December 19, 2010

Jungle School - Snow Day

Normally, summer is approaching here in Panama.  However, this year we have had rain, rain, and more rain.  The canal actually closed for a day, and most of the city has been without water as the filtering systems can’t keep up with all the sediment that the flooding brings.  What does this mean for us?  

Well, with the darkness of the sky it actually feels a little like winter (okay, fall really).  Maybe it’s a stretch, but a momma can dream, right?  I guess it is because my children have never seen or touched snow, that I always get excited about some winter fun.  So, we decided to dedicate this last Friday of Jungle School as a snow day.  

Our activities were:

Snowball Math - This was one of my favorites teaching Kindergarten, but preschoolers seem to have much less self control with edible math manipulatives.  hehe  So they counted out 10 snowballs, then learned how to lick them to stick them together for snowmen.  Most ended up just making a line and going for the “snowworm.”

Animal Tracks - I just filled a couple of lids with paint, and dug through our animals.  (Confession time...a “good” teacher would have chosen arctic animals, but I went for any white animals in case the paint wasn’t washable. hehe)  Children got to make the animals walk through the paint, then make tracks down a black strip of paper.

Snow Scenes - Here they drew pictures with a white crayon on blue paper, then add snow “goop” for the finishing touches.  Goop is a winter favorite of mine, and so easy to make!  Just mix equal parts flour, salt, and water, then pour into a squeeze bottle.  It dries bumpy or puffy, and the salt makes it sparkle!

December 12, 2010

Mother's Day Makeover's

Mother’s Day in Panama is December 8.  It doesn’t matter what day of the week it falls on, it IS a national holiday.  Folks here are serious about their mamas!

We started our time by reading some fun books about mothers.  I thought it was a good time to review what it means to be servant hearted, and talk about being humble.  Not one child could confess to saying thank you every time their mom did laundry, fixed a meal, etc., so I gave them some ideas on how they could pamper mom today.  We had nail polish available, along with brushes, and lotion for massages.  The children were supposed to find out what their mothers prefer before the “makeover,” then we let the fun begin!

Next I snuck into the kitchen to whip up a little fondue treat for the mom’s, but my children always come running at the sound of the vitamix knowing something good’s coming out.  So, we had to share.  hehe  I didn’t get a photo, but we had a great fondue party with our favorites (apples, bananas, and marshmallows) along with a new found favorite...pretzels!  For those who like the sweet/salty combo (dare I say french fries dipped in a chocolate shake), you’ve got to try it.

Then as they were leaving the children surprised their mamitas with a little gift...A Portrait of Mom!  Who wouldn’t love a marker drawn, scrambled egg eyed picture of themselves?

Feliz Dia de la Madre!  Happy Mother’s Day!

November 30, 2010

We have a new Jungle Baby!

No, I didn't give up blogging...God just surprised us with an extra special something to be thankful for!  

Baby Judah was born on November 23, 2010 at 1:31 a.m. (two weeks before his due date, and one day before I had planned to make all the preparations...hehe)

He weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz. and was 21 in. long, and came into the world VERY quickly.  (My water broke at 10:30, we left for the hospital a little after midnight, called the doctors on the way, and they arrived just before Judah did.) 

Everyone is adjusting well, and loving this new addition to the family.  Here are some photos of their first meeting.

Judah means "praise" and we are all praising God for this precious gift!

November 14, 2010

Week 14 - Widow is Servant Hearted

Printables for this week:

Servant Hearted Chart from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Galatians 5:13b from Hubbard’s Cupboard

This week we learned about Elijah and the widow who gave up her last meal for him.  Acting the story out is a favorite, and this week we practiced in English and Spanish!  It is so fun to hear Aryelle speak in Spanish these days, as she is like a little parrot copying whatever she hears (real words or not...hehe)

Bread Painting was also a big hit this week.  (Just mix a drop of food coloring with a couple tablespoons of milk, stir, and paint away!)  We used the little watercolor brushes for some good fine motor practice.  They were supposed to practice writing their names, but were enthralled by the colors and ended up painting every inch of their piece.  Then it was straight to the toaster, as soggy bread is not very appetizing no matter what color it is.  ;-)  There were squeals of delight over this activity!

