I'm often asked how I get my band of busy boys to sit for extended periods of living-literature style learning. If you have been blessed with many boys, you know that at times getting them to sit still for long amounts of time is kind of like trying to herd cats or lasso jello. Don't get me wrong, I looooove the fact that my boys ARE boys. But sometimes, I have to get a little creative during the school day in order to wrangle all the energy, so that learning can actually take place.
Want to know one of my best-kept secrets for maintaining COMPLETE attention during long periods of reading? Lean in real close so my boys don't hear this...
I schedule our living literature readings during snack time.
Not to toot my own horn, but it's PURE GENIUS!
I wait until the mid-day munchies set in, sit them all down at the table (Ok...if you have boys, you know that I use the term "sit" rather loosely.), and push a plate towards them. They eat...completely sedate while I read. Their energy is pointed in a constructive direction allowing me plenty of time to read a chapter of a great living history or science book.
And just WHAT do I put on their plates? While it's certainly easier to reach for a box of graham crackers, I TRY to weave in a few of these family favorites too.
Here's a quick run down of some of our Top 10 school day snacks.
The Hubs remembers enjoying a similar recipe called Goodie Balls when he was in a mommy-and-me class as a tot. While I couldn't recreate the treats of yesteryear, I did find this recipe at Planner Perfect Meals which seemed like a close enough match to the original. With a little tweaking for personal taste, sunshine balls were born. I usually make a HUUUUUUGE batch, but between the kids and the mysterious muncher that sneaks into the fridge late at night when everyone else is sleeping, they are usually gone within a few days. (By the way, did I mention the Hubs is a night owl?)
Here's my "tweaked" version.
- 1 c. peanut butter
- 1 c. honey
- 1 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1 1/2 c. quick oats (You can change the rolled/quick ratio to your liking.)
- 3/4 c. dark chocolate chips (or milk...or semi-sweet...whatever's your fancy)
- 1/2 c. raisins or craisins
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Chill until the mixture is firm enough to roll. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls. Enjoy!
(They are best if kept refrigerated.)
I like to let the balls sit in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors meld together before I serve them. But, to be honest, I usually have a line of "taste testers" forming WHILE I'm rolling them into balls.
My in-laws have access to an abandoned apple orchard and over the years have kept us stocked with organic apples for freezing, baking, and snacking. While I make our favorite homemade sauce over the stove, (I'll share the recipe with ya' sometime soon.), I've also made a time-friendly version featured at Eat at Home Cooks that we enjoy almost as much.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn
This is kind of a "poor man's" kettle corn. After popping your popcorn, top with butter, salt, and a bit of sugar. (I always scoop my serving up last because all the sugar settles at the bottom of the bowl making my scoop of popcorn the sweetest!...but you didn't hear that from me.)
This simple twist on apples and peanut butter is a hit with everyone but my "I don't like raisins" boy. Core an apple, cut it into horizontal slices, smear on a generous layer of peanut butter, and sprinkle with raisins. Sometimes I top the "wich" with another slice of apple and sometimes I leave it "open faced."
Homemade Granola Bars
I've tried several recipes for granola bars and I always seem to come back to this one from Planner Perfect Meals. But be warned! When it says to use parchment paper...
...otherwise you stand a very good chance of poking your eye out from the sheer velocity of flying granola when you try to hammer it out with a knife. TRUE. STORY.
Fruit and Granola Bowls
Although you could top any juicy fruit with homemade granola, we prefer peaches. I just toss a few slices into a bowl, sprinkle some granola on top, and serve with a spoon.
Fruit and Yogurt Dip
Snacks are always more fun with dip! I have a great fruit dip recipe, but it has many ingredients in it making it super expensive and labor intensive. On school days, I take the cheap and easy route and serve up a spoonful of yogurt. Although I sometimes opt for store bought, I prefer the homemade variety with berry syrup from 100 Days of Real Food that I mix into it to give it that "yoplait" flavor.
I've only recently discovered Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps. (I buy them at Costco. But, I've also seen them in smaller bags at Walmart and my local grocery store.) They make for a perfect cracker alternative since they are wide and flat and what's more, have REAL ingredients on the label! I top them with all kinds of things...sliced meat, cheese, peanut butter...and serve them like little finger sandwiches at snack time.
Whether store bought or homemade, you can't go wrong with a handful of nuts and dried fruit. (Just always be sure to check the label of the store-bought varieties. Some have more sugar in them than a candy bar!)
Veggies and Dip
Some of my kids are more veggie-friendly than others, but as only ONE veggie has ever been selected as a meal-time "pass", EVERYONE has to eat their veggies without complaint! But, as I'm sure you know, veggies always seem to go down much more pleasantly with dip. The family favorite around here is a simple honey mustard sauce that I can whip up in minutes...SECONDS if I have a crying baby on my hip. (wink!)
Honey Mustard Dip
1/4 c. mayo
1 T. mustard
1 T. honey