Making soup with your little ones is such a rewarding activity. Below you'll find a book to use as a springboard and tips to cook safely with your students.
Begin By Reading
You may have already planted seeds as a science activity. Or you may be working on recognition of the letter V. Maybe you are talking about how pioneers had to store their meat and vegetables for the winter. Whatever the motivation or goal, preschool activities with making vegetable soup will be a winner with your students. The parents will love it too; especially if their fussy eaters learn to eat a carrot or a green bean.
A wonderful way to begin is with the book Growing Vegetable Soup written and colorfully illustrated by Lois Ehlert. The great thing about the book is that the children see what tools they would use. They also learn which vegetables grow under the ground and which grow above the ground.
Children learn that some vegetables need to be dug out of the ground and other vegetables need to be picked from a plant. Then all of the vegetables need to be washed and prepared.
1. Prepare a note for the parents of the students. Include information about the soup-making event. Tell them the date that the vegetables should be brought to class. They should send the vegetable whole so that the children can prepare the vegetables in class. However, depending on what time of year it is and what is available in local stores, some of the vegetables may need to come in the form of canned goods. Leave a blank space for the student’s name and another blank space to fill in the specific vegetable to bring.
2. Check the state or school regulations regarding cooking in the preschool classroom. Some places are not allowed to cook food in a crock-pot. You may be able to warm up food in a crock-pot after it is already cooked.
Assign the Veggies
Decide what vegetables you want to have in your soup and the necessary amount. A good variety would be: potatoes, carrots, corn, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, green pepper, cabbage, celery, peas, broccoli, and onions.
Assign a vegetable and an amount for each student to bring in. Send that information in the note that you have prepared.
Stress cleanliness! Have the students wash hands with soap and water right before they handle the vegetables. This teaches good habits. Work in small groups. You will undoubtedly want to have parent volunteers help you. Use safety peelers for the potatoes and carrots. Work with individual students to use a paring knife to cut the vegetables using the hand over hand method (your hand over the child’s hand). Remember that they only need to do a small amount to be satisfied with their part of the preparation!
According to Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup: “Slice onion and carrots into rounds. Cut potato into cubes and beans into 1-inch pieces. Chop cabbage wedge into shreds. Put in a large cooking pot and set aside. Slice broccoli stem into rounds; leave tops whole. Chop tomatoes into eighths. Cut out stem of green pepper and take out seeds; slice pepper into rounds, then into pieces. Slice zucchini into rounds. (If necessary) cut corn off cob. Put in a bowl and set aside."
Let's Get Cookin'
Put all the vegetables in the designated pot along with water and bouillon cubes. Instead you could use broth as the liquid. Add desired seasonings: salt, pepper, parsley, and thyme.
Depending on time restraints, you may cook the soup and have it ready the next day for the class. Simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender.
Here are some extra ideas for this lesson:
1. Students can spread butter on bread to go along with the soup.
2. Make colorful place mats according to the season: flowers, leaves, snowmen, or hearts
3. Set the table. Make sure everyone has necessary items at each place setting
4. Practice pouring the drinks in a small cup.
5. Discuss manners: Use please and thank you; wait till everyone is served before eating; don't talk with food in your mouth.
6. Read Stone Soup by Marcia Brown about sharing and cooperation.
7. Clean up! Take turns washing, drying the dishes. Recycle paper trash. Wipe off tables.
A Great Event!
Preschool activities with making vegetable soup may be the most memorable event of the school year. It will teach children to do things for themselves. They will practice manners, set a table and do some clean up. And, who knows, they may learn to love vegetables!