Monday, April 30, 2012

Story Time at the 'Berg

Have you been to the Kreuzberg Cafe yet?  This Wednesday, May 2nd, Merideth Eades will be hosting Classic Story Hour at the Cafe from 10-11 AM.  Invite a friend to coffee, stay for the story hour, and enjoy the magic in great children's books. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Cade Newman

Another week has ended, and what a week it has been--our Legacy Luncheon, the premiere of SLO Classical Academy's DVD, and the Vintage Round Table.  Not including all of the magical moments that occurred in the classrooms and at home.  We are part of a very unique, rich community!

It is Friday, so we'd like to remind you to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off your electronics.  Take a deep breath of rain-washed air and earth, and soak up real time moments with those you love.  Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's on Your Night-Stand: Teacher & Staff Edition

SLO Classical Academy took to the playground and asked some of our teachers and staff: What books are on your night stand?  Here are their answers!

Amy Calloway
Ranger's Apprentice, The Well-Trained Mind, Southern Living Quick & Easy Cookbook
p.s. Love the Pringles!!

Troy Wathen
Classic Poetry, Animals in Translation

Lisa Wallace
Shells, The Core, French Coursebook, The Story of the World III, Day Hikes Around SLO, Keep Chickens!, The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Oceans

Thanks for sharing. Did you find a new read among these titles? Join the conversation and tell us what you're reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman

Bacon-Quinoa-Snap Pea Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

I think I'm in love with this salad! The flavors are unique and fresh. Because it uses quinoa, the salad feels healthful (and bacon is healthy, right?) Trader Joe's sells pepitas and I found the black sesame seeds at Albertson's, but if you don't have any, don't let that stop you from making this!  

Bacon-Quinoa-Snap Pea Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
The Noble Pig, serves 4-5

4 strips of bacon, diced
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
1 1/2 c quinoa, dry
2 c chicken stock or broth
1/3 c pepitas
2 t black sesame seeds
1/2 t olive oil
1/4 t kosher salt

Juice of 1 lime
3 T olive oil
1 T honey
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 t cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to rolling boil. Blanch snap peas for 1 minute in water. Remove and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop them from cooking and preserve their green color.  Remove after 2 minutes and dry on paper towels. Cut peas into 1" pieces.

In another pot bring chicken stock to a boil.  Add quinoa and stir. Cover and cook over low heat until all stock has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa. Transfer quinoa to another bowl to cool to room temperature.

In a small nonstick pan, add pepitas and sesame seeds. Cook over low heat until fragrant, 3-5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in oil and salt.  Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.
In another bowl add the peas and quinoa to the pepita mixture. Add the dressing and mix well. Sprinkle bacon bits on top. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inspirational Words

Today Jill Talley shares with us a little bit about their home schooling room.  Todd and Jill Talley are a Track A family with three children: Karena (Primary), Violet (Kindergarten) and Daniel (Jr. K.) This is their third year at SLO Classical Academy.

Last October, SLO Classical Academy hosted a home school room tour which included stops at three SLOCA homes. The idea was to give SLOCA families ideas, suggestions and vision on how to set up an organized, enriching and thriving home school classroom space.  The tour ended with a lunch where attendees discussed a variety of topics including how to make our school classrooms attractive and inspirational so that kids want to be there.  One of the ideas discussed was posting signs and posters to motivate, educate or spark discussions among our students.

I decided this was something missing from our classroom space and something I wanted to pursue. 

As you can see, we are starting small with just with one home made sign with an aim to encourage my three kids to help each other learn. This sign hangs on the door to our playroom/ home school room. My desire is that my children enter in with a heart for helping their siblings and other children. This is the type of character I am looking to encourage. How about you? Do you have any signage or wall d├ęcor in your home school space to inspire?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Magical Monday

Today's Magical Moment is by Jenny Bischoff.  Jenny and her husband, Paul, have three kids--Kate (Lower Middle School), Georgia (Primary), and Calvin (Jr. Kindergarten).  This is their sixth year at SLOCA and Jenny is also the Wednesday NOL (Nice Office Lady).

This week in science both of my girls were learning about the salt content of the ocean, so we decided to make sea salt! We went to the Shell Beach tide pools on a beautiful afternoon, played around and explored the tide pools a bit, and then took home a bucket full of ocean water. (The ride home was a bit dicey, with my oldest precariously holding on to the bucket while trying to keep it from spilling.) 

Once safely home, we strained the water through a sieve lined with a coffee filter to remove any sand or other particles. We ended up with about 8 cups of sea water, which we boiled for a few hours until almost all of the water had evaporated. (In the end I poured off the last little bit of water so that my pot didn't boil dry.) And guess what was in the bottom of the pot? YES, real salt! Although we knew the ocean was full of salt, we were all still amazed to see the white crystals lying there as proof. I have to admit, I was too afraid to taste it. I mean yes, we boiled it, but... it's from our beach and who knows what's in it... The kids, however, had to try a small sample and they confirmed that it was indeed very salty. It was a great activity - give it a try!

