MSoP News ~ May 2021

Guest Blog by Ms. Jackie Farrand

As we welcome May the classrooms are buzzing with children working and enjoying time with their friends. Shoes are changed more quickly as we eagerly go out to enjoy the sunshine. We are enjoying the signs of life as the ladybugs return to the play structure, the trees sprout new bright green buds, and beautiful dandelions decorate the grass.

Soon, we will finish up big projects, pack up cubbies, graduate some children, and celebrate the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Whether your child(ren) joins us for a fun summer school session or takes time off, it is Summer on the Palouse. We would like to offer two Montessori inspired tips for summer break. One, set a routine. You do not need a detailed schedule. A simple routine helps the child know what to expect and makes transitions smoother. For example, after breakfast we clean up and head out for an outing. Two, follow the child, and I would add- Follow the family. Find the balance that works for all. Is it keeping busy or just a few activities per week? Involve everyone in making plans.

Whether you are planners or prefer to be spontaneous, here are some fun and low cost summer fun ideas to get you started.

Practical life is what you do daily. Make some fresh squeezed lemonade, a refreshing frozen banana ice cream. Have your child make and pack a picnic lunch or snack for the park. Give them real tasks. Plucking dead flowers off the petunias and pulling weeds are tasks my kiddo loves. Tip- Weeds are easier to pull after it rains.

Explore the Palouse- walks/scooter/bike rides on the Chipman Trail, pick fruits and flowers (Bishop Orchard (apples), Nelson’s Orchard (cherries), Stratton’s Cutting Gardens(flowers)). Pick some new local parks to visit. Explore a county park: Idlers Rest, Kamiak Butte, and Klemgard Park.

Cherry picking – you can also pick flowers and blueberries right here on the Palouse.

Do a tasting tour. Answer the question, who has the best ice cream on the Palouse? If you make a chart and take notes, boom you’ve done language and science. If you don’t, you still enjoy tasty treats. (Sweet Mutiny, Ferdinand’s, Rolly’s, Neill’s, Panhandle Cone & Coffee) If you drive out to Deary, ID, Pie Safe Bakery and Kitchen has awesome ice cream.

As for us, we’ll pick a couple ideas from above and round out our summer with lots of reading outside, bike rides, helping with summer school, and practicing our cheese board skills. What are you looking forward to doing? What is your summer tradition?

*Please check places for any Covid hour changes or requirements. For places not directly linked, check Facebook for their business page.

For a link to one of Ms. Bev’s favorite walks on the Palouse to do with children, check out this previous blog post from Ms. Bev https://wordpress.com/post/bevfollowsthechild.wordpress.com/196

MSoP News ~ April 2021

Happy spring!

April is a busy time at MSoP. This week we tried dyeing eggs for Easter using natural dyes. We used red cabbage, onion skins and beets. You can find the recipes for natural egg dyes here: https://www.myfrugalhome.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally/ Eggs and colored eggs are a part of Easter celebrations, but also other spring celebrations, such as Nowruz, which is the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, which begins on the spring equinox. Eggs are a symbol of new life, and as the weather warms and the day lengthens, we are all ready for new life – leaves opening on the trees, nests filled with baby birds, seeds sprouting . . .

We also joined with Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, our neighbors in the Gladish Community and Cultural Center, to plant blue and silver pinwheels to bring awareness that April is child abuse prevention month. As we planted our pinwheels around the grounds, we talked about our shared vision of our world as a place where all children can feel safe and supported by their families and their communities. You can read more about this campaign here: https://preventchildabuse.org/resources/pinwheels-for-prevention/

What else is happening in April?

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

We will be taking school photos on April 14th, something we weren’t sure would happen this year. Ms. Alicia who works at our school and is a professional photographer took a course in modern school photography to prepare to take our school photos this year. Individual photos of the children will also be placed in a grid to form a composite class picture – a great way to have a class photo without crowding everyone together for one picture.

We will offer vacation care for some of our students during our spring break. We will spend extra time playing outdoors, including a picnic snack time and lunchtime. We will be making bird feeders to hang from a tree near our parking lot, making pretend binoculars and spending time bird watching, going on a nature scavenger hunt and enjoying lots of stories and art activities. Here’s a link to show you how to make a simple bird feeder: https://www.honeyandlime.co/how-to-make-a-bird-feeder-fun-summer-crafts-for-kids/

April 10 -16th is the week of the young child, and we will be celebrating our young children with lots of posts about the wonderful world of the young child and their amazing brains, using the hashtag #woyc21. You can find resources for celebrating the week of the young child here: https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc

