Where Are They Now? Another Teaching Year Comes to a Close

Teaching.  Last week two of my teaching commitments came to a close.  As I was packing up my class supplies I began to reflect upon the year. I get so sentimental, so easily.  I realized this year how much I love teaching, not just teaching my kids, but others.  I really do love it!  Perhaps this is why I’m so passionate about homeschooling.  I love learning and presenting material in a way that hopefully appeals to students.

Reaching the end of yet another year has given me cause to reflect on my brief experience in the public school arena.  The first kids I taught are now in their 30’s!!  How can that be!  I wonder what became of them?  What happened to those little 4th graders?  Also, when I look at the precious gifts given to me by dear Ukranian students and their families, I wonder if they made it in their new found country, America.  What happened to Yuri, Alexei, Nazar, Ludmila, and so many more?  Did they embrace the freedom they were seeking?  Did the kids who struggled in 4th grade, make it through and find a love for learning?  I often wonder where they are now.  Teachers spend a year with kids, pour into them, and then the kids have to move on.  Next grade, next teacher, next year.

When the end of the year rolls around, I also question, “Did I do what I was supposed to do?  Was I able to impart on my students (my own kids, most years) skills that would not only teach them something, but build their character?”  I remember my first year teaching.  At the end of the year I sat in my classroom and cried.  I asked myself if I had done my job.  Were the kids leaving my class ready for the next year? I still wonder the same thing with my own kids.  Teaching is a humbling occupation.
This year, the classes I was blessed to teach were small which allowed all students to have an opportunity to share and participate.  In these book study/literature classes I chose books that were award winners and/or notable books with accompanying study guides available from Progeny Press.  I know every book may not have appealed to every student, but I hope each student learned something new through the process and expanded their understanding of history, literature, grammar, arts & crafts, geography, world cultures, and of course…cooking!
For our last class, one of my younger students requested that we make Johnny Cakes once again.  We made them when we studied The Drinking Gourd and apparently they were a popular hit.  So they wouldn’t feel left out, we also made the tasty corn meal pancakes in the older class.  Of course I had to give them a little Johnny cake history before we began.
Johnny Cake history:
Johnny cakes are a cornmeal flatbread, similar to a pancake.  They are also known as corn pone, Shawnee cakes (sounds a bit like Johnny cake), journey cakes, jonikin, ash cake, hoe cake, and variations of these names.
The exact origin of this flatbread is not known, but some historians think they were introduced to the Pilgrim settlers by the Pawtuxet Indians who taught them how to grind the corn making the cornmeal.
The ingredients are simple:  cornmeal, water (or milk), salt, and a sweetener like honey, if desired.
We greased our griddle with butter or bacon grease, depending on what the kids wanted.  We also sprinkled the Johnny cakes with cinnamon and sugar.
1 1/2 cup corn meal (this time we used corn flour from Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, if desired
1/2 to 1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
1.  Bring water to boil in the saucepan.  Pour water over cornmeal
2.  Add salt, sugar, and 1/2 cup milk in bowl.  Stir well.  Continue to add additional milk and additional water if necessary until batter has consistency thicker than normal pancake batter, but can be spread in pan to make cakes.
3.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet or you can use a griddle.  Cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side.  Cook until edges are lightly browned.  Turn gently with spatula.
4.  We served sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, but the book recommends molasses, or syrup.  Enjoy!

As we close the chapter on this year, and the classes we participated in, I can’t help but wonder what will become of these students.  Will one of them become an author, or a professional ice skater, or an actor, or a doctor.  Hopefully, one day we will meet again.

Thanks to all for a fabulous year!  You are a blessing!

Book Study: The Courage of Sarah Noble, Crafts

Grades 1-4 Class

This year I’ve been blessed to teach a couple book study classes at a local homeschool organization.  One class is geared toward grades 1-4, the other grades 4-8.

In the younger class we’ve read:

Ox Cart Man
The Drinking Gourd
A New Coat for Anna
The Rag Coat
Miss Rumphius
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Courage of Sarah Noble

For each class we’ve followed a Progeny Press study guide.  This week we finished up The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh.  In addition to the study guide, when we read The Courage of Sarah Noble, we made a Lap Book by following the guide available at Homeschool Share.

Yesterday we finished up our Progeny Press study guide for The Courage of Sarah Noble.  Our class activity was to build our own (edible) log cabins. For every class activity and book we read we also complete the activities here at home.  Today my girlie finished her cabin.

We used small Goldfish cartons.  You can also use small milk cartons.

For the glue, we made a frosting with powdered sugar, a tablespoon of meringue powder and a little water.  It dries fairly quickly and sets well.

We decorated/built our cabins with pretzels, graham crackers and graham sticks.

A 1/2 hour of class time was necessary to complete the project.

Next week is our last week, and as per the request of the students we will again be making Johnny Cakes.

I will miss these littles.  It has been a great year!

Easter Birds Nests

We tried another bird’s nest idea this Easter.  This one is with Chow Mein noodles and Whoppers Robin Eggs.  It’s a very simple combination of ingredients, yet they are OH SO tasty!

My Girlie made them along with her BFF.  I love their friendship!  Lots of giggles, and lots of fun!

Printer Friendly Recipe
This simple recipe requires:

12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups Chow Mein noodles (we used one bag which was just over 4 cups and it worked out fine)

Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in large glass microwavable bowl.  Heat for 30 seconds, stir.  Heat another 30 seconds and stir until all chocolate chips are melted.  Add Chow Mein noodles.  Stir until coated with chocolate.

