Tag Archives: cooking

Easter holiday wishes – Readilearn

 

This week I have uploaded two new resources which are just as suitable for Easter holiday fun at home as they are for learning in the classroom.

Whose egg? A logic puzzle can be used with the whole class to introduce children to the steps involved in completing logic puzzles; or as an independent or buddy activity if children already know how to complete logic puzzles on their own.

Three friends, three eggs, and three baskets. But which friend has which egg and which basket?

Children read the story scenario and the clues, then use the information to deduce which friend bought which egg in which basket.

Great for reading comprehension and creative thinking; and for collaboration in a paired activity!

Continue reading: Easter holiday wishes – Readilearn

Desert surprise

When you hear the word “desert”, what image does your mind conjure up?

Is it of endless sand dunes such as those of  Rub’ al Khali (“Empty quarter”) of Saudi Arabia?

Or is if of something a little less desolate?

This week at Carrot Ranch Communications, Charli Mills writes about a desert close to where she is staying in her temporary, though seemingly endless, state of imposed homelessness.

The desert Charli describes, in eastern Washington, is “flat and prickly” with “trees (that) are better described as shrubs and any ground cover growing out of the black sand has thorns.” She describes the “sagebrush with soft leaves of silvery blue and twisting trunks of brittle gray bark.” The images created by these descriptions is vastly different from those of endless sand dunes.

A desert is usually described as an arid area where there is little rainfall and conditions do not favour  plant and animal life. As much as one third of the earth’s land surface is arid or semi-arid. This is also true of mainland Australia with its ten named deserts which mostly lie in the centre.

Last year I was fortunate to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta which are in semi-arid areas surrounded by desert in Central Australia. I have put together some images of the area to show the variation that occurs in the semi-arid landscape.

Thinking of the word “desert” (noun – arid area) also brings to mind its heteronym “desert” (verb – leave), which has its own homonym meaning deserved e.g.” just deserts” and homophone “dessert”. These words are often confused by both readers and writers with pronunciation and spelling indistinguishable out of context.

I have combined these different meanings to respond to Charli’s flash fiction challenge to in 99 words (no more, no less) write about a surprise from a desert. While not specifically about education, I also acknowledge the power of a teacher’s influence.

Deserts

They reminded her constantly what an inconvenience she was; that she’d never be anything; that she was simply trash like the one who birthed, and dumped her. Somehow she’d never believed them: their truth was not hers. She’d shielded her inner core with a shell over which their words flowed but could not penetrate. Not caring whether they ever knew, she’d prove them wrong. A favourite teacher inspired an interest in food science. As soon as possible she escaped to apprentice with master chef Jules. After years of determination and hard work, she opened her own patisserie “Just Desserts”.

Thank you

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Can I help?

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I have written a few posts recently about requesting help and the difficulty many of us experience in doing so. It’s a topic that is oft repeated. Not only do many have difficulty in asking for help, we are often unsure about when to offer help, how to help, and whether any assistance will be beneficial.

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In a comment on one of those posts Anne Goodwin, who blogs at Annecdotal, said that the way our first cries for help are responded to in infancy influences our attitudes to asking for help later in life. I suggest that the way we are responded to when offering to help in those early years also influences our attitudes later.

In an earlier post entitled Lending a helping hand, I asserted that

 “Little ones love to help and hate to be helped in almost equal measure. “Let me do it!” and “I can do it myself!” are two frequently heard phrases in households with little ones. Opportunities for both are essential for their developing sense of self, independence and confidence. Both require a great deal of patience on the part of parents and a larger allocation of time than one would normally feel necessary.”

Sometimes, when young children ask, “Can I help?”, parents are reluctant to involve them because of the additional time required, and often the extra effort it takes to clean up the mess that may also be created. However, I recommend that the time and energy expended are more than compensated for by the benefits to the parent-child relationship, as well as to the child’s development of knowledge and skills.

Nor and Bec reading

© Norah Colvin

Just as time to play together and read together is factored into the family routine, it is important to set aside time for tasks such as cooking and cleaning that help to develop independence and life skills.

With cleaning, as with other tasks, it is important to provide guidance and encouragement, and to accept the result. Don’t expect the child’s efforts to match yours. You can always finish off the task later, if you must, when the child is out of sight. Expecting too high a standard or being too critical will discourage a child’s willingness to try again.

As at home, in the classroom children can take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves and working together to keep the room organised and tidy on a daily basis. It may take a little longer to establish good habits initially, but the benefits are reaped throughout the year.

When I was in the classroom I provided children with a number of strategies to help them develop organisation skills.

