Inside: 12 Engaging ideas for teaching young children about farm activities
It’s important for kids to learn about the world around them, and part of that world is agriculture. Farmers have a massive impact on our lives—from the food we eat to the natural environment in which we live. Learning about farmers and the work they do means learning about nature, the community, and the natural processes of life. Here are a few ways to teach kids about farm activities right in your classroom.
Learn from the Experts
One of the best ways to learn is to hear from an expert. Take a field trip to a local farm, or invite a farmer to come speak to your classroom. Your students will get the chance to ask all of their questions and hear answers from someone who does this for a living. Try to hear from different kinds of farmers as well. Someone who raises livestock and someone who owns large crop fields will have different experiences to share.
Where do you find a farmer? Start with your network. Does someone have a friend or family member who might like to visit? If you strike out, you could also reach out to your county agricultural extension or local 4-H organization.
Start a Garden
Nothing beats hands-on experience, and starting a mini garden in your classroom is a simple project that everyone can enjoy. Take turns watering and checking on the plants, or give everyone their own mini pot to care for throughout the project. This is a great way to learn about the basics of what plants need to live, and your kids will get to watch as the fruits of their labors grow. To get the full farming experience, grow simple herbs or other edible plants that your students can taste once they finish growing.
Keep a Class Pet
Class pets are a great way to teach responsibility, but they’re also one of the most popular ways to educate kids about agriculture. You can buy chicken eggs and have your kids observe them in the incubator, as they hatch, and during their first few weeks of life.
Incubators are a good type of item to get donated, either from your PTA, a small group of parents, or an organization like DonorsChoose. They can be used year after year to teach your students about raising animals and the specific things they need to survive.
Plus, everyone in your class will immediately fall in love with their new feathery friends. Just make sure to do your research and have a home prepared for your chicks once they outgrow your classroom.
Read About Farm Activities
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Let storytime help you teach! Here are a handful of great books about farming.
Gail Gibbons’ book on farming is newly updated, and is a thorough and interesting introduction for young children.
I adore Before We Eat: From Farm to Table for its simple rhyming text and grateful message. This one is a Must Share!
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is another sweet and simple introduction to farm life, with a focus on the barn and its residents.
Finally, you might like the Farm theme personalized emergent readers in my store. You type student names once, and they ‘magically’ fill in on every page of the book. Children love seeing their names in their own little books!
Make Farm Crafts
Crafts bring your unit’s theme together with fine motor skills, plus you can get students talking about their work to expand their verbal skills.
Try our cute chicken craft (and these go with a fun book too), or one of these other adorable barnyard animal crafts. If you want to focus on how farmers grow vegetables, this carrot handprint craft is perfect.
Then, look at photos of real farms, and help the children find the differences between their crafts and the real deal. (Of course, make sure to do this in a way that still makes them feel proud of their artwork!)
Try Dramatic Play Farm Activities
Set up a farm theme dramatic play area in your classroom. I’ve researched ideas for you, and these are my favorites:
First, I love all the ideas on Pocket of Preschool. You also could add in some tractor toys, or make one from a cardboard box.
As your students learn about the world of farming, you’re building background knowledge for future reading comprehension, providing introductory science lessons, and more. A farm theme may seem cute (and it is!), but remember that it’s important too.