How can we empower students to create work that is authentic and relevant to their lives? Try reaching out to your school district’s Child Nutrition Services Department! After all, every 1st grader is interested in food and having a say in what they eat.
First graders recently completed a project (PBL) on Nutrition in which students designed and created the lunch menu for a day that was then served to the entire student body at Katherine Smith School.
The entry event
The PBL began with a presentation by the supervisor from the Central Kitchen who came out to the classes to talk about nutrition and healthy eating. She concluded her presentation by asking the students if they could help her plan a menu and she would serve it to all the students at the school. But first, they needed to learn about the food groups because the meal should be a balanced and healthy meal and include all the food groups.
We immediately began our quest to learn all we could about food. Our first outing was to Deer Hollow Farm where we explored where our food comes from. The phrase “from farm to table” was clearly illustrated for the students.
Back in the classroom, we investigated the food groups through a wide variety of literature books and lessons from the Dairy Council. We began reflecting on our food choices by keeping a food journal. Data collection and interpreting those results were the focus of our math unit. We explored how to collect and manage data as we also surveyed fellow students about their favorite lunch choices.
In order to plan an appropriate lunch menu, the students also visited the Central Kitchen to see how the lunches were prepared. They were amazed at the huge ovens, walk-in refrigerators and the machines that were used to prepare their lunches.
We were finally ready to begin planning our lunch menu. Students studied the school district’s menu and cookbooks and began working in groups to plan their menu. The groups decided on items such as Hot Pocket Rocket, Mighty Mac and Cheese and Beefalicious. Once the menu was set and approved by the Central Kitchen, we were ready for the big day. Students prepared posters to advertise their menu and the big day finally arrived.
Students were eager to taste THEIR meal and were delighted at the results. Our principal, Mr. Brengard, even joined us for lunch and congratulated students on a job well done.
The following are some reflections from students during the project about their learning:
I used to think carrots are not good. But now I think carrots are good because they give you strong eyes.–Sergio
I used to think strawberries were good. But now I think strawberries are great because they help us heal our wounds and cuts. –Kelenna
Today we went on a field trip to the Central Kitchen. I would like to learn more about the hot ovens because I want to know where the hot comes from. –Joshua
I want to learn more about the can smasher because when I’m grown up, I want to work there. — Kevin
I want to learn more about the big freezer because the milk has to be cold for the cereal. –Christopher
I saw some goats. They were biting my name tag. It was funny. I liked petting the goats. — Leilani
I used to think vegetables weren’t good. Now I think they are good because they give us healthy skin and eyes. — Malina
I used to think tomatoes were a vegetable. Now I think tomatoes are a fruit because tomatoes have seeds. Now I’m confused about the banana! — Geselle
Real life, relevant and an authentic audience… what could be more empowering than that?