How Do You Grow Vegetable Soup?

Most people my age grew up on the prairies knowing someone who had a farm. I remember sitting in school talking to friends about summer vacations and always someone said “I’m going to the Farm for vacation!” Everyone had a farm, even I did. My great-aunt worked on a dairy farm and my family went to visit her over Christmas break one year. I had never been on a dairy farm before this. Sure I had been to Saskatchewan and hung out on my uncle’s grain farm. Animals add a different dimension.

My sister was 4 and I was 12. I took her into the dairy barn to have a peek at the cows. The first thing that hits you is the smell. Shocking for a couple of city girls. The farmer was inside and invited us to watch him milk the cows. COOL! We walked up close enough to see what was going on. We watched as the farmer hook the milking machine (I know I am great with technical lingo) up to the cow and the noise started. My sister was fascinated with the process until the cow decided to … well… lets say relieve herself while she was being milked. My sister was horrified! After watching the entire process and seeing the milk go into the vats and watched the clean up process, it was time to head in for breakfast.

Oh farm breakfast, how I miss you! A hardy breakfast of pancake,eggs and farm fresh milk. The first question my sister asked was “is that cow milk or fridge milk?” My aunt laughed and knew what my sister was eluding to. “Fridge milk of course! See?” My aunt open the fridge door wide and showed the bottle of milk. My sister was satisfied and vowed NEVER to drink cow milk again. Luckily for her, we were city kids. Fridge milk was all that was ever available to us.

I have a hunch that most of you never think about where your food comes from. If you sat and thought about it you could tell me about all the steps it takes to get from the farm to the table. Think about this for a minute, I’ll wait.


Now think about this: Most preschool children at ABC Head Start have never left the city to see what is outside of it. City Transit tend not to travel to local farms. Here is another surprising story: Lots of children from ABC Head Start do not go to the grocery store with their parents. Often parents do not have their own vehicle. Buying groceries, traveling on transit, juggling a handful of small children becomes an all day excursion. Children get to stay at home or with neighbors while a parent goes to buy food. Not only do children never get to see a cow in the flesh, but buying food at the store can be a foreign experience as well!

This week one of the ABC Head Start Classrooms, a field trip was planned to walk to the local Safeway. The excitement amongst the children was electric. The teacher read Growing vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. The class learned that you could MAKE your own soup and it didn’t have to come from a can. Then a grocery list was made of the vegetables they would like to buy. There was concern amongst the children as to who was going to bring the money. The teacher assured them they would never have to worry about money. The adults would bring enough money to buy what they needed. With the plan in hand the trip began.

The children set out for the store and conversation rolled around whose house they were walking by, the helicopter they saw in the air and where was this field trip anyways? The answer was “We are on the field trip”.

Oh…you could feel the excitement deflate just a little bit.

Once the children reached the store, the exploration on fruit and vegetables began. The shopping list changed as colourful vegetables were discovered and some were not to be found. Then the big worry. The food needed to be bought. Are you sure we have enough money? The teacher held up the card and said “See? I have enough, you do not need to worry about the money.” Yet the worry on their face was still there, until the food reached the bag and the receipt was in hand, then they breathed easier.

The next day at school the book was read again. It is important to remember how to make vegetable soup! Learning new vocabulary means listening to the story many times. Then the children peeled and cut the vegetables and placed them in a pot so they could be cooked into soup! Lots of vegetable samples ended up in mouths so they could taste new food. “Vegetables just taste better when we cook them, right teacher?” “That is correct because you are all very good cooks!”

On the third day the soup was eaten for snack. Was it delicious? You bet it was! Nothing tastes as good as homemade soup from your own hands. Often snack at ABC Head Start is a substantial meal. It was 3-4 different food groups and lots of choices and opportunity to try new food.

Fundraising events like the Scarecrow festival help support programs at ABC Head Start and make a difference in the life of a child.

By supporting fundraising events like Scarecrow Festival and Magic and Masquerade Gala, you are assisting the Staff at ABC Head Start to ensure the children can receive all the helping hands possible to have success in learning and in life. Consider Volunteering for the festival by contacting Brenda at or make an effort to attend the 20th anniversary of Scarecrow Festival October 12-14, 2012 at Northland’s Edmonton Expo Centre. It’s a family friendly event for children of all ages!

Now if you want to read Growing Vegetable Soup visit here!

If you need more activities to go with the book, because learning through literacy is great fun, visit here!

If you want to find out more about Scarecrow Festival visit here!

For more information about ABC Head Start please visit here.


The Best Thing about being a Kid was Dress Up!

Do you remember the best thing about being a kid? Playing outside until dark, wearing rubber boots with ever outfit, and thinking Kool Aid tasted delicious! One of the best memories for me was when I was 4 and digging through my Grandma’s jewelry box and wearing strings and strings of her “junk jewelry”, beads and lots of them. I would rummage around her closet and find a pair of heels to slip into. She would let me wear one of her short dresses that would be a long gown on me. Sometimes I would even get to wear one of her wigs! Can you imagine? It was the early 70’s and my Gran had wigs. It wasn’t like she was bald or had hideous bed head. On the contrary, my grandma was always very well put together. Wigs were just in fashion. I would dress up and join her and my Great Grandma for tea in the kitchen. I would have milk with a spot of tea and sugar. Pirate Peanut Butter cookies were served on a plate, not from the package. I felt very grown up.

At home I wore towels tied around my neck for capes, doilies draped over my head for long hair, and sometimes my friend’s dad would tape spoons to our shoes so we could be cowboys with spurs. Dress up for me was always a big part of my life. I was often lost in thought about some superhero I was being or a famous movie star complete with Dad’s sunglasses. I suppose my big influence came from Mr. Dressup and his famous Tickle Trunk. I watched it every morning on the CBC and was always excited to see what amazing outfit was in the trunk that day! There were even clothes for Casey and Finnegan that always inspired me to dress up my bears and baby brother.

Working with preschool children on a daily basis, it is easy to see how much fun children have pretending to be the Mom or the drive thru lady at Tim Horton’s complete with apron and hat asking customers if they want a double double. We do our best at ABC Head Start to provide enough props and clothes to enhance the imaginations of the children. It becomes twice as fun when the adults in the room engage and participate by wearing the crazy clown wig or clip giant links to their ears to have huge earrings. The best is when the adult dresses up like a baby and the squeals and giggles from the children in contagious.
I love the Scarecrow Festival for that very reason. Children and Adults alike can dress up and pretend to be whoever they want to be while they participate in the fun carnival atmosphere of the festival. To a young child, there is nothing more fun than having the adult in their life dress up and be silly with them while they are roaming around the carnival. We are fortunate at ABC Head Start to have an organization like the Scarecrow Festival raise funds to support ABC Head Start. ABC Head Start works with low-income families and their preschool children to achieve success in learning and life.
This year is the Scarecrow Festivals 20th Anniversary! The event will be held on October 12-14, 2012. Last year we had over 14000 children and their families attend the event over 3 days! This year we aim to exceed those totals. We invite you to come and help us celebrate our 20th Anniversary in October. To achieve this goal, we need your help. A festival of that size needs lots of community support and volunteers. Consider spending your volunteer time with us.
For more information contact
In the meantime, go dig around your closet to find something fun to wear while you are pretending to save the world with that new cape you have. Who knows, you just might.

For 20 years, the Edmonton Scarecrow Festival has been S’caring’ for kids! Proceeds support ABC Head Start: opening doors for children and families.

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