7-Layer Dip

7 layer dip finished

Watching football this weekend? Attending a family friendly New Year’s Eve party? Me too. There is no better tailgate snack food for football watching and potlucks than a Mexican 7-layer dip. I will be bringing this crowd favorite to a friend’s house tonight, and I made individual sizes, so we can keep eating more dip during football games tomorrow. Normally, I like to use a layer of diced tomatoes instead of salsa. I forgot the tomatoes at the grocery store, so I went with the salsa layer, which is a totally acceptable substitute. You can see my original recipe with the diced tomatoes HERE. I know many people have a version of this recipe, but I think the Fritos Original Bean Dip and the taco seasoning mixed in with the sour cream makes this variation a little special. Happy New Year!

Ingredients

  • 2 (9-oz) cans Fritos Original Bean Dip
  • 1 container guacamole (about 10 oz.)
  • ~2 cups salsa
  • 1 pkg mild taco seasoning
  • ~12 oz. sour cream
  • 2 c. Mexican cheese blend, grated
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • scoop Frito’s or tortilla chips

Directions

  • Scoop the 2 cans of bean dip into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and spread evenly across the bottom with a spatula.
  • Dollop the guacamole on top of the bean dip and gently spread out using the spatula. Try not to disturb the bean dip layer. It’s kind of like frosting a cake.

7 layer dip guac

  • Dollop the salsa on top of the guacamole layer and spread gently.

7 layer dip salsa

  • In a small bowl (or the sour cream container), mix the taco seasoning with the sour cream. Combine well. It will be a light orange color. Spread the sour cream mixture over the guac and salsa. Gently spread with the spatula trying not to disrupt the layer beneath.

7 layer dip sour cream

7 layer dip sour cream layer

  • Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  • Sprinkle the green onions over the cheese.
  • Serve with Frito scoops or tortilla chips.
  • Can be made ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make individual layered dips in ramekins or the clear 9-oz. plastic cups.

7 layer dip individual

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Tunnel Poems

tunnel poems top view

April is officially National Poetry Month, but I always teach poetry to my students in December. Class instruction gets interrupted a lot in December due to holiday performance rehearsals, parties, and various holiday activities. I like to teach poetry during the holiday craziness because I can work around smaller blocks of time (and holiday mode student attention spans) to complete a whole poem, and we won’t be left hanging at a critical part of the story if we have to put our work down.

This year, I combined a poetry lesson with one of my favorite craftivities– tunnel poems. The tunnel poems did double duty. The students learned about haiku poems, and we created a finished product that kids took home to their parents for a holiday gift. I even made a tunnel poem to give to my teaching partner with a picture of us from our school Halloween carnival.

joker tunnel poem finished

I asked students to bring a 4×6 family photo to school. The photo could be of any family member (and that included pets) and show any special memory whether it was a recent event or something from several years ago.

Students generated word lists that related to their chosen picture. When they completed their personal word list, they counted the syllables in each word and wrote the syllable count next to the matching word. Using the haiku formula for the 3-line poem (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables), students moved words from their lists around until they created a haiku poem. The finished tunnel poem has 4 frames layered on top of the photo. The first frame displays a title for the poem. The next 3 frames display the haiku– one line at a time– across the top.

tunnel poem pieces

CLICK HERE to go to my post about foldable booklets with step-by-step directions for making the tunnel poems. When I made these with students in the past, we used postcards as the back panel. This time we used personal photos to make it more meaningful. The photos were flimsier than postcards (especially if they were printed from home on printer paper), so I attached each photo to a 4×6 notecard to give the photo a little more stiffness.

Basically, you need lots of 4×6 notecards and a paper cutter to cut the side hinge pieces evenly. You will also need glue, scissors, colored pencils or markers, and lots of patience. I recommend training your early finisher students in tunnel poem contruction and let them help other students. Spatially, it is difficult for some students to comprehend how to layer the frames and attach the hinges to the backs of each frame. It is easier to fold the side hinges if your photos are landscape orientation, but it is possible to make the tunnel poems with a portrait (tall) orientation.

dog haiku tunnel poem

Concrete Poems

book concrete poem

I am always surprised how much my students like poetry and even more amazed at the poetry they create during our poetry unit. We start the poetry writing process slowly with an adjective review. The students make a list of adjectives that describe the sneakers on their feet and then write these simple “adjective” poems using a frame I provide to get warmed up. The poem frame has a fill-in-the-blank structure where students add five adjectives from their sneaker description list.

