By Misty DUPLESSIS
The staff at First Steps Preschool is always looking for new ways to incorporate cultural awareness into their curriculum and the month of October provided a perfect opportunity to share history and background as they celebrated Armenian month.
On Oct. 28, students participated in several hands-on activities including art, singing and recitals that shared the story of a rich country with old traditions, some of which are still practiced today like food traditions that have been shared through generations of families.
First Steps brought authentic regional dishes to students paired with lessons that had children become little chefs as they assembled casserole dishes and made butter. The dishes were enjoyed by classmates, teachers, parent volunteers and staff during lunch.
Parents lent their support at the start of the day by prepping the food and also throughout the day by having activity stations monitored. Parent volunteers gave lessons and even incorporated bilingual instruction and math into the festivities.
One traditional Middle Eastern recipe the school prepared was manti, a dumpling filled with seasoned meat.
As students prepared to cut carrots for the Armenian salad, teacher Dzia Vartabedian described how the pomegranate seeds looked like rain drops against the red and green cabbage leaves.
Vartabedian shared with students the importance and significance that the pomegranate fruit, known as noor in Armenian, has in the culture. Not only has the fruit been used in Armenian meals for hundreds of years, but it was also used as a dye for various crafts by providing bright, deep colors.
Students saw how the purplish-red color of the pomegranate juice was used in crafts when they used it as paint to fill in a picture of a pomegranate.
At the end of the day, Vartabedian said students walked away with a better understanding of another culture.