Schoolhouse Rock vol. 48: Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrating Thanksgiving in kindergarten is one of my favorite things.

There is something about sitting down at one giant long table that seats 31 people, wearing our hand-made pilgrim hats, and sharing what we are thankful for before enjoying our Thanksgiving feast that warms my heart.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  In the world of kindergarten, I’m thankful that I’ve got a really great class this year.  I’m thankful for a great team of kindergarten teachers to work with.  I’m thankful that I get to have a job that I love.  But mostly this year I’m super thankful that I get to work with Jill.  Thanks for blessing me each day.  You are amazing 🙂

For our kindergarten Thanksgiving, we always watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie and then eat pretzels, popcorn, and jellybeans just like the movie.  It is fun and simple.  We also put water in plastic cups for them, and I think they were more excited about the water than the jellybeans.  “Look!  Water”  “We get water!”  “I love water!!!!”

And now, before you all go off and enjoy your own Thanksgiving feasts, let me pass along some advice that you will probably need today.  From my kindergartner to your kitchen: “You shouldn’t lick the floor??”  Even if you drop your favorite food down there… try to resist the urge to lick it up.  (Yes, this important topic dominated the conversation at my end of the table during our Thanskgiving feast for quite a while…)

My First Pie

Dear Diary,

I signed up to make a pie for Thanksgiving.  I have never made a pie before.  I’m a little nervous, but I plan for it to be delicious, so …

The recipe calls it a Snozzberry Pie.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I googled it.  I learned it is a reference from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I feel like I should have known that.  If anyone asks at Thanksgiving, I think I’ll go ahead and call it a triple berry pie, since there are after all three berries in it.  The pictures look delicious, so fingers crossed…

Right now it is Wednesday at 4:53 pm.  I have officially started my career in pie baking.  I am making my crust from scratch using this user-friendly recipe.  So far I have cut up the butter and put it in the freezer. I’d say that went pretty much according to plan.  I’m assuming the rest of the recipe will be just as easy as my butter cutting experience.  I mean, it was also my first time cutting butter into cubes and putting it in the freezer. 

4:59 pm.  The butter is still in the freezer.  It is supposed to stay in their for an hour.  So in the meantime, I am cooking a pizza from Trader Joe’s for dinner.  I just thought you’d want to know.  Isn’t live blogging, which our friends will read later, fun, Diary?

5:51 pm.  Well kids, it has been an hour.  I guess it is time to proceed.  Wish me luck!

6:01 pm. Food processor has been successfully located and reassembled.  Flour and salt are pulsed together.  (note: I stopped myself in time, but I almost just pour flour into the food processor without measuring it.  this should be interesting.)  Butter is coming out of the freezer! 

6:14 pm.  Things were touch and go there for a little bit when I didn’t think it was going to come together in the food processor.  But then I re-read the directions and took comfort in the fact that the domesticated blogger in which this crust recipe comes from feels nervous every time too.  I was a little over-zealous in my water addition.  I used restraint and didn’t add more than 4 tablespoons, but I failed to heed the “slowly” part of the directions. 

6:23 pm.  I sliced the dough in half, smooshed each circle down flattish, and saran wrapped them up.  I think this is probably my most successful and least-angering use of plastic wrap.  So if the pie doesn’t turn out, at least I seem to have gained some valuable kitchen food storage skills.  The dough is now chilling for 30 minutes. 

6:52 pm.  Nervous, but moving forward with some berry measuring.

7:00 pm.  Blackberries and raspberries are measured and in their bowl.  I started slicing the strawberries, but then a new episode of Up All Night came on.  I’ll try to continue slicing during commercial breaks. 

7:18 pm.  I remembered I needed to set up an elaborate drip catching system to prevent a repeat from last year’s smoking oven and the little lady that lives in the smoke detector shouting, “fire!  fire!”  No berry juice is getting through my layers of aluminum foil and pizza pan. 

7:30 pm.  The berries are assembled and in a bowl.  Now on to the pie crust.  I was real nervous, but it wasn’t too bad.  I used a piece of parchment paper and drew a circle that was about 1.5 inches bigger than my pie pan.  Then I sprinkled on some flour.  Probably way too much flour.  But that’s what the first try is for, right?  I rolled it out, starting in the center of the dough, and rolled away from me.  I then rotated the whole thing to do the next section.  I repeated this until my crust was big enough.  I loosely rolled the crust over my rolling pin to safely transfer it to the pie pan.  Success! 

