Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pre-School Letter "C" Lesson Ideas

I've been rotating with three other moms to teach our 3 year-olds all sorts of fun things. We base our lessons around the alphabet, and I thought I'd share the fun stuff I recently did for the letter 'C'. I did the following activities over a 2-day period. We met for 2 hours each day. Enjoy!

Ideas for teaching the letter 'C' to pre-schoolers:

1. Introduce 3 sounds of 'C' using this : Chocolate Chip Cookies are Circles

Give each child an I Spy Coloring Page and have them identify and color 3 things that they spy on the page that start with the letter 'C.'

2. Craft

 Give each child the "c" from the Letter "C" Crab craft. Let them move it around and ask them what it looks like. (ex. rainbow, bridge, bowl). Then make the crab craft.

3. Music Time

*If You're Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands

*'C' is for Cookie

* Chattanooga Choo Choo - The first minute and a half of this are fantastic. It is awesome how the instruments sounds like a choo choo train in the beginning. I didn't show the whole video clip. Just the first couple minutes. Then we had fun saying "Chattanooga Choo Choo" several times.

4. Story Time

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

Surprisingly, none of the four girls that I was teaching had ever heard the story of Goldilocks. So I had a lot of fun telling this one to them. I used a blond doll I had to be Goldilocks and sort of acted it out with the doll while I told the story. They loved it. After the story, I had them color a scene from the story (Goldilocks coloring page) and we talked about some letter 'C' words from the story-- like the chairs Goldilocks sits in and how she eats the bears cereal and one of the bowls of cereal is too cold.

5. Outside/Nature Time

Look at the clouds in the sky and talk about the different types of 'C' clouds: Cumulus, Cirrus, & Cumulonimbus. Let them trace the letter 'C' and make their own clouds with cotton balls.

6. Baking (Tactile) 

Have some sugar cookie dough ready to go and let them roll out and cut out cookies. (I had a letter 'c' cookie cutter and several other shapes that start with 'c' like car, cat, and circle.)

If you want to get fancy, you can even make some chef hats with them.

Chef Hats

7. Math Time

Make some clocks beforehand that you can give out and introduce how to tell time.

8. Sign Language

Teach them 3 sign language words that start with 'C'. I taught them how to make the letter 'C', and how to sign "cereal" and "cat."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Turkey/Mozzarella/Ciabatta Sandwich

There are so many wonderful reasons to visit family in Utah and Arizona, and most of them have nothing to do with food. But to be honest, one of the things that we look forward to is having at least one breakfast and/or lunch at Kneaders. They make to-die-for French Toast, crusty artisan breads, and mouth-watering sandwiches.

So imagine my excitement when I spotted a recipe in the September 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens that seemed to have all the key ingredients of one of my favorite Kneaders creations. I made it for dinner tonight and was blown away. Here's what you will need:

3 T. mayonnaise
2 t. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped, and dried
2 8 oz. rounds ciabatta loaves, halved crosswise (I used a skinny ciabatta baguette, cut into sandwich size slices)
6 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
4 oz. sliced, smoked turkey

I love recipes that let me use some of my fresh herbs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, rosemary, and garlic. Add spinach and artichokes; stir to combine. Set aside.

Remove enough bread from inside each half to create a 1 inch shell. (I just sawed my baguette slices in half and they worked perfectly.) Lay each bread half on a baking sheet.

Line each half with mozzarella. Spoon vegetable mixture onto each bottom bread shell. (I goofed and put everything on both the top and bottom. Serendipitous mistake--twice as tasty):

Top with tomato and turkey:

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and heated through. Assemble sandwiches. Makes four servings:

The great thing about this sandwich--besides being delicious--is that it really is a complete meal in a bun. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Baby-Proof the Patio with Foam ABC Mats

This is basically a brilliant, inexpensive idea to make your home that much more baby and kid friendly.

I was sitting at my friend Katy's place when I saw it. Like so many in Silicon Valley, she has an apartment. Rent here is through the roof, and buying a house is a joke unless you want to put down over a million dollars on a tiny 3 bedroom home built in the late 70's. Yikes... I don't mind apartment living, though. I love that I can drop off my baby monitor with my sweet neighbor so I can run a quick errand or go on a date. There's less space to clean and less pressure to decorate, paint, and remodel it to perfection.

Yet now that I have a beautiful toddler, I really wish I had a backyard. Yes, there's a park just around the corner, but sometimes it would be nice to let SourPatch have his fresh air fix without leaving the house. We're lucky enough to have a little balcony, but a small rectangle of cement never seemed like a great playing spot for a baby.

Back in Katy's living room, about a year ago: As we were chatting, I saw from the window that on her balcony, she had a colorful, foam ABC puzzle mat. You know the ones, right? I knew they existed, but I had always seen them used indoors. When I asked her about it, she said that many of our friends did the same thing to their patios. So apparently this isn't an original idea, but I had never heard of it.

One trip to Ross later, and I had myself a package of 26 alphabet puzzle squares for $12.99.  This covered less than half of my balcony, but SourPatch was just a little guy, so it worked out great. He and his friend could soak up the fall morning in colorful comfort.

But, like all children do, Patches began to crawl. Everywhere. So imagine my delight when, a few months later, some of our neighbors put out a second play mat for free! It was in great condition, and now 75% of our balcony was soft ground for our ever-moving child.

Love this idea. Now you can tell from the second picture that, sitting in the sun, the colors fade. Also, as SourPatch got older, he started to enjoy pulling the puzzles apart more and more (meaning mom gets to put them back together). Yet for less than $15, this is one of the best ideas I have gleaned from other mothers. It makes porch time much more comfortable and fun for both of us. Thanks again, Katy!