As a staff, as we plan for summer and the next academic year, we are spending time considering lessons we have learned from the pandemic, and ideas we will keep and ideas we will gladly ditch, once it is safe to do so. Last year, our graduation ceremonies were held via Zoom, with graduation caps, peacock feathers (a traditional graduation gift at our school, because our graduates should be as proud as peacocks!) a book and the diploma, all in a gift bag, being delivered by the teachers to all of our graduates’ homes. This year we hope to hold the graduation ceremonies in person, using a large event space within our building. Families will all have their own tables and snacks, and tables will be very well spaced apart. However, Zoom allowed family members living throughout the states, the middle-east, Asia and Europe to join the ceremony, and it was wonderful to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of our graduates. Will we able to hold a hybrid ceremony, with close family guests in attendance, but with a Zoom link open for more distant family members? Will we film the ceremony and share the Youtube link with our families? The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of our family, and with travel restricted, we have had to learn to use technology to maintain our strong family connections.

Our elementary students are also preparing for a Science Fair to be held April 19th -23rd. This is such a fun learning experience. Families will be invited into the classroom via Zoom to watch their child present to the class, and on the final day, science fair displays will be in the long hallway for families to visit, while still maintaining physical distancing. Our younger students will also have the opportunity to have a walk through with their teachers. Seeing the work of older students is inspirational for our younger children.

As a family, just as we are doing as a staff, this might be a good time to reflect on what you will keep from the pandemic and what you will ditch as soon as you are able! We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

MSoP News ~ March 2021

Welcome to March at MSoP. March is a busy month at school, with tours being given to prospective families interested in enrolling their children in the 2021- 2022 school year. We are planning for summer camp, too, and accepting summer camp applications from our currently enrolled families. During the month of March we also wrap up parent-teacher conferences, and complete staff evaluations.

It’s now nearly a year since MSoP closed down, due to the pandemic. That seems both a long time ago and just like yesterday. We are so grateful for the continued support of our families. You really helped us survive during the months of no tuition during April and May, and helped us reopen our doors to in-person learning on June 1. We are also very thankful for all of the precautions families and teachers have taken to keep our community safe. We have learned a lot during this time, including the need for flexibility. This month, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, I know I will look back on March 17th 2020, and remember it as the first day of our school closure. As a school community, we have not only survived, but thrived. Families, you have done an amazing job of shepherding your youngsters through this challenging time. Thank you!

Today, with the sun shining and a high of 54 degrees, spring seems very close. Our current students are enjoying lots of outside time. This Friday we may even have a picnic lunch! Our students are showing amazing growth in so many areas. I love hearing our students read, and seeing the fine maps they are producing, and all of their very creative art and building work.

I am showcasing some of the work produced by our students in Aspen class. This is map work produced by students aged 4 – 6. Wow!

As spring approaches, our plants in the classroom get some extra attention using this plant care kit. Plants can be watered, and also the leaves, which can get dusty, can be washed until they shine!

The practical life work, which was mostly red, pink and fluffy last month for Valentine’s Day, has been replaced with lots of green and shamrocks. Changing up the materials and containers for scooping, tweezing and pouring keeps the practical life exercises fun for the children.

Parent Education~ Montessori Math

The Montessori math materials include hands-on concrete representations of our decimal system – the Golden Bead materials – as well as colorful bead bars and many other materials for teaching numeracy, place value, skip counting, and introduction to the mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The math materials are introduced in a way to gradually move the child from the concrete to the abstract – that is from a reliance on using the hands-on materials, to being able to do math ‘in your head’ or with paper and pencil. Each math lesson is built on what the child learned in previous lessons, in a very organized and systematic way.

Here, Ms. Sudha, one of our Montessori teachers who has Montessori training to teach 3 – 6 year olds, as well as 6 – 9 year olds, plus a Washington State Teaching certificate, introduces us to some of the math materials she uses in her classroom for 3 – 6 year olds.

Thanks, Ms. Sudha, for the virtual tour of the math materials

Kindergarten and Beyond

This post is geared towards helping families with children who will be 5 on or before August 31st, 2021, to find out more about getting ready for kindergarten. The post also introduces families to the options that are available for children aged 5 and older in our community.

The Montessori School of Pullman hosted this Zoom meeting, and representatives from the Pullman School District and Pullman Community Montessori gave guest presentations.

In many preschools at this time, teachers are assessing individual children’s readiness for kg. We use this simple checklist, that covers key readiness indicators in the areas of interpersonal and self help skills, communication, fine and large motor, literacy, science and math. Please remember that if your child has not mastered all of these skills, you can continue to provide opportunities for practice through the coming months. As an example, if your child does not yet use large muscles with confidence, you can schedule time outside to practice throwing and catching a ball, climbing at the park, or using their balance to ride a scooter. If your child struggles with taking turns and sharing, this can be a great time to start playing some simple board games.

