Friday, October 30, 2009


Halloween just isn't Halloween without this classic! Hope it doesn't rain and stays relatively warm. Can't wait to see how Hannah likes trick or treating. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Who says your baby can’t have sweets for Halloween? You won’t serve them the regular chocolate bars and lollipops, but your sweetie can have something special for the day.

Idea #1: Scoop out an orange and carve a mini-pumpkin for your baby. Fill it with some fruit and you’ll have a Halloween Fruit Bowl.
Idea #2: Make some orange Jell-O and mix in bits of peach. Drizzle with milk just before serving.
Idea #3: Using an English muffin as a base, spread with tomato sauce, and sprinkle with cheese. Add bits of cooked shredded chicken and mushrooms while making a jack-o-lantern face. Bake in a toaster oven at 350F for ten minutes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


From math sheets to crossword puzzles, this week is all about Halloween. Check out these links for activities, games, and lesson plans for your lil' goblins.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


After several tries, my husband has given up on Hannah's winter fashion sense. He doesn't think boots are for babies, but I'd like to give my opinion. They can work if they have the following features:
1) laces that can tighten and not just for style
2) velcro up the entire ankle and foot
3) deep treads and not soft soles

After trying boots from Baby Gap, Joe Fresh, Babies R Us, and H&M, the winner is ... H&M! Hot pink and with velcro from top to bottom of the boot, Hannah's foot slides in easily, but does not slide out easily. They are warm, but not hot. The treads are great for indoor use and provides a non-slip surface for beginning walkers. Boots for babies range from $10-$30.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It’s fall and a fact of life that kids get sick. Mix in daycare and parents who are teachers, and stuffy noses and sore throats are inevitable. Hannah has had a little cold for the past week or so, but nothing too serious. She’s still active and playing and only cranky because she’s teething. Luckily her appetite hasn’t dwindled and that’s keeping up her energy. I,however, can barely keep up with her.

This weekend we hung out at a couple of malls scoping out the situation for the holiday season. It’s amazing, but two months before Christmas and people were already working on their Christmas lists. I thought we were good just to go and get inspired, but people were way ahead of us. There were so many so many new stores and new products! New boot styles, cool electronic toys, warm citrusy smells for the home, check check check! I made my own list as we walked.

On Saturday night, we wanted to get into the Halloween spirit (how much can one really think about Christmas before the trick or treaters come around) so after Hannah went to bed, we settled in to watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Just as gruesome and disturbing as the previous movies in that series. I’m surprised I didn’t get nightmares.

Hope you had a great weekend too. Did you buy your candy yet? Is your house all decorated? Have a great week and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Who isn't familiar with the thirteen minute video by Michael Jackson? Check out this version of Thriller made with Lego pieces.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We've done carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. They are orange-coloured vegetables that provide plenty of betacarotene, antioxidants and Vitamin C. Do you have an easy-to-make recipe you'd like to share?

Here's a quick idea involving another wonderful orange food: cantaloupe. It can be cut into tiny pieces as part of a fruit salad for a baby or shredded and mixed with its juice and diluted with water for a toddler fruit punch. Don't add extra sugar. When it's ripe, it's sweet, just like your baby!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


After three long Saturdays spent in a freezing elementary school library, I've decided that Tribes Learning Communities have been taking place in my classroom long before I took the course. Now I have a certificate to prove it, but it's reassuring to know that I've been doing things right for a while. Even after eight years of teaching, it's good to know I'm on track. However, why the need to have teachers trained if they already do what Tribes suggest? Don't you teach to a variety of needs? Don't all teachers encourage inclusion and positive language in the class and school? Am I wrong to assume yes?

Tribes is a process that encourages collaborative learning and was established back in the 1970s. Recently, this movement seemed to gain more followers and supporters and has spread like wildfire in Canada. It's composed of four main tenets: mutual respect, attentive listening, appreciation/no put downs, and the right to pass. By having a Tribes classroom, its creator Jeanne Gibbs believes that more work can be done and the teacher spends less time on discipline. Students work together in tribes helping each other succeed thereby eliminating the need of a "teacher-centred" attitude.

Although the Tribes process is ideal, a lot of my colleagues at the course discussed the reality of our classrooms. In a class of twenty students, you'll have a quarter who are English as a Second Language learners. Another two to three will have a learning challenge while another two or so have behavioural issues. Working in groups and assigning roles such as a "Recorder", "Task Master", "Editor", etc. will work only if the kids aren't bound by some of these restrictions. Can you imagine a Grade One class doing this on their own? Not too least not in the first five months of the year. What about maturity level? Does Gibbs realize most teenage students don't act the way they do in a Tribes video?

Although I love the idea of Tribes, I think it can only work in an ideal world. Unfortunately, many of us don't teach in an ideal classroom. So like with each day, you do your best and hope some of it gets through to your students.

