What's Cookin' Wednesday: Sweet & Tangy Chicken

Don't tell my Kitchenmaid, but my crock pot might just be my favorite kitchen appliance :). I love the convenience of prepping dinner in the morning and then enjoying the delicious smells wafting through the house all day long. 
Today on "What's Cookin' Wednesday" I want to share with you one of my recent favorite crock pot recipes - it's quickly become a go-to in our household. 
This quick and easy crock pot meal is the delicious blend of sweet and tangy - and with only four ingredients, it's a great go-to for week night dinners.


It's delicious, easy, and only includes four ingredients. Yes, you read that right: four. And the best part? All you do is just dump each item in the crock pot and walk away. An impressive dinner that's sure to please in 5 minutes flat - Can't beat that.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 c. french dressing
  • 1 c. apricot preserves/jam/jelly
  • 1 pkg. onion soup mix

Directions:

1. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot.
2. Add the french dressing, apricot preserves, and onion soup mix.
3. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
4. Serve over rice or with mashed potatoes.

And that's it! 
Sweet, tangy goodness that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
So what are you waiting for? Add it to your menu next week - Your taste buds will thank you for it.

Looking for more recipe ideas?
Check out my food-pinspired boards on Pinterest:


Do you have a go-to recipe that you LOVE? I'd love to hear about it - leave a comment below :)

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FREE Ideas for Celebrating April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day was always a fun day in my 5th grade classroom. 
I love celebrating silly holidays with kids - and always worked hard to balance the fun (read: zany silliness) with our regularly scheduled activities. 

Here is a compilation of fun FREE ideas you could implement in your classroom on April Fool's Day {April 1st}. 
A Mountain of Morning Work
The first things that I like to do on April Fool's Day is shock my students with a big ole mountain of morning work. 
This is usually their crazy list of tasks:
1. Read three novels and write complete essay summaries for each one in your reading journal
2. Write out your 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 times tables
3. In your spelling notebook, write each word from this week's spelling list 8 times each.
4. Memorize the Declaration of Independence
5. Make a 3D model of the solar system using items in your desk
6. Write a 16-page persuasive letter to the principal, convincing her that you need an additional recess period.

Another variation: 
Ashley from said that she would always have her fourth graders write their homework assignments every morning. On April 1st she would have a longgggg list for them to copy - and when they were all done she would tell them to read the first letter of each assignment - it would spell "APRIL FOOLS" :)
Directions Test
Hand this out...and sit back to watch :)
It's hilarious - and a great discussion-launcher!
Definitely a memorable activity and a fun way to celebrate April Fool's Day.
I hand out the "test" and tell the students to read the directions very carefully and to work as quickly as they can. The key is most students don't read carefully - they just start following the directions as they go, calling out their age, jogging around the classroom saying, "I love school!," and working multiplication problems on the back, etc. However, if they read all the way through, they just need to write their name, draw a picture of a house, and smile at the teacher, showing that they followed the directions carefully. 
I usually have one or two who follow the instructions properly and I always make a big deal about them and shower them with praise and sometimes a small prize :)

You can download my "Directions Test" for FREE here:
*if you download it, please leave feedback!

Opposite Day Activities
Now the official Opposite Day is January 25th, but April Fool's Day also makes an excellent excuse to celebrate and do a fun assortment of opposite activities - some of these ideas are so fun your students will forget that they're learning! :)
"My Opposite Age" asks students to imagine that the numbers in their age have been switched!  They must write a journal entry about what their life is now like – and include a picture!. (For example if they are 06 years old, they pretend that they’re 60! If they’re 12 years old, they pretend they’re now 21.) Note: If they’re 11 years old, they can choose to be 1 or 110 :)

"Opposite Learning" gives kiddos some practice with basic skills - but with an OPPOSITE twist :)
Also included are some fun antonym activities:
Wordless Word Search
My fifth graders love word searches - but this one will give them a run for their money and make them sweat all day long. You can let them work in pairs, you can up the ante, but there's no way they can finish this puzzle...because this is a wordless word search. That's right - NONE of the words in the word bank are actually in the word search. :)
You can snag this freebie from Second Grade Math Maniac