One of the most important areas for readiness is in the area of social and self help skills. A child who struggles with these skills may benefit from the gift of an additional year before moving on to kg. Otherwise, a child may struggle with transitions, have melt downs and feel out of depth. One option is to give this child an additional year in the 3 – 6 class. We call the third year in the 3 – 6 class the leadership year. This year of being the oldest child in the class can help the child mature, grow in confidence and strengthen social skills. At the end of this year, families can assess whether the child would benefit from KG or is ready to move into first grade.

You can see the complete checklist of kg readiness skills here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1hEOu75qUEQrW1vbdmTz-_5tVXGmpWsKNUInEK8njRM0/edit?usp=sharing

So one option for KG is to remain at the Montessori School of Pullman.

Our application forms are available here: https://www.pullmanmontessori.org/kindergarten Please note that the KG option is now only in the 3 – 6 year old room.

Do you want to know more about a typical day for a kg student in the Pullman School District, check here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1g3B5FKCCzNoF8awQj946rdv6OVggI7-4cwQMMDBKXjs/edit?usp=sharing

Do you want to know more about enrollment at Pullman Community Montessori? You can access enrollment information here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vwsbz-4Q5_4o-syCi64ms4kmETh9r_26/view?usp=sharing

To end with, here are some KG students working hard at the Montessori School of Pullman. KG is a year rich with learning experiences, and we wish you the very best for your child for their KG year and beyond!

MSoP News ~ February 2021

Our teachers are very resourceful when it comes to putting together interesting activities for their students to explore. For the practical life area of the classroom, changing out the containers, the type of spoon, the material that can be transferred, as an example, gives a spooning activity brand new appeal for the children. In January, there was a lot of silver and blue on the shelf. Now in February, the practical life shelves are full of reds and pinks, and some soft fuzzy materials and, of course, hearts.

By refreshing the shelves on a monthly basis, teachers are encouraging students to work on their independence and fine motor skills throughout the year. You can see the result of this fine motor work in the development of your child’s writing and cutting skills. Thanks, teachers!

We will celebrate St. Valentine’s Day at school on Friday, February 12. Children may bring cards for their classmates. For Aspen and Willow, children may write their own name on the cards they bring to show who the cards are from, but please don’t individually label who the cards are going to. Maple students may individually address their cards, because they can all read and write names independently. Please do not send candy or trinkets. The gift of a card is quite enough to celebrate friendship. Aspen and Maple classes would like a couple of parents to volunteer to bring a special snack. Willow afternoon class will cook and prepare snack on Thursday the 11th to share with friends on the Friday. Thanks.

Aspen – Bring 24 cards

Willow – Bring 18 cards

Maple – Bring 10 cards

What else is going on this month?

  • We welcome Layla, Piper and Gwen back to school.
  • We welcome Luca and his family to our school. Luca has joined Willow morning class.
  • Lunar New Year celebrations, with a dragon parade, on Friday, February 19th. We will video and share the parades.
  • Parent-teacher conferences on the evening of Thursday, February 25th (and again on March 5)
  • Re-enrollment for already enrolled families for the 2021 – 2022 school year. We will have classes for students ages 2 – 6. New enrollment forms will be in cubbies very soon, and are due back at school on or before Friday, March 12. You can elect to either pay your deposit with the application form, or elect to be invoiced in June.
  • Board elections for Vice- President, Secretary and two member-representatives. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for people to approach about serving on the board, or if you would like to consider running. We meet once a month, via Zoom, for a couple of hours, on the third Tuesday of the month, between 5:30 and 7:30. Board members also spend an additional hour each month preparing for the board meeting – reading the minutes and the agenda, looking over financial reports.
  • ‘Have a Heart’ supply drive for our Gladish neighbors, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse

All of this month we are collecting supplies for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (ATVP). These supplies will be available for community members at their pantry on the third floor, and will also be used to stock the shelter with much needed supplies. We are collecting: Toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, dish soap, toilet paper, sanitary products . Supplies needed for kids: toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, pull-ups, kid shampoo, packs of underwear and socks, etc.

MSoP News ~ January 2021

Best wishes for a year filled with good health and happiness.

The photo above shows a simple way to celebrate the New Year with fireworks art.

We are so happy to be back for the new semester. We started this semester with an inservice day for teachers. One of the most important aspects of a Montessori program is the focus on the prepared environment. That means the classroom has been carefully prepared to meet the needs and interests of the students enrolled in the classroom. Everything in the classroom has a purpose in mind. The furniture has been placed a certain way to enhance the learning environment. if the teachers notice a bottleneck in the flow of children, then they make adjustments. If the teachers notice that a learning area is being ignored by the children, then they change out the activities to draw children back to that area. That’s how we spent most of our inservice day, and ended by sharing our new ideas for learning activities and learning themes with the teachers from the other classrooms. The opportunity to share and collaborate are ways for teachers to build their mental storage of creative ideas for use in the classroom. As an example, if I was still teaching I would love to use the idea Ms. Lynn brought to the group of using child made ‘fortune tellers’ to practice math facts.

