Celebrating Cilantro

By Eve Pranis

"Cilantro was the first herb my fifth graders explored in depth," reports Redmond, WA, teacher Nancy Stutzman. As part of an online Herbal Adventures project, Nancy's students received cilantro seeds from a class in New Jersey. The seeds came with instructions to raise the herb, keep track of its growth and development, research its uses, create a recipe, then share experiences online with other participants. Students carefully tracked the plant's growth and were intrigued by its unusual smell, which Nancy says reminded them of Mexican foods.

When class research revealed that cilantro is a key ingredient in salsa, they decided to develop a salsa recipe to send out online. Student research and discussions with parents yielded 15 recipes, reports Nancy. Working in teams of six, students adapted and experimented with selected recipes, tracking the changes they made. After a class tasting, students voted on a top choice, then sent the recipe to their cyberpeers. "The cilantro eventually flowered in the class, and students took plants home, hoping to keep them alive and collect seeds to replant," says Nancy.

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