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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Field Trip: Highlights from Cooking Day!

Yesterday, we had a fun time.  We finished reading about Japan.  The kids worked on their beckoning cats - - how wonderful they look - - now they just need to add the details, which they will with markers.  Gotta love Model Magic! 

The rice for the sushi came out great and we were able to make those as well.  You can see from the pictures below how we did.  There is a great You-Tube tutorial from Kikkoman about how to make sushi rolls and California rolls (rice is on the outside).  The sushi rolls we made included cucumber and carrots. I will be making them for Geography Day on Sunday and will probably include some of the daikon, a Japanese radish, too.  I will need to use it up some way!
Our Ingredients - - Sushi Rice, Carrots, Cukes, and Nori
Spreading the rice - - water helps keep the rice from sticking
to your hands.

All the ingredients are assembled!
Our assembled rolls
Here are our cut sushi rolls complete with soy sauce, some sushi ginger, and wasabi for dipping.  While I cannot say this will make a regular appearance on our menu, it was fun to make and worth trying.  I don't think the kids cared all that much for the seaweed taste, but the sweetened rice was pretty good with the ginger, carrots and cucumber.  I will have to try some other combinations.  We also refrigerated them so that we could eat them with our dinner.  Not sure if they should be eaten immediately, or if that would affect the flavor.

We also made Yakitori, which is chicken on a skewer and then broiled or grilled.   The recipe is from Recipe and Craft Guide to Japan by Juliet Haines Mofford.  This is a series of books for several countries.  Extremely helpful for us!


2 boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup Japanese soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger 
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 teaspoon grated daikon (white radish)
2 bunches of scallion, with tops and roots removed
1/4 cup of sesame oil

1.  Mix soy sauce through daikon to make marinade.  Add chicken and allow to marinate overnight.  (We used a ziplock baggie for this.)

2. Thread chicken onto skewer, alternating with scallion.

3.  Boil marinade and allow to cool.  Mix in sesame oil and brush onto chicken.  Broil or grill skewers.  Pour on remaining sauce.

This was a good recipe.  You can substitute chicken thighs for the chicken breast if you prefer.  I used a microplane to finely grate the ginger, garlic and daikon.  You do not need a lot of daikon.  I suggest using the leftovers for sushi rolls.

Because the Yakitori really wasn't enough to go around, I also made this beef dish that came out pretty good.  It is called Guydon, or Simmered Beef.  It is a rice bowl dish, which is more soup-like.  It kind of reminded me of Mongolian Beef in taste, though the sauce was thinner.  This was pretty well enjoyed all around.  While we were at the Asian store picking up the daikon, we found some really inexpensive disposable chopsticks.  They came in a pack of 50!   The kids had fun trying to eat with them. 

All in all, dinner was a success, and we plan to share the chicken Yakitori and the sushi rolls with our friends on Geography Day!

Happy Eating & God Bless,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Field Trip: Day Three

Yesterday afternoon, we went shopping for craft materials and food supplies.  The kids want to make paper lanterns and Beckoning Cats (we are going to use Model Magic for them).  We are also going to make a Carp windsock, which are flown on Children's Day, a national holiday in Japan. 

I could not find all of the food items at the regular grocery store, so I found the Asian Market here in Hagerstown.  They had most of the remaining ingredients and will get in the daikon (a white radish) either today or tomorrow.  While at the Asian Market, I saw two beckoning cats on a shelf behind the counter - - how neat was that! 

For our menu items, we are going to try to make some Yakimori, which is marinated chicken on a skewer.  We are also going to attempt cucumber sushi rolls! Hopefully, they go well.  I don't generally cook rice well, but the box assures me it is possible if I follow their instructions! 

I will be sure to post pictures of our work later today or tomorrow.

God Bless!

Field Trip: Destination Japan!

The DVD's we found at the library. 
Two were for kids from Schlessinger Media.
It’s that time of year again for Geography Day!  We were not going to spend a week on it; however, we just didn’t get around to working on our project, so I decided that the younger children and I would go ahead and spend a week working on our Geography Day project.  This year, we are taking a virtual field trip to Japan!  What an interesting country it is! 
Yesterday, we paid a visit to our library to obtain resource materials.  I found a travel DVD in the adult section on Tokyo and two DVD’s in the children’s section.  I also found a travel guide for Japan in the adult section and a couple of research books in the children’s section.  To top off our study, I found a picture book called The Beckoning Cat, which is an old folktale from Japan.

