After School Program Blog

Spring Sprouting

At last, spring is here!

The After School Program welcomed the new season by creating a beautiful indoor garden. We used sparkly and colourful stickers to decorate our plant holders, and then got our hands nice and dirty filling them up with soil.  We wanted the garden to include a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers so we decided to plant seeds for carrots, basil, parsley, and impatiens. You can see each plant is labeled with a coloured stick. It’s only been two weeks but look how well our seeds are sprouting!

Finding magic at the After School Program

A couple weeks ago an extraordinary spell was cast on the After School Program. Ealing Public School was transformed into Hogwarts and all its students into witches and wizards.

Each student got their very own wand and broomstick before being sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw.

We feasted on Polyjuice Potion (i.e., chicken noodle soup) and got “bean boozled “ sampling some of those Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans.

We competed against our rival houses in Quidditch, mastered Potions with Professor Snape, and even caught a glimpse of Harry Potter himself!

It’s hard to believe that all this could happen here in London, but in the words of Roald Dahl, “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.

After School Program back in action at Ealing Public School!

We are thrilled to announce that our After School Program is back for its second year at Ealing Public School! This year we are lucky to have another great group of students in Grade 5-8 join us every week to enjoy sports, crafts, games, cooking, and MORE! Stay tuned for more posts from Kristen, our After School Program Coordinator, who will share more about the exciting activities, yummy (and healthy!) snacks, and creative crafts planned for this year.

Sneak Peek: Coming up in October we have a table hockey tournament, fort building, fall walks, picnics, paintings, and of course, some spooky Halloween fun!  

End of Year Wrap-up

As we are wrapping up the After School Program for the year, I would like to say thank you for following us on our journey.  This year has been fantastic! Our students have developed some amazing friendships.  Their cooperation and teamwork skills have grown exponentially.  It is our hope that many of these students will return to the program next year. 

It has truly been an honour getting to work with these kids and we are already excited to start back up in September 2016!

Now before I sign off, I would like to share with you the top 10 things that I have learned from the students in our After School Program!

1. The shape of food is IMPORTANT. One time, I cut up cucumbers into strips instead of slices. No one wanted them!

2. As a 29-year-old, I thought I was up-to-date on my top 40 music knowledge. I can tell you now, that I was not.  Several times the students would be singing a song, or talking about an artist that I had no idea who or what they were talking about.

3. The “Dab” dance move is very popular and “anyone” can do it. Anyone except for me that is!

4. The popular sport of the year was basketball or was it volleyball or badminton?  I discovered that the popular sport was never the same week to week.

5. Placebo effect is a real thing when it comes to sugar.  We would often bake healthy treats that are sugar-free.  After eating them, the students would be bursting with energy and they would tell me, “Andy, it is your fault. You gave us sugar!”  I would tell them that there wasn't any sugar, but the placebo effect had already kicked in.

6. There is no stopping a game of Soccer Baseball. Rain, mud, sun, heat, puddles - nothing can stop it!

7. When asked to take a group picture., you could almost always be guaranteed that someone would make a goofy face or do a goofy gesture.

8. When making smoothies with fruit and spinach, the only way to get the kids to put spinach in their smoothie is to dare them! They find it really hard to pass up a dare.  It's a good thing too, otherwise, the day would have ended with an untouched package of spinach.

9. Speaking of smoothies, I also discovered that smoothies cannot be served to these students without each and every one of them experimenting with their smoothie mustache styles.

10. And finally, although kids will often be skeptical of “Healthy” foods if they taste delicious they will devour them!

Thanks again for an amazing year!

Sincerely,
Andy

Pink Day

The kids at the after school program sported pink to show their support in ending bullying and it looks like they had fun while doing it! 

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Make A Wish!

Recently, our After School Program was contacted by Make-A-Wish Foundation to help them as they grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions. We of course said, YES!

They asked us to help decorate the boxes used for Wish Enhancement Items. For example, a child being sent to Florida may receive a box filled with sunscreen, a beach towel, flip flops and other items to make their trip easier. 

