volunteer opportunity is for youth 14 and under only.  There are other volunteer opportunities that adults can get involved with to receive their ticket vouchers.

ReStore scavenger hunt: Spread flyers through your own neighborhood to collect any unused building materials, furniture, paint, or appliances.  Bring items to ReStore at 340 South Orem Blvd.  Donations are tax deductable.

i hope everyone knows about this program because it’s a brilliant way to spread happiness around the world!  thanks disney!

HAPPY HELPING!  hope to see you all at DISNEYLAND!!!!!


Playing Catch Up!

whew! i hope everyone survived the holidays!  i’m still playing catch up.  over the holidays i made wonderful treats,  had fun activities and photographed it all to share on the blog for your family to join in the fun!  then…………..long story short:  my camera battery died and i can’t find the charger.  so i have all these fun photos i can’t get off my camera!  happy new year! 😉

my HATS OFF TO:   radio disney for our december MOOOOve It assembly!   it was so much fun!  they had the entire school off their seat, moving to the beat and stompin their feet!   boy was it neat!    ok, i’ll stop,   but my hats off to the disney team for starting off our holiday season with such a ‘rockin’ assembly!    boy our teachers can moooove!!!!!!

UPCOMING EVENTS:   this wed.   jan. 13th 9:30am  pta party (mtg) in the south trailer.   hey room moms…….we’ll share valentines party ideas you’ll FALL IN LOVE with and we’re looking for voluntEARS for a magic morning breakfast for the teachers and helpers with  teacher appreciation week.   hope to see you there!

we are in the middle of our cookie/pizza dough pta “fun”draiser!  this is the only pta fundraiser of the year, so “dough”n’t ya want to support us? 🙂     this money will help pay for bare books, family fun events and teacher appreciation!

last but not least, seeing as the blog has been on hiatus over the holidays (due to the death of my camera, sniff, sniff.)  i figured i better start the year off with a bang!

whenever i want to make a treat that will DAZZLE the guests i pull out the SPARKLY FRUIT!  it looks like a fancy martha stewart recipe but it’s marsha brady easy.  (not sure what that really means but the brady’s didn’t seem like fancy cooks so that’s the name that came to me, alright?!!)

Caramelized Brie and Wintered Pears (see?  doesn’t the name just sound fancy?)


– wheel o’brie(buy at costco, in a yellow and white circle box that costs around $7.00)  el presidente or something like that.

– pears (i prefer the bartlet pears from costco, they come in a box)

– grapes (looks better with red and green grapes)

– brown sugar

– sugar in the raw (by the brown sugar, comes in a bag.  looks like sugar crystals)

– butter

– chopped pecans (optional)

spray the fruit with pam, then roll it in sugar in the raw.  set fruit carefully on the platter and don’t mess with it much.  otherwise the sugar rubs off.

brie – take it out of the cardboard box, then take it out of the white plastic wrap it’s in.  now you should be holding a wheel of cheese in a white paper-feeling wrap.  the paper wrap is edible but cut the top layer off so you can see the cheese.  leave the sides and bottom on to help hold the cheese’s shape while it cooks.
place the cheese on a cookie sheet with the paper on bottom and the cheese facing up.   bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20min.  you don’t want the cheese hard, but you don’t want it turned into soup either.  you want it very soft without being runny.  you’ll find out what works best for your oven.  i just keep checking it.  if you have large bubbles and it’s running all over the place, you are over done and need to get it out!
i’ve never officially measured the brown sugar and butter, but i’m guessing it’s 1 cube butter and 2 cups brown sugar.  melt butter in saucepan, then stir in brown sugar.  you don’t want any dry sugar, but you don’t want it runny with butter either.  if it’s a thick sugary paste, it’s perfect!

right before the brie is ready to take out of the oven, i pour the sugar over the brie and let it cook in the oven for a bit.  then you carefully transfer it to a platter to serve and place the fruit around it.  sometimes i’ll just put the brie on the platter, then pour the sugar mix over it and call it good.  if you pour it over the brie in the oven, then you have more slop to clean up.  it’s fine both ways.

for presentation purposes, i use an apple slicer and slice several of the pears, place them around the edge of the platter and leave a few pears whole.  it just makes everything look beautiful.  if you want the nuts, just add them to the sugar mix before pouring them over the brie.

voila! martha stewart looking recipe that was very easy to make!  to serve, you can have people put the brie on their plate or just have them dip a slice of pear right into the brie wheel.  soooo dee-lish!

Season’s EATings!

