Friday, January 27, 2012

My Homeschooling Research-Another family

Well today I enjoyed spending 2 hours with Amy, another homeschooling friend. Amy and I were both biology teachers in the same science department back in the late 90's. The photo below is Amy with her 3 beautiful children; Josh, Asher, and Elliana.


So I was looking forward to seeing how she homeschools. Because we both come from a science background, I thought I might get a good sense of how I might approach teaching my own children. This is Amy and me sitting on the floor of their classroom. The room is on the first floor and was probably intended to be the formal sitting and dinning room, but who uses those anymore, right? The photo was taken by her oldest son, Josh, who is in 5th grade.


Here's a look at the entire room. A table against the wall is where the two boys work and a small school desk under the window is where the preschooler worked. The room doesn't look all that different from a traditional classroom; maps, globes, posters, multiplication tables poster, alphabet letters, bookshelves organized with all sorts of great reads, drawers with all sorts of cool math and science manipulatives.


When I arrived, both boys were at the table, one working on math, and the other spelling. Elliana was working at the desk on a sheet where she was coloring the shapes within an image with separate colors. Like my friend Kristy, Amy types up a "to-do list" that each child gets every morning. Amy's kids each have a clipboard that includes any other materials/handouts they may need to accomplish the day's tasks. Amy was continually asking them what they were choosing to do next, and what items they had been able to cross off. She is obviously an expert multitasker, being able to give an oral spelling test to one child, while pulling up a website for another. Kudos to you Amy!

I was surprised to find out that both boys are learning a foreign language using Rosetta Stone. Josh is learning BOTH spanish and french. The photo below is Josh working on his spanish with the headphones as to not to disrupt the others who are working. Apparently with Rosetta Stone program, you not only learn how to write the language, you're also speaking it. So you wear headphones with a microphone, so the program can hear you say it! Kinda cool! Amy is impressed with how much her boys can speak in their second and third languages.

While Elliana spent some time working with her mom, I was so impressed with how Amy dealt with the attention span of a 4 year old. At times she focused her and at other times, allowed her to do her own thing (today it was playing with my 9 month old). Elliana also carved out some computer time this morning . She asked to go to, www.starfall.com website. After watching her interact with the reading games, I knew that Caleb would also enjoy this site. It was also amazing to me how much more engaged she was with the online reading games compared to the worksheets she had been working on. Here is Amy working with Elliana on some Explode the Code, a phonics curriculum.

Here is Asher working on the desktop computer Teaching Texbook Math 4 program. Amy said Asher loves math and he gets on the computer for "fun!" So this is additional practice above the Saxon Math he does as part of his regular curriculum.

Amy was so helpful. She set out the kindergarten Sonlight curriculum box for me to flip through. However, seeing the instructor guides, along with all the associated literature, is overwhelming. I noticed that a book from the "Boxcar Children" series is a read aloud in the Kindergarten curriculum. Right now I can't imagine Caleb, my 4 year old, listening to a chapter book with so few pictures. Really? But Amy shared with me some of her early struggles, and seemed to really understand my hesitance. She didn't sugar coat how much work it is, but also how rewarding the experience is.

Is it really possible that my husband and I might be completely responsible for the formal education of our children? Can we do this? Should we? Is it best for our kids? I'm just not sure!

Sonlight bases its curriculum on literature. This article from their website titled, "How Literature-rich Homeschooling Awakens Your Child's Natural Passion for Learning." They admit that using literature to teach history (and the context then for everything they learn) takes longer when reading literature instead of textbooks, but state that the trade off is worth it because students will remember it more. Literature allows us to connect to an experience. I also see that in this curriculum we would have to commit to read everything that our kids would be reading, so that we could discuss the ideas with them! That's not a small commitment, for sure! What I still need to research is the role of writing in this curriculum.

I walked away today with several big picture thoughts. First, I liked how the Sonlight curriculum uses "real" books. The emphasis is in reading, even in the early years, a lot of read alouds, discussion about what you read etc. I like that this curriculum uses literature to open doors to discuss not only what they are learning, but what they are feeling, how they connect with the characters within that time period. I bet I would have enjoyed history if I would have been taught this way. Second, I liked how technology can be used to reinforce ideas, or to teach material in a different way. While I don't know that the Sonlight curriculum gives tips on how this can be accomplished, I know I want technology to be a tool my kids use in their education. While I do want them using it to research and learn more about topics they are interested in, I also want my kids to use technology to create products that explain what they have learned, what they understand and why. And today I saw a glimpse of how I might be able to do that.

