Oxbow in the Classroom: Virtual cooking lessons inspire a love of food and learning

Last September, when it became clear that the 2020-2021 school year would be equally disrupted as the last by the COVID-19 pandemic, a teacher implored during a meeting with Oxbow’s Education Team: “How do we help students love school and love learning during remote instruction?” 

With teachers continuing to face such heavy questions and challenges, Oxbow’s Education Team (OxEd) set a goal this school year: to inspire students to love learning and stay engaged during “Zoom school,” even when remote. With support and encouragement from partnering educators at Frank Wagner Elementary School, the OxEd team has helped keep the students connected to food and nature in a variety of creative ways: family visits to the School Garden; garden seedlings and “mini gardens” shared through school lunch distribution in the spring and summer; a Pop Up Pumpkin Patch last fall; virtual classroom field trips and digital programming throughout the school year; and enriching workshops for teachers, to name a few.

This winter, the OxEd team and partners from the University of Washington and Green Plate Special embarked on their most ambitious project yet: A series of three virtual cooking lessons, with students participating hands-on from home!

cooking class

The cooking lessons are built for an audience of over 150 Frank Wagner Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders in mind, adaptable to meet the needs of different audiences and age groups. Each cooking lesson consists of: 

  • A kit of all the ingredients needed to complete the kid-friendly recipe
  • An hour-long synchronous “Cook-along” lesson facilitated by Oxbow’s Farmer-Educators and Green Plate Special staff
  • Bilingual videos and lesson materials, with support from Oxbow’s UW Environmental Studies Capstone intern, Abigail Serna

The fourth-graders participating in the cooking lessons aren’t new to working with Oxbow’s Farmer-Educators; they visited Oxbow in-person as kindergartners back in 2017. The OxEd team is honored to have repeated opportunities to foster the students’ enthusiasm for vegetables and nature! Read more about the enduring partnership between Oxbow and Frank Wagner Elementary here.

Each lesson included the ingredients for students to complete each recipe, and were hand-packed by the OxEd, Green Plate Special, and UW teams. The most recent lesson even featured fresh kale grown right at Oxbow’s Kid’s Farm; much to the surprise of many grown-ups, the salad was a hit with the students!

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The OxEd Team hopes that the lessons provide a little something special for students and teachers to look forward to!

Get cooking with Oxbow!

Want to learn to cook with Oxbow, too? Below are video links and ingredients lists for the first two recipes: Energy Bites and Kale Salad with Dressing. If you make a recipe, be sure to share it and tag us on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #cookingwithoxbow


Energy Bites

Theme: “Seeds and fruits are energy packed gifts from plants!”

Download a PDF of the Energy Bites recipe

Kale Salad and Dressing

Theme: “Celebrating Kale as Seasons Change”

Download a PDF of the Kale Salad and Dressing recipe

Coming Soon: The Microwave Breakfast Challenge

OxEd’s third and final cooking lesson in the series will be the Microwave Breakfast Challenge later this spring. The lesson focuses on building food literacy in two ways: helping students understand the impact of food choices on health, the environment, and the economy; and building excitement and empowering students to take on leadership roles as they help out in the kitchen (explore the Food Literacy Center website for more information and inspiration). 

Interested in virtual cooking lessons with Oxbow’s Farmer-Educators? Contact Oxbow’s Education Team here.

More Resources

Learn more about Oxbow Education

Learn more about Green Plate Special

Explore Oxbow’s Education program offerings 

Download free activities and lessons