Create Your Own Cookbook How a class on food can be used to teach a variety of different real-world skills
The BRAVE program
The BRAVE program is an after-school program and has been running since 2002, with a district-wide participation of more than 700 students in the 2008-09 school year
BRAVE programs exist at both Barlow Park and Murray Park (which is the other elementary school in Ripon, housing grades 3 - 5).
BRAVE stands for Building Resiliency, Values, and Assets in Everyone.
Barlow Park Elementary School, where I volunteer, is located in Ripon, WI and serves as a school for grades K-2, as well as pre-kindergarten and inclusive schooling.
What my responsibilities are…
Provide the children with materials to make and decorate covers & backs for their cookbooks and placemats to use weekly
Type up easy-to-read recipes with specific instructions understandable to primary school-aged children
Plan out ingredient lists and go buy the food necessary to make the planned recipes
Explain how to and then cook a recipe in 45 minutes or less, and engage all of the children in the process
I am a college sophomore. I have been working with the BRAVE program at Barlow Park since the beginning of the ’09-’10 school year. I create the lesson plans for and teach two classes on my own, one of which is Create Your Own Cookbook.
Linda, a high-school junior
Linda has been working with BRAVE since the beginning of the ’09-’10 school year. She is originally from Mexico and helps interpret for the ELL students and their parents.
Abby, a college freshman
Abby is the newest addition to our group of mentors. She has just begun working with the BRAVE program as of March, 2010.
What we do
In the next series of slides, I will discuss, in order of events, how our class is set up, and the skills that each different task equips the children with.
So take a peek into my Thursday afternoons…
Health & sanitation
Children are instructed to wash their hands, and then find a seat where their respective placemats have been placed
(placing the placemats on the table ourselves allows us to control the seating order and thereby prevent disruptions. Some days, the kids are wild!)
We discuss what the children think we will be making today.
They first guess randomly, and then they are shown the ingredients and try again to guess what we might be cooking (and, sometimes, they guess what the ingredients are, because some can confuse our young friends at first sight!)
The children all collaborate to read the instructions in the recipe. We discuss the measurements needed of each ingredient, and step-by-step what our procedure will be.
We also focus on what parts necessitate a grown-up helper (such as anything needing to be cut with a sharp knife or cooked in the oven).
The most fun part is assembling the dish that we are making (though some might argue that it is most fun to eat the finished product)!
As we do so, the children must focus on the measurements. It helps with their math skills, not only through the use of whole numbers versus fractions, but quantity of these as well.
We do counts out-loud to keep track of how much we have used so far and how much of each ingredient we still need.
Cooking is fun for all of our kids! They feel empowered when they are able to make a recipe from scratch and then take pleasure in eating it.
I try to divide up the responsibilities (measuring, pouring, mixing, et cetera) so that child gets a turn to do at least one special job.
I choose the children to participate in an order based on who is being attentive to his or her neighbors as they complete their jobs, and who is not being disruptive !
The kids know that this is how I operate, since our first class when I established my rules.
(You should see them behave when we have to crack eggs. That is the most sought-after job!)
One anxiety for the children being patient between the time that the dish is mixed together and the time when they are allowed to eat it.
(Sometimes this is a short wait, just long enough for them to wash their hands off again; sometimes this is a long wait, while our dish is cooking in the oven or cooling in the refrigerator.)
We read a short book that incorporates ideas about different foods and nutrition, or play interactive word games
( details on the next slide )
One favorite game to play while we are waiting is
I am going on a picnic
The children begin by saying: I am going on a picnic and with me, I am bringing something that begins with the letter A.
We go through the alphabet in A-Z order, so the first child must think of some food that begins with the letter A and then his or her classmates guess which food that would be.
More on phonetics
This is helpful for the kids in many ways:
to think about the order the letters of the alphabet come in;
to recall their phonetic knowledge and decide which food-related words start with the letter sound that they are being given;
to make a decision about what is edible and what qualifies as a food;
to use their imaginations !
Once our food is ready to eat, we don’t just dig in hurriedly!
I try to ask the children to use their senses to tell me about the food:
What does it look like?
Can you see what ingredients we used? Does it look like something you’ve eaten before?
What does it smell like?
Does it smell like another food? Does it even have a smell?
What does it taste like?
Do you like or dislike the taste? Does it taste like any other food you’ve ever eaten?
All of the children are encouraged just to try a food that they believe they may not like.
Some decline, but rarely; most of our kids are agreeable and will take at least one bite just to try . Sometimes they are surprised: It tastes good!
I have heard on more than one occasion, about a food that a child claims that he or she does not like
Deciding for oneself
We always come to a final verdict at the very end of class, usually in a thumbs-up, thumbs-down vote.
The children are able to voice their opinions and feel comfortable saying aloud what their individual preferences are.
Examples of what we’ve made
Ants on a log
(Celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins; easy for them to make themselves!)
English muffin pizzas
(Every kid loves eating pizza! They were so excited to see that something so simple to make could taste just like the real thing.)
(We had a long discussion on dairy products and the kids were quite animated!)
Examples of what we’ve made
(From scratch; most of our kids had no idea that it was even possible to make these themselves. They do not only come from fast-food joints!)
(Made with a crescent roll base and a cream cheese/sour cream base and topped with raw veggies and shredded cheese…I was so proud that every child tried this one! Some loved it!)