Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mindset Book Study: Chapter 3 - The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

As educators we often seek the knowledge and resources to become more successful and effective teachers. We set yearly goals for ourselves, our students, and our colleagues. We continually strive to be the best educators we can be to ensure that our students are meeting the learning goals/objectives. We thrive on commendation and recognition for our hard work from our administrators, colleagues, parents, and principals. However, have you ever thought about the impact that feedback and positive praise can have on our students' mindset? Well... let's talk about it.

As educators, we strive to praise our students for their accomplishments and their ability to learn. However, in chapter 3, Dweck discusses the real ingredients of achievement and what makes some people achieve less and some more. Take a moment and think about some common phrases you use when you praise your students...

I praise my students for even the smallest accomplishments. Praising one's efforts communicates to others that they can grow their abilities, cultivate talents, and grow intelligence. However, prior to reading this chapter, I did not know that praise has an effect on our mindset.

What is fixed mindset and growth mindset?

Fixed Mindset - The belief that intelligence is innate and cannot be changed.

Growth Mindset - No matter who you are, you can become a great deal smarter. Students feel smart when they are working on something difficult and can make progress. A growth mindset encourages people to develop their minds fully by embracing challenges and avoiding limiting thoughts which might hold them back. 

Take a moment to watch this interesting study on the effect of praise on mindset:

Students are reticent to take risks and more often than not their performance declines. On the other hand, when students are praised for their effort, their performance improves and their effort and motivation increase. Take a moment and think about these questions:

  • If people have such potential to achieve, how can they gain faith in their potential?
  • How can we give them the confidence they need to go for it?
  • How about praising their ability in order to convey that they have what it takes?

Growth Mindset or Fixed Mindset? 

Take a moment and think about where you are as an educator. Whether this is your first year of teaching or your twenty-fifth year of teaching... Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Dweck states, "The growth mindset lets people use and develop their mind fully. Their heads are not filled with limiting thoughts, a fragile sense of belonging, and a belief that other people can define them. I believe this is what we want for our students and for ourselves. Give your students the gift of growth mindset! I want to leave you with a question: How can we create an environment that teaches the growth mindset to adults and/or students? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Read these other blog posts about chapter 3: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Parent Volunteer Cherry Man Celebration

Parent volunteers are so important in the classroom! Without parent volunteers, my centers would not run smoothly and efficiently. They are seriously the cherry on top, and I will be forever indebted to them for all their help! Today I am excited to be partnering with CherryMan and the Laura Kelly Design Team to bring you three recipes to show your parent volunteers how much you appreciate them! 

Now you might be thinking... A male kindergarten teacher that can cook/bake!? Well, not quite. I've partnered with my sister-in-law (Julie) from Country Fresh Cooking to bring you these delicious recipes that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth! Julie is an amazing chef and a Spanish teacher, as well. Here is what we will be making today:

Click on the links above to download a FREE printable PDF of each recipe! Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end and check out all the other great recipes made with CherryMan products. Let's get started!

Basil Infused Cherry Limeade

What's better on a hot summer day than a refreshing sip of basil infused cherry limeade?

Cherry Limeade

2-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
One 10-ounce jar of CherryMan maraschino cherries, with juice
Thin lime wheels for garnish

For Basil Infused Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 basil leaves


1. Start with the simple syrup by combining 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 2 basil leaves in a medium-size pot.  Give the basil leaves a slap before adding them in (sounds weird, but totally works to maximize the basil infusion, so give it a couple slaps).  Over medium heat, bring to a simmer just until sugar is dissolved.   Remove from heat, discard basil, and allow to cool to room temperature.

2. In a pitcher, combine the lemon-lime soda, fresh lime juice, CherryMan maraschino cherries with juice, lime wheels and simple syrup.  Stir gently and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

3. Add red sugar sprinkles to the rim of your glass milk bottle. Simply spread lime juice around the rim and dip into a bowl of red sugar sprinkles. Add lime wheels and CherryMan maraschino cherries (with stems) for garnish. 

Cherry Chocolate Cake Pops

Who doesn't love chocolate? These cherry chocolate cake pops are sure to be a decadent delight at any event!

Cake Batter

1 box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix
1 ¼ cups of hot water
3 eggs
1/3 cup of butter
1 tbsp baking cocoa

Cake pop “glue”

1 jar of CherryMan Maraschino Cherries and juice
1 tbsp of cornstarch
1 tbsp of water
1 cup of Nutella

Cake Pop Assembly

2 packages Candy Melts - white and chocolate
24 white cake pop sticks
sprinkles of your choice


1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Open the boxed chocolate cake mix and dump it in the bowl of a stand mixer. 

2. In a medium-size pot over low heat, melt the butter.  Then whisk in the baking cocoa and the hot water. Whisk over medium-low heat for 20 seconds.

3. With the mixer on low, add the butter and the cocoa-water mix into the dry cake, mix until just combined (to cool it down a bit). Then, gently whisk in 3 eggs, ONE at a time.

