Little Hands that Cook with Books: Turkey Casserole

Do you have some leftover turkey?  Here's a great recipe for your little one to make all by themselves! 

It’s turkey time at cooking class! The girls have been learning to many skills in the past 8 weeks that they were ready to create a dish all by themselves! 

Before we started cooking we read this adorable book, The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty.  A story about a Little Pilgrim girl who wants to help everyone in her tiny village but everyone is either too busy to hear her or thinks she’s not big enough.  At the end she finds the one skill she’s good at, making a friend.  We talked about the things that they are able to help with in the kitchen now and how they were going to make dinner tonight all by themselves. 
 To Make Turkey Casserole it’s super easy and kid friendly.  Here’s the recipe.
  Once they finished their casseroles we cleaned up and it was time for Pilgrims while our dishes baked. 

We made a Pilgrim inspired from Here.  The girls traced their own pieces and cut them out on their own.  Once they attached all the pieces they wrote in the middle what they were thankful for. I love how the all ended up so different from each other. 

I am very thankful for my cooking Pilgrims, it's been so much fun getting to know them.  Hope your family had a great Thanksgiving.   

Bilingual Babies- Christmas 2011 Traditions

This month is a wonderful time to blend and merge traditions of two cultures.  Often times schools will introduce Christmas around the world to their students in the form of crafts.  I would encourage you to take your child's learning a little further! The Internet and your local library are great sources for learning more about holiday traditions around the world. If you are fortunate to have family members close by or a phone call away- ask them about their family traditions! Here are some hints for Celebrating a diverse holiday from the Language Castle.

I was always curious about the Russian traditions.  They do not celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but on January 7th based on the old Julian calendar.  For many years celebrating Christmas was forbidden (More info here) For many people, New Years became the "New" Christmas complete with a tree, fireworks, gifts, and a visit from "Ded Moroz," Grandfather Frost.  New Year's today remains the largest holiday, but many Russians also celebrate Christmas. 

My husband and I laugh because although we were born many, many miles apart, my Christmas and his New Years were very similar!  Our families decorated trees ( we both have baby pictures next to the tree.)  We both gathered with our family for dinner and toasted for good health, happiness, and fortune.  Our families all baked breads, roasted meats, and made other traditional dishes.  Small gifts like books, sweets,  and clothing were also given to family members.

Our tree went up this weekend and it is a symbol of our traditions merged and is by no means meant for the cover of Martha Stewart magazine, rather an awakening of memories in our hearts.  Just as my grandmother started a tradition of giving me one ornament for Christmas each year, we have asked our parents to continue the tradition for our children.  Because of this - our tree represents who we are as a family.  There are more classic Russian ornaments such as this one from my sons' Christmas ornament last year.
And a more modern ornaments such as these from my daughter's collection that represent the different cultural dresses of some Ethnic Russian groups.  We enjoy telling our children stories from the year they received each ornament and have made sure to label and date the boxes or the ornaments themselves with a permanent marker. 
Now that our tree is up and decorated  - we have time to enjoy it!

My Bilingual Goals for the month are to
1. Cook some traditional pastries and soups - at least one each week.
2. Read 1 story a day in Russian
3. Make a felt board story for Snegorichka (Grandfather Frost's Granddaughter)
4. Teach my kids the song about the evergreen tree! More Russian songs here and here in case you were looking for some! We have the first verse mastered.

Here are the words =)  WISH ME LUCK!!!!

В лесу родилась елочка,
В лесу она росла,
Зимой и летом стройная, зеленая была.
Зимой и летом стройная, зеленая была.

Метель ей пела песенку:
"Спи, елочка, бай-бай!"
Мороз снежком укутывал: "Смотри, не замерзай!"
Мороз снежком укутывал: "Смотри, не замерзай!"

Трусишка - зайка серенький
Под елочкой скакал.
Порою волк, сердитый волк, рысцою пробегал.
Порою волк, сердитый волк, рысцою пробегал.

Чу! Снег по лесу частому
Под полозом скрипит;
Лошадка мохноногая торопится, бежит.
Лошадка мохноногая торопится, бежит.

Везет лошадка дровеньки,
А в дровнях мужичок,
Срубил он нашу елочку под самый корешок.
Срубил он нашу елочку под самый корешок.

И вот она, нарядная,
На праздник к нам пришла,
И много, много радости детишкам принесла.
И много, много радости детишкам принесла. 

Afterschool Express: Giving Thanks


This week, we tried our very best to take some time to "Give Thanks" as we went about our week.  The girls are having lots of fun reading books and creating projects about Thanksgiving.  Most importantly we are  learning about the "Spirit of Thanksgiving."  Now that they are in Kindergarten in a Public School there aren't as many opportunities to work on handmade art and craft projects which is so important for them to experience.  So we tried our best to incorporate some projects at home.   

Here's a few of our projects that we created this week in both of our homes. 

