As the holidays approach and cold weather sets in, we often think of indoor, hands-on activities to engage and motivate children. One activity that enriches experience, extends critical and creative thinking is cooking. And it’s delicious and tasty too! Cooking with children…
* provides an opportunity for language development and gives them background knowledge of the types and origins of various items.
* enriches literature experiences and helps them remember key details.
* engages their senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting!
* develops their motor skills such as: stirring, whisking, chopping, peeling, beating, kneading, and cracking open an egg or two!
* introduces them to mathematical concepts (measuring, sequencing, adding and subtracting fractions, multiplying, etc.)
* gives them a sense of accomplishment: they worked hard and created something wonderful to share with others. And it’s fun too!
During December, I have had the pleasure of building reindeer cookies with JPK, baking St. Lucia buns with Kindergarten, decorating gingerbread people with 1st graders, and constructing a Cinderella castle with 2n graders. Cooking is well worth the time and it makes learning stick! I have had many former students comment that the thing they remembered and enjoyed the most was the cooking we did in connection with what we were learning. Cooking was the trigger for retaining lots of information whether it was linked to math, science, social studies, or reading.
Some books and recipes for December, which celebrate Festivals of Light (St. Lucia’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa) are:
- Climo, Shirley; Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel
- Godden, Rumer; The Story of Holly & Ivy
- Primavera, Elise; Auntie Claus
- Say, Allen; Tree of Cranes (Japanese)
- Soto, Gary; Too Many Tamales (Mexican)
- Brett, Jan; Gingerbread Baby.
- Cole, Joanna; This is the Place for Me.
- Esterl, Arnica; The Fine Round Cake.
- Galdone, Paul; The Ginger Bread Boy
- Grimm, Jakob Ludwig Karl; Hansel and Gretel.
- Jarell, Randall; The Gingerbread Rabbit.
- Squires, Janet; Gingerbread Cowboy.
- Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton; My First Kwanzaa Book.
- Medearis, Angela; Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
- Porter, A.P.; Kwanzaa
- Saint James, Synthia; It’s Kwanzaa Time.
Latkes and Hanukkah Books:
- Alecihem, Sholen; Hanukkah Money.
- Goffstein, M.B.; Laughing Latkes.
- Goldin, Barbara Diamond; Just Enough is Plenty
- Hirsh, Marilyn; Potato Pancakes All Around: A Hanukkah Tale.
- Kimmel, Erick; Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.
- Schotter, Roni; Hanukkah!