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Banner: Bon Appétit! - A Celebration of Canadian Cookbooks
Banner: Bon Appétit!
IntroductionSearch CookbooksEducational Resources
Canada's First CooksThe Pioneer KitchenRevolutions In The KitchenThe Culture Of Cooking

Educational Resources

The activities included in this resource are starting points, from which teachers can develop lessons incorporating the online celebration of Canadian cookbooks and culinary history, Bon appétit!, into a wide variety of subject areas. The activities are organized under the same theme names used on the website. Some of the activities, however, could easily be used with more than one theme. The suggested activities can be adapted to suit the needs of a specific class or curriculum.


Learning Objectives

While completing activities using sources from Bon appétit!, students will:

  • gain an understanding of the influence food has had on Canadian history and culture;
  • see how Aboriginal people and immigrants have contributed to the cooking culture of Canada;
  • navigate computer software to complete online activities and use the Internet for research;
  • communicate ideas, interpret information and identify various viewpoints, using a variety of primary-source materials;
  • demonstrate reasoning, critical thinking, cooperative learning and research skills, through practical applications of science, geography, health and mathematics.

Curriculum Connections

Social Studies (History and Geography)
Grade 4 (B.C., Yukon, Alta., N.W.T. Nun., Sask., Man., N.B., N.S., Nfld. and Lab.)
Grade 5 (B.C., Yukon, Alta., N.W.T., Nun., Sask., Man., N.B., N.S., P.E.I., Nfld. and Lab.)
Grade 6 (B.C., Yukon, Alta., N.W.T., Nun., Sask., Man., Ont., Que., N.B., N.S., Nfld. and Lab.)
Grade 7 (Alta., N.W.T., Nun., Man., Ont., N.B., N.S., Nfld. and Lab.)
Grade 8 (Ont., N.B., N.S., P.E.I.)

Language (Reading, Writing, Oral and Visual Communications)
Grades 4-8

Mathematics (Computation, Measurement, Graphing)
Grades 4-8

Grade 4 (Sask., Que.)
Grade 5 (B.C., Yukon, Alta., N.W.T. Nun., Sask., Man., Ont., Que., Atlantic Canada)
Grade 6 (B.C., Yukon, Sask., Que.)
Grade 7 (Alta., N.W.T., Nun., Sask., Man., Ont., Que., Atlantic Canada)
Grade 8 (Alta., N.W.T., Nun., Sask., Que.)

Grades 4-8

Health/Wellness/Active Living
Grades 4-8

Visual Arts
Grades 4-8

Suggested Activities

Theme One - Canada's First Cooks

Activity 1 - Adapting to the Environment
Food procurement, preparation, and storage were an integral part of the daily lives of Aboriginal people. In their study of an Aboriginal group, have the students use Bon appétit! and other research materials, to find out how Aboriginal people in various parts of the country adapted to their environment and used their environment effectively to provide their basic food needs. To communicate their research results, have the students create a visual product that shows the various uses of the environment; or have the students write an exposition showing how the Aboriginal group they are studying used their environment wisely and effectively. Students could also be prompted to note any special ceremonies or traditions associated with the foods or their preparation.

As an extension, students could mark on a map of Canada the location of the various Aboriginal peoples and draw symbols to represent the foods each group ate.

Activity 2 - The Order of Good Cheer
The first social club in Canada was formed by Samuel de Champlain to help the early settlers cope with the long, cold winters of their new land. Food was an important part of this socialization, with inhabitants taking turns planning the menus, preparing the food and organizing the entertainment.

In groups, students can plan their own Order of Good Cheer menu. They can find menus and recipes on the CBC Order of Good Cheer website (, or by following some of the links to digitized early Canadian cookbooks found in the Further Research section of Bon appétit!. They can also use some of the recipes from early French-Canadian settlements.

As an extension, one menu could be chosen by the class or each group could contribute a recipe, and the class could bring in the food and prepare their own banquet, as Champlain's settlers did. To make their banquet even more authentic, each group could find or write an original period-appropriate entertainment, such as a play, song or dance to be performed at the banquet.

Activity 3 - Creative Ideas Starting with Art
Students can use one of the visual images featured on Bon appétit! to learn more about the time period. The watercolour of the Order of Good Cheer by C.W. Jefferys would be a good starting point. Students can imagine placing themselves into the picture and then write a journal entry or narrative about what is happening. Questions to guide the students' writing could include: Who is in the picture? What are they doing? What does this picture teach us about the time period? An extension or alternative would be for the students to become one of the characters or objects in the picture, and to tell the story of what is happening from the perspective of that character or object.

Activity 4 - Learning From Each Other
Students can research the Bon appétit! website and other sites to see how cooperation between Aboriginal peoples and early European explorers and settlers benefited each group, and how it influenced the preparation of food. (For example, Aboriginal people obtained cooking pots and tools; Europeans learned about new foods, storing foods, etc.) Students could communicate these reciprocal relationships using some form of creative expression (e.g. pictures, poetry and drama).

