Talking Allergies

New with question
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Author:  Meagan [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  New with question


I'm actually a Montessori teacher and asked the mom of one of our students for resources on food allergies. Her child is extremely allergic to nuts. The school is now nut-free and we've had a wonderful working relationship with his family to insure his safety and establish new procedures in the school.

There is a particular lesson we used to have which is basically a nut identification lesson (matching lovely pictures of nuts to the actual nut). During the summer I wanted to do some research on whether there is a way to coat nuts with something like shellac to make make them non-allergenic. Has anyone ever come across research about this? The mom and I have done numerous web searches, but it's a hard topic to Google (thanks to the kinds of nuts used with bolts, shellacing wood, etc.).

Another option we've considered is trying to find models of nuts – basically realistic but fake nuts. Again, it's been difficult to find a possible supplier of fake nuts!

I'd love to hear if anyone has ideas regarding shellacing nuts or finding fake nuts. If neither of these options pan out, that's fine, but I wanted to at least check!

Thanks so much for your insight,


Author:  _Susan_ [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:45 pm ]
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What is the purpose of the lesson plan?
Could you not accomplish the same lesson with matching pictures of leaves to real leaves? I have heard that you can iron leaves between waxed paper to coat them.

If you must include the actual nut I think the safest way would be to place the nuts in baby food jars and look at them.

Author:  Meagan [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:50 pm ]
Post subject:  baby food jars

What a good idea to seal the nuts in baby food jars! Thank you!

One of the basic premises of Montessori is to introduce children to all sorts of real-life vocabulary using actual objects. So I'm just exploring whether using actual objects will even be feasible in this case. Thus in an ideal world we would love for children to actual handle the nut replica or coated nut . . . but life isn't always ideal. :)

Author:  Momofhalfadozen [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:27 pm ]
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The only problem with the babyfood jars is that they could break or be opened and then you have exposer to the nut. I know I have seen fake nuts at hobby stores with plastic food. In the leaf decro section. Also there are fake wooden foods in the teacher store I have seen them.

I know that my father in law used to mount lids of jars on a board and then screw the jar into the lid maybe you can do this so that the kids don't ahndle to jar ad they won't break. They could still see and the board could be flat on the table.

You could also use plastic spice containers and hot glue the lids shut.

Author:  Meagan [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  fake nuts


Thanks for the refinement of the baby food jars idea. I would definitely make sure any container was glued shut.

Do you remember which teacher store had fake nuts?


Author:  renie [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

I would also check the dollar stores as well as craft supply stores - I know I have seen nuts and berries (you might have better luck at holiday time - Thanksgiving, Christmas).
I would also double check with the parents of the child - depending on the nature of the child, that might be an anxiety inducing exercise. At any rate, I'd let them know the lesson plan, learning objectives - they may have good ideas for helping make it an allergen leson too.

Author:  Momofhalfadozen [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

holcombs I believe

Author:  KarenOASG [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 3:28 pm ]
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I think it's actually a good idea for kids who are allergic to nuts to see them and understand what they look like. There was a study done recently that indicated that children who are allergic to nuts don't really know what they look like. See ... prits.html for more details.

It would be good to prep them ahead of time so that they are not surprised on the day of the class, and understand what it's all about.

You could even just have them in a plastic bag (like the Ziploc snack bags) so that they can feel the texture - if texture is of interest - without actually touching the nut, if that is a concern. Of course, maybe you'd have to glue the bag shut too!

I personally would be okay with my child touching the nut as long as he washed his hands afterwards, and as long as all the other kids washed their hands as well, but obviously that is a personal thing and different families have different levels of comfort.


Author:  renie [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:14 pm ]
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I didn't mean to insinuate that kids shouldn't see their allergen and am ALL FOR education. My only thought, which is addressed by advance prep, was ensuring that the situation is not scary for the allergic child. Or that their parents aren't surprised by the activity. Also, with the advance discussion, I think it presents a great opportunity to discuss the allergy and what it really means in the class.

We were even thinking of doing a poster collage (Karen, I think I saw it in one of your slide decks?) in part to give our DD visuals.

Author:  KarenOASG [ Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:19 pm ]
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I think a poster collage is a great idea. I did have a picture of one of my guys, with the poster that he did a few years ago, in a presentation that I did at Allergy Expo. It was a great learning tool, both for him and his daycare. All those grocery store flyers with pictures of food come in really handy for that kind of project! :)


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