Tasty holiday treats served by two Lukes!

I am a well known “holidork” – I love holidays!  All of them!  Any reason to celebrate sounds good to me!  Bonus if it involves fun decorations, gathering with friends and FOOD! At GKTC we often develop lessons to go along with the holidays. Even if it is not a holiday that a particular client celebrates, I believe it is educational to learn about customs of our world’s culture and religions.  Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same and celebrated the same occasions in the same way? This RPM lesson on holiday baking was written by wonderful Practice Manager, Jeanne, who happens to also be a SLP, my sister-in-law, baker extraordinaire (I love to cook, not bake – too much precision in baking for me) and a fellow holidork and foodie! Jeanne managed to dig up fascinating info on baking that had me just as captivated as my kiddos! Yes, I know, many of our kids are on restrictive diets or have picky eating habits but that did not stop any of my kids from gobbling up this lesson!  Remember, you don’t have to experienced something or even enjoy something to learn about it!

This is a great lesson to do with kids of all ages.  We used it with 5 year-olds to teens. We had choices for the kids who are still in the choice stage. The questions posted below are geared toward kids who are able to give single word and short answers. For students who are very fluent in RPM, I ask summarizing questions such as, “tell me about the tradition of building gingerbread houses.” Summarizing information and retelling it in your own words is an important academic skill. This is also a good way for fluent RPMers to work on their craft of writing (I am constantly working to improve my own writing skills!!!) By tweaking questions, you can take an interesting lesson (or article, story, web find) and taylor it to your learner. Of course, not all content is appropriate for all ages, but you would be surprised by how easy it is to adapt content once you start playing around with it.  Add or subtract details, adjust your questions and TaDa! you have a lesson!

Today, I am featuring the responses of my two Lukes! Actually, one is a Lucas – but he also goes by Luke among many other terms of endearment! Luke just turned 8 and Lucas recently turned 9. Both have been RPMing about 9 months-ish. Both have parents who practice RPM daily at home. Both are wiggly guys who bring a symphony of noises, humming, drum beats and giggles to the table. Neither ever misses a thing I say to them. Both own huge chunks of my heart! I am including the responses of both boys, not for comparison, but so you can see how different learners may respond differently. Right now, Lucas responds best with frequent short answer questions with breaks to listen in between. I try not to tax his motor skills too much during the lesson so he has plenty of energy at the end for his fabulous creative writings.  Luke does best with longer “hunks” of information and fewer questions with time for longer responses! Every kid is different!!! Every student learns at their own pace and brings different ingredients (motor, sensory, age, learning styles) to the table. The key is to develop an understanding of your learner, their best learning channels, and their unique needs that will allow them to be successful!

So, for those of you new to RPM, or are worried that your squirmy, noisy little guys are not ready for RPM or can’t do lessons….keep at it!  If you have been at this for sometime, but you are wanting more: responses/spelling/RPM time…..keep at it! Your kids are listening and learning and with consistent practice will be spelling on the boards for you too!  The secret to RPM happiness is not to compare where your child is to others but to rejoice in where they are right now!

Lucas! I can't look at this face without smiling!

Lucas! I can’t look at this face without smiling!

Luke! This is how RPM rolls at GKTC during the holidays!

Luke! This is how RPM rolls at GKTC during the holidays!

(Note: Although I used the same lesson for both boys, I sometimes skip or alter questions as I go along depending on needs of the student.)

Christmas Baking

Christmas and baking go hand in hand.  It seems like they’ve been together since the beginning!  For hundreds of years, breads and cakes, cookies and pies have graced dining room tables whenever Christmas is celebrated.

What are we talking about today?
Luke: CHRISTMAS BAKING
Lucas: CHRISTMAS BAKING

Long ago, Christmas Eve was a day of fasting.  As a way of preparing themselves for Christmas, people didn’t eat anything for the entire day, so they were really hungry when they woke up on Christmas Day.  For breakfast, porridge– a hot, thick, bland cereal– was served.

What does fasting mean?
Luke: FASTING MEANS NOT EATING
Lucas: SOMEONE NOT EATING

To prepare for Christmas, when did people fast?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS EVE

When they woke up on Christmas and were so hungry, what did people  eat?
Luke: BROKE THEIR FAST WITH PORRIDGE
Lucas: PORRIDGE

What is porridge?
Luke: PORRIDGE IS CEREAL SERVED HOT
Lucas: HOT CEREAL

As time went on, creative wives and mothers began adding dried fruits, spices and honey to the porridge to make it a special Christmas morning treat.  With all these extras, the mixture was thick and stiff, so the cooks wrapped it in cloth and dunked it in a big pot of boiling water.  Voila! You have Christmas pudding!

