Long ago when I was a much younger teacher, I had this idea that “the show must go on” at all times. It’s a “grub day” (no uniform) at school? Why wouldn’t classes just continue as normal? It’s the week before the winter break? Sure, we will keep working on our research projects with just as much energy, focus and enthusiasm as we would if the holidays weren’t in sight. Riiiiiiiight?
old age infinite wisdom now, I realise that going with the flow and being flexible is one of the most important qualities for any teacher. I feel like every day, despite what I plan to do in my lessons, a million little things happen that I need to react to by changing my approach to something or even completely changing an activity. I tell you, teachers have to be on the ball with a bunch of “in case” activities up our sleeves at all times.
That said, I have also come to accept that there are days when things won’t be “business as usual” and this week was one of those times. With just 2.5 days left before our winter break (and one of the latest end-dates I can remember in all the years I have been teaching!), I think it’s fair to say everyone (teachers and students) was pretty tired and ready for the holidays. So, what to do to keep little minds (and hands) engaged? Why, BAKE, of course! In all but one of my classes (who got to hear a special guest speaker talk about her experiences building a school in Haiti which was pretty amazing!), we spent the week immersed in flour, sugar, butter and sprinkles. Not exactly relaxing (for me) but a lot of fun and a lovely way to end this very long term with the boys!
First up my Grade 4 class made Abby Dodge’s bittersweet chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies. Very easy to make…
These photos might not look like much but the back story is that I was busy in the back of the room packaging cookies for Out of the Cold (see below) and basically left the boys to their own devices. I gave them a few directions and told them any mess they made they would have to clean up themselves and was amazed to see what amounted to an efficient (and pretty neat) cookie production line:
Get the recipe for Abby Dodge’s bittersweet chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies here!
My Grade 5 class made Mark Bittman’s coconut macaroons (after I spied the recipe in “How to Bake Everything” which I featured here). There is no evidence of them actually making these (VERY sticky hands all round that session, including mine so no camera was being touched!) but the next day I let them loose with melted chocolate and sprinkles:
Get the recipe for Mark Bittman’s coconut macaroons here.
My Grade 3s made Jamie Oliver’s gingerbread. I taught them the trick of rolling cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper:
Get the recipe for Jamie Oliver’s gingerbread here.
Finally, my Petits Chefs rolled up their sleeves and baked up a batch of Chocolate-Mint Crinkle Cookies for the Out of the Cold holiday dinner this Friday. Out of the Cold is an organisation for people on the streets of Toronto, offering a place for them to come in out of the cold and have a good meal. Our school supports the Friday meals through the year and we baked for the holiday meal last year as well. I thought it was a nice way for the boys to give back a bit over the holidays.
I knew from last year that these cookies are easy to make (and truly don’t require the 1.5 hours’ chilling time suggested in the recipe!). I only had a small crew of boys this week but they, too, took this on fairly independently – I was impressed!
Get the recipe for Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies here.
For information on ways to help the Friday Food Ministries at Out of the Cold, click here*.
* Out of the Cold is just one of the many charities you can support this holiday season. Please consider donating time, food or money to those less fortunate than yourself. What might not seem like a big deal to you (or even a fun activity – the boys certainly enjoyed “giving back” in this way!), can make a huge difference to someone else.
What about you – what will you be baking with your kids over the holidays?