Stone Soup Serenades

Making Stone Soup with grade 1s proved to be a wonderful adventure.  The Stone Soup story is a story of sharing and a community coming together around food.  There are many versions – I recommend looking some up at the library and giving them a read.

We spread this activity over two periods, a week apart.  During the first period, we went out to the garden and harvested some beautiful Purple Viking potatoes and some lovely carrots (both white and orange).  The kids loved digging up the potatoes  – it was like a treasure hunt!  And pulling carrots also proved to be a popular task – they could show their big carrot-pulling muscles!  While I was in the garden with half of the class, their teacher read them the Stone Soup story, and then we switched groups so everyone had a chance at both activities.

Showing the kids the carrots that they'd just harvested - there were some fun-shaped ones in there!

Purple Viking Potatoes from the Blake Garden - they were super yummy in the soup!

During our second Stone Soup session, it was cooking time!  I started off by showing the kids the different ingredients that were going to go in the soup: potatoes, carrots and parsley from the garden, onions, garlic and celery for flavour, and some lentils, barley and rice to give it a bit more sustenance.  After I had shown the different ingredients, one of the students asked “What is that “P” thing?”  “Potatoes?” I asked, showing him a pretty typical-looking potato.  “Yeah, that.  What is that?” he asked.  I guess I must have briefly gotten a blank look, because the teacher quickly took over, asking the student if he’s ever eaten French Fries.  He answered “Yeah, I always have them in my Happy Meal.”  “Well, those are made of potatoes, and so are potato chips,” explained the teacher.  I was pretty surprised to have my first stereotypical food disconnection moment, though I’m not sure if I was more surprised by the moment, or by the fact that it was my first such moment in 2 years of this kind of work…

We divided the class into four groups, with each group being in charge of chopping one or two veggies: the potato group, the carrot group, the onion and garlic group, and the celery and parsley group.  We have these wonderful plastic knives, which are safe to use but still sharp enough to cut through carrots and potatoes, so those groups chopped using those knives.  The onion and celery groups used scissors (like we did for the scissor salsa earlier in the year).  This gave us a chance to include all of the kids in the chopping, regardless of manual dexterity.  Once everything was chopped, each group showed the rest of the class what they had chopped.  It was then nearly lunch time, so I took the ingredients (I also added corn, tomatoes and okra from the garden) and got the soup cooking, getting lots of “Yum, that smells great!” comments from people walking by in the hallway.

A bowl of yummy Stone Soup

After lunch, it was time to taste the soup.   We put table cloths on their tables, and served the students their soup.  Every single student tried it, most finished their bowl, and one boy kept wanting more.  While we were eating the soup, I suddenly heard a faint electronic music from somewhere.  I was starting to wonder if it was someone’s cell phone, but then the teacher pointed out that one of the boys was serenading us on the little electronic piano that the teacher has set up in her class.  This is a super sweet little boy who has trouble sitting still and always needs to be doing something with his hands, so he had decided at this moment to play the piano, creating a lovely little dinner party atmosphere, live music and all.

I also made Stone Soup with a couple of grade 2/3 classes at Withrow.  These sessions didn’t involve harvesting, but rather had somewhat of a truer Stone Soup idea to them, where kids brought vegetables from home.   We just asked them to bring vegetables, without specifying what to bring.  The best part of this is having the kids see that making delicious soup is simple and can really include any veggies you happen to have around.  I wasn’t sure how peppers would taste in soup, but they were actually quite good.  And sweet potatoes added a nice coconutty taste.  And then we had lots of the standard carrots, potatoes, onion and celery, which made a great base.  Nearly all of the students tried the soup, quite a lot of them really liked it, and a few kept coming back for 2nds, 3rds, etc.   Having cooked the soup in the staff room, we left the rest there for the teachers, and by the end of lunch, most of it was gone too.  Mmmm!

With these three Stone Soup sessions (and the zillion kale chips sessions I’ve had this fall), I’m starting to get more comfortable cooking with a class full of kids.  Mostly, I’ve come to accept the fact that cooking with kids is inherently chaotic, and that as long as they’re not being too loud nor playing with sharp objects, I’m pretty relaxed about what’s going on, which seems to keep them from getting too riled up as well.

Anyway, I strongly encourage you to check out a few different versions of the Stone Soup story and try it out with any kiddies in your life.  Or hey, just have a Stone Soup party with friends (it’s a great way to get rid of leftover veg that’s about to go…)

Happy growing!


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