By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
We miss seeing all of our friends in the Northampton and Easthampton classrooms right now so we started up a list of fun Grow Food Kids activities that can be done at home. Send us photos of you making the recipes or doing the activities via email, Facebook or Instagram– we’d love to see! We will add to this list as the days go on.
Grow Food Kids Recipes
When we taught this salsa recipe in February, several students in fourth and fifth grade classes at Jackson Street school discussed plans to start their own salsa-making businesses, after experimenting with different ingredients during the workshop. How many different variations on salsa can you make? Do you like it mild, medium or spicy? Students chopped scallions into their salsas during the Grow Food Kids workshops to customize how spicy they wanted it to be.
A Grow Food Kids Classic! Students really love making their own dressing. This can really be the part that sells the salad! Get creative with this one, using what you have available. Maybe have your child decorate with colors that you don’t have represented in your salad. Soundtrack- Eat Like a Rainbow by Valley local, Jay Mankita.
Remember when we made butter in the classrooms last year? If you have heavy cream at home, this is a great activity to get everyone at home engaged. Everyone at home can even have their own personal jars of heavy cream to shake, so you don’t have to pass around germs. You can’t shake the butter too much!
This recipe made the rounds last winter. A simple recipe that can be tailored to your tastes and only needs a few ingredients.
We were just starting this workshop two weeks ago, and had a few great days sharing this recipe with several classes. The secret is to fold the rice wrappers tightly around the sliced vegetables, and then dip the rolls into the delicious sauce. Experiment with using different vegetables in your spring rolls. What is your favorite combination? Here’s a quick video in how to roll rice wraps. The great thing about these is that you can really put whatever you want in these! The secret is in sauce!
This recipe has been a favorite with Northampton Public School students for the last two years! If you don’t have hummus at home, just squeeze a little lemon juice for extra flavor on top of the sliced vegetables.
Another Grow Food Kids Classic! Use kale as the base but add whatever veggies and fruits you like and have around. Most students love the dressing that can be used on any salad you like!
We can take for granted what sometimes is a chore for us, can be such a source of joy, curiosity, and creativity when we do it with children in a spirit of fun, or to simply create something together.
Songs in the Kitchen
The Banana Slug String Band is one of our favorite musical groups for plant and nature-based songs. Some classics that we’ve sung in the classroom and on the farm include Dirt Made My Lunch and Roots, Stems, Leaves. Northampton kids will recognize these songs, and we’ve sang them in the classroom with dance moves too. Roots, Stems, Leaves was a hit song with the Kindergarten and First Grade classes in December. Ask your kids to teach you the movements. Here’s another song that might sound familiar about the parts of the plant with body movements…try it out with everyone at home!
Singing is a great way to infuse cooking with love.
Signs of Spring
Take a walk outside today and look for signs of spring! New signs show up everyday. Have you seen a woolly bear yet? Have you seen a painted turtle sunbathing? (They do that this time of year- try the pond at Child’s Park.) Have you seen any mole holes?
Try to be quiet for two whole minutes and count on your fingers how many sounds you hear. This is an activity that we often do on field trips at the farm. How many different bird sounds do you hear? There are many birds who have begun their spring migrations.
Make a nature log, if you don’t have one already and record your signs of spring in a nature journal or a log.
Frogs, Salamanders, Amphibians Oh My!
It’s that time of year when warm rains and above-freezing temperatures bring out hundreds of salamanders and frogs from their underground winter burrows to make their way to their birthplaces to lay eggs. If you go on a walk in the woods, carefully look in puddles and pools of standing water for eggs, and listen for the sounds of wood frogs calling!
If you are a student at Ryan Road Elementary school, and if you’ve ever had a class with Mr. Ted, you probably know about the very special vernal pool that is across the street from Ryan Road school at the end of Matthew Drive. Parents and caregivers, let your students take you on a personal field trip to the vernal pool to listen for the wood frogs and spring peepers calling.
Branches and Leaves
Especially in the winter time…and as the seasons change into spring, we can see the changes in the trees. In January, we did a branch study with third grade classes in the Northampton Public Schools, and all explored the ins and outs of different tree species using their branches. Check out this printable Twig ID card. Bring some clippings of branches from different trees into your house and put in water. Watch as the leaves will begin to bud and open at home!
In second and third grade we explored leaves. Here is a leaf guide for taking a nature walk as the leaves start to emerge.
Germinate some seeds (any kind!). Growing plants is a great activity to remind ourselves that there is life all around us and the world is coming into spring. This website gives simple directions with pictures of how to sprout seeds using just seeds, water, a ziplock bag and a paper towel. You can even use dried beans from the pantry if you don’t have any seeds.
Try it out with your family and pick different locations in your house to sprout your seeds, and see which location is the best. You can challenge each other about who can sprout their seeds the fastest. How long do your seeds take to sprout? Send us a photo of your sprouts!
This February many of the second and third grade classes in Northampton dissected bean sprouts and explored all of the inner workings of beans. Let your kids be the teachers to show you how cool a sprouted bean can be!