This fall, students at Ridge Park Charter Academy began a new monthly lesson that focused on teaching hands-on life skills. Students rolled up their sleeves and fired up Crock-pots to learn how to make Jelly-BBQ Meatballs and Buffalo Chicken Dip as part of a newly-created cooking class curriculum.
The lesson was meant to be both an incentive, as well as a learning opportunity. It challenged students across various subjects, including reading, vocabulary, following directions, measurement, planning, and teamwork.
“This was the first of what will now be a monthly activity for us to do in some way, shape, or form with cooking,” said Jamie Hoffman, special education teacher at Ridge Park Charter Academy. “It specifically aligns with these students’ individualized education programs (IEP) goals, as well as important life skills they will need as they continue to get older and someday live on their own.”
In November, students enjoyed making a sweet treat that they were then able to share with their families at Thanksgiving. Students were tasked with making a No-Bake Oreo Dessert, including completing the preparation work before heading to the kitchen. Students were required to do advanced planning, including creating a recipe, following directions, budgeting, shopping, and finally, making the dessert.
“For me, it was one of the most fun lessons I've ever completed with this group because they were learning while having fun and expressed they couldn't wait to do it again!” said Hoffman.
The group continued to work on their life skills studies by writing acrostic poems featuring a gratitude theme. This connected with the creation of the Oreo dessert by allowing students to not only contribute to their families’ Thanksgiving meals but also to share with their families, as well as with each other, what they are thankful for this time of the year.
“Letter by letter they came up with things in their life for which they were thankful and had meaningful conversations as to why we were grateful for those things, and how we could show it,” said Hoffman. “Their poems showed their creativity and growth, as well as the collaborative partnership these students have developed with one another.”