Monday, August 29, 2011

Bangers and Mash, Baby

Last Wednesday, Jonah picked England, part of the United Kingdom. Maybe this had something to do with the fact he is obsessed with Harry Potter and is halfway through the second book already. By the way, it is SO much fun to be reading the series again, with my little boy this time! He is loving it as much as Justin and I did.

So, I decided to make Bangers and Mash, and that was a delicious dish! How can you go wrong with sausage and mashed potatoes? I followed a recipe from

Check out the reviews. It was yummy, but some of the additions other cooks made would make it even more flavorful!

We read several books from the library, but I was disappointed since they were mostly about the history of England, and not enough about present day England. So, my wonderful hubby hooked us up with a link to Discovery Education where there are several short videos about countries and a large interactive map. The boys really enjoyed the videos and learned a lot. They were particularly interested in the deadly fog of 1959 when 4,000 people lost their lives--odd that the fog was what they remembered when I asked them what they learned about England. They were also walking around saying, "If you talk like this, you're an English person," with pretty good English accents.

We made placemats for Worldly Wednesday. Each week we will add the flag of the country we are studying. When we fill up the paper we will laminate it. I am working on providing a link to the Word document where I have copies of the flags.

Then we updated our chart and Carson picked the next country--Mexico! Should be pretty easy to come up with a meal for that one!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where is Thumbkin?

Today I was reminded of the importance of being quiet. Carson and I were going to Target to buy a birthday present for a friend, and I suddenly realized the car was silent. No music playing, no dvd watching, no phone talking, no conversation at all. I almost felt compelled to make some noise, until I heard Carson's sweet little four-year old voice in the backseat. He was singing, "Where is Thumbkin, where is thumbkin, here I am, here I am," and it was a sound I wished I could bottle. It made me think of how we cram so much noise into every day, that it is no wonder kids have processing problems. When we got home, I was telling my husband about Carson's singing and he told me research has shown that kids, and adults for that matter, need quiet time to "decompress" and process what they are learning. I remembered an article I read in the July 2011 issue of Real Simple, titled "Silence," by Holly Pevzner. In the article, Pevzner talks about how our world is getting louder and gives some advice on how we can find peace. In her quest for silence, she discovered that the seemingly lost art is a cornerstone for the Quaker faith. Katherine Schultz is the dean of education at Mills College, in Oakland and author of two books about the importance of silence in the classroom as a teaching tool. She is also on the board of a Quaker camp and says that often a member of the discussion group will encourage the group to stop and have a moment of silence. Schultz says the outcome is "an incredible shift in the conversation, because we start reflecting, not just reacting."

All this has me thinking...we need to have more quiet time.

While I was making dinner tonight, my boys were playing with playdough on the counter next to me. It was quiet in the kitchen except for Carson humming the tune of one of his favorite songs. Every once in a while, Jonah would ask Carson to pass a cookie cutter, or Carson would ask Jonah to help him open a playdough container. These little bits of conversation between their concentration were priceless...and I heard it all. I could have missed just turning on the evening news.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wordly Wednesday

So, blogging about our Wordly Wednesday was supposed to be my attempt to keep myself accountable for studying new places with my kids. Since I am just now posting what we did last Wednesday, I am going to have to do a better job in the future.

Last year, Jonah's Kindergarten teacher taught a unit on customs and holidays in other countries. Jonah really enjoyed it, and wanted to know more. Since his dad had just been to Canada for work, we decided to learn more about Canada. We found Canada on a map, checked out some books from the library, and read about Canada on the internet.

Then "Worldly Wednesday" was born. We decided to pick a new country each week, learn more about it, and eat a meal or dessert native to that country for dinner. Some weeks we are better about it than others, so I decided to blog about it, hoping to keep myself accountable.

Last week, Jonah picked Australia. We checked out some books from the library, and I found a recipe for Anzac Biscuits, really interesting cookies that the boys actually liked (the ones I didn't burn, that is). If you decide to make them, make sure to keep your eye on them. Mine would've done better with a little less cooking time.

The boy enjoyed learning about the history of the Anzac Biscuit:

As Carson and I were mixing the ingredients (great opportunity to throw in some math skills--counting, fractions) Jonah read to us from the books we checked out from the library.

Exploring Countries: Australia, by Colleen Sexton

Australia, A Question and Answer Book, by Nathan Olson

Taking Your Camera to Australia, by Ted Park

Jonah updated our "Wordly Wednesday" chart with the information we learned. We recorded a fun fact about Australia and the food we made. We hung the chart in our mudroom so we can continue to add to it as we learn about other countries.