Tag Archives: school

Extracurricular Gardening

Beginning in April 2012, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy teamed up with Grandin Court Elementary School to begin an after-school Garden Club for students interested in learning about gardening and growing food.
Teachers and parents wanted to spruce up the raised beds at the school and use them as a hands-on learning exercise. At first, they worried there might be limited student interest in such an “uncool” activity like gardening. But that spring, kids were playing outside, handling worms, and learning how to care for plants- and they loved it!
They saw how the items on their dinner plate were parts of living plants which took time and effort to grow. They were proud of making the school grounds more beautiful by planting flowers. The Green Thumbs Garden Club quickly grew to over 40 students. A second season of the club was planned for the fall so that all of the kids who wanted to attend could do so. Students and their families were also invited to tend the garden over the summer.

gc2With funding from the Roanoke Kiwanis Club, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy built new gardens at Westside Elementary in 2014 and Highland Park Elementary School in 2015. Each new garden works towards an ultimate goal, to help students who participate in the garden clubs gain a better understanding of what they are eating. With more awareness of the different types of plants and what plant parts people can eat, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy hopes to encourage students to be more adventurous in what they eat and to be unafraid to try new things.
Last year, project manager Meagan Cupka helped students plant corn at Westside Elementary. When she poured the seeds into her hand, one young student cried out, “That’s just corn!” Many students had no idea that the yellow kernels they eat are actually seeds. That moment is just one of many that illustrates how important this educational program is for young people.
This project continues to reconnect kids to their environment and provide them with a space where they can play and learn about the world in which they live. For more information on the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy and their after-school garden clubs, visit www.blueridgelandconservancy.org/garden-clubs.

Reading Outside of School

Reading is a fundamental skill people use throughout their lives, and in this digital age reading is more important than ever. When children and tweens read, they improve their reading skills and they also improve their comprehension, knowledge base, concentration and vocabulary. Many children love books, but getting those children to continue to read as tweens can be more difficult.
As a parent, you cannot afford to let your tween’s reading fall by the wayside or trust that the reading they do at school is sufficient. Supplemental reading at home will help your child do better at school and in real world after graduation, too. To encourage their reading outside the classroom, follow these suggestions:

* Keep it positive. Encourage your tween to read without pressuring, nagging or bribing them. Tweens should read for enjoyment, not because they feel forced or stand to profit financially from doing so. You should also avoid criticizing what they read. Even reading a gossip, music or video game magazine is better than not reading at all.

* Set an example. Want your tweens to take an interest in reading? Then read yourself. If your tweens see that you make a habit of reading and enjoy doing it, they’ll be more apt to pick up supplemental reading on their own.

* Find a story that interests them. Looking for a unique story that will interest your tween? Broken by Tanille Edwards is the love story of Milan, a high-school girl with a burgeoning modeling career. She’s also deaf and struggling with the same insecurities many tweens and teens face. This book is geared toward young adults, making it easy for them to tackle. The book also comes with its own musical soundtrack, allowing your child to enjoy the music as they turn the pages.

* Start a book club. Join your tween in what they are reading. Ask them to pick a book you will both read together and then discuss at the end of the month. This will help keep both of you on task and provide a great way to share mutual interests.

* Stress reading’s other benefits. Reading offers numerous benefits to your child beyond the purely academic, so make sure they are aware of them. Reading a book also grows their imagination, spurs creativity, entertains and provides a cost-effective way to kick back and relax after a long day of school. The more your child sees reading as a reward, the more apt they will be to do it in their spare time.

Between friends, technology and school, there are plenty of forces vying for your teen’s attention; make sure supplemental reading is one of them. Encouraging your tween to read in their free time, as well as at school, offers them with a wonderful hobby today and lifelong benefits down the road.

Serve It Up Sassy: 2015 Graduation Gathering!

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

chevron canvasIt was just a few years ago on a bright sunny morning, you held the hand of your six -year old  as a big yellow school bus pulled up in front of your mailbox. It was time to board the bus for their first day of school. Your little darling could hardly reach the first step on the bus but with a gentle nudge from you, the climb to board was easy. As you held back the tears, the excitement and joy in your child’s eyes melted your heart, and a new page in this chapter of life had just been turned. As the pages of time turned year after year, it is now 2015 and graduation day is on the horizon.

It is time to plan a graduation gathering; an after-the-ceremony reception for your graduate. A bright summer color-palette like hot pink, orange, and lime green sets the color scheme for this reception. This ‘graduation gathering’ focuses on her, but colors can be changed to focus on him, such as navy, light blue, and forest green or choose school colors.

Another inspirational idea is a painted wall canvas. This colorful chevron wall canvas provides the perfect back drop for the dessert table and is part of the graduate’s gift, something she will take with her for the college dorm or apartment. For step-by-step instructions on creating a wall canvas in the chevron pattern please go to my blog, www.lizbushong.com.

In keeping with the color scheme, hot pink, orange and lime, large daisy flower heads are arranged in rows by color in a clear acrylic tray. A piece of glass was cut to fit the acrylic tray to serve festive lemonade’s that color-coordinate with the Gerber Daisies.

