Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat!

Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat!
written by Dana Meachen Rau
2013 (Capstone Books for Young Readers)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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It's the week for sweet treats (okay, is there a week that isn't?) so I want to share Dessert Designer with you. I have a student in my second grade class that likes to watch shows about making cakes and/or cupcakes. Food Network has shows like this and she wrote about it for Writer's Workshop. Kids like to create and they like a challenge. This is the kind of book for them. Some crafts are harder than others, but there is something for everyone. For the craft-challenged like myself, there is the Lollipop Disco Ball. This involves 250-300 small round lollipops (I would use Dum-Dums since they are inexpensive. A bag of 200 will cost around $8.00) and a 7 inch Styrofoam ball. You will need four inch squares of tin foil for each lollipop. A plastic beaded necklace pushed through the ball will allow you to hang it up. An extra effect would be to attach white lights to give a true disco ball effect. This isn't a difficult set of instructions to follow for 4th graders and up, but it will take some math skills and a steady, patient hand. The introduction to the book explains how to make frosting and royal icing. These are important for several recipes in the book. Following these recipes is a decorator's toolbox that is a vocabulary lesson for dessert designers. Like a fisherman has a tackle box, a budding dessert designer will need these tools. The rest of the book is divided up into sections featuring recipes for cupcakes, cookies, candies, and cakes.

So how does this work for the classroom? Teaching a student how to tackle procedural text is a valuable lesson. These kind of passages are forever showing up on standardized tests and how many times are we required to read a set of instructions and follow them? This is an important life skill to have. Dessert Designer also requires readers to have some math skills. There's plenty of measuring and computing to go around, so readers will have to apply those skills to create. Want to have fun on a rainy day? Find a copy of Dessert Designer and start creating! I'll be looking for an old KC and the Sunshine Band single to go with my disco ball. Leisure suit not included.

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