We also practiced being servant hearted by serving each other snack this week.  They draped a towel over their arm (like the photo on the bible verse page) and in their best British accent said “Would you like...?”  Then they would bring the snack and drink, both using their best manners.  It was quite amusing, so much so, that I was laughing so hard I only snapped a couple of photos.

For our cooking day, we made Lizzy Lizard bread!  This is one of my favorite recipes called Tomato Basil Bread which makes a delicious Italian bread with an orange color that is perfect for Lizzy.  I made the dough in the bread machine, then gave each child a chunk of dough to create their lizard.  They ended up needing a little more guidance, so we talked about the different parts of a lizard’s body and made them together.  Everyone insisted on including the tongue, too.  hehe

Our Friday edition of Jungle School was Leaf Art.  Each student brought some leaves we dumped in a tub in the middle of the table.  Then I used one of my favorite fall books Look What I Did With a Leaf, by Morteza E. Sohi to provide some inspiration, and set them free to create!  Here we have cats and an elephant.  Aren’t they great?

November 11, 2010

Tomato Basil Bread

This recipe came from a Quick Cooking magazine years ago.  It goes great with any Italian meal, soup, or salad.  I also like to make it on the dough setting, then roll it into breadsticks for a fun variation.

  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water (70∞ to 80∞)
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
Directions: 1. In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in the order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).

Yield: 1 loaf (about 1-1/2 pounds)

November 7, 2010

Week 13 - Job is Content

Printables for this week:

Content Bible page
Content Chart from Hubbard’s Cupboard

Hebrews 13:5b from Hubbard’s Cupboard

This week was still not back to normal, as Wednesday and Friday were official holidays here.  Panama has four independence days and they are all celebrated in November!  It is one of my favorite times of the year here because many people leave the city to vacation...which means that the traffic is heavenly and I feel like I have the city all to myself.  hehe

Our bible story this week was Job, and we spent time discussing contentment and what that looks like.  We borrowed the idea from Hubbard's Cupboard to do a needs/wants sort by cutting pictures from a magazine.  We talked about our basic needs (food, water, sleep, love) and had them find those first, as the wants side is much easier to fill up.  

Our zoo friend this week was Kayo Kangaroo.  Did you know kangaroos are born the size of a bumblebee, and crawl up to the mother's pouch by scent?  (How I wish I could pop out a bumblebee instead of a papaya about four weeks from now!  hehe)  They then spend the next nine months hanging out inside the pouch, just nursing and growing.  Also, they can balance themselves on their tails while using both feet to kick at the same time!  I showed the children this video of a baby kangaroo's birth on YouTube, and let's just say we were fascinated.  We couldn't wait to share our new knowledge with Papito, and my favorite moment was capturing his face as we told him about our day

I'm not sure he shared our enthusiasm, and think he might have been a little traumatized by the video.  However, I found it be the judge.

For our cooking project this week it was a tough choice between Kangaroo pocket sandwiches and Kabobs, but Kabobs won.  Kiwi Kabobs would have been great for K week, but the children were just as happy with their fruit kabobs.  Again, another great independent project.

So as you can see, we don't have many photos of school this week, but it was a very important life week here in Jungle School.  We took the day off Wednesday, as Levi wanted to be baptized!  He started asking questions on Sunday, and just wouldn't stop until Papito agreed to baptize him on Wednesday.

October 31, 2010

Week 12 -Review / Pumpkin Theme

This week, we spent time reviewing the bible stories and verses we have covered so far this fall, as well as our zoo friends a-j.  They love to look back through their binders, singing songs and revisiting favorite activities.  I don't have any trouble with them wanting to make up work, as it really bugs them to see a blank or unfinished page in their binder.  hehe  (Do my genes have anything to blame for that?)

We also did some basic assessments, took Wednesday off to celebrate Levi's birthday, and filled the rest of our school day enjoying some pumpkin activities.   

Pumpkin seed names (They cut their pumpkins independently, then I traced one letter at a time in glue, and had them use those fine motor skills to put on the beans seeds ;-)

Pumpkin Pyramids (I gave them 6 orange squares, a yellow piece of paper, a scrap of green, and they did everything by themselves!  After cutting their pumpkins, I had them stop so I could explain how to make a pyramid, then on they went.  Levi had to write his name on each pumpkin, and Ary wanted hers to be happy.  hehe)

For our cooking day, we decided to make some Pumpkin Pie playdough.  It was a big hit with the children (and JungleMama's too.)