Thank you, parents, for accommodating our need for this inservice day. We appreciate it, and your children reap the benefits of some new and exciting activities to explore! Below is a sample of new activities from Willow Room. Willow Room uses the theme of bells for January (‘Ringing’ in the New Year) and also uses a lot of blue, silver, metal, glass and shiny objects in the Practical Life area, because these are cool colors and surfaces, and January is our coldest month! By adding a new material to transfer and pour, with a new sound, practical life attracts the children back to the shelves to explore. These materials helps the children develop fine motor control, concentration, independence and a sense of order, all skills we like to focus on as children return to school.

Willow Room is also preparing for a study of time, money, and weight as you can see from the math shelves. I especially love the chalk board clock, where children can practice writing in the numerals 1 – 12 in the correct place on the clock.

Willow classroom will also build a community book about the children in the class, highlighting ways they are different and ways they are the same.

Aspen Room will begin the semester with a review of the ground rules and lots of grace and courtesy lessons, and then will move on to a study of how animals adapt to winter (hibernation, migration, building a colony). There will be time to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., and then the children will move on to a study of their five senses.

Maple Room students will use the book ‘Martin’s Big Words’ (pictured above) to not only learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., but also as a springboard for a vocabulary study. What makes a word big and powerful? What words of Martin’s were big and powerful? What changes do we want to make by using our words.

The students are also working hard to master their math facts, whether in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. As mentioned above, the class is exploring fun and creative ways to practice math facts.

You can make a fortune teller at home by following this YouTube video!

MSoP Family Recipes

The joy of baking with friends!

