By Alexis Masingill
In November, the day after the election, I overheard a few Seedlings having a conversation about voting. The idea of only being able to choose one thing was interesting to hear them analyze. “You can only pick one?” Luke said with a sigh. “Yep, and then you get a sticker,” Will replied. Later that day, when Chef Sean provided us with snack, we were given two options for fruit: apples and oranges. I asked if the Seedlings wanted to vote on which one was their favorite. They emphatically replied, “YES!” I set up the easel to have each child come up and vote. Evie wanted to be the one who gave the chalk out to make their mark, and she took her role seriously, making sure each child made one mark for their choice. At the end of our voting session, the results were announced. Apple won, 10-2. The children erupted with excitement, knowing that most of the votes counted were the ones they picked. But a comment was made later that day that shifted our ideas. “I just like the juice from the orange, not all of it,” Mayumi said shyly; even though she voted for apple, she was still sitting with those options.
This brought me to think about how we can take the moment we had with our voting to shift focus on mindful tasting with other citrus fruits and juices. I have a tangelo tree at my house that had an abundance of fruit waiting for it to be picked. What is a tangelo? It is a hybrid citrus fruit that is from a mandarin orange and a tangerine. I brought a large basket of fruit from my house. I had them clean them with a brush then peel them. Then we used the juice press to extract the juice from the fruit. The time and effort that this group took with this investigation were impressive. The multiple steps they took to get the fruit peeled and juice took lots of focus and motor skills.
The interests of this provocation were so great that I took it a step further. We did multiple mindful tastings with a wide variety of citrus fruit. But the real excitement was the juice. So, I let the children take this into their own hands. The first step was introducing how to cut the fruit with a knife. Chef Sean provided us with child-friendly knives and cutting boards. Each child had a different approach to using the knife. Some children enjoyed just cutting the fruit, and some wanted to juice. Watching a child use a knife is a tricky moment of safety and empowerment. Things I noticed I said to them were, “Watch your fingers,” “Try pushing down a little harder,” and “I can see you are really trying but the more the children kept working, the more confident they became.
Once they mastered cutting the fruit, the juicing followed. I introduced simple juicers. The task of using their hands to squeeze the fruit and twist was a different experience from the previous juice presser. This took more hand-eye coordination. The conversations that took place during this provocation allowed for new connections to happen naturally.
We also tried a power juicer that enabled us to be more efficient with the fruit. Turn-taking was needed because there was only one power juicer. This process helped the Seedlings with patience and being mindful of others in the same space. After we would juice, the children were eager to taste. We would gather before lunch, and everyone would get a small sampling. This moment to stop and appreciate all the hard work and efforts that the Seedlings made was so fulfilling. This provocation allowed me to squeeze every moment from investigating citrus to finding a way to dig deeper for the needs of this group…one drop at a time.