Thursday, March 26, 2015

Banana Muffins

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If you haven't come across the Crazy Banana Cake from Jackie of Happy Hooligans, you are missing out and should go get it.

I'm sure you already know that all Jackie's ideas are great.  Knowing that, I felt confident enough to DOUBLE the recipe.  That made a lot of cake batter.  I ended up with one 9 x 13, one 9 x 9 and a dozen muffins!  I was thinking if you take crazy cake batter and put it in a muffin tin, what do you get?  Mad Muffins? ha! Get it?  See, that's a little cooking humour!

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Seriously though, each took a different amount of time to cook, so I had to watch the oven.  The muffins were finished cooking in about 45 mins, the 9 x 9 was done in about 55 mins and my 9 x 13 took 120 mins.

I didn't have enough ingredients to double the frosting recipe so I only made one and it was lots.  I didn't put frosting on all the muffins because it's hard to pack them in a lunch once they are frosted and they really don't need the frosting, though it is very tasty and you might want to frost everything,,, or just eat if off the spoon.  It's all good.  I hope you'll try this recipe out & let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easy Easter Basket Art

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I had seen a great activity for kids with a printable Easter basket that the kids could use fingers to print eggs with paint. I pinned it and planned on using the free printable with my buddies. If you'd like to use the printable, you can find it at Crafty Morning : Fingerprint Easter Craft.  

Suddenly, Spring Break was here. On one busy day, I was breaking up some cereal boxes for recycling and I decided I would like to use the boxes for painting. I love using this heavier paper for painting because it holds up so well.  I remembered the fabulous activity I had seen on Crafty Morning.  

I cut my boxes into sheets of cardboard, and I ended up with quite a few pieces, of various sizes. I couldn't put the cardboard through my printer so I simply drew baskets onto them.  Obviously, I'm no artist, but my buddies are not judgemental. :)

My buddies really enjoyed this activity and they each worked in their own way.  For some, it was primarily a sensory activity and they simply enjoyed smearing the paint and mixing the colours. Some stamped their fingerprints into the baskets making perfect little coloured eggs.  My granddaughter took it a step further and made her basket into a stand-up decoration.

I really enjoy providing only the basic ideas for activities and then allowing my buddies to take it from there.  Having buddies of varying ages means they all have different abilities, too.  Allowing them freedom means that they are able to confidently work at their own level. They often come up with ideas that are far more creative than I had intended and it's fun for everyone!  

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I hope you enjoyed this idea & that it's inspired you, too! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cheesy Crisps

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As I'm sitting down to write this post I am looking at the photos and all I want to do is stop writing and go make these again. They are soooo yummy!

I've developed a love for the flavour of cheese..... but I only like it once it's been melted.  I have tried to like cheese in it's natural state but I just don't like the texture.

When I first saw these made, I was skeptical but I thought I'd try them out anyway.  They are amazing!

And so EASY!  Best of all, they make a great snack for my buddies and I can feel pretty good about serving these.  WAY better than those orange fishies that they are so fond of.  Yes, EASY and HEALTHY, too!

All you need to do is grate some cheese and put little spoons of  it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. For these ones, I used pre-grated cheese from a bag! (Not quite as much flavour as grated cheddar, though.) Bake at approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I don't think that even qualifies as a recipe.  It's just a beautiful transformation of a food into a more delicious food.  

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See?  Easy.  Yummy.  Healthy, too!  I've got to go make some now!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Online Story Sites

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I love books and own many of them. Enough that my husband and certain family members have politely suggested that I might own too many books, most especially children's books. I'm not sure that it is possible to own too many books of any kind. I will certainly agree that my book storage space is much, much too small! 

I've just rejoined Scholastic Book Club, and I know space is really going to be an issue, I'm going to have to make some room if I want to bring in new books.  Though it is hard letting go of my books, I'm thankful that my local library has tons of books for borrowing.  It's important to me that my buddies have a lot of exposure to a variety of stories.  I want them to be familiar with the classic stories and also many of the new and popular stories.  

It's easier to let go of  books when I know I will still have access to a large variety of stories.  Of course, we will keep using the library, but I have also discovered several online sites that offer stories. Some have only the print and you read them aloud, and some are read aloud for you. Though I like reading aloud, I also like hearing how others read.

