Table Talk, Friendship Soup and Pumpkin Pie!

The months between Halloween and Winter Break are my favorite to teach.  Oh wait–I think I will probably say that very soon, as I love to teach January and February, too.  Ha! Maybe I just like teaching in first grade….:)

Anyhow, one of the things I love is the fun we are able to have with out learning and our community around Thanksgiving.  This year we made Friendship Soup (which was a first for me!) as well as the pumpkin pie that has become a common tradition for my classes to make and share together.

Thanks to many generous parents who donated LOADS of things, we were able to work together with out friends in RM. 112 to make two whole crockpots full of friendship soup, which was actually PHONICS friendship soup, full of letters thanks to a recipe from our good pal, Rasheed.  In the morning of our last day before we left for our long Thanksgiving break, we put it all in the pot to let it simmer while we worked on other things.  It was fun to see what kiddos already knew about cooking, like who had heard of the spices we were using or who knew how to open a can with a can opener.  It’s one of my most favorite things about cooking with kids–connections to real life and skills they’ll use forever! 🙂 And they did a great job with following the recipe and man did it start to smell good!!

On that same day, pumpkin pie was on the menu!  Prior to this day we had read lots of books about pumpkins, carved jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and used pumpkins for our Literary Lantern projects, too.  Well, we ended up with several leftovers, which were PERFECT for our pie project.  I had never used actual pumpkin for the recipe (usually it’s just organic pumpkin out of a can), but why not? It just made sense!

I have a great crust recipe from my husband’s granny that is just flour, salt and oil, which is perfect because our class has allergies to eggs, dairy, nuts and tree nuts.  The pie is a vegan recipe (yep, vegan!) I ran across a couple of years ago–when I was baking for my niece and nephews who are also allergic to many things. :). The recipe was perfect!  Besides the fact that most kiddos had never MADE a pumpkin pie before, there were some who had never EATEN pumpkin pie before, because it wasn’t safe for them.  This was definitely a win-win situation. :). We were even able to have allergy-friendly “whipped cream” that was made with aquafaba (which for those who don’t regular eat this way is the liquid leftover from chick peas).  It whips up just like heavy cream (ok, not just like it–my husband would DEFINITELY disagree that it’s as good–but it’s a great substitute if you can’t have the dairy kind) and is yummy with the pie!

While we don’t have a classroom kitchen (or a kitchen for us to use with our classes, which would be AWESOME!), we do have pretty a great kitchen staff who was more than willing (thanks, Rachel!!) to put our pie in the oven, and even watch it for us while it baked.  Gotta love it when all the adults in the building support kid-focused activities, no matter how crazy they are!

Toward the end of the day, it was finally time for our Friendship Feast, which we had created with our very own hands. :). I hadn’t done this in such a formal way before (most years prior we just had pie and ate it in a hurry during our regular snack time), but my teammates went all in and set a big long table, complete with table cloths and everything, so I figured I’d join in at least part-way. :). I didn’t have table cloths, but I did create a table space big enough for us all, and Avant even put a flower on it to make it fancy. 🙂

Those pics are a little sad, though, right, because they needed kids!  As they walked back in after specials, they were excited and surprised to see a table set for them and quickly sat down.

Before we were ready to eat, we reminded ourselves of some other things we had learned prior to this day.  I thought that since we were going to sit at a table together, we should use it as an opportunity to learn about table manners.  I have learned over lots of years with little ones, and by having my own kiddos at home, that you cannot assume that kids KNOW what to do in certain situations.  So instead I read a great book by Julia Cook called Table Talk.

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Just as was in the book, we waited for everyone to be seated, for everyone to be served and put our napkins in our laps.  We chewed with our mouths closed, waited our turn to talk, and also remembered to be quiet and respectful at the table, rather than playing around or being loud and crazy.  Before we ate, also, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for.  We listened carefully and then once everyone had had a turn, we dug in. :).  And realized we had done a GREAT JOB with our Friendship Soup–it was YUMMY!! (Oh, and another thing we all did was at least take a “thank you bite,” which means you have to at least try the soup and then you are allowed to not eat the rest–as a thank you to the chef for making it for you. 🙂 ).

Most kids like the soup, and everyone at least tried the pie.  Some decided it was AWESOME and had more than one slice, and others just had a bite–which is totally fine, of course.  The big deal here wasn’t that we were great cooks, or that we were master bakers.  Instead it was that we could work together, take time for each other, show kindness and respect to our friends, enjoy time with classmates and also see the fruits of our labor.  Kids did things they didn’t know they could do and were so excited to see the results.  They laughed together, solved problems together and listened to what makes their friends happy.  We had table talk, friendship soup and pumpkin pie, and we did it all together.  And for that I am thankful!