It was so fun to see the students get creative decorating these special boxes. This important job also sparked some meaningful discussions and awareness of what these kids are going through. We hope the children that receive these Wish Boxes have as much fun opening them as we did decorating them. 

Thank you Make-A-Wish Foundation for letting us be a part in this fun and rewarding activity. 

If you want to learn more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and their Wish Boxes, please visit their website

Happy Chinese New Year

At the After School Program we love to learn new things, try different types of food and celebrate holidays. Lucky for us, Chinese New Year on February 8th is a chance to do just that! The Chinese New Year marks the turn of the Lunisolar Calendar. Through the Chinese Zodiac, each year is represented by one of twelve different creatures. 2016 is the year of the Monkey!

We are lucky in London to have several Asian Markets to discover. Exploring one of the markets can be a fun family excursion. There’s so much to see, touch and smell and you can find produce and meat that just aren’t available at big chain grocery stores.

Maybe you’ll find a fresh fruit you've never tried (like a lychee or a pomelo) or you’ll find the ingredients for a traditional udon soup?  The options are endless!

lychee

Experimenting with new foods can be fun. I keep telling our students that there’s always the risk that you won’t like something, but you may also find a new favourite food! We will be celebrating Chinese New Year at our program this month. Stay tuned for updates, recipes, pictures and more.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Happy New Year) 

Price Matching for the Win!

Have you made a New Year's resolution? Maybe you want to streamline grocery shopping and save your family money. Price matching could be the answer! It's a great way to buy healthy food at an affordable price. 

Get started by searching through the weekly flyers and making a list. Bring your list and flyers to a grocery store that price matches like Superstore, Wal Mart or Fresco and they will offer you the same deal. Each store has their own policies so make sure you ask an employee before filling your cart with 100 cans of chickpeas. 

If this sounds too complicated, there are apps and websites that can do most of the work for you. Apps like Flipp help you find deals, create grocery lists and completely eliminate the need for paper flyers. 

Here are some of this week's deals found through Flipp: 

  • Strawberries ($2.44/pack) 
  • Chicken breasts ($5/pack) 
  • Pork side ribs ($2 per pound)
  • Apples ($2.88/3 pound bag) 
  • Taco kits ($2.99) 
  • Grapes ($1 per pound) 
  • Tetley herbal tea ($2) 



On average, you can save $20 a week by price matching. This really adds up throughout the year and will make healthy choices for your family more affordable. Visit Flipp or Red Flag Deals to start saving today. Happy deal hunting! 

World Kindness Day

November 13, 2015 was World Kindness Day. This annual event is dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. We celebrated by making cards to thank someone who has been kind to us. For the students, this included friends, teachers and family members. Many of the kids made multiple cards to thank the special people in their lives. 

Inside each card was an insert explaining what World Kindness Day is all about and to encourage recipients to do a kind act for someone else. 

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." -Princess Diana

For more information on World Kindness Day and the World Kindness Movement, check out their website.  

Making Banana Pancakes!

Well that was fun! Last week we made pancakes and they were the most popular snack yet. This healthy take on a traditional treat only needs three ingredients: eggs, bananas and baking powder.

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

Directions

With a whisk, mix the eggs and add baking powder. Just like magic, the eggs will get very fluffy. The students enjoyed this step! Place the egg mixture and bananas in a blender and blend. Oil or butter a frying pan on medium heat. Pour batter into the frying pan (small pancakes work best). Heat until bubbles form, flip and cook the other side for one minute. These delicious, healthy pancakes will fool any pancake enthusiast.

If you're feeling creative, try adding cinnamon, cocoa, raisins or blueberries to your batter. It's hard to go wrong with a pancake.  

Welcome Back!

What a great start to the After School Program at Ealing Public School! Twenty students in Grade 5-8 enjoyed a jam-packed month of games, crafts and cooking. Andy, our After School Program Coordinator, enjoyed every minute of getting to know this year’s students. He has already seen lots of great teamwork, participation, new friendships and listening skills! 

Dr. Dodge Ball, soccer baseball, blob tag, fall crafts and food pyramid activities were just some of the activities that kept us busy in October! 

