Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week FIVE: Recap!

Today was a huge success in Taste Buddies! We had lots of new friends who were instant chefs. Together, we made Zucchini Boats, Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, and Stacked Fruit Treats. What a fun day!

This is a great, easy recipe to sneak some zucchini and vegetables into dinner. We added tomatoes and peppers, but you can add any other leafy green or vegetable. Just make sure to make a sail!

This is one of my favorite desserts to make! We used soy nut butter instead of peanut butter, and it worked just as well in case your child has a peanut allergy. This is a great after school treat, too. Delicious!

Cookie Cutters + Fruit = Lots of Fun!

Week FIVE: Zucchini Boats, Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars and Stacked Fruit Treats

  • 1 zucchini, halved
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Hollow out center of zucchinis. 
  3. Combine remaining four ingredients and scoop into zucchini halves. 
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.  
  2. In large bowl, beat sugars, peanut butter, shortening and egg with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  
  3. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally.  
  4. Stir in Bisquick mix until blended.

  • 1 pineapple sliced
  • 1 watermelon, sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • Cookie cutters
  1. Cut fun shapes out of watermelon slices. 
  2. Stack pineapple rings and watermelon on top of each other, alternating. 
  3. Top with blueberries and raspberries. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC" by June Sobel, Illustrated by Henry Cole

I tried to pick a book this week about the upcoming winter season, but I was pulled in another direction. I just couldn't pass over one of my favorite "seek and find" books. On first glance, this doesn't seem like an ideal story time book. However, considering it's not only "seek and find", but also an alphabet book, Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC written by June Sobel and Illustrated by Henry Cole is too charming to pass up!

Unlike the traditional ABC book (which uses the order of the alphabet, not a plot to drive from page to page), this book follows a motley crew of animal pirates searching to expand their vocabulary beyond the letter "R".  Cute concept, right? Their adorable alligator captain tells them, "We need other letters/ to help make us tough/ Let's sail far away to find ABC's/ Bring back D's, E's, F's, and G's."

Sobel's rhyming text leads the pirates to a treasure island where the letters they seek are highlighted in bold red text and found hidden in clever places: the "A" is an anchor, the "K" is on key, and "O" rolls into the ocean as a life-preserver! Henry Cole's charming and cartoon-like illustrations will amuse your little bookworms as they search for a "T" on a Turtle and the "X" that marks the spot. Best of all is the final location of that pesky "Z" as the tuckered out pirates snore in bed, "zillions of Z's" zoom overhead. A great story, and a great introduction the ABC's!

Bring your little pirate to Bubbles Academy this Thursday at 4 p.m. during Open Play Story Time to hear Miss Becca read Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel, Illustrated by Henry Cole!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning!" by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Megan Halsey & Sean Addy

If you're traveling with your little one this holiday season, you know you're going to need lots of entertaining reinforcements to keep them happy on the plane, train, or automobile. I have a book that might help you! It's one of my favorite transportation books. Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning! by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy.

Your little bookworm will be captivated by all the different types of flying machines there are in this whimsical book. Ms. Hubbell's simple, but engaging rhyming text makes reading aloud a breeze and the charming illustrations by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy are truly noteworthy. While most of the pages are horizontal, your little one will be delighted by the surprise of several vertical pages. As Hubbell's text leads you through the different varieties of planes, the illustrations transport you to humorus locations with a wide cast of characters: a water buffalo on a cargo plane, a school of fish on a hydroplane, and rabbit piloting a pirate plane! It's a fun read that will keep your bookworm busy on his/her own plane ride. Enjoy!

If you aren't flying with your little one, but traveling in a different way,  check out Ms. Hubbell's other books: Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!, Trains: Steaming! Pulling! Huffing!, and Cars: Rushing! Honking! Zooming!

We have no planned Open Play Story Time this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but we'll be back next week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Music everyone will like?

"Can you recommend some music that my child will enjoy, which won't drive me crazy!?"

