Updated: Mar 28
As a primary school teacher, I have been asked lots for help in home-schooling children since schools began to close in the UK and Australia.
The first thing I would say is keep it simple and explore the possibilities in all that you do. By this I mean, how much learning do you think can come from a simple recipe that you can make with all of your children at any age?
Today we are going to share our favourite homemade healthy chocolate recipe full of essential ingredients. To boost your immune system, activate the brain and are packed with essential nutrients like Vitamin E.
Some of you may have the opportunity to set up a cute school-like area in your home but in reality most of us don’t and it’s the dinner table that becomes the makeshift school space.
However, make sure this space is clean and clear of all other belongings. Make sure no other distractions like televisions or radios are on in the background. Create a time that is ‘school time’ and ‘home time’. Get up at the same time Monday to Friday and do not feel bad if you get your little ones to do some household chores before ‘school starts’ to lessen the burden on you. Some parents are finding getting their children dressed in their uniform has kept a sense of at school time and when schooling is finished they change into their play clothes.
I’d first sit with your child or children and find out what they enjoy learning about, then ask what they don’t. Generally, the things they don’t like to learn about either doesn’t interest them in the slightest or they know they aren’t great at it yet. This might be the one or two areas which you need to sneak into their learning.
Math for example can be hard for some, whereas if you do not yet know all your letter sounds (phonemes) and how to write them (graphemes) as in a digraph (two letters making one sound like th, sh or ai), then writing may be the issue.
Over the next few weeks I will post sample ideas about how you can successfully home-school your children no matter what age. In fact, one lesson could and should extend for all ages. See it like you don’t run a restaurant at lunch time making different meals for each child, you want to make one lunch, but may adjust it slightly if one child likes, say pickles and one prefers some tomato sauce. Hopefully you get my drift.
Personally, to help get your children in the learning zone I would start with a warm-up, this could consist of a flash cards where they chant back to you sounds or sight words or numbers. You could sing multiplication songs found on You Tube. Jack Hartman is always a winner singing to and back from 100 and times tables.
You could begin your teaching period with a meditation or a cosmic yoga.
Your children will learn best, in fact we all learn best, in no more than 20 minute intervals. So, every 20 minutes you could add in a ‘Brain break” again you could turn to You Tube like Go Noodle or get them to crawl around the garden or play outside for 10 mins getting important natural light. (If your child normally wears glasses get them to take them off when they go outside).
Have their water bottles filled with a good source of water and nearby to take constant sips throughout their learning. Have a plate of cut up raw veggies or fruit for them to snack on. These snacks NEED to have an element of good fat with them so some nut or seed butter (recipe tomorrow) would go great for the fruit to be dunked in or some homemade mayo or avocado dips for the veggies.
This article by neurologist Dr. Perlmutter explains why fat is so important for our brain health.
Also don’t ever take our word for it, research this yourself. Get the kids to do it too.
I imagine a lot of parents out there need some chocolate right now, and while we don’t want you eating processed rubbish, which will lower your immune system, this recipe will do the opposite. It will also help improve your children’s learning too. This article explains why. To read all of this please hit the link, if you haven’t time, here are some key points from Dr. Sara Grottfried.
In what may be my favourite study ever done on cortisol, subjects who had 40 grams (1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate per day, for two weeks, showed lowered urine cortisol levels.
Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure by 2 to 3 points. It reduces low density lipoproteins (LDL), total cholesterol, and lowers your risk of heart disease. (More studies on chocolate and cardiovascular health can be found here, here , and here. How great is it that all the researchers were itching to find out how good chocolate really is!)
It increases blood flow to the brain, which helps the brain remain neuroplastic and young. It improves executive functioning—including attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, problem solving, and planning.
Today’s lesson – I will show how the school curriculum can be integrated in one simple cooking lesson that will cover; Home Economics, Cultural Studies, Science, Math, English, Phonics and Art AND cover for many age ranges and how you can extend this lesson for critical and creative thinking.
Learning intention – By the end of this lesson you will not only be able to make chocolate from scratch, but know what chocolate is and where it comes from.
Thieves Immune Boosting Enriched Dark Chocolate
200g of Raw Cacao Butter
100-200g of Organic Raw Cacao Powder
Sweetener – You can use 20g to 100g of sweetener.
I don’t use honey anymore as the good stuff can sometimes crystallises and/or separates ruining the chocolate.
From iHerb I use Yacon syrup, a fructo-oligosaccharides
like maple syrup or molasses that doesn’t raise your insulin levels.
For the kiddles I use maple syrup or ground coconut sugar into a fine powder.
A pinch pf organic vanilla powder (optional)
60g Chopped Nuts or Seeds (optional)
60g Shredded Coconut
8 drops of Young Living Thieves Essential Oil
Place a piece of baking paper over a large flat baking tray.
