The months between Halloween and Winter Break are my favorite to teach. Oh wait–I think I will probably say that very soon, as I love to teach January and February, too. Ha! Maybe I just like teaching in first grade….:)
Anyhow, one of the things I love is the fun we are able to have with out learning and our community around Thanksgiving. This year we made Friendship Soup (which was a first for me!) as well as the pumpkin pie that has become a common tradition for my classes to make and share together.
Thanks to many generous parents who donated LOADS of things, we were able to work together with out friends in RM. 112 to make two whole crockpots full of friendship soup, which was actually PHONICS friendship soup, full of letters thanks to a recipe from our good pal, Rasheed. In the morning of our last day before we left for our long Thanksgiving break, we put it all in the pot to let it simmer while we worked on other things. It was fun to see what kiddos already knew about cooking, like who had heard of the spices we were using or who knew how to open a can with a can opener. It’s one of my most favorite things about cooking with kids–connections to real life and skills they’ll use forever! 🙂 And they did a great job with following the recipe and man did it start to smell good!!
On that same day, pumpkin pie was on the menu! Prior to this day we had read lots of books about pumpkins, carved jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and used pumpkins for our Literary Lantern projects, too. Well, we ended up with several leftovers, which were PERFECT for our pie project. I had never used actual pumpkin for the recipe (usually it’s just organic pumpkin out of a can), but why not? It just made sense!
I have a great crust recipe from my husband’s granny that is just flour, salt and oil, which is perfect because our class has allergies to eggs, dairy, nuts and tree nuts. The pie is a vegan recipe (yep, vegan!) I ran across a couple of years ago–when I was baking for my niece and nephews who are also allergic to many things. :). The recipe was perfect! Besides the fact that most kiddos had never MADE a pumpkin pie before, there were some who had never EATEN pumpkin pie before, because it wasn’t safe for them. This was definitely a win-win situation. :). We were even able to have allergy-friendly “whipped cream” that was made with aquafaba (which for those who don’t regular eat this way is the liquid leftover from chick peas). It whips up just like heavy cream (ok, not just like it–my husband would DEFINITELY disagree that it’s as good–but it’s a great substitute if you can’t have the dairy kind) and is yummy with the pie!
While we don’t have a classroom kitchen (or a kitchen for us to use with our classes, which would be AWESOME!), we do have pretty a great kitchen staff who was more than willing (thanks, Rachel!!) to put our pie in the oven, and even watch it for us while it baked. Gotta love it when all the adults in the building support kid-focused activities, no matter how crazy they are!
Toward the end of the day, it was finally time for our Friendship Feast, which we had created with our very own hands. :). I hadn’t done this in such a formal way before (most years prior we just had pie and ate it in a hurry during our regular snack time), but my teammates went all in and set a big long table, complete with table cloths and everything, so I figured I’d join in at least part-way. :). I didn’t have table cloths, but I did create a table space big enough for us all, and Avant even put a flower on it to make it fancy. 🙂
Those pics are a little sad, though, right, because they needed kids! As they walked back in after specials, they were excited and surprised to see a table set for them and quickly sat down.
Before we were ready to eat, we reminded ourselves of some other things we had learned prior to this day. I thought that since we were going to sit at a table together, we should use it as an opportunity to learn about table manners. I have learned over lots of years with little ones, and by having my own kiddos at home, that you cannot assume that kids KNOW what to do in certain situations. So instead I read a great book by Julia Cook called Table Talk.
Just as was in the book, we waited for everyone to be seated, for everyone to be served and put our napkins in our laps. We chewed with our mouths closed, waited our turn to talk, and also remembered to be quiet and respectful at the table, rather than playing around or being loud and crazy. Before we ate, also, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. We listened carefully and then once everyone had had a turn, we dug in. :). And realized we had done a GREAT JOB with our Friendship Soup–it was YUMMY!! (Oh, and another thing we all did was at least take a “thank you bite,” which means you have to at least try the soup and then you are allowed to not eat the rest–as a thank you to the chef for making it for you. 🙂 ).
Most kids like the soup, and everyone at least tried the pie. Some decided it was AWESOME and had more than one slice, and others just had a bite–which is totally fine, of course. The big deal here wasn’t that we were great cooks, or that we were master bakers. Instead it was that we could work together, take time for each other, show kindness and respect to our friends, enjoy time with classmates and also see the fruits of our labor. Kids did things they didn’t know they could do and were so excited to see the results. They laughed together, solved problems together and listened to what makes their friends happy. We had table talk, friendship soup and pumpkin pie, and we did it all together. And for that I am thankful!