Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new school year! I took off the whole summer to focus on the renovation in my home and transitioning my kids into their new preschool. I also spent some time setting up my new classroom and getting ready for the new school year. I am back to being a full-time art teacher at an elementary school in Las Vegas. The blog is gonna take a little bit of a different turn now, it’s gonna be directed towards what I’m doing in my classroom and less what I’m doing in my personal life. My Petite Picassos are going to be my students, and there’ll be a lot less about my own children.

My classroom is pretty large and we have a computer, laptop, a smart projector, a kiln, and a storage room. The kiln has its own separate storage area. I have lots of storage in my classroom with cabinets under my two sinks and two cabinets that roll.

I found this idea of dripping paint on Pinterest for my bulletin board. Took about an hour to cut it out perfectly, but I’m really pleased with the results. I have one bulletin board set up to be the one that I present our new lesson plans on. The other bulletin board I’m using for our art vocabulary word wall. With the art vocabulary word wall I simply printed out the vocabulary words such as diagonal, bright, photography, portrait, etc. on computer paper and cut them out and laminated them. They’re stuck to the word wall with sticky tack so I can easily remove them from the word wall and attach them to a reproduction that we are learning about.

I also like the way I set up all of our tables this year. I continued the drippy paint idea and cut out blobs of paint from construction paper in different colors and tape them to each table to signify each table, and better organize the kids. I also have the tables set up in sort of a C-shape. This allows for a lot of community discussion, however I can going to the center and pass out materials or teach from the center of the C.

For our first project back to school I like to do something very small, easy, and communal. At our school we have a community garden that I’m tying into a Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower’s art project. I’ll be posting more about that next month.

Also in the beginning two weeks of school I really like to lay out all of my procedures, rules, and expectations for the students. I use CHAMPS in my classroom for laying out my expectations as we move through transitions. I only have three rules in my classroom which is to respect me, each other, and the materials in the art room. I go through what that means, as I walk around the classroom and show the students how to safely use the art room. We practice drills, we practice passing out materials, we practice cleanup.

I’ll be posting every two weeks during the school year. You can also follow my classroom on Instagram @mypetitepicassos. Happy New School Year!

Break

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for a little while. I’m going through a transition from working at home to working outside the home and over the summer back to teaching. Once I go back to teaching I’m sure I’ll start the blog in a little bit of a different direction focusing more on teaching art from the art teacher’s perspective along with some parenting articles. If you have been following this blog for some time I just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know what’s going on with me and the blog. Thank you so much for following and see you in the summer!

Healthy Rice Crispy Treats, Rich in Omega-3 Fats!

When I first became a vegan in high school one of our favorite snacks amongst my friends and I was to make rice crispy treats with peanut butter. It’s a really easy and simple recipe, my boys even helped me with it! I have updated my peanut butter-based rest crispy treats to be even healthier by using puffed brown rice, organic creamy peanut butter, and organic coconut oil.


Omega-3 fats- which are great for your brain are tough to come by when you’re vegan or vegetarian. A lot of people get their omega-3 fatty acid’s from fish. As a vegetarian I get mine from nuts and oil’s. Avocados are another great source. Neither one of my boys right now like avocados, so I’m focusing on healthy oil’s and nuts. A simple way to get my boys to eat more omega-3 fatty acid’s is to use a seeded or nutty bread such as Dave’s Killer Bread which has 440 mg of omega-3 fatty acid’s along with some organic peanut butter. That’s a pretty typical lunchbox lunch for my boys.

Ingredients:

5 c. puffed brown rice cereal 

6 tbsp. coconut oil

6 tbsp. organic, creamy peanut butter

3 tbsp. maple or agave syrup

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips or carob chips 

Directions:

Combined 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, and 3 tablespoons of maple or agave syrup in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes, the coconut oil and peanut butter should be melted.  Stir all ingredients together to create a batter- like consistency.  Combine with 5 cups of puffed brown rice in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a parchment lined 9″ x 12″ baking pan. Spread the rice crispy batter evenly throughout the pan. To create the chocolate topping: combine 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and half a cup of chocolate or carob chips. Microwave for 2 minutes on high-stir chips and melted coconut oil together and drizzle over the rice crispy batter.  

Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least three hours.  Cut the rice crispy treats into squares, serve and enjoy!

Warm Riced Cauliflower and Garlicky Greens Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

I don’t know about you, but between all of the holiday weight that I’ve gained and the illness that my family has had with a rough couple months of flus and colds I am definitely looking for a health boost. So in my attempt to eat healthier, lose weight, have more energy, have less aches and pains, and promote healthy eating within my family I am trying to move towards a more plant-based diet. I’m trying to cut back on dairy, eggs, processed foods, adding more fruits vegetables nuts and seeds.

So one of my simple swaps is to use ricedcauliflower instead of rice in my vegetarian dishes. You can find it in just about any supermarket now! I saw it at my local Kroger Smith’s, I’ve ordered it through Amazon Prime Now, and Trader Joe’s has had it for well over a year. Using it instead of white rice or even brown rice in my dishes will save me hundreds of unwanted calories, and add folic acid to my meal.

