Chickens and Pigs and Sheep, oh my!

A few months ago,  I was listening to a Farm-to-School Webinar and was impressed by a presentation by Emily Hoyler of Shelburne Farms. She spoke about designing farm-based curriculum around “big ideas” and “essential questions” of sustainability, rather than just planning a string of activities. For example, if your big ideas for a program are community and place, then your essential question could be “Does place impact our community?“, and you would plan activities that help children to explore this central theme.

Emily Hoyler’s perspective was so in line with what I believe about farm-based education that I wanted to learn more! The weekend of October 21st, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop called “The ABCs of Farm-Based Education” at Shelburne Farms. Educators Susie Marchand, Rachel Cadwallader-Staub, and Cat Wright prepared three days of farm-based activities, enlightening conversations, and silly fun garden games. From 8am til 6 in the evening, we got to experience the ground-breaking curriculum that Shelburne Farms has developed over the past 20 years.

Here were a few of my favorite activities and displays:

“Dress up a Cow” Activity – as students name each part of a cow’s body, they dress up another student or chaperone! Other variations are “Dress up a Sheep,” “Dress up a Bean Plant,” and “Dress up a Chicken.”

Story Walk – guests to Shelburne read a children’s story as they walk through the woods. We are now in the process of setting up a Story Walk around the Edible Schoolyard garden.

More on designing curriculum around big ideas & essential questions!

I loved this little farmstand exhibit. Susie, Cat, and Rachel set out displays all around the room for us to see, featuring topics such bees, natural fibers, herb drying, and “plant parts we eat.”

After the workshop, I returned to Greensboro feeling empowered and excited to make our Edible Schoolyard programming the best that it can be. Shelburne is such a powerful example of what can be achieved in the field of farm-based education. I hope that many years from now we too will be able to put on a workshop as informative and inspiring as the one that I attended.

Thank you, Shelburne Farms!



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