Food Or No Food? Re-Thinking Our Fairy Bakery.

Growing up, my parents and I always recognized Yom Kippur. We used to all take the day off from school or work, as it was such a challenge to fast and be around others that were eating. Not to mention, that having the energy to engage with peers, complete school work, or finish assignments without the energy from food or drinks, proved to be too much for all of us.

Fast forward many years later, and I remember teaching at a school with numerous children and some staff members who celebrated Ramadan. It was June, and we were planning a year-end field trip. The kindergarten team decided to go to an indoor playground. The day before the trip, I realized that it was during Ramadan. My teaching partner at the time was celebrating Ramadan. She was coming to school each day, all while fasting, not drinking, and in the middle of a heat wave. Now, without me even considering it, we booked an active, year-end field trip, with a pizza party, to an indoor playground that would be hot, crowded, and involve a lot of participation throughout the day. How could I have forgotten all about Ramadan when helping to coordinate this field trip? In addition to her celebrating Ramadan, there were also many parents and students who were celebrating it. While all of our young kids were still eating and drinking at school, their parents were fasting. Some of these parents wanted to come on the field trip with us. Again, I think about what we asked of them, to partake in a busy, loud, active field trip, with food included, in the midst of 90+ degree weather, all while fasting. I felt terribly for not thinking about this earlier, and I told myself that I would never make this same mistake again.

Multiple years and a few schools later, and I have something new, but similar, to think about. My teaching partner, Paula, and I always try to be responsive to kids. With so much rain and snow, there’s been a lot of sensory play outside in the puddles. This led to cooking and baking. To help build vocabulary around this pretend baking, and also make more literacy and math links, we’ve started reading some recipes and watching a few baking segments before going outside. Children are starting to talk now about wet and dry ingredients, pre-heating the oven, measuring ingredients, and following recipes.

Last week, we showed a couple of donut provocations, which opened up quite the discussion about donut restaurants, favourite donuts, and items needed to make donuts. Kids were getting creative with some water outside.

The interesting thing is that this food play continued inside with artwork, menus, and small world dramatic play.

Karen Wilkins, another teacher at our school, told us recently about Wayne Thiebaud. This artist is known for his pop art, particularly of some food items that he painted. Since our class loves learning about new artists and is still enamoured by the Fairies of Dundas, we thought that we could start a class project this week: the grand opening of a Fairy Bakery. Thiebaud’s work could influence menu pictures and wall artwork, and we could dig into some small world play with the creation of the bakery. This all seemed perfect and relevant, but then we started to wonder …

With Equal Step, Heidi Echternacht, and Christine Lederer, all on Twitter, replied to these threaded tweets. Their ideas have us thinking more.

We’re curious what others think and what you might suggest. This could be a great opportunity to build an understanding of different cultures and experiences. As part of our professional development at school right now, we’re digging into the Respond and Rebuild book. I think it’s some of the conversations that we’ve had around this resource that have us re-thinking our plan for this week and how we can be more inclusive in our programming. What might you add to this conversation? Are there more things that Paula and I should be thinking about as we extend this baking interest? I think that our kids would continue to bake and cook if we mentioned it or not, but now we have an opportunity to expose the children to more. Your insights could be very valuable for both our planning and student learning.


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