Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favourite Books for Literacy Week 2015 #PreschoolActivities

This post is not sponsored or endorsed by any brand mentioned within. All opinions remain hpnest and my own. Literacy is something that can be promoted daily regardless of your child's age. I've been reading to my girl since she was just a few weeks old as part of our nightly routine. Literacy is not just the ability to read, it relates to language skills and social (conversation) interaction as well. Having quality books accessible for children at all times will help them learn to count books as a valued part of their daily life and not just a school chore to be conquered later on. The National spotlight on Family Literacy has been given an official day, this year it falls on Tuesday, January 27. Here are some of my favourite books to read and listen to in my classroom and with my own girl. My Top 3 Authors/Publishers: Scholastic Canada- Publishes and distibutes books all over the world. My childcare center participates in their book club which gives access to quality, affordable books and learning resources each month. Robert Munsch- this Canadian Author has written many books that promote humour and expressive language. I like to get these books with Munsch reading on CD so we can listen to his humorous portrayal of his story. DK Books International (Dorling Kindersley Limited)- These books are packed with colour photos and are top quality non-fiction/reference books with a wealth of information available in a wide variety of topics for all ages. Did you Know? Picture books encourage children to use their imagination and develop descriptive language. Repetitive and rhyming books help children memorize the familiar patterns of speech and encourage responsive language.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy New Year! Trying to Kick the Flu Season While Building Fun Giveaways and Posts for 2015!

Yes I know the NEW Year is two weeks old and I'm very late in offering best wishes and such. Since Boxing Day we have all taken turns being sick with one illness or another. The final one being a semi-emergency since we found out the hard way that my girl is allergic to penicillin. The twoonie sized welts and swollen face gave it away after her afternoon dose yesterday. It was only her third time having antibiotics in five years so we probably would have found out sooner. Since she is getting back to her cheeky self I have locked myself away to deal with the 200 emails and try to get my blog back on track for 2015.

I have several projects in the works for Valentine's and have reconnected with Hallmark Canada as an Ambassador for 2015. Here's to my third year on their blogger panel!

Now for some shameless self promotion, I give myself a free-pass once or twice a year. Please connect with me in my other social profiles to keep up to date on new posts and giveaways coming soon.




Monday, January 5, 2015

Mini Pops Launch Kid-Friendly Pop Album

I received product for purpose of review. All opinions remain honest and my own.

I have been familiar with Mini Pops for nearly thirty years and have used some of their songs in my classroom over the last 10 years.   For those who haven't heard of Mini Pops, they are a band of kids aged 10-14 gathered from across Canada, who sing and perform for K-tel. This brand has a way of finding talented young Canadian singers to cover the top hits of the day and present them in a kid-friendly way.

Recently I was given Mini Pops 11&12 to review and help create buzz for the album release in December (2014).

K-Tel’s Mini Pop Kids can be found top of the iTunes, and Amazon charts. Mini Pop Kids can be found at retailers Wal-Mart, BestBuy, Future Shop, and more…iTunes!
The Mini Pop Kids are available for live events. Please contact us for more information (Press release November 2014)

Music is a great way to get children up and moving. Hearing the popular songs of the day produced in kid friendly way helps make my music choices easy when planning music and movement activities in my classroom.
Friday, December 26, 2014

NOT Your Gramma's Hash Brown Casserole. {Brunch Favourites}

Hash Brown Casserole

Ingredient List:

1 package of frozen hash browns/500-700 grams
4 green onions, diced fine
1 cup of 5% sour cream
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup + 1/2 can milk
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of Mrs Dash

2 cups of sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/12 cups of Cheese Nips, crushed

What I did:
In a bowl- Mix/ Mushroom Soup, milk, sour cream, onions, and seasonings.
Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Preheat your oven to 375F.
Add 1/2 of the frozen hash browns to your dish.
Pour 1/2 of your soup mixture evenly on the hash browns and sprinkle with 1/2 of your shredded cheese.
Add remaining hash browns to the dish.
Pour all the soup mixture evenly over hash browns.
Top with cheese and crushed Cheese Nips.
Bake for 1 hour.

