Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breaking Bread ... & the EYLF

The Finished Product! A Scrummy Loaf of Warm Bread!!!
(a bit blurry but you get the idea!)
Well, the first batch of bread failed (the yeast didnt activate and I later realised that it was out of date!) ... So I bought more yeast and I bought a big giant bag of bakers flour which was way cheaper than buying the other stuff.

This time, because the weather wasnt very warm, I preheated my oven and then turned it off. I placed the plastic bag over the mixing bowl, and put it in the oven ... Whoah did the yeast activate or what! Then when I was making dinner, I remembered what an Italian friend said her mother did when making pizza - they'd cover the dough with the blankets and doonas from the beds ... So I put the bowl in my bed and covered it with my doona and pillows in a big mountain ... This really stayed warm and this is the result after a few hours:

After a few hours in the middle of my bed ...

The next morning
(I probably could have baked it last night b/c there wasnt much visible change from night to morning) 

I did as the recipe said, then formed a loaf shape ... then put it in the oven ...

 This is after the first bake with the lid on ...

And this is with the lid off and finished! YUMMO!!!

Bread will be devoured with home made vegetable soup ... my next project!

The awesome thing about this bread, is you dont have to work the dough ... you just mix, and let sit for a length time ... If you wanted to do this with kids (as I do with my next group) you could have a few of the steps on the go at one time ... You could make some in the morning or the afternoon, bake them early, or later (all depending upon your cook's schedule! Don't upset your cook!)  You could make  on Monday, bake and eat Tuesday, Make one Tuesday and bake and eat Wednesday etc. Or you could just bake traditional bread and get the kids to work the dough ... its all good, I just like this because its no-fuss and effective and it bakes the type of bread I like eating! I really like a chewy crust with a soft moist centre! You'd pay $4-$6 for a loaf like this at a boutique bakery! I should work out how much that cost me ... Not much at all ... So even if your services is on a tight budget - you use flour to make playdough? Well, all you'll need is some yeast - a portion of one packet, salt, flour, water ... done.

Now .. how does bread link to the Early Years Learning Framework

I think that cooking is such an important part of a curriculum. We ALL eat.  We don't all however cook. There would be some families who just re-heat and serve, so don't assume that all children will be exposed to cooking. Reheating is not cooking. So its your job to support children in learning about this. If children do cook at home, then if you cook at school you can involve those children to share their knowledge and experience - or involve the family either by sharing recipes, or having family members come in and help prepare if possible.

Cooking supports learning in so many different curriculum areas.

Here are some samples:
= science: how properties change - solid/liquid/hard/soft etc, ... also biology - yeasts, extend by making a sourdough starter culture? further extend by making yogurt?
= maths: measurement, addition, subtraction, weights, time ...
= health: nutrition - healthy foods to eat, healthy ways to prepare ...
= social: working together towards a common goal - bread! taking turns, sharing ...
= physical: hand-eye coordination, fine/gross motor (if you work the dough!) ...
= cultural: so many cultures make bread as a staple - explore all the different types (tortilla, chapati)
= literacy: reading a recipe, vocabulary relating to the recipe and cooking
= cognitive: following directions (what happens if you dont!?)

Ok that's just off the top of my head ... you get the idea ...

Cooking is a really great way to look at community. Think of social engagement as community. You gather your children and you have a community meeting about cooking ... what sorts of foods would they like to prepare? Why? If you ask them do they have any ideas of what healthy foods are vs unhealthy ones?

I remember once asking the kids this when I first started with them many years ago ... I got answers like pizza and MacDonalds ... not what I was hoping for ... I brought in my recipe books the next day and they went through the images and that really got their ideas flowing ...

Make a plan of action:

1. What would we like to prepare?
2. What CAN we prepare (i.e. what equipment do we have access to? what do we need to borrow or purchase?
3. What ingredients can we use? What do we already have? What do we need to buy? What allergies do we need to consider? (i.e. do we have children with egg allergies and can we use a substitute?)
4. When can we do it? (not wise to whip up a curry at 4pm or when the cook is preparing lunch either)
5. Who is interested in this? (remember some children might participate in the whole process, others might come and go and this is ok!)
6. Who will go shopping? Have you made a list? Money? (In a perfect world, the children could go to the local shop and buy what they need, but I know that not everyone can do this!)

I'd suggest you start simple and then complicate things ... that way there is more opportunity for success and less chance for failure! Then, you complicate things a little more and work your way up to other ideas and methods.

From a cultural perspective you can look at the socio-cultural groups of the room/service ... Just because someone is "white" doesn't mean they don't have culture ... They could be from any number of cultural groups. My old service was VERY multicultural ... in fact it was the most culturally diverse service I've ever worked in over 15 years of working in early education ... See what cultural resources you already have within your staff and go from there. Who likes cooking? Perhaps someone who works in the nursery section loves cooking, but the educators in the preschool aren't so experienced ... well, do a staff swap and have that educator share their skills with others (children AND educators).

I'd started a communal meal by asking the staff to bring a dish to share ... Some of my colleauges and myself were always sharing food and ideas at lunch ... It's a great way to bond and learn!  So for our staff meetings we'd bring something to share, Mexican dips, Indian rice and curries, tabouli, cakes, noodles and dumplings, pastries ... Everyone would bring something from their culture or something from another culture that they really enjoy eating/preparing! Maybe that is how you can weave some community into your team? And let it trickle down to the kids?

Cooking is awesome.

Cooking is curriculum.

Cooking is community.

Cooking is life.


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