Summer School Children:
We were in for a treat one day when a child surprised everyone and brought a pineapple to class! It’s amazing to see reactions to the kids as they held, touched, and smelled the pineapple. They all immediately recognized it, but few have had the opportunity to feel the texture of it for themselves.
After the initial shock-and-awe wore off, the children searched for “fresh pineapple” recipe’s online and we made a plan of what dish to make. The dish chosen was Raspberry-Pineapple Parfaits. The next day the kids were given the ingredients discussed the previous day and we got to work!
The children were able to start with the pineapple in its whole form, a unique opportunity since not many children are able to prepare fruit from scratch, in its original form. The kids learned the cooking term and technique of “dicing” as we diced the pineapple. A few children struggled but we worked together until they were satisfied with their cutting skills.
After determining that we were going to make a parfait, the children looked at an image of a parfait and had to determine the steps in which to create the parfait. For example: Is yogurt the first ingredient? Is granola the first ingredient? When do you add fruit and raisins?
Together, we counted the number of children and counted how many cups we would need. In addition to counting, we worked on addition and subtraction through real world experiences:
1) There are 18 children in the class, but 3 are sleeping, so how many cups do we need?
2) There are 21 children and 3 teachers, so how many cups do we need?
3) There are 24 cups total, so how many parfaits can each person make if there are 8 children making them?
After having the correct number of cups lined up, we counted the cups by ones and then counted the cups by twos.
One of the favorite activities was the presentation. We learned about “garnishing” the finished dish with mint we picked from the garden. Our goal was to make the final product “pretty like in a cookbook.” (The kids are familiar with gardening and different herbs since they garden year-round.)
As we served the finished dish to everyone in the class, one of the students described the dish and each step of the process before we ate the delicious parfait.
This activity tapped into the environment as a “third teacher” which is a principle of the Reggio Emilia approach and assisted children in mathematics, life skills such as cooking, preparing a meal, and cleaning, while introducing a common item in a brand new way. With this project, the main emphasis was learning through touching and moving. The children experienced one component and created a completely finished puzzle that incorporated multiple pieces. They learned how to create an item from seeing a one ingredient. Most importantly, it solidified the teacher’s role as a co-learner and collaborator, and not just an instructor. We facilitated the children’s learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child’s interest, or random and unique events that occurred, and engaging in activities alongside the children as opposed to sitting back an observing the child learn.