Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toddler Word Wall

I spent a fun summer with some 16-22 month olds intending to return to 4-year-olds in August. But God knew better than I did, and when I found myself facing a school year as a toddler teacher, my mind exploded with ideas and possibilities… much like our toddlers’ vocabularies are exploding at an exponential rate!

Throughout the summer, I would smile as they said new words… some of them repeated “hot” when we went outside and said “hat” when I donned my large sunshade for the playground. I tried to remember the few new words I heard so I could share them with their parents.

But when I got ready for the school year, I knew I wanted to document their progress in language-learning. I turned to Pinterest, where surprisingly my search was fruitless. So instead I brainstormed and experimented, and this is what I came up with.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Meals: Spiced-Up Spaghetti

The first thing I ever learned to cook was spaghetti. But I’ve come a long way since I cracked open the can of spaghetti sauce and spilled the dry noodles all over the counter because they wouldn’t fit in the pot.

Maybe it started one day when I looked closely at those pre-made spaghetti sauce jars. “With basil and oregano, huh? Maybe I can add that myself.” It was so fun that I just couldn’t stop! I added dashes and teaspoons of whatever sounded good. This meal has been fiddled with so many times, but we now have a tried-and-true recipe that we use pretty consistently.

I know everyone has their own way of making this classic meal; this is my version of spaghetti.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Heavenly Herb Bread

I love herbs. And I love bread. Put them together and it’s a sure recipe for love at first smell. Yes, smell. The fragrance of yeast mixed with all these incredible flavors is overwhelmingly intoxicating.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Preparing for Easter: Week 2

This Week's Hymns:
Wednesday: Ye Humble Souls that Seek the Lord

Thursday: In the Cross of Christ I Glory
Friday: It Is Finished! Man of Sorrows
Saturday: And Can It Be?
Sunday: Awake, My Heart, with Gladness
Monday: One Day
Tuesday: Hallelujah! Christ Is Risen

Welcome back to Easter heart preparation! Before sharing the daily hymns for this week (thanks to NetHymnal), here are some fun facts about the origins of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. I am grateful to Ace Collins, whose book Stories Behind the Traditions & Songs of Easter I enjoyed and gleaned this information from.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Toddler Watercolor Triangles

After September’s circles and October’s squares, we were ready to learn about triangles in November! The art project we did for our portfolio was a 2-step process, and boy was it interesting!

Before I write anything else, please read my explanation of "shape of the month." It's not a rigid curriculum or one art project - after our conversations about triangles, the toddlers surprised me by pointing out the triangle in the parking lot on our way to the playground!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Meals: Peanutty Chicken

Our family LOVES peanuts. We’ll eat peanut butter on toast for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, a handful of peanuts for a snack, and this lovely meal for dinner.

This is one of our favorites, and it came from a book called Busy Families Cookbook (from Taste of Home). I bought this book in a rush and without paying too much attention to it – I was on my senior trip in college and realized that Mother’s Day was soon after I would return. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. We have found so many great (and quick and easy!) recipes in this cookbook! I would highly recommend it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Princess Days: Belle

It’s been awhile since my last princess post, and this one was one of our favorites! Be… our… guest for this magnificent tribute to Beauty and the Beast!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: S'more Pie

When one of my students gave me a pie recipe book from Taste of Home, this fun pie was the first we tried. The prep is straightforward, and it tastes great! I wouldn’t say it’s as rustic as a campfire s’more, but our family definitely loved it! So here is last February's "pie of the month."

Simple ingredients: graham cracker (in the form of the crust), chocolate filling (Nutella + some creams), and marshmallows (for the topping)!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Sensory Bin: Treasures from the Dollar Tree!

I know this is a little after the fact, but we are still going to be playing with some Valentine stuff next week, and it can always be saved for next year too! (That’s what Pinterest is for, right?) I present: a cheap and fun Valentine sensory bin! 

Yep, I found all this (and a few more things) at the Dollar Tree.

Our Kissing Wall

Here’s a simple activity for Valentines or anytime you want to teach love.

