Fabulous Fridays: Iron Chef

The Program 

For this program, we wanted to create an outlet for tweens to do something creative. 
Ms. S. and Ms. V. have done this program in the past, and it has been very successful. Alyssa & I decided to try our hand at it, and see if it would be as successful with the tweens. 

Before we started the program, we placed all of the food on a long table. Some of the items we used were:  Twinkies, sprinkles, icing, wafers, and candy. We made sure that they were products that did not require cooking. 

When the kids arrived, we divided them up into teams. We had five teams of  about 5-6 kids.

Alyssa started off the program with an introduction about allergies. We wanted to make sure we were aware of all allergies before we got started. Thankfully, we only had one! The rest of our participants were allergy free.

Next, we made sure each team washed their hands. While the teams were waiting to wash their hands, we instructed the teams to come up with a team name, a team captain, and a plan. My favorite part of the whole program was watching the team dynamics form.

As I was going around, one little boy told me, "I would not be a good team captain because I would go mad with power."

(This is why tweens are awesome!)

I was just blown away by what a great job they did with their team. I felt like each team chose great captains & they made an extra effort to include everyone in their team.It is incredible what kids can do with little instruction!

After everyone washed their hands, we invited the team captains to come up and get their food for their teams. We made it a rule for only team captains to get the food because we wanted make sure we had enough supplies & we also wanted to encourage that group interaction.  We found out later that this was also a good method to keep the area sanitary.

We tried very hard to make sure all the kids kept their hands washed, but both Alyssa & I noticed kids licking spoons, carrying things with their hands, dropping things on the floor & eating them, & taking bites out of food & putting it in their display......

I tried really hard not to make this face.

Even though tweens are amazing, I think it is important to remember that they are still learning about cleanliness. This made Alyssa and I realize one big thing:

The competition would be based off of looks & not taste! 

Our reference staff were the judges, and we did not want to be responsible for the great summer sickness of 2015.

Besides the sanitation issue, our tween boys wanted to create things just for the grossness factor.

For instance, I had some boys  mix together: coffee,  Runts candy, cookie crumbs, pineapple, and Lemon Head candy. After they mixed it together, they proceeded to offer it to me for a tasting.

I had to decline, but I think if we ever do this program in the future we will continue to base the competition off of display instead of taste for these reasons.

Even though we had some sanitary hiccups, the kids did make some pretty amazing creations. Here are the final products:

The Cookie Dough team made a flower out of Twinkie cupcakes.

One of my favorites was the Smart Cookie team. They made an assembly line with all of the members of their team & created this lovely structure. 

The Awesome Opossums carefully made this dish based on taste. It was a mixture of sweet and sour. 

Gum Drop Girls Team- layered cookies with icing. 

Finally, the Food Network team (of all boys and one girl) made this really creative driver & it was also the winner of our competition. 

How the Program Went 

The program was a smash hit. Since we were dealing with food, we did a sign up for this program. Within the first few days we started the sign up, we had about 30 kids sign up. What was even more shocking for us- was that everyone that had signed up came! We also had many parents that wanted to stay & take pictures and watch how the program progressed. I really liked that it turned into a family experience.

What We Learned 

This program made me realize that we need more programming that provide a creative outlet. It felt like they craved an opportunity to create things out without instruction. I think this might be something that they don't get to do at home or at school very much & it was part of the reason that this program was so successful. In the future, I want to offer more programs like this one. I would also like to offer it at a later time to help cater to working families.

One little girl for instance wanted to attend this program very badly, but her dad attended night classes and worked during the day. She told me she begged her dad to come & he  finally gave in. He ended up hiring a babysitter special for her to come, but told her it wasn't something they could do all time.

Hearing that story meant a lot to me. I want to be able to do what I can to find a time that would work for as many families as possible. I know many families are working  to support their families. I feel like we do need to offer something for this age group at a later time. We have been doing this program at about 4 pm and in the future I would like to try it at about 6 pm.

Hopefully in the future, I will be able to find the right rhythm to meet this age group's needs.

Until next time,



  1. This looks like an awesome program! I know that the MasterChef Junior is a popular show right now. I just finished the Nutella Play Dough program on Saturday and I agree that programs like this make for a great creative outlet for kids. They love the element of eating their creations too!

    Allison at the Library Station :)

    1. Allison,

      I look forward to meeting & working with you! I am so excited to have you on our team. How did the Nutella Program go? We had a patron come by The Center to ask about it. She was so excited.