If there is one thing that all children love, it is that desire to play. And playing need not mean mindless fun, because it can often trigger an inquisitive mind and in the process, leads them to find solutions on their own which turns it into a positive learning experience for them.
This was exactly what prompted a pair of good friends to open The Little Things, a school offering weekly enrichment lessons with a twist.
The Little Things essentially uses Cooking as a centerpiece for learning, with 'home' as the setting and 'food' as the medium of learning. So it was not surprising to see its classroom being set up in the form of a large kitchen.
The philosophy is simple - nurturing Self-Savvy Skills like problem-solving, independence, initiative, no fear of failure and resourcefulness are vital so classes are structured yet open-ended, safe yet exciting, guided yet independent, and the children will get to interact with familiar foods in unprecedented ways.
Of course to the monkies, all that was enough to get them highly excited was the mere mention of cooking up a storm in the kitchen when they were invited down for a trial lesson!
And on the menu for that particular day was Garlic Salt Fish, and Teacher Emily first went through the required ingredients with the class.
The good thing about the entire class structure is that the children are given a free hand in everything - from the preparation to the cooking. So for starters, the children were tasked to pick out the ingredients that were needed from the mini-mart specially set up for this purpose.
Once the correct ingredients were gathered, it was off to the cooking classroom!
Everything has to be prepared from scratch, which meant that the kids have to concoct their very own garlic salt... and this started with them peeling garlic cloves.
For the monkies, this has got to be the first time that they are peeling garlic cloves so it was actually quite hilarious to watch them do it. Lol. But with some guidance from the teachers, they managed pretty well.
All the steps were printed out and pinned onto the wall, so all the monkies had to do was to follow the instructions in the correct order.
After the seasoning for the fish has been done, it was time for the part that the monkies excelled in - making lots of noise!
In the hands of the monkies, pounding garlic has never looked more fun.
Salt was then added to the pounded garlic, and left to baked in the oven.
There was still the tiny issue of marinating the fish with the seasoning and for Ale at least, it was her first time doing some actual cooking. So luckily, she didn't freak out on touching the cold and slimy fish slice. Heh.
All that was left to do was to sprinkle a little of the garlic salt that the monkies had made from scratch to the fish.
Then let the frying begin!
Finally, the deed was done.
Any wonder that the monkies had a particularly good appetite when it came to eating something that they had prepared all by themselves?
But if I thought every lesson ended with a huge food-tasting session, I was wrong.
At the end of every lesson, the children are expected to document the recipe and what they have learnt in each of their journal.
Not every lesson deals with cooking though as classes are purposely packed with a mix of educational modules including culinary skills, food science, food craft, group projects and a termly excursion. Here is what a typical term at The Little Things looks like:
So expect children to take on a variety of experiences and challenges such as meal-planning, food preparation, food cultures, etiquette, home-science experiments, home-crafts, presentations, and even team projects for the community.
And through it all, they will hopefully cultivate intangible and essential life skills such as independence, decision making, team work, spatial awareness, resourcefulness and a thirst for knowledge - through an experiential journey with food.
As for the monkies, all they wanted to do was to go back to The Little Things for future lessons! And that, I think, is testament to The Little Things' cooking-based lessons.
And here's a special treat for our readers: Get a FREE TRIAL session for your children (aged 4 to 12 years old) with absolutely no obligation at The Little Things! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Little Things
215H Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 6456 3140