8:00 pm.  Modern family is on.  Clearly the pie and I are taking a break. 

8:30 pm.  I rolled out the top crust, put the berries in, worried over whether there was enough filing, threw in a few more raspberries, topped it, read online how to close ‘er up, then threw it in the over.  Before I closed the oven door I whispered, “Good luck, little buddy!”

8:41 pm.  I call my sister to see how the fizzy jello is coming, since I know that is a big Thanksgiving undertaking.  Fortunately it all went well.  She questions why my pie is taking so incredibly long to make.  I assure her it is my nervousness to begin each step of the recipe which results in stalling and watching the tv.  If I actually just made the pie instead of daydreaming about how I will mess it up, it would go much faster.

9:12 pm.  50 more seconds until my pie is done!  Life is so exciting.
9:13 pm.  There is some debate in my mind and in my heart whether the pie is done.  Maybe I’ll give her a couple more minutes.
9:14 pm.  Now I realize that the pie crust which looks to still be doughy is actually just very sugary due to my lack of sprinkling skills.  I officially take my pie out of the oven and proclaim it, “DONE!” 

Thursday at 11:51 am.  I am enroute to Thanksgiving.  Some of the “pie juice” is attempting to escape the confines of the pie.  Seeing that I driving the car (with wet fingernails) I am powerless to do anything except verbally coax the pie to calm down.

12:16 pm.  My sister declares the juice running across the top of the pie to be artistic.

2:01 pm.  The pie is eaten and proclaimed delicious by all.  My grandpa even liked my crust!  Sigh of happy relief.  I now consider myself a pie master.  Please see me for all your pie needs.

Pie Crust Recipe

Pie Recipe


Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

I started my Thanksgiving off bright and early with a trip to the airport to drop off my roommate.  I told her that the timing works out well, because I have a lot to be thankful for, so I need to get my Thanksgiving started early.

As usual, I had two Thanksgivings this year, so I thought we could see how they compare.

We will refer to them throughout the post as “Kindergarten Thanksgiving” and “Real Thanksgiving”.  In case the names are not self-explanatory, Kindergarten Thanksgiving refers to the day before Thanksgiving at Kindergarten, and Real Thanksgiving refers to the real Thanksgiving Day.

Let the comparing and contrasting commence:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We viewed pictures of past parades and checked the forecast for this year’s parade.  We then wrote and drew and the things we would need to pack for our trip to NYC based on the weather and our planned activities.

Real Thanksgiving: I watched the parade with some friends while doing things that involve the letter C: drinking coffee, eating caramel rolls, and peeling clementines.  It was mostly a magical morning.

The Attire:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We wore pilgrim hats and bonnets. 

Real Thanksgiving: I may or may not have once again worn the above pictured clothing.  It is my Thanksgiving outfit?  Surprisingly enough, no one was wearing pilgrim hats.  What a disappointment.  Scarves were the common attire.  Even little Fiona was wearing a scarf.  She wins for most adorable outfit though.  Babies tend to do that.

The Table: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: I pushed all the tables together into one long table and covered it with fallish colored papers.  In the words of one student, “It’s so beautiful!”  (this is not actually true. It was festive in the lamest sense of the word)

Real Thanksgiving: Lots of the cousins were off celebrating with the in-laws, so we all fit around one table together!  No kids’ table for us to be banished to… it was a new experience.

The Movie: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  They loved it.  “Miss K- that was kind of funny!”

Real Thanksgiving: To end our day, we went to my parents house and watched Tangled.  We try and keep it family-friendly for our 20s-30s crowd.

The Food: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: In true Charlie Brown fashion, we ate popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans.  

Real Thanksgiving: We had all the Thanksgiving staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, fizzy green jello, stuffing, and Dad’s secret family recipe for eskimo pie.

The Thankfulness: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We passed the sparkly microphone around the table and all shared what we are thankful for.  This year we were thankful for “my whole friends”, Mario, family, and their teacher.  My highlight is always watching them smile as I go around the table and personally tell each child that I am thankful for them.

Real Thanksgiving: You will probably be surprised to hear that no sparkly microphone was passed around.  But I’d take a wild guess and say we all could have listed things we are thankful for – we are pretty blessed 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

1 little, 2 little, 3 little pilgrims

Yes, that is a title of a book I read to the small children.  No, this post does not have anything to do with kindergarten.

