Happy National Farm to School Month!
October, in the heart of harvest season, is the perfect month to celebrate helping kids get more in touch with how food is grown.
There is a reason why so many children’s books are focused on what noise a particular farm animal makes, how baby animals grow up, or how seeds become big trees–understanding these fundamental principles of biology is a great way to give a child a good foundation for more advanced science.
Growing vegetables in a garden at home or at school, if your child is lucky enough to attend one of the 44 percent of schools who participate in Farm to School, is a wonderful way to teach responsibility and to show your child how to care for living things. Since the middle of October is not the ideal time to start an outdoor garden, here are 6 fun gardening activities you can do with your kids indoors.
You can also use the gardening experience to explain to children how all food was produced before tractors, combines, and other advances. Just over a century ago, virtually everything anyone ate would have been harvested by hand. This winter, you could also make your own plant-based dyes to demonstrate how Laura Ingalls Wilder and her contemporaries would have dyed their clothing. Here’s a link to a guide on how to make plant-based dyes (I made dye from beets in elementary school–it works really well but make sure not to wear your favorite clothes while experimenting!).
Fall is a great time to teach kids about harvest, including stories like the First Thanksgiving and how people lived during the Pilgrims’ time. One good lesson for kids while gardening is how much hard work it takes to produce food and how one storm, one drought, one pest, or any other unlucky thing can totally destroy the crop. Here’s a great blog from the National Farm to School Network called “In Celebration of Farmers” talking about how casual gardeners can get over a crop failure, but farmers face a different reality.
Indiana is one of the top 10 agriculture producing states in the nation (number 8 to be exact!) so teaching young Hoosiers about farming and where the food on their plants comes from is truly important.