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Archive for May, 2014

Picky Eater Dinner Options

Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

If your children love macaroni and cheese, try this new twist on one of their favorite meals. Use your family’s favorite types of milk and cheese to tailor this to their liking. This makes about 12 muffins.

For the muffins

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 cups milk (whichever your family typically uses)
  • 1½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, either grated or pre-shredded (you can substitute your choice of cheese)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper

For the topping

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with butter or spray it with a butter spray, then dust it with flour, tapping out the excess flour. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain the pasta, saving one cup of the cooking water for later.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Stir constantly until the mixture is lightly browned. Slowly add the milk and raise the heat to bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about three minutes. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper to the sauce mixture and stir it until it is smooth.  Remove the sauce from the heat and add the macaroni. Stir it until the cheese sauce coats all the noodles. Cover the mixture to keep it warm.  For the topping, combine the melted butter, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Fill each muffin cup with the macaroni mixture, and then sprinkle each with the topping. Bake the muffins for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Let the muffin pan cool completely, and then refrigerate the whole pan for up to 24 hours.  When you are ready to serve your macaroni muffins, just reheat them in a 350 °F oven or the microwave.  For added nutrition, you can add some ground flax seed, chopped broccoli or finely sliced carrots.

Ham or Turkey and Cheese Croissants

You can serve this simple dinner recipe with a side salad or mixed vegetables.

  • 1 can of croissant rolls
  • Deli ham or turkey slices
  • Shredded or sliced cheese

Open the container of croissant rolls and separate them. Layer each croissant with a slice of ham or turkey and your cheese of choice. Roll up the croissants and bake them as instructed on the packaging.  These also make great after-school snacks and easy lunches.

Superhero Green Power Juice

In a hurry? This sweet green juice has lots of vitamins and makes a good pre-practice dinner or a great breakfast. Use a blender or juicer to combine the ingredients into a quick, healthy meal.

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 pear, cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup strawberries or raspberries
  • Juice from 1 lemon (or ½ an unpeeled lemon if you are using a juicer)

If your children have a strong aversion to anything green, you can use more strawberries or raspberries or add some blueberries.

Kindergarten Readiness

The Goddard SchoolTransitioning to kindergarten can be an exciting, anxiety-filled time for children and their parents. If you have older children, you may have an idea of what to expect or know the kindergarten teacher already.  Still, the transition is different for each child, and while one may have adjusted well to kindergarten, your next child may not adjust as easily, or vice versa.  By focusing on the present and adding skill-building activities to your summer, your child will be more confident about becoming a kindergartener.

Summer Fun

Summer is a time for having fun, playing with friends and bonding as a family.  Incorporate enjoyable activities that stretch your children’s imaginations and exercise their brains.


On hot, humid or rainy days, head to the library and read some books together. Have your future kindergartener read to you as much as possible.  The librarians typically have lists of age-appropriate books.

Getting Fresh Air and Exercise

  • Have your children help you create obstacle courses in the backyard that they can run, skip or jump through safely. If it is a hot day, you can set up the sprinkler for added enjoyment!
  • If your children ride a bicycle with training wheels, ask them if they are ready to practice riding without the training wheels. By letting them decide when they are ready, they learn to make decisions, face challenges and fears and take on responsibility.
  • Hit the pool. See whether your local municipality or YMCA pool offers swimming lessons over the summer.  Summer is a great time to work on swimming safety, keep physically active and have fun with your children. Besides, who doesn’t love cooling off in a pool on a hot summer day?
  • Take your children camping or hiking. Children love exploring nature and running free. Having a backyard campout or setting up a tent at a campground in your region are fun, educational ways for families to bond. You may be able to find a spot that offers easy hiking or walking trails or one with a lake where you can rent a canoe or kayak.


Bowling is an opportunity to develop hand-eye coordination, balance and math skills while having fun.  Many bowling alleys offer bumpers and child-friendly bowling balls for children.  Over the summer, many locations offer free games for children every day!

Keeping Up with Friends

If your child was in preschool or a play group, keep in touch with their friends’ parents and plan out weekly or bi-weekly play dates or outings.  Kindergarten can be overwhelming for children because they are meeting so many new children.  Keeping up with your children’s preschool friends over the summer will help them continue developing the social skills they will need to make new friends.

