Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Window Display

Water color paper, water color paints, some paper and scissors and you get this great Easter window display!

I let each of the kiddos cut out some egg shapes from water color paper, found here. Then handed them Crayola water colors ( there is no other brand in my opinion. These are vibrant and beautiful. Don't be cheap, use Crayola!) and some water. While group 1 was painting, the others where turning green paper in grass to hide the eggs in. Simple and colorful and festive!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 5 of the 12 Week Challenge! And Low Carb Quesadillas!

How did you do this week? 
Did you get your fruits and veggies?
Well, if you did, then you are getting a headstart on this week's challenge!

The daily recommended value of fiber intake for the average adult is 25-30 grams per day. 
Most adults do not get enough fiber. 
Go ahead, count it up... I will wait... How much fiber to you have in your diet?
Probably not enough. 

So your challenge this week is to increase your fiber intake. 
I caution you to increase it slowly.
If you increase it too quickly, it may cause bloating, flatulence and feeling uncomfortable. 
So figure up how much fiber you are getting. 
If you are getting 0-10 grams a day then increase it to 15 grams. 
If you are getting 10-15 grams, increase it to 20-25 grams. 
If you are getting 15-20 grams, then finish strong and increase it to 25-30 grams. 
Each week amp it up a level!

Now, where can you get your fiber? Well those veggies that you ate last week most likely had some fiber in them... some of the fruits too. Check out a list of the most fiber rich veggies and fruits by clicking here

Red Raspberries- 8 grams of fiber for 1 cup! Awesome! 
Split peas- nearly 17 grams for 1 cup! 
Bananas, brocoli, apples (with skin) are all good choices too with 3-4 grams per serving. 
Check out the list! 

Why is fiber good for you?
-Aids in bowel health and regulation, relieves constipation.
-Lowers blood sugar levels
-Lowers cholesterol
-Aids in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight because it keeps you feeling fuller longer. 

Here are some great products to help you get your fiber and 2 recipes! :) 
I love these with some Almond milk! So good! 

These are so good! I like the peanut butter chocolate kind. 90 little calories and 20 % of your DRV of fiber! 
These make really good pancakes. I just add a little vanilla and cinnamon in the batter. 

I also love Kashi products. 
Also yummy with Almond milk. 

These are my all time favorite! I can eat a wrap for lunch, breakfast or even baked with fruit salsa. 
These wraps have 11 grams of fiber and taste just like a regular flour tortilla. 
Use them to make my Breakfast Freezer Burritos for a quick breakfast or make some yummy quesadillas! 
Here is a super easy, super yummy, super quick recipe for quesadillas!

 8 low carb wraps
1 pound of ground beef
3/4 cups salsa or picante sauce
1/4-1/2 cup of shredded cheese
Sour cream- optional 

Brown meat in skillet, drain. 
Place a tortilla in the skillet and sprinkle some cheese on top.
Mix meat with salsa
Spread thinly over the tortilla. 
Sprinkle some cheese on top. When cheese is melted and bottom of tortilla is lightly brown, put another tortilla on top and flip.
Cut with pizza cutter.
Eat with extra salsa and some sour cream if desired. 

These are way easy and way yummy. The hardest part is the flipping. Just remember that the cheese needs to melt (it is the glue) and you can use 2 flippers or a plate for easier flipping. 

Make sure you get your water. That is very important while you are increasing your fiber. 
Keep it up with your veggies, fruits and vitamins! Keep working out! You can do it! :) :) :) 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week 4 of the 12 Week Challenge

Okay guys. Now that we have added physical activity, water, vitamins and breakfast to our daily routines it is time to add to our menus! Fruit and Veggies!

You may have heard that the beloved food pyramid that none of paid attention to anyway has sort of been ousted. I am not much for the government butting in ANYWHERE, especially with what we eat, but I linked to their new brochure of what they recommend as far as fruit and veggie servings per day. I think they over complicate it.

Here is what I am challenging you to:
A serving of Fruit and a serving of Veggies with Lunch
A serving of Veggies with Supper 
Replace one snack a day a serving of fruit or veggies. 
( A good rule of thumb is 2-3 cups of veggies a day and 1.5-2 cups of fruit.)

In my opinion, you cannot have too many veggies. Fruit, you still want to go somewhat easy on because it can be high in sugar. Watermelon and grapes are very high in sugar. A better choice would be an apple which also has some fiber in it. I think it is super easy to grab a banana with breakfast or for breakfast. Bananas are full of potassium and also has some fiber. Berries are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are so important. They protect your cells from the effects of free radicals that are produced when breaking down food and from environmental exposure to smoke and radiation. So in a nutshell, they help fight against cancer. Get your berries. Raspberries are some of the most nutritionally dense food on the planet. Add berries to your oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or just rinse them and eat them fresh!

