Easy Lunch Recipes for Kids : Tortellini Meatball Soup

This quick and delicious soup is one of our family’s favorite lunches to make on days that we are home, and makes a fast and tasty dinner for evenings when we are short on prep time. There are more easy lunch recipes for kids coming on Creekside Learning. Be sure to follow the Creekside Learning Facebook Page or our main Pinterest board so you don’t miss any of these great recipes. 

Quick and Easy Tortellini Meatball Soup | Creekside Learning


Tortellini Meatball Soup
A quick, easy and delicious meal for lunch or dinner.
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  1. 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  2. 1 package cheese tortellini
  3. 1.5 cups meatballs (mini meatballs or whole meatballs cut into quarters)
  4. 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Boil water for tortellini. Cook tortellini according to package directions and drain.
  2. In a separate pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.
  3. Add shredded carrots.
  4. Sprinkle dried oregano.
  5. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  6. Add meatballs and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to heat meatballs, a bit longer if they were frozen.
  7. Put tortellini in a bowl and ladle the soup over top.
  8. Sprinkle parmesan cheese.
  1. If you make meatballs from scratch, make a batch of miniature meatballs and freeze. They are great for soups like this, or for a fun meal for kids with pasta and sauce. No mini meatballs? No worries. You can use regular sized meatballs (in the frozen foods section of the grocery store) and cut them into quarters for this recipe.
  2. You can also throw in some diced celery, frozen or fresh peas, and greens, such as kale, if you want to increase the veggie content of this soup.
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We usually serve this soup with a side of fruit and a chunk of crusty bread.

Tortellini Meatball Soup for an easy lunch or dinner

For more healthy recipes, check out the Feed My Family! Pinterest board.

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Container Garden Vegetables ~ Grow With Your Kids

Gardening has been a wonderful learning opportunity for our kids and is a family project we all enjoy doing together. Our gardening project of choice:  Container Garden Vegetables.  We are gearing up for spring by starting our seeds indoors, as we do every year.  It’s a great opportunity for science learning (how do seeds grow?), reading practice (seed packets, books about gardening) and handwriting (marking which seeds are in which containers). We have some container garden ideas to share with you. It’s so easy and fun to garden this way, and it’s less work than a regular garden plot, too.

container garden vegetables

Choosing Seeds

First, we let the kids choose the seeds they want to plant for our container garden vegetables and I set up a seed learning area for them to plant, care for, and explore the seeds and soil. If you want to do organic container gardening,  organic seeds can be found at most garden centers and big box stores as well. We keep our seedlings indoors until there is no chance of frost (about May 1st where we live).  organic container gardening

Preparing Soil

We live in Virginia where the hard clay soil requires years of conditioning, to yield the ideal soil for growing vegetables. Raised beds are quite popular. We built those at our last house. For our current house, we put in a small plot directly into the ground in addition to patio and deck containers.  After two years of working the soil in the plot, we decided our efforts were best spent on the bounty of herbs and vegetables that were flourishing in our containers. Also, to get to our plot, we had to go down a flight of deck stairs from the main level and around the side of our house, making watering the garden an easily forgotten, if not dreaded, chore in the hot summer.  Watering the deck containers, on the other hand, was easy and fun. The kids loved to take turns caring for the plants there, and my husband, whose passion is cooking, enjoyed stepping out to the deck from our kitchen to cut some fresh herbs or pick some fresh tomatoes or peppers from the containers while he was cooking. We used a basic gardening soil mix from our local gardening center to fill our containers. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage. If not, drill holes in the bottom of the pots before filling with soil, or add a bottom layer of pea gravel or other small stones. Transplant the seedlings to the containers. container garden vegetables So what can you grow in containers? Well, almost everything, really, but here are the container garden vegetables, and a few other things, that we’ve had success with.