Large paper attached to wall.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easter Heart Preparation: Week 1

This Week's Hymns:

Monday: Rock of Ages

Believe it or not, I grew up having no idea what “Lent” was. It wasn’t until I attended a Presbyterian church in college, and they started talking in February about getting ready for Easter, that I realized the importance of preparing my heart for the most important event in the Christian calendar: the commemoration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I was fascinated to read The Stories Behind the Traditions & Songs of Easter, by Ace Collins… let me share some of the things I learned about Lent:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Melted Crayon Hearts

There is no way that my students need more candy for Valentines Day. Yet what is a toddler going to do with one of those paper Valentines? I turned to Pinterest and found inspiration.

One of my coworkers and I had a crayon-melting party to make valentines for our students! They turned out so beautifully, the process is very therapeutic, and the kids loved them – how’s that for success?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Meals: Swiss Steak

This recipe makes me think of my grandmother. She was a missionary to India, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a storyteller, an example… well, how do you sum up 96 years of love and service in one sentence? 

Dora Meberg on her 87th birthday in 2000

She lived a few blocks from us, and after a long day at school (my parents are both teachers), she would invite us to her house for dinner. Many times, this is what she would serve.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

3 Valentine Crafts for Toddlers

A keepsake, a writing exercise, and fun with paint – here’s what we’ve been up to this week!

#1: Valentine Keepsake: We painted feet on cardstock, then I outlined them with marker and added the words for our parents.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Oreo Cream Pie

I should have listened to my sister. When we decided to do an Oreo pie for February’s pie of the month in 2011, she found this recipe on Kraft Foods website.

She emailed me a link with ideas for modifications, recommending that we simply buy a pre-made Oreo pie crust instead of going to the trouble of making our own. As you can see, there is no Oreo crust in the ingredients picture.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Brownies Made Simple

We grew up with brownie mixes. You know the kind – you dump the powder in a bowl, crack a few eggs, and throw it in the oven. It’s fast and easy, and it tastes pretty good. There’s nothing wrong with brownie mixes… until you realize there’s something SOOOO much better!

Enter Smitten Kitchen. Thanks to Deb, I am never returning to brownie mixes again. She shared a fantastic recipe for homemade brownies, and it’s really not that much harder than a brownie mix. Yet the taste is exponentially greater.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine Photo Keepsakes

I’m pretty excited about the Valentines pictures we took for our parents. I really wish I could show you their precious faces, but just use your imagination:

This is a project you can adjust and personalize… I think one of my former coworkers did this with her 2-year-olds a few years ago. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Children Are No Mere Mortals

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”    – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

This has always been one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, but it’s hard to keep at the forefront of my mind. Last night I was imagining what the world, and my life, would be like in 5 years, and my thoughts naturally turned toward my students. In 5 years they’ll be 6 or 7, in first grade. What about 25 years? They’ll be my age!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Meals: Cranberry Chicken

If Friday is a pie-day, then Mondays need to be for meal planning. This is a recipe I’m rather fond of and a little proud of – I made it up myself! It’s the first recipe I’ve created, and it’s pretty yummy, if I say so myself.

I love cranberries. I think I have 4 bags of craisins in the pantry right now (I stock up on BOGO deals), and also I buy them fresh when they’re in season and freeze them to use all throughout the year. I don’t know what it is about them, but we were trying to get rid of some, and I thought, “Why not combine them with chicken?”

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Toddler Vegetable Exploration

We have been talking about healthy food, and one of our most enjoyable activities was painting with vegetables! 

More on that in a second. Three other fun things we did were (1) go grocery shopping! The kids loved pushing around this little cart and loading it up with pretend food. They also decided to place a baby in the seat.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Cherry Pie

It’s a classic. And it’s quintessentially February – the vibrant red, the flavor reminiscent of the tree George Washington chopped down (President’s Day), the sweet taste with a slight tang. Our first February pie of the month in 2010 was a cherry pie!

I had never eaten a homemade cherry pie before, much less made one myself. But since first making this delectable dessert, we have definitely repeated it. It’s become a sort of President’s Day tradition now, and we’ve made it for birthdays too. It is fairly simple to make, and you just can’t beat the taste!

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