I have an art room problem, although it might be more of a me problem than an art room problem. I find that I am constantly underestimating how long it should/will take a class to finish a project and so I find that I am saying things like "hurry up, morah is coming to get you in three minutes!" very ofte - and I don't like that because art should not be stressful.
The issue is that there are kids that work veeerrry slowly and can easily take two art periods to finish a simple project, while there are other kids who work so fast - and so sloppily - that they finish before class time is over and ask to eat a snack. I feel l like I might take a page out of an English teacher's lesson plan book and start having them journal when they are done early - maybe with a prompt on the board.
But then I have to think of a prompt. Uch. I have to keep thinking.
Here are the projects we made for Rosh Hashana. Some were made too quickly, some were made painstakingly slowly and some were done at a regular pace. And I like I tell the kids each and every time they come to my class, your art is yours and it's perfect for you.
We started apple-making day by taking a poll about your favorite apple. Red apples won by a landslide, but it should be noted that I got 2 pinks and 1 blue as an answer.
The apples on the top of the photo are made by using apple colored markers to color a coffee filter. Then we folded the coffee filters in half and took turns using a spray bottle filled with water to make our colors travel around the filter and dance with each other. While the coffee filters were drying, we traced and cut out our apples and stems.
We learned how to fold our apple in half and draw a dented half circle shape so that we were able to cut out the centers of our apples. The kids were amazed when it worked. It's the little things...
We used our cut out apple shapes to frame our coffee filters and then we lined up, because the class teacher was already there. I made these apples with four different classes and it happened each and every time.
The apples on the bottom of that same picture were made by the nursery class. They colored white apples using their favorite apple colors and they then practiced their gluing skills by using just one dot of glue to paste each small piece of paper to the apple. They kind of look like modern art apples.
The lower grades made these Friendship Circles for Rosh Hashana and we spent some time talking about ways we can be nice to our friends and ways that we would like them to be nice to us. We also learned what a compliment is - and how when I give you a compliment, I feel good and you feel good too - and then we took turns giving each other compliments.
Each student was given five friends to cut out and decorate. I debated for a long time before finally deciding to do this project with the kids because I didn't want them picking out their own five friends from class and then having some kids get left out if, for whatever reason, they were not picked. Finally, I decided that each kid would decorate a little person as themselves and use the four blank people as the four people who sit near them in art.
And no one complained. Phew.
Once our people were decorated and we made sure to write a name on each little person, the kids colored their hearts that make up the center of the Friendship Circle while I frantically went around the tables stapling the little people to the cardstock circles I had already cut out for them. And frantically? Cause, again, the teachers were waiting!
I believe the time have come to work on my time-management skills.
And finally, we made these apple paintings. The older grades made these - and at first, like always, they complained because I'm not good at drawing. I can't do this. I don't knoowww how...
I laugh every time one of them says that to me because, sheesh, don't they know me by now? There's no such thing as can't in art. There's only try. And then try again. Whatever. At some point they'll get it. Or they won't. I can't even begin to count how many kids asked for a new watercolor paper when we were working on these paintings, but no one got one and each kid did eventually figure out how to fix it or make it work and they were all impressed with themselves at the end of the period.
We started by doing a follow-me-and-draw on the board. I drew each line on the whiteboard and they followed by drawing it on their paper. Afterwards, we used sharpies to outline our drawings and sign our pictures and label it Rosh Hashana 5775. It is going to 5775, right? I'm so bad at that.
Then we used oil pastels to fill in our apples and watercolors and large brushes to swirl color around the rest of the page.
Now I just have to remember to send all these projects home tomorrow cause that would kind of be a waste to leave them in school over Rosh Hashanah.
In case I don't get back here before Rosh Hashana, I want to wish you a year filled with health and happiness and lots of laughter - and all things good and crumb-filled.
Aside from challah, I haven't baked in ages. I've been working very hard at keeping everyone here relatively wheat free and since no one in this family really likes nut flour or coconut flour treats, I don't even bother. If we need a quick sweet fix, we usually just have a handful of chocolate chips.
But Rosh Hashana is coming very soon and we are hosting for all three lunches and I can't really serve chocolate chips to my guests as a dessert - although now that I said that out loud to myself, the truth is, if someone served me chocolate chips for dessert, I'd be thrilled. That, however, might be a function of the someone else serving dessert, rather than the actual dessert itself. I have to think about that.
