Gingerbread Cookies for Your Loved Ones

It’s December! A time that we spend together with friends and family. A time that we spend rushing around, attending Christmas parties and programs, braving the holiday shopping crowds, and a time that is focused on what WE want. But December is also a time that we can slow down and think for a minute, think about those who maybe need a little pick-me up (retail workers who deal with upset or frustrated clients), or those who have less than we do.

Do you know what generosity means?

When I asked my students this week what it means to be generous, they weren’t able to answer - most of them had never even heard the word “generous” before. It took some explaining from our classroom elf “Chippy” who taught us that:

Generosity means to be willing to give more of what you have to those in need. It

means going the extra mile and showing kindness to others. There is something

that happens in our hearts when we act generously. Joy fills our hearts.


Honestly, we are all very familiar with the word “MINE”. I mean who hasn’t watched a child have a “meltdown” because they don’t want to share their toy - maybe they don’t understand what it means to share. It’s our job as parents and teachers to help children understand why sharing is important and what it means to be generous.

We were challenged, and now our mascots are challenging you, to find a good deed that you can do for those around you. So how can you be generous this weekend? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Bake some cookies and take them to some people who could use a smile. Place them in jars, tie a pretty ribbon around them and go for a walk. (Here is my favourite Gingerbread recipe to help you out!)

  • Make christmas cards to take and hand out at a nursing home

  • Participate in an Angel Tree

  • Donate to a local food drive (or if your children are older, serve at the local soup kitchen)

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Gingerbread Cookies

  • ½ c. shortening

  • ½ c. sugar

  • ½ c. molasses

  • ¼ c. water

  • 2 ½ c. flour

  • 1 tsp. ginger

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp. baking soda

  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

  • ¼ tsp. all spice


Cream together sugar and shortening. Blend in molasses and water. Mix in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll dough out on floured surface. Cut into shapes and place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake.

Bake at 350° for 8-10 min

 
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Christmas Traditions Around the World

Wow! It is hard to believe that this weekend is December 1st already. I don’t know about you, but I’m not even close to ready for Christmas. All around the world people are gearing up for whichever holiday it is that they celebrate. Did you know that there are many different ways to celebrate? There’s:

-      Christmas – one of the most widely known celebrations around the world. While Canadians and Americans celebrate with Christmas trees, visits from Santa, and many dream of snow Australia celebrates Christmas during their summer where it’s tradition to decorate a “Christmas Bush” (a small Australian tree with green leaves and red flowers), and go to the beach or go camping.

-      Hanukkah – the eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. With this tradition, celebrations revolve around the lighting of the menorah candles.

-      Kwanzaa – while each family celebrates in a different way, celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. During each of the seven nights, families gather and light one of the candles on the Kinara and discuss one of the seven principles of African culture.

And we can’t forget about Boxing Day and Ōmisoka. Ōmisoka or New Year’s Eve is considered to be the second-most important day in Japanese tradition as it is the final day of the old year and the eve of the New Year’s Day, the most important day of the year.

What kind of plans do you have for this holiday season? How will you spend time with your family and/or friends? Maybe this year you want to take a moment to discuss with your family the ways different countries celebrate – are there any pieces of their celebrations that you would like to add into yours?

 
 

The Best Peanut Butter Recipes

November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month! Who’s with me in dancing? I love peanut butter!

Not only is it so versatile, it can be incorporated into almost every meal of the day and you don’t tire of it … well … not quickly at least. For breakfast, I love peanut butter in my smoothies, on pancakes or waffles, on my toast with banana slices.

At lunch or as a snack, I absolutely cannot eat celery without peanut butter spread on top and little raisins on top of that yet. Talk about delicious. Not to mention a PB&J sandwich for lunch!

Dinner, well I really mean dessert, is a cookie pizza. Make the worlds biggest cookie, slather it with peanut butter and top it with all your favourite dessert toppings (I love to use marshmallows, chocolate chips, brownie bits and bananas). Late night snacks find me cutting up apples to dip into my peanut butter (I even mix it with equal parts brown sugar sometimes) – what an amazing treat (and it’s good for you too)!

These are some of my all time favourite peanut butter recipes! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Melts

 Photo Cred: Kraft Canada

Photo Cred: Kraft Canada

1 c. butter (melted)

  • 2 c. white sugar

  • 2 tsp. vanilla

  • 1/8 c. molasses (2 tbsp.)

  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • 1 c. peanut butter

  • 2 eggs (beaten)

  • 2 ½ c. flour

Melt the butter. Add the sugar, molasses and vanilla. Stir until blended, then add the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add the peanut butter. Pour in the beaten eggs and stir. Then add the flour and mix well until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Form into walnut-sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork.

Bake. 375° for 7-8 min

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

 Photo Cred: Kraft Canada

Photo Cred: Kraft Canada

  • Half of one banana

  • 1/2 cup smooth or crunchy low-fat peanut butter

  • 1/2 cup of non-fat milk

  • 6 ice cubes

  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate whey protein powder

Place all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.