Thanks you so much Amy for allowing me to intrude in on your morning. I admire what you do each day with your kids. They are blessed to have you!

Resources I got from Amy:

Usborne Books: I love these. I haven't seen any for prek-K, but the science and history ones for the elementary kids were colorful, interesting, and WAY better than any textbook! I will remember these books for sure.

Learning Resource: I love the math and language arts manipulatives found here. I don't know yet how my boys will best learn, but if hands-on and visual are their strengths, this will be a great resource!

Graphic Libary: Capstone Press: Ok, I was never into comic books, but look at these graphic non-fiction books for science! So again, if my boys learn this way....you can bet my library will include these!

Ann Voskamp: A Child's Geography: Amy suggested this one..a great way to introduce kids to geography.

Exploring Creation: Young Explorer Series: Fullbright: These are full color books teaching science. I read a sample chapter, and I'm not sure how I feel about these. It seems as if it is a textbook trying its best to be conversational. Images and photos are good, and the level of science being taught is great. I think as reference material, it would be a nice thing to have around the house.

Real Science 4 kids: by Rebecca Keller. On their webpage they say, "We’ve taken great care to make our educational materials worldview neutral. This allows children from any background to examine opposing models; creationism versus the Big Bang theory, for instance. Your home schooled kids will have the richest source of insight, allowing them to shape intelligent and informed opinions." I actually like this idea! I've spent some time on this website, and REALLY like it. The philosophy is to teach chemistry and physics to apply it to biology, earth/space science in the elementary grades to provide the foundation of science. The looks of the books are really good too!

I know I can let the philosophy side of my brain take over. I've been doing a lot of research and still feel overwhelmed. At this moment, I'm thinking I could buy the K4 Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and try it with Caleb over the summer. We can judge how it is going, how he does with his parents as his teachers, and how we handle the new role. Its not a huge money investment $15 for the entire curriculum plus copying costs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Full of beans and grains

As promised, I wanted to provide a list of possible grains and beans that can be used for making your own baby cereal. Between 4-9 months these grains are used alone, or mixed with other grains. But after nine months old, grains are mixed with beans to make a complete protein. I've explained how to make super porridge in another post.

Grains
amaranth
barley, pearled
brown rice
buckwheat groats
bulgur
couscous
kamut
millet
oatmeal/rolled oats
oats, whole
quinoa
rye berries,
sorghum
teff
triticale
wheat, cracked
wheat, berries

Beans
adzuki
black or turtle
black-eyes pea
fava
garbanzo (chick pea)
kidney
lentil
lima, baby
mung
pinto
soybeans
soy grits
yellow or green
split peas
white or Great Northern or navy bean

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Schooling Confession...

I have a confession to make. After attending the public school system for most of my life (minus my 5 years at Olivet Nazarene University) and teaching in the public schools for 17 years, my husband and I are considering homeschooling. This is something I've not even been open to until recently, but God has opened my heart to the possibility. Ironically all my life, people always told me I would be great at homeschooling. But I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the first thing about early childhood education, but you know what I do know? My kids! So I will blog my thoughts as a way to process this possibility.

I want to begin by saying that I feel blessed to be in a country were homeschooling can be a choice that people can make. As I write out my thoughts here, know that it is my way to brain dump my ideas. I intension is not to speak despairingly of anyone for the choices they make regarding the type of schooling they choose for their children. But I will be writing my thoughts about what I am learning, trying to feel my way through what I believe to be right for me and my family. Please make posts you write be respectful to the choices that I or others may make. I have no idea where this journey will lead us, and that is scary and exhilarating at the same time.

My sister-in law homeschools, as do a few of my friends. My friend Kristy gave me a list that describes the different approaches to homeschooling and that has been very helpful. I asked to come observe Kristy one morning to see how they organize their school time and to talk to her kids. They have four children ranging from 6th grade to 1st grade. In the photo below, their Dad is helping the two older kids with Latin!


Here is Kristy helping her youngest with spelling and handwriting. (The baby is mine!)


Kristy homschools abiding pretty close to the Classical Approach. From what I understand, it allows students to see a complete picture among all the subjects because what the kids are learning is by time period. That is what I really like about this approach. While there is a focus on facts in the early grades (1-4) they do see how the facts connect to one another. I believe this philosophy is based on The Well-Trained Mind. I have read the book (several months ago), and I believe it is something I could do.

