August - Courgette Wants To Be Big Baby Courgette is just lovely as he is, but he doesn't think so. All he wants is to be big like the big marrows.
This page gives you more information about the Courgette Wants To Be Big book - what your children will get out of reading it and information on all our extension activities and links to food and story related fun.
This page will tell you:
- a storyline summary of the Courgette Wants To Be Big story
- foods featured in the story
- ideas for extending the themes in the story (growing and measuring)
- food activities you can do with children in August
- recipe ideas for courgettes (zucchinis)
- other links and ideas for working with this story
He asks loads of people for advice on how to make plants grow, and follows all of their tips, but when he hasn't zoomed up metres in mere minutes he is disheartened.
Then Big Courgette explains that what you have inside is more important than how big you are, and Baby Courgette puts his worrying energy into more fun things instead.
August Featured Foods
Courgettes (zucchinis) and marrows
Tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans, spinach
If you have ever grown courgettes you'll know they are really easy to grow and you get loads from each plant. You can grow them in a big pot if you don't have a veggie patch. You'll start finding in season courgettes anytime from mid to late May, but their glut time is from late July to mid September. You may find it's courgettes for dinner every day! Don't forget to sweat some down for the freezer because you'll miss them when they are gone a few weeks. If you need inspiration for how to use them try this blog post. Children might like to compare the taste and texture of courgettes when they are tiny baby ones (up to 10cm long) and they are firm and seedless, you can eat them raw then - and the more mature ones you would buy in the supermarket which are softer in texture. You could also buy or let grow the odd marrow and compare those too. A marrow is really just a large courgette, so if you forget one of your plants for a week you'll end up with one. People who grow marrows on purpose for deliberately eating large sometimes use different seed to get marrows with better flavour or firmness than you get from just overgrown courgettes.
Sweetcorn straight from the plant is out of this world. The sugar in the cobs starts to turn to starch as soon as it is picked, so we (copying more experienced allotmenteers, who always seem to know best!) get the water on to boil before we go out to pick them and get them straight in from the garden to the short cook to the plate. If you haven't grown them, don't go for 'fresh' ones in the supermarket as they may well be mostly starchy - they could have been picked many days ago. Either get them from a farmer's market where the vendor can tell you they have been picked in the last 24 hours, or go and pick your own at a farm. Or just go for the frozen ones, which are frozen within hours and are very sweet.
One of the best things about summer is fresh tomatoes. The taste of a tomato straight from a plant is completely different from the taste of those pale imported out of season supermarket ones which have been picked green and ripened in storage. If you don't grow them, try getting them from a market stall which sells fairly local ones because they will generally have been ripened on the plant. You don't have to keep tomatoes in the fridge, they general taste better at room temperature, although some people like them chilled. Try both with your children and see what they think of the difference in taste!
The tomato in this story need plant food which most gardeners agree gives you a better crop of fruit. Lots of plants only need the food from good soil, but some plants do better with a little liquid feed. Perhaps you can talk about plant needs after reading this story. The spinach in this story needs to stay in the shade some of the time. This is because spinach is notorious for 'bolting' which is when the plant decides it need to produce seeds and puts its energy into seed heads, which can sometimes make the leaves you eat less tasty. Bolting usually happens to a plant which is too hot or dry, it is a survival mechanism. Spinach often bolts when it is very hot weather like in this story.
Green beans are easy to grow, you may have started one off with children in a little pot. Children enjoy harvesting the beans as well as planting them, so if you don't grow some then try to find someone to visit who does, or go to a pick your own farm. And definitely try growing some for next year - a big tub with a tipi of canes up the middle will hold several plants and make a few meals. You can get beans which have different coloured flowers and pods too. There are purple podded ones which change to green as you cook them - children love to watch the colour change in the hot water.
Growing and measuring
Like a lot of children, Baby Courgette really wants to be more grown up. Because the big courgettes and marrows are much longer, Baby Courgette wants to get longer and bigger and focuses on measuring himself to see his growth.
This is a good opportunity to talk about what plants need to grow, and all about growing up too, but as he is also a bit obsessed with measuring you can take the opportunity to get kids to focus on how to measure things and practicing their maths skills.
We have developed three activities which get children to learn all about measuring, plus some weblinks which can reinforce this idea. You can find them here.
Food Activities For August
Tasting Sessions - You can get the children involved in tasting seasonal foods as with all the other months. We provide instructions for a blindfold guessing tasting game here on the site which is free to download and there are printable guessing strips for each month featuring five seasonal foods to taste which are easy to provide in bite size pieces and are fairly child-friendly (essentially won't put them off tasting things). The tastes for August are: tomato, courgette, green beans, sweetcorn and raspberry. There are suggestions in the instructions for how best to prepare foods to make them palatable. You can find the instructions and the printable strips here.
Discovering Food - Modelling Sessions - children learn a lot by touching and discovering. We have instructions here for a discovery session, using the five seasonal foods or any other of your choice, where children get to handle and observe them and then try to replicate what they have discovered with playdough or clay. You can find the instructions for the activity here.
How Courgettes Grow - Sequencing Game - Courgette plants are pretty weird looking, how the big flowers come and then the fruits grow behind the flower, pushing the flower out and getting longer. It's another opportunity to reinforce that fruiting plants have flowers. We have a sequencing exercise here for you to print off and do - there are tiles to cut up and move around on the table to find the right sequence, a blank sequence chart for children to glue their finished sequence onto, or there is also a completed version to print off and colour in. We provide two versions - a four part sequence for younger children and a six part sequence for older children. You can find all the instructions and templates here.
Recipe Ideas For Courgettes (zucchinis)
Courgettes are brilliant for adding sweetness and moisture to cake recipes, and can be used in many recipes to reduce some of the sugar without losing any of the taste.
This Carrot and Courgette muffin recipe is from the CBeebies I Can Cook show.
Here's a Lemony Courgette and Goats Cheese Pizza which makes a great savoury tea.
Here's our own Choccy Courgette Cupcakes recipe which is very chocolatey!
Don't forget you can eat the flowers - either as they are in pastas etc, or stuffed, or deep fried in light batter. Here's a recipe for courgette flowers in a crispy tempura batter which most kids love.
For other ideas see this blog post on 12 recipes to use up a glut of courgettes.
Other ideas for working with this story
This worksheet (aimed at older children but you can pinch some ideas) has some good ideas for extending children's understanding of courgettes / zucchinis and their properties. There is some information about their nutritional value, a taste comparison idea, and some ideas for maths calculations or poster competitions all about zucchinis.
Baby Courgette is just lovely as he is, but he doesn't think so. All he wants is to be big like the big marrows.
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