Do you have straggly tomatoes or other products from your Fall harvest? The ones the compost bins will welcome? Here is an activity you can do with your children with the refuse crops.
Operating a nature home school gives us many opportunities to recycle dwarfed produce from the garden; we use them in many forms of learning, including our outdoor mud kitchen area. Our play-based environment allows the children to learn with their surroundings.
Our children love pulping and pounding leaves, flowers, and garden produce. We love using this mortar and pestle; it’s left outdoors for all-season use. The children skillfully know how to use this device, and they’ve mastered the art of avoiding finger accidents – they’ve had many opportunities to learn finger placements on the pestle. If you’re thinking about engaging your children in this activity for the first time, it’s good to have a safety talk about finger placements. Also, scaffold the process – I love demonstrating how I safely use the item – referring to wrist and finger position.
After much pounding and grinding the tomatoes, she said she made green soup.
Another child on the other side of the mud kitchen was trying to open the tomatoes with a spoon. There was just one set of mortar and pestle outdoors at the time (we have more indoors). Persistently the lad kept trying until he opened it with his fingers (they’d been pegging their mandarins for some time now). I watched him use a similar technique puncturing the tomato from near the top sepal area.
This hands-on learning allowed the children to incorporate the mathematical concept of comparing sizes—the children referenced the small tomatoes like a little brother. They kept digging through the pile of bushes on the table to find the tiniest one.
Some weeks before this activity, the children inquired about the pods from a Sycamore tree. They were both curious about how to open the pods. After many attempts to open the pods with sticks and throw them on the sidewalk, they used their shoes to crush the pod. Similarly, this is what she did here – she extended her learning from the sycamore pods and applied the skills of crushing the tomatoes with her boots.
All in ONE Activity.
Smashing tomatoes was an all-in-one activity incorporating sensory learning, mathematics, problem-solving, cooking, fine motor, and science combined.
May your outdoor play allow you to slow down and see the children’s learning unfold – Suzette Salmon, aka Miss Sue.