IDEA: The family barbeque – it can be a real learning experience!

A great outdoor activity for all to join in and have fun
A great outdoor activity for all to join in and have fun

Summer learning for any age needs to be fun, memorable and hands-on. Cooking is science and at barbecues, we are cooking organic matter (the concept area of this science lesson for teachers) – whether vegetarian or for meat lovers. Children love to chat when they are doing things and everyone enjoys being together to share ideas, laugh, watch the food preparation and the cooking on the barbecue and of course, eating together.
This is wonderful time for intergenerational learning and social learning. Please do not send the kids off to watch a movie until it is time to eat. Instead, through conversation, stimulate interest in what is going on at the barbecue in regards to cooking.
Scenario: You have selected a wide variety of food to prepare at the event or you have already prepared a wide variety of food. Bring to the attention of the crowd/children what you have there and, for the food you have brought prepared, explain what you have added or done to that food to change the state of them (to make them tastier, more tender etc.).
Teaching and learning can come naturally through participation, investigation and cooperation.

Simply, invite children to:
• Predict and describe the changes occurring in foods during cooking;
• Prepare foods and taste them;
• Assist in serving food, and to help in cleaning up after these activities.
Conclusion to the event: What about some entertainment? Perhaps the children could lead some singing or recitation or play an instrument.
Taking real-life summer learning further

1. Help the children arrange a barbecue with their friends. Friends can bring their own meat if you decide. Other food such as bread and salads you could provide. Have the camera ready while each guest describes the meat or substitute protein he or she has brought before it is cooked, while it is cooking and when it is cooked. Note how the cooked meat or vegetables changed (for example, colour, size and degree of hardness and melting fat). What made it change? (heat).
2. Role Play – Children love participating in drama. Encourage them to act out in real-life situations (breakfast, lunch or dinner) the roles of various people in a restaurant – actually doing their work. Cooperating to come up with a simple menu, preparing and serving food – and you could include using money.
3. Real-life mathematics – setting up a shop is such a simple, fun activity in the back garden. Use weights and money if age appropriate.
4. Create a mural or collage using food labels or packaging.

Have fun together!

Jan Couper B.Ed.; M.Ed.; M.Env.