It is with great joy that I share the first of what I hope will be an annual tradition – a family recipe share. When we involve children in shopping for produce, food prep, and family dinners, we involve children in the heart of being a family! Enjoy the recipes, plus the family photos, and recipe inspired art by our elementary students!

~~~Indian Butter chicken~~~

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger finely minced or grated (or use paste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic finely minced or crushed
  • 1 ½ pounds about 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste or 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika, adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek I use powder, but seeds or mustard seeds can be used too, optional*
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream sub for half & half or yogurt for low fat
  • Hot cooked rice and naan for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, butter, and onions and cook onions down until lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Add the chicken, tomato paste, and spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  3. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve over Basmati rice or with naan.
Thank you, Devarajan family, for this delicious recipe from India!

Grape Nut Noodles

Submitted by: JoLynn Garrett (5 years old, Willow room)

Ingredients:

1 cup Grape Nuts (the breakfast cereal)

1 cup flour

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

4 eggs, slightly beaten

Directions:

Crush grape nuts in blender until fine. Combine with flour, salt, and baking powder in bowl. Stir in eggs. Mix then knead adding flour as needed. Work dough until smooth (5 to 10 minutes). Divide into two balls. Roll each ball into thin circles (approx. 15”). Flour surface of dough then roll each side to the middle. Slice into thin strips. Cook 20 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain and dress with generous amounts of melted butter and Romano cheese.

About my family: 

My Great Grandma Dyne was born to Italian immigrants in Western Pennsylvania in 1924. Living in the time of the Great Depression required cooking with simple and inexpensive ingredients. This recipe for homemade noodles has been passed down through my family and uses a popular breakfast cereal as its base. Grandma Dyne now lives here in Moscow, Idaho and we still enjoy eating her Italian-inspired cooking.

Top: Me (JoLynn-5) and my little sister (Imogene-2) making Grape Nut noodles in 2020

Bottom: Great Grandma Dyne and her mother Betty making Grape Nut Noodles in the 1940’s

Thanks, Garrett family, for the recipe!

Monster Cookie No Bake Bites … when you’re craving something sweet without ALL the guilt 😉

Thank you, Baker, family, for such a fun recipe. Thanks, Ms. Alicia!

1 ¼ cup rolled oats

½ cup crunch or creamy nut butter of choice

¼ cup honey

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup mini m&ms 

1/3 cup rice krispies (optional)

Mix together all of the ingredients, roll into balls and refrigerate. 

Tip: have hands a little wet when rolling into balls so they stick together better, and/or refrigerate mixture for a little while before rolling into balls.

My family love these. They are so easy to make, require no baking and everyone can enjoy them. Double the batch and make it for a crowd!

Creamy Dill Salmon

extreme close-up of creamy dill salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped finely

Instructions

  1. Cut salmon into 4 pieces. Sprinkle each piece with the garlic powder and season with salt & pepper. Coat each piece in flour on all sides.
  2. Add the olive oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the fish. Cook the salmon for 3-4 minutes/side or until it’s nicely browned. Don’t overcook – the salmon shouldn’t be cooked fully yet. Remove fish to a plate and set it aside.
  3. Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard to the skillet. Stir until mustard has been incorporated, and let it bubble for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the cream to the pan, along with the dill.
  5. Add in the salmon and let it cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit and the fish has cooked through. Season with extra salt & pepper if needed. Serve it with fresh chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice over the fish (optional).
Thank you, Lahodny family, for your recipe! Can’t wait to try it

Mexican Rice – Ms. Jackie’s version

This is a recipe that I (Jackie) learned to make in middle school when my mom taught me. This is a staple dish we served at family gatherings and weeknight dinners. It is my comfort food and a dish that my son, Sebastian, can smell cooking and be instantly excited for it to be ready. It can splatter when on the stove so for now he helps make the sauce.

Ingredients Standard Batch

1 ½ Cup tomato/onion/garlic sauce

1 ½ Cups water

1-2 Tablespoons Olive or Avocado Oil

1 Cup white long grain or basmati rice

Equipment:

10-12” Skillet/Dutch oven

Lid for skillet/Dutch oven

Small saucepan

Wooden spoon or heat safe spatula

Measuring cup

Directions

  1. Make the sauce first. Measure out 1.5 cups of sauce.
  2. Put a skillet or Dutch oven style pan (you want a wider base) on the stove and bring to medium high heat for about a minute. Add your oil to lightly coat the pan. Let the oil warm up a bit, no more than a minute should be necessary, you don’t want the oil to be smoking.
  3. Add your rice to the oil. Stir gently to lightly toast/brown the rice. You want it to be golden brown and once it gets there you won’t have long before you burn your rice so remove it from the stove. The next step will be messy and may splatter. 
  4. Add your sauce to the rice, let it calm down a bit then add the water. Stir gently to combine and settle the pan down. Return to the stove. Turn the stove back on to medium until the sauce lightly simmers then turn it down to low simmer. Take a little taste of the sauce/water that is simmering to see if you’ll need salt. A little saltier than you like will be perfect once the rice cooks and absorbs the sauce.
  5. Top the pan with a lid. Set your timer for 15-20 minutes. You should not stir it as it can make the rice mushy, but you can peek at it about halfway and 5 minutes before the timer goes off to check water levels and taste. If it is dry and the rice isn’t cooked, only add very hot water.
