Peanut Butter and Cheddar Melts

PB Cheddar (1)This gourmet sandwich is the perfect marriage of two kid classics: PB&J and grilled cheese. It’s sure to bring a smile to kids’ faces at lunchtime! Use your favorite jam for this recipe. Cherry would taste nice, as does mixed berry.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 teaspoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded Daiya cheddar
  • 4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons berry jam
  1. Spread one side of each bread slice with 1 teaspoon butter; set aside.
  2. Place two of the bread slices, butter side down, in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup cheese. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the remaining two slices of bread with the peanut butter and jam, on the opposite side from the butter. Place over the cheesy bread in the skillet; flip and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

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Let’s Build a Flashlight

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Kids will feel like real electricians with this easy project! All you need is a cheap flashlight, the kind you’ve probably picked up at a drugstore or dollar store check-out in the past and have lying around.

I disassembled the flashlight into all of its components and arranged them on a tray so it felt very official, then called Travis over.

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He was so excited when I challenged him to put it together again! At first he was twisting together just the body and the screw cap, without a thought for coils or batteries or other pieces that might need to go inside.

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Hmm… it wouldn’t turn on. What was missing? Now he worked hard to figure out where the coils should go.

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Being allowed to handle the batteries all by himself was super thrilling!

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It took a few tries before he had everything arranged in the right direction.

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He was so proud once a push of the button turned it on!

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This is a great introduction to battery power that even young children can grasp.

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Kindergarten Home School Day 10

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Another week under our belt. I can’t claim today felt as strong as yesterday, but we did enough, and sometimes that’s OK.

8.30: Check-in. We started early because Travis’s teacher had recorded their morning meeting songs. He grinned to see her on video as we went through all the songs and watched her read a story.

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9-10: ELA. First we played ‘I Spy’, taking turns finding something that started with each letter of the alphabet. “I spy something that starts with B: Banana!” and so on.

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He also did one ltter page (F), a few worksheets on concepts (wet, hot, cold), and loved sitting down for Lexia online again.

10-11: As a special treat, there was a class Zoom session. The kids took turns doing show-and-tell and clearly loved the chance to see classmates.

11-12: Math: There were three assignments today, which felt like too much. First he hunted for a shape in the house, then took a picture of it with the camera of an online program. The program allowed him to then trace the shape and record himself saying what it was.

From there, he formed the letters 10 through 20, first with colored crayon, then with Legos.

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We were supposed to go on a hunt for numbers around the house, but I could tell he was tired. Instead we made t-shirts!

12-1: Lunch/free play. Little sister needed to nap.

1-1.30: Science/Art: He watched a BrainPop video on spring and took the quiz, then drew a picture of himself in the springtime. Love those sunshine hands!

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1.30-2: Outside time: We went for a nature walk looking for items that the school’s counselor had suggested, including something you find beautiful.

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2-2.30: Mental Health: It was a low-key afternoon. We played a board game to get laughing and went through a few more of the counselor’s suggestions, including a 5-minute guided meditation video; looking through old photos and sharing memories; and learning something new about a family member.

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Is your school counselor providing mental health resources for kids in this strange time? Please share in the comments!

Big Brother and Little Sister Shirts

 

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It’s such an exciting development for my kids that now they can do projects together, as was the case with these brother-and-sister shirts. Obviously you can tailor the shirts to fit your family, whether that means two brothers, three sisters, or even mommy & me shirts!

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I purchased blank white tees at the craft store in the kids’ sizes, and first wrote on the front “I am the little sister” and “I am the big brother” with fabric pens. Note: This is harder than it looks, because the fabric kept pulling!

We then wanted to put Veronika’s footprint on Travis’s shirt. I squirted a little fabric paint onto a sponge and pressed it to her foot, then pressed her foot to the fabric. It didn’t come out completely clear, but Travis loved knowing it’s there! If your big kids want to, have them put handprints on the little sibling’s shirt in the same manner.

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Then the kids loved dabbing the sponge all over the shirts, squirting it first with different colors.

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The fabric markers were running low on ink, but they discovered that they could squirt a little fabric paint onto a shirt and use the tip of the markers as the “paintbrush”.

