Heaven Scent

written by Deb Hopkins, Preschool 4s teacher

The heavenly scent of basil filled the classroom and school hallways, an indication that the Pre4s were making pesto this week. The preschool kitchen was hectic as preparations for our annual basil harvest got underway. In the outdoor area, the children checked out the basil plants in the garden, cutting branches with the safety scissors. Inside, students gathered around the table overflowing with stems of basil from the classroom garden.  Fine motor skills got a workout as small hands manipulated scissors and used their pinchers (thumb and index fingers) to separate leaves from stems.

At the cooking table, the preschoolers washed the basil in bins of water then participated in a physics lesson on the concept of centrifugal force – a movement away from a central point. After  drying leaves in the salad spinner students made their way to circle for other hands-on examples of centrifugal force. They rotated marbles around a metal pan, spun feathers in the salad spinner and watched a penny roll on its edge around the interior of an inflated balloon.

Math related activities like sequencing and measuring were part of the process as we followed the steps for making pesto, combining basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in a bowl. After peeling garlic and pinching salt, junior sous-chefs packed measuring cups with emerald green leaves and helped their teacher measure one cup of olive oil, yelling “STOP!”when the oil reached the 1 cup mark. The final flourish occurred at the Cuisinart where the children pushed buttons whirring the ingredients into a fragrant paste. At lunch time, parents and grandparents joined us for a bowl of pasta topped with pesto and parmesan, fresh salad, bread, watermelon and some fruit popsicles which we ate on the playground after.

As agreed earlier, everyone tried two bites before deciding if they liked it.   The results of our lunch survey were surprising and impressive: eleven children liked it, one did not with no abstentions! Not bad for a bowl of smelly green leaves! Many thanks to all of you, parents and grandparents, who were able to attend our luncheon today. I am so grateful for your presence and for your various contributions to this annual event.