Cooking in the Children's House--#1 Community Fruit Salad

Every year we begin our cooking program at school with a project designed to build community. Each member of the group brings a piece of fruit from home (this is important to establish an early home/school connection).

We take time to present each piece of fruit describing its sensorial qualities and recognizing the contribution made by the child. It's amazing how this step deepens the experience, and you will hear the words and sentiment expressed over and over as the fruit salad is consumed later at the snack table.

The children wash their fruit, chop it up, and add it to a communal bowl, thus creating an infinite variety of delicious fruit salad.
Everyone enjoys this first cooking endeavor immensely. The excitement of practical life work with real tools is a draw for most. The older students lead the way with their adept use of the utensils and memory of the procedures (including dish washing at the end).
When it comes time to eat the glorious mix it is nice to take a moment or two to observe the children. Some pick out their favorite fruit and eat only that, but most are happy to sample all that went into the salad. "I'm eating Josie's New Zealand kiwi now," they may say to their snack table companion, or "Do you know that my grandpa has raspberries growing right in his yard?" Socialization of the class is taking place now and it is so lovely to hear one child ask another, "Did you like my watermelon in the fruit salad? It's my favorite, is it yours, too?"
At the end of the day we take time for a bit of grace and courtesy and thank each member, again, for their contribution to the group cooking project. We also try to remember to thank the parents at pick up time, and sometimes get to listen in a bit as their child explains the first cooking class in excited tones. They are so proud of their accomplishment and joyfully recount the task they undertook with their new group.

The formation of a community is well underway.


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