For our Friday edition of Jungle School, we had a fall sensory day (with our pumpkin pie playdough and fall sensory tubs) and carved a pumpkin using this Pumpkin Prayer.  Then each child gathered some seeds to make Pumpkin Seed Windows.

Check out these links for more great pumpkin ideas:

October 25, 2010


Okay, so I don't know what exactly happened, but the last two week's posts got lost in cyberspace (and nobody told me!)  hehe  Forgive me for the post bombardment, but I am going to try and get everything fixed within the next couple of days.

October 24, 2010

Week 11 - Solomon is Discerning

Printables for this week:

Discerning Chart from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Proverbs 2:6 from Hubbard’s Cupboard

Since one student was a little sensitive to the baby in this week's bible story, we did more of an overall focus on wisdom and the proverbs.  We took advantage of some teachable moments, and unkind words to reiterate Proverbs 15:1 with an impromptu craft page.  It turned out really good, and provided a visual for using soft, gentle words throughout the week.

Our zoo friend this week was Jerry Jellyfish, and I had no clue there were so many fun jellyfish ideas!  We had an all out cooking day with a main course and dessert jellyfish.  The children cut turkey dogs up into big chunks, then poked half-length spaghetti noodles in one end of each hot dog.  It was great fine motor practice, and I was amazed at how diligent and independently they worked!

Next we dropped them in boiling water for a few minutes, and Voila!  Jiggly Jellyfish!

I remembered we had a few mini-jello molds, and surprised them with dessert as well.  We just put the blue jello in the middle of the plate, and let them add whipped cream tentacles.

 For our Friday version of Jungle School, we made a cool jellyfish craft.  First they colored a coffee filter with markers, and used a squirt bottle to make the colors run together.  While the filter dries, attach a few strips of tissue paper to a plastic cup for the tentacles.  Then poke a hole through the middle of the filter and bottom of the cup, and thread some string through to make your jellyfish!  (We didn't do this, but I would recommend gluing the filter to the cup to keep the shape a little better.)

October 10, 2010

Week 8 - Abigail is a Peacemaker

Printables for this week:

Peacemaker Chart from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Proverbs 15:1 from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Abigail lesson from Mission Arlington, optional 

We had a week of big crankiness around the Crizon Casa, so school wasn’t as smooth as normal.  Ary has been fighting off something, so it has been a perpetual state of a little bear coming out of hibernation.  All that said, I have had many hands on opportunities to be a peacemaker amongst the whole family this week.  hehe  

Sunday night, Levi was playing too rough with Ary and she bumped her head and started crying.  He actually made a good choice and tried to do it over but setting her gently on a pillow instead.  Papito couldn’t see what was happening from the kitchen, and yelled “Levi!” (which was an appropriate guess after all the other offenses of the day) which sent Levi into angry hysterics over the injustice of it all.  We settled everything, father and son apologized and made up, and it was off to bathtime.  Amidst the noise of rushing water, I was thinking about an idea I saw online months ago about teaching soft gentle words, and how desperately we needed some more of those in our home lately!  Well, we put the children to bed and I went to plan for this week and guess what the verse was...Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  I just had to laugh.  Isn’t the Lord’s timing perfect?

I looked up that idea right away (the soft word jar from Spell Out Loud) and had intentions of setting it up Monday morning.  Before I could get around to it, Levi ran up to me with a container of mini M&Ms (that I had stashed in our travel diaper bag for emergency situations...hehe)  Of course the question was, “Mamita, can I taste one?” and I had a quick thought (uncommon occurence with pregnancy brain) and said “Sure, you and sis can have one each time I catch you respond to each other with sweet and gentle words, rather than the ones I’ve been hearing lately.”  (Gasp!  Did she just bribe her children with chocolate?  Yes, I did, but told them that this little exercise was just going to last until the container is empty.  ;-)  Levi has really caught on, and I have seen him stop and rephrase things many times this week.  My little bear has not been as consistent, but gets an A+ for effort.  This morning, I asked if she wanted a certain food and she said “No sanks.  Mamita, did you hear dat?  I get a self control!  The M&Ms are right up there on the counter, on the left.  Do you see them?”  Self-contol, kind words, same thing, right?  

