Make-A-Meal Monday: Holiday Treats for Easter and Passover

The Last Supper

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Right now, we are in the middle of two important week-long religious celebrations…for Christians, there is  Easter which is next Sunday, but the entire week has significance as yesterday was Palm Sunday and Thursday is Maundy Thursday and Friday is Good Friday.  For those of the Jewish faith, there is Passover, which starts tonight with the first Seder and continues for an entire week.  For more detailed information about either of these holidays, you can go to http://www.infoplease.com/spot/easter.html.

I thought it would be fun to see if I could find a recipe from my book for parents of preschoolers that would be appropriate for each of these important celebrations.  When you invite your child to help with food preparation, you help build their self-esteem.  It is also a wonderful way to teach young children about holidays and traditions that are important for your family.

CHILD-FRIENDLY NOODLE APPLE CASSEROLE

Here is a really simple recipe that is similar to Noodle Kugel, a delicious treat enjoyed by many during Passover week.

You will need: 4 cups cooked wide noodles, 2 eggs, ¼ cup honey, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 cup grated apple, ½ cup  raisins, 1 Tb margarine or butter, a large bowl and a 2-quart greased casserole dish.

1.     In a large bowl, combine eggs, honey and cinnamon and beat well.

2.     Stir in apples, raisins, noodles and butter.

3.     Pour into a greased casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

4.     Be careful when you pull away the aluminum foil…there may be a lot of steam!

5.     Makes 4 lunch-size servings or many more side dish, snack or dessert servings.

 

CHILD-FRIENDLY HOT CROSS BUNS

This simple recipe forgoes yeast and uses muffin tins…so easy and delicious; you’ll want to enjoy it all during the year, not just at Easter.

You will need: For the buns: ½ cup orange juice, ¾ cup seedless golden raisins, 2 cups flour, 1 Tb baking powder, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup milk, 1/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, zest of 1 orange, 3 mixing bowls and a 12-cup greased muffin tin.  For the icing: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 Tb orange juice.

1.     Combine orange juice and raisins in a micro-wave safe bowl and micro-wave on high for 1 minute.

2.     In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

3.     In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and orange zest.

4.     Add the milk mixture and the raisin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

5.     Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean and dry.

6.     Remove the muffin tin from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before placing the muffins on a rack to cool completely.

7.     When the muffins are completely cool, prepare the icing (in a small bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar and 1 Tb orange juice until smooth) and drizzle on top of each muffin to form a cross.

Please stop by tomorrow…and don’t forget that THE HOPPY EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP starts here on Wednesday…and at over 200 other blogs.  You will be able to enter to win a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking and then hop over to the other blogs to enter their giveaways.

Cinema Sunday: PULL THE PLUG FOR CCFC’s SCREEN-FREE WEEK

Family watching television, c. 1958

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Usually on Sundays, I review a movie that I feel others might find enjoyable.  But today, I’m devoting my post to informing you about Screen-Free Week.

From April 18 – April 24, thousands (or maybe hundreds of thousands) of families across the country will be pulling the plug of their TV sets and computers in honor of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s SCREEN-FREE WEEK.  Families can participate by turning off their TV’s and computers for entertainment and turning on to other activities.

What a fantastic idea!

Please don’t get me wrong…there definitely are some great programs on TV for adults and children…many of those can be found on your local PBS stations.

But no child should spend too much time in front of the television or computer screen, no matter how educational or valuable the show is.

How can your family benefit by taking part in this week-long event?

  • More family time together.  “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”  Sit down together and plan a family trip.  As a family, go through those photos that have been piling up and put together a family album.  Play board games or charades.
  • More time to go outside.  With the obesity rate climbing in this country, both adults and children will benefit from outdoor exercise such as walking, hiking or other outdoor activities.

 

  • More time for reading, crafting and cooking with your children.  If you need some ideas, please check out my book for parents of preschoolers which is an excellent resource.  It highlights 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides an eco-friendly craft project and a child-friendly healthful recipe for each recommended story.  And, if you have older children, how about having them participate by reading the story to their younger brothers and sisters and then assist with the craft and cooking activities.

For more information on this event and other family activities, you can go to the website of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/screenfreeweek/

They have lots of other ideas of what you can do when you turn off your screens.

Earth Day 2011: Preserve, Protect, Promote…How Parents and Their Preschoolers Can Participate

Devils Punchbowl Waterfall at Arthurs Pass in ...

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Have you noticed how much your preschooler wants to be like you?

Look over at your child while you are engaged in some activity like reading, talking on the phone or even cleaning the house.

