Background

I have been teaching for 13 years. I am a mother of 3 students in the Ventura Unified School District and was a student there as well.

I have had many parents comment that their children are more willing to try new things because of the cooking lessons provided at school. Students have asked to go grocery shopping with parents to pick out items from the recipes we made in class.

- Laura Nicholls

Children reached by The Charlie Cart

School size: 265 students, K-5

How are you using the cart and curriculum?

All students, K-5 receive cooking class one time per month. We always use the cooking cart and materials. Last year, in the pilot, provided recipes were used for 4th and 5th graders only, but now all students come to the cafeteria for cooking classes.

The district cooking curriculum we are provided is a one-size-fits-all model! When we implement the new lessons next year, the kids will be amazed and happy to not have repeating lessons from year to year.

What is the early feedback about the Charlie Cart tools and materials?

I have had many parents comment that their children are more willing to try new things because of the cooking lessons provided at school. Students have asked to go grocery shopping with the parents to pick out items from the recipes we made in class.

Favorite Charlie Cart lesson?

The students loved the tamale recipe. They asked for extra copies to take to grandparents houses. They love that they get to cut and peel and shred and measure and mix and bake.  They feel like they can take the recipes home and make them on their own because they have practiced in class beforehand.

There was so much thought put into the design of the Charlie Cart. I love how everything fits nicely into the cart. I love the variety of tools and the various sizes of bowls and I love that it’s all in one place! It is completely obvious that this project was created with the kids in mind.

What are some of the challenges and how are you overcoming those?

The biggest challenge has to be getting all of the materials washed before the next class comes in. The way I have been able to solve that is to have extra cutting boards and measuring cups ready for the next class. I also have been hesitant to introduce the sharp knives with all classes, so some classes still use plastic knives that we wash and reuse. The scrapers are a good alternative to knives.

What stands out most from the Charlie Cart curriculum?

I like how they are organized. The shopping list in included, and it contains all the background necessary to teach the lesson. I always want to explain growing seasons and the history of foods and I like that it is included rather than having to find it on my own! I also love the variety of foods included in the recipes. It is important to show kids how to eat a variety of foods early! It is also great when the kids can grow, harvest and present the food all on their own!

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