One day we made homemade guacamole while incorporating new vocabulary and using fine motor skills in the cooking process. The ingredients were laid out and the children got to touch, smell, and play with the foods. We handed them plastic knives and let them cut the tomatoes and avocados for their guacamole. Once the ingredients were cut into pieces, they placed it into a “molcajete,” a Mexican kitchen tool used to smash ingredients such as spices and ingredients for salsas.
In this educational experience the toddlers were introduced to new Spanish terms: Tomato – El jitomate, Lime – El limon, Chips – Patatas. The children smashed the cut ingredients into the molcajete, and in doing so strengthened their hand and arm muscles. The children underestimated the weight of the tool but soon realized they could lift the smasher and make their salsa with this. At the end of the salsa making the toddlers were given chips while enjoying their homemade guacamole.
Allowing the children to cut and smash ingredients to create guacamole provided the toddlers valuable hands on input about the world around them. This provocation welcomed the children to use all of their senses. According to Samantha Cleaver in a scholastic.com article, the senses activate different parts of the brain and the more parts of the brain working the more information the child is likely to retain.
Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience from Harvard University, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences stating that human beings have nine different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world; one of those being linguistic intelligence. By incorporating familiar objects with Spanish vocabulary linguistic intelligence was strengthened. This not only shows their impressive ability to learn by connecting dots but their ability to use this experience as a reference for future situations.
Gardner’s definition of intelligence is, “the potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge.” (PBS). The children at first assumed the molcajete tool was light, instead of a negative reaction to this tool, the children decided to continue working with the tool. They gained knowledge that they were not only able to shatter an assumption, but that they are physically and intellectually strong, and capable beings!