By Beth Pinyerd
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
I know families are looking forward to community fall celebration times this coming weekend with Halloween trick or treating, trunk or treat, harvest fellowships and community outreaches. Growing, up in Opelika, I warmly remember how homes kept on their front porch lights, spent time making, baking and creating special treats for the children in the community. It was not a scary event for the children and families in the community, it was a happy, joyful, annual event. I can still remember the carefully made popcorn balls, homemade chocolate candies and cookies, deliciously dipped caramel apples, pizza slices baked in kitchen ovens and yes, one home gave out sodas every year. Classroom Observer would like to put some more October holidays to celebrate in your Trick or Treat Bags before we call October a wrap.
We all enjoy melting a piece of caramel in our mouths. The history of caramels goes all the way back to ancient Arabs who simply started making caramels by crystalizing sugar in boiling water in 1,000 AD. Making candies has been an American tradition even in the pioneer days. Milton Hershey, through the establishment of his famous Lancaster Caramel Company, shipped caramels all over the United States. In 1950, Dan Walker, who worked for Krafts’ foods, was experimenting with excess caramel from Halloween sales. He dipped apples in the excess caramel and voila — candied apples became delicious fall treats.
Continuing on with delicious candies, National Chocolate Day is Oct. 28. What a wonderful treat that is derived from the cacao seed which is indigenous to Mexico, Central America and Northern South America. From chocolate candies, cookies, cake, ice cream, puddings, this is a flavor truly enjoyed all over the world. Candy Corn Day is celebrated on Oct. 30. History cites that George Renninger invented candy corn in 1880. Just in time for Halloween and harvest treats. As a teacher, I have used candy corn in math for counting. After doing the counting lesson, young children can pop them in their mouths as rewarding treats. Too, I carry on candy corn into Thanksgiving units to make colorful turkey feathers with different colors. We see candy corn on top of cupcakes, cookies or simply enjoyed just by themselves.
October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. This is such a delicious snack for the whole family. With younger children, we do have to be careful that they don’t choke on popcorn kernels.
Popcorn was used in the 16th century by the Aztec Indians for decorating necklaces, headdresses or statues. Stringing popcorn has been a longstanding tradition to decorate Christmas trees. What makes popcorn pop? Popcorn is a type of maize which is made up of three parts: the germ, endosperm and hull. Popcorn is different from other kinds of corn because it has a thicker hull. This hull allows pressure from the hot water to build up and then it pops open with the light, delicious, gelatinous starch. Young children can closely observe this formation from a piece of popcorn and oh what a tasty snack. Children love to hear and smell the popping sound and out of this world smell. October celebrates this favorite and loved snack.
October is also National Chili Month. I think we all agree that chili is a wonderful comfort food. Chili is made with a combination of peppers, beans, tomatoes, spices and meats. It is wonderful for fellowships and cook-offs. Chili is a Nahuatl Aztec word meaning “hot pepper”. It was adopted by the Spanish and passed on through the cooking of Texas and the southwest.
Another delicious food we celebrate in October is Pizza Month. We all enjoy pizza at any time. I know we all can say it is one of America’s favorite foods. The historical beginning of this delicious food is credited to have been created in Naples, Italy. Lombardi’s of New York City in the United States is credited as being the first pizzeria in 1905. Pizza has come a long way from being round, square, mini, thick, deep dish or stuffed. And we love all the many sauces and toppings. A wonderful family activity for the children and intergenerational fellowships is to have everyone make their own pizzas.
National Pasta Month also falls in October. A wonderful intergenerational activity with seniors and children is to use different shapes of macaroni in art work. Adding macaroni pasta shapes to young children’s, art as well as gluing shapes to wooden shapes such as picture frames or seasonal wooden ornaments is a memory maker. And we all love delicious macaroni and cheese in which children can help mom in the kitchen to follow this simple recipe. Too, we enjoy pasta salads.
Lastly, as my dental team has reminded me, October is National Dental Hygiene Month. After eating all the good foods and sweets honored in this month it is a good healthy idea for us to guide our young children to begin to brush their teeth. It’s never too early to begin dental and oral care in a young child’s life. Under directions of your dentist and doctor, good oral care begins when a child is an infant in wiping their gums with a soft, clean washcloth or gauze. Too, we early childhood teachers and parents are so excited when a child’s first tooth erupts. Young children need to be shown how to brush their teeth as well as supervised on how to properly brush their teeth. Too, your child will need regular dental checkups.
As I finish putting ideas into your Trick or Treat bags, from the Classroom Observer’s heart, I pray that all community families have a happy, safe Halloween. Happy Harvest Celebration Weekend.
Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd