Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fruit Salad

Friday's recipe inspiration came from the milk leftover from the previous weeks' ice cream lesson. I took it home and made it into yogurt, something we did in class last year. I was imagining using a fruit salad/yogurt dip recipe as a way to review previous skills. Then Tuesday I noticed how quickly kids scarfed down the apples and honey yogurt dip that was provided as morning snack from the kitchen. I tossed cinnamon into the mix and created my own version of fruit dip.

Making fruit salad and yogurt dip allowed students continued practice with knife skills, measurement, and reading a recipe. As was demonstrated last week, if you don't read and follow the recipe, you might end up with large quantities of salt in your ice cream! The stakes weren't as high this week, but they did still require some coordination and discussion in order to create the fruit salad independent of the yogurt dip. Teamwork also came into play as groups larger than last week had to plan and work together for their recipe to  come off successfully.

Doreeninthekitchen got me a beautiful bowl of fruits -- apples, pears, watermelon, kiwi, bananas and grapes. I gave kids a recipe, but told them the fruit salad directions were really more of a suggestion. Randomly divided into groups of five and six, they started off by talking through the fruits and deciding who liked which fruits and to what degree. It was charming to see them so earnest in their planning; certain fruits were chopped up and put in separate bowls so group members could opt in or out.

Kids had varied reactions to the yogurt dip, which was only mildly sweetened with honey. Unless you are in the habit of eating plain yogurt, you don't realize how (over)sweetened the commercial stuff is. Of course, that goes for many pre-packaged foods. One girl did say she preferred her yogurt "tart." Student choice came into play as each child decided how much dip they wanted on their salad. One table group opted to spoon it into cups to make sure it was divided evenly, and some kids ate it separate from the salad.

As they ate, we talked about their reactions to the dish and how their groups worked together. Overall it came off stunningly smoothly. Every group worked out their kinks on their own, no one came to me complaining, everybody ate and enjoyed their dish. There was almost no wasted food, either.

Two areas that could have worked better:
1) Leadership: We are investigating leadership as a beginning of year theme. I had randomly assigned the groups, and randomly drawn one name out of each group to be the team leader. We discussed how this didn't mean that person was the boss of everyone, but rather a person to keep an eye on the overall process and make sure everyone was appropriately involved. Although the students who were drawn liked being call "Chef," from my point of view the dynamic in each group was no different than if there hadn't been a designated Chef. On the other hand, the students who were Chef commented on how they felt a responsibility to make sure everything was going smoothly. And it did, so maybe they were somehow doing their job, unbeknownst to me. Next time, I will make the Chef job more specific if possible. Leading a group can be a huge role to take on and in this case, it might not have been immediately apparent to the Chef what s/he was supposed to do.

2) Clean up: This was where it became clear some of the leaders were happy to let their worker bees do everything. In a burst of group spirit, many groups cleared all their dishes in one fell swoop and were prepared to have one or two group members wash everything. Other groups sent up each person with their own dish and one group item to wash. Those kids got stuck behind the kids trying to wash 25 items and the line stalled. This is easy to fix. Next week we'll practice having each student wash their eating dishes first, then work out a plan for washing everything else. One of these days, it will all work smoothly and I won't be left with a pile of dishes to finish at 3PM...

You've read this far and may be wondering where the pictures are. Whoops! I left the camera at school. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

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