Kayla’s interest is in culinary.  As of the now, she says she wants to be a chef someday. One Sunday, I told the girls it was going to be a baking day.  Being the kinesthetic learner, Kayla was the more excited one.  She pulled out a boxed cake mix from the shelf (We usually bake from scratch) and the rest of the ingredients and tools we would be needing.  Well, she ended up doing everything by herself from measuring the ingredients, mixing them, cleaning up (This is still a work-in-progress), lining the cupcake pans, and pouring the batter into each hole in the pan.  She also did the frosting all by herself: measuring, mixing, and preparing the piping bag and decorating tip, and decorating the cupcakes.  The only thing that she can’t do yet is turn on our gas-fired oven, put the pans in and pull them out when the cake or cupcakes is done.  That’s still my role.

I congratulated her for doing a better job this time and really showing that she can bake by herself with less supervision.

On another occasion, she again baked cupcakes but from scratch.  She chose the recipe from her own recipe book and came up with her own combination of a chocolate kind of cupcake and frosting which she hasn’t tried doing before.  And VOILA!  This is her cupcake creation!  I was kinda uncertain at first as to how her cupcakes would taste like because it didn’t make use of butter, which I think is THE  ingredient that always makes cakes, cupcakes or cookies flavorful.  But when Arielle and I tried what she made (actually, not tried but ate! I avoid white sugar and bad carbs these days but I just couldn’t resist!), we were really surprised to taste a VERY YUMMY FROSTED CUPCAKE! I’m not kiddin’! It was the frosting that did the magic! JUST PERFECT for the chocolate cupcake!  We gave Kayla a two thumbs up!

Kayla’s tweaked and simplified version of S’mores cupcake

 

She decorated her cupcakes with mini marshmallows

 

She did a photo shoot of her creation.

 

Kayla’s BEST cupcake recipe so far! YUM! YUM!

 

There are a number of other skills and lessons learned from simple baking.  These are:

  1. Reading recipes
  2. Following instructions or procedures
  3. Math concepts:  measurements, fractions
  4. Hygiene, cleanliness
  5. Safety
  6. Chemistry (although we didn’t dig deeper into this last Sunday)
  7. Workflow efficiency
  8. Home economics: food handling and storage
  9. Creativity
  10. Sharing with others 🙂 – A remark we would always hear from Kayla is that she’ll bake cookies or pack food items and give them to the poor or those in the streets.  That’s her.  That’s her heart ❤.
  11. Entrepreneural spirit – She’s been wanting to make this a full-blown business but I just haven’t found the extra time to do it with her.  We’ve however touched on the topics of product development, packaging, purchasing, suppliers, costing and pricing, marketing, etc. and still continue to discuss the processes involved to set up and operate one.

Baking. Another life skill to teach our girls. What else?  Cooking. Knife skills. Basic hygiene in the kitchen. Food preparation. Marketing. Budgeting. A lot more! (No wonder the kitchen is usually the place where homeschooling families gather ’round!)  This is another way we make LEARNING REAL and BETTER for our girls.

Have you baked with your kids lately? It’s fun (and yummy, too!)


Last January 3, Mike accompanied Arielle and Kayla to the bank.  It’s been a tradition for us to deposit the cash money that they received as Christmas gifts every start of the new year.  This teaches the girls the process of making deposits, makes them familiar with the bank atmosphere, transactions, forms used, procedures, etc.  This time, Mike made Arielle and Kayla do the deposit themselves which was via a computer screen first then, the teller. (They said they were no more deposit slips to be used.)  Arielle also deposited a cheque to Mike’s account.

The next day, January 4, Mike and I had to go to Manila first thing in the morning.  Mike asked Arielle to deposit a cheque to his bank account in another bank.  Kayla went with her.  Arielle was able to do the transaction without adult supervision.  The teller praised her for being able to know what to do and how to do it (She was told that she just missed writing down the branch of the bank. It looks like this bank had a different procedure, this time, with the use of deposit slips).  

