How one teacher uses this fun healthy edible cookie dough activity to build classroom culture, study cause-and-effect, and teach units of measurement.
February 20, 2020
This story is part of a regular feature called Steal This, which highlights creative classroom projects that can be easily replicated by other teachers without special training or budget. In November, we shared the story of a teacher who uses a bulletin board to “zoom in” on questions that were tricky for her class on their previous assessments. Got a project you’d like to see covered in Steal This? Let us know about it.
First-year corps member Joy Weisel (Idaho ’19) teaches third- through fifth-grade special education in rural Idaho. Joy’s class runs the gamut in terms of subject matter—reading, writing, and math intervention, you name it. Whenever Joy manages to find a classroom project that allows her to overlap grade-level lessons and build classroom culture, she’s all in. Her healthy cookie-dough class activity provided the perfect space for her students to work together and apply multiple lessons they learned throughout their unit to create a fun, tasty treat.
Read on to learn how you can steal this idea for your classroom.
How to Set Up
Joy’s class consists of multiple grade levels. Before the project, she had one group of students working on cause-and-effect and sequencing, while the others focused on interpreting instructional texts (such as recipes).
Joy felt the baking exercise would help her students think about cause-and-effect and sequencing in an abstract way. In making the recipe, Joy’s students would also be able to view the measuring units they’d been learning about up close and see just why exactly one-fourth of a cup is less than half.
The day before the activity, Joy and her class read and discussed articles that covered the cause and effect between diets—specifically, what goes into the body and how the body responds. Joy then found a no-bake recipe for chickpea cookie dough and tailored the instructions to fit the various academic levels in the classroom. Joy’s students live in a rural community with minimal exposure to certain foods. Beyond the recipe simply being healthy, Joy also wanted to challenge her students to think outside the box about what can be done with food.
On the day of the project, the students in her class divided into small groups. From there, each group reviewed the recipe and determined what ingredients they needed and how much of each. The students then went up to a make-shift food store set up in the classroom to pick out the ingredients. As a group, the students went through the recipe, measured out the ingredients, and mixed. Being a student-driven activity, Joy put her class in the driver’s seat and stayed back and observed. The goal: follow the directions to create a delicious cookie dough treat they could eat once complete.
The total cost for ingredients came to about $10, and she used a food processor she already owned.
The outcome of getting a yummy treat served as a huge motivator for Joy’s students.
In the end, everyone helped with clean up and got to take home any leftovers. Joy also found the activity a great way to emphasize their classroom values of respecting space, respecting each other, and cleaning up after themselves.
The activity was student-led, and Joy noticed the students with high energy who tend to have a harder time with more traditional pen and paper academics excelled at it. Joy also felt there was a social-emotional outcome to the class project, which helped solidify camaraderie.
Since the cookie dough project touched what they’d been covering in class—teamwork, communication skills, measuring out volumes and units, and following directions and sequences, Joy used it as the mastery assessment for the unit. And as the students worked in groups, Joy got to see firsthand what the students understood and what skills needed a refresher.
Words of Wisdom
Joy finds that whenever her class is confronted with working toward a solid outcome that’s tangible they are a lot more invested. Although she found the ingredients in chickpea cookie dough relatively inexpensive, Joy feels the activity could work with any recipe, ans suggested the lesson could be adapted to make slime with elementary ages and older.
Did you steal this project for your classroom and get students’ published? Let us know.