  6. Once it’s done and the rice has absorbed the majority of the liquid I move it from the stove and let it rest, covered, 10 minutes, then open and gently stir with a fork to combine and fluff the rice. 
  7. That’s it! Enjoy the rice.

Sauce for Mexican Rice – Jackie’s Version

This will make enough for about 5 batches of rice.

Ingredients:

2 (28 ounce) cans of unsalted diced tomatoes

1 large onion chopped (about 2 cups total)

4 cloves of garlic quartered (about 2 Tablespoons total)

2 Tablespoons salt

Directions:

  1. Blend one can plus half of each of the onion, garlic, and salt together until pureed.
  2. Transfer the blended half to a bowl/pitcher.
  3. Blend the second can of tomatoes plus remaining onion, garlic, and salt until pureed.
  4. Transfer the second half of the batch to the large bowl/pitcher.
  5. Stir the two batches to combine.

Storage

My usual batch

I like the glass wide-mouth pint size mason jars for storage but use what you prefer. Leave room for expansion if freezing in glass.

Freeze in 1.5 cup amounts. Label your containers. Thaw overnight when ready to use.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Classic homemade oven baked macaroni and cheese is lovely, but our family likes this recipe during the hot summer months, as you can plug in the slow cooker outside to help keep unnecessary heat out of the house while still getting to enjoy macaroni and cheese! This recipe is also nice for those busy days when you know you won’t have time to cook dinner in the evening. This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a large slow cooker. Please note, this cookbook designates 3,- 3 1/2-, 4-, and 4 1/2 -quart capacity slow cookers as medium, and 5-, 5 1/2-, 6-, and 7-quart capacity slow cookers as large.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups skim or low-fat milk

One 15-ounce can evaporated skim milk

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese, such as Oregon Tillamook, Vermont colby, or Wisconsin longhorn

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Coat a medium sized slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the low-fat and evaporated milks, egg, salt, and pepper in the cooker and whisk until smooth. Add the cheese and uncooked macaroni; gently stir with a rubber spatula to coat evenly with the milk and cheese mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW until the custard is set in the center and the pasta is tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Do not cook more than 4 hours, as the sides will dry out and burn.

Variations:

Macaroni and Italian Cheese: For the cheddar, substitute a combination of 1 cup of shredded fontina (4 ounces) and 1/2 cup of diced or shredded mozzarella (2 ounces).

Macaroni and Swiss Cheese: Substitute an equal amount of shredded Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese for the cheddar.

Macaroni and Blue Cheese: Add 1/2 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola (2 ounces), Stilton, Roquefort, or American blue cheese to the cheddar and macaroni.

From the Cassleman-Cox family (Aster, Willow Room)

Thank you, Cassleman family, for a great recipe. Great idea for hot days, and busy days!

CAST IRON SKILLET PIZZA

NOTE: This recipe makes a 12” pizza; if you’re using a different size pan, calculate the area of your pan and scale the recipe up/down relative to the area of a 12-inch circle — Pizza is a really fun hands-on activity to do with kids. We make this almost weekly and the kids love to measure the ingredients and work with the dough as well as getting the pizza ready to go in the oven. Our recipe is an adaptation of this one if you want to see some nice pictures of the process: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/foolproof-pan-pizza-recipe.html

Dough Ingredients

238 grams flour (we usually use bread flour or all-purpose, but have tried many different combinations of bread, AP and wheat flour with success)

7-8 grams kosher salt

100 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter (100% hydration starter contains equal parts water and flour that are feeding an active yeast culture; you can also substitute 3 grams of instant yeast; if using instant yeast, increase flour and water in the recipe by 50 grams each)

148 grams warm water

5-6 grams olive oil

Other Ingredients

Olive oil for coating skillet

Flour for dusting the dough

Sauce

Cheese

Toppings

Seasonings

Instructions

NOTE: The dough needs to be started the morning you want to make pizza. Alternatively, you can mix the dough the night before and let it sleep in the fridge overnight then take it out and store it on the counter during the day. The temperature the dough is stored at affects the amount of time it takes to proof (warmer temperature = faster rise).  We usually start after breakfast and proof at 85 degrees until 3 or 4 PM).  Experiment to find the timing and temperature that works best for you. 

Step 1: Get out a large bowl. Add all dry dough ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. 

Step 2: Add wet dough ingredients to dry dough ingredients. Scrape sides of bowl and mix all ingredients using a large spatula or spoon until a sticky ball is formed (this can be done in a mixer with a dough hook, but extensive kneading isn’t required so we usually find it fastest and easiest to just mix by hand, though a child will either need adult help or strong arms to get all ingredients fully combined).

Step 3: Cover bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise (it will be bubbly and 2 to 3 times larger than its original size by the time it’s ready; this is also a good time to double-check the size of the bowl you’ve chosen for the dough’s nap). 

Step 4: Approximately 2 hours before you plan to bake the pizza, get out a 12-inch cast iron skillet and coat the inside with a layer of olive oil (the amount of oil needed will depend on how well-seasoned your pan is).

Step 5: Remove the cover from the dough bowl and lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour to make it easier to remove from the bowl without sticking. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to form the dough into a ball; dump the dough ball into the oiled skillet. 

