Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Debney's Summer Curriculum 2013, "Discover SC"

Summertime is coming, and as a mother of three children, I have to have some sort of order and organization in place while my kids are home for the summer. For the past few years, I have done quite a variety of curriculum with my kids, my most "famous" being the "Alphabet Days" where we take a letter each day and explore our area, make something, and practice writing words that start with that letter {example, pick 'B'lueberries on 'B' day}. When my kids were younger, this was GREAT.

Then last summer I realized that my kids were getting older, and trying to convince my 7-year-old that "it's fun reviewing words that start with 'E' while we are making boiled 'E'ggs" was just not cutting it anymore. So I created a themed curriculum and schedule for the summer. See HERE for my "Summer Schedule 2012".

This summer, I am faced with a rising GATE {kind of like honor classes for elementary school} 3rd grader, a rising 2nd grader, and hopefully a rising preschooler. I wanted to do something that would not only teach them through the dog days of summer, but give them something to learn and be proud of. As a proud South Carolinian, and an avid festival-goer, I decided on a curriculum that would teach my kids about the very different parts, cultures, and history of the Palmetto State. I want to share it with you, in hopes that 1. if you are from SC, you will join us in discovering the state, and 2. if you are not from SC, you will either come visit or use this as a springboard to discover your own state.

I spent a lot of time searching my favorite SC website, sciway.net for festivals, activities, restaurants, accommodations  and so on in order to decide what I wanted to cover this summer. At first I thought about going through two or three counties per week, and then at the end of the week we visit one of the counties. Then I listed all the festivals that were going on throughout the summer in our state. There are a TON. And I decided this would be the way to go for this summer. So here is what we Debneys are doing this summer:

Here's my "Organization Door":

Discover SC, Summer 2013 Curriculum

I am giving my children a two week buffer after school gets out and two weeks before it starts again so they get a bit of a mental break. Although, I will do a brief overview of the state flag, dance, song, bird, animal, drink, etc. We also will be working only Monday-Friday, unless we decide to carry the festival over into Saturday as well.

Here's a close up of how I keep up with what we are doing for the month and each week:

Basic Weekly Outline:

Monday: Make something Monday {This will serve as a review of the previous week, and hopefully we will make something after we have learned more about it at the festival}

Tuesday: Teach Me About It Tuesday {This will be the day I introduce the area, theme, culture, etc that we will be learning about that week}

Wednesday: Where are we going Wednesday {This will be our research day. We will go to the library, the internet, and the various books my husband and I already have about SC to learn more about where we are going}

Thursday: Think About It Thursday. {We will make something that represents either the area, the festival, or the culture we are going to visit}

Friday: Field Trip Friday. {To the festival we go}

Specific Weekly Outline: 

June 17-21:

  1. Monday: Review all the state's "things" {flag, birds, drink, etc}
  2. Tuesday: "What is the Carifest?" 
  3. Wednesday: Caribbean Culture in SC
    1. Raggae/Soca music
    2. Dancing
    3. Food
  4. Thursday: Create a "festival" mask
  5. Friday: Go to the Carifest in Charleston, SC
June 24-29
  1. Monday: Caribbean Festival Party for lunch 
  2. Tuesday: What is Carolina Day? 
  3. Wednesday: Revolutionary War in SC
    1. June 28, 1776
    2. Fort Sullivan
    3. Moultrie
  4. Thursday: Create a SC map of all the Revolutionary Warsites
  5. Friday: Carolina Day on Sullivan's Island
July 1-5:
  1. Monday: Make the different flags, especially SC flags, of the Revolutionary War {Make Flag t-shirt for the 4th of July}
  2. Tuesday: Lexington Peach Festival
  3. Wednesday: Research peaches
    1. What is the best weather? 
    2. What types of peaches? 
    3. When is the best time to pick? 
    4. What are the "best" peach recipes? 
  4. Thursday: Create a chart of the benefits of peaches for the human body
  5. Friday: Lexington Peach Festival
July 8-12: 
  1. Monday: Make Peach cobbler, peach pie, and/or peach preserves 
  2. Tuesday: BBQ and Blues in SC
  3. Wednesday: The history of BBQ and Blues in SC
    1. What are the different types of BBQ in the state? 
    2. Where did the Blues thrive in SC? 
  4. Thursday: Make BBQ seasoning and sauce
  5. Friday: Go to the Festival of Discovery in Greenwood, SC
July 15-19: 
  1. Monday: BBQ cookout dinner
  2. Tuesday: Beaufort
  3. Wednesday: Discover the importance of Beaufort, SC
    1. What role did all the waterways play in the history of SC? 
    2. Research the importance of Beaufort's culture
    3. Research the lighthouse 
  4. Thursday: Water experiments {make clouds, rain, snow, and ice}; the benefits of all of it. 
  5. Friday: Beaufort Water Festival
July 22-26: NOTE: this week is still in the works. I wanted to go to The Palmetto Tasty Festival, but still deciding. 
  1. Monday: Create boats
  2. Tuesday: 
  3. Wednesday: 
  4. Thursday:
  5. Friday:  
July 29-August 2
  1. Monday: Can tomatoes and make tomato paste. Use some tomatoes to make pasta sauce for dinner. 
  2. Tuesday: Gullah and Geeche Heritage 
  3. Wednesday: Learn about the Gullah language
    1. Where did it come from? 
    2. Is it still spoken? 
  4. Thursday: weaving and storytelling
  5. Friday: Gullah and Geechee Festival in St. Helena 
August 5-9
  1. Monday: Create a Gullah Cuisine dinner 
  2. Tuesday: Review and reflect on what we learned during the summer. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recipe REVIEW: Homemade Chocolate