Making bank deposits is important.  It is one of the many life skills we must teach our children, and I have more in my list that I want them to learn and need to teach to them! For those with younger kids, they may not be capable yet to make deposits or withdrawals from the bank, but you can already teach them about money and what the bank does by tagging them along the next time you yourself go to the bank.  Make it a mini field trip 🙂  Same with the grocery, bake shop, restaurant, hardware store, repair shop, etc.  

I like seeing and meeting kids who show independence and self-reliance at quite a young age, or at least, at their age level.  I’m not talking about “being advanced” here.  Just being developmentally age-appropriate, perhaps?  Essentially, this is also just one way that we make our LEARNING AND SOCIALIZATION REAL.

What life skills have you taught your children and how do you teach it to them?  

 

 


Teaching concepts to your kids in ways that they would really grasp, understand, and see them in real life can sometimes really put you in a dead-end spot, not knowing what to do when you see their blank faces or when they give you those “Uh-huh” look when you ask them repeatedly the question “Do you understand?”  That’s how I oftentimes feel when our girls and I are doing Math or Science.

Arielle and Kayla are both currently on the broad topic of geometry.  Kayla started off with the basics on the different kinds of angles and later moved on to the different kinds of triangles, while Arielle’s on the topic of areas of triangles and parallelograms.  As they were working on their exercises, I was already starting to think of what they would or could do for their portfolio.  It’s our last quarter and we all seem to be slowing down in our pace, running out of unique ideas to wrap up our learnings.

Then, an idea hit me.

Something that would take nothing else but pulling it out of the box, literally.  Why don’t we use the gingerbread kit that their Tita Lyndee, my good friend, gave us last Christmas to further learn more and apply their geometry concepts and at the same time, exercise some creativity?  After all, I didn’t want to throw away the gift just because it was already out of season.  I  was just waiting for the right time to work on it.  It was also a way to teach the girls to appreciate things given to them by other people.  So, that’s what we exactly did!  Last Saturday, the girls  worked on our gingerbread mini village kit and they started “building houses”.  Doing it may seem really off-season since making gingerbread houses or people is an American tradition done during Christmas.  But I think it was God’s perfect timing for us to open this gift and work on it in February!  We were too busy anyway over the Holidays that doing it then was simply impossible.

Our gingerbread mini village kit

How did we incorporate geometry in these gingerbread houses?  Arielle and Kayla took a few pieces of the houses, measured the lengths of the sides to be able to solve the areas of the figures, and measured the angles to identify what kind of angle or triangle the figures are.

The different pieces of the gingerbread houses where you can see
mostly triangles, squares, rectangles.

Angles were measured in this triangle and the kind of angle and triangle
were identified as well.

 

Here, Arielle solved the area of this parallelogram.

 

Arielle tried to find the area of this shape while Kayla also measured
the angles of the window.

 

Kayla was patiently and carefully sticking the parts of the house together.

 

The gingerbread house assembled and decorated by Kayla.

 

Arielle working on her chalet.

 

The girls and one of their finished gingerbread houses!

It was the girls’ first time to try doing a gingerbread kit and so, the whole exercise of building different kinds of houses was new to them.  The challenge really was to be able to make sure that the different parts or pieces would hold up, not slide down or have the whole house collapse. To end this activity, another simple but real life lesson connection made here was that in constructing real houses or buildings,  exact and precise measurements are needed to make the structure stable.  Right lengths, right angles, even the use of the right materials are necessary. We need to follow strict building codes to ensure safety.

