February and the Beginning of Spring Fever

It’s Minnesota and 18 degrees. Like it has been for weeks. It has been a long winter here, with the weather snowy and cold since November. Now that it’s February, we feel entitled to have some weather hinting spring will arrive someday. You know..temperatures above 30 degrees would be amazing! My husband could retire his coat for the season! (I’m serious, by the way. The man was made for cool weather. His coat looks brand new and he’s had it for as long as I’ve known him.)

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It’s this time of year that I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t plant something. This year I am channeling this planting energy into lesson plan! Tada!

 

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Audrey is about as excited about planting as she is about everything at this age, which makes every new thing exciting and fun. We started out by scouring the kitchen for anything we could plant. We finally decided on garlics. We took a plastic bottle and filled it with damp paper towels, then stuck two garlic bulbs in. Within 2 days we saw the start of roots! Two more days and those roots were shooting out of the bulb! A week and we had some green popping out of the top. So exciting!

 

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You can do this with any type of seed. Garlic is great because it pops roots very fast!

 

 

 

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All done! One garlic on each side.

 

 

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This was day four, I believe. This garlic was VERY excited about growing.

After the roots established themselves, we planted them in some good starter soil! When we pulled the garlic out of their paper towel pot, we talked about where the roots were, where the stem was, and why plants need soil too. She loved planting them!

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They each got their own little pot. Happy plants!

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They grew a LOT in just one day after we put them in soil!

We continue to watch them flourish and grow! When they grow out of these little makeshift pots, I will put them in a long window box, perhaps, and plant a few more. We love garlic in this house. It completes us.

While all of this exciting hands-on planting went on, I wanted to really connect in her mind that what was happening in front of us (seed is planted, seed is watered, seed begins to grow, etc.) happens to most other plants, and is a natural process. We made a little picture chart to remind us all of the things that plants need to grow!

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Three key ingredients to make a plant flourish: soil, water, and sunshine!

We used cocoa powder to make the dirt because we didn’t have really anything better to use. Coffee grounds or actual soil might be better next time. Cocoa powder is MESSY! This was also a great exercise in gluing things together. I saw this idea on Pinterest where you use a cupcake liner for the flower. Isn’t this great?

As our little garlic was growing, we decided to do some more planting, thanks to Walmart, who has a million seed packets for sale right now, along with lots and lots of gardening supplies! Audrey and I each picked out some seeds to plant and we came home and talked about how flower seeds needed soil, water, and eventually sunshine to grow.

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We carefully watered them each day, but through a mysterious and unfortunate event, I ended up vacuuming them up off the floor…

Next, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the parts of a flowering plant!

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I cut out the pieces and together we glued them on a piece of paper. After we finished, I pointed to each part and asked her if she knew what it was. The roots she knew right off the bat. We labeled them and moved on until everything had a label. Prominently hung on our fridge, the chart reminds us to go over the names of the parts of the plant whenever we notice it. Kids memorize this stuff in no time at all!

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A lot of school right now is playtime. What better way to learn how a table is set and how to use proper manners than a tea party? This is my dream come true – having a tea party with my daughter and her very favorite stuffed friends. This was a Christmas gift from her Mimi. Since then, we have been enjoying tea parties most every day!

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And because we live at a big hockey/figure skating school, whenever we can catch some free ice time, we use that opportunity as well!

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She loved it! And this time Miss A. figured out how to slide forward a little!

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Charting the weather continues to be a daily event. I have to ask her if she sees sun, clouds, wind moving the trees, snow or rain falling from the clouds, etc. My hope is that with enough practice, she goes through the list by herself and can do the weather chart all on her own, if need be.

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So many trains to play with!

If you live near the Twin Cities, I recommend you set aside some time one day to visit Choo – Choo Bob’s train store (2050 Marshall Ave, St Paul, MN). This place is amazing – even if your kid isn’t into trains. They have little moving model trains running on some very interesting tracks, lots of different train related toys – even the sets that cost hundreds of dollars! And the best part? The back of the store.

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All set up for kids to play on!

Complete sets with glued down tracks for kids to play with. I think I saw eight different tables, all surrounded by bench seating for parents. We spent an hour or two relaxing while Audrey jumped from table to table, exploring all of the different train worlds. I believe they do birthday parties and even have a story time in the mornings. And all of this, my friends, is free.

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And painting! She asks to paint every day. I need to buy this stuff in bulk, now.

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With the new year came the feast day of Saint Basil. He is a very much beloved Orthodox saint and we celebrate his feast on January 1 (old calendar)/January 14 (new calendar) with the traditional Vasilopita (Saint Basil’s cake). . This tradition is kept in honor and remembrance of one of Saint Basil’s miracles. Long ago, a spiteful emperor demanded a large tax on Caesarea. The people donated as much money as they could in hopes to spare their home from destruction upon the emperor’s return from war. While away, the emperor was slain. After praying about it, the saint baked all of the tax money into large “pitas,” or cakes. When the people came to church, they each received a piece of Vasilopita, and miraculously found inside the exact amount of coins they had been taxed! Exactly everything was returned to them in this way. It’s a very interesting story to read about. So! This year, for the first time, we tried making our own. Now, the tradition is to put a coin, wrapped in foil, into the cake batter before you bake it. Audrey loves this part. Once baked, you bring it to church and the priest says a special prayer over it. The first cut piece is dedicated to our Lord, the second to the Theotokos, the third to Saint Basil, and finally the rest is cut for the faithful to enjoy. It’s a special blessing to whoever gets the hidden coin in their piece. And also very exciting for the kids!

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Saint Basil’s Cake “Vasilopita”

INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups sugar, and 1/4 cup separately
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Set oven to 325°. In a large bowl, mix butter, oil, and 1 2/3 cups of sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks, vanilla, and yogurt. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add to first mixture, along with yogurt; mix well. Set aside. Whip together egg whites and salt until foamy, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff. Fold into first mixture. Pour into greased 9″ round. Insert coin wrapped in foil. Decorate with sliced almonds. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover in foil and bake another 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

(Recipe adapted from www.orthodoxmom.com)

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Signing out for now!

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