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This is just the beginning of what is sure to be an amazing year at Ealing. Stay tuned for our November posts, including recognizing the importance of Remembrance Day, a visit from our friends at Therapy Dogs and World Vegan Month celebrations in the kitchen! 

Thank you for a wonderful year, Princess Elizabeth PS!

Well, the time has finally come... we finished up another great year at the Princess Elizabeth After School Program last week! I would like to thank all of the great volunteers and, most importantly, the great kids that made this program so successful.

Our final week was shortened by a PA day, but we had a blast on the Wednesday and Thursday! On Wednesday, local artist Steven DeBruyn did a spray painting workshop with the kids and a representative from O.N.E. Hip Hop Dance Studio gave the kids a dance lesson. Needless to say, we were all exhausted at the end of the day from all of the fun we had!

Princess Elizabeth After School Program 2015 - Steven DeBruyn
Princess Elizabeth After School Program 2015 - Spray Painting 1
Princess Elizabeth After School Program 2015 - Spray Painting 2
Princess Elizabeth After School Program 2015 - Spray Painting 3

On Thursday, we took a more leisurely pace with a delicious pizza party and the kids tie-dyed their shirts. Thankfully, we only had one clothing “casualty” with the dye, and most of the kids' hands remained stain-free thanks to our vinyl gloves. A little risky, but the final product was worth it! Some of the girls have already coordinated wearing their new shirts for their end-of-year trip, psychedelic!

Upon reflection of the year, it is very clear to me that we have truly grown as a “team” with every member working together and showing respect to each other and the instructors. Also, every student in the group has tried some new foods and learned a few tricks and strategies for selecting and making healthy food at home, which I sincerely hope all of the students continue to develop over the summer.

Princess Elizabeth After School Program 2015 - Playground

Thanks for a wonderful year Princess Elizabeth and have a safe and fun summer!

We've Been Too Busy Having Fun

This year has zoomed by! So much so that we have been too busy to keep our blog post updated. Don’t let our absence fool you though, we have plenty of incredible things in the After School Program to update you on!

One example would be our visit to the Boys and Girls Club of London. The Boys and Girls Club generously donated transportation for all of us to go and enjoy a whole class dedicated to a FREE SWIM! I tried to fool the students into thinking we were going on a trip to “Math World,” but a quick Google search by one of our students discovered that “Math World” did not exist in London! Haha! Once we arrived, we had exclusive use of the pool for half an hour (they really know how to treat us right over there!) and the students had the option to continue to swim afterward (which many of them took).

We are looking forward to returning to the Boys and Girls Club later this week. Although the swimming was a lot of fun, there are many other great areas to explore, like a computer lab, ball pit, craft room and more! We will definitely be taking advantage of some of the other wonderful things the Boys and Girls Club has to offer!

This month we also had a fun trip to Bowlerama on Thompson. I was able to get a whopping 100 point in our 5 pin game and was easily surpassed by many of the students. Our highest score was 145, wow! While we were there, we enjoyed a light healthy snack, and some relaxing and chatting with friends between frames. Everyone enjoyed their time there, and I think that Bowlerama on Thompson may see some familiar faces throughout the summer as a result!

You can expect another post before the end of the school year, after which we will be on hiatus until the next school year. See you next month! 

Parent Tip: Over the summer, students often visit relatives, have sleepovers, go camping and a variety of other fun activities that, in some circumstances, you may not be present for... or even invited to! Haha! Be sure that your child has been provided with the necessary information in the event of an emergency, like ensuring that your child knows his or her own address, an emergency contact phone number, their own allergies and current medications, and how to contact 9-1-1. You never know when an accident could happen and it is best to prepare beforehand! Have a safe and fun summer!

Welcome to Second Semester!

The first few weeks back from the holidays were busy at the ASP! Chris and the students jumped right back to routine with a number of cooking activities and guest speakers who taught the students new skills like karate and yoga. The students especially had fun with yoga and were coming up with their own creative names for the poses.

Students practise their newly learned yoga poses—creativity named the superman, flying bird and swaying trees.

After School Program Stir Fry

This past week the students made a vegetable stir-fry, and many tried bean sprouts and snow peas for the first time—yum!

