Monday, January 16, 2017

Teaching Kids to Cook {Making S'mores}

Do feel like you do, do, do for your kids all day?  Yes, as a mom that's what we're called to do.  We're here to serve our family, but there's a huge difference between serving one's family and waiting on one's family.  Serving is done with love without strings attached.  Waiting on harbors resentment.  When I feel like I'm waiting on my family I find myself thinking:

Maybe you could say 'thank you' once in a while!
Why do even waste my time helping them?
When do I get some time for myself?

Can you sense the sarcasm and anger?




Seems my kids want food all day, every day.  There's never enough food.  Never enough snacks.  Never enough time to make all the food and snacks.

My solution is to teach my kids to cook.  I've included my kids in the kitchen since they were babies.  I've prepared many a meal with a baby in the Ergo, talking to them about what I'm doing and sweetly telling them how when they're old enough they'll be slicing the celery and cracking the eggs, mixing the meatloaf and washing the grapes.

There are so many tasks that can be done by young children, and cooking doesn't always involve the stove.  Think Cuties and grapes.  The youngest child can wash and stem grapes then put in a bowl.  Voila!  They just became a kid in the kitchen, and not one under foot causing you to trip.  Peeling Cuties is another great beginner task.

Recently, Peter has been into s'mores.  He had Sam making them for him and me making them for him, and all he did was eat, eat, eat.  Enough of that, I thought!  It's high time for him to learn to make his own s'more.  I mean really, he's 5 already.

Since he'd been watching us make them he already knew the process.  Graham cracker half, chocolate chips.

Balance marshmallow on top.

Carry to microwave.  Then what?  

I taught him how to set the microwave for 10 seconds and watch for the marshmallow to get big and puffy.

He removes it carefully and places the other graham cracker half on top.

Squeeze and enjoy!

And enjoy s'more!

To make it easy on him, I grabbed an ice cream pail so he could keep all the ingredients together on the pantry shelf.  Now, as long as he asks first, he can make a s'more all by himself.

Obviously, this isn't life sustaining, brain food for his first adult years of apartment living, but it's a good start.  And he's so proud of his accomplishment, which is the goal of these early days in the kitchen.

What have you taught your kids to cook?

What's holding you back from letting them in the kitchen?

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Here's the pinnable image.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

November and December Recap

It was November 3 the last time I posted here at Camp Homeschool.  Of course I have a few recipes to share, videos of Joseph reading, and a review of Calming Clippers, but first I think a general recap of the last couple of months is in order.

Duck hunting has infected a few members of the family.  Nick spent a good portion of his fall chasing ducks and geese.  He and Amber went to the Mead Wildlife Refuge one morning and brought home 6 nice sized ducks.  Nick's perfected the art of cooking duck - it only took a few pointers from me and now he's the main duck chef.

Joe attends Friday school through the virtual homeschool program.  Just before Thanksgiving he made a turkey head band at school.  It didn't make it to Thanksgiving Day; he had it wore out long before that.

Deer hunting takes center stage in November when everyone eats, sleeps, and breathes deer hunting.  Conversation around the dinner table often includes talk about deer hunting snacks, blaze orange jackets, sighting in rifles, ammunition purchases, and who's sitting with who.  We have so much to be thankful for this hunting season; 7 deer went in the freezer.  Most likely we'll eat it up by the end of July or August.

Can you tell Joseph loves hunting season just as much as his older siblings do?

We alternate hosting Thanksgiving with Warren's brother's family.  It was our year.  I like having a few games ready to play, just in case the electronics are trying to take over the day.  This competitive relay race had everyone laughing and cheering and moaning when the ball dropped.  Good times!

And more post Thanksgiving hunting.

This year we attended Canadian National's Holiday Train light display.  I think it was one of the coldest nights of the year, but we trudged on.  I'm so glad we did; the light display was awesome and it was pretty neat to be so close to the train.  When it was time for the train to leave there were a group of workers shooing people back and checking in between each car to make sure no one was hiding out.  So, it was safe even though we were so close.  It happened to be the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thanks to the internet I was able to look up a Catholic church and see what time their vigil Mass would be and it ended up working out perfectly.  I always enjoy, out of curiosity, attending Mass at other churches.  I was surprised by the number of youth at Mass that evening; there had to be at least 100 teens.  And to really top off the night we went out for a late supper at Culver's.

The search for the perfect Christmas tree had us all trudging along one Sunday afternoon.  We had slim pickings so when someone spotted a 30 foot tree with a beautiful top, we decided it would be perfect.

We all watched as Nick notched and sawed and pushed a little until it came down.

We left the bottom section of the tree in the woods for rabbit habitat; Sam carried the top to the truck.

December is also the month of Peter's birthday.  Right away in the morning (when you're the tallest) I measured Peter.  Turns out he's the tallest 5 year old yet.  I don't know if you can tell by the picture, but the boys' measurements are on the left and the girls on the right.

Peter and Maria love to color, so when I found this over-sized Melissa and Doug coloring pad, I snagged one for Peter and Maria each, plus the crayon sets.  Maria got her set for Christmas, but Peter immediately went to coloring.  The pictures are big, clear, and exactly the types of things boys like to color:  spaceships, dinosaurs, race cars, and tractors.

Peter asked for angel food cake, but also wanted cupcakes.  I decided to make mini angel food cupcakes with white frosting, which represented snow and then made white chocolate (tinted green) trees as the decoration.  It's so easy to create chocolate shapes.  I found inspiration here and here.

