Pie Crust Science

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The lesson plan that went with Travis’s recent Apple Crumb Pie recipe delved deeper into what makes a pie crust so yummy. This was a hard one to tailor for Travis’s age, so here’s just an abbreviated version.

Start off with a read of Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, which you can find at your library or watch a full read-through online. This interesting story will whet the appetite, if you will, for pie!

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Travis enjoyed watching, and afterwards we talked about what role pie had played in the story. We talked about pies we’ve made, and specifically about the components that had gone into our recent crust. I helped him remember that we had used:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • salt
  • Earth Balance butter
  • water

You can go through the reasons for each ingredient, as well as definitions for tenderness and flakiness, the two things that people look for in a “successful” crust. Another quick video clip helped Travis understand the idea better.

Raddishthen suggests letting kids become food scientists, making two different pie crusts but only changing one variable. I knew though that Travis would lose interest in taking time to bake two crusts, plus I worried two full pies would go to waste! The idea of independent and dependent variables was also a bit advanced for a kindergartner.

So instead, we baked a store-bought pie shell from our freezer that differed from our homemade crust in one significant way: palm oil as the fat instead of our Earth Balance butter. I had him do a side-by-side taste test of the crusts, both of which he declared delicious.

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Older kids can be much more scientific about this. Consider varying the type of flour used, the tool used for mixing, and more. Chart independent and dependent variables along a graph if your kids are old enough for that kind of math. Invite friends over for a complete taste test, if you have the time!

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So this was a brief lesson for my little one, but there is lots more to explain here if desired.

Fill and Roll

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Here’s an advanced version of a game Veronika and I played recently with lids and containers. This time, we were more deliberate about it, using only round containers that could be filled and then…rolled!

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I placed a favorite stuffed animal (a small Elmo) inside a container and sealed the lid. Now I rolled it back and forth between us.

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“What’s inside?” I asked. She didn’t wait long to find out. Her eager fingers were able to open up the lid…

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…and discover Elmo!

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We then played several variations on the game, adding in toy tennis balls or other surprises, something new each time she fetched off the lid. She loved just putting on and taking off the lid in between each round.

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Then I used a clear tennis ball container with a similar purpose in mind, but this time since the container was clear, she could see the item inside and watch it roll.

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She loved chasing after a few toy cars sealed up this way. And was so proud when she removed the lid and fetched them out.

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Photo Wallpaper

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In the past, I’ve made photo albums for Veronika featuring pictures of family and friends, in order to help her know and recognize those who love her most. This “wallpaper” idea is another way to surround your baby with familiar faces!

I went to the copy shop and had several recent photos printed on regular 8×11 paper, in black and white.

If you want to make a true wallpaper, then you can print out several copies of each picture, and arrange them in a pattern. Put wallpaper paste on the wall and hang one picture at a time in the first row, then repeat with as many rows as desired. Paint over with two coats of gel acrylic to finish.

But since we only rent our home, I couldn’t mark up the walls that permanently! I settled for taping the faces around Veronika’s crib. But this was exciting in and of itself! Veronika loved helping with the tape while I worked.

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Then we had a little art gallery tour of all the faces, pointing out who was who.

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She loved standing up to check out the images.

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And big brother did, too! This is a sweet little project that will make any nursery feel warm and full of love.

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