To make the porridge a special treat, what was added?
Luke: THEY ADDED FRUIT, NUTS, SPICES AND HONEY
Lucas: HONEY FRUIT

When the mixture was thick and stiff, how was it cooked?
Luke: THEY WRAPPED IT IN CLOTH AND BOILED IT
Lucas: IN BOILING WATER

When the mixture is boiled, what do you have?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Sometime during the sixteenth century, wheat flour replaced the porridge.  Eggs were added to hold the ingredients together, and the resulting treat became known as boiled plum cake.  The English used the word “plum” to mean any dried fruit, so what we actually have here is the creation of fruitcake!

What held the ingredients together?
Luke: THEY REPLACED PORRIDGE WITH FLOUR AND EGGS
Lucas: EGGS

What was this new treat called?
Lucas: PLUM CAKE

What do we now know this treat as?
Lucas: FRUIT CAKE

When the terms “bread” and “cake” became interchangeable, or meaning the same thing, they called it fruit bread.  At one point, ginger was added in remembrance of the gifts of the Magi, or the Three Wise Men.  Remember, they brought spices or resins that were really valuable back in the days of Jesus’ birth.  Maybe this makes fruit cake and gingerbread cousins!

What does interchangeable mean?
Lucas: SAME

Tell me another word for same.
Luke: INTERCHANGEABLE

What was added to remember the gifts from the Three Wise Men?
Luke: 
GINGER WAS ADDED IN MEMORY OF THE MAGI WHO GAVE SPICES TO THE BABY JESUS
Lucas: GINGER….what is another name for the Three Wise Men?  MAGI

The word “Bethlehem”, which is the birthplace of Jesus, literally means “house of bread”. That makes me think of gingerbread houses!  The tradition of baking the sweetly decorated houses began in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their collection of German fairy tales in the early 1800s. Among the tales was the story of Hansel and Gretel, children left to starve in the forest, who came upon a house made of bread and sugar decorations. The hungry children feasted on its sweet shingles. After the fairy tale was published, German bakers began baking gingerbread houses. The houses became particularly popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with German immigrants.

What does the word “Bethlehem” mean?
Lucas: HOUSE OF BREAD

In what country did the tradition of gingerbread houses begin?
Luke: GINGERBREAD HOUSES WERE MADE IN GERMANY AFTER THE FAIRY TALE HANSEL AND GRETEL
Lucas: GERMANY….what fairy tale inspired the gingerbread houses? HANSEL AND GRETEL

Germans are also responsible for associating Christmas trees with Christmas cookies. As early as 1597, they hung oblaten (decorated communion wafers) on their tannenbaums (the German word for Christmas tree). Americans hung Barnum’s Animal Cracker boxes on trees in the 1800s (the boxes were designed for this purpose). Today some people hang gingerbread men on their trees, continuing the tradition of decorating with cookies.

What did Germans associate Christmas cookies with?
Lucas:  CHRISTMAS TREES
Luke: THE GERMANS USED DECORATED COOKIES AS ORNAMENTS ON THEIR TENNENBAUMS

What does “tannenbaum” mean in English?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS TREE

What did Americans hang on Christmas trees in the 1800’s?
Lucas: ANIMAL CRACKER BOXES

Creative Writing:
What is your favorite kind of cookie? We have gingerbread cookies shaped like boys and girls, maybe representing Hansel and Gretel.  If you could design a new shape of cookie or new type of cookie what would it be and why?  What would you call your cookie?

Lucas: MY FAVORITE COOKIE IS CHOCOLATE CHIP WITH A GLASS OF MILK.  I WOULD CREATE A NEW COOKIE WITH STUFF THAT IS DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY FOR AUTISTIC KIDS TO EAT.  THIS WOULD BE CALLED THE AUTISM-MAN COOKIE.  I WOULD DECORATE IT WITH QUITE A BIT OF LETTERS.

Luke: MY FAVORITE COOKIE IS PROBABLY CHOCOLATE CHIP.  I WOULD LIKE TO CREATE A NEW COOKIE FOR KIDS THAT WOULD MAKE THEM SMART AND KIND. THAT WOULD MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.  THEY WOULD BE CALLED LUKE’S LOVE COOKIES.

Well, I am eager to try both of these incredible cookies!!!  Here’s a little treat for you, our holiday baking lesson to try out with your delicious RPMer! For an added bonus, precede or follow the lesson with some baking with your child.  Baking or cooking is a fantastic way to practice RPM – read the recipe step by step; offer choices of what ingredient is added next; spell the ingredients; practice math by adding fractions or making conversions; taste and smell ingredients; sequence the steps; measure and pour to for fine motor practice; compose a tag for your finished product!  The possibilities are endless and the result is tasty! Happy Holidays! ~Elizabeth

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