What are some cool snacks the kids and I can make at preschool?
September 8, 2010 9:24 AM   Subscribe

What are some good snacks for preschoolers that we can make together at preschool? Involving gadgets is a plus.

This year at co-op preschool, the teacher is asking us to involve the kids in the making of the daily snack. To lure them in she suggest using some of the many gadgets we have.

Items I have access to include, but are not limited to:

- waffle iron
- juicers (hand ones and a high-quality electric one)
- blender
- coffee maker
- popcorn air-popper
- Crock Pot
- iron
- ice shaver
- toaster
- not-very-powerful microwave
- electric griddle
- pasta machine
- bread machine
- ice-cream maker
- George Foreman grill
- rice cooker
- Cuisinart
- stand mixer
- hand-cranked apple peeler
- banana slicer
- small children

We do not have a hotplate or oven, just a lousy microwave (but I could bring my better microwave in if necessary). The only way to boil water is in an electric kettle or the electric griddle. I can borrow many other tools, so don't let my list limit you. The kids don't get to use the sharp knives but I can do prep at home.

Snacks can't have any nuts or peanuts, should be vegetarian, shouldn't contain much egg (there can be small amounts, but no egg-centered dishes), and should be something four-year-olds would like to eat.

posted by The corpse in the library to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Bread! When I was a kid, I loved kneading the bread dough. Sure, the bread machine will do that for you -- and you'll need it to, since little kid hands can't really knead enough. But measuring the ingredients, mixing it up, watching it rise -- fun, hands on, and you can even do a science lesson about yeast! Then they can eat the bread with butter, or jam, or just plain.
posted by shamash at 9:29 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To go along with the corpse's homemade bread you could make butter to go with it. They all get to shake the jar with the cream in it.
posted by beccaj at 9:37 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: I liked making small gingerbread houses. Lots of icing.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:40 AM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: Ooh, those are good. One thing I forgot -- a preschool day is 2 1/2 hours, and snack time lasts maybe two hours tops. So if things can be made in, say, less than an hour, that would be ideal.

(Snack goes on while other things do, too; kids come and go from the snack area as they please.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: I used to do cooking lessons with young, low-literacy kids at a drop-in centre, and I usually used Mollie Katzen's preschooler cookbook Pretend Soup for inspiration. The recipes have both words and pictures (e.g. if a recipe requires two teaspoons of something, there's a picture of the food and a picture of two teaspoons) so they're good for teaching counting and reading. As a bonus, the results are tasty to kids and adults.

I see the author has another preschooler cookbook, Salad People. I haven't used that one myself, but if it's like Pretend Soup it'll be great.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:42 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Cold Stuff:Hummus,Salsa,smoothies,snack mix (any random things like cereal pretzels dried fruits mixed together),dips,Juices
Hot Stuff:pancakes,potato pancakes,Quesadillas
Central Park East in NYC has their students make snacks everyday, and a school that I worked at (The Mission Hill School) modeled their snack making on Central Park's method. Recipes are written out with pictures to illustrate the steps,the teacher supervise but the kids make the dishes. The kids eat whatever is made either that day or the next.

Mollie Katzen's books are a great resource
In an ideal world, you would add a table top convection oven to your mix of supplies-that will explode your options.
posted by momochan at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Play restaurant!
Use the crank peeler to turn the apples into "spaghetti". Plate that up in small amounts.
Use a potato masher to crush ripe red berries into "sauce", and pour that on top.
Sprinkle dried coconut shreds on top as the "cheese".
Then set up a little NYC Italian-style diner, maybe checkered tablecloths, "That's amore" in the CD player, and teach some simple Italian-restaurant phrases, like Buona Sera and Grazie.
The kids can serve each other with a dishcloth draped over a wrist, and then practice twirling the "spaghetti" with a fork to eat it!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also shaved ice with fruit puree + fruit juice on it would be really good. Little all-natural sno-cones.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Celery sticks with cream cheese or almond butter (if that's ok) and raisins.

Jello with fruit (refrigerate overnight)

Pretzels if you get an oven.

What's a banana slicer?
posted by Sukey Says at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Yeah, it's a shame you have to avvoid nuts because ants on a log = AWESOME. But celery with cream cheese and craisins as suggested above or perhaps hummus and pre-cut olives?

Additionally, maybe toast + cookie cutters? They can make their own shapes and put butter, jelly, whatever on them?
posted by maryr at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Put instant vanilla pudding and milk in a jar and add a marble or two. Let the kids take turns shaking it. Once it's ready, give each kid a banana and a plastic knife. Add Nilla wafers and you've got banana pudding!

And yes, mini-"gingerbread" houses--but made with graham crackers. You could use cream cheese instead of icing if you wanted to make it a little healthier.
posted by wallaby at 3:48 PM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: > What's a banana slicer?

