We’re about halfway through the school year already! After meeting with my three classes for 5 months now, and having done a variety of different activities, I feel like the kids have gotten very comfortable with me, and that I have a good feel for their interests also. We’ve gone from them staring at me and not asking questions to being very engaged and hugging me when I leave their room, and volunteering information about what their mom grows in the garden or what happens to the milk from their farm, or what they like to eat with cheese on it.
One of my favorite classroom moments was during our November pumpkin lesson. I brought pumpkin seeds, corn and beans, and told the Iroquois legend of the Three Sisters. I had the kids glue the three kinds of seeds in a pattern on the back of the paper with the story on it. Everyone was totally engrossed in counting out their seeds, passing them to other kids, and concentrating completely on getting their patterns right. Throughout the activity, the children were so excited to show me their patterns, and ask if they were correct. Many weren’t in the ABCABC pattern, and it was really neat to see the others at the table show the right way to glue the seeds. This was our third meeting, and the kids were calling me by name, which is such a little thing, but also said a lot.
I really like hearing the questions the kids ask about the vegetables they’re unfamiliar with that I’ve brought in. As I passed the beet around in our December lesson, I heard many comments about how it smelled like the ground, or dirt, or outside. It was fun to guess then what part grows in the ground, and what’s above. One child said the top looked like salad, and that led to talking about how you can eat the top of the beet too, which seemed pretty amazing to them. Another great part of that lesson was our beet colored play-doh. They loved squishing and shaping it, smelling it, and almost without exception, all the kids made different “foods” with it. The noise level went way up, but they were having a blast, and we all talked about what we thought the color would be if I’d used different colors of beets to make the play-doh.
I’ve found that they can sit and listen to stories, but they really are engaged with the activity part of the lesson, whether it’s coloring, shaping play-doh, gluing seeds or acting out a story in motion. It’s been rewarding to observe the kids tasting new food as well. We’ve tried raspberries, pumpkin and local cheese curds, and almost everyone has tried each one; I feel like the taste tests have been a success so far! I’m hopeful that as they learn more and are more interested in different foods, that they’ll be more likely to go home and talk about a new food, and what they learned at school, and that will help get the families involved more too.
Author: Hallie Evans, NE IA Food & Fitness Farm to Early Care and Education Associate at Bright Beginnings in Waukon, IA