More often than not, you will see your preschooler mimicking you…the book may be upside down and the imaginary phone conversation may be on a toy…but emulating parents is what young children love to do.

With Earth Day 2011 quickly approaching (Friday, April 22), here are seven simple steps that parents can take to preserve the planet for future generations, protect our natural resources and promote environmental awareness with their preschoolers.

1.     Buy gently used clothing and toys at consignment shops or places like Goodwill and donate your child’s gently used items as well.  This cycle of recycling really helps.

2.     Use homemade natural solutions to clean your home.  They are better for your family and better for the planet.  Here are a couple of links where you can find great “recipes” and other tips: http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/environment/a/alternateclean.htm, http://www.ehow.com/about_4777601_natural-homemade-cleaning-products.html, http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/pantry-recipes-homemade-cleaning-products.  Happy cleaning!!!  

3.     Walk; don’t drive, to local destinations, if possible, like the store or the library.

4.     Spend the day at a local park…bring a picnic lunch, gloves and a big garbage bag.  Walk around and have your child help you pick up any garbage you find. 

5.     Bring your own bags when you shop…you might want to get smaller reusable bags for your young children so that they can help carry groceries in a more responsible way.

6.     Buy local.  I realize it is not always possible or feasible to buy organic, locally-grown or produced food.  However, this not only benefits your family, but also the planet.  The carbon footprint left by foods that are flown or trucked across the country is huge…and buying locally helps the growers and manufacturers who must compete with the large corporations.  The nutritional benefits to your family include not having to worry about artificial colors, preservatives and genetically modified foods.  If you are looking for healthful recipes, my book for parents of preschoolers, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, includes 100 easy child-friendly cooking activities, as well as 100 simple eco-friendly craft projects.

7.     Buy in bulk with as little packaging as possible.   Many stores now have a special section where they offer a wide selection of foods that can be purchased by the pound or less.  The price is usually significantly cheaper than buying the product in a box with a name brand listed on the front.

Seven simple steps…if you only do a few, you will be making an important contribution to the preservation of our planet for future generations. 

Seven simple steps…if you allow your children to participate with you, you will be encouraging them to protect our natural resources.

Seven simple steps…if we all follow them, we promote environmental awareness and the well-being of the world.

You can “like” b-kind-2-earth-day and go here for more information about what lots of other people are doing: http://www.facebook.com/BKind2EarthDay/posts/139097546162617#!/BKind2EarthDay

It’s Thursday…Missed Wednesday…Let’s Pretend That It’s Tuesday!`

Russian Family

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This week is a little mixed up for me.

Does that ever happen to you?

I hosted the Read with Max Book Blog tour on Tuesday and that was kind of a book review which usually appears on my Wednesday post.  To find out more information about Leader Dogs for the Blind or to follow Max on the rest of his book blog tour:  http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html

So I decided to use today’s post, which is usually Healthy Habit Thursday, to fill you in on several important events that are coming up in the next several weeks.  And, since I didn’t have a chance to do Quotable Timeless Tuesday, I will add a few quotes to this post that are especially meaningful to me.

It makes sense to me…I hope it doesn’t confuse you too much. 🙂

First of all, this week (April 10 – April 16) is THE WEEK OF THE YOUNG CHILD.  This is the NAEYC’s 40th anniversary of this celebration that focuses on young children and their families. https://www.naeyc.org/

In honor of The Week of the Young Child, I’ve got a very special sale going on right now to help enable young families to purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  You can check it out by going to my website…if you pay by check or money order, you can purchase the book for $14.95 (plus postage…U.S. only)…only one copy per address, no dealers, please.  This is an amazing 66% off the cover price of $44.95.  The book is a great resource for parents with young children and I am trying to make it available to as many parents as possible.

“IF YOU WANT TO BE IN YOUR CHILD’S MEMORIES TOMORROW, YOU NEED TO BE IN THEIR LIVES TODAY.”

The second item I’d like to share with you is that my book has been endorsed by the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in their 2011 Winter Outreach Newsletter that is emailed to all of their chapters across the country.  The Las Vegas, Nevada Chapter has already ordered 15 copies to keep at their headquarters for the use by families who have children with juvenile diabetes.  Self-esteem can be fragile and children with disabilities and special needs or conditions often struggle with keeping a positive self-image.  The JDRF believes that my book will help.

“WE ALL NEED A CHEERING COMMITTEE AND PARENTS ARE A CHILD’S MOST IMPORTANT FANS!”

