Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strawberry Tall Cake

My son Jordan graduated from high school on Monday. We are very proud of him! In honor of his graduation, we had family come into town to help us celebrate. Dessert on Sunday night was "STRAWBERRY TALL CAKE". It's an easy-to-do recipe, and the cake has quite a presence.

STRAWBERRY TALL CAKE
Ingredients:
1 box (16 oz.) angel food cake mix
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 box (3 oz.) strawberry gelatin
2 tubs (8 oz.) whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves
2 tubs frozen whipped topping, thawed
Fruit for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 9" cake pans with parchment. (Or use a coffee filter, as I did. It worked great!)

Prepare cake mix according to directions on box, adding the vanilla extract. Divide batter evenly among the 3 cake pans. Gently tap to spread batter.

Bake 18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Invert onto cooling rack and remove paper.

In bowl of electric mixer, mix gelatin and 2/3 cup boiling water until gelatin is dissolved. Add cream cheese and whip for a minute or two. If mixture is not set enough to spread, place bowl in the refrigerator or ice water bath until spreadable.

Place a cake layer on a platter. Spread with half of the preserves, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the cake.

Spread on half of the mousse mixture, add the second cake layer, and repeat.

Add top cake layer, frost with whipped topping, and chill for at least 2 hours. Garnish with fruit before serving.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What kind of learner is my child? Tips on determining your child's learning style.

Think for a minute about how your child learns. Parents often focus on what their child learns in school, but sometimes they need to ask, what is our child's learning style?

Learning styles are linked to one or more of our senses. In general, each of us can be put in one of four categories of learning: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic and Tactile.

  • The Visual Learner learns best when he is "shown" how to do something. He thrives on written directions.
  • The Auditory Learner retains more information from what he hears rather than reads.
  • The Kinesthetic Learner expresses herself through movement and often has trouble sitting still.
  • The Tactile Learner needs to feel and manipulate objects. This person needs hands-on experience in order to learn best.
Successful learning happens when we make a connection between what we are attempting to learn, and our personal strengths. When the connection is made, learning is easy. When it isn't, difficulty follows and students have trouble paying attention, completing assignments, or taking tests.

At home, parents can use individual techniques for the different learning styles. For example, if your child is having trouble preparing for a spelling test, here are some tips that might help:

  • A visual learner can write and re-write the spelling list, so she can see how the letters look when they come together on the page.
  • An auditory learner can make an audio recording of himself spelling out the words on the list so he can replay them and spell along with the recording.
  • A kinesthetic learner can use her body to form the letters, can put the words on objects, or can recite the spelling of words while jumping rope.
  • A tactile learner can use magnetic letters to spell out the words on the refrigerator or form the letters in clay or sand.

It is important for parents to understand how their children learn best. Although most of us use a blend of learning styles, we usually rely more heavily on one style than the others. Sometimes what may look like a learning disability, may really be a learning difference.

Hugs and blessings~

~~~Anne

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weaving a Basket - The Entire Process!

Here are some pictures of me weaving this cute little doorknob basket. This was a simple basket to weave, but it was the first one I wove on my own. The most rewarding part about weaving this basket is that my husband actually asked if he could have it to hang on his office door to store his wallet, keys, and cell phone. ***awww****
Soak your reed. Never attempt to weave with dry reed. (That one of the weaving commandments!)

Lay out and measure your base according to your pattern. You'll see little pencil marks on some of the stakes. This designates the center of the stake.

My base is woven and I have added a "holder row". Ok, that's not the right term, but it's the row that holds the base in place.

I am now "upsetting" the stakes. (No. I am not saying mean things to my reed!) I am bending the stakes up and holdng then in place with clothespins. Lots and lots of clothespins are used when weaving!

I am now weaving independent rows around my basket. Note that there are still several clothespins helping me along.

Ahhh... It always makes me smile to get to the point where my basket starts taking shape and actually looks like a basket!

Here's where I formed the handle out of my two longer stakes. It looks unfinished here, but I covered it with skinny flat oval before I lashed on the rim.

Here's my basket after the "cut and tuck". Cut inside stakes and fold and tuck outside stakes under rows on the inside of the basket.

The rim is now lashed on. Looks good, right? Are we done? Nope. Gotta make this little guy pretty and strong.

I inserted small pieces of reed in an "X" pattern to reinforce the bottom of the basket.

Then I added pretty green curls to finish off my basket. Simple and sweet. A great beginner weaving project :-)
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Hugs and blessngs~
~~~Anne

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Make Math Fun with Math Games!


