Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Happy Holidays 2015

Christmas 2015 was especially exciting for me, because it was our first Christmas as a family of 3. I was so looking forward to it because I knew it would be a much needed break from work and a time to reconnect with my daughter, husband, and dogs. So, I did my part to build up excitement and anticipation at school!

I got my hands on these adorable elves, which I placed on my front board alongside a small Christmas tree and a Holiday Break countdown. Every day, I changed up the jokes on the board. Let me tell you a little something about 7th graders. They really made fun of my jokes, saying they were cheesy and dorky and lame. However, they were equal parts excited when they came in the room every day to read them. That’s the thing – to be cool, you gotta pretend things are lame, even if you really like it. Right? After a while, kids even came up to me suggesting new jokes to add. They secretly loooooved it. Enjoy!






We wrapped up our 2015 school year with an all school assembly including a student-staff volleyball game and a blue-slip raffle (blue slips are given to students who exhibit exceptional responsibility, respect, and safety). I received so many wonderful, delicious, and handmade gifts from my students! I was completely overwhelmed at their generosity. So many treats!

I go back to work tomorrow, but I can say I feel thoroughly rested and recharged. I didn’t get any of the work done I planned to, but maybe that’s ok. I got in a lot of snuggles and naps, and a lot of cooking and eating 🙂 That’s what life is all about, right? Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

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Happy Independence Day 2014

I hope you all had a safe and happy 4th of July. Ours was a busy one. We went to a parade in the morning, then to a lake house for lunch, then to another lake house for dinner and fireworks. With the dogs in tow. I was completely exhausted by the end of the day (and so were the dogs), filled with good food and happy memories. Here are the gorgeous, scenic views from our busy holiday:

July 4th 2014 (c) Kristen Dembroski

Here’s to America, the Beautiful. Happy 238th!

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day! 2014

St. Paddy's 2014 (c) Kristen DembroskiI hope you’re all having a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day! I’m showing off my green, the color of the day!

Our middle school did something really cool today – the Student Council put a lucky ‘gold’ coin in each student’s locker. At 3 o’clock, they announced the lucky winning numbers. Winners received prizes including candy and gift cards. How cool is that?

I also wanted to take a moment to point out the awesome Google homepage today. Neat!

Google Home Page (c) Kristen Dembroski


My students really got into the spirit of the day. I saw green clothes, hats, socks, shoes, scarves, bandanas, stickers, makeup, jewelry – you name it! How was your St. Paddy’s Day?


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High Five for Friday! 3-7-14

Welcome to the end of week 26! This week’s highlights include: School Spirit Homeroom Teams, DVD Project, Foreign Language Week, Weekend Cooking Marathon, and Fat Tuesday!

Door Project (c) Kristen Dembroski

1. Homeroom Teams – The 7th grade Homerooms at our school have decided to create teams and mascots. Each Homeroom has decorated their door as well as created locker ‘swag’ for students to proudly display their Homeroom loyalty. It is so colorful and cheerful and it just makes me smile when I walk past a 7th grade door. So much school spirit and fun!

DVD Project (c) Kristen Dembroski

2. DVD Project – We are wrapping up our work on the DVD Project. I have to say, they are looking pretty great, and I am very proud of my students for taking risks and trying new concepts. Regarding the DVDs on display above – the left side are student projects, and the right side are professional DVDs. Sometimes, I honestly can’t tell the difference. We were comparing the two sets and looking for common features such as large, bolded titles, textured backgrounds, and color schemes. They have definitely learned a lot! I love that graphic design fits so well into Language Arts as we discuss multimedia and making meaning with visuals. Turns out my BA in Art History wasn’t a total waste, after all!

Foreign Language Week (c) Kristen Dembroski

3. Foreign Language Week – Did you know it is National Foreign Language Week? Our French and Spanish teachers have been doing an absolutely amazing job celebrating language this week at our school. They have had their students decorate their lockers with flags and fun facts. Each morning, a new student comes on the loud speaker and reads the announcements in either French of Spanish. In the picture above, I am wearing this year’s student-designed Foreign Language Week T-shirt. Yeah, a student drew that!

Weekend Cooking Marathon (c) Kristen Dembroski

4. Weekend Cooking Marathon – I had another successful weekend of cooking. I do all of my cooking for the week on Saturdays and Sundays, which includes making breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for me and my husband. It saves us a lot of time and money. The menu this week includes: 1) Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting (a practice cake for an upcoming birthday party) 2) Char Siu Spare Ribs 3) Barbecue and Sweet Potato Chips 4)Tortilla Chicken Soup 5) Blueberry Waffles and Egg Muffins. All of the items above are Paleo (grain and dairy free) except for the cake.