*before i start the real posting, i just want to remind everyone about the PTA APPRECIATION BRUNCH!  if you have voluntEARed for pta at all from sept-dec of this year, you are invited to join us for an appreciation brunch this thursday, dec 10th at 11am.   it’s a potluck, so bring whatever YOUR favorite dish is.   i’ll be making a big pot of taco soup with all the fixins, so hopefully you can come enjoy that!  kids are welcome as usual 🙂

we’ve had so many people voluntEAR but i need to know how many people will be attending the brunch.  please email me at melanie@browerfamily.org so i can get a count and send you the address of the brunch location.   i’d love to see you all and thank you in person for all your help.   if you’ve helped for 20min or 20hrs, you are invited.  this is a great opportunity to meet other parents from the school.  hope to see you there!

season’s EATings!

tis’ the season for food, fun and festivities!   i’m sure your calendars are jam packed with parties, concerts, family get togethers and more parties.   from plated hors d’oeuvres to cookie swaps it’s truly the time of year for season’s greetings eatings!   instead of a main dish, i’m going to share some of my favorite holiday treats.   if we are invited to a party i usually take one of the following dishes.   (sometimes, i think i’m only INVITED to parties because they’ll KNOW i’m bringing one of the following dishes. he he he)

happy holidays to you all!  happy eating!

Spicy Asian Meatballs

½ c chopped water chestnuts       ½ tsp ginger

1/3 c green onion                       1 ¼ lb hamburger

1 ½ c bread crumbs                    3 Tbsp soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

Mix together and roll into small meatballs.  Bake at 400 for 15min.  empty out grease from pan and pour sauce over meatballs.

Sauce: ¾ c plum preserves ¼ c ginger

¼ c Chinese garlic chili sauce

Bake an additional 15min.  i make these with a small ice cream scoop so they are bite sized.   easy to eat grab with a toothpick.  so yum!

Hot Bean Dip

Mix together:

16 oz. can Refried Beans

1-8 oz. softened cream cheese

½ cup chopped green onions

1 ½ teaspoon taco seasoning

Dash Tabasco Sauce

1 cup sour cream

4 oz. can chopped green chiles

Put into casserole dish.  Sprinkle ¼ lb. shredded cheddar cheese and ¼ lb. shredded monteray jack cheese on top.

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips.  you can really spice this up by using roasted diced green chiles and pepper jack cheese!

You don’t know BEANS about Salsa! –if you had grilled chicken to this with hot tortillas it makes a main dish.

3 avocadoes, diced

3 tomatoes, diced

2 peppers, diced (buy the bag of 3 and use a little of each red, orange, yellow)

1 red onion, diced

1 can black eye peas drained and rinsed

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

1 can white shoe peg corn drain and rinsed

Newmans balsamic vinagrette dressing to coat (you want it to cover everything nicely but not be soupy)

Sprinkle with salt, enjoy with tortilla chips!

Hot Beef Dip

1 pkg chipped beef           8 oz. cream cheese

¼ cup chopped onions        dash garlic salt

1 cup sour cream

Mix together and put in an 8×8 pan.

If you’d like you can sprinkle chopped nuts on top

Bake at 350 for 20min. then enjoy with crackers

Sweet Rice Chex

Cook until bubbles:

1 ½ cup karo syrup           1 ½ cup sugar

2 cubes butter

Add 1 tsp vanilla, then pour over

1 big box rice chex-you can use the name brand or western family. both work great.

Spread out and sprinkle with a bag of coconut and a bag of m&m’s.  when cooled stir together and curl up in front of a great movie. Mmmmmmmmm.  i always buy the m& m’s that match the current holiday to ‘festive’ things up.  seeing as the M&M company has been kind enough to provide color coordinated m&m’s for every holiday on the planet, we make chex mix a lot!

Caramel Corn

1 cube butter                   1 cup light corn syrup

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 1 to 2 min.

Add 2 2/3 cup brown sugar, and bring to a boil again (about 2-3min.) add a pinch of baking soda to raise caramel.  Pour over three batches of popped corn. 3 (1/2 cup each) unpopped kernels.    this makes a huge bowl and is deadly if you are by yourself.  there is no self control and you will eat the entire bowl without help, so only make this popcorn surrounded by a group of people.   same goes for the chex mix!   i think it’s the ooey-gooey sticky stuff that keeps you coming back for more!

Pistachio Thumbprints

1 cup soft butter or marg.    1/3cup pwdrd sugar

1 egg                                     1 tsp vanilla

¾ tsp almond extract            2 cups flour

1 (3.4) pkg. instant pistachio pudding mix

½ cup mini semi-sweet choc. Chips

2 cups finely chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg and extracts. Add flour and dry pudding mix. Stir in chips and shape into 1inch balls to roll in nuts. Place on greased cookie sheet and make a thumbprint in center of each cookie. Bake 350 for 10-12 min. cool

Filling: 2Tbsp soft butter or marg.    1tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar                       2-3 Tbsp milk

Mix and spoon into center of cooled cookies.

