“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Margaret Mead
One can never give a more worthwhile gift to children then the combination of love, knowledge and courage. The mixture, of course, involves a wide variety of tasks and curriculum elements: nurture, care, interest, enthusiasm, inquiry, confidence, flexibility, honesty and so on. The basic mixture, however, is the most important, the foundation of later life: when loved, listened to and appreciated, a child will be interested to learn, the more the child learns the greater the child’s confidence will grow, the more confident the child is the more people the child can unconditionally love, and when loved and listened to….this is the strong circle of success. Children enter the world with being biologically programmed to want to learn and to learn quickly. They are able to make connection and use connected information to develop rapidly and drastically.
In order to reach their full potential in learning children need stimulus, variety, excitement and space. Foraging and baking with foraged ingredients provide opportunities for all the factors of excellent teaching to reach the forefront, to unite and to thrive. Children are natural foragers. They enjoy collecting, gathering, sorting and, given the opportunity, will often happy to spend endless hours outdoors. Toddlers pick up objects and explore them; usually with their mouths. Naturally this is a source of much consternation to their parents but teaching a child how to forage safely has the potential to be an enjoyable family activity that helps us to re-connect with our surroundings. To forage safely: One should not eat from a plant one cannot identify without absolute certainty. Teach children to always check a plant BEFORE eating it in ALL circumstances. If in doubt, leave it out. Us a good field guide. Do not pick from land that belongs to someone without their permission. It is illegal to dig up any roots and some plants are protected so check before picking. Do not strip a plant bare. Leave some fruit for other foragers, some for other wildlife and some for propagation.
An environment that allows for exploration and freedom to act is supportive of a child’s natural development. Children learn by utilizing all their senses. If they are allowed to see, hear, smell, touch and taste, they are providing their brain with an immense inventory of experiences. These experiences and the engagement of the brain develop a cohesive mind and body integration, done by providing motives of activity, meaning work that it is completed with the hands with real things accompanied by mental concentration and movement, fostering the natural development through purposeful activities. The emphasis on baking with children stems from the aims of providing natural physiological development. Foraging, baking is real, not make-believe. Baking satisfies and stimulates all the domains of development-cognitive, social, emotional and physical, and it provides numerous opportunities for mind and body connections, resulting in engagement, not work. Baking with children is an activity that meets the needs of a child at any age. The beauty of it is that the difficulty can be adjusted to the individual child. When foraging and baking with children, the activity has a full cycle with a beginning, middle and end!
75 g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
A pinch of caster sugar
A pinch of nutmeg and ginger
A handful of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
60 ml milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Lightly brush the silicone mini doughnut pan with cooking oil.Take a large bowl, and sift the flour, baking powder and salt into it. Add the sugar, rosemary, spices and give it a stir round to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, beaten egg, olive oil and together and add this to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Using a piping bag or a teaspoon carefully fill each of the doughnut cups around ¾ full with the batter. Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until firm, but springy to the touch. Cool slightly. Turn the doughnuts out and let them cool completely.
“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.” Robert A. Heinlein