Food is Elementary Unit 2. Fantastic, Fresh Whole Foods

  1. Edible Botany
    The students review the concept that a whole food is one item that nature produces, and that many of the whole foods we eat are plants that are safe to eat. The older students are introduced to botany, the scientific study of plants, and the concept that edible plants are classified by the part of the plant we eat. They learn that each part of the plant has a special function, or role to play in helping the plant grow, survive, and thrive. Students complete a pre-test that will not be shown to others except the teacher as a way to evaluate their baseline knowledge which will be evaluated and compared to their post-test score.
  2. Hand Washing & Manners
    Students discuss why and when hand washing is important. They make a prediction about where the most germs stick on their hands and do an experiment to find out if their prediction is correct. A special lotion called Glow Germ is used (if available) to highlight the problem areas on the hand (usually between the fingers and fingernails). They practice washing their hands properly and they appreciate the aesthetics of clean hands. Students discuss the importance of demonstrating good manners for everyone’s enjoyment of a meal.
  3. Sensory Exploration
    The students learn that the five senses inform the mind and provide the raw data to make sense of the world around them and their experiences. Younger students learn which part of the body is associated with each sense, and older students focus on how the senses are used when eating. The students practice being open minded about trying unfamiliar foods and being respectful of individual taste preferences and not judging other people’s food choices. They learn a mindful tasting routine which is used to sample and evaluate foods in Food is Elementary lessons. Vocabulary to describe the sensory aspects of foods is emphasized.
  4. Knife Skills
    The students learn that the safe and proper use of knives is essential for cooking. Safety is emphasized and students understand that unsafe behavior or joking about using knives will not be tolerated. This lesson can’t be rushed and if students are impatient the class will not proceed until the entire class understands the need for patience and waiting for others to master the knife skills cautiously. The older students will be able to practice different knife cuts such as chop, slice, and dice.
  5. Fruits
    The students will define and identify a variety of fruits. They sample exotic and everyday fruits and determine their favorites. Discussion about the characteristics of fruits is intertwined with comparison of sweet, and sour flavors. The students may rank the fruits according to taste preference, or other characteristics. The defining characteristic of fruits is that all fruits have seeds. The students learn that many foods we classify as vegetables are actually fruits from a scientific perspective.
  6. Citrus Fruits
    The students learn that there is variety not only in categories of foods such as fruit but within the genus as well. They sample a variety of citrus fruits and evaluate their taste differences. In Northern climates where citrus fruits may be expensive or a variety difficult to obtain, apples may be substituted for citrus fruits for this lesson.
  7. Vegetables
    The students define and identify a variety of vegetables including those derived from the edible root, bulb, stem, leaves, and flower heads of plants. Students talk about the differences between vegetables and fruits. They smell, touch, observe, and taste many different kinds of fresh vegetables. Vocabulary building is stressed particularly in the comparison of the different vegetables. Vitamin and mineral content analysis is discussed along with the importance of soil fertility.
  8. Greens
    The students will identify various greens and talk about the fact that greens are the leaves of plants. Through discussion, students learn about the high vitamin and mineral content of greens. They also compare the color, shape, and size of greens noting that the darker greens contain the most vitamins and minerals. The students sample the greens, evaluate the tastes, and record preferences in their journals.
  9. Legumes
    The students will learn about legumes from around the world noting the definition (seeds in a pod that splits open when ripe), history of use in several cultures, and the nutritional value of legumes. Younger students create mosaics with colorful dried beans and plant bean seeds and observe differences in plant growth. Older students prepare two bean dips, hummus and black bean dip. Students sample the dips with corn chips and whole grain pita bread.
  10. Whole Grains
    The students learn the botanical definition of whole grains and about the difference between whole grains and refined grains. Students discover many whole grains which are not commonly eaten in the United States. Kernels of whole grains are distributed and examined. The students then tape or glue the grains in their journals and note the name, country of origin, and traditional use of each grain. Older students prepare two different whole grain dishes in the classroom which don’t require cooking. They learn about the countries where these foods are made and sample the recipes they have created.
  11. Tabouli & Egyptian Bulgur Salad
    The students will prepare two different whole grain dishes in the classroom that don’t require cooking with heat. They will learn about the countries where these foods are made and will sample the recipes they have created. Knife safety and basic cooking skills will be emphasized. The students will learn the concept of measurement.
  12. Whole Grain Breads
    The students sample a variety of whole grain breads. They identify the tastes of the different breads, and they evaluate which whole grain breads they like the most. They record taste preferences in their journals.
  13. Food as Art
    In this final lesson of unit 2, the students discuss the aesthetic aspects of food and the value of preparing a beautiful as well as nutritious meal. Students create beautiful designs on a plate using a variety of colorful foods which they have studied. The foods are selected for vibrant color and texture from the groups of fresh foods used in prior units. Students show their designs to their peers and are able to eat their creations. Photographs of the students with their food art (before consumption) are taken and shared electronically with their families. Students take the journals home to read to their parents.