home map travel tales good reads recipes

Friday, June 29, 2012

Simple, easy, delicious chocolate mousse recipe

Who doesn't love "simple" and "easy" when it comes to cooking? I am loving bbq season and was pretty happy yesterday when Jeff decided to make an old favourite - Nigella Lawson's chocolate mousse. It is smooth and cool and dark AND it's made with mini marshmallows! Amazing, right?! It's a perfect way to use up that leftover camping trip stash.


  • 150g mini marshmallows {or roughly cut up larger ones}
  • 50g soft butter 
  • 250g good dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
  • 60ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
  • 1 x 284ml tub double cream {we just use whipping cream}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Put the pan on low-med heat {keep it fairly gentle} to melt the ingredients, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture. Try not to mix too vigorously - folding needs to be  a gentle action!
  4. Pour or scrape into 4 glasses or ramekins, about 175ml each in capacity, or 6 smaller (125ml) ones, and chill until you want to eat. If left overnight in the fridge, you are likely to have a more mousse-like texture - if you can stand to leave it that long!
Give it a shot if you're craving something sweet, deep, and chocolatey!
- Amanda

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Just back in to share a little freebie with you from my Circus Theme Literacy Centers. Grab it from my TpT shop by clicking the image below.
I hope everyone is enjoying summer and *trying* to take a break. I know it's a hard thing to do as teachers!
- Amanda

Monday, June 25, 2012

Circus Literacy Centers and TORONTO!

I've just spent a long weekend in Toronto and have enjoyed every minute {which also means I have thoroughly neglected my blogging duties}! It is so great to be home! It's funny, though, because I must be pretty used to life in Kuwait as 1. even at 25 degrees I feel a bit chilly; 2. I put on an old dress and felt a bit ...uncomfortable... at how short it was {although I had random compliments and my friends assured me it was not inappropriately short}; and 3. I spent a bit of money shopping! {Have I mentioned that recreational activities in Kuwait are limited to shopping and eating out for Jeff and I?}

Anyway, I did get a chance to finish up a set of literacy centers I've been working on with a circus theme. They are listed in both my TN shop and TpT. There are five centers: 

1. Sentence Scramble Cards and Worksheet

2. Plurals Word Sort and Worksheet

3. ABC Order Cards and Worksheet
4. Contractions Match and Worksheet

5. Building Words Cut and Arrange (5 different worksheet options)

Again, find these at my Teachers Notebook and Teacher pay Teachers. I hope you'll have a look! There is a  set of corresponding Math centers on the way and I hope to bundle these two together for a discounted price when I finish up.

To end this post, a little joy I'm feeling at the moment: I'm marrying the most perfect man in the world in under a month! Eeeeek :):):)

Happy Monday, friends!
- Amanda

Monday, June 11, 2012

Learning about teaching

So how was my first year of teaching? Well, I survived and I think it was fairly successful! As I reflect, I realize it really was a good year - a great year, actually, in terms of how much I've grown as a teacher. I had a tough class and I clearly wasn't prepared for them. But, with a lot of hard work, I implemented tons of classroom management "systems," made mistakes, and learned a bajillion things about being a teacher. 
There are so many people to thank for inspiration, encouragement and love this year. I won't bore you with a list of people you don't know, but I will tell you about one because it comes with a free little gift :) My VP this year has shown a ton of encouragement, and sadly she is leaving our school next year. For her, I wanted to make a simple keepsake to show how much I truly appreciate her support this year. I came up with this:
It's a collection of words and phrases that she really helped me see as so important and that kept me going all year long.
I simply printed it to a half sheet {select 2 pages per sheet in printer properties - don't worry, it will only print one copy}, framed it, and voila. I love it and think it turned out really well! If you need a last minute gift idea, I have this print listed in my TpT store for FREE :)

On a related note, I've decided to use this summer to delve into the world of Whole Brain Teaching and my first order of business has been creating my own rules posters. I've tried some tactics in April/May with my class and it was well-received by my grade twos with some really positive learning outcomes, so I'm extra excited about next year now! I did change the rules from those used in WBT, because there were a few things I wanted to address straight away next year based on some issues I dealt with this year. Click the images to download {for FREE again!} if you please. Of course, I'm thinking of making a circus set to add to my theme next year... I already printed and laminated these, though, so I don't know if I want to waste them.
It may be obvious, but I chose a rabbit because it has big ears haha! I got really tired of side conversations this year.

Doesn't that flying monkey look fast?!

Please, kids, for my sanity.

A house because I call my class my school family - we all need to get along to live together under one roof for an entire year!

Ahh, the wise old owl. I love this rule because one of my key lessons this year was based upon making smart choices at school. Perfect!

Very important so I can teach the most I can in the best ways I can! And really, if you follow those first five rules, I will no doubt be a very happy teacher.

Now we're off to Canada for some very important events and a ton of relaxing - ahhhhh! Take care.
- Amanda

Smiley Writing continued

Just uploaded rubrics for letter-writing and story-writing with the Smiley Writing poster to my TpT. I hope you can use them!

AND! Great news - I just opened up a Teachers Notebook shop. Come visit me here, please :)
- Amanda

Smiley Writing - 4 levels rubric

 I'm sure many of you have already seen {and probably grabbed!} Valerie's Smiley Sentences poster from last week. If not, go get it NOW! You'll find many more great ideas on her blog while you're there ;)

The idea was inspired by Colleen at Coconut Cutie's Classroom, who uses a similar system to remind students what they need to complete before turning in work. I was immediately inspired after downloading the poster to create a writing rubric - and after seeing how well it was received, Valerie had the same idea! You can find her rubric HERE. She even included a poster set - isn't she wonderful?! It's a great pack, but I need a 4-level rubric so I've adapted it.

