After five wonderful weeks in six different early childcare classrooms in Rhode Island, our Farm to School team celebrated the successful series with a “season your own local popcorn” celebration with students and parents!
Starting back in late January, the preschool-aged students we worked with reviewed the parts of plants — from roots to fruits — and by the end of February, the majority of the children knew all the plant parts! The students were able to explore the different parts of plants using their senses, including taste. From a sweet butternut squash recipe to a leek pizza, it was exciting to see such young ones change their minds and try things out of their comfort zone. Students went from saying: “I don’t want to eat a green pizza!” to “It’s so good!”
The supportive teachers helped make the series a success by adding our lessons to their class calendars and garnering excitement in advance with their class around what we would be tasting the following week. Some would even whisper the “word of the week” to us as we came in, so that we could incorporate it into the day’s lesson. Even more exciting was hearing from the teachers that parents looked forward to our recipes in order to explore new foods at home with their children! This type of involvement from the teachers and parents was integral in making our program with the little ones a great success.
We enjoyed watching students’ fascinated faces when they saw all the many colors that carrots can be, and then help turn those carrots into a juice. We are really going to miss exploring plants and local fruits and vegetables with the nearly 100 preschoolers we’ve gotten to know over the last month!
Thank you to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the USDA Farm to School Grant Program for making this possible.