Four-year-old Brayden Barber bit off the tip of a sugar cone and plopped it in the center of a pile of chocolate pudding on his plate.
The cone? A volcano.
The pudding? The dirt around it.
The Cocoa Krispies he sprinkled on later just added interest to the landscape. Soon his volcano was dripping with lava - a colorful mix of red gel icing and chocolate syrup.
Brayden is just one of the pupils in Terri Richardson's North Harlem Elementary School pre-kindergarten class to benefit from a $300 Junior League Academic Enrichment grant to use food as a teaching tool.
This week, the project reinforced a lesson on dinosaurs.
"We've been talking about dinosaurs, and in all the books we've read, they talk about volcanos, so we decided to make a volcano," Richardson said.
There is a lot more going on than meets the eye, however.
Richardson held the plastic cup and poured in the milk slowly waiting for Deanna Cozart to tell her when it had reached the half-cup mark. Deanna then poured the milk in a plastic bag, zipped the top and began squishing the pudding mix and milk together to make what would be her dirt.
"Look, Miss Richardson, I did it, I did it!" Deanna shouted.
It's a hands-on learning experience that teaches the pre-kindergartners about fine motor skills, measuring, how to follow directions and the effects of temperature, Richardson said.
Richardson has secured different grants during the past several years to do the project in her classroom. Last year, she cooked up the alphabet. For example, with the letter A, the children converted apples into applesauce.
In the past, she has used vegetables as stamps to make prints, ground corn to make Indian fried bread and harvested cranberries to make a sauce.
On Friday, Brandon Daves discussed the tyrannosaurus rex - his favorite because they eat other dinosaurs - while he made his volcano. Soon the project was gobbled up, and Brandon walked to the trash to throw the remnants of his work away.
"It was yummy," said Brandon, with his mouth ringed in chocolate.
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