Ten Fun Food Endeavors to Do with Your Homeschooler

Doughnut

When you stumble into homeschooling {as opposed to it being something you’ve always planned for your children}, you have to work with what you’ve got.  When we started homeschooling, I had cooking and baking.  No awesome artistic abilities, no creative capabilities, no curriculum-building talent.  So, cooking and baking have been used as an oh crap filler, an addition to a lesson, a kick-off-the-school-year activity, or a just-for-fun-we-really-want-to-eat-this activity.  Following are a few of our favorite fun food projects and recipes.

1.  Bake something and decorate it

Whether it’s a cake you bake from scratch, a dozen cupcakes made from a box mix, or sugar cookies baked from a roll of store bought dough, kids love to decorate them.  You can use store bought frosting, buttercream frosting, or royal icing {this one hardens, but many kids still like to eat it…}.  If you don’t have any pastry bags and tips on hand, just put the frosting into a sandwich baggy and cut of a corner, creating an instantaneous piping bag.  This is a great opportunity to teach things like colors, kitchen safety, and math.

2.  Participate in a fair baking contest

This has become a yearly tradition for Babydoll and me.  We enjoy perusing the county fair exhibition books, looking for the various categories we’d like to enter something in. Generally, the children’s categories are judges on appearance and/or taste, and are divided into appropriate age groups.  Even if your child doesn’t win, they usually still get an participation ribbon.  Many fairs even give free admittance to exhibitors. This is our special time together, and involves learning how to budget your time, create or follow a recipe, write legibly, and speak publicly.

3.  Make homemade donuts

Donuts are surprisingly easy to make {don’t worry, you don’t need a deep fryer}, and they’re wicked delicious.  We make donuts to kick off the school year, attempting to make some shaped like the grade Babydoll is entering.  This is a great photo op to document the beginning of each school year. Our favorite recipe is this one by Paula Deen.

4.  Create your own rock candy

We did this during a science unit on rocks.  It’s super easy and Babydoll loved checking her crystals each day.  Babydoll has always been fascinated with rocks anyway, so seeing how they were formed was a treat.  Eating the candy afterward isn’t half bad either.  Here’s a great lesson plan designed around this experiment.

5.  Make your own pizza

Lots of families do this, but you can easily take this a step further.  Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about diameter, meal planning {let them make the list, find the items in the store, and comparison shop}, dough making, how yeast works, there are so many possibilities.  I give Babydoll her own dough, pan, and toppings and let her go to town.  There’s something about making their own food that makes kids feel special.

6.  Read a cookbook together

Sure, some cookbooks are simply filled with recipes and nothing more.  Some of the best cookbooks are filled with stories and personal anecdotes to go along with the recipe.  This makes the cookbook much more interesting, and worth sitting down to read.  In addition to practicing their reading skills, kids can also decide which recipes they’d like to make and what ingredients need to be purchased to make them. Babydoll’s current favorite is Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids.

7.  Plan special meals

Babydoll loves it when we do theme meals.  Whether it’s for a family celebration or just for fun, creating a meal based on a specific theme lends itself to all sorts of learning.  Kids can come up with a theme, research recipes and decor, choose an appropriate date and time for the meal, help shop for necessary items, and help make decorations and prepare the food. Our personal favorite is spring brunch, complete with awesome folded cloth napkins, printed menu, and Winnie the Pooh spring china.

8.  Make ice cream

This is a fun summertime treat to make.  Whether you have an old fashioned ice cream machine, a frozen yogurt and topping dispenser, or an inexpensive model from a craft store, making ice cream can be so fun!  Help your children research and try different recipes, learning how the ingredients work together to create the frozen treat.

9.  Visit the farmers’ market

Farmers’ markets are wondrous places!  If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place that has a year-round market, you’re set.  You can teach your children about seasonal cooking, using the produce that is in season to create delicious and fresh meals.  If you’ve only got access to a summer farmers’ market, you can still fill your warm months by visiting the market each week and teaching your children about seasonal produce, growing seasons, the process of seed to plate, how to pick ripe produce, and engage in the fun activity of creating a meal from market purchases.  Some markets even have fish, poultry, meat, fresh baked goods, and homemade snack foods.  Search for CSAs, farmers’ markets, farms, and other food establishments in your area on this site.

