Kale chips are a long time favorite, and while they can be bought pre-made and prepackaged, there is nothing difficult enough that a 3 yr old can’t help make fresh ones with you. One of the greatest things about using cooking to teach is that children get to experience producing their own foods while also having sensory experiences, development of fine motor skills, and science education. With our Farm to ECE donation of market bucks for the Boulder Farmer’s Market, we purchased a large bunch of kale, as it has been a favorite for our children in the past.
- First the kale has to be removed from the stalk. Older children can use knives and scissors to remove the leaf from the stalk, while younger children can be content with just ripping the leaf from the stalk. For children who are just learning to use scissors, this is a wonderful chance to incorporate 2 handed cutting. One hand can hold the stalk while the scissor hand can snip away, with no importance to size and shape of the final product.
- Once the stalks are removed, leaves can be cut to a smaller size if overly large, or all the leaves can just be tossed in a larger bowl. Have the children massage the leaves with a generous amount of oil (we use olive) and a good sprinkling of sea salt. This should be a thorough coating for the leaves, having them rub the oil in to each leaf. Two to three children can generally get around one bowl to speed up the process.
- Heat the oven to 425 F and have the children lay the leaves out in a single layer on baking pans. This can be turned into a jigsaw preparation exercise as the spaces fill up with the leaves. Which children can find the perfect sized smaller leaf to fill the gaps?
- The adult should take over for the cooking of the chips. I would like to give an exact time but I have found that most ovens are slightly different, and whether they are on a bottom, middle or top rack will also affect cooking time. I like to check on them after 5 minutes, and then take out the chips as they turn color and crisp up.
- Let them cool on a wire rack, and then add other seasonings if you like such as nutritional yeast, Parmesan cheese, cracked pepper, seaweed, etc.