Glaze: ½ cup semi-sweet choc. Chips, 2 tsp shortening. Melt together over low heat and drizzle over cookies. Let stand until set.

Serve and let the compliments roll in!

Butter Pecan Bars

1 butter pecan cake mix-sometimes really hard to find, so if you find it, buy several.   you can use a yellow cake mix as well.  just won’t add that extra pecan flavor.

3 ¾ c. powdered sugar

1 cup (2cubes) melted butter, divided

3 eggs

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

In 9 x 13 pan mix 1 stick butter, cake mix and 1 egg.  Press down. Mix sugar, 1 cube butter, 2 eggs and cream cheese.  Pour over/spread on crust.  Top with chopped pecan, if desired.

Bake 1 hour at 300.   let cool then refrigerate for 24 hours.  Set out ½ hour before serving.

after eating healthy for months with little or no sugar, this was the first treat i decided to try. they were so good,  i ended up eating over half the pan and getting a splitting migraine!   i do not advise this method of eating.   sampling ……good.   devouring…….bad!   they are like a blond brownie and are pure bliss!

that’s it for today’s post.   i hope you enjoy the recipes and happily eat your way through the holidays.

Thanksgiving Ideas You’ll Just GOBBLE Up!

just a fun collection of thanksgiving ideas to do over the holiday weekend.  sorry i didn’t get them out sooner, but i’ve been running around like a chicken turkey with my head cut off this week.   you could always make them over the weekend and use them for christmas?

Scattergories-two ways to play.  Write the alphabet down the side of the paper and they write items they are thankful for starting with each letter OR write several categories down the side of a paper and then pick a letter.  They have to write items in each category that start with that letter.   (thanksgiving food, sport on tv, item you see in a parade, etc)

I am thankful……..placemats or tablecloth.   Placemats are fun to add pictures too.  Let each child find their favorite family picts, put them on a piece of 12 x 12 cardstock, they can even write things they are thankful for.  Then laminate the entire thing.  These are fun to use at more than just the thanksgiving dinner!

Hard laminate costs a bit more but makes the placemats more sturdy.   You can even put wordsearches, crossword puzzles and holiday trivia on the placemats.  Then use dry erase markers to fill them out, wipe them off and play again!

Thankful Tablecloth-buy a new light colored tablecloth and permanent felt pens or fabric markers.   Put cardboard under the cloth and let everyone write something they are thankful for.  You can use this over and over again each year and just keep adding items you are thankful for.  It’s way more fun to look at than a boring plaid tablecloth 🙂

make a poster that reads:  WE ARE THANKFUL FOR: every time someone comes to your home throughout November, have them write what they are thankful for and who they are.  I know a girl that has her poster laminated.  She uses erasable markers so she can just wipe off the stuff at the end of the season and use the poster again next year.  (before erasing everything she jots all the items down in her journal first.)


Have family out of town? feel closer to your whole family by being of one feather! At the beginning of November, cut out paper turkey feathers and mail them to your family. Have them each write something they are thankful for on the feather and mail it back.   By the time Thanksgiving arrives, you should have a turkey FULL of grateful feathers from your whole family!  this can also work for a paper christmas tree with paper ornaments.


Our family’s favorite traditions on thanksgiving are doing a puzzle together and going to a movie.   Before the meal, while the food is being prepared we have a table set up for a big puzzle.  Half the fun is finding the perfect puzzle!  You don’t want it too hard you can’t finish and the kids can’t help but you also don’t want a 25 piece one that can be finished before the rolls are even cooked!    Target has a set of Disney puzzles for 13.00 that are awesome.  I think there are 8 puzzles in one box!  Eric Dowdle puzzles are also great.  Especially the gingerbread house one!  (can you find the elvis or marilyn Monroe gingerbread people?)  From kids to grandparents we love putting together puzzles as a family.


Arrange the children/players in a circle. Pass a “thankerchief” (handkerchief) around the circle, as everyone recites this poem:

Thankerchief, thankerchief, around you go —
Where you’ll stop, nobody knows.
But when you do, someone must say,
What they are thankful for on this day.

The player holding the “thankerchief” when the poem ends, must
say aloud, one thing for which they are thankful. This continues until
everyone has had their turn.


