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Globetrotting gourmets

Give middle-schoolers a geography lesson by mapping the spices in their favorite recipes.

By GreatSchools Staff

Many spices travel the world before making their way into your family's favorite foods. Aromatic bay leaves, sweet cinnamon, and floral cloves — these zingy spices come all the way from Europe, India, Sri Lanka, and other distant regions.

Make an everyday meal into a geography lesson by creating a map with your middle-schooler, charting the origins of the spices that perk up holiday dishes.

The project: Map out the origins of your child's favorite spices

What you’ll need

  • A recipe for your child's favorite spicy meal
  • Various spices
  • Blank world map
  • Glue
  • Pen or marker

Make it happen

Once you’ve settled on a recipe, you’ll need to assemble the required spices. Research online or consult an encyclopedia to learn about the origins of each one. When you’ve found their sources, glue a small amount of each spice to the part of the map that represents its country of origin, and label the locations by writing the name of the spice along with the name of the country.

Spice tour
Ask your middle-schooler to pick his or her favorite spice. Whether its allspice (the dried berries of Pimenta dioica from Jamaica) or za'atar (a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, and green herbs from the Middle East), help your child plan a fantasy trip to the region from which the plant hails. Consult a travel guidebook and plan an itinerary.

Spice-rack your brain
Research a few traditional recipes that call for this spice. What do they have in common? How do they taste — sweet, savory, sour, or spicy hot? Have your child make a list of some non-culinary uses for the spice.

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