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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Are you interested in teaching kids more about food, gardening, and cooking at your school? One option is to become an Edible Schoolyard site. The program, started by Alice Waters, turns open space at schools into gardens, and then teaches the students at the school about growing, cooking, and eating food on site.

What can your students learn by growing and eating fresh food like these tomatoes?

So far, Edible Schoolyard has one location in NYC: PS 216, right here in Brooklyn. But they are looking to expand, and plan to have one school in each borough next school year.

That’s where you come in. If you work at a public school located in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island, you could apply. Your school must serve, at a minimum, kindergarten through fifth grade and be a Title I school. Accepted schools receive tons of help and resources to turn their available space into a teaching garden.

For more information about the program and to apply, go to Edible Schoolyard NYC’s website. Applications are due by February 28, 2012- good luck!

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Listen up preschool providers and day care centers: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an amazing curriculum called Grow It, Try It, Like It! designed to teach kids aged 3-5 about gardening, food, and nutrition.

The guide starts with comprehensive background information for the educator. Then, there are 6 sections, each devoted to a different fruit or vegetable: crookneck squash, spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe, peach, and strawberry. If you did every activity in each booklet, you would have enough material for 120 days of class! Or, you could pick and choose from the booklets to create a month-long focus on fruits and vegetables.

The booklets all start with hand-washing, include book suggestions, ideas for arts and crafts, science activities, snack ideas, and more. Students get color illustrations of each fruit and vegetable and can also color their own to make a garden map. This really is an incredible resource. If you work with early childhood and are looking for a food resource, this is one to start with! Check it out: Grow It, Try It, Like It!

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A series of upcoming posts are going to switch from teaching about gardening to teaching about food (which are, of course, intertwined) and this seemed like a good time to talk about that overlap.

To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure is a great, new addition to any garden, farm, or food study in school or the home. The box is visually engaging and scientifically detailed, yet designed for children ages 4 and up. (When we say “and up” we mean it – this book could easily be used from K to 12 in different ways.)

How does Ms. McClure accomplish this? The book tells the story of a boy and his mom who go to the farmers market. They buy apples, kale, salmon, honey, cheese, blueberry turnovers, and hand-dyed napkins. Each product gets two pages. The first, like the apple page seen here, is very simple. It introduces Michael, who grows the apples.

This page, appropriate for students of all ages, is followed by a much more detailed page that further explains the story of Michael and the apples (click the image to see it in full detail).

This page, of course, is much too detailed for most kindergarteners to read on their own. However, you could use this information in a number of ways in your classroom.

The detailed background information could be used by the teacher for reference. Or you could give this book to an advanced student or a student who is very interested in where food comes from for their own independent study. Or, you could design a great group project with this book:

Start with a class read-aloud where you skip the detailed pages completely. Students will learn the basics of what products the family buys. Then, divide your class into groups of mixed ability (each group should have at least one student with a relatively high reading level). One group will study apples, one group kale, one group salmon, etc. The groups will then be responsible for reading the detailed information, learning the process of making or growing the product, and then tell the story in words or pictures, and then present their work to the rest of the class. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of how much work it takes for one product to get onto their table and hear the work of the other groups explaining the other products.

What other curricular connections do you see? How might you use To Market, To Market in your classroom?

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If you are starting a garden at your school, visiting local gardens, or just learning about gardens, check out these books to supplement your classroom instruction:

City Green by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan is the story of Marcy and Miss Rosa. Marcy sees an empty lot and has the idea of turning it into something much better – a garden for the community. With Miss Rosa’s help, she succedes. The book concludes with tips about how to start your own community garden. The reading level is 3r grade, but the content is appropriate for K-3. This book could help inspire your students to get involved in a new or existing garden project.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown tells the story of Liam who finds a hidden garden, tends it, and then decides to cultivate gardens around the rest of the city, gradually turning the grey city green. It’s a magical story that won’t teach science content, but your students will enjoy reading and can lead to great conversations about hidden potential.

Watch Me Grow!: A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City by Deborah Hodge looks at urban community gardens, focusing on growing produce, honey, and raising chickens. The book explains the reasons you might farm in a city and has suggestions for how to make best use of space. The reading level is for 3rd grade, but younger students will identify with the photographs.

Round the Garden by Omri Glaser uses the setting of a garden to teach about the water cycle. This book is great for an early childhood introduction to water and its role in growing food.

Check back tomorrow for two more books, focusing on the White House garden.

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Today we are off the topic of insects and back to gardens…

So, you’ve learned all about compost and attended a “worm”shop… Now, what are you going to do with all that rich soil?

Kids dig in the garden at Brooklyn Children's Museum

How about starting a garden at your school? That may sound quite daunting, but there are organizations out there to help you. GrowNYC, for example, has a program called Grow to Learn that includes information on how to start a garden, funding to start the garden, resources for parents, advice from expert gardeners, teacher resources, eating the produce you grow, and much more! Check out their website, http://www.growtolearn.org/.

Planting season will sneak up on you before you know it, so now is a great time to get your school involved in starting a garden. And don’t forget that New York Botanical Garden is having a gardening workshop on November 8th.

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It’s here! Brooklyn Children’s Museum would like to present our new sustainability guide for educators, My Green Community.

The premise is simple: unfortunately, while nature is in the elementary science curriculum, other sustainability topics (energy, water conservation, food, waste management) are not. So, we tied study of community to study of environmentalism, linking social studies and science to create opportunities to introduce these key topics and to create interdisciplinary units of study.

The guide is divided into three sections: nature, sustainability, and a culminating project. The nature section deals with plants, birds, and insects. Sustainability covers energy, food, water, and waste. Finally, the culminating project is a mapping activity in which students examine their neighborhood for evidence of sustainability to decide in what ways their community is and is not green. Activities were designed for grades PK-2 but many will be applicable through middle school and even high school in some cases.

The full guide is available for download. In addition, you can attend a free professional development session as a supplement to the guide here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum on either October 20th or October 22nd. And, finally, this blog exists to supplement the guide. So if you love the Focus on Birds section in the guide, for example, click on the birds tag on the right of this page for more birds activities.

Please share this wonderful resource with your colleagues. If you have any feedback or would like to share how you are using My Green Community, contact us: gogreen@brooklynkids.org.

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Growing food in a classroom is great, but it’s also wonderful to go to a farm and see lots of food being grown. Students start to link plants to the food on their plate. Learning about where food comes from will also prepare students to learn about food transportation and related sustainability issues as they grow older.

There are actually lots of farms in New York City and fall is a great time for a visit, enabling students to learn about harvest. Check out these farms, both contemporary and historic, throughout New York City. All of them offer field trip options; farms marked in bold type offer field trips to all grades, including early childhood.

Of course, if you don’t teach in one of these neighborhoods, another option is to find your closest community garden and arrange a visit there. One way to find a local garden is to use the Green Apple Map. Click the link, zoom in to your neighborhood, and find out where a local community garden is located: http://www.greenapplemap.org/. Additionally, to find information about and resources for community gardening, see Green Thumb: http://www.greenthumbnyc.org/. Oasis NYC also has a comprehensive listing of community gardening resources: http://www.oasisnyc.net/garden/resources.aspx

One of many community gardens in Brooklyn

And don’t forget farmer’s markets! Try arranging a field trip to one and give students a chance to talk to the farmers who come from just outside the city to supply New Yorkers with fresh food. For more information, check out: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/  or http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/ourfarmers

Do you know of other farm or garden resources we forgot? Please share!

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