As far as veggies go.... Make yourself try new things. Try the stuff that you hated as a kid. You might like it now. Try veggies new ways. But most importantly, eat as many veggies as you can raw. Raw is always best. Vegetables start to loose their nutritional value from the time they are picked to the time you eat them. Ideally, if you can grow your own, that is the best, best, best form. Do it organically too! Less pesticides, more nutrition and vitamins.  If you can buy locally, do it. Not only are you supporting your local farmers, but your food will have a higher nutritional value.
I know organic is expensive, but it is worth it. If you can buy some or all organic. Do it. Especially the "Dirty Dozen". The "Dirty Dozen" are fruits and veggies that have a high pesticide residue.

The Dirty Dozen
1. Apples (Over 40 pesticides used!)
2. Celery ( More than 60 different pesticides used)
3. Strawberries (60 pesticides)
4. Peaches (60 pesticides)
5. Spinach (50 pesticides)
6. Nectarines (50 pesticides)
7. Grapes (imported- 50 pesticides)
8. Sweet Bell Peppers (50 pesticides)
9. Potatoes (35 pesticides)
10. Blueberries (50 pesticides)
11. Lettuce (50 pesticides)
12. Kale and Collard Greens (45 pesticides)

The Clean 15 ( No need to buy organic)

1. Onions 

2. Sweet Corn 
3. Pineapple 
4. Avocado 
5. Asparagus 
6. Sweet peas 
7. Mango 
8. Eggplant 
9. Cantaloupe (domestic) 
10. Kiwi 
11. Cabbage 
12. Watermelon 
13. Sweet Potatoes 
14. Grapefruit 
15. Mushrooms

Read more:

Also, get as many veggies as you can. Eat them raw. Heck if you eat them with ranch dip, at least you are getting you veggies in. If you want to get try them some different ways, try my Roasted Veggies or Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  Corn is technically a grain, plus it is high in sugar. So I recommend NOT counting corn in your servings of fruit and veggies! Be creative and have fun with this! I would love to hear about your favorite way to get your fruits and veggies!

If you are already getting all your veggies and fruit in for the day, then AMP it up! Replace your lunch with a salad 3 times this week. Challenge yourself to eating 75% of your veggies raw. Buy organic. Look into planting a garden. The time to start is quickly approaching! Try new veggies, like spaghetti squash. Good luck and good health! :) :) :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Preschool: Children of the World

February's theme for preschool is Children of the World. When I started teaching 4 years ago, this was my least favorite theme. I  found it hard to find books that translated well to 3 and 4 year olds. I was not exactly sure what they were supposed to get out of it. I did not have enough materials to make the unit fun and educational. So instead, I skimped on it, filling in the months with sub-themes. I was not comfortable doing this though, so by my 3rd year, I went on a hunt to find materials that I needed to really teach my kiddos about the world. Not just all the different children, but cultures, food, weather, distance, map concepts, travel concepts, landmarks, facts and history.  I found a great resource that kick started me. It is called Children Around the World The Ultimate Class Field Trip.

I knew that I wanted to make passports for each child, and I wanted to board an imaginary plane each day to "fly" to a new country. But, I could not decide what countries and could not dig through so many facts about each country to determine what was true and what was important. This book really gave me a good point of reference, a great starting place and wonderful reproducibles. It outlines several different countries and has info and games for each. As well as a reproducible of the country's flag to color and children dressed in traditional dress. It also had the template for the passports, a camera and luggage. Now, I will show you how I used those things to take my class on a trip around the world!

I was very lucky this year. In my large class, I have 3 parents who are from different countries (Scotland,  Africa and Ukraine.) I also have one child who was adopted from China. Each of those parents came in as a guest speaker and shared information and things from their home country. The kids really enjoyed this and were very enthusiastic. So that dictated some of the countries we traveled to this year.

We went to:
The Polar Regions

I first hung up this huge map for the kids to look at each day. I also sent home a short questionnaire about family heritage. It simply asked where each student's parents came to America from. Then we put each kiddo's picture on their paper and mapped out where they were from using yarn.

 My board was only half finished when I took the picture! Sorry!
There was also a spot for additional information. There were some neat comments on who their ancestors were and how they got to America. It was enjoyable to read and talk about with the kiddos. 