We spent some time looking over the books we got from the library and then watched the two videos from the children’s section.  We looked over some of the recipes and crafts that were in one of the books and chose some that we thought we could do.  Then, we worked on some of the lapbook minibooks that we will paste to our presentation board.  Mostly, basic facts and mapwork.

Today, we read through part of the other reference book we had gotten.  We learned more about the geography of Japan and how because Japan is very mountainous, most people live in the cities.  We also learned that the climate of Japan is varied since the islands stretch from off the coast of Siberia, all the way down to near the equator.  Winters in the north can be harsh and skiing and winter sports are popular.  The further south you go, sandy beaches are the norm, but they also deal with monsoons!  Earthquakes are also very frequent in Japan, which also has 60 active volcanoes!
The girls also decided to paint kokeshi dolls using the wooden peg doll forms.  (We use these for our painted saints.  The kids also worked on researching their saints from Japan.  Each child gets to choose one (or two) and write up a paragraph about that saint.  Alex chose St. Paul Miki.  

We also watched the travel film on Tokyo that I found in the adult section of the library.  It was very informative and quite interesting.  For
Here are the girls' finished Kokeshi Dolls along with a
Beckoning Cat that I needle felted.
example, they showed the fish market where the people come to buy fish.  At 6:00 in the morning, they hold an auction for the tuna.  I remember the tuna my brother-in-law caught at the beach.  It was nowhere the size of these jumbo tuna!  The narrator said that these tuna can go for up to $10,000!  That's some tuna!  They toured many of sites in and around Tokyo.  Did you know that they have a replica of the Eifel Tower in Tokyo? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Joseph's Altar

Our St. Joseph's Altar at our parish church included:
Lilies, a votive candle, oranges, strawberries, grapes, sparkling grape juice
cream puffs, raspberry tarts, apple muffins, biscotti, and cookies.
Last year, it was so much fun to celebrate St. Joseph’s Feast Day by making our first Altar.  This year, our family and friends decided to share our altar with those who labor for our parish:  the priests, secretary, business manager, custodians, and even the women who work in the school kitchen.  My friend and I baked goodies to share, while trying to keep with some of the traditional offerings.  We included Holy Cards for visitors to take with them.  It was fun to share the offerings and the staff was very thankful.  Mary made
After we tore down the altar at the church, we came home and set up our altar at home.  I allowed the kids to snack from it while we worked on our geography day projects.  All in all, it was a great celebration for St. Joseph and allowed us to share something with our parish.

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Joseph’s Feast Day!

God Bless!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Transportation Sensory Bin

Daniel enjoyed the new transportation bin.  I included some felt "roads"  and some pipe cleaners to make railroad tracks.  I colored the rice brown to resemble dirt.  I found the instructions for coloring rice here.  I will suggest coloring the rice with rubbing alcohol requires an open area and allow the smell to dissapate for a day or two for larger quantities of rice.  It did help the coloring to evenly color the rice and it looks really cool. 

We have a rather busy day today -  it's Jeremy's birthday - - 17th!!  The kids want to go roller skating (the local rink has a homeschool skate) and Jenna has volunteered to help with story time at the library.  She is very excited!  Did I mention she also has dance tonight?  So, we are running for much of the afternoon. 

Have a blessed day!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Trays Came Today!

Our trays came today!  I ordered them from Discount School Supply, along with some play dough tools.  I am so excited about them.  The only drawback is that they do not fit a standard sheet of paper, but other than that, they fit the shelves well.  Perhaps I will cut some down to the right size so that they fit on the tray nicely.

I also repurposed some plastic drawer thingies for storing supplies and materials.  I am sure it won't be enough, but hopefully I will be able to keep it to a minimum!  I am trying to use a lot of what I already have - - lacing beads, latch board, stamps, craft items, small toys, etc.  To find "a" items for the sensory tub, I just searched through the house - - little toys and things that I had on hand that could go in. 

