Friday, September 30, 2011

Honey Cakes and More (A Photo Post)

Dear friends,

As if my Monday morning wasn't already busy enough getting five kids out the door for our one day of classes outside the home, I decided to add something more at the last minute.  Honey cakes.  And more.

I was innocently printing out my lesson plans for our home school co-op's middle school English class that I would be teaching that afternoon.  We were starting a literature unit on a novel called The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare.  I had already written a study guide since I've taught this book twice before, and had included a recipe for honey cakes that I had found in someone else's study guide.  Why?  Because honey cakes are mentioned in the book, which is set in Roman occupied Israel at the time of Jesus.  If Daniel and his friends ate them, I figured my students might like to try them too.  I had also added some questions to my study guide about recipe reading.  A little practical life skills along the way won't hurt, will it?  I like making a connection to literature in every way possible, and sometimes the way to a student's brain is through his stomach.  

Well, I got to thinking, rather than just include the recipe, why not make some real honey cakes and bring them to class?  On the spur of the moment, I started grabbing out the ingredients from the cupboard and the refrigerator.  I was trying to make enough for my class and my own kids for lunch, but honey is expensive so I cut back on the amount I used in the recipe.  

After the honey cakes were in the oven, I took another step toward the brink of craziness.  I started thinking about the 1st-3rd grade science class that I assist in at the co-op. They have been learning about plants we use as foods.  Wouldn't they like a sensory experience to go along with their lessons too?  I already had most of the ingredients out, the oven was already on, so why not?  (I'll tell you why not -- we were already running late!  But I'm as stubborn as can be!  So, I whipped up a batch of pumpkin apple bran muffins.)

I was literally pulling all the hot yummies from the oven as my kids were already in the van with their backpacks.  I scrambled to find a laundry basket and a thick towel to carry them, pans and all.  As it turns out, I unexpectedly had to come back home again before my classes, so then I took the time to slice up the round honey cake into wedges and arrange them neatly in a basket with a pretty cloth.  Since I was teaching about Bible times, I didn't exactly want to show up with a plastic container.  I was trying to be authentic and aesthetic at the same time.  

In fact, I even brought a shawl to cover my head so I would look like a peasant girl.  Except that Bible time peasant girls didn't wear glasses.  Oh, and I wore leather sandals instead of my normal rubber crocs.  But leather sandals hurt my feet terribly, so after showing them off to my students, I kicked them off and taught barefoot.  Yes, this is not public school, so I could get away with it.  My students were highly amused.  Anything to make the lesson more memorable!  (The week before that, one of my students brought his guitar in and sang a song he had composed when I had assigned the kids to write a psalm of their own during our Psalms literature study.  So cool!)

What?  You think I look a bit antiquated in that shawl?  Well, here is another more glamorous picture taken the same day.  My friend Donna had offered to let me borrow her evening gown for my daughter's wedding (only two weeks away now!) so she brought it over to the church building where co-op meets for me to try it on.  (A half dozen pumpkin muffins made a handy thank you gift, too.)  Nice dress!  Unfortunately, it has a train in the back, and it was too hard for me to walk in while wearing heels.  My daughter was worried about clumsy me tripping on it and falling down the steps on the way to lighting the unity candle.  Instead, I'm going to wear my cute new "little black dress" -- using the word "little" euphemistically here, since I am a rather matronly mother of 10. 

Aren't I getting random?  OK, a few more random-ish pictures from co-op. 

My cutie little grandson joined us for co-op that afternoon.  My son-in-law dropped him off, gladly accepting two hunks of honey cake.  He said he always remembered his lessons better when there was food involved.  The sweetie toddler boy managed to wolf down some of Grandma's honey cake, too.  (I confess, this is a picture from a different day that he visited us at co-op.  But it does look like honey cake, doesn't it?  Some of the classes had a visit from firemen and a firetruck, so his 10 year old aunt gave him her fire hat.)

About those sweet little 1st-3rd grade science students... The creative teacher, Sheryl, asked each student to bring in some dried foods made from plants so they could make collages with them.  (We forgot our dried foods, but at least we brought pumpkin apple muffins and peach juice, so I guess we redeemed ourselves!) The students all shared their rice, noodles, and dried beans so they could have some variety.  This is my 3rd grade son and 1st grade daughter.  Yeah, she's using lettuce on hers.  We had to remove it later so it wouldn't rot, but it was a fun art medium while it lasted!

Oh, it's a full life!  Who ever said raising kids was boring -- whether it is a home schooled first grader or a bride-to-be or even a grand-baby!

If you want to try the honey cake recipe, it's in my free study guide for The Bronze Bow on my middle school education blog.  It's a wonderful book, the 1962 Newbery medal winner.  You can see it here: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare The main character, Daniel, is a runaway apprentice who lives in the mountains with a band of Jewish zealots determined to drive out the Roman oppressors.  Along the way, he meets Jesus and wrestles with how to be courageous and forgiving at the same time.  You might also wish to read my article The Bible as Literature.  As I said, I love to make education a multi-sensory experience. If you would like to see fine art and listen to music related to our literature studies of Joseph, Esther, Daniel, and Psalms, visit my Providence English class blog.

It's time to help my littlest one with her science homework and my son with his math, so I'm signing off of this blog post!

How is your day going?

Virginia Knowles

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  1. Virginia,
    We have one more thing in common--trying to cram one more thing into a busy day!

  2. The honey cakes sound like a fun idea, how wonderful to add them to your lesson! Stopping by from Raising Homemakers Link Up :) ~April


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