Learning is always fun when it’s interactive, and it’s even better when you get to make something new and delicious.
That’s what Brittney Daily, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teacher at Bowdon Elementary School, has been focusing on during her first lessons this year with the Kids ‘N the Kitchen mobile teaching cooking cart.
Kids ‘N the Kitchen is an interactive teaching kitchen program developed by Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well for grades K-8. The program is designed to help teach students healthy cooking skills and improve their nutrition.
Part of Daily’s cooking cart lesson plan is getting her students more familiar with the nutritional values of fruits, grains and vegetables — such as pumpkin, fall’s signature squash, which was on the menu for her most recent lesson featuring pumpkin pancakes.
“Pumpkins carry a ton of nutritional value and are great for a lot more than just carving,” said Daily. “A lot of my students had never had pumpkin before, especially in pancake form, so when they found out that we were going to be cooking a recipe with pumpkin, they were very interested in seeing how it was all going to work.”
Using whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin puree, Daily’s class cooked up a tasty take on pancakes.
Daily teaches STEM classes for kindergarten through fifth grade, and she takes a slightly different approach to each lesson to make it appropriate for the curriculum of each grade level.
“Our third graders are starting a unit on fossils, so they’re learning about lots of different kinds of fossils, how they’re made and how to distinguish between different types,” said Daily. “With the Kids ‘N the Kitchen cart, we are going to use math to make a cookie recipe and make our own fossils. Then they’ll have to write about the significance of it.”
With her fourth and fifth grade classes, she makes the pancake recipe, but students solve math equations to prepare the pancake mix using pre-portioned measurements Daily made for them ahead of time.
“My fifth grade classes are a little more involved,” said Daily. “In their lesson, they took the recipe and used division to divide the measurements of ingredients, and then they added them to the bowls to make the batter, and as we made pancakes, we discussed the life cycle of a pumpkin.”
Daily said she hopes the lessons help her students learn the true nutritional value of the foods they’re eating and help them to make healthier decisions when choosing which foods to eat.
“Your normal pancake is just loaded with sugar. But in this lesson, we substituted some of that with pumpkin and used whole wheat flour to get all the added nutritional benefits. We also discuss how our bodies digest and process these foods,” said Daily.
And so far, the pancakes have been a big hit with most of the students.
“They thought the lesson was great,” said Daily. “At first, I was a little worried because I started this lesson with fifth grade boys, and they would much rather be playing in PE class a lot of the time. When I told them that we’d be using the cart, they came in and were so excited to be cooking.”
Not only did the group enjoy cooking the pancakes, but they actually ate them and enjoyed trying something new.
“I had about six boys in the first lesson and a few of them decided they were not going to try the pancakes,” said Daily. “But once they saw the others try it, they all decided to try them and they liked them.”
As part of the student’s curriculum, Bowdon Elementary School also has a school garden that is used and maintained by science classes across kindergarten through fifth grades. Daily said that they’re planning on using some of the food they’re growing with the Kids ‘N the Kitchen cart as well.
“They’re learning lessons on how to grow produce and maintain a garden, as well as how food is grown,” said Daily. “We are in a very rural community, so a lot of students are familiar with gardening and it’s very exciting for teachers to be able to incorporate things from their students’ home life in the classroom.”
In college, Daily said she learned to teach without “grabbing the pencil,” which is a teaching principal where an instructor walks a student through a lesson in a way that the student is able to do it on their own after she explains how it’s done.
“My lesson is to always remind myself not to ‘grab the pencil,’ and with these cart lessons I don’t grab the spoon,” said Daily. “I am very much a hands-on teaching type of teacher, and I think it’s important for students to have a hands-on learning experience. In that way, this program works well for me and my students. Sure, sometimes it’s messy, but it’s always fun.”
More information about Kids ‘N the Kitchen and Get Healthy, Live Well is available online at GetHealthyLiveWell.org.