Candle making: An Autumn Cottage School Tradition

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A favorite autumn tradition at The Cottage School is candle making! Each student at The Cottage School gets the opportunity to make their own candles using sheets of beeswax, wick string, and ribbon for a decorative touch. The students enjoy the process, which requires no heat, no hot wax, no dirty tools, no slow-cooker, no dipping, and no fuss! Additionally, the candles are a great way for little ones to practice fine motor skills: pressing the wick into the wax and tightly rolling the candle.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut a sheet of beeswax in half to make a standard-size taper candle. 

  2. Measure the wick "string" against a cut (halved) sheet of beeswax, making sure there's an additional 1" of wick at the very top of the candle. Use scissors to cut the wick. 

  3. Press the wick into the beeswax sheet. Remember, there should be about 1" of wick "overflowing" at the top. 

  4. Tightly fold the beeswax sheet over the wick to secure the wick in place, then continue rolling the sheet to make a candle. 

  5. Repeat the steps above to make multiple candles. One sheet of halved beeswax will make two candles. 

  6. Once rolled, the candle is ready to use.

  7. Light and burn the candle as you would with any taper candle. The tighter the candle is rolled, the slower it will burn.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, non-selective  learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

The Cottage School Playdough Recipe

At The Cottage School, we make our own playdough every week. Children of all ages love to play with it!

Not only is playdough calming, but it gives our students an opportunity for an open ended activity where they can create what they wish.

Playdough gives tactile pleasure and sensory integration: children can touch it, see it, smell it and even taste it sometimes! At The Cottage School, we believe the more senses children can use and the more involved they get in the activity, the greater the learning experience is. Children need to use all senses and need opportunities to create, playdough brings a perfect combination!

Here is a tried and true simple recipe that we’ve been using for years…

You’ll need:
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 cup of water
1 cup maizena (cornstarch)
food coloring (optional)

Directions
Mix the flour, salt and maizena in a large mixing bowl
Add oil and food coloring to the water then into the dry ingredients
Mix continuously adding the liquid
Knead some and let your child do the rest!

*If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right (not too sticky and not too dry). You can keep it in the refrigerator for a week; add a little more flour each time you take it out to use.

*For a wonderful natural dye, try boiling beets and using the leftover water in this recipe.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, non-selective  learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Baking (and Eating) Cake Together—A Monthly Birthday Tradition at The Cottage School

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A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, The Cottage School takes a collaborative approach when celebrating students’ birthdays. Students commemorate this milestone once a month by baking a carrot cake together and enjoying it once it comes out of the oven.

A wonderful example of “learning by doing,” baking brings into play so many different educational concepts in a fun and cooperative manner. The students are required to read the recipe, which is written in both English and Spanish to encourage literary fluency. Each student with a birthday that month gets to crack an egg while other students measure out all of the ingredients exactly, which requires a basic understanding of fractions. Finally, the students bring the ingredients together and watch them “transform” into a cake with the heat of the oven—a delightful way to bring basic chemistry to life. This experiential experience allows students to engage all their senses and use their minds in creative ways to solve the scrumptious problem of turning ten single ingredients into one delicious cake.

Once the cake is out of the oven, the students gather with their teachers and parents to sing the birthday song. The “birthday children” get to decide which language the song will be sung in, choosing from English, Spanish, French, Guarani, Portuguese, German and Mandarin. You will find our 15-year old recipe for Carrot Cake below, and we invite you to try it at home.

Carrot Cake
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded carrots (about 5 medium)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Mix sugar, oil and eggs until blended; beat 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients except carrots; beat 1 minute. Stir in carrots. Pour into pan.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

The Cottage School is a non-selective multicultural learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured.