SKILLS: Children use observational, fine motor, and group-interaction skills as they observe changes in food.
- paper plates
- apple corer/slicer
- lemon juice
- paper clips, buttonhole thread, or kite string
- baking sheets, spatulas, and serrated plastic knives
- Ingredients: seedless grapes (green grapes work best), Macintosh or any other variety of soft apple, raw sunflower seeds, raw nuts such as almonds or cashews (avoid peanuts), and canola or other vegetable oil
IN ADVANCE: Gather children together and introduce the raw ingredients. Invite children to talk about them. What are some ways they've seen them prepared, or how have they eaten them before? Where do these foods come from? Offer a taste of each raw item.
1 Explain that for this recipe you will be cooking or drying the raw ingredients. Then in a few days, when the ingredients are ready, you'll mix them together to make a healthy snack!
2 Making raisins: Begin by asking, "Where do raisins come from?" (Many children will be surprised to learn that a raisin is a dried grape!) Invite children to wash the grapes and remove them from their stems. Gently but thoroughly dry the grapes and place them on paper plates; then cover with cheesecloth. Place the plates on blocks so air can circulate around them, and put them in a sunny spot. Watch and wait for about four days. The raisins will be leathery and pliable.
3 Making dried apples: Ask children to wash and dry the apples. Place the apple corer/slicer on the apple and press down slowly to make slices. Ask interested children to help. (Dip slices in lemon juice to retard browning.) Make "needles" out of paper clips and attach the kite string or thread to the closed end. Demonstrate how to gently push the tip of the paper clip through the center of the white portion of an apple slice. Hang these to dry near a sunny window. The apples should be dry in four or five days.
4 Roasting nuts and seeds. Help children oil the bottom of a cooking tray or pan. Sprinkle on the nuts or seeds and toss lightly. You or another adult should place the tray in the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
5 When all the ingredients are ready, gather and compare the dried or cooked ingredients to the raw ones. How are they the same? How are they different? Invite children to mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Now you can eat the healthy snack you made from raw food!
For younger children: To lessen the waiting, make the gorp with raisins, predried apples, and roasted nuts and seeds.
For older children: Encourage children to dry and add other ingredients to the gorp, including dried pears and apricots.
Scoop out a small cup of the gorp for each child. Invite children to sort the contents of their cup into piles of separate ingredients. Create a chart that tallies each of the ingredients. After tasting each ingredient, take another tally of which one is the most popular. Would anyone like to trade ingredients with someone else so everyone has more of his or her favorites?
Apples (Learning Center Emergent Readers) by Samantha Berger
How Do You Raise a Raisin? by Pam Munoz Ryan
In the Kitchen by Susan Canizares