Tag Archives: food exploration
Our study of the desert biome has taken numerous avenues. The students studied the difference between two plants native to the desert, cacti and succulents, and contrasted the differences in their structure. In an effort to bring the garden into our classroom, as well as to study the requirements for plant growth, the students created terrariums using tiny desert plants.
A terrarium is like a tiny, self-contained ecosystem. Plants with similar environmental requirements are placed inside of a translucent container. Because the students were attempting to recreate the desert biome, they researched and found that their terrarium would require warm temperature, low humidity, dry soil and a maximum amount of sunlight. After researching the materials necessary, the students collected them.
Making a terrarium is fairly simple, it just requires that the materials are arranged in the right combination. As a class, we carefully planted each layer in glass pots. First, we laid down a drainage layer, or small stones to act as a buffer between the plant roots and the glass encasing. Then, we laid down a thin layer of charcoal (to keep the soil fresh). Soil was added, and of course we used cacti/succulent soil. Finally, plants were added.
Apart from the botany aspect, another way in which the students explored the desert biome was through a study of its animals. They learned through research about the many different types of animals that live in the desert despite its harsh climate, such as tarantulas, coyotes, and gila monsters. Using salt clay, each student created a representation of one animal.
Incorporating our desert study into our weekly cooking practice, we made a delicious mango, avocado and nopales salsa. Nopales means cactus in Spanish; it’s the fleshy pad of the prickly pear. It’s a common ingredient in traditional Mexican cuisine. The students enjoyed the guacamole-like salsa with whole grain tortilla chips, and prickly pear soda.
This experience allowed the students to research and apply acquired knowledge by creating terrariums as they integrated language and cooking skills into their desert biome exploration. In doing so the children were able to analyze the new information in a deeper way because this process was not just about gaining information but how to locate, evaluate and apply that information in unique ways!
In a previous provocation the children explored pineapple using grilled pineapples and mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar. When the children took the first bite they were asking for more.
In this provocation we used the leftovers of the pineapple so the children can learn about texture, since the inside feels like slime with a yellow color and the other side is bumpy with a different color. This helped the children with their sense of touch. We provided two colors, green and yellow paint to represent and emphasize the color of pineapple. The children also had a chance to taste once again!
One child smelled the fruit and then another child did the same. Then they were asked if it smelled good, and many shook their head yes. Another child sliced the pineapple with green using an up and down motion. One child was more interested in painting but not on the slice sitting on the paper. Another child took a bite of the slice then gave a big smile to the teacher. The purpose of the project was for the children to explore different possibilities with the pineapple since typically at this age they are only familiar with eating the pineapple.
This exploration provided an engaging experience for the children to understand the concept of texture by using their sense of touch as they explored the pineapple. This allowed the children to practice their fine motor skills while highlighting color recognition by associating bright neon yellow and lime green paint with pineapple. Asking the children their taste preference for pineapple not only demonstrates their ability to use their taste buds but shows the students that their opinions are valued in their learning environment.
By giving the children an opportunity to explore new things with pineapples promotes creativity. We will continue to use the pineapple and other foods for the children to explore as we develop the curriculum in our classroom.
“In Reggio the process of learning involves making connections and relationships between feelings, ideas, words, and actions.”
–Debbie LeKeenan and John Nimmo
To continue the infant’s study of food and food exploration, they played with carrots last week! The infants particularly enjoyed the green leafy parts and loved shaking it the carrot back and forth in their hands. The children were curious about the contrasting textures and colors of found in the carrot and enjoyed nibbling on the vegetable.
In the photos below, you can see them grasping onto the leafy green stem, gnawing on the end of the carrot, and having fun playing with the vegetable!
Today the children used loose parts and modeling clay to reinforce their knowledge of the location of seeds in various fruits. To add more dimensions to the activity, we placed the whole fruit, seeds of each fruit, and images of the fruit in front of the children with the modeling clay. This activity focuses on the children’s retelling skills and fine motor skills.
Surprisingly, retelling isn’t a skill that comes naturally; it’s something that has to be learned. Retelling is a powerful technique for checking understanding and reviewing information. Moreover, this activity involved the children’s fine motor skills, which are the small muscles of the body that enable functions like writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. Continue reading
The children recently took a closer look at pineapple, pumpkin, and cucumber seeds by utilizing the light board. The seed study was inspired by several different projects, however it started with our Edible Leaf Project and Edible Seeds Project.
In order to further the study on seeds and continually develop the project, we placed thin slices of different fruit on the light table. The children loved observing the fruits and immediately began pulling all of the seeds out and lining them up on the light table. Pulling the small and barely visible seeds out from the fruit allowed the children to work on their fine motor skills and develop the muscles in their hands and fingers. After all of the visible seeds were lined up side-by-side, some children began counting them while others created drawings and sketches. Continue reading