Turkey Finger Puppets
We loved these, but didn't have the supplies in the house and opted for the traditional felt (plus extra fabric choices that I didn't have the colors in felt)  Although we talked about the difference between male and female turkeys, there was NO way you could convince my 5 year old that this turkey did not need a bow =) 

Thankful Turkey
We've been working about expressing the things that we are thankful for each night at the dinner table and she's been writing the thoughts of gratitude down on strips of paper.  Then we took all of the papers and glued them onto a circle for the body and a circle for the head.  Then she cut some legs and beak and waddle.  It's so cute to see what they are thankful for. 

Recycling Turkey feather papers into Fall Tree
Using the leftover paper from our feather we practiced our cutting skills and created this fall tree.  I think over the next few days my daughter will also be adding people and a turkey and an owl in the tree.  Love projects that you can continue to build upon. 

Pilgrim Writing
We were inspired by the Pilgrim at First Grade Blue Skies for our writing this week.  She cut out the pieces and glued them together.  Then wrote about what she is thankful for.  I think we will continue this idea for each Month to keep our writing on the fridge at all times. We used this as the lesson in our Cooking Class The Littlest Pilgrim and Turkey Casserole

Handprint Turkeys - So many cute ones out there like this one and this one!  My kidsmade hand print trees and figured that our hands were already painted on and made the turkeys too!!! We visited this interactive website and learned more about the Wampanoag and if turkeys were present at the first Thanksgiving.  What would have been really cool is if the real ones showed up at my house like they did for this mama!
Works great for crafts for siblings to do together! 

Coffee Filter Turkeys - We LOVED this project!  I showed her this post and read the directions. We didn't have the regular filters and just used the cone shaped ones.  She created the heads and decorations all on her own, then made up a game similar to "I Spy," to play using their different features. 

Turkey T-shirt
We are Thankful for great deals and re-purposing clothes that are no longer being used!  A 25 cent thrift store bright orange t-shirt was transformed into this hilarious turkey shirt.  My daughter choose the fabrics, cut the pieces and placed them where she wanted them.  I embroidered them with the machine! The eyes were made with my thumbprint in black fabric paint. 

We have pinned many projects on our Fall Pinterst Board for you to find something special to make with your little ones this week as you prepare for Thanksgiving.   We'd love to see what you are doing with your grade school children this week! 

How to make an owl apron

An Eco Friendly Sewing Craft Activity for Parent whoooooo Love OWLS!

Kim's owl pizza cooking class really jump kicked our owl week!  And WHOOOO can resist owls?  We obviously can't!  There are so many cute owl puppets, costumes, and activities out there you could almost do a whole month with an owl theme!  This "How To" came about when I saw this owl costume (love the simplicity and the feathers) and this owl apron (Love the colors) and when Kim called and reminded us to bring our aprons for cooking class, I knew exactly what to do!!!! (well, I kind of winged it!) I merged some of the ideas with the supplies I had on hand and the time available to create my owl apron. Total cost = Free!  Time = 30 minutes
Since I LOVE re-using and re-purposing things, I used a pre-made apron that we got from Home Depot's kid clinics on Saturday morning.  (You could make your own apron too but that would add time and cost to the project)

What to do:

1.  Choose matching scraps from leftover materials
2. Cut 16 ovalish shapes (or more depending on the size of your feathers and apron) for the feathers and cut the pieces for an owl face.
3. Zig Zag stitch around the curved edges of the feathers, this is the fastest way I could think of to prevent the fraying because I will be washing it and didn't want raw edges. 

4. Sew a row of feathers on at a time, tuck the raw edge under the ribbon.  I used a zig-zag, then went over it again with a straight stitch because I had missed a couple feathers in my speed sewing and wanted to make sure they wouldn't fall off.
 5.  Embroider the face on with a zig-zag stitch close together. 
6. Add a beak (Ours was made of felt and was a diamond folded in half to be 3D)
6.  Let your little one try it out!
Other Owl Projects we've made

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Owl T-Shirt Tutorial

An Easy Craft for Parents WHOOO love OWLS!!!

We made Owl T-Shirts together with my daughter's friends. They were our craft during cooking class when we made Owl  Pizzas. I know you're little one will enjoy making their own Owl T-Shirt. It's so easy to make!
First I ironed Fusible Webbing onto the back of my fabric to adhere the pieces onto the fabric. Then I traced my owl shape on the paper backing and cut out the owl. With the leftover fabric I also cut out eyes, beak, and legs of the owl. Then I ironed the owl shape onto the shirt
Now it was time for the girls to make their own Owl creations. I had the girls glue on their pieces (eyes, beak and legs)where they wanted them to be. Then we ironed on the pieces for them.
 As soon as it was cool they choose a color to match the fabric and we painted their hands and created Handprints for the Owls wings. I turned the tshirt upside down so that the wings would point towards the ground. Then I outlined the handprint with the same color paint for more definition and waited for the paint to dry completely overnight.
 Then it was sewing time, I quickly used the zig zag stitch and sewed around the owl, eyes, beak and legs to create more of a shape for the Owl and to keep the fabric on the T-shirt.
The girls were so excited to wear their Owl T-shirts that they created! Here's a fun way we used this same project to create Owl Handprint Cards for others. 

