Teaching about jackfruit (to pre-schoolers)
One of our original Kickstarter prizes was a pre-school lesson plan + lunch; this was something we were really excited to do. Last week I headed to a Portland-area preschool, full of 4 & 5 year olds, with a jackfruit and a world-map in hand (both were donated to the school).
The classroom gathered around on the carpet, in front of the reading chair, as I introduced myself.
“Tofuna Fysh is made out of fruits and vegetables instead of fish. Can anyone hear name some fruits or vegetables? Take a moment and think about a really big one: on the count of three, yell out the biggest fruit/vegetable you can think of…” watermelon, pumpkin, apple…
Acknowledging all of the great foods that the students shouted, I told them that the jackfruit is the world’s largest tree-fruit plus one tree can grow 1,000-2,000 large fruits per year. And mentioned that it grew mostly in Asia.
I then pulled out the world map and asked for a volunteer to come try to point out Portland (USA was highlighted for them) before pointing out Asia – being sure to reference it’s location compared to Portland – all the way across the Pacific ocean. Identifying Thailand & India, I then told them that jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.
“The USA doesn’t have a national fruit, but Oregon does have a state fruit. Can anyone think of a fruit that may be our state fruit?” <– this is a hard one, so the teachers of the classroom jumped in and after several guesses we got it – pears!
By this point, everyone was eager to see the jackfruit that I had brought (but kept concealed in a bag as I didn’t want that to be the focus as I discussed the above. Once I placed the 17 pound fruit on the floor I invited the class to come feel it and move it around encouraging everyone to guess it’s weight.
Then, not sure going in if the teachers would want to try cutting open this messy fruit I threw the idea out there and everyone was all for it! Yes! We put some paper down over a table and got the biggest knife/saw available and I was given the honors. It took over a minute (which is a long time when you have pre-schoolers standing around watching) and with 20 seconds left I asked the class to “count to 20 out loud” finally cutting through at the count of 10. We immediately found seeds but the edible fruit was still elusive. After cutting more into smaller pieces we found more seeds and some edible fruit that we had the students try.
Hands were very sticky after handling the fruit. Everyone had a great time, especially me.