I Broke My Funny Bone
This one's a classic - a broken bone on April Fool's Day.
But this teacher actually made a feel-real "cast" out of paper towel rolls and zip loc bags and even had her students sign it - they totally bought it! Melissa from "Inspire Me ASAP" shares her story here: We Broke Our Funny Bone!
Lirpaloof
Denise from "Sunny Days in Second Grade" has an AWESOME April Fool's Day activity - send your kids on a lirpaloof hunt! You can give your students this reading passage:
Then hand out some carrots and head outside to lure the lirpaloofs out with singing.
While no lirpaloofs will appear, it will be funny to watch - and an activity your kiddos will not soon forget!

p.s. Doesn't this remind you of the scene in Up when Carl sends Russell off to find a "snipe" :)
Brown E's:
Every year I pull a small April Fools prank on my students. I tell them that I have brought it a special treat for the end of the day... brownies! But they have to work diligently all day in order to earn this treat.
But at the end of the day, this is what gets passed out... 
Hahahahah! Get it? 
A Brownie 
A brown E!
They are often SO confused...and then SO MAD! :)
But they soon laugh - and many take extras home to try the joke on their parents and siblings.

Phew! So many fun and silly ideas - I hope you can find one or two that you'd like to try with your students. I hope you have a fun-filled April Fools Day filled with friendly pranks and memorable silliness!
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Ideas for Teaching the TRUE Meaning of Easter

Happy Easter, friends!
Sweet Blessings: I Will Rise
Because Jesus conquered death on the cross, taking away the sins of humanity in a long-foretold rescue mission, and rose from the dead victoriously, we can live each day with joy, hope, and an everlasting relationship with the King of Kings!

Here's a super cute video that shares about the true meaning of Easter - from the mouths of babes :) Check it out:

  I know a lot of teachers are on Spring Break this week or next, so you might not have the chance to teach about the Easter story in-depth - but that's okay! It's never too late (or too early!) And for those of you who teach in a public school setting, perhaps you can use some of these ideas with your own children or in a Sunday School class.

As a new mom,  I have been thinking more and more about the importance of instilling biblical values in the hearts and lives of our kiddos.

Here are some awesome ideas to teach about the
TRUE Meaning of Easter:

As a Christian teacher, it is my deep desire to see my students grow in their faith and their relationship with God. This fun and interactive set of foldables is a great reminder and discussion-starter for the true meaning of Easter and why we celebrate more than Easter bunnies and egg hunts.
Every year my students created a lapbook/interactive notebook foldables to help them remember and retell the TRUE meaning of Easter:
As a Christian teacher, it is my deep desire to see my students grow in their faith and their relationship with God. This fun and interactive set of foldables is a great reminder and discussion-starter for the true meaning of Easter and why we celebrate more than Easter bunnies and egg hunts.
Here's what some teachers & parents who have purchased the packet have said:
Thank you for helping me teach my sons that it is not about the bunny :) Thank you for sharing your talent! xoxo" -Linda A.
Teaching in a Catholic school, it is important for me to find quality religious resources. This product is wonderful and will help make Easter more meaningful to the kids. I know they will love all the notebook activities. Thanks for sharing this! -Judy H.
Very excited about this! My kids are going to learn a lot from it and have fun doing so! Thank you so much for all the work you put into it! -Katherine M.

Each page comes with complete student directions and a suggested answer key - simplify your lesson planning this week with this print-and-go packet - you'll thank yourself later!
As a Christian teacher, it is my deep desire to see my students grow in their faith and their relationship with God. This fun and interactive set of foldables is a great reminder and discussion-starter for the true meaning of Easter and why we celebrate more than Easter bunnies and egg hunts.
If you download the packet and use it with your students, please leave feedback to benefit other teachers who are interested. Thanks!

