an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

May 16, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s Rhubarb Time!

It’s Rhubarb Time!

We’re back in the garden! Harvesting from the rhubarb bed has started. That means lots of kitchen time with the children here. We’re using some of our favorite recipes which you can find in postings on Countryfun is Cooking. Just search “rhubarb”.

This morning we made the Rhubarb Muffins to have for our afternoon snack.  A quick, easy and tasty recipe that also freezes well.

I enjoy being in the kitchen with the children. So many learning opportunities and there is usually something unexpected. Let’s start with Reading – idea of written directions in a recipe, names on ingredient containers, alphabet identification

Team work – gathering of materials, positioning to watch and help, working with peers and adult

Language – ingredients, tools, techniques, questions raised and answers provided


Math, science and social studies –  measuring ingredients and counting. We also compare measuring tools and talk fractions. Smell for vinegar and vanilla. Taste brown sugar.

Where do eggs come from? Love getting the store as an answer:) More discussion on eggs coming from chickens with the farmer bringing to the store. Even better answer of “Ducks!”

More science as oil and milk blend. Then brown sugar dissolving in liquid. Flour going from dry to wet as we mix ingredients together and finally the baking. More math when we set oven temp and time the baking.


Did you notice we used 3 different sized spoons in today’s baking? One of the children did. Thankfully he commented on the difference size handles, so I could take advantage of the observation for more learning. So of course we had a closer comparison of the 3 spoons for bowl size, handle length and a discussion on why they worked better for the reasons used for today. Largest for mixing. Middle for scooping dough for muffins. Smallest for scraping dough off scooping spoon.


Last counting for this morning equaled 24. The recipe made 2 dozen muffins loaded with rhubarb – one very healthy and underused early spring vegetable.


February 17, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Getting Involved with 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!

Getting Involved with 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!

For those that are members of the Country Fun family you know that healthy practices have always been a part of the program. In the last few years I have been aware of and accessed information on healthy practices from our local Let’s Go! program’s online toolkit, in addition to the different workshops in nutrition I’ve attended. I have held off becoming directly involved in 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! because of their directives/goals around screen time. We did not meet it with our use of technology. Over the last year there has been a new position being taking nationally regarding screen time. It is now being seen as recreational vs educational. With this change it was time to become directly involved, so I have submitted my application/registration, program self-assessment, met with the program’s representative to develop an action plan, and begun work on the goals. There will be another meeting to assess how the goals have been met this Spring.

Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program designed to
increase healthy eating and active living in children from birth to 18. Let’s Go! works in six
sectors (schools, early childhood, after school, healthcare, workplace and community) to
reach children and families where they live, study, work, and play. Let’s Go! is centered on
the common message of “5-2-1-0”.

The 10 Let’s Go! evidence-based strategies connect to Let’s Go!’s core message and align with
the CDC and the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to prevent childhood obesity. Our program goals will be focused on these strategies to improve environments and written policies.

Let’s Go provides free continuing education workshops for involved programs, and guidance and assistance to support them in the adoption of the 10 strategies. These strategies are what the action plan goals will be developed around. The first 5 are what I will be focusing on.

1. Provide healthy choices for snacks and celebrations; limit unhealthy choices.
2. Provide water and low fat milk; limit or eliminate sugary beverages.
3. Provide non-food rewards.
4. Provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
5. Limit recreational screen time.

..As opportunities arise we will also branch out to include the remaining 4 strategies.

6. Participate in local, state, and national initiatives that promote healthy eating and active living.
7. Engage community partners to help support and promote healthy eating and active living at
your site.
8. Partner with and educate families in adopting and maintaining a lifestyle that supports healthy
eating and active living.
9. Implement a staff wellness program that includes healthy eating and active living.
10. Collaborate with Food and Nutrition Programs to offer healthy food and beverage options.

I have already started to rewrite policies that reflect current practice and areas we are working to improve. All policies can be found under Parenting Information/Handbook for CF.

I have also provided materials on healthy food practices under Speciality Blogs/CF is Cooking in the sidebar and under Healthy Snacks in the top menu. Please access this information to support your healthy food practices at home.


May 15, 2012
by countryfun

Getting Back to Homemade

For years the majority of snacks here were homemade, fruits or vegetables. I have kept up and even increased the fruits and vegetables, but the homemade baked goods have been replaced by store brought crackers. Looking at the nutrition side, as well as the economics, I’m refocusing on getting back to homemade. I also want to take full advantage of the food we grow here and locally. Check out the specialty blog – Cooking with Us – for other recipes that I find the children enjoy. I’ll continue to add new ones there as we discover them.

Figured I’d start with all the beautiful rhubarb currently in the garden. I have been on a mad hunt online to find a variety of recipes that will allow me to make good use of the rhubarb and our time. I found a recipe for a Rhubarb Coffee Cake @ Rodale in their Rodale Recipe Finder section. I did change it up just slightly, so I have included that recipe here. You can find the original recipe and all the nutritional information for it through the link. There are also many other interesting recipes there.

Start by pre-spraying a 9″ x 13″ pan and preheating oven to 350.

Next we cut up the freshly harvested rhubarb into small pieces no larger than 1/2″. Our stalks were pretty thick, so I cut them lengthwise to get a smaller diameter. Using 1/4″ size pieces meant we almost get a piece of rhubarb in every bite.