Activity 5 - Modernizing for Today's Kitchen
Many of the early recipes featured on this website are written without exact measurement (e.g. a pinch or a good handful) or are in Imperial rather than metric measurement units. Have students, in teams or individually, choose recipes from the website and modernize them so they can easily be used in today's kitchens.

Theme Two - The Pioneer Kitchen

Activity 6 - Geography Counts
Students can start by learning about the physical regions of Canada and their characteristics: climate, soil, natural resources, etc. In groups, students could imagine moving into one of these regions as an early pioneer. Their mandate would be to create a small community that depended on the environment for its survival. As part of this assignment, students would decide what food would be available in their region, and what they could use from the environment to help them prepare and store it. Students could write journals, descriptions or narratives to describe their immigrant experience.

A further extension would be to have students research and compare their imaginary experience to a real, 19th-century, immigrant experience in Canada.

Activity 7 - Budding Scientists Explore Matter and Materials
Have students design an experiment that will demonstrate how cooking creates physical or chemical changes in ingredients used in cooking. Students could search Bon appétit! for a recipe that will demonstrate their hypothesis.

Topics for exploration and experimentation include:

  • how physical and/or chemical reactions take place in the household (e.g. the effect of heat on food or the addition of a substance like baking soda to a recipe);
  • how processes such as dissolving affect different materials;
  • how the mass of a liquid and a solid in their original states compares with the mass of the liquid that results when the two substance combine;
  • how the mass of a whole recipe compares to the sum of the masses of its parts;
  • how cooking alters the state of matter, creating mixtures and solutions.

Activity 8 - Capturing Time
Many recipes in early Canada were passed on orally or in hand-written family cookbooks. Have students interview a grandparent or other relative, and document their family's favourite recipe. As well as listing the ingredients, students should be prepared to provide insight into why the recipe is a favourite family treat or tradition, and give hints on how this recipe is made special and unique.

An alternative or extension would be to have students bring in copies of special recipes from a hand-written family cookbook, if they have one, that illustrates special hints, etc.

Note: These cookbooks are family treasures so it should be suggested that students bring in photocopies of their recipes or if that is not possible, to bring in the book and have the needed pages photocopied at school so no harm comes to the original book.

Activity 9 - See it in Action
There are many historic sites in Canada that have re-enactments of early pioneer life. Visit a historic site, such as Fort Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, the Village acadien in New Brunswick, Upper Canada Village in Ontario, or Fort Edmonton in Alberta, to see how the early settlers cooked using the utensils and foods that were available at the time.

Theme Three - Revolutions in the Kitchen

Activity 10 - Investigative Teamwork: Things That Changed the Way We Eat
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were times of change in Canada. New discoveries changed the ways Canadians obtained, prepared and stored food.

Divide the class into investigative teams to research and report on some of these changes and how they affected the Canadian kitchen. A lot of material is available from Bon appétit!, but students should also be encouraged to use sources from the Internet, print and other media. Topics for investigation could include:

  • pasteurization
  • electricity
  • vitamins
  • cooking methods (stoves and utensils)
  • canning
  • refrigeration
  • frozen foods
  • catalogues

An extension would be to look at how the eating habits of Canadians were affected by historical events, such as food rationing and the use of food stamps during the world wars and the Great Depression.

Activity 11 - People Who Make a Difference
Adelaide Hoodless, who is featured on this website, did a lot to change the Canadian kitchen. Have students, in teams or individually, read about Hoodless and then use Internet and print materials to research other individuals who contributed to changes in the Canadian home through the creation of new foods, advancements in nutrition or the development of new kitchen technologies. Some possibilities for research include discoverers of Canadian fruit, vegetable or wheat varieties; makers of Canadian cheeses; inventors of food preservation or packaging methods; or people who contributed to advances in nutrition, medicine, or technology that have changed the way Canadians think about diet and food preparation.

Students could write a biography of their individual or make an oral presentation on the individual that shows how he or she changed cooking in Canada. Students may choose to wear a costume and pretend to be that individual for their presentation. Students could also create "personality cubes" -- geometric cubes made of construction paper or other suitable paper; each outside face of the cube reflects a different facet of the subject's personality, communicated in writing or art.

Activity 12 - Create Your Own Cookbook
Have students bring in their favourite family recipe and publish a class cookbook. The finished product could be printed professionally or at your school, depending on your budget and purpose. Many of the cookbooks on this website have added features such as household hints, cooking techniques, food origins, etc. Add original features to your class cookbook. Suggestions include: a short introductory history of your school; original drawings by students for section cover pages or to complement some of the recipes; household tips for removing stains; or tips on proper etiquette. Finished cookbooks could be sold to recover the printing costs or as a class fundraiser.