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They had so much fun making these!

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And they looked adorable wearing them.

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Kindergarten Home School Day 9

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Hallelujah, we finally had what I would call a great day of home school. Travis stayed in a positive mood, we powered through lots of activities early while everyone was fresh, and there was even time for a baby gym class online with my toddler.

9-10: Check-in/ELA: After watching an online read of Clark the Shark, it was time to make a shark and feed it words! We loved this activity, first coloring in a shark and then cutting it out so the mouth was open with lots of jagged teeth.

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I cut “fish” from construction paper and added a consonant/vowel/consonant word to each one. The rule was you had to read the word before feeding a fish to the shark.

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10-10.30: Math: Still in high spirits, we tackled a math shape hunt before snack, looking for: 3 triangles, 4 circles, 3 squares, and 5 rectangles. Travis learned that triangles are much harder to come by than the others!

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10.30-11: Free play/snack. Travis requested to play inside with Legos while baby sister had some sensory fun.

11-12: Science/Social Studies. First we watched a Mystery Doug video on the world’s biggest tree, than did the website’s weather mystery lesson. Using “clues” in each picture, Travis aced figuring out which season was which. He loved coloring the pictures in so much he spent 45 minutes on it! I had time to prep dinner!

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He was on such a creative roll that we went ahead with social studies. After saying the Pledge of Allegiance and talking about the American flag, he designed a flag for our family. This is a great project for raiding the craft bin.

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12-12.30: Lunch break!

12.30-1: Music. His music teacher had recorded a full 15 minute video. Travis confessed that this felt different than really being in the class, and I was proud he stuck with it.

1-1.30: Spanish/Yoga. The afternoon, as you can see, was super light as a result of all the early academia. We did a Spanish video counting to 7, and I roped the kids into a few yoga poses.

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1.30-2.30: Outdoor time. We took advantage of gorgeous weather for a “sandbox” on the porch and other fun games, including a homemade boomerang.

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The afternoon was now beautifully open for free play, a family walk, and chatting with friends online.

Please do let me know how home school is going, if your district, too, is closed for COVID-19!

Vegetable Tofu Pot Pie

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This hearty pot pie is bursting with veggie goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 4 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 (9-inch) frozen pie crust
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, carrot, onion, and mushrooms; cook for 6 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the broth, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning. Whisk in the cornstarch.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and arrange in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the tofu and pour the broth mixture on top. Veg Tofu Pot Pie (1)
  4. Cover with the pie crust, pressing against the sides of the dish to seal (Note: Wholly Wholesome makes a vegan pie crust that comes in a circular tray. Simply thaw at room temperature for about twenty minutes and you should be able to easily reshape it into an oval baking dish, if you don’t have a circular one). Prick the top of the crust with a knife or a fork. Veg Tofu Pot Pie (2)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

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Paper Finger Boomerang

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Having recently tried out a real boomerang, Travis and I brought this little paper version to our home school “recess” today!

To make the boomerang, you’ll need a perfect square. Either measure with a ruler, or cut a piece of paper, fold it in half to form two triangles and then open back up again. Trace onto thin cardboard and cut out.

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Cut out a boomerang shape, making sure to measure the same distance in from each side of the square. Travis decorated with crayons, rounded the corners, and then we were ready to flick!

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We were surprised since we struggled with our store-bought toy, but this little one really does circle back to you! Because it’s so lightweight, you could even use it indoors on a rainy day. Note: We made the holder simply by cutting an additional strip of thin cardboard and folding in half.

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Play Dough Sound Sensory Jars

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This project took us from morning to night since we tackled different portions of the game throughout the day! It all started when Veronika had a morning of play dough play while big brother Travis did home school lessons.

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But she’s still more tempted to eat play dough than play with it, so I clumped it into a big ball and set it aside for another day. There we were with lots of empty little jars. They were the perfect vessel for… sensory play!

I rinsed out the jars while Veronika continued to play with the lids.