Secondly, my kiddos LOVED completing this Easter Wreath craft that tells the Easter story in sequential order using pictures and verses. It is a FREE printable activity from Wee Little Miracles
wee little miracles: Make an Easter Story Wreath {free printables!} still trying to get the printing to work-
Click HERE to be taken to her website.
Instead of the wreath, we put Erin's printables on a cross:
Here are some other FUN & FREE ideas to teach little ones about Easter: (click on each picture to be taken to the website of activities)
Empty Easter Tomb Biscuits #easter #JESUS #resurrectionsunday ---> http://www.katiescrochetgoodies.com/2014/03/how-to-explain-true-meaning-of-easter.htmlChrist-Centered Easter Activities and Crafts: Make the true meaning of Easter meaningful and memorable!
Sweet Truth of Easter - M craft for kids!Free Scripture Hunt Printable! Use this to teach your children the true meaning of Easter while also providing a fun and engaging activity!

Happy Easter, friends!
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Resources for Learning About Saint Patrick

St. Patrick's Day is coming up! 
It is celebrated every year on March 17th.

If you were to ask your students what this festive day is all about, I bet they would answer with things like:
*wearing green (or else you get pinched!), 
*hunting for lucky shamrocks, 
*funny little leprechauns searching for gold at the end of rainbows, etc. 

While we can have fun with all of these things, none of those are the reason that St. Patrick's Day became a celebrated day. 
The holiday was created to honor Saint Patrick, a priest who lived in the 4th century and had a heart for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

This year, in addition to (or instead of!) focusing on shamrocks, leprechauns, and gold coins, teach your students about the TRUE hero of the story: Saint Patrick.
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"

To simplify your lesson planning I've compiled a list of resources for you:

VIDEOS
Here are a couple of videos that summarize the details of Saint Patrick's life and ministry.
This first one is more "kid-friendly" and, although slightly silly, it gives a great depiction of the main plot events in St. Patrick's life. It's produced by the creators of Veggie Tales.
This second one is better suited for older kiddos (upper elementary and above) and does a great job of giving an overview of Saint Patrick's life. It's 2 minutes long - and the perfect overview if you want a short, succinct summary.

BOOKS
Here are some book suggestions that explain the life of Saint Patrick for kids:
 
Click on the links to see these books on Amazon* - or head to your local library to see if you can check these out for your students.
*I am a part of the Amazon Affiliates program, so if you purchase these books through Amazon, I receive a small commission (at absolutely no cost to you.) This commission helps pay for postage and giveaways.

ACTIVITIES/WORKSHEETS:
To supplement your study of this noteworthy God-fearing man, I have created a packet of fun and engaging, print-and-go resources for you!
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
The packet includes a 2-page biography of St. Patrick and a 10-question reading comprehension quiz. The text is written on a 4th or 5th grade level, but younger students could definitely do the activities with the support of an adult.
I always have my students highlight the answers in the passage - it trains them to take their time, look back at the passage, and read both the questions and the answers carefully.

Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
Also included are three interactive notebook foldables to engage your students and help them with fact recall. Complete student directions and suggested answer keys are included.

Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
This is probably my favorite activity included in this packet - the students are given pictures from the story and they must write captions to describe what it being illustrated. This helps with story detail recall, sequencing, summarizing, and writing.
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
There is also a Fact-Opinion activity based on their reading:
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
Lastly, there are two Bible activities:
The first one uses St. Patrick's comparison of a three-leaf clover and the Trinity. Students draw symbols (or write words) to represent the three members of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Then they write a letter to a friend, explaining St. Patrick's metaphor.
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
Saint Patrick faced many difficult situations in life that might have caused him to fear or want to give up - but he turned to God for strength, courage, and comfort. "Do Not Be Afraid" sends students digging in their Bibles, hunting for verses where God commands his followers not to fear. 
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"
You can purchase this 20-page packet for only $3: 
Looking for something to teach your students about the true story of Saint Patrick? If so, this print-and-go St. Patrick biography Bible packet is the just-right thing for you! Take the opportunity to teach your students about this brave man with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Resource created by Jessica Lawler, "Joy in the Journey"

CRAFTS:
Here is a couple of FREE craft ideas for you (click on each picture to be taken to the original source)
Shamrock Trinity Craft from biblestoryprintables.com 
The Prayer of Saint Patrick coloring page from Herald Entertainment
St. Patrick Paper Bag craft from CatholicIcing