  • At the beginning of the year I showed them how to organise their belongings in their tidy trays so that they could easily find what they were looking for. I made a photo display to provide visual as well as verbal reminders.
  • Throughout the day I would play music or transition games to help them move from one activity to another, and to indicate how much time remained until they were to be ready for the next activity.
  • We had a wonderful programme called You Can Do it! which helped children develop personal and social skills, one of which is organisation. We had a great set of songs to support development of the skills. At the end of each day when it was time to pack up, I would play the organisation song. The children would happily sing along and have the room neat and tidy and themselves ready for home by the time the song ended.

These simple strategies helped the day run smoothly and required a minimum of instructions and reminders.

cooking banner

© Norah Colvin

Cooking, or more specifically food preparation not necessarily requiring heat, in the classroom requires additional planning which will be influenced by the facilities and support available. Whenever possible I organised cooking experiences for small groups with the assistance of an aide or parent volunteer. This gave children more opportunities for discussion and involvement.

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

I always organised for the healthy smiley face sandwich to be made in small groups.

kebab 1

© Norah Colvin

Cutting up fruit and making fruit kebabs is suitable for small groups too. Children can be asked to bring in a serve of fruit to contribute to the choices. We used to have a daily mid-morning fruit snack so it did not require any extra effort on the part of parents, just scheduling on my part.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

One of my favourite cakes to cook with children is a moon cake. It is both fun to make and delicious to eat, and provides many opportunities for discussion. It is just as suitable for making in the classroom as it is for home. I have prepared a guided recipe which will be available on my readilearn website.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I recently made the recipe with my grandchildren. They were eager to help and took turns to add and mix the ingredients. There are sufficient things to do to give everyone in a small group an opportunity of being involved. However, it is also suitable to do with the whole class observing while individual children do different tasks.

tasks to do

Making the cake provides great opportunities for observing, turn taking, vocabulary development, curiosity, and development of science knowledge. All of these contribute to life skills and experiences. And then there’s the treat at the end!

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

Although involving children in tasks like cooking and cleaning at home or at school involves extra organisation and time, it is well worth it for the long-term, as well as immediate, benefits.

Do you have any recollections of helping with tasks at home or at school? How did you feel about it? How has it influenced your current attitudes?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes for the classroom

cooking banner

© Norah Colvin 2016

As completion, and therefore launch, of readilearn, my website of early childhood teaching resources approaches, it has become obvious that some categories are less well-resourced than others.

I consider food preparation to be a great way of involving children in learning that is fun, purposeful, integrates curriculum areas, and develops skills that can be applied in everyday life. I have previously written about learning in the kitchen with suggestions for parents at home.

In the introduction to the readilearn cooking resources I write

Cooking, including food preparation that doesn’t include any heating, is a great way to teach life skills and integrate learning in a meaningful and enjoyable way across curriculum areas. When children are involved in food preparation they may be developing:

  • Social skills of cooperation, turn taking, sharing, patience
  • Literacy skills – reading and following the recipe, selecting ingredients, writing a menu and invitations, writing a recount, writing a shopping list
  • Mathematics – counting e.g. the number of eggs, measuring with spoons and cups, measuring time, sharing (e.g. the number of cookies, how many slices to make)
  • Science – mixing, adding or removing heat
  • Safety – with knives, peelers and hot implements and ingredients
  • Social Studies: Culture – when preparing ethnic food

readilearn materials are designed to engage children in activities that are both fun and purposeful, with opportunities for learning across the curriculum in a meaningful context.

I was disappointed to realise that I had only one cooking resource prepared: How to make a healthy smiley face sandwich

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

A remedy was required and I tried to think of other resources I could add.

I have previously made ladybird biscuits by icing an Arrowroot biscuit and adding Smarties for spots. I will probably add that recipe in the future, but I was trying to think of something healthier to begin with. I wondered if it might be possible to make a ladybird from an apple. This is what I did:

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

When I made one for my grandson on the weekend, I was pleased that he recognised it as a ladybird beetle, even without the spots!

Unfortunately, it’s more suitable for an adult to make for a child than for children to make for themselves. Apples are too difficult for young children to cut. It is therefore not suitable for readilearn. However, I had fun making it and will continue to think of other recipes I can add to readilearn’s cooking collection.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Bring a plate

This time of year always seems busy with lots of functions and get-togethers to attend. To avoid leaving all the food preparation to one person, often times in Australia we are asked to “bring a plate” to such gatherings. Most Aussies have no difficulty understanding the intention of the request to bring an item of food to add to the meal.

However the request can be a little confusing for newcomers to Australia as testified by my Canadian friend Robin who found the request to bring an empty plate to eat from a little strange. I’ve also had a discussion recently with my online friend Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch  about the American tradition of “pot luck” which seems to imply a similar request.

Along with an invitation to a “bring a plate” get-together, I am usually requested to contribute a rice salad to the main meal, or a pavlova for dessert, or sometimes both! I am always happy to oblige as both of these dishes are not only very popular, they are also very easy to make. In this post I am sharing my favourite rice salad recipe.

