“Soup is the song of the hearth… and the home.” ~ Louis P. De Gouy
Last week, a group of children collaborated to make “Friendship Soup.” What better way to celebrate the approach of Thanksgiving than to prepare a special meal to be shared together? They used a variety of vegetables donated to the project by their families. Each child had the opportunity to participate in chopping carrots, potatoes, yams, peppers, celery, mushrooms, leeks, zucchinis and both acorn and butternut squashes. We then sautéed and pureed them, set a festive table and ate them. How does a cooking activity find a place on a blog about creativity? We discovered that cooking can be a very creative process, and it can invite us to appreciate the beautiful qualities of foods such as their rich colours. It can also be a starting point that adds its own special flavour to related experiences like painting, storytelling and singing.
As part of the preparation of the ingredients we found we had intriguing leftover pieces to use. These included carrot tops, potato ends, celery tails and corn cobs. Since these were going to go into the compost bucket anyway, we decided to repurpose them first by painting with them. Using shiny paper, fall coloured paints and these wonderful painting tools the children set about the task of exploring the kinds of markings that could be made with the vegetable pieces. Some children made prints and others used the pieces to create their own designs. They discovered how to use unexpected objects in open ended ways, how to see different uses for things. They found that vegetables not only have flavours, they have colours and make distinctive markings as well. It was a joy to watch the children explore.
While preparing the vegetables, we told the traditional story of Stone Soup. This was lovely because it is a story about community and sharing. Telling the story connected the children’s thinking quite beautifully to the reason they brought vegetables for the learning experience, to the reason we were preparing and sharing a meal together, to the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving. We could consider the idea that food tastes so much better when we all contribute something, when we share in the work and when we enjoy eating together. Jon Muth’s rendition of the story is particularly wonderful because brings cultural diversity to the learning experience. It can be viewed at this link (Stone Soup).
One final experience we shared was to sing ‘Old Mr. Rabbit’, a traditional song about a naughty rabbit who sneaks into the garden and eats the different vegetables he finds there. After reading the book ‘Growing Colors’ by Bruce McMillan, the song was introduced. The words we used were: Old Mr. Rabbit/You’ve got a mighty habit/Of jumping in my garden/And eating all my ________. Children could suggest different vegetables they knew – or that they learned from the book – to include in the song. They could also imitate different actions, like making rabbit ears with their fingers, wagging their finger, jumping and eating to bring the song to life. ‘John the Rabbit’ is a related rendition of the song we sang, and it can be viewed here (John the Rabbit).
Ours was a really enjoyable celebration of Thanksgiving, seasoned with friendship, collaboration, sharing and creative expression. Feel welcome to share these ideas in your classrooms or at home as part of your celebration!