Turkey Hunt !
Hunt quietly, you don’t want to scare the turkeys…
Prepare for the game by drawing or pasting turkey pictures on a dozen
or so index cards – stickers will work as well.
To play, everyone leaves the room except the leader. The leader hides
the cards around the room. Hunters return and begin the hunt.
As each turkey is found, it is brought back to the leader who corrals
them in a separate pile for each hunter. When all the turkeys have been found, the hunter with the most turkeys is the winner and becomes the leader for the next round.
Let your children make the cards before the Holiday. They’ll find lots of magazine pictures and can color some as well!

Where is Mr. Turkey?
Instead of saying “warmer…cooler” you gobble?
One player is the farmer and the others are helpers. The farmer leaves
the room. The helpers hide a small toy turkey. The farmer returns with a mission to find the turkey. Helpers give clues by “gobbling” like turkeys.
If the farmer is far away from the turkey, the helpers gobble very quietly. As the hunter gets closer to the turkey, the helpers gobble will increase in volume until Mr. Turkey is found!  Don’t forget the video camera!


Bird, Beast, or Fish
You have to think fast for this game.
Everyone sits facing the leader. The leader points to one of the players and says either “BIRD,” “BEAST,” or “FISH.” The chosen player must come up with the name of an animal that fits the category before the leader counts to ten. No repeating! If the player does not respond in time,
she is out. The game continues until only one player remains.
As you can guess, after a few rounds it can be hard to think of
an animal that has not already been mentioned!


my favorite turkey craft ever!   Copytec has these little guys in a set, so i just go buy them all from there.  they are a little plastic cup turkey with a string that hangs down with a piece of sponge.  you wet the sponge and slide it down the string to make your turkey gobble!   they are a great craft and you will LOVE a whole family of turkeys gobbling around your home.

i am grateful for each and every one of you that make a difference at manila and support the pta.   here’s wishing you and yours a super turkey day!

calling all princes and princesses!

disney on ice

hear ye, hear ye,   by order of manila P-T-A we have a ROYAL SIZED GIVE-A-WAY!

if your little prince or princesses attend manila and would like to see disney on ice princess classics you need to enter our drawing!    we are giving away tickets to the THURSDAY NIGHT NOV. 12TH SHOW AT 7PM

we are giving away 5 family passes with 6 tickets per family pass!  that’s 30 tickets total!!!!!  (i told you it was a ROYAL SIZED GIVEAWAY)

*only manila families can participate.  we love everyone who reads the blog, but we want to share the magic with our manila friends on this one.

*one entry per family

*all email entries must be received by saturday night, so i can print up the tickets for a monday morning drawing!  we will announce the winners monday morning at school. (parents will be notified by phone as well)

*please only enter if your family will use the tickets. i know there will be an overwhelming request for tickets and i’d hate  to have someone win who isn’t sure if they can go.   i think the best part of this giveaway is for several of our manila families to attend an event together!    what a way to celebrate!

to be entered in the drawing you must email me at: melanie@browerfamily.org. please include both parents names and a phone number.  if you only have 4 people in your family and would like to donate the 2 extra tickets back to the drawing for someone else that is great. just let me know in your email entry.

OR you are welcome to keep all 6 and have your children invite two friends to join in the celebration.   i just want to make sure every seat is filled with happy manila magic! no empty seats.

thanks for being part of the manila magic…….where dreams come true!


DECEMBER 12TH Saturday at 10am  tickets $5.50 each

i would like to rent an entire theater out for our manila families to see the princess and the frog movie together but i need to get an idea of  how many seats we will need.  if you and your family would be interested in attending this please let me know how many tickets you would buy so i can get a count by next week.

we will pre-sell the tickets around thanksgiving.  i am working on some prize giveaways for the movie, i think it will be a great celebration for everyone!    HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES!

Room Mom STAPLE Game Ideas

if you’ve read this blog at all you know how much i love to party!   over the years i’ve planned classroom parties where the games went really well and planned parties where the games went not so well……..but i prefer to remember the HAPPY TIMES in my life, so i only filed the FUN games.  now when i go through my files i only see the games that are guaranteed to bring a smile to the students and perfection to the party.    below i’ve listed my favorite games that are always a hit!.  no matter what the grade, holiday or class size, i guarantee there is a game on this list for you!   when reading through the games keep in mind you can switch them up to match any holiday, class theme or grade level.  sometimes what works in a lower grade will work in an upper grade if you add one level of difficulty to the game. 😉

i call these my STAPLE games because the students love them!  i use them over and over and over again and the kids still jump up and down when i say what we’re playing.

if YOU have game ideas you’d like to share, please list them as a ‘comment’ so we can share them with everyone!!!    THANKS FOR PLAYIN’

man, woman, bear-this plays like rock, paper scissors but you start standing back to back in couples.  count 1,2,3 and flip around each making your characters actions.  whichever character loses goes and sits down then everyone pairs up again back to back.  play continues until you get down to two people and have one winner!    i write the characters on the board with who beats who, so the kids can easily see which person wins.    man gets bear, bear gets woman and………as true to life…….woman, gets the man!  he he he   actions to be each character:   man is two hands out like you are holding two guns.  bear is two hands up high fingers clawed, roaring face.  woman has one hand on mouth “oh” and second hand on hip.  (i love when the boys do the woman action.  so funny!)     from 1st to 6th the students love this game!!!!!

