HomeJean Marzollo, author of I SPY

The New Kindergarten

Chapter Six

Theme: Food


A good month in which to explore this theme is November, the month of the final harvest and Thanksgiving. The goals of the unit are to help children learn about healthful foods and to provide them with firsthand experiences in food preparation. Such hands-on experiences foster skill development in all the curriculum areas: language arts, social studies, science, math, art, and music. Children like to cook, so this unit should be especially enjoyable for them. Cooking activities can continue all year, and healthful foods can be reviewed again when the topic of health is studied.

Language Arts: Oral Language

Poems to Memorize

Teach the children the poems so they can enjoy saying them together. Print out copies of the poems for each child to illustrate and take home. Encourage parents to enjoy and memorize poetry with their children.

Mix a Pancake

Mix a pancake Stir a pancake
Pop it in the pan; Fry the pancake
Toss the pancake Catch it if you can.

-Christina G. Rossetti

(Make pancakes in class, using an electric frying pan or stove. Keep children away from the heat.)

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, Eating his Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum, And said, "What a good boy am I."
(Make up new verses for real children and to fit the time of year.)

Little Gail Smith sat in a corner, Eating her Thanksgiving pie;
She put in her thumb and pulled out a plum, And said, "What a good girl am I."

To Market, to Market

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig;
Home again, home again, jiggety jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

(Make up other verses for other foods.)

To market, to market, to buy a fat pie;
Home again, home again, jiggety jie.

To market, to market, to buy a fat cake;
Home again, home again, jiggety jake.

Language Arts: Listening

Food Riddles

Ask each child to bring into class for homework some kind of healthful food, such as a carrot, a granola bar, a box of raisins, a can of peas, and so forth. Spread the foods out on a table to look at. Teach the children how to ask riddles about the foods, such as, "What is red on the outside, white inside, and tastes crunchy when you bite into it?" (an apple) Ask a few riddles yourself and then ask for volunteers to ask riddles. Explain to the children that they must listen carefully when a riddle is asked so that they hear all the clues.

VARIATION 1: Hide the foods in a box and ask each child to ask a riddle about the food he or she brought to class.

VARIATION 2: Collect magazine pictures of food and display them on a bulletin board. Ask riddles about them.

Language Arts: Writing

Two Class Cookbooks Recipes We Invented

Ask each child to dictate a recipe to you. It can be for any food, perhaps the child's favorite food. Take down the dictation just as the child tells it. Don't correct the recipes. The results may be something like this: "To make spaghetti, throw the noodles in water and bake for 5 hours." That's okay. Ask the children to illustrate their recipes. Make photocopies of the results and collate into "cookbooks" the children can take home. These cookbooks make amusing presents for parents.

Recipes We Made

Make copies of the real recipes you make in class. Collate them into cookbooks the children can take home. Encourage parents to cook with their children. Put a safety page in the book with rules such as: (1) Children should not use sharp knives. They can use serrated plastic knives to cut and spread soft foods. (2) Children should not operate stoves or touch hot foods. (3) Children should only cook when they are with grown-ups. (4) Always wash your hands before cooking and always clean up afterward. Have each child decorate a cover for the cookbook.

Language Arts: Reading

Rebus Recipes

When you cook in class, write out the recipe in rebus form on language experience paper with the children watching. A rebus uses pictures to substitute for, or in addition to, words; thus, a rebus recipe is a picture recipe. Go over the recipe until the children can read it themselves. Encourage them to copy it if they like.

After the children are able to read the pictures on the recipe, provide them with ingredients and let them make the recipe. You may want them to work in small groups or individually if the measurements are given out in small enough quantities.

Social Studies

Food Factory

CONCEPTS FOR DISCUSSION: We can share parts of a job. We can name the parts of a job in order (sequencing). A factory is a place where workers make things.

Ants on a Log

1. Some children wash the celery
2. Some children dry it.
3. Some children or the teacher cut the celery into logs. (Use plastic serrated knives.)
4. Some children spread the logs with peanut butter (or cream cheese).
5. Some children dot the logs with raisins (ants).
6. Everyone helps to clean up.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: What other snacks could we make this way? (Try Cracker Faces made by spreading crackers with cream cheese and designing faces on them with raisins.) What would happen if we put the ants on the log first and then the peanut butter?


Brainstorming Game: Same and Different

Set two different foods in front of the children and ask, "How are they the same?" Explain that there is no one right answer; encourage the children to think of many ways that the foods are the same. Repeat the process for the question, "How are they different?"

Interesting foods to compare are:

Orange juice and milk
An apple and an orange
Grapes and raisins
Flour and bread

Seed Taste Test

CONCEPT: Some seeds are nutritious to eat. "Nutritious" means healthful.

At snack time provide different kinds of edible seeds for the children to taste, such as roasted pumpkin seeds, * walnuts, peanuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, and popcorn. Explain that all of these foods, including nuts, are seeds. (You might want to explain further that not all seeds are for eating, and that children shouldn't eat seeds that come in seed packages. You might also want to say that food seeds should be chewed well before swallowing.) Make a chart with the seeds pasted on it and labels the children can read. Try planting some seeds.