What I first thought as a way to finally open up the box and use the Christmas gift given by my friend became a hands-on learning opportunity on math (geometry, measurements), science (weight, technology, safety) and character (appreciation, patience, creativity).  It was the perfect time after all to build gingerbread houses in February 🙂


One of the benefits we enjoy in homeschooling is the flexibility of time.  With this, we are able to identify, focus, and spend more time on areas which we feel would be important not just 8 or 10 years from now when our children are about to enter college or are already full-fledged adults, but considered necessary as early as today.  In homeschooling, we get to teach our girls LIFE SKILLS that will help them become responsible, independent, productive, and discerning individuals, even if they are “just kids”.  These are skills that if taught in schools as a major subject, they may be considered useless or just a waste of time.  One of these life skills is being able to cook and work in the kitchen, with safety practices and minimal adult supervision.  After all, don’t we all need food to survive?  We also can’t always rely on our helper (a rare find these days!) and I don’t think you would like to hear your kids shouting “Yaya!” every time they’re hungry, right?   Pulling out a can of Spam or corned beef from the pantry, driving through fast food restos, eating out and ordering to-go’s don’t sound too good and healthy either (even in the pocket … I’m pretty sure you know that!)

So, let’s make the kitchen a learning space for our children.  Teach them the BASIC LIFE SKILL of cooking.  Not only will they learn the various practical culinary skills.  You’ll be surprised to see math, science, character, health, economics, and entrepreneurship popping out somewhere.  (See?  So many to teach and learn in the seemingly mundane task of cooking!)  We, parents, can also eventually teach them to make the right and healthy food choices as they become more familiar about ingredients, cooking methods, reading food labels, and more! (Or are the adults the ones who will learn to make a switch to a healthier lifestyle instead?  Hmmm, something to think about … )

Here’s what Arielle and Kayla have been busy with in the kitchen these past two days.  They chose two recipes each from what they learned from their week-long culinary class and did them at home. They did most of the work involved and where was I?  Waiting to eat what they prepared which turned out really good!!!

Arielle’s GRILLED BURGER with MUSHROOM GRAVY

 

Kayla’s POLVORON

 

Kayla’s BAKED LASAGNA

 

Arielle’s S’MORES

 

 


Let me call it “unschooling” because there were no books on the table, no academic rules to follow to foster these learning moments:

Just this week, Kayla amazed us with her creative idea!  She taped her cellphone on top of her remote controlled car and put it on video mode.  So, while the car makes it way around the house, the video is running and records the car’s movements, its bumps, stops and turns.  It’s just like those cameras on a biker’s helmet.  It was fun watching the video and see how it scared our dogs, Teri and Hershey, like crazy! 

Now, she’s waiting for her pretzel dough to rise.  She was inspired by another culinary show on tv last night and was itching to bake pretzels! So, she did it this morning.  We were supposed to do Art this morning but she just couldn’t wait.  (When she wants to do something, she really has to do it and will do it.  It can be both a positive and negative trait that I’m still trying to accept and understand.)  On her own (again), she brought out all the ingredients and started to follow a recipe on Youtube.  I had to remind her though of some kitchen basics, like preparation of ingredients, mise en place (a French term which means arranging all the ingredients necessary for a dish before you start cooking to make the cooking process more efficient and to avoid mistakes), cleaning up as you go, and taught her how to divide a recipe into two with fractions (I knew there had to be some Math to teach in there!).  Plus, reading recipes (This is where English comes in) practices her to follow directions, which I think is an important and a basic skill to learn.  This is one of her weak areas and culinary may be able to help her be more attentive to instructions and details. 

Our verdict: Kayla’s pretzels were edible 🙂 and tasted good!  (I’m not being biased here).  She chose to do cinnamon sugar coating.  She still has to practice though how to twist the dough into those pretzel shapes instead of looking more of like mini croissants 🙂  We have to go to Auntie Anne’s one time and watch how they do it.  But overall, I see Kayla really driven now when it comes to cooking and baking.

 

 

 

Kayla’s pretzel! This is PERFECT!

 

 


Kayla wants to be a chef!  The kitchen seems to be her turf.  Her interest in culinary is becoming stronger and stronger that I find her researching for recipes on the internet, reading them, printing them out, filing them in a clear book I gave her, experimenting in the kitchen, preparing dishes and plating them!  She loves the tv show “Junior Master Chef” every  Sunday, and most of her writing exercises is about cooking, baking or her dream of becoming a chef.