The third thing I wanted to tell you is that I will be interviewed on Tuesday, May 24th at 10am by Lisa Hein, host of Everyday Parenting on http://www.encountersouthbeach.com/REN_RadioEarNetwork.htm

I’m really excited about the opportunity to share how I feel about young children, positive parenting and using fun-filled activities to build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond.  I was happy to discover that Lisa is originally from Colorado and will be here in June…we already have plans to connect over lunch.

And now for the final item of information: I will be taking part in the EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP from April 20 – April 25.  It will be the first time I will be giving away a copy of my book on my own blog, although it has been part of many reviews and several giveaways on other blog sites.  The other really cool thing is that there are over 200 bloggers taking part…you will be able to hop from one to another…read their posts and enter their giveaways. So keep your eye on my posts for more information. http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/p/giveaway-hop-page.html

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian? 

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Veggie-Loaded English Muffin Pizza

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

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Some things just go together.

Peanut butter and jelly.

Children and buckets of sand to make sand castles.

A good movie and a bowl of popcorn.

A good book and a comfy corner.

When it comes to finding things that children like to eat, you can’t go wrong with PIZZA.

I remember when my children were young, English Muffin Pizza was a hand’s down favorite and it was so simple to make, they were able to help me with the preparation.

Here is a really HEALTHY version of this family favorite.

CHILD-FRIENDLY VEGGIE-LOADED ENGLISH MUFFIN PIZZA

You will need for each serving: 1 English Muffin, 2 Tb fresh diced tomato, 2 Tb fresh diced green pepper, 1 Tb fresh diced onion, 1 Tb small broccoli florets, 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tb shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cookie sheet.

1.     Split the muffin and top each half with the veggies and cheeses.

2.     Place the muffins on the cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until the cheese is melted and the veggies are soft, but not mushy.

3.     Let the muffins cool before serving to young children…be CAREFUL because the veggies under the cheese can be VERY HOT!!!

4.     You can add or substitute other veggies or fruits such as sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, small cauliflower florets, diced pineapple…use your imagination!!!

This is only one of 100 child-friendly healthful recipes you will find in my book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  Saturday was the last day of the half-price sale and giveaway of the collection of craft supplies.  The winner is Baxter at http://thebaxterbunny.com/  CONGRATULATIONS!!!

If you visit my website, you can check out this valuable resource that just WON the KIDLUTIONS PREFERRED PRODUCT AWARD.  Hurray!!!!!

I’m also thrilled that I’ll be interviewed on May 24th at 10am by Lisa Hein, Radio Talk Show Host of Everyday Parenting.  Hurray!!!!!

And, last, but certainly not least, tomorrow I will be hosting Max the Dog and Anthony, his partner who are on a 36-day book blog tour.  You can check them out at http://www.readwithmax.blogspot.com  Please stop by here tomorrow and find out all about Leader Dogs for the Blind and an awesome new children’s book!

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

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They say you can’t go back.

What do you think?

I remember walking into P.S. 199 as a student teacher.  I had attended this elementary school as a ten-year old sixth grader…now I was 20 years old and a senior in college, pursuing my early childhood education degree.  How small the double wooden entrance doors looked now!  How tiny the seats in the classroom seemed!

It didn’t seem to be the same school that I had stored away in my memory banks.

Since January, I’ve been presenting the SHOW-ME-HOW Story-time Reading and Crafting Program to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s.  It is really great to be back in the classroom, interacting with students and teachers and parents.

But today’s kindergartens don’t seem to be the same as those stored away in my memory banks.

Why do I say that?

  • When I was teaching kindergarten (back in the 60’s and 70’s), the children learned through play and there was very little “formal” instruction.  In today’s kindergartens, I see a lot of “formal” teaching of reading and writing…not just the ABC’s.
  • When I was teaching, kindergarten was a preparation for first grade.  In today’s kindergartens, there seems to be an expectation that the children will be reading and writing by the time they enter first grade.
  • When I was teaching kindergarten, we understood that children mature in their own unique ways…while it is true that some 4½ year olds are quite capable of learning to read and write (I had several who came to kindergarten already reading and writing and speaking several languages), it is also true that many children have not yet developed the fine motor skills necessary for holding the pencil and mapping out the letters.  With reading, we have the same situation…some children have the eye-brain coordination, but some need just a little more time to physically mature.
  • In my opinion, the only advantage to “pushing” these little ones to read and write is that, if there are problems such as visual impairment or learning disorders, they may be discovered at this earlier age and intervention can be arranged.  However, the down side is that we are already labeling these young children…and often these labels stick, even if it was just a maturity issue that was the cause.
  • Almost every kindergarten teacher I have visited with has mentioned the lack of time to READ picture books to the children.  Arts and crafts are also an area that is pushed to the back burner.  Now, all of you know how passionate I am about reading to young children…and how much I believe in the importance of encouraging children to express themselves in arts and crafts activities.  I realize that the curriculum and standards are mandated by the state…teachers don’t really have control over those things and are held accountable for the levels of learning their students achieve.
  • The almost frantic pace I observed in some of the kindergartens was even stressful for me…imagine how it must be for five-year olds!  They change activities (and rooms) as if someone is surfing channels on the TV with a remote control.  Perhaps they are used to it…having been exposed to the constant mini-bytes that are prevalent even on the educational TV channels.  Again, I undertand that most of kindergarten teachers would probably prefer to go back to a “kinder, gentler” type of classroom.  Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in routines and schedules for young children…I think they thrive when they know what the plan is…I just wish it was a less hectic plan.  I know it used to be in the kindergartens stored in my memory banks.

