From Pipi’s Pasture: Using zucchini in learning activities
This week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” comes from the teacher side of me. Once a teacher, always a teacher, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to inspire children to learn. Quite a few parents are teaching their children at home these days so, since I’m a Life Skills teacher, parents often ask me, “How do I get my children interested in learning”?
I love this challenge. Parents and I brainstorm various activities that children will enjoy and at the same time reinforce the required curriculum. Parents are often surprised to learn that they can use common everyday objects as weekly themes for a variety of learning activities. Take zucchini, for example.
This morning as I harvested three zucchini I was thinking about how the squash could be used in activities for “Zucchini Week.” After all, we usually have an overabundance of zucchini each summer!
So consider the following:
* Ask your children to guess the weights and lengths of several zucchinis. Then have them weigh and measure each squash. How close did they come? Ask them to guess the number of seeds in a zucchini, cut it open, and count them.
*Use some toothpicks and other things found around the kitchen (such as carrot and cucumber slices and parsley) to make animal characters from zucchini. Use the toothpicks to hold the body parts together. Ask your children to write stories about their zucchini characters.
*Study seed catalogs with your children. (Always keep a seed catalog. It can be a great teaching tool.) Ask them to find different kinds of zucchini. For example, one year some catalogs offered a round zucchini.
*What plants are related to zucchini? Older children can make a list of the characteristics they share.
*Use zucchini as an example of a “Z” word. Put a “Z” and a picture of a zucchini on a large sheet of tag board. Invite younger children to find pictures of other things that start with the letter “Z” and add them to the board.
*Cut a number of green zucchini from paper. Write an activity on each, such as “Write a zucchini poem” or “Draw and color a zucchini patch.” Put all of the zucchinis in a large jar or box. Let children “draw” an activity.
*Save milk cartons, wash them, and cut each down. Fill with potting soil. Let children plant zucchini seeds. Water seeds and keep them in a warm place. If seeds grow, transplant them to larger containers. If they don’t sprout, invite children to figure out why not and experiment with another planting.
*A zucchini is a fruit. Can your children figure out why?
*Demonstrate “peel, slice, and grate.” Make a vegetable dip for the zucchini slices. Bake zucchini bread. Children can help measure ingredients and mix up the batter.
*When you go to the store ask your children to find zucchini. Is it frozen? Canned? Weigh a fresh zucchini and help them figure its cost.
When you are finished with Zucchini Week,” eat your “theme.”
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Awhile back my sister Darlene Blackford (of Rocky Ford) had an idea for “Pipi’s Pasture.” She suggested that I write about memories of mail day when we were growing up on the ranch. The mail…