Brownie Cups

brownie cup mint chip sundae single

I hate it when my ideas don’t work. Mr. Star Wars had his 10th birthday yesterday, and he wanted brownies with ice cream on top for his birthday dessert. This was just going to be a family dinner and celebration since we celebrated his birthday with a few friends before school started, but I still did not think that a plain old pan brownie was birthday-y enough, so I hunted down an alternative.

I had seen an idea on Pinterest for brownie cups. They seemed easy enough and upon closer inspection, they even used a boxed brownie mix, which I thought would translate into minimal time and effort.

Here is what Dreyer’s Ice Cream told me I could make:

dryers ice cream brownie bowl

 Here is what I actually made:

brownie cup separating the pans


  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 2 cupcake tins
  • Pam spray or Crisco
  • a little luck

brownie cup materials


  • Make the brownie mix according to the box directions. I think a fudgier brownie mix would work better than the one I used.
  • Spray with Pam or grease with Crisco the insides of a cupcake tin and across the top of the pan where the brownies will rise over the edge of the cup VERY WELL.
  • Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 full with brownie mix.

brownie cup pans

  • Spray or grease the bottom of the second cupcake tin VERY WELL and gently rest the second cupcake tin on top of the filled cupcake tin.


  • Bake brownies according to the box directions. I baked my brownies about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Remove from the oven and remove the top cupcake tin. I thought it was best to remove while the brownies were still warm, but my brownies stuck to the pans, so I am not sure what to advise on this. I let them cool before lifting the cup out of the bottom cupcake tin after seeing the disaster with the top pan, but the base of the brownies completely stuck to the pan, so I ended up with brownie crumbles and broken brownie cups.

brownie cups sticking in pans

  • Take whatever brownie pieces you can salvage and put them in the bottom of a bowl.

brownie cup coffee sundae

  • Top with ice cream. Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss wanted mint chip. TheRoomDad and I had coffee ice cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the ice cream.

Thankfully, broken brownie cups taste just as good as perfect brownie cups. Anyone else want to give this one a try and report back? Is it my cupcake tins that are the problem?

brownie cup mint chip sundae


My Favorite Back to School Equipment

Today is the big day– our first day of school. On the homefront, getting ready has been easier than anticipated. Our school provides supplies, so I did not have to shop for notebooks, pencils, glue, tissue, or wipes. My kids wear uniforms, so I ordered online in bulk last month. And, we did not need new bookbags, water bottles, or lunchboxes because I splurged a few years ago for some higher end items that are built to last. If only setting up my classroom had been this easy…

planetbox lunchbox

The PlanetBox Lunch System

  • I eat lunch alongside my students, and a couple of years ago, I noticed a few of my students had a lunch carry case with a metal tray inside that looked like an army (prison?) lunch tray with divided sections. The tray had an attached lid that clipped closed and fit inside a thermal carrier. There were pockets on the outside that had room for a juice pouch or small water bottle. I loved this lunch bag. I had to have it for my own children.

planetbox lunchbox exterior

  • The lid for the metal food tray stays attached, so I do not have to scramble to find lids in the morning, which I think is the benefit to this product over other bento style lunch boxes. We (and by “we” I really mean TheRoomDad) fill each compartment in the tray and clip the lid closed. We have not had to buy lunch baggies or mess with smaller lunch tupperware containers since we started using the PlanetBox.
  • The metal tray is dishwasher safe. The kids empty any leftover lunch bits and drop the tray in the dishwasher when we get home. I just have to remember to run the dishwasher at night. It dries completely unlike the tupperware that is perpetually wet after a dishwasher cycle.

planetbox lunchbox open

  • Place a flat icy pack on the bottom of the carry case under the tray to keep the food cool. You can purchase special icy packs from PlanetBox, but my Blue Ice packs work just as well.
  • There are a variety of sizes available; my children have The Rover. I do need to cut crusts off the bread to fit a whole sandwich in the large compartment. We also avoid anything juicy (like cut strawberries) that will drip and  leak.

LL Bean backpack

L.L. Bean Original Plus Book Pack

  • Three years ago when Mr. Star Wars started 1st grade, we bought the bigger L.L. Bean backpack with the water bottle pocket on the side and added his name for ID purposes.
  • The bag has a variety of pouch sizes for pencils, pens, and books. It also has little secret places, which are great for hiding cash or checks when I have to send field trip money to school.
  • The bag is easy to clean, and I have not had any zipper problems. The nice thing about L.L. Bean is that they will replace the bag if we ever do have problems with it.

camelbak water bottles

Camelbak Insulated Water Bottle

  • It is double insulated like a Tervis tumbler, so it does not sweat while sitting on a desk (very important to teachers).
  • The drinking spout can be pushed down to close the water bottle.
  • The lid has not started leaking yet.
  • I can detach the straw.
  • It is dishwasher safe.

