Am I the only mother of a Kindergarten child who dreads the coming years of school projects (which sometime seem like they should be called “mom projects”)?
I remember my own mother taking our school projects far too seriously and going completely overboard helping us.
I’ve promised myself there is no way I’m going to go crazy over my girls’ school projects, but I admit the whole concept of school projects stresses me somewhat.
My five year old Julia is half way through Kindergarten and last week my fear took form. A letter from the teacher announced the children were to brainstorm and sketch out a plan to make a dinosaur out of food. The parents were supposed to take the child to the grocery store to purchase the necessary food items and bring them to school the following week.
My initial response (silently in my head) was, “Shut Up! They are 5! They can’t figure out how to build a dinosaur from food. This “school project” clearly means mom do a money wasting, time wasting school project for your child.”
While I was at the grocery store later, on my own, I aimlessly and hopelessly looked through the baking goods and produce sections for inspiration. Silently again I cursed the concept of school projects requiring busy parents to spend time and money they don’t have.
Since my girls are currently obsessed with the TV show Dinosaur Train, I knew without a doubt that Julia would insist on making a Pteranodon. “We are doomed”, I muttered under my breath.
“How is a 5 year old supposed to figure out how to make a dinosaur out of food when I can’t even do it?”
I gave up and finished buying the groceries we actually needed to eat… not play with.
When I came home, I reread the assignment and it included a couple of suggestions for food items including pears as bodies. As I stared at the notice, I reminded myself of my promise to not freak out over school projects and to not instill an unhealthy pursuit of perfection in my children.
I decided I was going to take Julia with me to the store and we’d figure something out together. It may not end up looking much like a Pteranodon, but she’d see the Dinosaur we intended and we’d have fun doing it.
On my next solo grocery trip, I strolled slowly through the produce section gathering some ideas so that I could guide Julia in a reasonable direction. I decided we should embrace her passion for Pteranodons and create “Tiny” a member of the Pteranodon family from Dinosaur Train. I figured green produce items were the way to go.
Finally, Julia and I headed out to the market. We brought her favorite little Pteranodon toy as a model to follow and I guided her through the aisles talking about what fruits and vegetables sort of looked like parts of the body of a Pteranodon.
We actually had fun selecting the items and Julia even got excited to buy and eat some new types of vegetables including asparagus — which although we did not use in our Dinosaur, she gobbled up at dinner time.
The project required that they bring a drawing of their plan and the food pieces to execute it at school with the teacher’s help, but I couldn’t resist building a prototype with Julia at home.
We took out our Dinosaur pieces and with toothpicks in hand assembled this adorable little Pteranodon. Julia and I were thrilled. We had so much fun and truly worked on it together. I couldn’t believe that this school project that I initially scoffed at turned out to be such a fun and worthwhile experience.
Here’s how to make a Dinosaur out of food…
- Select the following ingredients: a green pear, a baby cucumber, two long green beans, two leafs of lettuce, a baby banana (if not available, you could cut half a normal banana), and two raisins. Also grab several toothpicks.
- Wash all the items in case your child wants to eat the dinosaur afterward.
- Legs: Cut the baby cucumber in half and place the pieces cut end down.
- Body: Stick toothpicks in the tops of the cucumbers and push the pear on top to form a body with legs.
- Arms: Trim one end off each of the green beans and stick a toothpick into each green bean. Push the ends of the toothpicks into the pear’s sides to make the green beans become arms.
- Wings: Wrap the edge of a piece of lettuce over each bean and fasten with a toothpick to form wings.
- Head: Take the baby banana and push it onto the stem of the pear, trying to find the ideal balance point to allow the Pteranodon to stay standing. Push in extra toothpicks to support the head.
- Eyes: Break the tips off a toothpick and use the small pieces of toothpick to attach the raisins to the banana to form eyes.
- Mouth: Cut little slits in the top of banana to form the nostrils and slit the end of the banana open to form a mouth.
And there you have an adorable and edible Pteranodon!
The next day I cut up and served Julia the pear and told her she was eating a Dinosaur. She loved the entire project — even eating it in the end.