Anyway, last night I baked. I baked an apple crumb cake and a vanilla bundt cake with an orange glaze and all I can say is that I really think I've lost my touch. Maybe baking isn't like riding a bike, maybe it really is like some other skill that you can lose when you don't use it but I can't think of what that skill might be right now. I'm sorry, that analogy just went nowhere. Which is where my baking is going. Both cakes, I think, came out dry. I can't tell because I don't eat wheat so I can't taste them but they look dry to me. The only thing to do was to blame the oven. Obviously. I even went as far as to ask Josh which repair guy to call, at which point he made nice to my shoulder and said shhhhhh, it's going to be okay.
But today was a brand new day. The sun was shining and it was as hot as ever here in Florida.
I started off slowly, making challah for shabbos. I needed the ego boost. When I saw that the dough was actually rising, I moved on. My kids have been kvetching for kokosh cake. They've never before had the yumminess that is kokosh cake but they heard about it in school from the kids of a mommy who bakes professionally - and they heard it was good.
I could have taken the easy way out and just bought from her. But no, my challah dough was rising so of course, I should be able to make kokosh cake. A yeast cake. A cake that needs a rolling pin. What was I thinking. After an hour of the cake dough not rising, I'll tell you what I was thinking - I was thinking bad words.
But in the end, it all seems to have come together. Or not. Cause again, I didn't taste it. But the kids did and they seemed to like it. Two of them asked for seconds, which is always a good sign.
The dough was quite large - and I had already halved the recipe so I can't even imagine how many cakes I would have wound up with had I gone with the original recipe.
Two reasons that I halved the recipe - one, I have this theory that if it's a huge recipe and I haven't made it before, then making the whole thing will yield just "eh" results. But if I halve it, it will turn out to be great and there won't enough because it's so good and I'll be all like, oh, why didn't I make the whole thing?! It usually works. Josh isn't home yet to test it out, but I think my theory will stand. And second, 11-12 cups of flour made me nervous. It's in that gray area of whether or not I would have to take challah with a bracha and I don't like gray areas. Plus, I don' trust my kitchen aid to handle 12 cups of flour in one shot and I certainly was not mixing this twice.
Anyway, one kokosh is shaped like a log and was baked on a cookie sheet.
Kokosh cake number two was shaped like a log and then twisted around to form a babka - and baked in a loaf pan. (I seriously just had to google "banana bread pan" because I couldn't remember the word "loaf pan").
And kokosh cake number three never made it into cake form. I rolled the dough out into two circle and was able to make 24 rugelach out of it, which is what the kids tasted.
I meant to sprinkle some confectionery sugar on the cakes while they were still hot, but I forgot. You might want to make note of that though.
Before I share the recipe, I have to tell you - there's a thing, there's always a thing. I like to give credit where credit is due, but I don't know who originally shared this recipe. I found it by googling "Green's kokosh cake". If you grew up in Brooklyn, I'd place money on the fact that you have had a Green's kokosh cake, possibly finishing one all by yourself. Don't be ashamed, they're delicious
So two things- one, this is NOT anywhere close to a Green's kokosh cake so don't get angry at me when you make it and it tastes different. And second, the first hit on google took me to this website that I do not frequent called Imamother.com. I first came across this site years ago and really, what's the name of it - is it I'm A Mother? Or Ima Mother, like mommy in Hebrew and English? I can't get all worked up about this right now, so I'm going to move on.
Here's the full recipe for the kokosh cake - again, I halved it. And also, I didn't change the recipe, but I did turn it into working English because that seems to be a problem that website has as well and the editor in me is physically pained by reading anything posted there - and yet, they seem to have good recipes so clicking through there turns into a whole dilemma. But, really, I can't get involved.
2 oz. Yeast
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1 c. orange juice
2 c. oil
3 lbs. Flour (around 11-12 cups of flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. icing sugar
3/4 c. oil
1 1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. warm water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Proof the yeast in a standing mixer's bowl with 1/4 c. of the sugar and water and wait for ten minutes, until the yeast bubbles.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and using the dough hook, knead for five minutes. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to double in size, about one hour.
One the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour your workspace and divide the dough into 6 sections.
One at a time, roll each section out using a rolling pin. (The recipe did not indicate what shape or size to roll the dough into - I rolled it into a long rectangle).
Spoon 1/6 of the filling onto the dough and spread it around, leaving about an inch on one side free of filling. That edge is going to be your starting point for rolling the dough so choose carefully.