Pizza Cake

 Photo Cred: Food Network

Photo Cred: Food Network

  • 1 ½ c. flour

  • ½ tsp baking soda

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • 2/3 c. butter

  • ½ c. sugar

  • ½ c. brown sugar

  • 1 egg

  • ½ tsp. vanilla

  • 2 c. chocolate chips

  • ½ c. peanut butter

Mix together all the ingredients with the exception of the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet (or pizza tray). Bake. Spread peanut putter on baked cookie. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Bake at 375° for 12-14 min

Snickers Ice Cream Cake

 Photo Cred: Betty Crocker

Photo Cred: Betty Crocker

2  L. vanilla ice cream

1 500 mL. tub of Cool Whip

1 box chocolate pudding

½ c. chunky peanut butter

Mix ice cream (it is easier if the ice cream is slightly thawed), Cool Whip, pudding powder, and peanut butter. Pour into a 9x13 pan. Freeze. For an added touch, drizzle instant hardening chocolate ice cream topping on top before serving.

Aviation Month - Airplane Crafts

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

~ Henry Ford

November is Aviation history month, so what do you know about airplanes? When we think about it, we right away think of Wilbur and Orville Wright. But what about the people who were busy working on inventing aircraft before the Wright brothers perfected theirs? Have you heard of Otto Lilienthal? He was a German inventor who built and flew gliders near Berlin – a design the Wright brothers used for inspiration.

What about Amelia Erhardt? The woman who tried to circumnavigate the globe but was lost and never seen or heard from again. Geraldine Mock, in 1964, flew the “Spirit of Columbus” around the world in just 29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes earning the title that Erhardt was striving for. Wop May has become remembered through Stompin’ Tom Conners’ song. He was the top Canadian pilot of WWI, became a bush pilot after the war, and helped the RCMP track Albert Johnson who was known as “Mad Trapper of Rat River” – a man wanted for murder and illegal trapping.

Now it’s your turn – in honour of all those aviators who have gone before us, it is time to become one ourselves!

Grab yourself some paper, straws, clothespins, tape, and a few coins (for weight). Build and design an airplane that will glide at least 10 feet holding the most amount of weight. Need an additional challenge?

Use a large piece of paper to create a target hoop for your glider to fly through and hang it in a doorway.  You could even design yourself a launcher using popsicle sticks and an elastic band!

Poppy Pinwheel - Remembrance Day Activity

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

   That mark our place; and in the sky

   The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

       In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

   The torch; be yours to hold it high.

   If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

       In Flanders fields.

John McCrae was a Canadian military physician, born in Guelph Ontario, who served in WWI. At the end of one of the worst battles he was a part of, the Second Battle of Ypres (in Flanders region of Belgium) McCrae buried one of his best friends and fellow soldier, Alexis Helmer. After the service, McCrae noticed how quickly wild poppies grew throughout the battlefield and was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields, in the back of an ambulance.

Growing up, this was a poem I had to memorize for one of my classes; I want to say I was in grade 5. Our teacher had us do a dramatic reading as a class – you know where the boys say one line, the girls say another, and then when you want to bring emphasis to something, you say it all as a class. Nothing sticks with me more than hearing my grandparents’ stories about their relief and joy when they saw Canadian Forces come into their town back in The Netherlands – cities that had been occupied by the German Forces. Every year, my grandfather made a point of going to the cenotaph in our city to say thank you to the veterans that served during WWII, and that continue to serve – a tradition I carry on with my husband.

November 8th is National Aboriginal Veterans Day and November 11th is Remembrance Day here in Canada. We typically identify both these days as those soldiers who fought and died during WWI and WWII. However, we also need to remember those who are currently serving our country. The men and women who leave their homes and their families in order for us to live in a country where we can be free and not have to worry about war.

How do you remember?

Here’s an idea for you - this weekend, create a Poppy Pinwheel and discuss why we are free with your child.  Take it with you if you head to the cenotaph this weekend!

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Materials Needed: You’ll need red paper, brass paper fasteners, a black Sharpie, green paper straws and a hole punch (1/8 inch).

Simply fold the paper, fasten and create the best poppy’s this weekend.

Be share to show us your creations on Facebook!

Child Safety & Protection Month

Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe and loved.

November 1st not only is the beginning of a brand new month, but it marks the start of Child Safety and Protection Month. According the National Safety Council, “The job of protecting kids most often falls to parents and caregivers, and it is up to them to familiarize themselves with safety risks in and around their homes and communities. Once you know the risks, you can take steps to plan for safety.”

Most of this just comes naturally to parents – I mean we’ve probably all had the “don’t talk to or go home with strangers” talk with our kids. This week and last week, in the classroom we have been focusing on bus safety. All our students are bussed into school so it is important that not only do they know how to ride a bus, but how to stand and wait for the bus on the sidewalk or side of the road. We talk about the “danger zone” of the bus and how you need to stay out of it. Do your children ride a bus? How many kids know of the “danger zones” of the car in your driveway?? (aka. Blind spots of your car?) After all, not everyone has a backup camera.

