We’ve been exploring how some leaves are edible and some leaves aren’t edible. The children are learning how to tell which leaves you can and cannot eat, the names of the ones we can eat, the health factor, taste, color, texture, and more!
In order to express our knowledge in different ways, we made a kale smoothie for our weekly recipe. Parents brought in leaves we can eat (like spinach, kale, yam leaves) and leaves we can’t digest (like vines and leaves from house plants).
In the beginning, we placed all of the leaves on the light table to observe the leaves themselves and then to compare them to each other. The children noted on the color difference and the veins in the leaves. One child even referred to the veins as “cracks,” expressing his knowledge and understanding of the subject in his own terms.
One very generous parent cooked yam leaves for the children to taste. Many of the students were hesitant to try the yam leaves, raw kale, and raw spinach, but we noticed that a rippling effect occurred. As soon as one child tasted the leaves and proclaimed that it was good, the other children joined in and eventually everyone was eating the leaves and enjoying them! In the video below, you can even hear one child claim how she didn’t want to try the kale, but after observing other children eat it and hearing them say “I like it now,” she eventually tried the raw kale.
In order to further the children’s understanding of the leaves, we practiced spelling and writing the word “leaf.” What occurred afterwards was an organic learning experience that we strive for at Little Wonders! As the students began spelling the word “leaf” (an idea they had on their own) they began to discuss the letter “g.” Fascinated by the letter, the children turned writing the letter “g” into a math activity by writing the letter “g” seven times in a row, then adding the number of times they wrote the letter “g.” Eventually other children began writing the same letter seven times in a row, then counting the letters to reach 100, then counting the letters by fives. Soon, the children realized that 100 is a large number and discovered ways to “skip” in order to get to that number (for example: by counting by 2’s, 10’s, etc.)
Our goal with this project is to have the children learn about better eating habits and exploring food. Often times children “learn” from various media sources that spinach is gross, sugar is good, and Skittles always leads to happiness. We want them to really explore food and judge it based on the taste and benefits, not on what they see other children in cartoons doing. As you’ll note in the video, simply explaining this process doesn’t give a good representation of the rich learning experience that occurred. This shows why documentation is so important in our line of work.
During this project, the children developed their math and writing skills, cognitive development, language acquisition through the use of descriptive words, fine motor skills, and social development. Playing with the leaves also allowed for a wonderful dose of sensory play by being able to taste and smell the leaves, feel the texture, and observe the rich colors and veins. We believe that by allowing children to explore things that they will come in contact with for the rest of their lives, it introduces a sense of harmony and connection between the classroom, learning, and the natural world.