Cooking Supports Curriculum

It is a misconception that cooking in schools only has to do with nutrition, where our food comes from, and recipe preparation.  Those lessons are practical and hugely useful for survival but it can be so much more.  

PACT has used cooking as way of introducing curriculum support for years.  We call this culinary enrichment.

Imagine a lesson where kids are fully engaged, hypothesizing what will happen and watching their experiment come to life.  Even better, at the end, you get to eat the results.  That is a brief introduction to cooking as it is envisioned at PACT.

Sample lessons can reinforce literacy if a class has read a book like Thunder Cake by Patricia Pollaco, or can bring in STEM or social studies lessons.  For example, the best way to illustrate fractions is to have kids do hands-on activities where they can see what something really looks like.  Who needs expensive manipulatives when you can use food?  How better to teach kids about coinage than by having them buy and sell fruitach other and then learn to make change for a dollar?  Want to have a kid relate to how Native Americans might have eaten in the past?  Make a recipe like succotash with beans, corn, and squash or homemade tortillas from dried corn kernels.  How do you discuss complicated subjects like matter and energy?  Compare food storage and preservation techniques, like dehydration and canning, to how a battery stores energy for later use.  Energy from the sun is converted via plants into something we can preserve and then eat for energy at a later time.  

Oftentimes, light bulbs only go on in a child's mind when things are introduced multiple times and in different ways.  Cooking is both an enrichment opportunity, as well as a way for kids to see things in a different way, using a medium that they are intimately familiar with.  The strength of this kind of Culinary Enrichment is that we can use everyday, inexpensive materials to illustrate complex ideas to expand a child's mind and understanding.