Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Volcano Cookies

My preschooler has suddenly shown a great interest in volcanoes.  He is fascinated with the idea of molten rock hiding underneath a mountain then suddenly bursting out and flowing down the side.  He wants to know how the rock melts, why it melts and what happens when it dries.  He has an endless appetite for pictures and videos of volcanoes.  I've gotten some great books at the library and we have explored YouTube videos that show everything from explosions to the slow flow of fissure volcanoes.  And thanks to our babysitter, we had another way to learn about volcanic rock.

"Drew asked a lot of questions about volcanoes today," she said to me when I got home.  "I have a recipe for rock cookies if you'd like it.  It's really cool - You make a syrup then add in chocolate and see how it bubbles up like lava then cool it in the fridge.  You can explain the whole process of an eruption and lava flow as you cook!" she explained.  Genius.

We made them this morning and he, excuse the pun, ate it up.  The syrup mixture bubbled up to the edge of the pot and he could barely keep his excitement at bay.  "MAMA!  It bubbles like LAVA!  It going to blow up?" he asked hopefully.
"We won't let it blow up, love, but maybe if we put the top on it would create pressure and push the lid up.  Should we see if that works?"  I asked.  We tried it and the boiling rate increased and rattled the lid a bit.
"Ohhhh, I get it," he said thoughtfully.

We stirred in the chocolate, marshmallows and nuts and talked about all the debris that the lava flow brings with it.  I showed them how the marshmallows and chocolate melted into our syrup and we talked about how all different types of rocks end up melding together.  We poured the final mixture into the pan and cooled it down in the refrigerator.

A few hours later, we cut into our cookies.  "They are hard like rock!" my three year old exclaimed.  Both of my sons were thrilled with the whole experience.

It can be easy for me to get in a rut of worksheets and comprehension questions but that isn't always the learning the sticks.  My son wanted so badly to understand how it's possible for a rock (a rock!) to melt and because of this simple activity, he got it.  Whether you are homeschooling or gearing up for a new school year, I encourage you to listen to the things that excite them.  Put aside your plans and spend some time on the subject they feel passionate about.

Interested in making the volcano cookies?  Here is the recipe:

1 Can Evaporated Mild (6 oz)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts
1 1/4 Cups Tiny Marshmallows
1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1.  Grease an 8x8 pan
2.  Combine evaporated milk with sugar and salt ina  saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring for 5-9 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat.  Add remaining ingredients and stir gently.
4.  Pour into prepared pan.  Refrigerate.
5.  Cut into squares and enjoy!


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