Keeping our children excited about learning over the summer makes back-to-school season so much easier. If we can make learning fun, kids view it as a reward, rather than a chore.

At my Kumon Center, I often use a deck of cards to conduct oral "fact checks". I simply take a deck of cards and remove the face cards. Here are some of our activities:

  • To practice simple Addition and Multiplication - In Kumon, we focus on mastering concepts in linear, bite-sized pieces. Therefore, we master "plus one" before moving on to "plus two" and so forth. For these students (let's say a child mastering "plus three"), every card I flip over would be "plus three". If they are able to give me the sum without hesitation, they keep the cards. If not, I get the cards. Whoever has the most cards in the end, wins the game. The same concept can be used to practice multiplication tables. (Note: Once basic facts are memorized, two cards can be flipped over and added or multiplied. This mixes things up a bit and makes it more challenging.)

  • Subtraction: Same concept, but be sure to remove all cards "lower" than the core number. This is not where we want to introduce the concept of negative numbers!

Other fun family games to teach numeracy and math skills:

  • To teach Number Sense, play War. Click here for rules. You can modify this game to grow with your child by giving each player a full deck of cards and having each player flip over two cards. The winner would be the player with the highest sum (for addition) or product (for multiplication).

  • Play Dominos. Click here for rules. I love Dominos!

  • Play Math Bingo. Click here for free printable bingo cards and a call list. Fast, fun, and easy!

  • Play Twister with a Math Twist: Put numbers in the circles on Twister mat. Call out an equation instead of a color. Cool, right?

Online FREE math game links:

  • For K-8 children, Funbrain.com has a ton of "brain games" (number games and word games) as well as web books. Some of the games I tried were Math Baseball, Grammar Gorillas, and Planet Zug, which is a grade-by-grade vocabulary building game.
Funbrain.com

  • Primarygames.com is another great family-friendly site for learning games. In the math category, there are a few versions of Sudoku, Math Lines, Arithmatiles, What Time Is It?, Simon Says, and (my favorite) MATH MAN, which is like PacMan, but uses sums of equations for power. It just does't get any cooler than that!

PrimaryGames.com

  • There's also funschool which has a 34 fun and free math games. Games start with pre-school concepts to square roots and powers. I'd reccomend "Math Poppers" for 2nd graders who will be entering 3rd grade in the fall. "Math Poppers" reinforces addition and subtraction skills while introducing children to the multiplacation tables.

