For our field trip to Yaletown last week, Denet and I led a troupe of would-be chocolatiers to XOXOLAT (pronounced sho-sho-la).
- Valentina (senior field tripper and biggest kid in all of Buddings)
- Maksim (senior field tripper)
- Dez (senior field tripper)
- Mari (senior field tripper)
- AJ (senior field tripper)
- Grant (senior field tripper)
- Ziyad (first time field tripper)
We took the trusty #17 bus to Yaletown, getting off near the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch. After that, we marched west down Homer St. to find “the chocolate factory”.
Once inside, we found ourselves in a chocolate-lover’s paradise. The shop was filled with chocolate of all shapes, sizes, and flavours. There was dark chocolate and white chocolate, milk chocolate and green chocolate (AJ’s favourite)! There were chocolate bars and chocolate shoes (Dez’s chocolate of choice)! In fact, there was so much chocolate around, it was hard to know where to begin…
Lucky for us, Hodie, XOXOLAT‘s resident chocolate expert, was there to guide us through the ins and outs of “the chocolate factory”. She invited the children to examine a cocoa pod, explaining that the cocoa beans inside are what’s used to make the chocolate we see in stores. The Big Kids took turns shaking the pod and then took closer look at the cocoa beans themselves.
After that, the time came for the pièce de résistance of our trip: the chocolate tasting! Hodie kindly doled out kid-sized pieces of milk, white, and dark chocolate to a rapt audience. “Chocolate found a new home…in my tummy!” they all cheered. Then came the obvious question, “Can we have more?”
After sampling the wares, we took a vote on which kind of chocolate was the most popular among the Big Kids. Drumroll please…. the winner, with the votes of five out of seven Big Kids was…. milk chocolate! White chocolate came a close second with four votes, and dark chocolate had a mere two hands up in its defence. Why so many votes cast with only seven kids in attendance, you wonder? All I can say is, the democratic process has a bit more wiggle-room when you’re a preschooler.
With our bellies full and our bags full of chocolates to bring home to moms, dads, and a few lucky brothers and sisters, we made our way back to Buddings. The rain began to pour as we walked along Broadway, but our spirits could not be dampened after a sugar-coated afternoon at “the chocolate factory”.
A special thanks goes out to Hodie at XOXOLAT! She was marvellous with the children and put together a perfect pint-sized chocolate lesson. If you love chocolate as much as I do, visit her at XOXOLAT‘s location on Homer St. and enjoy one of their delectable treats! Take a peek at their website for more information about adult chocolate tastings and other special events.
On Fridays this season, the Big Kids and I are exploring the art and science of food preparation…a.k.a. cooking!
I’ve been looking forward to teaching the Big Kids all about food for what feels like a long time. I grew up watching my mom work her magic in the kitchen and loved helping her with everything from chopping up vegetables for everyday dinners to rolling out pie dough for special occasions. Though she was convinced that I “still didn’t know how to boil water” upon leaving home for university, I’ve proven her wrong, becoming an avid cook myself.
However, Budding Chefs isn’t only about indulging in my favourite pastime (and a few desserts). The program is all about helping children build on the skills they already have in order to develop a sense of self-efficacy and independence. Like I did way back when, the Big Kids watch and learn from their parents in the kitchen. They know a lot about food already, and by building on the knowledge and skills they bring to class, Budding Chefs aims to make little kids feel like Big Kids!
Here are some of the ways Budding Chefs, and cooking with kids in general, can benefit big and little kids alike:
Social-Emotional Development: Hands-on cooking activities help children develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. The act of following a recipe can encourage self-direction and independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use problem-solving skills.
Physical Development: Chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing are all cooking skills that help develop a child’s muscle control and hand-eye coordination. By encouraging children to try new and nutritious foods, we help build their knowledge about healthy eating.
Cognitive Development: Cooking inspires children’s curiosity, thinking, and problem-solving. It offers new opportunities to make predictions and observations. Also, cooking offers authentic opportunities for students to understand and apply their knowledge of measuring, numbers, and counting. As they follow a recipe, children organize ingredients, follow a sequence, and carry out multiple directions.
Language Development: With its own vocabulary, cooking is a great opportunity for language development. We will take advantage of opportunities for children to match pictures to words and articulate questions inspired by their new experiences.
The Big Kids and I kicked off the winter season with a field trip to the grocery store to end all grocery stores: Whole Foods! Our mission: to find all the foods on our “supermarket bingo” cards. The Big Kids blazed a trail through the store in search of all the items on their cards. A few organic vegetables and a dozen eggs later, they all cheered BINGO!
Subsequent to our kick-off field trip, the kids have started working on the piece de resistance of the program: their very own Budding Chefs cookbook! Each week, inspired by a different work of children’s literature, we’ll be adding new recipes and testing them out right here at Buddings. I’ll be adding a little extra je ne sais quoi by contributing photos of the children participating in each lesson as well as the kids’ questions and comments.
Last week, we tested out our first recipe of the season and made some good ol’ fashioned butter. Armed with a glass jar, a marble, and a half cup of heavy cream, the Big Kids danced, shook, and jumped around until they’d thickened their cream into butter. Then, they made a snack for their toddler buddies by mashing up their butter to make some delicious mashed yams. Talk about homemade!
As the season progresses, we’ll be cooking up some more delicious and nutritious recipes, making our way through all the food groups, and taste-testing them along the way as all good cooks do. Ever wonder how to make Green Eggs and Ham, minus the ham? How about Stone Soup? Stay tuned to find out and check the Buddings white board for weekly updates on what’s cooking!