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Russellville Elementary students learn through cooking

For the past two weeks, teachers and child nutrition workers have been showing students at Russellville Elementary School that the things they learn in the classroom can help them in real-life situations, such as cooking and baking.
By the end of this week, all students in grades 3-5 will have participated in the baking classes that teachers are using to compliment lessons on reading, vocabulary and simple weights and measurements.
JoAnn Pearson, manager of the RES cafeteria, has taught each class how to bake a roll and a breadstick and takes the students through the process from measuring the ingredients to mixing the dough to rolling it out and putting it in the over.
Pearson then delivers the bread to each classroom when it is finished baking so the students can enjoy their own hard work.
“We did these baking classes just with the third grade last year to go with a reading unit but I decided to open them up to the whole school so all the students could have this experience,” Pearson said.
“They have all seemed to really enjoy it and hopefully it will help them realize not only that cooking can be a lot of fun but also that the things they’re learning can be applied in many different areas.”
Pearson said the fifth-grade students mainly used the class to get a grasp on the math unit that focused on weights and measurements.
“There’s a lot of measuring that goes on when you cook, and you have to get most things just right for them to turn out well,” Pearson said.
“This baking class was a good way for them to see that and get hands-on practice with their measuring.”
She said third and fourth-grade classes have used the class to go along with reading and vocabulary units.
Third-grade teacher Stacy Akins said her class has recently finished a book called “Jalapeño Bagels” that talks about a child who comes from a family with both a Hispanic and Jewish background.
Akins said the family in the story owns a bakery in New York and the child decides to take a jalapeño bagel to school on International Day to show off the combined cultures of his family.
“There were some words in the story that were unfamiliar to the kids because they had never ‘kneaded’ dough before and some weren’t even familiar with what ‘dough’ was, so it was good for them to actually see these things and experience them first-hand,” Akins said.
“It can be hard for some students to visualize something they’ve never heard of.”
Pearson said the classes also helped the students see how fun and easy it can be to bake homemade food that is usually healthier than store-bought food.
“These classes have a lot of practical, educational uses,” Pearson said, “but they’re also a lot of fun.”
Third grader Leah Rushing said she enjoyed the class.
“I liked getting to make a mess when I was making my breadstick,” she said.
“It was a lot of fun. I think I would like to cook more.”