Cooking and Reading
I walked into our school kitchen the other day to find Anita and her student Lauren chopping vegetables. We do a lot of cooking with students at Randolph, but usually it is with larger groups of kids, so I asked Anita and Lauren what the special occasion was.
It turns out that Lauren is an aspiring reader who had fallen in love with a book called “Vegetable Soup” by Ann Morris. After looking through the book several times and admiring the illustrations, Lauren decided she might be able to learn the words if she tried. She liked making soup already, and really wanted to learn how to follow this recipe. She decided to copy the entire book and make her own illustrations, which she promptly did. Sensing a moment filled with opportunity, Anita then encouraged Lauren to write a shopping list so that she could buy the ingredients for the soup. Lauren returned to school a few days later with bags full of vegetables and a mission. She was going to make vegetable soup for all of her classmates!
I had walked into the kitchen as Lauren and Anita were in the middle of that process, working step-by-step through the text which lay open in front of them. It was beautifully illustrated, and each page contained a step for making the soup, accompanied by a richly colored drawing. After admiring the book and the pile of chopped vegetables, I thanked Lauren and Anita and left them alone to continue their work together.
I checked in with Lauren today, and she informed me that the soup was a smash success. Her friends loved it, even though one of them was suspicious that it was really “mud soup”. She would like to make more soup, and to continue learning recipes. She feels like she has really improved her ability to read some key words like “water”, “pot” and “soup” and she looks forward to being able to read the entire book soon. “It’s going to be great to read such a big book!” she says.
Lauren’s story is still in motion. She is improving at reading and writing, and we will continue working with her as she follows her path. Most importantly, Lauren is excited about the idea of learning how to read. After all, she has many delicious soups to make in the future, and pretty soon she will want to be able to read the recipes on her own. We can’t wait to taste them all!