Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Children's Day Celebration

 Kate, an afternoon parent, came in to school on Tuesday to share the Buddhist celebration of Children's Day with the pm and XP classes.
She explained the tradition of bowing to the source of goodness and kindness within those around us from that place of goodness and kindness within ourselves. The children enjoyed practicing a bow before the Children's Day table.  It was another wonderful celebratory afternoon at CGMS.

Shab-E Yalda

We are so incredibly fortunate to experience the winter season with our children and families.  Each year I learn something new from all of you.  Thank you!  This year Afsaneh came in to share the Iranian solstice celebration of Shab-E Yalda with the children.   In Iran the longest night of the year is called Shab-e Yalda (the birthday of the sun). It is known as the victory of light over darkness because after this night the days will become incrementally longer (YAY!). On this night, the families keep lights glowing to help the sun in its "battle against the night". They recite poetry (Hafez), play music and tell jokes and stories, talk and eat and eat and talk until the sun reappears in the morning! 
Afsaneh also set up a korsi (a square table covered with a thick cloth overhanging on all sides) to enjoy a delicious feast of fruits, sweets, and nuts, symbolizing health and prosperity.
In addition she prepared a feast for all of us to enjoy, including: Eggplant Khoresh (stew), rice and halva and shared pomegranates for the children to de-seed.
 It was an absolutely beautiful day!

Here is a letter from the Noori's to our families
SHAB e YALDA: A Persian Celebration
Dear Families,
Today, the children learned about Shab e Yalda and had a tasting of the foods eaten.
Shab e Yalda is an evening of festivities and merriment that begins when the sun sets on the last day of fall and continues until the dawn of the first day of winter. It falls on the longest night of the year, this year being December 20th. It is known as the birthday of the sun and as the “victory” of light taking over darkness. After this night the daytime starts to slowly increase. On this night families keep lights glowing to help the sun in its “battle” against darkness. They recite poetry (by Hafez), play music, tell jokes and stories, talk and eat and eat and talk until the sun reappears in the morning!

To this day Yalda remains as one of the most ancient festive ceremonies that has been celebrated in Iran for centuries. By tradition Iranians gather in the homes of the elders of family or friends on Yalda night, eat (fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts), drink tea and be merry. The main Yalda fruits are watermelon, pomegranate, persimmons, apples and pears. Nuts and dried fruit (particularly pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds and raisins) are eaten on Yalda night along with a specific dinner menu.
There is a saying in Farsi that goes something like this: I wish you a long and happy life like Shab e Yalda, sweet as watermelon and fruitful as pomegranates!
Happy Shab e Yalda!
With Love,

-The Noori's

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Hanukkah


Two of our morning parents, Julie and Ricki, shared their Hannukah traditions in all-star fashion!  Seriously! These are the most delicious latkes I have ever tried and Julie generously shared her recipe with all of us!  And Ricki brought a wonderful classroom presentation of her Hannukah traditions and a great Menorah craft.

Potato Latkes

6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed or peeled 

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 egg 

2 tablespoons flour or matzoh meal 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

½- 1 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper 
oil for frying 

1. Grate potatoes and place in a large bowl.  (You can use a food processor to chop potatoes.)

2. Squeeze most of the water from the grated mixture into the same bowl and place squeezed potato into 
another bowl. Reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the starchy water from the bottom of the first bowl and add 
back into the potato-onion mixture in the second bowl.  (I don’t always do this part.)

3.  Finely chop or process onion.  Some people like a lot of onion.  (I use about 1 teaspoon of the 
chopped onion, especially with kids.)

4. To the mixture add egg, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. 

5. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Pour in oil to reach 1/4 inch. Test by dropping a small 
amount of the mixture into the oil. When it sizzles the oil is hot enough. Gently place a mound of the 
mixture by tablespoons or 1/4 cup measures into the hot oil. Flatten gently with a spatula or spoon. Cook
 3 to 5 minutes depending on size, until golden and gently flip to brown the other side for another 3 to 5 

6. Remove crispy potato latkes to drain on paper towels set over sheets of newspaper. Serve 
immediately. Most like to eat latkes with sour cream or applesauce. 

**You may keep latkes warm in a 250 degree oven for a half an hour or freeze for later use. To freeze, 
place cooked latkes in one layer on a baking pan in the freezer. When solid, remove to a plastic freezer 
bag and seal well. They will keep for up to 6 weeks. When ready to serve, place frozen potato pancakes 
on a baking pan and pop into a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. 
makes about 20 latkes ~ can make ahead ~ can freeze 
preparation time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes using two pans

Apple Sauce
8 apples (4 granny smith/4 honey crisp or your favorite)

2 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

2-3 cinnamon sticks

Peel apples and slice into large chunks.  Put in large soup pot with all the ingredients.  Cook for approx. 
1/2 hour on a low bubble.  Mash apples as you go but leave it a little chunky.  Pull out cinnamon sticks 
before serving.
For a bigger crowd, I use 12 apples, 3 cups water and 1 c sugar 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The winter show

It's time for the winter showcase at CGMS.  If you didn't get a chance to see some of the children's work during conferences, please stop by the school to experience the show before the end of the year.  Here is a teaser:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

potato soup from the children's garden

 First we harvested our vegetables...
 next we talked about the harvest ... then scrubbed the produce...
 Peeled them.... and cut them
 Once all the veggies were cut we went to the garden to collect some sage, chives and thyme...
 And added it to the crockpot.
 We cooked the potatoes', celery, onions and a few other garden veggies in the crock pot over night, along with enough broth to cover.
 In the morning we blended the soup adding a few more chives, salt, pepper and milk.
The result was delicious!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Painting with the toddlers

The toddlers and I spent the day experimenting with wax crayons and liquid watercolor on hot-pressed water color paper.
To facilitate some color differentiation, each child worked with a single color at a time.  This was not only an aesthetic choice. I wanted the children to experience the full saturation of each color and how adding different hues over time changed the piece....sometimes blending and other times overlaying depending on the wetness of the underlying color.  I also attempted to offer lighter colors first to further this investigation.
The use of brushes and drawing tools foster strength of the hand, pincer grip and more...all indirect preparations for the writing and drawing ahead.
 It was yet another beautiful day with the toddlers.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dia de los muertes

Happy Dia de los muertes!!!  We celebrated the ebb and flow of life as a whole school, courtesy of a CGMS family with roots in Mexico.
Sylvia and Alex set up a beautiful seasonal alter before joining us for a school wide assembly in both the morning and afternoon programs.  Together they shared some of the traditions surrounding this celebration, sensitively and brightly communicating the cycle of life and death and how the Mexican culture celebrates the departed on this special day.
When we finished the children returned to their classes and everyone was invited into studio where we made corn tortillas and enjoyed them with fresh pinto beans and salsa.

 A good time was had by all.
Our deep gratitude to the Salcedo-Rojas' family for generously sharing their family/cultural traditions with our school! These experiences deepen our cultural awareness and enrich our program immensely.