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Plans

If you’ve been here much this fall you’ve read many posts about pumpkins.  We’ve read lots of books about pumpkins, planned and created amazing Literary Lanterns out of pumpkins, and then, because of a super lead from Mrs. Meihaus, returned our pumpkins to the wild depths of the Robinson Woods from whence they came.  Ok, not really, but we did take them out to see what would happen next, with our fingers crossed that we’ll grow a pumpkin patch. 🙂

Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together.  I mean, come on, right?  PERFECT!!

And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end.  Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!

1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class.  I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…

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They came up with these questions:

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We decided to tackle the last one:  Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us?  But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST.  We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!

We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.

We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe.  We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker.  It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).

We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).

With some moments that reminded me of the Feast Week work we did in 5th grade several years ago, some of my first grade friends helped me triple the recipe.  Wow!

Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy!  We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch.  I have to say THANKS  A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers!  Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂

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We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen!  What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!

We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down.  Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert.  We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.

I’d say these three were the happiest about pie.  Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!

Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture.  It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home.  Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂  I am definitely thankful for them!

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Things Teachers Do in the Summer: READ!

So as I was writing that quick “I’m sorry” post yesterday, I ended with a statement that seemed like a great idea for a series of posts: things teachers do in the summer.  And no, it’s not just a sit-around-on-the-beach-and-drink-Mai-Tais kind of thing, either.  I’ve been busy!  Let me tell you about it. 🙂

I love to read.  My husband might disagree with that statement, as he is one of those people who goes to bed with a book (or his iPad) every night, and always has a new book, magazine, graphic novel or whatnot ready to be devoured.  I, on the other hand, am more of a sporadic reader, choosing more carefully what I take time to read.  Unfortunately, during the school year, that time is mainly spent on professional reading; I only have so much time and want it to be useful.  Unfortunately,  my “free” reading is usually saved for the summer.  I like to get started on reading the new Mark Twain nominees that I might try for read alouds, as well as any other MG novels I’ve heard about and the other professional titles I didn’t have time for during the school year.

Here’s what I’ve been reading so far:

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Pie by Sarah Weeks

This one was the first on my Mark Twain list, mainly because Sarah Weeks was the only author on the list that I recognized.  I am excited to share it with my students, and I’m hoping it will be enjoyed by everyone.  One of my favorite parts of the book is the recipes that are included at the end of every chapter.  PIE is the name of the pie shop started by Alice’s Aunt Polly, and the story revolves around the fate of the shop–and Aunt Polly’s prize-winning pie crust recipe–after she passes away.  Besides loving the story, I’m excited to try the pie, too!  This book combines two of my loves–reading and baking. 🙂

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Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach

Here’s another one from the Mark Twain list, and another one that I am excited to share with my class.  This one is an adventure, and I love that there are both strong boy and girl characters.  There were moments when the dialogue was a little unnatural, and it was a little long for my tastes, but I’m glad I made it to the end.  This one will be great, too, because there are several others that kiddos could choose to read if they like this one.   Reminded me a little bit of Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs, which was a Mark Twain nominee several years ago.

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 10.26.04 PM  Barn Boot Blues by Catherine Friend

This is a city-girl-moves-to-the-country story (also a MT nominee) about Taylor McNamara.  She moves to a     farm  just before school starts and fights to fit into the new world she’s in.  I love the way Friend shares Taylor’s thoughts, as well as how the character interacts with her family and friends.  She’s sarcastic–and so am I–which is probably why she’s such a likeable character for me.  The story is a big predictable, but in some ways, that’s what makes it a good read.  Read this one in a few hours because I couldn’t put it down!

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Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

This book was similar to PIE, in that it was a girl trying to find her way in the world with food as her guide.  This time though, it was cupcakes!  This was the first book I’ve read by Joan Bauer (but I’ve since found several that I’ve put on my TBR list!), and it was a good one.  The only thing that was a bit annoying to me (just my opinion, obviously) was the Food TV personality that is in the book–the scenes where she pretended to have her own cooking show and idolized celebrity chef Sonny Kroll were a little silly.  Overall, I enjoyed it, though, and I could see how many readers might like it, too!  Now I can officially vote for my favorite Mark Twain book because I’ve read the required 4 titles.  Oh wait…it’s not for teachers??  Bummer.

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 10.41.38 PMNotice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

I figured here would be a good place to add in some professional reading (partly because some of the novels I read were recommended here!).  I found this book during the spring, on Twitter, namely because my tweep Shannon Clark (@shannonclark7) started a Twitter chat (using the hashtag #nnnchat) and a Facebook group for teachers to discuss it.  I have heard its ideas mentioned at more than one workshop this summer, too, so needless to say I was excited when it finally showed up on my doorstep!  The main premise of the book is how to teach kids to read closely, by introducing them to “signposts” that are included in many novel texts; once kids know the signposts they start to find evidence of them in books they read independently and these noticings and notes help them better understand what they are reading.  I’m definitely going to incorporate these lessons (and this mindset about reading in general) into our Reader’s Workshop work this year.  This book made me really excited for school to start!

