Friday, January 5, 2018

Finishing 2017 with Exploration and starting 2018 with a Bang!!

To end the year with fascination, exploration, and hands on learning experiences, we took our BUGS students to Camp Puh'tok in Monkon, MD.  Camp Puh-tok is on 60 acres of woodlands bordered by Gunpowder Falls River and State Park.  Students learned about Native American History by engaging in activities the way the Natives used to, such as painting with natural resources, writing Native American stories, and starting a camp fire.  Students also rode horses and completed a physical obstacle course to help sharpen their sensory motor skills.

                                                          Camp Puh'tok Obstacle Course 

Camp Puh'tok farm area

Camp Puh'tok bow and arrow center

Madison raking leaves with an old fashioned rake

Students playing a Native American counting game with beans and rocks

Glori reciting her Native American Story that she wrote using the Native language

Instructor showing students how to start a fire

To end 2017, I helped design the Art/Creative Movement Classroom.  A team of 18+ people helped me paint and re-design the classroom so that it better serves our students.  I plan on placing mirrors on the walls to improve dance skills.  I have recently set up 3 different stations; dance, homework, and art work.  

Students were involved in the redesigning process.  Below are pictures of students referbishing old classroom chairs.  

The BUGS Thanksgiving dinner

Students learned about the importance of reusing, reducing, and recycling.  Below is a picture of students repurposing computer monitor holders which are made from plastic.  

Students collected leaves and created art work with them with paint.  This helped students learn about the different types of trees that are on the campus.  

Students are learning how to practice being precise.  They were instructed to bead while using specific measurements.    

Students are constantly engaged in activities that strengthen social skills and critical thinking skills.  

We celebrated christmas with stuffed animals and homemade festive snacks!  

All of the students are really excited about the many projects and trips that we have planned!!  2018 is already a beautiful year full of growth, warmth, change, and positivity!  Please stay tuned for more!!!  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

BUGS Cooking Students Learn about Traditional Foods

Connecting Food, Culture, & History in the BUGS Kitchen

One of the important things that we do at BUGS is try to give students beyond the surface hands on experiences that help them see the bigger picture. In the BUGS kitchen, we get to try new recipes as well as healthy new takes on some of our favorite foods - we are also a 100% vegetarian kitchen!

 Recently, students made the African dish, Akara. Akara is a black eyed pea fritter cake that is traditionally deep fried in Palm Oil (We used Vegetable Oil as a substitute). This bean cake has strong links to West Africa in countries such as Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Mali where it is a popular street and breakfast food. The food is also eaten in Brazil where it's called Acaraje and is used as an ancestral food offering in Candomble, an African Faith founded in Brazil by captive Africans around the 16th century.  The black eyed pea patty has in recent years sparked a deeper interest in Afro Brazilians about their cultural and historical connections to West Africa.

The recipe uses peeled black eyes peas, blended with onions, spices (we used sea salt, pepper, some old bay and added a few cloves of garlic) which is then mixed up in a bowl for about 5 minutes, then deep fried, resulting in a light bean cake with a fluffy interior:

Akara (Source: Google)

Students enjoying Akara in BUGS kitchen

Our Lesson: How Do different Cultures Honor those that have passed on?

In our journey to explore the flavors of Akara, I asked this question to my students. Some of the answers ranged from mention of the celebration of The Day of the Dead in Mexico, lighting candles, gifting flowers and making a "toast". Participation was very high, as many students had stories to share :

Students Sasha & Ryan smile for the camera

Excitement as the Akara is Cooking pictured: Reign Morrison

Before we dug in to our tasty bean cakes, we did a toast to our ancestors and to each other  - the Akara was a huge hit with the students!

Arts Integration with "culinary arts"

Students engaged in a creative process to achieve edible and inedible artwork out of pumpkin ginger cookies we had previously made in our kitchen classroom. Our food & nutrition lessons are often planned around sensory activities that engage students in various modes and textures as a way to create products, as a meditative process, and as a tool for health & nutrition education.

Take a Look at Some of the Fun:

Khamal poses with his old man cookie art :)

Students James and Brian enjoying their canvasses

Student Artwork

Dough Sensory Activity 
We have just welcomed 2 new educator to our BUGS team, and we have an exciting year planned for our students! Check back for more updates on what we're up to, our motto is "Learning by Doing" and we look forward to continuing to do just that :).

BUGS Cooking Educator
January 2018

Monday, August 28, 2017

Intentional Community Dinner with BUGS & Moving Forward....


This past Friday the BUGS Cooking & Nutrition Educator, Nicola Norman organized an intentional community dinner for the students, families, and staff at the Frederick Douglass/Isaac Myers Museum to celebrate our achievements and eat delicious food!

With generous donations and support from local food businesses such as fish and vegetable wraps from Terra Cafe, a delicious curried rice salad from Neopol Smokery in Belvedere Square, pork and chicken sliders from Waterfront Kitchen, and dessert was prepared by the hard working BUGS students who made chocolate cake with strawberries and icing! We had a special guest DJ Mr. 14th, and a slideshow with some of our favorite BUGS memories in pictures.


Here are some photos of the BUGS students preparing dessert for the dinner:

The staff that was able to make it, were not shy about filling their plates either!

Our BUGS volunteer students also made their own decorations for the event:
Due to changes in federal budget allocations, the BUGS program is going through a transition and transformation. This means that BUGS wont be starting again when the school year starts, but there are people working hard behind the scenes to ensure that BUGS is able to reemerge in the near future. This summer has truly been a memorable experience as cooking teacher at BUGS, and the power of after school programs is something that could never be under or overestimated. Here's to BUGS!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bird Week!

This week, students in the gardening class got a close-up look at birds!

On Monday, students learned about predator-prey relationships and adaptations by dissecting owl pellets. Although owl pellets look just like poop, we learned that over time, owls have developed two stomachs called the proventriculus and the ventriculus. The owl pellets come from the ventriculus, where the owl stores the fur and bones that it can't digest. It then spits up these pellets for students like us to dissect! We found skulls, vertebrae, ribs, and more, and through careful observation, we figured out what animals our owls had for dinner!

On Tuesday, we had a visit from Patapsco State Park's Scales and Tales program. Mr. Aaron, pictured below, brought a hawk, an owl, a crow, and a vulture to our East Harbor campus. He talked about how all of the animals made their way to Patapsco's rehab and about the adaptations these birds have developed over time. The kids were surprised by how strong a vulture's wings are and were very curious about the owl's blind eye. They had a lot of questions for Mr. Aaron!

On Wednesday, class was all about eggs, eggs, eggs! We learned about the difference between cage, barn, and free-range chickens by watching a video from Australia. Then, we did experiments on eggs. We did the float or sink test to see if the eggs from our chicken coop were old or new, and then we did a spin test to see if I secretly hard boiled them or not. Finally, we dyed the eggs using water, food coloring, and vinegar. We got to connect what we learned in cooking class about MyPlate to our experiments by talking about how eggs are a good source of protein, and then we put our learning to a very yummy taste test.

On Thursday, we went to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where we saw not only birds, but also extinct animals, gems, mummies, and insects. 

And as always, our campus was full of geese all week!