Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year 2013: Plan for Peace

Hoping everyone had a safe and happy holiday!
I'm thinking a lot about starting the new year fresh with lots of positive thoughts and energy! The new book I illustrated this summer will be coming out in 2013. I will be getting all new students at school at the end of January. The new video for Floyd and the Mysterious Night Time Noise will be wrapped up. There is a lot to look forward to!

I'm also planning a special project with my students to start in January inspired by the "26 Acts of Kindness" campaign. I think the key to our country changing is to be compassionate to others and teach our children empathy. I'd like to see what happens when we go beyond 26 acts, beyond the holiday season when there are so many opportunities to give, and really try to do something to change the way we live and think of others.
In that spirit, here are a couple of things you can do for starters in 2013. My students (along with students in my colleagues Mrs. Gamelin and Mr. Cooney's classes) have already worked on the snowflake project before vacation and our snowflakes are on their way! 

• Welcome Sandy Hook Students to a Winter Wonderland -- When school resumes for Sandy Hook, it will be in a new building. Parent-volunteers are working to ensure that the students are welcomed back by a winter wonderland with the entire school decorated with as many unique snowflakes as possible. We encourage senders to be as creative as possible, remembering that no two snowflakes are alike. Please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTSA address below.

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

• Fairhaven, MA Remembers Newtown, CT
Saturday, January 5, 2013, 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. , Cushman Park, Green Street, Fairhaven 
Show support for the families of Newtown, CT. Join, any time between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m., in a 'Memorial Walk' around the track at Cushman Park. Stop by the donation table at the park's band stand to write or draw a message on a luminary bag and pick up a glow stick for your walk. After finishing your walk, place your glow stick in the luminary bag and the bags will be lined up around the inside of the track's fence. Donations may also be mailed in advance to the Fairhaven Town Hall, 40 Center Street, Fairhaven, MA 02719, c/o Selectman Bob Espindola. Please make out any checks to “Fairhaven Remembers Newtown.”

Letters to Soldiers -- After the holidays, the cards, and the care packages, there are still soldiers and military personnel serving all over the world, far away from their families and friends. Here are some web resources to help you get a letter or care package to a soldier and brighten their day all year long!       

If you have any ideas of things students can do for others throughout the year (random acts of kinds, community service ideas, etc.), please comment or message me at

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Favorite Childhood Christmas Craft

I have a lot of memories of making holiday crafts and things when I was a kid. We'd go in the woods behind Pope Park in Acushnet with my dad to find greens for wreaths, my mom and Auntie Ginger used to make tons of home made cookies and candy. As for me, I loved making Salt Dough "Christmas Cookie" ornaments! Last year my niece and nephew make some beautiful home made dough ornaments for my husband and I and it brought back some great memories!

Here's how to make your own:

Salt Dough Recipe (this one is from

1 cup salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup luke warm water

1. In a large bowl mix salt and flour.
2. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency.
3. With your hands form a ball with your dough and kneed it for at least 5 minutes. The longer you kneed your dough the smoother it will be.

Store your salt dough in a air tight container and you will be able to use it for days.
When ready, roll out and cut cookies (make sure you put a hole in the top!)
Let your salt dough creations air dry, however salt dough can also be dried in the oven.
 Bake at 200 F until your creation is dry. The amount of time needed to bake your creations depends on size and thickness; thin flat ornaments may only take 45-60 minutes, thicker creations can take 2-3 hours or more. You can increase your oven temperature to 350 F, your dough will dry faster but it may also brown, which won't matter if you are painting them.

Floyd- Approved Craft!!
When cooled/ready, paint with acrylic paint, dimensional paint, add glitter, etc. Pop a string through the hole and hang on the tree. They last for years and look like authentic cookies. But DON'T EAT THEM (Yucky!). You can decorate with real candies, but they will not last as long and should probably be thrown out at the end of the season. Another cool effect is to add cinnamon to the recipe or on top of the cookie before you bake it for a nice scent. (FYI-will affect the color of the cookie!). You can also seal them with acrylic sealer, varnish, or polyurethane spray.

This craft is Floyd approved: Although he can't eat them, it's also a great way to make an Irresistible Cookie that lasts forever!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Merry Musical Christmas!!

Last week I posted that I'd add some more Christmas crafts in a couple of days...What was I thinking??? The Christmas season is upon us and already it is busy busy busy! So here's finally another craft using sheet music.

I can't imagine the holidays without music so creating some decorations with old sheet music is perfect.  This idea came from an epic fail trying to make paper roses. Despite that, I did figure out how to make a really cool musical garland for my tiny Christmas tree! It's really fun and easy!

1. First get some sheet music. I like old sheet music that's turned a little ivory colored, but if you can't find any, you can print these holiday songs from your computer for free on any kind of paper you like. Please don't photocopy music. It's illegal and Santa will get mad!

2. Next, cut a circular shape from the center of the paper. It doesn't have to be perfect. I like mine a little wiggly.

3. Now cut a spiral from the outside working in toward the middle of the shape. Just follow your outer shape. Cut it thinner for a small tree, thicker for a bigger tree.

4. Carefully unravel the spiral. It will twist and turn in lots of places, looking very garland-y!
This is the spiral before being unraveled.

5. Now place it on your tree! You don't really need to connect the ends together as you hang it, but you can tape the pieces together as you go (that may work better on a large tree). Here's what my tree looks like with the garland on:

Now it's time for me to hang the rest of my ornaments! Check back in for more fun crafty ideas and some Christmas greetings from Floyd and friends, too!