Very Hungry Caterpillars

You might notice a large very hungry caterpillar hanging above the Toddler 1s door.  The paper was painted by our littlest toddlers, then cut and shaped by a teacher to make the caterpillar.  It’s a wonderful introduction to our annual food study, using Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Each year we devote the two weeks after Labor Day to an all-school food study.  Teachers are invited to approach the study in whatever ways seem most appropriate for their age group. I like to describe the various expressions of food in each classroom.  This week I’m focusing on the younger classes.

In addition to the very hungry caterpillar hanging above their classroom door, the Toddler 1s room has part of their space set up to be a grocery store.  They practice “cutting” toy wooden food. The toddlers are exposed to food in other ways, including through their sensory table, which is filled with colored rice, and has plastic or wooden foods in it that match up to the story.  Along with toy caterpillars, there’s a plastic apple, pieces of pizza, banana, orange, pear, plum, and two pieces of watermelon.  As the children become familiar with the story, they learn to identify and say the food items.  They practice washing plastic food.  Pending gardening experiences are hinted at as toddlers talk about growing food.  An exciting food experience will top off their first week of the food study as they make tortillas with Diane, our Spanish teacher.

Toddler 2s students have jumped right into the study by conducting taste tests.  Today’s test was strawberries.  Each child sat at the table with a small plate, on which a strawberry was placed.  One toddler, when asked what she tasted, exclaimed, “Flavor!”  Once they completed their taste test, they went over to a teacher and had their “yum” or “yuck”response recorded on a whiteboard.  The Toddler 2s students also are taking turns bringing in their favorite snacks to share with the rest of the class.  As a culminating project, they will assemble a cook book for everyone to share at home.

The Early 3s students are making smoothies this week.  Their teacher plans to bring in her bread maker so they can experience the taste and aroma of fresh baked bread.  They’ve been sorting different types of veggies and fruits.  Now that we’re moving into September, they are also talking about their garden, what they want to plant, and what the process might look like.   The food study is often a launching point for many of the class gardens.  

The Preschools 3s have engaged in conversation about colors of different foods.    , Using materials from, they are talking about eating a rainbow.  Conversations have included which colors have different benefits for the human body.  In the coming week they’ll be looking at the foods of different cultures, inspired by the book My Food, Your Food.  Sweet and salty taste tests are also in the works.

The smell of garlic and onions wafted through the office area today as the Preschool 4s were cooking up their annual pot of carrot ginger soup.  One by one, preschool chefs stepped up on a stool and safely stirred the pot.  Based on the large bag of basil in the refrigerator, I’m pretty certain another cooking event will be happening, most likely involving pesto.  

Stay tuned for next week’s description of what the food study looks like in our four oldest classes…

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