I am working on a "transportation" theme for Daniel's Tot Trays and Sensory Bins.  He loves trains and cars.  Inspired by Counting Coconuts, who used black beans and river rocks in the tub, I am not sure.  I was thinking that I could probably color the rice brown or something.  I could use some dry pinto beans for the rocks.  I will probably put in some little cars, tires (Lego), helicopters, etc.)  I was thinking of also **gulp** of providing a water tub to explore floating boats.  Of course, this would have to be under supervision, and will probably teach clean up, as well.  I found a vehicles stamp set (Melissa and Doug), some transportation 3 part cards (Montessori for Everyone) and a Vehicles matching set (Montessori Printshop).  I also have the Do-A-Dot Art book for Trucks. 

I think I am the one having too much fun!

God Bless,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Montessori inspired - - tubs and trays

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on learning activities for Daniel.  In the past, with the other kids, I've just let them play and watch TV, and do some learning activities with them.  I believe with Jenna, I did do some preschool activities here and there, but I get so busy with the older kids (especially now that they are in 11th, 8th (twins) and 6th grade) that I am sure it was very sporadic.  I started her a little early in kindergarten just so that she would have more to do. 

I became interested in Montessori-influenced education due to the nature of the learning environment.  Of course, I cannot seriously contemplate having a true Montessori environment here!  But, I thought that I could take some of Montessori and give Daniel some activities to do that would be education, yet fun at the same time. 

I was intrigued by the learning trays and sensory bins at 1+1+1=1.  The trays are set up and the children are allowed to play with them, taking one at a time, until their interest wanes, and then they put it away and pick up a new tray or bin.  The trays focus on a skill or something you want the to learn.

Here are some of my ideas and completed "trays" and bins.

#1 - - Rice tub - scooping and pouring rice from one container to another using various tools.

#2 - - .Letter A Sensory Bin - - I filled this with paper "grass" and things that begin with the letter A.  I plan to print out photos of the contents so that Daniel will know what to look for. 

#3 - - Play doh Tub - - Right now, I have cookie cutters (apple and trains)  along with a rolling pin and different colors.  I have ordered a different rolling pin (I have actually used a brayer here) ane cd some cookie cutters.  I plan to keep to a theme here (I hope).

#4 - - Color sorting tray - - I have some counting bears with cups and a pair of plastic tweezers for transferring the bears to their cups. 

#5 - - Let's Learn the Letter "A" Tray - - Various activities to help us learn the letter A.  I've included the phonetic card, Alphabet Laundry, a sandpaper A and a, dot art markers and a Letter A dot art page.  I will trade this out with other "A" crafts and activities that I have found on-line and as part of the Catholic ABC's curriculum from Lacy over at Catholic Icing.  The dot art pages are free here.

#6 - - A is for Apple - - I made this puzzle a while ago with a scroll saw and some paint. Danieil has already built this many times, but never seems to tire of it.


#7 - Read alouds - - We are currently workign through BFAIR, and have done Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear and Ask Mr. Bear.  We've worked on the lapbooks found at Homeschool Share.  I also found a felt bear that I did some time ago with a coop class, so he should have some fun dressing the bear! 

Daniel loves the Play Doh bin - - Yes, Mary, we did use the train cookie cutters! 
He likes making them blue and green for Thomas and Percy!

For teaching the faith, we are going to work on the Sign of the Cross.  For practical life, we are working on brushing teeth and getting dressed in the morning.  We will see how this goes!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Websites of interest

I have started doing Before Five in a Row with Daniel.  It's been quite a treat getting him to settle down for stories since I haven't really sat down with him every day to read to him.  He was a little reluctant at first, but I just kept going and he now is seeming to enjoy it.  I think I have mentioned as  a great resource already.  I was able to find lapbooks that correspond to each of the books introduced in BFIAR.  All Free!  He wants to learn how to use the scissors - - go figure! 

I also happened upon this website/blog that has ideas for bringing a Montessori education into your home.  It's called Montessori At Home.  I haven't perused the whole site, but I did purchase e-book and think it has some great practical ideas for bringing Montessori into a home/school environment.  It's also great because he highlights what he feels is the necessary Montessori materials, which is great, since they do get pretty expensive.  I haven't started completely with him yet, but hope to add some Montessori type activities as he gets older.

The above site also referred me to this blog.  While the author isn't strictly Montessori, she does use some Montessoi ideas and lots of preschool ideas for littles!  It looks like a potential goldmine.  She also has some stuff for older kids, too.