Grapevine and Olive Shoots

growing in grace and knowledge.

Little Nino’s Pizzeria

on September 10, 2014

Our second row was “Little Nino’s Pizzeria,” by Karen Barbour, a wonderful story that proves more/bigger is not necessarily better (unless it’s pizza!).

littlenino cover

Cooking (aka Science)

Believe it or not, despite all my years of cooking and baking, I have never made my own pizza dough.  I don’t know why, but I always thought it was culinary rocket science.  So this was a great week of experimentation.  First, with yeast, sugar and water (the time got cut off in the first photo, but it was 9:55, so it took about 40 minutes for the balloon to inflate):

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[P.S. That bottle is a really cool, OLD liquor bottle my husband found buried in our yard.  We’re not consuming fifths on a daily basis or anything.]

And then with making our own pizza dough.  Peanut had a friend over for dinner and a movie one evening, so this was the perfect opportunity to do some measuring, mixing, kneading and rolling.  And eating.  (No, she’s not in kabuki — just some random face painting, a favorite activity.)

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September is our cooking and baking month (rows = Little Nino’s Pizzeria, How To Bake An Apple Pie And See The World, and The Duchess Bakes A Cake), so we’ve been getting pretty creative in the kitchen.  The thing is, there are only so many ways I can make a snack that looks like a pizza…or an apple…or a cake…without actually being one.  Hence, my solution to a request for “breakfast pizza” – waffle” crust,” peanut butter “sauce,” syrup “cheese,” and chocolate chip “pepperoni.”


Fine Art

One of the most creative and interesting parts of this row was the art portion.  Karen Barbour’s illustrations are evocative of Henri Matisse’s work, so we took an entire day, on and off, to learn about his life and art.

This website was awesome — full of facts and games.  It even allowed Peanut to design her own digital masterpiece using stylistic elements of Matisse’s work.


We also read Matisse: King of Colour by Laurence Anholt (he has a great series introducing famous artists to kids).


Peanut created two very different pieces of Matisse-inspired art:

  1. Vivid color and collage figure in motionimage_7
  2. “Stained glass” (tissue paper and contact paper) with patterns and complementary colorsimage_1

Social Studies & Character Study/Bible

This week, just like little Tony helped his dad, we focused on being servant-hearted. We made a list of people we could help, and ways in which we could help them.  We tried to do one each day.

We also talked briefly about where different ingredients are sourced…it’s always a shock to young kids that the chicken you eat actually comes from…a chicken.



Language Arts

As much as I love reading to Peanut, it’s always nice to hear the story in a fresh way. Reading Rainbow has a great episode all about Little Nino’s Pizzeria, which captivated her.  And can I just say that I am so dorkily nostalgically excited about using elements from my own childhood in that of my daughter’s?  Reading Rainbow, Mr. Rogers, the Magic School Bus, Electric Company…


<p><a href=”″>Little Nino’s Pizzeria</a> from <a href=””>WVPT</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Peanut has been doing a lot of reading on her own – she’s discovered how to read silently to herself so more often than not, I’ll find her curled up in a corner with a book, oblivious to my calling her name.  So as well as borrowing go-along read-aloud books from the library, I’ve been making sure to borrow early readers that are relevant to that week’s row.  I don’t know how to say this without being all “my-child-is-a-genius,” but her reading level and ability really dumbfound me.  My mom claims I was the same way, so maybe genes play a role…all I know is that I cannot claim credit.  Yes, I did some sight words and phonics with her, and I’ve read to her since she was a baby, but she’s FOUR and reading third-grade level chapter books.  Okay, so maybe my child is a genius. 😉


This book, or any unit study involving pizza, naturally lends itself to [a gentle, age-appropriate introduction to] fractions.  I kept it pretty basic, knowing we’d continue the idea with our next row (How To Bake An Apple Pie And See The World).

I also found these great worksheets, and we used quite a few.  Peanut particularly enjoyed measuring things with a ruler and playing dice addition bingo.

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Of all the photos I got of this week, I wish I’d gotten one of the pizza we made but it got eaten way too quickly.  Definitely a great beginning to our month of delicious learning!



2 responses to “Little Nino’s Pizzeria

  1. […] a recipe resulted in a massive cake that rose and rose.  Building upon our knowledge of yeast from Little Nino’s Pizzeria, we explored more ways to leaven bread (baking powder and baking soda, as well as revisiting […]

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