Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time To Make The Donuts

In my studies I have been reading about the affective factors of motivation, self-confidence and anxiety as the make or break components of second language acquisition. I'd venture that they are not so far removed from successful learning in any context.

As Mary Poppins herself states "In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! the job's a game. And every task you undertake, becomes a piece of cake..."

Games, fun, play, enjoyment...

These are cherished ingredients in any recipe. So, when it came to choosing a new project idea for our dramatic play area (previously a library) we asked the students. It was a tight race between a zoo and a bakery. The bakery won!

As part of the Reggio Emilia project approach to learning we listen to the ideas of our students and allow them to dictate the direction of our inquiry. This means that we cannot plan the unit in advance but rather facilitate their exploration in a joint partnership. It is a leap of faith because you never know where it'll lead exactly.

Once our topic was selected Lauren and I documented their current knowledge of a bakery. What do we need? What happens there? My favorite student response "we need bakery people".

We went on a walking trip to a local family operated bakery (established in 1935!) to gather ideas, ask questions, make observational drawings and partake of the yummy heart shaped cookies.

We also used our other available resource, the school library. Our librarian Sara pulled a bunch of helpful fiction and non-fiction titles. Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington provided us with a nice overview of the tools and procedure involved in baking. The book contains simple language and clear illustrations as well as some recipes. LOVE IT!

Armed with this knowledge we began to create our classroom bakery. A flurry of activity ensued as the rug was removed and a stove, baking table and cupboard was brought in.

Each morning another student arrives with bakery items supplied by a generous family member. We've got cupcake liners, wooden spoons, whisks, cupcake trays, sprinkles, cookie cutters, toothpicks, measuring cups, chef hats, etc.

One child even brought in handmade aprons his mom whipped up the night before! I think the parents are just as excited as their kids about the bakery. Already some have suggested we have a bake sale and have offered other ideas to help make our exploration a meaningful experience.

Until that all comes together if you are in the market for some play-doh cookies covered with sprinkles and icing you know where to go.


Dumdad said...

What a tremendous idea. And, fun though it is, very educational too. And who knows - perhaps it'll become a career for some of your pupils.

Gary said...

Now all we'll need is a butcher and a candle stick maker for our tub.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a wonderful post....baking is a particularly well suited for having the kids explore so many layers of the world.

that quote of mary poppins is one of my absolute favorites as it is terribly wise and if we keep that in mind as we carry on our everyday life, not only can we accomplish things in a snap, but we are so much more content!

an aside, when I saw the title, I though oh gary's family has a tradition to make donuts on tuesday night (mardi gras) too! ha ha!!

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

i just had a post office last week and I do a bakery every year but I have never had sprinkles in it...I got a bakery to donate the nice bakery boxes too- I have a great book you should look for called jake bakes a cake - he is a baker making a wedding cake.
I have a long list of things I do in the dramatic play corner -do you have a list you have been using?
I love your posts you are a very interesting teacher different than most men, your wife is blessed to have you. If you have time to check out my recent post- give it a try.

Barbara said...

I am impressed that your units are created so democratically with the students involved at every step. No wonder they find learning in your class to be so much fun.

Of course I'm immediately wondering how we could parlay this into a one-hour unit with the shelter kids. I'm pretty sure they have an oven there...

Barbara said...

Play-doh cookies covered with sprinkles and icing...Yummy!
Don't forget to integrate their writing skills with clipboards for orders etc..
Mine love the writing in any of our dramatic play areas!!
This is a fun idea…maybe our’s next month will have to be a bakery.

lettuce said...

what a great experience for the children to be involved in the decision making and setting up


Gary said...

Kimy - I like your baking reference with 'layers'. I love that Poppins quote. I used it once to begin a paper when I was working on my M.A. As you know, there is nothing like a well placed quote. As for making donuts, I have no idea how to do that. I was just quoting that haggard man with the little mustache from the Dunkin' Donuts commericals. You make doughnuts??

Whisper - The post office is another great idea for dramatic play. I have done that in the past too. I will check out the book you recommended. I LOVE having other teachers read the blog and share ideas!!

Barbara - Things get a little more sticky when dealing with real ovens but if you want to actually bake you might want to try making gingerbread men. As the cookies bake you can read the book (or different versions of this story) and once the cookies cool you can decoate them. That should eat up the hour.

Barbaara - I totally overlooked this aspect but the kids themselves made me realize my omission. When they were playing they went and got paper to create a menu. I will add paper, clipboards and markers/pencils tomorrow. Thank you so much for you input!

Letty - I am pleased that they didn't go with some of their other ideas (a pond, a zoo) because that would have been harder on me. Although, I am curious as to how they would have pulled it off. Kids are truly incredible.

Arielle said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing idea! And that parent that made the aprons the night before! Wow! It's great when parents can get so into what their kids are doing in the classroom. I love that.

Brian Miller said...

that is so cool. love experiential learning with kids. a bakery is a great many ways to go with it...

William Manson © 2010 said...

sounds like all are having fun, and what a perfect way to learn, very inspirational @)

Mona said...

wow! That is such a cute exercise :)

Gary said...

MONA!! How wonderful to see you on FYB! I popped over to The Two Bits and love the pics you posted. What a smile.

William - The fun just continues. The students have named our bakery "The Cakery". Clever of them to come up with this name. We were discussing possible names and of their choices 'the cakery' seemed much better than 'chocolate lemon'. Haha. I love watching them in their chef hats and aprons, totally focused on their creations.

Brian - The children are doing a fantastic job leading us on this project. And their parents are becoming more involved in the classroom as a result which is a thrilling element.

Arielle - It is great that the parents are becoming invested in what we are doing. Some mornings a dad or a mom will drop off their child and stay for a bit. They prefer the cakery over going to their jobs I suppose. It makes me realize once again how blessed I am to get to spend the day with the kids, teaching, learning and having fun.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

From travels in many distant lands, I'd say being able to express hunger, need for a bathroom or directions to a safe hotel as being basic motivators to learn a second language.

Great post. Love the bakery visit.

Barbara said...

So I am off for the next week and a half...Do you have a "Spring Vacation"? I am feeling like I needed to "fill up my empty bucket" as a friend use to tell me a long time ago. When you feel like you have been giving it all you've got for a need to stop and refill your bucket!
Anyway not sure why I shared that...HA but it must be how I feel. Hope you get a little time off soon cause it is feeling good to me:)

Gary said...

Gregg - Yes, those are great motivators.

Barbara - I understand the need to refill. Our spring break is from March 29 - April 7 and I am looking forward to it. The hardest part of my day is my commute (4 hours a day) so it'll be nice to not have to deal with that. Enjoy your vacation.

Sebastien said...

hahhaha, we need bakery people. Classic!

Love how you allow the kids to dictate the nature of the project.


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