Planting the Seeds for Success
Our first Healthy Eating Lesson of the year turned into a celebration! Read on to learn about the special moment we shared with our students.
Our Healthy Eating Lesson theme for 2019 is about the parts of the plant that we can eat. To kick off these lessons we explored what seeds are and made a delicious black bean wrap! The seed is both the beginning and end of a plant’s life cycle. From the start, it is what a plant creates to reproduce. Near the end of a plant’s life cycle the seeds are often found inside the fruit of the plant and can be spread and planted by animals, humans, and even the wind to start the cycle again. We discussed all of this with our middle school friends from Team Walker and the East Orange YMCA, and we explained how seeds contain genetic material to make each unique plant and talked about all of the variables that need to be just right in order to make a seed sprout.
One of our volunteers made the profound observation that seeds come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and the appearance of a seed does not necessarily dictate what type of plant will grow. This, along with the notion that with the right nutrients seeds can produce beautiful flowers and fruits, was an extremely important message for these students to hear and paired very well with the underlying theme of healthy eating for the lesson: With the right foundation and focus on taking care of your mind and body, you can grow up to be anything!
We brought pictures of plants and their seeds and discussed the many different types of seeds that we can eat, such as beans, corn, sunflower seeds, rice, and other grains. We also explored which seeds you can eat along with the fruit of the plant, like cucumbers and string beans, and which ones you cannot, like pepper seeds.
When it was time to cook, everyone washed their hands and went to their stations. Students excitedly chopped peppers, cucumbers, and celery; juiced limes; made dressing; sawed corn off the cob; and more! During the cooking portion of the lesson, we love talking to the students about their day, whether they like to cook at home, and so on and generally like to use this time to build a positive relationship with them. We learned that it was the birthday of two of the girls, and they were both making the grand leap into double digits and turning 10 that day!
Prior to sitting down and eating our black bean wraps, we all joyfully sang “Happy Birthday” to the two girls, with one especially enthusiastic boy jumping up and exclaiming “Cha Cha Cha!” between verses. Everyone was smiling and laughing, happy to be celebrating our friends’ birthdays. In this moment, the lesson transformed from following curriculum with leaders and students to a community coming together to celebrate a memorable occasion and support each other around a meal. Just like a family.
In order for seeds to sprout, the foundation they are put in, the way they are planted, and the health of the soil are all extremely important. While we are educating about healthy eating and nutrition, it is our sincere hope that we are also providing the appropriate foundation and nurturing environment for students to flourish.