Pizza Day

July 26, 2011

For Pizza Day, we created colour wheels, learned about fractions, and made cheesy pepperoni pizzas on the grill!

Colour Wheels

Nothing says pizza more than a colour wheel….? When the kids objected to my idea of making a crust-less fruit pizza for breakfast (they were too hungry to wait!), I decided to shift gears for the morning and do something more interpretive.  So, we went back to an activity they had done a few years ago with papa: making colour wheels. This time, however, instead of using coloured pencils to identify our primary, secondary and complementary colours, we would mix our own paints.

To get started, I handed the kids some thin permanent markers (always a dangerous prospect!) and had them work with fractions and geometry. I asked them both to trace a circle on a thick piece of paper, using a round plate as a guide. After I helped them find the centers of their circles, I asked them to use their rulers to divide their circles into twelve “equal” pieces following a two step process: first, they would divided the circle into four equal parts; then, they would divide those fourths-sections into threes.  We then wrote the names of the primary and secondary colours along the colour wheel so that they could find the proper places for the colours when we started painting.

We began painting by identifying and selecting the primary colours from our collection of paint bottles. The kids then painted the three primary colours along their colour wheel.  After this basic work, we started our measuring tasks. I asked them how we could make the “best purple:” which colours would we need and how much of each colour would we need? They told me to pour out equal measures of blue and red on a plate.  While we were mixing our purple, we noticed that our blue paint did not mix very well with the red – it tended to clump, which was unfortunate. The kids also remarked that the purple made with “equal halves” of the paint did not really look like purple to them after all. I had to agree. It was rather dark. I let them stew on that for a while as they painted their grainy purple slice of the colour-wheel pie.

We had made a rather large batch of our equal-mix purple paint. So, after the kids painted their purple slices, we divided our purple paint in half of the plate.  We used our “estimation” skills to consider how many tablespoons of paint were on each side of the plate.  Then, we added the equivalent measure of tablespoons of blue paint to one of the purple halves, and an equivalent measure of red paint to the other.  I then asked them about the proportions of each of these colours: did the blue-purple plate have more red or more blue? And approximately how much of each?  How about the red-purple side of the plate?

After the kids had each mixed a variation on purple, we decided that the red-purple colour they had mixed was actually much more of a true purple in our eyes. We also  came up with “yucky disgusting” names for the grainy blue-purple colour we had created!

For our oranges and greens, we applied the same measuring and mixing techniques.  In both cases, the kids thought that the colours achieved by mixing equal parts of primary colours did not mix into what they would consider to be a true “orange” or a true “green.”  In their opinion, the “yellow-orange” and the “yellow-green” were much closer to the real thing.   We then wondered why this might be the case. The kids came up with some pretty interesting rationales – one blamed the manufacturer of the primary colours for not giving us a “true” base from which to start, the other blamed our dirty mixing brushes.

Even with our grainy purples and greens, I thought that the colour wheels turned out to be quite beautiful!  I’m not sure whether to frame these and other pieces we’ve made this summer or if I should frame the photographs I’ve taken of them.


A Little Fraction Practice

I decided that instead of punctuating the day with pizza activities, as I usually do on our food themed days, we would get everything done in the morning and have a bit of a free-for-all in the afternoon.  So, our next activity was to spend some time doing preformatted math worksheets. We happen to have some workbooks associated with the Jump Math philosophy, but similar worksheets are easily downloaded for free via the internet!  The kids became really interested in dividing not only pie shapes but also squares and rectangles and triangles.

Pizzas on the Grill

System Error! Last night, some water had gotten into the electrical panel of our stove. Since I had been instructed to wait a full 48 hours for the system to dry out before using our oven, we had no choice but to make our pizzas out on the grill.  Some friends of mine have made some gorgeous grilled pizzas, but I had never tried it before. The kids and I went looking on the internet for some quick and easy grilled pizza techniques.  We found a family-friendly style of making mini-pizzas on Alison Bickel’s beautiful site, This Homemade Life.

The kids’ participation in our grilling challenge would be to roll out their mini pizza dough and, when the time came, to top their pizzas as they saw fit.  We had made pizza dough together before, so for this round of pizzas, I decided to do the quick and easy cheat, purchasing a bag of pizza dough from the grocery store.   I had the kids divide their ball of dough into four parts. They basically had a tug of war with the ball of pizza dough until it snapped. Then, they snapped their halves in two. This portion of the fun reminded me of my own experiments with my big brother’s old Stretch Armstrong toy…I remember stretching that toy’s arms all the way across the basement of a friend’s house!  After the kids did their own division, I had them “mush” and “push” their bits of dough on pans until they had formed shapes that were most pleasing to them.

Next, I sent the kids inside to wash their hands as I transferred the dough shapes directly onto our hot grill. After about three or four minutes, the dough began to bubble, and I was able to use a large metal spatula to wiggle them off of the grill and flip them onto a tray, grilled sides up.

I called the kids back outside, and they placed their toppings on the grilled sides of the pizzas. We kept it simple, cheese and pepperoni. Sadly, neither of my children like red sauce!  I’m sure that my Italian grandparents would  shaking their heads and fingers if they had heard my children squeal in terror at the sight of tomoto sauce! It breaks my heart, too, because I know my Grandma Carrara’s secret recipe, and I make a fantastic sauce! Ah well, the kids topped their pizzas to their own liking and danced around the yard while they waited for the finished pies.

I threw the pizzas back on the grill for a few more minutes. The kids were feasting in no time!

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