Enabling Environments: Let's explore... beans

Possible activity ideas inspired by this kitchen staple extend far beyond food. By Marianne Sargent

Beans come in all varieties and are great for exploring number, colour, size, shape and pattern. What's more, not only are they easy for budding young gardeners to grow, they are a versatile food and the tinned staple of many young children's lunchtime diets. The following ideas pay homage to this humble kitchen ingredient.


Use this West African folktale Anansi and the Pot of Beans by Bobby and Sherry Norfolk (August House Publishers) to explore issues surrounding right and wrong, and the need for rules and boundaries in the early years setting.

Adult role

  • Ask the children if they have ever been told not to do something. Do the children have rules at home about places they must not enter, things they cannot touch, or things they must not do? Can the children tell you why they are not allowed to do these things?
  • Share the story with the children.
  • Consider what happens to Anansi when he does not listen to his grandma. Talk about the rules in place at your setting. Can the children explain why each rule has been put in place? What might happen if they do not follow the rules?
  • Consider what happens when Anansi tries to cover up what he has done. Talk about honesty and the consequences of trying to hide things from others.

Learning opportunities

CL: Listens to stories and responds with relevant comments.

CL: Answers 'how' and 'why' questions in response to stories.

PSED: Talks about own and others' behaviour and its consequences.


Liven up a tin of baked beans to make a pot of spicy beans, like grandma in the story of Anansi and the Pot of Beans. This recipe feeds four children.

A drop of oil
1 tin baked beans
1/2 onion, chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp mild chilli powder.

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