The beginning of the beach in a bag...
I've been asked by the local Elementary School to provide a Clean Classroom Award for the students on a once monthly basis. I am honoured to be invited to participate. I love little kids...they are so pure and sweet, they've not acquired any artifice yet, they see you for who you are and accept you in that same fashion.
I agree to do this, as long as I can make it a nutritious and healthy snack for the children, rather than the previously-supplied gigantic bag of candy. The vice-principal who calls me agrees quite happily! So, I start looking for a healthy but totally fun thing to create for my little ones.
I post a question on my Slowtrav food forum and my Slowtrav friends give me scads of great ideas. Amy, one of our esteemed moderators on Slowtrav, suggests Beach in a Bag. I love the idea that she gave me and decide that this could work for us.
I go shopping for the initial stash of supplies...small Ziploc bags for each student to fill with beach makings, heaps of Ziploc containers for the various foods, plastic spoons and large paper napkins. Then, I fill my cart with a wide range of food that can represent the things that we can expect to find on a beach.
Using Amy's suggestion, I purchase the following:
Pretzel sticks for driftwood
Goldfish crackers for the fish in the ocean
Granola to represent beach sand
Cheerios to be used as life preservers
Raisins to look like stones on the beach
Then, I go nuts, heaping the cart with:
Small, round corn tacos to use for beach blankets
Teddy Grahams to fill in for people on the beach
Krazy Kritters Gluten-free Animal Crackers for the kids who can't eat gluten products
Cherry tomatoes and green grapes to use as beach balls
Tiny, pre-peeled carrots for logs on the beach
Finally, I add a 4L/1 gallon jug of chocolate milk and a 2L/2 quart carton of fresh-pressed apple juice.
Staggering to my SUV with a huge cartful of bags of food, I wonder if this is going to be a good idea for the kids. I hope they like it and find it a fun thing to do.
Later that day, I arrive at the school just after recess begins, so I have time to haul two tubs of food into the winning classroom and set up the display while the kids are outside playing in the playground. The teacher is delighted with the idea and she quickly becomes involved in helping me set up the tables of food for the kids.
As they file in from recess, they very quickly realize that there is someone and something new in the room. Although they really want to come back to my tables full of food, they listen to their teacher and wash their hands before sitting in their desks.
I explain the reward that I've brought for them. telling them that each food becomes an item on the beach. There are some children who look puzzled and I ask them if they know what a beach is.
I explain that it is the land that they see beside any body of water...river, lake or ocean.
They get it and we proceed.
Lining up, row by row, the students take their time choosing each food, taking what they want of each and placing it in their Ziploc bag. The teacher pours milk or juice for each child as they finish the line of food, and very soon, all 21 kids are sitting at their desks, with their paper napkins spread out covering their desktops. Then, they begin to build a beach for themselves.
Walking around the room, I ask each child if I may take their photo, and they all agree. There are some pretty fantastic beaches! Here's one...
See the fish and the lifesavers in the 'water', delineated by the driftwood and the raisin rocks?
Each beach blanket taco has a Teddy Graham lying on it, sunbathing. Some of the sunbathers have their pet llama, camel, giraffe and elephant sitting and waiting patiently on the sand.
Most importantly, I am informed by the beach builder that there are raisin rocks holding down the edge of the beach blankets, because it is always windy at the beach.
After building and eating their beaches, most of the class come back to my table and spend quite a while poring over the seashells that I bring for the display.
They listen to the large shells, hoping for the sound of the sea.
Maybe it is their imagination...they all hear the ocean.
I have heart stickers to give each child. I explain to them that it is a reminder that they are to remember to be tender-hearted with each other, with their friends, and even more so, with people who aren't their friends yet.
Finally, it is home time.
The children begin packing up their leftover beach items. Some of the kids ask for more beach balls and driftwood, and I'm happy to let them fill their Ziploc bags to the brim for a walking-home snack.
It's been a fabulous afternoon. I think the students enjoyed themselves and I hope they learned a little bit about the value of good eats vs junk candy!
Here are a few more photos of different beaches...
Notice the Teddy Grahams suntanning, with their green grape beach balls waiting beside them for a romp in the ocean when they are finished relaxing on the beach...
Miss "I don't like my food to touch each other" Lindsey made this beach...can you tell?
"As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."
~ Buddy Hackett