Here at Country Fun 1 bowl is a better use for everyone to work around and less cleaning for me, so we do not separate out wet and dry ingredients.

We started by adding 2 eggs, 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/3  cup 1% milk to our bowl. Mix really well.

Then gently add 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup whole wheat (white whole wheat works also), 2/3 cup wheat germ. Follow with 1-1/2 cups sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp grd clove and 1/4 tsp grd allspice.

Mix together gently and only until everything is moist. Fold in 2 full cups of rhubarb pieces. Scrap every bite into the baking pan.

Top with crumb topping ~

Using a pastry cutter or fork crumb – 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 4 tsp cold butter until butter is pea sized. I now added 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds.

Spread the crumb topping evenly over the cake batter.

Bake at 350 for 50 min. 

Even one here that isn’t into this kind of cake/muffin snack enjoyed this cake. Love that I’ll be able to use this again and take advantage of our rhubarb.

Rhubarb is very nutritious, but not commonly used. It is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Potassium and Manganese. It is also a good source of Magnesium. In looking at recipes I’m trying to be cautious of too much sweet/sugar. I’m also checking out the tartness of the rhubarb before baking with. Right now they are new and tender, which means good flavor. If any of you want to try this recipe at home there is plenty of rhubarb in the garden ready for harvest, just let me know and we’ll have it ready to go home at pick-up time.

January 1, 2012
by countryfun
Comments Off on Snacks




Check out the new post on Cooking with Us titled Snack Links that was posted 1/1/2012 as I was involved in a baking marathon. My supply of homemade baked snacks had run out early December and it was time to restock. Also wanted to try some new recipes I’ve pinned through my searches online.

There are also many others posts from past cooking activities and recipes I have found the children enjoy both baking and eating that you will find there.

December 28, 2011
by countryfun
Comments Off on Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

Cooking isn’t just for preschool around here. I love trying recipes that are a little more involved with my school-age children. Today we made Chocolate Pudding from Budget Bytes, from scratch. It was actually pretty easy.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
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You may be asking why the bags? We decided to do a little pudding playing before we ate our snack.

November 1, 2011
by countryfun
Comments Off on Not Hibernation, but More Fall

Not Hibernation, but More Fall

We did some lesson work around leaves the beginning of Oct., but the leaves were not changing color or falling well then. They are now so we are going to take advantage of that and use everything Fall for our work over the next 2 weeks for counting, sorting, order, seasons, locomotive and non-locomotive movements and letter formation.

The day started with a homemade Fall ABC Book using printables from To switch it up I reversed the letters. I read the book and we discussed why each item was a part of the Fall season. ~zucchinis, yellow, eXit summer, wet and windy, vegetables, umbrella, turkey, scarecrow, rake, quarterback, pumpkin, orange, nuts, maple syrup, leaf, kite, Jack-o-Lantern, inside, hay, geese, Fall days, elm tree, dew, corn, brown, acorn

Ask your child what we did to demonstrate how an umbrella works?

Then we played with our envelop games where we sorted by size, completed the pattern, and pinned the number of leaves we counted.

          All these games were made from materials available from a variety of online sites. I’ll provide the links for the activities on the week wrap up at Preschool Lessons.

We read our stories for this week and then did a dot paper for our first letter – F.

Our last activity today was to make lunch – pumpkin pancakes. The recipe can be found at Cooking With Us. Pancakes are a favorite around here, even if the children were not to sure about pumpkin. These were like eating a pumpkin pie. It’s a good thing I made a double batch.



September 20, 2011
by countryfun
Comments Off on Pumpkins Day 3

Pumpkins Day 3

We started our morning off reading Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington. I also had sequencing cards all run off and laminated to use as we read the story. I cannot find the original black/white source for these cards. When I do I will edit for the link.



Then it was into the kitchen. We learned about nutmeg today. Observed it in whole form and tried various ways to break it up to use in our recipe. Knife didn’t work. Scraping with a spoon didn’t work. Smashed with a hammer, which worked fine for the smell, but the pieces were too big to use. I got out my grater, which was explored. Decided the smallest holes would make the smallest spice, so I grated a whole nutmeg and sure enough we got our powdered spice.  

Oh She Glows had a simple pumpkin butter recipe that I adapted (used apple cider and no spices or sugar) to have with our pumpkin donuts recipe from bunsinmyoven. Since we used canned organic pumpkin that already had spices in it we adjusted the recipe a little. We just needed to figure out how to get it out of the can. Shaking? No. Hammer? No way! Take off the top – yes, but with what? (silence) Manual can opener. Easy to see how gears work.  We only added a strong 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg. We also cooked our donuts with a mini donut sheet, not machine. Sampled one hot from the oven ~ should make a good snack.

Our song for today is based on “Ten Little Indians” ~

One little, two little, three little pumpkins.

Four little, five little, six little pumpkins.

Seven little, eight little, nine little pumpkins.

Ten little pumpkin in the patch.

Ten little, nine little, eight little pumpkins.

Seven little, six little, five little pumpkins.

Four little, three little, two little pumpkins.

One little pumpkin in the patch.

Inspiration for today”s craft project was from Kaboosse. I have made many stuffed bag pumpkins before, but I’m adapting the tendril and leaves idea this year.   Drying tonight, so will finish tomorrow.


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