This versatile dish is great for many reasons.  It uses mainly pantry items (I consider my fully stocked freezer an extension of my pantry).  It can be prepared and refrigerated the night before, then baked and eaten the next day.  It can be eaten with any meal, at any occasion.

Omit Cheese Nips and top with Corn Flakes or French's Fried Onion Strings instead.
Use a Pepper Jack Cheese or Garlic Havarti.
The original recipe calls for Cream of Chicken Soup, I tried to make this a vegetarian version. I have tried this recipe with Cream of Broccoli or Cream of Celery too and loved it.

*Photo credit & Recipe Inspiration: All 
Friday, December 19, 2014

Reindeer Food & Reindeer Candy Cane Craft {Preschool Activities}.

Original Post Date: December 23, 2011

These are two activities I have done many times with my preschool students following the REINDEER theme.  With a few simple items from the Dollar Store you can create two fun projects, one to eat and one to share with Santa.  The candy cane has become a universally recognized Christmas treat.  With the option of so many flavours to choose from, you can be sure to find a variety that everyone will love.  My favourite are the cherry flavoured canes.

Candy Cane Reindeer Craft

What I Used:
1 box of candy canes (any flavour, mine held 9 plastic wrapped canes)
1 package of chenille wires
1 package of craft google eyes (need 2 for each candy cane)
small red pom poms (need 1 for each candy cane)
Non-toxic Glue Stick

  • Make sure your candy canes are the kind that are plastic wrapped.
  • Twist the chenille wires onto the top of the candy cane and fold ends into antler shapes.
  • Use glue stick to attach eyes and pom pom nose.
  • Stand the finished project in a glass to dry at least an hour.

When dry- Hang on Christmas tree, attach to gifts for decoration, or peel wrapper and enjoy a treat!

Reindeer Dust

There are many different versions of this activity.  I have adapted the usual reindeer dust recipes to include only edible materials by switching out glitter for candy sprinkles and/or coloured sugar.  I wanted this project to be non-toxic, safe if ingested, and biodegradable.  Sprinkle on the ground outside on Christmas Eve and read your poem.

Makes Enough for 4 children:
1 cup of oats
1/3 of coloured sugar (coarse)
1/4 cup sprinkles
Copies of the poem (scissors & hole punch)
twist ties or ribbon
4 food storage bags

What I did:
  • Mix the oats, coloured sugar and sprinkles in a bowl.
  • Scoop by spoonfuls into your food storage bags.  I used Dollar Store cello bags.
  • Write your poem on a 3x3 piece of card stock paper or print out from computer and trim to size.
  • Punch a hole in your poem and secure to the bag with ribbon or twist ties.

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home  
Author Unknown 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas !

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Comfort Food: Spiced Raisin Rum Cake

Original post date December 21, 2012.
This is my second most requested recipe for this time of year.
Using 2-3 smaller cake or loaf pans makes this cake an easy 
option for sharing.

Warm and spicy, sweet and moist...This is not your gramma's fruitcake.  It is one of my Mother's fruitcake recipes so be careful with those fruitcake jokes.  There are no eggs in this recipe and you can easily swap out the butter for vegetable oil or soy based margarine.  My Mom only ever made this for Christmas, but I find myself craving it all winter long.  Molasses is a good source of Iron so this magic cake can't be all that bad for you right?

Boil Liquid Ingredients for 10 minutes:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup butter or 3/4 oil
1 1/2 cups dark raisins
2 cups water

Add Spice & Flavour then cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours:
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp Rum extract or 1 Tablespoon Dark Rum

Combine Dry Ingredients into the wet with a dough hook:
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Pour batter into greased cake or loaf pans.
Bake 45 to 65 minutes (Turn oven down to 275 F after 20 minutes).
Tooth pick test the middle of the cake/s.  A clean, batter free toothpick will indicate doneness.

*I use 3 medium/1.5 cup loaf pans, so this decreases the bake time to about 40-50 minutes. This is my Mom's recipe and she always used a big Bundt pan which took about 60 minutes to bake.