Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Superheroes, Part 1

I've been thinking about this unit for awhile.  Isaiah has been really focused on fighting "bad guys" and has taken an interest in superheroes.  He really loved The Incredibles when he watched it recently, and I saw this GREAT How to Be a Superhero unit from Impress Your Kids, which is based on I Timothy 4:12, so I decided to dive into a superhero theme for a unit.  Honestly, I have put a lot of work into this one!  I get really excited about something that I think will connect to one of my kids' interests, and I love planning, so sometimes I kind of lose track of the time involved!  It has been a lot of fun!  We are still working on it (for the third week), but I'm just now getting around to posting things from our first week.
Isaiah could hardly wait to get started!  We went a little ghetto on attaching his crest that I had made because we don't have any safety pins, but he insisted on wearing it to my husband's office where we eat lunch most days.

As I mentioned, a big part of the motivation for the unit came from Impress Your Kids.  We started by making crests, as she suggested, to introduce the unit.  I used a hot-glue gun with some sparkly glue sticks I had been given to attach a letter to their crests.  I actually ended up attaching them to capes for the boys (and a friend).
Isaiah also requested "an Incredibles' badge," so I made one up out of felt for him.

In the unit, Amanda focuses on each of the aspects of being "an example for the believers," and the first one was "Super Speech."  That is one we could use a little focus on in our house!  Amanda does such a great job explaining the activities, so just check them out on her site, but this first one was an experiment from Matthew 12:34, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."  It went really well with the boys, and they really got into it!  In fact, one of the most encouraging moments for me came when I started to talk to them the next day about our experiment we had done, and Zeke (who just turned 2) said, "Drink?"  It was the first of a few moments that showed me he is making connections, even at this young age, to what we are trying to learn, and even if he isn't understanding the real point yet, things are sticking in his mind, and that just seemed really exciting to me!

Isaiah has been determined to make a movie about the super hero he made up in his mind--Super Melman.  The name is from the character from the movie Madagascar, which is probably the least likely character to base a super hero around, but he has always loved giraffes, and for some reason, he's landed his mind, on Super Melman.  He frequently makes up stories about him and his super powers and his battles.  The main bad guys he has focused on are "Bad Guy Dragon," "Bad Guy Backson" (from a Winnie the Pooh movie), and "Bad Guy T.Rex."  As part of our superhero obstacle course, I wanted to have him throw bean bags at a target of bad guys, which I thought he would really enjoy, give him a little motor skill practice, AND be a bit therapeutic, as he scares a bit easily and can actually get a little fixated on these "bad guys" he thinks of.  So, he was really excited to color them and then take aim!

The second activity for Super Speech was a memory activity for Ephesians 4:29.  The boys had a friend over that day, and they all got REALLY excited about the long paper for the verse!
They had lots of fun dropping it down from the top of our multi-floor staircase!
I actually think their excitement about the paper and having a friend over overshadowed any focus on the verse, but they had fun, and we said it a bunch of times, so you can't be upset about that!

I set up a little superhero obstacle course for the boys, and they and their friends had a lot of fun with that!

The third activity for Super Speech was "Build Others Up," which included a great block tower idea.
Zeke is kind of young to jump in on this by speaking affirmations, but he did enjoy adding to the tower and gave some sweet pats and huge, and when we talked about using our words to build others up, he kept saying, "Blocks?"  (Another thing sticking at some level!)  Isaiah mostly just kept telling us that he loved us, which was sweet.  I did take turns putting on blocks and telling the boys things that I love about them, which was really fun for me, and I think a sweet time for them!

Isaiah wanted to revisit the obstacle course pretty much every day.

We also started an alphabet book of superheroes, which was Isaiah's idea.  We'll be wrapping up the last letters this week, so I'll post more on that later.
More superheroes to come!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cooking Adventures

Isaiah watched the movie Ratatouille awhile ago and asked if we could make "that dish" that Remy makes in it, and I said we probably could try that sometime.  Recently, he saw eggplants at the vegetable stand when we were buying produce, and he asked if that was one of the things that Remy put in "that dish."  That spurred him to get really excited recently and asking to make it.  When a kid wants to make a dish full of veggies, you can't really say no!  So, yesterday morning, I gave him his shopping list that I had made for him that had pictures, words, and a column to check when completed.  After I went through it with him, I heard him outside with little brother explaining the list to him while I got my shoes on.
The place we buy vegetables here is a collection of stands at the major intersection (called "chowk" here).  There are two bigger ones that we usually go to, and you have to look through the piles or crates of vegetables and often even just ask the owner to get you a certain amount of an item.  Isaiah took his list very seriously.  He was searching for the different items and even asked the owner about a few items, which is a notable step for him, as he sometimes doesn't engage less familiar adults very easily.  He was quite the attraction for the locals (even more than usual!) with his clipboard and serious goal.  

I did the chopping while he was having his quiet time and then watching a bit of the movie.  Doesn't it look beautiful with all those fresh veggies?
I wish I could share the recipe we used, but I sort of used a mish-mash of various ones I found and actually just sort of decided to wing it since he REALLY was insistent on making it the way Remy did and usually notices a lot of details.  So, we had to make circles to layer, we needed to bake it, and he wanted to drizzle something on top.  He also really wanted to have the circle of parchment paper to put on top for cooking it, but that is just not available here.  Just in case you can actually tell amounts of the various items in the photo below, I grossly overestimated the amount we would want and had enough to make ratatouille for an entire army!  Ah, well, we've gotten some leftovers and plenty of veggies left to roast for other meals.
It would have been easier to just buy some tomato paste (which we can sometimes find here) and season it for layering on the bottom of the pan, but it is a bit expensive and not always available, so we sauteed some onions, garlic, and tomatoes in some olive oil until the onions were soft and the tomatoes had turned to sort of a paste.  We added some green peppers (most recipes called for red and/or yellow peppers, which I think would be much better and look really pretty in the layers instead of the bottom, but they are difficult to find and very expensive here, so we went green).  We added a bit of dried basil and parsley and a bit of salt and pepper.  Then we poured this on the bottom of our pans (we made two and still had plenty of veggies leftover).

Then Isaiah layered the vegetables like he had seen Remy do.  One aspect I hadn't really thought of as part of this was patterning.  He was very focused on following the pattern to put eggplant, zucchini, and then tomato.  The few times he mixed up a slice (which would clearly not have been a big deal), he corrected himself or asked me if he had it right.  

Then we mixed up some olive oil, salt, pepper, some fresh oregano that our friend at our office had given us, and some thyme, and Isaiah spooned it over his dish.

This is his finished dish ready for the oven.  (You may notice the mushrooms on top.  We had bought mushrooms because I saw it listed in one, but not most, recipes, and it is actually a vegetable that Isaiah has been really liking lately.  I had planned to put them in with the bottom saucy layer, but after we finished, Isaiah said, "What about the mushrooms?"  We just sprinkled them on top.)

We baked it in our oven.  It took longer than expected, which turned out to be because our gas cylinder for the oven was nearly empty, but it smelled wonderful while cooking.  This is Isaiah's finished product.  He was so excited and so proud of himself.  Sadly, even all the excitement did not create a love for these veggies (which I knew he wasn't fond of but excited for a new chance to try them).  We raved about how good it was, and after awhile at the table and asking him about not eating much, he said, "I don't really like it."  He was convinced it was because I hadn't made it the way Remy did!  I think he was disappointed, but I tried to talk up how much fun we had with the whole project, and he really did seem to feel happy about the whole experience, even if he doesn't love ratatouille!  It really was a wonderful day of working on something together!