3.  Divide cake batter between 2 greased 9” cake pans lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool to room temperature or cool in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Pulse one jar of cherries (with juice) in a food processor to chop the cherries.  Do NOT pulverize them. 

5.  Put the cherry mixture in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water and stir vigorously until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Add to the cherry mixture.  Stir occasionally and allow to thicken; approximately 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  This can be stored in a mason jar overnight in the refrigerator.

Forming the Cake Balls

1.  Crumble cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. 

2.  To the crumbled cake, add the cherry mixture and the Nutella.  Work cake with a large wooden spoon to combine cake and cherry-Nutella mixture.

3.  Next, using a 2” cookie scoop, scoop out a small amount of cherry cake mixture and roll into a ball.  Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Continue making little balls until all of the cake is used up.  Freeze for an hour or overnight.

Cake Pop Assembly

1.  Over a double boiler, melt one package of the candy melts.  Stir frequently with a whisk until smooth.

2. Working in batches of 3 or 4, remove frozen cake balls from freezer.  Dip one end of the stick into the candy melt (just a tiny bit), insert into the flat side of the cake pop.  Replace and repeat with remaining 2 or 3 cake pops.

3.  Next, dip the whole cake pop in the candy melt using a spoon to help coat the whole cake pop.  Tap cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to remove excess candy melt coating.  Add desired sprinkles immediately.  Place cake pop in a cake pop stand or a styrofoam block to dry. 

4. Repeat with remaining cake balls, working in small batches.  Leave the remaining cake balls in the freezer so that they don’t get too soft while they are waiting for their turn.  You can use a variety of Candy Melt colors if desired.

Makes approximately 30 cake pops.

Check out the inside of that cake pop! Delicious! Is your mouth watering yet?

When you are finished making your delicious cake pops, place them into a small pail with crinkle cut paper fill.

Add that special touch to your cake pop bouquet by adding one of Laura Kelly's personalized stamps by Expressionery onto a tag.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Cupcake Batter

1 box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix
1 ¼ cups of hot water
3 eggs
1/3 cup of butter, melted
1 tbsp baking cocoa

Cherry Cupcake Filling

1 jar of CherryMan Maraschino Cherries
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp of water

Butter Cream Frosting

3 cups of powdered sugar
½ stick of butter, softened
2 or 3 tbsp of heavy whipping cream.

1.  Start by making the batter for the cupcakes.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, dump in the chocolate cake mix.

2.  Place the butter in a medium sauce pan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add the hot water and baking cocoa and whisk for 30 seconds or so. 

3.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the hot mixture to the cake mix.  Give a couple quick pulses and shut off.  With the mixer back on low, add the 3 eggs, one at a time until just combined.

4.  Use an ice cream scoop to portion out the cupcakes.  Bake cupcakes at 350° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cherry Filling

1.  Pulse jar of cherries (with juice) in a food processor to chop the cherries.  Do NOT pulverize them. 

2.  Put the cherry mixture in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water and stir vigorously until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Add to the cherry mixture.  Stir occasionally and allow to thicken; approximately 5 minutes.  Cool completely.

3. Use a cupcake corer or a knife to carve out a small portion in the center of the cupcake.  Add 1 tbsp of the cherry mixture to each cupcake.

Butter Cream Frosting

1.  Mix softened butter and powdered sugar in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Add 2 or 3 tbsp of heavy whipping cream and beat until light and fluffy.  Use a piping bag or a knife to spread on the frosting.

Makes approximately 18 cupcakes

Look at these delicious CherryMan Maraschino cherry-filled cupcakes! These are sure to be the hit of any party! Plus the buttercream frosting is delicious!

Setting the Table

Set the table for your parent volunteers with all things white and red to fit that perfect cherry theme! Oriental Trading has a number of items perfect for your event!



You can enter to win a Cherry Man Prize Pack and a $100 Visa Gift Card! 

Check out these other CherryMan Recipes:

Chad Boender is an official member of the Laura Kelly Design Team. Products or compensation may have been received to support this post; however, the opinions, designs, images and concepts are my own.

Have a CherryMan Cherry-ific Day, 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother's Day Flowers with Sculpey

Sometimes the best gift ideas for Mother's Day are homemade. Sculpey clay is the perfect solution for those homemade crafts. I am excited to share with you some Mother's Day craft ideas for kids & toddlers that Mom will cherish forever! Sculpey sponsored this post but the opinions and ideas are all my own!

The possibilities are endless with Sculpey clay products. My kindergarten students were excited to work with clay to create flowers for Mother's Day. Each flower was so unique and my students had such a blast making them!

Sculpey sent me Sculpey Bake Shop Oven-Bake Clay Kits and tools for my students to work with. I love how soft this clay is for my students. It makes it easy for them to shape their clay into a magnificent masterpiece. This kit also comes with 12 vibrant colors for your students to choose from.

I had my students use Laura Kelly's Traceable Doodle Patterns as inspiration for creating their flowers. These kits are perfect for embroidery, needle crafts, paper crafts, coloring, scrapbooking and little projects!