What are essential school supplies in your house and is the brand important?

P.S. Teacher friends, there is a one day sale at TeacherPayTeachers Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Use code BOOST to save up to 28% off your purchases. Start your shopping by visiting This InLinkz Link-up to see some favorite upper elementary teaching resources.

Protecting My Paperback Books

classroom library

You would never know it from the state of my dining room table, but I am very particular about my things. In my classroom, I train my students to empty pencil sharpeners certain ways to reduce pencil shaving spills. I expect them to wipe down desks following a specific system, so the name tags remain undisturbed. And, I have very particular requirements when it comes to borrowing books from my classroom library. Truth be told, I would prefer that we just look at the library and not touch anything, but the whole reason I have the library is to share with students.

covering books materialsSince I know many hands will be touching the books and jamming them into lockers and bookbags, I cover every book with clear contact paper to offer a little protection against all of the love the books receive. I have been perfecting my book covering technique for over 15 years. I wrote a POST on my collaborative teacher blog with step by step directions about covering books, and you can CLICK HERE to see my system.

covering books step 7What protective measures do you take to safeguard your prized possessions when little hands are involved?


Game On!

classic battleship

Mr. Star Wars is going to a friend’s birthday party this weekend, and we shopped for a present today. I am starting to believe that shopping for a boy around age 9 or 10 is difficult. We have been giving a lot of small Lego sets for birthday presents, which are usually around $10 at Target, but I think it is possible we are aging out of Lego gifts (insert RoomMom’s heart breaking here). Mr. Star Wars chose the classic Battleship game as the birthday gift for this party.

Battleship is a great game and gift. In fact, board games in general might be the answer to my gift dilemma for this age group. As a teacher, I completely approve of this choice. When kids play games, they reinforce great critical thinking and planning skills needed in the classroom. Socially, they learn to take turns, cooperate, and communicate with their opponents. Another great feature is the fact that a variety of ages can play together. Look for sales at Target or WalMart and pick up a few of these games to have on hand as a gift for your next birthday invitation.


  • Battleship: Players must understand coordinates and a grid. They also use the process of elimination to zero in on targets.
  • Hedbanz: Players activate background knowledge and categorize to ask questions that will narrow down options to arrive at an answer. It encourages targeted questioning and the ability to move from general to specific rather than haphazard guessing.
  • Apples to Apples: Participants take an adjective and consider scenarios where the word would be used to create a logical pairing from cards in the players’ hands. It requires vocabulary skills and understanding of context.
  • Trouble: Weigh pros and cons of moving the game piece out of the home base or advancing a piece that is already on the board. There is the opportunity to gauge risk and reward. We also really like the popping noise the plastic bubble makes when you press it to roll dice.
  • Boggle: This game tests a child’s bank of sight words as well as uses knowledge of all of the phonics rules and patterns. If a player is smart, he will locate a base word, then start to add rhyming words or endings (like IN to PIN to SPIN to SPINS) to generate bigger lists.
  • Connect 4: This game works well to help kids begin to anticipate different results of one move (cause and effect). A child can predict what will happen two or three moves out and adjust her choice. There is also a little bit of pattern sorting in this game too.
  • Monopoly: Budgeting, counting money, and making change!
  • Kanoodle: This pocket game contains colorful connected beads that are stacked into shapes. Players use lots of spatial thinking and logic to solve the puzzles.


Do you like to give games for birthday gifts? If so, what are good game choices?

One other tip– if you have games that your children do not play anymore, think about donating them to a classroom. I like to keep games in the back of my room for students who are early finishers or for a rainy day when we have indoor recess.




Blasting Back to School Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Michelle F. and Lisa S. for each winning a 2014 Teacher Emergency Kit. I will be e-mailing you shortly with information about receiving your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered! 

teacher emergency kit contents view

Don’t forget, you can always make your own teacher emergency kit using any cute pouch, bag, or box. I had many great ideas for items to include in these handy kits. Some of the great suggestions are things like a Tide stain stick, glasses repair kit, travel size deodorant, mints, hand sanitizer or wipes, nail file, and an extra phone charger.

teacher emergency kit filled and gift tags

Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit Contents