Food is Elementary is a hands-on food literacy curriculum
Food is Elementary
“The purpose of this curriculum is to demystify nutrition by breaking it into accessible concepts. We want to turn children on to food rather than off of nutrition.”Antonia Demas, Ph.D., Author of Food is Elementary curriculum
Food is Elementary
Food is Elementary is a sensory-based curriculum designed to engage children hands-on lessons about nutrition, cooking, gardening, and multicultural foodways. The curriculum includes 28 sequential lesson plans that can be adapted to students in preschool through high school.
At the core of the curriculum is the use of food themes as they relate to culture, the arts, and academic disciplines. A typical class can interrelate study of the natural sciences by exploring changes in matter through cooking and use of the scientific method by observing the properties of ingredients and their combinations. Mathematical concepts can be reinforced through measuring, weighing, estimating and otherwise quantifying foods.
The key strategy of Food is Elementary is experiential learning, which engages all of the senses and requires that students participate cooperatively with their peers in hands-on activities.
The First Semester
The objective of the first 14 lessons is to acquaint the children with the fundamentals of preparing foods, safety and hygiene issues, the categories of different foods in the USDA MyPlate, and the taste, aesthetics, and nutritive value of plant-based foods from around the world. Each child keeps a weekly journal in which he or she records vocabulary words, health data, nutritional measurements and computation, observations, geographic data, food history, and art work. The lesson plans are presented with suggestions for age appropriate activities for students in grades K through 6. The curriculum is intended to be adapted by individual teachers for different student populations. Food is Elementary can be successfully adapted for all age groups including adults. Suggestions for integrating health, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, music, and art into the units are also included. Parents are invited and encouraged to help with any aspect of the curriculum. Students interview parents about family use of the foods they study. Children take their completed journals home to read to their parents at the end of the semester.
The Second Semester
The objectives of the second semester are to: 1) cook with the children; 2) illustrate the great variety of highly nutritious legumes which are used in unique ways in different cultures; and 3) acquaint the children with commodity based recipes which can be served as entrees in the school meals program. It is essential that the children cook with assistance from the teacher and/or parents. The educational impact is lost if adults prepare the food. The curriculum is designed to employ each of the five senses in every unit. In each unit, the children prepare one entrée while they discuss traditional accompaniments and the history of the dish. Suggestions for side dishes are included in each lesson plan. The children eat the entrees prepared in class, and they take recipes home to prepare with their families. All units include: locating the various countries on a large map in the classroom and on individual maps in the journals; listening to music from the culture (when possible) while the children eat; dancing to music from the culture (if desired) for exercise; information and artifacts (when possible) from the cultures; recipes which the children take home to their families and enter in their journals; and recording of general information and personal reactions in journals. For each recipe, students are asked to locate the appropriate position of recipe ingredients on a blank MyPlate.