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Field Trips

This will be the place for field trips - - real and imagined! 

Destination:  India
Let me start this field trip entry with a big thanks going out to Dave's co-workers who helped us with our research on India.  We have learned that India is a land of diverse culture and great friendly people. 

Dates of our trip:  March 21 - March 27, 2011

Rather than try to prepare for Geography Day in our spare time or squeeze it into a day, I've decided that we will "visit" India for a whole week.  While it may seem like goofing off, the kids will be writing, cooking, researching and rehearsing our presentation.  I am sure that this will make the trip enjoyable, we will learn a lot, and we will be fully prepared to present India to our homeschool friends.
Here are some of the books I've ordered for our study of India.  You may be able to find many of these from the library.  There is also a lapbook available from  They use another book called Look What Came from India.  That book is out of print and not available from our library, which means that it costs too much for me to order.  I am sure we can find out much of the information needed to complete the lapbook on-line and in the books I have ordered listed here below: 

Monday:  Today we begin our journey.  We are suspending regular school (except for math) for the week to do this indepth study.  Today, I want to begin work on a salt dough relief map.  My husband also works with many people from India, so we are going to come up with a question sheet so that we can learn more about where they are from and what they liked to do as kids.  We will map where they come from.  Each child will research a saint and do a report on them according to their abilities and age.  We will also be reading from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book throughout the week.

We worked on the "lapbook" for India available at and the kids researched their saints.  We made Chapati Bread, which was included in the lapbook and I found a spice packet for Chicken Tikka Masala at our grocery store, which I served over rice.  It was a bit spicy, not hot, but spicy, but still yummy. 
Chapati Bread
Andrea making the Chapati

Chicken Tikki Masala

St. Thomas, St. Francis Xavier, St. Alphonsa, and Blessed Mother Teresa
This morning I got up early to paint wooden doll saints that each of the kids have researched.  These will sit on our display table and then be added to our growing family of saint dolls.  I also set out the butter for the Indian "bisuit" recipe that Ria from Ria's Collection had suggested.  These will be for tea time.  I would like to make some of the filled patries, if I get a chance.  Tonight our dish is going to be another creation that is part grocery store and part homemade.  Some Indian spices and foods are hard to find here in the Hagerstown area, so I will be making a list today for some things to try that Dave or one of his co-workers can pick up closer into DC.  The recipe is for Chicken Biryani.  In looking at many Indian recipes on the internet, it appears that just about every area in India has some type of Biryani.  Some are sweet/savory and others more savory.  I would like to try one from scratch, but that will have to wait until I can get the right ingredients.  

Salt Dough Relief Map of India

We are making salt dough for a relief map of India. To make the salt dough, you need equal parts flour and salt to which you would gradually add water to make a dough. Be careful not to make it too sticky.  You can probably cut this recipe in third, depending on the size map you want.  We had a lot left over!  It's basically a one to one ratio.

3 - 4 cups salt
3 - 4 cups flour
water as needed

*recipe and directions are from e-how.

Completed Map

For our snack, Andrea and I made the Nankatai cookies and for lunch we made Chicken Puffs.  We are going to make Nancuts/Nankatai. These recipes comes from Ria at Ria's Collection. You can find the recipe for the Nankatai here. .

My chicken puffs are a little different form teh ones that Ria had suggested.  I used puff pastry and her recipe for spicy chicken filling.  Here is a picture of how the chicken puffs turned out.  The kids liked them and didn't think them too spicy, which means, I probably didn't use enough =).

Today the kids worked on their reports some more and started work on a travel poster or brochure (their choice).  They chose their destination from a travel guide.  We used the DK guide, which I liked because of the colorful pictures, lots of explanation and maps.   We also scheduled an interview with Fr. James who comes from Kerala, a state on the southwestern coast of India.  It will be neat to talk with him. 

Andrea works on her travel brochure.
What a great interview we had with Fr. James after Mass this morning.  He invited us to sit in the rectory, which the kids have never done, and talk with him.  Daniel got a little too noisy and so I had my oldest ds take him outside, but it was still great.  Father talked about where he grew up.  He patiently answered our questions and was willing to repeat if we couldn't understand right away.  He truly has the patience of a saint!  Today, we are winding down our study and working on our presentation. The kids are finishing up their posters.  Since, part of our presention is oral,so we talked about what would be important and broke it down into an introduction, climate and geography, government, culture and the Catholic Church in India.  So, now each one is working on their subtopic.  Tomorrow we will go over our presentation, making sure each person knows what they are going to talk about. 

Our presentation board - not quite

Jenna works on her report.


Today the kids and I went over the oral presentation a couple of times.  I am glad that we were able to finish everything before today, since it is a busy day with co-op and some travel.  The menu for the day will be the Chicken Puffs, along with the Nancuts (recipe link above) and chapati.  I also have some heat and serve lentil dish and Fr. James's banana chips.  The recipe for the puffs is adapted to allow for ease and quickness.  The ingredients can be done while waiting for the puff pastry dough to thaw.

Chicken Puffs
(adapted from a couple of recipes found on Ria's Collection)

Puff Pastry Sheets (You can buy these in the frozen foods of your grocery store.)

2 - 3 TBS olive oil
1/2 TBS garlic paste
1/2 TBS ginger paste
1 Medium onion minced
1/2 - 1 TBS chili powder (to taste)
1/2 TBS coriander
Salt to taste
1 large can of chicken breast - drained and shredded
1 egg, beaten

Remove puff pastry from package and allow to thaw on counter for about 20 minutes.  Prepare filling by heating oil in skillet.  Add garlic and ginger pastes and cook until it gives off aroma.  Add onions and cook until transluscent.  Add chili powder, coriander, and salt and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add chicken and mix well.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cut pastry sheets into squares (I got about 9 from each sheet). Place filling in center of square, brush edges with water, fold over and press to seal edges.  Brush with beaten egg and bake in a 425 degree oven until browned (about 15 - 20 minutes).


Display table
What a blessed day!  We were able to get home from out of town in time to attend Mass last night so that we could concentrate on cooking our dishes and getting everything ready to go.  I handed Jeremy the recipe for the Chicken Puffs and Andrea the one for the Nancuts.  After a few directions, they were busy helping out.  Dave and Alex had to go up for Mass, which was a good thing, since we were running a little behind.  We got our recipes done and headed up the road for Geography Day!  The kids had a blast learning about New Zealand and Ireland from our friends.  They learned a game that was played by Maori children to determine who would become warriors.  They also learned some of the folklore that comes to us from Ireland.  It has truly been a blessing.  Often Dad is not involved too much in our learning and it was great to hve him help us with interviews from people he worked with and to have him look over what we've done.  I think he was quite impressed.  Here are some pics from the day.  Who knows where we will be headed next, but I cannot wait for the next field trip -- maybe it will be a real one!  God Bless!!

Jeremy taking the chicken puffs from
the tray.
 Website resources:
India for Kids - This is a UK website with crafts, activities and ideas for learning about India.

Display board, salt map and
wooden saint dolls.

Dave and Daniel trying
the Maori game.

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