Moroccan Spices

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This lesson was a culinary extension to the recipes in the Morocco kit from Raddish Kids. Travis got to pretend to be a spice seller at his very own bazaar! For a kindergartner, the lesson was a mix between learning and sensory play (you’ll notice my toddler was eager to leap in, too). Older kids can take the lesson more seriously, researching spice blends from around the world, grinding their own spices, and using exact proportions to create their own blend.

First up was being a scent detective! I poured eight common Moroccan spices into small cups and gave them to Travis one at a time. I labeled each cup just so I wouldn’t forget what was what!

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He loved smelling each, summoning up the vocabulary to describe it, and adding tasting notes and color to the provided chart.

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He knew three of them without needing to be told (cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper), and I challenged him to think of why he knew these three. He correctly realized it’s because we cook with them often, whereas the other spices were less familiar!

 

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The lesson plan then included facts about spices, where they come from, the health benefits of spices, and information on common blends like Italian seasoning or ras el hanout.

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That was all a bit over Travis’s head; instiead, it was time to create his own blend! Mostly he pretended to be a spice merchant, and there was lots of spooning onto paper plates, or pouring in and out of cups. If he gave a spice a thumbs up, we added 3 teaspoons to a glass jar. If he didn’t like it, we added only 1 teaspoon, and if he rated it a medium, we added 2 teaspoons.

In this way we ended up with:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Well, wouldn’t you know, he liked it!

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We creamed 1 tablespoon spice mix into 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter for a spread that worked nicely on homemade bread or crackers. We might try it as a dry rub on tofu, next!

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A fun book to read together was My Five Senses, by Aliki. We finished with a virtual trip to a Moroccan bazaar.

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Older kids can extend the lesson plan by gifting their spice blend along with a recipe, or researching how spices are grown and harvested.

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Spaghetti Squash with Italian Herbs

Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

There’s something magical about spaghetti squash for kids (and grown-ups, too!), about the way the strands instantly shred to look like spaghetti noodles. It always felt a bit to me like Strega Nona’s bubbling pasta pot! This recipe gets a kid-friendly hit of flavor from garlic and herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan shreds
  1. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking dish and pierce several times with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F for 90 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and use a fork to rake the rest of it into strands. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Once the squash has cooled slightly, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, basil, and oregano; cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic mixture and the Parmesan to the spaghetti squash, tossing to coat.

If you prefer, serve the squash topped with marinara sauce to look even more like real spaghetti!

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Color of the Day

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For toddlers who are learning all their colors, there are a lot of new words and ideas to take in all at once. One way to break it down is to devote a day to each color in turn. For example, today Veronika had a red day! You can continue this game on successive days of the week for each color of the rainbow, or add in other common colors like pink, black, brown, and white.

To start us off in the morning, I sang this ditty to the tune of BINGO:

There is a color of the day, and that color is red.

Red, red, red. Red, red red. Red red red.

The color is red.

And of course I pointed out red as I sang! So all day long, it was all about red. She had a red straw in her cup of almond milk.

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And she built with red blocks, and played with red fruits from the toy food bin.

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And she sorted red berries only from a coloring sorting pie.

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When she wanted to draw, I gave her red crayons and markers of course!

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If your child has clothing in the corresponding color of the day, then today’s the day to wear it! When we headed out of the house, I pointed out red everywhere we saw it, whether on Stop signs or other people’s clothing or flowers. We were so happy to spot this vibrant red in the sculpture park!

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What color shall we focus on tomorrow? Can’t wait to explore more!

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