4 corners-this plays better in 3rd grade and under.   clearly divide the room into four corners with invisible lines.  name those corners using words to match your party theme.  if it was halloween, i’d name them candy, monster, ghost and pumpkin.  1child stands in the front of the room and closes their eyes.  (i hold my hands up to the side of the childs eyes to avoid them be tempted to cheat)   we count to 10 loudly while the other students quietly sneak around the room.  when we get to 8 all the students need to be IN a corner and stay in that corner.   then the child at the chalkboard picks a corner.  everyone in that corner is now out and sits in the middle of the room.  one of those students gets to be the student at the chalkboard now.  play continues until you get down to just a few kids.   i have pictures of the 4 corners names on the chalkboard so the child picking a corner has something to pick from.  otherwise you end up naming the 4corners over and over and over again.  if you prefer, you can choose to NOT let the kids get out after picking their corner and just let everyone have a turn being ‘it’ while everyone just plays over and over again.

blanket name game-bring a large dark blanket that the kids can’t see through.   divide the kids into two teams on either side of the blanket.  two moms hold the blanket up so neither team can see anyone on the other team.  one mom points to a student on team A and the other mom points to a student on team B.  those students come up to the blanket and stand in the center.  1,2,3 drop the blanket!  the two students try to be the first one to say the other students name.  sounds easy, but it’s harder than it sounds.  pull the blanket up and pick two more students.  this is a good time filler game at the end of the party.

dividing into teams-however many teams you need pick animals.   4 teams could be (cows, sheep, pig, turkey)  if you have 20students then you’d have 5 kids per team so you would need 5 strips of paper with each animal on it.  put all the strips in to a bowl and let the kids pick one out.  kids dont’ show one another their strip.  on ‘go’ the kids are only allowed to get on their hands and knees, close their eyes and make their animal sound.   they continue making their animal sound until they find the other animals that are the same as them.  this is a loud game but if all the other classes in your grade are having a holiday party at the same time it shouldn’t matter 😉  it’s an hilarious game to watch play out.  once all the animals have found their ‘families’ you can send them to their different stations easily.

here kitty kitty-students stand in a circle with one in the middle being ‘it’.  ‘it’ goes up to one person in the circle and in their best silly voice and cutesy face they say, “here kitty, kitty” the student in the circle needs to keep a straight face.  if they laugh, the two trade places.  this game can get you laughing pretty hard.

1,2,3 up-students stand in a circle and look down at their feet.  they count out loud, 1,2,3 and then look up.  if they are looking at someone and that person is looking back at them, they are out and sit down.   if they are looking at someone and that person is looking at someone else, they are safe.  as long as you don’t make eye contact with someone you are safe.  you usually have to remind the kids of integrity and being honest.  if you are looking at someone and they are looking back you sit down. 😉   then everyone looks down at their feet again and you count to 3 then look up.  play continues until you are down to the last 3 people.  this is also a fun game to pick up the pace on.

last word-students pair up.  on “go” give them a subject and they just go back and forth for 30seconds.  when time is up you see who got the last word in.  example:  fast food restaurants….go!   they just go back and forth naming fast food restaurants.  you can’t repeat the same ones.  you just keep going until you hit 30seconds.   you can choose to stay with the same teams and do the best out of 3 games with 3 different subjects or you can have them switch pairs each time to mix things up.  your ‘subjects’ can be anything you want:   disney movies, characters, tv shows, girls names, teachers names, cartoons, song titles, bands, etc.

fruit bastket upset-this is a great game to use at any grade level or match to any theme.  kids sit in a circle on chairs facing in, minus one chair.  the child who is without a chair is ‘it’.   to make the game easy to explain i always make 4 or 5 different pictures to separate the kids.   halloween example: i would go buy stickers or print out small picts and tape them onto the kids shirts of a mummy, werewolf, dracula, ghost and witch. i stack them so there is one of each on top of each other in a pile.  then i just walk around the circle and the students can take the top sticker and put it on.  now you should have close to an even number of kids that are ‘werewolves’, ‘vampires’, ‘witches’, etc.  (if the kids take a sticker and want to trade with the person next to them that’s fine. you just need to have as close to the same amount of each character as possible)