Pour your Cacao Butter chunks into a glass or stainless-steel bowl.
Fill a saucepan with a little water in the bottom and pop onto a very low heat.
Place the bowl with the Cacao Butter on top and watch it melt. Stir slowly with a whisk.
Once melted take off the heat and whisk in the sugar and Cacao Powder
Add more or less depending on taste.
To make it less dark you can at this stage whisk in fast a little coconut cream. This will make a less hard chocolate.
Whisk in the Young Living Thieves Essential Oil
Mix in the Nuts, Seeds and Shredded Coconut
Pour over a prepared baking tray lined with baking paper.
Anyone interested in making their own food grade Thieves oil or would like to find out more information why this is our families favourite oil right now please PM us and we will get back to you soon.
To make your own Thieves oil, this tried and tested recipe worked well. Please remember that Young Living Essential Oils are food grade and of a high quality. If you are making your own using other oils please check them for safety
What you can learn from this lesson
Reading – Packets, ingredients, labels and the recipe.
Get your children all to take a role, one might read the instructions, while one might weigh and measure.
Some open-ended questions to enrich the recipe lesson. The hardest thing about teaching is ask the questions, but don’t give them the answers. Let them find out if they can, or teach explicitly.
What is melting point of cacao butter? Is this different to boiling point of water?
What is Cacao Butter?
What is Cacao powder?
Where do they come from?
How can we find out?
Does the packet provide you with any clues about where the butter comes from, or how it is grown?
What does it look like in its raw state?
How much chocolate have we made? Is this more than a chocolate bar from the shops like Cadbury’s?
Is the chocolate we have made cheaper or more expensive than a Cadbury’s chocolate bar?
How can we work this out?
What are the differences? – Taste, texture, ingredients.
If more expensive why?
How many more ingredients in a Cadburys bar? Are these ingredients necessary to make chocolate?
Get them to actually make the packet from any paper or recycling around the house.
Extend your lesson. School Years 1- 6
Writing – Get your child (age dependant) – teach them if they don’t know to write a procedure text. Add pictures if you wish.
Get them to act out these procedures as if on a cooking show? – (Speaking and Listening)
Explore and research words that you don’t understand on the packets;
What does ‘no artificial colours mean? What are artificial colours?
What does ‘no preservatives mean?’ What are preservatives?
Same for antioxidants and sugars, whole foods.
How did this product get to the shops? What was the process taken to make these products. Where the farmers paid well for their work?
What does their workday look like?
Where is it grown/manufactured?
Phonics – Sound out the syllables of some of the long words like preservatives, artificial, antioxidants. Chunky Monkey Game – find a word within a word;
antioxidants you can see the words ant, ox and ants
artificial you can see the words art and if
Find the digraphs – two letter spellings that make one sound.
For example; school has 2 sets of digraphs – Underlined here the other sounds are single sounds - s – ch – oo - l
Look at beginning and ending sounds.
Why does the ‘c’ in the word artificial make an ‘s’ sound – answer – because it’s next to an ‘i’.
What are vowels? Highlight them once you have written them down.
Handwriting - Can you write on the lines the long words. Underline the digraphs/trigraphs
Underline or circle the vowels.
Write out some sight words and cut them up and re make them like a jigsaw.
Critical and Creative Thinking/ Art –
Create your own chocolate bar. Write about it. Draw and label it.
Design the wrapper.
How much would it be?
Math – what is profit? How much do you think it would cost you to make one bar? How many would you need to sell to become a millionaire?
If I wanted to make half the recipe, how would I do this?
What do I need to to do to make twice as much?
What would the ingredient numbers look like? Re-write the recipe for this.
Do similar with any recipe.
Cultural studies – when was chocolate first invented? What makes it so yummy?
What were the original ingredients?
Where did these come from.
You Tube has lots of short videos on questions like this.
Science – Heat – cooling – matter change -
How do the ingredients change?
What will happen when we put the chocolate mix into the fridge or freezer?
What will happen if we put it in the oven once it has set?
Would there be any reason to remelt the chocolate? – like to make different shapes, add more ingredients, to add to a cake or icing, pour in Easter moulds?
Any more reasons?
Don’t forget to have fun and taste as you go. Talk about the experiences and learning opportunities. I expect you will also come up with many more enriching learning experiences than I can think of as you go.
At the end of your learning day – re-cap – talk about what you have learned, what you liked, didn’t like so you begin to understand how your child learns. We all learn so differently.
Was there any issues, subjects or questions you’d like to take further, spark interest to explore more, or expand on into a project.
Listen to everyone’s opinions and if all else fails eat the chocolate!!!
Until next time, stay calm and get plenty of outside air and movement. Hey this could be the perfect opportunity for them to learn, to relearn, for us to re learn and learn old ways, to garden, grow things and record change, weather, the list goes on…. All this and more for another day. Don't forget to let them be kids!
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