There comes a time in every girl's life when she has to put aside all distractions, phone calls, family members, facebook, and well, everything else just to grab a 30 second vacation. There's just something about slipping a piece of smooth, creamy chocolate into your mouth that can't take you away better than Calgon ever did. There's just something about chocolate that makes a girl's heart happy. Even my 4 year old daughter has a special place in her heart for chocolate.

So when I came across a recipe for homemade chocolate, and it came during a time when I needed some chocolate, I was excited to see the ingredients were in my pantry and the steps to making the chocolate were easy. Two very important things for this busy mama.

I have been attempting healthier, carb friendly, Paleo-tastic recipes for chocolate lately, and I haven't been too impressed. I tried making chocolate pudding the other day that didn't involve an avocado, and it just wasn't doing it for me. But this recipe, the one I found for homemade chocolate was great. I changed the ingredients just a tad, mostly because I didn't have specifically what the recipe called for, but it came out great. I then decided to expand the recipe a little bit. And I'm super excited, now, to share with you how you, too, can make chocolate that is going to hit the spot and not leave you sad when you jump on the scale a little later.

Please, please, please check out the original recipe and so many other wonderful tasty treats at "In the Kitchen with Amy Jo." She is a girl after my low-carb, Paleo heart.

Here's my adapted recipe:

Homemade Chocolate

* 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder {Her recipe called for raw cacao powder. Here's a link to a discussion about the difference between cocoa and cacao powders
* 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted at room temperature {coconut oil will do this on its own in hot weather}
* 1/3 cup raw, local dark honey. If you use light honey, you can go up more. Dark honey, to me, is super strong, and I didn't want the sweet to overpower the chocolate.
* salt, just a pinch will do

That's it? Uh huh. That is it. For reals. 


  1. In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and the salt. Use a fork to make sure there are no clumps. 
  2. Stir in the melted coconut oil. Stir until smooth. 
  3. Stir in the honey. Stir until smooth. 
  4. Pour into a parchment lined bowl or container. The thicker you want the chocolate, the deeper the container. 
  5. Place container with the chocolate in it in the freezer. Freezer for at least one hour. 
  6. Once solid, break into chunks and store in the freezer. Grab a piece when you just really need one. 
  1. To lower the sugar intake even more, melt 1/3 cup of coconut sugar in the melted coconut oil. Add mixture to dry ingredients, pour, and freeze. 
  2. Add other ingredients. The second time I made this I did a few things differently. 
    1. I poured the mixture into two clean ice trays. 
    2. In one ice tray, I added some other ingredients before freezing. 
      1. I chopped up a Tbsp of coffee beans and put into four compartments in the ice tray. 
      2. I put a few craisins in four compartments in the ice tray. 
      3. I added a tsp of peanut butter into six of the compartments in the ice tray. 
      4. I ran out of dried strawberries, but that will go in the next time I make the chocolate. 
My "Official" Review
Now this is the part where I tell you if it was easy to make, if I liked the taste, and if it made me full. This isn't a meal, so I obviously can't answer the last question, but since this is a review, I'm going to answer these anyway. 

Was it easy to make? Yes, Very easy. It takes only a few minutes to mix together the ingredients. The hardest part was waiting. Oh the torture. 

How did it taste? So. Very. Good. I was surprised. All the other "healthy, homemade chocolate" recipes really had me going, "Eh, I mean, it's okay." This? No, this was instantly a winner. 

Did it make me full? In a sense, it did. When I need chocolate, it's not like I need a TON. Most times if I can just get a little piece, it can hold me over for a good while {unless, of course, I'm having a really bad day, and in that case, two or three pieces will do}. I like that I decided to use the ice trays. That keeps me honest. If I keep running back to the freezer to grab another piece of chocolate, I feel convicted an awful lot sooner than if I were to just keep hacking away at chunks. 

Check out below the pics of my chocolate experiments, and give it shot yourself. You won't regret it. 

Serving sizes 

I don't think this one mixed very well. That shiny stuff is honey. Still edible, though. Yum. 

From left to right: Peanut butter, craisins, and coffee beans 

Store those girls in a freezer ziplock bag and put them away...well, after you grab one or two first.