$20 SAIT.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:57 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Potato nest -- Does the hand-crank apple peeler also serve as a potato peeler? Because if you get a big pile of potato peelings you can fry them and they are the best thing ever. Could probably do this on electric griddle? If eggs were ok you could fry eggs with this too, eggs in a nest. Gloriously greasy.

Donuts/pretzels? --I vividly remember making donuts in an afterschool program when I was probably 6, each kid got to make raw donuts of whatever shape they wanted, and the adults worked the deep-fryer. Similar thing would maybe work for making pretzels?

Sushi?? - you have a rice cooker -- maybe this is crazy but.. Prep rice early in the class, then lay them out on sheets and put thin strips of fillings along the center line - eg red pepper and cooked chicken? - then roll and chop? Would the kids go for seaweed wrappers? soy sauce?

Popcorn with toppings - nutritional yeast; curry powder; oregano and garlic salt; you could make caramel or butterscotch sauce... make different batches and have a taste-test.

Bruschetta - slice baguette and toast; you can make toppings in the cuisinart - eg pesto, tomato puree, berry puree...

Quesadillas are good idea - be sure to do sweet potato ones!

Tofu sticks or triangles soaked in different marinades prior to being cooked on griddle? (press the tofu first)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Oh, oh, if you can boil liquid in a pot, you can make CHEESE!

Note: this is super easy, I've just given a longwinded description. Also, you can do it with just milk and lemon juice. I do it with milk and buttermilk, because I think it's fun to use buttermilk and I've had bad luck once with the lemon juice.

Milk: buttermilk::2:1
I usually use a gallon of milk and half-gallon of buttermilk, which yields three baseball-sized units of cheese. You want to use a heavy-bottomed pot that gives you good clearance between lip of pot and top of liquid, taking into account that you're adding a large volume of liquid. You can use two or more pots, but start them at staggered times - at the crucial moment when the milk is about to boil, you need to have all your attention focused on one pot.
Salt, pepper, other flavors to taste (someone knowledgable suggested cumin)
Heat-proof bowl that can hold as much cheese as you're going to produce (eg good-size pyrex)

Cut cheesecloth to shape (use 3x thickness of cheesecloth, and leave yourself a little extra material so you can have a very hot baseball-size ball in the center of it and still tie the other end to something) and rinse if you like. I tend to use several cheesecloth sections, and make correspondingly many baseball-size cheese balls per outing, since I find the baseball-size cheese unit to be more easily handled. YMMV.
Set colander in sink and drape cheesecloth in colander.

Boil milk:
Pour milk into pot, put on medium-high heat. Stir as needed (more as it gets hotter) to avoid it burning on the bottom. Initial phase will take a while, 10+ min. Then it will start to get little bubbles/froth around edges, more as it gets close to boiling. As it starts to get close to this point you must pay attention to it -- if it boils, it will boil over quickly and make a huge mess. Ask me how I know. So: maintain a posture of vigilance. Cat-like readiness.
Then JUST before/as it starts boiling, take it off the heat. Err on the early side.

Add buttermilk:
Pour in the buttermilk and stir continuously for 3 minutes or so. The white solids (curds) will start to clump and separate out from the greenish translucent liquid (whey). Stir until you feel like progress has stopped.

Strain curds into cheesecloth:
Now you want to achieve two things: some whey in the pyrex container, which you can set aside, and the curds all in the cheesecloth. Depending how big your pot is, it might be easy to pour directly through the cheesecloth, and hold the pyrex under the colander for a minute to catch some whey. If your pot is really big you may need to use a measuring cup to do this more gradually. You can add salt, pepper, etc to the curds as they sit in the cloth.

Squeeze and drain:
When you're done, or if you're doing multiple balls (ie, multiple cheesecloth sections), when you're done with one of them: gather the ends of the cheesecloth up and squeeze the cheese ball under running cool water. An adult should do this because it will be HOT. Then give the cloth a twist to keep the pressure on the ball, and let it sit somewhere clean for the moment... when you're done with the colander, tie all the cheese packages to the handles of the colander and let them sit, draining, inside the colander for about an hour.

Unwrap and eat, or put in fridge:
Then you can unwrap them and you'll have balls of cheese! I like to put them in the pyrex with the whey and let it sit in the fridge for an interval, maybe an hour, before I cook with them. But they're ready to eat right away.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:13 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: In the preschool spirit: best answers for everyone!

So far we've made butter, doing the marble-in-a-plastic-container method. Most of the kids were too young to really appreciate it, but there were isolated pockets of enthusiasm. I'm getting the cookbook from the library, and will be trying many of your other suggestions as the year goes by. Thanks!
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 AM on September 19, 2010

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