Here's a list of the FREE sites I have found:  

  1. Storyline Online - A lovely site where you can watch and listen to famous people read stories.
  2. Just Books Read Aloud - A great selection of over 600 stories read aloud.
  3. Unite for Literacy - this site offers stories in several languages
  4. Ready Teacher - A very small collection of only 8 stories
  5. Read to Me - Celebrities reading stories 
  6. We Give Books - A wonderful selection of books that you can read to children and each time you do, you can help the organization donate a book to charity.  
  7. Tumblebooks - This site is a paid subscription site BUT with a library card, many of you can probably access it for free!
  8. StoryNory - Some original stories on this site
  9. Oxford Owl - You do have to register to use this site but the you have access to 250 stories!
  10. Magic Keys - Stories for all ages, some with audio.
  11. iStorybooks - A welcoming site that asks your name at the beginning of the story.
  12. I'll Tell You a Story - Some stories with audio, and some with video, and with registration you can submit a story.

I'm sure there are probably more story sites out there that I haven't discovered yet.  I hope you'll share any that you find with me.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dip Marbleized Easter Eggs

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My grandchildren are spending some time with me and I was excited to try decorating some eggs using a nail polish marbleizing technique that I had been seeing.  They were happy to oblige.

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Nail polish dripped into a bucket of cold water

We dropped nail polish into an old plastic pail of cold water.  Drip small amounts of polish and let it disperse a bit.  We used raw uncooked eggs from the fridge and used a spaghetti server to lower the egg into the water and bring it up under the puddle of nail polish.  

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As we brought the egg up under the polish it would cling to the egg.  The eggs seemed to initially resist the polish but second coats were picked up much more easily.

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That spaghetti server has now been retired to our outdoor play area.  Isn't it pretty though?

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We laid the eggs on a paper towel to dry.  When they were coated on all sides, we set two chopsticks about an inch apart and laid the eggs in between them to finish drying.

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The next day I poked holes in the eggs.  I used a pushpin and poked a hole in the top, then another at the bottom.  I used a wooden skewer to break up the yolk inside and then blew through the top hole in the egg.  The egg yolk and white came out the bottom hole. Since I had coated the eggs in nail polish AND because they had sat on the counter overnight I did not save the eggs for cooking.

I now have a pretty bowl of eggs in my kitchen window.  I hope to do some more egg decorating before Easter, too.  My April Pinterest board is full of egg decorating and other ideas.  Which one should I pick?

Follow Suzanne Schlechte's board April on Pinterest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Hello Goodbye Window

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Way, way, back, when I was taking my early childhood education classes, we learned about different temperaments. Some children, particularly those who are "slow to warm up"  can have difficulty with transitions.  These children need time to adjust to changes in activities and schedules.  For them, things like morning drop-offs at daycare are going to be a little harder

One of my many assignments as an ECE student, was to design an ideal childcare centre. This was an incredible amount of fun for me because my imaginary childcare centre also had an incredibly wealthy benefactor who provided unlimited funding.  (And that's the stuff ECE dreams are made of!)  My imaginary centre featured an amazing glass enclosed sunroom with big double sliding glass doors through which the children would enter each morning. My idea was that being able to look through the doors and see what was going on inside without actually being part of the activity would allow children time to adjust before they made their entrance.  It would be so perfect for those slow to warm up children.

Now even  though I found the assignment fun, I also considered it a a bit of a waste of time.  What was the probability that I would ever build this ideal centre? It wasn't until years later that I realized that I had been slowly incorporating many of my ideas from my imaginary childcare centre into my real life centre all along.  Imagine my chagrin!  Those instructors knew what they were doing.

Now, I'm still waiting for my incredibly wealthy benefactor to provide some funding but I have been able to incorporate the idea of a gradual entrance into my daycare.  I have, not only the sliding glass doors from my ideal centre, but a sort of "Hello Goodbye Window".
This is our "Hello Goodbye Window"

As my buddies and their parents approach the daycare, they pass by my kitchen window.  Often I will give them a quick wave hello as they pass. Then they walk across the patio area to enter through sliding glass doors.  They have full view of everything going on inside and have that moment to prepare for their entrance.  After drop off, that kitchen window is used again as parents will often give that one last good-bye.  It's just like "The Hello Goodbye Window" by Norton Juster.  If you ever get a chance to read this book, it's a wonderful story of a child and her grandparents and their window.   I've read it many times and I highly recommend it!  And if you ever meet up with that wealthy benefactor, could you send him my way?  I've got a few more things I'd like to build for my buddies.  I'll be waiting and watching through my window....

I'm very excited to have recently become an Amazon Affiliate. This allows me to post links to products and books I mention, and for you to easily click & purchase these items if you wish. If you do, I may receive a small commission, but it will never cost you anything extra.