What a fun way to actually "see" the salt in the ocean. Thanks for sharing, Jenny!  Have you done any fun ocean-related activities lately? Please share!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Free Friday

photo by Joy Newman

Whew! Feels like summer! Hope you've been able to enjoy our beautiful weather--did you take school outside this week?

Some fun things around our county this weekend:  Lopez Lake has their free kids fishing clinic Saturday morning 9-12.  The Cal Poly Pier in Avila is offering tours on Saturday from 9AM to noon. There is a butterfly discussion in the Elfin Forest at 9:30AM in Los Osos.  There are tons of other fun things going on, plus just taking everyone to the beach is always an option.  

Since it is Friday, remember to be Free by Five o'clock and turn off your electronics.  Whether you go out and about or stay home and turn on the sprinklers, enjoy your family and friends!  Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Today, our Associate Director, Troy Wathen has something inspiring to share!

The beauty of a layered approach to teaching history and literature is that the students can always be counted on to surprise the teacher with what they learned in years prior. 

Last week we began our study of William Shakespeare so I broke out my trusty Lambs Book of Shakespeare Stories to read the tale of Hamlet to my students. As I was reading, my students periodically interjected with some bit of detail regarding the play. One student said, “Everyone is going to die.” Another followed up with, “That’s because this is a tragedy.” Little comments like these continued throughout the reading, but what was most encouraging to me was when the Lambs (authors of this abridged story) told of Hamlet’s struggle with existence and quoted, “To be or not to be,” I heard my students mumbling, “that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?...” You get the picture. The students who had been at SLO Classical Academy the previous year had memorized a long portion of Hamlet’s speech—much longer than the short phrase we all know. 

This reminded me of how important memorization and recitation are in the grammar stage of learning. This speech stuck with my students for a year and will likely stay with them a lifetime because it was memorized in the years before memorization ceases to be cool and way before the calcification of the brain that we adults experience. Because these students have stored this moving speech, and similar speeches and poems away in their minds, they will be able to pull ideas and use them in compositions and speeches in the future. The grammar of good rhetoric is the storing away of meaningful quotes and phrases to later be used in the midst of a well-crafted essay or college application letter. SLO Classical Academy students are being prepared for the “real” world by being equipped with excellent rhetorical skills starting with kindergarten recitations.

Speaking of kindergarten recitations...Recitation Night is coming! Students in our Kindergarten and Primary classes will be reciting poems of their choosing in front of an audience of friends and families.  For many, public speaking is the least desirable activity so it is a rich evening watching students conquer their nervousness and publicly recite poetry. What's more, as evidenced by Troy's experience, the poetry they memorize now will become woven into the fabric of their souls, to be drawn upon later.  Aren't we so fortunate to be intimately involved in that process?  Instead of viewing recitation as another "have-to," let's pass on to our children the beauty of the written and spoken word.  Embrace it,  have fun with it, maybe pick a poem yourself to memorize.  

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.  ~Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's for Dinner?

photo by Joy Newman

Baked Chicken Nuggets

These are by far the best home-made chicken nuggets I've tried. You can buy panko bread crumbs in the Asian food section of your regular grocery store, or Costco and Trader Joe's both carry panko as well.  I toast more crumbs than the recipe says because I always seem to run out. Our favorite dipping sauce is Mo's Sweet Carolina's BBQ sauce.  I haven't done it yet, but I'm wondering if making a big batch, cooking and then freezing them would work. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out!

Baked Chicken Nuggets
Everyday Food, April 2012
serves 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb. total)-I've also used the boneless tenderloins
1 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray
dipping sauce--ketchup, ranch, BBQ, honey mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut chicken into 2-inch pieces.  Spread panko on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 6-8 minutes.  Transfer to shallow dish, then add Parmesan and 1/2 t salt.  Drizzle oil over the mixture and stir to combine. Place flour and eggs in separate shallow dishes. 

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; lightly coat rack with cooking spray.  In batches, coat the chicken in flour, shaking off the excess; dip in the egg, then coat with panko, pressing to adhere.  Place on the rack.  Bake until chicken is cooked through 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve the nuggets with dipping sauce of your choice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Nature Table


Spring is here! Bring some of the outdoors in by making a nature table, nature shelf or nature tray.  Kids are notorious collectors--put that to good use by collecting their treasures in one spot. Be on the lookout for fallen nests, eggs and interesting flora and fauna. Add some books and a magnifying glass to aid identification and enjoy!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned sites.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Magical Moments

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's Monday and it might be difficult for you to get back into the game after break.  Maybe you're experiencing spring fever and some burn out. Revisit this post and be encouraged. Talk with your teachers and other families to help re-light that spark.  Muster some enthusiasm and let's stay strong in this last trimester. Our children take cues from us--let's model for them how to finish well.  Happy Monday!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Free Friday

Congratulations to Clay Skinner who won our drawing for $10 to the school store! Speaking of stores,  April 14th-22nd, Barnes and Noble in San Luis Obispo is offering a 25% Educator's Discount, with your Educator's Discount Card.  Check in store for details.