I am most scared about these early years. Give me a high school kid any day, (I taught high school biology for 12 years) but teach a kid to read and write? For some reason that is much more daunting to me. But reading The Well-Trained Mind helped me see that I could do it.

The way Kristy organizes the learning for her children, is that each week she fills out a chart for what each child should accomplish each day. So the days of the week are across the top, and the subjects are along the left-hand column. So she will write in the page numbers of what should be completed each day. As the children get older, they help fill out the chart! I love that! If I homeschool, I want to allow my child some feeling of ownership of what he is learning. The OCD in me loved the way Kristy organized school. It felt like school, with everyone working, with rules and consequences posted on the wall. At this phase of homeschooling, Kristy said that she spends a lot of time with the 1st grader, while the others work independently. But she is conscious of spending too much time with one child, and may set a timer for herself to make sure she gets to everyone!

From what I understand, Kristy teaches history lessons 3 days a week. Therefore time would would be designed for all 4 children--a definite plus for this organization. Then what each student would get out of the time, i.e, what each was expected to learn, might be different. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays Kristy does Science or Art. Now, as a biology teacher, the lack of attention to science concerns me...but I also know that I could organize my school however I wanted.

Here are the resources Kristy gave me:

Rainbow Resource: Place to buy books, crafts, etc... discounted for homeschooling families.
Youcanhomeschool: Legal organization to support parents who homeschool.
My Father's World Curriculum: Christian curriculum.
Saxon: Math Curriculum
A Reason for Handwriting: Handwriting curriculum
Spelling Workout: Modern Curriculum Press
Explode the Code: Phonics program



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Food-Grains & Beans

I've seen a whole host of resources that provide directions and describe benefits of pureeing veggies and fruits, pouring them into ice cube trays, and freezing them for later use. I LOVE to make my own baby food this way too. But I haven't seen anyone talking about how to make your own cereal for baby. Most of the time baby's first food is white rice. However there is a lot of research showing that this is NOT a healthy food, and certainly not a good "first food." Read this article from Parenting Squad if you want to know more.

The primary reason I like the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron so much is for its directions on how to make "Super Porridge." What I plan on doing here in this blog post is describing homemade cereal appropriate for babies over 9 months. I'll try to write another post that addresses months 4-9 at another time.

At 9 months a baby's digestive system is ready for mixed whole grains along with legumes (beans). This combination provides a complete protein! It is really easy to prepare and cook. Once I realized what this phrase "whole grain" actually meant, I was not only happier about feeding my baby this way, I found myself eating healthier. Here is the recipe. (Yaron, 1998; page 214).
To make 2 cups of high protein Super Porridge, mix in blender and grind:
1/3 cup of whole grains (brown rice, millet, oatmeal, or other) &
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) dried legumes (lentils, soy grits, spilt peas, or other)

This makes about 1/2 cup of powder. Stir powder into 2 cups of boiling water, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes (20 min. if soybeans are included), stirring frequently with a whisk to remove lumps and prevent scorching. Refrigerate for 2-3 days or freeze for up to one month.

The recipe above is really all you need to know. It is that simple. What I will walk you through now is more of the logistics of how I make this method fit into my busy lifestyle.

1. Once a month or so, I get out all my grains and beans, my 1/3 measuring cup, a tablespoon, and snack sized ziplock bags. Pre-measuring saves me time. The first step is to measure 1/3 cup of any grain and place it into a snack sized baggie. The ones I used on this particular day were pearled barley, oatmeal (old fashion oats, NOT quick oats), and brown rice. In most bags I put only one type of grain, but in a few I'll partially fill the 1/3 cup with one kind of grain, and then fill the remainder of the 1/3 cup with another grain. THIS is what you call multigrain!


2. The next step is to add 2 tablespoons of the legumes to the grains. Again, sometimes I'll add only one type of legume, and sometimes I'll add several. In this photo I had lentils, black beans, pinto beans, and split peas.


3. Once I have all the baggies packaged, I organize them in a glass dish that I keep in my refrigerator. I put them in an order in which I want to feed them to my baby. Remember, you should only introduce one new food at a time, with a 3-4 day waiting period before introducing another new food. So the order matters once I start mixing grains & beans together. I don't want to give him two types of beans that he's never had before. If he has a reaction, I won't know which one is the cause.


For example, in this bag, I have barley as my grain, and black beans and slit peas for the legumes.


