Thursday, February 13, 2020

Cooking with Friends this Valentine's Day

Cooking with Friends this Valentine's Day

large-group-cooking-class-Kitchen on Fire

You don’t have to do the same tried and true Valentine’s Day date night or stay-in night. This year, try something new like a large group cooking class at Kitchen on Fire. Invite a friend, a lover, your office team, or go it alone and meet new people while creating and sharing a meal. Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world in varying degrees, but at heart, it is the celebration of friendship.

How to Cook with Friends

Feasting, or gathering together in large groups for communal eating, has been around for centuries. Studies, like the University of Oxford’s Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating, show the sharing of a meal with others increases social bonding and the feeling of wellbeing. Benefits include increased self-esteem, team building, and deeper interpersonal connections. Here are some ideas to bring everyone together.

Host a Pot Luck Dinner Party:

Who doesn’t love a potluck? A laid-back dinner party that lets everyone relax and enjoy good friends and good food. Pick a theme or let everyone bring their favorite dish. Or, suggest everyone bring Grandma’s favorite recipe. This is sure to spark some great childhood stories celebrating family. Set up a buffet table or food stations then allow your guests to move around and mingle.

Share the Love:

Invite a group of friends to volunteer at a food pantry or community kitchen, like Loaves & Fish. You and your friends will get to meet and interact with other volunteers and visitors. Instead of eating together, you will provide nourishment to others preparing and serving meals. The act of cooking, serving and eating with friends, volunteers, and visitors will make everyone feel happy and connected.

Host a Cook-off:

Add a little friendly competition to your large group cooking class this year. A cook-off is a great way to bring different groups of friends together to have fun while breaking the ice. The dish chosen can set the theme for the evening. A signature cocktail can complement the dishes. Guests can bring their own wine too and cook side-by-side in the kitchen. Judging can be a blind taste test or have guests introduce and describe the dishes. You know your friends best, so choose what will be the most fun for the whole group.

Make it a Team Effort:

Pick a recipe that makes a large quantity to share, like pasta sauce. Have your friends bring the ingredients, you supply the drinks, and everyone goes home with a delicious memory. Set up a designated spot for each task and let guests pick their work station. Teamwork always makes dicing and peeling more fun. Once you’ve finished cooking, invite your friends to sit and relax while enjoying a home-cooked meal. Don’t forget to send everyone home with a healthy portion to remember the night.


Rather venture out instead? This Valentine’s weekend, Kitchen on Fire, is offering multiple cooking classes to help you cook the perfect meal with friends.

Schedule of Classes 

Couples Valentine’s Dinner: Kitchen on Fire Chefs 
Berkley and Oakland
Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 | 6:30 PM | 3hr
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, additional class - Oakland
*Pescatarian option available

Bourbon and Brunch: Chef Diema 
Sat. February 15, 2020 | 12:00 PM | 3 hr

Cook Like a Restaurant Chef: Chef Mat Wertlieb
Sun, Feb 16, 2020 | 5:00 PM | 3hr

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What is the Montessori Work Period?

What is the Montessori Work Period?

What is the Montessori Work Period? - Montessori Elementary school - Montessori West

The uninterrupted work cycle is one question asked by many people who are new to Montessori preschool education. The concept is a crucial part of the Montessori Method and can be found in all schools accredited by the American Montessori Society. In fact, the existence of the uninterrupted work block is one of the key ways you can recognize an authentic Montessori school.

Defining the Work Cycle

Maria Montessori recognized that children learn at different paces and that longer work periods-- also known as work cycles-- were necessary for children to progress naturally. In the Montessori elementary school, this period is generally 2 to 3 hours long. The length of the work period will differ somewhat based on the age group in question because the long periods are often inappropriate for younger students. For these children, a 1 to 1 ½ hour work period is typically considered more beneficial.

Value of Uninterrupted Work Periods

Allowing children the opportunity to learn at their own pace is the rationale behind the Montessori work cycle. The idea is to provide each child with enough time to work on their projects and recognizes that some children require more time than others. Because of this difference in learning, the strict divisions of time adhered to by traditional educational systems often leave some children unable to complete their work before moving on to another subject or project.

Special Considerations

The usual work period also needs to be adjusted for some students, such as those with special needs. For these students, the schedule may be shorter or longer than for others and may include other considerations such as more one-to-one interaction between the student and their guides. The Montessori work period is a fundamental part of the Montessori Method. It provides children with ample time to explore concepts and produce more effective and accurate work results. It exists so that children are better able to absorb new information and work through problems at their own pace.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Teaching Manners the Montessori Preschool Way

Teaching Manners the Montessori Preschool Way

Learning to be polite is taken as a matter of course at your Montessori preschool. The Montessori Method is based on a hands-on approach to educating the entire child from academics to social interaction, with grace and courtesy as basic foundations.

Grace and Courtesy

Learning to accept praise and constructive criticism helps Montessori preschool children understand why grace and courtesy are important. By displaying behavior that is socially acceptable parents and guides tailor grace and courtesy lessons to match the children and situation. A runny nose is an opportunity to demonstrate the use of a tissue, for example, and a potential dispute is perfect for learning about individual diplomacy, sharing, and exhibiting the behavior we want to experience.

Polite Social Interaction

From the mixed-age classrooms to the carefully chosen workstations, Montessori preschool children are encouraged to work together in order to achieve goals. Building the concept of teamwork and inclusion helps develop a healthy self-esteem and opens the door for constructive dialogue between kids and adults.

Provide Demonstration

Keep in mind that adults, especially parents, are the role models that children will imitate. When they see you interacting politely and getting favorable results, they learn that courtesy makes other people more inclined to help. Conversely, asking for help will be better received when the request is genuine than, for example, demanding a friend or adult to perform some task.

Observation and Example

Children learn to be graceful and courteous in their own time and their own way. By observing your children interacting with other people you will notice indicators that it is time to learn more about the process. Providing examples of when to say “please” and “thank you” should begin when your child is still an infant, and other social graces can be added as they become appropriate. The adults in a child’s life are the best instruction for displaying good manners. From washing your hands before dinner to farewells when you part company, how Montessori preschool children see adults and older kids behaving is how they will act themselves.