Skills for Your Future Kindergartener

Children should be proficient in several skills when they enter kindergarten. You can help your child practice these skills throughout the summer. Your child should be able to do the following:

  • Grip a pencil, marker or crayon correctly;
  • Use child-safe scissors, glue and paint;
  • Identify sight words;
  • Play independently for a few minutes;
  • Use complete sentences when speaking;
  • Recite his or her full name, address and phone number;
  • Write his or her first name in uppercase and lowercase letters;
  • Sort objects by shape, size and quantity;
  • Get dressed independently.

These skills do not need to be mastered by the first day, but they are general skills that your child can practice throughout the summer.

Keep It Simple. Cherish Summer.

Summer is a time for children to have fun and play.  You can keep their anxiety over starting kindergarten at bay by focusing on friends, family and fun while sprinkling in some skill-building activities.  The first day of kindergarten will be here before you know it. You and your child will be ready to take on the challenge!

The Goddard School® Announces National Teacher of the Year Honorees

Teachers Recognized During National Teacher Appreciation Week

The Goddard School, the premier preschool focusing on learning through play for children from six weeks to six years old, held its eighth annual “Teacher of the Year” competition and, in conjunction with National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9, have selected five exceptional early childhood educators for recognition.

Each “Teacher of the Year” honoree from The Goddard School developed a long-term project that has benefitted their classroom, school or community. Projects from the selected teachers include a Spanish Immersion program; a Weather Station initiative that uses a hands-on approach to learn about the environment; a project that promotes Tolerance, Diversity, Teamwork and Technology and finally, a Fitness and Nutrition Education program.

“At The Goddard School, we select teachers for their ability to nurture children into respectful, confident and joyful learners; it’s not surprising that this year’s competition was extremely close,” said Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at Goddard Systems, Inc. “With more than 10,000 Goddard School teachers nationwide, the Teacher of the Year recognition is a true honor. We are extremely proud of each of this year’s winners and are grateful for their commitment to go above and beyond for the children.”

The following teachers were honored:

Maria Ravelli – Auburn, MA
Maria Ravelli, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Auburn, MA, developed a dynamic Spanish Immersion program, utilizing the second language for classroom instruction. Maria’s approach involves speaking in Spanish while her co-teacher engages the class in English, resulting in a 50 percent immersion classroom. Conceived two years ago, the program is designed to teach children not only about the Spanish language but about the culture as well. Music and movement, food, literacy and dramatic play are all vital components to this well-rounded program. The program was so well received that Maria expanded the program to promote family engagement by recording audio files of herself speaking Spanish which are then shared with parents. Maria is the eighth consecutive Teacher of the Year recipient for The Goddard School located in Auburn, MA.

Tracy Imes – Medina, OH
Tracy Imes, kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Medina, OH, developed the Weather Station program, a hands-on approach to learning about the environment. The weather station is located in the preschool play area and is visible to the children even when they are in the classroom. Utilizing Science Inquiry and Application to observe the natural environment, the children communicate their observations by creating monthly weather logs to track how the weather changes with each season. To investigate how water changes with the weather, previous experiments have included making “rain” in a jar with ice cubes and growing ice crystals.

Krystal Ames & Diana Butrim – Third Lake, IL
Krystal Ames and Diana Butrim, kindergarten teachers at The Goddard School located in Third Lake, IL, set out to create A Year-Long Program to Promote Tolerance, Diversity, Teamwork and Technology and decided to partner with the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL), a special education co-op that is on the cutting edge of providing outstanding education to those with severe disabilities. Krystal and Diana’s aim was to have the children in their class interact with special needs students via letters and Skype with the goal of fostering tolerance and acceptance of people’s differences. The kindergarteners showed the students at SEDOL how technology is utilized in The Goddard School kindergarten classroom. At their Valentine’s Day dance, the children also created rubber band bracelets and held a fundraiser for SEDOL.

Maureen MooreGlastonbury, CT
Maureen Moore, preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Glastonbury, CT, designed and implemented the Fitness, Nutrition and Education program after coordinating her School’s participation in the Sandy Hook Run for the Families in Hartford, CT. The run was such a success that it inspired Maureen, affectionately known as “Ms. Mo” by the children, to create lesson plans that promote outdoor activity for the entire School. To encourage family involvement and connection, Maureen includes fitness activities and nutrition facts in the School’s monthly newsletters. She also established a “Community Garden” that the children help to cultivate. When fall arrives, the children plan to harvest the vegetables to create fun and healthy food options.