Archive of ‘Just For Fun’ category

School T-Shirts

School T Shirts (c) Kristen Dembroski

You know what happens when you’ve worked at a school for 7 years? You realize you’ve collected a looooooot of T-shirts. It makes me so happy when I look at them! Each is a unique and fond memory. Many are signed on the back in Sharpie.

Some of the wonderful T-shirts in the above collage are collected from:
* Our annual school Walkathon
* School musicals
* Foreign Language Week
* PBIS Shirts
* Volleyball T Shirts
* Jump Rope For Heart

I plan to always save every – shirt so that someday, I can make a quilt full of my favorite memories of teaching 8th grade!

P.S. How great is it to have a job where you are (occasionally) encouraged to wear a T-shirt to work!
P.P.S. Don’t even ask me how much I’ve spent on T-shirts. Yes I realize how easy it would be to figure out but I refuse to calculate the total!


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3 Million Teachers Strong Sale


Exciting news, people! To celebrate reaching 3 Million Registered Teachers, Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a rare site-wide sale! This means everything on the site will be up to 28% off! TPT gives all customers 10% off with promo code TPT3, plus many sellers (including yours truly) will knock of another 20%. For you math whizzes, that’s 28% total. A HUGE deal!

The sale will be this Thursday and Friday, February 27th and 28th. It’s a great idea to figure out what you’d like now and add it to your wish list or cart. I know I have my eye on a ton of lessons and clip art. And remember, you can deduct your purchases on your taxes!

The Paper Chain: An Instructional Workbook for Argumentative Writing (c) Kristen Dembroski

My top selling item, The Argumentative Writing Instruction Workbook, will be a real bargain during this sale. The price for the digital download will drop from $15 to only $12! It is also available in hard copy for $25, and that will drop to $20 during the sale.



So what’s in my shopping cart for this sale?

Parts of Speech Complete Worksheets and Quizzes by Teacher in the Rye
The Lottery Short Story Unit by Tracee Orman
Figurative Language Stories by Lovin’ Lit
Interactive Reading Notebook for Informational Text by Lovin’ Lit
Point of View Activity by Addie Williams
Power of Punctuation Lecture by Laura Randazzo
Back to School Motivational “Apathy” Poem by Arik Durfee


So what are you excited to buy during this rare and amazing sale? 

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New Business Cards

Do you have a business card? In my 7 years of teaching, I’ve never thought I’d need one. I’m an educator, after all, not a business person. However, I have been attending many events lately (i.e. WSRA) and meeting many amazing educators and truly inspiring people. I really want to keep in touch with them, so I realize… I probably need to get a business card already! I just hope more people have cards to exchange so I can expand my network of resourceful and inspiring people.

I went on Zazzle and designed my new business card this weekend. What’dya think?

Business Card (c) Kristen Dembroski

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Lutefisk Dinner

Lutefisk Dinner (c) Kristen Dembroski


(clockwise from the top: Lingonberry sauce, candied apples, Lefse,
carrots, meatballs, Lutefisk, and some potatoes in the center)

This weekend, I attended our annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Church of Norway. My extended family – usually about 20 people – has made this a family tradition of about 10 years. We are Norwegian (I’m 3rd generation), and it doesn’t get more Norwegian than Lutefisk!

If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, lemme explain. Lutefisk is dried cod that is soaked in a vat of lye, skinned, boned, boiled, and served with melted butter or cream sauce. Aren’t you salivating already? It is stinky, gelatinous, clear, jiggly, and entirely unappetizing – yet we eat it by the pound! Oh those silly Norwegians. I go for the meatballs.

Lutefisk Dinner (c) Kristen Dembroski

My sister and I have been attending Lutefisk dinners for as long as I can remember – back when we used to host them at our own church. Can you tell we are Norwegian? Uff da!

Norwegian Dessert (c) Kristen Dembroski

And your prize for ingesting a spoonful (minimum) of Lutefisk is a tray of delicious Norwegian delicacies. Pictured here are my favorite desserts. Clockwise from the top: Fruit Soup, Krumkake, and Sandbakkel. Also served are Fattigman and Rosettes.

Krumkake are a particularly coveted treat in my family. If you’ve ever made them, you know what a pain in the rear they can be – so fragile and temperamental. They are delicate cookies that are delicious served as is, or filled with whipping cream. My grandma and my mother would make dozens of them, and they would disappear if you blinked.

Every year we hear about Great Grandma Marie – first generation immigrant from Norway – who would make Krumkake for weeks leading up to Christmas. She would store them in a tin in the back bedroom, which was kept near freezing temperatures, so they would last. Woe to the misguided soul who was caught snitching before Christmas!

As they say at the Lutefisk dinner, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault. Seriously, it’s just like going to Grandma’s house. The dishes keep getting passed and passed until you’re about ready to burst. It’s such a good time, seeing all of my family seated together at the same table, sharing stories, and eating food that makes you feel like you’re ‘home.’ I look forward to it every year.

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Valentines Day

Sweethearts (c) Kristen Dembroski

Valentine’s Day is almost here – only 6 days away. My husband and I have a pact to only give handmade gifts, heartfelt gestures, and other gifts from the heart – no lavish dinners or extravagant nonsense. After all, we have birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries for gift giving.

As a child, my mother always made Valentine’s Day special. She would buy us (me, my sister, and my brother) something special to wear or enjoy on that day. I remember a gorgeous pink sweater, red heart earrings, a new book, a pink jewelry case, candy, chocolate, and a fresh rose picked from her garden. My mom taught me that Valentine’s Day is about all kinds of love, especially love for your friends and family. It’s never been an exclusively ‘romantic’ holiday for me.

