It’s Earth Day 2010, and to mark the occasion, one of our recent Montessori teacher training program graduates has a great activity idea that she is graciously sharing. Whenever you work with food, please prepare in advance any adjustments to accommodate allergies, proper handling of material and food, and lessons in safely using utensils and appliances.
Following is all of the materials and ingredients needed, as well as steps for the full presentation. Enjoy environmental stewardship for Earth Day with healthy, tasty treats!
Earth Day Montessori Practical Life Activity: Solar Cooked Stuffed Apples
SOLAR-COOKED STUFFED APPLES
Activity submitted by NAMC Montessori Lower Elementary Graduate, C. Wilkerson
To practice safe cooking while baking apples in a solar oven.
Push-type apple corer, cutting board, small sharp knife, medium bowl, small bowl, spoon for mixing, measuring cup, pastry brush, fork, bowl or pan to wash apples in, paper towels (or cloth towels), solar oven, table for solar oven, 2 black enamel roasting pans with lids, foil, 4 pot holders, 2 plastic solar cooking bags, 6 wooden clothespins with springs, 2 black cooking tiles or bricks, 1 stand-up oven thermometer, large tray, large serving spoon, and plates, forks and knives for each student.
Peanut butter, raisins, cinnamon, honey, water, lemon juice, 1 packet instant oatmeal for each 2 to 3 orders of oatmeal-stuffed apples.
- This activity may be presented in Year 3 (Lower Elementary).
- Plan the activity when warm, clear weather is predicted.
- Announce that today students will plan a solar cooking activity with apples.
- Discuss how apples might be obtained:
- Does anyone have access to a tree with ripe apples?
- Can each student bring an apple?
- What if a student doesn’t have an apple to bring? Can some students bring extras?
- Set a date to bring the apples to school.
- Review Physical Geography lessons about the Earth’s rotation and orbit, and discuss how Earth’s current position and weather conditions will influence solar cooking.
- Receive class orders for apple stuffing choices. These may include plain/no stuffing, peanut butter or oatmeal.
- Remind students to start with hand washing. Set a good example by washing your own hands first.
- Ask students to gather apples, corer, paper towel-lined tray and two cooking pots. Have a small, sharp knife available.
- In a pan or bowl provided, demonstrate adequate apple washing. Ask students to wash all apples and set them on the paper towel-lined tray.
- Demonstrate the use of the apple corer. Invite students to take turns coring all the apples.
- If needed, use the knife to smooth each apple opening.
- Pour a tablespoon of lemon juice in a small bowl. For apples to be left unstuffed, use a pastry brush with lemon juice to brush lightly on the cut portion of the apple to prevent exposed flesh from turning brown (oxidation).
- For each 2 to 3 orders of oatmeal apples, pour one package of instant oatmeal in a medium bowl and add enough water to make a thick consistency, mixing with a spoon. Add a dab of honey, as an option.
- Fill apples with mixture until level with the top of the apple.
- Line cooking pots with aluminum foil.
- Place apples in cooking pots, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Tidy and clean the work area. Compost apple cores, or use as feed for chickens or other animals, if this is an option.
Part 3: Cooking Day
- The Montessori teacher needs to remove apples from the refrigerator at the beginning of her work day.
- The first Montessori students to arrive may set up outdoor table and assemble the solar oven according to instructions for that particular solar oven.
- Align solar oven to reflect the maximum sunlight.
- Place back tiles or bricks in the solar oven.
- Place each pan, lid on, inside a cooking bag and place on the tile/brick.
- Place a thermometer inside one bag so that it can be easily read.
- Seal each bag with a clothespin.
- Check oven hourly and realign with the sun’s rays accordingly.
- Prepare tray with cinnamon and raisins to be used as optional “toppers”.
- Cooking time can vary greatly. Plan for about three hours at a minimum of 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit (70-90 degrees Celsius).
- Be very careful when opening a bag to check for doneness. Undo clothespin and open bag, keeping your body away from any heat that escapes from the bag. Apples are ready when a fork can be easily inserted into an apple’s flesh. Use potholders to slide pans out of their plastic cooking bags when ready.
- With a serving spoon, place an apple on each plate.
- Invite students to add “toppers” of their choice.
- Remind students to clean their individual eating areas and dishes, and the cooking dishes.
- Fold and properly store solar oven.
- Return items and table to their proper locations.
- Graph the temperature each 15 minutes during cooking. How long did the apples need to cook at the maximum temperature reached?
- Discuss what other ingredients might be used next time for variety.
- Try different varieties of apples and compare flavors and cooking times.
- Try other recipes for solar cooking.
- Discuss reasons for using solar ovens in different places around the world. Consider pasteurization of water, time saved from looking for firewood (and what could be done with that time), the role of females in these endeavors, and conservation of resources.
- Investigate the value of the black tiles or bricks used in a solar oven.
- Investigate variations in design of solar ovens.