|Reviewers Comments: |
Growing Food is an excellent curriculum for a nutrition educator looking for detailed lessons on food systems, energy flow, agriculture, health and nature. The curriculum will help educators to engage students in gardening and growing their own food. The curriculum includes 5 units: Becoming Food Scientists, Plants, Food Webs, Agriculture, and Making Choices, which focuses on regional eating, farming practices and designing a farm. Units are made up of 3-5 individual lessons and lesson topics vary to include corn and corn products, composting, photosynthesis, and farming.
The curriculum is designed to promote student exploration and inquiry. Throughout the modules, students are challenged to ask questions and theorize the answers. Educators are encouraged to set up full class and small group discussions, and have students present their work to the class. Students keep journals called LiFE Logs, reflecting on what they learned and answering open-ended questions. This method, used in this and other LiFE curricula, is called QuESTA: Questioning, Experimenting, Searching, Theorizing, and Applying to life.
It would be helpful for an educator to have a background in science education or agriculture, but not required as background information and teacher notes are provided for each of the lessons. Lessons should be reviewed thoroughly before being taught. Some activities require advance preparation. Most lessons require additional materials, including food, plants, planting and composting equipment, an overhead and transparencies. Both general and lesson-specific materials are summarized in a helpful, easy to ready chart at the beginning of the curriculum book.
Each lesson includes an engaging, hand-on class activity (such as experimenting with plants and creating a classroom compost bin) and supplemental materials that support the activity. Sample class discussions and experiment sheets are provided for the educator. Student pages, which are designed to be copied for use as handouts are provided. Student materials include readings and activity sheets. Several student pages include basic illustrations to help promote student understanding and make the page more engaging. It would be helpful to have student handouts and materials on a CD or in an electronic format for ease in duplicating. Completed activity sheets can be used to evaluate the student’s knowledge following the lessons. A few recipes and recipe suggestions are provided. Recipes do not include nutrition information. Lesson time is not provided for any of the lessons.
This curriculum is designed for students in grades 4, 5 or 6 and includes a matrix that maps Growing Food to the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. The curriculum could be adapted for different ages/grades, however some advanced concepts covered would make it challenging for younger children. It is designed to be completed in a series in its entirety, but different lessons and activities could be used on their own.
Note: Please see appendix C of the SNAP-Ed Plan Guidance for more information on allowable SNAP-Ed costs.”