On Valentine’s Day, I like to remind everyone in my life how much I love and need them. It feels so good, and I certainly don’t think I should need a holiday to remind me to do it!

I created some Valentine’s Day cards on TinyPrints and had them sent directly to my favorites. Here are my designs below:

Valentines Cards (c) Kristen Dembroski


I also plan to cook my husband a nice home-cooked meal and dessert. I’m thinking Chipotle Barbacoa Shredded Beef Tacos and Homemade French Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream. The dogs – yeah they’re getting some extra treats and belly rubs, too 🙂

If you’re reading this, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day – a day for love of all kinds!

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High Five For Friday! 2-7-14

Week 22 was a long, cold one. Here are the highlights!

Paper Chain Amazon (c) Kristen Dembroski1. Amazon! – I am SUPER excited to announce that my book is up on Amazon. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I did it!! Wahoo!!

Stephen King

2. Stephen King – I introduced my students to the prolific Stephen King this week. At first, they were all, “Who?!?” but when we began listing off his many accomplishments and famous works, they were all, “OOOoooOooh.” In true middle school fashion, they describe this incredibly influential and important American author as a “creeper dude.”

The Boy Who Dared

3. The Boy Who Dared – I finished reading this book in about 2 days. Wow, very powerful. It is a story about a Hitler Youth who dares to stand up for his morals and convictions. As you can imagine, it does not have a happy ending. The reading level is 5th – 6th grade, but I could see this being used in a much higher level Social Studies class for perspective and analytic purposes. It was such a unique perspective on this time period – we don’t often empathize or appreciate the plight of the ‘villainous’ Germans who disagreed with Hitler and fought the status quo. A powerful story for sure!

Sunny Winter (c) Kristen Dembroski IMG_7284

4. More Sun – Have you noticed the longer days? I’m loving watching the sun rise on my drive into work. We had a full 9 hours of sunlight yesterday! The sun has been setting later and later, and I will have to adjust when our automatic lights turn on outside. I just love the eager anticipation of Spring!

Study Buddies (c) Kristen Dembroski

5. Study Buddies – I have been working so very hard on my dissertation these past few weeks. I feel like I want to focus on it now while the weather is crummy and there aren’t as many social distractions. Well I have the 2 best study buddies in the world! They will snuggle and keep you warm, drifting in and out of doggy naps, and only interrupt your train of thought when they need a nuzzle or a belly rub.

I'm Being Watched (c) Kristen DembroskiI took a study break to go shovel, and suddenly I had this strange sensation of being watched…. My guys are such wierdos! They are definitely in the right family 🙂



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A Day at the Lake House

Winter Lake (c) Kristen Dembroski

This weekend, Ryan and I visited some friends who own a Lake House in Wisconsin. I hate winter, you know, and I find absolutely no redeeming qualities that make winter even slightly palatable. Basically, winter is what we put up with while we wait for, oh, ANY OTHER SEASON. Except then we do something new like hang out on a frozen lake with great friends, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, we had…. fun. It was beautiful! I mean, just look at these photographs. It was quiet, peaceful, pure white and lovely.

Winter Sunset on the Lake (c) Kristen Dembroski

We walked around on the frozen lake, making snow angels, having snowball fights, trying not to slip and fall on the ice (but laughing when we actually do), and realizing just how cool it was that we were standing on FROZEN water! It was a new experience and new perspective, to view the sky and shore from the treacherous center of a frozen lake.

Adventurers (c) Kristen Dembroski

Snow Adventurers (c) Kristen Dembroski

After an hour or so of sledding and playing in the snow, your reward is of course hot apple cider or hot cocoa and a long sit in front of the fireplace to enjoy warming up your toes. We ate dinner and played board games well into the night. It was a lovely weekend, and I only hate winter at about 90% capacity now 🙂

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The Coolest

Only Cool Kids (c) Kristen Dembroski


I have this giant STOP sign that I put in the hallway when we have important announcements or schedule changes to communicate with the students. I found my sign slightly…. altered this morning. Goofballs! Gotta love 8th grade! Bonus points for spelling.

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Winter Sun

Winter Sun (c) Kristen Dembroski


It was 30 degrees today, which is a wonderful break from the bitter temperatures of the last few weeks. I took a long walk in the afternoon sunlight – the first in a long, long time. It felt glorious!

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The Science of Tubing

The Science of Tubing (c) Kristen Dembroski

We had a blast on our annual Science of Tubing field trip. Every year, we go to Sunburst Winter Sports Park and the students engage in a day of science and fun! They are given a packet to complete and 2 hours to calculate data about the hill, mass, friction, average speed, acceleration, work, and power for snow tubing on the hill. They work in small groups, and they are given a spring scale, angle finder, and stop watch. We also used the iPads and downloaded apps like Speed Box, which has a speedometer function. It was the perfect balance of education and fun!

Measuring Mass Science of Tubing (c) Kristen Dembroski


Field trips are wonderful opportunities to teach the ‘Hidden Curriculum.’ We learn how to behave on a bus, behave in public, be responsible for tools and equipment, clean up after ourselves, thank staff for their assistance, and how to have fun in a safe and respectful way. I love having a chance to bond with my students outside of the classroom. Believe it or not, they ask the teachers to join their group, ‘link up,’ and do a tube run with them – just for fun.

The teachers have a lot of fun, too! In fact, I don’t know who has more fun – the students or the teachers! We race kids. We joke and have a great time. We lend students our extra hats and scarves to let them know we care about them. We sing songs on the bus. These are the lasting memories that make school fun and learning possible. These are the memories that make it so hard to say goodbye to them in June! Tubing Fun (c) Kristen Dembroski

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