adjective poems

Everyone can complete the poem without fear of having to rhyme words or create some great metaphor. After completing the sneaker poem, the students choose another topic like dogs, pie, or books and write a new adjective poem that uses the same structure. This year, we took the completed adjective poems and created concrete or shape poems.

shoe concrete poemWe searched for black and white clipart in Google images that matched the poem’s topic. The kids pasted the clipart image into a Word document and enlarged the blackline image to fill an 8 1/2″ x 11″ page. We printed the image and lightly traced the main lines with pencil on a blank piece of copy paper. Using black pens, the students wrote their poem over the traced pencil lines. Students left the paper with the clipart image under the paper with the concrete poem while writing to serve as a guideline.concrete poem and clipart

concrete poems tracing the design

In most cases, the students needed to write their poem multiple times to fill the shape outline. They also added a few details to complete the effect. The finished product elevated the simple poems into something much more sophisticated.

dog concrete poem

pie concrete poem

More ideas for student poetry are available in my poetry unit. Purchase the poetry unit by CLICKING HERE.

Mason Jar Cocoa Mixes

layered cocoa mix

For the past two years, my students have operated a small business at the holidays selling Mason Jar Cookie Mixes to the families in our school community. It is part of our focus on business and financial literacy skills that we cover all year. This year, we changed it up a little and manufactured layered cocoa mixes. The new business had a lower overhead, and it was easier to source pint sized Mason jars, which translated into (a little) less work for the teacher-supervisors!

Mason jar cocoa mix front view

The cocoa mixes make great gifts for friends and neighbors at the holidays and are easy to assemble. Whether you are making 27-dozen like we did or just a few for gifts, it is an easy DIY holiday gift.

IMG_1123

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. powdered milk
  • 1 T. original powdered creamer
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. crushed peppermint bits
  • 1/4 c. mini marshmallows (or enough to fill to the top of the jar)

Directions

  • In a pint Mason jar, layer ingredients in the order listed above beginning with the powdered milk.
  • Press firmly after the chocolate chip layer and again after the peppermint bits layer.
  • Fill to the top of the jar with marshmallows.

Serving Instructions

  • Attach a tag with a ribbon that says, “Mix jar ingredients in a large bowl. For each serving, place 1/3 c. mix in a mug and stir in 1 c. boiling water. Store remaining mix in an airtight container.”

cocoa mix serving

Notes

  • I found 5 oz. bags of crushed peppermint at Walmart in their holiday baking display. If you can’t find pre-crushed peppermint, buy classic candy canes and crush them yourself. If you are making really large quantities, order online from a source like Candy Warehouse in 5-lb. bags.

complete

Vanilla Sugar

vanilla bean flavored sugar

I have been agonizing over holiday teacher gifts again. Each year I need at least a dozen small gifts for all of my children’s teachers. It is not something I have to do. It is something I like to do. I know how much I appreciate the gifts my students give me at Christmas, so I like to do the same for the teachers my children have. I spend a lot of time finding something that is affordable yet (hopefully) useful.

This year, I mass produced flavored sugars in small jars. Almost all teachers I know drink coffee on a daily basis, and while they don’t need a coffee mug, I thought they might like a coffee “mixer”. The sugar has a little gourmet twist to it with the vanilla bean flavor, and the gift is consumable. Teachers won’t have to store or care for it once it is used. I made extra jars to use as hostess gifts or little sirsees for neighbors.

vanilla bean sugar jar label

Ingredients

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean

Directions

  • Put 2 cups sugar in a mixing bowl
  • On a cutting board, split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean.

flavored sugar vanilla bean seeds

  • Add the vanilla bean seeds to the sugar and mix well.

flavored sugar mixing

  • Put a piece of the vanilla bean pod in the bottom of the jar and add flavored sugar to the top.

flavored sugar filling jars

  • Store in an airtight container.

Notes

  • I purchased my jars at Hobby Lobby during their 50% off glassware sale this weekend. At full price, the jars are about $2.50. They are 3 1/4″ tall with a flip lid.
  • Two batches of sugar filled 18 jars. The jars hold a little less than 1/3 cup.
  • I printed Flavored Sugar Labels and tied the label to each jar with baker’s twine.
  • For a variation, mix 2 c. sugar with 1/4 c. whole cardamom seeds. Add the cardamom sugar to your daily cup of coffee.