Graduation candy caps made of miniature peanut butter cups and chocolate covered grahams are served up sassy with a lime green butter cream frosting tassel.

spot on cake loaf with slicesThe spot-on cake* was baked in an 18- inch loaf pan, then covered with a delicious butter cream fondant and decorated with three fresh Gerber Daisies, one of each themed color. Baked inside the cake are three large pre-baked cake balls that carry the same hot pink, orange and lime color scheme for the spot-on look. For instructions and recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com.

Other food on the menu includes easy pick-up fare that can be served so the graduate and guests can visit while eating. Mini pimento cheese sandwiches, chicken salad croissants, small vegetables with jalapeno ranch dressing, assorted chips, chocolate dipped pretzel rods and trail mix with personalized orange M & M’s are small bites you can create the day before the event. You can order personalized M & M’s at www.mymms.com for an extra surprise in the trail mix.

A separate skirted side table should be set up for gifts. Suggested graduation gifts for the college-bound graduate include a camera, an alarm clock, a desk organizer with coordinated desk supplies, monogrammed or personalized notepads and stationary, and gift cards. Of course, cash is golden for all graduates. The Instax Mini 8 camera prints out photos immediately, so creating a scrapbook or photos for a dorm room is quick and easy. This little camera creates 2 x 3- inch photos and comes in several fun colors for teens. After the reception, the graduate could send thank you notes to all the guests for their gifts and include a photo of the graduate using or holding the much appreciated gift.

It’s been a journey to get to this day.  As you reminisce the years gone by, you are entering another new chapter in this book-of -life with your ‘little darling.’ It is graduation day, a time to celebrate a momentous achievement with the anticipation of a bright new future ahead. Look -out graduate, your future is so bright you are going to need shades!!!

graduation candy capsGraduation “Candy” Caps

20 Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups®
20 Keebler Deluxe Grahams®-fudge covered
½ cup Buttercream frosting- divided- chocolate, color of choice for tassel

Unwrap all peanut butter cups and place upside down on a baking sheet. Cut each rectangular graham cracker into a square shape if desired or use as is. Place ¼ cup chocolate frosting in piping bag with small tip and pipe small dot on top of bottom of peanut butter cup. Attach graham cracker on top of frosting to create the graduation cap. Using the remaining ¼ cup of frosting in the school color of choice, place frosting in a piping bag with tip #5.  Create a tassel on one side of the cap. Store in a sealed container until serving.  Can be made one day ahead.

graduation gathering dessert table

Triple Lemonade

3 (12 ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed but cold
2 cups water
2 cups sprite or ginger ale-chilled
1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed but cold
1(16 ounce) jar stemmed maraschino cherries with juice

In a large pitcher, mix lemonade concentrate and cold water. Stir to combine. Divide 2 cups of lemonade into three pitchers evenly. Add to one pitcher, thawed orange juice and set aside. To another pitcher, add cherry juice and to the last pitcher, add 2 cups of ginger ale. Each pitcher should be a different color to go with color scheme. If needed, add a few drops of food coloring to make the intensity of the color desired. Or, if you want to make a large punch, combine all ingredients and serve in a punch bowl.
Garnish:  Slice orange wedges for the orange lemonade, lime wedge with stemmed maraschino cherry for the Cherry lemonade, and a lemon twist for the plain lemonade. Serve in champagne glasses.

*Cake was inspired by Surprise-Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion–with a Little Something Extra Inside by Amada Rettke.

Make a Statement, Make it Sassy, Make it Yours! ®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For more information about Liz and Serve it up Sassy go to Liz’s blog www.lizbushong.com and website, www.serveitupsassy.com like and share www.facebook.com/lizbushong, and pin www.pinterest.com/lizbushong.

Summer Reading Giveaway!

Some experts say a lot of knowledge is lost during the three-month break between school years. The good news is– learning doesn’t have to end at the sound of the final school bell. There are many educational storybooks out there for elementary and middle school kids. Check out some of our favorites:

black elks vision cover

Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story, by S. D. Nelson, tells the true story of Black Elk a young Lakota Native American who receives a vision from the Spirit World during a time when his tribe is being oppressed by the White People. The book is told from Black Elk’s point of view and is illustrated with beautiful modern paintings and historic drawings and photographs.

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency, written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Courtney A. Martin, is about Belva Lockwood who ran for President of the United States in 1884 and 1888, at a time when women couldn’t even vote. The illustrations are beautiful and richly colored.

maritcha cover

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl, written by Tonya Bolden, tells the true story of a young African American girl growing up in New York City in the Mid-1800s, who grows up to be an influential school principal. The book is illustrated with historic photographs and drawings, some directly related to Maritcha, and some helping to set the scene.

Me, Frida, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by David Diaz, is about influential Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, wife of famous painter Diego Rivera, and her adventures in Los Angeles. The book is illustrated in beautiful, vibrant, paintings modeled after Frida’s exceptional painting style.

plutos-secret coverPluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery, written by Margaret A. Weitekamp and David DeVorkin and illustrated by Diane Kidd, teaches kids about Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet, why Pluto is no longer considered a planet, and what it really is. The book gives Pluto a voice and is illustrated with cute cartoon drawings and some historic photographs.

We know you want your kids to continue learning and growing all year long, so pick up a copy of these at your local bookstore today. Or enter our contests to win them!

 

Written by Krista Knauer