Little Hands that Cook with Books: Alphabet Soup

 To begin our cooking lesson this week we read The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin.   In the story the little girl compares her own family's green leafy vegetable garden to the neighbors' colorful flowering gardens.  At the end of the story her Mother makes a special soup from her garden that attracts all the neighbors and encourages them to plant their very own chinese vegetables the next season along with their flowers.  This was such a great book to teach about making growing vegetables and making Soup. 
The author, Grace Lin, has a website with of resources and lots of other great titles.  Here's the recipe to make your very own Ugly Vegetable Soup from the book. 

After reading the story the girls the girls went shopping for our ingredients to make Alphabet Soup.  Pick your favorite soup recipe to use.  We followed a simple minestrone soup recipe. 
They selected vegetable words from the pot and had to find them on the counter.  They each were responsible for washing the vegetable that they found from the counter.  Then we divided up all the vegetables equally and started cutting with our metal butter knives.  They did such a great job chopping up their zucchini, yellow squash, celery, carrots, grean beans and even some onions. 
We measured our chicken broth and diced tomatoes and put then into the a pot and then the adult was in charge of cooking.  Once all of their vegetables were chopped up we added a dash of all the seasonings, making sure to smelling first to see what we're adding. 

The soup only took minutes to cook.  At the very end we added our Alphabet Pasta to finish it off.  Each child had their own pot cooking, we were missing a few of our friends. 
While our soup was cooking it was Alphabet Soup Time.  Each of the girls received a few letters to play the game Alphabet Soup.  Here's the Song...

Now it was time to make our very own Alphabet Soup.  Each child had the opportunity to cut their own pot with black paper.  Then it was time to add the soup.  They took alphabet pasta and glued it onto the paper.  I love that they all look different.  As we were working on it the girls came up with other ideas for the Alphabet Soup Song.  Their ideas were a Rhyming Soup Song and a Sight Word Soup Song, which we will most certainly be making this week. 
The whole house was filled the the aroma of our soup cooking while we were making our project.  It was such a perfect way to relate to the book.  They could not wait to taste their very own soup.  It was so cute all of the bowls were empty within minutes.  Then they each brought home a container to share with their families too.  They were so proud of their own accomplishment.
I encourage you to check out your local libraries under children's books and the topic soup!  There were so many to choose from for this lesson.  I am so excited to extend our collection of Soup books and foresee many more cooking lessons with making soup. 


Bilingual Babies - Acting Out a Story, "Repka"

Acting out a story for language learning and story sequencing

Have you heard of the famous Russian Fairytale - Repka?  You can find an English and Russian version here.  If you are not familiar with the text, it is a cute story of a Grandpa who cannot pull a GIGANTIC turnip out of the garden and calls for help.  Grandma comes, but the two together cannot pull it out together and they call for the Granddaughter to help.  The Grandpa, the Grandma, the Granddaughter, the Dog, the Cat, and the Mouse all end up working together to pull out the turnip.  It is a delightful little story about teamwork, that also follows a repetitive pattern that is wonderful for beginning readers and learning a second language. (It also happens to be about gardening - which we love) When I explained the "Play Challenge" for today, my 5 year old knew just what book she would use and ran to the bookshelf to pick this one up!
 No re-enactment is complete without a costume!  She ran to put a traditional dress on and together we made our GIGANTIC turnip out of construction paper, staples and newspaper stuffing.  And of course what a better place for this activity than to get outside - the WORLD is our classroom. Do not limit your language learning to inside your house - take it outside! Make everyday a playing and learning day outside.  If you can't tell, my kids are LEARNING the act of storytelling, vocabulary in a second language, are enjoying being outside, we are talking about vegetables and PLAYING together! Time is not wasted - little learners are hard at work!
 "тянут-потянут, вытянуть не могут!"
They pulled and they pulled, but it didn't come out!
A call for help and "Supermom" comes!
 "тянут-потянут, вытянуть не могут!"
They pulled and they pulled, but it didn't come out!
Then, thanks to the help of our little mouse, the turnip was set free!
тянут-потянут, - вытянули репку!
The pulled and they pulled - the turnip was out!

I am so glad that my daughter thought of this book when I mentioned the play challenge for today.  My kids LOVED this retelling activity and even my 2 year old son started chiming in the chorus in Russian.  I also felt like they were learning an important piece of history in addition to the language, play, and storytelling.  I truly feel that learning a language is deeper than just knowing how to pronounce a word or form sentences.  Have you taken the time to share your families cultures traditional stories with your children?  If not, please don't forget to do so.
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