Monday, March 08, 2010

Cooking for St. Patrick’s Day and Other Montessori Classroom Activities

NAMC montessori cooking activities st. patrick's day four leaf clover
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17th and has been observed by the Irish as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. This day honors the anniversary of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century and is the day of his religious feast - Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. To explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people, he used the shamrock and this is why the color green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland is also known as the emerald isle.

Having your own St. Patrick’s Day feast in your Montessori classroom is a way to incorporate the history of the holiday with the practical life and math skills involved with cooking. Depending on your schedule and students, your feast can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like!

Cooking for St. Patrick’s Day and Other Montessori Classroom Activities

Introduce St. Patrick’s Day by reading a book that is appropriate for your group of Montessori students. Use the book as a springboard to discussion. Brainstorm with your students for celebration ideas. Study the shamrock (a trifoliolate) as a botany activity. A simple activity that students of nearly any age can do is planting shamrocks from seeds or cuttings into pots.Present a geography lesson to your Montessori students on Ireland for cultural study beyond St. Patrick’s Day.
NAMC montessori cooking activities st. patrick's day children gardening
Listed below are several ideas for food inspired by St. Patrick’s Day that are also fun to make.

Food Ideas for Your Feast
  • Shape soft pretzels or breadstick dough into shamrocks. The dough could be tinted green with food coloring before forming or sprinkled with green sprinkles or glitter before baking.
  • Cut cookies with a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter. The cookies and/or icing could be tinted green. Cookies could also be made into the shapes of a rainbow or pots of gold.
  • Round cookies (or another simple shape) could be tinted with the colors of the rainbow (either a single color per cookie or multicolored cookies) or decorated with colored icing. The same could be done with cupcakes or pancakes.
  • Gold gelatin cut into cubes or circles could be placed in a hollowed-out avocado, lime, lemon or cantaloupe for yet another representation of a pot of gold.
  • When green peppers are cut into rings, the shape resembles a shamrock. Serve these with dip (a green dip perhaps?) or on top of a pile of mashed potatoes.
Pot of Gold Soup
If possible, use locally grown butternut squash. If your Montessori school garden does not have butternut squash, consider planting some for next year’s feast. Serve soup in bowls that resemble pots of gold in shape.

What You Need:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 medium butternut squashes (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Salt and pepper
What You Do:
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft and translucent. Remove the onion from the heat.
  • Now set your kids to work peeling the apples while you peel, seed, and chop the squash. Core and chop the peeled apples.
  • Add the apples, squash, juice or cider, and chicken stock to the onions and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes.
  • Add the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and pepper. Puree the soup, reheat, and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Potato Candy (from FamilyFun.com)
Using potato in these candies opens the door for a discussion about the potato famine and Ireland’s history. The candies can also be shaped like potatoes.

What You Need:
  • 1 large potato
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 5 cups sweetened coconut flakes
What You Do:
  • Peel the potato and boil it in water until soft. In a mixing bowl, mash the cooked potato with the salt and butter. Then -- this is key -- let it cool completely, or else it will melt the sugar when you add it.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract and 4 cups of sugar. At this point, the mixture should be stiff. If it isn't, add more sugar.
  • Sprinkle half of the coconut onto a waxed-paper-covered surface and turn the potato mixture onto it. Roll the batter until all of the coconut has been mixed in, then shape teaspoonfuls into small balls.
  • Roll the balls individually in the remaining coconut. Chill the finished candies until you're ready to serve them. Makes about 4 dozen.
Previous NAMC post on St. Patrick’s Day for a more extensive history and additional ideas for the Montessori Classroom: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Montessori Classroom Activities
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, March 8, 2010.

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