The Sprouts: Talking Food


We’ve been starting seedlings and dreaming of the tasty treats our garden will provide.  So it’s fitting that the African folktales we explored this week are about talking food.  I strongly believe our food “talks” to us in many ways, which made the exploration extra special.  Read a book…and sprout some seeds!

The award-winning PBS show, Between the Lions, is designed to foster literacy skills, while celebrating the joys of reading. We LOVE the show and have all 11 seasons saved in our DVR system. As I was planning our African adventures for the week, I recalled an episode where storyteller Karen Kandel acted out a folktale from Ghana, Oh, Yes, It Can! We re-watched the video clip in which a yam, a fish trap, a kente textile, and the king’s stool all begin to talk, surprising the villagers when they come to life. The repeating phrase, “Oh, yes it can!” is a great pre-reading narrative skill as it creates anticipation and participation from kids.

Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric Kimmel, tickled Skoogie and O’s funny bones, when the lazy, trickster spider, Anansi, pulls the trunk of the elephant, his animal friends and the King with his talking antics.

The Talking Vegetables, a Liberian folktale, also hit a special note, given our current garden preparations. A lazy spider, akin to Anansi, refuses to help grow the village vegetables but then wants to enjoy the harvest. After reading the book, both kids were eager to help plant seeds because they didn’t want the vegetables to say, “Why do you think you can pick me when you didn't come to clear the land or plant my seeds or pull the weeds? Get out of here!”

For additional discussion topics and post-reading activity ideas, visit:

Help Anansi the Spider find the six missing pieces to the Magic Calabash— an online African Treasure Hunt:

As we prepare to move from West Africa to East Africa next week, we tried this Ethiopian-inspired beef stir-fry by chef, Marcus Samuelsson. It uses many of the vegetables we’ve started for our garden. Skoogie wanted to make sure we featured the couscous on the blog... her favorite part of the dish! Next week, we'll explore the animals of Africa.. the kid's number one reason for wanting to visit Africa!

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