During this week’s Think Tank session with Gabby, our atelierista and nutritionist, the children were able to encounter radishes as part of our “Food as a Language” study. Many of the children were unfamiliar with this vegetable, but they enjoyed the process of exploring its characteristics.

We discussed the following:

  • Was it hard or soft?
  • What color is it? The outside was red, the inside white, and some of them had a small red dot on the inside! What a pleasant surprise!
  • What is the long, small piece on it? The children referred to it as “the stick”
  • How many pieces can you hold in your hand?
  • What size is it? Small or big? Pieces, whole, etc.

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Sometimes trying a new food can be scary or unappealing to children. We have found that when the children have an opportunity to learn about and freely explore their new food in a comfortable, encouraging and enjoyable environment, they are more prone to trying the new food later with excitement and confidence.

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Holding a group discussion about the radishes encouraged communication and relationship building between the children. Handling the veggie and taking note of the texture required the children to use and strengthen their fine motor skills. The children further established cognitive skills like inference and comparison in calling the root of the radish “the stick.” Because they did not know what the long, small piece was, they called it by the name of something that they believed was similar. They observed the part and used the physical characteristics they saw to make a connection to the closest thing that they were familiar with- in this case, a stick.

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This experience largely served as a mathematical exploration. Observing the amount of pieces they could hold in their hand, along with the size of each piece, instilled concepts of counting and measuring. Shape identification (some radishes were round and others were different) and classification based on an item’s characteristics (grouping pieces into “parts” and “wholes” or with/without a red dot) are also important mathematical concepts that the children practiced.

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Another valuable aspect of exploring something “new,” is that it allows the children to implement skills that they have been learning in order to make complete observations and conclusions about some new. When were presented with the radishes, the children used observational, mathematical and communicative techniques that they have been learning in prior explorations to evaluate and familiarize themselves with the new vegetable. This is important because it boosts the children’s confidence in their own skillset and shows that the skills they learned in prior explorations have been transformed into useful tools for further learning.

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