12 Reasons a Classroom Near You Needs ‘Farm a Month’

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture August 11, 2015

Keeping little learners engaged in the classroom can be a challenge for even the most experienced educators. Teachers interested in sparking conversations about where food and fiber come from face an additional dilemma when selecting resources. “Farm a Month: Where Does Our Food Come From?” is a new learning kit developed by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture for pre-K to first-grade students that can help.

Farm a Month offers an exciting way for teachers, families and classroom volunteers to engage preschool and elementary-aged students in agricultural-based lessons throughout the year. A 36” x 24” map of the United States and reusable stickers are included in each kit to reinforce geography as students learn about where different foods are produced. Each lesson also includes a “Meet a Farmer” feature, with stories about life on the farm from people across the U.S.

Read on for highlights from the 12 lessons.

From Tree to Table. Fun fact from a farmer – it takes 40 gallons of maple tree sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Snack idea – mini pancakes dipped in maple syrup.

The Popcorn Process.Fun fact from a farmer – Water inside popcorn makes kernels pop when heated. Activity – students practice counting while making popcorn.

Pick the Peach.Fun fact from a farmer – a typical peach tree lives 16 years. Related book – “From Pit to Peach Tree” by Ellen Weiss.

All About Apples.Fun fact from a farmer – apples are all picked by hand. Activity – students compare and contrast different apple varieties.

Counting Oranges. Fun fact from a farmer – orchard groves provide a home for wildlife. Activity – students count and graph the number of segments in oranges.

Lettuce Mini-Garden. Fun fact from a farmer – Arizona’s Yuma Valley is the lettuce capital of the world. Activity – students plant lettuce seeds in mini-gardens.

Grapes Galore. Fun fact from a farmer – it takes 11 days for grapes to shrivel up and turn into raisins. Snack idea – stack grapes on a toothpick to make tasty “caterpillars.”

Pear Parts. Fun fact from a farmer – pears are the official state fruit of Oregon. Extend the lesson – make pear-sauce in class, just as you would applesauce.

Guess the Cheese. Fun fact from a farmer – food is available at all times for dairy cows on most farms; they eat whenever they’re hungry. Related book – “Extra Cheese Please! Mozzarella’s Journey From Cow to Pizza” by Cris Peterson.

Pumpkin Math. Fun fact from a farmer – Flag Day (June 14) is a great time to plant pumpkins so they’ll be ready in time for Halloween. Activity – students practice counting while learning the different parts of a pumpkin plant.

Build a Turkey. Fun fact from a farmer – male turkeys are called “toms” and females are hens. Activity – students create a class turkey while celebrating things for which they are thankful.

Cranberries Overboard. Fun fact from a farmer – cranberries contain air pockets, which is why they float in water. Snack idea – put peanut butter on celery and top with dried cranberries for an ants-on-a-log twist.

Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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Credit: Preston Keres, USDA/FPAC / CC0 

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