Friday, 22 August 2014

Making Lemonade with Young kids

A refreshing drink, structured activity, unstructured sensory play and make your house smell lovely in the process. This is an example of how even a simple activity can be a treasure-trove of learning opportunities for a young child.

4 lemons
About 4 large spoonfuls of sugar.
Hand Juicer (you can use an electric one but this removes some of the fun of juicing the lemons
1 sharp knife (kept away from the kids obviously)
2 jugs (1 smaller 1 larger) (about 1 liter or 2 pints is a good size for the larger jug)
Mixing spoon
Towel (to wipe up spills)

 For the sensory play activity
Pot and stove (away from kids, obviously)
Shallow basin
Bowls, plastic knife, wooden spoon

Structured activity (making lemonade)

Before you start make sure no-one has any recent scrapes/cuts on their hands. Lemon juice really hurts if it gets into a wound (I forgot I had a small cut on my finger before setting this up).

Step 1) Bruise the lemons
Start out with just the 4 lemons. It is good to make a space either on a low table or the floor to do this (if you have carpets/ easily stained floors you may want to put down a plastic mat and have a towel handy). To get the most lemon juice out of your lemons you need to bruise the lemons to break some of the membranes inside. A good way of doing this is to roll the lemons on the counter top under firm pressure.  This is a fun exercise for children. Another way to get a similar result is to play “Ops I dropped a lemon” careful not to use too much force you are trying to bruise it not splat it everywhere.

Step 2) Cut the lemons.
 You need quite a sharp knife to do this so it is best done away from the kids and the knife put away afterwards. (Older kids may be able to do this under direct supervision).

Step 3) Setup
Now is the time to set everything up to make the lemonade. You need 2 jugs (1 larger, 1 smaller) the smaller one ¾ full of water), your cut lemons, a mixing spoon, a bowl of sugar, a tablespoon and the juicer.

Step 4) Sugar and water
Have the child spoon about 4 tablespoons of sugar into the big jug and then pour about half the water from the small jug into the larger jug (It is easier for a child to pour all the water in rather than stop at half so if your child is just starting to learn pouring having two smaller jugs may be better).

Have the child mix the sugar in with the big mixing spoon.
Quantities do not need to be exact. Expect some mess.

Step 4) Juice the lemons
I found the easiest way to do this is to start and finish the lemons off. So get the lemon on the juicer and give it a couple of light turns (so there is a groove in it), then let the child have a turn juicing (Hold the bottom of the juicer while this is happening or you will have a big mess). After each lemon have the child pour the Juice into the big Jug (that way if you do have a spill you won’t have lost all your lemon juice).

Step 5) Mix and taste
Mix again. Then spoon a small amount of juice into glasses and taste. Add more sugar/water as needed until it is good. Then drink.

Sensory Play activity
To prep for this cut the lemon skins away from the fruit and place half of them on a pot with some water. Cook on the stove for 5-10minutes (obviously this needs to be done with children far away, pots/ boiling water are a major source of childhood injury). (This will also make your house smell lemony fresh)

After cooked drain the water and rinse the skins under the cold tap until cold.
Place in a shallow basin along with the uncooked skins. You can also add some uncooked mandarin/orange skins for a bit of color. Put the basin on the floor and allow child to play (can also give them some extra bowls or a plastic knife to play with too).

Put the activity in front of the child, explain what everything is then step back and let them play by themselves.
Learning points/ discussion points.
There are many different things that you can use in this activity as learning and discussion points with your child. It depends on your child’s interests/ level as to which are the most important at the time. As child develops can repeat this activity and add in learning activities as appropriate. Some of the things a child can learn through this activity include:

Physical skills
Rolling, dropping, picking up, finding, pouring, stirring
Cutting (Advanced)
Feel of the lemon as it rolls
Smell the lemon
Taste the lemon, the lemonade and the sugar (Sweet and sour) how does the juice change when you add more sugar/ water?

Numbers and counting the number of spoons of sugar/ number of lemons
Pouring – fractions, ie half the liquid, empty halffull, full
How the sugar dissolves into the water.
How the water changes color with the sugar and the lemon juice
Large and small : the jugs are different sizes. The lemons are also most likely different sizes. Can line up the lemons and use them in order of size.

Sensory play

There are lots of things that the child can do with the skins in sensory play. The aim of the activity is that it is unstructured and children explore by themselves. Some kids may have no interest in it and that is ok too. Kids can feel the difference between the soft squishy cook pieces and the hard uncooked pieces. They smell different too. The uncooked skins smell more strongly. They can use their plastic knife to cut or tear the pieces. Can mix with a spoon or separate groups into bowls. The cooked bits can squish between fingers. While they do not taste great tasting them will not hurt.



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