This bag has barley and oatmeal for the grain; navy beans and split peas for the legumes.


And this bag, has brown rice and oatmeal for the grains; and pinto beans for the legumes. As you can imagine the combination is endless.


4. Every 3 days, I get a baggie out of the fridge and dump it in my blender.


You need to blend it to a fine powder...about 2 full minutes. Sometimes the powder compacts in the bottom or edges so I'll stop blending and stir the mixture before starting the blender again. [Note: normally beans need to be presoaked, but because we are blending them, they are fully cooked with our grains in just 10 minutes.]


5. Because you can get a lot accomplished in 2 minutes; While I'm blending I measure 2 cups of water and get it boiling on the stove. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and dump the grain/legume powder into the water.


REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. Use a wire whisk to remove all the lumps, and to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on the pan, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir it occasionally, more often in the first 5 minutes.


6. While the porridge is cooking get your containers ready. I use small glass dishes with lids. With this recipe I usually get 6 individual servings, but the portion sizes change with my baby's age and appetite. These containers go into the refrigerator and should be eaten within 3 days.


7. Right before meal time, I take out my frozen veggie or fruit cubes, in this case sweet potatoes and kale, and put it in the microwave for 45 sec. With a fork, I mash up the cubes and put it in for another 20 sec. My goal is to make it only luke warm, not hot--basically just taking the chill out.

This is what the final product looks like. Super porridge mixed with veggies. You can see the grains, and the little pieces of kale (how to prepare kale). It may not look great, but my baby loves it. [Editors honesty; kale goes down best when served with fruits, like bananas or pears. And I use only 1/2 of the size cube shown here...still worth it!]


8. Then right before giving it to baby, I add a few extras, like egg yolk (3 times a week), and to increase the thickness I add wheat germ.





Monday, January 16, 2012

Sleeve Gloves: No more cold wrists

Ok, so I don't consider myself a great seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. I usually make stuff for the house and can follow simple patterns. This is my first attempt at sharing a sewing tutorial. I got the idea to extend gloves by sewing them to the arm of a sweatshirt from my friend Amy who blogs "My Heart My Home." Here is her original post about sleeve gloves.



The purpose of these gloves is two fold. The first is to keep the gloves on during serious winter play. If you've ever had a frustrated child who can't keep his gloves on while trying to build a snow fort, you know what I mean. The second purpose is to keep those wrists dry and warm. You know how the snow compacts between the top of the glove and the bottom of the jacket sleeve? Then the wrist gets all cold and wet. This sleeve glove should solve both of these problems.

1. The first thing you want to do, is find 2 long-sleeve shirts you don't mind cutting up. Since my son is a size 4T, I went into the 3T stash and pulled out a fleece hoody, and a pair of pj's that he doesn't wear any more. I wanted the a pj layer on the inside because I wanted something that was snug against his skin without any seams. The fleece was a good choice for outer layer to help keep in the warmth. Ideally, I was looking for an old water resistant windbreaker jacket, to better keep out the snow, but I didn't have anything I was willing to sacrifice. Maybe I should have gone to Good Will to get something. Oh well. The photo below shows the shirts and the mittens I used for this project.

2. Next, cut off the the sleeves at the shoulder seam.


3. If your model is around, use him to fit the outer layer. Put the sleeve inside out, and pin the side with the the seam loosely against his arm. (For example in this photo, if I would have pinned above his arm, the sleeve would have two seams, and therefore not as comfortable.) Also, take into consideration the stretchy-ness of your sleeve. Since mine is fleece and has a lot of give, I could put my seam pretty close to his arm. But if you are using a windbreaker, your seam shouldn't be as close to the arm because it may reduce the ability to bend at the elbow.


4. Make a seam along your pin line. I made a zig-zag line and a straight stitch. The sleeve on the top is what is looks like before I trimmed off the excess.


5. Turn the outside layer right-side out, and place the inside layer within the outside layer lining them up how you'd like.

6. Sew the outside layer to the inside layer at the cuff. This will not be visible and will hold the two pieces together. I used a zig-zag stitch so that it would have a bit of stretch. (Excuse the poor stitches, my sewing machine is in dire need of a tune up.)

7. At this point its a good idea to put it back on your model to check for length. Decide how far up the arm you want it to go. You want it above the elbow, even with the elbow bent. This will help keep the glove on. Cut the outer layer 2 inches shorter than the inner. Then fold the inner layer to the outside, and stitch it.

