In this consumer based society it is easy to become disconnected from where things actually come from. When my parents were growing up they went to the store and bought butter much as I do today. The difference is, that as they went to the store,
they were far more likely to pass the neighbor who kept a cow for fresh milk and another with a thriving vegetable garden in their front yard. They grew up knowing and seeing where their food came from. Today, unless your child lives in a farming community, we need to work harder to make sure that our children understand and appreciate how things appear on the store shelves. Making butter with kids is one way to demonstrate how food is made.
Before doing this activity go visit a farm if you can. We are lucky to have a working farm near us that serves as an educational center for kids. If you don’t have a farm available to visit you can read books, watch videos, pretend to be farmers.
Observational and Critical Thinking Skills
Heavy Whipping Cream (Be sure you use quality cream for your butter. Since it’s practically your only ingredient, you will taste the difference.)
Pour the cream into the glass jar, leaving some room for the cream to agitate.
Go for a hike.
When we make butter we’re agitating the fat in cream so much that we force the fat globules in the cream to separate from their liquid neighbors, and clump together to form butter. It’s like making whipped cream… times 10.
Have the kids do different actions. For example, tell one child to run a short distance while another child jumps, skips, spins, etc., the same distance.
Then have them compare how their butter looks.
At some point you might wonder if somehow you have messed something up. And then…you see clumpy curds in milky liquid.
This is a good sign!
At the end of the hike, when your cream has transformed into butter, enjoy with a snack.
Talk about the changes that you observed. Isn’t it fascinating how by displacing molecules (shaking the cream) we can turn a liquid into a solid?
For more information on the science of making butter visit Scientific American
More fun activities for you to do with the kids: