We all know being exposed to a lush green garden can reap countless rewards. Gardening provides all different forms of engagement for the children here at 24th St. Elementary, including designing, planting, and maintaining gardens; harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and creating art and stories inspired by gardens.
Every student has their own personal preference when it comes to their time spent in the garden whether it’s planting, weeding, watering, or simply digging for creatures in the soil. But there’s absolutely no doubt that everyone LOVES cooking class. There’s something about harvesting our ingredients from only a few feet away, preparing an amazing recipe, and then finally relishing in all our hard work together as a group that really gets the kids more excited than ever.
One of the best parts of cooking is getting the kids to explore new foods, herbs, and spices that they typically wouldn’t consume otherwise. It goes something like this: start with a popular base that is guaranteed to be a kid favorite such as a big juicy watermelon, next dice up some crunchy purple onion and jicama, sprinkle in a little cotija cheese, then squeeze some lime juice to give it that tangy punch, toss in a little cilantro and a dash of cayenne pepper and voilà - you have a delicious watermelon salad! This simple recipe is packed full of unique flavors that is a total hit with the kids.
Preparing, cooking, and finally eating the finished product teaches the children invaluable lessons. They learn to be independent thinkers, clearly understanding where food comes from, and most importantly by expanding their taste buds, they in turn expand their horizons to see beyond the processed, artificial foods that most children in this generation have come to know all too well.