Food Labs

Cooking in the classroom can be hard. You want all students engaged, but there can only be a couple of chefs in the kitchen. So what do you do? How do you allow all students to participate? Each student in my classroom has a job. The jobs vary from week to week to allow everyone the chance to participate in the different activity requirements. In order to do this, I have created a variety of food labs for my students. These food labs are single page, picture directions with the scoring guide in the bottom corner of each picture.

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Students are assigned a job. If it is their week to cook, they will take the recipe and gather the needed items. As the student proceeds with his or her job, one of my assistants or I will will be scoring the work and marking it on the paper. The very bottom of the paper has the scoring directions along with the scoring codes available. This helps keep everyone on the same page. Not all students get to cook each week. Sometimes they have different jobs.

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Someone must always set the table. Therefore, table setting is a food lab as well. The process is the same as cooking. The student will take their food lab sheet and determine how many will be eating, and then mark the needed number of supplies on the sheet. Next, the student will gather the needed supplies and set the table. One of the teaching assistants or I will mark the job as the student completes it. There has to be a waiter or waitress. Each week, we have at least one student to walk around with an order book to take everyones order. The student will write the teacher’s name or the classmates name on the top of the page. The waiter/waitress will then relay the days menu. Some students are able to write down each persons request. Other times, we have prewritten what is available on the pages. The waiter/waitress will then only need to mark the preferences. Once the food is prepared, the waiter/waitress will serve the items. After the meal is complete, someone must do dishes. This is another job. The student will complete the steps and we will mark the scores on the food lab sheet.

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Sometimes we prepare simple foods. Other times, we prepare more complex items. Regardless of the food or drink everyone has an activity to do. Some weeks I do have more students than food labs. On these weeks, we have a table activity in progress. Students are working on using measuring cups, cooking vocabulary, understanding which items go in the cabinets vs. the refrigerator, etc.

One of my favorite things to do when we cook is to give homework. Due to funding, we cannot always do this. When we can give cooking homework, the students love it! On homework weeks, the student will do the same activity for homework as they did during our food lab. If it was the student’s job to prepare kool aide, the student gets that lab sheet along with a package of kool aide to prepare at home. If that week their job was table setting, that is the lab sheet the student takes home. Students always repeat the same job at home that they did for me at school that day. (Note: Cooking homework is not assigned weekly. I know I could send home table setting or dish washing home each time, but I only give homework when I am able to send food items home for cooking as well.) My parents do a good job of marking the lab sheet and returning it to school. Some parents have even taken pictures of their child completing the job, and then sending me the picture. I really love that!

How do you set up your classroom for cooking? How are jobs assigned? Let us know! If you are interested in copies of some of my cooking lab sheets click on this link.