Both as a mother and a music teacher, I am always on the lookout for children's tunes that are actually something that I wouldn't mind listening to myself! I was thrilled to stumble upon Charlie Hope. Her CD is the perfect mix of both lullaby and get-up-and-go tunes for the toddler and baby set. You can check her tunes out here.

You can also check back here at the Bub Hub blog each Monday for a new "Music For Talls and Tinies" pick. Those songs are hand picked to be fun and suit the musical tastes of the whole family!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Car Painting

I love finding new things to paint with other than brushes! Sometimes you just have to take a look around your home for some inspiration. One of my favorite paint brush substitutions is a toy car.

I made a mixture of one part glue and one part purple paint in a container, and then I had my class roll toy cars through the paint and onto the paper. You can just paint with the cars for an abstract work of art, or do what we did and add to it. We made trains out of construction paper and stuck them right on top of the paint/glue mixture.

This is a great project with minimal supplies... but be prepared to get a little messy!

  • Glue
  • Paint color of your choice
  • Plastic toy car
  • Messy mat
  • Construction paper
  • Cotton balls
  1. Mix half glue and half paint together. 
  2. Roll car through paint and onto construction paper. 
  3. Cut your construction paper to your design of choice. 
  4. Stick onto car tracks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week THREE: Recap!

Happy Thanksgiving! We started the celebration a little bit early with our Taste Buddies friends. Today, we made Turkey Pies, Glazed Green Beans and Carrots, and Pumpkin Pie. I always ask our Taste Buddies friends what their favorite part of class was, and I was thrilled today when most said the vegetables were their favorite part!

These are great recipes that you can make for your friends and family next week as well. Hope it is a wonderful holiday season for all!

This is a wonderful recipe for leftovers! You can throw everything into a mini pie dish and serve it as pot pies. We used dressing, turkey, gravy, and potatoes in our pot pies. You can even put leftover vegetable dishes into the mix as well. Serve with cranberry sauce for a delightful leftover meal!

This is one of my favorite ways to serve vegetables during the holidays. One of our Taste Buddies tried carrots for the very first time in class, due to the delicious glaze! A little brown sugar and butter goes a long way, so don't feel like you have to use the full amount the recipe calls for.

We made homemade crust in class with butter and graham crackers mashed together. You can even serve pre-made pumpkin pie mix on a graham cracker with some homemade whipped cream for an after dinner treat. Yum!

Week THREE: Thankgiving Feast!

  • Precooked bacon
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Leftover turkey meat
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Fill ramekin with precooked ingredients. Stir in salt and pepper.
  3. Spread potatoes over turkey mixture.
  4. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and potatoes are golden in spots.
  5. Broil until potatoes are evenly golden, 2-3 minutes.
  6. Let cool 10 minutes.

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 pounds baby carrots and green beans
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Boil water.
  2. Toss carrots and green beans with thyme, butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add carrots and green beans to boiling water, reduce heat.
  4. Partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover and gently toss often, until tender and glazed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.


  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Butter, melted
  • Prepared pumpkin pie custard
  • Whipped cream
  1. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter to create a thick, crumbly mixture.
  2. Press into pie pan.
  3. Fill graham cracker crust with prepared pumpkin pie custard.
  4. Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Boredom-Busting Art Projects

What are we going to do to keep our toddler busy all winter?

Winter can seem to drag on when you have a bored child at home, looking to you to keep them occupied. For some 24-hour inspiration visit Enchanted Learning, a fabulous arts and crafts website for children! 

There is a huge wealth of information here, and many of the projects are created especially for the younger set. Plus, all the projects require simple materials that we all have at home!

I'd also like to point you towards the "Glitter Bubbles" section of this Bub Hub blog... Miss Meghean posts a new fun art project for families each Thursday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Peppermint Playdough

I am a huge fan of homemade playdough. It's great because it's like two projects in one -- first you get to make it, and then you get to play with it! 