I’d actually like to take a moment and thank the sponsors of this post: my Grandma VanLoon and my aunt Laurie.

My Grandma surprised me with an amazing and somewhat magical frosting piping gadget a couple of weeks ago, and my aunt mailed me a surprise winter snowflake apron that I opened on the day before Thanksgiving – aka Baking Day.  I could not have accomplished what I did without their support.  Or just without their thoughtful gifts.

Originally I was in charge of rolls for Thanksgiving Dinner.  (Let’s not talk about why I am not allowed to be in charge of corn).  That responsibility was taken away from me and replaced with: make a fun dessert for later in the evening when we are having leftover turkey sandwiches.  Ok!

After much deliberation, I chose (or called my mom and made her choose) a chocolate peanut butter cupcake recipe. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to make adorable pilgrim hats for on top of the cupcakes.  Since they required a peanut butter cup and a fudge striped cookie, the hat and the cupcake flavor seemed like a good pairing.

Baking these cupcakes was an adventure.  It is a good thing my roommate wasn’t home to witness the disaster I created in our kitchen.  Things started with a cocoa powder explosion, and they didn’t get much better after that.

One of the first steps was to make peanut butter balls to put on the inside of the cupcake.  The peanut butter mixture was extremely sticky and extremely impossible to form into a ball.  So instead I created ugly peanut butter globs and set them aside for later.

Next on to the cupcake batter.  I was proud of my efforts until I went to pour smush it into the little paper cups in the muffin pan.  Annie said that the cupcakes were dense, but I didn’t realize how thick and sticky the batter would truly be.  I had to force globs of it in the cups, then try to put the peanut butter “ball” in, then cover the glob the rest of the way with batter.  You might think this sounds pretty straightforward.  False.  This approach was highly ineffective and I mostly was covered in chocolate-peanut-butter-ness at this point.

The highlight of my baking experience (other than my new apron of course) was the decorating.  My new kitchen tool from my grandma was more fun and easy than I could have imagined.  I will now be baking things for the sole purpose of getting to frost things.

All in all, it was a messy adventure.

If you choose to make/eat these “masterpieces” at some point in life, my brother recommends using a fork so you don’t break your jaw, as they are quite tall.

If you hurry, there are two more sitting on Rachel’s desk at church and you could eat one.  Today, I pawned my leftovers off on others, offering them “mediocre cupcakes”.  I have been told they are better than mediocre, but I would for sure recommend having a glass of milk handy, as they are quite rich!

Giving Thanks – kindergarten style

After my kids made these amazing turkey hats, I taught them that turkeys say, “gobble”.  This is probably their new favorite word.

Today we watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  During it, a couple of the characters were talking about holding hands under the table.  A few kids said, “ew!”  But one little boy spoke up: “love is a beautiful thing!”

As we sat down for our Thanksgiving Feast, wearing our pilgrim hats, we shared around the table what we were thankful for.  I love hearing their thoughts.  Naturally they were thankful for their teacher.  Others were thankful for “all the kids that couldn’t be here today” and for “all the people everyone in the world.”  Others named off everyone in their families.  Still others shared that they were thankful for God and Jesus.   I think this may be the first year that most of their thankfulness didn’t center around toys.  I’m impressed, kids.  I went around the table and said I was thankful for each one of them by name.  It was mostly precious watching their beaming faces as I said I was thankful for them.

In non-Thanksgiving related news, we had a dad drop off a coat for his son today.  When the little boy found it in his locker at lunch time, he got the hugest smile on his face ever.  He had a permanent expression of shock and joy.

This morning at breakfast, Mrs. T overheard one of my students say:

“Oh my God!”

to which another child replied:

“Don’t say that!  He’s up there listening!”

One of my kiddos moved here from Kenya in February of last year.  All day long she kept interrupting me and telling me excitedly about her family’s plans for their first Thanksgiving.  So fun!

One child excitedly commented that they are excited to get to stay home for 4 days.  Later in the day a different child said to me, “So we have four stay home days, and then we get to come back to school?”  and it reminded me that for some of my students, school is their happy and safe place.  So as much as I need this Thanksgiving break, I will be excited to get back to work on Monday and keep loving these kids.

Happy Thanksgiving!