New Beginnings

The new school year started last week and we thought you might like to see how we welcomed our students, old and new, back. Lots of adventure, discovery and exploration for our little people to embark on. We can’t wait to share our new stories with you!

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Resources: Lunchbox Recipes

As the school year rolls around, we thought you might love to try these recipes to liven up lunches.

Smashed Chickpeas With Pita

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Cream Cheese Sandwiches

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Chewy Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

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Ricotta and Honey Sandwich

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Or, try some of our favourites from Elements –

Caprese Salad

Rice Bowl

Avocado Toast

Pasta with Pesto

Spinach Wraps

Back to School

It’s that time of year again, and we have rounded up some wonderful, useful information for you, as kids head back to school.

Why is a routine or ritual important?

“Structure helps kids feel safe.” ~ Benjamin R. Chan, M.D., University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute

Some kids can’t wait to get back to class, see their friends, and excel at their scholastic work and extracurricular activities. Others loathe the pressure to fit in socially and fear they won’t “make the grade” intellectually.

Regardless of where your child falls on this continuum, implementing consistent back-to-school rituals and annual traditions provide children with the security and stability they need to thrive while reinforcing family bonds.

Our favourite blog, A Cup of Jo, has this great post by Joanna Goddard on her kids’ routines. We especially liked this little tip: “For each of the boys, we bring out a cake the night before the first day of school. When we turn out the lights and the boys blow out the candles, it always feels like the exact moment they’re finally ready for a new year.”

Over on Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosenstrach offers menu ideas, which are lifesavers. We really want to try making the Hawaiian Pizza and Avocado Salad. Yum!

Finally, we loved this sweet story on creating rituals for your child.

Do you have rituals for your kids, or are you creating them now? Head on over to our Facebook page and let us know!

 

 

 

 

Cooking with Kids: Caprese Salad

This is a kid-friendly recipe from start to finish. Plus, it’s delicious. We highly recommend you make a big bowl of Caprese Salad this weekend – your kids will love making it and eating it. 

Ingredients

Cherry tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella
Olives
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt

Wash, and chop the tomatoes.

Cut the mozzarella, and halve the olives. Tear up the basil leaves.

Toss all the ingredients together and eat immediately.

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Cooking with Kids: Rice Bowl

We had a lovely afternoon recently cooking with Reo, the mom of Thomas, one of our students. She helped the kids make a yummy rice bowl, and was kind enough to share the recipe for others to try out. The steps in bold are for adults only. 

Bon appetit!

Peel and chop 2 bulbs of garlic.
Chop 2 bunches of asparagus.
Chop some salted black beans.
Set aside cooked rice.
Break 12 eggs in a bowl but do not beat them.

In a wok, heat oil and fry the garlic until aromatic but not brown.
Add the asparagus and stir fry. Then, add the eggs, and stir gently to start cooking.
Add the black beans, and cooked rice.
Cook until the eggs are done.
Serve in a bowl.

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Why kids should garden

Last week our students harvested a crop of tomatoes that they had planted and tended to. We used the tomatoes – which were delicious! – in meals through the week, and everyone loved eating what they had grown.

 

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Do you garden with your kids? You should, because these are just three benefits:

How gardening can affect the BRAIN:

There is a myriad of scientific concepts you can discuss with your kids when planting and tending to a garden. One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. The wonder of seeing a garden grow may spark your kids to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? Soon you will be talking about soil composition, photosynthesis and more! Add a little math while gardening by measuring how much plants are growing from week to week or counting the flowers on each plant. Supplement the experience of gardening with books about plants, trips to a botanical garden, or a photo journal of the plants that you are growing.

How gardening can affect the BODY:

When children participate in gardening, the fruits and vegetables that they are inspired to eat will no doubt have a positive effect on their body. But the act of gardening itself can also promote a healthy body. Kids LOVE to get their hands and feet in the dirt, which can run counter to the modern parenting style of compulsively keeping hands and surfaces cleaned and sanitized. However, consider the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory that a lack of childhood exposure to germs actually increases a child’s susceptibility to diseases like asthma, allergies and autoimmune conditions by suppressing the development of the immune system. So getting dirty while gardening may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health.

These days all kids could benefit from a little more physical activity and sunshine they’ll get while gardening. Activities like moving soil, carrying a heavy watering can, digging in the dirt and pushing a wheelbarrow can promote gross motor skills and overall strength for a more fit body. Plus, these activities, known as “heavy work,” have been shown to help kids stay calm and focused.

How gardening can affect the SOUL:

In this electronic age, kids need time for meaningful family connection. Time in the garden allows for team building and promotes communication skills. Planning a garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow give kids a sense of purpose and responsibility. Making sure that the plants get enough fertilizer, water and sun fosters mindfulness. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.”

Resource

10 Inspired Gardening Projects for Kids

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Cooking with Kids: Avocado Toast

This is a healthy and delicious lunch the kids enjoyed at Elements. It is easy to make and much of it can be done by children, with a little help from adults. The steps in bold are for adults only.

Ingredients

Avocado

Bread slices

Lemons

Tomatoes

Olive oil

Smash the avocados, and juice the lemons.

Add the lemon juice to the avocado. Mix very well.

Cut the tomatoes in half.

Each child got slices of bread, which they spread the avocado on, to make sandwiches, which they ate with tomatoes on the side.

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Why music helps art

We tried an experimental activity at school last week, based on a number of articles which talk about how listening to music helps children tap into their creativity.

The premise is simple – music soothes and relaxes the mind. A calm mind is key for imagination and the creative instinct to take over. Music is the best way to help children enter that state, in which they can explore their creativity.

This article states four key benefits of listening to music:

  1. It is a moon enhancer
  2. It relaxes the listener
  3. It sparks inspiration
  4. It helps increase focus

We decided to make the most of the weather and paint outdoors. Here are some pictures, if you’d like to see

For more information on this subject, you might find these helpful –

Music and The Brain

Music and Creativity