How about having an outdoor cooking event? Can you create learning possibilities with a few spoons, an open fire and some raw ingredients? We believe you absolutely can!
Name of the activity: Masterchef
Duration: approximately 1 hour, but you can extend it to a couple of hours as well.
Preferred location: outside, in an open space, so that there are no possibilities of causing an open fire which can lead to damage; also, it’s good to have a forest around, in order to pick branches for the fireplace.
Working method: individual work, teamwork, group presentation and discussion (groups of 3 people).
Purpose (expected impact, outcomes): supporting low-skilled adults in gaining self-esteem through practical tasks; giving them chances to learn more about their interests and opportunities.
Materials: 1 pot, 1 frying pan, knives, forks, spoons, grater, 3 bowls, 1 cup, 3 eggs, flour, sugar, powdered cocoa, tomato sauce, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, powdered cheese, gas and stove camping (only in case your participants don’t have the resources to create their own fire), dough roll, lighter, few tables according to the number of your small groups.
Instructions: the goal of the activity is to cook a dish by only using the ingredients that are available. Each small group has 5 minutes to discuss and decide, what kind of dish they would like to prepare and what kind of strategy they would like to follow. Only 1 person can cook at a time, the others need to give instructions, without touching the materials. Each person has 10 minutes to cook (one following the other).
Debriefing: since the activity creates a frame through which the participants can experience many different aspects, you can guide the debriefing process in such a way that it serves the purpose of your activity. In case you would like to focus more on communication, you can ask about that, you can also be curious about the freedom each participant got through this task and how they perceived it, you can ask about their leadership skills and in general what kinds of qualities they had to bring into this activity. The positive side of having such a simple activity is that you can have a discussion afterwards about many different experiences that your participants had and you are not necessarily tied to one aim or goal. This gives you flexibility and the possibility of making personal interventions, supporting each participant individually depending on where they are standing and in which direction they would like to develop themselves.
Possible alternatives, changes for different circumstances: you can add other variables, such as giving half of a recipe and asking them to find out what kind of meal it should be, or giving blindfolds to the one who gives instructions. Also, you can create bigger teams and simply ask them to prepare different courses (one group prepares a soup, another one the main dish, another one the desert, etc.), while giving other practical responsibilities for some teams, such as keeping the fire, cleaning the dishes, arranging the tables, etc. This way you can prepare altogether a nice dinner that you can enjoy (maybe even invite people from the local community to cook with your participants or to only enjoy the food) and afterwards or another day you can reflect in many ways on the whole process of creating such an event. Having the possibility to do something simple, to create something with own hands is an extremely effective way of supporting this target group.