What do you think?  Do you have a child in kindergarten?  Are you a kindergarten teacher?  Do you agree that the kindergarten of today is the new first grade?  And, do you think this is a postive or negative change?

THREE IMPORTANT REMINDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TODAY, APRIL 9th, is the LAST day you can purchase SHOW ME HOW! at 50% off the cover price on my website: http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com.  Parents, grandparents, teachers and daycare providers of preschoolers…please don’t delay…this unique resource is a shortcut to providing educational fun-filled self-esteem building acitivities for your children.  MOTHER’S DAY is just around the corner…what a wonderful gift this would make, even for an expectant mom!  And this is also the last day to enter to win the collection of craft supplies for your preschooler…purchase a book or fill out the contact form on my website or leave a comment on my blog about why you would like to win the prize. 

TOMORROW: Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm, talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details, please go to www.coveredtreasures.com or call 719-481-2665.  The Book Fair (from 12:30-4pm) is for the benefit of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!

Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?

Illustration from A Picture Book for Little Ch...

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One of the stories I read to the kindergarten children is ANGUS LOST by Marjorie Flack.

Well, I could have written a story yesterday called MISS VIVIAN IS LOST!!!!

I usually print out the school’s directions from MapQuest and then several days before my scheduled visit, I take a ride over to make sure I know how to get there.  So far, I have been to 5 different elementary schools in District 11.  For some reason, my printer refused to print out the directions, so I wrote them down by hand.  And, because life just got in the way, I wasn’t able to take the dry run to Bates Elementary.

BIG MISTAKE!!!!

Misreading my directions, I took a right on Austin Bluffs instead of a left.  After going several miles, looking for the next street to turn on, I realized that something was wrong.  I called the school and was given the bad news…I had gone in completely the opposite direction.  I turned around and headed back and was able to find the general vicinity of the school…but this particular building is set back in a maze of winding streets, some of which are one way.  After calling the school office again and receiving additional instructions, I finally made it there…half an hour late. 😦

I felt really badly as I hate to be late for things…especially when others are waiting on me.  However, we were able to arrange it so that I could read the story…KATY AND THE BIG SNOW by Virginia Lee Burton.  I then took a break in the teachers’ lounge for 45 minutes while the children went to their next scheduled activity.  And, as my daughter says, “Everything happens for a reason.”  In the lounge, I met the school librarian and we began to talk about the SHOW ME HOW Story-time Program.  She wondered whether an evening presentation might be of value to the parents of the Pre-K students and told me she would speak to the Pre-K teachers about it.

At 10:20am, I made my way back to the kindergarten classroom and was able to help the children do the craft project…a snow-covered road way picture.  Again I was impressed with the creativity of the children…each made the picture from their own perspective.

 

Leaving the children finishing up their pictures, I headed over to the other kindergarten class to again read the story and work with them on the craft project.  I know both classes had a wonderful time…as I put on my coat to leave, one little girl came up and hugged me…and another said, “I love your hair, and your eyes, and your glasses.  🙂

This program is so very valuable, especially because these days, kindergarteners are the “new 1st graders”…they have set curriculums and are expected to reach various goals in reading and writing…so there is less time for listening to picture book stories and doing arts and crafts.

To me this is quite sad…so much learning takes place when young children listen to and discuss a picture book story….so many skills are acquired when they participate in arts and crafts activities.  I hope parents and teachers will head over to my website to check out my book that makes reading, crafting and cooking with young children a snap!

And please don’t forget…TWO VERY IMPORTANT UP-COMING EVENTS!!!

  • Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm…talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details go to www.coveredtreasures.com.  The Book Fair benefits the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!
  • Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html