I'd love to hear if you use TRIBES in your classroom and how has it worked so far. Please drop me a line at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It's been several months since Tuesdays has been my days to review products, but this week, I'm going to let you know where to look for product recall lists and information. You may wish to buy the newest carseat or the most expensive toy, but it's also important to know its history, consumer reviews, and professional testers' opinions.

For Canada, visit Health Canada's site at and look under Consumer Product Recalls on the right-hand side for an up-to-date list. You may also wish to report a product on this site too.

For the U.S.. please visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission's site at

Monday, October 19, 2009


Our weekend wasn't too eventful. We spent Friday evening at Vaughan Mills where we shopped till we dropped. Technically it was until the doors locked up, but it felt like we were going to drop. Darn you, mid-autumn sales!

On Saturday, I was taking a TRIBES course so my husband spent the day with Hannah at Markville Mall. At night, we went to my mom's for dinner and watched bits of The Sound of Music. Hannah apparently loves those songs (thanks to my mom's exposure to it) and began to sway from side to side when she was singing, "Doe a deer a female deer..." Hilarious!

On Sunday, we ended up at Scarborough Town Centre (again, darn you, discounts) and then to Whittamore's Farm. We met up with Hannah's god-parents and spent about an hour taking pictures and posing the little girls for their model shoot. We had planned for them to wear their striped sweaters and cutest little moccasins. The girls didn't seem to know what was going on except for a lot of large round orange things surrounding them. Both girls also have colds so we couldn't get too many smiles out of them. What do you think?

Friday, October 16, 2009


Frosty mornings, damp air, and leaves all over the driveway. We are truly in the midst of autumn. Enjoy some Vivaldi as you get ready for your day. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Lots of leftover turkey and don’t know what to do with it? Make a variety of meals for your baby and toddler including: turkey congee, turkey stew, turkey subs, turkey rolls, and turkey soup.

Turkey bones provide a good foundation for soup because they’ll have a naturally delicious flavour. Strip off the meat and chop finely to make sandwiches or subs. Peel the turkey and add crunchy celery or cucumber for fresh turkey rolls with pita. Asian families may enjoy the warmth of turkey congee as those nights are getting colder. Enjoy the leftovers!

For more ideas, please visit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


It’s just been over one month of school and the “A” word has been discussed many a time in the staffroom. Yes, the dreaded “assessments” and reporting on the first term report card. In another month or so, all the assignments, tests, and in-class participation marks will be averaged out to create the marks for the Ontario report cards. This is when parents receive concrete information about their child’s performance and see if they meet, exceed, or fall below the provincial expectations. Along the way, there have been phone calls or notes home, but this is the first legal document that will be retained in the child’s school portfolio, the OSR (Ontario Student Record).

Parents can check out curriculum at Levels 1 to 4 are assigned based on the child’s performance. For detailed understanding of the grades and comments, please check out Ontario's website on education.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


My fondness for baby-wearing continues with the best padded sling I've used to date! In black and stylish, In the Pocket Baby's sling is compact and practical.

This sling is extremely easy to slip on and off and the best features are two-fold. First, you can tighten the front and back by simply pulling the straps without any assistance from anyone. Reaching behind you and pulling down, the pouch tightens and pulls your baby in closer to you. Tightening the front is the same way: one quick pull and it's done. To release, just loosen the other way. Buckles help secure your tiny bundle of joy even further.

The second best feature is the padded sling on the shoulder so that you can wear your baby for longer. Created by Swedish designers, this sling is good for babies from birth to 20kg. You can place your baby right in the pocket or after about ten months, wear your child on your hip or back. Personally I love Hannah on the hip so I have one arm around her while I type, shop, or hold a phone with the other hand. Check out their website for more hip products.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving and I hope all you Hip Teacher Mamas out there are enjoying your well-deserved day off!

Hannah’s first Thanksgiving and it wasn’t a traditional one by any means. My mom’s side didn’t want to celebrate and when they finally decided to do something, our family had already made plans. Our Thanksgiving dinner took place on Sunday evening at my brother-in-law’s new condo in downtown Toronto and it wasn’t turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes on the menu. Instead, we ordered Japanese because he had just moved into the new place with my sister-in-law on Friday. How awesome were the miso soup, seaweed salad, agetofu, and maki rolls? Amazing!

With a few boxes among us and furniture laying around, we celebrated by talking about their move, how Hannah was doing at daycare, and watching Raptors TV. Their new place has an awesome view of the Air Canada Centre and the waterfront. We had time to look at their wedding photos and by seven o'clock, Hannah had passed out in the spare room for she missed her afternoon nap. Family and food was what her first Thanksgiving was all about.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I LOVE this video! Happy Thanksgiving, Hip Teacher Mamas!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Our baby will be 11 months old when Thanksgiving rolls around and I'm wondering if it's safe to give her what we'll be eating. As we've had turkey, potatoes, and carrots before, I know those will be alright. What about cranberries?

