Helping Children Learn Where Their Food Grows
Inspiring children to eat more fruits and vegetables can be challenging. But when animated characters Isabel, Mateo and Bluebird talk with children about eating more produce grown in or near their community in a new activity booklet, A Farm 2 Table Adventure, youngsters listen.
The new publication from the Network for a Healthy—California Children’s Power Play! Campaign takes kids on a fun learning adventure from farm to table, engaging them in how fruits and vegetables are grown, in what regions of California, at what seasons and much, much more. Targeted to elementary school-aged children, the booklet is intended to encourage meaningful interactions between children and their peers, their family, and local farmers and food producers. It also helps children understand what they could grow in a garden. Virtually all of the activities can be translated to school gardens.
With Bluebird as the guide, students first meet the local farmer. They are told that local farmers “grow healthy food and are an important part of the local community.” Then they are asked to guess what is in the ground with a hint that the vegetables come in coleslaw and tacos. (Answer: cabbage, carrots, and green onions.)
Even in a city rooftop garden, a farmer is growing different types of vegetables. Children are asked to circle and identify the vegetables. They also learn that farms come in all sizes, from city rooftop gardens to farms the size of 10 city blocks.
Traveling with Isabel, Mateo and Bluebird, kids learn that different regions of California have different climate and soils and therefore grow different fruits and vegetables. Children are asked to guess which regions, for example, are best for growing avocados, dates and tomatoes, to name a few. They do this in the activity book by connecting a picture of the fruit or vegetable to a region of the state.
Similarly, students guess which fruits and vegetables grow in which seasons – all information they need for growing and tending school gardens.
Students are asked to explore their favorite recipes for fruits and vegetables and to consider their favorite snacks with fruits and vegetables. One could easily coordinate this with Harvest of the Month recipes and taste tests in a classroom activity. To bring it home, one engaging exercise asks them to interview a family member to learn more about their tastes and regional specialties.
Along with Mateo and Isabel, children become community explorers, looking for places that fruits and vegetables already are grown, making them more aware of what is in their community. These could be fruits on trees or vegetables in a garden.
And they are encouraged to visit a farmers’ market and ask a farmer questions. These questions could easily be adapted to a gardener.
The new Farm 2 Table Adventure is an incredibly engaging and instructional activity guide for children. Download your copy of it today.
For additional farm-to-table activities, you can also check out CSGN’s Lessons and Curricula.
This material was produced by the California Department of Public Health’s Network for a Healthy California with funding from USDA SNAP, known in California as CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps).
For CalFresh information, call 1-877-847-3663.
For important nutrition information, visit www.cachampionsforchange.net.