Hugs and blessings~

~~~Anne

Friday, May 8, 2009

Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act of 2009 (S. 984)

The Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act did not make it through to the Senate floor the last time it was introduced, but it is up for consideration again.

I am asking, on behalf of Cousin Tiger and his son Kelly(who suffers from juvenile arthritis), that you please contact your Senators and support the bill. Just click on the big, red "Take Action" text below and follow the instuctions. It will only take about 30 seconds of your time, but that 30 seconds might make a difference in the life of someone who is suffering from the nation's most common cause of disability.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne


Contact Your Senators Today!
Arthritis Act Introduced in Senate!
Urge Your Senators to Co-sponsor Now!

On May 6, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kit Bond (R-MO), and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act of 2009 (S. 984). The bill expands efforts to prevent, treat, and care for people with arthritis through:
  • Enhancing prevention efforts related to arthritis;
  • Expanding and strengthening research programs relating to juvenile arthritis;
  • Establishing a juvenile arthritis population database to track our kids and monitor their treatments;
  • Enhancing support for physician training programs; and
  • Establishing a loan repayment program for pediatric rheumatologists to address the country's severe shortage of these critical health professionals.

We need your help to advocate for passage of the Arthritis Act and to address the needs of 46 million adults and 300,000 children with arthritis, the nation's most common cause of disability. Together we can fight the pain and disability of arthritis and make 2009 the year the U.S. Congress takes final action and passes this important legislation. Please contact your Members of Congress now and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1210/S. 984.

You can read quotes from Senators Boxer and Bond in the following news release: http://capwiz.com/arthritis/utr/1/OPRYKLIFRL/OCPEKLIFVR/3310459891

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fudge happens. Have a ball.

I'm so excited! One of my Kumon families is gearing up for the "official grand opening" of their online gourmet artisnal chocolate factory COCOPOTAMUS! I've had the pleasure of sampling their wares, and oh-my-gosh! Just a taste lets you know that these chocolatey balls of goodness were made with the highest quality ingredients, buckets of love, and a hefty dose of humor!

Max and Ally's idea is to create a fun, modern twist on old-fashioned fudge using the best ingredients from many cultures around the world. Check out these names and flavors (OK, you totally have to click on the link and read the full descriptions of all of their chocolates. Get a tissue, though. You'll be laughing so hard you'll cry!)
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Gilligan's Fave - Wild ginger and dark chocolate fudge
Ommm... - Dark chocolate fudge, fresh orange, chai spice, and triple sec
Sumos Never Sleep - Dark chocolate with Japanese matcha green tea
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Here's a little something I loved from the COCOPOTAMUS STORY:
"Joy is not some big elusive quest. Joy is life & love, family & neighbors, friends & fudge. Joy is keeping an American tradition like chocolate fudge growing and changing with the times. Everyday chocolate, every day joy. "
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Stop by COCOPOTAMUS and take a look around. You know you want to!
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Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Fight Summer Brain Drain

For many schoolchildren, the price paid for “fun in the sun” over the summer school break is significant learning loss. In order to counteract this, parents need to provide opportunities for their children to continue to read and do math during the summer months. One way to prevent summer learning loss is to enroll in a supplemental education program (like KUMON!) and make math and reading practice a part of the daily summer routine.

While students need to have fun during the summer, using their academic skills for even a short period of time each day will prevent them from the summer learning loss that plagues so many of their classmates. Here are some suggestions to help create a learning environment that is part of your child’s summer routine:

1. Read for pleasure during the summer – favorite authors, easy-to-read books, magazines, plays, poetry.

2. Read books for the upcoming school year (ask your child’s teacher for suggestions.)

3. Write plays and stories and share them with friends and family.

4. Visit the library weekly and make friends with the librarian, who has a wealth of information to share about books. (Most libraries also offer summer reading programs for children.)

5. Get activity books and do age-appropriate brain teasers, crossword puzzles, or Suduko.

6. Be creative with math. Write equations/problems on big surfaces using finger paints, dry erase markers, or washable chalk.

7. Be a role model for learning. Let your child “catch” you reading; note how you use math throughout the day—in cooking, balancing the checkbook, figuring out gas mileage—and encourage your children to calculate along with you.

8. Create projects: have your child help plan your vacation time, whether it be a day trip or a two-week holiday; research and read books about the destination; use resources, such as the library, the internet; figure out how much the trips would cost, including gas, entertainment, hotels, food, and directions.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Month of Basket Weaving Projects

Wow! Even though April was a super-busy Kumon month for me, somehow I found time to weave quite a few baskets. (My computer kept over-heating and shutting down, so I think the "down-time" I had from that drama opened up a bit more weaving time. Thanks, husband, for fixing my computer!)

This is the little beauty I wove for my "Spring Basket Swap" partner. Her name is Diane and she lives in Michigan, so I included a card with a picture of Navajo children and a cute ceramic refigerator magnet with a Zia symbol and a New Mexican theme when I sent the basket. I love the turquoise rim on the basket!

Isn't this sweet? This is from a pattern from one of Nancy Jacobs' basket weaving classes. OK. I have to confess that when I went to this class, there was only Nancy and me. So... We spent three hours chit-chatting and playing with our blogs and no time weaving! I wove this basket by myself, later that weekend :-)

This pretty swirl design basket was based on a free pattern from http://www.basketmakerscatalog.com/. Check out their site. They have lots of free patterns available, as well as basket making and caning supplies.

Here's another take on the ribbon basket. This one was filled with cakemix cookies and delivered to a friend. The ribbon I used was two-sided, one side was floral and the other was a pretty plaid pattern. A very nice "bonus" for this lovely and simple basket.

This is my biggest basket to date. I wove it for my husband to use when our backyard crops are ready to harvest. It measures about 12" in diameter, and is about 7" tall. It is a variation on the "Classic Round Basket" by Deborah Blair. This free pattern, and many more, can be found at www.justpatterns.com/weavers/patterns .
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Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne
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