Sunday, March 23, 2008

Celebrating Spring in the Classroom

Egg dying work on the shelf.
I put out two sets of the work as the need for thirty children
to decorate eggs required the duplicate set.

Egg work set up on a designated table and maintained by my assistants Jill and Cristina as we have two children with egg allergies.

First, the children used crayons to draw on their eggs.

Then they dipped them in the provided colors -
Oh, how they smiled while doing the dipping.

The results were wonderful.


I arranged earlier in the week for one of my afternoon parents to visit our classroom and present her husband's Greek tradition of egg "smashing!"

She generously baked the bread, called tsoureki, with the traditional red eggs. The eggs, she told the class, represented wealth, fertility of the coming summer, abundance and joy. The red dye was traditionally made with beet juice. Beets are the first spring vegetable to be harvested. She said that the eggs were customarily dyed on the Thursday before Easter, which was also the day that she visited our class with her fresh baked bread and colored eggs. She explained that leftover bread dough was shaped into small dolls or animals and baked for use as toys by the village children.

She told the class that her husband would have dinner at his Grandmother's house every Easter. His Grandmother would cook lamb and make red eggs only, as this is the Greek tradition. Once everyone was seated and the plates of food were passed around, the challenge would go out: "Who wants to crack eggs with me?" The two contestants, both relatives, would then carefully select an egg each, and crack them together. One would crack, and the other would remain intact. The loser would have to eat his or her cracked egg, while the winner would look for another challenger. Everyone had their own technique for how to hold the egg and how to hit the other egg. Her husband told her that he would always try to choose the darkest colored egg that he could find, hoping that that meant that the egg had been boiled for longer and would therefore be tougher to crack. Also, she reminded the class, eggs are not perfect ovals - one end is a little pointer than the other end. She continued stating that her husband would always hit with the sharp end and would hold the egg as close to the end as possible using all five fingers. He believed this technique gave more support to the eggshell. Did any of this make a difference?

After her explanation the children took their try. One child cracked the eggs of five opponents before his did. Here are two photos highlighting the positioning of the egg just before they hit:

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