for other holiday you could do colored stickers, or picts of items that match your theme.  spring i do colored plastic eggs.  cinco de mayo i just do colored circle stickers, holiday i do stocking, present, candy cane……you get the idea.      then i tape one of each of the items on the floor in the center of the circle.  you have to do this so the’it’ has something to choose from, otherwise they end up picking the same item over and over again because they forget the other ones.     to start the game ‘it’ stands in the middle and calls one of the items.  if it was dracula, then all the kids that have the dracula sticker have to quickly move to another seat while ‘it’ tries to steal one of their seats.  whoever is left in the middle is now ‘it’ and gets to pick the next item.    to really MIX things up have a word that they say where everyone is required to get up and move!  halloween i have them say: trick or treat!    holiday: ho, ho, ho    cinco de mayo:  ole!………once again you get the idea.

this game you’ll find a lot of kids that SEE an open seat but avoid it and look frantic because they WANT to be IT.  so you’ll have two kids standing in the middle looking crazy when there is a seat wide open.  to avoid this i tell the kids we want to see who can AVOID being in the middle the entire game.  i have a prize for anyone who can do it.   (i end up giving a prize to everyone because it’s fun, but this helps the game going at a better pace)    also tell ‘it’ they only have 5seconds to choose.  sometimes kids will stare at their 5 options and not know what to say.

bumpety bump, bump, bump-this game rocks!!!! (or should i say bumps!)  this is best for 4th grade and up.   let’s say you have 24 kids.  you would have 4 teams of 6.  this game requires even teams so moms or teacher may need to join in the fun.   to explain this game it’s best to ‘draw’ it out.  first draw a square on a piece of paper.  on each side of the square you would line up 6 chairs all facing inward and centered in the middle of the line so you have a bit of room in each corner of the square.   draw a circle in the middle of the square, this is where one chair will go.   when sitting in the ‘team’ chairs the chair to the far left of each team is the ‘captain’ chair.  so you should have 4 captains. one on each team at the far left.   the captains need to like chocolate…..a lot!    each team captain holds a squishy ball.  on go all the team captains jump up and run towards the chair in the middle, around the chair and to the other end of their ‘team’ of chairs.  (the opposite end where they were sitting)  if you draw it on the paper it should be a triangle from the captain chair to the last one on the team.   while the captain is ‘running’ the entire team scoots or BUMPS down one seat so the last seat is open for the captain to sit down.  hence the bumpety, bump, bump, bump comes in.  as soon as the captain is sittin in the chair he can pass the ball to the person next to him and they pass it down the entire team with each person holding the ball.  you can’t toss the ball to the new captain chair or skip people along the way.  each team member must pass the ball past them to the next person.  when it gets to the person who is now sitting in the captain chair on the end they jump up and run around the chair in the middle to the seat on the end, making sure the team all bumps down one seat to leave the end open for him.  he then passes the ball and the game continues.  the goal is to get your team ‘captain’ back to his chair the fastest.  once the captain is back to his chair he grabs the hershey’s chocolate bar under his chair and has to eat the entire thing!  you see which team can complete this first.  if you wanted you could have a little treat under everyone’s chair and see which team can finish all their treats!  this game is my favorite because it’s loud, crazy fun!

i sit-this game is better 4th grade and up (maybe 3rd)   the kids just need to learn the following lines:   i sit…….in the grass…….with my friend (name a friend)……..the entire class sits on chairs in a circle with one extra chair that is empty.   the person that has the empty chair to their left starts the game by jumping into the seat and saying “i sit”  leaving their seat open for the person next to them to scoot over into their chair and say “in the grass” and finally the person sitting next to the open chair scoots over one chair and says “with my friend…..and names someone in the class.”    the person who’s name is called jumps up and runs over to the empty seat and sits down.  now the person who has the new empty seat to their left scoots over to it and says “i sit” the next person that has the empty chair to their left scoots and says “in the grass” the third person scoots into the empty chair and says “with my friend…..say a name”  that person runs over and sits down.  game continues until you get used to everyone knowing where to scoot, what to say and how to play.  when they get the hang of it, the competition comes in.   everything stays the same except……when the person who’s name is called gets up to run to the empty seat…….instead of the person to the left being the only one to scoot over to the empty seat, you now tell the students the person on either side of the empty chair can jump in the empty seat.  if the person on the rigth jumps in the empty chair and says, “i sit” the person that was next to them scoots over and continues the game, while the person who missed out scoot themselves and their chair out of the circle.  now you have your circle getting smaller each time you have someone get up and run when their name is called.  play continues until you get down to 4 kids. that’s as small as you can play.

