- Farms are a magical place for little eyes and hands!
- 1) Encourages Language Development
- 2) Sensory Learning
- 3) Story Time
- 4) Increases Their Appreciation of Nature
- 5) Academic Information & Hands On Learning Experiences
- 6) Promotes Healthy Living
- 7) Enhances Problem Solving Skills
- 8) Boosts Motor Skills
- 9) Introduction to Scientific Concepts
- 10) Exploration and Discovery
Annadata (the one who gives Anna – Anna means food) strives to cultivate mutually beneficial relationship between farms and local community that create dynamic, wellness focused learning and living environment for all. We do this by working with farmers, educators, and communities to expand opportunities for farm trips, experiential nutrition education, and urban gardens.
Farms are a magical place for little eyes and hands!
Large vehicles travel through them, vegetables and fruit grow from them, and animals from large to small inhabit them. It is the cornucopia of activities for the entire family during every season around Pune as each time of the year brings an opportunity to pick a different fruit or vegetable. Most farms have a petting zoo which provides children an infinite amount of joy. They are fascinated with feeding cows, goats, sheep, and gauran chickens just to name a few.
In recent years, farms have been expanding their offerings. Don’t be surprised if you see enough variety to keep your family at the farm for a full day visit. From bailgaadi rides to ghaspus pyramids to even traditional village meals workshops and camps.
1) Encourages Language Development
To identify animals as they stand before your baby or toddler, carries so much weight as they are absorbing vocabulary words. As they become preschoolers, you can begin to identify differences in male vs. female vocabulary in regards to the animals. For example, a duck can now be a duck, drake and a duckling. Another example is that you can identify different cow breeds such as: Desi, Jersey, Angus, Holstein, etc.
Beforehand, teachers can introduce their children to the animals they would see by looking at books such as Moo or 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm. After the trip, they loved reading the books because now they had an authentic connection with the two-dimensional pages. Exposing your children to different experiences expands their comprehension of the world that surrounds them.
2) Sensory Learning
There are so many sensory opportunities at a farm: the textures of the animal fur, the dryness of the ghaspus, the wet ghas and the smooth vegetables from the farmer’s market, just to name a few. Farms offer a wide variety of contrasting tactile experiences for children. As they roam and touch things, let them enjoy all the information that they are absorbing. Carry natural antibacterial soap if it makes you feel more comfortable but their little minds are processing information at alarming rates. Ask them to describe what they feel as well as identify words of different textures (smooth, dry, wet, silky, furry).
Imagine all the smells that will bombard their noses (or if that is an unpleasant thought don’t imagine all the smells of the animals). As you come across an unusual smell, identify it and where it is coming from. It is not just the smell of the animals, but the grass, the feed, the flowers, the fruit and vegetables you are picking along with the fresh air.
One of many favorite places to relax is the oversized sandbox at some local farms that surrounds a tree. Children flock to this location as do parents but all for different reasons. Children love playing with the various dump trucks and pails. Parents love this space because it is so large several children can play while they take a break.
3) Story Time
Do you read to your children about the farm? If so, have you ever thought about taking them to a story time at the farm? If so, Annadata volunteers will offer story times during the farm visit. Some farms offer story time with traditional stories of Indian farm life before British occupation.
4) Increases Their Appreciation of Nature
It is surprising how many children don’t have a full understanding of where our food comes from! By visiting a farm, they can see firsthand where and how they get their favorite foods. Taking children to the farm exposes to them to the understanding that plants are grown and meat comes from animals. Based on their age, maturity and emotional sensitivity, you can introduce different concepts during the visit. For young toddlers, you may just identify animals and food. For older children, you may want to discuss scientific concepts.
Activity: Farm Passport
A small Farm Passport (FP) will be created for students and adults. This passport will be utilized for multiple farm visits. Within the passport, the necessary profile of the passport holder will be indicated. Along with personal information, each farm visit will be documented. The passport holder will be responsible to get the necessary stamp from the farmer and their respective activities. The passport will be returned to Annadata organizers or School to retain and utilize for future farm visit. This is to avoid loss of FP and creation of multiple passport.
5) Academic Information & Hands On Learning Experiences
Farms are offering unique academic information. Beyond the story time and tours, there are ample opportunities for children and adults to learn more.
6) Promotes Healthy Living
Get outside and play! Farms are educational playgrounds for young minds. Being active is not only fun, it also promotes a healthy lifestyle. Corn mazes will get kids walking (and running) while ghaspus pyramids gets them climbing. Don’t forget about the corn boxes that offer endless fun!
7) Enhances Problem Solving Skills
At corn mazes, children will not only get plenty of physical activity (some of them take hours to complete) but they will also engage their brain in problem solving skills. Some corn mazes like the has trivia questions at each stop which also adds to the excitement and learning. I know it may be hard, but let the kids decide which way to go. They can be strategic by following the map or just use a trial-and-error method. Either way, they are boosting their cognitive development!
8) Boosts Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are constantly being developed when you pick your own fruits and vegetables. Those little fingers love to pick fruits and vegetables especially when they can taste the fruits of their labor (sorry for the intended pun). As well, when children have the opportunity to feed animals at the petting zoo that is an opportunity for them to improve fine motor skills as well. The seeds to feed the goats and sheep are tiny and so they need to manipulate their hands so that they don’t drop the food.
There are so many ways to boost gross motor skills as well. Children can climb the ghaspus pyramids or run through the ghaspus bale mazes.
9) Introduction to Scientific Concepts
Farms offer so many opportunities for kids to learn about science. Kids are introduced to botany (the study of plants), agriculture and horticulture (the cultivation of various fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and more). There is so much science involved in planting and growing fruits and vegetables. Educational ghaspus rides help families understand all the steps involved in making produce. Animal science is also introduced at farms as kids learn what animals thrive on a farm as well as what they eat and how they interact.
10) Exploration and Discovery
Pick your own farms will have the children motivated to pick their own food which also gets them eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. By taking them apple picking they not only see different apples but also taste the differences in the varieties. Visiting different farms will introduce your children to different types of produce. Experiment and try some of these unique variety of fruits and vegetables. Encourage some risk taking (but ask the farmers recommendations on how to prepare the food to ensure you are not setting up this experiment for failure!).
Article contribute by Michael Francis, michael_francis_us [at] yahoo.com