Step 6: Flip the dough over to fully coat in oil then gently press/stretch the dough to fill the entire bottom of the pan (the dough should be very squishy and easy to spread; if it springs back when you try to stretch it, it needs to rest longer; press it as close to the bottom edges as you can and let it rest for at least another half hour). Cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Step 7: Approximately half an hour before you want to bake, preheat an oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 8: Remove foil from pan and set aside (you will need it later). Gently press fingertips into the dough to remove any large bubbles and to finish stretching the dough so it covers the entire bottom of the pan. 

Step 9: Add a layer of tomato sauce over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese (we prefer a combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, and Beechers) across the dough. Add desired toppings and seasonings (our favorites are sun-dried tomatoes, onions, spinach, basil, kosher salt, pepper, and oregano). Add enough additional cheese to lightly cover any exposed toppings and sauce (cheese should be placed all the way to the edges of the pizza; no crust showing). 

Step 10: Place the sheet of foil back over the top of the pan. When the oven is preheated, put the covered skillet in on a middle rack. Bake covered pizza 6-8 minutes. 

Step 11: Remove foil from pan and bake an additional 6-8 minutes until cheese is starting to get bubbly brown spots. 

Step 12: Remove pizza from oven and transfer to a pizza peel, stone or cutting board to cool for approximately 5 minutes. 

Step 13: Cut pizza, transfer to plates and enjoy a yummy dinner (our favorite way to eat this is accompanied with homemade popcorn and fresh fruit or veggies on the side).

Thank you, Egler family, for such a family, hands-on family recipe. Delicious and fun!

Recipe for a Proper Pot of Tea, English style! 

(Written by my son, when he was six!  Phonetic spelling, included)

Tea with toast and butter ~ delicious!

Ingredients:

1 tsp of tea for each person, or 1 tea bag

Boiling water

Tea pot

Milk

Sugar

Tea cups

Method

  1. Rins the tea pot with hot water
  2. Put in the tea
  3. Fill the Tea Pot with Boiling water
  4. Broo for five minits
  5. Por a Little Milk in each cup
  6. Fill The cup with tea
  7. Add sugar if yor a wimp
  8. Enjoy

Notes – PG tips is one of the favorite tea brands in England.  You can buy PG Tips at Safeway and Walmart.

Drink a cup of tea at 4:00 PM with a few McVities Digestive Biscuits – also available at Safeway and Walmart

About my family

I grew up in the North of England, and my husband grew up in London.  Having afternoon tea is a big part of British life.  I had tea with my Mam every day when I came home from school.  When I go home to visit family and friends, we love to enjoy an afternoon tea.  The pot of tea is accompanied by a selection of small sandwiches, biscuits, (cookies) scones and strawberries!

Let’s Talk About Food

by Ms. Bev

Our children have never been picky eaters.  Partly this might be because their parents had such healthy appetites they knew that if they left any food, our response would be, “Oh goody, more for us!”  I was also lucky to work at a childcare center owned by a nutritionist.  She gave me lots of tips on healthy eating for children, and her advice really fits in well with the Montessori practices of following the child, allowing the maximum amount of freedom within a very structured environment, and allowing children to make their own choices and develop their independence.  Here are some suggestions for healthy eating:

  • Serve all of the food, including dessert, at the same time.  Then there is no opportunity to bribe a child with dessert for finishing eating the main course.
  • Make sure all of the food served is healthy, including dessert (fresh fruitcanned fruit in 100% fruit juice, apple sauce, yoghurt, milk pudding, rice pudding – dessert can be an important source of vitamins and dairy for a child).  This allows the child to only make healthy choices.
  • Serve food family style and allow your child to pass food bowls and serve him or herself.  If a child has control over the food on the plate, he or she is more likely to try a little taste of something new.  Never force a child to try something new, but remind him or her that it can take four or five tastes on different occasions before a food is liked.
  • Involve your child in food preparation – growing, harvesting, grocery shopping, cooking, serving.  We are growing cherry tomatoes, squash, radish, corn, ‘jack o’ lantern’ pumpkins, beans and strawberries at school.   Strawberries and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden, warmed by the sun, are unbeatable for taste!  The children have been gobbling up all of the produce they have grown in their gardens.
  • When you are at the grocery store and farmers’ markets, allow your children to choose some of the items you will buy and serve to your family.  Ask them, “What looks good to you?”
  • Have a standby that your child can prepare for him/herself as an alternative to the meal.  Our children could always fix a PBJ sandwich or have cereal and milk as an alternative.  This prevents mealtimes becoming a battle scene between parents and children.  There is no pressure to eat the meal as the child can always fix the alternative.  The child can still sit at the table and enjoy the conversation and does not have to go to bed hungry.
  • Involve your child in lunch preparation.  We had a chart of food choices for lunch.  Our kids could choose a fruit /vegetable (fresh or juice or apple sauce or canned fruit, dried fruit, salad, vegetable sticks), a dairy (cheese stick, pot of cottage cheese, milk, yoghurt), a protein (peanut butter – in a sandwich, or for dipping fruit into, or spreading on celery – now we would use tahini or almond butter, hard boiled egg, cheese, chicken) and a carb (crackers, cereal, bread, bagel, muffin).   So a lunch might be bowl of cereal, pot of blueberries, thermos of milk, cheese stick . . . or tahini sandwich, yogurt and apple juice . . . or cheese and crackers, grapes and milk . . . or salad and cottage cheese and canned peaches . . . or leftover slice of vegetable lovers pizza and fruit juice . . .rice/pasta salad with hard boiled eggs and cheese . . . the combinations are endless!
  • Prepare lunch the night before.
  • I always made the salad first for dinner and left it on the table as I prepared the rest of the meal.  Our children were at their after-school hungriest and would graze through the salad as dinner was prepared.  For many years, all that was left of the salad for my husband and I were leaves.  All of the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, celery, mushrooms, etc., had already been eaten.  This was a small price to pay for knowing that our children had eaten a lot of raw vegetables.