I hope you found some helpful resources in this (by no means exhaustive) list. If you have any ideas or activities that would help students learn about Saint Patrick, please leave a comment! I'm always on the lookout for new treasures :)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
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Baby Hacks: Tips for Making Life with a Baby Easier


 Hello friends!
My son, Hudson, is 10 months old today! 
{how did that happen?!?}
Life with a baby is certainly an adventure - a wonderful, crazy, sometimes difficult adventure filled with sweet snuggles, late nights, early mornings, belly laughs, projectile spit up, countless diaper changes, etc. I have compiled this list of "baby hacks" - or tricks that have helped me manage the wonderfully hard life of raising a baby. I pray they prove helpful to you :)

1. Use a pacifier clip to keep toys from going overboard
Do you have a pacifier clip?

They are usually used for clipping a pacifier onto a baby's shirt to keep it from falling onto the ground. However, they are also super handy for keeping toys attached, especially once your baby discovers that he can throw things off of the high chair (and rest assured, he will learn to throw things). This is particularly helpful at restaurants where the floors may be sticky and less-than-clean.
 We also use this to keep toys in the stroller when we go for walks:
 ...and in the carseat to keep the toy contained and the baby happy:
and if you're really in a pinch and don't have a pacifier clip, you can always use a shoelace:
*Note: For safety, don't leave your baby unattended with a shoelace.

2. Stick your socks inside of one another
Baby socks.
So cute.
So tiny.

Does your baby's sock collection ever look like this?
There's nothing more frustrating than running late and digging through a drawer for a tiny pair of matching socks. So I came up with this trick to keep the socks neat and organized:
Fold ONE sock:
and stick it INSIDE the other sock:
 Voila!
 All of Hudson's socks are paired up and take up way less space in his drawer:


3. Fill your dishwasher basket every night
Munchkin makes an excellent dishwasher basket to hold all of the itty bitty baby things (pacifiers, bottle nipples, spoons, etc.) in the dishwasher. Mine stays in the top rack all the time.
Every night before I start the washer, I do a quick scan of the living room and Hudson's room for any toys or pieces that need sanitizing. I pop them in this basket and in the morning, voila! They are clean and ready to be sucked on, dragged around, and eaten with.

4. Milk bottles make excellent maracas!
Fill a bottle with just about anything and you've got a quick homemade shaker! 
These quick and easy "maracas" keep Hudson happily entertained - plus they are a lot cheaper than the official baby shakers.

5. Get your baby their own set of measuring cups and spoons
Trust me on this one.
Babies love measuring cups and spoons - and buying them their own set that can stay in their toy box will save you time when you need the 1/4 t. for that late-night recipe. Plus you won't have to constantly second guess whether or not you've washed off the baby slobber before measuring out the olive oil.
I also bought Hudson his own spatula because they are just about his favorite things on Earth. I know - I'm a nice mom :).

6. Luggage tags make excellent teethers

Is your baby teething? Yes.
Are they fussy? Yes.
Are they sleeping? No.
Are you sleeping? No.
Enter: luggage tags!

These rubber luggage tags are excellent teethers. My baby loves to suck and chew on them - and they provided some much-needed relief!

7. Keep an Baby Emergency Kit in your trunk
I keep this bag in my trunk at all times for those days when spit up gets everywhere, the baby has three diaper blowouts in a 2-hour period, and you lose a sock in the mall parking lot. 
Here's what's inside:

Hudson's bag has a complete change of clothes - I like to have everything in one bag so that I can quickly grab it and run to the bathroom to change him rather than trying to juggle a sticky, dirty, smelly baby while digging through the diaper bag for tiny clothes.

Mommy's bag also has a complete change of clothes for me - yes, even down to the socks. If you don't have an extra pair of socks, you'll definitely end up with baby vomit in your own pair. Trust me: pack the extra socks.
Extra items: diapers, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a spare pacifier, and a new bottle of puffs.

Do you have any "baby hacks" or tips to make life with a baby a little easier? I'd love to hear about them - leave a comment below! :)



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