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Reading is everywhere. The teacher in me can’t help but take advantage of teachable moments in our daily lives. Lately, I’ve been guiding my girls to read recipes, food labels and package directions.
Liam, my oldest, can already follow a simple recipe to make pancakes on weekends. Except the time he forgot to follow my penciled in notes for doubling the recipe, he does well with it. I love that he gets practical experience reading and following directions, with such yummy results! I just wish those directions also included instructions to clean up afterwards! (Hmmm… maybe I can pencil those in too.)
For relaxed weekend lunches, I let my 7-year-old twins build their own tortilla “pizzas” and microwave them under my close watch. They love getting to “cook” When they’re done though – ugh! Picture large splatters of marinara sauce on the table and shredded mozzarella scattered here and there on the floor.
So we save the kids-in-the-kitchen time for weekends.
The After School Rush
After school we keep it simple. I offer fresh fruit and wholesome packaged snacks. If the kids can actually read the ingredient list I know I’ve found something healthy. It makes a good test!
That’s why I was excited to discover Kidfresh frozen meals and snacks a few months ago. They’re reasonably priced – in the $3 range, convenient (no cooking mess!), and they were created with input from a top chef and a pediatric nutritionist, so I trust that they’re healthy.
I loaded up on them the last time I was at Kroger. For a limited time, Kroger and its family of stores has them on sale for 15% off. (You can check to see if your store has them by following this link.) The kids were super excited to see how many I’d bought.
Every day they get off the school bus SO hungry. They head straight for the kitchen when they walk in the door. They eat lunch at school so early that they’re ready for a meal after school.
Picture three hungry elementary aged kiddos elbowing each other to get to the fridge first. It’s like I don’t pack them a lunch (I do! A healthy one!) Snack time for us needs to be quick and convenient.
On days when we have soccer practice – so I know dinner will be late – I give them a Kidfresh meal. That way I know they’re getting a great source of protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, fiber, and more, without any yucky artificial flavors or ingredients.
For the 4 minutes that our Kidfresh meal is cooking, sometimes we look at the nutrition label together, and I help the girls read and understand it. They can now read words like “saturated fat” and “sodium” – both of which are moderate in all the Kidfresh meals. (The only downside is that now they can call me out if I buy something unhealthy!)
We also work on reading ingredient lists. There’s often an impromptu phonics lesson in reading a long ingredient list. But I don’t really want my kids sounding out monosodium glutamate… The short and clean ingredient lists on our Kidfresh meals are just right for all of us.
I do wait until they’ve decided they love their food before we read the ingredients, though. Kidfresh meals have hidden veggies (up to ½ cup per meal!). It’s fun to see the surprise on my girls’ faces when they realize they’ve just eaten carrots in their mac ‘n cheese!
DIY Snack ‘n Study Placemats
Last week I decided to fit a little spelling practice in with snack time. We made simple place mats that we can change out word lists in. That way we can use a new word list every week.
• Scrapbook paper
• Clear contact paper (I used this)
• 3” x 5” notecard
1. “Laminate” the scrapbook paper by covering it front and back with contact paper.
2. Cut out 2 more pieces of contact paper: a 4” x 6” rectangle and a 3” x 5” one. Peel and stick them sticky side together, with the smaller one centered in the middle of the larger one. This gives you a 1-inch sticky margin around a non-sticky interior for your notecard.
3. Place the notecard with spelling words on the laminated scrapbook paper, and cover with the 4×6 /3×5 sandwich you made in step 2. It should be easy to remove the notecard and replace it with next week’s word list.
The school year is nearly over, but with these cute place mats we can have the girls pick some fun words to practice spelling over the summer. I think they’re sturdy enough to last through next school year as well.