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Monday, March 10, 2014

R is for RAINBOW

I am taking two weeks to do each letter of the alphabet with my preschooler and Kindergarten/Grade 1 child. The first letter that we have looked at is the letter R.

We started by doing a whole week on Robots which was a whole lot of fun! (check it out here)
I decided to also touch on the Grade 1 Alberta program of study objective of "Creating Colour" by continuing our lesson in R with Rainbows. 

The first day we watched some videos on Rainbows. The kids really enjoyed all the different "Sing a Rainbow" versions. We also watched some PBS videos on how rainbows are made

Next, I gave the kids some bingo daubers and let them have at it. My kids are extremely kinaesthetic learners so smashing the daubers on the paper to make the ink fly was the highlight of this project. While they didn't make a rainbow, they definitely enjoyed themselves seeing all the colours that they could choose from to make for a really open ended art project.

My oldest son just did a science project on polymers for his Grade 3 Celebration of Learning, and so the next project that we did with the younger boys used the same materials.

One polymer that my kids LOVE to play with are water beads. If you have not had your kids play with water beads before you need to stop reading this post right now and buy some off Amazon and then come right back!

Water beads are SO much fun! They are sold as a substitute for soil for plants and for decoration, but as a learning toy they are much more useful! First I had the boys try and separate the beads into all the different colours, which was a true test of fine motor skills. Next I had them use pipettes to fill the test tubes with water. It took about an hour for the beads to absorb all of the water, but when they did the kids dove right in! It is one activity that really fills that need for sensory play. The beads are slimy and bouncy so the kids kept squishing them and popping them, and then sorting them again and again and again. They spent at least a good two hours each day just playing with them. So the $1 investment for the beads it was well worth it!! 
The next polymer that we played with was "InstaSnow". This stuff is incredible! You just use a tablespoon and some water and it expands to a 4th of a cup or so. To make the rainbow I took a little bit of the snow, put 3 drops of each food colouring into separate cups (using 2 drops of red/ 1 yellow etc to make orange etc.) and then put them all into a shallow dish in the correct order. It was so pretty for about 10 mins, and then it was all mixed up. All was not lost though, as it showed the kids what happens when you mix all the colours together....grey!!!

We saved the best for last. As a kid I remember making rainbows with Fruit Loops and loving it! I happily bought the colourful cereal for my kids to do the same. Of course they were able to sneak a few into their mouths without me noticing (or they think that I didn't notice). I always like to have a box of Fruit Loops in my craft room as they are really fun to play with, completely non toxic (lol), and they smell good too! I absolutely loved the rainbows that the boys made - they went up on our display wall as soon as they were dry! 

Once we finished our project with the Fruit Loops our lesson on the letter R and rainbows was complete! However, the boys had a different idea. My middle child decided to use the Fruit Loops and make himself an R out of them and exclaimed "Look mom! A rainbow R!" He was so pleased with his creation.

My older son who was participating in the crafts was influenced by the rainbow theme going on as well. Later that day I found that he had organized all his Trash Pack by colour. It was neat to see them take the lessons one step further.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Crockpot Monday - Vegetarian Butternut Squash and Chickpea Coconut Curry

I love coconut curries. I tend to make a ton of them in the winter months when I want something to warm me up.

I just registered the kids in a karate class that spans two hours at dinner time and we were always rushing to eat before or after, which was causing me so much stress.  To combat this I decided that the best solution for my dinner woes was to make crockpot meals every Monday so that we are not eating at 9pm.

This one is my absolute favorite. It can be eaten on top of rice, noodles, in a bread bowl, or all by itself for those who are grain wary. It's also vegetarian (actually vegan) and it has a ton of protein and iron!

My kids love it (and love helping me make it) so it is win/win/win for me!!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Coconut Curry
serves 8
2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups chick peas (dried or canned)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
I didn't have any fresh so I used these!
1 can 13.5 ounce organic coconut milk (light or whole fat)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (or kale, or chard)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled edamame (you can use fresh or frozen peas as well)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (if you don't have any fresh you can use frozen as well)
Kids love to help cook!!

Take 15 mins to prep all of your veggies. Take the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into squares. Add them to the crockpot. Add the onion, garlic, coconut milk, edamame, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, curry powder, salt and cilantro.
If you are using dried chickpeas, sort and rinse and add at this step. If using canned add them 30 mins before you want to serve. Add spinach (or other leafy greens) 30 mins before you are going to serve as well. 
Cook on high for 6 hours. If it seems too watery to your liking you can add a little cornstarch 15 mins before serving to thicken it up. It does thicken as it cools. 
 You can serve over brown basmati, jasmine rice, noodles, or even in a bread bowl.  Toppings can include mint, fresh cilantro, basil or some shredded coconut. (anything goes!) 
Bon Appetit!! 

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