10. Cook something from another country

When Babydoll attended a Montessori school in WA, one of her end-of-year assignments was to partner with someone and create a presentation on a certain country.  Babydoll and her partner were assigned Nigeria, and they had to research all sorts of things, one of them being food.  They didn’t have to prepare a dish from that country, but were encouraged to do so.  We had so much fun learning about the local ingredients, what people in that country traditionally ate, and what foods were viewed as snacks, special foods, market food, etc. We ended up making a dish called chin chin that is so delicious!  It was a great experience.

Food is a part of every culture, and is a common way for people to connect.  While cooking doesn’t have to occupy every homeschool day, it truly is worthwhile to work it in at regular intervals. Children will greatly benefit from the experiences, and it will likely draw the family together and create lasting memories and family traditions.

What about you?  Do you have any fun food activities you do with your kids?

Photo Credits – Fair, Brunch, Ice Cream, Farmers’ Market

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with Storms, Music, & Bloggy Goodness

033r

We had quite the unusual week…  Despite living in Alabama for about a year and a half, I still am not used to tornadoes.  Ice storms I can do.  Hurricanes I can do.  Tornadoes and the accompanying huddling in the bathroom I can’t do.  Well, I can, because I did, but I don’t like it.  Three times this week we were hanging out with the toilet…

Our Homeschool Week

Math - Babydoll did quite a bit of cooking and baking this week, exercising those math application skills.  She baked muffins for breakfast a couple of times, made delicious sub sandwiches one night, made Russian dressing to go with those subs, and perused several recipes that she’ll be preparing this coming week.

Unit Studies - We continued to work on our chocolate unit study.  We’ve learned about two chocolatiers, rainforests, cacao trees, Brazil, and tons of other stuff.

Music – This week we went to see the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Series Spring Concert, Dream Out Loud {man, that’s a mouthful}.  This is our second Young People’s concert, and we enjoyed it.  We had killer seats, just a couple of feet from the stage.  

As promised, I’ve got a couple of great links for you.  While you can’t attend the concert, you can download the study guide and music files.  There is tons of great info in this guide, and you could easily build a little study out of it.

History – We continued our study of Medieval China; we are almost done!  This week we learned aboug Kublai Khan and Marco Polo.

Reading – Babydoll did all sorts of free reading this week.

That’s about it, not our usual type of week, but it was a refreshing change.

What about you?  How was your week?  What did you accomplish?

Check out what others did over at Kris’ Weekly Wrap-Up link-up!

Image Credit

 

 

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal

Babydoll at UAB

 

In My Life This Week…

I have had such a crazy {yet enjoyable} week!  It started with Babydoll and I heading out on a Mommy/Daughter date night.  Ava was proactive and made an index card map for me that detailed our date night.  She said she enjoyed the dates she had with Daddy, and she wanted to do something with me that didn’t involve “Mommy” or “Teacher”.

Our journey started with a trip to Tree Top Adventure for mini-golf and video games.  Unfortunately, our time was cut short due to a severe storm coming through the area.  You know, I really should start checking the weather; we were literally travelling as fast as legally possible on the highway to get home, with the storm trailing us by only ten minutes.  We had to stop to get food {nothing at the house} and gas {none in the car}, and heard the tornado sirens, something I’ve never heard before.

We got home, dragged Winston and Princess into Babydoll’s bathroom, and sat tight with our McDonald’s, laptop, and cell phone.  What an experience…

I also tackled the transfer to WordPress {lov-ing it}, had to get technical help for some aspects of the move {thanks Sharon}, did quite a bit of reading on ways to improve the blog {have some great info coming soon about a few e-books and classes I’ve enjoyed}, went to the symphony {some great information that homeschoolers could use coming soon from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra}, and hung out around the house.

In Our Homeschool This Week…

We did a bit of history, a bit of math {in the form of cooking!}, a bit of our chocolate unit study, started a tornado unit study, started a quicksand unit studymusic appreciation {we learned so much at the symphony}, reading, and worked on handwriting.

