Delicious Hooks into Lessons

Make an analogy between cookin' up GOOD FOOD at home and GOOD WORK at school.

Make an analogy between cookin’ up GOOD FOOD at home and GOOD WORK at school.

Mid-Week Focus this week features FOOD as a hook into K – 5 lessons.

Hungry for more tools and tricks to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention as you lead the class into learning time?

Here’s a menu of activities that capitalize on food – something that catches EVERYONE’S attention!

Cookin’ Up – Create engaging analogies between “cookin up” GOOD FOOD at home and GOOD WORK in school.

This trick works for me every time I open up “You Choose Day at The Poetry Cafe.” 

“You Choose Day” works for any part of the curriculum. It’s the concept of “cookin’ up,” not the content specifically, that catches and keeps kids’ attention.

“You Choose Day,” for example, could offer a menu full of math problems for students to solve.

Ask young students to count the cookies you set out on a tray. Serve them up for "Math-time Dessert!"

Ask young students to count the cookies you set out on a tray. Serve them up for “Math-time Dessert!”

Math-Time Dessert – Invite young students to count cookies you spread across a tray. Be sure to count at least as high as the number of kids in class.

Close the lesson by passing out the cookies for a delicious math-time dessert!

Cook What You Like – Begin “You Choose Day” by asking students if they’ve ever been to a cafe where the “Specials of the Day” are written in chalk on a blackboard.

Some hands always fly in answer to this question. Explain that “You Choose Day” is a lot like that.

At the “Poetry Cafe” I tell students that I’m going to post a menu and invite them to choose what they’d like to write about.

I begin by writing a word or words on the board to start an Acrostic poem with a food theme. Yum! I might write, for example, B-A-N-A-N-A  S-P-L-I-T.

The class and I discuss how Acrostic poems are written and I ask volunteers to suggest words and phrases that we can write out to the side, beginning with each letter in banana split. A student might suggest, for example, that the letter B can begin the phrase: best item on the menu. And so on…

Then I draw a shape and show how to write a concrete or shape poem with a food theme. Apple shapes are easy to draw and afford the opportunity to connect the lesson with healthy eating.

My poetry menu continues with a List poem about pizza. Pizza, pizza, it’s delicious to eat/Pizza is my favorite treat and so on.

As I post each choice I allow time for class discussion, questions, and comments to be sure that everyone is participating. Before students begin writing I explain that their choice of focus can be anything they want, not necessarily a favorite food.

Lesson hooks that connect with comfort food are instant attention-getters. Children who are struggling in school for whatever reason are especially hooked on comfort food connections. Share a poem I’ve written about an ice cream sundae full of LOVE with your class…

Using references to comfort food, like a delicious looking ice cream sundae, helps hook struggling students into lessons.

Use references to comfort food, like a delicious-looking ice cream sundae, to help hook struggling students into lessons.

Whip Up a Poetic Recipe for Love – Before you begin reading my ice cream poem, do a quick sketch on the board of a sundae loaded with whipped cream and cherry on top!

Kids don’t care if your art work is perfect or not. The impromptu illustration will make their mouths water. You won’t have to say, “attention please.” All eyes will be on you. Tell the class that the title of the poem is “Order, Please.”

Order, Please

May I take your order now?

she said with a pleasant smile.

Yes, I’m ready, I replied,

I’m starved.

I’ll have a large order of LOVE and

please add extra whipped topping!

LOVE is the sweetest thing on life’s menu,

I thought to myself out loud.

You haven’t run out of LOVE, have you?

I asked with sudden concern.

Not today, she said with certainty.

Occasionally we do run low, she added

and please don’t tell other customers,

but sometimes we even misplace it!

Lose LOVE altogether, I asked.

Maybe I better stoke up while I can.

Make my order SUPER-SIZED!

Sweet is too small a word to describe

the helping of LOVE I enjoyed when it came.

My order was so huge I asked for a

“doggy bag” to take some home for later.

Then, much to my surprise,

I awoke from my dream, hungry again,

but this time for breakfast!

Students in all elementary grade levels get hooked in a heartbeat when FOOD is part of the hook into a lesson. Kids love being invited to “cook up” great work at a “cafe!”

Happy Cookin,’ and please send comments to share your recipes for effective hooks into your lessons.

Stop by on Monday for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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