Farm field trips are the perfect experiential learning opportunity for young children. Being on a farm is sure to be memorable for a small child...the sights, sounds, and smells, coupled with activities such as picking fruits or vegetables, feeding animals, or sitting on a tractor. So much fun! However, in many child care and preschool settings, it's just not feasible to transport children off site for a field trip. So, what's the next best thing? Invite a farmer to be a special guest!
First, you'll want to find a farmer that knows how to interact with young children to optimize the experience for both the children and the farmer. Perhaps a teen 4-H or FFA member could come instead of an adult farmer and provide a wonderful cross-age learning opportunity. If you have a farmer that supplies food for your program, such as eggs, meat, dairy, or fresh produce, that would be a perfect fit.
What activities could a guest farmer facilitate in your child care setting?
Lead a fruit, vegetable or herb tasting and educational activity
Teach kids about a day in the life of a farmer
Bring live animals and discuss the role they play in our food system (i.e. baby goats and goat cheese, baby chicks and eggs)
Talk to children about chickens and the different colors of eggs they lay
Demonstrate how to plant, maintain, or harvest vegetables
Lead a dramatic play activity, such as Little Hands on the Farm at the Iowa State Fair
Make homemade ice cream with the milk they produce and sell from their farm
Set up a mini farmer's market for kids to "buy" produce and take home to their family
Special guests are fun and memorable for children of all ages, from tiny toddlers eagerly listening to a guest reader, to teenagers in high school learning about career choices from people in the community. So, if you're looking for a way to add some excitement to your schedule this winter, consider inviting a farmer for an enriching Farm to ECE learning experience!