Recently, my kids asked me if we could try a “real” coconut. We were in the grocery store picking up a few items and my daughter spied it across the produce aisle. I always get excited when they voluntarily ask to try something new, and although they’ve eaten coconut before, they’ve never had it right out of the shell. So I let her pick one out and we added it to our shopping cart.
As we turned the corner, she asked how we would we get to the white part if there was a fuzzy, brown, hard shell all around it. I was just getting ready to explain it to her when my son shouted with glee, “You SMASH it!”.
Of course, this started a very lengthy sibling conversation about how we would smash it.
Would we use a hammer? Or that thing that Mom smashes the chicken with?
Would we stab it with a knife? Or slice it?
Would we even be able to get it open in the kitchen? Or would we get to smash it on the patio outside?
Would Mom be strong enough to do it? (Hmpf!) Or would we have to wait for Dad?
When we got home, I sat down at the kitchen table and looked up the best way to crack open a coconut. After checking out several methods, we decided to whack it around the middle hemisphere with a cleaver, courtesy of the About.com; How to Open a Coconut Video.
The kids were pretty ecstatic that we were able to crack through the shell and eagerly poured the coconut milk into a pitcher. We set the coconut milk into the fridge to cool while I dug out the white, fleshy meat. (That’s such a gross way to describe the coconut, no? But, that’s what it’s really called…meat!) Once we were all finished with our project, the kids tasted some of the coconut and the coconut milk, and…they loved it!
Hahaha. I’m kidding. My kids actually hated it. They were not pleased with the consistency of the coconut milk nor the raw coconut, but I was SO proud of them for voluntarily trying something new, and I praised them up and down it. I always remind them that they don’t have to like everything they try, but they’ll never know if they like anything if they don’t try.
Once I put away the coconut milk (I was going to use it in my smoothies) and stashed the raw coconut in the fridge, we sat there trying to think of something cool to do with the shell. We had two pieces – so as far as siblings go, this was perfect because they each got a half to play with. After some discussion, the kids decided to make a coconut shell bird feeder out it. I wasn’t quite sure where they were going with this idea, but I have to say, their creativity was spot on!
They were really proud of themselves – as they should be. It was a very smart way to turn broken shells into something completely new and useful for someone else. Our backyard birds have been quite excited about their new bird feeders, but our squirrels? Well, not so much, they can’t balance on it properly and are quite annoyed!
PAINTED COCONUT SHELL BIRD FEEDER
- 1 Coconut
- Tempera Paint
Step 1: Poke a nail or corkscrew through the eyes of the coconut. You can bake it to produce a crack (as the video suggests), or you can whack it with a cleaver around the hemisphere. Remove all of the coconut meat. (I opened mine, then baked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This made it easier to pry out the meat without breaking the halves of the shell.)
Step 2: Allow your coconut halves to dry completely. (24-48 hours.)
Step 3: Have your children paint their coconut shells with tempera paint.
Step 4: If they know how to braid, braid 3 pieces of twine and tie very tightly around the top of the shell like a belt.
Step 5: Cut a length of twine, 18 inches and slide the two ends under the braided belt and tie at the bottom.
Step 6: Fill with bird seed and hang!
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