Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Kindergarten Review: Food

In lieu of formal curriculum, each month we choose a subject (or I choose a subject) and make that the focus of our learning projects for the month. Brother-Bug is kindergarten-aged (more or less), so our topics are broad and simple. I try to keep them easy to work into our day and fun to play around with.

For the month of August we learned about Food. This was a particularly easy one for a family deeply immersed in whole food eating, local food, canning, and who all love cooking. As the month progressed it was fun to see Brother-Bug take on more and more of the food challenges, and his awareness of what I was serving him at meals (and why) deepened as well.

We started off with a Preschool Lesson Bin from our local library all about food - a collection of a CD, some puppets, a DVD, and about 10 books all centered around Food. It was a good start.

We read some great books and did some excellent projects.

Muzzy kicked us off with her great Ice Cream Project! Brother-Bug said this was his favorite because he got to eat ice cream at the end.

Brother-Bug samples the produce
We also enjoyed blueberry picking at Adkins Farm, and the resulting work making jam, freezing berries, drying more berries, and making pie. Mmmm...pie....

We made our own mozzarella one day, using Ricki Carroll's book and instructions. It's fun and easy to make, and very satisfactory. Brother-Bug said he really liked the kneading and pulling necessary to make mozzarella. And when we hung the whey up to make ricotta (which didn't really turn out) he liked how the dripping was "cheese pee".

With the leftover whey, we made bread! We measured, mixed, kneaded, let sit, punched, and waited, and finally baked. It was perfect with honey. We talked about how the yeasts work (they make the bread fluffy by eating sugar and then 'farting'...lots of giggles there!), how to be safe with the oven, and other general learning tasks presented themselves - measuring math and so on.

So far, all these projects are just things that happened in the course of our days. Part of our rhytem of August. The cheese was made because we had extra milk. The bread was made because we had the whey from the cheese.
Kneading, kneading, kneading...

We talked about the 3 Gs - something I have written about on this blog. We cut out food pictures from magazines and made a 3 Gs collage. Along with the collage we discussed healthy eating choices, the importance of balancing healthy food with treat food, eating a rainbow of colors...and had fun with scissors and glue!

We had a field trip to a local fresh pasta maker - Pasta Plus - and learned about how food is produced in a factory. Brother-Bug got to cut his own sheets of pasta which we later had for dinner. Super tasty.

In our library bin there was a Sesame Street DVD about funny food songs, which was a favorite. Brother-Bug got to write a first 'Media Report' about it - dictating to me while I asked him questions. It was a real challenge for him to put his thoughts together about the movie, and I was thrilled that he was very excited about that particular challenge. When we thought back about the month's activities, he specifically mentioned enjoying the challenge of the report.

Our major math activity was making a Bar Graph of likes, dislikes, and favorites. Brother-Bug worked with his friend T, asking people in their world yes/no questions and filling in the graph I made with stickers. After the information gathering was done, we looked closely at the graph, asking several questions - is there anything that everyone likes, but is not anyone's favorite? How many people like ice cream and how many like celery? Which has the most likes? And so on.

Our graph - green indicates 'like', yellow indicates 'dislike', and red indicates 'favorite'.

To finish up the month we read Everybody Cooks Rice and located the countries represented on our globe with post-its. We also read The Life of Rice, about how rice is grown in Thailand and the culture that surrounds that staple crop.

To augment, I found some websites with food-related games for when he really wanted to play computer games. There was no game or site that stood out as excellent, so I'm not going to bother sharing them here. I threw them in mostly to keep consistent with our Food theme. 

We had a great time with all of this, and since we are only in kindergarten, I don't worry too much about retention and the ability to regurgitate information. It's enough for me that we are learning and doing and enjoying - forging pathways of life long learning and experiencing all that we can. That's what it is all about for me.


Nest month we leap into maps and how they work - playing with geography! I can't wait to see where the month's adventures lead us!

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