If you have been reading my blog of the years you know my oldest son is a very picky eater. One way that I can get some veggies in him is by putting about half a cup of the riced cauliflower in with a cup of brown rice and mixing that together. If you cook them together in your rice cooker with some water, olive oil, salt, and pepper it is almost indistinguishable from the brown rice.  I typically make that for him one night a week.

To make a simple, plain riced  cauliflower I will give you my recipe and steps below. It comes out having a very similar texture to rice, it looks like white rice, and if you add some olive oil and salt it doesn’t have that strong, cauliflower taste anymore.

Simple Riced Cauliflower

1 packaged frozen or refrigerated riced cauliflower

water to cover

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 tsp salt

Directions

In a deep pan pour your riced cauliflower, cover with water, add olive oil and salt.  Cook, uncovered on your stovetop, on high until the water boils.  Reduce heat to medium and cook covered for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.

Garlicky Greens

4 c. Greens of your choice (collared, arugula, spinach, kale-I used a 50/50 salad greens mix)

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Directions

In a deep pan add olive oil and turn your stove’s heat up to high.  Add 4 cups of greens in bunch, by bunch , sautéing with a wooden spoon. Add 1 tbsp of garlic after about 2 cups of greens have been sautéed in the oil and wilted, then continue adding greens.  Sauté the greens with the last tbsp of garlic and then turn off the heat.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy!

***For this recipe I made the riced cauliflower while heating up my oven for the chickpeas.  Then I divided my cooked riced cauliflower into two bowls, used the same pan for the greens to cut down on dishes.  While the greens were being sautéed , the chick peas were in the oven crisping.

Before adding the chickpeas, I added sunflower seeds to my husband's salad

Crispy Garlicky Chickpeas

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

salt to taste

1 tbsp garlic 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.  On a baking sheet pour your chickpeas, olive oil, and garlic.  Mix together with your hands and spread evenly across the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes. When they come out they will be crispy and warm.

To layer the salad-I placed the riced cauliflower in the bottom of our dish, then I topped it with the garlicky greens and crispy chickpeas. For my husband, who doesn’t eat much during the day, I wanted to add some more protein and crunch to the salad so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on top as well.

To accompany this salad with a simple vegetable soup with chickpea noodles.  It’s a very nutritious, healthy kick start to the New Year!

These are the chickpea noodles I picked up at Smith's.

Holiday Break

Hi there!  If you’re following and keeping up with the blog you may have noticed I didn’t post last week.  Ben was home sick on top of the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah.  So I’ve had my hands full!  In the upcoming weeks we have December holiday break, family visiting and Adam turning two on New Year’s Day.  So I’m going to take a much needed break from blogging and resume next year.  Happy Holidays!!!

My Favorite Vegetarian Pins for Thanksgiving

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Balsamic Glaze

 

Yes, there will be no turkey in my house, if you don’t count a gingerbread cookie turkey made from a Trader Joe’s kit.  I will be making my second vegetarian Thanksgiving feast this year and I can’t wait!  Some recipes are tried and true like the sweet potato rounds and pecan pie, others are new like the Pumpkin Dump Cake and butternut squash risotto.

If you are looking for some vegetarian ideas to accompany your turkey this year or are actually going meatless you can check out my pins that I’m sharing here.  Simply click the link and they will take you to the actual pin on Pinterest or follow me on Pinterest at: https://www.pinterest.com/lizaamor/pins/.

scg-butternut-squash-risotto-longpin

Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots – the best roasted carrots ever with lots of garlic, brown butter and honey. SO good | rasamalaysia.com

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria Recipe. This is a great idea for party punches this fall and winter. Try this crowd pleaser, easy, pitcher drinks or pitcher cocktail for a crowd at one of your holiday (hello, Halloween and Thanksgiving) parties this year! You'll need, apples (it's a great way to use them up), cognac, cider, cava, and pomegranate seeds or arils. This contains alcohol, but we've got an alternate recipe to make it non-alcoholic too.

Creamy, comforting green bean casserole made completely from scratch! Easy Thanksgiving side dish. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pumpkin Dump Cake | The First Year

Easy Pecan Pie! (Made without Corn Syrup) - Spend With Pennies

If you are looking for some unique DIY Fall projects for your Thanksgiving check out these two pins I created:

Blog – My Petite Picassos

Fall Handprint Plate Keepsake

and

Fall Craft -Lazy Susan DIY Thanksgiving

Fall DIY Lazy Susan 

 

 

Cinnamon Salt Dough Turkey Sculptures

This past weekend my friend and her daughter came over for a play date. I wanted to do a project that would be Fall or Thanksgiving themed. I decided to whip up a batch of cinnamon salt dough. If you’re not familiar with salt dough-it’s a simple homemade dough that dries over night. By adding cinnamon you get a wonderful smell and a tan color to the dough.

Cinnamon Salt Dough Recipe

2 c. salt

2 c. flour

1.5 c. water

2 tbs. cinnamon

1 tbs. cooking oil

Combine the dry ingredients first using a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add water and mix until a play dough consistency is formed. Add oil to create elasticity.