Fire safety, car safety, water safety, bike safety, stranger danger – these are all very big terms that get thrown around when it comes to ensuring that our children are safe. This weekend is a great opportunity for you to review your safety routines with your child. Talk to them about how they can ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of other kids around them. After all, ALL children deserve to feel safe!

National safety council website

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety

Colouring pages from elementarysafety.com

https://elementarysafety.com/colouring-category/safety

Rice Krispie Pumpkins

Halloween is next week! Who knew right? For me, it kinda snuck up. Now the question becomes what should I be for Halloween? I bet you have already picked out your costume and thought about how you’re going to do you hair and, possibly, make-up. Growing up, my friends and I liked to do group costumes. I remember one year where we were the characters from Winnie the Pooh, and another year, the Wizard of Oz!


If I’m being honest though, dressing up is not my favourite part of Halloween. It’s all the treats that I get to give (and sometimes get). I really enjoy making special treats for the special trick-or-treaters in my life – my niece and my cousin’s kids. This year I am super excited to make them Rice Krispy Pumpkins. How adorable right?! And super easy and fun.

 Image Source: Cuts and Crumbles

Image Source: Cuts and Crumbles

I am going to wrap them in special little pumpkin bags, fill the bottoms with green M&Ms and gummy worms … maybe some crushed Oreo cookies and they have their own little pumpkin gardens! Now, if I did this for every child that came trick-or-treating at my house I would be making WAAAAAY too many pumpkins. So make them to enjoy yourself, or share with a few special people.


The Recipe for THE BEST Rice Krispie Pumpkins

  • ¼ c. butter

  • 1 bag marshmallows

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 6 c. Rice Krispies

  • red & yellow food colouring

  • Mini Rolos (or other little chocolate to use for the stem, Kit Kats are good!)

  • Green M&Ms (or other green chocolate / icing to use for the leaf on top of the pumpkin)

  • Candy Eyes / Black Icing for Faces (Optional)

 Source: Home Stories A - Z

Source: Home Stories A - Z

Melt the butter (I do it in the microwave but you can do it on the stove as well) and add the marshmallows and vanilla.

Combine until they are smooth and runny – you may need to heat them up a little more. Once smooth, add the yellow and red food colouring to make a nice orange colour.

Once the colour is to your liking, add the Rice Krispies and mix until they are all covered in your marshmallow mixture. Using your hands (I would layer them in oil or non-stick cooking spray so the Rice Krispies don’t stick), roll a handful of your mixture into balls and place them on a cookie sheet to cool and harden.

After you finish rolling them, and before you let them set, add your Rolo or other chocolate stem and green M&M onto the top of the pumpkin to make the stem and a leaf. Allow to set and enjoy!

Enjoy a special Halloween with your little ones!

Spooky Monster Slime Perfect for Halloween

If there is one thing my boys enjoy doing is making slime!! We have tried about 5 different recipes and have made many different types of slime but I have to say that this is my favourite! 

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Here's what you need:

  • Tide ORIGINAL Laundry Detergent - **must be original

  • Elmer's Clear Glue

  • Food Colouring

  • For this monster slime we used google eyes but you could use anything

 
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First thing you need to is pour the bottle of glue into a dish (I like using glass so it doesn't stick). Add desired colour of food colouring.

Then, SLOWLY.... add the tide until you see the two combine and form into a solid. I used the same ratio glue to detergent. 

 
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Then add the google eyes to make Halloween Spooky Monster Slime! 

 
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Mix the slime around in the bowl first and then once it's solid, bring it out onto the counter or the table so that you can play with it! 

 
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My boys played with it for hours and hours! We stored it in a ziploc bag and brought it out again but I would only say it lasts a week.

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Happy slime making! 

Fall in Love with Fall - The Ultimate Fall Checklist

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Fall has got to be one of our favourite seasons!

Going for walks on trails that go through the forest always amazes me and the rest of our team. But decorating for the fall season – that’s my favourite part! All the warm colours that I have to pick from.

In art, some colours are classified as warm colours (red, orange, yellow), while others are classified as cool colours (blue, green, purple). And when decorating your home, room, (or even classroom), sometimes it is helpful to have decorations that align with these colour classifications.

I mean fall is a time where it begins to get cold. Frost is beginning to appear on car windows in the morning, the vests and sweaters have made it out of the depths of the closet … So when the cold begins to come, you’ll need the warm colours around you!

Pumpkins and gourds are some of my favourite things to decorate with. As it so happens, they are also quite easily available this time of year. Have you visited your local pumpkin patch? Choosing the perfect pumpkin was always a highlight for me growing up (and even today as I search for the perfect one for my front porch). This weekend find your perfect pumpkin! Grab some gourds, pinecones or leaves (preferably clean ones) and decorate your kitchen/dining room table, your living room, bedroom or another space that could use a touch of warmth during this cooler season.

Here’s some fun ways I like to decorate:

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