Big Woods: Chopped!
Who’s got the decorating flair of Martha Stewart, the cooking chops of Bobby Flay, and the survival instincts of Bear Grylls? Ma Ingalls, that’s who. We’re pretty sure that no one on the DIY Network could even hold a candle (or a lantern) to her inimitable homemaking skills. In Little House in the Big Woods, she does an impressive job making the most of little — remember hog-slaughtering day? She literally uses that pig from head to tail! She’s also got a knack for making ordinary things quite special with things like carrot juice and red flannel (!). So, we thought, what better way to get in her little calfskin boots than with a Big Woods “cooking” competition, making the most of strange ingredients? Little House in the Big Woods just screamed “CHOPPED!” to us (or was that the Big Woods themselves?)
This fast-thinking activity got kids using their imaginations, working as a team, and seeing potential in the ordinary. Here’s how you and your kids can do it, too!
- Tell the kids that Ma’s use of everything (and making the most of it) reminds you of the cooking show Chopped. Explain the show’s concept to the kids: chefs compete to make a fabulous dish from four weird ingredients in just a few minutes, and the dish that the judges like least gets “chopped” (that chef is eliminated). Tell them they get to compete in Ma Ingalls’ version!
- Divide the kids into two teams (or more — it’s fine to all share one basket, since there won’t be any actual cooking; for that matter, each child could participate individually. Whatever works for you!) Place a covered basket in front of each. Tell them that at your signal they’ll whisk off the cover and huddle to brainstorm a dish (we told our kids they could huddle anywhere in the room). They’ll write down the recipe and draw a picture of the completed dish, as imagined. They can add up to five new ingredients, but they must “use” all four in the basket.
- Ask each team to choose a book-appropriate name (Wild Wolves? Stinging Wasps? Big Bears?), a recipe writer, and an illustrator.
- Say “Chefs, open your baskets!” and watch the fun begin! You can play some of Pa’s fiddle music (you can purchase the official collection) to keep the mood festive.
- After 20 minutes (or however much time you allow), countdown from 10 and say “Hands up! Step back, chefs!” Then ask each team to present their recipe and show their illustration. Give lots of serious judge-like responses to each dish. Pretend to confer with other judges (you can just turn your head and mumble “confer confer confer”), then turn back to the kids and say “We have reached a decision!”
- Collect the recipes and put them under a pan lid. Say “Whose dish has been chopped?” and lift the lid, which reveals — nothing, because you have yanked all the recipes away as you lifted the lid, and hidden them behind your back. No one is chopped! It’s a tie! Everyone’s a winner! Pass out maple sugar, one bite of which is easily worth $10,000.
To see the rest of our Little House fun just click here! For now, anyone can have full access – no registration required or anything. Go check it out, and get a sense for what our kits are like. Nothing this exciting and helpful has come around since Pa rented that new-fangled threshing machine! And visit our store for LitWits Kits for other great books.