I don’t have Facebook, I don’t Tweet, nor do I Instagram. I do, however, follow several food and lifestlye blogs. I enjoy the sites for their beautiful photos and simple meal plans, and I’m always amazed at the bloggers’ seemingly limitless ideas for content! Unlike the bloggers I admire, I often have a hard time finding inspiration. Looking for the perfect lesson intro or recipe, it seems like I spend hours on the internet or asking trusted colleagues. Sometimes, the answer can be as simple as listening to a wise suggestion from a student!
In the fall, when I started cooking after-school at Waterville Elementary on Fridays, one ambitious student (let’s call him D) asked EVERY WEEK if we could make his recipe – “apple people”. It required apples, peanut butter, pretzels, and various fruits or veggies. The apple acted as a body while the pretzels were the limbs. The peanut butter glued everything together while other produce could be used for decorations (think shredded carrots for hair, raisins for eyes).
Each was delighted in his or her own creativity and enjoyed the messy snack. In the end, the natural peanut butter was much too watery, but students were not bothered in the least. All it took was apples, raisins, peanut butter, and pretzels for students to unleash their inner artist. And you could eat your masterpiece, which is always a win in my book! When I asked D if he enjoyed his snack, he said “Yes, because it was my idea.”
Clearly, I need to work on creating more situations where student choice has real consequences. What better real life learning can there be? For the rest of the year, I will ask students for their input and ideas. It may not always lead to a usable answer, but the responses so far have been hilarious. At West elementary, students suggested we make: a buffet, shrimp, “healthy” cookies, raspberry smoothies, gravy, and chicken. We’ll see what else we can cook up!