This week’s story was about Abigail, which at least made it fun for Aryelle to be able to act out a female part (she has not been a big fan of having to be King Saul, David, etc. saying “I’ just a princess!”)  Just like last week, the story was not in any of our children’s bibles so we turned again to Mission Arlington for the story telling (see page 3 for the preschool version) and some inspiration for the Abigail Song.

Our zoo friend this week was Honey Horse.  Here are a few of our favorite H ideas:
-do the Hokey Pokey (including head, hands, hair, hips, forehead, and of course hooves)
-line up the family and have a hat relay, passing the hat under, over, under, over
-play Hopscotch, Hot Potato, or Hide and Seek
-sing Johnny Hammers (substituting Handy Manny for Johnny...hehe) 

This week’s cooking project was Hummus! (Click here for the recipe.)  I knew the JungleMamas would approve, but didn’t expect to get much enthusiasm from the children.  They proved me wrong, however, with Peter and Levi being the biggest fans.  (Aryelle tried a lick, and Josh just stuck to the pita bread.)  In fact, I only got one helping of the leftovers as Levi licked the bowl clean by Saturday morning while saying, “I’ll tell you why I love this...cuz it’s SO yummy!” 

For our Friday edition of Jungle School, we made Honey Horse out of a lowercase h.

October 7, 2010

Hummus Recipe

This is my basic recipe.  If you want gourmet variations add extra roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers.  It is a quick and easy appetizer to whip up in minutes, and freezes well too.  Our favorite dippers are carrot sticks, toasted pita bread, and Triscuit crackers!

  • 2 15-ounce cans chick peas (garbanzos), one drained, one with liquid
  • ¼ cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt, to taste
1. Place all ingredients, except salt, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4. Blend 1 minute, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades.
5. Season to taste with salt.

Yields almost 4 cups

October 3, 2010

Celebrating Sukkot

Learning about biblical holidays has been something we’ve been wanting to do as a family for some years now, but just hasn’t happened.  Although there is a large Jewish community here in Panama, the only physical reminder I had of a holiday being celebrated was by seeing stores closed in the mall.  So, this summer I got out my calendar, and scheduled our review weeks during the biblical holidays.  Now there was no excuse NOT to learn about and celebrate them!  

So, during our last review week we began learning about Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, and concluded with a church family-wide celebration last night.  One thing that surprised me was the lack of online resources for celebrating with children.  Perpetual Preschool had a few ideas, one of which I borrowed to make the song sheet below (thank you Rivkah for the words).

This year I decided to focus mainly on the Sukkah itself and it’s symbolism with the children.  Ideas include:
-Read about the instructions God gives in Leviticus 23, and compare those to those of a “Kosher Sukkah” found today (there are many resources online for this)
-Make a paper chain to use for decorations
-Taking a family/group picture in the Sukkah every year making a special album
-Make a shoebox model

We spent the week reviewing the story of Moses, and when we got to the tabernacle part, I told the children we were going to set up our tabernacle.  Of course that immediately sparked much excitement!   We decided that for this year our tabernacle would be pitching our big tent in the living room, as the humidity/bug/critter factor was more than very pregnant mama could handle this year.  It was a job that Papito was in charge of (as I had no idea about the condition since it was a freebie acquired through the revolving door of our Panama community).  Here is a nice little note Levi wrote Papito, and stuck on the fridge to remind him about the tabernacle (tent).  I was so proud of his Kidwriting!

For our group celebration night, we started by letting the children make an edible Sukkah out of graham crackers, peanut butter, pretzel sticks, raisins and craisins.  
I asked Levi to help me with Bible time, in an attempt to get the children settled after our snack project.  I knew a couple of the littles would follow him to the rug, and had planned to just read from our children’s bible when they got there.  However, Levi took the suggestion literally and helped me tell the story by standing up in front of all 20+ people to recite the story of Moses.  I was shocked!  Someone caught a little on video...