Places We’re Going and People We’re Seeing…

We were supposed to head to the archaeological center this week, but considering the fact that we went out for date night and the symphony and gas is now around $3.70 a gallon, we decided to just save that for another week.  I’m trying to limit the field trips to one a week for now.  Next week we plan on going to a dairy farm and the Anniston Museum of Natural History for their Chocolate Exhibition.

My Favorite Thing This Week Was…

Babydoll cooking dinner for us. She checked out a Rachel Ray cookbook for kids from the library and found tons of recipes she wanted to try out.  She loves to cook and bake and we decided that she would cook one night a week.  This week she made subs; man, they were good.  She made a Russian dressing to go on the sandwiches that was to die for.

What’s Working/Not Working For Us…

Letting go, that’s what’s working for us.  The more I shed the idea of the way school is “supposed” to be, the more I enjoy the freedom that comes with homeschooling.  Now, I’m still a stickler for getting in her basic subjects {math, literature, language arts, etc.}; she needs those presented in a structured manner in my opinion.

The more I loosen up, though, the more I realize we can take the time to venture off the beaten path and do things like unit studies, lapbooks, and “unconventional” learning like cooking and grocery shopping.

Homeschool Questions/Thoughts I Have…

Portfolios are not required in this state {thankfully}, however, I’ve had the urge recently to put them together.  I feel I need to do it for my own sanity {you know, that whole OCD thing} and to properly showcase Babydoll’s progress throughout each year {hey, you never know when that truancy officer will show up at your door…}.

How do you organize and put together your kid’s portfolios?  Any links to share?  I love pictures!

A Photo/Video/Link/Quote to Share…

This is a picture I snapped as we were leaving the symphony; we thought the tree was so pretty.

Some of My Favorite UBP11 Blogs

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was participating in the 2011 Ultimate Blog Party being hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom.  It was quite the little shindig.  I waded through over 500 blogs, and that was just in the Specialty Blogs category {the one for homeschoolers, crafters, cooks, etc.}.

One of the ladies I met at the party mentioned that she perused the blogs briefly and then made a list of the ones that she found interesting or relevant to her.  I thought it was a genius idea, so I copied her.  Nonetheless, I still had quite a few blogs to go through.

I found a few blogs that I really enjoyed and I want to share those with you.  Now, I know what you’re thinking; why am I giving you blog candy when you barely have enough time to read the ones you currently follow?  Trust me.  I wouldn’t steer you guys wrong.  These really are great blogs.

Of course, my favorites might not be your favorites, so feel free to head to the party link where all the blogs are still linked up.

  • 5 Minutes for Books – 5 Minutes for Books is a site devoted to books, reading, and everything literature.  Five staff reviewers post reviews on all sorts of books ranging from Kids’ Picks to Children’s Classics and pretty much every genre you could think of.  They also host giveaways each week.  The site is very well organized, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.  While I always appreciate information on good children’s books, I especially like the recommendations the ladies make.  If you want to read, but don’t quite know what to read {*raises hand*} then this is the site for you.
  • Not Inadequate – Deb has a stellar mix of great info, quirkiness, and wit; you’ll be enthralled.  I felt like I was sitting in her living room having a conversation with her while reading through her blog.  She’s one of those people that says what everyone else is afraid to.  You know, those things that are just begging to be said.  I really liked Book of Stuff and 3 Words:  Maple.  Bacon.  Biscuit.

Photobucket

Pardon the Dust

I am fiddling around with the move to WordPress as we speak.  I really wanted to do this myself to a) save some money and b) learn the process for myself.  Setting up my own websites/blogs is something that I like to do because I like to fully understand what’s going on behind the scenes. 

Now, it did take me around three days of off and on work to simply get WP installed {I might do a post on what I learned from the whole process}.  I’ve still got so much behind-the-scenes stuff to do and I’ve also got to get the design files and upload those {that’ll be yet another new venture}, but I think I’m at a great starting point.

I’m trying to make the switch as painless as possible, but I appreciate everyone’s patience during the process.

Have a great week!