8. The last step is to attach the glove to the sleeve. Overlap the 2 cuffs with the glove cuff on top. Unfortunately, I think the best way to do this is doing a hand whip stitch. (I couldn't figure out how to get to that seam on the sewing machine.) I also suggest using a thimble, to save your finger!


9. Because I made my layers so thick, my son wears a short-sleeve t-shirt, with the sleeve gloves under his winter coat. If you prefer for your kids to layer, you might want lighter layers for your sleeve gloves. Put them on and enjoy!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

High School Science labs


As a career biology teacher, I've recently taken on the challenge and privilege of volunteering as the "science lab coordinator" at a Christian boarding school. The boys get their middle school or high school curriculum via Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS), which is a Christian homeschooling software curriculum. While the teachers tried to include hands-on science labs as much as they could, with up to 25 boys in different science courses and within different units in those courses, it makes it too difficult to be practical. Therefore, I am doing labs with the boys 2 days a week. I'm getting a chance to pull out labs I used to do with my public high school students. Sometimes I rewrite existing SOS labs-improving them to be more inquiry, and sometimes I'm writing new labs entirely. I'd like for this blog to be a place I can share those with you.

This is a photo of my lab space. Nice huh? Rocky Mount Church, from North Carolina came last summer to design and build this lab. [Side note: I had not yet contacted the school about volunteering. God made this a case of "If you build it, she will come!" Totally a God thing.] The room came with basic science supplies like a microscope, basic glassware, magnets, rulers etc. Not only the space functional, it is beautiful. I don't know who did the decorating, but I LOVE the classy science decor (notice the ThInK sign above the door). I never have more than six boys at a time so the space is perfect.

I've been doing labs since November, and so far we've done 2 microscope labs (rotating 6 boys around one scope has its challenges), graphing lab, Calculating volume lab, Living-Non lab (a personal favorite of mine), Probability lab, and Cleaning up after an oil spill lab (a great inquiry lab). I've posted some of them here for you in Google Docs. I suppose at some later time, I can spend more time talking about the labs.


Guidelines for Lab Drawings: I am kinda particular on how students do lab drawings, this is my description of how they are to be done! (Ok so I'm OCD!)
First Microscope Lab: Traditional, cutting out newspaper letter, and looking at colored threads.
Cheek Cell Lab: I have students make three slides, as methaline blue stain on one, iodine on another, and no stain on the third. Then they compare them and determine best as they can the shape of their cells.
Determining Volume: In this lab students measure linear objects (like small boxes) to find their volume, then use the principle of displacement by dropping irregular shaped objects into graduated cylinders and beakers to find the change in water level.
Graphing: Basic paper lab that leads students to make line, bar, and pie graphs. Honestly, its not that great.
Cleaning up an oil spill: I modified this lab from (25 Low-cost Biology Investigations by Joel Beller) and I really like it. Students are provided a bunch of materials and they work to determine which best clean up an oil (veg. oil) spill in their ocean (water in a pie tin).

Home Organization

Storage has been a challenge since we moved into our new home. We downsized significantly, and without closets in the bedrooms, there is nowhere to hide the stuff you need! So when considering storage, dressers, unless they are really tall and have ample storage, aren't good for a small room. So, instead of using bedroom furniture, I had my hubby build floor to ceiling shelves, in both our master bedroom and in our boys' room. I have to admit, I had a lot of fun designing them. I'm not embarrassed to say that it involved graph paper, and measuring every plastic crate or shelf or canvas tote we owned so that we could use what we already own to make a home for our clothes and other essentials.


It goes without saying that everything having a spot just makes me happy, but you know what my favorite part of this is? The little dressing table in the cubby to the far left. Since we have only one bathroom, I thought it might be best that I do my makeup and hair here instead. Craig (my husband) worked it out so I have a powerstrip below the shelf, which makes it all very convenient.

This photo is my son in the boys' room with all the stuff the afternoon we moved in. I'm proud to say each thing had its place.


Here's the boys' room finished. I use plastic tubs on top for the out of season clothes and larger items. And you'll notice too, I use the Sterilite plastic drawers (from WalMart) instead of the traditional dresser. I feel they are durable, hold a lot more than wooden drawers, and will really hold up to two boys opening and closing them. Each one is three drawers, and I stacked one unit on top of the other. The 4 year old's clothes are in the bottom drawers so he can reach them, and the 6 month old gets the top 3 drawers for now.

