Growing up in a rural community, I have always associated fall with agriculture. The smell of soil and seeing the dust in the air as the combines and tractors work tirelessly to harvest crops of corn and soybeans. Pumpkin patches, orchards, and corn mazes are open, filled with laughter as families come to pick out pumpkins to take home and carve for Halloween.
What time of year could be better to teach your students about agriculture? Halloween and Thanksgiving both offer great opportunities to discuss agriculture!
Agriculture in the Classroom is an organization helping teachers to incorporate agriculture into lesson plans and working with teachers to offer agriculture lessons to students in grades Kindergarten through 12. Be sure to check out their website for ideas to use during the fall but also year round!
Perhaps the perfect solution for a fun Halloween lesson is the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Pumpkin Ag Mag. This little booklet is full of information about how pumpkins grow and has fun facts about pumpkins! Such as – Did you know that Illinois is the number one pumpkin producing state? This Ag Mag also has activities that could be done with a class. Like one of my personal favorites, a recipe for “Pumpkin Pie in a Bag.” What a great way to round out a lesson about pumpkins – eating some pumpkin pie!
Halloween and pumpkins are not the only fall holiday that can be taken advantage of to learn about agriculture! The First Thanksgiving was a celebration of the pilgrims first harvest, the natives had helped them learn about agriculture and ensured that they would be able to survive the winter. The pilgrims were then able to grow their own food. Today farmers still grow all of our food for Thanksgiving, check out this picture from Agriculture in the Classroom to learn where everything is grown for a modern Thanksgiving Dinner.
On Thanksgiving, turkey is, of course, almost always the main dish! The Poultry Ag Mag both have lesson plans and fun facts about turkeys. These also provide fun ideas for activities and some history about Turkey in the United States. The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Website also has ideas about preparing students for standardized tests using the Ag Mags! These are a great way to incorporate agriculture and test preparation into a whole week!
Agriculture surrounds us in our daily lives; food, cloth, and so many other items start off in the hands of farmers, this offers endless opportunities for learning! I hope these ideas help you to talk to students about agriculture this fall!