Learning About Recycling

When I was a little girl and living in Morris County,  my father would take me on the weekly trips to the local recycling center when the weather was nice. I remember how much fun it was to take out all the items from our trunk and toss them into  their appropriate dumpsters. These things were monstrous! This taught me, early on, about how to recycle. In school, I learned the importance of it.

In sixth grade, I chose Groundwater as my science fair project and my father helped me to build a  ‘working’ cave that would allow water to seep through the top of the ‘cave’ (made of clay and other things) and out the bottom of a storage basin. For this, we needed a mesh screen. So, to the recycling center we went for the parts we needed!

Take children to the recycling center. Educate them there. Collect a few items (clean them with a bleach and water solution) and do a craft. I know that people do this already with items in their homes, but if you really want to teach about recycling, you should go to the place where your recycling goes.



The Standard Core of…What Now?

An Iowa woman jokingly calls it “Satan’s handiwork.” A California mom says she’s broken down in tears. A Pennsylvania parent says it “makes my blood boil.”

What could be so horrible? Grade-school math.

As schools around the U.S. implement national Common Core learning standards, parents trying to help their kids with math homework say that adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing has become as complicated as calculus. Continue reading

Making Matzo Balls With Preschool Children

The craft of making Matzo Balls can be turned into a fun and educational cooking activity to do with preschoolers ages three to five.  At this point, they already love to play with Play-Doh and mold it with their hands.

Here they can do all of the pouring and mixing steps that are on the box.  After the dough has cooled for a bit in the fridge, which I will have to check on that particular step the next time I have a box, then you can take the bowl out, give each child a place mat or piece of wax paper with a glob of the dough on it, and let them play with it for a while.

While they are playing, you can read a story to them or tell them a shortened Story of Passover.  You can ask them questions, such as what kinds of things do they like to put into their soup?

Fill a soup pot with water.  Do not heat it yet!  Place the pot in the center of the table. Show the children the pot and explain that the matzoh balls will be cooked on the stove, in the pot and not in the oven.

The children will need to roll their dough into balls and place them into the pot, one ball at a time to avoid splashing.

This is a sensory baking project, because unlike most in-school baking activities (i.e. cookies, cakes, etc.), this one allows the children to bake with their hands.  They can feel the stickiness of the dough. They can describe the texture.  They can smell it, and at lunch, they can each taste a matzoh ball with their lunch or snack.

The recipe contains eggs, so you’ll want to make sure that your students are not allergic.  Otherwise you can try Matzoh Pizza which is fun, easy, and can be made in an oven, toaster oven or microwave.

*I have done this cooking activity in a three-year old classroom before.  The preschool where I lead this activity is owned and run by the YMCA.  It was Passover at the time, and of course, Easter time as well.  There were many Easter activities and crafts going on, but of course, not the same could be said for Passover.  So after discussing my idea with the head teacher of the classroom, she felt that it would be a great idea, especially since we also had a few Jewish children in our class.

Overall the activity was a great success.  Children who wanted to participate, did.  During lunch, they were offered a matzoh ball.  Some liked it, from what I remember, especially the Jewish children, who knew what it was!

Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix – 1 Boxes (5 oz). Matzo Balls are a delicious treat that taste great in chicken soup or as a side dish. Enjoy all of our matzo ball, and matzo ball & soup products throughout the year. Makes 9-12 matzo balls Fat free Cholesterol free Lactose free & vegetarian Quality Since 1888 Kosher for Passover / Pareve Made in the USA

Matzo Ball and Soup Mix, 4.5 oz (Pack of 3)
Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix, 5 oz
Streit’s Matzo Ball Mix
Reduced Sodium Matzo Ball and Soup Mix
This Amazon page instructs you to buy the soup mix at another website (Soup Online), where the preparation directions and nutrition facts are available for viewing. There are also some consumer reviews.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.  While you do not have to buy these products from Amazon, it can help to have a visual reference if you’d like to see what something looks like.

Blackout S’mores: How to survive a blackout and still have fun while doing it!

With the neighbor’s kids making s’mores by candlelight.
(Photo posted with permission from their mom.)

What do you do when the power suddenly goes out?  Do you just sit around in the dark for hours at a time while the Summer dusk wanes into complete darkness?  Not me!  I let the dog out and went outside with him.  I joined my neighbors at their house where we indulged in candlelight chat and marshmallow roasting!

In this installment of Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice, you will discover some creative and awesome ways to prepare yourself in the event of a future blackout, and look like you meant to have a party the whole time!

Last night was a supremely eventful evening.  I’m dog-sitting on the quiet side of Morristown, New Jersey, while my parents are away in Florida for the week.  I was in the midst of planning my own little trip to Florida, when the power suddenly went out.

I grabbed a flashlight and my cell and went to ask the neighbors if they were having the same problem.  They were outside and yes, they were, as was another neighbor.

What is strange is that we found out that only six houses in our area were affected by this power outage.  All six houses made up only a tiny part of our side of our street.

Even stranger still was the fact that there was no bad weather tonight, not even a sign of heat lightning.


1)  Make sure you have a drawer stocked with plenty of batteries.  You will never know how long a storm could last, whether the power lines are frozen, damaged, the power plant has flooded or exploded, or some other kind of damage has caused the shortage until the information is available to the public and you can once again have light and air in your home.
2)  Get yourself one of these:

Energizer Rechargeable Flashlight
Energizer® Compact Rechargeable LED Light

My folks keep one of these Energizer® Rechargeable LED Flashlights plugged in the kitchen at all times.  Preparedness is key in this house.

3)  Another set of items that many homes will not do without include candles and matches.  Whether they are ceremonial candles or scented ones, it doesn’t matter.  They will still serve a higher purpose in an emergency.

4)  It is also very important to be prepared in the event that there are other types of emergencies during the blackout.  Make sure your fire extinguishers and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors have been properly inspected, that there is a well stocked and up-to-date first aid kit on hand, and that your back up generator and sump pump will work right, should you need it.

For fun facts such as when was the first flashlight invented and who invented it (that you can read to your kids by flashlight during the blackout) as well as product information on this particular light, visit the link in the above photo’s caption.


That’s a tough one, especially where the kids are concerned.  There’s not much you can do these days without electricity.  Here’s a list of some fun activities you can try with the kids during a blackout.

  • Build a furniture and bed sheets fort.  How cool would it be to sit beneath a tent in the living room and feel like you’re camping in the wilderness for a night?
  • “A long time ago, a boy and a girl had a blackout much like this one…”  Tell ghost stories.  Instead of sitting around a campfire,  sit in a circle and give each member of the family a flashlight.  When it is their turn to tell a story, have them aim the light up towards their chin for a “spooky” effect.  This activity can also be used in a classroom as a language arts or dramatic arts educational lesson.  My fifth grade teachers did this as a Friday the 13th activity!
  • Make Blackout S’mores by Candlelight!  It’s not exactly fire pit worthy, but the fun is just as good!
  • Play games.  Board games are better than no games at all.  With video games, you may want to limit those by encouraging kids to preserve the batteries in case you may need them for an emergency.
  • Play games like Flashlight Tag indoors.
All in all, it was an exciting evening.  Of all the activities listed above, we only made S’mores By Candlelight, and that was kind of an impromptu idea we had, since Mrs. Neighbor (the Mom) had all the necessary ingredients.  However, this got me to thinking; what if blackouts were turned into family fun nights?
Try these ideas and I assure you, your kids will be telling their friends, not about the nightmare that was the blackout at their house, but the party their parents put on during what would have otherwise been boring and dark!