Food with Friends
- Discuss foods important to them and prepare questions to ask their partner classmates
- Meet with their partner class to exchange stories and experiences related to food
- Reflect on similarities and differences between foods enjoyed by students in both classes
Food is more than simply nutrients - researchers have studied how food is connected to people’s identity, such as their culture, traditions, nationality, and rituals, and can evoke strong memories and feelings of nostalgia. During this virtual exchange activity, students will strengthen their self-awareness as they reflect on foods that are important to them and their identity, and perspective taking as they listen to their peers’ preferences and experiences.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
Empatico offers an exciting opportunity for educators to connect their classrooms with other classes around the world. Once you have connected with another educator in the Empatico community, you can schedule live virtual exchanges to bring your students together. These cross-cultural experiences enable students to share their stories, explore different perspectives, and make new friends in another community.
Empatico exchanges are most successful when educators plan and get to know each other beforehand. To do this, please schedule a video call to connect with your partner educator, and use this opportunity to share your goals for this experience, exchange helpful information about your students, and discuss how you will lead the exchange together. Our "Get to Know Your Partner Educator" resource provides suggested conversation prompts for your meeting.
For more tips on leading a positive, cross-cultural experience for your students, please watch our “Teacher Tips” video.
Prepare: plan for the virtual exchange.
- Engage students in a discussion by asking the following questions:
• What are some of your favorite foods?
• Are there any foods that are important to your culture? Do you associate them with a particular holiday or tradition?
• What are some popular foods in our community?
• Does everyone enjoy the same food? Why or why not?
• If someone likes a different food from us, what are some ways that we can show curiosity and kindness about their preference? For example, we might show interest in learning more about their favorite food, and ask them to share what they like about it.
- Then, introduce your students to Empatico by watching this video, and ask them the following questions:
• How do you feel about meeting our partner class? What do you think our new friends will be like?
• Do you know anything about the city or country where our partner class is located? Where can we find more information about their location? (e.g., by using Google Earth to explore their neighborhood, or searching for images of their city online)
• What do you think it might be like to live there? What do you think our neighborhoods might share in common, and how do you think our neighborhoods might be different?
Throughout your conversation, nurture positive feelings such as excitement and curiosity. Explain that it’s normal to notice differences between ourselves and others, and that you will practice doing so respectfully. If any misconceptions or stereotypes arise, gently counteract them and explain how to reframe assumptions by asking questions or making "I wonder..." comments. (e.g., "I wonder what food our new friends might enjoy eating.") Ensure that students see this experience as an exciting opportunity to learn from their partner class!
- Ask students to prepare stories and fun facts to share with your partner class. For example, students might identify a food that is important to them, their culture, or their community. Then, they might write down a story about eating this food, or instructions for how to prepare it.
Encourage students to also record descriptive words to describe what the food tastes like, such as:
• Flavor: fresh, sour, acidic, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy, earthy, nutty
• Texture: soft, smooth, silky, crunchy, chewy, slimy, oily, tough
• Smell: sweet, earthy, floral, herby, greasy
• Temperature: cold, room temperature, lukewarm, warm, hot
- Help students come up with questions to ask their partner classmates, such as:
• What foods are popular in your culture or community?
• What is your favorite meal?
• What do you usually eat for breakfast or lunch?
• What is your favorite memory of food?
• What is your favorite beverage to drink?
• Do you know how any of your favorite foods are prepared? Can you explain it to me?
• Do you eat certain foods during special occasions or holidays?
• Does your family or your community grow or produce any food?
• What is your favorite dessert? What does it taste like? Why is it special?
• Do you enjoy food from a different culture or region? What do you like about this food?
Encourage students to write down their stories and questions on notecards that they can reference during the virtual exchange.
- Establish and share communication norms for the virtual exchange, such as:
• Keep yourself on “mute” (unless you are talking) to limit background noise, and raise your hand when you want to speak.
• When it’s your turn to speak, come close to the device, say your comment or question loudly and clearly, and remain at the camera to hear your partner classmate’s response. Start by saying your name (e.g., “Hi, my name is ___. My question is...).
• Listen attentively to the speaker and use hand signals (e.g., thumbs-up, “me too” signal, etc.) to indicate agreement or similarities.
• Make sure that others have a chance to speak during the exchange.
Ask students to share additional ideas for how they will show respect to their new friends, and consider leading a practice session so students can practice these strategies and imagine having a fun, positive interaction with your partner class.
For more tips on setting up your classroom for a virtual exchange, please visit this resource.
Interact: meet your partner class over a live virtual exchange.
Facilitate the virtual exchange using Empatico’s built-in Zoom integration, or the video tool that you previously selected, and follow the suggested exchange structure below:
- Start the video call by greeting your partner educator, and express gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to connect with each other. Then, facilitate an introduction between students in both classes. You might have them introduce themselves, and share about their class grade, school, location, and/or a fun fact about their community.
- Consider leading a warm-up game to start the exchange on a fun, light-hearted note, such as Would You Rather? or Let’s Get Moving!.
- Encourage students to ask their questions and share their stories. Make sure that students in both classes participate equally, and celebrate behaviors that show respect and other strengths, like empathy, thoughtfulness, and humility. For example, express gratitude when students show curiosity and kindness about each other’s foods, and listen attentively to their peers’ stories.
- End the exchange by asking students to thank their partner class for sharing a part of their day with them, and for the opportunity to get to know each other a little better. Then, students can say “goodbye” and express excitement for meeting again during your next virtual exchange together!
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.