Okemos Public Montessori at Central teacher Susan Black leads the popular “Culinary Club” where students meet after school every other week to learn about food and create a special snack. One might expect disastrous results when 40 elementary students are mixing sticky ingredients, but the session is surprisingly orderly and calm. Students are divided into small groups with a designated leader. Every group member participates equally in the preparation of the recipe with the leader doling out jobs and collecting supplies. The selected recipes alternate between a sweet and savory choice, and each involves simple steps and basic ingredients so that students can make the item again at home. Miss Susie begins each club session by talking about the cultural importance of food, as well as going over safety and cleanliness issues.
This club gives students the opportunity to learn problem solving: “How can we break these pretzels into smaller pieces without turning them into dust?” It also offers experience in teamwork, sharing, following directions, counting, measuring, and using spatial thinking skills to divide their finished snack into enough equal portions to accommodate their group. But the kids don’t think about all the learning that's going on. To them, it’s a fun opportunity to eat a snack. “This club is off-the-hook great!” explains one student. The club is so popular that it's offered twice per year.
Miss Susie has been coordinating this fun student opportunity for many years now, lugging ingredients and equipment, cleaning up afterward with help from her husband, Larry, and occasionally supplying needed ingredients from her own home pantry. Her favorite part? Hearing from former students who send her photos of their own culinary creations and tell her, “I made this snack in my dorm room.”
OPM at Central’s 2017-18 Culinary Club is generously sponsored by Great Lakes Hand Surgery Center through the Okemos Education Foundation. Thank you for your support!