The intermittent rain this week may have forced you to rearrange your plans, but hopefully, you've been enjoying some relaxation time with your family and friends.  Continue that theme by remembering to be Free by Five o'clock.  Turn off your smart phone so you can't hear when a new email arrives, step away from your electronics and soak up some more family time.   Maybe you'll turn off the lights and eat dinner by candlelight or have a floor picnic in front of the fireplace.  Whatever you do, enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's for Dinner?

It's vacation and nothing says vacation better than fresh-from-the- oven chocolate croissants with that second cup of coffee. These come frozen but you just leave them overnight and they are all ready for baking first thing in the morning.  

In case you were wanting an easy dinner recipe and since you'll already be at Trader Joe's buying these croissants, how about picking up some stir-fry veggies?

Both of these are in the refrigerated section.  Just pair with rice and add some meat if you're so inclined.  Also check out some of their great sauces--I love this one:

What are your easy go-to meals?

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with Trader Joe's.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Magical Monday

Happy Monday! Our first day of spring break. We live near the ocean, so sometimes it doesn't sink in that many people travel to beach destinations. If you weren't able to get out of town for break, make it feel like vacation by doing vacationy things. Since our ocean study is underway, it would be a great time to visit the beach and tide pools. Here is a tide schedule for Cayucos (the north end of town has some great tide pools.)  There is something universally appealing about ocean life.  Log some education and enrichment hours while relaxing and observing together as a family.  Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

photo by Jim Bailey

Friday, April 06, 2012

Free Friday

Ahhh....the end of another week and a week of vacation ahead!  Just a note that next week, Down Home will have posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. An easy way to stay current with our blog is to subscribe via email. Look for the box on the left and input your email address.  Down Home posts will magically arrive in your inbox!

Remember since it's Friday to be Free by Five o'clock tonight.  Turn off your electronics and step away from social media. Enjoy your family and friends in real-time.  Wishing you a week full of feasting, fun and fellowship.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


photo by Jamie Foster

Jamie Foster (2nd and 5th grade math teacher) came up with a fun game, called "Tic-Tac-Slap."  Make a grid, any size you need (3x3, 4x4, etc.) and fill with answers (numbers, historical names, places, parts of speech, or...?)  Ask your audible question and the first student to slap the square, takes that square.  Looks like fun! Thanks for sharing, Jamie!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Easter is next Sunday.  When I think of Easter dinner, I usually think of ham.  In my opinion, ham is an easy way to feed a crowd and using this sauce, also an easy way to wow them.  I have served this numerous times and received many compliments.  The best part? The sauce is so easy! I buy my hams at Costco and then follow the included directions.  I also use their glaze and then serve this apricot-mustard recipe as a sauce on the side. 

Apricot Mustard Ham Sauce

2 c apricot jam
1/4 c mustard powder

Mix ingredients in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Serve on the side.  Or, if you'd like to glaze your ham with this, too, set some aside before boiling and brush your ham with this glaze after 1 hour of baking and every 15 minutes until ham is brown and shiny and has reached the appropriate temperature.

To round out the rest of the holiday meal, I would serve:
Oven-Roasted Asparagus (I like to add some lemon zest)
Kale-Brussel Sprout Salad (Thanksgiving was a long time ago!)
Fresh strawberries or fruit salad
Fresh rolls or crusty bread
Lemon Layer Cake  (This takes a lot of time, but is so delicious)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Our character trait for April is Resilience: the ability to recover strength, determination, spirit, flexibility and good humor in the face of change, mistakes and trials.

As our history and literature studies are taking us into the New World, it is difficult not to think of resilience.  It seems a much needed virtue to survive in a strange land with harsh winters and dwindling supplies.  Though we aren't facing a harsh winter in a log cabin, how can we demonstrate and nurture resilience in our families?  

Leave a suggestion and be entered into a drawing for a prize.  Drawing results Friday!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Magical Moments

Sometimes magical moments jump out at you and make their presence known. Other times, they are less obvious and need to be searched for, and ferreted out.  Challenge yourself this week to notice the magical moments in the everyday--your children laughing together, a beautiful flower, an improvement (no matter how minor) in handwriting, a few spare moments to just sit and breathe, food on the table and family to enjoy it with.  Hill top experiences aren't meant to be enjoyed everyday; let's face it, much of life is spent on the flat lands.  But, that doesn't mean the steady road doesn't posses it's own magic.  Look for it this week and then come back here and share when you find it.  Let's encourage each other along the way.  Happy Monday.