10 Things You Can Grow in a Container Garden

  1. Carrots – my kids’ favorite!
  2. Strawberries – You want these in a container anyway, because they tend to overtake other plants.
  3. Mint – another plant that should be contained, otherwise it takes over and you will be up to your ears in mint.
  4. Any and all herbs: Basil, Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Dill.
  5. Tomatoes – We’ve grown all varieties successfully in containers but especially love grape and cherry tomatoes in our container garden. Add a small trellis or cage to support them as they grow.
  6. Lettuce – This is a favorite with the kids because it grows quick and early and can be replanted again throughout the growing season.
  7. Radishes – Since they are small and compact, they can grow in smaller, more shallow containers.
  8. Peppers – All varieties of hot peppers are small plants that grow well in containers (jalapenos, habaneros, banana, cayenne) and we’ve also successfully grown bell peppers here as well.
  9. Cucumbers, melons and squash. If you have your containers on a patio where the vines of these plants can travel to the ground, where the fruit will develop, you can grow them in containers, too. 
  10. Flowers! We love to mix flowers into our vegetable and herb plant containers. It makes the deck look even more colorful. Plant low growing flowers like petunias, which will cascade down the sides of the container and cover some of the exposed soil. 

container garden vegetables

My little Love Bug as a toddler, helping his Aunt Francine with her container gardening.

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vegetables you can grow in a container garden

I was compensated for this post by HALLS via BlogHer network.  

Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day doesn’t have to be just one day every April. It can be any day of the year. Here are some activities you can do anytime, anywhere to take care of the earth and show your gratitude for  all of nature’s beauty.

Find out where the garbage goes.

field trip county landfill

Take a trip to your local  landfill or waste disposal facility. We learned a lot about what happens to all of the things we throw away and recycle, it was free, and we got to ride on a cool bus (big points with us homeschoolers). There’s a lot of science learning to be found at the garbage dump:  gas, garbage juice, decomposition and much more.

Have a trash clean-up day. Pick a favorite spot close to home: a park, a wooded area, a sports field, and fill up a garbage bag or two or three.

garbage clean upYou can read more about our recent trash clean up over at Kiwi Crate, including how we made our own books afterwards about how we helped the earth.
How I Helped the Earth Today
Take a Gratitude Walk to appreciate what the Earth offers to us every single day.

Gratitude Walk for the Earth
Hop on over to Kiwi Crate and read more about our Gratitude Walk, including the posters we made afterwards.
I Am Grateful for the Earth

Earth Day is any day. It’s every day. How will you take care of your part of the planet today?

For more ideas about learning outdoors, hands-on science, crafts, homeschooling and much more, follow Creekside Learning on Pinterest.
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4 Ways That Kids Benefit From Yoga

Kids are naturals at yoga. They love to move, they’re flexible, and even my wiggliest of kiddos is intrigued by the poses, the breathing, the peace that he has found in practicing yoga.

And I have benefitted greatly from returning to the practice of yoga recently, finding relief for some ongoing neck pain and giving myself some much needed time that is all my own each Wednesday night.

Our teacher, Krista Zember, of  BE Yoga, has given our family a wonderful gift by sharing yoga with us.  Krista has been teaching yoga to adults and kids, including children with special needs, for ten years.  I asked her to share with me exactly how kids can benefit from yoga.

  1. Body Benefits
    Yoga brings awareness of our bodies. It helps make kids aware of where their body is in space and how to master moving it. It helps adults and kids alike to strengthen, balance and increase flexibility.  Imagine the delight of a child realizing they can make their body hold perfectly still in tree pose, balanced just so.
  2. Breathing Benefits
    Yoga helps us learn to control our breath, to increase our energy or to relax. It improves the immune system and relieves stress. Imagine if our children could learn this natural, easy way to relieve stress while they are still children, how they can use this throughout their lives. Our breath is with us always, easily accessible, no need to ingest a substance. Breath is right there.
  3. Mind Benefits
    Yoga helps kids to increase their ability to focus. I have seen this first hand with my own child.  It also helps kids learn to calm themselves and be aware of how they are feeling. It raises their self-esteem, too.
  4. Peace Benefits
    Yoga is a great way to teach kids about peacefulness.  Through the poses and focus on breathing, they learn what peace is in body, breath, mind and heart. And then they can learn how to get to that peace when they need to:  when they struggle with something, when life is hard, when challenged by relationships with others.

