Welcome to week 14 of Kitchen Classroom 2021, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a “Learning Moment” that brings learning to life in the kitchen.
This week’s Kitchen Classroom is a Weekend Project! Armed with a food processor and rolling pin, kids can make their own sweet and snappy homemade Graham Crackers, a recipe from our latest book, The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs. Kids will practice using a ruler to make sure their crackers are just the right size, and can use multiplication and addition to calculate their crackers’ perimeter. As their crackers bake and cool, kids can use their imaginations in Take It Further to write a short story inspired by one of the most iconic recipes that calls for graham crackers: s’mores!
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Here’s what’s cooking for the week of April 5th through 11th, 2021.
Weekend Project: Graham Crackers
Kids can take their snacking, s’mores, and other desserts to the next level by making their own DIY Graham Crackers! They can keep the crackers classic or spice them up with a cinnamon sugar coating (see “Try It This Way” at the bottom of the recipe page for more). Graham flour gives these crackers a boost of nutty flavor, but don’t worry if you can’t find it—whole-wheat flour works just as well in this recipe.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
¾ cup (4⅛ ounces) graham flour or whole-wheat flour
¼ cup (1¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Math (Measuring Length; Perimeter):
In the recipe, kids will roll the dough into an 8-inch square before cutting it into a 7½-inch square, and eventually into nine 2½-inch squares. This is the perfect opportunity for them to practice using a ruler. Remind kids to line up the “0” on the ruler with the edge of their dough, hold the ruler horizontal and level, and help them to understand what the different marks on the ruler mean (the longest ones mark an inch, the next longest mark half inches, then quarter inches, and so on).
After rolling out the 8-inch square, kids will trim the edges of the dough to form a neat 7½-inch square. Then, they can calculate the square’s perimeter:
- Start by asking kids to share what they know about what perimeter is and how to calculate it.
- Confirm for kids that perimeter is the distance around the outside of a two-dimensional shape. It’s found by adding the lengths of the sides together. (For a square, since all four sides are the same length, it can also be found by multiplying the length of a side x 4.)
- Ask kids: What is the perimeter of the 7½-inch square of dough? (They can also express 7½ as a decimal, 7.5, if that is more comfortable for them.)
(Answer: 7.5 inches + 7.5 inches + 7.5 inches + 7.5 inches = 30 inches, OR 7.5 inches x 4 = 30 inches)
- Kids will then cut the dough into nine 2½-inch squares.
- Ask kids: What is the perimeter of one 2½-inch square graham cracker?
(Answer: 2.5 inches + 2.5 inches + 2.5 inches + 2.5 inches = 10 inches, OR 2.5 inches x 4 = 10 inches)
Take It Further
English Language Arts (Writing; Speaking & Listening)
While the graham crackers cool, ask kids: Have you ever heard of a s’more? Have you ever tasted one? Explain that s’mores are made from three ingredients—graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows—that are stacked together and toasted over a fire. Ask kids: Have you ever wondered how s’mores came to be? Challenge kids to write their own original, creative short story about how they think s’mores were invented. Encourage them to think about when they could’ve been created (One hundred years ago? Two thousand years ago?), who may have come up with them (Cavemen with a sweet tooth? Professional chocolatiers?), and where they may have been invented (France? The Australian outback?). Their short story should be at least one paragraph long, with a beginning, middle, and end.
Ask kids to read their stories aloud. After they’ve shared their version of the tale, tell them how s’mores were actually invented: Although s’mores are a novel concept, the recipe didn’t come out of nowhere. The tradition of roasting marshmallows over a bonfire gained popularity in summer resort towns of the Northeastern United States in the 1890s. Then, in the 1910s, Mallomars and Moonpies—two tasty packaged treats that layered marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers—made their debut. In 1927, the first official recipe for s’mores (perhaps inspired by these desserts) appeared in the Girl Scout guidebook Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. (You can find that original recipe here!) The guidebook initially named them “Some Mores” because after eating one, you will probably crave “some more!” Eventually, their name was shortened to just “s’mores.”