Once our cinnamon salt dough was formed we tried pressing leaves we gathered in our yard to create imprints. While the kids liked this-it wasn’t enough of a project we felt. So we decided on making simple turkeys using our cinnamon salt dough, small pebbles, twigs, and leaves from my yard.

To build the turkeys we simply rolled a large ball and a small ball. Small ball for the head, large ball underneath for the body. To make your turkey fat and jolly smush the large ball onto a hard surface so the bottom flattens out and expands.

For tail feathers we used the leaves from my backyard and for the eyes/beak we added pebbles. The twigs created his legs and clawed feet.

We had so much fun building our turkeys. My turkey will be proudly displayed in my buffet spread for Thanksgiving. However, he will be the only actual turkey in the buffet as we are vegetarian! I’ll be sharing in my next, bonus, post my pinned recipes for our vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. I can’t wait to gobble it up!

Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!


Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag


For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!

Fall Process Art Projects for Toddlers

There has been a recent debate in art education about whether we should be focusing on process or product. Process art refers to simply the student focusing on the process of making art rather than the product. Art that is focused on product would result in well-made, well crafted projects that result in a beautiful “product”. 

The three projects we are sharing with you today are process art projects. My boys while making them were not given any guidelines, just materials and free expression.  These three process art projects were crafted with the theme of autumn in mind.

The first project is a yarn wrapped apple. I’m starting to think about teaching Ben how to tie a knot. Just becoming comfortable manipulating yarn or string will be an excellent start I think. So for this project I had him simply weave and wrap the cardboard apple with red yarn.  

In preparation for this project I simply cut out an apple shaped from cardboard. Then I cut slits all around the edge of the apple about a quarter of an inch apart and about a third of an inch long.  To start I taped one end of the yarn onto the back of the apple and began weaving and wrapping the apple while showing Ben how to find the slits and slide the yarn through.  He definitely had some trouble with this. He’s not used to manipulating string or tying. However, he did stay with it for a good 15 minutes working on it and we were able to work on it together to finish the project.

Our second project is a shofar. This project is for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn that is blown ceremoniously to welcome the new year. It was used by the ancient Israelites to call attention in the villages.  In Judaism it is considered a good deed or a mitzvah to hear the shofar be blown in the beginning of the Jewish year.  To make the shofars I simply drew and cut out the shapes from white card stock. Then I had the boys decorate with markers, stickers, and Dobber markers.

When the boys were done I stapled the sides of the shofar together and I popped a piece of toilet paper tube inside with some glue around the outside of the edge so it would dry inside and create that puffed out, 3-D look to our shofar.

Then the boys took the time to pretend to blow their shofars. They had a lot of fun making this project and watching it come together. While this project does have a definite product at the end, the children are focused on the process rather than the product. 


The last project is a collage using tissue paper squares I purchased from the Dollar Tree.  In fact, all of these projects could be made with items from the Dollar Tree.  They have an extensive amount of arts and craft supplies for kids. Most of the items in our art cabinet or from the Dollar Tree.  As we live in Las Vegas we don’t get the fall foliage here. I’m from upstate New York originally and the colors changing were such a part of fall and my childhood.  I spent many falls raking the leaves up and jumping in the pile.  So to give that a fact the tissue paper has a crunchy sound that it makes if you squish it up in your hands. I actually use this concept to create a sensory bag for my boys that I’ll be sure next week in my post. The boys used glue sticks and the tissue paper squares in fall leaf colors to create a collage.  This is a true process our activity. I was hands off. I just showed them how to rob the glue on the paper and press the tissue paper squares down in it. They took it from there.


The boys had a lot of fun making these projects.  They are very proud of their shofars and continue to play with them a week later. I love making handmade toys like that with them.  I hope you’ll try some of these simple, process art projects this season with your toddler! Please share and Pin for future reference.

My Favorite Fall Pins

Fall LeavesYes fall is here, at least in my heart.  Why the rush?  We’re going to Israel for the High Holidays so I miss a chunk of my favorite season and it’s American traditions: apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween for a month.  This year we’ll be coming back two weeks before Halloween so I’ll get to feel the holiday a little more.  It is my favorite holiday and the memories of my children these past few years celebrating with me are so precious.

With my early fall celebrations I’ve started pinning crafts, decorations, DIY projects, and recipes to enjoy when we get back.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Popsicle stick monster craft.

Craft Stick Monsters - Kid Craft More

2. Metallic foiled pumpkins

Painted Metallic Foiled Pumpkins. It makes your pumpkins stand out and brings a new decoration to the home!

3. Acorn Donut Holes

This acorn donut hole recipe is a fun way to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall!

4.  Speaking of donuts, Maple Glazed Donuts!

Baked Maple Donuts Recipe with Maple Glaze

5. Bronze Pumpkin Stack

You won't waste your $1 buckets on candy when you see her porch trick

6.  For the High Holidays there are so many edible Torahs and Sukkahs!

Design Megillah: Edible Torahs for Children

I have linked all of the images back to the pin so you can explore these ideas.  Please be sure to follow My Petite Picassos on Pinterest for more autumnal awesomeness!