Information for Child Care Providers
Show me butter
Alison Levitch, M.A.,
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of
Did you know that Missouri was once
ranked 16th in the nation in milk production? According to the
Missouri Department of Agriculture, in 1997 Missouri dairy farmers
produced 2.4 billion pounds of milk. Of this milk, some was
separated as cream and later became butter. Early childhood
educators can use such tidbits of information to support children's
development and learning.
For example, preschool teachers in
Italy engage children in the local custom of making grape juice.
Children 3 to 5 years old in Italy make their own grape juice from
local grapes. Teachers guide children through the process, which
involves stomping the grapes, pouring and measuring the juice, and
decorating labels for the juice bottles. After the juice is made,
children and their families share it with teachers and members of
the community. This activity encourages development of children's
motor skills, math abilities and creativity. Most important,
children experience a sense of pride as they participate in a
Cultural information can be used
similarly in early childhood programs in Missouri. Instead of grape
juice, Missouri preschoolers can make butter using cream from local
dairy cows. As a young child, my classmates and I learned how to
make butter from cream. To share our experiences with the community,
our picture was taken and published in the local newspaper. And,
like the preschoolers in Italy, we invited our families to join us
and eat the butter.
Below is a recipe for making butter
that is suitable for preschool-aged children. Like making grape
juice, making butter develops children's motor skills and encourages
science learning. The activity works best with small groups of four
or five preschoolers.
For each jar of butter:
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- small glass jar with a lid (baby
food jars work well)
- Pour the cream into jar so that
it is three-fourths full.
- Screw lid on tightly.
- Shake the jar for approximately
20 minutes. Encourage children to take turns shaking the jars.
- After some time, the cream will
thicken. This means that butter is forming.
- After the butter has formed,
drain it from the buttermilk and rinse.
- Store the butter in a clean food
container and refrigerate.
- Spread the butter on bread or
crackers for a snack, meal or special gathering with family.
To extend this activity:
- Take children to a local dairy
- Arrange a toy farm set in your
classroom (barn, farm animals, little people).
- Read books about related topics,
- How to Speak Moo! by
Deborah Fajerman (2002). Published by Barron’s.
- On a Farm by Cindy
Chapman (2004). Published by Compass Point Books as part of the
Phonics Readers series.
- From Farm to Store by
Wallace Boten (2004). Published by Compass Point Books as part
of the Phonics Readers series.
- Kiss the Cow! by
Phyllis Root (2000). Published by Candlewick Press.
- Milk: From Cow to Carton
(A Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Book) by Aliki (1992). Published by
D’Amico, Joan, & Drummond, Karen Eich. (1995). The Science Chef:
100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids. New York: John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Missouri Department of Agriculture
New, Rebecca. S. (November 2001).
Italian early care and education: The social construction of
policies, programs, and practices. Phi Delta Kappan, pp. 226 -