A Delicious Learning Adventure at Brunson
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
APRIL 9, 2019 – On Friday, the first-graders in Lauren Hicks’ class at Brunson Elementary went on a learning adventure that was both fun and delicious.
After mastering circles and squares and rectangles, students had begun learning about halves, thirds and quarters. As part of the learning process, Hicks had them cut up sheets of paper.
Wanting to inject even more fun into the process, Hicks decided to create an indoor picnic for her students as a surprise. They would cut cookies and graham crackers in half, Rice Krispies Treats into thirds, and powdered doughnuts into quarters.
“I wanted to take it up a notch,” Hicks said. “I have them cutting food instead of paper.”
While the students were at lunch in the cafeteria, she spread out a red-and-white checkered cloth she had borrowed from her mother. On it, she placed a picnic basket she had borrowed from her boyfriend’s mother and filled it with the treats.
“They have no clue any of this is happening,” she said. “They are going to come back and be super surprised.”
When the students returned to the classroom, she had them sit around the picnic cloth. They were going to have an indoor picnic, she told them.
“That’s crazy!” said Travarias Thompson.
Others wanted to know whether they were going to eat those treats.
Yes, Hicks said. First, though, they had to perform a series of tasks. The first task, they learned, was to turn a pink sheet of paper into a placemat by drawing circles on one half and squares on the other half. For some, that was a zip, zip, zip process. Others put careful attention into each circle and square.
To set up the second task, Hicks handed out paper plates and plastic knives. No need to worry about the knives being sharp, she said.
Then she set up a hypothetical situation. If she and her mother both wanted a chocolate-chip cookie but they had only one, what should they do?
No question in the students’ minds. They should cut the cookie in half, the students said. Hicks passed out the cookies, and they went to work.
“Can we eat it?” asked one student.
Not yet, she said.
Eyeing the cut cookie, another student said, “Yum! Yum!”
The tasks that followed involved cutting graham crackers in half, Rice Krispies Treats into thirds and doughnuts into quarters.
When it came time to quarter a doughnut, Jacob Garmon paused for a bit before cutting it. Asked about that pause, he said that he does not like dealing with powdered doughnuts.
“The powder gets everywhere,” Jacob said.
Ms. Hicks asked him to do it, though, he said, so he did it.
When all of the tasks done, Hicks projected an image on the screen at the front of the room that said, “Congratulations!! It’s Time to Eat.”
As the students began eating, Tamia Hodge announced, “I have to tell my momma about this.”
“Because I had fun,” Tamia said.
Hicks took the indoor picnic a step farther by passing out pieces of Hershey’s chocolate. So, if they wanted, students could make something in the neighborhood of a s’more.
Some of the students got quite creative, stacking Krispies Treats, chocolate, and pieces of doughnuts on top of a graham cracker. If that catches on, someone will have to come up with a name for the new concoction.
Taking a break from eating the fruits of his labors, Simon Krabel said that his favorite part of the experience had been dividing the Krispies Treats into thirds, because dividing something into thirds isn’t easy.
“It’s hard, and it really challenges me,” Simon said.
For others, “Time to Eat” was their favorite part.
“I get to eat all the stuff you cut up,” said CJ Pettice.
Isabella Dawkins gave an answer in the same neighborhood.
“I liked that we got sugar,” Isabella said.
Isabella was one of a number of students wearing light blue sashes. Earlier, Hicks had given a sash to each of the students who spelled every word correctly on the spelling quiz.
Asked whether she has a favorite word, Isabella smiled and said, “Yes!” with an enthusiasm that made it clear that the word should have an exclamation point.
She likes “Yes!” because of what it means, she said.
This is Hick’s first year as a teacher. After graduating from Reagan High in 2014, she headed to East Carolina University. She was delighted to be offered a teaching job at Brunson because her father, Byron Hicks, went there.
“So it’s pretty cool that I get to teach here,” she said.
Her connection to teaching goes quite deep. Her grandmother, Nancy Nathan spent her entire career teaching at Moore Elementary.
Hicks is finding her first year deeply rewarding.
“I just love to work with kids,” Hicks said. “It’s my passion. I get fired up talking about teaching and talking about my students.”
So who had fun on the indoor picnic?
Hands shot up.