“The apples are special because they are from Connecticut, just like you!”
October 4th to October 10th was CT Grown for CT Kids week, an initiative from the Connecticut State Department of Education encouraging kids and families to support local Connecticut agriculture. I decided to celebrate the week by reading “The Apple Orchard Riddle” by Margaret McNamara and teaching elementary school students how to make delicious and nutritious apple parfaits at Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy in New Haven, CT. The apples were bought from Hindinger Farm in nearby Hamden, less than ten miles away from Roberto Clemente. Hindinger Farm is family owned and has been a staple of New Haven County since 1893. The students thought the apples were delicious, and we thanked the farmers who picked the apples for us together. Thank you, Hindinger Farmers!
“The Apple Orchard Riddle” teaches students about the different ways to grow and prepare apples while keeping their interest with the following riddle: “What’s a little red house, with no windows, and no door, but with a star inside?” A few students guessed it beforehand, but most were stumped. The answer is, of course, an apple.
Once we finished reading the book, the kids made the apple parfaits with hungry tummies and grinning mouths. I had them all line up assembly style and put a scoop of each ingredient in small, plastic cups – first, the delicious and diced apples, then the creamy yogurt, and then a sprinkling of multigrain cereal. A few kids gave their commentary as they went down the line. One young boy admitted he didn’t like yogurt, but I encouraged him to try it. Another boy, who I’ll call M for now, moaned throughout the entire story and assembly line that he didn’t like apples. But most students seemed excited and sat down patiently to try it – or not so patiently, depending on how long after lunch I had taught!
After each student made their own parfait, we all counted down to take the first bite. Then the kids in each class voted on whether they thought the parfait was yummy or “not their favorite” (our polite way of saying that they didn’t like it). Overwhelmingly, the kids loved the parfaits! The classroom soon turned into a chorus of suggestions: “Miss, can we use a different type of yogurt?” “I’m gonna put blueberries in it when I make it.” “I need to tell my mom to get some apples at home!” “You’re a good cook, Miss.” And M, whose teacher said he was an incredibly picky eater, finished his parfait before everyone else.
I’m honored to have had the chance to introduce kids to local agriculture and healthy eating. A few students have recognized me as I went around the school for a meeting with the staff. One girl pointed me out to her mother and said, “Mommy! I made the healthy snack with her last week!” Others have came up to me in the hallway and asked when we’re going to cook again.
At the end of one class of first graders, the children had a reflecting to draw or write about their lesson. I have to say, I’m happy that after my first week of teaching, I get to take home a beautiful portrait of myself.