  • When your child says, “I don’t like onions, peppers, mushrooms,” etc., try using the blender to disguise the unloved ingredients.  We served so many of the unloved food items in spaghetti sauce just by blending them until they couldn’t be recognized!  My husband and I ate the unblended version for texture!
  • Invite your children’s friends over for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Make mealtimes fun.
  • Food prep is so enjoyed by children, and they love to practice using many common tools – knives for spreading and cutting, measuring spoons and cups, a hand whisk, a peeler, and as they get older, tools such as an electric mixer, a food processor, the stove top . . .

My family still loves to grocery shop, cook and eat together.  All of my children love to cook.  They continue to eat very well.  I love this photo of one of my daughters inhaling the smell of fresh produce.  We love the smell, texture and taste of fresh produce!

Some food prep ideas to try at home:

  • Making fruit salad – can use fresh, frozen and canned, or a combo of all three
  • Make a salad – children can wash and tear the lettuce.  They love to spin the lettuce if you have a salad spinner.  They can add in the sliced ingredients, and hand toss to mix.
  • Bake simple muffins together.
  • Make mini-pizzas on toasted English muffin – add pizza sauce, cheese and toppings, and grill/bake until cheese melts
  • Make sandwiches together.
  • Mix berries into fresh yoghurt

Here’s a few more photos from recent to long ago of my family engaged in food prep, including dish washing after eating!

MSoP News – December 2020

December is one of my favorite months at our school, with so many special celebrations. This year will be different, for sure, as we will not be having our whole school singalong, with a large audience of family members watching and joining in. We will not have classes joining together to ride the Polar Express train together. But, we will still celebrate, just on a smaller scale, and in our little classroom pods! And our celebrations help us learn about how people celebrate in other countries and families different from our own, helping us to appreciate the rich cultural diversity of our world.

We will learn about the original St. Nicholas this Friday, December 4, and leave a shoe outside of the classroom door to receive a St. Nicholas Day treat, just like many children do throughout Europe.

We enjoy learning about Hanukkah, and lighting the menorah candles, and playing the dreidel game. This year, the first candle will be lit on the evening of Thursday, December 10, so we will start our Hanukkah celebration on the 10th, and continue through the 18th.

We will enjoy learning about St. Lucia, whose name means ‘light’, and how her special day is celebrated in Sweden. St. Lucia day is on December 13th, but we will celebrate on Friday, December 11th. The oldest girl in each class will be chosen to be St. Lucia, and the oldest boy will be the Star Boy. One of the younger children is chosen to be the Tomten, a sort of elf or sprite! We enjoy eating a special snack together.

We love to listen to a retelling of the Polar Express, and then getting an opportunity to act out the story with our friends. Some of us even get the chance to be the conductor, or the train driver, or Santa or the elves. Everyone gets to enjoy a special snack of hot chocolate, satsuma oranges and cookies, and has a bell to take home as a reminder!

I am sure we will share a video of some festive singing by each class. it won’t be the same as a huge singalong, but it will still be a way for us to celebrate with one another, even if we are not all in the same room!

A Fun idea to Support our teachers!

A FUN IDEA TO SUPPORT OUR TEACHERS!

Thanks, Sharon DeChenne, for sending out this message to our families!
Dear families,


For several years now, our families at the Montessori school of Pullman have donated to a winter FUNd for our staff, in lieu of buying gifts.  This allows the staff to spend the cash on something they really want - a massage, a pedicure, a dinner delivery for the family...

This year we would like to support our local businesses, too. Here is how it works:
Parents are invited to deposit cash or checks made out to the Montessori School of Pullman into the black box outside of the office.  Please write FUNd on the memo line of the check.
Deadline is December 15.
The amount donated into the FUNd will be divided equally among the staff.
Each staff member will be asked to name their three favorite local businesses e.g. Moscow Food Co-op, O-Ramen, Birch and Barley.
Admin will purchase gift cards to each staff member's favorite businesses.
Gift cards will be distributed to staff on behalf of our parents so that teachers can use them up over the winter break and have some FUN!
Thank you,
Sharon DeChenne
MSOP Board Parent Representative

Many Thanks!

Dear families,

We really appreciate our families who have opted to keep children home for a quarantine period after travel or participating in a Thanksgiving gathering with members outside of their normal bubble. Please let the office know if you are doing this, so we can credit you with a week of childcare to be used when conditions improve – maybe by spring break, surely by summer 2021! The week of childcare must be prearranged with the office so that we can plan adequate staffing. Thanks.

We also appreciate all of our families who opted to stay home and celebrate with the members of their households, too. That is another way to help keep us all safe.

We can’t remove all of the risk, but by working together and being thoughtful of the whole community we can minimize the risk!

Our school has organized a Giving Tuesday Fundraiser through Facebook. 100% of all donations to our non-profit through Facebook will be given to us without a service fee. Families are invited to donate, to share our fundraiser with their contacts via email or via their own social media. All donors will receive a receipt for donations for tax purposes. Our fundraiser will be open through December 18th, and will act as our end-of-year giving campaign, too. Our goal is $1,000 to help us through these challenging times! You can check out our Facebook fundraiser by following this link:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/1827773500704155/10158980336641774/

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