Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Cooking

When deciding on a theme to focus on for last week I knew I wanted something simple.  I wanted a theme that was something we did on a regular basis.  Then by focusing on it for a learning theme I could add more activities than we would normally do and add in more learning.  I decided on a cooking theme because Carter loves to cook and we cook together at least once a week.  By focusing our theme on cooking I could just add a few learning activities and put more meaning into our typical cooking.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives from the original ones we focused on because Carter mastered those skills.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Take turns in a simple game.
  2. Understand the meaning of mine, his, hers.
  3. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).  
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • Every time Carter helps me cook I tell him his first job when cooking is to wash his hands.  I had him practice washing his hands at the beginning of the week and then each time he helped me cook he would wash his hands.  We always sing our scrub-a-dub song when he's lathering his hands up with soap and he was so cute singing it with me!
  • Using Carter's play foods we sorted based on type of food.  Our categories were fruit, vegetable, meat, dairy, and treat.  I helped Carter quite a bit, letting him know whether a food was a fruit or a vegetable if he didn't know.  He knew with quite a few of the foods because we talk about how he needs to eat a fruit and a vegetable at every meal and I'll tell him which food on his plate is a fruit and which one is a vegetable.
  • I got out our hand mixer and a large mixing bowl.  I put some water in the mixing bowl and let Carter play with the hand mixer.  I showed him how to turn it on and how to move it around inside the bowl.  I also showed him how to eject the whisks which he thought was really cool!
  • I let Carter push buttons on the microwave to help me re-heat leftovers for lunches.  He enjoyed it so much that one day while I was feeding Elise he pulled a chair over to the microwave and put his plates in and then pushed buttons, pretending to cook using the microwave.  He'd then pull the plate out and tell me, "Mommy, time eat," while holding a plate out to me.

  • We practiced using measuring cups.  I would have Carter hold the measuring cup while I poured an ingredient into the cup.  Then he'd pour the contents of the measuring cup into our bowl.  When he's older we'll practice fraction equivalents with measuring cups.  I kept thinking about how much fun it would be to use rice to see how we can use different sized cups to get the same measurement.  For example, we could fill the 1/4 cup and pour it into the 1/2 cup twice so Carter could see that 2/4 is equal to 1/2.  
  • Carter got more practice taking turns during this week as well.  When we were making something that involved stirring I would let him stir for a while and then I'd tell him it was my turn.  I would stir for a while and then tell him he could have a turn again.  He loves stirring and didn't want to stop, but I needed to stir some because he still isn't quite able to get everything all mixed on his own.  It worked out great doing it that way and was great practice for him!

  • For Carter's sensory bin I filled the bin with rice.  Then I just added cooking utensils.  I made sure to put in tools he's used before such as measuring cups and spatulas.  I was also excited to add tools he hadn't used before so he could explore with them.

  • This week was Ty's first week back to work after Elise's birth.  He wanted to take cookies to thank his co-workers who covered for him during his absence.  Carter and I made cookies Sunday evening using cookie cutters, but we apparently made them too big and they spread so much on the cookie sheet that they became a big jumbled mess.  We ended up making cookies again later in the week.  I just cut the cookies to size and then once they were finished baking and cool Carter got to spread pink frosting on them and add pink sprinkles.
  • One night for dinner we made homemade pizza.  Carter and I made the dough and then Ty got home so he and Carter added the toppings while I held Elise.  Carter really enjoyed adding the toppings.  That was definitely his favorite part!

  • I wanted to make something that Carter could do without any help so we also made English muffin pizzas for lunch.  I pulled the English muffins apart and laid them on the cookie sheet for him.  Then Carter added the toppings all by himself.  He loved that I didn't help him at all!

  • We used Fruity Cheerio's to string on yarn and make a cereal necklace.  Carter loved wearing his necklace and biting the cereal off it.
    Stringing the cereal onto his necklace.

Eating his cereal necklace.

  • We got Carter a plain apron and he used fabric markers to decorate it.  I was so excited about it and figured he would want to wear it during all of our cooking throughout the week, but he never wanted to wear it!

  • During one of Carter's Gma and Gpa's visits his Gma brought Jiffy Pop popcorn to make with him and they didn't get the chance to make it.  I saved the popcorn for her to make on their next trip and it just never happened.  I noticed it was past it's Best By date so I decided to go ahead and make it with Carter.  Before making the popcorn we read "The Popcorn Book" and "The Popcorn Dragon".  Carter really enjoyed watching it expand and pop, but wasn't a fan of the noise.  After it was finished he ate the pieces that were still good and then we used the rest to dip in finger paint and create a painting with popcorn prints. 
Ready to make the popcorn.
Dipping popcorn into paint.
Making a popcorn print painting.
Special Snack:
  • We read the book "Blueberries for Sal" and then made blueberry waffles to eat as a morning snack.

  • We read the book "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" and then we made pancakes for breakfast.  Carter had just tried out the hand mixer so I let him use the hand mixer to combine the ingredients which he thought was awesome!

Make Believe:
  • When we made our pizza Carter and I read "Pete's a Pizza" while it was in the oven baking.  Then we acted out the book with Carter pretending to be a pizza while I prepared him.  Since we had just made a pizza, Carter knew the steps for creating a pizza and enjoyed playing along.
  • Outside at Carter's play kitchen he pretended to cook food and eat it.  He loves playing with his kitchen and is so cute imitating the cooking we do in the house so precisely.

  • I found some really cute songs about food and nutrition here.  We sang "Are You Eating" to the tune of "Are You Sleeping": 
Are you eating, are you eating, 
Healthy foods, healthy foods?
For your body needs them, 
For your body needs them,
every day, every day.

  • We also sang  Pat-a-Cake and did the actions that go along with it.  Carter loves it that I sing "Mark it with a C for Carter" rather than "Mark it with a B for Baby."
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went to Krispy Kreme to watch doughnuts be made.  Carter loved standing at the window watching the dough come out and fry in the oil, then be flipped over and covered in glaze.  We stood and watched until they were finished making the batch of doughnuts.  Since we were there while they made glazed doughnuts we got one for free and then I let Carter pick out a doughnut to buy as a special treat.  He really enjoyed the experience!
    Watching doughnuts be made.

Enjoying his doughnut treat!
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
  • The Best Mouse Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff 
  • Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola
  • Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Wescott
  • Curious George Pat-a-Cake by Cynthia Platt
  • Cooking with Clifford by Norman Bridwell
  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  • The Popcorn Book by Tomie DePaola
  • Pete's a Pizza by William Steig
  • Kids Cook 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Jamberry by Bruce Degen
  • D.W. the Picky Eater by Marc Brown
  • First Tomato by Rosemary Wells
  • The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer
  • The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
  • The Mayo Clinic's Kids' Cookbook by Mayo Clinic
  • The Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney
  • Feed Our Small World by Nancy Kubo
  • Strawberries Are Red by Petr Horacek
  • We're Going to the Farmer's Market by Stefan Page