For lunch today, she did strawberries on toothpicks with chocolate sauce, on her own.

 

Afterwards, we both worked together in doing a 6-inch Oreo cheesecake.  She did the measuring and mixing of ingredients while I did the springform pan preparation, placed it inside the oven and waited until it was done.  (She still has to overcome her fear of placing pans inside a gas-fired oven.)

 

Ate Arielle wanted to try putting the whipped cream on top.

 

My turn!

 

Our Oreo cheesecake!

For quite some time, we didn’t know exactly what Kayla likes to do or pursue. What we know is that she’s a kinesthetic learner. So seeing now that she really likes to cook and bake, it’s a wonderful feeling (and a relief!) to clearly identify her interests and what makes her tick.  It definitely is an A-ha moment!   I also noticed that when I do give Kayla a chance to work with her hands and do anything related to cooking or baking, she’s more wired to do her other academic subjects, making it easier for me to teach and for her to learn.  That could only mean happy and smooth-sailing homeschooling days 🙂


We didn’t feel like homeschooling today.  I felt we three girls needed a break from our daily routine and so we took a day off from our books and worksheets (except Arielle wanted to do a worksheet in Science).  We spent the day cooking and baking!  Kayla has been very interested in culinary lately perhaps because of the Culinary class in their Hybrid Homeschool Program and the new tv show Junior Master Chef. In fact, she now dreams to become a chef someday!

So what did Arielle, Kayla, and I cook and bake?  For lunch, we cooked beef salpicao and Kayla wanted to learn how to make mashed potatoes.  With instructions orally given to her by her Papa during breakfast, she was able to do the mashed potatoes on her own.  The beef we bought yesterday from the grocery didn’t turn out very tender but our helper said she can pressure cook it so we can still have it for dinner. Something quite didn’t turn out right with the Devil’s Food Cake but it can still be eaten and the decorating that I did with it was  appreciated!

 

Kayla’s been wanting to make meringue and it was a success even if I couldn’t set the temperature of our oven to what was on the recipe.  The green beans with beef we had for dinner was flavorful too.

 
 

Even if we did not stick our noses to our books or laptops, today was rich in hands-on learning! What SKILLS exactly did the girls learn today?

1. How to pick out the ingredients we would need in the grocery (Kayla and I went on a quick trip to the grocery yesterday)

2.  To put away grocery items upon arriving home

3. To pay attention to another person when he is speaking  or giving instructions

4.  Knife skills:  slicing meat, vegetables, mincing garlic

5.  What ‘boil’ means

6. How to properly measure the ingredients using measuring spoons and cups (for dry ingredients and for liquid ingredients)

7.  How to use the calculator to convert fraction to a decimal and to multiply with fractions (I had to tell Arielle to find out what 3/4 of 225 grams is.  That was for the butter 🙂 )

8.  To use and read the numbers on a weighing scale

9.  To read food labels

10.  To carefully read recipes and follow procedures

11. How to use other kitchen utensils such as a potato masher, peeler, angled spatulas, rubber spatulas, piping bags and cake decorating tips

12.  To familiarize oneself with and operate kitchen appliances such as a Kitchenaide mixer and induction stove

13.  How to crack eggs, and separate the whites from the yolks

14.  New baking terms such as “soft ball stage” and “hard ball stage”

15.  The difference between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks”

16.  To wait for the precise time to add the next ingredient or do the next procedure or when it’s time to turn off a running kitchen appliance

17.  To take turns and cooperate with others to be able to finish a task

18.  To appreciate one’s efforts and give praise to another for a “Good job!”

19.  To share what we cooked and baked to our helpers

20.  To clean up and share in the house chores

21. To simply try and learn how to make things better next time!

 

So when we do have those days when I don’t feel like teaching and the girls also don’t feel like studying, simple daily activities in the house come in as the “substitute teacher” and usually turn out more fun, more memorable, more engaging and more personal to Arielle and Kayla.