Measuring the peanut butter
Adding it to the chocolate chips
And stir…
And giggle…
And stir some more…

Spoon Chow Mein noodles onto waxed paper into nest shapes.  Add Robin Eggs.  Let cool and harden.

They are so yummy, it was HARD for me to not eat them!  It’s hard for me to blog about them and not dive into the bowl they’re stored in!  Such a tasty creation!

I think I’ll go cut an apple and try not to think about chocolate and Whoppers!


Easter Rice Krispies Nests

Despite the many cookie recipes I try, a favorite among the kids, and Hub especially, are Rice Krispies  treats.  I remember the early days in college when I first met my sweetheart and wanted to impress him with some good home cooking. Sadly, in my tiny dorm room I only had a microwave and a pot for boiling water. Sometimes you have to make due and in this mini-dorm room microwave I would whip up Rice Krispies treats for him and they stole his heart!
Twenty-plus years later, Rice Krispies treats still speak his Love Language.

This year for an Easter treat, we made little Rice Krispies nests.  Not only are they yummy, they open up Easter history discussion.  Why do we celebrate with eggs and bunnies?  Why do we color eggs?  Where did these traditions come from?

If you’re interested in hearing what the answers to these questions are along with more great insight into teaching your kids about Easter, listen to Focus on the Family online here.

According to the discussion with Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer, the bunny is a fertility symbol representing new life and a sign of spring.  The bunny symbol dates back before Jesus’s time.  The egg is another fertility symbol and a GREAT source of protein!

In northern Europe, before Christianity, people would go out every spring and hunt eggs, eventually making the quest a children’s activity thus beginning the tradition of egg hunts for multi-colored eggs (as you know not all eggs are just white and brown).  Then parents began coloring the plain ones.  If you’d like natural dye ideas click here.

During the middle ages, the custom of dyeing red eggs became popular in remembrance of Christ’s blood shed for us.

If you’re a parent and concerned about the commercialization of Easter and all the bunny and egg business, I’d recommend listening to the Focus on the Family podcast and bringing the truth back home.  Don’t overwhelm your kids with every detail of the crucifixion, but meet them where they are in an age appropriate presentation.

Here’s a fun little activity to begin the discussion.

Make Rice Krispies Treats as directed here.

Top with shredded coconut, colored with green food coloring.  Place Whoppers Robin Eggs on top along with a Peep bunny or chick.

Okay…check out the NAILS!  She loves them even though they only last a couple hours.
Hello, clicky-chicky nails!
The front bunny didn’t like his nest and when I turned my
back he made a leap off onto the floor!  Crazy Bunny!

The Importance of Journaling

Last weekend a friend asked, “What was the greatest thing that happened in the last week?” Wow, what a question! We do so many wonderful activities, but they’re gone like a blur as the days pass. I couldn’t remember one event from the past week, even though we did so many memorable things.

At that moment, I realized when I write down our memories I’m much more likely to be able to recall them. Lately the kids have been asking me, almost daily, questions like, “Mom tell me what I did when I was a baby. Tell me what I was like.” I’m finding that in the process of life, I’m forgetting what I thought was engraved in memory banks of my mind. So for the preservation of our family events I journal in this blog. Then when family asks, “What did you do last week?” We can all look to the blog and recall.

On A Mission

This week my kid’s Daddy left for a mission trip to the Gulf Coast. He phoned last night to tell us about his first full day. They went to the home of an couple who are living in a FEMA trailer. They have a shed that needs the roof put on.

I’m not completely sure how this couple got on the list for help, but when the group showed up they were shocked by the number of people who came to help. The older man spoke to the person in charge and said, “I can’t possibly pay this many people to help me.” The person then responded that it was all taken care of and there was no need to pay. My sweetheart said the man then stood there and sobbed.

When my hub, told me the story I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out too. He then said that so many people or organizations have told this couple that they’d be there and then never show. And what impressed them is that this mission group said they’d be there, showed up on time, and are eager to work.

Today they’re going to finish the roof on the shed and then move on to other projects. We’ll see how God uses this group in the upcoming days.

A Great Good Morning

I awoke to cathedral bells chiming at 7:00 am. No we’re not vacationing in some European village. The bells were from Oldest son’s alarm clock. Last night he set his alarm so he could awake early and give me a special surprise.

After the bells chimed, he came in my room and instructed me to stay in bed. He had BIG plans.

About a 1/2 hour later he reappeared dressed in a striped button shirt and one of Dad’s floral, early 90’s, ties carrying a tray with breakfast and a latte. SO CUTE!! What a sweet thing to do for mom!

He’s been blessing me so greatly lately. The other night he cleaned the whole kitchen by himself. He washed dishes by hand, dried them, and put them all away. He kept saying, “Mom, you have a really hard job. Just when I think I’m done, I turn around and there’s more!”

I’m feeling pretty appreciated today!

Back By Popular Demand

So, call it Christmas time over-reaction, call it exhaustion… I don’t know, call it whatever.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that how could I put pictures of our kids on the web and expose them to the crazy’s of the world. Am I not a smarter mom than that?? Don’t I know that there are pedophiles out there?

Well, those of you who know me know I put my kids first in just about everything. So I thought, how could I do this? Well, being completely tired (11:00pm), overwhelmed and feeling like a miserable parent I deleted all of the 38 entries I had previously posted on this blog. Gone forever.

Then another friend pointed out that a bigger enemy of finding out about a person is Google, where you can find just about anything or anyone you want. Do I want to live the life of the paranoid and hide in our little cave so the boogey man doesn’t get us? Or do we want to live and enjoy life?

Many friends and family really enjoy the stories and the photos of our family. So I’m still going to explore the privacy on this blog site.

Keeping you posted.

Only one more day until we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas!!