You can have your little ones help stir the mix together before adding the boiling water and then knead it once the water has cooled. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to stay fresh (my most recent batch lasted three weeks!). You can skip the peppermint oil if your little one thinks it smells a little too tasty. Have fun!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 drops of peppermint oil
  • Food coloring
  1. Mix and knead together. 
  2. Mold into your favorite shapes!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week TWO: Recap!

The rain is pouring down in Chicago today. However, we were nice and cozy in Taste Buddies class with a cup of hot chili, slaw, and chocolate chip cookies! What a great rainy-day menu!

I love using lots of different types of beans in chili. We used pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans today, but you can use any beans in your pantry! Chef Marc added a splash of balsamic vinegar to our recipe to sweeten the chili, and I think it made a huge difference in flavor.


Brussells sprouts are not always at the top of my shopping list at the grocery store, but I am now a huge fan of Brussells slaw! This is such a great side to any meal, and you can let your kids go crazy with shredding veggies.


This is one of my favorite cookie recipes. The batter is slightly dry, so use your heat from your hands to form the cookie dough balls. These cookies rise really nicely -- and they are delicious too!!

Week TWO: Chili, Brussels Slaw and Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 cans of pinto beans
  • 1 (20-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 chopped sauteed onion
  • 1 chopped sauteed bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of cumin
  • 1 (16-ounce) can of beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  1. Combine above ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  2. Let simmer for thirty minutes.

  • 2 cups of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of red cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  1. Shred Brussels sprouts, carrots and red cabbage.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients and mix in with vegetables.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, 2 Hershey's chocolate bars, chopped or M&M'S
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. 
  3. In another large bowl stir together butter, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. 
  4. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. 
  5. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.
  6. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. 
  7. Cool on a baking rack.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book of the Week: "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More" by Karen Beaumont, Illustrated by David Catrow

"Yuck!" That's all I can say about the Chicago weather right now. Rain, rain, rain! If there was ever a week to cuddle up with a good book, it's this week!

Books and art projects are the only good things about cold, rainy days. So this week's book is all about art. It's one of my favorites, I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow. This book is a perfect storytime book. It starts with a "Mama" catching her little one "paintin' pictures on the floor/and the ceiling/and the walls/and the curtains/and the door" and just about everything else! She dunks the little artist in a bath tub and hides those paints on the top shelf of the closet. Our little hero promises that "I ain't gonna paint no more, no more, I ain't gonna paint no more." But, with a few boxes, a stool, and amusingly, a bowling ball, the paints are rescued from the closet.  

Reunited with his paints, this little guy can't resist taking some red and painting his... head! Each page turn reveals a new part of our artist's body turned a rainbow of colors! Catrow's quirky illustrations really compliment Beaumont's amusing rhythmic text. The story is based on an old folk song, so it flows nicely and is fun to read out loud! It's a great book for body part and color recognition for our littler bookworms, and for our big readers, it's great for talking about right/wrong and cause/effect. Hope this cheerful book brightens up your rainy day!

Get your playtime in despite the rain at Bubbles Academy's Open Play! You can hear Miss Becca read I Ain't Gonna Paint No More at Open Play Story Time this Thursday at 4 p.m. See you there!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bedazzled Leaves

In my efforts to extend fall in Chicago into November, we made beautiful leaves in our Art + Music Class! Hopefully, the winter will not come too quickly -- I am already shivering in my boots! Brrrrr! I actually laminated the leaves from class to give them a shiny finish, but they still look great on their own if you don't have a laminating machine handy! Have fun making beautiful fall leaves!

  • Feathers
  • Cut up tissue paper squares
  • Sequins
  • Orange paint
  • Elmer's glue
  • Paintbrush
  • White construction paper or watercolor paper
  • Scissors
  • Messy mat
  1. Cut out a leaf shape out of white construction paper. 
  2. Mix half orange paint and half Elmer's Glue together. 
  3. Cover leaf with paint mixture. 
  4. Add tissue, sequins, and glitter. 
  5. Let dry. 
  6. Put on fridge!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Week ONE: Recap!