*To roast pumpkin seeds, mix 1 cup seeds (separated from the stringy pulp in a pumpkin) with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast for 45 minutes in an oiled pan at 200-250°. Salt, if desired.


To help children understand where foods come from, prepare different foods from scratch. Take photographs of the process to use later in sequencing games. Help the children use sequence words to describe when things happen, such as before, after; first, next; then, finally; first, second, third, fourth, and so on.


Estimating Amounts


Ask the children to bring in food, such as dry cereal, that comes in countable pieces; Ask them to bring the food to class in clear plastic containers. Set the food on a table in the math center along with pencils, pieces of paper, and a collection basket. Ask the children to stop by the center at some point in the day to guess or "estimate" how many pieces they think are in the jar. Have them write their estimates down, sign them, and put them in the basket. When all the estimates are in, count the food pieces together into piles of ten. Then add the piles together to get the total amount. Ask, "Whose estimate was closest?" Help the children figure out the answer.

Simple Simon

Simple Simon met a pie man
Going to the fair.
Said Simple Simon to the pie man,
"Let me taste your ware."
Said the man to Simple Simon,
"Show me first your penny."
Said Simple Simon to the pie man,
"Indeed, I have not any."

Ask the children to retell in their own words the story of Simple Simon. Elicit from them the fact that the story doesn't have an ending. Ask "What do you think will happen? Will the pie man give Simple Simon a taste even though he doesn't have any money?" Have the children draw pictures of their answer. For further discussion, ask "What could you do if you wanted something and didn't have any money to pay for it?"

Good vocabulary words to discuss in these discussions: some, none.
"What does zero mean?"

Little Tommy Tucker

Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper.
What shall he sing for?
White bread and butter.
How shall he cut it without any knife?
How shall he marry without any wife?


Food Dyes

Provide the children with scraps of natural color string, yarn, and muslin to dye in cranberry juice and blueberry juice from canned blueberries. Dry the string, yarn, and muslin and use to make collages. Explain that long ago people dyed cloth with dyes made from berries and other plants. Today many people continue to use natural dyes.

Pizza Pies

Make pizza pie collages on paper plates. Provide the children with construction paper, glue, and scissors. Ask them to think of foods that can go on pizzas, to cut out shapes to match them, and to glue the shapes on to the pizzas. Before the glue dries, let the children sprinkle the finished pies with yellow glitter for Parmesan cheese. If you like, you can also provide dried oregano to sprinkle on the pies so that they smell like pizza. Cut a pizza into four slices to teach the concept half and quarter.


Popcorn Song

To the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot," sing:

I'm a little popcorn in a pot.
Heat me up and watch me pop.
When I get all fat and white, I'm done.
Popping corn is lots of fun. POP!

(The children should be crouched like kernels while they sing the song. On the word POP, they pop up in the air.)
Bring in a popcorn maker and make popcorn in class. Explain that the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims about corn. They taught them how to grow it and how to pop corn kernels. The Pilgrims had never heard of corn before. They were glad to learn about it.

Old MacDonald Food Song

Sing "Old MacDonald" a new way to emphasize foods that are grown on farms.

CONCEPT: Animals and plants are grown on farms. Many foods come from animals and plants.

Old MacDonald had a farm
And on his farm he had an apple tree, Ee-I-ee-I-O,
With a pick-an-apple here, And a pick-an-apple there, Old MacDonald had a farm Ee-I-ee-I-O.
Old MacDonald had a farm Ee-I-ee- I -0,
And on his farm he had a pumpkin patch, Ee-I-ee-I-O,
With a pick-a-pumpkin here, And a pick-a-pumpkin there, Old MacDonald had a farm Ee-I-ee-I-0.
Ask the children to think of more verses.

Food and Cooking Songbook

There are many food and cooking songs. Perhaps you and the children can make a class book of them with words and illustrations. The following list might be your table of contents:

"I'm a Little Teapot"

"Over the River and Through the Woods"

"Hot Cross Buns"

"Pease-Porridge· Hot"

"Oats, Peas, Beans"

"Polly, Put the Kettle On"

"The Muffin Man"

"Sing a Song of Sixpence" "Pat-a-cake"

Physical Education

Hot Potato

Ask the children to sit in a circle close together. Give one child a potato and ask him or her to start passing it when you start the music. (Play a tape recorder, record player, radio, or instrument.) When you stop the music, whoever has the potato holds it up, and everyone shouts, "Potato!" In this noncompetitive version of the game, it is good to have the potato. No one has to leave the game.

VARIATIONS: Play standing, tossing a big rubber ball to each other.

Peanut Hunt

Hide peanuts ahead of time on the lawn of the school or in a restricted area in a park. Before the hunt begins, define the borders of where the peanuts are hidden. Give each child a bag to hold the peanuts he or she finds. Give the signal for the hunt to begin. The children keep the peanuts they find. Have extra peanuts handy to drop near children who are having trouble finding them. Back in the classroom, have a bowl of peanuts handy for children who feel they haven't enough. If you like, make a graph of the amount of peanuts the children found.


Based on the book THE NEW KINDERGARTEN: Full Day, Child Centered, Academic
A book for teachers, administrators, practice teachers, teacher's aides, and parents
Text © Jean Marzollo, Illustrations © Irene Trivas

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