The children have been exploring exotic fruits in our efforts to introduce to them a broader variety of foods and textures. We started with the Dragon Fruit, also known as Pitaya. This fruit is a type of cactus native to Mexico and Central and South America. In this provocation, the teacher sliced up the dragon fruit and we displayed the cut slices on top of the light table along with an uncut piece so that the children would be able to explore the outer texture as well. The bright magenta outer shell quickly caught the attention of the infants and they immediately came to the light table to investigate the fruit. They observed the fruit curiously and cautiously at first and then they started to dig their fingers into the fruit’s white center trying to get at the tiny black seeds inside.
It wasn’t long before they took their exploration of this fruit to their taste buds. With its juicy center and sweet and fruity flavor, the children loved it! They continued to grab pieces of the fruit and put it in their mouths. The children were fascinated to see all the tiny black seeds over the light table and on themselves from pulling a part the cut slices.
Though the skin of the dragon fruit was not edible, the children did get to observe its bright color and texture as they handled it when feeling its smooth, thick, and pointy outer shell.
Our next fruit choice was followed by the Star Fruit, also known as Carambola. This fruit comes from a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh. We thought this fruit would be fun for the children to explore because of its shape it has when cut.
For this provocation, the teacher sliced up the star shaped fruit and displayed the pieces on the light table to better enhance its translucent greenish-yellow color. It glowed beautifully and immediately attracted the attention of the children to come and explore. Most of their curiosity went to tasting this fruit. The sliced pieces did not last long in their star shape form as the children were quick to pull it apart to eat.
Next came the Horned Melon! The Horned Melon also known Cucumis Metuliferus or Kiwano, is native to Africa and is now grown in California, Mississippi, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. This fruit was very interesting to explore as well because the children were very much intrigued by its pointy skin. Some of the children chose not to even handle the melon because it was so pointy, while others were more daring to even go so far as to try and bite it. The children observed the fruit’s outer skin by touching its pointy areas and digging out all the seeds from its green jelly-like flesh.
The color of the melon from both inside and out, and the slippery inner texture sparked an investigation among the children as it was laid out on top of the light table. Displaying these fruits on the light table enhanced their beauty to the fullest and allowed the children to see them differently on a brighter spectrum.
Food explorations allow the children to branch out, discovering new tastes and observations of different textured foods. There are times when children get stuck in their ways and will only eat certain foods refusing to try others. Sometimes it isn’t even about whether they like the food or not, just that they don’t have the interest in trying it or that they have the fear of doing so. Taking the children on these food adventures through exploration is an effective way to get them excited early about learning and experiencing healthy foods.
“There is no other beginning of learning than wonder.”
-Thaetetus, one of (philosopher) Plato’s dialogues concerning the nature of knowledge