My favorite part of this shelving unit is how I worked our old wooden kitchen table as the diaper changing area. (In these photos I was using a card table until the wooden table was done being used for staging our house that we were trying to sell.) The plan is that after the table is done being used as a diaper changing station, it will be a place to color, paint, read, and all kinds of good fun.

I thought I would also share with you an organizational tip that I got from my Grandma Gould. She taught me to use toilet paper cardboard rolls as a way to organize those pesky cords. I use them for my beauty tools, and also in the kitchen with my stored away appliances. I will say too, that Grandma used to use left over wall paper to decorate them to match the theme of the room. I've just not made that a priority...but a great idea!


Baby Food: Kale

I love making my own baby food. I did it with Caleb, and am now making food for Corban. Particularly since I wasn't able to breast feed Corban, I want to get him off to a great start with his solids foods. I very loosely follow the ideas in the Super Baby Food book. There are a LOT of things I don't like about this book, that I won't go into right now, but what I do like is the section that lists each baby food, how to pick out good, ripe choices from the grocery store, and a detailed explanation of how to store, prepare, and cook the food before pureeing it. I'm not a natural cook, so these details are important to me.
Besides the cost savings, and knowing what I'm feeding my baby, a reason I like to make baby food is that I can make healthier foods that are not the usual choices in the baby food isle in the grocery store. One of these foods, is kale. Now kale is not a food that I EVER made for myself, but apparenly it is full of wonderful nutrition. Web MD calls Kale a "nutritional powerhouse" veggie. Here are just a few of the highlights as to what makes kale so great; it is low calorie, contains fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, C & K. It is a good course of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. So move over spinach, kale is king!

Kale has a strong flavor, so I usually sneak it in with other veggies or cereal. As my way to show you how to make baby food, I will use kale as my demo. However, keep in mind that this is the same method you would use with other foods, particularly vegetables. Of course some foods don't need to be cook before they are frozen, so pears and apples for example, you just puree and freeze.

1. This is what kale looks like when you buy it in the grocery store. I buy 3 bunches at a time (the photo shows one) because it cooks down so much after you steam it.

2. You'll need to clean it first. So after you remove the wire tie, place the kale in a sink full of cold water. Swoosh it around to remove any grit (you'll be surprised how much there is) making sure to open the leaves as you do this.

3. The next step is to "stem" the kale. Stemming is much easier to do before cooking! If you are right handed, you'll hold a single stem in your left hand, positioned like I have photographed below. Be sure the leafy part is folded, so you can pull both sides of the green from the stem at the same time.

4. Use your right hand to rip the greens from the stem. This is what it will remain.

5. Discard the stem and further rip the greens so they are in smaller pieces.

6. You'll want a large pot with a way to steam the greens. I use this metal contraption inside my largest pan. I only have about 2 cm of water beneath. Since any water that touches the food will remove more nutrients, you want to keep the water level low. We are wanting to steam the veggies, not boil them.

7. Once the water in your pot is boiling, be sure that the bubbles are NOT able to reach the veggies. Then place the kale into the strainer and put the lid on it. If you tore the kale into smaller pieces, steam them for 3 minutes. If you left the kale in large leafs, steam 7 minutes. If you find your baby doesn't like the strong flavor of kale, you can steam it without the lid, however, you'll lose some nutrients this way. If you are steaming a large patch (more than one bunch at a time) use tongs to turn the kale several times during cooking. If you are just cooking one batch, you don't have to mix them.

8. This is what kale looks like after cooking. Its spinach-like, limp, and kinda gross.
8. Underneath the strainer, you'll notice that the water has turned a light shade of green. That means the kale leeched some nutrients into the steamed water. This is precious, don't throw it out. Use it in step 9.
9. Place your cooked kale into your blender or food processor and add some of the leeched nutrient water.

10. Blend it well. The amount of water you use is up to you. I find that adding more water makes it blend nicer and also makes it easier to pour into ice cube trays.

11. Now all you have to do is pour it into to the ice cube trays and freeze. I'm not crazy about eating kale myself, but really, just LOOK at that beautiful color! Its a deep, beautiful green! It has to be good for you, right?
12. Once the veggie is completely frozen, you remove them from the trays, and place them in FREEZER ziplock bags. Mark them with the date (they are good for up to 2 months). Add a cube in with any other veggie, and know that you're giving your baby a healthy meal! :)



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