We had a great start to the session today in Taste Buddies Kids Cooking class with Corn Tomato Pizza, Salad Parfait, and Muddled Berry Juice! We had so much fun chopping, mashing, and mixing with our tools today. I know we are going to have a delicious time this Winter Session!

We shucked our own corn today and used our choppers to remove the corn from the cob. You can also just buy a can of corn at the grocery store if you are low on time. Pesto and tomato sauce both taste great on this pizza. It was a hit with the Taste Buddies! 

The recipe we posted to go with this earlier today is for a fruit salad, but a parfait cup also serves as a special dish to serve a salad in. We used lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers. Delicious and nutritious, and what a fancy presentation!

This was my favorite part of class today because the Taste Buddies got so excited when their drinks fizzed up! We mashed berries with potato mashers (a fork also works). We then poured club soda, simple syrup, and lime juice on top of our berries and watched them fizz. This is a great party drink or even just for an extra-special snack!

Week ONE: Corn Tomato Pizza, Fruitini and Muddles Fruit Soda

from Southern Living
  • 3 small plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) package pre-baked Italian pizza crust
  • Parchment paper
  • 1/3 cup refrigerated pistou
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh whole or torn basil leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place tomato slices on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Place pizza crust on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; spread with pesto. Stir together corn, Parmesan, and sugar. Top pizza with corn mixture, tomatoes, and mozzarella slices.
  3. Bake at 450°F for 14 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. Remove from oven, and top with basil leaves.

from Southern Living

  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 pound grapes, halved (about 1 cup)
  • 2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 10 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, divided (about 2 lemons)
  1. Toss together first 6 ingredients, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Pour remaining lemon juice into a saucer. Dip rims of 6 parfait, wine, or martini glasses in remaining lemon juice; dip rims in remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
  3. Fill glasses with fruit mixture.

  • Assorted berries
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mint
  • Club soda
  • Simple syrup
  • Crushed ice
  1. Muddle berries and mint at bottom of glass.
  2. Squeeze lemon/limes.
  3. Stir in simple syrup and club soda.
  4. Add crushed ice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book of the Week: "Once I Ate a Pie" by Patricia MacLachlan & Emily MacLachlan Charest, Illustrated by Katy Schneider

If you've ever been to Bubbles Academy, you've seen "Charlee," our friendly stuffed dog. If you look really carefully, you can also find Charlee painted into all of our classrooms. Bubbles Academy loves dogs! And so do our students... so much that Charlee can often be seen, dragging behind an adoring toddler or two.

So what better book for this week than Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest's adorable book of canine confessions called Once I Ate a Pie. This book, lovingly illustrated by Katy Schneider, is a MUST READ for all dog lovers.

Each page is a new puppy poem, covering the gamut of doggy personalities: the puppy, the cuddler, the herder, the yipper, the destroyer, the inseparable duo, and the loyal companion. Perhaps my favorite, from which the book gets it's title, is the over eater. It's a heart-melting, portly pug named Mr. Beefy. In his poem, he confesses that "I am not thin, but I am beautiful. When no one is looking, I steal tubs of butter off the table..." and finally, "Once I ate a PIE."

With the holidays coming up, I kind of know how Mr. Beefy feels. I love this book! With a new canine character on every page, it is a perfect read-aloud book. With big and little dogs, it is the perfect opportunity to get your little one barking.

As a side note, if Patricia MacLachlan's name rings a bell, it may be because she's the author of Sarah Plain and Tall, a Newbery Award winning book for young readers.

You can hear all about these goofy pups when we read Once I Ate a Pie at Bubbles Academy during Open Play, this Thursday at 4 p.m.

Woof Woof!