For the Classroom
What's the difference between a teacher and a farmer? One grows bright thinkers and the other grows food. Make your crop of thinkers farm-friendly by engaging them in their own miniature farm.
For a wide range of activities and resources for levels K–12, visit the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom website (www.cfaitc.org). It has lesson plans, a teacher's resource guide, a kid's corner with games and coloring pages, and lots more.
If you were a farmer, what kind of food would you grow or what kind of animals would you raise? Have each child pick one thing and then go around the classroom to discuss how that food grows or how that animal is raised. For example, if a child wants to be an apple farmer, she has to know that apples grow on trees. Likewise, if a child wants to grow carrots, he has to know that they grow underground. If you have access to the Internet, try to find images of what each type of farm looks like (or at least a picture of what the food looks like before it is picked). For animals, talk about what kind of food they eat and what kind of houses they need. Again, find some pictures to show the students. If the children are younger or you don't have access to a computer, get a variety of farming books from the library and look through them with your students. After you've perused them together, the students can each pick which farm they would want to have.
For the second part of the activity, lay out large pieces of paper on the floor and trace an outline of each child. Have them draw in the details of themselves wearing whatever clothing they think a farmer would wear. For the background of the picture, they should draw what their chosen farm would look like. Voilà! Flat Farmers ready for display in your classroom or hallway.
Herb gardens are easy to grow indoors, and they give children a chance to grow a plant that can be harvested and used in cooking. Create your petite patch by designating some prime “farmland” by sunny windows. You can either grow herbs from seed or, to increase the likelihood of success, buy seedlings (or ask a nursery to donate them). Use fiber pots, so when the plants grow big enough, they can easily be transplanted to a large pot or even outdoors when the children take them home. For whichever herb you choose, when they are big enough to be used, send them home with instructions for how to pick them off the plant without harming it, as well as some simple recipes for using them. Visit www.planetnatural.com/site /herbgardening.html for help and more ideas.