Cranberries can be introduced between 8 and 10 months of age. They are quite acidic so they aren't a good starter food, however, they do not trigger true berry allergies like strawberries may. Think of cranberries like blueberries, which are often safe. They are a great source of Vitamin A and calcium. Try them mixed with applesauce or served with pork or chicken. Start your baby with a cranberry puree and move onto strained cranberries.

Cranberry Puree
1) Boil water and add one cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen).
2) Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
3) Blend with a food processor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Parents seem to be surprised when they see the "NO NUT" signs at school. I'm not sure why. Over the years, the prevalence of food allergies has grown and innundated the press or so I thought. While I continue to justify why this is the rule in most (if not all) schools, here is a heads-up for new parents.

Students can have severe allergies to nuts and other foods. While most have reactions only when consuming these food products, some have such severe reactions just by touching or smelling the food. If they are anaphylatic, their body systems can shut down and result in a rapid heartbeat, shock, hives, and even difficulty breathing. Unfortunately sometimes we don't know about these reactions until it happens. Hence it is safer to avoid the issue by preventing certain foods from entering the school grounds.

School staff even suggest we remove our Hot Lunch programs just in case restaurants cook with peanut oil or the like. However, what makes the rule a challenge is that parents are still buying lunches for their kids and dropping them off at the lunch table. For example, how are we to know what each fast-food restaurant cooks with? Do we know? For that matter, how do we guarantee that ALL parents are conscientious about what foods they pack in their child's lunch? Unfortunately, we can't guarantee anything and just hope that parents educate themselves and be responsible for their child and others.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I've always used a daily schedule in my room to keep myself organized and to alleviate students' anxieties. Students love to see what's coming up and what they've just done. I've always used a pocket chart system until this year when I moved into a new classroom with minimum wall space and not enough room on the chalkboard. What to do?

That's when I discovered the awesome power of Easy Daysies. These teacher-created magnetic schedule pieces gave me the chance to list our Grade One activities on the board without taking up precious blackboard space. Teachers, you know how important that is!

Easy Daysies provides important subjects such as math, science, art, and gym in the Classroom Kit while also leaving some blank ones for you to fill in your own subjects. Colourful and simple, the font is easy to read for all ages. Matched with a descriptive drawing, these must-have organizing tools are good throughout the elementary school years.

The same company also provides magnets such as Chores & Rewards, Family Activities, and Potty/Washroom Routine. Check out their site for descriptions and prices.

Monday, October 5, 2009


It's official. Hannah is a daycare baby. We were lucky to get in since we were on a waiting list for such a long time. She did three days of orientation last week and then started full-time on Thursday. The daycare seems to take good notes and record the times she eats, what she eats, her diaper changes, and her naptimes. She has her own private corner crib in the darkened nursery and every weekend, we take her blankets and stuffed animals home to wash. They rotate the food menu on a weekly basis and each day the food is different. They provide a variety of foods incorporating all the food groups. Should we have a problem, we can substitute our own food or an infant item. Having daycare take care of her breakfast, lunch, and snack certainly helps me out. I don't miss cooking fresh veggies or popping frozen pureed cubes!

We're waiting to see if the daycare has a significant impact on Hannah's social skills. She sometimes plays by herself and sometimes interacts with other babies by touching their heads. The only good thing so far is that she hasn't hurt anyone nor has she been too upset when being dropped off. When she's picked up, she's really happy and excited to see us.

The daycare instructors seem caring and willing to answer questions and exchange notes when necessary. I hope to meet the other parents soon and attend some daycare events. It's crazy to think that just a couple of months ago, Hannah was just learning to sit on her own and starting to crawl. Now she's cruising and making new friends, hopefully learning through play and going for morning strolls with nine other babies her age. It's certainly another meaningful milestone.
This daycare takes daily pictures and creates a scrapbook page so that parents can see what went on during the day (much like what I do for my students except I do it in DVD format). It's great because even though I'm not with Hannah, I want to read about it and experience it as if I was there. It's comforting to know that if she's not in my capable hands, she is in someone else's.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Turkey time is approaching know it just by looking through your weekly flyers and walking down the grocery aisle. Teach your little one this popular song performed here by The Wiggles.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Time to have more orange-coloured foods in your baby's diet! Squash provides essential amounts of fibre and Vitamin C while cheese is a great dairy choice with ample calcium to build up your baby's bones and teeth.

Butternut Squash with Cheese
1) Cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
2) Bake at 350F for about an hour (depending on the size) with about an inch of water at the bottom of the pan.
3) Wait for the flesh to cool a bit before scooping out the flesh.
4) Grate some mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle on top and the residue heat will continue to melt the cheese.
5) Serve.