Paczki (c) Kristen Dembroski

5. Fat Tuesday – After living in Milwaukee for the past 7 years, I can’t believe I finally got a taste of Paczki. It was so delicious and rich (and soooo not part of my Paleo plan!) that I only had a few bites and shared the rest. A sweet coworker got up extra early to stand in line and bring them in to work to share. What a neat treat!


I hope you had a wonderful week! Remember that this Sunday is Daylight Savings Time, and Spring begins on March 20, only 2 weeks away! Enjoy the lengthening daylight!





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Happy Fat Tuesday 2014!

Paczki (c) Kristen Dembroski

Did you eat a Paczki? Have you even heard of Paczki? I got to enjoy one this morning from the one and only National Bakery in Milwaukee. I mean, people line up early and wait outside in the cold for a loooong time to get their hands on these! Just read this and you’ll see what I mean.

According to the National Bakery, they sell about 36,000 Paczki on Fat Tuesday.

“People may not agree on how to pronounce them, but all are gathering to gobble up PACZKI on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Emigrates of Poland pronounce them “Pooch-key” or “Punch-key” or even “Poonch-key”, all are correct. 

These Polish pastries were served up annually on the day before Lent, a period of abstinence observed by some Christians. Originally, PACZKI were made to use up the lard and eggs which were prohibited during lent. Now, they’re more of a last-minute indulgence of sweets before lent begins. Whatever your past, all enjoy the tasty treat of PACZKI, which means “little package” in Polish. 

The new world version, like the old, is a rich dough deep fried, just like a donut. National Bakery offers a rich regular dough and an extra rich butter dough. The Paczki are filled with raspberry, or the traditional prune. Raisin Paczki have the raisins mixed into the dough. Toppings include a smooth sugar glaze, granulated sugar, or icing. It’s 100% quality or it’s not PACZKI! 

PACZKI on PACZKI DAY are becoming what chocolate is to St. Valentine’s Day and what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving, as many people share them with friends, families, and co-workers. In previous years, bakeries claimed Halloween as the traditional season that sold the most donut treats, now areas of the country show that “PACZKI” slaes surpass even their #1 bakery holiday of Christmas.” 

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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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Close Reading and Saint Valentine’s Day

The History of Saint Valentine's Day (c) Kristen DembroskiCan you believe it’s almost February? I’ve seen Valentine’s Day items popping up at stores around town, and I suddenly realized it’s only one month away! I have 2 great Valentine’s Day reading activities to share with you.

First, I will share with you a close-reading activity on The History of Saint Valentine’s Day. This 10-page activity includes a 3-page handout about the mysterious history of St. Valentine the martyr, and the evolution of today’s Valentine’s Day holiday. It gives 2 different historical accounts of the Christian martyr’s life and death, plus an explanation of Pagan influence on this celebrated holiday. There is also an explanation of Valentine’s Day as it is celebrated today, and the symbols and traditions around this special day.

The History of Saint Valentine's Day (c) Kristen Dembroski

This is a close-reading or text-based reading activity because the text is divided into smaller, manageable chunks with follow-up questions after each section. The student must find evidence within the text to answer the questions (following Common Core Standards and language) by highlighting or underlining.

Close Reading The History of Saint Valentine's Day (c) Kristen Dembroski

This would be an excellent activity to do with your entire class, or with an intervention group of struggling readers. It would easily align to your Language Arts / English, Social Studies / History, or Religious Studies curriculum as a cross-curricular lesson. You can use this text any time, not just for Valentine’s Day! If you would like to purchase this activity, you can click here.


Author's Purpose Valentine's Day Activity (c) Kristen Dembroski

The next activity I will share with you is Author’s Purpose Guided Practice for Grades 6-10 a FREE activity. In this activity, students will learn about PIE: Persuade, Inform, and Entertain. Then, they will read 3 sample texts and discuss how each is an example of persuasive, informative, or entertaining writing.

If you enjoy this FREE mini activity and want to purchase a full lesson plan on Author’s Purpose, I also have the Identifying Author’s Purpose full lesson plan.

Author’s Purpose (c) Kristen Dembroski

The Identifying Author’s Purpose activity includes 15 writing samples that students will first identify as either persuasive, informative, or entertaining. Then, they will decide what the author is trying to convince them of (persuasion), inform them of (informative), or entertain them with (entertain). It includes a handout explaining the key features and genres of persuasive, informative, and entertaining (PIE) texts, model/sample writing for each category (3 total). Read and discuss as a class, and guided practice sample writing for each category (3 total). Students can read, discuss, and identify the sample texts in small groups, while they also engage in close reading to determine the type of writing (PIE) and the author’s specific goal.

I hope these activities can help you and your students to engage in some close reading strategies and techniques throughout February!

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