We started with making dough! The children spent three days making dough. Our intention was to make dough one day and the children’s learning, enthusiasm, and yes, some dropping of the dough made our decision change! We noticed and reflected that the children learned so many skills in three days. By the end of the three days, some children were telling Christy, the assistant in our room, the ingredients we need, the order to put them in, and the correct measurements. They were using measurement words and several of the pizza vocabulary.
We began with talking about each of the ingredients. The children labeled the items and discussed other recipes where they had seen that type of food before. We also gave the children an opportunity to taste the salt and sugar. We discussed how each of the items tasted and the children had the opportunity to write their names on chart whether they liked the item or did not. The children who needed help writing their names were guided by older children on how to write their names. They then returned to the table and as they waited for the yeast to dissolve in the mixture they discussed what the crust would taste like. One child shared, “It won’t taste like the sugar. I think we only put a little bit in. If you put a lot in then it taste like sugar!”
After creating batches of dough, the children started to take this into their play making play dough pizza’s or preparing dough at the Happy Joe store.
A well picked project is a project that motivates and excites the children. Each day, the children (and the staff!) should be so excited to learn the newest information or role play the information they have already learned. We turn our entire classroom into our project. For instance, during our tree project (click here to find out more!) the children turned our poles into trees and we created a grocery store called Hy-Vee during our Hy-Vee project. With this project, we have added extra tables, materials from Happy Joe’s, and chairs to create our own restaurant. The children have been discussing the types of pizzas and have been incorporating this in their play as we learn more about the restaurant.
I am lucky to be a part of a center which has a nature explore certified outdoor space. Outside, we have items available to use to extend and continue our projects outside. To help enhance this current project, we have picnic tables, art materials, a house furnished with tables, chairs, dishes, pans, and tablecloths, and a Mud Kitchen. For those of you unfamiliar with a Mud Kitchen, we have created an area outdoors where the children can experiment, use, and play with mud. The area has materials including dishes, pans, bowls, whisks, spades, ladles, and cabinets. One morning, several girls rushed over to the Mud Kitchen. Several minutes later, I watched these same girls walk over the house which is near the Mud Kitchen area. “Does anyone want anything from Happy Joe’s?” Several children made their orders and the girls returned to the Mud Kitchen. The girls used water and mud to create pizzas, baked them in their oven, and then called over their peers to join them for pizza.
After culminating the last project, the teachers begin to look for common threads of play or interest in order to begin a next project. As the teachers observed, we noticed that the children were doing a lot of restaurant play. After a week of play, we heard the children discussing several restaurants in our area that they might want to learn more about. At the end of this week, a child asked if she could lead our daily large group.
Before she lead group, this child and I discussed what she wanted to talk about. At group, she told children “Today is a special day. We get to pick a new project. If you want to pick Happy Joe’s raise your hand, if you want Jimmy John’s touch your nose.” This continued with several more restaurants. The voting continued until the children with the child who was taking the lead brought it down to two choices. She then shares, “I think we decided it. We are going to learn about Happy Joe’s! When we come inside, let’s write down our questions, OK?”
Thus a new project begins!