Now that was a lot of pictures, so I'll stop here for tonight.  I hope to be back soon with more useful posts relating to Catholic life, homeschooling with Down syndrome, and maybe a couple of recipes.

Have a wonderful evening.  We're coming off a cold week of below 0 temps and moving into a week filled with freezing rain and increasing temperatures.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up #3 {the week the van doors fell off and Peter threw up his Halloween candy}

That title is a bit loaded.  Last Sunday after attending 7:30 a.m. Mass, I planned out our homeschool week.  Reading, handwriting, math, art, history, chemistry - all the details were planned out and ready to go.

Then the duck hunters came home and the van door wouldn't close.  Back track 18 months, the other sliding door broke and was Duck taped - good enough.  The remaining sliding door has been giving us grief for 6 months or more, and sadly, Sunday, it wouldn't latch shut.  Warren made a few calls, got some pointers, and tackled the job of fixing it.

Well you know the phrase, drive it till the doors fall off.  That's exactly what happened, because when he tried fixing the door, it actually fell off the track.  Our favorite body shop man is on vacation until just before deer season so we're down a vehicle for a few weeks.  We've vowed to attempt creative carpooling.

That was the start of a week of phone calls.  Life really took a crazy turn, despite my perfect homeschool plan.  Calling the body shop, chiropractor, pulmonary specialist, plumber, and college admissions office took up a lot of time.  Every call required messages and call backs and scheduling appointments.  It was crazy.

Now it's time for my weekly wrap-up.  I like to focus on our homeschool week, but let's face it homeschooling is just a snippet of our life, so the wrap-up includes it all.

Chemistry Chapter 4 lab - the classic cabbage juice indicator lab.  We're working through Focus on High School Chemistry.  It's very thorough and broken down into bite size pieces.

With real lab equipment the fun never stops.  Here are two sets with similar equipment to ours.

It wouldn't be a Halloween week weekly wrap-up without a few costume pics.  Here we have Little Bo Peep.

Hans and Franz with a mini Incredible Hulk

Ariel the Mermaid, Giraffe, French Spy, Super Girl and baseball player.

The costumes lead to candy.  There was a lot of this this week.  Rummaging, trading, eating.

Even a little hiding with candy.

Poor Peter ate so much candy that after all the craziness of costumes and trick-or-treating were done, he hopped into bed and promptly threw up.  Happy Halloween!

Are you familiar with Snap Circuits?  They've been on the dining table all week keeping Peter and Sam occupied.  Playing with electricity is like magic to a 4 year old.  Every time he completes a circuit his eyes light up in amazement.  If I didn't have so many phone calls to make, I'd probably sit there and just watch him.

Snap Circuits are on sale at Amazon for $14.39.

We're setting up for a beautiful weekend.  Most likely one of the last warm and sunny weekends of the year.  I wish you all the best and thanks for visiting my weekly wrap-up.

Linking up with

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rhyming Isn't Necessary to Begin Reading Instruction

Most pre-reading programs include rhyming activities.  It almost seems that mastering the skill of rhyming is necessary to begin the actual reading program.  When I first started the All About Reading Pre-reading program with Joseph last year, I believed he needed to master each lesson before moving on.  Quickly, I realized that rhyming was his nemesis.  We were never going to move on because unprompted rhyming simply was not going to happen.  I have to admit that for a moment I felt despair.  He's never going to read.  This is it.  He's reached the top with his ABC's.  

No rhyming = No reading

And more WRONG.

Eventually, I tightened my belt (loosened my belt)...anyway I decided to do the rhyming activities, but not require mastery.  We would just keep moving on, despite the fact that bat rhymed with ball and hat rhymed with head.  I've talked with other parents of children with Down syndrome and this is a common complaint.  Rhyming is not a favorite activity.  Joseph is proof that a child with Down syndrome can learn to read even if they can't rhyme.  

However, and this is a huge however, rhyming shouldn't be thrown in the trash all together.  It's totally ok to learn things outside of the normal order.  So, I'll share a little game I play with Joseph to practice rhyming.  I call it Nursery Rhyming.  Nursery rhymes are a part of our cultural literacy.  Cultural literacy is having basic background knowledge of one's culture.  Why not incorporate a little cultural literacy and rhyming in one fun game.  

Here's what I do.  I read a few nursery rhymes aloud a couple of times through.  Then I repeat, but I leave out the rhyming word at the end of a stanza.  Here's an example:

The Mouse and the Clock

Hickory, dickory, dock!
The mouse ran up the ________;
The clock struck one,
And down he _____,
Hickory, dickory, dock!

The Cat and the Fiddle

Hey, diddle, diddle!
The cat and the _______,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the ______.

Joseph fills in the blank with the right word and then I praise him for rhyming.  Here's a video clip example.


At the end I always review the rhyming words:  dock rhymes with clock, one rhymes with run, diddle rhymes with fiddle, and moon rhymes with spoon.  As Joseph improves, I choose more difficult nursery rhymes.  Here's a video clip of us reviewing the rhyming words.  It's a short clip - certain kids didn't get the message to stay out of the filming area.


For beginners the board book is a good place to start.  It has the most popular rhymes for children.

 Once all these are memorized, then the full length Mother Goose is best - there are so many rhymes to choose from.

And this adorable board book from Tomie de Paola might just show up in Maria's something to read box on Christmas.

Need more fun ways to teach reading skills?
Here's a link to All About Reading's free activity book.

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