As the Tanunda Show rolls out of town for another year we are left with huge smiles on our faces; happily celebrating the simple success of our fig jam entry.
Each year the educators work with the children to create a show entry, we choose to do this because we see it as an authentic way for our community to, ‘see’ our competent and capable children. Our participation gives a strong message to the children too, ‘you are part of this celebration, part of this community and are capable of contributing’.
Who would have guessed that we’d take out first prize!
This year our school grew a terrific crop of fresh figs which we were able to pick for our jam. Picking the figs required careful observation and discussion about the size, feel and readiness of each piece of fruit.
When we brought our figs back to ELC many children knew what they were, others were seeing a fig for the first time. Cutting the fruit open, looking at the colour and smelling the fruit were ways in which the children could become familiar with the fruit without tasting, once we’d done this the fruit was then offered for tasting. For some children, smelling and looking was close enough, for others, tasting was crucial to building an understanding.
The figs were washed and then the children got busy cutting them up into small pieces. Many conversations took place around the feel of the fruit, the smell, texture, seeds, sap, skin and stalks (Do we take them off or leave them on?). The children offered each other advice on how to do the cutting and noticed when some pieces were too big and needed some quality control!
The soft flesh made the figs a very satisfying food to prepare and the children appeared to enjoy their success in cutting. We used real knives because we were doing real cooking. Kitchen safety and utensil use is all part of the learning process.
Measuring the sugar, weighing the fruit and reading the recipe online were necessary. Sharing the bread boards, maintaining food hygiene and discussing the process supported the children to practice cooperation, listening and turn taking.
Many hands took turns with the stirring (macerating) of the sugar and fruit before it was cooked, and as it bubbled away many children noticed the delicious smell. Most children were keen to have a taste before it was poured into the jars.
Growing, picking, preparing and cooking food from our school and ELC garden is one way in which we can support children in their understanding about simple sustainability. It certainly helps children to understand how fresh food grows and the interdependence between natural elements like sunshine and rain and our fresh food.
We enjoyed eating the jam on toast this week.
Winners are Grinners!