The 2018 Early Care and Education Fall Institute was held in Altoona, Iowa on October 5-6, 2018. Early childhood educators came together from across the state to share their expertise and learn together. This year's event was planned with the theme, It Begins with Me in mind, highlighting the power and potential of professionals in the lives of young children.
Recognizing that whole child development is key, this year's institute featured 4 unique workshop tracks:
- Curriculum, Teaching and Assessing
- Health and Physical Environment
- Leadership and management, Community Engagement and Staff Competencies
- Relationships and Families
While farm to early care and education blends into all of these categories, this year it was highlighted in the Health and Physical Environment track. Presenters, Anita Schuckert, Gladys Movall and Kelly Hanson, hosted Grow it, Cook it, Experience it as a breakout session. With over 50 attendees, they were able to share their cooking and gardening passions with several educators. "We really wanted to show them how easy it is, and you just have to start small," said Movall, family child care provider from Southeastern Iowa.
The session started by diving into the basics, for cooking with children & container gardening. Next, each attendee tried their hand at two recipes most had never made before; Ratatouille and Spring Rolls. These recipes were hand picked for working with young children, because they allow for learning of a process while being easily individualized at the same time. This way kids can experiment with new foods and familiar foods slowly. "My secret to success? Making up silly songs. This helps to get kids out of their shell when trying a new food which may be scary to them," said Anita Schuckert. She also shared her Ratatouille recipe to the tune of the Macarena, with actions and all.
The laughter and socializing was perhaps most noticeable to bystanders. This reminds us that food is our common denominator, with endless ways to learn, teach, and celebrate differences. (click on images to expand each).