In the beginning of the school year, I find it especially important for the children to get into routines at school. The first couple of days can be confusing and unsettling for some, and rituals are soothing once established. This week, at lunch circle, we have been learning about what happens at the beginning, middle, and end of lunch. Our stuffed animal friend Love Dragon came to circle to learn about how to be a lunch helper, what our lunch agreements are, and how to find where his seat is. Through teaching Love Dragon these skills, the children ingrained in their own minds, the important aspects of our lunch routine. After introducing Love Dragon, I asked the children if they thought they could teach Love Dragon about lunchtime at Tulip Tree. They all confidently exclaimed “Yes!” even though many of them had never experienced lunchtime at Tulip Tree. This was sweet to hear because even though they did not know what they were expected to teach, they were certain that it would become clear and that they had ideas about lunchtime rituals already. One by one the children came up to show Love Dragon exactly where a plate, a fork, and a cup should go on the table. Though he was a little bit small for his chair, the children showed him where his name tag existed on the back of his chair. Later into lunchtime, FC claimed that she was “worried” about Love Dragon because she noticed that he did not fit in his chair!
After teaching Love Dragon about the beginning of lunch, we began to think about the middle of lunch by forming some agreements. The children shared many ideas including eating with your fork, sitting in your chair, talking quietly, and not yucking someone’s yum. We also talked about trying a little bit of everything and the importance of not taking 5 scoops of something that you are unsure you like. Following this, we all participated in some lunchtime rituals of our own. Everyday before lunch we sing “The Golden Corn” as a way of giving thanks to the earth for the food we have to enjoy. After that, we do a game/song called “Jump Up” to get the children up to wash their hands in small groups. Then they each find their seats and serve themselves.
My favorite part of our Love Dragon circle was that the children learned about lunch through teaching about lunch. They pooled together their knowledge to help our guest at lunch circle. Some of them children had been to lunch at Tulip Tree before and knew some of the routines, some made guesses about what was expected, and some brought knowledge from past lunch experiences. The children are already making discoveries about foods that they didn’t know they loved. Many of them tried frittata and roasted chickpeas for the first time this week, and realized that they love them. I am looking forward to the food journeys ahead with this new group!