Roll up the dough, jelly roll style and tuck the edges under or else the chocolate will explode out the sides in the oven. Trust me on this one. My oven could use a good scrub with some baking soda and vinegar right about now.
The original recipe said to put three cakes each on two greased 11"x17" pans. I don't know what that is so I just used a cookie sheet. You can use whatever pan you like. Own this.
Again, the original recipe says to bake for 50 minutes but if I would have let them go that long, I would have ended up with nothing resembling a cake. My largest one was done at 30 minutes and I think even that was too long.
I'm hoping these freeze well because I froze two of them.
I still haven't made a Rosh Hashana menu. But at least we have some dried out cake and I have some ice cream in the freezer so we should be okay. I'm not worrying about all the company right now.
Okay, maybe that title isn't totally true.
Where did the end of the summer go?!
I'm starting to sound like my grandmother - Oy vai mir, where does the time go? What's gonna be? But it's true. School started here on August 14th, which is already a month ago (yikes!). And I never even shared the newly minted six year old's painting birthday party from the summer. Oh boy. Lots to catch up on.
Anyway, let's make pretend that we just ran into each other in Starbucks and we have five minutes to catch up. I'll go first.
From mid-August until now - here's what's been going on:
1. A painting birthday party
2. First day of school
3. The start of a new year teaching in the art room
4. A PTO (parent-teacher organization) start-up
5. And (yikes again!), we're well into Elul already - Rosh Hashana (3 days! yikes is the word of the day) is like tomorrow and there's lots to do, cooking and cleaning - the house and our souls.
I started following Holy Sparks on Facebook and I'm loving it, but more about that later.
First, the first grader's birthday party.
We invited fifteen little girls over to do a follow me and draw painting of a cupcake. I drew, they followed with their own pencils and then used markers to outline the picture and paint to, um, paint.
So adorable, I love how they came out. I still have mine hanging in the kitchen - and speaking of kitchens, to my great delight, I was able to open a couple of folding tables in there to fit all the kids and I was still able to maneuver between the tables. I love an eat in kitchen with space. It's been a year since we moved in to this house and I'm still so happy whenever I walk into the kitchen and see an actual kitchen table.
Anywho, pics from the party (we painted on free (!) paper bags from Whole Foods.)
Now the first day of school - which, here in Florida, is smack in the middle of the summer. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the fact that Labor Day is a day off from school here and not the end of summer vacation. Initially, I was very sad that school started so early but once Labor Day rolled around and the first day of school was imminent in NY and I watched it unfold on Facebook, I realized I, that in reality, I was so happy/relieved that we were done with nervous stomachs and tears and we were onto running out of the car in the mornings and into school. It's all about perspective.
Everyone takes first day of school pictures. Everyone, it seems, but me. I have not one picture of my precious children on the first day of school but I do have a picture of the pizza we had for dinner that night. Pizza is more exciting than the first day of school in Jacksonville these days - Jacksonville now has kosher pizza! You can all come visit now.
Moving right along. With the start of school, came the start of my job too. Summer was so chilled, so lazy and I loved it so much. It's not so easy getting everyone out in the morning (on time or otherwise) and into the car, knowing that I won't be coming back home five minutes later. That means I also need to be dressed, with some semblance of order to my life and lunch. Lunch is important for a teacher. I wouldn't want to have to eat a kid. I mean, eat a kid's lunch. Where did that even come from?!
Here's my art room this year. I spent two whole days cleaning it out, purging, sorting and unpacking. And decorating. And yet, this is the only picture I have. I'll take more.
And now I must make mention of the PTO. There has not been a PTO at our school for many years and this year, there will be one. I get to be the president. If you know me at all, you'll know this is not my thing. I love planning things - small things, like centerpieces and party bags, not whole events. I find this all to be very stressful but there was a need and my husband looked at me to fill it. And also, no one else really stepped up to take the presidency, so PTO, here we go. But if anyone wants it, you know where to find me!
I'm not at all sure I know what I am doing, but I feel like whatever. We can only do our best and learning on the job is something I've done before so I think we'll be okay. Maybe. Who knows.
I made folder packets for the first meeting. I LOVE a folder with printouts. It makes me feel accomplished and organized and it's so rare that I experience those two feelings one at a time, let alone both at the same time.
Okay, I think we're all caught up for now. I feel better. Now I can start sharing the projects we'll be working on in art this year.
Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear what you're up to. Send me an email, we can pretend we're drinking coffee together.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)