Education, from mud pies to real thing

The Grandparents Teach, Too writing team.

“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education. –Luther Burbank

While making mud pies as little children we prepare for life according to Luther Burbank, scientist and philosopher. We practice in our sandbox or at the beach until step by step the mud pie is just right. The pie may be beautified with dandelions, rocks and twigs. Shaped like a pie and placed in a pretend oven, we probably tasted it when we were very small.

Older children love to make pies, too. Only the ingredients change. They may be simple or sophisticated with many steps made with family members. Luther Burbank would still approve.

Pies for kids

Here are a few kid tested recipes that throw out nutritional guidelines just for a moment:

For rhubarb-strawberry pie, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Purchase or make two pie crusts. In a large bowl mix ½ cup flour and 1 cup sugar with 2 ½ cups cut up strawberries with stems removed and 3 ½ cups cubed rhubarb– leaves and white stem-ends removed. (Leaves are poisonous.) Toss rhubarb, strawberries and flour-sugar mix and let stand for 30 minutes.

Place the mixture on top of a pie crust in a pie pan. Cut up 2 tablespoons of butter and place little dabs all over the top. Place the second pie crust on top. Crimp with wet fingers to seal the two crusts on the edges. Brush on an egg yolk and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of the crust. Cut a flower petal design or poke holes with a fork to let steam out. Then put a cookie sheet under it and bake 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Edible mud pie

For ice cream pies, allow ½ gallon of your favorite ice cream to soften. While softening, make an Oreo cookie crust from 25 crushed cookies (a few at a time in a food processor) including the white center. Then mix in a bowl with 5 tablespoons melted butter and press to the bottom of a pie pan. Cook for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Chill until firm in a freezer or refrigerator for less than 30 minutes. Fill with softened ice cream. Cover with a few crumbled Oreos. Put in the freezer again until ice cream is firm.

For more ideas see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and podcasts; Pinterest and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.