The students really liked the map as well. We pointed out very often what country we live in and what it is called. Then each day we boarded our imaginary planes and took flight to a new country. 

I picked a new pilot each day to fly the plane and all the kids made motor sounds as we looked out our window for landmarks, like a "really huge tower" when we were flying to France. 
After we landed, we read a book for each country and talked about culture and life there. Sometimes we had a craft that went along with the country. (See pictures below) But if not, we always stamped our passports and had a flag of the country to color or decorate.

Here are the activities and book we read for each country:
Polar Regions:

Cut iceberg out of white paper and glue polar bear onto it. 

 We did a Venn-diagram about the differences between The Arctic and Antarctic
I also froze icebergs and used these little arctic animals to let the kids pretend they were in the Arctic. 
That was a huge hit! 

Flag coloring page

We had a parent come in a share about Scotland and the kiddos colored the flag.

Great little book, simple read.
We also spent a great deal of time talking about the Eiffel Tower and facts about it.
We also talked about The Louve, french food and the french flag. The kiddos glued blue and red strips of paper onto a white sheet to replicate the flag. 


The kiddos loved this book... and now they know a new word: Gondola. 

We talked a lot of about the food in Italy. YUMMY!
And of course the Pisa tower, which the kiddos kept calling the Leaning Tower of Pizza. :)
Then we drew pictures of what we saw in Italy. 

We had a student from China in one class. Her mom shared about China and her trip there to get her daughter. Then she had the kids paint Chinese characters. She had them pre-drawn with pencil. Great idea!
Of course we did the flag as well. I also read a book called Orange Peel's Pocket
Great little book!

We put all of our things in our luggage:
A manila folder that looks like this

I paper clipped our passports to the inside:

In case you are wondering, I got my passport stamps from eBay. 

We ended our month in the best way, a World Showcase Day. 
 I had parents who chose to participate choose a country that I had compiled recipes from. Parents and families were invited to join us for a potluck taste test around the world. 
Parents could research and make their recipe from a desired country, or use ones that I provided. It was a lot of fun and very yummy! It added a layer to the entire month: Tasting the different countries. 
In the different classes we had:
French baguette -France
Thumbprint Cookie- Sweden
Fried Rice- China
Moon Cookies- China
Brazilian Truffles and Lemonade- Brazil
Scones & Jam and shortbread- Scotland
Salsa, guacamole, queso- Mexico
Hummus and pita chips- Middle East
Pizza- Italy
Tea Cookies- England
Pastries- Ukraine
Edamame- Japan
Deviled Eggs- Germany
Apple Strudel- Germany

It was a great way to connect with families and get them involved in the classroom. 
Our songs we learned for the month were: 
"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"
"Jesus Love the Little Children"

Our verse was "Preach the good news to all creation" Mark 16:15b
We prayed for our missionaries everyday and explored the cultures. Such a great month. 
:) :) :) :) :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spicy (or sweet) Sausage Stew

1 package of hot Italian sausage ( The bun size kind)
***Note: Feel free to use mild or sweet if you don't like hot.***
2 TBSP flour
1/2 of a green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 of red pepper, chopped finely
1/4 cup of onion, chopped finely
1- 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes  ( I used the basil, oregano & garlic kind so I didn't have to season my stew.)
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
 2 cups of beef broth

Remove sausage from the casing and place in chunks in a deep skillet. 
Brown sausage until no longer pink. 
Add peppers and onions and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Distribute the flour over the mixture, stir to coat and cook another minute. 
Add tomatoes (undrained), beans and broth. 
Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes over low heat. Stirring occasionally. 
I usually put the lid about half way on the skillet allowing for most of the steam to escape. 

NOTE: A simmer is a low, slow bubble. It is NOT a boil. To achieve a simmer, bring your stew to a boil for a minute, then turn the heat to low. You should see slow, random bubbling. Not a rapid boil. 

I served this last night with white rice and cornbread with shredded cheese and sour cream. It was so yummy! Lots of veggies and fiber! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lucky Charm Treats

Turn a favorite snack into a St. Patrick's Day treat!

4 TBSP margarine
1 bag of regular marshmallows OR 4 cups of mini marshmallows
about 6+ cups of Lucky Charms cereal
green food color, optional

Melt butter and marshmallows in a large bowl in the microwave. When all melted the green food color and incorporate into the mixture. Then add the cereal and mix well. Press into a well buttered 9x13 pan with well buttered hands. Let cool, cut and serve. Enjoy!