Kadena sixth-graders use cake-decorating skills to map out world’s geographic sites
October 7, 2007
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — What’s the easiest way to get kids to learn geography? Give them sugar.
On Friday morning, at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, half of Marguerite Leavitt’s 24 sixth-grade students brought in cakes they had decorated at home to resemble land forms for the geography section of a social studies class. The other half had brought in their cakes two weeks prior.
Granite mountains, murky swamps and glacial ice were replaced by chocolate candies, gummi frogs and globs of white frosting.
Leavitt, known to her students as Ms. Marguerite, said she has used this method to teach geography before, with great success.
“Kids are much more interested in learning when you make it fun for them,” she said.
Parents helped most kids bake the cakes, but the children did the decorating.
Monique Moreland, 11, created a chocolate cake with a gelatin waterfall, a cascading Twizzler lava volcano and a peanut-butter cup canyon. She said the hardest part was not being able to eat the cake during class.
Donnie Penrod, 11, agreed. Pointing to a chain of islands on his cake, he noted a hole in the icing. “There were supposed to be five, but I ate that one,” he said. When asked what happened to a canyon, “I split it with my sister,” he said.
Still, Penrod’s knowledge of geography was impressive. He easily rolled off several different land-mass forms and could name their differences.
Parent Virginia Maltby, 31, said her son Johnathan was practically obsessed with the project. “He talked about it and talked about it and talked about it, and then he brought us a picture of what he wanted to do,” she said. “I think the kids will always remember the hands-on things. It makes it come alive for them.”
For Alex Sanders, 11, the project was easy to summarize. “It was fun. It’s better than making [a map] out of clay, because you get to eat it at the end.”