- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
First graders at Homestead make cookbook to celebrate community
First graders at Homestead Elementary recently collaborated on a cookbook to celebrate their families and community in their social studies class. The young learners all chose a recipe significant to their family and then filmed themselves at home making the recipe and explaining the steps.
First-grade Homestead teachers Taylor Bettencourt, Shannon Palumbo, and Tobi Dattilo shared that for early elementary students, social studies is a very important class. From creating a cookbook to a Civics Club to All About Me paper quilts to a cardboard community, first graders at Homestead learn about their community, what makes it special, and how to understand their place in it.
“When students are younger, they are still very self-focused,” explained Palumbo. “Part of social studies’ role is to help them see a bigger world, which starts at the school and community level. We’re teaching them how we interact with and think about our world.”
Cherry Creek Schools uses an inquiry-based approach to social studies at the elementary level. Lessons will start with questions like “How can we bring families together to form a stronger community?” or “How can we help others appreciate our special location?” Students are invited to discuss the question and come up with ideas. This is in line with the district’s core value of Engagement, which encourages curiosity and investment and learning so students feel seen.
“Rather than us picking all the lessons, our students come to us with ideas they want to implement,” Dattilo added. “One year, we had a student suggest that we do a culminating project where students create a Civics Club. We make sure our students are using higher-level thinking skills and learning the standards, so having them be engaged and feel they have ownership of their learning makes all the difference.”
Social studies assignments like creating a community cookbook allow students to learn and practice skills such as reading and writing, collaboration, understanding similarities and differences, and considering traditions and culture. But what resonated with the teachers was the students’ level of engagement.
“Our students love to share what their families cook or do for cultural celebrations,” Bettencourt said. “Their experience is at the center of the assignment, so they get really engaged with it and feel valued.”