Mac-N-Cheese Please!!

Are you ready to have the greatest mac-n-cheese ever?!? It may come as a surprise but did you know that children's book author and illustrator Todd Parr is also an amazing cook?! Well, he is! Here is Todd's recipe for the the best mac-n-cheese EVER. 

Let’s start with the ingredients

  • 1 box of pasta (if you use elbow macaroni you can talk about different body parts!! Science!!)
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2TBS butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do.

Boil water and cook macaroni. Set aside.

In a separate pot over medium heat add 2 TBS of butter.

When melted add a small handful of the cheddar cheese.

To the cheese and butter add a full can of condensed milk.

Add remaining cheese and turn the heat on low.

Stir continually until the cheese is completely melted.

Add the cheese to the pasta and stir.

WARNING: This will be hot!

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wanna turn this into a tasty math and science lesson? Here’s how.

Start with the measuring. Have the little ones measure out the butter and cheese. If your child is anything like me make sure to watch them with the cheese (I’m a totally cheese sneeker!) Measuring allows your child to work on quantity, volume, fractions, and one-to-one correspondence.

Boiling the water is a great place to insert some science. You can talk about the properties of water. Ask your little learner what happens when water gets cold and when it gets hot. Ask them to make predictions about what will happen when you add heat. You can even do a time exploration by making predictions about how long they think it will take for the water to boil.

Bring in some more science with the cheese sauce. Discuss how cheese is a solid (another place to insert some science vocabulary). Then ask them what they think will happen when you add the cheese to the heat.

Finally, you can wrap up this mini lesson with setting the table. Have your little one count how many cups, plates, and forks you will need for dinner. Let them set the table and count as they do each place setting.

Sharing a meal is a powerful thing. According to The Family Dinner Project, sharing regular meals with family reduces substance abuse and depression, while promoting higher grade point averages and boosting self-esteem. 

MASSIVE thanks to Todd for sharing his home, his food, and his friendship! Check out Todd Parr for all things Todd! 

                                            -Ms. Giannini


Q&A: How Do We Create "An Inconvenient Truth" for Early Childhood?

We've learned so much from talking with partners and experts as we prepare a campaign strategy plan for No Small Matter - from priorities and challenges at the local level, to best practices for engaging with specific audiences, to how ECE programs measure return on investment. One of those supportive groups of experts is the University of Pennsylvania's Center for High Impact Philanthropy, which coaches current and future funders of early childhood programming on smart investment in this field. 

Our Impact Producer Laura Wilson recently sat down to talk with them about No Small Matter's model, and did my best to answer a burning question from one of their funders: "How do we create An Inconvenient Truth for early childhood?"

Q: What impact do you want to achieve with this film, and how does that inform the film’s development and release?
A: Early childhood education is constantly at risk of being put on the back burner for “sexier” issues — so the film is designed to radically change how viewers perceive what children need to thrive, and to drive home the urgency of making quality, affordable early learning and care available to all American families. Advocates have made incredible progress in the last five to ten years in driving new funding, increasing political will, and increasing the public understanding of the importance of investing in early learning. No Small Matter builds on this progress in changing perceptions with personal, resonant stories of how we must, and can, do this better. The film will have a wide release — not only on television, but in festivals, in theaters, online, and in community screenings, to measurably move the needle on the perception of urgency around ECE. Equally as important, we want our audience to retain the lessons and stories in the film, and then, be driven to action. To that end, No Small Matter will include scripted scenes with celebrities; surprising statistics driven home in animation; and message-tested metaphors that we hope will stick with the viewer long after they leave the theater.
Q: How will you measure the film’s impact? Are there creative ways that other impact-seeking films have pioneered to measure their effects?
A: With the input of our brain trust, early childhood experts, and outside impact producers and mediamakers, we have drafted an Impact Campaign Plan to outline our long- and short-term impact goals and the metrics that we’ll use to measure our success ... We are still more than six months away from the film’s premiere, so, based on the political climate, the news cycle, and partner campaign opportunities, we will continue to iterate our approach. We’ll also begin working with an outside evaluator to develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan — methods, tools, and processes for collecting data to tell the story of the film’s impact. The evaluator will bring their expertise on best practices, and also will serve as an impartial, outside reviewer to help better ensure we don’t measure our own success with our bias towards the project.
Some campaigns go a more traditional route, and have great success with the evaluation tools we all know and love – pre/post screening surveys, polling, a rise in traffic to the film’s website and social media. Others are getting really creative with ways to measure changes in conversations happening online and in the press, analysis of user-generated content, using digital data to measure online actions taken, and new apps that allow viewers to share their reactions to particular scenes in real time as they watch. We’ll be using a hybrid of these tools to gather qualitative and quantitative data at events, in the press, and online.

Read the full article at The Center for High Impact Philanthropy's blog here.