Food and its preparation play an intrinsic part in a Montessori education. In Early Childhood classes the children learn with practical life materials how to pour, measure, cut, and chop. They learn grace and courtesy by serving and accepting food items. Sometimes Lower Elementary children continue the use of these skills by preparing their snacks as a group exercise in the school’s kitchen. As part of their cultural studies, the children taste, as well as make, foods from many foreign cultures. It is at this time that many children, both girls and boys, show a keen curiosity about food and cooking. The incorporation of different foods into the curriculum continues through Upper Elementary and Junior High. Their culinary skills and tastes expand as knowledge of their surrounding world develops. This past year the Junior High students took part in TMA’s International Festival by creating a diverse sampling of ethnic dishes.
TMA’s Library contains many books on food and its preparation at different learning levels. Beginning cooks might start with The Children’s Step-By-Step Cookbook. The Library has children’s cookbooks by Emeril Lagasse and well known food editors from Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Williams and Sonoma, and Disney. More experienced cooks might like to try Kid Favorites Made Healthy, The Magic Kitchen Cookbook or The International Cookbook for Kids. Perhaps your child would like to have a tea party or a sleepover. The Library can help with copies of Come to Tea, Let’s Have a Tea Party!, The Sleepover Cookbook, and Super-Duper Cupcakes. There is even a book on how to have a Japanese tea ceremony. Maybe young cooks would like to check out the After School Snacks Cookbook, Silly Snacks: Family Fun in the Kitchen or the Cheerios Cookbook.
Your young cook’s interest might be sparked by history. TMA’s Library can take students on a journey across North America with Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking, Colonial Cooking, and Food for the Settler. Perhaps you have a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. The Library has a copy of The Little House Cookbook based on the frontier foods from her stories.
For the cook who is dreaming of becoming a world traveler, he or she can get a start by creating and tasting ethnic foods. TMA’s Library can make it possible. The Library has three excellent series of books that cover many countries and continents of the world. Sampling books from each of these series (“A Taste of Culture,” “Food and Festivals,” and “Food and Recipes of…”) will get their gastronomical tour started.
Cooking together is a wonderful way to expand Montessori into the home. Within a prepared environment a child is focused on a purposeful activity. The child gets to taste and explore the cultural history of each food. Let’s face it: cooking and eating together is just plain fun. The Montessori Academy Library is here to help make it happen.