Your neighborhood may or may not have a farmers market, but just think how many things you can learn in a lesson about farmers markets: science, social studies, environmental literacy, economics, even art and technology.
Here are some of our favorite farmers market lesson plans:
Start your kindergarteners off with the traditional rhyme.
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, joggity jog.
This can be a bit mysterious to young children, so you’ll need to talk about markets, which were a lot like farmers markets now, except that you could buy everything there, including pigs.
Clap out the rhythm, find the rhymes and make word walls with -ig and -og words, and read Anne Miranda’s wonderfully surprising version, To Market, To Market.
Nowadays, we rarely can buy animals at a market, though rural kids will know that you can still sometimes buy them at the fair. We can, however, buy vegetables and fruit at a market, and often eggs and honey and other items as well.
Here Josepha and Gideon sort vegetables we got at the farmers market into those that grow above the ground and those that grow underground:
They got somewhat silly, and so can you in class if you have some vegetables to sort, but you can be more serious with our worksheets:
It’s a lot of fun to go to the farmers market, and if you have one in your town, you could assign a visit as family homework. Ask students to take pictures at the market, and put them together into a slideshow for your class, or for your classroom website.
This activity gives practice with a number of computer skills:
- planning a project
- uploading and downloading files
- organizing files
- using input devices such as mouse and keyboard
- using menus
There are lots of tools you can use. We made the video below with Stupeflix right at our YouTube channel.
Stupeflix is on the easy side of the easy to powerful continuum, so you don’t have a lot of control over your results, but it’s a lot of fun to play with. We used the free version, so it has the brand name on it, but there are paid options (no educators’ discount yet).
You can also use Google’s free Picasa to make slideshows. You’ll have the Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on your computer, too — slightly less easy, and a little more powerful.
Whatever tool you use, have students plan and organize their shows, putting their pictures into a sensible sequence. We visited the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri, and the farmers market on the Square in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and we made a transition between the two with vegetable close ups. Your slideshow might travel around the market, group certain types of products together, or sort the images by colors or shapes.
One of the topics that comes up in discussions about ecology and green living is the idea of food miles: every mile food has to travel to reach us means additional energy use and depleted nutrition.
Have students study both sides of this issue and prepare a debate or a cooperative presentation of the conclusions the class draws.
Here are some starting points for research:
- Sustainable Table
- Food Miles Debunked
- Mphos Food Miles with worksheets and a Google Earth tour. The worksheet is in either English or Welsh, which we find sort of cool.
Have students examine their own eating habits and do the math to determine the food miles for their cafeteria lunch or homemade meals, as well as for fast food meals.
If students’ research brings the whole class to an agreement, have students plan a display for the bulletin board, hallway, or science fair that shows the evidence supporting their opinion. If more than one opinion is represented in the class, either have a debate or have students from each opinion group prepare a display and show them together for a thought-provoking presentation.