Activity 13 - Travel Across Canada with Madame Benoit
Madame Benoit was probably the best-known cooking expert Canada has produced. She learned a lot about Canadian cooking by travelling, observing, and talking to Canadians all across Canada. Have students make a simulated cross-Canada trip with the task of finding out regional traditions. Have students map out their journey on a large piece of paper, with stops in one or more places of interest in each province and territory. To show the regional traditions, students can place symbols that are associated with that region (e.g. Calgary Stampede in Alberta and an example of food that visitors should try while there). Examples of many regional foods can be found on this website.

Activity 14 - Healthy Food Choices
Introduce students to the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fat) that provide our bodies with energy and ensure healthy growth and development. In groups, have students examine Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating and determine which macronutrients are found in each of the four food groups.

Conduct a survey of what the students have eaten for breakfast or for one entire day. To keep the survey anonymous, have the students write their foods on a piece of unsigned paper and deposit the papers in a designated box or bag. Create categories for your results such as: meeting all food group requirements; three food group requirements; two food group requirements; one food group requirement or no food group requirements. Have students graph the results. Follow up by discussing the benefits of eating well-balanced meals and have each student set person goals for improving his or her diet. Repeat the survey with the same class at a later date and compare the results.

An extension would be to work either in small groups or individually and use the recipes found on this website to devise a healthy menu for a family for a day. Menus could be traded and evaluated for nutritional balance.

A further extension of this activity would be to discuss the roles of other key nutrients such as minerals (iron, calcium, etc.), vitamins (A, B, C, D, etc.) and fibre, and then have students identify the foods in their menu that will provide each of these nutrients.

Theme Four - The Culture of Cooking

Activity 15 - The World in Our Kitchens
Have students make a list of the ingredients from a recipe or recipes found on this website and then research where each ingredient comes from. Have students then show this information on a map, with arrows drawn from the exporting country to their community. (The name of the food could be printed along the arrow.) A variation on this activity would be to have the students bring in a list of all food they normally eat in their homes.

This activity could be used as a springboard for introducing the concepts of primary, secondary and tertiary industries. After the concepts are introduced, have the students produce flow charts or pictures that demonstrate their understanding of the industries involved in moving a food product from the farm to the table.

Activity 16 - Farming Depends on Many Factors
Many of the main ingredients for recipes on this website are grown in Canada on commercial farms. Have students research a specific region or several regions in Canada to determine how commercial farming is affected by location, climate, raw materials, market, labour and transportation.

As an extension activity, you could arrange a visit to a commercial farm where students could see which of these factors affect a particular crop or agricultural product.

Activity 17 - Life Systems: Interactions Within Ecosystems
Have students interpret food webs to understand the interdependence of parts of the food chain. Discuss how damaging or eliminating one part of a food chain affects the other parts. Have the students investigate either a natural disaster or phenomenon (e.g. drought, flooding) or a human action (e.g. building a new shopping mall or business on prime farm land or the use of pesticides on food crops) and show how these phenomena or actions affect Canada's food production.

Have students investigate ways in which natural communities within ecosystems can change, and ask them to explain how such changes can affect animal and plant populations.

Activity 18 - Celebration of Canadian Foods or Multicultural Café
As immigrants from all over the world came to Canada, they brought with them the recipes and foods of their mother countries. As part of your studies of the diversity of the Canadian mosaic, conduct a multicultural festival in your classroom. Working in teams, students can research the contributions of selected immigrant groups and share their findings with the class using both multimedia and static displays. As part of their assignment, each group could research and share a popular recipe from their assigned culture, and perhaps even prepare a sampling of that recipe as part of their display or report.

If your class is concentrating on one specific culture, you could organize a café for that culture within your classroom and invite parents or school staff members in for an hour of food and entertainment. Students can be involved in choosing menus, making invitations to parents or staff, budgeting, purchasing food, maintaining accounting records, preparing food and entertainment and operating and cleaning up the café. Visitors to the café could be charged a nominal amount to cover the cost of the event.

Activity 19 - Healthy Active Living
Choices students make in their individual diets influence their health. Have your students complete a concept map to consider how their choices will affect their health. Topics could include: eating in fast-food restaurants; overeating; not eating a balanced diet; and snacking on junk food. Factors that could be considered include: reasons for the food choices, influences (e.g. peers, parents), consequences of the choice, and alternative choices or prevention of negative consequences. As part of a larger unit on healthy active living, students could include other topics such as exercise, smoking and drug use.

As an extension, students in groups could examine ways in which one can practice healthy eating while accommodating vegetarianism, cultural influences, individual preferences, allergies/medical conditions, diabetes, etc.

IntroductionCanada's First CooksThe Pioneer KitchenRevolutions In The KitchenThe Culture Of Cooking
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