Here are some books about yoga that the Creekside kids and I have been enjoying recently:

Peaceful Piggy Yoga, by Kerry Lee MacLean describes why people from football players to ballet dancers to movie stars do yoga.  It gives detailed instructions for a series of 11 poses.

The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power, shows pictures of poses from A to Z with a little poem for each one.  You can find free coloring pages from the book’s illustrations on the ABC Yoga For Kids website.

Krista Recommends:

More Resources from Some Great Bloggers:

Arlee at Small Potatoes wrote a beautiful post about doing yoga with little ones, called Namaste, Mother Earth. You have to see the pictures of her sweet little yogis and the props she uses make yoga super fun for the kids.

Jennifer at The Good Long Road recommends the book  Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby: The Yoga Workout for New Moms.

Marnie at Carrots Are Orange shares her resources and tells us why yoga is a part of her home and shows us how her toddler got interested in yoga.

Katie at Mommy With Selective Memory shows us her very humorous attempt at doing yoga in close proximity to toddlers and Golden Retrievers.

Thanks to Krista Zember of BE Yoga for sharing her knowledge of yoga and children for this post. Please stop by the BE Yoga website or facebook page. Krista teaches in Sterling, VA and Washington, D.C. and is hosting the Grand Opening of the BE Yoga Yurt on May 6th, 2012.


The Secret to Happy Kids (and Dogs, Too)

Want to know what makes my kids come alive, use all of their senses, stop fighting (for the most part), and work as a team to help each other with challenges?  It’s this:

I so want to get outside every day this winter, unless its ridiculously cold. Each year I say this. I say I’ll bundle the kids up, go out for a half an hour, and we’ll run around to keep warm and we’ll play.  Truthfully, the kids would probably go for it, but I always chicken out.

This year I thought maybe I could do 15 minutes. But on day 1 of my plan, it was super cold and windy.  Amy, a homeschooling momma with far more experience that I, advised that we spend our 15 minutes looking out the window and noticing things, then drink hot chocolate. I am pretty sure she is a Naturalist at an actual Nature Center so I considered this very sound professional advice and we did just that.

And wouldn’t you know it, as we gazed out, it started to snow. Tons of flakes swirling around in the wind, sticking to everything in sight.  “I feel like I’m in a snow globe, Mommy!”, Firefly said smiling, looking out the window and up at the sky.  Little birds scurried around on the ground underneath the feeders. It was just us and those few little birds and the swirling, rushing snow.

Hot chocolate forgotten, kids and dog darted out the front door and ran around in the front yard. They were back in a flash for coats and mittens, then out again.  Then just as quickly as it had begun, it was gone. Wind swooshed in and blew the snowflakes around.  Landing on what must’ve been warmer streets, patios, and earth, they disappeared. We retreated back inside.  For two, maybe three days. I lost count.

Then it happened. Unseasonably warm weather. Sixty degree days. Two of them in a row.  We would make up for lost time. We grabbed the dog and her tennis ball and headed for the woods the first day.  The second day, today, we went here:

A new place for us. So much to explore. Full of new rocks to climb, new paths to take, little fish swimming in the water, and so much more.  They didn’t want to leave.

Here’s the dog just before she ran out onto an even longer dock and flung herself into the water.

She’s sleeping now, beside me as I type, all curled up and smelling of wet, happy dog.

I feel so grateful for these two warm, unseasonable days. Maybe the key to getting out in the winter is to just get as much as we can, when we can, and let it sustain us for those cold, cold days.  Hmmmm, I don’t know. We’ll keep at it and let you know how it goes.

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