A highlight from the month was our afternoon spent camping. The students built tents in the gym, enjoyed a sing-along around a (tissue paper) fire, and were surprised with a special snack—s’mores!

February is shaping up to be a great month as well. Stay tuned for mote updates on guest speakers, yummy kitchen creations and Valentine’s Day fun! 

We've been cooking up a storm!

The Princess Elizabeth ASP has been cooking up a storm!

CookingWithKids

This month we introduced a weekly cooking activity into our schedule. Chris and Nicole very quickly witnessed a group of budding chefs, as cooking became many of the students favourite part of the program.

We started off with a simple pasta and vegetable sauce recipe. This gave the students an opportunity to practice their knife skills and learn about working together as a team in the kitchen. By the end of the month, we were trying new foods, learning about where food comes from and the importance of making healthy food decisions. Our tastiest (and most adventurous!) recipe was black bean tofu wraps. The students loved them, and this gave us an opportunity to learn about different protein sources.

The students have been keeping a collection of their favourite recipes, and many of them plan to apply their new kitchen skills at home.

Andrew Fleet from Growing Chefs also stopped by for a visit. Andrew generously donated his time and led the group for two organic cooking demonstrations.

Due to the Holiday break, December will be a shortened program month for the After School Program. This hasn’t stopped us from planning a jam-packed month of fun activities for the students, though! December will begin with a special visit from a returning favourite - slam poet Holly Painter - and we will end with a holiday party and few very special surprises for the students. Stay tuned!

Recipes: Smoothies, Spanish Rice, and Black Bean Tofu Wraps

In November, we had an opportunity to be even more hands-on in the kitchen nearly every session. Although many of the items the kids prepared were a hit, homemade smoothies were the most popular! 

Smoothies

Ingredients:

  • Frozen strawberries
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Skim milk (or 1%)
  • Non-fat vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. The night before you want smoothies, peel your bananas and chop them up along with the strawberries. Put them in a freezer bag in the freezer until morning.
  2. The next day, take out your fruit and put it into a blender, add milk (we made our smoothies by adding the milk just about half way up the fruit in the blender) and add a generous dollop of yogurt.
  3. Taste test! Too thick? Add more milk! Too thin? Add more fruit.
  4. Put into a glass, add a straw and enjoy!

You can add just about anything to a smoothie; fruits, greens, vegetables. I like to add kale from my garden, on its own it can be a bit scary, but in the smoothie it’s delicious and you can hardly taste it!

Spanish Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp veggie stock

Directions:

  1. Place a pot over medium-high heat; add oil and heat until oil shimmers slightly. Pour rice into the hot oil, stirring constantly, until rice is golden to dark brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix water, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and bouillon into rice. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover pot tightly with a lid. Leave pot covered on hot burner until rice has absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Black Bean Tofu Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • Wraps
  • 1 brick hard tofu
  • 1 can black beans
  • Salsa
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • Cajun spice

Directions:

  1. Crumble tofu and place in hot skillet with oil and onions for 10 minutes. Drain black beans and add into mixture, add Cajun spice. 
  2. Take mixture off of heat and add cilantro to the skillet contents and place and equal amount of mixture to the centre of each wrap. Add salsa to each wrap.
  3. Wrap burrito and place on pre-heated, oiled pan or grill. 
  4. Flip after 5 minutes or until golden brown. 
  5. Wait for 5 minutes for it to slightly cool off, enjoy!

Welcome Back to the PE After School Program!

October marked the start of the ASP at Princess Elizabeth, and what a month it was! Eighteen students in Grade 5-8 participated in a jam-packed month of games, crafts and cooking. Chris and Nicole from Investing in Children enjoyed every minute of getting to know this year’s students, and are looking forward to the year ahead!

The month was topped off with a Halloween party where we carved pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds, told spooky stories and dressed up in wacky costumes. It was a frightfully good time!

October is just the beginning of what is sure to be an amazing year at Princess Elizabeth. Stay tuned for our November posts, featuring visits from our friends at Growing Chefs, St. Johns Ambulance Therapy Dogs and London EMS.