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Once clean, I started filling each one with different items. In all, I had 12 little jars with:

  • popcorn kernels
  • marbles
  • beads
  • rice
  • coins
  • bells
  • dried beans
  • ground coffee
  • salt
  • sprinkles
  • rubber bands
  • sesame seeds

Other ideas might include: buttons, water, spices, Lego pieces, or bits of foam. It was a little tricky to set these up with Veronika watching, since she wanted to touch the items and many are choking hazards.

Once lids were sealed, she could safely play! First we just had fun shaking them, or tapping two together.

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Then we shook each one in turn and divided them into two piles, one loud, one soft.

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I could sense her growing frustration that she couldn’t get inside the jars…

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…so we went through them one at a time. I gave a jar a shake and opened it up so she could see the item inside. Be sure to name the item, too! Bells, beads, and marbles seemed to especially intrigue her.

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For bigger kids, you could even turn this part into a game. Give it a shake, and have them guess what’s inside. Travis trotted over for a try!

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Bigger kids might also like to try a sound match-up. Narrow it down to fewer items (3 or 4), and have two canisters for each item. Can your child match them up? I didn’t expect Veronika to be able to do this, but did the exercise as an illustration in all the ways she can hear.

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We could use lots of great vocab words as we played, like “jingling” bells and the “cha cha cha” of rice.

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Of course then your child might just keep busy with the jars themselves for quite some time, which was certainly the case for Veronika. Like I said, this is a game that can last all day!

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Kindergarten Home School Day 8

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Pluses and minuses to our day, here on home school hump day! Read on…

9-10: ELA. Today’s suggestion, to have Travis pick a favorite book and “read” to himself for 20 minutes, turned out to be fantastic. I thought he might just look through the pictures of the Star Wars book he picked from his shelf, but he was determined to read the words. This meant it was a little more hands-on on my part than anticipated (my toddler happened to be smeared in peanut butter at the same time), but he was so determined I couldn’t turn him down. The assignment to then draw either his book or his reading nook, unfortunately, led to a temper tantrum. Emotions are high, folks.

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10-10.30: A reset pause for snack and recess.

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10.30-11: Math. This went great today!

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We wrote out the first names of everyone in the family, and counted the letters of each name. Then he put the results into a graph. He was disappointed that ‘Travis’ “lost” to ‘Veronika’, though!

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11-12: Science. We started two projects today but we’ll have to wait for the results. First was to see if we can waterlog a large piece of wood (like a craft stick). Set one in a container of water and wait. Our guess is that it will take a week before it sinks completely.

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We also made a quick rain meter by ticking off inch marks on a mason jar. It’s out on our patio to collect the rain!

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12-2: Travis got a long break because baby sister needed me for a nap, then lunch, then baby sister had a “live” music class. As a result, it was hard to rope him back in for some final activities.

2-2.30: Library. This is his Wednesday special and the suggestion was to explore any topic of interest on PebbleGo. Travis chose Inventions/the telephone, and sort of clicked through the links about it, but wasn’t interested in putting together a cup and string telephone craft. He also resisted drawing his favorite book character, or watching one of our local librarians do an online storytime.

2.30-3: Movement. So I got him moving instead. Check out my quick post about Line Dancing!

Honestly, the biggest hit today was a sensory tray meant for baby sister, so hey, sometimes the learning happens inadvertently.

Line Dancing Fun

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Travis is growing tired of class videos we’ve used to get our afternoon wiggles out during home school, so today I turned to Raddish Kids for inspiration. With a musical theme this month, one of the lessons was all about line dancing!

We kept the “lesson” part of it short, since really I just needed to get Travis moving. Big kids can delve further and talk about the genre of Country and any singers or song titles they know. You can also give some history of the genre. Instead, I just focused on common instruments (banjo, fiddle) and explained that line dancing allows dancers to move as a group, instead of with a partner. In other words, it’s meant to be shared!

To get our toes tapping, we listened to clips of the Boot Scottin’ Boogie and Watermelon Crawl. A few quick tutorials from YouTube showed us basic steps like the heel stomp and grapevine. Travis was a little skeptical but then we watched a quick how-to for an Achy Breaky Heart line dance.

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We cranked up the music and danced! Of course, it’s totally fine if your kids make up their own moves.

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For giggles, we finished with a clip of a line dance from Ice Age.