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 10.50.16 PMHope Was Here by Joan Bauer

Recognize the author’s name?  Funny how I’d never heard of her, but then once I did, I find her work everywhere!  This text is used as a mentor text in some lessons in Notice & Note, so I figured I should probably read it. 🙂  It’s food-related too, but this time is set in a diner.  Again there’s a girl who is fatherless and is trying to figure out who she is and where she fits into the world.  Included this time is a secondary plot that involves a mayoral race in the small town in Wisconsin, as well as a budding romance between the main character and the cook in the diner where she works.  Hope Was Here was definitely a page-turner, and I enjoyed every word.

The Book WhispScreen Shot 2013-07-21 at 10.56.45 PMerer by Donalyn Miller

Here’s another one I found on Twitter (thanks to @donalynbooks), and one that I cannot believe I waited this long to read!  I’ve always been a proponent of student choice in their reading, and this book helped me be more clear on why it’s a good idea.  The stories she shares and the alternatives to help give students more say in their reading were inspirational.  I really loved the “ultimate book list” at the end of the book where she shared some key titles to have in your classroom library.  It’s become my new shopping list!

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 11.08.58 PMRiding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan

I hate to admit how many books I have in my class library that I know are great titles, but that I have never read.  Also, it’s really sad to admit how little historical fiction I share with my students.  So, when I saw that this book was on Donalyn Miller’s Ultimate Book List, I knew I had to read it.  It was a great story based on the life of Charlotte Parkhurst, who (I learned) was a famous stablehand, stagecoach driver, and probably the first woman to ever vote!  Add this to my read aloud list for sure. 🙂

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 11.21.08 PM The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Last summer, I finally (I know–I shouldn’t admit this) read (well listened to) the classics by Christoper Paul Curtis–Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963.  Like with so many other titles in my library, I have no idea why I’d never read them, but I had not.  My husband (who I mentioned before is a very prolific reader, and a teacher, also) had shared these with his classes many times over and couldn’t let another minute go by without enlightening me as to why they were so fabulous.  We listened to them in the car on the way to Florida during our vacation, and they were instant hits with our son (who was 5YO at the time) as well.  So fast forward to this year’s vacation, and another CPC hit was made with our family.  This one is set in Gary, Indiana, but has connections to Flint, Michigan where Bud is from, and if you pay attention (or if you know the story of Bud, Not Buddy) you realize that Deza Malone and Bud cross paths in a camp in Detroit along the way.  I love the realism with which Curtis writes, and I love the conversations I was able to have with my son about the themes in the book.  I’m excited to share this story with my 5th graders, and begin the conversation with them, too!

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Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

I told you we liked this author, right?  Here’s another one that Grant had shared with his students that surprisingly I didn’t know.  Ok, not true.  I have it in my classroom but I’ve never read it.  Again, lame, I know.  I have to admit that I liked the overall premise of this book, but then once we started listening I couldn’t get into it.  Everyone else was entertained, but I just had a hard time following.  And then I heard the end and it made the whole thing worth it.  Now I want to go back and reread the whole thing over again, both so I can see the text (remember we listened to it), but also so I can catch all that I missed the first time around.  Definitely worth my time, I think.

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 1.07.44 AMSparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor

Just when I thought I was finished with my list of Mark Twains, I uncovered another one that I read that I’d forgotten about!  I wonder if the reason it didn’t come to mind right away was that it was another one that took me a while to get into.  It’s weird, and I don’t know if it was on purpose, but there seem to be similar themes running through many of the nominees this year–families that are displaced for some reason or another (who all seem to be running away from something), girls who don’t know their fathers (and are therefore searching for him), and food or food service.  All of those are present in this one, too, with a little bit of art thrown in for good measure.  I enjoyed the style of writing of this book, and though it took me a while to get into the story, I eventually got on a roll and was satisfied with the ending.

So…there are still a few weeks of summer left (although they seem to be fleeting fast!), and so I still have some reading to do.  I’m in the middle of two different professional reads (also about reading), have a book on Essential Questions by Wiggins and McTighe on my TBR pile, as well as some new writing resources from Calkins, new math resources from Fosnot and at least 3 or 4 MG novels that I want to finish.  Will there be time??  Cross your fingers with me.  And maybe try out something  from my list that were new to you! Please let me know what you think! I love to talk books with other readers. 🙂