Christmas has come and New Years Day is here!!! We went from running (literally) from bus stops, work, activities, playdates, doctor/dentist appointments, basketball games, church and so much more to well.... crickets.... While I would like to say that I just relish in the love and joy of the special, special, precious moments with my children, I'll be honest. The combination of an overly programmed life coming to a halt, too many Christmas cookie sugar rushes, the let down from the holiday build-up and just pure boredom, can lead to a very frustrated home for both moms, dads and kids! Getting my kids in the kitchen with me on a cold day is one way that I can get some stimulation, creativity and sometimes cooperation out of them!
I tend to always have this idealic picture in my head of how my dynamically, inventive and educationaly amazing activites will play out with my kids and then there is reality. It is sort of like those Pinterst Boards that show how the project was supposed to be, and then the 'nailed it' boards where they depict how it really turned out. That about sums up my life and kitchen time with my kids. With that being said, I have truly found some 'GOODS' of getting my kids cooking with me.
First, it just gives them something constructive to do that does not involve a screen (that alone is a win in my book)!
Second, it really does help develop those important reading skills from preK and on up. Find a good recipe and work with your child to read you the steps. This may look like pointing to the few words that the child knows at a very early age or could be much more advanced by having your child read all of the steps.
Third, cooking offers great opportunity for those fine motor skills. Depending upon age, activities such as cracking eggs, cutting, rolling, mixing, chopping, sorting, peeling, etc. all help develop that small muscle dexterity that helps with writing schools and much more.
Fourth, cooking provides priceless practice with multi step directions! This is a skill that is also critical for the youngest to the oldest and complexity will vary based on such. If my Kindergartner can remember 3 to 4 steps in a recipe, that is a great skill and sometimes more than I am able to accomplish.
Finally, I find that I can have some really nice dialouge with my 3rd grader. Over the past year or so, my parenting piece of the equation has pulled in some real elements of social, character and moral development. While we are not having heavy, philosphical dialouges while chopping onioins, I do learn what happened on the bus, hints of how the dynamics of his friendships are going or even how he felt about his math test. I find this time to be truly, truly invaluable and perhaps the #1 reason why I decided to put Corporate America on the shelf. My fancy work clothes, sense of tangible accomplishment, and general feeling of being 'on top' of something collects a little dust so that I can make sure that I can be the one to connect with my kids.
As I said... there is what I invision and then there is well... what happens. I'll be honest, my first trip in the kitchen rodeo was well underwhelming at best. I started with my 1st born when he was about 2 years old and was expecting a magnifcent swirl of flour, love, fun and laughter that was following by a happy meal with the family together. uh-huh... Yet, that doesn't mean to abandon the mission. I have a few things that I try to tell myself so that I do not set myself up for utter dissapoinment.
First, I pick my moment in the kitchen with them. I am not hauling my two kids to my side to help me prep breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even if the meal involves some sort of activity that they could help with, I sometimes need a few minutes of the day to mindlessly and quietly prep. I used to feel like a 'bad mom' because I was not capitalizing on that precious opporunity, but I try to cut myself a break. Sometimes (on the days in between pizza, taco tuesday, chinese take-out, and a combination of 'creative' leftovers, I like to just have a glass a wine and cook a meal in silence. That's okay!!! So, I pick my moment with them. Sometimes it may be a couple times a week and sometimes it does not happen at all! The sooner I cut myself a break, the much happier cooking time became.
Second, start out small! I think this is a pretty big one for me as managing expectations continue to be a struggle for me in all areas of life. Up until the age of 5, I learned that a 'side cooking project' was the way to go. If we were baking cookies that were actually supposed to look presentable and be consumed by humans, I would give my daughter or son their own piece of dough to create with. I also found these adorable mats from IKEA (love that place) and told them that they could do ANYTHING as long as it stayed on that mat. It helped them to get dirty and messy, but not in a ridicouls way that just made my clean up beyond unenjoable. As they got a little older, I could involve them in more of the 'real' task activities. This little trick helped save a lot of tears for young and old and mostly old.
Third, practice, practice, practice with a touch of patience. Like anything else, the skill of bringing your kids into the kitchen with you will take a moment. You will both have to develop some boundaries (by that I mean a level of sanity that you can deal with). Through practice, I learned that my daughter can crack eggs better than me and my son... well he can sometimes just set the table for me.
