At school, the 5th graders (Superboy) just finished a science unit on nutrition.
It was such a cool unit. He really learned a lot, and I particularly loved how the teachers designed the final project.
During the unit, the children learned all about the different food groups, the body's nutritional requirements, common problems and shortcomings in the typical American diet, and the importance of a healthy diet. (i.e., why does it matter what we eat?) The teachers also emphasized how important it is to drink enough water each day.
As a result of his studies, Superboy started saying things like:
(in the morning before school) "Mom, I think I should probably have an egg with my breakfast this morning, because it's good for my body to have a little protein before school."
(in the afternoon after school) "Did you know this type of snack has a lot of salt"
(in the evening) "I haven't had enough water today. Better drink some more."
He started reading nutrition labels. He seemed much more mindful of what he was eating.
Isn't that great? I was delighted to see how much he enjoyed the unit. I was also delighted to see his new knowledge make an impact on his choices. (....at least for the time being.)
(sidenote: As a follow up, I think it would be a great idea to request this book from the library for us to read as a family. A friend told me about it recently, and I think it would be good information to give to the kids. I like the fact that Pollan has come out with a young readers edition of this book....children's eating habits are more malleable than adults. Makes sense to thoroughly educate them on this topic while they're young. The Omnivore's Dilemma Young Readers Edition: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Michael Pollan. I would agree with Jamie Oliver and many others who say that all kids should have a basic understanding of where their food comes from, etc.)
Let me tell you about the project which concluded the 5th grade nutrition unit. All the 5th graders had a field trip to the farmers' market. (We have an enormous farmers' market with an incredibly diverse selection.)
The children were split into teams. There were four kids total on Superboy's team. Each team was given $20. Each team had a parent chaperone (who was just there for supervision---wasn't making the decisions.) Each team had a shopping project: to purchase at least one item from each of the four food groups. As you can imagine, the 5th graders were sometimes drawn to wild & crazy food items. When all the purchases had been made, there were some very interesting things in the grocery bags!
Superboy and his team purchased:
Scottish cheddar cheese
The next step of the project involved the parents. A handful of parents had volunteered to be the cooks. The cooks had the job of preparing all of the ingredients which had been purchased at the farmers' market.
I was one of the cooks. I showed up at the school kitchen at the right time to collect my ingredients. We'd been instructed to prepare some sort of dish which highlighted each of the individual ingredients in my bag. When I signed up to be a cook, I had no idea what ingredients I would receive. It totally depended on what the 5th graders purchased.
The bag with my name on it had two ingredients inside. My ingredients were not from Superboy's group. The instructions told me that I could come up with something that would combine the two ingredients OR just prepare two separate dishes.
(Before I opened my bag, I felt like a contestant on the Food Network show, Chopped. ha!)
My bag contained..........(drumroll please)
(1) A box of bowtie pasta. (easy peasy!)
(2) A package from the butcher containing 3 lbs of duck wings (interesting!)
I wanted Superboy to help decide what to do with these ingredients. He decided on a greek pasta bake for the pasta (with tomato sauce, olives, and a mozzarella/feta cheese combo on top.) He printed the recipe off the internet and made the entire dish himself. Yay for him!
For the wings, we decided to seek the help of our resident wing expert. (Hunter makes really good chicken wings.) We enlisted Hunter to prepare the duck wings, who decided on Teriyaki Duck Wings with a dipping sauce on the side.
All the cooks prepared their food on that Wednesday night, and all of the food was delivered to the school by lunchtime on Thursday.
All the 5th graders came together on that Thursday to enjoy their Nutrition Feast---which featured every single item that had been purchased by the kids the day before. It was a huge spread, and from what I heard, the kids had a blast. They were very adventurous eaters and polished off all sorts of interesting dishes.....when kids are involved in the "shopping & preparing" process, they're so much more inclined to also be involved in the eating process!
The verdict on our two dishes: the pasta was great. Nothing to write home about, but it was good. We originally had two big pans of the pasta bake. Unfortunately someone dropped one of them when it was coming out of the oven, so we ended up sending only one to school.
The duck wings: the teriyaki flavor was wonderful. The texture of the duck wings was okay. Duck wings are just so much chewier than chicken wings. But the kids loved them nonetheless, and my friend Shannon (who was at the feast) said the plate of duck wings was gone very quickly.
All in all, what a fun & educational experience for these 5th graders!
* * * * *
Next up for the 5th graders: They are starting a huge unit on the Roman Empire. Each student has been assigned a figure from Roman history. The student will research that person & write a paper. Then, the student will dress up as their character and give an oral presentation (in the 1st person, "I was the first emperor of Rome"). On presentation day, the parents are invited, and there will also be a delicious Roman feast. (We're big on having feasts at our school--I love it! Mom, remember when you were here for a visit when the 4th graders had the Egyptian feast?)
The paper that will be written for this research project is the first "real typed paper" Superboy has ever had to write. It's required to be 2 typed pages, double spaced. For some reason, my child typing a 2 page paper makes me feel like he is getting SO OLD.
Superboy's assigned person: Augustus Caesar.
He'll be fun to research. He's the one who became emperor after Julius Caesar was assassinated. Augustus Caesar is known as the founder of the Roman Empire. (no biggie!)
As part of their study of Rome, all the 5th graders will be memorizing a selection from William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar.
Wanna know the first thing I think of when I read over this selection?
I'm sure I'm not the only one. Any child of the 80's probably has this litte gem come to mind:
Such a classic!
Oh, how I love the Cosby Show.