Donuts. Yum. I certainly could go for a donut with my afternoon coffee…or anytime coffee.
And experiential learning? Learning because life and the world is exciting and mysterious and worth knowing about? The best kind. Every child ought to live with life-long learning as part of their very being. The pursuit of truth and goodness and beauty makes life grand. Textbooks simply do not and cannot satisfy our innate longing for these best things in life.
I desire for my children to want to learn, to always seek truth, to constantly push their personal limits. And so I am renewing my goal for providing experiences and opportunities to learn and grow. One way we have done this recently is with cooking and baking.
I love Food Network shows. “Good Eats” with Alton Brown (back in the day) helped inspire me in the kitchen. My kids love to watch “Cupcake Wars” and the occasional “Worst Cooks in America” episode. Several weeks ago, we watched an episode when the contestants learned to fry donuts. The inspiration and desire to fry homemade donuts was instant. Even my self-professed baking- and cooking-hater wanted to make donuts. I made it happen.
My 9 year old, Sweet Pea, was first to create a recipe. She eats gluten-free, so her recipe was also gluten-free, and entirely from scratch. She wanted to make a yeast donut, so she added some yeast. In the end, they were successful enough to eat! She learned about what to do differently next time (such as using more yeast), and even made her own glaze! While she mixed, she kept track of her ingredients on the dry erase board. Let me tell you, it was all I could do to not insist she use more yeast; but this about her learning and experimenting, so I kept my mouth shut!
The next day, my 11 year old, Chickadee (the kitchen-hater), made her donuts. For always declaring her dislike for all things baking and cooking, she went all-out and made a great batch of Krispy-Kreme copycat donuts. She found and followed a recipe, all the way through frying the donuts.
You know what happened in all this? Learning. Experimenting. Tasting. Laughing. Problem-solving. Questioning. Exploring. All the things I want for them, happened with donuts. They were inspired by something, worked out a plan and a goal, and followed through to the end.
This kitchen experience was the first to kick off a new scrapbook/recipe journal for the girls. They wrote their recipes in a new notebook, and have since added several more creations. Wouldn’t you know, my kitchen-hater has added more to it? I love this on-going experience. They are free to dream, plan, experiment, measure, taste, and create. They are keeping notes, writing recipes, and sharing the process in directions. So much critical and creative thinking goes on. I only say, “have at it!” and encourage them, then get out of their way!
I am so pleased with this new learning process for us. It may be gradual, but the habits forming and taking hold are so worth it. Finding inspiration, making a plan, experimenting with methods, writing down amounts and tools and processes…this is life-long. I cannot wait to see how these habits grow and spill into other areas of learning.