Laura Kelly's whimsical doodles make crafting so much fun! Check out this flower that one of my students made with Laura's doodle as inspiration. How fun!

This school year is certainly flying by! The weather is beginning to get warmer, the flowers are beginning to bloom and our kindergarteners are truly blooming too! What I love most about this craft project is how unique each flower is. This free printable flower tag by Laura Kelly Designs is paired perfectly with each flower to make Mother's Day extra special.

These Sculpey clay flowers are the perfect pick for any Mother's Day craft with your students.

How adorable is this flower that one of my students made? Check out this free printable tag by the amazing Laura Kelly Designs! Click Here to download this tag or click the picture above!


Enter below to win $50 in Sculpey products and a $25 WalMart gift card for you to use in your classroom! Have a happy Mother's Day!

Check out these other projects!

Happy Sculpting,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Punctuation Police Academy

The Punctuation Police are in town! That's right, we're solving punctuation crime and catching those punctuation punks. My students loved walking into our classroom on Monday and seeing a total classroom transformation.

The classroom was filled with flashing lights, police hats, badges, and police tape. This activity is perfect for reinforcing the proper usage of end marks, and it is something your students will never forget! Oriental Trading has a number of police themed supplies to turn your classroom into a police headquarters! Let's grab our supplies and catch those punctuation punks!

- Bold & Blue Police Hats
- Police Car Photo Stand-Up
- Police Party Latex Balloons
- Police Party Light-Up Badges
- Police Badge Name Tag Stickers
- Police Party Hanging Swirls
- Child's Black Robe
- Flashing Mini Blue Beacon Light
- Police Officer Craft Bulletin Board
- Punctuation Police TPT Bundle by Elizabeth Hall

The entrance to my classroom is one of my favorite parts! This Police Car Photo-Stand Up really brings this classroom transformation to life. I added police caution tape and a custom Punctuation Police Academy sign printed on heavy-duty outdoor vinyl from Vistaprint.

I setup my classroom with all of the supplies for our lesson on my red table in the back of the room. This includes small clipboards for each of my students, baskets filled with citations for my students to fill out, and mini blue beacon lights.

I created a punctuation bulletin board for my students to refer to as they are solving punctuation crime! These posters are part of Elizabeth Hall's Punctuation Police Bundle on TeachersPayTeachers. The large exclamation point and question mark posters are from ReallyGoodStuff. The Police Party Latex Balloons from Oriental add that special touch to any classroom bulletin board!

Every student in my class had a bold and blue police hat sitting on their table when they entered the classroom. I created a coloring page for my students to work on while I took attendance and had my students order lunch.

The most important part of this lesson was explaining the different jobs. I had four different jobs: An officers, offenders, judges, and students finding punctuation punks that were hiding throughout the halls. I created this PowerPoint so my students would know exactly where they needed to go.

I had two baskets in back of my classroom filled with "Punctuation Citations." If the child was a police officer they would head to the back of the classroom and grab a clipboard and a citation.

This is the setup that I had for my students when they entered the room. They were so excited to find out what they were doing and why the classroom was transformed into a police headquarters!

My students loved these police hats from Oriental Trading. They're durable and a perfect size for my kindergarten students.

These police badge stickers are perfect for adding that special touch to any police officer's uniform. What police officer is complete without a badge?

At each table I had a black waste basket full of laminated sentences. I found these black waste baskets at the Dollar Tree. Students were partnered together as one officer and one offender. The children would pick a sentence out of the waste basket and identify the improper use of an end mark on their citations.

After the officer and offender identify the improper use of an end mark on their sentence, they bring it to the judge tables located in the front of the classroom.

Here is a picture of my students hard at work solving punctuation crime! My students were so engaged as well. This lesson helped to reinforce this concept and my students worked together as a team to find those punctuation punks!

Here's an officer hard at work! She's about to take her citation back to her table and work with her offender to correct the sentence.

Here's an offender and officer working diligently to identify the correct end mark that should be at the end of the sentence, "What time is it?"

As soon as the officer and offender fill out the citation, they bring their sentence and citation up to the judges. The judges determine if the offender and officer identified the correct end mark and take appropriate action.

If the judge finds that the officer and offender did not identify the correct end mark, they must sound the alarm and send the offender to "jail." I designated my classroom library as my jail. The offender must stay in the library for one minute. The judges are in charge of stamping each citation with a "CONFIDENTIAL" stamp and placing it in the orange basket for filing.

A number of students explore the halls to find the punctuation punks. They must work together as a team to read the sentence and correct the end mark.

How cool are these police party light-up badges? My students loved that they flashed when pressed!

A day at the Punctuation Police Academy is not complete without a picture behind our police car photo stand-up. This lesson was perfect for reinforcing the concept of using the correct end mark at the end of each sentence and reviewing the different types of sentences. This is something that I hope my students will never forget!

Happy Patrolling,