In a previous post I made some suggestions for involving children in Learning in the kitchen. While for safety reasons children may not be able to actively participate in the preparation of the rice salad due to boiling water and the use of sharp knives, there is still much for them to learn through collecting and measuring the ingredients, and observing and discussing what the adult is doing in each step of the preparation.

If you are looking for a quick, nutritious and delicious salad to accompany a main meal at home or away, this rice salad recipe might be just the thing.

Rice salad 1

 

Rice salad 2

 

Rice salad 3

 

Rice salad 4

 

Rice salad 5

 

rice salad 6

I hope you enjoy it as much my family, friends and I do!

Thank you

Thank you for reading.

I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

Learning in the kitchen

The kitchen is a great place for learning.

kitchen

When children participate in the preparation and cleaning up of meals and other food items the learning is richer than just cooking and cleaning, they are learning skills which will be invaluable for their future independent lives such as:

  • cooperation, sharing, taking turns and patience (how long before they’ll be ready?)
  • the etiquette of dining.
  • hygienic food handling.
  • the language of food and cooking and the preciseness of vocabulary such as the difference between dice and chop, shred and slice, boil and steam, bake and roast.
  • counting and one to one matching when setting the table with one of each item for each person.
  • the mathematics of measuring mass (250 g), volume (1 cup or 250 ml) and time (bake for 15 minutes).
  • the mathematics of linear measurement; measuring the length, width and depth of baking tins and trays.
  • reading and following procedures, and understanding that unless the steps of a recipe are followed in order the outcome may not be what was expected.
  • writing of menus and shopping lists.
  • organisational and preparation skills: making sure all ingredients and utensils are available and assembled.
  • the science of mixing and combining, heating and cooling, and the different effects these may have upon different ingredients and utensils.
  • understanding that some of the changes that occur are reversible e.g. water to ice and back again; but that some are irreversible e.g. cream to butter, but not back again.

While it is not suitable for children to use knives or handle hot utensils or heating appliances when young, and only under careful adult supervision when older, children can be included in many kitchen tasks from a young age.

Watching, discussing and asking questions provide great opportunities for learning. Children can be introduced to tasks such as mixing, pouring, measuring, menu planning and cleaning up, amongst others, as they grow.

One of the fantastic things about food preparation is the opportunity it provides for asking questions: it can be an ongoing edible science experiment, for example:

Why do the cakes rise?

What makes the water bubble?

Why is a cloud coming out of the jug?

Where does the water go when it boils?

Why isn’t the egg white white before it’s cooked?

What would happen if I didn’t put the egg in the cake mixture?

Why is some sugar brown?

What the difference between sugar, caster sugar and brown sugar?

What happens to cream when it is beaten?

At the moment I am grappling with a kitchen science dilemma, and if you can provide an answer to my question, I’d be very appreciative.

My question is:

What is a suitable vegetarian substitute for gelatine?

One of my family’s favourite desserts is Mango Cream Tart. Gelatine is used as a setting agent in the dessert.

Some of my family members are vegetarians who, upon discovering the answer to the seemingly innocuous question

What is gelatine made from?

realised that eating anything containing gelatine no longer suited their food choices.

So rather than remove the dessert from family menus, or make something that was unacceptable to these family members, I decided the only thing to do was find a substitute for the offending ingredient.

I have purchased two different vegetarian substitutes but both require being boiled in the liquid which they are to set and are therefore unsuited to the Mango Cream Tart and other cream cheese cheesecakes I may wish to make. An additional factor confirming their lack of suitability is the warning that they may not set some fruit juices.

I did an online search and found 3 Vegetarian Substitutes for gelatine. If you have used with success any these products, or another product, that may be suitable to use in my Mango Cream Tart recipe I would love to know please.

Here is the recipe which includes suggestions for parents on how they can incorporate learning opportunities for their children while making it. If you can’t help solve my gelatine dilemma, I’d love to know what you think of the way I have presented the recipe. Would this format be useful to parents of young children?

Mango 1

mango 2

Mango 3

mango 4

Mango 5

Mango 6

Mango 7

Mango 8

Mango 9

Mango 10

mango 11

mango 12

Mango 13

Mango 14

You can click on this link: Mango cream tart – recipe for a full-screen slideshow of the recipe.

The quote by Michael Rosen at the top of this post is from his new book: Good Ideas How to Be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher. In the book he includes a chapter “The Kitchen” explaining why he thinks the kitchen is the best classroom invented.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post. I’d especially appreciate feedback on my presentation of the recipe and suggestions for a vegetarian substitute for gelatine.

 

Kitchen photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/john-schilling/364481975/  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/