four on a couch or row-This is the best game I have ever played. I love it. a bit difficult to explain and i’d only play 5th grade and up.  The explanation is very long and involved, but DEFINITELY worth it.  This is essentially a memory game. The object of this game is to get 4 members of your team on the designated “couch” (or just a section of 4 chairs). To start, have everyone sit down in a circle (incuding the 4 “couch” seats at the front of the room) alternating boy/girl/boy/girl. (usually i just use those color circle stickers and just have them be a blue or red team instead of boy girl. it’s rare you have them even.) This means that two of the 4 designated seats on the couch belong to your team and two belong to the other.  (so you have 2 red and 2 blue stickers on the 4 front chairs) Remember the objective is to get the other team out of those seats and your members on.  So, how do you do that? First, you write everyone’s name on a card and have everyone pull a name out of a hat. Everyone has a different name in their hand (it doesn’t matter if it is their own name). Once everyone is seated and has a name card you can start the game.  There should be one empty chair/place in the circle. Whoever is to the right of that empty place has the opportunity to ask someone to come sit next to him. The first couple people will just guess a name because they do not yet know who holds what name cards. Say the empty seat is next to you and you call the name Jeff… the person with the name Jeff on their card gets up… NOT the person whose name is actually Jeff. Once this “so-called Jeff” comes and sits next to you, you switch name papers. Now YOU have become Jeff and the person who sat next to you has the name you had (which only you know because no one has seen it but you).

Now everyone knows that You are Jeff. There is an empty space where the guy who just sat next to you used to sit. So the person to the right of the empty seat calls another name (Sarah). The person with that name on their card moves to that spot and switches cards with the caller. You now know that the caller’s name is Sarah. You just keep doing this until eventually you call the name (on the card) of someone on the couch and they have to vacate their coveted position.

If the person to the right of the empty spot is on the couch, they will want call someone from their team up to join them. (they will have had to remember from before).

People in the circle will want to remember the name of an opposing team member on the couch, so that in case an empty seat opens up next to them, they can call someone off the couch. A person on the couch will want to remember their own team members’ names so they can call someone on the couch.

Keep in mind however, that YOU may be called onto the couch and be required to remember your own team members’ names as well since it will be up to you to call team members onto the couch.

The only rule of the game is that you can’t call the same name twice in a row. Another note to remember if you are playing boy against girl is that it is the actual gender of the person HOLDING the card that counts, not the gender of the person whose name is on the card.   same as color.  Sarah may be called “Jeff” but she still counts for the girl’s team on the couch. when playing colors, you just want all your color in the 4 front chairs.

when playing this game in elementary school i don’t have the students trade the names when they get up and move.  i have them draw the different names to start the game, but then they keep that same name the entire time because it still requires everyone to remember who is what color and what name.

3 part charades-for 5th and 6th grade.  divide into two teams.   each person writes a name on a strip of paper and folds it up in the bowl.  the name can be someone in the class, from tv, movies, books, cartoons, history, etc.  you can write anyone from spongebob to caesar on the slip.  i’m assuming if the kids all write the names they will all know who the people are?   they don’t tell who they wrote, they just write the name and drop it in the bowl in the center of the room.   divide the kids into two teams. round 1–starting with team A they have one person at a time run to the bowl, and by doing actions, rhyming words, descriptive words, etc they try to get their team to guess this person.  they can do everything but say the actual name of the person.  once the team guesses the name, they have another person run up and pull a name out.  team A continues guessing names until 1minute is up.  they leave the names they guessed just to the side of the bowl.  now team B does the same thing for 1min. pulling names out of the bowl and having their team guess each name.

you go back and forth with each team taking turns for 1min. until you’ve gone through all the names.  if a team runs out of names before the 1min is up they can grab a paper from the side of the bowl and see if their team can guess it.   round 2–once all the names have been guessed and both teams had equal turns, you put all the names back in the bowl and play the exact same way going back and forth……….except this time the teams can’t say anything!  you can only do actions this round, no talking.   round 3–you put all the names back in the bowl.  seeing as you’ve already guessed the names twice the third round you don’t get to do any actions.  you only get to say one word.  that’s it!  you pull a name from the bowl and you get to say ONE WORD!  if your team doesn’t guess what you are saying it’s tough because you only can say the same one word over and over again.  you may raise or lower your voice, but you have to say only that word.

play bounces back and forth between each team for the minutes until you’ve pulled all the names from the bowl.  each time a team guesses a name right they get 1point. you keep p0ints through all three rounds.

halloween games : pumpkin bowling with plastic pumpkins.   stack the plastic pumpkin candy holders into a triangle then the kids roll a big ball to knock them over.  you don’t place them like normal bowling, you stack them up high 3,2,1.