We watched a couple of silly YouTube videos on how to build a Sukkah in fast motion, and the right and wrong way to shake a lulav.  By this time, we were losing some of the younger ones and decided to put on the Ten Commandments while the older children and adults continued our discussion.  I had planned to let the children make shoebox models, but we ran out of time.  The lulav also provided lots of entertainment for the next couple of days, as it transformed the living room into a jungle adventure.  hehe

All in all, a great first time celebrating the Feast of the Tabernacles.  Next up...Hanukkah!

On a personal note, I had a great time reading and learning (including a 2 hour chunk of time to study while Papito took the little monkeys to the zoo!  Thank you my love!)  We miss so much of the symbolism and significance of biblical events by being ignorant of Jewish culture.  Oftentimes, reading the bible (especially for those who have memorized verses and heard stories from a young age) you just start to tune out phrases like “I am the light of the world” and “From me will come streams of living water.”  In my mind I know that everything Jesus said was the will of the Father and inspired by God, but at times I find myself just passing over passages quickly as “more random quotes from Jesus.”  By random I mean, "where in the world does He come up with some of these sayings?"  (I know, I know...sounds terrible, but I’m just being honest here!)  

The reason many are clueless to the significance of Jesus’ words is because we have little understanding of the context and culture to which He was speaking, and little knowledge of the rich symbolism phrases like “living water” and “light of the world” carried.  Once you get a glimpse of what Jesus was really saying to the people in the times in which He lived, you can't help but be amazed!!  He was no timid lamb being led to slaughter, He was a bold voice ready to say whatever His father told Him.  When He spoke up about the living water was at the height of the ceremony.  It was the equivalent of grabbing the mic at the shows big finale, and declaring Himself the main character!  

As you can tell, I’m a little excited about all this new revelation, but if I’m going to ever finish this blog post I’ve gotta wrap this up.  If you would like to read about it yourself, check out these resources for more information:

Week 7 - David is Forgiving

Printables for this week:

Forgiving Chart from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Colossians 3:13 from Hubbard’s Cupboard
David and Saul Lesson from Mission Arlington

We started the week by reading “Tiger Forgives” from one of my favorite character resources, First Virtues for Toddlers.  Next was role playing some of the situations in the book, along with any others that popped into my mind at the time (knocking down someone’s block creation, playing too rough, using harsh words, etc.)  We split into partners to act out the situations followed by saying, “I’m sorry.” and the other person saying “I forgive you.”  We talked about how after saying “I forgive you” the feelings don’t always just disappear.  It’s normal to still feel a little sad, frustrated, or angry, but the important thing is to speak forgiveness and let God help you with the rest.  There are many great object lessons about this, but we never got around to them this week.  (I had planned to do two from the Mission Arlington handout listed in the printables.  Go to page 4, and check out the last two activities with the bricks in the backpack and tarnished jewelery.)  Since this story of David and Saul was not to be found in any of our children’s bibles, we read it straight from 1 Samuel 24 in my bible, then used the preschool version (page 3 from Mission Arlington lesson).  The children really enjoyed that it was from the bat’s point of view.  

I was rummaging through my fabric collection looking for something “royal” to cut up for Saul’s robe, and all I found was one of my favorite shirts that got a hole in the sleeve.  I decided to just cut off the sleeves, and use them to cut some robe scraps from (and figured Aryelle would appreciate a little more femininity in the dress up box).  However, my little actors were inspired and out came the crowns, capes, and wooden knife from our cutting food set to bring the story to like.  You can check out the pictures in the slideshow.  hehe  If only I could’ve captured some video.

For our cooking project, I was going to go for the Edible Cave idea (again found on page 4 of the Mission Arlington lesson) but opted for some granola instead.  I used a picture recipe for “Grrreat Granola” I had in my teaching files.  Honestly, it wasn’t the greatest, or even great for that matter, so I’m not sharing it.  There are a ton of granola recipes online though, and we were very happy with this granola bar recipe from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  We made it a couple of weeks ago, and it lasted all of two days with my two monkeys devouring it!

This week’s Friday edition of Jungle School was chosen by the glitter glasses.  I was opting for a gorilla project since Gordo Gorilla is a favorite, and we had so much fun learning about gorillas this week.  However, I was vetoed when they found the “g” glasses in my stash.  You simply cut out two lowercase g shapes from green paper, leaving a little tab on one to adjust for the eyes.  Decorate with glitter, fit them to your child, and there ya go!