Overall, cooking has to be done. Some love it and some hate it. On some days I think I am a master chef and on other days I wonder why God came up with a plan where people really needs to be fed 3 times a day, EVERY day. Regardless, I try to get a moment (just one) from time to time with my kids in the kitchen and consider that a win!
Today is the day for all things Christmas Tree!!!! If it involves a Christmas Tree, we will be doing it!!! We have a busy and fun day today (as always!!!)
Fruit Loop Trees: We will be starting out by making our Christmas Tree Towers out of Fruit Loops (actually Wegman's Frosted O's). The kiddos can sort out only Green colors for their tree (I have a hunch which kiddos will take this route) or make a pattern full of colors (also... have an idea who will get a little more abstract in their creation.... this includes me). Kiddie Choice!!! I love this activity and often have my nuggets do this at home when I need a few moment of quiet acitivty time in the kitchen. All you need are some circular cereal, playdough & a stick. This will keep them busy for awhile! It's a beautiful acitivty for Fine Motor Skill Development, working on the Pincher Grasp, Color Recognition, Counting, Patterns and more!!!
Pine Cone Christmas Tree Painting/Decorating: We will be painting and decorating our Pine Cone Christmast Trees. This will be messy and include lots of paint, glitter, tinsel, decorations and fun!!!!
Christmas Tree Cookie Decorating: So why not stay with the theme and decorate our own Christmas Tree Cookies for Snack? We will be decorating with all sorts of shapes and festive items from, round M&Ms, square crackers, circle cereal and more!!! We will be sure to discuss our shapes and colors during our bites of yummy goodness!!!
We also have Library, Show n' Tell and little Christmas Pageant Prep!
It's gonna be a great day in our room!!!!
Last week sadly was filled with a bit of sickness with myself and some of our kiddos. I hope everyone is back on track this week. This is such a special time of year! No time to not be feeling well!!!
We will be chatting a bit more about the Nativity Scene Characters this week. I have a few more fun books to share.
I can not wait to start creating these adorable simple, classic and fun Nativity Scenes with the kiddos. I think they will love creating these!!! I think we might just need to add a few more sprinkles and glitter to ours, as well!!!!
So far, we have covered the upsdie down 'J' for Candy Cane and Jesus, Angels, the Nativity Scene, following the bright star to find Jesus and the special 'GIFT' of the birth of baby Jesus!
We are going to move into talking about our favorite traditions for Christmas. Some of mine include baking cookies, decorating the christmas tree, advent calendars, and reading 'The Polar Express' by Chris Vn Allsburg. I am going to try to get some of all of those traditions into our classroom. We will start out by reading 'The Polar Express' and creating our own train of traditions!!!
As a newish teacher, I will venture to say that I have the loving the kids to pieces part down, as well as creative play, crafting, books, painting, etc. Those parts come easy for me as that is who I am. What is a bit of stretch is the Science Department, but I want to pull that into our classroom, as well. I am super excited about this Candy Cane Experiment. We are safely going to do a little bit of heating up of our Candy Canes to see what unfolds!!!
We also still have some more work to do on our Nativity Scenes and learning all those important characters at the birth of Jesus. We will continue with our books and puppet creations!!!
In addition, we will be getting ready for our Christmas Pageant with a lot of great Chirstmas Singing in Music Class today. Best Time of the Year!!!!
We have a lovely tradition of our students creating an Ornament for the Christmas Tree in the Church Lobby each year. Each class creates their own ornament project and is so fun to see all the amazing creations by our little ones! I love 'The Legend of the Candy Cane,' because it puts so much 'true meaning' of Christmas into this every popular Holiday candy. I teach my own kiddos that everytime they see a Candy Cane, they should remember the true meaning behind it. I hope they carry this with them through life. So, I thought we would create this Thumbprint Candy Cane for our class contribution to the tree. It combines the meaning of Christmas, an upside down J, pattern creation and some plain old messy fun!!!! I can not wait to see how these turn out!!!
I love, love, love 'The Donkey's Christmas Song' by Nancy Tafuri. It is such a beautiful story of the birth of Jesus, which happens to be told from the Donkey's perspective. An adorable blend of Christmas meaning and cute animals!!! The kids will be sure to love this read!!! Once we are finished with learning our 'cast of characters' at the Navity Scene, we will be working on our own Popsicle Puppet Navtivity Scene!!!!!
As a mom, I love to know what my children are discovering during their days and I am sure you do too! Stop by here anytime to see what fun & learning we are up to!