Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Author Study - Ezra Jack Keats

In my home, for years now, I have enjoyed author studies.  Our studies are simple.  I hang up a picture of the author of whose books we will be reading.  We either watch a youtube video about their life or if I can find a simple biography, we read that.  Then, we check out as many of those books as we possibly can and read them.  If there is a city where the stories take place, we look that up on the globe/map.  I also try to incorporate an art project if possible in the style of the author.

Today I am focusing on the author Ezra Jack Keats.  We just spent the better part of 2 months reading and rereading his children's books together.  Ezra Jacks Keats is a fascinating man who was a Jew.  He was born in Brooklyn.    He changed his name from Jacob Ezra Katz, a Jewish name, to Ezra Jack Keats, a more American name.  He loved writing children's literature especially about the minorities who grew up in the Bronx.  If you read through his stories, you can see that vividly portrayed.  He was the first to write a children's book where the main character was a little black boy, The Snowy Day.  Incidentally, that book also won a Caldecott Medal.

I loved reading through these books with my littles.  We especially enjoyed the stories which centered around Peter.  Peter is the little boy featured in The Snowy Day.  He is in a total of 7 of his 22 books.  You get to watch Peter grow up through the stories.  Peter is not the only character though.  Other characters include Susie, Amy, Jennie, Roberto, Louie, Archie, Willie (a dog), and the cat (a stray that befriends them).  Overall, these are wonderful stories to read to your little ones.  I actually had kids of many ages glance through them.  The illustrations are very fun to look at and the stories are a pleasure to read aloud.

Here is a list of other free resources about him that you could include in your study, if you so choose.  Or you can be like me, use very little extras, and just snuggle and read.

Embark on the Journey - some fun printables to go along with them.  Some are great additions for learning as well.

Lots of fun stuff can be found here for kids and adults alike - Ezra Jack Keats foundation

A couple of ones just for The Snowy Day:

Homeschool Creations - great place for Montessori style learning

My Joyfilled Life - this looks like loads of fun with lots of ideas

Homeschool Share - a free lapbook, if you enjoy doing them

And last but not least, art projects (we are doing the second one, see our pic later this week on facebook)

Time for Kindergarten has a very fun simple one you could do

Deep Space Sparkle has this cute one as well

Happy Reading with your littles

Friday, February 19, 2016

My favorite go to bread recipe, Milk and Honey Bread

I think there is no better smell in the home than the smell of homemade bread.  I have been making homemade bread for my family for a number of years now.  I prefer it!  When my family was smaller, I made all our bread but as appetites grew and my responsibilities grew, I now make all our meal breads and rolls and leave the sandwich bread to Nature's Own.  :)  Today, I am going to share with you my all time favorite go to bread. It is so versatile and absolutely delicious.  

I am blessed with 2 bread machines which I use constantly to start my bread.  I use to do it all by bowl and watch it rise twice, etc, but after reading a post on starting bread dough in the bread machine and its ease, I tried it.  I will never go back.  The constant kneading of the dough and  the consistent warm temperatures cause the dough to come out beautifully every time.  And, to date, that is all the rising that I have needed to do.  After I form the bread into whatever I want, I just pop it in the oven and it comes out delightful.  The best part is, no babysitting or telling the kids to calm down.  I don't have to fuss and worry if the bread will collapse if they accidentally touch the bowl or jump too hard.  They can be kids.  I can make bread.  Its a win win for me.  Ok, enough of the glories of my bread machines.

This recipe starts off in the bread machine, then you bake it in the oven.  It is delightfully sweet and each time I make it, I am reminded of the sweet lady who gave me this recipe.  When we first started attending our church, I noticed immediately they always had homemade bread.  I asked about for the delightful bread I was tasting and found out the recipe.  Since then I have joined the communion prep people and this is always the bread I make.  Also, it can be turned into rolls, braided bread, or even popped into a loaf pan.  The variations I will show you next time.  Today I will give you the basic recipe that you can use for communion or even for your family that way you can get started making this recipe right away.  Its very easy.  

Drum roll please.............

Miss Valerie's Milk and Honey Bread
(I named it such because that is the name of the sweet lady who gave me her recipe.  If you are reading this, thank you, Miss Valerie)

Warm 1 cup milk and 1 stick of butter in the microwave till warm to the touch, about a minute and a half.  Then, place in bread machine.

Add the following ingredients to the bread machine, in this order.....

2 large beaten eggs
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt (reg. salt can be used, I just prefer sea salt for bread)
4 1/2 cups flour (you can use either bread or all purpose)
3 tsp. active dry yeast

Turn your bread onto the dough cycle and let that baby do all the hard work.  I like to check it after about 5 minutes to make sure it doesn't look too wet or dry.  If too dry, add a wee bit more water.  If too wet, add a wee bit more flour.  I have hardly ever done this to the recipe, though.  Its usually just fine.

Preheat your oven 375.

Once done in the machine, form it into the shape of choice.  Gently form it into one big round loaf and place on a round pizza pan.  The key here is to not mess around with it too much.  If you do, you will have to let it rest for about another 30 minutes to let it regain it pretty form.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a nice deep brown.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting.

In my next blog post, I will show you how to make all the variations on this bread recipe.  It truly is a winner in my book for go to recipes.