This concept is so perfect for my ESL learners: they can see visually what it takes to get a level 4 in their writing. 

For this school year, I used this sign to show my students what I expect to see in their writing:

I have updated it by adding the smiley faces to match the writing rubric and have leveled stars {1-4} to attach to show the mark that would be received for each sample. Of course, this is a system that I will have to teach explicitly. I want my students to strive for higher achievement and to understand how marks are awarded. In September I am going to start by introducing Smiley Sentences so they get a feel for it; that way moving on to the writing rubric should be an easy transition. I'm super pumped about sharing this idea with the grades one and two teams for next year!
I know this looks totally intimidating - she wants to use this in an ESL classroom?! I tried to make the poster less wordy, I really did, but it just wasn't enough information. Like I say, I'll have to model/teach, model/teach, model/teach this system so the students understand how it works. You can grab a copy for free from my TpT shop. Note that this is based on Ontario curriculum for Grade 1: Rubric for a Short Piece of Descriptive Writing, page 15. I am working on developing this to align with Ontario writing tasks for Grade Two {Rubric for a Short Narrative} and Grade Three {Rubric for a Letter (to a Favourite Author)} and a more general rubric to be used with any writing pieces.

Last but not least, please let me be very clear here: the inspiration for this idea came from Valerie at All Students Can Shine. I have only adapted it to suit my needs because I love the idea so much! I really wanted to keep it a consistent system, which is why I modeled the writing poster after the sentences poster in colour and style. After talking with Valerie about my plans she a-okayed the share, so I hope you will find this document useful. Big thanks to her for answering all my questions and being so understanding!
Hurray for summer! Take care.
- Amanda

Friday, June 8, 2012

And the winner is...

Shanyn from Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists! I'll send you an email with my TpT link so you can choose which pack you'd like. Thank you all for entering and to all of my new followers; I've been hopping around your blogs lately :)

On a totally unrelated note, I went to a baby shower last night here, and it was incredible. Unlike any baby shower I've ever been to, that's for sure! It was this beautiful, fancy, high heels event with flowy dresses, styled hair and make up, and a ginormous dinner buffet. It started at 7:30pm, there were no cheesy games and it was really wonderful to see all the ladies dressed up. Many women practicing Islam wear a hijab and/or abaya in public as a traditional means of protection from harm and of course a statement of religious observance. I actually didn't recognize the mother who threw the reception for a minute because she was not covered! It was a really beautiful event and I am honoured to have been invited. 

Anyway, happy weekend all!
- Amanda

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another classroom theme pack to choose from!

Just one more day to enter my giveaway for one of the theme packs I've created: Circus, Funland, and now...Zoo! Don't forget to enter HERE to win!

All are on sale in my TpT shop for just $4.50. I hope you'll enter my giveaway by commenting HERE to win the pack of your choice.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Early dismissal...sort of

So I had all kinds of posts planned about the fun stuff we're doing at the end of the year in 2C, but then my entire class stopped coming to school! And not just my class, every class in the school! Since Sunday we have had a total of 20 to 30 students in all of elementary! I know!

 I did expect to have a lot fewer students, but I didn't expect to only have one or two show up each day this week... School is officially out Wednesday the 12th!!! Since the government schools let out here last Thursday, most kids in our private school couldn't be bothered to finish off the school year. Man, things are just so different in Kuwait.

Trust, I'm not really upset. It's been a long year and I'm super pumped to be going home in about a week. But I have to say its a bit disappointing. I didn't get that whole "Have a great summer! Can't wait to see you in September!" with my students. At any rate, it's a great chance to totally organize my things from this year, pack 'em up, and prepare for next year with my team.

 Don't forget to enter my giveaway for your choice of classroom theme pack if you win!
- Amanda

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sweetening up the giveaway

Two of my very favourite bloggers and most supportive followers have entered my giveaway - thanks, ladies! I'm going to sweeten up the deal and maybe entice a few more people to enter...

I've just finished up my Circus Classroom Theme Pack and uploaded it to TpT. I cut and laminated a lot of my copy for next year and it looks great! SO - I will ask the winner to choose which pack they'd like: Funland or Circus. I'm also working on a zoo theme, so I'll see if that one makes it in or not.

I hope you'll enter HERE  by leaving a short comment :)
- Amanda

Friday, June 1, 2012


Hurray, 50 followers!

Okay, confession: My 50th follower is Jeff. I had to beg and plead to get him to follow officially, instead of just by email. Okay, another confession: he did this happily so it wasn't very difficult. 

Anyway, I just posted a Funland Classroom Theme Pack to my TpT shop and I think it's pretty great, if I do say so myself! I even put it on sale for $4.50 :)

I'd love to give one away because it took me soooo long to get to 50, and now that I'm here it feels good. So while I look into this "random number generator" thingy, I'd love if you'd...
1. Follow me!
2. Leave a comment with your email below saying you do.


I'll take entries for one week, so Friday, June 8 will be winner announcement day! 

Good luck and stay tuned for my circus theme pack that I'll be using in my own classroom next year.
- Amanda