I have been reading several articles lately on the subject of Learning Loss in summer. According to several studies significant learning loss can take place in children during summer or out-of-school months. In a study conducted by Cooper et al  it has been found that summer learning loss can be the equivalent of a at least one month of instruction. That number is staggering! So what can us as educators and parents do to help with this statistic? There are many ideas out there that can help combat this problem. Continue reading “Summer Learning Loss and Ideas to prevent it”
Cooking Club is a very popular after school club choice. Let’s be frank, if eating food is involved children will suddenly become more interested! But Cooking Club is a choice, not without its complications such as:
1) Many child care centers have limited kitchen access or only have access to a microwave/refrigerator which makes it difficult to “cook” any food.
2) Safety can become a concern with hot surfaces & knives. Using plastic utensils and active supervision is crucial
3) Cooking Club can easily become junk food club. Try to balance by offering a good mix of treats and healthy options! Continue reading “Cooking Club In After School Setting”
My inspiration behind leading a Taste of Mexico Club came about a few years back. I was traveling in Mexico seeing the local sights and decided to take a class. Since I love all things culinary I took a class called, “A Taste of Mexico.,” hosted by a chef at a local restaurant. We learned to make salsa Mexicana, guacamole, tamales, and tacos. Once we were all finished we got to consume our delicious Mexican delights. The chef then surprised us all with awards as honorary chefs. Even as a fully grown adult I was giddy as a small child when I received my award. I wanted to share my experiences with the children I work with, and thus Taste of Mexico Club evolved!
Week 1-Hands on cooking experience: Make and Taste guacamole
The ages of children in my club were 6-11, so I had to make a few preparations beforehand such as chopping the cilantro, onions, and tomatoes and placing them in separately labeled zip lock baggies. For the avocadoes I simply cut them in half and let the children take turns scooping out the avocadoes with plastic forks into a large bowl. Once all the avocadoes were scooped into the bowl I had each child take a turn at mashing the avocadoes (I used a potato masher for this, which worked out fabulously!) Next, I assigned each student a duty to add a remaining ingredient: salt, pepper, lime, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes. Once everything was all mixed together everyone got to taste their creation. I then gave everyone an award for being a “Certified Guacamole Maker.” I also gave them the guacamole recipe to take home. One of the children loved the guacamole so much she went home and told her Dad about it. That next weekend they made it together and Dad put it out for sports party he was hosting and said, “My daughter made the best guacamole ever!”
Serves 15-20 kids
- 6 avocadoes
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- ½ -1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- The juice of 2-3 limes
- 1 Serrano Chile, seeded & chopped (optional)
Week 2- Piñatas Part 1
To start our week I announced that we were going to make piñatas, but first we started by learning a few facts about the history of the piñata. Each child was given a medium sized balloon. We used newspaper strips & liquid starch to completely cover our balloons. (Liquid starch is hard to find these days – I scoured Target and Ralphs to no avail. My most consistent source for liquid starch is Pavilions.) Try to encourage the children to wipe away excess starch from their strips with their fingers, as the strips can easily tear if too wet. It also will not cover the balloon as well. Once complete allow the piñatas to completely dry. I like to keep them in bowls and constantly turn them when one side dries. I also try to keep a vigilant eye on them and patch any holes I see. Also, make sure the club leader makes a piñata as well to be used at the fiesta the last week.
- Balloons (1 per child)
- Newspaper strips
- Liquid starch
- Plastic Bowls
Week 3- Piñatas Part 2
Today we painted our piñatas. I put out green, white, yellow and green tempera paints and pencils for them to draw their design. Once completed we put them in a safe place to allow them to dry and save them for taking home Week 4.
Week 4- Fiesta Time
We had a fiesta dancing to the Mexican Hat Dance and Macarena and served quesadillas for snack. (These can easily be heated in the microwave 3-4 at a time.) I filled the leader made balloon piñata with small toys and attached a jump rope. Creating the handle can be the hardest part, but duck tape is your friend, utilize it well, otherwise not all children will get a turn at whacking the piñata. Prepare for this ahead of time by giving guidelines to the children. Ours were: 1) Each child gets 2 tries 2) Even if prizes fall out don’t grab them until the leader says go 3) Only pick up 3 prizes and then sit at the table, once everyone has 3 in their bag (and a leader has checked) then you have one more “free for all” at the prizes. Our rules worked out well but you may want to change them depending on your group dynamic. At the end of the club each child got to take home their piñata to use at their own party!
Looking for more club ideas? Check the club themes page for some more exciting themed-units!