scary sounds: go in before the day of the party and pull the kids out of the room one at a time. they get to record making any sound they want two times in a row.  (cackle, cackle, woof, woof, booooo, booooo etc)  write down the order of the names the kids record in.  at the party play back the kids and see if they can guess who is who.  for older kids you can record different sounds (shutting car door, creaking stair, phone ringing, etc)  they can see if they can guess the sounds

witches brew- die cut several different halloween themed items from cardstock. (lizard, frog, white circles for eyes, snakes, etc)  have two bowls or black cauldrons at the end of the table.  each time lines up down their side of the table with straws.  (each person has there own straw)   all the witches brew ‘ingredients’ are at one end of the table with the cauldron at the other.  first child puts their straw over the first paper ingredient and sucks up!  lifting the paper item off the desk and holds it up until it gets to the next person, then they drop it.   the next child does the same thing and they move the ingredients down the table by sukcing them up with a straw and lifting them to the next child. the last child on each team sucks up the items and drops them in the cauldron. you see which team can make their witches brew first!   the first child doesn’t have to wait until the first ingredient is in the cauldron, they can drop the first one and start on the next one immediately so the game moves fast.

candy corn chaos:  candy corn are cheap so i like to use them alot.  one game has a child with a bowl of candy corns and their partner has a plastic pumpkin.  as a team they toss and try to catch the candy corns in the pumpkin working together.  they see how many candy corns they can catch in a certain amount of time.  you can have them trade so they each get a turn to toss or catch.  obviously the further away they stand the harder the game.    second game idea:  kids use chop sticks to try and pick up as many candy corns as they can and put them in a bowl or pumpkin.  you could have several kids do this at once since most don’t know how to use chopsticks and need a few minutes to learn. then you can set a time to let them try to go fast.

awesome website where you can print really cool halloween puzzles, trivia and games for an entire class.  they cost a bit of money but are cheap if you print a lot.  maybe get together with another room mom and print some for several classes.     http://www.halloweengamesatoz.com/default.html

i think that’s enough for now.  watch for more game, craft and room mom ideas being posted soon!  GAME ON!!!!

Spooooooky Stories

hey all, it’s that time of year to dust off the cobwebs, crack the spine and slice open the halloween books!  (how was THAT for creepy?!)

if you are planning a class party with a storybook station, this blog is for you!  here are some of my favorite picture books to read around halloween

obviously we must start with where the wild things are by maurice sendak-it’s always good to show kids that a lot of movies come from books but the books are way better

you read to me, i’ll read to you (halloween version) by mary ann hoberman-better one on one but you could just read an entire story by yourself

inside a house that is haunted by ted arnold–this is my favorite. builds up items on each page and the kids will be able to say it all at the end

green wilma by ted arnold-an adorable story about a little girl that is green…….or IS she a little girl?

sipping spiders through a straw by kelly dipucchio-similar to silly songs in the bathtub but halloween style.  they kids will LOVE singing along to these creepy songs

the night the scary beasties popped out of my head by daniel and david kamish-creative story about a boy who draws a beastie and the beastie comes alive off the page

one halloween night by mark teague-what happens when halloween night goes wrong?

little mouse’s big book of fears by emily gravett-it’s about a mouse who chews his way through a self help book on all the phobias out there

stellaluna by janell canon-sweet story of a bat who falls into a birds nest and thinks she’s a bird

the spider and the fly by mary howitt-i think everyone should read this book as a family! makes for a great discussion on stranger danger, not everyone who uses flattering words is nice.  i love how it reads like a black and white movie.

skippyjon jones in mummy trouble by judy schauner-if you have a good spanish accent the kids EAT THIS BOOK UP! skippyjon is a siamese cat who thinks he’s a chiahuha

the hallo-weiner by dave pilkey-cute story of a weiner dog on halloween.

pumpkintown bykatie mcky-a little family that grows pumpkins by accident over an entire town!

halloween pie by michael tunnel-just a retelling of the little red hen

tell me a scary story but not too scary by carl reiner-a story about an old man that lives in a haunted house…..or is it?    teaches a bit about stranger danger.

t-rex trick or treats by lois grahambling-t rex can’t decide what costume to wear to scare people, then realizes he is pretty scary in his own skin.

i have one more story i thought was adorable but i can’t remember the title.   😦  it’s a story about a little witch who goes to her first day of school but she seems to be different than all the other witches………her mom sent her to fairy school by mistake!  the fairies are so kind and understanding of her being different it’s just adorable.  the last page shows a picture of a fairy at the witch school!    i know mrs. deaver has this book, so i will try to find out the title.

hope this helped!  i will post some craft, game and goodies ideas tomorrow!!!!!   thanks again for all you do.

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