Cook the Books


Teachers are always looking for ideas to correlate books that are read in the classroom, either during a storytime session, or books that are read for a specific purpose. Combining books with a cooking activity can add interest in reading the book. There are hundreds of books for all ages that can be correlated with a creative recipe. Even if there is no available stove, teachers can create a recipe to use with a book in the classroom. There are many recipes that can be used to make finger foods that do not require a stove. Many classrooms have microwave ovens that can be used if cooking with heat is required.

Choosing books that lend themselves to creating a recipe can be fun and challenging. Some familiar books such as The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons have food items in the title of the book. Others such as The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle can inspire a creative recipe. I created a recipe to use in my own classroom with pre-schoolers and kindergartners to use with this book. The recipe is as follows:

Lady Bug Jello
1 or 2 packages of strawberry jello
1 box of raisins for spots
1 package of short licorice sticks for antennae

Older children in elementary classrooms also love to cook. Children can often make
suggestions about a recipe for a food dish that can be correlated with a chosen book. After
the teacher has prepared an introductory lesson with a book and recipe, the children will
quickly understand the idea of correlating a favorite book with a recipe, and become creative in choosing books to read that can be use along with a cooking project. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle can inspire a delicious fruit kabob that represents the caterpillar. Both teachers and children can use creativity in the classroom to combine good reading with good cooking.

November 2, 2011 |

We know learning a foreign language is great, but how?


What can I as a parent do to make this become a reality for my children?

It is a well known fact that learning a foreign language early in life has great benefits. In this article we will discuss how parents can begin the process for their children as early as possible. We will also discuss different methods and the pros and cons of different techniques.
There is a great debate in the area of immersion. Ask people the best way to learn and you will hear “immersion is the only way to learn a foreign language!” True immersion means that a person is surrounded by the new language all day, everyday. If you want your child to become fluent quickly then immersion is the way. If you however, are not fluent in another language and don’t intend to move to another country for the next few years there are other successful paths to follow.

There are many options for the rest of you who want to expose our children but don’t have the ability to immerse them. There are classes that you can take your child to where the teachers will teach them in another language or materials you can use at home. Below we have evaluated the most popular methods. Please remember these are intended for parents who do NOT know a second language. For those who are lucky enough to speak a second language then we agree: YES, immerse them as much as possible from the time they are babies.
The following techniques are intended for children who want to learn before schools begin foreign language programming, usually 6th grade or older. The most important lesson to remember is that learning a second language follows the same process as a first language: single words first, phrases next and ultimately complete ideas. Don’t rush your child or expect perfect diction. Remember what they were like learning English as a toddler!
1. Out of the home classes. One thing to be cautious about here is that some places teach young children with the immersion philosophy. You take your child once a week to a class. The instructor teaches the children completely in the new language for set amount of time. The idea seems like common sense. The drawback is large. The children do not understand what the teacher is saying most of the time. For young children this can be frustrating and difficult. Learning takes time and children do not learn well in a frustrating environment. Your best bet is to find a class where the teacher is allowed to use some English. The children should not be expected to learn more than they can comprehend.
2. In daycare/preschool: Many daycares and preschools are beginning to offer foreign language classes. There are two considerations to this approach as well. First make sure the teacher is permitted to use English during instruction. The other concern is that when time is short sometimes foreign language is not taught. While the school’s intentions are great if foreign language is not its own lesson it is easy to skip over. Ask you child’s school if they have a set time for language instruction and if it is a focused lesson.
3. Bilingual books: Again this is a great idea. However, the drawback here is that parents and children may not know all the words. They may not be able to read the words or match them with their English counterparts. Our suggestion is to pick out a few words in each book that you can recognize and use the books as picture books. Discuss the pictures in them with the new words you are learning together.
4. Flashcards and dictionaries: These are great for learning together. Pick out units that your child has interest in and label items around your house, read books and use these new words as much as possible.
5. Computer programs: There are some good programs out there. Pick one that teaches single words first. Phrases and sentences will come. You want your children to feel successful from the beginning. The most important point in using a computer program is that language is intended to be a communication tool. A child sitting in front of a computer for an extended time is not communication. Make sure your child has the opportunity to use their words in everyday life situations.
With all that said we hope we have given you some ideas on how to begin the process. Remember it is a process and will not happen overnight. Keep in mind that any exposure to a foreign language is good exposure. For that matter it isn’t important which language you choose to teach your child. Learning any language opens up a child’s mind to the concept and increases their future abilities. GOOD LUCK and have FUN!
After 20 plus years as a teacher Paula Fortini opened Lil Language Scholars. Lil Language Scholars has curriculum for schools, parents, homeschoolers and online support. Please check out the Lil Language Scholars website to see if any of our materials will help in the education of your children. or 847-997-6438.

October 29, 2011 |

Social Media and Me Part 1


Do you use social media to help your business? There are many sites that can help you with obtaining this goal. The most poplar sites are Facebook and Twitter to share information with current and potential clients. The value in using social media is having access to millions of users who everyday share and read information on these sites. The key to using these sites are to publish information that is valuable to users looking for your type of care or early learning services. The biggest question that I receive is what type of information should I be publishing and where can I get information resources. I will give you some ideas below on how and where to get information for your social media site.

We will look at Facebook first. Facebook is the largest social media website in the US with millions of users. If you do not have a Facebook page for your business you can create one and be publishing information very quickly. I would recommend registering a business page so you can keep your personal and business page separate. Facebook allows you to use your account as either your personal or business. This is great because it allows you to interact with other users as your business and gives you a more professional image. This will also allow users to “Like” your business page and not your personal page Now that you have your page we need to personalize it for your business. Facebook allows you to set up custom pages using their FBML language. This allows you to write custom pages that pertain to your business. Here is an example of my Facebook page You should see a custom page by default that looks like my homepage on This is a great way to provide information to a potential client. You can also set which page a user will see when the find your Facebook page by setting the Default Landing Tab: in your page settings. Now you need to provide information to users visiting your page. This information could be status updates about your business or you can publish your blog if you write one. Here is a URL to help you with this step If you do not have a blog for your site I would recommend to start one. A blog is a great tool to share information with users and this easy to read and is a great source of information for your business.

When posting information on your Facebook page be sure to remember a few rules. Post only information that you would put on the front page of a newspaper. Do not complain on your Facebook page about other companies or people. Even if someone is not your friend on your page, one of your friends might be and relay the information back to them. Below are some ideas for daily status updates:

  • Post your planned activates for the day. This will give potential clients a feel for what is happening in your environment.
  • Post any awards or certifications that you have received lately.
  • Post if you have current openings.
  • General notes to parents “We will be closed on such a date”

The key is to post something everyday so users what to come back and read your postings. You can also allow others to post on your wall. This could be a bad or good thing. You would love a parent to say how great your business is but on the other hand you do not want to a disgruntled parent complaining about your business. This is a decision you will have to make since every client base is different. I hope you found this article useful for your business. In part 2 I will talk about the “Like” button and creating an identity on Facebook.

August 29, 2011 |
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