Saturday, April 25, 2015

Postcards Across America!

One of my most favorite projects that I did with my fourth grade class several years ago was a "Postcard Project" to learn about the regions of the United States.  It was so much fun!  My students got so excited when a new postcard would arrive in the school mail.  Our goal was to make sure we received a postcard from every single state.  As I discussed the project with students, we talked about the states that might be hard to get.  Really, there was no need to worry!  As we began brainstorming, one student mentioned he had an aunt who lived in Hawaii.  Someone else knew someone from Alaska.  Someone else had a Grandma and Grandpa that were on vacation in another state we needed.  The project became a game to my students.  As postcards poured into our classroom, we'd see which ones we had and which ones we still needed.

Here's one of the bulletin boards that I made to display some of the postcards we received.

When I launched the project, I sent home a note with students (see example below).  The note explained the project and gave the address of where to send the post cards.  In addition, I sent the note via email so parents could forward it to their relatives and friends who lived in other states.  To gain even further attention to our project, I posted a note on my Facebook page so my friends and relatives could participate.  The outpouring of support was amazing!

Every time we got a postcard in the mail, we read the postcard, looked at the pictures, and shared what we knew about that particular state.  We identified the region of the state and the state's capital city.  Then a student would locate the state on our class map and put a push pin to indicate that we had received a post card.  Below is our class map with push pins and more of our postcard collection!  My students were obsessed with checking this map!  They were determined to make sure we got all 50 states!

One day we got all of these post cards in the mail!

We got so many postcards that I added another bulletin board to display them all.  The support we received from relatives of our students and the community was incredible.  We ended up getting a postcard from every single state!  We tracked the number of postcards received from each state in a bar graph.  So, not only did we tie in Social Studies to our postcard project, but math too!

After the project was over, I gave the postcards to all of my students.  They got to pick out their favorites as keepsakes.  If the postcard was from someone they knew, then they got to keep that one.

With this fun project, they learned so much about the United States (and I did too!).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Roasted Baby Brussels with Garlic Aioli Dipping Sauce

I've had a bag of Brussels sprout in my fridge for the past week and have been contemplating how to prepare them.  Recently, I've had great success with roasting veggies.  It's easy to do and the veggies always come out delicious.  So,that's what I decided to do with these baby Brussels tonight.  I made a double batch so I'd have some Brussels sprout left over for snacking and as a side dish for a meal tomorrow night.  Oh, and here's a little FYI, did you know you're supposed to say Brussels sprout, not Brussel sprouts??  I learn something new every day!

Here's what you'll need:
1 bag of baby Brussels  (The bag I bought from Sprouts was 1.5 pounds)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced roasted garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Here's what to do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare your Brussels sprout by rinsing them with water. Remove the outer leaf and cut off the hard end. Then cut the Brussels sprout in half.

Place Brussels sprout evenly on a baking sheet.  I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper.  It makes for easy clean up!  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil.  Then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  While Brussels sprout are cooking, mix together mayonnaise, roasted garlic, and lemon juice to create the aioli.

The next time I make this, I might add some crumbled bacon when roasting.  Everything tastes better with bacon, right?

If you have leftover aioli, just refrigerate it in a sealed container.  If you would prefer to drizzle the aioli, just add a little more lemon juice to thin it out.  It would look pretty too!