Some Chain O’ Lakes Elementary School students got an idea about just what it takes to prepare a meal for a large crowd when they made one for their families and friends last week.
On Nov. 25, Lori Zelinske’s first-grade class and Lori Wolff’s kindergarten class worked together to make their annual Manners Meal.
That day, they made 12 loaves of bread from scratch and also combined vegetables and other ingredients to make sharing soup.
In addition, the students churned cream into homemade butter, delivered thank you notes to the school’s staff members and set the tables in preparation for the meal.
The tradition began about 12 years ago.
“We tie it into our social studies unit,” Zelinske said.
The two teachers were already doing cross curriculum in reading and science when they decided to do the same in social studies.
They talked to their students about remembering their manners wherever they go and then planned the Manners Meal in conjunction with their discussion about Thanksgiving.
The students learned about the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrim’s feast for Thanksgiving and all of the preparation that took place, Zelinske said.
“We talk about their cooperative relationship and how we as different ‘groups’ can also join together,” she said.
The morning of Nov. 25 began with baking the bread.
“They all take turns adding flour, pounding the dough,” Zelinske said.
The students brought the necessary items from home, and parents and grandparents helped them follow the directions.
After they mixed the ingredients, it was time for the bread dough to rise.
Members of Zelinske’s class then took turns adding vegetables and ground beef into crockpots for their sharing soup. Wolff’s class later did the same thing.
Before their families arrived, the students also churned cream into butter.
“We also tie in manners,” Zelinske said.
The week before Thanksgiving, students wrote thank you letters to all the school’s staff members.
On Nov. 24, they frosted nine dozen “turkey” cookies.
“At 12:30 p.m., half set the tables for their family and half deliver cookies and thank yous to all the staff,” she said.
An hour later, their families and friends arrived for the meal.
“We’ve had years where we’ve run out of soup,” Zelinske said. “We’re filled to capacity this year.”
The students greeted their families and began the event with a welcome song.
They served the homemade bread and soup they made.
They meal ended with the turkey cookies and a “Mind Your Manners” game.
“They learn about taking turns and the hard work of the Pilgrims,” she said. “It gives them a sense of appreciation for what they have.”
This year, a total of 108 people attended the Manners Meal.
District Administrator David Poeschl was one of them.
He said he enjoyed talking with a student who was excited about “pounding” on the bread dough and then watching it rise.
“Teachers used this experience to teach not only manners, but core curriculum topics relative to science, math and reading,” Poeschl said. “It was a great exercise in integrating instruction with day to day fun activities for students.”